Author Topic: Hacking: the new front in the AI War  (Read 1049 times)

Offline Captain Jack

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Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« on: September 12, 2016, 03:54:08 PM »
I've been rolling this in my mind for a while and the "Proposal: remove metal" thread is clearly not the place for this. Hacking as a resource works great, but considering that the enemy in AI War is a digital entity the current system is... limited. Small in scope.

What if you cancel a wave you weren't ready for, turn a CPA into a regular wave or prevent reinforcements to a sector? Destroying special structures on a planet is great, but what if you could turn off the AI's omniscience and force them to scout the way you do? The current hacking functions may or may not return. Expanding your choice of bonus ships could come back, but if the way ships are handed out changes then the mechanic should as well.

As for how to handle the act of hacking there's this:

I think what I'd like to do is actually include a secondary battle layer to the AI where you can actually see kind of a holographic view of the AI's systems and then mess with them.  I'm actually even MORE tempted to make it a command-line interface because that makes it feel waaaay more hacker-y.  But also possibly a lot less accessible.

... The command line interface is what excites me the most as a way to do this, but I'm not sure how others feel about it.  It's the most flexible by far.

Heck, we actually could probably build in some simply query language type stuff where the programmer-oriented type folks could run some automated checks against various data they have scouted, and plan strategies based on that sort of thing.
I think I like this a lot. It shouldn't be purely command line though; it's the future and we can hack like it. And even if we do stick with the command line, providing a UI to let players script-kiddy wouldn't be hard. We can expand the available commands as you collect relevant logs, find derelicts and advance minor faction plots.

We'd have to decide what your hacking resources are. Chris suggested crystal which has merits, or it could be a reward for destroying co-processors/other structures, or we could keep the current system. What do you think?

(And yes, I recognize the irony of suggesting a huge mechanics overhaul when I've been so against several others. My justification here is that we have a fallback system for if this doesn't work)

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2016, 04:09:02 PM »
I'm found of CLI / hacker simulator. I completely support this idea.

For the gameplay, I would like to list the candidates for hacking-driven stuff.
* Scout / distant intel gathering
* AI's ship designs: download / corrupt (Maybe no more ingame design backup servers??)
* intel / modification for waves, CPA, reinforcement, exos, etc. (change time + or -, change destination, etc)
* ??

Instead of an actual digital battleground (dam I hate Shadowrun's hacking (the video game)), I would rather like to keep it as a metaphor, just like in our real world. There is no "virtual space" with holographic ships fighting holographic turrets with holographic handguns. I truly hate this vision of hacking.

I see that "digital battleground" as a collection of AI servers accessible by investing enough "computing power" or "deciphering time" on, gaining temporary access to them for download, corruption, data gathering on AI planets (scout), listing of planned waves/CPA/reinforcement, their timing, composition, and "discretely" changing stuff.

For instance, I see there is a wave programmed on the "wave" server. I can invest deciphering "resource" to gain data on it: time, target, composition (all text data). Then I could choose to modify something: remove the leading starship, change the destination, change the time for earlier or latter, etc (commands in CLI), but if I do a lot of them, the AI will have more chances of spotting me, kicking me out, and I would need to reinvest deciphering time/resource for regaining access to that server.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline kasnavada

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2016, 04:09:41 PM »
I'd like to point out skrutsch's answer to this.

https://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,19089.msg207175.html#msg207175

Sums up my feeling, more or less.
I agree that hacking needs reworking. Not sure if it's not too big of a scope.

Offline x4000

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2016, 04:22:55 PM »
@Pumpkin: that was very much along the lines of what I was envisioning before the CLI idea came up.  There was a very old game called Castles 2 on AOL that had some mechanics that were centered around territory control that I really liked.

I was starting to think more along the lines of the sphere grid from FFX (but with more cross-connections by far), but that gets kinda nasty pretty fast.
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Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2016, 04:31:48 PM »
So the "virtual space" would be constituted by AI servers linked to each others; hacking one can allow attack/connection to the ones connected to it. Or it could be "everything is accessible by the network but you need keys/auths, and they form the links of dependencies (hack that before that).

