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A “Paws-On” Look at The Ethereum Based Game Cryptokitties

Introduction to Cryptokitties

If you haven’t heard of Cryptokitties, you obviously live under a rock. Of course, if you lived under a rock, you would not be reading this article as I hear that they get poor Internet service underneath rocks. A trivial novelty turning into a sensation that the entire society embraces is nothing new. In the 1950’s and ‘60’s, collecting baseball cards was all the rage. The 1980’s brought us the Cabbage Patch kids, the ‘90’s brought us beanie babies. These are just a few examples of the different types of things that society embraced with a passion that is not describable in words. Even today, some of those very same baseball cards, Cabbage Patch kids and beanie babies are worth thousands of dollars as collectible items. While the fat of each has faded into the distance, out of the light of the mainstream, each still has its value as collectible merchandise.

While there are many other examples that can be given, none have the uniqueness of being 100% digitally based. From creation to purchase and ownership, as well as all of the value of other hold it Cryptokitty is now and will always be digital in nature. It should come as no surprise to anybody that something of a digital nature such as Cryptokitties could become a fad on the level of a beanie baby. After all this is the digital age, the age of the millennial’s. Being realistic about it, the new generation of adults wants fast and convenient. What is more fast and convenient than clicking a few mouse buttons and instantly owning your very own Cryptokitty.

What are Cryptokitties?

CryptokittiesCryptokitties are a member of the feline family, well sort of. The common house cat is the scientific name of Felis Domesticus. It is within the kingdom of Animalia, phylum of Chordata, class is Mammalia, order is Carnivora, family is Felidae and genus is Felis. So, if to classify Cryptokitties within the animal kingdom, I believe their scientific name would be Felis domesticus digitalis. You have the add-on the digitalis, to represent the work digital since Cryptokitties are purely digital entities.

The company behind Cryptokitties is Axiom Zen. The idea behind Cryptokitties is for users to collect and breed the Cryptokitties, creating an endless number of digital kittens. What makes the game unique is that each kitty is born with a unique set of genomes that defines its appearance and traits. Cutely named, “Cattributes” are what makes up the genome of each Cryptokitty. So not only do you present your Cryptokitties to obtain offspring, but you’re also trying to unlock the rare Cattributes within the game.

Cryptokitties is one of the 1st Blockchain games in existence. It is controlled by a smart contract on the Ethereum network. Everything and anything that happens in the Cryptokitty universe must be on the Ethereum network as part of the Cryptokitties smart contract. That means that once a Cryptokitty is born, it is forever in existence.

Cryptokitties Value

Cryptokitties are very similar to cryptocurrency or digital tokens. They are digitally created representations of value. And as such, are governed by a supply and demand environment. While there is an unlimited possibility to the total population of Cryptokitties that the world is able to create through breeding, there is a limited number that are created by the smart contract itself. The Cryptokitties that are created by the smart contract have no parents and are called generation or “Gen 0” kitties.

In the past, digital collectibles haven’t been able to prove successfulness due to 3 major reasons:

1.       A central issuing authority must be responsible for the creation and issuance of the digital collectible in question. Once the most valuable or prayer collectibles are defined, there is nothing stopping the original creator from simply creating as many as they choose, automatically devaluing the entire collection.

2.       Dependence on a single provider. It’s a single provider ceases to exist; the digital asset also ceases to exist.

3.       Absolutely no functionality. A physical collectible is popular because, well, you actually have the item to display. Using Cryptopunks as an example, it was a lack of functionality which may be interested die out rather quickly.

While we have seen some success from the video gaming world, such as World of Warcraft and the steam platform. These are tied specifically to individual games and only appeal to the specific players of those games. Not to mention that, it is not a safe environment at all.

Capping the Maximum Cryptokitties Supply

When Cryptokitties first launched, 50,000 generation 0 cats (colloquially referred to as “clock cats”) were stored within the smart contract on the Ethereum Blockchain. The smart contract distributes the cats at a rate of one Every 15 minutes and each cat is then sold by auction on the Cryptokitties marketplace website. The Cryptokitties are all unique in appearance and all have distinct visual appearances called the phenotype. The phenotype is determined by the immutable genes or genotype, which are stored in the smart contract as well.

