MIP-16: Development of NFT Marketplace

Authors

  • Merit Circle Limited
  • DEPT Agency

Summary

Merit Circle Ltd has been developing, in collaboration with Dept Agency, an NFT Marketplace. The NFT Marketplace will be a sophisticated platform which focuses on gaming assets. Merit Circle Limited will transfer the NFT Marketplace software and IP that has been created to the DAO. It is proposed that the ongoing development of the NFT marketplace be undertaken and completed by the Merit Circle DAO. The Merit Circle DAO is focused on the gaming industry, and the blockchain industry specifically. The DAO is therefore in a unique position to launch an NFT and in-game asset Marketplace given the wide range of portfolio projects it has supported. The revenue generated by the NFT Marketplace will further contribute to the long-term viability of the Merit Circle DAO.

Abstract

The world is beginning to see a change and evolution from centralized governance towards a decentralized governance, where everybody has the ability to contribute to the ecosystem and partake in its success. The gaming industry is rapidly moving towards an open and transparent submersive metaverse and play & earn industry. ‘Web3’ is facilitating this by enabling gamers to be actively involved in gaming guilds, have fun and make money.

The wonderful world of web3 allows us to approach gaming in a completely different manner; instead of being limited to in-game assets and economies, both can be translated into real life markets. The economy of a game can now be attached to a digital currency and thereby incentivize parties in a new and exciting way.

The assets of a game can be traded through primary markets (in-game markets or native marketplaces) or through secondary markets (NFT marketplaces or aggregators). Players can grind within a game to acquire an extremely rare asset to then profit, not only in-game, but also in real life by trading the asset on a marketplace. While we see the huge potential here, we’ve also identified various flaws in existing secondary markets.

Current challenges

  • Large cut from NFT sales and volume
  • Lacking UI/UX
  • Minimum customization possibilities
  • No possibility to tailor towards NFT launches
  • Hard to find certain game assets - limited data filtering
  • Current platforms are not tailored to the gaming necessities, but built as a one-stop-shop
  • Current platforms mostly act like a conglomerate or corporate and do not listen to their community
  • Roadmaps of bigger marketplaces are not developed in collab with their users and is cost/revenue driven
  • The users of most larger platforms do not benefit from trading on these platforms

Proposed solution
Building an NFT marketplace for gaming NFTs.

In our marketplace, players will be able to trade assets for all games that have incorporated NFT technology. As well as focusing on gamers, traders and game developers, we’re considering the needs and wishes of all to build one platform that seeks to benefit all.

To quote a recently published article by the Merit Circle DAO;

For the collector

The NFT has been invented to create digital ownership, proof that you are the only one who’s holding the asset. This creates amazing opportunities for lots of industries and, suddenly, these non-replicable assets become valuable. Wherever there’s value, there are traders and collectors. In our marketplace, we aim to support the needs of both parties.

Both will be able to find everything they need to make informed decisions. This includes a detailed oversight of the item itself, the game it’s part of and the collection within the game. What’s more, the item might hold a specific type of functionality within the game that makes it unique and all of this information will be available to the public.

On top of that, we will eventually integrate statistics and tools such as rarity, floor price scanners and many other analytics that help support traders and collectors make the right decision based on previous activity within the collection.

For the creator

In current marketplaces, every collection basically looks the same. The customization of a collection’s page is limited to a simple logo and banner, nothing more than that. As each game is completely unique, wouldn’t it make sense to allow everyone to customize their pages accordingly? Creators should be able to easily create pages that mimic the exact look and feel of their game, not that of our platform.

We aim to support creators throughout the entire process of launching their collection, from the mint all the way through to continuous sales on the marketplace. We find customization important not only on a design level, but also functionality wise. Whenever a game approaches us with a distinctive way of launching its NFTs, we’re all ears and always strive to support them in the best way possible.

