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Author Topic: [Notebook] ShadowCraft  (Read 9602 times)
ludomastro
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« Reply #195 on: September 18, 2012, 11:57:52 PM »

SO, I had a conversation with myself the other day and it went something like this:

Hey, Self?  Got a minute?
Sure.
I've been thinking about that draft we did for the Matrix rules in ShadowCraft.
Yeah?
Yeah.  It doesn't really work, you know.
Why?
Because you can buy expertise in the Matrix.
Is that such a bad thing?
Isn't that one of your pet peeves with the source material?  That skill has so little bearing on Matrix actions?  Don't you remember the script-kiddies argument?
Oh.  Yeah.  Damn!  I really don't want to add another skill, though.
Would it be the end of the world?
No.  But it's the whole cascading consequence problem.
So, why not treat it like Spellcasting?
... Umm, let me get back to you.

So, that's where I'm at.  Does anyone see any problems with having Hacking be a special skill?  What am I forgetting with such an approach?
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #196 on: September 19, 2012, 01:23:00 AM »

One of my favourite RPG settings is Aeon/Trinity. I mention this because one of the basic concepual building blocks of its vision of the future is the realisation that there is a finite amount of wireless bandwidth available for use before all you get is static, noise and general interference.

As a basic consequence of that idea -- plus actual comparative experience of cabled basestation+wireless vs. totally wireless 'net access -- I'm going to suggest that as a basic premise of shadowcraft, the sheer amount of data required for immersive VR for non-mancers requires a wired connection and would basically function as the Workshop-level (ie, Room upgrade to a Holding) gear for skill checks messing around with the Matrix, while the AR interface provided by the comlink would be treated as your basic kit.

Simless/coldsim/hotsim interfacing works as a cross axis
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ludomastro
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« Reply #197 on: September 19, 2012, 02:29:23 AM »

Perhaps because it is late but, I'm not following you.

Also, in the source material bandwidth is endless.  Not realistic but, it's there.  That said, do we need it to be endless in ShadowCraft?  No sure.
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #198 on: September 19, 2012, 04:38:28 AM »

Perhaps because it is late but, I'm not following you.

Also, in the source material bandwidth is endless.  Not realistic but, it's there.  That said, do we need it to be endless in ShadowCraft?  No sure.

That's rather my point.

I get that full VRing the Matrix is an essential trope of the genre, but being able to do it as effortlessly as wirelessly ARing doesn't work on a conceptual or mechanical level. A VR run is something you should need to either reach or hold a hard point in order to benefit from.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #199 on: September 19, 2012, 06:05:05 AM »

The setting is 60 years in the future, right?  If we allow bandwidth to follow Moore's Law (which has been pretty accurate so far for bandwidth), and use 4G Wireless as a baseline for 2012 (3.5MB/Sec - 6MB/Sec) we get a result of 3.7 PB/Sec - 6.4 PB/Sec.  Which is... a lot...  My personal hard drive capacity, across all computers (and like devices) would be full in under a 1/10th of a second (if they could actually save the data at that rate).

That's for a wireless signal that's equal to something that every teenager has today.  Even if we allow for 50% error range (historically it's been off by maybe 20%, so that's being really generous) we still get almost 2-3 PB/Sec of functional data transfer, from just about anywhere.  The only thing that becomes an issue is noise (overpopulation, everything having a wireless signal, etc) but even reducing speed to keep purity of data (and less reduce to 1/100th of potential speed), you still have an easy 20 to 30 Terabytes a second.

So it's actually entirely possible that bandwidth is "functionally" endless, since that would let you stream Avatar (the film) level CG without delay or hiccups (and it's more then enough for full VR via cellphone).

That said, while it's totally theoretically plausible at the setting's tech level, I actually like the style of Mr Andersen's (and Aeon/Trinity's) solution, and would seriously consider going that way if I was running a Cyberpunk game (for the reasons Aeon/Trinity gives).  I don't think that it's too hard to script a campaign quality so that people who want to run Shadowrun, or other CP settings, can easily switch between full immersion on the go and restricted bandwidth (per the requirements of their setting / vision of tomorrow).

