I love online gaming, and I have a history dealing with economies of intangible digital 'things' that somehow translate into real-world value. Back in high-school, my brother and I made quite a bit of money one summer selling Diablo-II items to other players. Games where we can buy and sell digital items are 100% down our alley.
What is CryptoKitties?
When I saw a link for CryptoKitties the other day, I knew I had to try it out. The game lets you buy digital kitties as 'pets', then do all kinds of things with them. You can collect them, and watch your collection of adorable little kitties grow. You can breed them and make new kitties. You can also sell them - this is where it gets interesting!
[Image Source: pixabay.com]
Note: This is not a kitty from the game. Pictures of the kitties from the game remain the intellectual property of Axiom Zen.
CryptoKitties are worth a lot of money!
According to a CNBC article, over $6.7 million US dollars worth of CryptoKitties have been sold so far, and the number continues to climb. One kitty even sold for as much as $114,481.59!!
The a website kittysales.herokuapp.com shows all of the latest information and statistics about the crypto kitty sales.
CryptoKitties and Cryptocurrency
CryptoKitties are unlike many games that have come before it, in that it is being run on top of a blockchain. In a similar way to how the Steem blockchain stores all of the social media content from the website Steemit.com, all of the CryptoKitties themselves are stored in the Etherium blockchain.
Blockchain technology offers many exciting possibilities to change how we live our lives and interact with the world. Steem and CryptoKitties are two great use-cases that demonstrate how the technology can be used.
In order to play the CryptoKitties game, you will need to buy Etherium (ETH) tokens. These can be purchased off of a website like Coinbase.com, which allows you to trade US dollars for ETH tokens.
Your digital wallet
Similar to how 'regular' dollars are stored in a 'regular' wallet, digital tokens such as Etherium are stored in a 'digital' wallet. For the CryptoKitties game, the recommended wallet to use is called MetaMask. You can download a MetaMask plugin for Firefox or Chrome. You can also use a different browser called Brave.
When you install the wallet, you will open an account, which will provide you with a set of private keys and a password. It is very important that you save these somewhere safe, and back them up somewhere (such as a burned CD or flash drive) that you would be able to recover them from in case your harddrive ever crashed. If you ever lose your password/keys - all of your money and kittens would be lost forever! Do not lose your password/keys.
After you have setup your digital wallet, you can transfer your tokens from Coinbase (or wherever you purchased them from) to the wallet address in your MetaMask wallet. You can find your wallet address by clicking the "Copy Address to clipboard" link, found in the main menu - the one with three dots:
Your wallet address should look something like this:
From the Coinbase send page, you just need to plug in that address and then send the tokens. They should arrive in your MetaMask wallet after a few minutes. If it seems to take a long time, you can open up the transaction from Coinbase to see the status. If it is still in pending, they just haven't arrived yet. Be patient, and they should get there soon enough. If the transaction fails, the coins should end up back in your Coinbase account.
Everything costs ETH
One thing that new users may not be aware of, is every action in the game costs ETH tokens. You will need to use tokens to purchase new kitties. You will need to use tokens to breed kitties. You will even need to use a small amount of tokens to list/sell kitties. Keep this in mind, and make sure you have enough tokens.
The minimum amount I would recommend to play the game (based on current/recent prices) is around $30-35 USD worth. This should give you enough money to buy one kitty (shop around to find a good deal), breed it (more info on this later), and then sell either the original kitty or the offspring.
For an optimal starting out experience, I would recommend around $100. This will give you the ability to shop around for a few kitties, experiment with breeding, and either grow your collection (or try to sell some back to the market and make a profit).
ETH transactions use GAS
Every ETH transaction will have a transaction cost associated with it. The transaction will have a fixed cost in terms of the amount of computation the blockchain has to do in order to process it. You get to chose how much to pay for those computations by setting the
Gas Price. After the number representing the amount of computations is multiplied by the
Gas Price, the blockchain will determine the total cost.
The total cost is not known at the time that the transaction is submitted, so you should also set a
Gas Limit, which is the maximum value you are willing to pay. The blockchain will not charge a higher fee than what is needed, but if it is more than the
Gas Limit you set, the transaction will fail. Note: If this happens, it will still charge you the amount you set as your
Gas Limit - even though it failed.
Detailed information about both the
Gas Price and
Gas Limit can be found here.
The higher you set the
Gas Price, the quicker your transaction will be processed, and the less likely it will be left pending until it eventually times out. When the network is especially busy (which seems to always be the case), I recommend you use a high
Gas Price, since the higher you set it the more likely the transaction will be picked up. It seems like 60 is a good number.
I also usually like to double whatever the
Gas Limitis, but make sure that it is not set too high. If the
Max Transaction Fee that is shown seems way to high, reject the transaction and try again.
You can also do estimates of transaction times based on
Gas Price here:
Transaction Timeouts and Game Errors
Unfortunately, the massive increase in transactions on the Etherium network caused by the huge number of people starting to play the CryptoKitties game has brought the Etherium blockchain to it's knees. Most game players are experiencing severe delays, and it has practically rendered the game unusable for many users.
How to avoid the network congestion (PRO TIP)
This is a trick that I have found, and if you are a die-hard kitties fan, or just really want to play the game without running into delays:
- Wake up at 3:00-4:00am US time (when everyone else is asleep)
- Set your Gas Price to at least 50-60 Gas
- Set your Gas Limit reasonably high (2-3x what they recommend)
I have been doing this, and the game-play is very smooth :)
If you do not want to wake up at 3:00am however, then the main thing is to set your Gas Price sufficiently high. If it continues to fail, all you can do is keep re-trying (possibly with an even higher Gas Price) and hope your transaction eventually goes through.
You can do some calculations on estimated transaction times based on your Gas Price here:
These are some common errors and what they mean + what to do about them:
- insufficient funds for gas * price + value
The most likely reason for this is you do not have enough ETH tokens for the transaction.
Some people have been getting this error even when they have more than enough tokens. There is a recommended solution here.
- exceeds block gas limit
The blockchain has a limit on the amount of transactions that can be processed at a time. If you get this error, wait a little bit and then try again.
- intrinsic gas too low
I have not been able to find a 100% confirmed answer to this, but I believe it means that too low of a Gas Limit was used. Try the transaction again with a higher Gas Limit.
- transaction underpriced
I am also not 100% sure on this, but I believe it means the Gas Price you have set is too low. Try the transaction again with a higher Gas Price.
When you breed two kitties, you can either breed two of your own, or you can breed one of yours with someone else's cat. After breeding, the mother kitty will have a "Bun in the Oven" for a period of time. After that, the new kitty will appear in your collection.
One of the most important aspects of the game is the traits that kitties have. Different traits can be considered more valuable than others, and many are significantly more rare than others. One of the main goals in the game is to try and breed kitties that result in super-rare traits that everyone wants!
To see a full list of traits that are available, and the statistics for how many kitties have each, check out https://cryptokittydex.com/cattributes.
Will CryptoKitties be the end of the Ethereum blockchain?
A lot of people have been saying that the recent impacts to Ethereum blockchain due to the massive increase in CryptoKitties transactions is demonstrating that the network is going to be unable to scale past it's current state.
What is interesting is that if you compare Ethereum with the Steem blockchain, the Steem blockchain is able to handle significantly more transactions than Ethereum without any delays. Steem also does has many advanced security features, and not charge any fees for transactions.
Whether the Ethereum blockchain will be able to adapt to allow the network to scale beyond it's current limitations remains to be seen. I certainly hope that it can find a way to support significantly more traffic than it does today, because it would be quite fun if CryptoKitties could take over the world.