Our long list of partners allows us to speak with the creators themselves and learn first-hand what it is that they need. When we can take on certain responsibilities and tasks, we are more than happy to do so. We want developers to focus on improving their games, not to spend unnecessary time and money on development. We will build their native marketplace, rarity tools, data sets and launching portals — everything a successful project needs to start its journey.

For the gamer

The days of selling World of Warcraft accounts on ebay are over. No more sharing passwords of accounts holding your precious assets with the risk of getting scammed. Ownership of accounts, items and any in-game assets can now easily be transferred through marketplaces, both inside and outside of the game. NFT technology makes ownership transferable and we want to create the best experience for gamers.

We are looking at a future where the secondary marketplace will tie into the game itself. Imagine walking around your favorite game, visiting the local town hall and being able to trade your in-game currency for that one shiny object you’ve been dreaming about. You have been grinding hours to acquire these in-game tokens and finally you can purchase the item of your choice. You make the trade and you can then freely use the item in the game.

The person on the other side of this trade might never have played the game before and just purchased the item for financial, art or reputational motivations. This is the trader as indicated above, but it can fit perfectly into the needs of the gamer. The trader will only visit the marketplace in-browser, while the gamer will visit the marketplace in the game or via the creator’s website. There are countless possibilities and the potential is exciting.

More information about this solution can be found here

Timeline
The NFT Marketplace will continue to grow and develop on an ongoing basis. The first version of the platform will be launched in the near future. The Marketplace, initially, will allow users to browse and trade (buying, selling, auctioning and making offers) and creators to display collections in a bespoke manner.

We will enable creators to customize their pages from the get go, in ways different than we have seen today. The Marketplace will also have the ability to highlight certain games.

Motivation

The Merit Circle DAO is in a unique position within the industry. The DAO has dozens of partners eagerly looking for out-of-the-box solutions that can assist in scaling their projects rapidly. These range from simply marketing activities to in-game economic models. One practical aspect of launching a game with in-game assets is electing a marketplace where these items can be easily exchanged. This can take a long time and, ultimately, distracts the creators’ focus on what’s important; the game itself.

The Merit Circle DAO can offer anyone a whitelabel solution for the exchange of in-game assets that simply offer a more complete solution than currently available marketplaces. This Marketplace can be natively in-game or browser-based, simple and steady. This should happen now to seize a decent market share and allow projects to depend on the Merit Circle DAO for this part of their operation.

The creation of thisMarketplace will not only add a significant competitive advantage for the investment vertical of the Merit Circle DAO, it will also generate revenue for the entire DAO and therefore contribute to the longevity of the entire ecosystem.

Budget

  • 1,250,000 USDC for the Alpha version.
  • Up to 2,500,000 USDC for on-going iterations and newer versions. (In an ideal scenario the DAO should be able to fund this from generated income that originates directly from the marketplace)
  • On-going budget paid from generated fees for smaller marketplace iterations and improvements.

Rationale

Beneath, we have compiled a list of questions that might be asked after going through the proposal above.

Why do we need an NFT marketplace?

The Merit Circle DAO invests wisely in solutions across the entire blockchain gaming value chain. Through these investments, the Merit Circle DAO will soon offer a range of solutions from source to end user, thereby anchoring its position in GameFi. The NFT marketplace and in-game plugin solutions gives the Merit Circle DAO a strong position in the industry, slowly creating a moat and making it difficult to copy the DAO in the near future. Simply put, the Merit Circle DAO is turning into a one-stop-shop.

Besides that, the industry is bound to have a better solution than currently available. Gamers want to quickly trade their assets while game developers want to properly display their assets. We want to uplift the entire industry and do this together with our entire community.

Can we build this cheaper?

We can use an oft-quoted maxim to answer this question;

“Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap. Fast, cheap and good … pick two words to live by.”

We are going for fast and good. Naturally, this can be done cheaper or even in-house but we felt like bringing in significant development power by collaborating with Dept Agency to quickly move and realize a marketplace like this in a short time frame is beneficial for DAO.

