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 Post subject: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:24 pm 
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Depends on implementation of added decker skillset

The flip side of making the decker more skill-dependent is that he must also become less cash-dependent. Now, the quickest way to do this would be to simply divide all decking-related costs by 5, 6 or more. I'm not entirely convinced this is the best way to go about it, however.

The thing I dislike most intensely about canon deckers is how dependent they are on a deck. It makes them rather like wizards in 3rd edition D&D: you have this huge target attached to your character (the deck/the spellbook) that could render you essentially impotent should it be lost/stolen/destroyed. At the same time, your enemies have to consistently and conveniently ignore this fact, not for any good reason, but because the moment they do it you're left with a character that's worse than dead: you have a character who still has all his faculties, and should be useful, but since so much of your identity is wrapped up in that missing/destroyed item you may as well be dead.

I want to remedy that, and I think I have an idea how it could be possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:14 pm 
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The trick, as I see it, is to make hardware costs relatively cheap, though naturally still subject to increasing Availability, Street Index and SOTA requirements. In many ways this is borne out by current computing trends. It took a few decades longer than many predicted, mostly due to the rise of multimedia, and then HD multimedia, but even today it's possible to purchase more computing power than one can realistically need for the foreseeable future, and for a tiny fraction of what one would have paid less than a decade ago. Further, keep in mind that fifty years of Moore's Law has shrunk the size and cost of computing power to the point where you can buy a laptop today that has more power than was used on the entirety of the Apollo missions, for less than five hundred bucks, and it's easy to envision a world where computing hardware is cheap, ubiquitous, and insanely fast.

The main cash constraint would then be the software, which any decker worth the name would have backed up in a safehouse/datastore or three. This way a decker would be inconvenienced by the loss of his main deck, but it wouldn't be the multi-million nuyen soap bubble it is per canon. Of course, if all his backups got destroyed he'd still be SOL, but then so would a rigger if he lost his drones.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 1:09 pm 
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Why not simply scale back the current ladder of deck prices. The 'average' decks are pricey, but replaceable. It's only until you get into the excaliburs that you get into stuff that isn't replaceable at all.

Combine this with copyable programs (as you suggested) and also more gear being dependent on cyber (as has also been suggested) and it eliminates the 'all your eggs in one basket' problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 7:26 pm 
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From memory of deck creation rules, for custom made decks the majority of their cost is due to software, probably the MPCP and persona chips - which already supports a low cost hardware high cost software model.
Bringing in breakable copy protection (notably present in SR1) would help mitigate these high software costs (as has been mentioned).
I recall the Hacker House catalogue in VR1 or 2 had the Herakles (sp?) Persona Software Suite so a free copy of such software would render a Fuchi 4 costing a few thousand nuyen, IIRC.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:53 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
Why not simply scale back the current ladder of deck prices. The 'average' decks are pricey, but replaceable. It's only until you get into the excaliburs that you get into stuff that isn't replaceable at all.
Well a baseline Kraftwerk-8 was a quarter million, wasn't it? That's two condos and a year's worth of cheap hookers, and that doesn't include things like connectivity options (which apparently don't come standard like they do on modern laptops): radio link, laser link, dataline tap, satellite, etc.

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Combine this with copyable programs (as you suggested) and also more gear being dependent on cyber (as has also been suggested) and it eliminates the 'all your eggs in one basket' problem.
Absolutely, and that's another reason decks have to cost less: we're planning on taking Response Increase off the deck and putting it in the meat where it belongs.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:56 pm 
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Link wrote:
From memory of deck creation rules, for custom made decks the majority of their cost is due to software, probably the MPCP and persona chips - which already supports a low cost hardware high cost software model.

This is true, though if I recall correctly the amount you paid for that software vastly dwarfed what you'd pay to just buy a chip in the first place, which was highly annoying to say the least.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 1:22 am 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
Link wrote:
From memory of deck creation rules, for custom made decks the majority of their cost is due to software, probably the MPCP and persona chips - which already supports a low cost hardware high cost software model.

This is true, though if I recall correctly the amount you paid for that software vastly dwarfed what you'd pay to just buy a chip in the first place, which was highly annoying to say the least.