Servers could hold computing power for increasing the player's "deciphering power", others could hold AI's data (galactic intel), operations (waves/CPA/reinforcement), designs (corrupt/download), etc. Where to spend that "computing/deciphering power" is up to the player.

About CLI, just like Duskers, if everything can be done with buttons and stuff, it's fine. The CLI is just a faster and more "thematic" way to do the same thing.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Captain Jack

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 04:34:05 PM »
Instead of an actual digital battleground (dam I hate Shadowrun's hacking (the video game)), I would rather like to keep it as a metaphor, just like in our real world. There is no "virtual space" with holographic ships fighting holographic turrets with holographic handguns. I truly hate this vision of hacking.
Hacking is a gajillion times worse in the Shadowrun tabletop game. I know players who will go home if the hacking looks to last more than three sentences.

@Pumpkin: that was very much along the lines of what I was envisioning before the CLI idea came up.  There was a very old game called Castles 2 on AOL that had some mechanics that were centered around territory control that I really liked.

I was starting to think more along the lines of the sphere grid from FFX (but with more cross-connections by far), but that gets kinda nasty pretty fast.
If anything, doll up the chat window with a row of buttons that automatically insert specific commands, like..

...........

Chris. Think of this as a cheat code system built into the game as an actual gameplay mechanic.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 04:40:34 PM »
Chris. Think of this as a cheat code system built into the game as an actual gameplay mechanic.
:D :D :D

But yeah, good point.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline zharmad

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2016, 04:53:43 PM »
No CLI, please. ;) One, I'm not a born-programmer, and yet I work with CLIs all the time at work, and I don't want to work at home. Also thematically, far into the future beyond holography and solutions to general-purpose AI (albeit false according to the last expansion lore), we will find a thousand ways to organise our computational intentions in far more useful constructs than one-dimensional pseudo language. (N

Objectively, I'd also like Arcen to hook players into learning more about computers and AI-risk, not the other way around. ;)

= = =

As for the secondary layer, I would prefer it to be graphical but with no ships and no units. As a counter-example to the Hacknet that takes it very seriously, Mr. Robot (Moonpod) allegorises hacking as a mini-RPG - I wouldn't want either in AI War.
...I would keep the visuals of the network (those interconnected circles at the bottom of the screen) actually, as it's the analogy of the wormhole network in the physical galaxy although you play a very different game in cyberspace. So, suggest a cross between Hacknet's networking image and abstract illustrations...
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Offline Tridus

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2016, 07:48:11 PM »
A way back when, Everquest 2's crafting system had you pick what you want to make, and you'd start making it. And then, stuff would happen. You'd have to pick abilities out of your list of options to deal with problems that came up during the crafting process. The quality of the item you made was dependent on how well you did that.

I see something similar working here. You start a hack by picking the operation you want to launch (ie: Corrupt Design, steal Science, hack sensors, redirect a wave, whatever we come up with). That goes to a screen where the hack is in progress, at which point the AI tries various countermeasures to stop you. You pick how you want to respond to those things, and if you can hold the AI's anti-incursion defenses off long enough, you succeed at what you're trying to do.

Just an idea. :) Hacking of some kind is great, but I don't think it has to be done by launching a hacker unit into the AI system.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2016, 04:31:21 AM »
I realized what was frustrating (at least for me) with AIW1's hacking: the player doesn't hack. A hacker is sent, it does its magical thing (we can suppose the AI reacts on the network) and the player deal with the AI's reaction on the field. But it's not hacking. It's protecting a hacker.

And similarly, that's why I'm so super excited about that new hacking approach and the optional-CLI, because this time WE will be hacking.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2016, 11:16:51 AM »
So, being slightly tired of the "fatal refleet" thread, I'll work on what I love and, incidentally, what requires some fleshing out.