Why are we paying DEPT agency to built this?

We agreed that the Marketplace should be built in-DAO. We want our own native NFT platform and marketplace to actualize synergies within the Merit Circle DAO. After initially agreeing on a scope for the platform, we, the core team of the DAO, felt that there are two possible paths to take;

  1. Giving the development contract to Merit Ltd
  2. Giving the development contract to DEPT Agency

After much thought and deliberation it was agreed that it should be outsourced to Dept Agency. Instead, Merit Circle Core will looks closely with DEPT to make sure the products will be in line with what our partner projects are requesting. After working with various development companies, DEPT has won our trust as a competent team that is easy to work with. They have a lot of manpower they can direct to this project. If the task had been undertaken solely by the Merit Ltd (the core development team) it would likely take longer than a year. The costs of contracting suitable developers, designers etc was disproportionate and would have impacted the growth of the Merit Circle DAO. Furthermore, the time lag would also put the Merit Circle DAO at a significant disadvantage to other marketplace competitors.

The web3 industry is a fast paced growing industry. Time to market is crucial and therefore convinced that this was the right route.

Why has development started before the DAO has approved?

The web3 industry is moving as fast as lightning. Sit idle for a few months and dozens of new marketplaces, protocols and what not have claimed the market share that is right in front of us to capture. The Merit Circle Ltd took an executive decision to commence development on the marketplace, because we perceived it as a time sensitive and golden opportunity for the DAO.

The Merit ltd is contracted by the DAO to develop for the DAO. The ltd will front the costs for the DAO and it will bear the full costs if the proposal is not voted in. The costs thusfar for the marketplace are 800,000 USDC (so about ⅔ of what is needed for the Alpha version). The total R&D costs for the marketplace would deplete a significant portion of the ltds budget, needed for on-going development work. The core development Merit ltd has no profit-incentive, but will require budget to stay operational. We hope the DAO recognizes the great infrastructure opportunity for the DAO here and will let us continue the work from the DAOs R&D treasury budget. This should become an infrastructure investment piece that will pay itself back many times over in the long-term. We think R&D is one the best uses for DAO funds in the long-term and therefor one of the most important investments buckets for the DAO. Over time, all R&D costs should be specified in the treasury reports, to get a clearer idea of the returns on R&D as a whole and on the different R&D projects.

Copyright

Copyright and related rights waived via Creative Commons CCO

11 Likes

Henlo,

We all love the project, and think it could be a worthwhile investment. We do have a few questions,

  1. Is Dept Agency not already working on a different MC project?
  2. If the answer of 1. is “yes”, would this then not cut into the man hours allocated to Sphere?
  3. How do you protect this ‘white label’ system, and how do you prevent parties from not just copying it and the contracts? Especially in Web3, many things are forked and/or stolen.
  4. What exactly does the budget consist of? Or instead of exactly, a rough idea about cost categories associated with it? More curious than a real question.

If not an issue, my answer is “yes” of course.

Honey Barrel
Vanquisher of non-Frens
The Freefolk Fellowship

honey-with-wooden-barrel-vectors

10 Likes

Thanks for the proposal and the work so far. I saw the presentation on the MC event and was very impressed by the work and design.

In addition with Honey’s questions I’d like to add a few;

  • Is it posibly to have a larger group (or whole comunity) have a look at the current Marketplace before we vote to grant the contract?
  • Can the project / funding be split in phases (i.e.) and a Core team decide on go / no for next phase after review of current phase delivereables?
  • 2.5 Mil is not spare change so some more detailed budget / scope would make it easier to explain to the whole comunity

Me personally I’m very much in favor of the market place and the opprtunities for the DAO it holds so thanks for all the work so far and the prop.

Looking forward to see this thing getting out :wink:

7 Likes

Thanks a lot for proposal!

