What you see is not always what you’ll get

Review of Spatial Interfaces as part of a task by 1729.com (https://1729.com/spatial-interfaces)

tl;dr

Applying spatial design to crypto may just help adoption… if its the right context. We talk about the UI of cryptokitties and decentraland and we see how a 3D interface might transform a user’s experience.

Article Summary of Spatial Interfaces

  • increasing the dimensionality to 3D can make the applications more intuitive.
  • skeuomorphic spatial affordance is making UI elements represent their real-world counterparts and their spatial relationships to their surroundings.
  • most apps use some spatial concepts to make it easier to understand how to get back to certain screens. this is commonly done through stacking
  • Game-like interfaces could be incredible for almost any social use-case, not just for running conferences

Interfaces?

https://theoldnet.com/

There was a time when the internet looked like this. No, really.

What we are looking at here are our interfaces into the metaverse. Spatial Interfaces talks about how we interact with our devices for very specific uses. It covers meetings, conferences, calendars, these are all things that are essentially ported over from the physical world into virtual spaces.

cr: gather.town

The pinnacle of this, in my opinion, is gather.town. Giving users an avatar, a virtual space, interactions etc can really enhance a meeting. Its gimmicky because sometimes all you want to do is listen to the conference (in a work setting) but I imagine this would be fun if it was a social setting.

However, interfaces can also mimic an emotional experience such as how dark forest deliberately obscures information.

cr: xdai chain’s docs

Crypto has always been notorious for unfamiliar interfaces so let’s take the thesis of this article and explore some games in Web3. We’ll talk about 3 major games: Cryptokitties and Decentraland

Cryptokitties

You can essentially do just 3 things. Buy, Sell, and Breed.

Buy

Cryptokitties’ marketplace

The interface looks exactly like any normal marketplace. You can sort by prices, generations, etc

Problem here is: for someone new to cryptokitties, you have no idea how to value a kitty. Everything looks overpriced. Furthermore, the characteristics have no meaning to you. What is a “sluggish” kitty?

Sell

To sell you can either put it on the marketplace or have it up for breeding (siring). To value a kitty, it is unclear. An article on how to value one starts with “While it’s impossible to set an exact price for a Kitty — they are collectibles, after all — there are things that make some Kitties more sought-after than others.”

When people buy a kitty they either like it for its purely aesthetic value or they wish to sell it. Not building into the UI some sort of kitty valuation makes it hard for people to figure out how to make decisions.

Breed

Breeding two of your own cats together costs a flat rate of 0.008 ETH plus the transaction fee. Breeding with another player’s Kitty costs the siring price set by that player, plus the 0.008 ETH breeding charge and the transaction fee.

Now breeding adds the whole idea of randomness into the game. That makes it fun and the idea that you can make completely new kitties is really interesting…to a certain extent. Playing a game that is basically dependent on luck can only be very fun until your luck runs out or you get bored.

Decentraland

Now, first and most important thing here is… the “play as guest” feature. Before people choose to commit to a game, it is important to try it out first!

The familiar UI reminds you of other similar open world social games. There’s nothing new that you have to pick up for you to get started.

You start at the “Plaza” something similar to a free market in good ol’ maplestory.

Also there’s a tutorial! Much easier and smoother onboarding experience.

There’s even a mini-map that helps you navigate your way.

Spatial Interfaces talks about how Second Life gives a completely different and immersive experience to in-game worlds. Its possible that Decentraland could be that Metaverse we are waiting to be a part of.

So what?

Imagine if instead of jumping into an Amazon-like marketplace you were brought into 3D pet shop. That would have been a completely different experience. Imagine if instead of just breeding your kitties you could do more things with them such as complete challenges, quests, or even battle against players.

Say hello to Axie Infinity

At the risk of shilling this game, I would have to say that Axie Infinity is the next step up from cryptokitties. Taking a leaf from the pokemon playbook, Axie has built a game around collectibles and took on all the best elements of the metaverse (owning your axies, digital assets economy, global outreach, …)

Disclaimer, I have not personally played the game but I’ve taken the time to look up its gameplay mechanics, read its docs, and overall I am quite impressed. This isn’t just an NFT trading game with tokenomics built in so that you can “buy-in” or other fancy governance stuff. Its an actual game that just happens to use Ethereum to create digital assets.

cr: Bittrio (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga5FywMrdx0)

ever curious