By allowing the Cryptokitties to breed, it makes on something more than just a digital collectible. It becomes a self-sustaining community of Cryptokitty enthusiasts where users can create new Cryptokitties as collectibles and trade them on the Ethereum Blockchain through the smart contract.

Any 2 Cryptokitties can be bred together, resulting in a brand-new Cryptokitty that will be a genetic combination of its parents. Anticipating the outcome is one of the exciting draws to the game, at the possibilities for new and rare genetic makeups or Cattributes are endless. Cryptokitties are sexless, meaning that every Cryptokitty can serve as the sire, with the other serving as the mother. While there is no limit to the number of times a Cryptokitty can become a parent, the time in between each breeding increases for both parents.

Fancy Cats and Other Rare Cryptokitties

CryptokittiesOf course, with collectible, digital or otherwise, there are those specific items that everyone must have. In Cryptokitties those are the fancy cats and secondly cats with the rarest Cattributes. Fancy cats are fostered by real world people, mainly celebrities and each fancy cat receives special artwork or basically the digital photograph. As far as the other things that will make a Cryptokitty valuable, that is for the public to decide. There is no way to tell what will be popular later today, let alone what will be popular tomorrow or further into the future. Simply following the social media and countless other communities that have sprung up overnight that are devoted to Cryptokitties will allow you to find out where the real value lies.

The Cryptokitties Game Basics

The 1st thing that you need to understand the Cryptokitties is that in order for anything to become official, it must occur as part of the smart contract on the Blockchain. In order for it to be made a part of the Ethereum Blockchain, and more specifically Cryptokitties smart contract, a transaction on the Blockchain has to occur. This means that whether you are purchasing a Cryptokitty, selling a Cryptokitty, or breathing a Cryptokitty, a transaction fee will apply on top of any other costs associated with the activity. Currently, the only activities that are possible as part of the game of the above 3 that I have mentioned; buying, selling and breeding.

Getting Started with Cryptokitties

The 1st thing you have to do in order to play Cryptokitties is to get yourself Cryptokitty of your very own. To do this you either have to purchase one from the Cryptokitties marketplace or have one gifted to from someone you know. Even if someone you know is willing to give you a Cryptokitty for free, in order to make it official, they must form the transaction on the Ethereum network and pay the transaction fee. For the most part, buying a Cryptokitty will be the way that most people obtain their 1st Digital Cryptokitty.

The 1st step to join Cryptokitties is to get an account at the Cryptokitties website. Before you get much further than the basic registration, you will be required to install meta-mask. MetaMask is going to serve as your Ethereum wallet. MetaMask is a bridge that allows you to visit websites that use distributed applications or dApps. It allows you to run Ethereum dApps right in your browser without having to run a full Ethereum node. MetaMask can be installed as an add-on in Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and their very own browser named, Brave. To get MetaMask you can visit their website to find the appropriate link for your browser that you use. That website is MetaMask.io.

Buying Your Very First Cryptokitties

CryptokittiesWhat you have your account all set up and MetaMask installed, the fun can begin. Once you are logged into your Cryptokitties account, by clicking on the marketplace links you can see all of the kittens that are available for sale, for siring or that just exist. Simply filter the list of Cryptokitties to the ones that are for sale, using the links at the top of the page.

As with all items for sale on any website, you can filter the list based on price. The additional filters on the Cryptokitties marketplace allow you to filter the list by age and by how long each Cryptokitty needs in between breeding periods, called the cooldown.

What you find Cryptokitty that you’re interested in buying, simply click on the Cryptokitties picture and will open up the sales page. You’ll be able to see the Cryptokitties name, the generation that they belong to, there cooldown rating, the buy it now price, as well as their full bio and Cattributes.

