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Small reviews of (I think) all incremental games I've ever played on Android
I don't know if this will be useful to anyone. So I write a line or two about every game I play, and decided to find all the incremental in my game journal and post them here. It starts with the latest games I've played and I think goes back to several years back. One thing I've realized is I have such a love-hate-hate relationship with this genre since I think I've hated 90% of the games and 100% of myself after each incremental phase. I usually angrily stop playing them for a while and restart them again, so this is more or less a journal of addiction, I suppose. THE BEST GAMES I'VE PLAYED ARE THESE (no order):
Honorable Mention: Eggs, Inc The rest: more or less hated it Additional comment if you decide to scan through it, I complain a lot, so it is perfectly reasonable and normal to think, "why the fuck are you even playing these games, idiot??". ------ Time Idle RPG This game was confusing. It tells me the game's resources is time, where you get 1 of it every second, but that's not really something as unique as I assumed. It would have been cool if time as resources meant you used it to deal with something related to time. Maybe time travel? Maybe slowing and speeding time? Instead time as resource buys you stuff like a library. And then you buy a camp or something. Honestly, I wasn't really feeling it. 2 Path of Idling The biggest cardinal sin for me when it comes to incremental is when a game has a lot of features and it just completely throws them all at you instantly. The joy of a great incremental is how things slowly open up and each new achievement feels progress. The game is a RPG game and these are the things that opened up for me in the first few hours. Combat which includes normal fighting, dungeon, raid, boss, PVP (locked, but it just needs an ascend, which I haven't done) Skills Hero upgrades which include Passive (strength, defence, stamina, intelligence), Train, and a huge Tree Town which you can buy workers who get you various things like gold, orbs, knowledge, etc. You can upgrade stuff here. Quest that also includes Perks and Skill quests. Gear which 5 equipment slots, plus craft plus trade plus smelt Also gear for your Pet, which is also another tab! Now, here is the thing. Because I have all of this pretty much instantly, I don't really know which ones are helping me go past a well. How is adding 10 points in strength helping me? Should I have added five in strength instead and five in defence? I have already bought 20 or so upgrades in the Tree, but I have no idea if I am made the optimal choice. There is no real excitement with getting new gear. And so on. The dev has added a lot of features, now it's time to rework the game, and have the features take their time. 2 Idle Slayer The game is like a super simple platformer. Your character is running and any enemy it hits, it automatically slays it. There is no HP, and all enemies die in one shot. Your only active play is jumping occasionally to grab coins or hit the flying enemies. Also, you have a run skill that has a cool down. With the coins, we get new weapons that give us more coins. Enemies give us souls which is used for the prestige system that provides us with an interesting skill tree which provides a lot of choices on the path you want to do in terms of upgrades. So far excellent, however, the game has an extremely serious issue of pacing. The game initially progresses so fast that in the first hour or so, you get almost all the weapons aside from the last two, which then grinds down to a snail pace. You can upgrade your past weapons, but they never really get into play again. Reaching high levels of past weapons sometimes gave me upgrades of that weapon of 10,000% but they still did nothing to my overall coin per second. I think the pacing needs to be fully reworked. It would have been nice to get new weapons after certain prestige cycles, so that every new weapon feels like we have passed a significant wall. The best part of an incremental game for me is to face a wall, and when I finally break it, I feel powerful again for a while. This game feels like this though, powerful powerful powerful powerful WALL........break it....WALL. And so on. I'm still playing it as I want to get some of the skills, but I feel like it could have been so much better. 4 Exponential Idle A very back to the foundation kind of incremental. The premise is that you are a student and working on a formula. There is a neat story where as you progress in the game, your character progresses through university. Each upgrade gives you more and more automation until I reached a stage where I would check back once every 2 or 3 days, click a 2nd layer prestige reset, and close it. Meaning the game was something like 5 seconds of game player every 2 days. I just opened it for this review and realized I had reached the end game. The story wraps up and it tells me "You can take a rest. Travel a bit. Go outside!" NO, DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO GAME. 3 Factoid Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Spark Factoid & Spark should have the same review as they are almost the same game with only small differences. The games are the most basic kind of incremental, where you buy something with resources, until you get the next thing which gives you more of the resources. Both give you upgrades to speed things up, and finally prestige and it's own prestige upgrades. That's it. It's nice little change of pace from all the recent incremental that sometimes do too much, but obviously due to the very simple nature of it, it does eventually feel pointless, specially after you more or less open up everything and the prestige upgrades just keep repeating. 3 Antimatter Dimensions Easily top 5 incremental on mobile. Does everything perfectly. You progress nicely, and when new features open it, not only is it rewarding but more importantly, it keeps adding new dimensions (lol) to the game. I'd at the end game as I write this, and I realize that there was no point in the game where it felt stale. Each new prestige layer made the game feel fresh and almost like a new incremental game. 5 Melvor Idle It seems this game was mainly aimed at Runescape players, which is probably why it didn't click for me. It also run extremely slow on my phone which also played a part in me not really getting into. 2 A Girl Adrift The animation is really pretty and is a nice change of pace for incrementals, but I didn't really like the too much active play. Really had to keep going back and forth to different areas to do the fishing which got too repetitive for me. You travel to different areas of the map to catch fish, which you get points and then you upgrade stuff, but I didn't really find any real excitement about the upgrades because I kept having to go back to previous areas to fish similar creatures. 3 Archer: Danger Phone I'm really annoyed how terrible of a game this was. Two things I like, the TV show "Archer" and incremental games, and it's done in the most lazy manner. The game is the worst aspect of idle games where it's just a straight path of clicking the next upgrade with absolutely zero decision making. Every once in a while there is a mini game where Archer gets to shoot others but it's done in the most basic form of early 2000s flash games, where the animation budget is probably 3 dollars. Same static background and both enemies and Archer have just two animation frames. The absolute laziness of it is almost insulting to the player, because it feels like we aren't even worth the effort. There is an Archer story in the game which develops really fast, which is the only positive part, but no voice acting is again another evidence that the creators of the game weren't given any budget for this. 1 Home Quest This game is way too slow. You have to collect materials to build your settlement but everything takes time, so you click for a few seconds, and then you have to leave the game. Which I'm fine with, but the problem isn't the idle part of it, it's how the idle part of it combines with constant checking of the game which annoys me. I like an idle game where you forget to start the game for a day, you come up to a lot of resources, but this is a game which needs you to check back in every 30 minutes or an hour to really get anywhere. I felt that the micromanagement was getting worse as I progressed (without any actual thing to do when I am active in the game) that made me give up. 2 Idle Industry This is probably an interesting game, but I gave up because the one thing I really disliked was the amount of resources and manufacturing that very quickly opens to you. You can buy raw materials, and you can either sell these raw materials or turn them into finished goods and sell them either. And each of these has several upgrade options (increase selling price, increase production, etc). Without even really getting too deep into the game, I have around 20 raw materials and around 30 finished products. A satisfying part of this genre is to have things slow open up for you, which gives me a decent feeling of satisfaction. But the money I got would quickly open up new products, so I would just jump ahead and purchase more expensive ones, and after a while I had a lot of materials and products at zero, and was instead focusing on latter ones. 2 Masters of Madness Somewhat neat atmosphere and visuals, but too much active clicking. Click, upgrade to get more per clicks, get minions to get you some points without clicking, typical clicker, but with the added benefit of almost no idling. I like idling incrementals but clickers is a hard no from me. 1 Soda Dungeon 2 Basically similar to the first one, as far as I could tell. I did "finish" it but maybe I shouldn't have, since it really is the same thing from early on, specially once you get all the heroes and you kind of sort out which characters work best, then it's just the same. But because it was somewhat short and no real wall, it was at least easy to stick to it to the end. 2 Bacterial Takeover Played for a decent amount and was actually more interesting that I thought, given the buttload of ad incentives. You create and upgrade bacteria, attack planets, and eventually go into a blackhole to prestige. Most of the game was good, but the part that killed it for me was the prestige system. Once you prestige, planets get super easy to attack, which becomes a lot of active play. I realized that each prestige was taking me at least 30 minutes to get to where I was, and it was just meaningless clicking. It got to a point where I was putting off prestige because it seemed like it would be a hassle so I stopped. 2 LogRogue Cute graphics. The hero sort of hopping to hit the tiny monsters is cute to look at, but how long can you look at it and do nothing before you realize that it's boring? I suppose this is a game where it's just not for me. I don't like to have my phone open on a game and just watch it like a crazy person and do nothing. My rule is simple for incrementals. While the app is open, be active, if there isn't any choices to make, close the app while resources build up or whatever. I don't like it being open while I do nothing. 3 A Kittens Game Incremental games are so strange. I get in and out of the phases. I loved this for so long and so obsessively that I wanted to only play incremental games. And then, just like that, I was wondering why the fuck I was wasting my time with this. Has happened countless times before. But still probably the best incremental ever. 5 A Dark Room An incremental cult classic of sorts but I don't find it really matches the genre. There is a bit of incremental at the beginning with people huts and stuff but then its just a ascii exploring game, which wasn't interesting to me. 2 Little Healer Saw it mentioned in the Reddit incremental forum in one of the posts and thought it was a healer themed incremental which sounded neat. But it's like being a healer in a raid in World of Warcraft without any if the extras. Just a couple of bars representing your team mates and you healing them while they fight the boss. I didn't even like playing the healer in WoW so no way would I play this game. 1 Clickie Zoo Started playing for a few days until I realized there a beta released with the dev reworking the game completely from scratch and releasing it as "Idle Zoo Tycoon". So, played that instead but this seemed like a game I would enjoy anyway. 4 Idling to Rule the Gods The UI and one drawing if your character is really ugly enough to be distracting to me. The game, seemed interesting and I eventually was into it, but seems like a game that has been constantly being updated, which is not always a good thing, because features are obviously updated regularly to it, making the whole thing a bit bloaty. I guess, this is the problem with this game for me, it's too fat. Also, one main part of the game is that your character creates Shadow Clones up to a maximum limit. Which is fine except the clones can't be made in offline mode. This might not be a big deal in its original web browser game but that doesn't work as well in a mobile format. 2 Realm Grinder This is one of the really popular incremental and it's fanbase seems to love it for it's depth, but to be honest, I don't play these games for the depth, I play it for the simple dopamine rush of doing the same thing over and over again. It relaxes. Although, I didn't even get to the depth part because I dislike games where it rushes in the beginning. I constantly bought buildings, got spells, and got upgrades without even looking at the description. Apparently, later on, we can get complicated race upgades, which seems not what I'm looking for in such a genre. 2 Spaceplan A short (!!) incremental with an actual story (!!!). That's two cool points for it but unfortunately, the game mechanics of increment genre isn't so good. It's a space game with nice visuals and a great ending (cool music set to cool graphics) but the game itself wasn't really that fun. This same exact game would have been better in a different genre (maybe something like "Out There"?) 3 Zombidle Felt like idle games again and this is the kind of examples that kept me away. Too much clicking and seems like advancement will start to get irritating since it relies on IAPs 2 Eggs, Inc While I was playing it, Eggs, Inc was probably my favorite Android game I had ever played. But like most incremental games, there comes a moment when I suddenly stop and think, what am I doing? Because there is something fascinating about Incrementals. Their addictiveness is in a way the whole point. An incremental is less of a game and more an act of electronic addictiveness. What's the point? Eggs, Inc is a very well made and fun incremental but even the best in its genre is still pointless. 4 Castle Clicker Supposedly a mix of incremental and city building but didn't really find out since the clickings were way to much. I know this is supposed to be the genre but I like the incremental part more than the tapping part. This seemed to be a good way to hurt your fingers. 2 Endless Era This RPG clicker game is like other such games but with horrible GUI and animations. Tap tap tap. It's my fault for downloading such games. Why would I ever think this would be fun??? 1 Idle Quote An incremental game with a unique twist. This time we get to make up quotes! The first negative about the game and this irritates me a lot is most of the quotes are fake. A quick search on Google and this proves it. Quotes are generally attributed to Buddha or Ghandi or shit like that and it's usually fake like most quotes on the internet. This kills the major possible advantage of the game because I thought coming up with arbitrary words would at least give me some quotes to learn. Aside from the this, the game isn't fun either because it slows down very quickly meaning you combine words very slowly at a certain stage of the game and then it becomes a boring grind. 