WTF is Terraforms by Mathcastles?

Well hell. My New Year’s resolution was to blog more, then I got COVID and everything went to crap. I wanted to wrap this mid January as Terraforms were surging. But even though the floor has come back to Earth, I still think that this is an important piece! Hope everyone is well—let’s hop to it!

The project that is drawing an increasing amount of attention—and a rather quick ascent of the floor price—is Terraforms by Mathcastles. I distinctly remember the mint day because it coincided with the Adidas BAYC/Punks Comic/G-Money capsule launch. While most of the NFT world was obsessed over that name brand partnership with some of web3’s more widely known communities, there was a subset of folks focused on the Terraforms launch, including planepuddy, a good IRL friend and business partner of mine. I introduced planepuddy to NFTs after our business minted some Blitmaps. He later ended up talking about the space to his mother-in-law, who had her ear to the ground after making a decent amount of money on a Chain Runners NFT he minted for her. It was some alpha from an octogenarian artist who learned about Mathcastles somehow that led planepuddy to minting a handful of Terraforms. I couldn’t be bothered because I was too busy with the Adidas drop (side note: the attention of that dropped caused gas to spike, delaying the Terraforms from minting out!).

My Terraform #4328—unfortunately I had to take a screen shot because I couldn’t figure out how to embed the animated SVG on my site! Click to see it in all it’s glory on OpenSea!

This is a long story to say that I didn’t mint Terraforms by Mathcastles because I didn’t know WTF it was. There were so many different abstract explanations of the project that I didn’t “get it.” But when I found out the friend and giga brain threepwave went hard on the project, I made myself pick up at least one to have in my wallet. That was the moment I started browsing the collection and I really took a hard look at the moving, on-chain artwork and that it was pretty damn cool—I should’ve listened to the 80-year-old.

At any rate, I still struggle to grasp what Terraforms by Mathcastles is. Some feel that this level of abstraction may put Terraforms in the camp of what Cryptopunks was in 2017, where some people kind of got it but a large amount of folks missed what was in front of their face (including yours truly—I need to finally tell my Cryptopunks story on the blog sometime soon). Most couldn’t see how Punks would be the cornerstone of digital culture some five years later; could the same be said for Terraforms? Five years from now will we all be dumfounded at how obvious it was?

Regardless, most don’t get what Terraforms is right now. There are some excellent resources, starting with Matto’s beautifully shot video (that was since turned into an NFT!) and a Google Slidedeck by astrostl. But even after reading them, it’s still hard for an average Joe like me to truly grasp Terraforms.

This is how I would best describe it, in as rudimentary terms as possible:

  • The project was created by 0x113d and xaltgeist.
  • Each NFT is a digital plot of land that is stored directly on-chain on the Ethereum blockchain—(see why this is important in my blog post about on-chain art)
  • They kind of form this three dimensional structure that looks like two cones put together if you were to have the larger “circles” touch.
  • There are twenty levels, what I kind of view as “floors” of a building. Level 1 would be the tip of the downward facing cone and level 20 the tip of the upward facing cone; these levels have some of the smallest number of plots of land.
  • Levels 13 and 14 are kind of like the big circles on each of the cones as they have the most number of plots of land on those levels.
  • The Zone attribute is the color palette.
  • The Chroma attribute is how fast the colors change.
  • The Biome attribute are the selection of characters used in a particular Terraform.
  • There is a Terrain mode, which is sort of the “out of the box” design of the Terraform at mint.
  • But people can sort of change their Terraform in the blockchain with Daydream mode.
  • This is important because the project is sort of on a ticking clock to “implode”—however, when a person converts their Terraform to Daydream mode, it ends up delaying this implosion by 10 years, but when this happens, you can never go back to Terrain mode. According to astrostl, when there are 500 dreamers, the implosion is prevented forever (and we are close to that number).

But this plot of land is so different than what many are used to with SANDBOX, Voxels and Otherside. In fact, this was done on purpose, according 0x113d (again, huge thanks to astrostl for pulling in creator vision quotes into the Google document):

I have had the privilege to chat with 0x113d over Twitter DM and they are just on a different level. While not wanting to copy/paste conversations, this individual seems to approach code in a much different construct that how people normally think of it. They told me we are maybe a few hundred years too early to use computers in a meaningful way. 0x113d just seems to view the tech landscape much differently than the average bear. It would be fascinating to have a cup of coffee with them and ask them to explain everything to me—I could probably then glimpse the future..

In order to continue to try to define what Terraforms is, I put out this question on Twitter to ask people to describe Terraforms to a layperson. To my delight, the Mathcastles Twitter account quote tweeted it:

There were a number of responses that began to pour in—it was really awesome to see folks try to explain something so complex in such a small space. I didn’t want to lose these responses, so I decided to collect the posts that Mathcastles retweeted and also sent over to me here in this blog post to help us all better understand WTF Terraforms is—enjoy reading!

Three posts @Mathcastles retweeted:

Mathcastles only retweeted three posts to their entire followers—for that reason, I think that these should have the most gravity when trying to define Terraforms.

@raulonastool calls it an iceberg floating in the ocean of the Ethereum blockchain.

dood compares it to a parable of the blind man and the elephant—perhaps Mathcastles retweeted this post as commentary that even the most intelligent folks may not be able to fully grasp it in its entirety?

Explanations Mathcastles Tagged Me In

But while the Mathcastles account didn’t retweet these publicly, the account did tag me on these two explanations from 0xMcee. I feel that this shows that in spite of going deep in the project, we can all just like it on the surface level because it is pretty.

So what is Mathcastles? Hit me up on Twitter @niftypins with your best explanation!







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