Friday, 26 September 2014

An Old Mystery Solved

Back when Glitch was a game, there were some rare items that were hard to get and worth a lot of currants. Among the rarest of all was the SB-1 Musicblock.

There were a few items that were quite difficult to get or that were only given out at a particular time or as part of a specific event. The SB-1 Musicblock, according to the developers, was not one of these items. There was an action in the game that could result in getting one of these musicblocks, but they wouldn't tell us what it was. Despite that, the only people who had ever received these blocks received them from the developers as gifts. No one had ever found one in the wild, or if they did no one had ever come forward to say it.

Today I decided to do a quick search of the now Creative Commons licensed glitch code to see what we missed. The speculation of one of my Glitch compatriots was right, it had to do with tree patches.

Tree patches were not things that people commonly interacted with because most of the time there were trees on them. A tree patch could have a tree planted on it, but then as long as the tree was not extremely neglected or intentionally poisoned that tree would last forever. If a tree did die then the patch had to be watered and tended and then a new tree could be planted, but then generally it would not be watered or tended again for a long time.

There was an achievement called Paul Bunions for clearing 1009 dead trees. To get that you were going to have to kill a lot of trees and then presumably replant them, which would involve a tending a patch once. Also, everyone who had trees on their home streets tended those patches once. Unfortunately Tom C's great glitchium site disappeared with the game so I can't look up the final number of glitchen who got Paul Bunions, nor can I check how many trees there were on home streets, but I seem to recall that Paul Bunions was in the 20-50 range and trees on home streets I would guess were in the 10k-20k range.

Adding another few thousand on for the trees in the world plus another ten or twenty thousand for replants by people who were not achievement hunting - including the terrible Spice-Gas wars in Ix, I would think that the total number of times anyone ever tended a patch in the lifetime of Glitch was probably around one hundred thousand, but I would be surprised if it was two.

But the box could only appear if the tender had Soil Appreciation 5. Soil Appreciation was a very bad skill that had almost no effect on your play, and it took 20 hours to learn, so there is a very good chance that a large number of those tends happened without it. Presumably most of the ones that went into Paul Bunions achievements had it, but a lot of incidental ones that filled the world and many of the home street ones wouldn't have.

So what were the odds of getting an SB-1 block. Well, when you took an action there was a drop chance, and if you got the drop you rolled on a drop table. Drop chances were expressed as whole percentages and drop tables rolled 1 to 100. But obviously if there was a 1 in 100 chance of the drop we would have seen it.

The trick is that while drop tables only had 100 possible rolls, the result could be another drop table. So every time you tended with Soil Appreciation 5 there was a 10 percent chance you got a drop from the soil_appreciation_large table. If you rolled 100 on that table you got a drop from the musicblocks_brown table. On that table there was a 1 in 100 chance you got the SB-1. That's a one in one-hundred-thousand for every tend action.

Ultimately it's entirely believable that this item just never dropped, but the game developers weren't lying to us when they said it was out there to be found. If the game had become a big hit with millions of players there would have been some of these around.

I found that when I was going for Paul Bunions I could poison, chop down, and replant about 6 trees a minute. That meant spending about 1800 currants a minute on poison and beans. Generally the best you could do for generating resources was about 30 per second, so that's another 1800 a minute. That's a total of about 600 currants per tend if you were aggressively going after them. Each tend had a 10% chance to roll on the drop table which averaged about 250 currants of value, so we'll call it 575 currants per tend. At 100,000 tends per SB-1, that would put the value of an SB-1 at about 57.5 million currants.

They weren't worth that much in the game, but people weren't working for them. Maybe between Children of Ur and Eleven we'll one day have people hunting for that big score.

No comments:

Post a Comment