Is StarDust the future of blockchain gaming? Analysis of the project

Maciej Zieliński

14 Sep 2022
Is StarDust the future of blockchain gaming? Analysis of the project

Nowadays, every game developer should be able to succeed financially by selling their products. Stardust's mission is to increase the revenue of authors of such productions. Blockchain has created a paradigm shift in the monetization of video games, transforming games from closed-circuit microtransaction revenue to an open-world meta-economy monetized through the community. The Stardust project makes blockchain technology easily accessible to any developer. This is because it is a platform for authors to create blockchain-based games easily. Like PlayFab (a complete platform for live games with managed game services, real-time analytics and LiveOps), Stardust allows developers to easily create and manage NFTs in their games without needing blockchain code. Notably, the platform is available to everyone, from independent developers to AAA (games with the highest budgeting and promotion). Creating fast, secure, and scalable blockchain-based games is time-consuming and expensive for developers. What does this project offer, and why is it worth knowing? We write about it below!

What problems does Stardust solve? 

The most significant advantages cited by developers when building virtual worlds with the help of Stardust are that:

  • Provides developers with a solution without writing code to create and manage NFTs,
  • Stardust optimizes transactions, making blockchain-based games as fast as non-blockchain games.

What does Stardust provide? 

The Stardust project provides players with wallets powered by Fireblocks. It is a platform for storing, transferring, and settling digital assets. It helps guarantee the best gaming experience. Players are supposed to be able to buy NFTs with a credit card or cryptocurrency easily. The Stardust payment widget allows many different options when purchasing NFTs. The Stardust Dashboard makes it easy for any developer to create game snippets without writing code.


As part of navigating Stardust, game developers can:

  • Create NFTs for their productions,
  • Observe players and their inventory,
  • Configure their store,
  • Do without creating wallets, buying cryptocurrencies, or smart contracts.

Stardust API

The Stardust API decouples blockchain from game developers, and creating assets is as simple as a few lines of code. In addition, Stardust provides: 

  • No transaction signing. 
  • No private key management. 
  • Response time of 100ms. 
  • The processing engine takes standardized JSON data and converts it into signed blockchain transactions that are processed instantly. 

This is all to provide game developers with the instant response time they need and then send and settle transactions on the blockchain. With this model and serverless architecture, millions of in-game actions can be processed simultaneously, providing big games with the speed and scalability needed to run games at total capacity. The processing engine is also completely independent of the blockchain, making it possible to process many of them simultaneously. With the Stardust API, game developers can provide trust wallets for users to log in based on username/password or social media.

Stardust payments

There are many solutions in this area - Crypto, Wyre, Ramp, etc. However, game developers need a fully integrated product that allows them to sell their NFTs directly to Fiat rather than the indirect path of Fiat -> Crypto -> NFT. With Stardust's payment widget, with just a few lines of code, developers can start accepting credit cards from Circle, Coinbase Commerce, and other currencies.

Why isn't Stardust building a blockchain? 

Stardust is focused on enabling game developers to create games faster and more efficiently using NFT. Unlike authors who focus on blockchain technology - with Stardust, they can focus 100% of their resources on producing virtual entertainment. This has made Stardust an interesting option for adding value to major development studios, both native web2 and web3. Blockchains are like operating systems - each has unique advantages, disadvantages, and costs. Starting with the scalability dilemma and native web3 user interfaces, developers must consider many new factors during the implementation process. Some productions may require faster transaction speeds, while others may require greater security and flexibility regarding data stored on the blockchain. By maintaining a blockchain-independent approach, Stardust can provide game developers with the option to choose the blockchain that best suits their gaming needs. Fantastic blockchain and scaling solutions are available today - fast, flexible, cheap and secure. Stardust's product is aimed specifically at developers. 

What are Stardust's goals? 

In order for Project Stardust to best serve game developers, certain external theses had to be adopted. Stardust's goal is to make it as easy as possible to capture, manage and trade NFTs so that developers can focus on what they do best - making great games. Amazing blockchains and above-average teams are working on some of the world's most challenging issues. Stardust, as you can see, does not intend to compete with them but mainly to cooperate and work together to make their work easier through flexible and intuitive tools.

