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Apartment Info Hack
let hackers get info from doors

As part of a discussion on OOC-Chat about figuring out who lives at a place, I proposed allowing hackers the ability to hack a door for info.

This could be in the form of the SIC ID of the person who rented the place or the person who last paid rent.

What does the community think about this?

I think it's a great idea to give deckers some more coded support.
Makes sense to me. The doors already seem to register the SICID of whoever rents the places.
Does it have a cooldown?

Does it have a chance to notify people that it's highly illegal?

If requiring a physical item, does it have a limited amount of uses?

Does it require in-person or can it be done at a distance? If done at a distance (or both), is there a counteract against it to trace back whose tracing you?

Can you use a hacker to protect against the person trying to find out who's renting a place?

A trace busta busta?

(Edited by Johnny at 11:20 am on 10/18/2022)

I think it's pretty cool as a feature, am a big fan of the data game. But I also see people moving more if there isn't a way to counter it (at a cost), which might impact staff members needing to move club memberships and permapads, etc.
I didn't watch the whole clip, but yes effectively a way to trace who's tracing you. The current in-game means of tracing someone has its limitations, some longterm and two recently introduced to prevent abuse and spamming.

If a tool, an ability to identify who owns which apartment through coded means is introduced, I think it's important for balance - since it'd be more powerful in some ways than current tracing abilities - to have a way to try to counteract it (similar to how deckers prevent other deckers from trying to touch their nodes) and to also possibly either trace back who is trying to trace you (since the information is so specific and pointed) or to jam the attempt.

Encourages people to camp outside apartments more. Which has been brought up as an issue IC in the past and discouraged because people would complain when it happened. I know because I'm familiar with the act and try to avoid it as much as I can so people actually leave it once in a while. It's not too difficult to figure out where someone lives by employing the right tactics that already exist in the game.
I'm thinking the hacker needs to be present to pull this trick off. Not sure what physical item we could leverage for it. We've had combo door breaker lockpick devices before, but those were abusable as originally coded and were removed and never replaced. Besides, we're not doing combo busting yet -- that will have to wait for B&E defenses. Maybe its some kind of hacked together door scanner that burns out after a few uses.
If this gets implemented, I imagine there'd be an increase in people using proxies to rent apartments, which iirc means they wouldn't be able to redecorate or have an apartment be their membership pad.

I am supportive of this idea. I do agree that there should be a number of caveats / safe guards / gates built into the process.

This should not work at cube hotels where characters pay by the day.

The character pulling the SICid info should be have to be physically at the door.

An expensive (~50Kc +) device should be required to do this.

The process should require multiple skills. For example, Secure Tech + Cracking.

Rather than inventing a whole new system for this, I believe that the vehicle alarm / theft system could be repurposed more or less as is.

"More secure" apartments should require more difficult skill checks akin to the way vehicle security systems come in multiple grades.

A failed check (akin to a vehicle alarm trigger) should leave obvious tracks. By obvious I mean that it shows something in the room that the door is connected to. I feel like expecting a character to check / look at the door every time they go through it is too much of a burden. Perhaps the notification can be evident INSIDE the apartment.

A failed check should produce some sort of audible alarm that can be perceived at least a few rooms away. I think that a PubSIC broadcast like vehicle alarms is too much in this case. A middleground between PubSIC broadcast and local notification to the room itself would be good.

A failed check could take a picture of the "attacker". Maybe the picture feature is only available on "upgraded" doors.

Limitations would help with balance, and the idea of it burning out after a few is consistent with other tools in the game, e.g. hotwiring kits having limited users.

I think there's a risk that limitations could make it not worth doing, based on others.

Right now certain other tools with similar capabilities only give you an approximate location and the restrictions and costs are extremely high - it's incredibly expensive, requires a high level of skill (made less accessible now that high end skillsofts take a long time to load), and comes with consequences for using it more than a limited number of times. On top of that, the limited chances you get could fail for numerous reasons, make it pretty much not worth the expense. I can't really go into specifics without revealing IC data, but suffice to say this similar tool has limitations that render it pretty much usless (to my knowledge, there may be things I don't know about).

This new door checking tool would potentially be even more powerful, since it confirms an exact location where the other one is very vague, and you'd want to have some reason to suspect a particular apartment as ICly, there would be millions to pick from in the mix. Maybe similar consequences, skills and restrictions to the other tool would balance it, but then it risks having the same fate of not really being worth the investment.

