In the last three years, decentralized applications (dApps) – web and mobile applications anchored to a blockchain – have proliferated. There are now thousands of dApps listed on aggregator sites such as DappRadar and State of the Dapps. The latter lists close to 4,000 dApps across blockchains such as EOS, TRON and Ethereum. Unless you are an active decentralized finance user, their names won’t be familiar to you, though, because crypto is still waiting for its killer dApp.
It has long been postulated that when someone succeeds in creating a viral dApp, crypto will have its breakthrough moment, convincing the masses – the TikTok-ers and vloggers of the world – to FOMO in. This dream has been whispered ever since CryptoKitties, the NFT cat breeding dApp, became a minor hit on Ethereum in late 2017.
Three years on and we’re still waiting for dApps to be more than just a novelty for blockchain tinkerers and degenerate gamblers. Cartesi is on a mission to fix that, but it’s not interested in creating the world’s first killer dApp. Rather, its team is engineering the infrastructure that will allow others to create and deploy decentralized applications easily that can operate at scale. If they can achieve this, the framework will be in place for not only more dApps, but a better quality of dApp, freeing their creators to focus on things like game mechanics and graphics, rather than getting bogged down in debugging Solidity.
Linux But for dApps
Cartesi has created a Linux environment for building dApps off-chain. You don’t have to be a developer to appreciate that utilizing a familiar OS will make it easier for non-blockchain devs to get involved. In addition, because computation is performed off-chain with Cartesi, dApp creators aren’t on the hook for prohibitive gas fees to deploy and maintain their applications. The cost of vRAM on EOS and of gas on Ethereum, to execute smart contracts, has deterred many would-be dApp creators, and forced others to bow out. Cartesi isn’t a blockchain itself, it should be noted, that competes with Ethereum; rather it enables developers to code smart contracts on networks such as Ethereum, with Cartesi’s off-chain architecture taking care of the heavy lifting.
The theory behind Cartesi is a compelling one, but for this dream to be sold to developer teams around the world, there needs to be some proof to accompany it. Thankfully, Cartesi now has evidence to show what can be created with its Linux environment, and how it compares to dApps created on other chains.
A Trifecta of Eclectic dApps
From the first wave of dApps to have been built on Cartesi, three stand out as examples of what the scalable framework is capable of. The trio were recently announced as winners of the Cartesi DApp Incubation Program. The first of these, Creepts, is a fantasy game in which players must defend their tower from marauders. Gaming has become one of the most popular use cases for dApps (after gaming and trading), and small communities of dApp gamers have formed around RPGs that have combined traditional gameplay with tokenization to create an in-game economy.
Creepts is structured as a tournament in which there can ultimately be only one winner. With each round, the aim is to achieve the highest possible score. Turrets, Lasers, Cannons and Blasts comprise the tower types available to players, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses in terms of firepower. As a proof of concept, Creepts does exactly what it was designed to do: provide a fun and immersive playing experience while showcasing the capabilities of Cartesi’s scalable framework.
Simracer is another dApp to have been built on Cartesi. It enables players to customize their own car, enter it into races, compete in leagues, and win Simracer coins with real monetary value. Finally, there’s Carti, which has been described as a package manager for Cartesi machines. It too was a winner of the first phase of the Cartesi DApp Incubation Program.
With a range of dApps now operating under the Cartesi banner, the smart contract scalability project has skin in the game. The onus is now on third party developers to step up and show what they can create, freed from the constraints that have impeded dApp deployment up until now. Crypto might need to wait a little longer to find its killer dApp. For now, developers will settle for having a killer framework on which to deploy them.