Which I gather is what you want the system to achieve.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 2:29 pm 
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Link wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
Link wrote:
From memory of deck creation rules, for custom made decks the majority of their cost is due to software, probably the MPCP and persona chips - which already supports a low cost hardware high cost software model.

This is true, though if I recall correctly the amount you paid for that software vastly dwarfed what you'd pay to just buy a chip in the first place, which was highly annoying to say the least.

Which I gather is what you want the system to achieve.

Well it would be if there were any GMs who would be willing to give you that source code at chargen, otherwise you're still stuck with a massive replacement cost for your first deck.

What I'm aiming for is to make the cost higher (in either cash or time) to upgrade than to replace. Hardware will always cost the same to replace as to upgrade, but since a decent decker can reasonably expect to keep backups of source code lying around for software it should be cheaper to replace that software than to write new/upgraded stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:17 am 
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I'm not sure how the cost comparison between upgrading and buying new enters into it. I mean, right now you could multiply the costs for upgrading by 1.5, but it wouldn't seriously address the problem at hand (if anything, it would discourage people from regular upgrades, and encourage them instead to just buy new. Sort of like what a lot of people do with computers right now, rather than buying a new video card, RAM and HDD 2 years in, I wait another 3 years and buy a whole new box.)

That does bring up an interesting thought though. If the cost of the deck were spread over its lifetime, rather than upfront, that reduces the cost of 'loss' while still keeping them pricey overall. So say we reduce all decks in price by 50%, but now you pay 5% of the price every month, for maintaining license keys on software, rejiggering your masking chip, upgrading new hardware to keep SOTA (in regards to performance and new security methods) etc. A deck that isn't kept up to date effectively loses 1 point of rating every 2 months.

Now half of the cost is up front, and half of the cost is after a year of use (approximately). If you lose your deck in month 1, well that's still a rough loss (although only half of what you would have lost otherwise). If you lose it in month 24, you've basically already gotten your use out of it, and the cost of the initial investment is only a third of what you've sunk into it overall.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 1:28 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
I'm not sure how the cost comparison between upgrading and buying new enters into it. I mean, right now you could multiply the costs for upgrading by 1.5, but it wouldn't seriously address the problem at hand (if anything, it would discourage people from regular upgrades, and encourage them instead to just buy new. Sort of like what a lot of people do with computers right now, rather than buying a new video card, RAM and HDD 2 years in, I wait another 3 years and buy a whole new box.)
Well the cost comparison isn't between buying new and upgrading, but rather between upgrading and replacement. What I'm looking for mainly is to allow the GM the flexibility of being able to capture the decker or break his equipment without essentially ending his character or having to contrive a way to hand him >500,000 nuyen of equipment. My idea for handling this was to offload much of the deck's cost to software costs, then assume the decker would naturally keep backups of that software and not on one machine.

Quote:
That does bring up an interesting thought though. If the cost of the deck were spread over its lifetime, rather than upfront, that reduces the cost of 'loss' while still keeping them pricey overall. So say we reduce all decks in price by 50%, but now you pay 5% of the price every month, for maintaining license keys on software, rejiggering your masking chip, upgrading new hardware to keep SOTA (in regards to performance and new security methods) etc. A deck that isn't kept up to date effectively loses 1 point of rating every 2 months.

Now half of the cost is up front, and half of the cost is after a year of use (approximately). If you lose your deck in month 1, well that's still a rough loss (although only half of what you would have lost otherwise). If you lose it in month 24, you've basically already gotten your use out of it, and the cost of the initial investment is only a third of what you've sunk into it overall.

SOTA rules do sort of allow for this: if I recall correctly you either have to succeed at a skill check or pay money for each component, lest it end up on the junk bench.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 1:32 pm 
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I've never used SOTA rules though (and I don't know that anyone else has either).

Regardless, that doesn't tell me if it's a good idea or not :P


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 7:42 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
I've never used SOTA rules though (and I don't know that anyone else has either).

Regardless, that doesn't tell me if it's a good idea or not :P

I'm tempted to say not, because that proposal adds a recurring cost to the decker that, to the best of my knowledge, is shared by none of the other archetypes. Everyone else gets to pay for their stuff and then gets to keep it for free; the decker gets taxed for having his cake and eating it too.

