Founders Series Provenance

The Verifiably Random Era

Not Just Random NFTs, but Random NFTs

The Founders Series marked the advent of the Chainlink VRF era in NFTs. It represents the first time NFTs were dynamically minted in a verifiably random way using Chainlink oracles. The series consisted of 500 packs of five cats each, with a random rating, and multiplier applied to each cat minted. These properties served as an early mainnet demonstration to highlight the capabilities of Chainlink VRF, and the future of the EtherCats project. They were used to distribute Noble Cats (called Bonus Cats are the time), and to settle the results of early promotions.

EtherCats was also the first project to bake the NFT properties into the token ID itself.  This pattern allows for iterative updates to metadata, since the core properties can never change thanks to the immutability of token IDs. This became of utmost importance with the roll out of the EtherCats collectible card game’s first phase where the Founders Series was updated to include a new look as playable cards.

To update the Founders Series cats, a deterministic script was published that accepted a Chainlink VRF seed generated in an ad hoc single use contract deployed on Polygon. Once a Chainlink VRF oracle replied with a random number, it was used to output a repeatable set of game symbols  in the populated metadata no matter what arbitrary informative properties were changed later. 

ERC1155 allows for baking the properties into token ID itself.

The Art

All Founders Series cats were illustrated and animated by Russian political artist Nadia Khuzina. Khuzina is best known for her viral propaganda art featuring North Korean leaders, and for her print magazine covers detailing the perpetual corruption in Brazil. Her work has featured in South Korean and mainland Chinese publications as well. In 2014 her artwork was selected by Gentlemen Magazine in South Korea ahead of Bitcoin for hot new trends of the year. A defiant believer in free speech, in 2015 she memorialized the vile Charlie Hebdo attacks with the February cover of Piaui Magazine in Brazil where the beloved Georges Wolinski’s cover work previously featured. In 2016 she founded one of the first tokenized art projects ArtBank (before the term NFT even was coined) to manage the rights of digital artists as she was consistently having her work ripped off in the global marketplace without any reasonable recourse. The well distributed white paper’s concepts were ostensibly later adopted by other projects.

Disillusioned with being too early to find success with ArtBank, and going deep into debt in doing so, it wasn’t until late 2020 that she minted her first standardized ERC721 and ERC1155 tokens as an experiment. Finally seeing her part of her dream working at scale, along with the increasing divisiveness of society, lead to her exiting all politics to focus on the positives possible in crypto. Her love of animals, especially cats, lead to her just doing what she wanted in art, instead of just what was potentially profitable. That resulted in the founding of EtherCats along with comrades from her previous efforts around the world. She created Sakura as a pilot, and within two weeks, Anurak, and Chukcha were born. With the help of her smart contract developer husband Woody, they stumbled fortuitously into a relationship with those working on the Chainlink project from his previous failures deploying early, and vastly inferior oracles on Ethereum. The pandemic, with all of its hardship, finally allowed for new relationships to both form and coalesce with people who had a similar vision for the future. These new relationships lead to the EtherCats project with its distinct, original art.

The purpose of Founders Series was to bring more people together in the world through the lens of cats. Each EtherCats character represents a culture, profession, life story, or reference to an event. It seeks to explore some of the topics rapidly becoming taboo due to political correctness or identity politics. Cats serve as the perfect device to show that while people may look different, speak different languages, and have different beliefs, that they are really not that different at all. EtherCats was founded by a diverse background of people who vote differently, but all envision the same free, fair, and prosperous future. This is the modus the cats all originate from.

The nine Founders Series cats, in order of their creation from left to right. (This poster is also an official EtherCats NFT.)

Odds

The ratings and multipliers assigned via Chainlink VRF were not linear. It was progressively tougher to achieve a higher rating, even within the ranges. While a minter had a 1 in 100 chance of scoring a cat rated 90 or higher, it was a 1 in 100,000 chance to get a perfect 100 score. To get a perfect score with the highest multiplier it was 1 in 10 million. This wasn’t probably to occur with only 2,500 cats to be minted. The biggest outlier was not the highest scoring cat (a 648 scoring Yulenka), but the 99 rated Chukcha, which was a 1 in 10,000 pull. If you would like to see the exact odds for each rating in the lookup table (which used the VRF input), please review the published contract code.

Rating Probability
90 or Higher
1%
80 to 89
2%
70 to 79
9.025%
1 to 69 (Linear)
87.975%
Multiplier Probability
8x
1%
5x
4%
3x
10%
2x
15%
1x
50%

Mints and OpenSea

The Founders Series mints took place on EtherCats.io, and were displayed on OpenSea after. It was a two stage process, with the mint function being called by the Chainlink VRF coordinator after the initial transaction. Minters had to wait, sometimes a few minutes to see their mints appear on https://opensea.io/collection/ethercats. The EtherCats project was responsible for OpenSea, and other NFT indexes making changes to accommodate dynamically created NFTs better in the future.

This is how things would have looked after minting a Founders Series pack. No game properties (added later), and just the rating, and multiplier depicted in the title.

Game Properties

After the complete sellout of the Founders Series, EtherCats was eager to make use of the ingrained upgradability possible in the Founders Series contract to showcase the future game. When the game properties were added on, the Founders Series cats assumed the look you see today. Each cat in the Hall of Fame got a special colored frame (Gold, Silver, Bronze), while every cat got their personality suit, and game properties randomly applied to it permanently. Additionally, the display of the animation of the cat switched from just a gif, to a compound image iFrame using the animation_url metadata property of the ERC1155 standard.

Current look of the Founders Series. Depicted is a 95 rated Gold Cooter inducted into the Hall of Fame (Highest Rating of Cooter).

Contracts and Github Repo

These are links to the Founders Series contract, the Polygon single use VRF contract, and the Github repository where the code is published for the creation of metadata. The contract code is verified on the scanners, and you can also transact on the scanner page by connecting your Web3 wallet. 

Founders Series Distribution

What fun would things be without data? The Founders Series was a great test of Chainlink VRF, and the data shows a completely random distribution of cats to those who minted. Nobody was able to game getting the rarest cats, as only Chainlink VRF could call the true mint function.

The chart shows how ratings dropped at key odds thresholds. The clumping is indicative of both a fair RNG, and a small sample size.

Gatinho is the rarest character in the Founders Series, while Parvati is the most common. Expectation was ~277.78.

The highest scoring cat was 648. The logarithmic chart shows there is also rarity at the bottom with Nut Low [1, 1x] cats.

Baked Value

The Founders Series was minted during a time of extremely high gas. Many minters spent over 0.07 in gas per pack, and every single mint burned 2 Link for the VRF fee. Each cat is in effect ‘wrapped’ in the gas, Link, and fee used to mint them. Please keep this in mind when looking at floor values of cats on the secondary market.

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