Users of Decentraland who have made use of the 3D virtual platform would agree that knowing how to create assets for Decentraland is a vital point of the platform.
This is because by doing so, users get to personalize the platform in such a way that the virtual world becomes more diverse incorporating the uniqueness of each user present.
In this article, I will be explaining how assets can be created on Decentraland, especially for existing users who don’t know how to and for new users trying to navigate the platform.
Taking a look at Decentraland
Decentraland is an online virtual world, built on the Ethereum blockchain, and owned by its users.
It is also governed by DAO and has three native tokens: Land, which represents the real estate, and ERC-721 token which represents merged parcels of digital land; and MANA, an ERC-20 token that serves as Decentraland’s currency.
As with most other virtual worlds, users experience Decentraland’s metaverse through an avatar, with whom they can explore its ever-developing map of digital destinations.
Activities like buying digital art at the Crypto Valley Art Gallery, trading with fellow metaverse regulars in Bartertown, and learning at Decentraland University can only be accessed with digital tokens.
But unlike the gold coins found in Mario or World of Warcraft, Decentraland’s tokens are programmed to facilitate worth and transferability as assets in the real world.
Ethereum connects Decentraland’s economy, technology, and ethos, making the digital world an experiment in a digital, decentralized utopia as much as it is a game created for entertainment.
The Marketplace is the go-to place where users can trade and manage all their Decentraland on-chain assets.
The Marketplace allows users to:
- Sell parcels and estates of land, wearables, and unique names. Set their price in MANA and the expiration date for the offer.
- Buy parcels and Estates, wearables, and unique names that are for sale.
- Transfer their Decentraland assets to another user.
- Explore the world through a map to see who owns what, existing wearables, or claimed avatar names.
- Name their parcels and estates and give them a public description.
- Grant permissions to other users, allowing them to deploy on their land.
- Manage to create or dissolve estates.
Users must understand that before using market.decentraland.org, they would need to connect and log into an Ethereum client account that can interact with the web browser.
Recommended wallets for doing this include MetaMask and Ledger Wallet.
If users would like to use their Ledger hardware wallet in the Marketplace, they would need to connect it to MetaMask.
They will also have to follow all the given steps and updates to allow seamless Ledger usage.
When navigating the Marketplace, the user wallet address is treated as their account, as they don’t need any additional login.
The Marketplace currently hosts land and names solely on the Ethereum network. Wearables differ between Ethereum and Polygon networks.
Ethereum-based transactions require a GAS fee, paid in Ethereum whereas Polygon-based transactions only require a small amount of MATIC, to perform actions in the Marketplace.
MANA is Decentraland’s fungible (reproducible or interchangeable) cryptocurrency token. It is burned or spent in exchange for LAND parcels, wearables and names.
Steps to buying MANA:
First, users need to register with an exchange that lists MANA (such as Coinbase, Huobi, or Binance).
Secondly, they will need to deposit funds into your account. While things change rapidly in the crypto world, it’s not likely that there’s an exchange available to convert USD directly for MANA.
If that’s the case, users will first need to obtain a cryptocurrency listed in a currency pair with MANA, such as Ether (ETH), and then exchange it for Decentraland’s native token.
Third, once users have logged into their exchange account, they will have to click on the “Markets” or “Exchange” link and search for their desired currency pairing. For example, MANA/ETH.
In the “Buy” field, they can then specify the amount of MANA they want to buy or the amount of ETH they want to spend.
At the end, users are required to review the full details of the transaction including any fees that apply and the total cost of completing their purchase.
Introducing Custom Asset Packs
Decentraland recently introduced the Custom Asset Pack feature to the Builder as it makes it super simple to design and manage 3D assets while at the same time creating a more diverse Decentraland.
Users can simply create assets in their favorite 3D art software – Blender, for example – and export them into a folder.
Then, open up the Builder and create a new Asset Pack where they can import those assets.
After that, users would need to review the assets to ensure they work within DCL’s scene limits and then set the name, icon, category, and tags for each asset to find them easily on the sidebar.
When creating the Asset Packs, users can import any 3D model in GLB or GLTF format, even as a bundled ZIP file if they prefer.
Additionally, they can rest assured that all their newly created Asset Packs will be saved on their Decentraland Cloud account, so they will be available from any device they use with no risk of losing them.
Along with the Custom Asset Packs feature, Decentraland are also introducing the Scaling of models, so for the first time in the Builder, users will be able to set the size of the models they use for even more creative scenes.
How to create assets for Decentraland
Creating assets for Decentraland is one that is quite easy for both active and new users alike.
All they simply have to do is to follow the steps below:
Import custom items
Users can import their 3D models into the Builder. This allows them to pick models from a wide selection of free sources on the internet, or to create their custom models.
Upload a model
All custom items are stored in user-created asset packs. Each asset pack holds one or many assets.
To create a new asset pack, users will have to:
- Open the editor for any scene and click “New Asset Pack” at the bottom of the item catalog, or the plus sign at the top of the categories list.
- Drag a 3D model file into the window, or multiple files at once.
- Press Import assets.
- Name each asset, and potentially add tags to better identify them.
- Name the asset pack and press “Create Asset Pack”.
Now they will see a new folder in the items catalog with their new asset pack, and they can use their new assets in any scene, just like the default items.
Once created, a custom asset pack is available in every scene users edit as long as they log in with the same account.
All 3D models need to be in .glTF or .glb format. Users can convert other formats into these formats with various editors and tools.
All materials in the models need to be either basic material or PBR, and all textures need to be in sizes that are powers of two (ex: 256, 512). See Scene limitations for details.
If a 3D model relies on external files besides the .gltf file (like .bin or .png files) compress all the relevant files for the 3D model into a .zip file. Then import only this .zip file into the Builder.
All 3D model files must occupy less than 5MB to be imported into the Builder as larger files aren’t supported.
Free libraries for 3D models
Instead of users building their 3D models, they can download them from several free or paid libraries.
Below is a list of libraries that have free or relatively inexpensive content:
SketchFab, Clara.io, Archive3D, SketchUp 3D Warehouse, Thingiverse (3D models made primarily for 3D printing, but adaptable to Virtual Worlds), and ShareCG.
Users must pay attention to the license restrictions that the content they download has.
On several of these sites, users can choose what format to download the model in. Although .glTF format is recommended if available.
If not available, users must convert them to .glTF before they can use them in a scene. For that, they would have to import them into Blender and export them with one of the available .glTF export add-ons.
Users might find that when running a preview the player can walk through their imported 3D models. This is likely because the models are missing a collider mesh to define a collision geometry.
Instead of editing the model to add a collider mesh, a simpler alternative is to add an invisible wall smart item with approximately the same shape to stand in its place.
If an imported model includes animations, the first animation that’s packed into the model will be played in a loop.
Users don’t have any control over when the animation starts or stops, or which one is played in case of several animations.
If there are multiple players in the scene, they may be seeing the animation out of sync with each other.
Users can also import their custom smart items that have built-in interactive behavior, following the same steps as for uploading a model.