Dark Taverns - the first Stardust game 

Dark Taverns is a free-to-play open-world MMORPG set in a fantasy environment. Players can explore the deep forest and discover mysterious creatures and items, form guilds with friends needed to fight new threats, or explore the world alone. Gamers embark on an unforgettable journey in a new virtual world they can now explore like never before. Backed by a growing 39-person development team of former Ubisoft and NCSoft employees with extensive experience in AAA games, the developer has set itself a challenging task. With the increased emphasis on player ownership, people began to look for answers to what players want to own. In the case of Dark Taverns, the game's titular tavern is the focal point of the world. Players enter the world, meet, rest, and regenerate. The team began to think about how they could create more usability for players. With the development of Web3, the concept of a virtual property went from an idea to reality. Dark Taverns is exploring what this means not only for players but also for that outside of it. There are 10,000 taverns in this virtual world, all of which are available for purchase by interested parties. Players who own a Tavern can customize its appearance, rent rooms, and hold meetings and events. The boss determines changes in tavern settings. They can have public areas that anyone can enter or be pretty private. The latter can be not only a ticket to an event but also an invitation for people outside that game area to log in and enter a private room. A tavern is a virtual space that is not only a central point of entertainment but also a place for various virtual experiences. Owners can plan concerts, comedian appearances, or gatherings for both in-game and out-of-game guests.

First good game with full Web3 functionality

With the popularity of Web3, the Dark Taverns team immediately began exploring the possibilities of the technology. Today, the team can program all the elements of Web3 on its own. Co-founder, architect, and game developer Tony Hobda said: "We knew how to do it, but finding the best way to program Web3 made it a lot less effort. Dark Taverns wants to let players experience the benefits of blockchain-based gameplay without making it mandatory or the game's focus. Players can acquire or buy items they have the right to resell in the ecosystem or mint an item and sell it on the market. Stardust is a new Web3 platform focused on the Metaverse, specifically creating solutions that integrate blockchain services, such as NFT, with video games. Its latest collaboration is "Tilting Point," an independent developer's production for mobile devices. "Tilting Point," which previously created gameplay with a free-to-play model with transactions inside, is now moving to a play-to-pay model in which players can win NFTs by entering into a virtual world competition.

Stardust WEB 2 and WEB 3 

Web2 refers to the version of the Internet that most of us are familiar with today. The Internet is dominated by companies that provide services in exchange for personal information. In the context of Ethereum, Web3 refers to decentralized applications running on the blockchain. These allow anyone to participate without making money from their data.

The benefits of WEB 3 are as follows:

  • Everyone on the network has permission to use the service - in other words, no licenses are required,
  • No one can take away a user's right to participate in web3,
  • ETH tokens as forms of payment - an additional benefit is the flexibility of this solution, which allows for expansion and programming of further functionality.

WEB 3 disadvantages: 

Web3 now has some limitations. First, scalability - transactions in web3 are slower because they are decentralized. State changes, such as payments, must be processed by "miners" and distributed across the network. 

Second, UX -interaction with web3 applications may require additional steps, software, and education. This can present some obstacles. And third, cost - most successful applications place tiny pieces of code in the blockchain because it is expensive.

The future of blockchain-based gaming

The gaming sector itself is growing faster than the film industry. So it's no surprise that NFT and blockchain are being used to improve the industry. As of today, there are more than 1,450 games that have been developed on blockchain technology. The success of significant titles, e.g., Axie Infinity, shows that the cryptocurrency and gaming industries complement each other well. Unfortunately, larger gaming studios are holding back on investing in and producing such titles due to cryptocurrency laws and regulations. Let's hope that the situation will change to a more liberal one in time. 


Most viewed

Never miss a story

Stay updated about Nextrope news as it happens.

You are subscribed

Applying Game Theory in Token Design

Kajetan Olas

16 Apr 2024
Applying Game Theory in Token Design

Blockchain technology allows for aligning incentives among network participants by rewarding desired behaviors with tokens.
But there is more to it than simply fostering cooperation. Game theory allows for designing incentive-machines that can't be turned-off and resemble artificial life.

Emergent Optimization

Game theory provides a robust framework for analyzing strategic interactions with mathematical models, which is particularly useful in blockchain environments where multiple stakeholders interact within a set of predefined rules. By applying this framework to token systems, developers can design systems that influence the emergent behaviors of network participants. This ensures the stability and effectiveness of the ecosystem.

