The Legend of Korok: Breath of the Orcastraw

Of all the streamers I follow on Twitch, my favorite by far is Orcastraw (Kaitlyn). She maintains an amazing community of chill, accepting people, and has the most positive (and well-moderated) Twitch chat I’ve ever seen. She first came to my attention when she was the first to run Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at Games Done Quick, and she had the BotW Any% world record for around a month shortly after that (and even a year later her record-setting run is still 6th place overall). Her attitude is what even got me interested in watching Twitch regularly, running my own occasional stream, and even becoming more confident in my own gender presentation. Basically, she’s pretty neat and is worth watching if you’re into this sort of thing.

Recently she started making streaming her main source of income, meaning that her livelihood depends primarily on viewer donations. As part of her September donation drive, she offered an incentive: at the $250 mark she would do an all-Koroks run of BotW.

Koroks in a deku-nutshell

BotW has a number of Koroks scattered around the world; in-game lore is that these are the descendents of the Kokiri (the forest children who raised Link in Ocarina of Time). More notably for our purposes, each Korok is part of a scavenger hunt involving various puzzles (some physics-based, some pattern-matching, some simply being a race against a clock or a game of hide-and-seek). The nominal purpose for finding them is that collecting their seeds will (indirectly) grow your inventory slots; to fully expand your inventory you need 441 seeds. This alone is a slog.

However, there are actually 900 of them.

And you get a special prize for collecting them all.

(Spoiler: it isn’t very good.)

Anyway, all-Koroks as a speedrun category is mostly a joke; as of this writing, only one person has finished an official run (which requires doing it in a single segment per speedrun community standards), with an in-game time of 22 hours, 41 minutes. The main appeal to the run is that you get to see pretty much all of the BotW map, showing off a lot of locations most people never see during a casual playthrough of the game. It also covers the vast majority of what constitutes a 100% run (at least in terms of travel time), which also hasn’t gotten much attention simply because it’s such a major undertaking (especially given the single-segment requirement).

Just as a point of comparison, the current world record for 100% is about 5 hours longer than the world record for All Koroks, which is missing a lot of stuff that’s in 100%.

(Unfortunately there is no category that is basically 100% minus All Koroks, so it’s not easy to determine how much the Koroks themselves directly contribute to the length of 100%. Also, confusingly enough there’s actually a few things that don’t count towards a 100% run, and the in-game measure for one important part of 100% includes Koroks. I’m not sure there’s even a meaningful way to quantify what “100% except Koroks” would even entail.)

Armchair statisticians

I didn’t happen to catch the start of the run, and tuned in at around 2 hours. There was a bit of a slow start, but everyone in chat was trying to estimate how long the run would take anyway. Kaitlyn expected it would take around 34 hours.

At around the 4 hour mark I started manually computing estimates based on seed count and time, and at about 4:30 someone made a joke about using a spreadsheet.

So I did.

Every now and then I would record the timestamp of a seed and how many seeds had been collected. I experimented with a few different metrics based on this, and eventually settled on doing an ongoing time estimate based on the seed rate and the number of seeds remaining.

The first part of the All-Koroks run is a bit of a slog (well, relative to the rest of the run, which is also a slog). The very beginning (the plateau) has no seeds at all until you reach a certain point in the game, and your travel speed is pretty limited.

However, one of the things you can do in BotW is collect recipes for potions which give you stat boosts. Some ingredients can increase your speed considerably and other ingredients can increase the duration of the status effect.

One of the best potion ingredients for that is a piece of a dragon’s horn, which makes its status buff last for 30 minutes.

There are three dragons in the world, and one of them (Farosh) can be easily farmed once you find his morning spawn point.

At the 5:11 mark, Kaitlyn found Farosh, with 112 seeds.

At 6:03 she finished farming dragon horns and collected another two seeds before she found a place she could brew potions.

At 6:11 (after cooking a lot of potion – much more than she needed, as it turned out, but she was still going based on an estimate of 34 hours) she now had pretty much a permanent speed increase that would boost her speed for the rest of the run.

From this point forward I tracked two stats for the time estimate: momentary seed rate (an estimate based on the last few seed timestamps with the window size varying by how much attention I was paying to the stream) and the post-Farosh seed rate (the actual seeds per hour starting at 6:03; in retrospect I should have started this at 6:11 but with around 800 seeds to go at this point it didn’t make much difference anyway).