Apologies for bringing some bullshit bingo stuff here but as I manage SW development projects for more than 20 years I have some questions which I consider to be boring but necessary. The list below to start, depending on answers I may ask more:

For Alpha version (1,500,000 USDC):

  1. Is it a fixed price project - do we have a complete spec and all (most of) requirements defined. Is our contractor (DEPT agency) committed to deliver it within this budget? Or do we act in Time & Materials mode (or mixed mode) with constantly changing requirements?
  2. What about schedule - is it committed as well, do we have penalties/incentives in mind for completion ahead of time or with delay.
  3. If we decided to go with contractor - why no tender? Usually we send spec to several contractors and compare their proposals with several criteria. What is the portfolio of DEPT agency - do they have experience of delivering projects of similar complexity with similar technologies.
  4. Huge percentage of SW dev projects are underestimated - due to scope creep, risks not taken into account etc. What makes us sure we will not get into the situation when project needs much more money than we expected.
  5. I think that we need to have clear budget for version 1.0 (usually Alpha is the name for the first release for tests only, budget for Alpha is less important as the gap between Alpha and 1.0 sometimes is very significant).

For next versions (up to 2,500,000 USDC):

  1. First - these 2.5M are additional to 1.5M for Alpha (with total of 4M) or includes it?
  2. As it is assumed to be long term project - maybe it is better to define just one annual budget (year starts from 1.0 release) for corrective and evolutive maintenance. For the 2nd year we will make decisions according to the results of 1st one.
  3. What about helpdesk and support, is it included ?
  4. As it is (I mean next version after 1.0) not a fixed price for now we may need a procedure to manage allocations of budget.

Thanks again - I don’t have any negative feeling (vice versa), just making homework.

8 Likes

Meow,

Thank you Merit Circle Ltd, and DEPT Agency, for this exciting proposal.

Since Sphere was first announced, we have been greatly looking forward to seeing its development. We saw it as a chance for Merit Circle to cement its status as the leading Gaming DAO, and demonstrate that Merit Circle wasn’t just limited to being a traditional Guild.

As we have said in many proposals before, the single question we ask ourselves is whether we believe the proposal will bring value to the Merit Circle DAO, and in turn the Merit Circle token, and whether the costs (financial, resources, time, opportunity) are worth that value. For this proposal, we believe that answer is yes.

It is likely that almost every game Merit Circle partners with will feature NFTs to some capacity. These NFTs will be tradeable, and will have value placed upon them by the players of that game. To facilitate the trading of these NFTs, one option would be for games to simply build their own marketplace. This would be a headache for anyone playing numerous games and needing to head to a dozen individual marketplaces just to trade their assets.

The second option is to rely on the current NFT marketplaces that are available (OpenSea, LooksRare, X2Y2, Magic Eden etc). However, these all feature different flaws which Merit Circle Ltd brilliantly highlighted here:

Another one we would add is the lack of chain integration. Most of the marketplaces feature one or two chains, with the main exception being OpenSea featuring four. While Sphere is only launching on Ethereum and Polygon to begin with, we are hopeful that as development continues, further chains can be rapidly integrated (Avalanche, Solana, Moonbeam etc.).

The final option would be to build the Sphere marketplace. A marketplace which solves all the issues mentioned above, and gives gamers somewhere attractive to trade all their in-game assets. Not only would this be a large value-add for partnered games, but can act as a source of constant revenue for the DAO, and will provide constant buy pressure for the MC token through the fee model.

We believe it was the right decision to outsource some of the work to DEPT agency. It likely would not have been worth spending over a year, and directing almost all DAO manpower to building this. The financial cost may have been cheaper, but the time, resources and opportunity costs may not have been worth it. In time, we believe the revenue from the marketplace will pay back this initial $1,500,000 cost. We also agree that further budgeting ($2,500,000 and beyond in this case) could be partially, or completely, funded by ongoing revenue.