(click to show/hide)

Egads that got far wordier then I intended.   So:
TL;DR:  A simple campaign quality lets us have our preferred flavour of cake, since both perspectives are equally valid.
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MikeS
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« Reply #200 on: September 19, 2012, 09:23:24 AM »

I think that a finite limit to bandwidth os not a bad assumption. I haven't gone through the math, but just assume the following:

- there is a limited spectrum band that is suitable for wireless communication
- each channel has a finite width
- the transmission rate through each channel is also finite

The transmission rate limit is obviously light speed. I haven't looked up what the spectrum for wireless communication looks like, or how wide (in Hertz) each channel is. I would assume, though that the channel width somehow relates to the base frequency, so you can't just keep on increasing channel numbers by increasing frequency range.
The add to that that each participant in the network has to use the same channels, at least within the range of the nearest wireless tower, so you divide the total bandwidth by the number of users, roughly.

The resulting number may still be very high, compared to what Moore's law would predict we get in 2050.

Incidentally, has anyone looked at how data usage per person goes with time? Seems to me there might be another Moore's law process going on there...
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #201 on: September 19, 2012, 05:01:33 PM »

Another reason why wireless VR is bad is because in order to stop you harming yourself your motor reflexes and external sensorum are basically switched off.

Now consider this in the context where the typical reaction to the hostile presence of things like drones and security systems when you can't just shoot them is to bruteforcehacksmash them in the face. While something as insidious as Batou's hacking the cybereyes of the soldier in the penultimate episode of GitS:SAC's 1st season or his own hacking in Innocence can't happen here, everytime you go into combat, you and your opponents would be lunatics not to be trying to wirelessly trip eachother's simplants into VR mode to render them insensate and immobile as soon as possible.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #202 on: September 19, 2012, 07:42:12 PM »

Totally, Mr A.  I would also imagine it's somewhat of a social faux pas to be in a vegetative state in a random diner or during a cab ride.  People (teenagers and other assholes) would also mess with you.

@MikeS:  Remember though, that in the next 60 years, technology will change in ways that we can't necessarily imagine.  If we look at it based on existing technology then yeah, we'll hit a ceiling, but "modems" and even cellular technology will be borderline unrecognisable by our own standards, and thus have a different ceiling.  It's like comparing a vacuum tube computer (like Colossus) to a Galaxy 3.

Still, for stylistic purposes, I'd seriously consider hampering development of certain technological strains to built a certain kind of world.
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MikeS
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« Reply #203 on: September 19, 2012, 08:37:37 PM »

Sure, there's plenty of space for disruptive technology, and I'm not saying it's completely inconceivable that VR over wireless is possible (even though I'd wager more on more effective data compression than I'd wager on a Moore's law scaling of bandwidth).

There are some things that don't really change, though: today, like in the 70's, a bigger computer is more powerful than a smaller one, and I don't expect that to change. Likewise, I expect a wired connection to be faster than wireless ones.

I really hated SR4's take on the Matrix. Augmented Reality, fine.  But these comlink computers for serious hacking? I just don't see how anything that small would ever be able to compete with a mainframe, or whatever the supercomputing workhorse of the future will be. I also don't believe that hardware development will ever outpace software requirements, so I don't think we'll ever hit the point where a small processor will be able to just run any software.
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #204 on: September 19, 2012, 09:21:16 PM »

I also don't believe that hardware development will ever outpace software requirements, so I don't think we'll ever hit the point where a small processor will be able to just run any software.

That is a fascinating statement I want to roll around in my head a bit as I work with Farthest Star tech Smiley. A book I read recently, while falling flat on its face in the final chapter, did have an amusing comment that the agress warship at the center of the plot had a crazy-elaborate active camoflauge system the integrated inputs and outputs of thousands of eyes and panels and was so complex that the control computer was actually the size of a human thumb. Which was huge in that setting...

My biggest problem with cyberpunk era tech is that it generally postulates implausible risk/reward scenarios. You just don't see a solid reason why anyone would submit their brain matter for random frying - the advantages of having a link that is so poorly designed and shielded that it could do that to you under any circumstances rarely seems like it gives you adaquate advantage to risk it.

Its a bit like cyberware in general - the first thing that has to exist for cyberware in the cyberpunk style to come about is a culture of absolute desperation. Deckers always seem to come from the privileged end of the Runner pool - you basically own a Farrarri just to get inot the biz.  I think to really render a sense of grit, you'd need to make war-hacking decks pretty soundly useable on their own, and then make direct nueral interfaces something only the crazy-commited guys would ever try/put up with.

