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Deckers Working Together

This thought is not really all that fully fledged but I was thinking that it would be awesome if multiple deckers could attack a node together. The idea is that several less skilled deckers could hack their way into a node that none of them could manage alone. Same for securing a node.

I think that this would encourage deckers to seek each other out and work together a bit more. I had the thought when thinking about how gangers will gang up on someone.

I am not sure how this might look like but here are an idea:

When you start cracking the node you are asked to enter a cracking code. This field would come pre-populated with an unused, random string of characters. If you are going solo, you just click 'Crack It!' and go on. If you are trying to team up with other deckers you send them the cracking code and they enter it when they start cracking.

As long as everyone starts cracking using the same code before X seconds, they get to pool their resources. The decker who starts cracking first takes the lead and his stat/skill gets used as a base. Each additional cracker gets to add a portion of their stat/skill to the effort (possibly limited by their systems skill).

If, all together, they manage to overcome the nodes security, the lead decker gets the edit screen while the others just get a message stating that the cracking was successful and offering them the chance to enter a code to aid in the securing of the node.

Then the lead decker clicks save, he is given a code that he can pass to the other deckers. If they enter that code and click help within X seconds, they get to contribute to the securing effort just like during cracking.

To be honest, I am sure there are better ways to accomplish the broad goal but that was the best I could come up with myself.

That seems like a lot of work for very little reward. It would also mean that well secured nodes could be taken down by a couple of immys working together. Seems both unrealistic and unbalancing.

Might be more work than an IRS worth. I couldn't say. Nothing stops veteran Decker's from working together to better serve their nodes though. Finally those immie deckers would be a bit more useful to have around...

Well, that's the point. You'd now need to also add the same functionality to securing a node. Functionality which, as described, is tedious to use, immersion breaking, and balance upsetting.

But that doesn't change the fact that it doesn't make any sense from an in character or a balance perspective. Computer security isn't an additive process. It's a skill based process. Deckers have plenty of things to do working together without allowing them to make 'super secure nodes that takes 10 hackers to crack'.

But I understand the desire to give deckers more to do together. Let's see what comes to mind...

If security systems were represented by nodes that you could crack, and you could then take over/see through/spoof/temporally disable the system, hackers would have a lot more things to do, but then Node security would need to be rethought in order to make it more than just a personal space for you to advertise on. I think the way to balance this would be to limit access once in to some very limited time. Long enough to key open a door or see the feed from the camera. One command, followed by a long cooloff period. And, of course, active defenses. Doing so should come at a great risk to your health and legal status.

This would make deckers a key part of any clandestine operation and sought after by people to secure their nodes.

I like the idea of two or more Deckers working together to find information out or have a better chance getting into something.

I thought of it last year and would like to see something implemented.

However, I am with Shin to some degree.

A bunch of immys who aren't good nor bright enough, compared to a professional intellectual, the bonus given unlikely would be enough to get in somewhere.

But, take a few pros, and wonders can happen.

Or even a few amateurs against something not highly secured, it would be interesting. Plus the chance of the trail being led back to you would be higher.

I'd like to see something like Hackers down the road. OP has a good idea.

https://youtu.be/8wXBe2jTdx4

To be honest, I agree that my suggested implementation is pretty clunky. Thing is I'm really not the best person to decide how this might work in the game. It's the idea that matters to me. Making it so that multiple deckers could work together to secure or crack nodes would be pretty cool in my opinion. I can already envision veteran deckers looking to recruit immy deckers to their cyber-squad. Why teach the new guy all your tricks? Because he can directly contribute to you being awesome! As I said before, I have no idea what it would take to implement something like this and it might not be worth it in the end...

I get it, but what I'm saying is making security additive isn't a good mechanic.

Making nodes useful? Making them sought after? Making them functional beyond advertising and integrated with the real world? Making them dangerous and time consuming? Making security on them cared about by the average joe because their physical security relies upon it? Would accomplish the goal of making hackers need to work together and be sought after without introducing clunky, unbalancing mechanics that require a hoarde of immys to overcome.

