Yesterday I purchased my first cryptokitty on the Ethereum blockchain.
Professional Mad Scientist! That’s my kitty!
I don’t consider myself to be the type of person who gets completely swept away by new internet fads, but when my friend told me yesterday that she made $80 by breeding her cryptokitty (and still retaining ownership), I was seized by the idea that I could earn passive income while I pimped out my virtual cats. So far, I’ve earned $2.20 by pimping out my first kitty, First Parent of Dracula. This amount is really low, due mostly to me underbidding my kitty’s reproductive talents.
I’m not going to tell you how much I paid for my cryptokitty. I bought Ether early this year and paid about $70 for 1 ETH. Now 1 ETH is worth $450. Let’s just say I spent way too much for my very first cryptokitty.
I bought mine based on three facts: 1. My cat gave birth to a Dracula. 2. My friend who bought one two days ago told me she made $80 by breeding hers. 3. I love Salvador Dali.
I wrote this complete guide after many people on Twitter were begging for answers. Here’s my kitty and its name is First Parent of Dracula. Cryptokitties are like snails, meaning that all of them can get pregnant. There’s no male nor female. I made mine into an animated GIF using the free tool, Giphy.
Step 1: Install the MetaMask Chrome extension: https://metamask.io/
MetaMask is the most noob-friendly way to connect to the Ethereum blockchain. MetaMask is a digital wallet that allows you to sign smart contracts and transactions.
If you’re new to MetaMask, please watch this intro video to get started:
Here’s an example of a difficult password: Troy!Tupee$Live67M2stlaughTerry987
pro tip: make your password very difficult and don’t forget to write down your seed recovery phrase with pen and paper.
Step 2: Buy Some Ether
In order to buy a cryptokitty you have to buy some Ether first. For US citizens, the easiest way is to buy through Coinbase. If you already have a Coinbase wallet, you can buy directly through MetaMask which uses the Coinbase widget. If you’re not in the USA, you can buy Ether at a cryptocurrency exchange.
pro tip: Don’t be a fool and buy too much Ether. You don’t want to end up broke. Cryptokitties are highly addictive.
Step 3: Send Ether to your MetaMask wallet.
If you’ve never sent Bitcoin or Ether to a digital wallet, hold onto your britches and take notes. Cryptocurrency uses a different system than what you’re used to. It’s called a key pair. So, one long string of characters is your public address and another long string of characters is your private key.
Think of this key pair like your house address and a physical key that opens it. Your public key is like the address to your house, which everyone knows and is searchable online. Your private key is like your physical key which opens the door to your house. Only you have that key and you keep it in a safe place. Your private key should be safe-guarded in the same way you treat your house key. Your private key is the only thing that can access the funds that are connected to your public address.
Here’s what public and private keys look like:
private key: 3a1076bf45ab87712ad64ccb3b10217737f7faacbf2872e88fdd9a537d8fe266
So, when you’re in MetaMask you’re going to copy your public key and then paste that into your Coinbase wallet. You’re sending the Ether you bought in Coinbase to your MetaMask wallet.
Here’s a video that shows the process:
Further reading on key pairs: Ethereum Wiki: https://theethereum.wiki/w/index.php/Accounts,_Addresses,_Public_And_Private_Keys,_And_Tokens
pro tip: NEVER email your private key to yourself. NEVER save your private key on your computer. YES back up your private key on a usb flash drive.
Step 4: Sign In And Buy Your Cryptokitty
Now that your MetaMask has some Ether in it, it’s time to buy your first kitty. When you hit the button, “sign in”, you’ll notice that instead of signing into the cryptokitties website, it asks you to sign into MetaMask instead. Welcome to the new blockchain era!
Click on the upper right corner where you can see a faint Fox image:
Make sure you’re on the Main Ethereum network.
Now it’s time to go to the Marketplace.
Scroll through until you find one you want, and then click the button,
Ok Buy This Kitty.
This is where the hardest part of the process is. Every transaction on the Ethereum blockchain requires you pay a fee when you create a transaction. This is to reduce spam on the network. Tbh, I am still a bit confused about how much Gwei (gas fee) to use each time I create a transaction. For my last cryptokitty purchase, which cost me around $20, I input a 4 Gwei gas fee, and it went through just fine (I’m still trying to understand Gwei though).
Today, however, is another matter. I think people are freaking out and placing tons of orders, because both of my attempts to breed my kitties have failed transactions. After checking etherscan it looks like there are over 2000 pending transactions.
Cryptokitties is breaking the Ethereum blockchain!
The most important part of this is to make sure your Gas Limit is set to 250,000. I learned that there is an issue with MetaMask defaulting to a huge crazy number:
Step 5: Checking Your Transaction
Click to the icon at the upper right corner that looks like a squiggly line.
This is the page that shows your order statuses and transactions. This is where you will spend most of your time in a state of fried nerves.
The congestion is really bad today. It appears that more transactions were done yesterday than at any previous time. I bet today will top that. The most frustrating part of this new internet craze is the fact that the Ethereum blockchain has not properly scaled and is not equipped to handle massive transaction numbers (unlike the Steem and Bitshares blockchains). So, after you put in your order, your transaction is lying in a ‘pending’ state along with thousands of others. Right now, I’ve got one in pending, and I already 2 of my transactions have failed for reasons that are far from clear. I set my Gwei gas limit like I did before, but nothing is currently working.
So, should you buy a cryptokitty?
Maybe just one in case this turns out to be the next Pokémon Go on steroids blockchain craze. But then again, if you’re a programmer and have mad skills, you should contact me so we can build this cool genetic dna pet pimping code on top of EOS (make it open source). EOS is being built to handle Visa type transactional volumes.
All the Ethereum space aliens won’t like this next bit, but in all the time I’ve been blogging and creating transactions on the Steem blockchain, I didn’t have any of my transactions fail to go through. The steemit website had some issues a while back, but the blockchain did not. Steem has completely spoiled me. We don’t have the congestion problems even though we have way more blockchain volume than Ethereum has.
I now own 3 cryptokitties and I am completely obsessed at this point.
As you can see, my favorite colors are blue and green, and all my cats are kind of unusual. I want to specialize in the Dali & Dracula traits, and other Fancy Kitties.
For those of you who are utterly frustrated by your long list of cryptokitty Timed Out transactions, go to this website, which delves into the genomic structure of your virtual cat: https://cryptokittydex.com/
I almost killed all my brain cells trying to decipher which genes controlled the Dracula trait. If you’re smart, please help! Below you’ll find the DNA sequencing of my First Parent of Dracula cryptokitty and its child, Dracula.
I bought my first cryptokitty based on this one fact: it gave birth to a Dracula. I want to make more Draculas, but I am not sure if my cat’s genes contain the Dracula trait.
It’s pretty clear I may have lost my mind temporarily. I’m almost glad the Ethereum blockchain is basically unusable today, or else I might have bought up a bazillion Dali-Dracula cats.
I have a wicked, beautiful idea so if you’re smart and know how to code something like this, please contact me.