Vara Network: On-Chain Game Building With Smart Contracts

By  Will McKinnon September 28, 2023

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  • Vara Network is a decentralized layer 1 blockchain on Gear Protocol, with low transaction costs, staking, governance and potential gas fee rebates
  • It supports high-throughput applications in DeFi, gaming and more through WebAssembly-native blockchain and unique features like the Actor Model
  • For gaming, it accommodates demanding data loads, supports asynchronous messaging and allows on-chain game building with smart contracts

The Vara Network is a stand-alone layer 1 decentralized blockchain network that is built and running on top of web3 infrastructure Gear Protocol. The Network offers low transaction costs, staking, participation in governance, validator, nominator and ambassador programs - as well as gas fee rebates in the future.

Built as a WebAssembly-native blockchain, any developer has the ability to write and compile it in traditional coding languages. In addition, Concepts made possible through the Gear Protocol, such as the Actor Model and Persistent memory, are leveraged to create a high-throughput, truly powerful blockchain network.

As Vara mainnet has officially become available it's time to take a dive into the brand new network and its budding ecosystem and applications for gaming plus DeFi.

Gear Protocol

Gear is the engine that powers Vara. In other words, "as Substrate is to Polkadot, Gear is to Vara." Using Gear's inherent functionality it is possible to build and deploy a dapp on Vara in mere minutes without sacrificing performance. It's also deployable in various instances with just a few parameter changes, and the development experience is unified across all these deployments.

A high-level look at how Vara Network links to others. Source: Gear Protocol

One of the flagship features of the Gear Protocol is the Actor Model, in which programs have dedicated, isolated memory and maintain their network state without sharing it. Each actor in the system is able to exchange messages with other actors, all without sharing the individual states. When a program receives a message, it can perform a variety of functions including modifying its private state, generating a reply or even creating another actor which facilitates sharding.

Because programs have private state and do not need to share their state with every other program as is the case on networks like Ethereum, theoretically they can create infinite new programs, which run in parallel to infinitely shard the network at scale. This makes Vara a haven for any developer building a dapp, and can support even the most complex blockchain games with ease.

Vara for Gaming

The implementation of blockchain technology into video games has been a major narrative for the crypto world for years. However, technical challenges such as transaction fees, scalability and data availability have played a part in preventing blockchain games from reaching full potential. Ethereum was once thought to be the eventual home for blockchain gaming, however even with the improved scaling offered by layer 2 networks it is not a perfect solution. This is because developers will still need to contend with two different layers, and Ethereum mainnet congestion can still affect transactions on layer 2.

Using the Gear Protocol, Vara offers a unique feature set "geared" toward game developers. Because Vara uses WASM for smart contracts, much of the workflow from web2 games can be easily adapted for deployment on Vara. Additionally, the infinite sharding via actors means it can support demanding data loads from games, all while having cheap and fast transactions. Asynchronous messaging also expands the possibilities for game designers no longer constrained by the rules of other layer 1 networks like Ethereum.

The ability for independent actors to operate and exchange messages theoretically allows for games to be built entirely on-chain without much restriction. Smart contracts can carry out operations automatically and queue messages, meaning they can execute a message later on after a condition such as time is met.

Syndote, an on-chain Monopoly-like game. Source: Gear Wiki

For an example of how gaming on Vara works, take a look at Syndote, which is the first fully on-chain Monopoly-like game. The game functions by having a master contract, essentially the game board, which controls other player contracts. Using gas reservation, the master contract is able to move player pieces without the players needing to pay for their transactions as they're being executed. There is no off-chain backend, no third party oracle dictating game timing, just a collection of smart contracts interacting with each other.

Because contracts can create other contracts to control characters, items, quests or even create entire game levels which opens up the door to procedurally generated games that can change dynamically depending on the players actions.

Vara for DeFi

In much the same way as Vara supports the construction of blockchain-based games, it also facilitates the building of both simple and complex DeFi applications. Because of the actor model there is no need for a separate backend service, which cuts down on transaction time as there is no need to communicate with the backend.

Gas reservation can allow users to prepay transaction fees, ensuring that when they are eventually executed they are processed promptly. Delayed messaging functionality opens up a new world of possibilities to traders, as contracts can be written to execute trades dependent upon a condition or set of conditions. This means mechanisms like on-chain order books, an exchange model that has grown in popularity recently, are able to be created with ease. The Actor Model also lends itself to the tokenization of real world assets as well as the protocols built to trade them.

Using Gear Makes the Difference

In summary, Vara represents a step forward for blockchain technology with an innovative offering beginning with the Gear Protocol. The powerful infrastructure of the network in combination with a thoughtful tokenomic structure could prove to jump start the ecosystem in terms of TVL as seen with other high-profile layer 1 launches. For any blockchain developers looking for a new chain to build on, check out Vara's offering as well as their developer docs on the website .