Starknet blockchain gaming ecosystem is ready to go
Starknet gaming ecosystem is ready.
StarkNet, one of the four major Layer2 solutions, has made a new move.
At the recently concluded EthCC (Ethereum Community Conference) in Paris, one of the hot topics of discussion was the announcement made by Eli Ben-Sasson, co-founder of StarkWare. He revealed that StarkNet is about to launch StarkNet Appchain and also announced the release of StarkNet Foundry, a high-speed toolkit for developing StarkNet contracts.
StarkNet is a permissionless decentralized Layer2 protocol based on ZK-Rollup technology, developed by StarkWare. It enables dApps to achieve larger computational scale at lower transaction costs by utilizing STARK proofs. This network allows smart contracts to interact with other contracts deployed on the blockchain, thereby increasing composability between protocols.
What is an Appchain? In fact, the concept of Appchain was proposed and promoted by Cosmos and Polkadot as early as 2016. The recently launched StarkNet Application has attracted widespread attention in the industry due to its technical advantages and new features such as customizability and decentralization.
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For developers, the release of the open-source project StarkNet Foundry and the Cairo programming language ecosystem will provide an easier and more efficient development experience.
StarkNet Appchain and Its Technical Advantages
In simple terms, StarkNet Appchain is an application-specific blockchain designed to meet the specific needs of certain applications. Its main advantages include customizability, high throughput, decentralization, and the ability to provide new features not yet available on the StarkNet main chain. It is said that the first StarkNet Appchain will soon launch a closed testing phase on the mainnet.
This move by StarkNet is in line with the trend of modular networks in Layer2 development. Ecosystems such as Optimism, Polygon, zkSync, and Arbitrum have already developed their own Appchains. Although the underlying architectures may differ, they all demonstrate the common advantages of Appchains: avoiding congestion on the main chain and enjoying greater freedom of features.
As a customizable environment, StarkNet Appchain allows applications to customize their own StarkNet instances. Developers can utilize the native development tools of the ecosystem, such as StarkNet Stack, to have better control over parameters, reduce costs, scale up, and achieve selective privacy, customizing the relevant settings of their own applications.
The goal of StarkNet is to enable any application to deploy its own StarkNet Appchain in a permissionless manner. As the most scalable Rollup solution, StarkNet provides various options for configuring parameters, including consensus, blockchain parameters, and data availability. These application-specific blockchains can meet the unique requirements of various applications in the StarkNet ecosystem and allow fine-tuning of the platform.
Compared to other ecosystems’ Appchains, the real magic of StarkNet lies in its STARK proof system—the blockchain projects on StarkNet can benefit from enhanced security by using the STARK proof system. Compared to other ZK proof systems, STARK proofs are more secure and scalable—their generation speed scales linearly, and verification time and proof size scale logarithmically. That is to say, the larger the proof, the shorter the total cost and verification time. In addition, STARK proofs rely entirely on hashing and information theory, making them resistant to certain attacks with simpler cryptographic assumptions. However, the downside is that the initial proof generation size is relatively large.
In the announcement, it was mentioned that after launching a customized Starknet app chain, projects no longer need to congest the public Starknet, which can provide users with higher throughput and better user experience.
Compared to Ethereum, Starknet itself only requires one sequencer to execute computations off-chain. To reduce the data size, provers generate ZK-STARK proofs for transactions. Finally, verifiers validate the correctness of the proofs on-chain, and bundle multiple Layer2 transactions into a single transaction on Ethereum (known as Rollup). Therefore, Starknet reduces the on-chain execution and storage costs, resulting in lower gas fees and higher throughput.
StarkNet, which highly values decentralization, also endows its Appchains with decentralized features. The Starknet technology stack allows any application to deploy its own Starknet Appchain in a permissionless manner, and developers can utilize Starknet Stack technology to build customized Starknet instances for applications.
Diego Oliva, CEO of the Starknet Foundation, stated that the decentralized stack makes the network more secure, resilient, transparent, scalable, and innovative. There are no single points of failure, no dependency on a single entity, no “black boxes,” and more builders.
In the speech, Eli Ben-Sasson also mentioned that Appchains are customizable and can freely implement features that are not yet supported on the Starknet public chain, including creating their own fee market logic, consensus mechanisms, etc.
Initially, Starknet Appchain was proposed as a Layer2 solution on Ethereum, but as early as 2021, StarkWare introduced the concept of Layer3 solutions. In order to achieve greater scalability and lower transaction costs, the Starknet official stated that Appchains will migrate to Layer3 solutions in the future and will also run on the Layer2 public Starknet network.
These new features and experiences implemented in the Starknet app chain will have an impact on other app chains or public networks.