Besides, the point of this exercise is to shift the cost of being a decker from cash to skill, not to hide the cash cost while still forcing the poor decker to pay it anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:04 pm 
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The SotA rules are one of those "let's screw the players in unpredictable ways" rules; it wouldn't be so bad if they were front-and-center in the main rules so that everyone was expecting it, and we could put them there, but it's not clear to me that it's worth it at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:08 am 
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No, I agree, SOTA isn't the answer. Software plus backups, I think, is.

Here's my idea, in a nutshell: computer hardware in the 2060s is cheap, plentiful, and very nearly ubiquitous. For style reasons most deckers build their decks from scratch using purchased parts, but in a pinch a good decker can scrounge up a serviceable deck out of a broken car stereo, some stolen wire, and a bit of duct tape, and use that cobbled-together mess to break into the most secure complexes on Earth (hey, that gives me an awesome idea!)

The hardware itself is nothing--thanks to 120 years of Moore's Law and economies of scale, your average car or cellphone has enough raw computing power to meet the needs of a small city--it's the wetware and the software, the people using the computers and the tomes of secret, arcane rules and tricks they use on those computers, that are special and unique. And by 2060, the people are getting to be pretty cheap as well; it's really the software that is time-consuming and expensive to come by, and jealously guarded in quadruple-encrypted data havens once obtained.

In other words, divide current hardware costs by 10, 25, even 50 or more, but keep software costs closer to the same as they are now. Software options are where all the fun customization is at anyway; hardware has always been more of a boring chore. Software will still cost a lot to obtain, and more to upgrade, but, since every competent decker will have at least a few backups, if he loses his deck with its suite of programs, it's fairly easy to buy or scrounge up another set of hardware and just load the software in from backup, so the software costs don't have to be paid again.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:18 am 
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So what stops a party from buying each character a deck (since they're cheap), and pooling money for the software, since it can be shared? Then the entire party decks and the dedicated decker is nearly obsolete.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:27 am 
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Well if you're going to base your team out of the movie Hackers then yeah, you should be able to get synergistic benefits out of it. Mages have Ritual Sorcery; riggers can share drones and autosofts; adepts can do Chinese acrobatics or something; deckers share programs.

Keep in mind though that this is all dependent on decking being primarily skill-based rather than cash-based: the biggest reason for lowering total monetary cost of decking is that I'm planning on most deckers needing their A priority for Skills rather than Resources. This'll be especially true if BeCKS-based characters are going to be the default; a lot of high-rating Skills chews up Karma ridiculously fast.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:22 am 
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Gotcha. Sounds reasonable, but then it does beg the question as to why programs are so expensive, since they can be copied 'for free'. I mean imagine I got a magically copying car for $20,000. That's a lot of money. But if my wife asked for a copy, I'd give it to her for free, and if my best friend asked for a copy, I'd probably ask him to cover half of the costs, then his wife gets one for free and so on.

Unless the costs for the program are spread out over time, to cover their natural degradation, there's no reason why a soft asset like computer code should maintain a high cost, especially for people like deckers whose whole business is training in how to steal said programs. You don't see computer hackers paying $600 for Photoshop, do you?


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:37 am 
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Sure, few hackers are paying for "regular" software; they know better than most that open sourced code is seen by many more eyes than the code you write by yourself, and thus usually ends up better. But you do see them paying lots, either in money or time, for the latest software exploits. It's the exact opposite of what you see for "regular" software: the more widely known an exploit is, the more likely it is to be patched, and the lower its value. "Regular" information wants to be free; hacking information is jealously guarded by those who have it.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:23 am 
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But that doesn't address (and in fact seems to reinforce) my problem.

If a hacker knows about a given exploit and writes code to exploit it, that exploit will, over time, become known to more and more people. More programs will be made available to exploit it. The value of that hacker's code drops preciptiously over time, and soon the exploit is known and fixes for it become more common. So again, we're back to 'there's little reason not to move the software (i.e. sell it while it has value), and every reason why it should lose value over time'.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:24 pm 
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You seem to be advocating for SOTA rules here. I thought we already ruled those out because they're either just more unnecessary dice rolling or a cheap way for a GM to screw over a player.

Anyway, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that software flaws are "fixed." Sure, in the real world you have software troubleshooters on corporate payrolls, as well as independent security research groups and impassioned middle class hobbyists finding flaws in software, documenting them, and seeing them (eventually) patched. This isn't the real world though, this is Shadowrun, a dystopian fantasyland owned and operated by corporations behaving in ways that make the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert look like a brilliant philanthropist.

