In the world of web3, a term affectionately coined for the decentralized internet, there are projects that stand out as original gangsters (OGs) – pioneers that laid the groundwork for what has become a burgeoning digital ecosystem. Among these trailblazers is MoonCats, one of the earliest forays into the realm of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Launched in 2017, MoonCats predates many of the contemporary NFT projects and platforms, offering a unique glimpse into the early experimentation and innovation within the Ethereum network. This guide delves into the fascinating world of MoonCats, exploring its origins, unique attributes, and the diverse functionalities that these pixelated feline NFTs bring to their owners and creators in the web3 space.
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MoonCatRescue, a pioneering project in the Ethereum blockchain space, was conceived in 2017 by a duo of Ethereum enthusiasts. Their vision was to experiment with the nascent capabilities of the Ethereum network. The project introduced an innovative on-chain, proof-of-work mining system, allowing participants to “locate” and “rescue” MoonCats – unique digital cats with billions of possible variations. This process left it up to the community to decide which MoonCats would be adopted into the digital world.
Initially, MoonCats captivated a small, dedicated group of followers. However, as time passed, the project’s popularity dwindled, and it slipped into obscurity.
This changed dramatically on March 12, 2021, thanks to the efforts of crypto-archaeologists like 0xAllen, Adam McNFT, ETHoard, and JUSTIN. Their rediscovery of MoonCats sparked a frenzy, often referred to as MoonCat mania, leading to the rescue of all the remaining MoonCats within just a few hours. This event marked the organic formation of the MoonCatCommunity, a grassroots movement of enthusiasts and supporters.
Reacting swiftly to this resurgence, ponderware, the team behind MoonCatRescue, jumped back into action to re-establish connections with MoonBase. This marked the beginning of a new chapter for MoonCats, as both the project and its community have continued to evolve and expand, heralding what many enthusiasts call the #AgeOfMoonCats.
What are MoonCats NFT?
MoonCats represent a seminal collection in the NFT space, comprising 25,440 pixel art-style cats. Not only are these digital cats adorable, but they also hold the distinction of being one of the earliest NFT projects. Launched on August 9, 2017, MoonCats was created by Ponderware, a duo of Ethereum enthusiasts, David and Jason, who were fascinated by the vast potential of smart contracts.
The MoonCats project, according to its website, is wrapped in an engaging lore. It narrates a charming and urgent mission to save these cats from a looming solar eclipse that threatened their existence – a storyline that captivated the community. Unlike many generative NFT collections that reveal artwork post-minting, MoonCats broke the mold by allowing collectors to customize their cats before minting. This level of personalization was intentional, as David and Jason, during their appearance on Kevin Rose’s “Proof” podcast, emphasized their goal of empowering users with fair distribution and choice.
Initially, while the project experienced success, not all MoonCats were minted, leading to a gradual decline in interest. However, in March 2021, crypto historians unearthed the project, reigniting enthusiasm within the NFT community and prompting the minting of the remaining MoonCats.
The collection includes two types of MoonCats: 96 black and white “Genesis Cats” and 25,344 colorful “Rescue Cats.” The scarcity and uniqueness of the Genesis Cats typically command higher prices in the secondary market. Additionally, those cats minted earlier in the project’s timeline are often considered more valuable, creating a layered sense of rarity and desirability within the collection. Following the completion of minting, the project founders re-engaged with the community, marking a resurgence in the project’s activity and interest.
The MoonCats collection, developed before the advent of the ERC-721 standard (the modern protocol for Ethereum-based NFTs), originally used a custom version of the ERC-20 standard, modified to enumerate each MoonCat. This early development meant that MoonCats were not initially compatible with the ERC-721 standard expected by contemporary wallet software. To bridge this gap, the Acclimator was introduced, granting MoonCats complete ERC-721 and ERC-998 functionality.
Acclimation is a reversible process, but owning an Acclimated MoonCat unlocks the full potential of the MoonCat ecosystem. The Official Wrapped MoonCats (Acclimated) is an ERC-721 Wrapper, developed by Ponderware, the original creators of the project. Over 17,800 Acclimated MoonCats are available on platforms like OpenSea, with a small fee from each transaction contributed to the creators. This fee supports the financing of future projects, and collectors can acclimate their MoonCats anytime using the official Acclimator.
On the other hand, Wrapped MoonCatsRescue (Unofficial), found on the alternative MoonCat page on OpenSea, represents MoonCats acclimated by an independent developer. Although these are legitimate MoonCats, they utilize a third-party NFT “wrapper” service.
