Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reverse Engineering: Stacks or Singles?

Many sleen were harmed in the creation of this post.
One of the most persistent questions with reverse engineering is whether it is advantageous to reverse engineer biochem consumables as singles or as stacks.

Some insist that one at a time is the only way to go. Some claim that stacking in 5s is the magic number. Others that it doesn't matter. A few claim that any stack gives a significant benefit. Still more threads give several answers at once. And then there are the many many many many (I can keep going for a while) threads of general confusion.

The difficulty is that reverse engineering is pretty crazy random. Just about everyone has a story about that one schematic it took FOREVER to discover (looking at you, Endowment Nano-Optic Resolve System...), or the one they discovered instantly. Each schematic can only be discovered once, and it isn't clear whether different schematics have different discovery rates, so no one character can easily discover the general trend.

To get a handle on the problem someone would need to learn biochem, craft an item, reverse engineer it in varying stack sizes until a discovery was made, and then drop biochem. Repeatedly.

Which is clearly insane.

...awkward pause...

Over the past few days I learned biochem, crafted Compact Medpacks, reverse engineered them in varying stack sizes until a discovery was made, and then dropped biochem. I did this 75 times.* I used stack sizes of 1, 2, and 5 medpacks.

The results are below:

Stack Size: 1 2 5
REs per discovery: 5.17 2.57 1.53
Items per discovery 5.17 5.14 7.63
N 42 14 19

Larger stacks led to fewer stacks per discovery, but more items used. While it took just over 5 RE attempts of single stacks to discover a schematic, it took me only 1.5 RE attempts of stacks of 5 to get a discovery. The downside: using large stacks consumed more items - in stacks of 5, it took approximately 2.5 more items per discovery.**

The benefit to REing in stacks is that it saves time. The downside is that it'll take (on average) a couple more items to gain the discovery. In a stack, if one item grants a discovery, any items after that item are essentially wasted.

I'm pretty amused by this result. Whether in stacks or singles, it takes about the same time to gain a discovery. Any way you like it, that's an efficient way to learn it.

*Well, I did this 106 times... but apparently there is a bug (feature?) where if someone else crafts the Medpacks for you, there is no chance of a RE discovery. I found this out after ~1500 medpacks were crafted and RE'd. (insert angry grumble here)
** For the stat nerd crew: the differences in means here are statistically significant.

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