Bonding Curves

Bonding curves are tool used in token design to manage the relationship between price and token supply predictably. Essentially, a bonding curve is a mathematical curve that defines the price of a token based on its supply. The more tokens that are bought, the higher the price climbs, and vice versa. This model incentivizes early adoption and can help stabilize a token’s economy over time.

For example, a bonding curve could be designed to slow down price increases after certain milestones are reached, thus preventing speculative bubbles and encouraging steadier, more organic growth.

The Case of Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s design incorporates game theory, most notably through its consensus mechanism of proof-of-work (PoW). Its reward function optimizes for security (hashrate) by optimizing for maximum electricity usage. Therefore, optimizing for its legitimate goal of being secure also inadvertently optimizes for corrupting natural environment. Another emergent outcome of PoW is the creation of mining pools, that increase centralization.

The Paperclip Maximizer and the dangers of blockchain economy

What’s the connection between AI from the story and decentralized economies? Blockchain-based incentive systems also can’t be turned off. This means that if we design an incentive system that optimizes towards a wrong objective, we might be unable to change it. Bitcoin critics argue that the PoW consensus mechanism optimizes toward destroying planet Earth.

Layer 2 Solutions

Layer 2 solutions are built on the understanding that the security provided by this core kernel of certainty can be used as an anchor. This anchor then supports additional economic mechanisms that operate off the blockchain, extending the utility of public blockchains like Ethereum. These mechanisms include state channels, sidechains, or plasma, each offering a way to conduct transactions off-chain while still being able to refer back to the anchored security of the main chain if necessary.

Conceptual Example of State Channels

State channels allow participants to perform numerous transactions off-chain, with the blockchain serving as a backstop in case of disputes or malfeasance.

Consider two players, Alice and Bob, who want to play a game of tic-tac-toe with stakes in Ethereum. The naive approach would be to interact directly with a smart contract for every move, which would be slow and costly. Instead, they can use a state channel for their game.

  1. Opening the Channel: They start by deploying a "Judge" smart contract on Ethereum, which holds the 1 ETH wager. The contract knows the rules of the game and the identities of the players.
  2. Playing the Game: Alice and Bob play the game off-chain by signing each move as transactions, which are exchanged directly between them but not broadcast to the blockchain. Each transaction includes a nonce to ensure moves are kept in order.
  3. Closing the Channel: When the game ends, the final state (i.e., the sequence of moves) is sent to the Judge contract, which pays out the wager to the winner after confirming both parties agree on the outcome.

A threat stronger than the execution

If Bob tries to cheat by submitting an old state where he was winning, Alice can challenge this during a dispute period by submitting a newer signed state. The Judge contract can verify the authenticity and order of these states due to the nonces, ensuring the integrity of the game. Thus, the mere threat of execution (submitting the state to the blockchain and having the fraud exposed) secures the off-chain interactions.

Game Theory in Practice

Understanding the application of game theory within blockchain and token ecosystems requires a structured approach to analyzing how stakeholders interact, defining possible actions they can take, and understanding the causal relationships within the system. This structured analysis helps in creating effective strategies that ensure the system operates as intended.

Stakeholder Analysis

Identifying Stakeholders

The first step in applying game theory effectively is identifying all relevant stakeholders within the ecosystem. This includes direct participants such as users, miners, and developers but also external entities like regulators, potential attackers, and partner organizations. Understanding who the stakeholders are and what their interests and capabilities are is crucial for predicting how they might interact within the system.

Stakeholders in blockchain development for systems engineering

Assessing Incentives and Capabilities

Each stakeholder has different motivations and resources at their disposal. For instance, miners are motivated by block rewards and transaction fees, while users seek fast, secure, and cheap transactions. Clearly defining these incentives helps in predicting how changes to the system’s rules and parameters might influence their behaviors.

Defining Action Space

Possible Actions

The action space encompasses all possible decisions or strategies stakeholders can employ in response to the ecosystem's dynamics. For example, a miner might choose to increase computational power, a user might decide to hold or sell tokens, and a developer might propose changes to the protocol.

Artonomus, Github

Constraints and Opportunities

Understanding the constraints (such as economic costs, technological limitations, and regulatory frameworks) and opportunities (such as new technological advancements or changes in market demand) within which these actions take place is vital. This helps in modeling potential strategies stakeholders might adopt.

