integrating gaming and innovative web3 technologies
Developed by MIT graduate Brian Gu under the pseudonym Gubsheep, Dark Forest is the world’s first decentralized incomplete-information game, and possibly the most complex app on the blockchain. A unique intersection between gaming and cryptography, Dark Forest takes players on an unpredictable quest to explore a vast blockchain-supported universe and conquer hidden surrounding planets while staying safe from attacks from lurking opponents.
Redefining the possibilities of what can be achieved in the sphere of web3, the sci-fi game applies cutting edge technologies such as zk-SNARKs — zero-knowledge cryptography — in ways we haven’t seen them be used before. A recent article by MIT Technology Review further poses that Dark Forest’s impact and innovations extend far beyond its unique gaming experience, to point towards a ‘new vision for the metaverse‘, wherein these technological innovations can foster a transparent blockchain and host autonomous decentralized digital worlds.
the world’s first decentralized incomplete info game | all images © Gubsheep & Dark Forest
conquering a cryptographic universe with hidden information
Dark Forest is one of the first incomplete-information games ever built on a decentralized system. Built on Ethereum with zkSNARKS — a powerful cryptographic tool that validates each player’s moves on the blockchain without revealing that information to other players — the real-time space conquest strategy game is set amid a procedurally-generated universe filled with millions of hidden planets.
Players begin their journey by spawning on to their own home planet. Their mission is to explore the infinite universe, competing with hidden opponents to discover and capture other planets and resources while completing round-based competitive tasks to grow their empire. To begin with, players only have vision over a small portion of their map, while the rest, alongside their locations, movements, and planets of their opponents, is concealed behind a cryptographic fog of war (no vision). As they navigate the unknown void to capture more planets with random outcomes, more of the universe gradually becomes visible to them. However, they have no idea of how their conquest strategies will play out. Each move is recorded on the blockchain and validated, though their coordinates in the universe remain hidden from opponents.
players embark on a mission to capture hidden planets and grow their territories
dark forest: paving the way for autonomous metaverses
Up until recently, incomplete information on blockchains was a nearly impossible feat as information about every transaction and party remained visible in the public realm. However, with advanced applications of zk-SNARKs on Ethereum, recently the transparency of blockchain has begun its transformation. Dark Forest is a prime example of this, which unlike other online strategy games that rely on a server, runs on a decentralized blockchain where players have no control over the results of their actions, and no knowledge about other users.
Further, Gubsheep’s innovative use of blockchains and advanced cryptography not only makes for a more interesting and complex gaming experience, but also diversifies the ways in which these technologies can be used beyond their current, common financial functions. In fact, MIT Technology Review notes that the game might even be seen as a revolutionary step towards constructing and hosting rich new, shared decentralized metaverses that no one owns, and no one can stop.
gamers traverse an infinite universe
to begin with, only the player’s home planet is visible and the rest is revealed as they conquer more planets
cutting edge technologies such as zero-knowledge cryptography ensure player’s moves remain hidden