Genesis.City: A Dynamic Bird’s-eye View of Decentraland

When, during the advent of Web3 technologies, coders Esteban Ordano, Ari Meilich, Yemel Jardi, and Manu Araoz conceived Decentraland in a whitepaper, they thought up a community-driven, decentralized, and open virtual world. When they founded the first settlement within Decentraland, they called it Genesis City—a suitable name for a foundational virtual community.

These three aspects of Decentraland—open, decentralized, and community-driven—are drivers behind the Genesis.City map project, a dynamic bird’s-eye view of the Decentraland world that Manu Araoz created in 2017. In order to support the continued existence of the useful top-down map, the project became the beneficiary of a DAO grant in 2022 and just recently had that grant renewed.

The map stems from Decentraland’s open architecture. Since data points in Decentraland are unrestricted for creators to work with, Araoz concluded that the open information could be leveraged to devise useful assets that would strengthen the communitarian aspect of Decentraland.

In many facets, the Genesis.City map is a remarkably transparent project that fills in information vacuums for many stakeholders. In a world in which real estate plays a vital role, a graphic representation of how properties and the LANDs around them look is inherently valuable for decision-makers. The top-down map, available and open to the public via its website, even contributed to discussions about infrastructure and planning in Decentraland.

If regarded from a simplistic viewpoint, the world of Decentraland combines two technologies: virtual reality and blockchain. The first allows the creation of a walkable world where anyone can enter and wander around Genesis City. The second is responsible for making all transactions transparent and trustless. This intrinsic characteristic of the tech stack supporting Decentraland enables the map to exist.

The map’s reliance on Decentraland’s open architecture is hard to overstate. To begin with, an open protocol—such as the one Decentraland is based on—means anyone can take hold of live information and use it in helpful ways, as open-source developers have preached since the start of the computer age. The map is a prominent visual example of how open and accessible data can be taken hold of; yet, the implications of such an open platform, as suggested by Manu Araoz in his vision for the next five years of Decentraland, are staggeringly varied and exceed a map.


Relying on open data sourced directly from Decentraland allows the map to stay up to date. Its interpretation of accessible information allows the project to run almost by itself. Since the Genesis.City map code connects to the Decentraland open protocol and network, it’s kept up to date without involvement from the Decentraland Foundation. As can be seen above, thanks to the free flow of information, the map can show areas in Genesis City that have been recently modified (in red) as well as show the outline of estates, meaning large areas of LANDs owned by a single user or organization.

Even though the project is now a Decentraland DAO grantee, the decentralized and open source nature of the map still gives it an ‘unofficial’ label. It is, in a sense, a map that any user, affiliated with Decentraland or not, could develop and publish online.

How it works

The Genesis.City scripting map is a customized version of the standard Decentraland Explorer that automatically takes screenshots at every coordinate in the city to build up a bird’s-eye representation. The website collects all the screenshots and then uses OpenLayers, a free software for creating maps, to merge the tiles into one.

The OpenLayers library, which is written in JavaScript and is open source, enables Genesis.City to exist as a tile map. A tile map is a kind of map presented on a web browser by combining several pictures or vector data files that were each downloaded separately. Most displayed tiles remain helpful at each user-initiated pan and individual tiles may be updated whenever necessary.

The evolution of the map

Even though the project existed for almost five years before receiving its first grant, the allocated budget proved essential for the map to be improved technically. The prototype version, developed by Manu Araoz and his team as a passion project of sorts, received its first grant in early 2022. However, it still suffered from a faulty mapping script, an out-of-date map, and occasional performance hiccups. Since receiving a second and third round of funding, the team has updated the map weekly, as explained in the DAO-funded grant proposal of June 2022. Thanks to the new budget, the team has also improved the mapping script, making it run much faster and requiring less human input to generate a complete map.

Additionally, the developers included a “jump in” button that transports users to the LAND indicated by a right mouse click, improved the visual look of the website, and added an estate contour layer. On a different note, the team behind Genesis.City also set out to create an NFT on Rarible with the entire map once per month.

The new round of funding was critical since it provided a budget for wages and expenditures—web hosting, image storage, and domain name renewal—to maintain the team over the following six months. Manu Araoz added that other issues that affected the overall user experience—such as visual defects and zooming flaws —were also fixed thanks to the new round of funding.

Help the map chart new technical terrain

Do you want to contribute to the Genesis.City map project? Spread the word. The premise that the map exists upon—leveraging open, accessible data to create worthy assets—should reach all creative developers ready to contribute to the Decentraland community.

The team would also welcome any feedback you have to offer to continue to improve the map. Connect with them on Twitter
and share your helpful tips. As the map’s name suggests, this project is just the beginning.

The metaverse is full of yet unrecognized potential and opportunities. Do you have an idea that could benefit the Decentraland community? Learn more about the DAO’s grants here.

Do you know of a cool Decentraland community project that you think should be next in the Community Highlights series? Contact the Decentraland Foundation team @decentraland on Twitter.

Disclaimer: The service described in this article was not developed or audited by the Decentraland Foundation. Always be careful when engaging in any kind of transaction. Decentraland is not responsible for any loss of funds/assets.

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