Software in Shadworun doesn't usually get "fixed". Software "troubleshooters" are independent contractors named Shadowrunners who shoot people in the face when they violate corporate copyright by knowing software source code. Independent security research groups don't exist because the only money independent from corporations is in the hands of outlaws. Middle class hobbyists don't tinker with corp software anymore, because finding a flaw in Mother Corp is a capital offense.

The only time--the only time--flaws get fixed are when a particular flaw gets "onto the Matrix." If a flaw is obvious enough or widely-published enough that everyone knows about it then a corp won't be able to keep a lid on it for the price of a few cheap bullets and a few cheaper lives; problems only get fixed when the cost of not doing anything outweighs the cost of covering up the problem. The message is clear then: hide your exploits. Don't give them away for free or cheap, lest they spread around and get noticed, and thus fixed. Above all don't let any leak get traced back to you, because if you're too flashy about exploiting a corp's flaws, well, bullets are cheap, and your life is cheaper.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:02 am 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
You seem to be advocating for SOTA rules here. I thought we already ruled those out because they're either just more unnecessary dice rolling or a cheap way for a GM to screw over a player.


Well, right now it seems like the only answer to the problem of limiting deckers by the expense of soft goods that can be copied and therefore may be free.

Quote:
The only time--the only time--flaws get fixed are when a particular flaw gets "onto the Matrix." If a flaw is obvious enough or widely-published enough that everyone knows about it then a corp won't be able to keep a lid on it for the price of a few cheap bullets and a few cheaper lives; problems only get fixed when the cost of not doing anything outweighs the cost of covering up the problem. The message is clear then: hide your exploits. Don't give them away for free or cheap, lest they spread around and get noticed, and thus fixed. Above all don't let any leak get traced back to you, because if you're too flashy about exploiting a corp's flaws, well, bullets are cheap, and your life is cheaper.


If you could come up with a mechanic for this, where sharing the tools actually reduces their value, then I think we'd have a solution.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:45 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
You seem to be advocating for SOTA rules here. I thought we already ruled those out because they're either just more unnecessary dice rolling or a cheap way for a GM to screw over a player.


Well, right now it seems like the only answer to the problem of limiting deckers by the expense of soft goods that can be copied and therefore may be free.

Quote:
The only time--the only time--flaws get fixed are when a particular flaw gets "onto the Matrix." If a flaw is obvious enough or widely-published enough that everyone knows about it then a corp won't be able to keep a lid on it for the price of a few cheap bullets and a few cheaper lives; problems only get fixed when the cost of not doing anything outweighs the cost of covering up the problem. The message is clear then: hide your exploits. Don't give them away for free or cheap, lest they spread around and get noticed, and thus fixed. Above all don't let any leak get traced back to you, because if you're too flashy about exploiting a corp's flaws, well, bullets are cheap, and your life is cheaper.


If you could come up with a mechanic for this, where sharing the tools actually reduces their value, then I think we'd have a solution.

I'm not sure you need to make a hard rule. All you need to do is make decking programs expensive, relative to the mass-produced volume-priced hardware* (to reflect their scarcity and the fact that they're basically hand-coded by skilled craftsmen over long periods of time), and note that selling off or giving away copies of your programs "to the public" may well make the originals worthless, due to exploit leakage.

*The only piece of hardware that we can't immediately say is mass-produced is the Masking "Chip". My basic solution to this is to make the MPCP the only real hardware processing component... but that's for another thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:11 pm 
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I'm wondering if we can't make up a new security device for the programs. Programs perhaps are coded with certain 'empty spaces'. When a program is burnt to disc, that space is fixed and attached, presumably to something like a MAC address, likely in the datajack. A decker can have a number of MAC active equal to the number of datajacks attached to the deck, and it's possible to change your MAC address (so two users can set themselves to have the same MAC address). This is encoded at such a low-level and so thoroughly through the code that it would take about the same amount of time to code the project from scratch as it would to recode it to work with a new user.

Programs are copied from master discs which are blank, anc must be coded to the MAC address when usable copies are made. Obviously, the master copies are worth a lot, as infinite copies can be made from it.