I also tried getting a confidence interval based on standard deviations and so on but the high variance in seed rates made this pretty much useless; not only were there many points of very low seed rates before and during the Farosh farming, but there were a few extremely high seed rates later on.

Some general statistics

I didn’t watch the entire run (and frankly I don’t know how she managed to do the entire run – even in a two segments since she didn’t intend it for a leaderboard submission anyway) so I can only speak to parts of the run.

As said above, in the pre-Farosh part of the game, the general seed rate was 10 per hour (i.e. one every 6 minutes or so).

The area of the map with the highest density, and thus the highest momentary seed rate, is Hyrule Castle (the site of the climactic final boss fight, which is not a part of this run). During this section the pace gets highly variable but can end up peaking at over 200 per hour due to several in close proximity; even the sustained rate for this section is around 80 per hour.

Most of the run (or at least the parts I was watching) sees a sustained rate of around 35/hour, with a few peaks and valleys. East Akkala (the final area) had another Hyrule Castle-like rate spike.

Throughout most of the run the time to last seed kept on trending downwards; for much of it I was estimating a total run time of around 33 hours, but towards the end the estimate (based on the average of the momentary rate and the post-Farosh average rate) was converging on 30:54, with a sustained rate of 31.64. Those last 20 seeds were a source of quite a lot of fervent chat activity, let me tell you!

And then she grabbed seed 899 at 30:52:29, and realized… she’d missed one.

Somewhere.

And she hadn’t been keeping records of how many she was collecting in which areas.

So, the next chunk of time was taken up by her going through the in-game map with a fine-toothed comb (complicated by Korok locations only being shown when zoomed in, and the map is huge) until she finally found the missing seed. An hour later. All she could say was, “I’m so mad.”

Anyway, the final time for getting the last seed was 31:53:55, for an overall post-Farosh rate of 30.42/hour, and an all-game rate of 28.21/hour. This still beat her estimates by a few hours!

And her final time for getting the golden turd Hestu’s gift was 32:08:04; most of those last 15 minutes were spent redeeming seeds for expansions, with a couple of minutes spent traveling to Hestu.

Worth it…?

World record pace

So, having done all these statistics, I got really curious about that 22:41 world record by LittleDrummer7 (note that page is missing a link to the first video segment). Unfortunately, his early-run splits only show completion of Hyrule Castle (at 2:02) and for “selle achéonique” at 5:02 which I assume is acquiring the ancient saddle (which is another item which helps out with some early-game speed, although as I understand it is obsoleted by the dragon-horn/potion farming soon after; at the very least, Orcastraw never rode her horse after getting the speed potions). I filled in a few data points by finding a few Koroks before and after the Farosh farming, which he did at around 5:30 (with 159 seeds, considerably more than Orcastraw had at that point).

Fortunately, he maintained splits for every 100 seeds past 200, so we can easily recover the overall pace after that point.

Time stamp Seed count Seeds/hour Pace time
5:07:30 148 28.88 31:09:56
5:50:55 160 16.58 50:28:17
7:07:28 200 28.10 32:03:36
9:28:10 300 42.64 23:32:22
11:54:00 400 41.14 24:03:10
14:12:23 500 43.36 23:25:55
16:12:35 600 49.92 22:13:11
18:05:10 700 53.29 21:50:20
19:48:27 800 58.09 21:31:44
22:25:18 900 38.25 22:25:18

And he received Hestu’s gift at 22:41:24 (his reaction: “never again”).

So, his overall rate (for the entire run, including the low-rate periods such as Plateau and farming dragon parts) was around 40 seeds per hour, and his sustained peak was 58 per hour (that’s about one every minute!) for seeds 700-800. Even the slow pre-Farosh sections sustained a rate that nearly matched Orcastraw’s sustained post-Farosh rate, and his post-Farosh rate was 44.65 seeds/hour – that’s one seed every 80.1 seconds, on average. Wow!

Also it bears noting that this was all done in a single, long, endurance segment. Which he trained for ahead of time and did a lot of route planning on. For some reason.

Conclusion

Speed runners really are something else.

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