Decentralized applications (DApps), including gaming apps, have gained significant traction thanks to their transparency, security, and ownership of user assets. However, delivering high-quality AAA gaming experiences through decentralized applications presents challenges.
Current decentralized applications for 2D games run on blockchain networks using smart contracts to manage assets. Although they are preferred for their simple mechanics and resource efficiency, their limitations become apparent as the complexity of the gaming experience increases.
Scalability is a primary hurdle for traditional blockchains like Ethereum, impacting real-time interactive gaming due to limitations surrounding transaction throughput and response time.
Performance is also an issue. AAA games require high-performance computing and superior graphics rendering. However, current decentralized applications struggle to meet these demands, resulting in sub-par visual experiences.
Moreover, developing decentralized applications for AAA games is expensive due to resource-intensive tasks and blockchain implementation fees. Balancing immersive experiences with user-friendly overhead complicates the use of traditional dapp frameworks for AAA games.
What is an actor model?
The Actor Model is a communication model that enables parallel computing and asynchronous messaging within the blockchain protocol, enabling developers to build complex DApps with less difficulty.
The actor model is used within the Gear Protocol, and development was led by Nikolai Wolf, founder of Gear Protocol and Vara and one of the lead developers of Polkadot and the Substrate framework.
Within the model are actors — programs or users that send messages to other programs in the protocol. Each actor has a private mailbox and status that cannot be changed directly by another actor; they can only change states by receiving a message from another actor.
Messages between actors are taken from mailboxes and processed in cycles. Once an actor receives and processes a message, it can either send a message to another actor, create an actor, or change its state.
How is this useful for developing decentralized applications?
Asynchronous message processing in blockchain programming provides several important benefits that contribute to the overall efficiency, scalability, and reliability of decentralized applications.
First, asynchronous message processing allows transactions and smart contracts to be processed without blocking.
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Unlike synchronous processing, where each transaction must be executed sequentially, asynchronous messaging allows the simultaneous execution of multiple tasks.
This parallel processing capability improves the performance of the blockchain network, as it can handle a larger number of transactions and computations simultaneously, resulting in reduced transaction processing times and improved overall throughput.
“In traditional concurrent systems, multiple tasks often have to wait for each other, which leads to slowdowns when processing a large volume of data,” Jack Platts, co-founder of Hypersphere — a cryptocurrency venture capital fund that invests in gaming projects — told Cointelegraph. “Transactions.”
“In the context of blockchain networks, this parallel processing capacity becomes vital to maintaining high transaction throughput,” Platts continued. As users initiate more transactions, the system can handle them simultaneously, ensuring faster confirmation times and improving overall network performance. This is especially crucial for blockchain games, where real-time interactions and fast processing are essential to provide a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.
Some blockchain games, such as Ember Sword, have already integrated parallel processing into their development processes. “In developing Ember Sword, we use parallel processing with our ECS,” Mark Laursen, co-founder and CEO of game development company Bright Star Studios, told Cointelegraph. [entity component system] Solution. Typically, there will be a need to manually merge multiple threads and make complex decisions on a system-by-system basis.
“However, in our scenario,” Laursen continued, “the read and write requirements and the ordering of dependencies are specified, allowing our engine to discern the most efficient way to schedule and parallelize those systems.”
Suppose a player in a blockchain game wants to transfer an in-game item in the form of a non-fungible token, such as transferring a legendary sword from his chest (a wallet for long-term storage) to his inventory (the wallet used for gaming).
The transfer can be done instantly for a low or near-zero fee, in the same way that a player can simply click and drag a sword from their inventory and move it to a merchant or chest in a traditional game.
Additionally, by using asynchronous messaging, blockchain developers can design DApps that are more resilient to fluctuations in network conditions and temporary failures.
“The actor model actually enhances the reliability of applications running on the blockchain,” Pavel Salas, chief growth officer at the Gear Foundation — the organization behind the Gear Protocol — told Cointelegraph, “The actor model actually enhances the reliability of applications running on the blockchain,” adding:
“Since actors process messages independently, failures or problems with one actor do not affect the others, preventing cascading failures and improving overall system robustness. Suppose there are disturbances or problems in the network, the actor model allows the system to recover.” quickly and continue working smoothly.
This can be useful for decentralized applications of blockchain games if there is a network outage, allowing the game to continue running despite any issues with its blockchain.
Moreover, asynchronous message processing improves the scalability of blockchain networks. Traditional concurrent approaches may lead to bottlenecks and performance degradation as the number of users and transactions increases.
In contrast, asynchronous messaging allows tasks to be distributed across multiple nodes, enabling the system to scale more efficiently and handle larger transaction volumes without sacrificing performance.
“As the user base and activity within the dapp grows, the system can easily manage increased message traffic without causing bottlenecks or slowdowns,” Salas said. “Even if a single app grows, it will still manage messages sequentially.”
This scalability is crucial as blockchain networks aim to support a growing user base and accommodate diverse use cases.
Salas continued to explain how the process works: “With the actor model, individual actor programs act as fragments, ensuring that the system can be shared by design as the number of programs grows. […] Vara processes all transactions without splitting across groups of nodes; Each node handles everything. However, within Vara, each program runs independently, has its own state, and processes and sends messages according to its specific logic.
“In blockchain games, where real-time interactions and fast processing are crucial, the sharing capability of the actor model ensures fast processing of game-related actions and events, supporting a seamless gaming experience.”
“As the number of active programs increases, the system partitions and distributes the workload, effectively accommodating the growing user base and maintaining a responsive and efficient network.”
Another benefit of asynchronous message processing is its support for event-driven architectures in decentralized applications. Instead of constantly checking for updates, decentralized applications can subscribe to specific events or messages, allowing them to respond quickly and efficiently to changes in the blockchain.
This event-driven model reduces unnecessary computational load and conserves network resources, resulting in more efficient and responsive applications.
Furthermore, implementing actor messaging capabilities can significantly improve the overall user experience by alleviating extended wait times for transaction validation. Supporting asynchronous processing allows the actor to receive an acknowledgment message for his or her transaction as well as the ID of the pending transaction.
Then, any external computational tasks or data dependencies can be managed by the same actor or an alternative actor in a subsequent block, ensuring efficient processing without compromising the responsiveness of the blockchain network.
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This real-time feedback is especially critical for applications that require quick confirmations.
As the blockchain ecosystem continues to grow and diversify, leveraging asynchronous message handling becomes essential to creating robust AAA-style gaming DApps that can meet the demands of an expanding user base and meet different use cases across industries.
By adopting this methodology, developers have the opportunity to expand the boundaries of decentralized gaming and potentially realize the full capabilities of blockchain technology in the gaming sector.
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