So we have a great idea for "task" mechanisms: the players use a different interface to interact with the game in a very different way. A way with no physical units, no physical places, not fighting and defense and raids... But that influence the same physical world (or it would be as disconnected as Nebulae).

I won't discuss the "how" now: we can imagine an optional CLI doing the same things as a more regular GUI. I'll start with the "effect" mechanisms. What should the hacking allow players to do? First, let's see what the hacking currently allows.

First, there is several things around ship designs:
* AI design download
* AI design corruption
* Alternative to capture for MkIV facto and MkV fab
* ARS diversification
* Knowledge stealing, which is kinda related because Knowledge if for improving designs...

Then what? Several combat support:
* Sabotage (replace bruteforce)
* Temporary cloaking for all allies

Also a pair of MF-related hacks: Nomad Beacon and Exile Survey.

So if hacking targets are going to be reintegrated into a virtual part of the game, Design Backup Servers will just physically vanish. The mechanism behind them are AI/Human ship-designs. That will be a point. The MkIV/V facto/fab are the physical half of something that can have a slightly disconnected, virtual part: I can imagine that instead of going for a planet, capturing and defending a physical asset, the players would have the option to do a similar thing (access, hack... defend?) the same asset. (I currently see differences between capture and download-hack only in the outcome: definitive or not; the action is very similar: physically go there, fight the AI.) Combat-related hacking are few and not very bright on their own. Sure, sabotage can remove some nasty combinations, but often, an armored warhead can do something very similar. I mean, "structure removal" is not something unique to hacking.

We also have two interesting ideas: the advanced intel gathering will certainly move under the hacking umbrella (basic hacking being "physically go there"; scout drones being removed) and the wave/CPA/reingorcement hacking, which is a new idea (and an exciting one).

I'll base my work on a "computing power" resource, heir of the HaP. I'll detail it further down the line, but in any way, we'll need some sort of resource to spend in hacking activities, even if it's just "time".

Virtual Landscape

I realized I cannot dive into specifics without defining how I see these resources and targets. I would see a graph of links (but totally unrelated the the galactic wormhole graph) where each node is a server of some sort. We could imagine that all servers are technically "accessible", because a galactic-level network would be like Internet: by default, everything is accessible, but as some are protected by others, by a firewall, a third-party authentication, a crypto-key stored elsewhere, etc, a true "access" is possible only when the first server is compromised. So the links on that graph show dependencies. And maybe several might be bypassed provided enough resources (bruteforce?).

Several servers would be canonical, like "the one where the AI stores its designs", "the galaxy map DB", etc, but several could be randomly generated and be a protection for another server, the vault of an optional objective (Knowledge points, -AIP...) etc. I call them "side quest servers".

(I'm sure people out there will be much more apt than me at fleshing out these points. Managarmr, IIRC?)

I can also imagine several servers being (virtually) capturable assets for the player: one could be a computer mainframe and if the player gain partial or full access, it could use it to increase its hacking "resource". The AI may have response algorithms able to take back these servers (unless the response servers have been breached first, but the AI might have several defending each other) and potentially to assault (virtually) the Human central server, which can be protected with captured AI firewalls, etc. If the Human central server is compromised, the hacking team pulls itself out of the network: the players don't immediately loose, but they won't be able to conduct hacking for the reminder of the game.

Anyway, just knowing what is in a server would be basic interaction. For instance, every server not actively protected by another server would display its content with the basic CLI-commands / GUI-interactions.

Ship Designs

With the Design Backup Servers being folded back into the virtual space, the first thing that will interest players is intel. One of the servers would be dedicated to that, or maybe several. The AIs each have several accessible units: MkI-IV ship types, MkV-only ship types, guardian types... and I think that's all (and I put starships and fleetships in the same bag). I see the early hacking phase revolving around finding these pieces of information. Think network discovery, server probing, NMap...

