Tari Labs, the company that works on digitizing assets on the blockchain and deveoping a Mimble Wimble sidechain for Monero (among many other interesting projects), has made an offer no bitcoiner can refuse: you play a game of Ms. Pac-Man (retitled Ms. Fluffy as a way of showing some Valentine’s Day love to Riccardo “Fluffy Pony” Spagni‘s wife), you pay close attention to the Easter eggs, and you may just unlock a wallet which contains 0.25 BTC (at press time, about $900).
As part of a Valentine’s Day campaign, Tari has announced on their Twitter account that the unfortunate ones who don’t have a significant other can compensate their emotional void with a game of Ms. Fluffy. At first glance, there’s nothing much to this casual gaming experience: you click the pink heart on the bottom right side of the Tari webpage and then enjoy some ghost dodging and white pill eating.
— Tari (@tari) February 14, 2019
The 1980s arcade experience also contains some really witty references: Ms. Fluffy must run away from the four nasty ghosts named “Roger. Ver”, “Jihan. Wu”, “Craig. Wright”, and “Dan. Larimer”. Also, the regular in-game fruits that give you extra points are replaced with cryptocurrency logos: XRP (which actually takes away 100 points from your score), BTC, Grin, XMR, and the Tari logo.
Another nice touch can be discovered when you eat the hearts and momentarily disable any of the four ghosts: they turn into a Lightning bolt until the moment they respawn in their central place.
Tari Labs is always looking for talented contributors, but this week we’re raising the bar.
We’re only reading resumes that include your Easter egg high score.
— Tari Labs (@tari_labs) February 14, 2019
There’s more to Ms. Fluffy than meets the eye
For starters, a little Twitter stalking will help you discover that Tari Labs is really serious about this little game of Ms. Pac-Man. The company is currently hiring professionals to fill 11 positions, ranging from marketing to engineering and design. And in order for the candidates to be eligible for the jobs they apply for, they are asked to add to their resumes a screenshot of their Ms. Fluffy high score. It’s a mandatory criterion that must be fulfilled throughout the week.
But aside from this organizational detail, the simplistic game includes some cheats and ultimately reveals a BTC bounty. The more you play, the more messages you discover – and when you figure something out and it looks a lot like a BTC public key, you will realize that there is a really nice bounty involved.
— Captain Snow (@caylesharrock) February 15, 2019
The secret can be found in one of the six different messages that get displayed on screen when you press the “B” key during the level. If you want to skip to the next stage to find another message or clue, you don’t have to eat all the pills – instead, you just press the “M” key and you’re all set for a cheating advancement. Given these requirements, it’s recommended that you play the game on your desktop computer or laptop (it’s also available on mobile, but you won’t be able to access these cheats).
Furthermore, if you want to treat the game itself a little more unfairly and see where the ghosts are going, add “/#cheat_mspac” the the URL (which is https://www.tari.com/pacman/). It’s very useful if you want to make a new high score and brag to the other players on Twitter.
🚨 CONTEST ALERT 🚨
The highest score from today’s Valentine’s Day Easter egg wins a boating trip with @fluffypony.
— Tari (@tari) February 14, 2019
The Tari account has suggested that the highest score wins a boating trip with Riccardo “Fluffy Pony” Spagni. However, it’s more likely that the other detail about bringing your private keys is more relevant for revealing the true intentions of this game of Ms. Pac-Man: as you’re about to discover, in-game messages lead you to a wallet where 0.25 BTC are deposited as bounty.
Get the 0.25 BTC!
The following part of the article is the result of more than 10 hours of gameplay and cryptographic key experimentation. If you manage to outsmart me and find a way to access the bitcoins, then please be kind and send a portion of the 0.25 BTC bounty to 3AoyUxdUJ2KAqrL86D6T5GwcW8omwUdV38. Without the data provided in this article, it’s very unlikely that you would have found about this challenge anyway.
There's a game to play, and a puzzle that has BTC in it, go go go! https://t.co/ypPIOErBu2
— Riccardo Spagni (@fluffypony) February 14, 2019
The funny, weird, and useful in-game Easter Eggs
If you press the “B” key during level one, a chat window will be revealed to you. It’s a rather amusing way in which Riccardo “Fluffy Pony” Spagni pokes fun at the newbies who constantly ask questions that can be found in FAQs, the scammers and bots who infiltrate public chat conversations, and Craig S. Wright’s inability to code. You can also find a possible hint which suggests that in two weeks time, the “next puzzle” will get published. From the very beginning, Ms. Fluffy looks exciting.