To echo what Honey Barrel mentioned, we understand that DEPT are also working on the Merit Circle app. Is this done by a separate development team, or are the marketplace and app sharing dev manpower currently? We want to ensure both are given the time and attention they need to be highly successful.

We also agree with the community that it could be helpful to share a simple breakdown of the costs (both $1,500,000 and the further $2,500,000), or how these numbers were reached. This could be useful both for transparency purposes, and to demonstrate what goes into building platforms such as this.

Ultimately, we are greatly in favor of this proposal and are thrilled to see the Merit Circle DAO building and expanding. A platform such as this is greatly needed for GameFi, and we are delighted that Merit Circle are the ones stepping up to deliver it.

Signed with right paw,

Chairman Meow

12 Likes

Greetings, and thank you for this development update.

This is Admiral Erik von Pumpson of the MC Enterprise. Our newly engineered craft fell out of hyperspace halfway through Sector XZ-1054. We’re still trying to figure out what happened, but there are rumors of a monke using our fuel cells for target practice. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Not much else to add. @HoneyBarrel, @SadCatCapital, @tyghh, @timour have shared most of our thoughts already. All in all, very excited to see updates and progress on Sphere.

We will vote YES.

Signed,

Erik von Pumpson
Admiral of the MC Enterprise
Ascending Galactic Federation

7 Likes

I support the underlying ideology, all current NFT platforms lack something, but in order to make waves in an already-saturated space, I think there needs to be more transparency in exactly what the value proposition is compared with other platforms, and what the Alpha product will deliver. I see that DEPT already have an open source platform for creating NFT marketplaces, granted this is on Algorand, but does the $1.5m above factor in what should be significant prior art that should be reused and repurposed, ported to web3, or does $1.5m constitute something built from the ground up? How will the new product be licensed, if it’s using significant open source code, does that mean the marketplace itself would have to be open source? How does this product propose to coexist or complement existing proposals already in governance vote for an NFT aggregator for example?
If gamers is the true target, I would prefer the effort to be made to deliver Unity and/or Unreal Engine reference code, APIs and plugins to expedite new game developers entering the space in understanding and implementing on-chain elements, this is where MC will be able to corner the market, by cornering the game devs by giving them something they’ll otherwise have a huge learning curve to bring into their products.

4 Likes

Greetings,

Quick addition to @blockminded’s valid post:

Could the associated and expected costs be described between the following:

  • Front-end
  • Back-end
  • Web3 (smart contracts, Web3js, Ethers,js, etc.)
  • Branding
  • Legal
  • Audits
  • Advisory
  • Testing

Signed,

Erik von Pumpson
Admiral of the MC Enterprise
Ascending Galactic Federation

2 Likes

I have two questions besides what’s already asked before. Is there a full-time project manager (project lead) for Sphere in Merit Ltd? From my experience, working with agencies can lead to quite some employee fluctuation, which could lead to losing knowledge on the project in worst case. Is the white label solution already included in the alpha version? As this seems to be the main USP and growth strategy.

Personally, I’m already thinking about voting “Yes” on this, but given the investment amount, it feels necessary to discuss it.

3 Likes

Meow,

  1. Do you have a link to this supposed open source market place? What features does it entail?
  2. The aggregator came about much later than Sphere’s initial starting phase, and is a completely different product. They are not competing projects, and even if they were (which I doubt, as was mentioned before), the MC DAO will hold at least 50% of its equity and voting rights.

An earlier video on the Gaming Platform and the Marketplace (Amsterdam Event) was posted here.

Signed with right paw,

Isaac Meowton

1 Like
1 Like

I would like to further add, there is zero mention (except a tiny link to Medium) that this proposal is for the continued development of Sphere. Please make this more obvious, as I was reading this trying to picture its fit within the MC ecosystem.

2 Likes

Zap zap,

I fully support the further development of Sphere and will therefore be voting YES.

