6 Important Updates from Game of Zones Opening Ceremonies

It’s almost here! Right now, the Game of Zones and Iqlusion teams are currently debugging the GoZ Hub. The launch of the Game of Zones is imminent– and Opening Ceremonies for the competition began this morning at 9am PST // 4pm UTC.

Prizes and Phase Objectives

One of the biggest updates we shared with GoZ participants this week was focused on challenge phase objectives and contest rewards. We designed the weekly phase challenge prizes to reward performance for specific contest goals, and contest prizes are intended to reward innovation and creativity throughout the competition. You can learn more about the opportunities to win Game of Zones here, or to listen to our commentary on prizes and challenge objectives at the beginning of the live stream.

Reuniting the Core IBC Team 

During Opening Ceremonies, we were joined by several core IBC developers to celebrate the beginning of Game of Zones. One common sentiment that Anca Zamfir, Chris Goes, Federico Kunze Küllmer and Aditya Sripal shared about working on IBC was the importance of developing decentralized protocols to power the future of the internet. This group of core developers also expressed their excitement about seeing IBC in action, and they looked forward to seeing challenge participants break IBC so they could return to the code to make it stronger and more resilient. 

Standing up the GoZ Hub

From today through Sunday, we will begin the launch process for the Game of Zones Hub that will run on the current version of gaia. Throughout the competition, we are expecting patch releases for gaia: there will definitely be a new version of gaia for Phase 2, and teams should be prepared for a new version of gaia to become available for Phase 3.

The GoZ Scoreboard

Over the past few weeks, the Game of Zones team and Iqlusion have been heads down building a Sagan-powered scoreboard. After the official launch of Phase 1, we will share this scoreboard with participants so that everyone is able to track their performance in the competition.

Judging criteria for the first two phases of the competition is quantitative and relatively straightforward, and the scoreboard will be an important tool that informs who will win each Phase. During Phase 3, observability becomes more of a challenge — we may not have full visibility into attacks taking place on the network. Throughout the competition, we expect many teams to share their network visualization tools as another way to experience the challenge.

Contest Pacing + Updates

During the planning of Game of Zones, we began thinking about contest design in terms of the start process for a race.The first weekend of the contest (May 1-3) is designed to help teams get into a strong starting position by standing up their nodes and making a connection to the GoZ hub in advance of official Phase 1 Launch on Monday. Because we are measuring performance from Monday through Friday each week, the weekends are essentially a pit stop for each team — you can use this down time to take a break before the next phase, build new tools or automation to set you up for success, or use the time to prepare for upcoming software updates. And on Fridays at noon PST, for anyone in the mood to come and hang out a bit, we will be hosting live-streams to recap the action that took place during the week and share important announcements with participants. 

Official Communication Channels

Throughout Game of Zones, the best way to get updates about the competition is through Twitter, our blog, and Github. Wherever we can, we will work to communicate updates and important competition details to the community all at once. If you need to get in touch with the Game of Zones team for any reason– to ask a question about the contest rules, see if we’re able to share data with your visualizer, or just to say hi– it is best to send an email to gameofzones@cosmosnetwork.dev. Sending an email is the fastest way to get a direct response from one of us.

The Game of Zones hub launch process will take place through the weekend, and Phase 1 of the Competition begins Monday, May 4th at 12am PST // 7am UTC, so be sure to connect to the node and watch for the Game of Zones scoreboard announcement on Monday morning. Best of luck to everyone competing in Game of Zones — we can’t wait to see what incredible things come out of the competition!

A Whole New World: Testnets in the IBC Era

From running some of the first BFT systems over the open internet to developing Game of Stakes, the first-ever incentivized Proof of Stake testnet, the Cosmos community consistently innovates using testnets to drive network operator readiness. As we approach launch time for Game of Zones, it is important that teams participating in the challenge take some time to learn how IBC testnets differ from the traditional Cosmos testnets we all know and love.

If you are reading this, it is likely that you have participated in a Cosmos testnet. Traditionally, Cosmos testnets function by connecting nodes in a BFT network. To join, each new node makes a network request to other nodes in the network to join the P2P network. Being a part of the P2P network exposes quite a bit of information about each node (IP, node id, networking information, etc…) so that each new node on the network can easily find peers. From there, peer discovery happens automagically.

Joining an IBC testnet differs significantly from joining a traditional Cosmos testnet where acquiring information about other validators was automatic. The new world of IBC introduces the concept of Bring Your Own Blockchain where testnets may consist of shallow forks of gaia, novel CosmosSDK chains, and more exotic Tendermint chains. There is no central place to discover where a relayer connects and what protocols are supported, and there is also no requirement to publicly share this information to operate. On the internet, the problem of service discovery is generally solved by technologies like DNS — but with IBC, a network that is much more like the “dark web,” services are only discoverable if you know where to find them. To aid discovery in the world of IBC, testnet participants must share an open RPC endpoint and some additional information that will allow other users to connect to their chain and query its information.

Because participating in an IBC testnet differs so much from standing up a traditional Cosmos testnet, part of your team’s preparation for competing in the Game of Zones should include checking out relayer testnets directory and automating testing against the latest version of hub software with this continuous integration framework. If you are looking to learn more about the dynamics of IBC testnets, join us next Monday to restart the current IBC testnet and  test out the last set of changes before we cut the Game of Zones release.