2 Monster Miser An incremental game with almost no graphics. We just see character portraits of monsters which we buy and then upgrade until we buy the next monster. Eventually we prestige which gives us multipliers. The only game choice is choosing between two monsters with each new monster with unique benefits. Annoyingly there is a max limit which I wish didn't exist because I wanted to prestige so much that I would be over powerful in upgrading like that "Idle Oil Tycoon". Still, pointless but reasonably fun. 3 Pocket Politics An incremental take on politics sounds fun but it's so generic that it could have been about anything. A Capitalist idle game or a cooking idle game, it wouldn't matter. IAP was also the usual shitty kind. 1 Time Clickers A shooter incremental sounds like a cool twist but it's not a FPS like I imagined it would be. I'm just stuck in a room and I was shooting blocks. Upgrades didn't give me any enjoyment since I was shooting fucking blocks. 1 Tap Tap Fish - Abyssrium I thought this was going to be relaxing incremental but the ridiculous and generic IAPs and all the social integeration spoil it. Too much time is spent in them asking you to buy or share or tweet or post or give them a blowjob. And there is nothing relaxing about that. 2 Cartoon 999 Incremental game about comic book writers, but not the marvel DC kind, it seemed to be the webcomic one and I think it's a Korean developer so all the characters and injokes made no sense to me. The whole thing was just targeted to a very specific audience. 2 Dungeon Manager Incremental games need to be simple but this is beyond simple, it's just upgrade a fighter to level 5, go to next dungeon character, do the same, and just continue without any of the delicious balancing of upgrades like other idle games. 2 Final Fortress Incremental games are already pointless but when it's super heavy on IAP than its also annoying, but when it always has bugs that doesn't register my offline earnings, then it just needs a uninstall in its face. The zombie skin was also crappy. 1 Mana Maker Here is how I know this clicker isn't very good. It doesn't make me hate all clickers and my life and mobile gaming in general for being so addictive and pointless. So fail, sorry. 2 Infinity Dungeon The usual incremental RPG that I should probably never play again. Starts simple enough and then gets more or a chore as you play. 1 Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Dungeon 999 F: Secret of Slime Dungeon Another incremental game which I had promised myself not to play anymore because they are so pointless and repetitive and endless. Well, this wasn't infinite and had a goal at 999 level so I thought it was good but while the humor was cute, the game did become very repetitive. Every 10 levels the slimes changed but after every 100 levels the whole thing restarted and while the monsters got stronger, I seemed to get even stronger. So the game became easier as I progressed and there was no more challenge. By level 800, I gave up. 2 Tap Dungeon RPG Okay, I'm running out of ways to complain about those incremental RPG games that all have similar problems. It starts off reasonably fast and fun but soon it seems like I am in a data entry job. Doing the same thing over and over again with little changes. 1 Tower of Hero You start on the first floor of the tower and keep fighting your way up by summoning your heroes (by clicking) and recruiting other fighters, get upgrades, level up, and then, ugh, here is the typical incremental RPG part, restart, get items, and do it ALL over again. There is something fun about restarting and getting slowly stronger each time but it also feels so pointless after a while. Such a pointless genre now that I have played a billion of such titles, heh. 3 Pageboy Yet another incremental RPG which I have no idea why I downloaded because I'm sick of the genre. I played a pageboy to a knight who does the fighting while I collect the lot. I collect the loot, buy stuff for the knight, and eventually I restart to do the same thing again and get better items but this game I didn't even RESTART! Because fuck it! Fuck it! 2 Idle Warriors The story is cute. Human population is regressing while monster population is on the rise. So the humans start enslaving monsters to mine for them! The brave warriors beat the crap out of monsters, kidnap the bosses, and enslave them. The animation of monsters slaving away while speech balloons above them talk about their wife and children is funny. But the game itself is another RPG incremental which I should start staying away from. These games are like a chore for me nowadays because I'm doing the same crap again and again. The blame is probably on me because it seems like a reasonably solid game. But hey, fuck it, I PERSONALLY didn't enjoy it. 2 Tap! Tap! Faraway! Any game that is remotely like Tap Titan scares me. They are addictive at first and very fast moving but after every restart gets more and more annoying. It soon turns into a time eating activity with the player having to redo the initial levels to get relics to get better items to progress further to restart to get relics to and so on until the player realizes how much time he is putting in the game for a repetitive activity. 2 Auto RPG Now that is a title the game developers didn't spend too much time on. RPG battles are automatic but I can help out by clicking like a mad man. I started with one hero but would get additional members in my party as the story progressed. Party members receive skills as as they level up and while all the skill usage is automatic, it did give me a sense of progression which is extremely important in a RPG and which I think is usually lacking in incremental games. It usually starts feeling useless but in this game at least there are new maps, new members, and an actual end sight! There is an infinity stage once the last boss is defeated but I am glad the infinity stage happens AFTER the end and it's not the game itself. 4 Merchant Hire a hero and send on to battle. The battles is done automatically and takes time, starts with something short like 10 seconds with each battle taking longer. The loot is raw materials which can be used to craft equipment which also takes real life time with better items taking longer. The crafted items can either be sold or equipped to the hero to make him be able to fight stronger monsters. I was worried I would hate the longer crafting and fighting times because I hate games which I have to watch for a task to finish but even though the durations for longer, I had more to do. However, I don't know what would have happened in the end game because I gave up on it. New maps were exactly like the first map just with different heroes but the progression was similar in each level which felt that I was doing the exact same thing all over again but with longer task times. 2 Idle Oil Tycoon This is the best idle game I played. It's graphics aren't just minor, they are none existent. It's just numbers, so basic that my sister thought I was on a stock market app. It's such a simple concept. Invest, get oil, upgrade then like other idlers restart to get a bonus and do the full thing all over again. When I finished the game, I played the unlimited mode which I played until the unlimited mode couldn't handle the numbers anymore. 5 Soda Dungeon This kind-of Idle Dungeon was great. I started with weak ass fighters who would fight on my behalf while I collected the loot. I then got to use the lot to upgrade the sofa bar to recruit more adventurers. Not sure why it was a sofa bar. Maybe they wanted to make it a family game and not have alcohol? Sounds weird but the sofa element in a RPG game sounds weirder. The game only hit a brick for me when, like most other incremental games, there is no real closure. Once I thought I bet the big bad guy, it just goes on, harder but similar enough with no end in sight. Eventually, we have to stop playing right, but it always feels a bit like a let down when I don't feel like I have finished the game. 4 10 Billion Wives Kept Man Life The two games from this company, 10 Billion Wives and Kept Man Life, have similar strengths and weaknesses. I liked the silly premises from both. In 10BM, I had to get married as much as I could, using the loves I collect to marry more expensive wives! In KML, I'm a boyfriend who doesn't work and I have to please my career gf so she would take care of me. Both start reasonably fast and I was willing to grind through difficult parts but the end game is like a brick wall. Passing through it to get all the achievements is pretty much impossible unless one puts in way too many hours. And it's a shame because I really wanted to get all the achievements to see all the tiny little extra stuff. 3 Adventure Capitalist One of the better incremental games, but now that I am out of the short lived incremental fan phase, I realized how dumb the genre is. Tap, tap, tap, upgrade, do this a million times, reset, and do it all over again like a moron. The game does deserve credits for me acting like a moron and playing it for so long but I also cheated and got free cash and then if occupying became even more pointless. 3 The Monolith A combination of an incremental and a civilization building game seemed like an excellent idea and in some ways, it was, specially how we get to upgrade through the ages from cavemen to futuristic. But no offline feature means that the resets aren't enticing. 2 USSR Simulator An incremental game that has a great theme (USSR!) but absolutely horrible to enjoy, even though I did stick to it. After a certain upgrades, the game just turned into me popping in the game, clicking an upgrade and then forgetting about the game for a few days. 2 RPG Clicker They should call these games tappers not clickers. We are not clicking anything on a touchscreen device. Anyway, tap tap tap level up buy weapons tap tap and uninstall. 1 Logging Quest Logging Quest 2 [Review is for the original and its sequel] There is not much of a difference between the game. I actually played them both at the same time because the actual game is offline. You choose your hero, send them to a dungeon, and then come back to the game after a while to see how well they did. I thought an offline RPG like this might be interesting but then, if you don't really play a game, how much fun can it be? 1 Another pointless incremental. I was in an incremental phase and got so many incremental games that I know realize were absolutely pointless. Hit a tree, buy upgrades, get a new hero, and continue hitting a tree. Not much offline it seems which is what I like about incrementals. 1 Galaxy Clicker A space incremental that should have been a lot of fun. You get to upgrade your spaceship and buy new ones and explorer new planets. But first of all, the interface is so ugly that it makes playing the game less enjoyable. And a lot of things I didn't really get no matter how much I would play like the full exploring planets. The spaceships were nice, so it could have been fun. 2 Megatramp A pretty pointless incremental kind of game. You are a tramp and then you can collect money to buy upgrades to make more money, with no strategy needed, nor any effort needs to be made to hurt your brain cells. 1 Inflation RPG It supposed to be some kind of incremental RPG, I think, which has you resetting and getting more powerful and then fighting monsters to get insane levels. It is very unique but I couldn't get into it. 2 Widget RPG Are you fucking with me? This is button bashing rpg in the most extreme manner. You get a widget, so you don't even have to open the game and distract yourself from the button bushing. Just click the button and the game plays behind the scenes and gets you experience, loot, and kills. It's a ridiculous idea that is fun for a few minutes to see what they come up with but there is only so much button bashing you can do. 2 Capitalist Tycoon I downloaded this game because I was in an incremental/idle game phase and really enjoyed AdVenture Capitalist. But this game is nothing like that. On the surface, it seems similar, buy small investments, make money, buy bigger investments, and so on. But with this game, there is no offline mode, and you keep having to wake up managers, AND the goal is to see how much you make in one year. Bah. I prefer the incremental approach which makes you build and build and build, not try to rush it in just a year. 2 Clicking Bad An incremental clicking game that is themed after Breaking Bad. It is a fun idea it's a very simple game with little to do aside from the obvious of upgrading and upgrading. The only twist might be to balance out making lots of money selling drugs and not attracting the law but even that is only a small challenge at the start. Eventually, you will get enough upgrades to bring the law risk so down that it makes no impact on the game play. 2 Zombie Tapper A super basic incremental clicker game with a zombie team. Click click click to eat brains, use brains (?) to buy zombies to do the brain eating for you and then buy upgrades for your zombies, and buy new zombies and it all feels very pointless. 1 Bitcoin Billionaire I started to enjoy incremental games, but it needs to have a good offline mode, because I don’t want to just play a game where I keep tapping. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t play. I played it, and I played a lot of it, because I could reset the game (like most incremental games) and it gives you a small benefit where you could finish the full game a bit faster (it gives you bonus income). So, I kept finishing and resetting, and each time the start to finish would shorten, so I thought I would reach a stage where I could finish each start-to-finish in an instant! It didn’t happen. I got bored first. 3 Tap Titan An addictive tapping game. Just tap on the creatures, level up, get new skills, hire heroes, and then reset and to it all over again to progress further. It’s an incremental game where it depends on resets to progress, but no real offline bonus, so you have to be playing online. Which got boring, so I installed an app that does the tapping for me, which is actually a stupid way to play the game, but this isn’t an attempt to prove to anyone my intelligence. Anyway, thankfully something went wrong and my progress got deleted, WHICH WAS A GOOD THING, because the game was extremely addictive. 4 God Squad I’ve realized most incremental games are stupid. Tap on monsters to kill, collect gold, buy Roman Gods, level them up, fight other monsters, and then get bored. 1
https://github.com/gridcoin-community/Gridcoin-Research/releases/tag/18.104.22.168 Finally! After over ten months of development and testing, "Fern" has arrived! This is a whopper. 240 pull requests merged. Essentially a complete rewrite that was started with the scraper (the "neural net" rewrite) in "Denise" has now been completed. Practically the ENTIRE Gridcoin specific codebase resting on top of the vanilla Bitcoin/Peercoin/Blackcoin vanilla PoS code has been rewritten. This removes the team requirement at last (see below), although there are many other important improvements besides that. Fern was a monumental undertaking. We had to encode all of the old rules active for the v10 block protocol in new code and ensure that the new code was 100% compatible. This had to be done in such a way as to clear out all of the old spaghetti and ring-fence it with tightly controlled class implementations. We then wrote an entirely new, simplified ruleset for research rewards and reengineered contracts (which includes beacon management, polls, and voting) using properly classed code. The fundamentals of Gridcoin with this release are now on a very sound and maintainable footing, and the developers believe the codebase as updated here will serve as the fundamental basis for Gridcoin's future roadmap. We have been testing this for MONTHS on testnet in various stages. The v10 (legacy) compatibility code has been running on testnet continuously as it was developed to ensure compatibility with existing nodes. During the last few months, we have done two private testnet forks and then the full public testnet testing for v11 code (the new protocol which is what Fern implements). The developers have also been running non-staking "sentinel" nodes on mainnet with this code to verify that the consensus rules are problem-free for the legacy compatibility code on the broader mainnet. We believe this amount of testing is going to result in a smooth rollout. Given the amount of changes in Fern, I am presenting TWO changelogs below. One is high level, which summarizes the most significant changes in the protocol. The second changelog is the detailed one in the usual format, and gives you an inkling of the size of this release.