So the players will end up with a list of everything the AI has access to, opening avenues for downloading and/or corrupting them. "How" will be detailed elsewhere.
* Downloading MkI-IV design
* Corrupting MkI-IV design
* Downloading MkV design (equivalent of holding a core fabricator)
* Corrupting MkV design
* Downloading MkV triangle design (no corruption version for this one)
* Corrupting Guardian design
* Downloading general MkIV fleetship technology (equivalent of holding an Adv.Facto)
* Downloading general MkIV starship technology (equivalent of holding an ASC)

The physical capturables would be other means to achieve something similar, but with the drawback of requiring defense. And corruption and MkI-IV download wouldn't be accessible from the physical world.

Note: I let alone the ARS diversification, essentially because I think "1 among 3" is a very interesting mechanism and should be the default, and also because the AI doesn't use the designs stored into the ARS. I can see them transformed into a sort of "old Human science lab" for justifying why the AI hasn't access to these designs.

EDIT: I forgot the upgrades. Certainly, removing them wouldn't be feasible, but listing the ones the AI gained should.

Galactic Intel

One of the servers would be the galactic DataBase, where the AI stores its knowledge of the battleground. Possible interactions with it would be:
* Specific planetary data download (gain the equivalent of a 1s scout for the planetary recap)
* CSG data download (locations of the CSG)
* Homeworlds position (just probing the server should give that info)
* Homeworld detail (composition and position of the Core GPosts; one download per homeworld)
* MkIV planets position (not content)
* etc (mainly one per interesting galaxy filter: broken golems, spirecrafts' asteroids, etc)

The ability to destroy tachyon sentinels and send cloaked units (of destroy everything and send uncloaked units) is still a possibility, but wouldn't provide the same sort of information: hacking gives global or distant data while the physical exploration gives proximity but detailed information (hacking this server should never grant information on mobile units, for example).

AI Operations

This would be a single or several servers. It/They would contain a list of upcoming events, namely waves, CPA, reinforcement and exogalactic strikeforces. Maybe the Special Forces need a dedicated server containing their own budget and routing information. Anyway, the basic intel available in these servers would be similar to the list of countdown in AIW1, either replacing these (no wave warning without very basic hacking) or just going far beyond, foreshadowing waves much more than a few minutes before, and CPA with something like one hour before.

The old "no wave warning" option could become the "protected operation server" option: no wave warning before midgame/lategame-hacking.

Advanced interaction with this server can provide various meddling options:
* moving specific wave target (choose another eligible Human planet)
* moving specific wave timing (only by a few minutes, forward and backward; useful for (de)synchronizing)
* moving next CPA timing (by several minutes, forward and backward)
* accessing specific wave composition
* changing specific wave composition (expensive; something like removing the leading starship, changing its type or the type of fleetship, etc)
* denying reinforcement at specific planet (for a sort of ongoing cost or for a set duration)
* denying wave against specific planet (for a sort of ongoing cost or for a set duration)

The design document talk about "AI Activity Speedup", and I see that as the AI coming to this server to modify things itself, but not in a way that players would like.

The Special Force (as said earlier) and potentially the Threatfleet too could have a dedicated server with information accessible and modifiable about their reinforcement budget, routing, etc. (How fun it could be to send the SF at the other side of the galaxy with a false alert before invading a planet.)

Physical / Virtual

Now I'd like to take on the more direct interactions between the physical part of the game and that virtual "landscape". Let's begin with Physical to Logical.

There are physical AI structures that have impact in the virtual game. List of ideas.
* Capturable Computer: the players gain some computing power (income or "power")
* Defensive Server: several virtual defensive servers can be physically taken down (firewalls or counter-hackers, but not crypto-key storage, because destroying it won't give you the key)
* Physical Access: several "side-quest" servers (Knowledge stash, -AIP, etc) can be physically accessed by bringing a hacker on their planet (AIW1-style hacking) to bypass any other server virtually protecting them.
* Note: the central servers (AI designs, AI operations, Galaxy DB) won't be physically present in the physical space.

There are hacking-space operations that have a direct impact on the battleground:
* The good-old sabotage (could be a "corruption" of the galaxy map DB: "I swear to you, Superfortress, you don't exist. Look at the database!")
* The "cloaking AoE" and every ideas about AI intel could be implemented as interactions with a dedicated server ("Human affairs"?). The players could see what the AI can see of the human activities and hide some by intercepting the data (MitM) or shutting down the "cameras".
* Maybe more than sabotage: "out of the blue" reclamation! Corrupt a side-quest server and *bam* turn a small AI fleet under your control!
* Or even more: guard post capture! (Too excited, Pumpkin... Where are your meds?)

Parting Words

Why do I always end up with kilometers-long posts? Ah...
Anyway, what do you think? Specific ideas can sure be refined; don't freak on "SF rerouting" or "remote reclamation", they are just ideas. I'm more interested about general ideas.
Also, the "economy" part of this proposal currently requires a consequent refinement.

Just a link to a side idea: the Not-AIP-Driven AI-Ship-Unlocks Proposal might be entirely reworked as a part of this new hacking system. It would also tie it a bit more to the physical space (Quantum Computers, Data Backup Servers, etc).
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2016, 05:15:49 PM »
So here is an iteration on the previous ideas.

GUI = Graphical User Interface: pictures, mouse and buttons.
CLI = Command Line Interface: write commands and read text.
The hacking system would have both. Also, clicking something automatically enters the command in the console. Easy way to teach "how to do it like a true hacker". I think that would allow players quietly approach the CLI.

Note: I love Android Netrunner.

List of Server Types

The AI has servers, which are virtual places. The hacking GUI shows each "visible" servers, one icon each. Their icons depend on their kind; these icons should be as recognizable as unit's icons. A server can be of one of the following type.

* Design Backup Server
   Stores one MkI-IV designs.
* Core Design Backup (unique)
   Stores only and all MkV-only designs.
   Stores general technology for MkIV.
* Xenoship Design Backup (unique)
   Stores only and all guardian's designs.
* Galactic Database (unique)
   Stores "scout" data.
* Operation Server (unique)
   Stores upcoming waves, CPA and reinforcements.
* Special Coordination Server (unique)
   Stores Special Forces composition, routing and reinforcements info.
* Coordination Server
   Stores one threat-fleet's composition and routing info.
* Human Affairs Server
   Stores AI intel on Humans.
* Knowledge Vault
   Stores Knowledge. (Useless to the AI.)
* Virtual Cluster
   Generate computing power. (Useless to the AI.)
* Firewall
   Hides and protects one or several other servers.
* Crypto-Key-Master
   Stores key for one or several other servers.
* Virtual Sentinel Server
   Actively tries to counter players' hacking operations.

Non-unique servers are randomly generated for each game.

General Mechanisms

The hacking resource is Computing Power. It's an unstackable income. It must be assigned to a task that do its effect at the end of the task; a task with a high cost may be largely delayed, so time-critical actions must be planned ahead. If no task is planned, Computing Power is automatically assigned to "default" tasks, ordered by priority. The last and lowest priority task, always available is the compilation of a virus (because in AI War, viruses are long to compile, not to code). Viruses are stored and can be "consumed" later (they can give access to a target only once; they are 0-days and the AI respond pretty fast). They are sort of "differed" Computing Power with special rules.

Each visible server can be scanned. If there are visible, unscanned servers, "wasted" computer power is dedicated to scanning in priority. A scan takes only a few Computing Power resource. A scanned server shows its icon, type and content (see server type's description for what "content" can be). Clicking an "Unscanned Server" in the GUI or entering "scan [server_id]" in the CLI queue a scan task. Mouseovering a scanned server in the GUI or entering "list [server_id]" in the CLI display the server's content.