What you’re satisfied and watched the Cryptokitty to call your own, simply click on the buy now button. This will open up MetaMask with all the information regarding the sale already filled in, including the estimated transaction fees. It is probably a good idea to check the state of the Ethereum network to avoid having your transaction rejected, ultimately putting you at risk for someone else to buy the Cryptokitty before you can rectify the situation.

To check the status of the Ethereum network and get an idea of what your GWEI and gas limit should be, you should go to either scan and look at the latest transactions and see what they paid. Not setting your gas prices and your GWEI high enough will result in a transaction failure and you have to start all over again.

What you successfully sent the transaction, MetaMask will automatically update its screen to show you the transaction number. It takes approximately 15 to 20 seconds for your transaction to be confirmed on the Ethereum Blockchain. Once it is confirmed, it could take up to 2 minutes for the Cryptokitties websites to update so you can see your available Cryptokitties on the “My Kitties” page of the website. So, given a couple of minutes and then click the link and you will see your Cryptokitty.

You will not be able to change any of the information in the Cryptokitty bio, but you are able to edit the name of the Kitty. To do so, simply click on the Cryptokitties game and type in the name. There Kitty number will remain underneath of the main title name. You can change your Cryptokitties name as much as you like.

In order to get into the game, you’re going to need two Cryptokitties. Your options are to buy a 2nd Cryptokitty or to find a Cryptokitty to sire a kitten for you. It is probably best if you start off just fine to Cryptokitties. While there are Cryptokitties for sale or as much is 10,000 ether, there are also Cryptokitties for sale or as little as $3-$4 USD.

Breeding Your Cryptokitties

CryptokittiesAfter you have your Cryptokitties, choose which will be the father which will be the mother. To do this easily, click on the Cryptokitty that is to be the father or sire to the Cryptokitten you wish to breed. When their profile page opens up, simply click on the breed button under your user name. When the page opens you will have the option of choosing sire to the public or sire with my kitties. Too tired to the public simply fill in the information on how much you are starting price would be and your ending price and how long you wish your siring auction to run. Once you click done, meta-mask will open up. There is no fee that you have to pay for listing your Cryptokitty available for sire. However, since this needs to be made a part of the Blockchain, you must pay the required gas fees. Once you have set the proper gas limits, submit your transaction and wait for someone to take interest. Once they do, you will receive the Ethereum that you charged directly into your meta-mask wallet and they will receive a new Cryptokitty.

If you are breeding your own Cryptokitties together, you will choose to sire with “My Kitties” option on the breeding page or your Kitty. Simply choose “Ok let’s get started.” The 1st thing you have to do is select the mother Kitty. Once you have made your selection, click on the pink button that says, “Ok, give them some privacy.” Again, MetaMask will open in this time you will be required to not only pay the gas fees, but will also cost you 0.08 ether as well. Submit your transaction, wait until your transaction is confirmed by the Ethereum Blockchain, late about another minute and refresh your “My Kitties” page and you will have a brand-new Cryptokitty to call your own.

Cryptokitties Sires

If you did not purchase 2 Cryptokitties or just wish to get the opportunity to get different Cattributes, you can go to the marketplace and next to the for-sale link is a siring link. This will show you all of the cats that are available to father your Cryptokitty. This works exactly the same as buying a Cryptokitty, so find the one that you like and complete the transaction. You have to pay the price that the owner of the cat is asking plus the gas fees and when all is said and done you get the brand-new Cryptokitty.

Selling your Cryptokitties

Whether you are just trying to downsize, change it up a little bit, or make a little money, selling a Cryptokitty is the exact same procedure as siring one or buying one, only this time you will be the one to receive the money for your efforts. Pricing of Cryptokitties can be tough. In order to know what Cattributes are popular, what people are seeking and other factors that go into pricing of Cryptokitty you should start by looking at the marketplace and seeing what is available all right. It is important to price a Cryptokitty at its actual value or you risk it not selling. Remember, just by listing the Cryptokitty for sale you have to pay the gas fees to the Ethereum network. You pay no fee to Cryptokitties directly for selling your Cryptokitty, but an unsuccessful sale could result in a $2-$3 USD cost.