Note that the protocol changes will not become active until we cross the hard-fork transition height to v11, which has been set at 2053000. Given current average block spacing, this should happen around October 4, about one month from now. Note that to get all of the beacons in the network on the new protocol, we are requiring ALL beacons to be validated. A two week (14 day) grace period is provided by the code, starting at the time of the transition height, for people currently holding a beacon to validate the beacon and prevent it from expiring. That means that EVERY CRUNCHER must advertise and validate their beacon AFTER the v11 transition (around Oct 4th) and BEFORE October 18th (or more precisely, 14 days from the actual date of the v11 transition). If you do not advertise and validate your beacon by this time, your beacon will expire and you will stop earning research rewards until you advertise and validate a new beacon. This process has been made much easier by a brand new beacon "wizard" that helps manage beacon advertisements and renewals. Once a beacon has been validated and is a v11 protocol beacon, the normal 180 day expiration rules apply. Note, however, that the 180 day expiration on research rewards has been removed with the Fern update. This means that while your beacon might expire after 180 days, your earned research rewards will be retained and can be claimed by advertising a beacon with the same CPID and going through the validation process again. In other words, you do not lose any earned research rewards if you do not stake a block within 180 days and keep your beacon up-to-date. The transition height is also when the team requirement will be relaxed for the network.
Besides the beacon wizard, there are a number of improvements to the GUI, including new UI transaction types (and icons) for staking the superblock, sidestake sends, beacon advertisement, voting, poll creation, and transactions with a message. The main screen has been revamped with a better summary section, and better status icons. Several changes under the hood have improved GUI performance. And finally, the diagnostics have been revamped.
The wallet sync speed has been DRASTICALLY improved. A decent machine with a good network connection should be able to sync the entire mainnet blockchain in less than 4 hours. A fast machine with a really fast network connection and a good SSD can do it in about 2.5 hours. One of our goals was to reduce or eliminate the reliance on snapshots for mainnet, and I think we have accomplished that goal with the new sync speed. We have also streamlined the in-memory structures for the blockchain which shaves some memory use. There are so many goodies here it is hard to summarize them all. I would like to thank all of the contributors to this release, but especially thank @cyrossignol, whose incredible contributions formed the backbone of this release. I would also like to pay special thanks to @barton2526, @caraka, and @Quezacoatl1, who tirelessly helped during the testing and polishing phase on testnet with testing and repeated builds for all architectures. The developers are proud to present this release to the community and we believe this represents the starting point for a true renaissance for Gridcoin!
Most significantly, nodes calculate research rewards directly from the magnitudes in EACH superblock between stakes instead of using a two- or three- point average based on a CPID's current magnitude and the magnitude for the CPID when it last staked. For those long-timers in the community, this has been referred to as "Superblock Windows," and was first done in proof-of-concept form by @denravonska.
Network magnitude unit pinned to a static value of 0.25
Max research reward allowed per block raised to 16384 GRC (from 12750 GRC)
New CPIDs begin accruing research rewards from the first superblock that contains the CPID instead of from the time of the beacon advertisement
500 GRC research reward limit for a CPID's first stake
6-month expiration for unclaimed rewards
10-block spacing requirement between research reward claims
Rolling 5-day payment-per-day limit
Legacy tolerances for floating-point error and time drift
The need to include a valid copy of a CPID's magnitude in a claim
10-block emission adjustment interval for the magnitude unit
One-time beacon activation requires that participants temporarily change their usernames to a verification code at one whitelisted BOINC project
Verification codes of pending beacons expire after 3 days
Self-service beacon removal
Burn fee for beacon advertisement increased from 0.00001 GRC to 0.5 GRC
Rain addresses derived from beacon keys instead of a default wallet address
Beacon expiration determined as of the current block instead of the previous block
The ability for developers to remove beacons
The ability to sign research reward claims with non-current but unexpired beacons
As a reminder:
Beacons expire after 6 months pass (180 days)
Beacons can be renewed after 5 months pass (150 days)
Renewed beacons must be signed with the same key as the original beacon
Magnitudes less than 1 include two fractional places
Magnitudes greater than or equal to 1 but less than 10 include one fractional place
A valid superblock must match a scraper convergence
Superblock popularity election mechanics
Yes/no/abstain and single-choice response types (no user-facing support yet)
To create a poll, a maximum of 250 UTXOs for a single address must add up to 100000 GRC. These are selected from the largest downwards.
Burn fee for creating polls scaled by the number of UTXOs claimed
50 GRC for a poll contract
0.001 GRC per claimed UTXO
Burn fee for casting votes scaled by the number of UTXOs claimed
0.01 GRC for a vote contract
0.01 GRC to claim magnitude
0.01 GRC per claimed address
0.001 GRC per claimed UTXO
Maximum length of a poll title: 80 characters
Maximum length of a poll question: 100 characters
Maximum length of a poll discussion website URL: 100 characters
Maximum number of poll choices: 20
Maximum length of a poll choice label: 100 characters
Magnitude, CPID count, and participant count poll weight types
The ability for developers to remove polls and votes
[22.214.171.124] 2020-09-03, mandatory, "Fern"
Backport newer uint256 types from Bitcoin #1570 (@cyrossignol)
Implement project level rain for rainbymagnitude #1580 (@jamescowens)
Upgrade utilities (Update checker and snapshot downloadeapplication) #1576 (@iFoggz)
Provide fees collected in the block by the miner #1601 (@iFoggz)
Add support for generating legacy superblocks from scraper stats #1603 (@cyrossignol)
Port of the Bitcoin Logger to Gridcoin #1600 (@jamescowens)
Implement zapwallettxes #1605 (@jamescowens)
Implements a global event filter to suppress help question mark #1609 (@jamescowens)
Add next target difficulty to RPC output #1615 (@cyrossignol)
Add caching for block hashes to CBlock #1624 (@cyrossignol)
Make toolbars and tray icon red for testnet #1637 (@jamescowens)
Add an rpc call convergencereport #1643 (@jamescowens)
Implement newline filter on config file read in #1645 (@jamescowens)
Implement beacon status icon/button #1646 (@jamescowens)
Add gridcointestnet.png #1649 (@caraka)
Add precision to support magnitudes less than 1 #1651 (@cyrossignol)
Replace research accrual calculations with superblock snapshots #1657 (@cyrossignol)
Publish example gridcoinresearch.conf as a md document to the doc directory #1662 (@jamescowens)
Add options checkbox to disable transaction notifications #1666 (@jamescowens)
Add support for self-service beacon deletion #1695 (@cyrossignol)
Add support for type-specific contract fee amounts #1698 (@cyrossignol)
Add verifiedbeaconreport and pendingbeaconreport #1696 (@jamescowens)
Add preliminary testing option for block v11 height on testnet #1706 (@cyrossignol)
Add verified beacons manifest part to superblock validator #1711 (@cyrossignol)
Implement beacon, vote, and superblock display categories/icons in UI transaction model #1717 (@jamescowens)
Vitalik dropped a bombshell on us when said that "high fees make Ethereum less secure". I explored what that means, why it's true, and what it means for the future of blockchains
The source of this is: https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin/status/1285593115672358912 And in particular, he links to: https://www.cs.princeton.edu/~arvindn/publications/mining_CCS.pdf I am: an Ethereum entrepreneur working full time on https://flowerpatch.app, an indie game When I first read that tweet, I was really surprised. We've been thinking since the start of Bitcoin that fees would gradually become the long-term thing that sustains miners. We were told that paying miners = security for the network Overview: The btc whitepaper explained that the block rewards would go down, slowly over time. Ethereum is modeled on this concept too, though has no fixed cap. Then: big blocks are good, because big blocks = more fees. However, looking back at this idea now, we see that there was a fair bit of hand-waving in this transition, and a new scalability problem becomes clear:
Up until recently, blocks have basically always had the same value per block. It turns out that this was a very important game theory assumption!
As fees begin to dominate the miners' revenue, we enter into a world where some blocks are very valuable, and some blocks not so much
An additional problem, especially in Bitcoin, is the "exponential time variance" in block mining. Sometimes, there's just no blocks for an hour
Miners always have the option to "fork" a blockchain. As we start to have high variance in the value of blocks, it becomes much more logical to try to fork valuable blocks instead of building on top of them. The paper states this as: "it becomes attractive to fork a “wealthy” block to “steal” the rewards therein". You can incentivize other miners to "join in" on your theft-fork by not taking all of fee revenue (i.e. not including all the transactions), leaving some for others that wish to follow you into the dark world. The paper provides an illustration: https://i.imgur.com/I2K9QDd.jpg
The paper also outlines several other "bad actor" strategies that miners can use. Increasingly, as blocks become irregular, and more "evil" strategies start to creep in, this actually opens the door to further bad actors, and collusion
One key quote from the paper: "Without a block reward, immediately after a block is found there is zero expected reward for mining but nonzero electricity cost, making it unprofitable for any miner to mine." — this leads to another class of game theory issues, where miners have no reason to start mining until transactions start to pile up, but still have to pay electricity fees. The world has changed since the btc whitepaper: various schemes for mining multiple currencies at once, or quickly switching to alternate networks, become available. Miners may choose to switch off their equipment, or switch networks for a while, instead of waiting for transactions to pile up. They call this phenomenon "mining gaps"
Impact on Bitcoin security. If any of the deviant mining strategies we explore were to be deployed, the impact on Bitcoin’s security would be serious. At best, the block chain will have a significant fraction of stale or orphaned blocks due to constant forks, making 51% attacks much easier and increasing the transaction confirmation time. At worst, consensus will break down due to block withholding or increasingly aggressive undercutting.
