Why we deployed CryptoVikings on Polygon
In the early days, the CryptoVikings team spent a long time discussing and knowledge-sharing to map out our goals and forge a path forward. Erik brought his knowledge of the crypto space to the table and Thor his systems design and project management experience, and a ton of energy was spent bringing each other up to speed so that decisions could be made together.
Somewhen around the time while we were catching each other up and solidifying our core goals of on-demand and on-chain generation, the word Polygon was thrown into the mix. Some research was done, some quick consideration, and that was it. Polygon, while offering cheaper fees, had a kind of unattractive vibe as a place to deploy an NFT collection at the time. The ecosystem was smaller, the quality of the developer experience wasn’t as good, and the barrier to entry was higher.
Without much idea yet of how exactly our system would work to make CryptoVikings on-demand, we decided on Ethereum mainnet without much of a second thought and we set to work on prototyping our generation procedure. Things went well at first — we found Chainlink VRF to help us with getting fair random numbers into the contract, we successfully prototyped the image generation, and we had some basic Viking representation on chain.
And then, that day.
On that day we we were suddenly struggling to progress — technical limitations, gas limits and most critically the step-back realisation of the absolute cost of doing what we were doing on Ethereum mainnet almost stopped us in our tracks and killed the project dead. Suffice it to say it wasn’t a fun day.
So we went back to the drawing board unwilling to compromise on our goals, and for most of these problems we came up with one common potential solution: Take a second look at Polygon.
After we made the decision to switch our lives became much easier — and the rest is history. CryptoVikings raced forward to become the finished product that it is today and while there were difficulties along the way at no stage did we find again that the network we were deploying to was the source of those difficulties.
Fortuitously, while we were hard at work putting CryptoVikings together the ecosystem and engagement around Polygon grew. These days Polygon has a healthier-looking NFT market, all the niceties you’d expect on Ethereum like block explorers and convenient DEXs and OpenSea listings, and a good reputation among crypto enthusiasts for facilitating smooth user and developer experiences.
So, CryptoVikings is deployed on Polygon — and we’re very glad we made the switch! Read on for more of the specifics of what exactly moving to Polygon did to make CryptoVikings possible.
A Note on Fees
The first thing you might hear about Polygon as an outsider is that transactions on the network are significantly cheaper than on Ethereum mainnet, and that they are. We’re talking orders of magnitude; such that in most cases you can effectively forget about what you’re spending on work while transacting on Polygon.
After making the switch, we had to unlearn the behaviour of worrying about fees in designing our system — on Polygon they really are pretty much negligible.
This reduced cost feeds into every factor that made CryptoVikings possible only on Polygon, and it makes for an incredibly relaxing experience both a a user and as a developer.
Along the way to meeting our goals of on-chain generation and representation, the CryptoVikings contract got heavy — so heavy in fact that we had to split it in two.
Before we made the switch, we were struggling with decisions on how much to do on-chain, and how honestly we could market the solution as on-chain given the split. We’d reached a compromise between the on and off chain portions of the system and it wasn’t really a comfortable compromise.
The problem was in just how much work we wanted to do. As always in crypto, when you’re doing work, someone is paying for it. Whether it was the customer or us, the cost was simply too high to do what we wanted to do.
Polygon’s cheaper fees allowed us to drop the compromise and really make good on our goal — we had the freedom to create a significantly more complex contract and store a lot more on the network to represent a CryptoViking. Now, the only thing we’re not doing on the blockchain is image generation!
CryptoVikings is a collection of 9873 NFTs. Each of those NFTs requires a provably-fair random number to serve as a source for the derivation of its associated statistics and attributes.
On Ethereum mainnet, a call to VRF costs 2 LINK. This is a direct result of the cost associated with the amount of work that Chainlink does to verify and supply your number — a perfectly justifiable cost all things considered for a quality and critical service in an expensive environment.
However, with the cost of retrieving 9873 random numbers being set at 19,746 LINK, for us at this time and for this project we simply couldn’t budget for it.
On Polygon, a call to VRF — the same quality and critical service and the same amount of work — costs 0.0001 LINK. Work on Polygon is just that much cheaper. Naturally, it wasn’t even a question as to whether or not we could spend 0.9873 LINK.
This disparity in cost is nothing to do with Chainlink — it’s all about the difference in execution environments. When we say Polygon made CryptoVikings possible for us, we mean it.
Gas wars have become a stark staple of NFT collection launches. With how popular NFT drops have become, people get priced out or risk losing unreasonable amounts of ETH to failed transactions.
We didn’t want this reality for the CryptoVikings launch. We’ve seen a lot of heartache and headache for both developers and investors during and after an intense gas war and it simply isn’t fun for anyone. Especially when you consider the complexity of our contract, we didn’t stand a chance of avoiding this problem on Ethereum for an even mildly successful drop.
It would’ve been fun to see ETH go deflationary for the briefest of moments if we’d pushed gas high enough, but not fun enough that we wanted to put ourselves or our investors through that pain.
On Polygon, gas wars don’t present even slightly as critical a problem as on Ethereum. Another win for Polygon.
With OpenSea now directly supporting listings on Polygon, NFT collections deployed there will permanently benefit from cheaper fees in secondary sales.
We want investors to stand to gain as much as possible from owning a CryptoViking — whether that’s in joining us on our development journey into an exciting future, or in making a little profit passing it onto someone else. Eliminating fees from the equation in both primary and secondary sales helps us to meet that goal, and it makes the thinking required on investing that much simpler.
So there’s a pretty hefty insight into all the ways that Polygon made CryptoVikings possible. We may have started out doubting it, but now we wouldn’t have had it any other way.