I don’t have much to add on the questions already asked by @timour, @HoneyBarrel, @SadCatCapital, and @tyghh. I think a simple yet efficient break down of the costs to develop the marketplace would be very relevant. Does the team also have a rough estimate of what it would cost to keep all the technical infrastructure running?

Regarding @blockminded comment on the aggregator, from both a technical and non-technical perspective the marketplace and the aggregator are non-competing products. This is already explained here: MIP - 15 NFT Aggregator Development - #11 by 0xDouwe. I would like to add to this that the aggregator doesn’t hold any listings, but simply collects them from other marketplaces like Sphere.

I think game developers will hugely profit from a NFT marketplace that is focused on gaming NFTs, especially if it comes in a white label solution as well. Publishing SDK’s for blockchain integration in various popular gaming engines is an interesting topic to research, though.

2 Likes

Greetings all,

I was to late regarding a response as every question that popped in my head after reading the proposal was already mentioned by @HoneyBarrel, @tyghh and some others. So thanks for being that sharp! :smiley:

I will ofcour
se be voting YES as I think the marketplace will be a important cornerstone of the foundation Merit Circle is building. It will set us apart from the rest of the DAO’s whom are active in the (blockchain) gaming industry.

When can I get my hands on it? haha.

1 Like

Hello,

Thanks for the response so far and elaborate questions! Let us take a moment to dive into the unknown here.

Three important considerations which apply to most of the comments made on the forum:

  • The initial 1,25M$ mentioned is the budget, not the actual expenses right now. Until now approx. $800,000 costs have been made, including one of the two audits. The remaining budget is meant for the first few sprints after the initial launch for fixes, other chain integrations, and high priority functionalities we already defined;
  • The future budget of 1,25M$ is also purely meant as an approval to not go back for every new functionality to the DAO.
  • The budget won’t be fully utilized if we don’t find a product market fit within the first two quarters. Additionally, the team is investigating two methods to bring down the costs significantly (by grants of chains who would love to see Sphere deployed at their chain and renewed negotiations with DEPT on rates.)
  1. Yes, you are correct! Dept agency is also working on our Gaming platform. We’ve seen the possibilities and felt like they were the candidate to get things off the ground the quickest. We have however been clear from the very first day of development for Sphere that both projects need to be done by independent teams operating on their own. We do have two account managers on Dept’s side but we keep everything as separate as possible. At the same time, both teams can benefit from sharing ongoing costs for services/infrastructure and communications.

  2. The answers to 1, should also answer question 2.

  3. While we are working as open and transparent as possible, by opening up our audit reports and the solidity code base, some essential parts of the codebase are on purpose not public and therefore can’t be duplicated easily. Besides that, the contracts are a mere part of the total picture of the marketplace

  4. Let us utilize the division proposed by AdmiralErik. Obviously the categories have more overlap, but at a high level this is accurate (by far majority on actual development).
    $250,000 - Front-end
    $350,000 - Back-end
    $100,000 (mostly internal) Web3 (smart contracts, Web3js, Ethers,js, etc.)
    $100,000 - Branding
    $25,000 - Legal
    $250,000 - Audits
    $75,000 - Marketing
    $100,000 - Testing/Fixes

1. Is it possible to have a larger group (or whole community) have a look at the current Marketplace before we vote to grant the contract?
We are doing various internal testing rounds (which includes two/three external people (2 devs, 1 heavy NFT trader) and do not think it’s in the best interest of the development process to do a large round of external testing at this point. Do know that we’re launching in a way that could be considered as a public testing period as it will be a functional platform but nowhere near the optimal and final version. This will mainly be achieved by receiving user and community feedback on missing functionalities and/or improvements on current design choices.