How this affects Ethereum:
Ethereum has, like Bitcoin, been slowly reducing its block rewards
Today, as Vitalik said, we had fees make up 40-50% of the block rewards
This actually introduces a new scalability issue — if we increase the blocksize by 4, even if the network could handle that, we could have a situation where fees make up 200% of the block reward (50% x 4). This would start to seriously undercut Ethereum's security, as the tweet alluded
This issue is not purely hypothetical, but could really happen, if fees hit a sustained 100-300Gwei — on today's eth1 network! Even without extra blockspace! We could start seeing these mining strategies appearing soon
How we fix this:
As Vitalik mentioned, EIP-1559 does largely solve this issue. That's all the reason we need to include this EIP. Burning fees is the key to fixing the game theory. But if nothing else, you can achieve a 0% inflation rate while still issuing block rewards, as long as enough eth is burned
ETH2 is not susceptible to these issues, because mining rewards are shared, rather than adversarial. The years of game theory research were worth it
What happens with Bitcoin: Well, this probably won't be an issue for quite a while, because BTC's rewards will only slowly dwindle over the next 100 years. However, they have a strict policy around this. BTC was always meant to have a totally fixed cap, and that's a big part of their "digital gold" narrative. What happens if the price of BTC tanks while the network is at capacity and has high fee revenue? They could start seeing issues pretty soon, especially with the abundance of other coins using the same mining hardware. There's already a fair bit of miners that jump between BTC/BCH/BSV based on profitability, so the "mining gaps" we discussed earlier could become more prevalent
The distributed fund of read.cash / or how to make Bitcoin Cash more popular
Just in case somebody doesn't know - read.cash is a site where anyone can write articles and earn tips in Bitcoin Cash from other users. We created it as an experiment to get more people to use Bitcoin Cash (and also maybe make some money in the process, hint: we didn't, so far...) We have developed a distributed fund on read.cash as an experiment recently. Why distributed? Well, traditionally funds work like this: you give somebody some money and they distribute it during some period. Naturally, this middleman would be holding your money. It's a scary thought for us and we thought we might give some control back to the people. We went another way. With Bitcoin Cash you can actually still hold your money and yet participate in our fund. One can pledge the money to the fund from within his own browser on read.cash. The money stays on his/her account, but is moved to another address (and you can cancel it anytime by moving money back). Every day read.cash sends a list of recommended people to support (based on the points they earned the previous day) and his/her browser sends 0.5% of the total funds to these addresses. The points are given for active participation - logging in, writing articles, comments, forum posts, giving paid tips, etc... The downside is that this user can't just "donate and forget", but rather has to come to read.cash everyday to give out the payments. Right now, the fund has about $3,000 in the funds that are mostly comprised of the money of people we personally asked to help. That means that about $15 is distributed daily (0.5%). First a bit of history, in all of read.cash's existence up to this day there were only 634 people who were given Bitcoin Cash by other users (there were 13,000 tips given for a total of approximately $40,000, but all of them were given to just 600 users). At the same time we had about 1,200 authors (people who posted at least something), so about 600 authors were never given any tips despite putting quite some effort and about 1,300 users more never got to touch Bitcoin Cash despite being registered on read.cash To counteract that injustice we have created this fund. The fund has been active for 12 days and here's the kicker - in these 12 days, having spent just $114 has distributed at least some Bitcoin Cash to 834 users. And it grows pretty fast. https://i.imgur.com/JRfzTsi.png So, the fund with just $114 has done more to promote Bitcoin Cash than tipping in the last 6 months. And people are pretty happy - we're seeing record levels of articles published, comments added (and spam too)... Frankly, before the launch of the fund, read.cash was going pretty stale. Absurdly low levels of activity and lots of complaints from users that they don't enjoy writing stuff and seeing zero tips. Totally changed by the fund. Right now though the fund pays maybe $20 per month to the top user. Which is obviously not enough to interest any serious writer. Most of the excellent writers we have are doing it because of pure enthusiasm, but I believe they should be compensated well. Our estimates show that in order for read.cash to attract top talent we need about $1,000,000 in the fund per year. Don't scream at us, it's a stretch goal, we understand it. :) That would be enough to give about $5,000 per month to the top author and some funds to maybe up to hundreds of thousands of users. In a few years maybe read.cash would be able to get that amount just by selling some ads on the site, but not right now. Ok, so our train of thought: in order for Bitcoin Cash to be successful, we need more people using Bitcoin Cash. It's pretty easy to download Bitcoin.com wallet, but then you see $0 in it. How do you earn Bitcoin Cash? There aren't that many ways right now. read.cash is one of them (and a pretty easy one). So, the more popular read.cash is - the more Bitcoin Cash users are there. With that train of thought we also understand that many big holders of Bitcoin Cash though interested in making Bitcoin Cash popular, but they might not be interested in visiting read.cash daily to distribute the fund. We're thinking about running a Flipstarter. I think $1,000,000 is a stretch to collect by any means, so maybe for $100,000. (That would mean about $500/month for the top writer) 85% will go directly to the fund (i.e. will be used to sponsor read.cash active users) and 15% would go to read.cash promotion (buying ads on other sites). We would take 0% for ourselves. We don't really want to raise money by selling a share in profits, because that would mean we would no longer be free to developer read.cash as we see fit. Why $100,000 and not $10,000. Well, we're pretty sure that we can find $10,000 ourselves in some near future even without help from the community, but it's really not enough to seriously tip the scale. If $114 have got 834 people to try to use Bitcoin Cash, imagine what $100,000 would do. That's our vision. What's your take on this, dear community, should we do the Flipstarter? Is our goal of $100,000 about right or how much do you think we should try to collect? (Because, of course, the more we collect the further we can grow) Would you participate? Thanks for taking your time to read this!
I worked hard for it: version 2.0 of LuckyNano is finally there. Come and check out a fun faucet for a change :)
Howdy ~♪ It's been a vague promise for a year now, life has been quite busy on my end but, yay, we've done it: LuckyNano 2.0 is a thing ! Do pay us a visit by clickingthis link, peeps. As always, I'm sure many of you don't know LN, so let me introduce you: LuckyNano started in January 2018, with the idea of creating a faucet to introduce people to Nano, but in a fun way. I felt really bummed that such an awesome currency as Nano would only be discovered through dull faucets, where all you do to get munie is clicking a button, every now and then. Worse, some only allow you to claim once, or at the cost of viewing ads. I was a big fan of gamefaucet.com for Bitcoin (RIP), which let you play casino games in exchange of a few satoshi, with a big community component around it. People were enticed to chat and build a strong fanbase, and those who wanted to help the project would invest their own money to unlock perks and features. This is *exactly* what I'm going for with LuckyNano: a faucet with casino-inspired games where you win NANO, but with a more modern design, and an enhanced multiplayer aspect. And those who are willing to try their luck for a quick buck, or simply want to help keep the project afloat can deposit a couple of NANO to play for higher stakes. So ! On to what 2.0 has to offer:
A brand new game: BlackJack. It's in Alpha version, so while the tests are going on, only faucet users can play -- the goal is to avoid potential breaking bugs during paid games. Only the basic rules are implemented, it's very barebone and with only one table, meaning 5 simultaneous players max. But GOD, it's finally there !
Faucet users can finally play all games (except Poker): it was kind of a bummer that only the Slots Machine was available to free players before. It was first intended to be temporary, to promote the game that was introduced when 1.0 rolled out. Then it stayed the same for over a year...
POKER IS FREE, ladies and gentlemen. You may now sit at our Cash Games and play all you want, it's absolutely free and will always be from now on -- no more profit-based fee, heck, don't even get me started with the robbery that rake fee is. Plus, Freeroll Tournaments are now every two hours. That's 3x more chances to get decent real money out of it.
Improved security. Unfortunately, as 2.0 was about to be pushed a couple of weeks ago, the website was attacked. The cracker only got to steal around 14 NANO, but an attack is still an attack and has to be taken seriously. Hotfixes were pushed here and there, and 2FA is now enforced on all accounts to prevent illicit account info changes or withdrawals. It does require users to provide a real e-mail address, but it's the only personal information asked from the player. I believe that cryptocurrency users like their privacy, and that services such as mine should not collect more info than they need for their users' and their own security.
Please try it, and share some love if you feel like it. :-)
This review is not sponsored! Neither it is an ad. How to choose a mining pool? How to avoid stale shares? The pros and cons of different services.
What is a cryptocurrency mining pool?
A “mining pool" is a server that distributes the task of calculating the block signature between all connected participants. The contribution of each of them is evaluated using the so-called “shares”, which are potential candidates for receiving a signature. As soon as one of the “shares” hits the target, the pool announces the readiness of the block and distributes the reward. However, if you participate in the pool, then you will have to share the profit with all the participants in the pool, but for the majority, this usually is the most profitable option.
Which pool is better for mining?
The best mining pools should meet the following criteria:
Minimum commission for using their services (mining and funds withdrawal);
24/7 availability to monitor all the steps of mining;
Honesty, reliability and a long time of existence (among the owners of pools some scammers steal part of the power of miners and dissolve into oblivion with the funds earned by miners);
The high computing power of the pool makes it more likely that blocks will be found regularly (with low pool power, all work may be wasted due to the low probability of finding blocks);
A small ping) from the user's mining equipment to the pool servers to ensure timely receipt of tasks from the pool and minimize the number of stale shares;
If the mining power is small, it is worth paying attention to the minimum payout threshold so that you do not have to wait for it for a long time.
Key selection criteria
To select a good pool for each specific cryptocurrency, you need to carefully study all the information available about it on its website and on the forums. To reduce the number of stale shares, it is better to mine on the pool closest to the miner. You can choose the fastest mining pool by studying the information about the processing speed of the share in the mining program or by pinging the time it takes for the signal to pass from the miner's computer to the servers of the pool.
Technical: Upcoming Improvements to Lightning Network
Price? Who gives a shit about price when Lightning Network development is a lot more interesting????? One thing about LN is that because there's no need for consensus before implementing things, figuring out the status of things is quite a bit more difficult than on Bitcoin. In one hand it lets larger groups of people work on improving LN faster without having to coordinate so much. On the other hand it leads to some fragmentation of the LN space, with compatibility problems occasionally coming up. The below is just a smattering sample of LN stuff I personally find interesting. There's a bunch of other stuff, like splice and dual-funding, that I won't cover --- post is long enough as-is, and besides, some of the below aren't as well-known. Anyway.....
Yeah the exciting new Lightning Network channel update protocol!
Solves "toxic waste" problem. In the current Poon-Dryja update protocol, old state ("waste") is dangerous ("toxic") because if your old state is acquired by your most hated enemy, they can use that old state to publish a stale unilateral close transaction, which your counterparty must treat as a theft attempt and punish you, causing you to lose funds. With Decker-Russell-Osuntokun old state is not revoked, but is instead gainsaid by later state: instead of actively punishing old state, it simply replaces the old state with a later state.
Allows multiple participants in the update protocol. This can be used as the update protocol for a channel factory with 3 or more participants, for example (channels are not practical for multiple participants since the loss of any one participants makes the channel completely unuseable; it's more sensible to have a multiple-participant factory that splits up into 2-participant channels). Poon-Dryja only supports two participants. Another update protocol, Decker-Wattenhofer, also supports multiple participants, but requires much larger locktimes in case of a unilateral close (measurable in weeks, whereas Poon-Dryja and Decker-Russell-Osuntokun can be measured in hours or days).
It uses nLockTime in a very clever way.
