Now this is a story all about how
The cryptoverse got flipped turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there
I'll tell you how I'll become the owner of a house on Bellaire.........(Fresno,CA)
Ok couldn't help myself but relive some classic 90's TV goodness, may I apologise in advance to you and your loved ones if you now spend the whole day humming, singing or full on rapping through your day to some Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince! While nostalgia trips are good we're not going to dive down that rabbit hole too far. The reason this tune is running loops round my brain right now is simple, when I think of Upland, I see the connection with Will Smith in that taxi ('with dice in the mirror') pulling up to the curb on a street in Bel-Air (LA) with wide eyed optimism, and excitement to explore something new and I hope at the end of this article you'll feel the same.
By this point you may be wondering what the hell I'm talking about.....Upland?!?....huh?!? We'll get onto what it is next and hopefully before we're done we'll also touch on why it is an exciting advancement in the world of blockchain. But first, the basics!
So let's rewind a little bit and start from the beginning what is Upland? The team over at the main site describe it simple as this:
But what does that mean, Earth's Metaverse? Well one way to think of it is another nostalgia trip, anyone remember SimCity?
Well it is kinda like that only based on a real world city map for multiplayers all nestled nicely on top of a blockchain. In short Upland is a blockchain driven, distributed multiplayer, land ownership and property building game. But in a way there is a lot more to this than meets the eye (bit like that transformers......OK that is it for the 80/90s references).
Playing the Game
Rather than take this article down the route of a beginners' how-to guide I thought it best to show you some of the general functionality of playing the game but leave the learning and discovery of it for you, there is a great intro guide here too:
The general functionality of the game all starts with the main screen.
Typically, when we log in this is what we'll see. A map of the region in which our avatar is exploring at a macro level. Around the outside of the screen are the various menus and way to interact with the game.
Currently the cities that have been mapped are:
- New York (NY)
- San Francisco (CA)
- Fresno (CA)
As you can see from the top middle of the screen (2) the native currency of this game is UPX. This is what you will earn for selling/owning properties in the game (more later) and is used to buy/upgrade.
If we either click on the profile image (1) we are shown some basic stats on our avatar as below.
Let's go through what we see here. Panes 1-3 are all the 'Details' section and include this Net Worth of our account, note here that this is the total amount of UPX earned since starting the game. Importantly, everyone starts the game as an Upland visitor as well, which means you see a 'Visa' countdown on this page normally as well. As soon as you achieve a net worth of 10,000 UPX or more your status gets updated to 'Uplander', which also means you account becomes permanent and you gain the ability to buy/sell properties with other Uplanders.
Below the earnings we see the total number of properties owned by our profile along with how many collections we have completed so far (more on collections later). Then below that (top of pane 2) we see the SPUD balance, this is another (temporary) in-game resource that is used in the sandbox for property development interface, more info here:
Next up we have different collections (pane 3) with those highlighted as being completed. Finally, clicking on 'Properties' at the top of the profile lists out all the properties currently owned.
If we click on a property or zoom into the map we're taken down to a closer view of the streets looking something like this.
Let's take a look at what we see on the map first before we look at the options we have once we get there:
- Pale blue properties represent owned properties by someone else
- Darker Blue properties represent those owned by you
- Green properties represent those that are up for sale (though you can offer on non-sale properties, pale blue, if the owner has it set up to allow that)
- Grey properties with "FSA" on them (not in image) represent unowned properties that you can buy outright provided you are on or near them.
We can interact with the properties themselves in a number of different ways, so let's look at one we own. 1292 East Portland Avenue, Fresno, CA is one of my currently owned properties. When we click on it there are a number of options.
- Sell: This allows us to list it for sale and also control if we allow offers on the property
- Send: This functionality allow us to move our avatar directly to the property from wherever it currently is on the map
- Treasure: When clicked this shows if there are any treasure hunts active and will display an arrow pointing to the treasure chest location
- Build: Not yet available in this city but will allow construction on the property
- Street: This is a Google StreetView of the real property that is digitally represented
- Title: This is a proof of ownership deed and leads us directly to the blockchain where the irrefutable evidence of ownership can be found/checked on the blockchain:
Additionally, when we're next to a property we can also click on the three little dots in a circle. This will allow us to see who else has visited (i.e. sent their avatar to) our property. We can also set a fee that it cost for folks using the send function. The default is 5UPX but can be adjusted for all or any single one of the properties we own.
To move around, as noted we use the 'send' function (although you have a limited number of these). You can do this on any property and (if not one of the properties you already own) you pay a small fee to perform the action. Other than naturally drifting around the map this is the main way of moving from place to place and discovering properties. Note that you need to be near to an unsold property (Grey, FSA) to be able to purchase it. This is also the case for treasure hunting and to collect additional sends (the paper aero-plane below).
Earn and Collect
Right, so you may be thinking:
I can move around the map and buy up properties, but how do I earn enough UPX to secure my citizenship?
For that we have a few things, firstly, we can buy UPX directly with USD. But if you don't want to sink funds in immediately we have other options:
- Firstly for the properties we own we earn a small standalone monthly fee. This ticks up and can be collected in the top right corner of the main screen
- Secondly, we can create collections which give earning bonus'
The two panes on the right side above represent the "Newbie" collection and "Woodward Park" collection. These can be accessed from the quick menu (below) at the bottom of the main screen. Each collection has a description of what we have to do to achieve it and offers both a reward for the initial achievement as well as a boost for the properties linked to it.
Woodward Park requires us to "Own any 3 properties in the Woodward park neighborhood". Once purchased we can click on the 'Edit Collection' button and it flips over to look a bit like the 'Newbie' pane and allows us to select properties to be linked to the collection to receive the boost. Note that the blue exclamation marks represent properties that are linked to another collection already. A property can only contribute to one collection at a time, though can be used to complete a collection and then moved back to another for the earnings boost.
In addition to passive earning or bonus' from completing collections we can also compete in treasure hunts and challenges. I actually ran around collecting sends and (when maxed out) would go to a free spawn treasure hunt as these can get you a few extra UPX while trying to work up to citizenship. If I am honest I've not tried the challenge modes as I am still exploring but I think these are a great way to engage with more than just accumulation of land ownership.
As you can see there is currently quite a lot to do in game and hopefully much more to come. I've found that as a casual game it is fun to wander around and try complete my collections. However, I can see that when you get to the bigger cities and into the construction game there are going to be some serious players who will be building the digital skyline of these places and making a ton of UPX by having visitors.
One of the subtle things I think the game brings us though (that perhaps it isn't obvious at face value) is that it helps to legitimise the tokenization of real world assets on a blockchain. More precisely it shows us that we could easily link actual land ownership and the documentation of this in the real world to a blockchain to give us the ability to apply proof-of-ownership and easy asset exchange to almost anything in the real world. This is powerful indeed for a game but not a surprise with this mission statement:
First stop.....Upland.......Next stop.....nostalgia town.......!
So if you are keen to give it a go, then please do. I recommend using the link provided to the competition article (where you get 6000UPX for starting out) but if you want to use my referral you can. Once you become a citizen we get a split bonus equal to the value of your first property purchase: https://r.upland.me/adSU
For now though, get out there the the metaworld so you can Play. Earn. and Connect...
Thanks for reading, have fun exploring y'all!
P.S: Happy Valentines day to everyone and for the first reader and NFT!: