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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#18
I think it would be nice, if the automatic hacking would actually be simulated by putting two imperfect chess AI type things against each other. It would make more errors less CPU is assinged, and so get you "true" results.
In space, no one will hear you scream. #262626
I've never played a space sim. Ever.
Vos estis tan limes.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#19
MrPerson wrote:This is one of those times that I don't feel smart enough to be here :oops:
Nah, you're falling for a verbal smokescreen tactic. The elaborate post boils down to "I want hacking in the game. And I want it in the form of a silly turn-based boardgame that has nothing to do with the core gameplay".
I think it would be nice, if the automatic hacking would actually be simulated by putting two imperfect chess AI type things against each other. It would make more errors less CPU is assinged, and so get you "true" results.
And that would differ where from simply "rolling dice", based on comparative system strength? Do you want to review the game between the two AIs? This has to be the single most assbackwards way of establishing whether there is a "hacked" state or not.

Again, I'm rather lukewarm on the topic of hacking itself - the result either takes away control from the player (the big no-no in any action based game) or screws with the core gameplay. We're not talking about the stuff that hacking is regularly used for, which is information gathering/denial. We're talking about magically getting your guns to blow your own ships up or shutting down vital systems, which is more along the lines of "AI mindfuck". It reeks of gamebreaking balancing issues, core gameplay deviation and, in the suggested implementation, UI problems up the wazoo.

I'm supposed to be a spaceship jockey, with options of controlling a larger fleet through subordinates and/or a homeworld style RTS interface. This assumes direct control of my own ship, with all that this entices, and also assumes that I have my "hands on the wheel", so to speak, when the manure hits the ventilation units.
Inserting a turn-based game with a UI wholly disconnected from the stuff I'm supposed to do during combat (and combat it is, because the desired results make no sense out of it) is asking for trouble. Not to mention the issues on the follow-through - how the *bleep* am I supposed to aim a hacked turret?

This stuff could work in a turn-based 4x game. Where I would probably be more willing to play a turn-based subgame ("Yo, dawg, I heard you like turn based strategy games..."). Where it wouldn't screw up the gameplay 27 ways to Sunday. But in an action game? I don't think so...
The suggestion of a pausable mode for the RTS game in that specialized case makes sense - it's a crutch for the player, since he, as opposed to the CPU, is limited to giving out one order at a time, so I'd approve of that.

Automating the hacking makes the subgame superfluous. Let's face it, once I hit the "Let's hack this shi...p"-button, I'm not really too concerned whether the AI's play a game of dice or if they waste 45% of my CPU output on recreating the battle of Stalingrad using the Advanced Squad Leader rules to determine the outcome. It's a bit like dealing with Schroedinger's Box: You pop it open and hope Kitty is still alive, and give a flying hoot about wave functions.

I get the feeling someone here had a nifty (up to discussion, really...) idea for a boardgame, and wants to shoehorn it into LT under the pretense of another game mechanic. Well, how about "No thanks, but please, make that a separate game of your own"? It might have it's merits as a separate game, but as a mechanic in a game that stresses action and streamlined UI, it simply fails.

I'm open to discussing the merits of hacking. Or the lack thereof. I'm unwilling to waste anymore time on the implementation of silly boardgames under the pretense of being a useable gameplay mechanic.


EDIT:

For DWMagus, with love: Image
Hardenberg was my name
And Terra was my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#20
I think the concept of hacking is an interesting one. I would have no problem employing a weapon that would allow you to hack an opponent's ship and have them fight on your behalf - or simply be immobilised - when they become in range; in fact I think this would enable some interesting reputational mechanics, because if you wanted to you could defeat opponents without killing them.

There are many potential implementation options, too. I quite like the idea that you could "fire" it like a gun. In this concept, you would have a hacking reticle, similar to that for scanning, and to hack an opponent you need to keep them in your reticle for a set period of time. The size of the reticle would determine how long you need to keep them targeted, such that you can hack very quickly with a really small reticle; otherwise you'd need to keep them targeted longer. The key point is that whilst "hacking" you can't fire other guns - and perhaps there's a CPU drain - such that you're vulnerable. The more I think about this, the more I like it.

With regards to Thymine's original post, I would say that once more it's a well presented and phenomenally detailed proposal. Congrats man, and I daren't ask how long this one took! Like others, however, it feels like a stand-alone game more than something that belongs in LT right now. I think Hardenberg's main objection - that it would simply be too jarring a change of style - is valid. If you think about the pace of Freelancer, this would be so different... I just don't see it. Making it optional is clearly one way to handle these objections, but to make it truly optional there can't be any benefit from using it - otherwise it's not optional! In other words, people that play the hacking mini-game would be doing so for the love of it.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#21
Hardenberg wrote:*Angry-sounding snip*
Sounds correct. I read about how hacking actually works, and came up with this:
  • You create a "virus". This is done by researching different modules, and combining them to create the function you want: i.e. "Reactor" and "Modify" would modify the reactor's parametres, either to shut it down, or to blow it up.
  • You send the "virus". (Any way is possible)
  • The virus hijacks the victim's systems for a short time dependant of your virus's stealth (more it actually does, less time it'll work) and the victim's anti-virus system (stock, power defined by CPU).
  • After the time, the virus will be destroyed, and the victim is immune to it, until the data is removed.
  • Actions made by the virus can be balanced by stealth; shutting down the reactor should be for a way shorter time than merely distrupting sensors
  • The modules would be inputted as pairs. One of them is a system, and the other one is the action.
The actions could be as follows:
Modify - Changes parametres.
Control - Do an action with the system. Also used as the jamming, because it takes control away from the victim.
Send - Sends you data about/from the system.

There would be four attributes to every action:
Speed - Self-explanatory.
Stealth - See the third dot.
Accuracy - How accurately the action can do it's task.
Modifiability - How much you can modify the virus on the field.

Then there are the base parametres, that you can modify up to the modifiability level.

How do you like it? It's complex enough, simple enough, has no minigame, supports strategic, tactical and unintrested playstyles, and can fit in with the current systems.
In space, no one will hear you scream. #262626
I've never played a space sim. Ever.
Vos estis tan limes.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#22
Definitely a more palatable approach.

The defense/duration paradigm needs a bit of work, though. There needs to be a way of shutting down the virus before it actually can do harm, and EWAR should be prevented from outright destroying ships or components. Jam them until the cows come home, maybe, but not "Pop goes the fusion core".
Maybe modify the chance of success of the virus by the severity of the payload. Getting your comms to emit a signal every X time units (thereby acting as a beacon) should be easier than forcing your main weapon batteries shut down, with properly set up defenses eradicating an infection before it can be detrimental.

Another question would be what kind of modules would be required in order to initiate EWAR. There needs to be an intrinsic defense, like armor/shields, to prevent EWAR becoming the be-all, end-all solution for overcoming enemies, and there needs to be a module requirement in order to initiate EWAR (yes, this favors the defender. Yes, that's intentional.), so that you just don't start spewing virii everywhere and see what sticks.
At this point, one might also want to consider effect-specific EWAR modules as opposed to an all-purpose "virus cannon", thereby forcing specialization. Unsure on the payload, too, as making it ammunition-based feels odd at best, while making it unlimited again invites spamming it everywhere for good measure.
Hardenberg was my name
And Terra was my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#23
Behemoth wrote:
Hardenberg wrote:*Angry-sounding snip*
Sounds correct. I read about how hacking actually works, and came up with this:

[...]

How do you like it? It's complex enough, simple enough, has no minigame, supports strategic, tactical and unintrested playstyles, and can fit in with the current systems.
It sounds pretty good. But how exactly does it support strategic, tactical and uninterested playstyles?

Also, I kind of like the idea of minigames. What I want in hacking gameplay is a kind of cerebral clash-of-minds between me and the AI. My proposal allows for that, but I think its main problem is that it's too time-consuming. If there was a simpler minigame that pitted my mind against the AI, allowed for the possibility of upgrades (to make it easier for me or an AI to win even if neither us get any smarter) and was faster to play, that'd be good for me.

With your system, designing/crafting programs seems like it could be quite fun, but the actual hacking gameplay itself feels a bit basic, for my own taste at least. Like, I want there to be some kind of challenge in it, beyond just delivery of the virus.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#24
ThymineC wrote:
Behemoth wrote:*snip*
It sounds pretty good. But how exactly does it support strategic, tactical and uninterested playstyles?

Also, I kinda like the idea of minigames [...]

With your system, designing/crafting programs seems like it could be quite fun, but the actual hacking gameplay itself feels a bit basic, for my own taste at least. Like, I want there to be some kind of challenge in it, beyond just delivery of the virus.
This was specifically desinged to have no minigame. For the playstyles, I thought about it only for a second. Is it so, that strategic, tactical and unintrested can be summed up as Prepare, Adapt and Protect? If so, a strategic would scout and change programs (limited arsenal) accordingly, a tactic would invest in modifiability, and change the programs on the fly, and the uninterested would crank the protection up to lessen the effect.
Hardengberg wrote:The defense/duration paradigm needs a bit of work, though. There needs to be a way of shutting down the virus before it actually can do harm

The effects could not be instant, and take some time. If the anti-virus would be faster than the effect, no effect would ever happen. Blowing up the reactor (we could just outright remove the ability unless the reactor would be heavily damaged) would be really slow, and would only be effective while your opponent would have no CPU to the anti-virus. It's essentially the "fail probability = payload severity" system, with some modifications to allow for continuous effects like seeing sensor input.

Also, seeing what sticks isn't a viable strategy, because they're single use per ship ;)

P.S. I think, that the base values should be defined when making the virus, and in the system module. Tiny change, that makes the system much less problematic.
In space, no one will hear you scream. #262626
I've never played a space sim. Ever.
Vos estis tan limes.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#25
I think it's reasonable that hacking be one of the few / only real "minigames" in the game. The reason being that I don't know how you would make a "real" version of it without forcing the player to become extremely proficient in computer software. Scanner outputs are easy enough for the layman to learn to understand. Research, production, construction, management, piloting, etc...all easy enough to understand. Hacking? This is something that, in reality, the average gamer is not going to be able to understand. It's also something that, in reality, would probably be fairly boring - it's likely that hacking would be an instantaneous "access gained" or "failed" thing, unlikely that it would take time or that there would be any real mystery to it.

If someone wants to try to design a "real" hacking subsystem, e.g. having some kind of unix-like terminal and having to write / run programs, try to gain shell access on the enemy ship, search for OS vulnerabilities, deploy exploits, etc....feel free :) I'd love to read a design doc for that, but I have a feeling it would be rather difficult to make it approachable for the general gaming population. Just a feeling though!

So that being said, I think this discussion should be framed in terms of "it's ok for this to be a minigame." :)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#26
I agree with what Hardenberg and others have said, and I've thought of a better, much less time-consuming, less mini-gamey way of hacking, based on ideas presented here and elsewhere.

I'm just doing the necessary research and making some stuff to present before I post about it. I will say one thing, though: Fourier transforms.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#28
JoshParnell wrote:I think it's reasonable that hacking be one of the few / only real "minigames" in the game. The reason being that I don't know how you would make a "real" version of it without forcing the player to become extremely proficient in computer software. Scanner outputs are easy enough for the layman to learn to understand. Research, production, construction, management, piloting, etc...all easy enough to understand. Hacking? This is something that, in reality, the average gamer is not going to be able to understand. It's also something that, in reality, would probably be fairly boring - it's likely that hacking would be an instantaneous "access gained" or "failed" thing, unlikely that it would take time or that there would be any real mystery to it.

If someone wants to try to design a "real" hacking subsystem, e.g. having some kind of unix-like terminal and having to write / run programs, try to gain shell access on the enemy ship, search for OS vulnerabilities, deploy exploits, etc....feel free :) I'd love to read a design doc for that, but I have a feeling it would be rather difficult to make it approachable for the general gaming population. Just a feeling though!

So that being said, I think this discussion should be framed in terms of "it's ok for this to be a minigame." :)
Doing "real" hacking would make the mechanic unusable for roughly 90% of the players, and I doubt that it'd be fun for the majority of the people who actually could pull it off. I agree that it needs a stand-in, but I'm unsure on the minigame approach.
The issue stands - anything resembling a minigame makes you unable to control your ship at the same time. This alone is slightly problematic. It becomes a rather big issue when you realize that all of the suggested applications for hacking only make sense in a combat situation. You're basically becoming a sitting duck in order to apply a debuff. Depending on the minigame used, this may or may not be feasible.

A minigame would have to scale to accommodate different levels of offense vs defense. It would have to be rather quick, as a live-fire battlefield isn't the hottest place to be sitting around and playing subgames. And, of course, it needs to produce a clear win/loss state, since there's an effect attached to it.

Cue the dreaded "Quick Time Event". Which gets shoved in your face each and every time the AI attempts to hack you. "Press cancel to have control taken away from you now. Press okay to have control taken away from your ship while you attempt to avoid having control taken away from you."

Doesn't fly, really. Either we limit hacking to non-combat approaches (in which case you have all the time in the world to play a minigame), or we get rid of the minigame in favor of playing the "real" game in a combat situation.

Or, of course, we ditch hacking completely. By now, I'm very much in favor of this approach. I just can't see this minigame business work in a combat situation unless only the player can initiate hacking attempts (which IMHO would go against the spirit of the game). Maybe we'd be better off using EWAR modules and rolling dice to see whether they work. Hell, coming from Freelancer, it'd probably be sufficient to implement missile countermeasures and call it a day.
Hardenberg was my name
And Terra was my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#29
I'm not with Hardzilla in advocating abandoning the concept entirely. I'm too fond of the idea of non-lethal takedowns and the reputational implications of that mechanic. But I would make a strong recommendation that any minigame is not part of the ship-piloting part of LT.

It feels like there is scope for a something akin to what I suggested above, or what Behemoth suggested, such that hacking can exist. Stopping, mid combat, really doesn't feel right however. That would have seriously broken Freelancer, and I believe it would do the same here. Of course, I await to see what Thymine is going to come up with this time... :geek:

That said, a minigame that you can play when docked in a station or on a planet, is a different matter. As Hardenberg says, when stationary, all is feasible. And given the importance of information in the LT world, it doesn't seem unreasonable to suggest computer theft as being a reasonable gameplay choice. The real trick then will be to make the game fun to play.
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Re: An Investigation Into Hacking

#30
We're already talking about something that would exist outside the scope of LT 1.0, so why not go ahead and introduce crew mechanic as well. Yes, if you're a single fighter pilot, you're either not going to be hacking mid-combat, or you've got quite a pair :shock: That's how it would be in reality, too.

Now if you're on a corvette and above, anything with multiple crewmen, then when you're hacking you're not going to be in the pilot's chair. You'll be at a computer console and someone else will be doing the flying.

So I don't think the whole "it interrupts piloting" argument is really a valid concern. Yes, if we were talking about Freelancer or LT 1.0, but no, not if we put it in the scope in which it would really exist :) And while crew mechanics are not a certainty for LT 1.0, they would certainly be in 2.0 :monkey:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford

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