No, it does not solve the "watchtower needed" problem. Decker-Russell-Osuntokun still requires watchtowers if you're planning to be offline for a long time.
What might be confused is that it was initially thought that watchtowers under Decker-Russell-Osuntokun could be made more efficient by having the channel participant update a single "slot" in the watchtower, rather than having to consume one "slot" per update in Poon-Dryja. However, the existence of the "poisoned blob" attack by ZmnSCPxj means that having a replaceable "slot" is risky if the other participant of the channel can spoof you. And the safest way to prevent spoofing somebody is to identify that somebody --- but now that means the watchtower can surveill the activities of somebody it has identified, losing privacy.
Requires base layer change --- SIGHASH_NOINPUT / SIGHASH_ANYPREVOUT. This is still being worked out and may potentially not reach Bitcoin anytime soon.
Determining costs of routes is somewhat harder, and may complicate routefinding algorithms. In particular: every channel today has a "CLTV Delta", a number of blocks by which the total maximum delay of the payment is increased. This maximum delay is the maximum amount of time by which an outgoing payment can be locked, and needs to be reduced for UX purposes. Decker-Russell-Osuntokun will also add a "CSV minimum", a number of blocks, which must be smaller than the delay of an HTLC going through the channel. Current routefinding algos are good at minimizing a summed-up cost (like the "CLTV Delta") so the "CSV minimum" may require discovering / developing new routefinding algos.
Due to the "CSV minimum" above, existing nodes that don't understand Decker-Russell-Osuntokun cannot reliably route over Decker-Russell-Osuntokun channels, as they might not impose this minimum properly.
Multipart payments / AMP
Splitting up large payments into smaller parts!
There are at least three variants of multipart payments: Original, Base, and High.
Original is the original AMP proposed by Lightning Labs. It sacrifices proof-of-payment in order to allow each path to have a different payment hash. This is done by having the payer use a derivation scheme to generate each part's payment preimage from a seed, then having the split the seed (using secret sharing) to each part. The receiver can only reconstruct the seed if all parts reach it.
Base simply uses the same payment hash for all routes. This retains proof-of-payment (i.e. an invoice is undeniably signed by the receiver, including a payment hash in the invoice; public knowledge of the payment preimage is proof that the receiver has in fact received money, and any third party can be convinced of this by being shown the signed invoice and the preimage). The receiver could just take one part of the payment and then claim to be underpaid by the payer and then deny service, but claiming any one part is enough to publish the payment preimage, creating a proof-of-payment: so the receiver can provably be made liable, even if it took just one part, thus the incentive of the receiver is to only take in the payment once all parts have arrived to it.
High requires elliptic curve points / scalars. It combines both Original and Base, retaining proof-of-payment (sacrificed by Original) and ensuring cryptographically-secure waiting for all parts (rather than the mere economically-incentivized of Base). This is done by using elliptic curve homomorphism to addition of scalars to add together the payer-provided preimage (really scalar) of Original with the payee-provided preimage (really scalar) of Base.
Better expected reliability. Channels are limited by capacity. By splitting up into many smaller payments, you can fit into more channels and be more likely to successfully reach the payee.
Capacity on mutiple of your channels can be used to pay. Currently if you have 0.05BTC on one channel and 0.05BTC on another channel, you can't pay 0.06BTC without first rebalancing your channels (and paying fees for the rebalance first, whether the payment succeeds or not). With multipart you can now combine the capacities of multiple of your channels, and only pay fees for combining them if the payment pushes through.
Wumbo payments (oversized payments) come "for free" without having to be explicitly supported by the nodes of the network: you just split up wumbo payments into parts smaller than the wumbo limit.
Multipart will have higher fees. Part of the feerate of each channel is a flat-rate fee. Going through multiple paths means paying more of this flat-rate fee.
It's not clear how to split up payments. Heuristics for payment splitting have to be derived and developed and tested.
Payment points / scalars
Using the magic of elliptic curve homomorphism for fun and Lightning Network profits! Basically, currently on Lightning an invoice has a payment hash, and the receiver reveals a payment preimage which, when inputted to SHA256, returns the given payment hash. Instead of using payment hashes and preimages, just replace them with payment points and scalars. An invoice will now contain a payment point, and the receiver reveals a payment scalar (private key) which, when multiplied with the standard generator point G on secp256k1, returns the given payment point. This is basically Scriptless Script usage on Lightning, instead of HTLCs we have Scriptless Script Pointlocked Timelocked Contracts (PTLCs).
Enables a shit-ton of improvements: payment decorrelation, stuckless payments, noncustodial escrow over Lightning (the Hodl Hodl Lightning escrow is custodial, read the fine print), High multipart.
It's the same coolness that makes Schnorr Signatures cool. ECDSA, despite being based on elliptic curves, is not cool because the hash-the-nonce operation needed to prevent it from infringing Schnorr's fatherfucking patent also prevents ECDSA from using the cool elliptic curve homomorphism of addition over scalars.
Requires Schnorr on Bitcoin layer.
Actually, we can work with 2p-ECDSA without waiting for Schnorr. We get back the nice elliptic curve homomorphism by passing the ECDSA nonce through another cryptosystem, Paillier. This gets us the ability to do Scriptless Script. I think it has only 80-bits security because of going through Paillier though.
Basically the conundrum is: we could implement 2p-ECDSA now, hope we never have to test the 80-bit security anytime soon, then switch to Schnorr with 128-bit security later (which means reimplementing a bunch of things, because the calculations are different and the data that needs to be exchanged between channel participants is very different between the 2p-ECDSA and Schnorr). Reimplementing is painful and is more dev work. If we don't implement with 2p-ECDSA now, though, we will be delaying all the nice elliptic curve goodness (stuckless, noncustodial escrow, payment decorrelation) until Bitcoin gets Schnorr.
Elliptic curve discrete log problem is theoretically quantum-vulnerable. If we can't find a qunatum-resistant homomorphic construction, we'll have to give up the advantages (payment decorrelation, stuckless payments, noncustodial escrow over Lightning) we got from using elliptic curve points and go back to boring old hashes.
Ensuring that payers cannot access data or other digital goods without proof of having paid the provider. In a nutshell: the payment preimage used as a proof-of-payment is the decryption key of the data. The provider gives the encrypted data, and issues an invoice. The buyer of the data then has to pay over Lightning in order to learn the decryption key, with the decryption key being the payment preimage.
Enables data providers to sell data. This could be sensors, livestreams, blogs, articles, whatever.
There's no scheme to determine if the data provider is providing actually-useful data. The data-provider could just stream https://random.org for example. This is a potentially-impossible problem. Even if the data-provider provides a "sample" of the data, and is able to derive some proof that the sample is indeed a true snippet of the encrypted data, the rest of the data outside of the sample might just be random junk.
No more payments getting stuck somewhere in the Lightning network without knowing whether the payee will ever get paid! (that's actually a bit overmuch claim, payments still can get stuck, but what "stuckless" really enables is that we can now safely run another parallel payment attempt until any one of the payment attempts get through). Basically, by using the ability to add points together, the payer can enforce that the payee can only claim the funds if it knows two pieces of information:
The payment scalar corresponding to the payment point in the invoice signed by the payee.
An "acknowledgment" scalar provided by the payer to the payee via another communication path.
This allows the payer to make multiple payment attempts in parallel, unlike the current situation where we must wait for an attempt to fail before trying another route. The payer only needs to ensure it generates different acknowledgment scalars for each payment attempt. Then, if at least one of the payment attempts reaches the payee, the payee can then acquire the acknowledgment scalar from the payer. Then the payee can acquire the payment. If the payee attempts to acquire multiple acknowledgment scalars for the same payment, the payer just gives out one and then tells the payee "LOL don't try to scam me", so the payee can only acquire a single acknowledgment scalar, meaning it can only claim a payment once; it can't claim multiple parallel payments.
Can safely run multiple parallel payment attempts as long as you have the funds to do so.
Needs payment point + scalar
Non-custodial escrow over Lightning
The "acknowledgment" scalar used in stuckless can be reused here. The acknowledgment scalar is derived as an ECDH shared secret between the payer and the escrow service. On arrival of payment to the payee, the payee queries the escrow to determine if the acknowledgment point is from a scalar that the escrow can derive using ECDH with the payer, plus a hash of the contract terms of the trade (for example, to transfer some goods in exchange for Lightning payment). Once the payee gets confirmation from the escrow that the acknowledgment scalar is known by the escrow, the payee performs the trade, then asks the payer to provide the acknowledgment scalar once the trade completes. If the payer refuses to give the acknowledgment scalar even though the payee has given over the goods to be traded, then the payee contacts the escrow again, reveals the contract terms text, and requests to be paid. If the escrow finds in favor of the payee (i.e. it determines the goods have arrived at the payer as per the contract text) then it gives the acknowledgment scalar to the payee.
True non-custodial escrow: the escrow service never holds any funds.
Needs payment point + scalar.
Because elliptic curve points can be added (unlike hashes), for every forwarding node, we an add a "blinding" point / scalar. This prevents multiple forwarding nodes from discovering that they have been on the same payment route. This is unlike the current payment hash + preimage, where the same hash is used along the route. In fact, the acknowledgment scalar we use in stuckless and escrow can simply be the sum of each blinding scalar used at each forwarding node.
Privacy! Multiple forwarding nodes cannot coordinate to try to uncover the payer and payee of each payment.
For the past two weeks, we at the Prohashing mining pool, which is responsible for between 1 and 3% of the Bitcoin Cash network's blocks, have been debugging our systems to try to find out why some miners are continuing to mine work that is so far behind. For example, some miners are submitting DigiByte blocks that are 27 blocks behind. I spent 100 hours on this problem and have not been able to figure it out, but I now have some additional information that people here might be able to help with. At 12:04:04pm EDT, we found a bitcoin cash block, 000000000000000000944485965a7172b18962c953da005afd648fe2f6abe650, (block 582699) which does not appear on any Bitcoin Cash block explorer. The next block that is on a block explorer was found at 12:06pm. This is odd because I've found that when a block that is stale is submitted to a coin daemon, it usually returns a result of false, and we know immediately that the block was orphaned. In fact, our system uses this knowledge to try to orphan the other pool's block if mining the coin is at least half as profitable as the second most profitable coin. But in this case, the daemon didn't know that the block was orphaned until our block confirmer program discovered that sometime between 1:00pm and 2:00pm EDT. The node has 22 connections, so it doesn't seem likely that there was a problem with connectivity of Bitcoin Cash specifically. We did have emergency server maintenance after a motherboard failed yesterday, but the node restarted successfully. Unfortunately, our system only records hex submission data for "lost blocks" that the daemon rejects immediately, so I don't have that data here. Is there a block explorer somewhere that shows these orphaned blocks, so I can parse what was submitted to try to figure out how old it was and what could be wrong with it? Or, does someone have a node that records blocks that come across and which might have seen this block? If someone does have a node and the block wasn't seen, then perhaps the block was never submitted in the first place, which might explain some of the stale share miners. ------------- As an update, I reviewed other posts and heard about the transactions bug. In response, we switched to Bitcoin Unlimited and will stay with it indefinitely (there's way too much money at stake to trust a patch that was reviewed for one hour.) Another block was found at 2:50:33pm and transmitted successfully using Bitcoin Unlimited. If it's true that this issue is not caused by us, then insufficient investigation has occurred by the developers to explain what happened. The patched bug affected transactions, not block submission. It is extremely unlikely that there would be two blocks orphaned in succession, 10 minutes between the three blocks, with the third block not being found by the same pool (so it wasn't building on its own blocks.) I can't recall two blocks on a big network like this ever being orphaned in succession before, and it just happens by coincidence to occur for the first time right after a major code change? I hope that effort is going to be put into ruling out the possibility of a second bug.