Each scanned server then has several possible interactions. Not all servers provide the same interactions. Clicking an icon in the GUI opens a drop-down menu with these interactions; clicking one of these interactions queues that as a task. Entering "probe [server_id]" in the CLI lists available commands; entering "[command] [server_id]" in the CLI queues that as a task.

Server Types' Details

Design Backup Server

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays one MkI-IV unit design the AI has access to.

Interactions
Download: spend a lot of Computing Power to gain access, then immediately download the design, allowing its construction. The AI then makes a safe-copy of it (we assume it's too expensive to do if the design isn't threatened), making it impossible to corrupt. The server is then emptied and becomes a Virtual Sentinel Server.
Virus: spend a virus to corrupt the design, denying the possibility to use it for the AI. The server is then emptied and becomes a Virtual Sentinel Server.
MitM: spend a few Computing Power to eardrop communications with other design servers (Man-in-the-Middle) and obtain the full list of MkI-IV unit designs available to the AIs.

Core Design Backup (unique)

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays the MkV-only unit designs the AI has access to.

Interactions
Download [design]: spend a lot of Computing Power to gain one access, then immediately downloads a MkV-only design, triangle or not. The AI revokes that access and a new interaction must be engaged for further operations against this server.
Virus [design]: spend a virus to corrupt one MkV-only design, but not a triangle-design. (Alternatively: this server is virus-immune, to respect the AIW1's inability to corrupt MkV designs.)
MitM: spend a lot of Corruption Power to eardrop communications with AI factories (Man-in-the-Middle) and obtain the MkIV technology, allowing construction of MkIV units (both starships and fleetships) on all factories for all available MkIII units.

Xenoship Design Backup (unique)

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays the guardian designs the AI has access to and the progress the AI made toward the research of the next guardian type.

Interactions
Virus [design]: spend a virus to corrupt one guardian design.

Galactic Database (unique)

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays the location of the two AI Homeworlds. (Automatically shown in the galaxy map, but not their content.)

Interactions
Download [planet]: spend a few Computing Power to gain intel on all structural units in targeted planet.
MitM [letter]: spend some Computing Power to eardrop communications with a specific CSG network (Man-in-the-Middle) and locate all its generators in the galaxy.
Query [??]: spend some Computing Power to obtain the location of every ?? units in the galaxy (broken golems, spirecraft asteroids, subcommanders, etc are eligible queries).
Virus [unit_id]: spend a virus to sabotage a structure. (The unit-id may be obtained by mouseovering an eligible structure; if players have a virus ready and the Galactic Database identified, an eligible structure may be right-clicked for sabotage.)

Operation Server (unique)

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays information in the top-left "warning" for waves under 3 minutes and CPA under 12 minutes.
A lobby option "never protect Operation Server" may be enabled to prevent the procedural generation of firewalls to protect this server from the start, allowing basic wave detection right from the start.

Interactions
Virus: spend a virus to gain 3 backdoors in this server.
Rootkit: spend some Computing Power (equivalent of 1/3 or a virus) to gain 1 backdoor in this server.
Delay [wave_id] [amount]: spend 1 backdoor to delay targeted wave for [amount] minutes (with a maximum). ("wave_id" may be "CPA".)
Speedup [wave_id] [amount]: spend 1 backdoor to make targeted wave arrive [amount] minutes earlier (or right now). ("wave_id" may be "CPA".)
Query [wave_id]: spend 1 backdoor to reveal the exact composition of the targeted wave.
MitM: spend a few Computing Power to reveal the timing of all waves for the next 15 minutes (more? less?) and the timing of the next CPA with a 10 minutes precision.
Hijack [wave_id]: spend some Computing Power to turn targeted wave as allied zombies (when they'll spawn). As the task may be longer than the wave's countdown, the players must either have a lot of Computing Power per second, or reveal the wave long before it lands.

The Speedup/Delay might be slightly harder to implement in the GUI. Maybe allowing only a fixed amount of time might be sufficient, reserving precise (de)synchronization to the CLI?

