Last Updated: 7 Dec 2017
CryptoKitties launched in late Nov 2017, and within a week it had taken the world by storm, flooding the Ethereum transaction network and generally causing a ruckus as kitties are wont to do. This post will give you a brief introduction to the beanie babies (/neopets) of this generation, and a step-by-step guide on how to get your very own CryptoKitty. Prepare to get your paws wet!
There's tons to learn in this post. To help you remember, check out my app Harvest: Take Notes and Learn Passively. It uses a memory algorithm called spaced repetition to help you remember notes just like this summary:
Table of Contents
- What are CryptoKitties?
- How To Buy Your Own CryptoKitty
- Useful Links
What Are CryptoKitties?
CryptoKitties are digital cats that live purely on the Ethereum blockchain (refresher on blockchain). They are collectibles that you can buy, sell, and best of all, breed to create new kitties. When you own a kitty, no one can take it away from you (not even the CryptoKitty company) since your Ethereum address owns it and only you have the private key.
The whole point of CryptoKitties is not only that they are beautiful digital kitties that you can admire and collect (maybe this is the whole point); you can also breed any two kitties together and create an entire unique new kitty, with its own "cattributes" and name.
CryptoKitties are each part of a "Generation" — which just means that the kitties that were magically created and without parents are "Generation 0" and every subsequent breeding from these kitties are "Generation +1" of the youngest of the parents.
Generation 0 + Generation 0 = Generation 1
Generation 0 + Generation 1 = Generation 2
(since youngest parent is Generation 1)
"Cattributes" (cat attributes) are what uniquely define a kitty. These describe everything about your kitty, including color, eyes, eyebrows, mood, and patterns. It's important to remember that these are the phenotypes (physically manifested) of the kitty however; each kitty also carries genotypes (not necessarily physically manifested) in its DNA (ie. 256-byte genetic code) that can be manifested in the future in its offspring. What this means is that just because two parents are "orangesoda" does not mean an offspring will necessarily be "orangesoda", and the offspring can even have cattributes that neither of its parents have!
Various community resources have sprung up including one called CryptoKittydex. That page gives a great overview of the relative rarities of different cattributes; "totesbasic" is the most common, and "googly" is the least. Generally the rarer the cattribute, the more valuable it will make your CryptoKitty.
The last aspect of a CryptoKitty is its "Cooldown". The cooldown represents how long it takes for a kitty to recover once it breeds; the faster the cooldown, the sooner the kitty can breed again. Naturally if you want more kitties you would want a faster cooldown kitty. General wisdom is that the earlier Generation the kitty, the faster the genotype of its cooldown.
How To Buy Your Own CryptoKitty
Alright now let's get our very own CryptoKitty! Remember that all of the CryptoKitties live on the Ethereum blockchain, so the only way to buy, sell, or breed them is through an Ethereum transaction. Luckily we can use any browser to do this.
1. Create A MetaMask Account
We'll use Chrome browser as the example for this guide. The first thing we have to do is install the MetaMask extension. This extension allows us to access the Ethereum blockchain directly from our Chrome browser without having to deal with syncing the blockchain or any of that business.
After you install the extension, open it up and accept your away through the terms of service and legal nonsense. Who reads those anyway?? You'll have to scroll all the way down on one of them in order to proceed.
If you have a MetaMask account from before, you can import your keys to restore the account. Otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account with a new password of at least 8 characters. Create that and keep it in a safe place.
You will also get a bunch of random words after you create your account. Treat this string of words as your "seed" that can regenerate your account in case you lose your password. So a password for your password if you will. Keep this in a safe place as well.
2. Buy ETH and Send to MetaMask
Now we are ready to get some ETH in order to buy some kitties!
First get a sense of how much ETH you want to spend; you can browse the CryptoKitties marketplace to see the price (in ETH) for each kitty up for sale. The sales work in a decaying price format; each one starts at a certain price, and decays linearly over time to an end price over the duration of the sale. So a kitty that starts at 2 ETH and ends at 1 ETH over 24 hours will be available to purchase for 1.5 ETH after 12 hours (if no one buys it) and then 1 ETH at the end of the 24 hours.
Once you've figured out how much ETH you need, it's time to get some. If you already have ETH, feel free to skip over this part. MetaMask has an option that allows you to buy ETH directly from Coinbase; you can also use my link:
Help me help you! Sign up for Coinbase using my referral code (already linked) and we both get $10!
On Coinbase, you'll be able to purchase ETH using conventional fiat methods including PayPal, Bank Account (US), and Credit/Debit Card; each has different buying times and limits, generally the longer the buying time the higher the limit.
Once you buy some ETH, tab on over in your Coinbase account to "Send" and pop in your MetaMask account address that you created in the previous step. It should start with "0x" and you can copy the address to clipboard directly from MetaMask from the dropdown menu.
Wait a little bit of time for the transaction to process and you should now see some ETH in your MetaMask account!
3. Create a CryptoKitties Account
Now, while signed into MetaMask, you can navigate to the CryptoKitties site and the Sign In page where you'll have to create an account with email address and nickname for yourself. Everyone will see your nickname! But you can change it later.
4. Purchase a CryptoKitty
The moment is here. Go back to the marketplace now and find the kitty of your dreams. Whether it's Gen 0 or Gen 18 everything is there for the taking. You can sort by Youngest (Gen 0 first), Oldest (Gen latest first), Cheapest, and Most Expensive to make things easier. Once you've found one, click "Buy" and you'll be prompted with a final confirmation page. Click "OK, buy this Kitty" to initiate the transaction.
If everything worked, then MetaMask will pop up one more confirmation screen with a bunch of numbers like Amount, Gas Limit, Gas Price, Max Transaction Fee, and Max Total. For the most part you can leave these as their default, and just make sure the "Max Total" is close to what the listed kitty price was for.
Note: Per this reddit thread, many txs can fail because other people are bidding, which will cause you to lose some Gas. Thus: look on page 5 onward for the lesser trafficked kitties, and use the current "Gas Price SafeLow (Gwei)" amount listed on ETH Gas Station to set the "Gas Price" if it is too low.
If you have enough Ether (unlike my account here), then you click the big green button to "Submit" and initiate the transaction officially on the Ethereum blockchain. If all goes well, then you did it! You are now a proud owner of a CryptoKitty.
If you are having transaction issues, follow the fix from this reddit post which entails swapping out the MetaMask node for one that is less crowded.
With a CryptoKitty in hand, you can now put it up for siring, breed it with another kitty, or just admire it and brag to your friends. Treat it well and maybe one day your kitty will be worth many more ETH.. who knows!?
The blockchain was virtually made for cats after all.
Guaranteed some white & fluffy offspring.
- CryptoKitties website
- r/CryptoKitties subreddit
- Kitty Explorer
- Reddit post helpful tips
Liked this tutorial? Any tips are greatly appreciated!