I interlaced everything between Vitalik and Tuur to make it easier to read.
1/ People often ask me why I’m so “against” Ethereum. Why do I go out of my way to point out flaws or make analogies that put it in a bad light?
2/ First, ETH’s architecture & culture is opposite that of Bitcoin, and yet claims to offer same solutions: decentralization, immutability, SoV, asset issuance, smart contracts, … Second, ETH is considered a crypto ‘blue chip’, thus colors perception of uninformed newcomers.
Agree! I personally find Ethereum culture far saner, though I am a bit biased :)
3/ I've followed Ethereum since 2014 & feel a responsibility to share my concerns. IMO contrary to its marketing, ETH is at best a science experiment. It’s now valued at $13B, which I think is still too high.
Not an argument
4/ I agree with Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir that it’s not money, not safe, and not scalable. https://twitter.com/VladZamfistatus/838006311598030848 … @VladZamfir Eth isn't money, so there is no monetary policy. There is currently fixed block issuance with an exponential difficulty increase (the bomb).
I'm pretty sure Vlad would say the exact same thing about Bitcoin
5/ To me the first red flag came up when in our weekly hangout we asked the ETH founders about to how they were going to scale the network. (We’re now 4.5 years later, and sharding is still a pipe dream.)
The core principles have been known for years, the core design for nearly a year, and details for months, with implementations on the way. So sharding is definitely not at the pipe dream stage at this point.
6/ Despite strong optimism that on-chain scaling of Ethereum was around the corner (just another engineering job), this promise hasn’t been delivered on to date.
Sure, sharding is not yet finished. Though more incremental stuff has been going well, eg. uncle rates are at near record lows despite very high chain usage.
7/ Recently, a team of reputable developers decided to peer review a widely anticipated Casper / sharding white paper, concluding that it does not live up to its own claims.
Unmerciful peer review of Vlad Zamfir & co's white paper to scale Ethereum: "the authors do NOT prove that the CBC Casper family of protocols is Byzantine fault tolerant in either practice or theory".
8/ On the 2nd layer front, devs are now trying to scale Ethereum via scale via state channels (ETH’s version of Lightning), but it is unclear whether main-chain issued ERC20 type tokens will be portable to this environment.
Umm... you can definitely use Raiden with arbitrary ERC20s. That's why the interface currently uses WETH (the ERC20-fied version of ether) and not ETH
9/ Compare this to how the Bitcoin Lightning Network project evolved:
elizabeth stark @starkness: For lnd: First public code released: January 2016 Alpha: January 2017 Beta: March 2018…
10/ Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is now live, and is growing at rapid clip.
Jameson Lopp @lopp: Lightning Network: January 2018 vs December 2018
Sure, though as far as I understand there's still a low probability of finding routes for nontrivial amounts, and there's capital lockup griefing vectors, and privacy issues.... FWIW I personally never thought lightning is unworkable, it's just a design that inherently runs into ten thousand small issues that will likely take a very long time to get past.
11/ In 2017, more Ethereum scaling buzz was created, this time the panacea was “Plasma”.
12/ However, upon closer examination it was the recycling of some stale ideas, and the project went nowhere:
Peter Todd @peterktodd These ideas were all considered in the Treechains design process, and ultimately rejected as insecure.
Just because Peter Todd rejected something as "insecure" doesn't mean that it is. In general, the ethereum research community is quite convinced that the fundamental Plasma design is fine, and as far as I understand there are formal proofs on the way. The only insecurity that can't be avoided is mass exit vulns, and channel-based systems have those too.
13/ The elephant in the room is the transition to proof-of-stake, an “environmentally friendly” way to secure the chain. (If this was the plan all along, why create a proof-of-work chain first?)
@TuurDemeester "Changing from proof of work to proof of stake changes the economics of the system, all the rules change and it will impact everything."
Umm... we created a proof of work chain first because we did not have a satisfactory proof of stake algo initially?
14/ For the uninitiated, here’s a good write-up that highlights some of the fundamental design problems of proof-of-stake. Like I said, this is science experiment territory.
Yes, we know about weak subjectivity, see https://blog.ethereum.org/2014/11/25/proof-stake-learned-love-weak-subjectivity/. It's really not that bad, especially given that users need to update their clients once in a while anyway, oh and by the way even if the weak subjectivity assumption is broken an attacker still needs to gather up that pile of old keys making up 51% of the stake. And also to defend against that there's Universal Hash Time.
16/ Keep in mind that Proof of Stake (PoS) is not a new concept at all. Proof-of-Work actually was one of the big innovations that made Bitcoin possible, after PoS was deemed impractical because of censorship vulnerability.
Oh I definitely agree that proof of work was superior for bootstrap, and I liked it back then especially because it actually managed to be reasonably egalitarian around 2009-2012 before ASICs fully took over. But at the present time it doesn't really have that nice attribute.
17/ Over the years, this has become a pattern in Ethereum’s culture: recycling old ideas while not properly referring to past research and having poor peer review standards. This is not how science progresses.Tuur Demeester added,
I try to credit people whenever I can; half my blog and ethresear.ch posts have a "special thanks" section right at the top. Sometimes we end up re-inventing stuff, and sometimes we end up hearing about stuff, forgetting it, and later re-inventing it; that's life as an autodidact. And if you feel you've been unfairly not credited for something, always feel free to comment, people have done this and I've edited.
18/ One of my big concerns is that sophistry and marketing hype is a serious part of Ethereum’s success so far, and that overly inflated expectations have lead to an inflated market cap.
Ok, go on.
19/ Let’s illustrate with an example.
20/ A few days ago, I shared a critical tweet that made the argument that Ethereum’s value proposition is in essence utopian.
@TuurDemeester Ethereum-ism sounds a bit like Marxism to me:
What works today (PoW) is 'just a phase', the ideal & unproven future is to come: Proof-of-Stake.…
22/ My first point, about Ethereum developers rejecting Proof-of-Work, has been illustrated many times over By Vitalik and others. (See earlier in this tweetstorm for more about how PoS is unproven.)
Vitalik Non-giver of Ether @VitalikButerin: I don't believe in proof of work!
See above for links as to why I think proof of stake is great.
23/ My second point addresses Ethereum’s romance with the vague and dangerous notion of ‘social consensus’, where disruptive hard-forks are used to ‘upgrade’ or ‘optimize’ the system, which inevitably leads to increased centralization. More here:
See my rebuttal to Tuur's rebuttal :)
24/ My third point addresses PoS’ promise of perpetual income to ETHizens. Vitalik is no stranger to embracing free lunch ideas, e.g. during his 2014 ETH announcement speech, where he described a coin with a 20% inflation tax as having “no cost” to users.
Yeah, I haven't really emphasized perpetual income to stakers as a selling point in years. I actually favor rewards being as low as possible while still being high enough for security.
25/ In his response to my tweet, Vitalik adopted my format to “play the same game” in criticizing Bitcoin. My criticisms weren't addressed, and his response was riddled with errors. Yet his followers gave it +1,000 upvotes!
Vitalik Non-giver of Ether @VitalikButerin: - What works today (L1) is just a phase, ideal and unproven future (usable L2) is to come - Utopian concept of progress: we're already so confident we're finished we ain't needin no hard forks…
Ok, let's hear about what the errors are...
26/ Rebuttal: - BTC layer 1 is not “just a phase”, it always will be its definitive bedrock for transaction settlement. - Soft forking digital protocols has been the norm for over 3 decades—hard-forks are the deviation! - Satoshi never suggested hyperbitcoinization as a goal.
Sure, but (i) the use of layer 1 for consumer payments is definitely, in bitcoin ideology, "just a phase", (ii) I don't think you can make analogies between consensus protocols and other kinds of protocols, and between soft forking consensus protocols and protocol changes in other protocols, that easily, (iii) plenty of people do believe that hyperbitcoinization as a goal. Oh by the way: https://twitter.com/tuurdemeestestatus/545993119599460353
27/ This kind of sophistry is exhausting and completely counter-productive, but it can be very convincing for an uninformed retail public.
Ok, go on.
28/ Let me share a few more inconvenient truths.
29/ In order to “guarantee” the transition to PoS’ utopia of perpetual income (staking coins earns interest), a “difficulty bomb” was embedded in the protocol, which supposedly would force miners to accept the transition.
The intended goal of the difficulty bomb was to prevent the protocol from ossifying, by ensuring that it has to hard fork eventually to reset the difficulty bomb, at which point the status quo bias in favor of not changing other protocol rules at the same time would be weaker. Though forcing a switch to PoS was definitely a key goal.
30/ Of course, nothing came of this, because anything in the ETH protocol can be hard-forked away. Another broken promise.
33/ The modular approach to Bitcoin seems to be much better at compartmentalizing risk, and thus reducing attack surfaces. I’ve written about modular scaling here...
To be fair, risk is reduced because Bitcoin does less.
34/ Another huge issue that Ethereum has is with scaling. By putting “everything on the blockchain” (which stores everything forever) and dubbing it “the world computer”, you are going to end up with a very slow and clogged up system.
We never advocated "putting everything on the blockchain". The phrase "world computer" was never meant to be interpreted as "everyone's personal desktop", but rather as a common platform specifically for the parts of applications that require consensus on shared state. As evidence of this, notice how Whisper and Swarm were part of the vision as complements to Ethereum right from the start.
35/ By now the Ethereum bloat is so bad that cheaply running an individual node is practically impossible for a lay person. ETH developers are also imploring people to not deploy more smart contract apps on its blockchain.
Tuur Demeester @TuurDemeester: But... deploying d-apps on the "Ethereum Virtual Machine" is exactly what everyone was encouraged to do for the past 4 years. Looks like on-chain scaling wasn't such a great idea after all.
Umm.... I just spun up a node from scratch last week. On a consumer laptop.
36/ As a result, and despite the claims that running a node in “warp” mode is easy and as good as a full node, Ethereum is becoming increasingly centralized.
37/ Another hollow claim: in 2016, Ethereum was promoted as being censorship resistant…
Tuur Demeester @TuurDemeester: Pre TheDAO #Ethereum presentation: "uncensorable, code is law, bottom up". http://ow.ly/qW49302Pp92
Yes, the DAO fork did violate the notion of absolute immutability. However, the "forking the DAO will lead to doom and gloom" crowd was very wrong in one key way: it did NOT work as a precedent justifying all sorts of further state interventions. The community clearly drew a line in the sand by firmly rejecting EIP 867, and EIP 999 seems to now also be going nowhere. So it seems like there's some evidence that the social contract of "moderately but not infinitely strong immutability" actually can be stable.
38/ Yet later that year, after only 6% of ETH holders had cast a vote, ETH core devs decided to endorse a hard-fork that clawed back the funds from a smart contract that held 4.5% of all ETH in circulation. More here: ...
Hudson Jameson @hudsonjameson: The "semi-closed" Ethereum 1.x meeting from last Friday was an experiment. The All Core Dev meeting this Friday will be recorded as usual.
Suppose I were to tomorrow sign up to work directly for Kim Jong Un. What concretely would happen to the Ethereum protocol? I suspect very little; I am mostly involved in the Serenity work, and the other researchers have proven very capable of both pushing the spec forward even without me and catching any mistakes with my work. So I don't think any argument involving me applies. And we ended up deciding not to do more semi-closed meetings.
40/ Another red flag to me is the apparent lack of relevant expertise in the ETH development community. (Check the responses…)
I personally am confident in the talents of our core researchers, and our community of academic partners. Most recently the latter group includes people from Starkware, Stanford CBR, IC3, and other groups.
