Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:28 am
While I love the depth in this thread, i'm not sure how practical some of these ideas are CPU wise. You're looking at a different way of playing that all the AI need to have an understanding of as well, and frankly the complexity of some of these would be difficult for many people, let alone hundreds of AI on a 2.5GHz processor (remember, LT is supposed to work on older computers as well).
That said, I do like the concept of Passwords, Firewalls, tracing, and trojans, and have my own simplified suggestion.
Monitor & Tracing
Tracing is actually tracing is actually the simplest of my suggestions. Once a hacking attempt is detected a timer begins, when it his 0, you learn the name of who is hacking you. The more advanced your monitor is, the less time it takes. A low end monitor may take 5 minutes, while a very high end one may take 5 seconds.
Monitors are also very simple, they detect trojans. How well they detect them is described in the section on trojans.
Passwords are not actually passwords, but instead are a random 6 digit number between 000,001 and 999,999 (the player can of course pick their passwords). Password crackers start with a random # and simply go through this range of numbers in ascending or descending order. Remember that information is physical in LT, so every password cracker is a physical object. We can give these crackers an market ID by using the number the cracker starts with and whether it goes in ascending or descending order (1,999,998 variations). Example A123456 or D234567. The number it starts on is chosen at random upon creation.
Password crackers can be improved upon in 2 ways: speed, and how many numbers they can go through before being detected by a monitor. Some crackers can only go through 10 numbers a second while others can go through 1000, and if you research long enough, you can get one that goes through all 999,999 in a single second. The other is also self explanatory in that it can guess at a given number of passwords before it is detected. Any given basic password cracker is worth just as much as any other, but it's these 2 modifications which determines the market value of a cracker.
Naming conventions for human readers would also be simple, just put the speed and evasion numbers in the name to get things like A567890-350-25010. This makes it plain that the cracker starts at #567890, goes through the range at 350 numbers/second in an ascending order and wont be detected by a monitor for the first 25,000 tries (~70 seconds). Does 47 minutes of trying to crack a password sound fun? no. So just throw 2, 3, 10, 100 different crackers at a given password to increase your speed. This is also really easy to generalize for LOD. For memory's sake it's probably wise to simply make the password the same for all password protected data the owner has rather than giving a unique password to every piece of information, passwords would just need to change every so often (or when breached). The AI would password protect any information they deem important. The question remains though, why not password protect all your information? simple, if it's password protected, you can't give it away until you remove the password.
But before you get to the password at all, you need to get through any Firewalls. And after the password, you might have to deal with Encryption.
Firewalls & Encryption
Firewalls work in a similar fashion to passwords. Firewalls are just 4 digits of the alphabet, going from AAAA-ZZZZ (456,976 combinations). Firewalls are tied to each AI and their assets, it is a basic property of the way the Engine handles an NPC AI. Every player gets a random Firewall combo upon creation, and it sticks with them until it's breached and information is hacked, then a new random one is assigned to them. As long as they have not put their information in public like on the market, it remains within their firewall. If they sell their information, it goes into the new owner's firewall. Encryption is exactly like a firewall, except it is an Object which can be attached to a piece of information.
Firewall breachers also function much like Password crackers in that they are just a key to that firewall lock. Firewall breachers are created with a single random combo that they can unlock. They don't become more powerful with research, instead they become less likely to break...But first how are they improved?
Unlike password crackers, which become better with research, breakers become more powerful with work. Remember how LT creates workers to do labor more effectively and efficiently? Well breachers are a kind of labor that "hackers" can work on. When you put hackers to work, you slowly expand your breacher's combo.
For Example, your hackers work on your breacher [G/D/N/J], they can expand 1,2,3, or all 4 digits (with decreasing likelihood). Lets say they expand 2 digits by 1, your breacher is now [G/D:E/N/I:J]. Meaning you can not only get into GDNJ, but also GENJ and GDNI. Now your hackers expand 3 digits by 2, so your breacher is now [G:I/D:E/M:O/I:L]. You can now breach HEOK and IDNL and all the other combinations. The better your hackers, the more likely they can expand all 4 digits and the more likely they will expand it by greater amounts. With a bunch of high quality hackers, you can rapidly expand the breacher to [A:Z/A:Z/A:Z/A:Z] and get into any and all firewalls.
But back to the research making them less likely to break. If breachers can't break, it wont take long for a whole bunch of people to get ones that can get into any firewall. So, every time you attempt to use a breacher, there is a chance that it's range will decrease... Going back to the example above, if you use your [G:I/D:E/M:O/I:L] breacher, and you don't get in, it could shrink to [G:I/D:E/M:O/I:K], you just lost the ability to get into any firewall where the last digit is L. If of course the range of any of your 4 digits is eliminated, the whole thing becomes junk. Research makes this less likely to happen.
Breachers experience a high likelihood of breaking if you try to use it and none of the combinations fit, but even if you do get in, they may still break. Research is straight forward, You can harden a random digit individually, you can harden all digits to a lesser degree against a wrong entry, and you can research all digits to a lesser degree against a correct entry. What will result is still a breacher that begins with a random combination that needs extensive work to be statistically useful, but a hardened breacher will allow you many more attempts at breaching someone's firewall before it breaks.
Regarding Breachers and Encryption, since they are both objects with a random combo, until you put hackers to work on the object or attach it to a piece of information, they are the exact same thing.
Trojans are like encryption, in that they are an object which you attach to a piece of information. What they do is rather simple. They negate the firewall, and also have a chance to negate the password, they even have a miniscule chance of negating encryption. To use a trojan, simply attach it to a piece of information and give that information to someone else. Unless the trojan is discovered, you have no need to use encryption against that NPC, if they hand that information to someone else, the same rule applies. Research on trojans affects the chance it will negate the password, the chance it will negate encrypted information, and the chance of discovery. The first two are self-explanatory, but discovery chance is a bit different.
Trojans are by their nature a game of cat and mouse. Every time a trojan changes ownership, it has a chance of being discovered, if it isn't discovered now, it may be discovered later. Research on trojans begins with a 50% chance of discovery, and is ideally lowered to as close to 0% as possible. Monitors simply multiply that % until you get to 100.
Example, if you own 0 monitors, you will never detect a trojan (Be safe, wear a condom). If you own 1 monitor, then your chance of discovering a trojan is the % chance it was researched to. If you have 2 monitors, and the trojan has a 50% chance of discovery, you have a 100% chance of discovering it. if 10%, you have a 20% chance. If you have 12 monitors, and the trojan has 2.5% chance, you have a 30% chance of discovering it. if you have 100 monitors, you'll discover all but the very best trojans. As i said, it faces a chance of discovery when it first comes into your possession, but the same equation is run every time you acquire a new monitor.
What happens when you discover a trojan, well it deletes the piece of information, and tells you who attached it to that piece of information with the same %chance as the number of monitors you have, and will always tell you who gave you that infected information. Making / transferring trojans is a risky business, because it can piss off the rich and powerful. It also adds a new danger to any would-be information brokers... Just handing off infected information will get the person mad at you, even if you didn't create it, or knew it existed.
It's a lot of words to explain a simple idea: Static 4-letter-combo lock is your firewall - Behind that is a 6 digit password for all important info - Behind that is a 4-letter-combo attachable encryption for any very important info. ||Trojans negate firewalls and possibly passwords, monitors detect trojans.
Challenging your assumptions is good for your health, good for your business, and good for your future. Stay skeptical but never undervalue the importance of a new and unfamiliar perspective.
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