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Meme 2.0 - The Cognitohazard


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AKA "Kaed reads SCPs can you tell?"

Many of you may be aware that there is such thing as a 'meme' in the game code, but it is mysterious and admin only.  There is a good reason for this - while once created to be a game mode, it's been disabled for years due to it being a buggy piece of garbage that makes players and admins cry.  Not only do some of its abilities fail to work, but they're all way too expensive to be worth what they do, and the targeting menus for them are fucky as shit.  On the admin side, they struggle to even interact with the meme mob, and can't view its player panel.  Anyway, point is, it's really shitty and bad.

After having a chance to try it the other day, I really wanted to unfuck memes, and possibly have them re-added as a valid game mode.  I'm still in early planning stages but I'll run my ideas by you all. (Yes, I know I offered changeling too in the past, but after some looking into it, I don't have the coding experience yet to do what I wanted with lings.  Maybe at a later date.)

One of the first large issues with memes is they are basically like weird, buggy versions of borers.They can hurt or help their host, possess them, even inject them with painkillers.  Their only special defining trait is being able to jump from host to host and an ability to talk through their mouth.  I'm not a fan of this.  Borers are their own thing, and while they have problems, they function just fine as a parasitic brain monster.  We don't need a second one.  So here is what Memes (henceforce called Cognitohazards) are going to be instead:

  • A cognitohazard will no longer be a mob that lives in a person's head, it will be an abstract, invisible mob that is bound to a single individual that it follows everywhere, similar to how a ghost works when following someone, only you can't move away. Functionally, it's about the same as being in their head except it probably will cause less fucky problems by being a separate mob hovering over them. Cognitohazards will also be unique antagonists, like wizards and ninjas, except in special adminny circumstances. 
  • The cognitohazard cannot speak freely in the normal fashion. Either aloud or through someone else's mouth. It has little direct control over any host, except in very specific circumstances I will elaborate on later.  Its main form of communication is implanting thoughts and emotions in their host(s).  If possible, it's advisable that we try to enforce that cognitohazards don't 'chat' with people at all, but rather emote sensations and thoughts at them as if it was the host's own thoughta speaking to them.  I don't know how much roleplay dedication we can force on people but it's a dream to work for!
  • The cognitohazard is a conceptual entity that spreads through specific knowledge, in this case a memetic trigger phrase uttered in the right circumstances and inflection. At the start of the round, the Cognitohzard player chooses a specific phrase, such as "Do you like bananas?", "The clown walks at midnight.", or "Tranquility through ignorance." Whatever. It doesn't matter so much, the point is, that the cognitohazard spreads itself through this phrase.  Initially, this can only be done via whispering/murmuring in someone's ear (i.e. you have to be adjacent)  Unlike with oldmeme, this does not transfer the cognitohazard to the new host, but rather spreads your tainted information to that individual. Thereafter, you can switch your cognitohazard mob to anyone who has been infected with your cognitohazard in sight.  Later, you will be able to jump to anyone on the whole map that is infected, but the long jump is visible because it makes the recipient act weird for a moment, stumbling and mumbling your trigger phase to themselves. Late game, you will be able to shout your trigger phrase and infect everyone who can hear it around you. Note: This trigger phrase is not transmittable over electronics and when you do it you are likely to out your host as infected by the cognitohazard as well as everyone around them.
  • The cognitohazard can also give its hosts certain buffs, like the ability to ignore pain, surpass physical limits, etc.
  • The goal of the cognitohazard is to infect as many people as possible and accomplish some motive of its own.  During the late game, it will gain the ability to switch from making the host think and feel things (aka encouragement) to sending their host direct commands, ala the vampire dominate command.  First it will only be to hosts the cognitohazard is currently occupying, then it will be to any infected individuals nearby, until finally at the end of the game they can target single individuals anywhere on the map or use their ultimate ability, a mass directive that affects every infected individual.  At this point all the people you've secretly or not so secretly been infecting become a mass of memetic zombies with a single directive.  It could be anything, like 'leave the station and spread the word' or 'lynch the captain' or whatever else you think would make for an interesting cognitohazard experience. 
  • Counterplay: Cognitohazards are sentient, dangerous knowledge, and it is difficult to destroy information.  Once the cognitohazard is discovered, it may have already infected any number of crewmembers, depending on how subtle it was.  Anyone could be a sleeper agent for a the cognitohazard.  That being said, this format of cognitohzard has some significant weaknesses - it can only be spread via sound, thus deliberately deafening yourself with something like earmuffs will prevent you from being infected.  Staying away from other people is also a way to counteract it, and I like the idea of people being terrified to approach each other and only communicating over radio.  A sense of isolation and mistrust of your fellow coworkers should define a cognitohazard round.  As for actually destroying it, I think that (this is subject to change) the only way to remove infection would be to put someone to sleep long enough that they aren't thinking anymore, and that clears away the memetic thought hovering in their subconscious or whatever.  Since the mob can jump to ANY infected mob, depending on the part of the round you're in, that means everyone who is infected has to be cleared away.  Once everyone who is infected has lost their knowledge of the memetic trigger, the cognitohzard 'dies', having no one else whose thoughts it can reside in.  This will likely involve a number of earmuffed security guards draggong screaming people to medical to be sedated or such. Idk.  If someone has a better idea how to make someone 'forget' their cognitohazard infection, let me know. What if I added a drug that causes amnesia, instead of forcing people to be sleep toxin'd? You'd forget the round events up until now but that's about it, it would also have uses outside of cognitohzard rounds for traitors and such.
  • There will be progression levels for the cognitohazard, and it won't have immediate access to all abilities or a very high 'meme points' (to be renamed) pool at the start.  It can upgrade itself once it has infected so many sentient individuals, forcing the cognitohazard to actually go out there and be active, spreading itself with its weird trigger phrase, instead of that thing some Malfs do where they act completely normal 90% of the round then suddenly go delta.
Edited by Kaed
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Just now, Conspiir said:

