Exploring Decentraland’s LANDscape
A deeper dive into LAND: what is it, and how is it different from other NFTs?
When most people hear the word landscape, they usually picture wide, natural vistas of mountains, forests, and valleys. The word landscape more often than not conjures up images of nature.
Land itself is a very terrestrial, earthy concept. It’s the hard, physical ground that we’re standing on. It might seem strange, then, to refer to a collection of non-fungible tokens as LAND.
Today, we want to talk a little bit more about what LAND really is, why we think it’s useful, and how it’s different from a lot of the other crypto-collectibles you might have heard of.
LAND is an NFT
We’ve written a lot about NFTs in previous posts. If you’re new to crypto, non-fungible tokens, or Decentraland, we highly recommend reading this introduction to NFTs. Essentially, non-fungible tokens are just like any other crypto token (like Ethereum, Bitcoin, or MANA) in that there is a finite supply of them, thanks to the blockchain.
With their basis on the blockchain, LAND tokens are owned entirely by Decentraland’s users. Once they’re in your wallet, we don’t have any control over them. You do.
You can buy or sell your LAND as you please on a decentralized marketplace, where every transaction is made transparent. This gives LAND an added level of liquidity, and contributes to its value. But what else makes it desirable, aside from scarcity and liquidity?
Where NFTs radically depart from most cryptocurrencies is their potential to entirely unique from one another. As NFTs, LAND tokens possess the ability to encode different information, or content. LAND tokens represent more than just ownership.
LAND is a three-dimensional space
The very first critical bit of information encoded in each LAND token is two numbers: an X coordinate, and a Y coordinate, each ranging from -150 to +150. If you take these two coordinates, and lay them out in a grid, you get a map of Genesis City.
Wait, that’s not three-dimensional!
We know. The map, or Atlas, that you see in the Decentraland Marketplace might be limited to two dimensions, but there is a whole host of other information that can be encoded into each parcel of LAND. Each LAND token points to 3D models, textures, images, sounds, and scripts. All of these files are stored as files in a decentralized fashion, and are rendered by a separate program - the Decentraland Client - in a web browser, mobile device, or VR headset.
A Decentralized Vantage Point
With traditional, closed server architectures, the producer has complete control over the experience they create and display in your screen. But within the shared world of Decentraland, every client is its own source of truth for what is valid and what isn’t.
Even though the LAND you walk on might belong to someone else, your screen and your CPU are still under your control. All together, each Decentraland user contributes to the consensus of what makes a technically valid scene, how many resources scenes can use, and ultimately how the world looks like.
We believe that at the individual level, everyone should have complete power over what they see and who they talk to.
Decentraland’s experience was designed so that you are in control.
You define Decentraland’s LANDscape
Decentraland is a public platform. Individuals and businesses alike can purchase LAND to do with as they please, using open source tools that we’re helping to build.
This is where the notion behind landscape becomes interesting in the context of Decentraland - a landscape usually includes a human element. In the real, physical world, we all contribute to the shape of our surroundings. We build cities, roads, parks, and set aside wilderness areas for everyone to use and enjoy.
Just as the things and places that we build in the real world are limited by physical constraints, so are the things we build in the virtual world. Building creative and engaging spaces requires us to work around these different constraints - like the amount of building supplies, time, and money that we have available.
In the case of Decentraland, the level of graphical detail you can include in your LAND is limited by computing power, as every person exploring the world will have to use its CPU and GPU to render it. In an attempt to encourage simple scenes, we suggested an initial building height limit based on the logarithm of the LAND parcels that comprise the scene.. The amount of actual, virtual real estate that you have access to also determines how much you can build and how complex the city (or nature) scape ends up being. Some of these constraints are arbitrary, but most are not - making it more akin to nature than one may at first realize. We think this will make creativity truly shine in the virtual world.
Find your spot
We’re in the process of auctioning off the rest of the roughly 9,000 unclaimed virtual LAND of Decentraland. We don’t own this LAND. In fact, nobody does, so we aren’t profiting off of its sale - but you can!
Decentraland is a content hosting and distribution platform that can easily be monetized in a way that’s safe, secure, and transparent - both for you and for the people paying for access to the content and experiences that you build.
When we first “minted” LAND last year, our goal was to help create a public, virtual frontier. We aren’t skimming fees off auction sales, and neither are our partners. We’re working to enable the next generation of innovators, creators, and builders. Find your corner of Genesis City.