The results are as such...
Deckers still have programs which can be backed up and protected and such.
A party can share programs amongst themselves, as long as they all agree to a shared MAC address early on.
A decker can steal another decker's programs, but that requires he copy that decker's MAC address and juggle addresses (so if he has only 1 datajack, he has to decide which set of programs to use - his or the captured programs, which also adds value to having multiple datajacks).
A decker cannot easily sell their program to other users.

We would probably want to rework the Programming rules so that if you are reworking a software copy to use your MAC address, you can do so with a reasonable amount of time (like the current rules). If you are trying to make a master copy disc or create a program from scratch, it takes a much longer time. This way we prevent deckers from just making programs all day and 'winning', and also gives some additional value to programs scavenged off dead deckers.


Thoughts? It would obviously need a cool term to replace MAC address.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:00 pm 
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Ehh. I don't like thinking about DRM in the real world; do I really want to be thinking about it in SR? :)

Joking aside, that's what you're basically arguing for: true, uncrackable DRM for SR programs. That's great, and theoretically possible if and only if you enable something like Trusted Computing world-wide, easily a possibility in a world where corporations have unshakable monopolies on every aspect of daily life, but it begs the question of why this unbreakable ID system doesn't apply between decks and hosts, cutting out the Masking program entirely and making decks useless.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:08 am 
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It's true, it is DRM (I was doing something with a trial-version of Word at the time).

I don't see why it requires Trusted Computing world-wide. In theory, yes, if you buy Ares Browse, your computer information is stored on one of their servers and available to whatever host you visit. But you're not buying that. Bob the Decker knows there's a market for Ares Browse by people who don't want their information kept, so he's reworked Ares Browse so it doesn't do that. He made sure the copy-encryption works though, because he knows otherwise, his hard work will be stolen by the first guy he sells to, and he'll never sell any more.

In theory, yes, if someone gets a copy of your Browse program, he can resolve it to find your MAC address, but since you can change your MAC address, and it's not your name or anything, it's not exactly end of the world (and it requires they get your copy of the program first). This WOULD dissuade deckers from uploading copies of their programs to hosts and running them there, however.


The assumption here is that:
a) These programs can be made by individuals, not just huge corporations
b) This is a technology that can be applied to each program, in a style the designer determines. The technology can be applied such that it broadcasts your information, or in a way where it's like a key in a door.
c) Any designer who does not use this technology is going to get his product stolen.
d) Any illegal program which gets too much circulation is going to be specifically targeted and shut down (i.e. free, stolen programs don't last long). A myriad of individual developers avoid that attention the same way that mutations of the cold virus continue to survive even when your immune system has successfully destroyed the mumps virus.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:47 am 
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I'm honestly not sure I see this as an advantage over monkeyright.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:25 pm 
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I'm sorry, what's monkeyright?


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:11 pm 
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"You can't grab utilities off the matrix for free because hey look a three-headed monkey!"

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:29 pm 
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Yeah, same here. I especially don't like anything that would make 2060s computing less advanced than 1980s computing. I mean, hypervisors and hardware virtualization have been around for decades; these days it's almost as fast as running off the bare metal, and most CPUs are optimized for it specifically (especially AMD). Besides, the whole point of Masking is to hide your signature from everyone who might ask for it; if Masking is stymied by a little bit of software then how can it work against a multi-million nuyen host?

No, no; I think the solution is to have a sharp division between so-called "General Use" utilities/programs and "Hacking" utilities/programs. "General Use" ones--like Analyze, Browse, Read/Write, Encrypt, three out of four Persona programs--will be dirt cheap, even free to pirate if you are prepared to accidentally install a virus or bit of spamware along with your download. What you'd be paying for here is reliability, the convenience of knowing that your program is (hopefully) virus-free. Try to sell a used General Use program and you get laughed at; why take a chance on your potentially dodgy Browse when I can get a trusted download from a reputable source for a few bucks extra?

"Hacking" programs--Deception, Decrypt, Inject, the Masking Persona program--will cost a lot, and be rare. Here you don't want to sell your programs willy-nilly because if you do they will soon become worthless, as they spread around the Matrix and your exploits gain enough notoriety that someone actually goes to fix them. We can make rules for that if you like, but I'd just say that if you start selling your hacking programs the GM has total license to say that the exploits your hacking programs were based on got patched, and thus no longer work.