Human Affairs Server (unique)

Scanned Content
None.

Interactions
DDoS [planet]: as long as Computer Power is dedicated to that task, all Human and allied units on target planet gain Cloaking. (As the cost of this task is fixed, all remaining Computing Power is available for another task; several DDoS tasks may be conducted in parallel, each eating a portion of per-second Computing Power, as long as the income allows it.)
Spoofing [planet]: uses some Computer Power to deny further waves and reinforcement on target planet for the next N minutes. (N = 15? 30? A lot of CP for 1 hour?)

Coordination Server

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays the location and heading of one Threat Fleet. (There is one Coordination Server per Threat Fleet. All free AI units out of a Threat Fleet are in "normal" threat behavior.)

Interactions
Virus: spend a virus to destroy this server's content. The Threat Fleet disband and becomes regular threat. The server is wiped and becomes a Virtual Sentinel Server. (If all Coordination Servers are corrupted, the AI is unable to control assemble its threatening units into a coherent Threat Fleet.) Any Viral Sentinel Servers may be turned into a Coordination Server (even if it wasn't originally) if the AI really needs to form a new Threat Fleet.
Reroute [planet]: spend some Computing Power to gain temporary access, then set target Threat Fleet's destination to target planet. (However, the first Human action requiring that fleet to move will overwrite that destination, but the fleet will come from farther.)
Hijack: spend a lot of Computer Power to hijack the control of the Threat Fleet (at the end of the operation, which can be very long); hijacked units turn into allied zombies but the server itself remain and may form a new Threat Fleet with existing stray threatening units.

Special Coordination Server

Similar to a Coordination server: same scanned content and Reroute interaction, but immune to viruses and concerns the Special Force.

Knowledge Vault

Can be downloaded with Computing Power (or one virus?) to gain a fixed amount of Knowledge (1,000? More?); then wiped and reused as a Virtual Sentinel Server.

Virtual Cluster

Can be took over with Computing Power (or one virus?). While held by Humans, grants Computing Power but can be attacked by Virtual Sentinel Servers.
("Virtual" Cluster because there are physical ones that can be militarily captured for a similar effect.)

Firewall

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays the list of servers and their type behind it. Servers protected by a firewall are not even accessible for scan. A firewall may be protected by another firewall.

Interactions
Virus: spend a virus to trash the firewall; it is then wiped and reused as a Virtual Sentinel Server (but doesn't protect anything anymore).

Crypto-Key-Master

Scanned Content
When scanned, displays the list of servers protected by its crypto-walls. (The GUI shows colored lines when this server or a protected server is mouseovered.)
Protected servers are immune to viruses and all interactions cost twice the amount of Computing Power.
A Crypto-Key-Master may protect another server of the same kind, but no loops can be formed (because quantum encryption cannot make circular encryption... I guess).

Interactions
Virus [server_id]: spend a virus to retrieve a key, effectively removing the protection provided to target server.
If all keys have been stolen, the server is wiped and reused as a Virtual Sentinel Server.

Virtual Sentinel Server (not generated from start)

Scanned Content
Target Human asset and hacking progression.

The Virtual Sentinel Servers target one Human Asset (essentially controlled Virtual Clusters) and build up a hacking progression. Once this progression reaches 100%, the Human crypto-protection is broken and the targeted servers becomes a new Virtual Sentinel Server.
If the Humans control nothing, the Virtual Sentinels attack the Human Mainframe (they can't before because each controlled Virtual Cluster also acts as a firewall for that Human Mainframe). Each time the hacking of the Human Mainframe reaches 100%, one of the stashed virus is automatically used to disrupt and reset that attack. If no virus is stashed when an attack complete, the Mainframe is lost and the players cannot conduct hacking for the remainder of the game (unless a physical computer is captured).

Interaction
Virus: spend a virus to take over the Sentinel Server, turning it into a Human-controlled Virtual Cluster.