On the idea of making nodes useful so that there would be a motive for this to work, maybe some personal info or maybe, like, a list of the StreetTerms from you accessed the grid most recently, and at what times.

I myself can think of a few ways the list of StreetTerms from which the person accessed the Grid would be additive, but what do I know? I'm still new here.

some personal info or maybe, like, a list of the StreetTerms from you accessed the grid most recently, and at what times.

My suggestion was for something 'useful'. Namely security systems. One of those said security systems could contain personal information. Like the city records.

You see if you limit it to something trivial, like 'personal information' or 'request logs', there's still no reason for urgency. Or visiting it again later. Or any number of other mechanics that could be enabled by making them useful.

Did you not like the idea of deckers being able to tie into camera systems, ala Reservoir Dogs? And if so, why not?

I think we all agree that giving nodes more use would be a great idea. Link that security camera to a node to give your official security guy access from anywhere, but open it up for a Decker to hack in and give the camera a feedback loop of moving crowds, allowing anyone to move about unseen! Hook up all your doors to DoorNode.net for reasons, whoops, you now have a list of retinal codes for said door at your disposal if you break it! That type of thing.

I also agree that group hacking and security would be neato burrito, but I have no idea how to do that well in-game.

I totally agree. It would be awesome if deckers could access more. Cameras, microphones, grid accounts, kiosks, employment terminals, elevators, all kinds of fun stuff. I don't think that any of this means that deckers shouldn't be able to work together...

There's nothing stopping deckers from working together, at least in groups of two, already.

I recently had an idea on how my original idea might be streamlined:

Add a command like 'assist PLAYER' that a decker can use if they have access to a terminal capable of editing nodes and is logged into that terminal somehow. When the player enters the command, the player specified is given a little pop-up message in the game like "XXXX would like to assist you in your decking efforts, do you want to accept?"

If they say yes, then a SMALL portion of the assisting deckers cracking and programming skill is added as a bonus (possibly modified based on their systems skill). If they say no, then the decker who wanted to help is given some kind of message indicating that they are unable to assist. Several deckers will be able to assist the same decker with each granting a small bonus to cracking and programming.

As long as a decker is assisting another decker, they can not use the grid like they usually would. Whenever they try, they are given a screen reminding them that they are putting their efforts into assisting decker XXXX. However, while assisting a decker they will receive messages in game indicating what they assisted decker is up to. Messages like "You notice on your LiteTerm that XXXXX has accessed/edited/saved YYYY Node" and the like.

Any decker can stop helping by typing stop assisting. The decker being assisted can reject all assistance currently being rendered. Should an assisting decker lose access to their term, they stop assisting and will have to enter the "assist PLAYER" command again. Should an assisted decker lose access to their term they lose all assistance and will have to wait for the other deckers to offer them their assistance again. All work done will appear to have been done by the assisted decker.

I think you all get the point!

This is still largely pointless because, as it is, the grid is under utilized and there's not a whole lot of point in breaking into any node possible, other than screwing with people. Which is a merit on it's own, but hardly worth the effort in coding.

There is no point in making decking easier for any group of people without making decking worth doing more than it is.

Stygian, All good points. It's also good to know that deckers already can help each other. I'm curious to see where the whole decking side of the game ends up!

Can doesn't mean anyone does it. The way I'm thinking of is very convoluted and would require quite a bit of planning. It would be easier for two established characters to get into the method than it would be for two characters who start out with the skills,,, for example, probably.

Hey Shin,

My suggestion was for something 'useful'. Namely security systems. One of those said security systems could contain personal information. Like the city records.

What makes you think some of this stuff isn't already around? ;)

I am pretty sure some of it would be.

@cnodell

I like that "Assist Player" idea. No, not sure how to implement it.

It's a good clarification and additional info re: your earlier post.

I cannot speak for deckers, the grid, data stores, etc.