2. Can the project / funding be split in phases (i.e.) and a Core team decide on go / no for next phase after review of current phase deliverables?
That is indeed the way we have structured our agreement with Dept Agency

2.5 Mil is not spare change so some more detailed budget / scope would make it easier to explain to the whole community
Please see our response above regarding a more detailed budget/scope

1. Is it a fixed price project - do we have a complete spec and all (most of) requirements defined. Is our contractor (DEPT agency) committed to deliver it within this budget? Or do we act in Time & Materials mode (or mixed mode) with constantly changing requirements?
Yes, the project was based on a fixed price and a fixed scope and DEPT is committed to deliver the marketplace within the given budget. Several design sprints were planned to fully understand the scope and they resulted in a backlog of tickets planned in time. However, some scope creep did occur after some discussions with creators and gamers. Based on these meetings we have requested DEPT to improve or add some features making the whole better. The next phase of the project will be based on time & material. DEPT has a good sense of their velocity and have reviewed and are currently estimating their effort needed for the next version. We will be closely monitoring our sprint goals and will manage the budget according to our roadmap.

2. What about schedule - is it committed as well, do we have penalties/incentives in mind for completion ahead of time or with delay.
Before the development started we focused on two pillars; “fast and good”. We’ve learned that we even need to trade off between fast and good, and our emphasys has always been on good. DEPT however goes through great lengths to deliver the platform according to planning. There were a few delays, but these are all accounting for a better product. We have not set penalties or incentives atm, but as we speak we are drafting service level agreements to support our live platform and a penalty/incentive structure for the development process of our next version where we are going to work based on time & material.

3. If we decided to go with contractor - why no tender? Usually we send spec to several contractors and compare their proposals with several criteria. What is the portfolio of DEPT agency - do they have experience of delivering projects of similar complexity with similar technologies.
Given the experience we gained through working with DEPT on the gaming platform, we became convinced that they were the adequate party to take this on. The reasoning why we chose DEPT in the first place can be found here. Additionally, we considered building our own team which would have taken significantly more time to find (and probably not even economically more interesting). We do want to strengthen our internal team to not rely on external parties in the next year.

4. Huge percentage of SW dev projects are underestimated - due to scope creep, risks not taken into account etc. What makes us sure we will not get into the situation when project needs much more money than we expected.
This will all come down to staying on top of things and not fully relying on their capabilities, but also steering development in the right direction ourselves. We are aware that budgets can always exceed expectations, but we are doing everything we can to keep it within boundaries. The core team has the same incentives here as the DAO: building the best game asset marketplace on the lowest costs possible (without harming the quality or security).

5. I think that we need to have a clear budget for version 1.0 (usually Alpha is the name for the first release for tests only, budget for Alpha is less important as the gap between Alpha and 1.0 sometimes is very significant).
Please see our response above regarding a more detailed budget/scope

We develop the product in the most agile way possible. This means that we do have a list of features that we want to develop for the next versions, but it also means that this list constantly shifts in priorities based on market conditions, user requirements and technological developments. This also means that we will not deliver major versions (1.0, 2.0, 3.0), but we will deliver in small increments (1.1, 1.2, 1.3) to bring valuable features to the market just in time. We have calculated our budget based on the capabilities and team that we need to deliver on the requirements that we listed now, but requirements may change due to these conditions.

For next versions (up to 2,500,000 USDC):

1. First - these 2.5M are additional to 1.5M for Alpha (with total of 4M) or includes it?
We should have been more clear here. The 2.5 mil is the total amount we’re budgeting here. That is 1.25 for the Alpha version, and 1.25 for future versions.

2. As it is assumed to be long term project - maybe it is better to define just one annual budget (year starts from 1.0 release) for corrective and evolutive maintenance. For the 2nd year we will make decisions according to the results of 1st one.
The budget we have allocated so far is fitting in this first period. As we transition to a sustainable way of managing the project, this could indeed be a way to allocate an annual budget. This will be more relevant when we hit that stage.

3. What about helpdesk and support, is it included ?
It is. For the start it won’t be 24/7 but we are building a structure to have 24/7 support for Sphere (big pre compared to most other platforms).

