Many businesses feel threatened by blockchain technology. That’s understandable. They often don’t see how it could be usefully deployed for them and they believe they’ll have to give up control in exchange for the uncertain benefits of blockchain. After all, fully decentralized blockchains are open and transparent. Any member of the public can start a node to begin verifying transactions. Companies are inherently centralized entities. It shouldn’t surprise us that they are reluctant to give up any form of control.
On the other hand, companies do find themselves in a clinch, because they feel they’ll be left behind if they don’t jump on the blockchain train. After all, some companies seem to have started cautiously investigating blockchain. But many companies genuinely feel at risk of having their data exposed, getting into all sorts of legal risks, and in general of stepping into unsafe territory.
That’s the problem that Ontology wants to solve. Ontology a blockchain platform that wants to make it easy for small and large companies to start using blockchain technology. While the blockchain industry has been going through a bear market for well over a year, Ontology seems to be one of the few projects growing at a significant clip every month.
But what is Ontology and why do I believe it’s one of the more promising blockchain projects currently running? What are some of the DApps running on it and how is it all connected to gaming? Read on to find out.
What is Ontology?
Let me start off by saying that Ontology is a difficult project to unpack, because there’s so much information there. Visiting their website will show you their infrastructure, modules, protocols, applications, and all other kinds of high-level concepts that don’t seem to specifically explain what they do.
So what better place to start unpacking the project than with the name “Ontology” itself. I didn’t know this before I typed it in Google, but the word ontology means “a set of concepts and categories in a subject area or domain that show their properties and the relations between them.” As I worked my way through all the information on Ontology’s website, I thought this was quite a fitting name for the project.
I say this, because Ontology consists of several layers that allow any company to start building with blockchain technology. Many of these layers and the things built on each layer are interoperable.
The foundational layer is the Ontology blockchain itself. This is a blockchain as you would generally know it: a distributed ledger with smart contract technology. But it’s also a blockchain that has integration points with the legacy systems and databases of companies, so companies don’t have to migrate all their systems and data to the blockchain, which would be a huge hassle. They can simply connect their systems and their data to Ontology’s blockchain.
What’s important to understand is that this doesn’t mean that all companies will be using a single blockchain. The foundational layer connects all the separate blockchains that companies build with Ontology. This means companies retain control over their data and their process, while also making it easy to share what they want with other entities operating on that foundational blockchain layer.
The Ontology core team is looking to add C and C++ next. Eventually, they want to include so many programming languages in Wasm that any developer can start creating smart contracts on their blockchain.
Next is the service layer, where private blockchains of companies enforce the business logic and processes that allow companies to retain control over their data, while also making it easy to share or ask for data from users or other entities, through the foundational layer.
Then there’s the application layer, which has all the APIs and the SDKs to build DApps on those blockchains. Ontology comes with a few tools out of the box, which you can find on the developer page of their website.
Finally, there’s a user interface layer, which is the front-end layer where entities trade and exchange their data. This is where everything is made nice and easy to understand, so you don’t have to deal with complex hashes and cryptography if you want to interact with a company’s blockchain.
Why Is This Useful?
As you can see, Ontology is a complex, but comprehensive project. But how is this practically useful? It’s useful because of trust. Trust is one of the core elements of business. If you’re self-employed, you send an invoice trusting the other party to pay it in due time (or at all). If you’re an employee, you trust your employer to pay you out on time, while they trust you to do your work properly. While the legal systems of individual countries help enforce the rules that parties agree upon, there’s still a fundamental layer of trust.
Ontology facilitates that trust between parties through the interoperable blockchain technology of their framework. While there are many use cases, one use case that the team seems to focus on is digital identity (DID).
Currently, information about you is stored in all sorts of different databases from different companies. When you apply for a mortgage, the bank will need to check whether you’ll be capable of paying back the monthly repayments. So they run a hard credit inquiry in the background, pulling from all sorts of databases to figure out whether they can trust you. You have no input into this process and don’t control any of the data that they’re looking for.
Ontology gives people the ability to create their own ID. This could incorporate a credit score that the bank would need if you’d apply for a loan or a mortgage. Instead of the bank then running background checks on you, you could share the info they need with them. The user is in control of their identity.
This isn’t a high-level concept. Ontology already built this in the form of a DApp called ONTO. And this is only one example. The general idea is that entities can reliably share information between themselves while retaining control of the kind of data they share and when they share it.