Comments

The newb approach is completely fine: if players don't care about hacking before they need it, their hacking team would have already automatically scanned all reachable servers and prepared several viruses ready to be used on firewalls and Crypto-Key-Masters. Only several advanced interactions require direct Computing Power and planning ahead.

The number of random servers -- both good (Knowledge Vault, Virtual Clusters) and bad (Firewall, Crypto-Key-Master), depend on the AI difficulty.

An AI Minor Faction may be only virtual and would add plenty of Firewalls and Crypto-Key-Masters (making layered and highly tangled AI network), and possibly Sentinel Servers right from the start, while a Human Minor Faction would provide many capturable "Human Satellites" (in AI territory; grant Computing Power) and give viruses as quest rewards (defend us against wave, destroy that target, etc). Players would be able to enable only one or both for an easier, harder or larger hacking playground.

(Yes, I know, the true plural form of "virus" is "virii".)

Capturing several side-objectives early can put the players in deep trouble as Virtual Sentinels kinda consume Computing Power. But if managed carefully (by stashing a virus before emptying a server, for example), Sentinels can be handled before going out of control. The Human Mainframe alone can produce viruses faster than one Virtual Sentinel would require them, but wiping several servers with no virus prepared is the best way to lock oneself out of the network.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!

Offline Draco18s

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2016, 05:43:34 PM »
Speaking of hacking in a GUI/CLI, check out Cogmind.

http://www.gridsagegames.com/blog/2013/12/hacking-interface/

It has a similar type of setup (and its been revamped a bit since that article, but the interface hasn't changed that much, mostly its the mechanics that have altered).

Offline Sestren

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2016, 05:43:59 PM »
I'd give this a tentative +1

I really like the descriptions of different server types and their tactical uses. I am concerned with how to properly visually depict this 'virtual layer' given that a number of these virtual locations seem to have physical counterparts scattered about the galaxy. If it is difficult to cross reference one location to another, interacting with the network could get irritating.

Examples:
There is a crypto-master in the way of something I want in virtual space and I know that there must exist a physical location holding it. How do I *quickly* locate its corresponding hardware in the galaxy?

I have (through whatever means) come into possession of hardware that has a virtual cluster running on it. How do I check where this cluster is in the virtual landscape?


If there exists some way to overlay the server connections on the galactic map (via map modes perhaps?) without creating a spaghetti tangle (since the servers don't care about wormhole connections) that would be a substantial help. I assume in such a case the servers that are 'unaccessable physically' could either be physically located within the AI home command station or equivalent or could behave something like classic where backups self destruct on system capture, in that they just dump their contents in the event of detected physical tampering (maybe allowing one 'freebe' action through direct access before self-destruct).

The system you propose is likely a little to complicated in its entirety to add as is, but with a couple balance passes I would be totally on board.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Hacking: the new front in the AI War
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2016, 03:21:43 AM »
I am concerned with how to properly visually depict this 'virtual layer' given that a number of these virtual locations seem to have physical counterparts scattered about the galaxy. If it is difficult to cross reference one location to another, interacting with the network could get irritating.

Examples:
There is a crypto-master in the way of something I want in virtual space and I know that there must exist a physical location holding it. How do I *quickly* locate its corresponding hardware in the galaxy?

I have (through whatever means) come into possession of hardware that has a virtual cluster running on it. How do I check where this cluster is in the virtual landscape?
It appears I gave a wrong picture of what I intended with the physical/virtual links. Not all virtual servers would have a physical counterpart. In fact, I didn't talk about that at all in the second "refined" post. I think there might be physical assets having an effect in the virtual space (like satellites to captures in order to gain Computing Power) but there wouldn't be such things like virtual firewall to physically destroy or server to physically connect to in order to bypass virtual protections. That was an interesting idea, but, as you noted, it would be highly confusing, and I intend to silently ditch this idea.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 02:57:20 AM by Pumpkin »
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!