Autonomous Worlds on Substrate

Hello Polkadot community,

I want to talk about web3 gaming today, specifically autonomous worlds, and to get some input from the community. At Ideal Labs, we’re building the Ideal Network (IDN), an ‘entropy layer’ for the next generation of fair protocols, enabling on-chain protocols that leverage secure, unbiased randomness (and timelock encryption). We are developing an ‘entropy mesh’, a CRDT-based structure capable of combining pulses from interoperable randomness beacons. While we are working on the next phases of our chain (as a parachain on Kusama), we want to discuss our next steps with the community. Mainly, we are investigating the potential for building an autonomous worlds framework on Substrate, powered by the IDN’s randomness beacons to enable fair multiparty interactions.

Autonomous Worlds

Autonomous worlds are a paradigm for building fully on-chain games, including all game state, logic, assets, and more. It can be described as “multiplayer storytelling in permissionlessly expandable and moddable Warcraft-like virtual world built on a credibly neutral computing substrate”.

There are several existing AW frameworks, however, they only target EVM-based infrastructure, such as dojo on starknet and mud. You can read more about how starknet enables AWs here.

The flexibility of Substrate, along with the ability to perform runtime upgrades as needed and to support novel cryptographic protocols makes it a great fit for autonomous worlds. This, coupled with Polkadot’s security and superior interoperability could even allow for the development of cross-chain autonomous world capabilities. By introducing verifiable randomness through the IDN, we can enable on-chain procedural generation capabilities, fair decision making, and fair/unpredictable game play. This can make it harder (impossible) for malicious parties to influence or predict the outcome (front-running web3 games goes by another name in real life: cheating). Ideal Labs briefly explored the role of randomness in web3 gaming, which you can read about here, where we discuss a simple multiplayer game relying on randomness - bit roulette. The big takeway is that the usage of randomness and timelock encryption enables fairness in web3 games, while timelock encryption (built on top of a randomness beacon) allows for async, non-interactive protocols (e.g. trustless asset swaps where the swap either completes for both parties, or else fails if either party fails to uphold their end of the swap).

Next Steps?

We would love to get feedback from the community. Is a randomness-powered autonomous world’s framework something the you find interesting or useful for the Polkadot ecosystem? While Ideal Labs will remain committed to the ideal network and its development + capabilities, we are very interested in collaborating with the community to bring autonomous worlds to Substrate, enabling games like dark forest within the ecosystem.


Sounds super interesting, and would love to try out a full on-chain metaverse.
I think though that before investing time and effort into developing the tools for constructing an AW, we should make sure there is at least one party willing to use the tools to build one.


Hey, we are working in this area with zero. If you write ‘framework’, can you elaborate what you mean? Cheers

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What @JuaniRios says is a valid point. If nobody needs this in production, why even have it? On the other hand, looking at the other AW frameworks like MUD, Dojo or Argus, Polkadot seems to stand out by design as the de-facto home to AWs.

As a hobbyist blockchain developer who’s really into autonomous worlds (AW), I have been diving into various ecosystems, and Polkadot has really caught my eye. I’d love to hear what you all think.

From what I know about AW by now, interoperability and composability are key, and Polkadot’s XCM (Cross-Consensus Messaging) appears to make it easy for different parachains to talk to each other. This seems crucial for AWs that need various specialized chains to interact. The Relay Chain should ensure secure and efficient data exchange between parachains, and compared to traditional bridges, this setup looks simpler.

Scalability is another big deal. Parallel transaction processing across parachains sounds perfect for AWs with high transaction volumes. The same holds for the shared security model. Polkadot seems to reduce the security burden on individual chains. I’m not sure about the trade-offs in flexibility or control.

The ecosystem support seems pretty strong. Polkadot has a growing developer community and tons of resources. What might be difficult is onboarding newcomers. From personal experience, I have had a hard time due to my limited understanding of advanced concepts that seem to be almost a prerequisite to working on the Substrate stack. I saw this work well in the Dojo Community over at Starknet.

What I like here is that Polkadot’s ecosystem has substantial funding and partnerships, even for independent developers. That’s a big plus.

Overall, Polkadot’s interoperability, scalability, customization, and support make it a promising choice for building an AW framework.

But I’m eager to hear from those with more experience about any potential pitfalls or areas where Polkadot might need improvement.

Looking forward to your insights! :pray:


@2075 To echo what @boorich said, by framework I’m thinking something in terms of Mud or Dojo. For example, Dojo’s framework lets developers create ‘worlds’ for their games, within which entities and events are created and managed. I’m also envisioning something that uses randomness as a fundamental building block for games along with timelock encryption (e.g. time-released in-game assets or for enabling trustless multiparty interactions essentially a non-interactive, async commit-reveal scheme where participants aren’t responsible for performing their own reveal/holding onto the original data - example of getting a random seed for an NFT and a tlock based non-interactive asset swap here).