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I Tried Cryptokitties and Also Some Other Thoughts

So I had this idea a couple of years ago that I could never really figure out: I wanted to just give away 49% of Castmate to anyone who wanted a piece. Divide it up into a billion shares and give out 100 or 1000 to anyone who asked or filled out a form. A few reasons:

  1. Seems like a fun experiment, just to see what would happen.
  2. Having more people invested in the business, even in some miniscule way, might lead to it becoming bigger (sort of tied into point 1 maybe), and there’d be a possibility of people contributing to the success of the site in noticeable ways (and then they could be given more ownership as appreciation)
  3. Mostly, I know from experience that it’s soooo fun to be running a website that is hopping and has tons of people using it and talking about it and doing things, and it’s sooooo boring to run a website that is quiet.

Anyway, I discussed this with a couple of people briefly, but I could never figure out how to just dole out shares in a way that wasn’t going to somehow involve securities law, and I couldn’t really find any precedent of a company just giving ownership away to unlimited people. I figured that it would probably cost thousands in lawyers fees to even remotely get a handle on how this might work.

A few months before Christmas, I did realize that this was the exact type of thing that crypto tokens can handle. It’d be trivial to create a billion tokens on the Ethereum network (or some other way) and then just give them out. I’m still not positive about whether it would constitute a public stock offering or what though.

I was reminded of this for a few reasons tonight. I just saw a tweet where some guy was talking about some kind of new cryptocurrency and they mentioned an “airdrop”, which sounded like this idea. I don’t know what currency they’re talking about and I don’t care. I read a few of the replies in case someone mentioned details, but it’s the usual thing where 200 people are really, really sloppily kissing the ass of some rich guy. I seriously don’t understand this, has there ever been an instance where someone got a company funded because he replied to a bunch of investors on Twitter with some vague hype about his app idea? It’s so fucking out of control, the replies are so brutally bad.

Anyhow back to crypto things: So I don’t know, I’m thinking about this again, but I don’t want to do anything remotely grey area legally.

So very related to this: This weekend, I had an idea for what I think would be a pretty great crypto-related app, running on the Ethereum network. I thought it through during a long car ride I had on Sunday and I’ve been pretty excited about it since, but I ran into what I think might be a pretty big problem, and now I’m annoyed.

The problem is fees. The app I have in mind would require (I think) me to create 2 types of tokens on the Ethereum network, and the app would involve people using these, moving them between addresses, etc. I decided to try out that game Cryptokitties to get a feel for how all this stuff actually works in practice, because I’ve read tons about it but never really used Ethereum. (btw my thing is nothing like Cryptokitties, which there are tons of things copying I believe).

So I bought about $15 US of Ether (the currency needed to buy and sell Cryptokitties) and installed the necessary software, and I went to their site and picked out a virtual cat to buy with my “money”.

The cheapest cats cost something like $4 or $5. To me, it’s weird since they don’t do anything. People call it a game, but it’s not like buying a game that has uhh.. anything game-like (like maybe game mechanics to begin with). But whatever, who cares, I was fine with paying $4 to try this out. But when I went to do it, I found out that there would be $4.80 USD in recommended extra fees, just to do the transaction. Whhaaaaaaat.

I knew that Bitcoin has insanely high fees now that make it unusable, but I hadn’t even thought about it for other currencies (the only other one I know is Bitcoin Cash, which has very low fees).

I ended up trying to send a lower fee, but I believe that my payment got refunded, but I lost the $2 in fees I attempted to send (you can try to send lower fees, but there’s less chance your transaction will go through I guess).

The other problem was that the UX of actually using Cryptokitties and Metamask (the browser plug-in you need to have running) was unbearably bad. I mean sooooo bad. The Cryptokitties site is confusing, doesn’t really explain much, and the Metamask plug-in is very confusing. As an example, if you choose to buy a certain cat, you click a button that says “OK, but this cat” and, for me anyway, nothing happens 90% of the time. Literally, I kept clicking it, waiting, going away for a few minutes, reloading the page, etc, and nothing happened until FINALLY it just randomly decided to kick into action and I saw this amazing dialog:

GAS LIMIT. GWEI. GAS PRICE. UNITS.

I don’t think you should ever have “UNITS” in your interface for any product. It sounds like a bad science fiction movie. CAPTAIN, SHALL I TRADE 125815 CREDIT FOR A SONIC BLASTER.

But forget that stuff, because even if you generally understand those terms, the most hilarious and appalling design element here are those colourful circles at the top. Are they.. graphs? Representations of uhhh… something? Are they just randomly generated images they’ve assigned to the Ether addresses? Who knows – I don’t.

The UX bar is so insanely low for any sort of Cryptocurrency or Blockchain-related software, it’s soooo crazy.

Look at those 3 buttons on the bottom there: RESET, SUBMIT, REJECT. First off, why do they say REJECT instead of CANCEL? And I think the RESET button needs to be left-justified. But just overall like.. come on what the hell, this shit sucks. I still bought a stupid cryptokitty though halfway through writing this blog post, and I feel horrible about it, HORRIBLE. Instant buyer’s remorse. I own nothing, I am not going to derive any enjoyment from it, and I am positive I won’t be able to resell it (or if I do, fees will make it so I still lose most of my money).

UPDATE: After posting this, I went to try and sell the dumb virtual cat I bought. I am not sure what happened, but when I clicked “SELL THIS STUPID CAT” (or whatever it said), a pop-up came up, I submitted it, and it turned out I BOUGHT ANOTHER STUPID CRYPTOKITTY. Which one? Why the exact one in the screenshot I took earlier.

You see, that screenshot was of some random cryptokitty I did not intend to buy. I just pulled up that dialog for a screenshot. Then I closed it but I guess.. the plug-in just remembers what you put in it, and doesn’t put in the new info when you click “SELL THIS CAT”.

I don’t honestly want to say for sure that’s what happened, but Jesus, this is some horrible UI and confusing UX. I can’t believe people think cryptocurrency could be useful when you can decide to buy something and then the network can just go “Uhh know what, we’re not gonna recognize that purchase, but we’re going to keep the fee anyway”. It’s like Amazon cancelling an order on you, but keeping the shipping fee. Maybe it’s not exactly the same, I don’t care, please don’t correct me if you’re a Bitcoin person.

So now I have 2 cats, I listed one for sale (or as they call it, I put it up for a.. SIRING AUCTION?)., I just named the second one MURDERCAT and I’m putting it up for sale too. God help me.

Jesus, seriously, look at this screenshot, look at the form fields, read it carefully and try to count along with me as I enumerate the 20 ways in which it doesn’t make sense.

 

“Kitty auctions can go up or down in price” – that’s not an auction. Google the word AUCTION.

There’s a 2 day duration but I must… cancel the auction for it to end? WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS MEAN FUCK THIS STUPID WORLD WE LIVE IN

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