I have no idea who described Lucius Meredith's work as being important for the Serenity roadmap.... oh and by the way, RChain is NOT an "Ethereum scaling company"
42/ Perhaps the recently added Gandalf of Ethereum, with his “Fellowship of Ethereum Magicians” [sic] can save the day, but imo that seems unlikely...
Honestly, I don't see why Ethereum Gandalf needs to save the day, because I don't see what is in danger and needs to be saved...
43/ This is becoming a long tweetstorm, so let’s wrap up with a few closing comments.
44/ Do I have a conflict of interest? ETH is a publicly available asset with no real barriers to entry, so I could easily get a stake. Also, having met Vitalik & other ETH founders several times in 2013-’14, it would have been doable for me to become part of the in-crowd.
Agree there. And BTW I generally think financial conflicts of interest are somewhat overrated; social conflicts/tribal biases are the bigger problem much of the time. Though those two kinds of misalignments do frequently overlap and reinforce each other so they're difficult to fully disentangle.
45/ Actually, I was initially excited about Ethereum’s smart contract work - this was before one of its many pivots.
Tuur Demeester @TuurDemeester: Ethereum is probably the first programming language I will teach myself - who wouldn't want the ability to program smart BTC contracts?
Ethereum was never about "smart BTC contracts"..... even "Ethereum as a Mastercoin-style meta-protocol" was intended to be built on top of Primecoin.
46/ Also, I have done my share of soul searching about whether I could be suffering from survivor’s bias.
47/ Here’s why Ethereum is dubious to me: rather than creating an open source project & testnet to work on these interesting computer science problems, its founders instead did a securities offering, involving many thousands of clueless retail investors.
48/ Investing in the Ethereum ICO was akin to buying shares in a startup that had “invent time travel” as part of its business plan. Imo it was a reckless security offering, and it set the tone for the terrible capital misallocation of the 2017 ICO boom.
Nothing in the ethereum roadmap requires time-travel-like technical advancements or anything remotely close to that. Proof: we basically have all the fundamental technical advancements we need at this point.
49/ In my view, Ethereum is the Yahoo of our day - an unscalable “blue chip” cryptocurrency:
Tuur Demeester @TuurDemeester: 1/ The DotCom bubble shows that the market isn't very good at valuing early stage technology. I'll use Google vs. Yahoo to illustrate.
Over the past few days, I had some unexpected downtime, so I went ahead and did some "re-research" of ICON, and went back to read some of the articles and analysis from thoughtful people that got me so excited about the project to begin with. I also found some additional content that I hadn't found before, that was equally thoughtful and analytic. Ultimately, the more I followed the near-daily updates that ICON has been putting out recently, the more I was unable to fit them into the broader context of what ICON was trying to accomplish, and how each new partnership potentially fits into the puzzle. After doing this digging around, I thought it wouldn't hurt to share a chunk of what I read here. I thought this would be helpful for the following reasons:
There may be others like myself who have also forgotten, or lost context of, some of the key parts of why ICON is so important and why what they have done is so impressive.
There are a number of people who may be new to the project or this reddit, who might not have read these articles when they first appeared last year, so it's new information for them.
I see a lot of repeating questions/comments regarding certain aspects of the project. "ICON needs to explain how the Samsung Partnership works!" "ICONLOOP does nothing to help the price of ICX!" "ICX won't be valuable until grandma starts using the coins to buy things!" "If only the ICON marketing was better, retail investors would be scooping this up!"....I think if you take the time to read everything below and think it all through, all those concerns have been addressed, either directly or indirectly, and those with concerns about the project along those lines will be subdued (hopefully).
There are obviously a million other places to read about ICON, such as the website, whitepaper, etc. But having thoughtful people explain how the project works, and what new developments mean in context, can be incredibly illuminating, enlightening, and inspirational. This isn't organized in a perfect manner - not sure if there is a way to do that - but I believe reading the articles below in order is probably the best path to develop a 30,000 foot view of ICON. Keep in mind, these articles are older, so their timelines on certain developments may be outdated, or a bit on the overly-optimistic side. However, out of all the premises they lay out, and the conclusions they reach, the passing of time has only fortified their analysis and foundational beliefs about the projects. All of the partnerships listed still exist - none have gone away to my knowledge - and of course we've added plenty more over the past few months. The staff has grown, offices have expanded, new partnerships have been born, technological developments added, etc. Ultimately, it's all the more reason to ignore today's price and focus on the potential price in 3-5 years, once the vision articulated below is able to play out. Markus Jun - The Comprehensive ICON Report Part 1: ICON Facts & Commentary (Medium) A couple of my favorite sections...
Here’s how this plays out in real life. Imagine that a student requires surgery. She may check into a hospital, verify her identity on Chain ID and give permission so that the hospital can share her medical records directly with her insurance company. This will trigger a smart contract that will immediately transfer her health records and her surgeon’s medical certificate (signed digitally on ICON’s Chain Sign) to the insurance company. The insurance company can then immediately process the insurance claim as both the health records and the medical certificate are tamper-proof on the blockchain and do not require additional verification or the sending of official paper documents, steps which typically slow down the process of traditional insurance claims and make them more costly. After her surgery, the student who needs to get hospitalized for a few days may then give permission to the hospital to share her records with her university so that she can get formally excused from attending classes. The information would again be shared immediately via a smart contract without the need of a third party ‘messenger’, without the need for paper (e.g., a doctor’s note), and with full assurance for both parties that the information is legitimate. Thus, the use of Chain ID, Chain Sign, powered by smart contractsexecuting on the ICON network, enables information sharing within industries to become safer, faster, tamper-proof, and cheaper. This means that ICON isn’t just enabling connectivity between loopchain networks, but a more efficient connectivity. It should be noted that this scenario is theoretically possible on any smart contract blockchain protocol. However, the reason why it’s a uniquely plausible scenario for ICON currently is because ICON is one of the only platforms that have already secured and built the networks in the necessary industries (e.g., healthcare, banking, insurance). Building a blockchain can be as easy as copying and pasting code, the true challenge is building a network.
At the end, Kim refers to adoption occurring with ‘the more participants you have.’ And this is precisely the approach that ICON is taking: enticing corporations to join ICON’s network. Because every time you see an announcement of an MOU between theloop and Company X, you are seeing a new addition to the ICON network. And every addition makes the network more valuable. The sum total of the network value will always be more valuable than any single company within. Even if Company X is Samsung. If you agree with Kim that ‘the value of blockchain is in the network itself,’ you may see why ICON has gone beyond any other project in realizing this vision.
As a researcher of this space for 2 years, I’ve studied countless projects and countless surges and crashes in market value. I’ve concluded there are few projects in the blockchain space that have the network effect, enterprise technical expertise, real world partnerships and growth initiatives that ICON has. At the same time, I’ve seen few projects that have been as mischaracterized and misunderstood as ICON, which is why I felt compelled to clarify. As a Korean, I want to refute the idea that Koreans are nationalistic and will always support their own. Yes, we’re passionate and proud of our gold medalists and Samsung but that’s because they are the best at what they do, and ICON isn’t there yet. However, I feel that ICON is currently Korea’s best hope for global blockchain leadership. As an investor, I believe that ICX is one of the most undervalued tokens in the space, especially when considering that larger market cap projects can’t compete with the scope of ICON’s network nor their years of experience in providing enterprise solutions. Oncoming developments in the next few months will prove to be catalysts for a significant surge in ICX demand both in institutional and individual investors. As I’ve stated before, widespread misunderstandings of ICON and its relationship with loopchain, and frequent delays have cast uncertainty on the project. But this is mostly immaterial as I feel these are still extremely early days, and these doubt arise mostly from a lack of understanding. Hence, I write. ICON has successfully planted seeds that are critical for success in major industries, but they are currently just that, seeds. Much of the projects haven’t matured enough to enable the truly game-changing network effects yet. I would say that there aren’t many projects in this space in which the utility of their utility tokens actually drives organic demand, and it’s certainly not true for ICX either right now. But with the network that ICON has built, and the projects that are set to begin developing, I see a strong case to be made. The crypto market isn’t rational. Everyday, millions are poured into ideas with no product, let alone a network. But in mid-late 2017, Ethereum had an explosive growth in value as people realized its utility/value proposition as a leading 2.0 blockchain smart contract protocol and all its corresponding uses. I see parallels between ICX currently and ETH in early 2017, both in their initial mischaracterizations, and failure of the public to see their value. If ICON manages to do what it seeks to do just in Korea (and I’d argue they’ve done most of the heavy lifting), we can expect significant growth in demand for ICX. Not just among speculators and investors, but among those actually seeking to utilize ICON as a leading 3.0 blockchain interoperability protocol.
There’s a very clear difference between speculative and consumptive demand. Almost all cryptos, including Ethereum, are still firmly in the speculative demand bucket. People are buying, not to use (i.e. consume) the token, but to speculate on it’s future consumptive demand. Undoubtedly, these networks have the potential to generate MASSIVE consumptive demand, but that demand may still be years away. In my opinion, that timeline is much, MUCH shorter for Icon than any other crypto I’ve seen. Icon had functional products up and running that rely on their ICX token months before they launched their mainnet product. Most projects haven’t even begun to actually implement real-world use cases. Sure they talk about them, but talk is cheap, especially in cryptoland. Why does this matter? Let me use San Francisco as an example. Being a “sales guy” in the Bay Area is a borderline derogatory term with techies. Developers oftentimes start businesses with the mindset that “if we build it, they will come” — “they” meaning customers. Startup after startup learns the hard way that this is almost never the case. Business development is never as easy as technologists think. In one of his many interviews on Youtube, Min Kim, one of the founders of Icon, mentioned that while they have an incredibly strong tech team, they realize that blockchain technology is still rapidly evolving. We’re still in the early innings of blockchain and, much like the internet, the tech will rapidly improve. Icon’s approach is to develop real world use cases today given the technological constraints we’re operating under. As the space matures technologically, so will Icon. As someone who has worked in tech as well as private and public market investing for many years, I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear him say this. This approach has been the winning approach in industry after industry after industry for decades. Technology and business development go hand in hand.
A common complaint I often see in the ICON subreddit and Telegram channel has to do with ICON’s lack of consumer and retail-oriented marketing. I believe there are several reasons for these complaints, with most of them being somewhat unreasonable. - A lack of understanding of the difference between a token holder and a shareholder. Many token holders believe they are entitled (perhaps even legally) to daily or weekly updates regarding the status of the project. - Unrealistic expectations set by other cryptocurrency projects which do not function like real-world businesses. - Overinvesting – plain and simple. Before discussing the first two points, I would like to say I completely understand the negativity towards ICON’s lack of B2C marketing, and I do agree there is major room for improvement – more on this later on. Token holder versus shareholder – there’s a major difference. In this stage of the game, investing in a cryptocurrency is complete speculation – it can be educated speculation, but it’s still speculation. We do not have the same rights and protections as a shareholder, and we should act accordingly. In the world of corporate business, there are usually quarterly shareholder meetings that act as a medium of communication between shareholders and company executives. As token holders, this does not apply to us. We should not expect constant communication from executives – the fact that we even have some communication from ICON’s executives is completely unheard of. Imagine Mark Zuckerberg tweeting (LOL) with a Facebook user about Facebook’s upcoming plans on a consistent basis. The truth is, blockchain and its decentralized identity have already punctured a gigantic hole through the facade of normal corporate communication, and the fact that Min Kim willingly spends his free time interacting with the ICON community members is absolutely incredible. This is further compounded by the fact that, unlike many blockchain projects, ICON has real ties with many industry-leading companies, major banks, top universities, and government institutions. Here are examples of a few – LINE, Deloitte, Samsung, SBI Ripple Asia, DAYLI Intelligence, Smilegate, and more. Many of these companies are worth billions of dollars and have assets and brand recognition of their own to protect. You have to understand that creating coordinated PR strategies with these huge corporations and government entities takes time and patience. Most importantly, it’s not the kind of stuff ICON can whimsically tweet about whenever they feel like it. Obviously, ICON wants to share all the great things happening behind the scenes, but legally they cannot do this without being sued by their partners. Do you think LINE would be okay with ICON publicly talking about future blockchain DApps on the LINE platform? No, because this would affect LINE’s bottom line if its competitors can race to build a similar product.