Farthest Star postulates a pretty well integrated augmented reality environment, but the first thing anyone tapping into it has to do is pick the color of the clearly deliniating outline glow drawn around all figmentary objects (and barred by you personal rig from being drawn around real objects). There is just 0% probability (and 0% tolerance) of a figment projection system in which the user doesn't know instantly and immediately if something is or isn't real. There's just no widespread acceptance possible of a technlogy so easily exploitable otherwise.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 03:23:37 AM by Morgenstern » Logged

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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #205 on: September 19, 2012, 10:14:17 PM »

I'm absolutely with you -- some of the tropes just make terribly little sense once you get past the cool factor, the biggest of which for me is the near ubiquity of cybernetic augmentation without the accompanying fucked up horror of Repo: the Genetic Opera that people operating on the fringes of society would be saddled with.

I mean, I have no problem handwaving the issues of organic/synthetic data bridging and the sort of ongoing immunosuppression required to stop your body rejecting it all, but that stuff isn't ever going to be cheap. It's the sort of thing you're really going to have to pay off in style be it to your corporate owners or criminal backers, but the genre rarely seems to touch on that with the number of back street chopshops and streetdocs they come across able to casually upgrade every chummer coming along.

That's one of the things I love about GitS: it makes a point about how Kusanagi and her people are effectively using the company car, and that they'd be well boned if the bosses came looking to take the keys back.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #206 on: September 19, 2012, 10:26:49 PM »

Deus Ex: HR did a good job of showing that it was pretty terrible - formerly rich people begging for money to get anti-rejection meds so they can live a little longer without being blinded or paralysed.

I also think Repo Men (with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker) had an excellent idea - you stop paying the outrageous fees and they come and take their property back.  It also had a nice blatantly evil megacorp, which is also fitting.
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Mister Andersen
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« Reply #207 on: September 19, 2012, 10:42:43 PM »

If nothing else, it really justifies the use of Prudence/Prize mechanics.
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MikeS
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« Reply #208 on: September 20, 2012, 12:31:13 AM »


My biggest problem with cyberpunk era tech is that it generally postulates implausible risk/reward scenarios. You just don't see a solid reason why anyone would submit their brain matter for random frying - the advantages of having a link that is so poorly designed and shielded that it could do that to you under any circumstances rarely seems like it gives you adaquate advantage to risk it.

Its a bit like cyberware in general - the first thing that has to exist for cyberware in the cyberpunk style to come about is a culture of absolute desperation. Deckers always seem to come from the privileged end of the Runner pool - you basically own a Farrarri just to get inot the biz.  I think to really render a sense of grit, you'd need to make war-hacking decks pretty soundly useable on their own, and then make direct nueral interfaces something only the crazy-commited guys would ever try/put up with.

I don't think of cyberdecks as Ferraris, but of souped-up Honda Civics or what-have-you. You can build a car that accelerates as fast and goes as fast as a Ferrari for much less than a Ferrari costs. Of course it won't look as sleek, and and may have other drawbacks (such as an incredibly short time between maintenance), but it'll do the job if you want to race.

Cyber decks owned by hackers are kind of like that: outrageously overclocked, modded to the max, with all kinds of custom parts and hacks, and a performance that matches a much more expensive machine, but at a fraction of the price. Comes without a warranty, though. This is how the Gibson decks are described (at least in Count Zero; Neuromancer actually has a fancy deck, if memory serves).

As for the risk of getting your brain fried: it's a matter of what kind of options you have, and what the payoff is. If the pay is substantially higher than what you can make legally, people will try. Especially if dying is a risk, rather than a guarantee. Heck, people in the right circumstances would probably even do it for just the chance at getting rich, rather than a guaranteed better pay (see the Freakonomics treatise on drug business). And here again, wiring your brain to a hacked up deck so that you can get that extra bit of speed to get the job done makes a whole lot more sense. Now, if you can afford a computer that's fancy and fast anyway, the incentive to fry your brain goes down a lot, unless you think you can haul in the megabucks.

Cyberware I get much less. Unless you use second-hand cyber or other cheap wares, the base cost of the operation alone should be so high that it the returns in general are to low to get the cyberware in first place.

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MilitiaJim
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« Reply #209 on: September 20, 2012, 06:24:21 AM »

Cyberware I get much less. Unless you use second-hand cyber or other cheap wares, the base cost of the operation alone should be so high that it the returns in general are to low to get the cyberware in first place.
I'm on board with cyberware, at least until bioware comes along.  I'm down to about three joints that are in proper working order, so returning the function or removing the pain is step one.  Throw in actually improving the damaged joint/limb so you can do the more dangerous jobs that pay better, and yeah, I see how you get old street sams who are two thirds chrome.
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- Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the younger" ca. (4 BC - 65 AD)
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