As a founder and core developer of Neo, Erik Zhang is responsible for much of the project’s early codebase, architecture, and strategic technical direction. With the launch of the Neo N3 MainNet in August, the blockchain-veteran is now able to allocate some time to work on other new projects within the ecosystem.
NNT caught up with Zhang to gather his thoughts on the Neo N3 release, and learn a few more details about his new projects.
NNT: Neo N3 is finally out the door. That has to feel really good, considering how long and how hard you’ve been working on it. What aspects of the release are you most proud of?
Erik Zhang: Neo N3 was initially designed to serve large-scale commercial applications and the real economy. To meet the demand for large-scale commercial applications, a blockchain should by all means make three major breakthroughs:
First of all, reliability, which is reflected in the irreversibility of transactions in a blockchain system. Once a transaction is committed to the blockchain, it can never be reversed or undone. Typical transaction reversals, such as double spending, sometimes occur in traditional PoW or PoS mechanisms. However, thanks to its unique dBFT2.0 consensus mechanism, Neo N3 has “one block finality” and only one block confirmation (15 seconds) is required to ensure irreversibility of the transaction. Since the transactions in key financial applications should never be reversed at will, this feature is critically important for large-scale commercial applications.
The second is performance. High performance is often required in large-scale commercial applications, which is difficult for existing blockchains to achieve. For the existing blockchain systems, transaction blocking and huge fees may come with growing business volume, hindering the process of implementing large-scale commercial applications seriously.
Fully aware of such significance, we designed Neo N3 with a strong focus on performance and scalability. According to the latest experimental data, the underlying business processing capabilities of Neo N3 can now reach 30,000 TPS, which is quite enough to carry large-scale commercial applications after being extended by Layer2.
Finally, there is big data storage. It is absolutely difficult to store the huge amount of data generated by large-scale commercial applications on the blockchain. Thus was born the idea of NeoFS, a distributed storage system designed to store massive amounts of data. NeoFS is underpinned by the N3 infrastructure, which is capable of providing N3 with nearly unlimited cloud storage space.
And for the real economy, we must provide a mechanism that can bridge the real world and the blockchain world. N3 has native Oracles that allow smart contracts to access the Internet at runtime and get information from the real world.
Beyond what we’ve mentioned above, N3 has many other new features in other areas, such as exception handling for smart contracts, native contracts, a new governance model and so on. I also developed a new C# compiler that compiles the source code of smart contracts into deterministic bytecode, which is very useful for verifying the source code of contracts.
NNT: You’re now working on OneGate, a Neo wallet, and Galaxz, a Neo-based blockchain game. I think this surprised a few people, but we were really glad to see you building products on the chain you created. Has this always been a goal for you – to not only build Neo, but build on Neo? Or are these projects an exercise in experiencing your creation from the application development perspective?
Zhang: Before I continue, let me tell you up front that OneGate is more than just a wallet. It was designed to be a gateway to the blockchain world for normal Internet users.
Furthermore, Galaxz is more than just a blockchain game. More precisely, it is a sci-fi space adventure MMORPG, about which ideas were born early on, including a huge worldview of subtle complexity, improbable plot twists, and many of my own philosophical thoughts.
And of course, Galaxz – or rather, all the projects I build – will have a deep integration with Neo.
NNT: What can you tell us about OneGate? What are the motivations for starting that project, and what is it bringing to the table that was missing from the Neo ecosystem?
Zhang: As I mentioned before, OneGate is a portal specifically designed for normal internet users to enter the blockchain world. Designed for users who have a good understanding of blockchain knowledge, the existing blockchain wallets and clients tend to provide users with DeFi and NFT features, and promote blockchain related news. As for me, I’d like to break the boundaries between blockchain and the internet, to provide users with all the features they need. Users will then be able to use blockchain just like they use the internet.
Neo aims to be the next generation of the Internet.
NNT: Galaxz is a sci-fi space adventure game, and your love of sci-fi culture such as Star Wars is well known. You mentioned to someone on Twitter that you have been waiting 16 years to build Galaxz. Can you describe to us the game concept and explain why now is the right time to bring it to life?
Zhang: When I was in high school, I got very frustrated with the boring missions and poor storylines of the MMOs of the time. Therefore, I started to come up with the idea to build a sandbox space adventure game based on the laws of physics and have already designed some very innovative gameplay.
After graduating from college, I started working on information security, an industry that has little to do with gaming. So the imagination about Galaxz has never been a reality before.
Then I started working on Neo, during which the idea of developing Galaxz was rekindled – this time on Neo chain. Soon I bought the domain name galaxz.com for 10 BTC. Preparations proceeded night and day, until I found It nearly impossible to work on Galaxz and N3 development at the same time. So the plans for Galaxz were laid aside temporarily.
Now that the N3 MainNet was launched, there’s nothing to stop me from continuing to develop Galaxz!
NNT: What platforms will Galaxz be available on? Mobile app, browser, desktop client, etc?
Zhang: There will be three different types of clients available for Galaxz.
Full-featured Client: The full-featured client will run on consoles such as PC, PS or Xbox, showing gorgeous battle scenes and cosmic views with their powerful processors and graphics cards. With a full-featured client, you can experience all the features of Galaxz.
Mobile Client: The mobile client requires a game app installed on the phone, through which users can experience almost all of the features, such as planet construction, manufacturing, technology upgrade and so on.
Web Client: With a web client, users can access some of the game features via their browser. For example, designing spaceships, accessing the marketplace, chatting, sending and receiving emails, etc.
NNT: A lot of blockchain games these days are cross chain, and Neo does have Poly Network integration. Will Galaxz only be on Neo, or down the line do you intend to expand the universe into other chains?
Zhang: The core logic of Galaxz will not be on-chain. However, tokens will be issued on Neo with the NEP-17 standard, while props will be issued with the NEP-11 standard as NFTs.
Through PolyNetwork, indeed, anyone can send their tokens and NFTs to other blockchains to build a larger universe.
As to Neo itself, tokens and props of Galaxz can also be used universally in all other Neo-based blockchain games.
NNT: The stage is really set for Neo now. N3 is live, the migration is well underway, new dApps are coming to the platform, the governance system is up and running – What is next, and what are your personal goals for the project over say, the next five years?
Zhang: For me, N3 is complete enough to be called an “all-in-one” blockchain system. In the future, I will certainly continue its optimization and improvement, and may also launch N4 or N5. But for now, I prefer to bring more applications to Neo – not just blockchain applications, but Internet applications as well.
In the next 5 years, I’ll mainly focus on N3 and Galaxz.