Metaverse Blockchain Infrastructure

VeradiVerdict - Issue #165

Despite being contrarian even just a few years ago, the industry seems to be anticipating a “multi-chain future” where apps and users seamlessly traverse different layer-1s (e.g., Ethereum, Solana, Polkadot, etc.) in the background, depending on the situation. 

Want to provide liquidity to a DeFi protocol? Today, that typically means using Ethereum. Want to post something on decentralized social media? That could mean using Solana, an Ethereum layer-2 solution, or another high-throughput blockchain. As blockchains optimize for different use cases, there’s a need for protocols that abstract all of this complex cross-chain coordination away.

Rangers Protocol, a project tackling this problem, recently closed a round of fundraising with participation from Pantera Capital, Framework Ventures, Alameda Research, Hashkey, and a number of other top-tier investors at a $63M valuation. After nearly three years of development, the protocol is finally ready to be unveiled to the world with its upcoming mainnet launch.

What is Rangers Protocol?

Rangers Protocol, at its core, is “metaverse blockchain infrastructure.” In other words, it provides functionality for decentralized applications (dApps) and assets to frictionlessly interact with multiple different chains. This is particularly important in the so-called “metaverse”—users will want to engage in complex actions that may pull data, assets, or smart contracts from different blockchains. For example, a primitive game may want to incorporate ERC-721s from Ethereum, store its high-frequency data on Solana, and incorporate Terra’s UST as an in-game currency.

The project was incubated by MixMarvel, a prominent blockchain game publisher. Rangers Protocol now stands on its own, but its close connection to the ballooning gaming space gives them on-the-ground insights into what the industry needs.

Source: Rangers Protocol (whitepaper)

To understand how Rangers Protocol achieves this objective, it’s important to understand the protocol’s architecture. It has a few unique features:

  • Random proof-of-stake layer-1 with Verification and Proposal nodes.

  • Secured by a BLS+VRF (and TSS) algorithm. This is a cryptographic upgrade that the team believes will gradually become the industry standard.

  • Extremely high-throughput, producing a new block every second.

  • Real-time transactions that don’t require a block to transpire before settlement. This enables a number of high-frequency trading use cases.

  • EVM-compatibility, which allows dApp developers to easily migrate their projects and smart contracts to Rangers Protocol.

Rangers Protocol also has an interesting approach to NFTs. In addition to supporting the most popular existing NFT standards (e.g., ERC-721), the platform adds a number of other capabilities to NFTs:

  • Robust data portability and collection, including minting, transactions, and destruction.

  • dApp NFT usability. According to the team, “we believe that the most critical value of NFT is reflected in the reuse and inheritance of data. In other words, NFT should be reusable by multiple dapps.” Rangers Protocol’s standard enables dApps to add unique data to NFTs as well as have temporary ownership over its own data in the asset description.

  • Built-in NFT lending which allows borrowers to use the asset without giving them the ability to transfer it.

While similar in some respects to other high-throughput layer-1s, Rangers Protocol’s focus on cross-chain facilitation, particularly for the metaverse, results in some unique protocol design decisions. The details of each of these are extensively outlined in the project’s updated whitepaper if you’re interested in learning more.

What about RPG, the protocol’s native token?

Rangers Protocol Gas (RPG) is the token that powers the protocol. It both serves as the base-layer currency that is used in random proof-of-stake consensus (staked and received by validator nodes) as well as the way network fees are denominated. As Rangers Protocol experiences higher adoption, the demand for RPG, required in order to engage with the protocol, should correspondingly increase.

The protocol is distributing tokens to the community through an IDO this month, marking RPG’s first entrance into the market. The community’s enthusiasm surrounding the sale is high; over 10,000 people applied to join the IDO’s whitelist. As more RPG tokens gradually enter the market, more community members will have the opportunity to gain an economic stake in the project.

Source: Rangers Protocol (whitepaper)

How is the Rangers Protocol being used today?

Earlier versions of Rangers Protocol (formerly named Rocket Protocol) have been used to increase the efficiency and user-friendliness of a number of games.

Source: Rangers Protocol (whitepaper)

For example, HyperDragons Rocket Arena, a blockchain-based game that reached the top of DappReview’s charts in mid-2018, incorporated Rangers Protocol’s technology into a number of in-game elements. This allowed users to seamlessly transition from deploying assets on layer-1 and layer-2 chains, drastically reducing the network fees their gameplay would have incurred. In addition, the blockchain’s low latency made gameplay more responsive; players no longer had to wait for 5-30 minutes to confirm operations on the main blockchain.

Source: Rangers Protocol (whitepaper)

HyperSnakes, a browser game popular a few years ago, also employed Rangers Protocol’s scaling features to enhance the overall gameplay experience. This allowed the game to simultaneously launch on a number of blockchains at the same time, including Ethereum, TRON, and Ant Blockchain. The game’s infrastructure flourished even as it added nearly 20k additional users per day for a period of time.

Source: Rangers Protocol (Twitter)

In July, the testnet version of Rangers Protocol launched, releasing many features the team has been developing for several years. While access to the testnet is still restricted to select developers, BlueStone, a fixed-rate lending protocol on Ethereum, has already successfully migrated to Rangers Protocol. Due to the chain’s EVM compatibility, no contract changes were required and only small front-end alterations were made.

As the team eyes a full mainnet launch later this year, they expect other developers to also integrate with Rangers Protocol to gain access to some of the advantages that the cross-chain universe has to offer.

If you want to stay in touch with the protocol’s progress as it is deployed, follow their Twitter and join their Discord.

- Paul V

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ABOUT ME

Hi, I’m Paul Veradittakit, a Partner at Pantera Capital, one of the oldest and largest institutional investors focused on investing in blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies. I’ve been in the industry since 2014, and the firm invests in equity, early stage token projects, and liquid cryptocurrencies on exchanges. I focus on early-stage investments and share my thoughts on what’s going on in the industry in this weekly newsletter.