Artonomus, Github

Causal Relationships Diagram

Mapping Interactions

Creating a diagram that represents the causal relationships between different actions and outcomes within the ecosystem can illuminate how complex interactions unfold. This diagram helps in identifying which variables influence others and how they do so, making it easier to predict the outcomes of certain actions.

Artonomus, Github

Analyzing Impact

By examining the causal relationships, developers and system designers can identify critical leverage points where small changes could have significant impacts. This analysis is crucial for enhancing system stability and ensuring its efficiency.

Feedback Loops

Understanding feedback loops within a blockchain ecosystem is critical as they can significantly amplify or mitigate the effects of changes within the system. These loops can reinforce or counteract trends, leading to rapid growth or decline.

Reinforcing Loops

Reinforcing loops are feedback mechanisms that amplify the effects of a trend or action. For example, increased adoption of a blockchain platform can lead to more developers creating applications on it, which in turn leads to further adoption. This positive feedback loop can drive rapid growth and success.

Death Spiral

Conversely, a death spiral is a type of reinforcing loop that leads to negative outcomes. An example might be the increasing cost of transaction fees leading to decreased usage of the blockchain, which reduces the incentive for miners to secure the network, further decreasing system performance and user adoption. Identifying potential death spirals early is crucial for maintaining the ecosystem's health.

The Death Spiral: How Terra's Algorithmic Stablecoin Came Crashing Down
the-death-spiral-how-terras-algorithmic-stablecoin-came-crashing-down/, Forbes


The fundamental advantage of token-based systems is being able to reward desired behavior. To capitalize on that possibility, token engineers put careful attention into optimization and designing incentives for long-term growth.


  1. What does game theory contribute to blockchain token design?
    • Game theory optimizes blockchain ecosystems by structuring incentives that reward desired behavior.
  2. How do bonding curves apply game theory to improve token economics?
    • Bonding curves set token pricing that adjusts with supply changes, strategically incentivizing early purchases and penalizing speculation.
  3. What benefits do Layer 2 solutions provide in the context of game theory?
    • Layer 2 solutions leverage game theory, by creating systems where the threat of reporting fraudulent behavior ensures honest participation.

Token Engineering Process

Kajetan Olas

13 Apr 2024
Token Engineering Process

Token Engineering is an emerging field that addresses the systematic design and engineering of blockchain-based tokens. It applies rigorous mathematical methods from the Complex Systems Engineering discipline to tokenomics design.

In this article, we will walk through the Token Engineering Process and break it down into three key stages. Discovery Phase, Design Phase, and Deployment Phase.

Discovery Phase of Token Engineering Process

The first stage of the token engineering process is the Discovery Phase. It focuses on constructing high-level business plans, defining objectives, and identifying problems to be solved. That phase is also the time when token engineers first define key stakeholders in the project.

Defining the Problem

This may seem counterintuitive. Why would we start with the problem when designing tokenomics? Shouldn’t we start with more down-to-earth matters like token supply? The answer is No. Tokens are a medium for creating and exchanging value within a project’s ecosystem. Since crypto projects draw their value from solving problems that can’t be solved through TradFi mechanisms, their tokenomics should reflect that. 

The industry standard, developed by McKinsey & Co. and adapted to token engineering purposes by Outlier Ventures, is structuring the problem through a logic tree, following MECE.
MECE stands for Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive. Mutually Exclusive means that problems in the tree should not overlap. Collectively Exhaustive means that the tree should cover all issues.

In practice, the “Problem” should be replaced by a whole problem statement worksheet. The same will hold for some of the boxes.
A commonly used tool for designing these kinds of diagrams is the Miro whiteboard.

Identifying Stakeholders and Value Flows in Token Engineering

This part is about identifying all relevant actors in the ecosystem and how value flows between them. To illustrate what we mean let’s consider an example of NFT marketplace. In its case, relevant actors might be sellers, buyers, NFT creators, and a marketplace owner. Possible value flow when conducting a transaction might be: buyer gets rid of his tokens, seller gets some of them, marketplace owner gets some of them as fees, and NFT creators get some of them as royalties.

