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Improving Decker Chatter
Can we make it more useful?

Regarding specifically the decker chatter system that was rolled out with others here: (https://www.sindome.org/bgbb/game-discussion/new-game-features/chatter-system-339/)

This has been out in the wild for a while now. From the jump, I want to be very clear -- we should be careful to not reveal any IC specifics about what it currently does / does not reveal past what Slither's initial post mentions, though the current implementation as I understand it at least doesn't quite reflect what was mentioned, either. Nor should we mention obviously how it's accessed, etc. -- this is IC info for a reason. I'm sure myself and others who've interacted with the mechanic are more than happy if asked to talk in more detail with staff if they wanted more detailed feedback in private, but that said --

As currently implemented, the decker chatter information is very underwhelming. A tweak could be made to the price one needs to invest which would be a nice change, but even then, profiting from brokering the info gained is very very difficult, because the information one can get is generally not particularly valuable, except in very specific hit-or-miss cases, pure luck and timing, and knowing someone who knows someone who might be the single person interested in knowing about a particular transaction. By and large the information just isn't worth paying for, and isn't worth the other factors involved in attaining it.

Not only does this just 'Feel Bad' as a player engaging with a game mechanic, it feels unthemely. My personal vision for the archetype surely might different from anyone else's or the staff's vision for them in this game, but deckers in cyberpunk have always felt like they should be the ultimate data hounds, the ones you're the most paranoid about -- possibly behind every camera when you're doing something you want forgotten, rifling through your bank account transfers, your emails, listening to your phone calls, snooping on your encrypted SIC traffic....not all of it all the time of course, but that edge of paranoia should always be there. You can beat the shit out the decker probably, but you should be worried about what data of yours they're going to break in and sell off afterward if they're good at what they do.

For them to have such a sort of 'meh' and pricey chatter pipeline feels counter to theme and I feel like every decker I've known more or less ignores it unless they have a niche circumstance.

Without offering specifics, there are a number of interesting tweaks that would give more value / leverage to those accessing the information and make those putting complete trust in the systems holding their finances safe and private a bit more paranoid, both of which would be good for the game, I think.

I don't know if this is possible or even balanced but what if you got metadata of very lengthy phone calls like, "Word on the grid is that on Sunday the number ###-#### received an incoming call that lasted approximately 67 minutes."
I think that'd be very interesting, though it only becomes workable IMO if you get both numbers. Otherwise it's just sort of like the data one can currently get, too incomplete / granular to be very useful -- you can get lucky, or perhaps piece some things together over a bit of time, but even then it's often a big stretch, and by the time you've invested time / risk / money getting what MIGHT be a small nugget of leverage-able / sell-able info, the amount you can expect to make means you'll be lucky to often break even.

I'm 100% fine with the information itself becoming much more interesting and valuable (aka buffing it, making it more 'OP'), because it can be continually tweaked -- more valuable data (say bank information we don't currently get but it'd be real rad if we could), seeing things like prog # called prog # on this date for this many minutes etc. can all be gated behind increasingly difficult skill checks, rep built over time with those involved, etc. to reflect IC investment and themely skill progression unlocking more and more information access, which fits the archetype.

It could help provide some very much needed balance, handing a couple of bargaining chips to deckers who often have few to none when drek gets rough. Maybe they now have some more paydata to shift around, blackmail with, or just sell outright to access more chyen, hiring player muscle for protection or hits.

As Slither mentioned to us, here's the public knowledge of what decker chatter can deliver:

- Personal deposits: alias, amount, time

- Personal withdrawals: alias, amount, time

- A very limited number of them per week

Here are the tweaks I believe would make it viable:

- Transfer data: both aliases, amount, time (Slither mentioned this was planned)

- Include transactions that have to do with WSB business accounts

- More (2x?) transactions returned for the same cost, to reduce the minimum final price of useful paydata

We don't need to wait for Grid 3 to help deckers. By making these small changes, we can ensure that those with the appropriate level of skill will have access to at least some actionable data now and then. They can roleplay their Grid connections and involve themselves in the info game more heavily, if they're interested in that. From a balance angle, I can already think of ways to avoid making a covert transaction too obvious, if the parties involved want to be careful and subtle. That in turn creates RP; deckers can try to piece obscured data together, or get foiled by the precautions.

--

I like ynk's "phone data" idea a lot. Similarly to bank chatter, it could be balanced by pulling a few random calls from the last week and revealing the two numbers, plus the length of the call. Again, characters who are careful will know about the vulnerability, and start using burner phones or working with intermediaries more often.

You, too, can be like every scene in a movie where the main character tosses a phone into the garbage after a call. 😁