What I'm saying is that as far as I know? The way into those things doesn't involve the grid. I know my security system never had a grid presence. Or if it did? I was not aware of it. I've never heard of a hacker being hired to break into a door or turn the cameras off or anything like that. And maybe I'm just in the dark about these things, but I'm pretty sure that you cannot, presently, manipulate a security system without being physically present at it, and if you're physically present at it you've overcome ALL the security and you have access to everything.

There are always exceptions to this rule. And there are ways for hackers to manipulate security systems. But you have to visit it in person, first.

I should clarify that presently security systems have a massive physical exploit that allows 'hackers' to control them if they are the first to gain physical access to them. This is permanent, undoable by anyone, gives them total control, and locks out every other hacker forever... even the system owner. The only defense to this right now is to physically secure your security system... which was almost never done during the initial building phase. Once a hacker gets near your system, you may as well throw it away. There is no repairing it.

As a result, the majority of the systems are controlled by a tiny handful of 'opportunists script kiddies' who basically control the majority of building security, largely unknown to everyone. This is both highly unrealistic and entirely unthemely, and it would never happen in this world, but it has because of a feature of the way security systems were coded.

What I'm suggesting is to open up these opportunities to not just one player who may be long dead who happened to figure out the exploit first. Make them skill based. Make them part of the grid. Make them securable too. Make them dangerous to attempt. Make it against the law and traceable by Judges.

What you're describing doesn't sound like anything I know about, ShinMojo. And it doesn't sound like the intended design, so, instead of treating this like IC gospel and like intended game design, why don't you put what you're talking about into a @note or an email and we'll look at it.

It's also possible that you simply have perceptions which don't match coded, IC, and themeful reality, which happens a lot on XOOC and the BGBB, so, reader beware.

Yes, please take it all with a grain of gossip-salt. I'm speculating based on experience, not speaking for the code.

Email sent with details.

Recevied and reviewed.

Yep, what you described is a thing which can be done.

I'll leave it to others to decide how seriously to take your inventory of compromised systems.

Paranoia will destroy ya :)

The consequences of such a compromise, too.

So to recap: Security systems are physically insecure, and to what degree they have been compromised is something that should make you second guess your safety. If my original post gave the impression that all systems were compromised, then I apologize, but the number is almost certainly non-zero.

One idea to fix this problem, and give deckers more to do, and make security systems a bigger part of the game, and make it so deckers could work together would be to eliminate the physical configuration. So, here's how I would approach that.

Start with devices. Give each a unique address. Make all the code go through the address lookup when talking to devices. Populate the table of existing devices with their addresses. Replace all the devices with their present addresses so everything works the way it does now. Now if a device address changes, the security system will need to be reconfigured. Make it so a devices address can change.

Add a menu based configuration system, similar to how employment terminals work. Allow -authorized- users to add and remove devices by address (not by the device itself, but by the address of the device which CAN change!). Remove the scan/unscan verbs entirely, replace it with the menu. Make them also able to modify the address, and the device password from the menu system. Prevent access to the menu system without a password.

Now with these two changes, all that we've done is make signal routing address based and addresses are tied to devices, and we've made that routing configurable through a menu interface instead of the scan/unscan verbs. So far, nothing really has changed, except that you can tie two devices together without them both physically being in the same room if you know one of those devices addresses.

Next, make a deck. Allow a decker using a deck to type in the address of a device to access. Prompt them for the password. Upon success, give them access to the menu. This works even when you are not in the same room as the device, making the deck the security expert's critical tool.

Now you can configure a device even when your not in the same room as it, IF and ONLY IF you know the device's address, password, and own a deck. Now deckers can work from home after the initial setup, but will still need to be on site for a compromise.

Now for the fun part!

Buy a firewall. (We will assume for game balance reasons that these are one time use items.) Install it on your device via the deck (the only way to install a firewall on a device is with a deck). Type in the address of the device, and select install firewall.

Buy ICE (also can only be installed once). Install it on the firewall of the device. Type in the address of the device, and select install ICE (does not work without a firewall). Do a skill check to see how good the ICE is.