I love the idea of giving people more options and ways to counter it though, as it creates a nice game of scissors, paper, rock.

A potential solution could be a way to give mf's misinformation - an identity spoofer, or potentially tapping into SIC rips which could encourage more ripper doc work.

There absolutely should be a significant cooldown on the device.

Once a week should be the most frequently it can be used. Every other week might be even better.

The risk to mitigate here is characters strolling through apartments and building a database of everyone living there.

I would also like to see some sort of link to CnC and the bounty system. Make this a high risk activity. If the attacker fails a check that results in a photo being taken (see previous post), then that data should be transmitted to CnC. Make it a 25Kc or higher bounty.

I am not in favour of this.

It has the potential to encourage people to stay closer to their home to defend it, keep an eye on it or otherwise stay inside to either stave off would-be hackers or to avoid potential ambushes if their home is compromised.

Or it encourages characters to bounce between locations to avoid this kind of thing.

This sort of thing also encourages more interaction with a system in favour of RP'ing or investigating. It also cheapens and devalues this type of RP in favour of a skill check and a tool.

If this is implemented it needs some seriously considered counterplay that does not mean having a door guard idling ready to cut up any would-be door hacker. Or having a character that has ploughed everything into the related skills to completely dominate this system flow. We have that with a few systems and it complete sucks for anyone trying to enter into it.

Dislike this idea, it just seems like a lazy and hands-off way getting a trove of data on every PC in the game by simply doing it at the odd hours of the night when no one is awake to notice you. Which I suppose is on theme for Deckers, but incredibly boring and lame from a player standpoint. As eggsaresides pointed out, you can already get this info with a little effort and way more actual rp involved.

The whole idea feels gamey and I don't really see what it brings to the table rp or story wise versus staking out an apartment, bribing people, setting up camera, or whatever else one can do to get the same info.

I agree Deckers and/or Electricians need more things to do, but I don't foresee this being a healthy addition for player retention or conflict, honestly. I mean, sure, everyone will date the decker and they would likely get a lot of conflict, but beyond that, what does it add for the rest of the playerbase?

Will hate the decker*.
A few issues

- If the information SIC information is based on who last paid rent, membership pads may have an unfair advantage as they can potentially game the info to be on a long-gone SIC chip that gives no forthcoming information, as their membership lasts for months without needing to constantly update rent

- There'd need to be some countermeasure to people just going around and doing this to every door in the game. There are already people who go around to every door in the game to check rent status for a plethora of (sort of gamey) reasons.

- As already brought up, there is an item in the game that can track people down with relevant skills that may give information that may help one confer where a targeted person lives. This item has some extreme drawbacks and is very difficult to find, almost to the point where there's no point of even possessing one anymore.

- Apartments cost a prohibitive amount of money if you are not paying for a club membership. If more offensive measures are put forth against apartments, I think the price needs to be dramatically reduced, and more apartment buildings should be introduced to the map.

Why not start small and have this only targeting cubes for now? A device that gleans information of who rented what rooms from a cube kiosk in the past few hours. Would be an invaluable forensics tool. Could possibly cause any hotel NPCs to become hostile, or call the relevant authorities, as well.

My concerns lie in the realm of hyper skill focus types. A tech with baller stats can't be beaten AFAIK. Ex. Can't remove cams if the baddest PC tech in the city rigged it up.

How do we avoid this happening? Is there a point when a character's skill is so great that they just beat the automated system?

I'd also like to see a variety of options for defense measures. Cams that can snap a photo if triggered, electrical traps ala vehicles, auto turrets, an EMP, concussive blast (potentially knocking someone out. Hope the tenant isn't home).

A number of these defenses should be able to destroy the device. All of these mentioned for example, except the photo snapper. Chance of destro varies dependant on the item.

EMP or Electrical surge? Good chance you wave goodbye to your 50k. Concussive? May or may not.

There have been a lot of good points raised and concerns brought up.

@batko mentioned it here and @DiamondNine brought it up in xooc. There is already a device that tracks people. It has a cool down. It has downsides. I had that device in mind when I made my suggestions about cooldowns and limiting it's use to 2-4 times a month at max.

