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Saito – 2020 Roundup

As it is the end of the year, we wanted to share a quick update reviewing some of the progress Saito has made over the past year. So much is happening at Saito that it’s occasionally nice to look back and remember how far we have come over the last year.

Community and Network Traffic:

The most obvious growth at Saito has been in network usage and transaction volume, which has increased from around 3k daily transactions at the start of the year to over 30k at years end, with our highest day reaching somewhere over 42k transactions. Although we are still not widely known outside the gaming space, this kind of usage makes Saito one of the larger public blockchains.

Our community is still centred heavily around gaming, although we have expanded from a few core games (Chess, Woodblocks and Twilight Struggle) to a broader set including Poker and Red Imperium, and with integrated chat and forum capabilities. Although we’ve also added new features like game clocks and totally overhauled the game control interface, the most positive change is reaching production-level stability in the underlying game engine. The best thing about writing this is remembering how long it has been since we’ve had a game-killing bug reported on the network.

Core Software and User Applications:

In the first half of 2020 most of our development work focused on writing a new version of the core Saito javascript client. This version was written “from-scratch” to simplify the codebase, provide an opportunity for a line-by-line review of the existing code, as well as to eliminate some of the ad hoc optimisations that had been added to the previous version. Work on parallelisation is shifting entirely to the RUST client.

New features that have hit stability as a result of this work include include lite-block support for lite-clients, pruned blocks, and the implementation of the staking mechanism outlined in the Saito Whitepaper as our mechanism for increasing the cost of network attack beyond the 100 percent point (i.e. eliminating the discouragement attack completely by guaranteeing that attacks on the network always cost money, even for attackers who control 100 percent of network resources). The codebase is cleaner and more standardised.

In late Spring our attention shifted to front-end development work, particularly with industry outreach outlined below. This led to the development of new approaches to simplify developing complex applications on Saito, and particularly applications which needed to combine on-chain data and payments processing with off-chain queries to peers and database repositories. Significant improvements were also made to QRCode scanning, mobile phone support, and size and speed optimisations to the default Saito javascript. This core code was originally rolled out behind the existing set of user-facing applications.

Towards the end of the summer we embraced a re-write of our user-facing applications to increase the usability of the platform and eliminate inconveniences and problems that were hurting the user experience. Our fundamental approach has been to double-down on what we have learned about building applications that people want to use. Instead of a family of loosely-coupled but independent applications the Saito experience has moved towards concentrating activity and features (chat, forum, gaming, leaderboards) in a smaller number of spaces. While most applications continue to have standalone UIs (see chat for instance) usage has grown from combining them in reinforcing applications.

Industry Engagement:

Our most significant step forward happened towards the end of the year when Saito was selected a grant winner by the Web3 foundation for a proposal to extend our gaming work into a general standard for web3 games. The grant will be bring the ease of Saito application development to the Polkadot ecosystem while also bringing Polkadot working applications and a funding model to pay for the user-facing infrastructure needed by their network. One very positive outcome of this process has been a shift in the way we publicly talk about what Saito is and why it matters. Particularly, instead of trying to communicate the underlying market failures within the POW and POS consensus mechanisms, we have shifted to talking about how Saito can help other networks solve their practical problems in funding the rollout of user-facing infrastructure and avoiding the emergence of corrupting monopolies in the network layer.

Starting in January, Saito began a partnership with DHB Global to both advise on as well as build a supply-chain tracking application for the procurement of medical products. This partnership led to a functioning demo, practical deployment and market sale of Saito at an increased price. In September and October we signed a letter of agreement regarding another enterprise deployment which has yet to be publicly announced in the logistics and international supply-chain space.

Public Relations:

We halted attendance and outreach at industry conferences and events due to the COVID19 crisis. Most public attention has come from our community and user growth.

It remains challenging to discuss the underlying economic problems facing blockchain with most people in the industry. Mainstream economists continue to fail to engage with blockchain design, while distributed systems academics and computer scientists have focused on scaling consensus by adding closed voting rings around validator-style networks. Reinforcing the problem, markets are overwhelmingly seen as mechanisms that will fund whatever server infrastructure is needed, rather than incentive structures that can fail badly when what is best for the individual is not the same as what is best for the group.

There have nonetheless been some useful developments. After two years of talking about collective action problems and the need for any scalable blockchain to avoid reliance on volunteer-provided infrastructure, the IFP disaster in the Bitcoin Cash community has highlighted the problems with volunteer provision while also flagging that miners and stakers cannot solve this problem without adding closure to their respective networks. In other news, we saw the world’s first stake-rental attacks, and an accelleration in the frequently and cost of hash-rental attacks. The continued dominance of the Ethereum ecosystem by Metamask and Infura has also created some superficial concern about monopolisation pressures within proof-of-stake communities, although largely as attack vectors on Ethereum rather than as a generalized economic problem that flows from the need for private sector firms to monetize infrastructure provision.

Looking Forward:

This blog post wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t end with a quick note on what we expect to happen in the next few months.

In January we expect to release of an upgraded Saito application set soon that will support an application deployment by third-party developers wishing to build atop Saito. This will be followed by native support within the Saito ecosystem for Polkadot applications, so that developers in the Polkadot ecosystem can build user-facing applications on the sustainable infrastructure provided within the Saito ecosystem. We look forward to having Polkadot developers come and play both literally and figuratively.

Technical work for the next month will then focus on expanding the Saito Game Engine to bring it to the point we can release it as a full web3 standard capable of supporting multiple cryptocurrencies and with cross-chain payments-infrastructure available to developers. The most visible signs of external progress during this time will likely be user-facing and focused on the Saito Arcade. We hope to launch a Chinese and possibly Korean interface during this time as we ramp up marketing efforts within Asia in preparation for our public sale.

Scheduling this sale will depend on several factors including exchange support and the timeline for marketing activities. If you are interested in being notified when the exact date is set, please make sure you are signed up for our newsletter. Following the sale we will be hiring and splitting our team between user-facing application development and the deployment of a highly-scalable RUST network client.

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