Incentive Mechanisms Canvas

The last part of what we consider to be in the Discovery Phase is filling the Incentive Mechanisms Canvas. After successfully identifying value flows in the previous stage, token engineers search for frictions to desired behaviors and point out the undesired behaviors. For example, friction to activity on an NFT marketplace might be respecting royalty fees by marketplace owners since it reduces value flowing to the seller.


Design Phase of Token Engineering Process

The second stage of the Token Engineering Process is the Design Phase in which you make use of high-level descriptions from the previous step to come up with a specific design of the project. This will include everything that can be usually found in crypto whitepapers (e.g. governance mechanisms, incentive mechanisms, token supply, etc). After finishing the design, token engineers should represent the whole value flow and transactional logic on detailed visual diagrams. These diagrams will be a basis for creating mathematical models in the Deployment Phase. 

Token Engineering Artonomous Design Diagram
Artonomous design diagram, source: Artonomous GitHub

Objective Function

Every crypto project has some objective. The objective can consist of many goals, such as decentralization or token price. The objective function is a mathematical function assigning weights to different factors that influence the main objective in the order of their importance. This function will be a reference for machine learning algorithms in the next steps. They will try to find quantitative parameters (e.g. network fees) that maximize the output of this function.
Modified Metcalfe’s Law can serve as an inspiration during that step. It’s a framework for valuing crypto projects, but we believe that after adjustments it can also be used in this context.

Deployment Phase of Token Engineering Process

The Deployment Phase is final, but also the most demanding step in the process. It involves the implementation of machine learning algorithms that test our assumptions and optimize quantitative parameters. Token Engineering draws from Nassim Taleb’s concept of Antifragility and extensively uses feedback loops to make a system that gains from arising shocks.

Agent-based Modelling 

In agent-based modeling, we describe a set of behaviors and goals displayed by each agent participating in the system (this is why previous steps focused so much on describing stakeholders). Each agent is controlled by an autonomous AI and continuously optimizes his strategy. He learns from his experience and can mimic the behavior of other agents if he finds it effective (Reinforced Learning). This approach allows for mimicking real users, who adapt their strategies with time. An example adaptive agent would be a cryptocurrency trader, who changes his trading strategy in response to experiencing a loss of money.

Monte Carlo Simulations

Token Engineers use the Monte Carlo method to simulate the consequences of various possible interactions while taking into account the probability of their occurrence. By running a large number of simulations it’s possible to stress-test the project in multiple scenarios and identify emergent risks.

Testnet Deployment

If possible, it's highly beneficial for projects to extend the testing phase even further by letting real users use the network. Idea is the same as in agent-based testing - continuous optimization based on provided metrics. Furthermore, in case the project considers airdropping its tokens, giving them to early users is a great strategy. Even though part of the activity will be disingenuine and airdrop-oriented, such strategy still works better than most.

Time Duration

Token engineering process may take from as little as 2 weeks to as much as 5 months. It depends on the project category (Layer 1 protocol will require more time, than a simple DApp), and security requirements. For example, a bank issuing its digital token will have a very low risk tolerance.

Required Skills for Token Engineering

Token engineering is a multidisciplinary field and requires a great amount of specialized knowledge. Key knowledge areas are:

  • Systems Engineering
  • Machine Learning
  • Market Research
  • Capital Markets
  • Current trends in Web3
  • Blockchain Engineering
  • Statistics


The token engineering process consists of 3 steps: Discovery Phase, Design Phase, and Deployment Phase. It’s utilized mostly by established blockchain projects, and financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund. Even though it’s a very resource-consuming process, we believe it’s worth it. Projects that went through scrupulous design and testing before launch are much more likely to receive VC funding and be in the 10% of crypto projects that survive the bear market. Going through that process also has a symbolic meaning - it shows that the project is long-term oriented.

If you're looking to create a robust tokenomics model and go through institutional-grade testing please reach out to Our team is ready to help you with the token engineering process and ensure your project’s resilience in the long term.


What does token engineering process look like?

  • Token engineering process is conducted in a 3-step methodical fashion. This includes Discovery Phase, Design Phase, and Deployment Phase. Each of these stages should be tailored to the specific needs of a project.

Is token engineering meant only for big projects?

  • We recommend that even small projects go through a simplified design and optimization process. This increases community's trust and makes sure that the tokenomics doesn't have any obvious flaws.

How long does the token engineering process take?

  • It depends on the project and may range from 2 weeks to 5 months.