Notable Development Use Cases
One of the latest use cases in the decentralized graph of Starknet Stack is the emergence of the high-performance sequencer, Madara Sequencer.
The Starknet official stated that Madara enhances the capabilities of the Cairo VM by using the Substrate framework, generating provable, secure, and flexible programs, and providing the ability to create customizable and efficient app chains for Starknet. In addition, Madara will also improve the interoperability and on-chain privacy level of Starknet.
Based on the Substrate framework and enhanced by a decentralized consensus mechanism, Madara generates provable, secure, and flexible programs, which has been welcomed by developers.
According to official data from Starknet, the community development work was launched in February 2023 and involves a community of 45 developers who have been working together to improve Madara. So far, there have been over 740 commits and more than 400 merged PRs.
In addition to being a core component, Dojo is also an important ecosystem component for running Starknet applications.
Dojo is a game application development framework in Starknet, and it is also the first verifiable on-chain game engine.
Generally speaking, due to the limitations of scale and cost, most on-chain games are limited to tokenization of in-game assets, and the problems of “expensive” and “slow” are always difficult to solve. But as Starknet gradually achieves cheaper and faster transactions in games, Starknet not only allows users to own in-game assets, but also makes the infinite operability of on-chain games a reality. Therefore, many game projects have started technical construction on Starknet.
At the same time, the on-chain game engine Dojo appears as the stage for game development, allowing developers to build games on-chain through the application technology on the StarkNet platform without the need to write custom code for basic physics, logic, and game mechanics, making beautiful scenes, fast player movement, and realistic character behavior in games more possible.
The growth of technology allows more games to develop. Starknet values the incubation of native applications, and its development team StarkWare has held multiple hackathons in collaboration with partners such as MatchBox, Only Dust, Nethermind, and Mask Network, promoting the development of a large number of on-chain game teams. Therefore, games driven by Dojo on Starknet are gradually increasing, including Dope Wars, Influence, Realms, and CafeCosmos.
Impact on Developers
What impact will the emergence of Starknet Appchain have on the developer community?
On the one hand, as mentioned earlier, developers can use the performance of the Starknet Stack and the customization advantages of the application chain to improve the throughput of on-chain projects and customize the user experience. On the other hand, at EthCC, the lightning-fast tool package Starknet Foundry for developing Starknet contracts was also released; the writing advantages of the Cairo language in the Starknet tech stack will also attract more developers.
In addition to Appchain, another new move of StarkNet that has attracted attention at this EthCC is the release of the open-source project Starknet Foundry.
This lightning-fast tool package for developing Starknet contracts is designed and developed by the former Protostar team at Software Mansion, and is also based on the local Cairo test runner and Blockifie written in Rust.
In terms of programming languages, the Starknet tech stack is supported by the Cairo language – Starknet contracts and the Starknet operating system are written in Cairo, which supports the deployment of almost all business logic. How do experienced developers feel about the Starknet ecosystem and the Cairo language?
Moody Salem, the Chief Solidity Developer at Uniswap, who had never written any Rust before, stated that he started learning Cairo in a matter of weeks and now the efficiency of writing Cairo contracts is comparable to Solidity. Itamar Lesuisse, Co-founder and CEO of Argent, feels that the Starknet ecosystem feels like early Ethereum, attracting the best talents in this field with its decentralized development and innovation.
The latest version of Cairo, V2, is a new Rust-like programming language that is easy to learn and write, making it a developer-friendly high-level language.
Moreover, Cairo, as a general-purpose smart contract language, has the additional advantage of being ZK-friendly with high compilation efficiency. Developers can also generate zero-knowledge proofs for their Cairo code, leading to further reduction in gas fees. This is especially beneficial due to the network effects of the STARK proof system, which results in decreasing transaction costs with increasing transaction volume.
As a result, many applications can find developers in the Starknet ecosystem for collaboration, hiring, or outsourcing. In particular, blockchain gaming projects that require a large user base are well-suited for deployment on Starknet.
The release of the Starknet Appchain marks an important progress for Starknet. Now, in the race of technology stacks, the four Layer 2 giants, Optimism, Arbitrum, zkSync, and Starknet, each have their own application chain layouts.
However, application chains still face certain challenges, including limited composability and atomicity, lack of liquidity, additional resource and management costs, and limited ecosystem tools. Nevertheless, the growth of application chains reflects the general demand of developers to provide users with a better experience through vertical integration.
Going forward, we should pay attention to and look forward to which specific application services can truly be implemented on application chains, improving compatibility, efficiency, privacy, and other aspects, in order to drive faster development of application chain technology and build a larger Web3 ecosystem.