Buy a virus (one time use). Attack the device. No firewall? A password spoofer virus is cheap and effective. Firewall? What virus you want will depend on what ICE they have installed. Start with a scanner, see what their firewall looks like. They have Safe? Run Drill. They have a SeeingEye? Run Inviz. Your skill check will be checked against the installers skill check to see if they bypass the ICE. If they do, it's one less thing in the firewall to bypass. If they don't, they run a risk of alarming. Make this a timed operation before your 'caught'. Make how long before your caught a function of your skill over the firewall installers skill.

Upon knocking down all the ICE in the firewall, run a skill check to see how long you get access for; Anywhere from a few seconds to hours.

Fail a skill check along the way? Take damage!

Finally... Upon gaining unauthorized access to the system, allow them to modify the configuration -temporarily- in an overlay setting. They could, for instance, route a hub to their own workbench, which would allow them to their workbench for the duration of the hack. When the timer runs out, the 'normal' configuration is restored.

Here's what I like about this.

First of all, it makes deckers relevant. Highly relevant. They would be required to effectively set up a building's security system and maintain it on an ongoing basis.

Secondly, it would close the massive exploit in existing security systems (at least ones that were properly protected, and I assume that the corps would have protected theirs by now having had them for so long).

Third, it would give deckers new roles, create new highly sought after items for trading, and new ways to secure systems.

Fourth, it opens up new opportunities for creativity in terms of ways of securing and attacking systems, depending on the rules of the game. Maybe you don't care so much about your camera feed, but you'll be damned if they can get access to your door, so that's where all your ICE goes. Conversely, maybe you don't have to get access to his door if you can see inside the place to accomplish your mission.

Fifth, it fits entirely within the theme, within the game, within text, without building all new systems, utilizing the existing code and infrastructure that's already built out, and without really changing much about how things work today. It's just an enhancement to security systems. That's all.

Sixth, it's very easy to balance. There's so many points of balance, starting with the addresses. Don't know a devices address? You can't even start to hack it. Period. You'll need a security scanner device for that (which are also in the game) just to get it's current address. And when it's discovered that the address has been compromised, it can be changed by it's rightful owner. Then the ICE of varying configurations and needing to buy viruses. And then there's the configuration of the firewall itself with the ICE. There could be passive ICE which isn't seen but alerts the authorities on a failed skill check. Or broadcasts a public SIC. Or just straight up doubles the damage of the active ICE. There's also 'deck armor'. The list of possibilities is limitless.

Seventh, it can be implemented in phases. Start with device address routing. Make that work so security systems work exactly the way they do now with addresses that can change. Then add the configuration menu that replaces scan/unscan, add changing of device address and password, and remove the scan/unscan verbs. Next, make the deck, give it the ability to invoke the menu remotely via the address. So far so good. Next up is firewall and ICE and overlay configurations. Make those work but bypassed via physical configuration, so deckers can be broken but security systems and installs still work. Get that working right. Once you've got basic hacking done, add more software and more software features; Active ICE. Passive ICE. Deck armor. Firewall scanners. Release these into the economy. Watch people scramble to become the hottest decker. Corp sec and hacking groups is the obvious start, but where does it end?

Finally... it gives deckers a reason to work together which seems to be what people are hungry for (albeit for very little gain in some cases). You can only be cracking/configuring one system at a time... a time consuming and potentially deadly task. Having someone else work on another part of the system could be invaluable, and it does't require any clunky, unrealistic mechanics.

In Cyberpunk, deckers should be feared the same as street sams, if not more so. I think this would be a great start on the road to that.

I'm fresh-faced af and don't know much about the current system, but the post above got me all excited for decking. +++

That all sounds awesome ShinMojo. I would happily give up the web based grid to get half of what you mentioned. I would also love to see other things added to it. Imagine bank accounts being protected/vulnerable in the same way (Banks would probably want to hire skilled deckers to protect their accounts holders and wealthy account holders might chose to manage the security themselves). Car/AVs too. All kinds of fun stuff....

I also like the whole timing bit and how it would encourage decker's to work together. I, the best decker in Withmore can easily override all the systems that need overridden in an hour - too bad we only have 30 minutes! Lots of potential!