Gadgets Galore

Last week's work on hacking tools and treasures continues.

As mentioned last week, I've been working on ways to flesh-out the hacking skill in NEO Scavenger, to make it a more worthwhile skill. There are places in the game where it can be used, and plans for more in the future, so it'd be nice if the skill wasn't dead weight in between those instances.

Adding to the iSlab and laptop artwork from Friday, I drew some item artwork for smartphones and cellphones. I also added a battery for the laptop.

IMAGE( Tools of the digital trade.

As you might have noticed, I've made a few changes to the screen art for each. Previously, I had different screen art for each "mode," such as the iSlab lamp app and GPS. However, upon further thinking, this might be an unsustainable precedent. Every time I want to add new apps to the game, I'd have to add new screen art for each piece of hardware, and that's a scalability nightmare.

Instead, I decided to trim each hardware art set down to three images: off, locked, and unlocked. That way, the item can be either unpowered, powered but inaccessible, or powered and usable with any app.

I'm still not decided on how this stuff is going to work, in terms of UI and game code. But I have some ideas. The following is a brainstorm of things I'd like to try, if it's not too crazy in terms of code:

  • Some hardware will start locked (common), others unlocked (rare).
  • Software can only exist inside hardware.
  • Hardware cannot be hacked nor used unless powered.
  • Hacking skill and tool required to unlock hardware.
  • Lamp software only works inside iSlab or smartphone, and should work like flashlight.
  • GPS software only works inside iSlab or smartphone, and could reveal nearby hexes, spawn new scavenge sites nearby, and/or reveal creatures carrying GPS nearby.
  • Hacking software only works inside laptop, and can be used with powered laptop to "scavenge" iSlabs, smartphones, or cellphones for bank account info (rare). Somehow this bank info can be transferred to player's account, maybe only via DMC activity.
  • "Scavenging" iSlabs, smartphones, or cellphones with hacking can also produce important personal info (rare) that a fence in the DMC or sprawl will pay for.
  • Alternately, "scavenged" personal info could be email snippets that reveal setting background info, much like headlines.
  • The DMC/sprawl fence will buy locked and unlocked hardware at a flat rate, even when not hacked. Unlocked will be worth more, but neither will be worth the rare data/paydirt found via hacking.
  • Field guides may be substitutes for certain knowledge skills or recipes. This could affect balance, though, so I'll have to tread carefully.

And, of course, there's encounter stuff to be added (e.g. using computer skills in the DMC, in a digitally-secured facility, or work done for Hatter, etc.).

Also, all of the above comes with a big caveat that it's theoretical until working. It sounds good on paper, but there are some tricky UI and game code hurdles to overcome with the above.

However, I think a lot of the above could make hacking more fun to play with. It'd be a huge trade-off against more practical wilderness skills, but it might make the proper blend of urban and wilderness skills lucrative.

Still lots to figure out, but that'll be all for today. Hope everyone has a good night!


UltimaVirus's picture

Those are amazing ideas. Simply amazing. This will make hacking a much much more valuable skill (as well as adding tons of new gameplay options).

Biscuitism's picture

I sense an upcoming use for the old cryo facility.


I'm your friendly neighborhood nutcase. My spear be pointy, my stew be odd. Ask the trader guy near the DMC, I sell him meat on a regular basis.

yuanchueh's picture

I think the idea of being able to find nearby creatures with GPS interesting. However from a "real-life" perspective, GPS is a passive tracker. You can't see everyone else who is using GPS automatically.

To address the software skills helping you out. The balance could be a drain on battery and actual crafting. For example you have a berry. Not being a botanist it would take you quite a while on Wikipedia to determine plant type and uses. This would drain battery, and take time. Since botany is an automatic recognition skill now, this could be the balance you are looking for as one example.

Maklak's picture

I think you pretty much nailed it.

Graphics looks good, but I can't figure out what are these items: black 2x2, gray 1x3 and orange 3x5 (voice recorder?).

Do you now need special container / inventory space for software and data, like you do for batteries? Having a container with two separate types of slots would be slightly confusing at first.

> Instead, I decided to trim each hardware art set down to three images: off, locked, and unlocked.
Sounds reasonable. Oh and an unlocked item can still be switched off to save batteries, but remain unlocked, right?

> Some hardware will start locked (common), others unlocked (rare).
Good. We should be able to find or buy all craftable items (maybe except some unique items that can only be found in a single location or something). The crafting skills are just a much more reliable source of these items.

> Software can only exist inside hardware.
What about pendrives and 2'5 external hard drives?

GPS software could reveal a map that is similar to but not quite the same as the one we have. This undiscovered map could be grayed out (but different colour than the fog of war) until confirmed and be only visible when the GPS is powered on. Of course secret things like military bases wouldn't show up and there might have been some changes to the terrain since the maps were last updated. But while this makes sense, it would be too much effort to program for little gain. So instead, GPS could just reveal all towns in the entire map or in vicinity.
More scavenging locations makes some sense, I guess. It would also give us a reason to check GPS often.
An extra movement point if movement points > 3 is another idea.
Active scan for GPS-carrying creatures would be weird, like yuanchueh said.

Well, I maybe we could get some type of scanner for wifi capable devices or something, but it wouldn't be reliable.

> Hacking software only works inside laptop
What about that big computer in the Cryo Lab? Heck, there should be some salvageable PCs there. The trade-off is that you can use a netbook/laptop anywhere, but need to carry it around, while the Cryo Computer would be stationary, but not use up inventory space.

Well, people tend to keep around movies, music, pictures, documents, ebooks and similar "entertainment data". Even some programs and games that aren't much use to a scavenger, but might be to others and have poor enough copy prevention. What I'm trying to say is that while some data might be worth a premium, just gigabytes upon gigabytes of someone's stuff should be worth something to someone, even if it is just 0.10$ per gigabyte or less. Of course some things may still be common enough to have virtually no selling value. But then all this introduces a problem with copying and value. It makes sense for digital data to be copied rather than transferred, but that would create a loophole. Also, buying software or field guides should always cost money, but the flea market probably wouldn't be interested in buying 5 "lamp" applications.
So all in all, I think your solution of just including those things in the average price of devices and only singling-out valuable data is better.

> Field guides may be substitutes for certain knowledge skills or recipes. This could affect balance, though, so I'll have to tread carefully.
yuanchueh botany idea is great. We might also get some crafting recipes from computers. Guides should be sometimes available at the flea market, not just from laptops. That way we can eventually get them all. While a guide should be a poor substitute for having a skill, it should make the impossible possible, so maybe when using a guide:
* Greatly increase crafting time (+0.5 or x5, capped at 3.0 TUs).
* Drain battery in addition to ingredients.
* Have a chance of failure and wasting materials. Some things (like the cryo heating and lighting) and tools should never be wasted, but loosing a few screws or string is to be expected.

Oh and one nitpick: Cryo Light provides concealment debuff, even though it is being used deep underground and shouldn't be visible.

Catherin's picture

There are more gadgets here than on the other that you got shared.

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