Fractal Tribute: Bridging Blockchains and Holochain

Collaborative Art & NFTs

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Fractal Tribute is a collaborative art game built on Holochain and inspired by r/place. 

In this real time game, players make “moves” by placing pixels on a shared canvas, building upon all previous moves, and thus coordinating to draw new patterns and art. Each player is limited in the number of pixels they can place at one time, requiring them to work with other players to shape the canvas into particular designs. It’s a game of community building, artistic expression, and collaborative play. 

Players can also take snapshots of the collaborative art after they make their moves. These snapshots are simultaneously minted as limited open edition NFTs on an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) in this case, using the Polygon network.

The Tech Stack

The game is built on the Holochain application framework, which manages app networking, data validity, and databasing in a peer-to-peer system without need for a central server. The application runs locally on players computers and is networked between them for collaboration.

When users sign into the game, they are required to bind an ERC-20 wallet to their instance of Fractal Tribute. It is this binding between Holochain private keys and the crypto wallet private keys that enables full validation of both the art itself and the NFT. 

The Holo hosting network is used as a gateway to the Fractal Tribute application so that anyone can fetch validated content directly from the peer-to-peer game using HTTPS. These always-on nodes provide an easy, low-friction way for players and non-players to view NFT payloads — allowing a marketplace like OpenSea to make them available for purchase. 

Why Connect Holochain and Blockchain?

Fractal Tribute was built as a demonstration of the possibilities opened by combining Holochain and Blockchain. But it is just one possible arrangement of application rules and smart contracts.

In Fractal Tribute: 

  • Only the original creator of the asset can mint the NFT. 
  • Holochain lets you audit an accountable history of all interactions with the underlying asset. This ensures data provenance. 
  • Storage of the NFT asset is distributed.
  • Blockchain validates the token in a public space, Holochain validates the underlying asset created in a private application.
  • A single, shared NFT ID referenceable in both spaces.

Essentially Holochain enables unforgeable NFTs because owners can prove ownership of the NFT on a blockchain, and they can trace back to the digital asset and confirm that the NFT was minted by the creator and owner of the underlying asset.

When an artist takes a snapshot, they create an immutable bundle of actions that is cryptographically signed within the app directly. Because every move or brushstroke is signed with a private key, every artist involved in the game can audit who did what and when. 

The snapshot is simultaneously minted as a limited open edition NFT on the Polygon network.   

Instead of a URL that points to the artwork on a centralized server, which may be taken down or otherwise controlled by someone with admin privileges, NFT payloads created in Fractal Tribute are held in the distributed Holochain application where they were created, which is then bridged by a gateway node running on the distributed Holo hosting network for public visibility. 

Holochain’s data storage isn’t just decentralized, it’s distributed. This means that as a player you will always hold a verifiable copy of your own data, at the same time as it is backed up across the network. With accountable histories, data hashing, and distributed storage, Holochain provides a high level of security in comparison to IPFS and traditional client-server models.

What’s Next?

Fractal Tribute is a proof of concept, showing the ways that blockchain wallets and Holochain agents can be bound together and what possibilities that binding enables. The interaction between a fully distributed application for collaborative art and an NFT marketplace built on blockchain is just one possible arrangement where we can see the multiplier effects of these technologies working together. 

How will this pattern be used? We see the possibility for creator economies not based around centralized platforms, we see value creation which doesn’t require consensus, we see games where players control their identity and data, we see new ways to create trust and provenance on the web. 

What possibilities do you see?

Originally published on the Holochain Blog by Mary Camacho on 2 November 2023.

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