@Kalii and others have brought the idea of "needing" a door guard to mitigate people gleaning SICid info from apartment doors.

That seems like an RP opportunity to me, not a drawback. (sarcasm incoming) What if there were factions, that taxed people, in exchange for protection? What if, they actually offered some sort of protection?

There is already a coded system in the game right now that attaches SICids to publicly available things. There is also a mechanism in place to obscure or otherwise alter that data. Given that the code / system is already there, it could be repurposed to obscure SICids on apartment doors.

Feels like it erodes some anonymity protections against smallworlding where every PC is. Players with the time to camp on someone's door already have a pretty huge advantage, feels like this would keep people inside more than bring them out.
In short, make it a high risk, high reward task akin to B&E as it is now. If it's implemented at all.

And I would also start a rumor mill in advance of this being released, and start displaying defensive measures ahead of time, so players can seek protection before hand.

@RachetEffect

My suggestion to enforce a device cooldown so that a character cannot get info from more than 2-4 apartments per month goes a long way to mitigating your concern, and most others.

Twice a month = 24 times a year. Versus how many apartments? Versus how many characters?

I like the idea of device damage / destruction.

To reiterate my previous point, most of these issues can already be "solved" by working with the existing vehicle alarm code.

I guess I don't see the need for it if it only gets so few uses/x timeframe. There are much faster ways to aquire this kind of data that can still involve RP.
If this is part of a larger scope to slip coded B&E into the game, I would just reiterate that losing everything while offline is like the most archaic feature of old text games and I think it would be a mistake to implement that kind of thing in this decade. It killed other games.

It might also encourage rich characters to hoard multiple defendable backup apartments, which is already kind of an issue.

I'm really not into the idea of coded B&E, but it seems it's been decided already. No choice but to live with it.

There have been threads about it though, and I believe part of those conversations included not being able to break in when a player isn't online. Hopefully that's being implemented in the upcoming feature add.

Back to the topic though.

The more I think about this, the less I approve. If someone is willing to (potentially) spend hours camping a place, I think that's an entirely fair price to pay to get one person's location.

Or you could engage in social RP and doesn't the data with guile and finesse. I think adding this feature would hinder RP more than help it. Effectively turning the potential for social engineering, maneuvering, and general engagement into little more than a numbers game.

Well, I can see rich Mixers renting apartments in Green and stashing their hoard there, if B&E becomes a thing. Or they'd buy a lot of safes and store everything in their safes.
Or refusing to log off and using macro to automatically close the door when it pops open.
I mean my issues with offline B and E are more that it would make someone more paranoid OOC, it would make bleed more of an issue in my mind for those that would be the victim of it. Meaning, thus already losing would not walk away from the game, cause at that point there would be no safe spots.
I haven't seen anyone mention B&E.

The proposal is to be able to query the door to figure out who paid the rent.

Everything I've read about B&E in the past is that everyone agrees is it is a bad idea and a bridge too far.

Johnny literally mentions B&E defenses, Hek. You can reference his post above. That's why people started talking about B&E again.
@crashdown

Perception is a funny thing. This seems like a glass half full / half empty.

I read Johnny's post and see a tacit acknowledgement that combo breaking devices (eg B&E tools) were broken and removed from the game. I also read an explicitly negative statement that states "combo busting" (B&E) is NOT happening.

We've had combo door breaker lockpick devices before, but those were abusable as originally coded and were removed and never replaced. Besides, we're not doing combo busting yet -- that will have to wait for B&E defenses.

It is happening, Hek, it's just not happening until defenses are coded. That's the full context of the post.
@batko

To be fair, the Grid upgrade is happening too.

I'll let future Hek worry about B&E on the same time line that future Hek worries about the Grid upgrade. (In other words, when it becomes more than a statement in a BgBB post on a tangentially related topic.)

Fair enough, honestly.
This was the previous discussion on B&E. I think it would be fair to say that Johnny is a vocal advocate for B&E mechanics and that Slither is generally opposed.

Pads right now exist in a sort of quasi-limbo between OOC and IC, in some regards they're tied to players and some regards to characters. There's nothing inherently wrong with looking up property records as a mechanic in isolation, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to be able to get true idents on characters renting a place when they often never provided any of that information to begin with, and may live in places that would never ask for it.