Simply check the marketplace and see what is available for the same generation and then Cattributes that match your Cryptokitty. There are also several websites dedicated to Cryptokitties, largely all community driven where you can find a ton of information about what Cattributes are in, what are not, what to look for, and anything else you can imagine about the digital pets.

What your Cryptokitty is up for auction, you simply wait. There is no messaging between buyers and sellers, there is no bidding, someone simply determines of what price they wish to buy the Cryptokitty at based upon the range that you gave and when it hits that price they make the purchase. You will know when the purchases made because Cryptokitties will send you an email plus you will have either deposited into your meta-mask wallet. Nice and simple.

Your Recent Cryptokitties Activity

CryptokittiesAt the very top of the Cryptokitties website page, next to the links for the marketplace and your Kitty stable, there is an invite link (so you can invite all of your friends to play Cryptokitties with you) and then a little heart beat monitor line. Clicking this heartbeat monitor line will open up your activities page, showing you the details of all of your Cryptokitty activity. You will be able to see every Cryptokitty you purchased, sired, bred and sold.

Congratulations, you now know everything there is to know in order to play Cryptokitties on the most basic level. If you want to get into the breeding specific Cattributes, and all of the other genome related activities that are possible, you’ll have to look at third-party websites which are in abundance. The basics of how to play the game have all been covered here. It is truly that simple to play Cryptokitties.

Cryptokitties For Fun or Profit

Whether you want to play Cryptokitties for fun or to make a profit, it is a great platform. Play Cryptokitties for fun can be very addicting to say the least. Soon you will find yourself studying Cattributes and trying to figure out how to make the special, perfect Cryptokitty. While fun, if you get rather expensive depending on your tastes, desires, and wishes when it comes to the Cryptokitties you wish to have.

Cryptokitties can also be very profitable. With all of the people that are interested in playing Cryptokitties now, the marketplace is always moving. Cryptokitties that are priced at the right level do not last long. And it is not unheard of for someone to pay well over $1000 for Cryptokitty, as long as that Cryptokitty has Cattributes or other features that are desirable to the buyer.

Cryptokitties has become the beanie baby of the digital age, hands-down. It is the 1st digital collectible, and if this is any sign, the future of digital collectibles was very promising indeed.

My Personal Cryptokitties Experience

CryptokittiesI have heard about Cryptokitties and really took notice right around the middle of December 2017. When it was decided that I would write the article for Coinstaker, I had to go check everything out in order to have the information to be able to write the article. It is very easy to get taken up with the game of buying, selling, breeding and searching for the perfect Cattributes. While the information was needed for me to be able to write an informative article, I lost sight of that and begin having some fun. It has resulted in me owning 7 Cryptokitties of my own and that is after gifting 2 of them to my girlfriend, and selling two Cryptokitties on the marketplace.

The only issue I have had is with the gas prices on the Ethereum network. It is my suggestion that you set your gas prices and GWEI about 20% more than what MetaMask defaults to when you open up a transaction.

Other than some minor frustration with the gas fees, I have had a blast playing Cryptokitties and I look forward to what’s next in the realm of Blockchain games.

Cryptokitties Conclusion

Fun? You bet! Addicting? Absolutely! Worth it? Undoubtedly!

Cryptokitties has given us a digital way to do something the people who love to do for as long as humans have been a race on this planet; we love to collect, we love the trade those same collectibles and most of all we love to show the collectibles we have acquired to everyone and anyone who would want to look. Cryptokitties not only need all of these desires, but also satisfies the impulse urge that we all have at some level. There is no waiting for days for a package to arrive, no driving to the store. Simply click your mouse button a few times and Presto, you have your Cryptokitty in hand, well on your screen at least.

A wonderful idea and a great outlook on what the future of the Blockchain has to offer in the ways of entertainment and digital sentiments.

About Gene

Gene writes about cryptocurrencies, blockchain & Fintech. He lives, with his girlfriend and son, in Daytona Beach, FL gene.cotillo@coinstaker.com ~ BitcoinTalk: toodamntired

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