HODL St was the brainchild of a group of Melbournians working in the creative and digital space. The idea was creating a city-building game that used the Ethereum network to secure 'property' ownership using Smart Contracts. The HODL St team shared a passion to demonstrate how blockchain technology can be used not just for crypto currency transactions, but also to support growth nations who suffer from land ownership disputes. Marketing Director, Tim Broxup said “If blockchain wants to battle problems seen in third world countries where over 70% of people have a tenuous title to their land, we need to educate in a way that attracts interest and interaction. HODL St aims to do this with a vibrant and interactive world anyone can pick up and play with any device.”
We had several key roles in the development of the game. Similar to Sim City, HODL St allowed players to purchase blocks of land and then upgrade those between levels 1 and 4, with each level having multiple designs to choose from. They could also buy and sell their properties with other players.
There was no intent to create an 'app' for Android or iOS, and so the entire game system had to be web-browser friendly, fully responsive and cross-device system compatible.
We needed a system to 'drive' the game from an administrative perspective, without the requirement to develop that from scratch. Drupal 8 was the natural choice; allowing us to create a user account and profile system and content (property) entity architecture, and tie the two things together.
Associated with user accounts was the ability to set up an ETH wallet, which players could do from within the Drupal account system. Players could then use their wallet to purchase in-game property. For faster transaction processing, we used a custom Ethereum node and wrote smart contracts to the blockchain without GAS. To make all of this happen, we wrote a custom REST API for integrating the Drupal backend with the network.
Once we had the base system in place, it was time to apply the designs we'd been provided with. We set about creating a ReactJS frontend, and hooking that up to the Drupal backend. The frontend had to handle a scaling and scrolling map, and the dynamic display of developed properties, using isometric display. Things needed to be 'just so' and perform well. We made things as light as we possibly could, and spent significant time applying performance optimisations. The result looked soooo good!!
This project allowed us to expand our technical experience into Blockchain and the Ethereum cryptocurrency - something many development shops don't ever get a chance at doing. We are now able to provide customers full insight into managing or developing their own crypto/blockchain-based systems and architecture, leveraging cross platform libraries and integrating this with their Drupal CMS.
The future and scale of blockchain technologies is only increasing and this project's success is testament to what Drupal is capable of as a platform and as a content management system.