Okay, so all three examples above have one thing in common – ICX gains value as a network utility token. I cannot stress this enough. ICX will not have real value if a bunch of retail investors buys it. ICX may gain “bubble value” if a bunch of hedge funds buys it. ICX will only gain REAL value if the ICON platform is used to connect people, businesses, and institutions together to create new and unique connections that can be monetized. Knowing this, I hope you have a better understanding of why ICON is working to onboard businesses to build on and connect to the ICON platform first. At this stage of the game, there’s very little incentive to market to retail investors because we are not the intended users of the ICON network. We are the intended users of the services that will use ICON as a backbone and interoperable protocol. Thus, ICON is choosing to devote 95% of their manpower to the core business philosophy, and as true supporters of the project, we shouldn’t have it any other way.
If this ends up happening, and I think it will relatively soon, ICON will be poised to become the most widely used blockchain platform in the world. At the moment, Bitcoin, the world’s number one cryptocurrency, is estimated to have less than 28.5 million users.
Last October, theloop revealed that its blockchain-based authentication solution, CHAIN ID, was already being piloted by 25 banks and securities companies in the Korea Financial Investment Blockchain Consortium. Half a year later, theloop announced that CHAIN ID would be used by Samsung (one of Korea’s largest companies) in their biometric authentication technology, Samsung Pass. Recently, ICON Foundation wrote, “in the future it is expected that there will no longer be classifications of certified/private certifications, and all certificates will have the same authenticity.” Connect the dots. CHAIN ID is already being used by some of South Korea’s largest banks and securities companies. CHAIN ID is being implemented in Samsung Pass. Samsung has over 57% market share in South Korea’s mobile smartphone market. ICON revealed there will only be one kind of certificate in the future. After a little reading between the lines and a tiny amount of educated speculation, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of digital authentication in South Korea will happen on the CHAIN ID platform in the near future. This blockchain solution is being aggressively adopted by the country’s biggest financial and technology firms. If there’s really only going to be one certificate in the future, it’s obvious they will be issued by the first mover in the space – theloop’s CHAIN ID.
I would suggest going through all of the Decrypto.net posts on ICON. Brian Li - the blog's author - has a deep understanding of the project and has done a good job of breaking down new developments by providing context. Here are all the posts he has made that I could find (I have bolded a couple that are particularly helpful):
I would also recommend this year+ old reddit post, as well as this one. I hope you all find this helpful and valuable. As stated, this will be stale information to a number of you, but hopefully some of it will be fresh to a chunk of you, and 100% new to those who have recently hopped on board the project. And of course, if there are other articles you've enjoyed along a similar vein that I have not included, please feel free to share them below.
Zoarkim the naive Lizardman had a unique accent. Every ‘s’ that he pronounced was extended thrice as long. This is fine if I wanted to make clear when I spoke in-character, but it started to bug the heck out of the rest and it became difficult for me to speak as well. This became apparent when being unable to choose a ssspear or a musssical inssstrument. The group mockingly asked me if I wouldn’t rather wanted a sssword or a ssshield, but I told them that I wasn’t an assssssassssssin. The accent became old very quickly and he didn’t have any redeeming qualities, to begin with. I’ve seen plenty of aggravating characters in my time. Characters who don’t understand that the way they behave is grating for the rest of the party and the campaign. From silly to boring to downright disgusting, some players create characters that make it hard to get into the adventurous feel of the game. But because I have made that same mistake I advise anyone not to do the same. In a way, you could ask yourself: “Would I marry this character?” Would you be willing to spend your life with this character? Allow me to elaborate on why this is important to give it a thought.
Understanding The Scope
When playing a One-Shot, you will play about to 3, maybe 5 hours for one day and after that, the character might be gone, nothing but a memory when looking at that character sheet. Anything short-term like that wouldn’t have a large impact on a long-running campaign. But when it does get into a long-running campaign or you start to play in one, you will play 3 to 5 hours in a day on a weekly or monthly basis and possibly to level 20 which might take a year or longer. Now assess the situation here: You will play the same character for a year or longer. You are basically stuck with the same person for a year or even longer. Even when the campaign wouldn’t go that far or you just play a One-Shot, there is still the chance that it might go on or its completely ruined because someone has been acting like an abrasive jerk all the time even though you wanted it to go on. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun or change your character, but when your character is set and done, you have the whole package. It wouldn’t make sense to change some parts because you regret some things after five sessions. You could’ve given it some more thought than that. It’s important to keep the scope in mind that the choices you settle with are something that you are stuck with for an incredibly long time. This is a good way to make some realistic decisions and give your character concept a double check before starting. And don’t lie to yourself and say “Yeah, I want to play this!” just to ignore the fact that you will forget it later or think you can coerce, goad and beg your DM to change your character for whatever reason. You risk being kicked out of the group for any extremely unwanted behavior or continued character flops.
So you create a character called Gordon Blue, Poopy McShmooperpants, or an Austrian Warforged Barbarian Noble called The Governator. Yeah, that’s fun, right? You might make names like that for your avatar in computer games so that people call you Mr Fudgenugget or they have to accept that your face is all gross and mangled and act like nothing is wrong, right? How long does that joke last? To whom is that still funny? Because being on your own in that way is harmless, the computer game is going to act like nothing is wrong and you can still be an adventurer because you don’t care about it, right? Some people on video game shows do this as it creates something endearing sometimes. But D&D is different. That joke character that you made is funny. To you. At character creation. For one moment. Your fellow players might give it a chuckle, maybe a polite laugh. After that, the joke is old. Like bread that has been laying out in the open, it’s stale after that one day and nobody likes it anymore. Imagine going to a restaurant, spending time with people and paying full price for quality food, and those pieces of bread you get are just day-old stale pieces of bread, the soup is cold, the food has lost its taste, and the ice already melted. That’s what it’s like when a player creates such a joke character. It’s what it’s like when dealing with such a joke character. It sucks a lot of the credibility out of the adventure where people invested their time in. I get it, coming up with names is hard. It doesn’t need to be a spectacular name, just go online and grab a name generator or look up a list of real names if you really don’t care. But if you’d walk around with a name like Buttnugget von Poopiepants, you’d be bullied until you’d hate yourself and the ones who named you. Nobody would take you seriously if you’d introduce yourself as they think you’re pulling a prank on them. You’d be jobless, have no friends, and just be depressed as your whole life is incredibly hard because your parents gave you a ridiculous name. Yes, you are still allowed to create a somewhat funny or comedic character if it fits the campaign setting (always ask your DM about the campaign setting before character creation), but if that comedic effect doesn’t go beyond the introduction of the character, then you might as well leave the table and never come back after that because that character is nothing but an annoyance. A comedic character is something archetypical, it is able to generate fresh comedy from its being once every session while still being credible enough for people to relate to, including yourself. A repeated joke is not funny after it’s already been told.
When choosing an accent or way of speech for your character, do keep the scope in mind. If you create an oriental person with a thick German accent, not only is that nonsensical but if you’re not used to speaking German, that accent will hurt your jaws. If it can be done without a thick accent, please do so. It could be a subtle accent, something that matches the characters place of origin. Otherwise, if your character has a certain voice characteristic such as a lisp, a nasal tone, a different intonation, or a raspy voice, I want to remind you that you will have to stick with that whenever you speak. And you will speak for about 3 to 5 hours in a session, weekly, for a year. Keeping your voice raspy and gravely on a weekly basis for hours runs you the risk of developing a polyp in your vocal cords and the procedure of removing one can risk you in losing your voice and it’s expensive to boot. Yes, voice actors can do this for a long time, but that’s because they are professional voice actors, they have been trained to do this and they keep good care of their voice as it is their money maker. They wouldn’t go about creating silly voices unless they’re aware that they have to do that for hours on end. Sometimes their act is good enough when they speak normally or adjust their voice slightly. That’s part of the art as well, it doesn’t need to go to extremes. Having a DM who can do voices is great for immersion. It makes it feel like the character is really there and gives you a better read on its personality. That’s a good example for you. That’s the upside for it. But don’t mistake the DM’s ways of voice acting as an excuse to do the same and in the same way. The characters that the DM plays won’t exist for long. They aren’t around with the party for hours on end and don’t need to keep talking for so long. Your DM isn’t ‘married’ to these NPCs, that Demon with the dark voice was destroyed in the same session as when you first heard it speak, that high-pitched screaming creature sure was loud, but it didn’t follow you around for the entire campaign. The variety in the DM’s characters are necessary for the campaign, but when one sounded or acted annoying, it wouldn’t be around like that for long. Your character, however, will.
So you have a mage that wants to shoot fireballs everywhere or a dwarf that unclogs his nose at everyone every single minute. Would meeting someone like that make you feel at ease? Wouldn’t it make you uncomfortable if you actually met such a person? Such acts may sound like fun at first, but just like The Joke, it gets old very fast and starts to get really bothersome. Repeating the same disruptive or anti-social shtick every time will eventually get you kicked out or never be invited to the game again. Now, of course, every person has flaws, little things such as being a klutz or having a short temper are things that some people have to deal with. Making connections with other people also means that you have to be okay with some of your own flaws and those of others. But would you want to be with someone who can’t shut up about bitcoin? Would you be okay with someone who is obsessed with cats to the point that she doesn’t have a personality or subject that doesn’t revolve around cats? Could you stand someone’s racist statements even though it’s not aimed at you if that person wouldn’t stop about it for one day? Would you be okay with someone who rubs his crotch against everything and grabs peoples butts all the time, and I do mean all the time? Ask yourself this and give yourself an honest answer. If you are okay with any of the above-stated personality traits, then I suggest you give yourself a reality check. The balance in this is when the flaws are significant enough to come up in some inopportune moments, but won’t make the character ineffective, makes other characters ineffective, or has to halt the entire adventure because of one little thing. If your character has such a flaw, you might want to find a way to change it or just reel it in a little bit to make it possible but not too silly. If your character hates a certain thing, then that doesn’t mean that the rest of the party can’t do anything because of that. Your character can still agree with a plan but do so begrudgingly.
Will You Take This Character?
So would you marry your character if it were your preferred gender or race? The gravity of this question is important to make you think about how long you are willing to play this character. A date is meant to see if there’s a spark or some chemistry, a relationship is somewhat the same but long-term and indefinite, but to make a vow to be with someone for the rest of your life? That’s a heavy decision. You share your money, items, home, and bed with that person. You see that person every day from morning to evening. It’s not just some experiment or a choice that can be altered halfway through, it’s a heavy decision. You have the whole package of that person on a daily basis, flaws and all. You better imagine what your life would be like if you’d made that choice. Would you accept the good with the bad? So if you made your character and would say “No, I wouldn’t want to be with this character.” Try to figure out why not. What things does it have that would make you go “Yeah, that’s a no go.” because chances are, it’s what makes your gaming experience less fun. An experimental session is like a date, but a campaign might as well feel like 24 hours a day every day, will you accept the character for what it is now and invite it to grow a bit more, or would it be too unbearable to handle? You can still change that and have the power to reel in the awful things or learn to accept the little flaws that it has. Hopping in there not knowing how aggravating it can get can ruin what you had. Give it a thought, perhaps in some way you’d be willing to marry your character. I know I do.
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