I kinda already made these assumptions in my deck customization thread; check out the prices to see what I'm thinking of charging for different types of programs.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:46 pm 
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That would be a serious divergence from the way things are currently done; Analyze, Browse, and Read/Write don't actually do what they say they do, they do what they say they do against a host that doesn't want them to. Ordinary users have no business using them, and no need to.

Encrypt is the odd one out, granted.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:44 pm 
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Actually, removing those programs from the list of things a host actively resists would go a long way toward making Overwatch and the like more possible, so that might be a good idea.

The thing is, if every utility was only used for hacking, there'd be no point in having any Active Memory at all on a legal cyberterminal. I can only conclude that some programs must have non-decking uses as well, and the rules seem to agree. Browse, for instance, provides a bonus on information searches, even ones not conducted using a deck. Editing a file uses Read/Write. Just because a host resists these actions when you have a Masking Chip/program doesn't mean that someone without Masking automatically succeeds without having to roll.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:54 am 
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I always assumed the problem wasn't that the computer didn't want users using Browse to check through system files. It just didn't want YOU doing it, because it can't properly identify or validate you. It's like if my computer started communicating with a random IP address out in cyberspace. It's okay that programs on my PC communicate with other IP addresses, it's just that THIS ONE is suspicious that means its more likely to get shut down.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:07 pm 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
The thing is, if every utility was only used for hacking, there'd be no point in having any Active Memory at all on a legal cyberterminal.

They aren't, only every operational utility is. Security deckers get plenty of use out of Attack, Armor, and the like, and the Programming Suites have non-cracking usefulness. Browse is only for bad people, but Attack has legitimate uses.

Honestly, I think the deeper issue is that legitimate use of cyberterminals is entirely an afterthought in the current rules; there's very little legitimate that uses Active Memory not because it doesn't exist, but because no one spent time and book space on it.

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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:46 pm 
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We should make an Operational Utility called MicroSponge, which has a modifier of 10 and when you use it it crashes your system, but comes default on all stock decks.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:34 am 
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Oh, so that's why they're so cheap! :)

Okay, so the canon rules are ambiguous about whether or not Operational Utilities are required to make system tests. I'm going to say that some operational utilities--we'll call them non-Decking Operational Utilities--are required to make their associated system tests at all. These System Tests need to be made whether you are a "Validated"/legitimate user or not: the measure of their success is not primarily about whether or not you manage to deceive the system, but whether or not you manage to do the action correctly. Such actions use the Computer Skill, rather than the Decking Skill.

For example, take Read/Write and the Edit File operation. For this, the decker is already (illegally) logged into the system, and is attempting to manually edit a file, say to delete some incriminating information. He rolls Computer against a TN of the Files subsystem, minus Read/Write. The host rolls Security Value vs. Detection Factor. Success means that he edited the file convincingly; failure means that there are still telltale signs of tampering, say a backup file or an invalid checksum or something.

This contrasts with Decking programs like Deception, which are not required tests for Validated (or legitimate) users. These use the Decking skill, but otherwise are basically identical to non-Decking tasks, at least in terms of how TNs are calculated.

This lets us do three things:
1) Fix the "Validate Rules the World" bug, in that even Validated users still need to make some tests; they just don't need to make as many.
2) Have a bunch of non-Decking utilities, which can be cheap and ubiquitous, and reduce the number that a low-cash Decker will need to program himself (by canon it takes roughly five years to upgrade all your Operational Utilities).
3) Differentiate between Computer, which is used for legitimate but difficult tasks, and Decking, which is used for illegitimate tasks.


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 Post subject: Re: Cutting Costs
PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Thinking about this, I'd tend to agree. I was inclined to say you wouldn't be *required* to have a program, but really, yeah, you would. You might be editing word docs in Emacs or Vi, but it's still a program, as simple as it may be.

Increased rating doesn't necessarily mean it's better at doing illegal stuff, but also it has more widgets and functionality, like the difference between Word 2007 and WordStar. Hence, legitimate users are likely still going to have high-rating programs, even if the uses are different (or alternatively, commercial versions like Word are low rating, because they can't do what they do much better, but have a higher multiplier because they have more doodads in).


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