The MoonCat NFT collection is not only vast but also rich in diversity, featuring a wide array of unique attributes that make each MoonCat distinct. The collection boasts a total of 751 attributes, which are meticulously categorized into 18 different groups. This extensive range of characteristics allows for a high degree of personalization and uniqueness in each MoonCat, making them highly coveted among collectors and enthusiasts.
Among these categories, notable attributes include:
- Accessory: A variety of 12 accessories add flair and personality to each MoonCat.
- Classification: There are 2 broad classifications that MoonCats fall into, defining their overarching category.
- Coat: With 104 different coat types, each MoonCat can exhibit a distinct appearance.
- Expression: MoonCats come with 4 possible expressions, adding character to each digital feline.
- Has Clones?: This attribute, with 2 variations, indicates whether a MoonCat has any clones.
- Has Mirrors?: Similar to clones, this attribute with 2 options shows if a MoonCat has mirror versions.
- MoonCat ID: A significant attribute with 500 variations, the MoonCat ID is essential for identification.
- Only Child?: This binary attribute (2 options) indicates whether a MoonCat is an only child.
- Pose: Each MoonCat can strike one of 4 different poses.
- Rescue Year: Reflecting the historical aspect, there are 5 possible rescue years.
- SpokesCat For: With 84 options, this attribute determines what each MoonCat represents or stands for.
- Looprint: A unique attribute with 2 variations, adding another layer of individuality.
Accessories in the MoonCats universe add an extra layer of customization and personality to these digital felines. Unique to the MoonCat ecosystem, these accessories are not just mere aesthetic additions; they are on-chain collectibles that become a permanent part of the MoonCat’s identity. Once an accessory is purchased, it is owned by the MoonCat itself, ensuring that the accessory remains with the MoonCat through any ownership changes.
The innovation in MoonCats accessories lies in their creation and distribution. With the Accessory Designer tool, anyone can design an accessory, deciding its scarcity, aesthetics, and pricing. These custom-designed accessories are then made available for sale in the Accessory Boutique. Owners have the flexibility to adorn their MoonCats with these accessories or remove them at their discretion, allowing for dynamic customization.
The scope for accessory design is vast and diverse. Designers have the freedom to create limited edition runs, exclusive items for specific MoonCat groups, unique one-offs, or accessories available to all MoonCats. Most accessories are designed with aesthetics in mind, enabling MoonCat owners to style their cats in a way that reflects their personal tastes or the cat’s character. However, some accessories go beyond the cosmetic aspect, symbolizing achievements or partnerships with other projects. It’s important to consult with the accessory’s designer to understand the full significance of these unique items.
What’s the Utility of a MoonCat?
Owning a MoonCat NFT extends beyond just possessing a piece of digital art from one of the earliest NFT projects. It opens up a realm of customization and interaction, providing MoonCat holders with unique ways to engage with and enhance their NFT experience.
One of the key features of MoonCat utility is the ability to personalize these digital cats with various accessories. These accessories are not just cosmetic additions; they become an integral part of the MoonCat’s identity. When a MoonCat is transferred to a new owner, its accessories accompany it, ensuring that each MoonCat’s unique style and character remain consistent regardless of ownership changes. For creative minds, the MoonCat ecosystem offers an opportunity to design and sell custom accessories on the MoonCat Boutique website, turning MoonCat customization into a community-driven endeavor.
Apart from accessorizing, MoonCat holders can delve into a world of applications designed to expand the utility of their NFTs. One such application is Isotile, which allows users to create a virtual space where MoonCats come to life as animated voxel characters.
Another intriguing application is Worldwide Webb, a cyberpunk-inspired virtual world. In this digital landscape, MoonCat owners can upload their NFTs, bringing them into an expansive online universe.
Looking toward the future, projects like MoonCats exemplify the potential and staying power of early NFT ventures in an ever-evolving digital landscape. As the NFT market continues to mature and expand, the significance of these pioneering projects becomes increasingly apparent. MoonCats, with its blend of originality and innovative utilities such as accessory customization and integration into virtual worlds, sets a precedent for the potential of NFTs to offer more than just digital ownership.
They represent a convergence of art, community, and technology, evolving beyond static collectibles into dynamic, interactive digital assets. The future of projects like MoonCats lies in their ability to adapt, grow, and continue to captivate a diverse and expanding audience, ensuring their relevance and appeal in the fast-paced world of web3 and beyond.