Ontology’s Dual Token System
Ontology is a dual token ecosystem, with ONT being the main Ontology Token and ONG the Ontology Gas token, which is used to pay for transactions on the Ontology blockchain. Interestingly, Ontology has not done an ICO to distribute these tokens. Instead, tokens were airdropped to NEO holders.
NEO, because Ontology is a Chinese project (just like NEO), and because the Ontology foundation is owned by OnChain, which was founded by the same two people that founded NEO. So there are strong links between NEO and Ontology.
ONT is an indivisible network token that can only be transacted in rounded numbers. ONG is divisible into smaller fractions. One ONG is released to the network for every second that it takes to reach consensus on a block of transactions. This is then split 50/50 between the two kinds of nodes on the Ontology blockchain: consensus and candidate nodes.
Consensus nodes help produce and verify blocks of transactions. A verifiable random number function chooses roles for each consensus node that will either produce, verify, or confirm blocks of transactions. This random role allocation makes the network more secure, because nodes don’t know beforehand which role they’ll be assigned.
Candidate nodes are there to propagate and maintain the latest blocks, as well as to monitor network status. You need to stake at least 200,000 ONT before you can become a node, and you need to pass a KYC check with the Ontology foundation, just to double-check you’re not a malicious node.
One ONT is currently worth $0.76 and one ONG is worth $0.77.
What About the DGames?
No DGaming feature would be complete without spending some time talking about the DGames on each platform. And while you might think the project doesn’t seem to lend itself to gaming, its active developer community has already built a few games on the Ontology blockchain. One in particular I quite enjoyed: Deer Shooter.
As with most blockchain games, Deer Shooter is a simple game. You’re a little fox with bow and arrow, in a cart hanging from a castle, and you need to shoot the balloons of the animals that try to attack the castle. It’s a gambling game in disguise, because you need to bet a few ONG at the start of the game and your performance in the game will influence a multiplier that will determine how much ONG you’ll receive back.
I thought this game would be a hidden goldmine, because its instructions say the multiplier could be between 0 and 5,000, depending on your score. Imagine spending 2 ONG and receiving a multiplier of 100, getting 200 ONG in return. Your $1.54 investment would’ve yielded you $152.46 in profit in the 45 seconds it takes to finish the game. Was I excited? Yes. Yes, I was.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t turn out to be quite as lucrative as I’d hoped. But it still wasn’t bad. While most of my multipliers were less than 1 (leading to a loss), I had a few 4x multipliers, quadrupling my investment. I started with 14 ONG, reached 40 ONG and ultimately dropped down to 30 ONG in the thirty minutes I played the game. I more than doubled my initial investment, which I thought was an okay result.
It’s quite a punishing game though. You have to play without mistake to receive a 4x multiplier, and there seems to be a random element that determines the number of balloons you can shoot in each game, capping your score and so also capping the multiplier.
If you’re looking to play Deer Shooter, be prepared to go through some process. You’ll need to buy both ONT and ONG from Binance or Bibox and you’ll need to install a Chrome extension called Cyano, which is a web wallet where you can store your ONG and ONT.
There are other DGames on Ontology too, all of which you can find in its DApp store. I also played HyperDragons Go, a game that made me think of Axie Infinity. You have a little dragon that you feed, fight, and explore with. Another game is OntBet, a dice game where you gamble either the token DICE or ONG. Again, you’ll need the Cyano wallet to play all these games.
Does Ontology Have Traction?
Although it’s hard to digest all the information, Ontology feels like a very promising blockchain project to me. Its core team is already over sixty members, and its CEO Jun Li said in a recent interview that they have more than enough money to last for three years, even if they produce no revenue.
But they actually make money, and they’re one of the few blockchain projects that do. They earn a fraction of the ONG that their blockchain generates and they charge a service fee to help companies set up their blockchains on top of the Ontology blockchain. Their pool of nodes is growing and they have a very active GitHub community, with an increasing number of developers using their platform.
Additionally, they’ve already built a lot. They’ve built the infrastructure, the modules for companies to immediately use, the APIs, the SDKs, several DApps, and more. Their smart contract technology allows developers to program in a number of languages already, and their blockchain is EVM, which means it can work with the Ethereum blockchain too.
But I think it’s particularly promising because the Ontology team is pragmatic. Companies still want control and privacy. So that’s what Ontology gives them. Companies still have to comply to regulations and have a history of legacy systems and processes to adhere to, so Ontology builds modules, protocols and integration points that allow companies to incorporate those elements into blockchain technology.
Ontology seems to understand why companies feel threatened by blockchain technology, and it’s building a comprehensive framework that makes it easy for companies to experiment with blockchain without being at risk of making costly mistakes.