Blog Article

Stellar Quest Series 4 is Now Live


Tyler van der Hoeven

Publishing date

Stellar quest

As someone deeply involved in the developer community from both within and outside the blockchain industry, I know how difficult it is to onboard new developers onto blockchain technology from a purely educational perspective. I wanted to create an experience that focused on the basic building blocks of Stellar and how to put them together, including how to use Stellar’s APIs, SDKs, and more. Thus, Stellar Quest (SQ) – an educational initiative and gamified coding experience that teaches people how to use the Stellar tech stack – was born late last year.

The Stellar Quest community is thriving beyond my wildest expectations and Series 4 is launching today! But before I get into too much detail about Series 4 (trust me, you’ll want to stick around until the end), I wanted to do a little retrospective on how the first three series went, what valuable lessons were learned, and how community plays a huge role in SQ.

Looking back at Stellar Quest Series 1-3

What started as an educational experiment has exploded into a full blown community of excited, educated Stellar enthusiasts. By going through Stellar Quest, players have the opportunity to earn custom NFT badges (minted on Stellar) and XLM (when the challenges first release).

As new series are released, I thought it’d be fun to track how Stellar Quest has grown and evolved over the past year. So far in 2021, Stellar Quest:

  • Has been played in nearly every country in the world;
  • Seen 40,000+ unique visitors to the homepage;
  • Generated 2,700+ unique accounts; and
  • Issued 18,000+ badges.

Speaking of badges, they are one of the most unique features of Stellar Quest. Designed by several Stellar aficionados, these badges serve as symbols of your accomplishments, keys to fun Easter Eggs, and delightful Discord emojis to boot! Plus, who doesn’t love a good collection to complete?

Of course, Stellar Quest wouldn’t be complete without its vibrant Discord community. What’s funny is that the Discord was born out of my hatred of answering emails. The joke was on me however, the Discord now has over 2,700 members, including 65 moderators that help answer questions and provide technical support. The community has actually grown to the point that it’s self-moderated now, leaving me time and energy to spin up even more exciting features and challenges for the future.

Here are some nice things our Questers had to say about Stellar Quest!

What Stellar Questers have learned

Over the course of 3 series each with 8 unique challenges Stellar Questers have learned to:

Series 1

  • Create and fund a Stellar account
  • Make a payment from their Stellar account
  • Store some arbitrary data in their Stellar account
  • Add multisig to their account and make use of it in a transaction
  • Create a custom asset and send it to their account
  • Create an offer to sell their custom asset for XLM
  • Make use of a channel account to make a payment
  • Acquire custom asset via a path payment

Series 2

  • Send a transaction with a memo
  • Construct and execute a multi-operational transaction
  • Create and submit a fee bump transaction
  • Create a claimable balance
  • Claim their claimable balance
  • Sponsor the absolute minimum balance for a new account
  • Revoke account sponsorship for the account you're sponsoring
  • Create and host a stellar.toml file for their account

Series 3

  • Make use of a sequence number bump operation in a transaction
  • Submit a transaction containing 100 operations
  • Submit a hash signed transaction
  • Submit a pre-authorized transaction
  • Successfully submit a clawback operation
  • Mint a Stellar Quest style NFT
  • Acquire and make use of a SEP-0010 JWT
  • Use SEP-0006 to acquire some MULT from

What I’ve learned

The challenge that came with Stellar Quest was ensuring the platform was properly secure while providing players a great user experience. With any monetary prize, Stellar Quest was at risk of being overrun by players who wanted to abuse the reward system and ruin the player experience for others. What follows were the security solutions we deployed for each series:

Series 1

  • We first tried to verify each user via SMS, which meant that each user corresponding to a number was represented in the player database once. While this started out as a strong protection model there were some tough vectors to block toward the end of the series.

Series 2

  • By this time, a sizable Discord community had developed, with volunteers forming a “fraud squad” and conducting manual Discord verification. Every person who was about to win XLM had moderators verify their profiles. This solution worked well until near the end of the series, where each challenge was attracting 300-400 players and most of them were illegitimate.

Series 3

  • Taking the data from the previous two series we took a bold step and transitioned the platform to a mobile app utilizing push notifications for verification. Because you need a physical device, gamification potential was greatly reduced. Along with this security mechanic we also introduced KYC, which was surprisingly successful. The downside here wasn’t the security model but the experience. Stellar Quest just wants to be played on the web!

Taking all our learnings from the past three series, SQ is moving away from the mobile app with push notifications and leaning back towards open participation on the web – with the caveat that if anybody wants the XLM award, they will have to submit KYC. Back to the web we go!

Stellar Quest works because we consistently iterate in order to get the security right. As great as it is to create a highly engaged community, it only thrives if the engineering and security are right. A big realization and contributor to the growth of the Stellar Quest community has been the realization that no matter how hard you try, things break – but if the product isn’t working, you just need to admit it and fix it. By being upfront with the community about when SQ ran into a hiccup, the community was understanding and, even better, helped identify areas of improvement for the player experience.

What to expect for Stellar Quest Series 4

While Stellar Quest Series 1-3 provide a comprehensive fundamental education of Stellar, Stellar Quest Series 4 and beyond will teach you how to build something on your own.

Series 4 features an entirely new challenge structure. Traditionally, the task of each Stellar Quest challenge is to put a blank testnet account into a specific state. Create an account, make a payment from it, issue a new asset to it, etc. Accomplish that task, verify the state, and you’ll receive your prize.

Series 4 flips the table on this paradigm entirely by creating a public network account in a specific “locked” state requiring players to use clues to unlock it in order to claim the prize inside the account. We still use the lobby structure with 20 accounts matched up against each other. But in contrast to previous rounds, the 20 prizes are not locked to one per competitor. It’s a free-for-all! The entire lobby has access to the entire pool of 20 accounts. It’s a race to claim as many accounts as you can.

This series is also special because, while it’s live, you need to participate in order to complete your badge collection. Once the challenge is over, you’ve missed your shot – so what are you waiting for? Hop on over to the Stellar Quest site and get started!

If you have questions regarding challenges or want to meet fellow players, join the Stellar Quest Discord community.