4. As it is (I mean next version after 1.0) not a fixed price for now we may need a procedure to manage allocations of budget.
As we’ve mentioned before, we’re constantly managing expenses, expectations and delivery. There’s not a single expense occurring without a few people double-checking, so indeed there are procedures in place to manage allocations of budget. Additionally, we have a product manager on our side who worked with similar agencies before, and who is daily/weekly assessing time budgeted vs spent.

To echo what Honey Barrel mentioned, we understand that DEPT are also working on the Merit Circle app. Is this done by a separate development team, or are the marketplace and app sharing dev manpower currently? We want to ensure both are given the time and attention they need to be highly successful.
This has been answered above in a response to Honey Barrel

We also agree with the community that it could be helpful to share a simple breakdown of the costs (both $1,500,000 and the further $2,500,000), or how these numbers were reached. This could be useful both for transparency purposes, and to demonstrate what goes into building platforms such as this.
This has been answered above in a response to Honey Barrel

Ultimately, we are greatly in favor of this proposal and are thrilled to see the Merit Circle DAO building and expanding. A platform such as this is greatly needed for GameFi, and we are delighted that Merit Circle are the ones stepping up to deliver it.
A big thanks for your support, as always.

I see that DEPT already have an open source platform for creating NFT marketplaces, granted this is on Algorand, but does the $1.5m above factor in what should be significant prior art that should be reused and repurposed, ported to web3, or does $1.5m constitute something built from the ground up?
The platform we are building here is something built from the ground up, yes. The NFT marketplace that Dept built earlier for Algorand is really different in design, functionality and purpose. We are not using their contracts and are thus also not obligated to open source it.

How will the new product be licensed, if it’s using significant open source code, does that mean the marketplace itself would have to be open source?
See above

How does this product propose to coexist or complement existing proposals already in governance vote for an NFT aggregator for example?
We believe that this product suits perfectly with existing proposals. The aggregator is a different product, but could tie into Sphere perfectly. Imagine this aggregator doing significant volume and driving a tiny bit of that through Sphere, that would be beneficial for all parties.

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Hello,

Thank for the post. It’s good to see such detailed questions here by our DAO members, particularly those in the software realm.

DEPT seems to be a solid partner to date, but I would like to highlight the importance of building up our internal teams to include a CTO role and some in-house UI/UX and developers. Our portfolio of projects is getting bigger given the pivot in direction after the “5 pillars” Medium post. Agency fees add up fast. The speed to market is essential here, so I agree with how the project has been developed to date.

I had a post drafted regarding budget breakdowns, but the latest MeritLtd reply seems to have already covered it. Good to see some transparency in this area.

Thanks again for taking the time with your post. Very excited to see what Sphere brings for the DAO.

I will be voting “YES” on this proposal.

Best regards,
AS

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Thank you for your in depth response. Having considered the extra information alongside the original proposal, I support this and will vote accordingly when the Snapshot vote is put forward.

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Thanks a lot for answers - sounds quite good! Couple of remarks:

  1. Could be good to give some ideas about release dates - can be given in a flexible mode like “forecasted date” (current assumption) plus “committed date” (pessimistic estimation). Can be changed in a future but still much better than “ready when ready”.
  2. It is perfectly clear why next phase is planned in time & materials mode, though I advise to combine it with mini fixed price model wherever possible - putting sets of well defined features into packages for fixed price estimation. T&M likes to eat budgets, so better to leave it for unavoidable things like bug fixing, research and parts of scope with unclear requirements.
  3. Not talking about this particular project as it is late but for future - I have very good relationships with couple of strong outsourcing companies with good reputation. Can allow to optimize budgets - especially when we are talking about regular technologies - like web dev etc.
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We thank all the DAO members for their input :slight_smile:

The proposal is now live for voting:
https://vote.meritcircle.io/#/proposal/0x82bda0ce04a3aac44bb4c3aa2bf70701513c82d792c0574df49f934cd11a6a37

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