What you have to do next is press “M” and get to the next level (you will definitely have to get used to this pattern in order to collect all clues).
The second level strikes you with some MS-DOS geekiness which reminds us that most Tari engineers have been around during the 1980s and early 1990s, when operating systems were all about boring command lines. Some nice Easter Eggs include the presence of KQ3 (most likely King’s Quest 3, a 1986 video game by Sierra) and Wing Commander 3 (a space simulator from 1994).
However, there are two major details to pay attention to: one is essential in order to discover the BTC public key, while the other is momentarily speculative until it’s confirmed. Notice the presence of three files which are strangely dated from 1970 and aren’t part of any directories: user.txt, sys.com, and password.txt. Later on, you will discover the content that hides inside these files, so you can get to the 0.25 BTC bounty.
Something else to pay attention to is the listed serial number of this fictional DOS-based operating system:1833-B2DF-104A-D48B-90A0-11BF. This looks a lot like an ECDSA private key, but it’s shorter. You may try to sweep in a wallet like Electrum or Blockchain.info and add the 0x prefix, but it doesn’t work. At this point, it’s very likely that this private key is incomplete (or we’re dealing with a PGP signature that I wasn’t able to understand).
The third level contains a weird mocking of a personal check for an advertisement. It mentions $57.30 and how the amount covers three insertions of the text in the “Seeking Position” department. This is most likely a piece of information that’s meant to serve new applicants for the open positions within Tari, as it proves attention to details and the ability to look beneath the surface.
I like to speculate that the text itself might also be the message that needs to be verified in order to get access to the 0.25 BTC. But after multiple attempts, I’ve given up and I’m publishing my findings – maybe that somebody else will pick up the data and try something that I haven’t thought of (and possibly contact me to share the bounty).
“Mature, experienced software analyst available. Bug installation a proven speciality. ‘No version too clean.’ Familiar with DOS, AGI and SCI.”
Moving on, the message that you can find in the fourth level is the BTC public key itself. By taking the data bits and arranging them in the order suggested by the last three files described in the second level, you will be able to put together this public key: 1tAR19sbXLUkXhjZFMaRUxp5saDwERixQ. Check it on a block explorer and you will see that the 0.25 BTC bounty is still there and waiting for someone smart to grab it.
The fact that the “ls” command is used as a bad command in this DOS version is just a reminder that modern programmers who work with Linux terminals don’t instantly figure out that what they really want to type is “dir”. There’s no school like the old school, and nostalgia is strong in this Tari Labs game.
The next two levels include more cryptic hints that I wasn’t able to decipher. Maybe it’s the reason why I ended up writing an article about the bounty instead of describing how I seized the BTC treasure.
Anyway, the level five Easter Egg reveals a table containing the revenues from twelve cities, by month. Should you pick up the data from San Jose (line 14) and February just because this is a Valentine’s Day game? Does this data help in any way in our quest of finding the private key which grants access to the BTC? Well, I’ve tried for too many hours and wasted every possibility that I could think of. It might be something unrelated that was thrown in just for fun, or the key to the treasure chest.
The last Easter Egg contains a graph with no description. It’s really unclear what it’s meant to represent, but at least we can see that it’s going to the moon. Some folks may find this brilliant and the missing piece to the private key, while others will simply ignore it because they know better. I know that I’ve wasted a lot of time staring at it and trying to make sense out of it, and failed miserably. The reason why it’s added is because this is a guide that is meant to help you get the treasure.
From this point on, all hints just keep on repeating. This might just be everything you need to know in order to get to those bitcoins. And since you got to this point of reading and didn’t need to spend hours experimenting with the game, you might as well enjoy a few levels of Ms. Fuffy.
Who knows, maybe Tari Labs has made a serious announcement about the highest scorer winning a boat trip with Fluffy Pony. However, given the evident presence of a nice amount of BTC, it’s unlikely that such an initiative will happen. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t deter you from getting the highest score that you can and showing off to everyone else on Twitter.
Note: this is not an endorsement for Tari Labs, or any kind of paid advertisement. It’s an honest presentation of data that can be found in a genuine (and gimmicky) bounty game.
If you manage to seize the BTC, please consider rewarding my time and effort to collect the hints. Now please excuse me, I’ll most likely spend the rest of the weekend playing some Pac-Man.