I think the first order of business before literally anything else goes into this would be to not call it a Meme.

 

"Earworm" or something like that would probably be a better term.

Right now I'm thinking of just calling it a 'cognitohazard'

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18 hours ago, Kaed said:

Right now I'm thinking of just calling it a 'cognitohazard'

How about Memetic Hazard? (You are not the only guy here that knows SCPs)

 

Regards to counterplay, I feel this will be a very effective way to have psych have more meat to it. Perhaps it's crystal chamber thing can remove the anomaly?

I am slightly worried about the phrase however, as it would likely be something like "security" or "medical". Not that this is a bad thing, I personally enjoy that idea. If this gets added I am going to have my phrase be "Have a NanoTrasen Day!"

I feel that there should be some ablities to allow the infected to fight against organized threats, such as a super shriek or some other thing.

I recommend having infected sometimes say the phrase randomly, as a sign they are infected.

Overall, really like this idea, and hope that a dev picks it up

+1

Edited by ben10083
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1 hour ago, ben10083 said:

How about Memetic Hazard? (You are not the only guy here that knows SCPs)

 

Regards to counterplay, I feel this will be a very effective way to have psych have more meat to it. Perhaps it's crystal chamber thing can remove the anomaly?

I am slightly worried about the phrase however, as it would likely be something like "security" or "medical". Not that this is a bad thing, I personally enjoy that idea. If this gets added I am going to have my phrase be "Have a NanoTrasen Day!"

I feel that there should be some ablities to allow the infected to fight against organized threats, such as a super shriek or some other thing.

I recommend having infected sometimes say the phrase randomly, as a sign they are infected.

Overall, really like this idea, and hope that a dev picks it up

+1

Haha, I'm the dev that's going to be doing it, silly.  It's not in projects yet because I just haven't started it.

Anyway, as for the other suggestions, yeah, some kind of defense would be good, and maybe psyche could be involved but I hate all their hokey psuedoscience stuff a lot so I'd have to think on that. 

Memetic hazard is a potential idea, but the problem is putting the term 'meme' anywhere up front is not exactly a positive thing, since like Conspiir said, the word has been used to death on this server.

On the note of the trigger word, I've already had plans for the game to track what 'stage' the cognitohazard is in, and the stronger it is, the more obvious the infection is.  People will periodically mumble the trigger phrase against their will, and it will become more common in late game.  Maybe they will occasionally be inflicted with brief bouts of vertigo or dizziness at the endgame stage.

Hm, speaking of psyche, what if an ability they got to defend themselves was the ability to give people nearby uninfected a special phobia trauma of the trigger phrase? That would probably play well into it being a mental attack explicitly, and since phobias have distinct effects on people's ability to function it might make it harder for that validhunter from sec to chase you down when just hearing "Have a Nanotrasen Day!" makes him shut his eyes in terror or freeze up.  Actually being infected would clear the phobia.

This is only enforceable by admins, but I think I might also implement a meta requirement that the trigger phrase has to be something that would not be said in casual conversation, and ideally be more than one word.  Something like "Hello." or "What's up?" is really not menacing or fair to use as a trigger phrase, because it doesn't really stick in the mind as a weird thing to have been said.  "Have Nanotrasen Day" is a good one though, because only total corporate tools would ever say that and people hate corporate tools.

Edited by Kaed
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15 hours ago, ComradeCorbyn said:

Would people know of it's (general) existence? If so, how will it be dealt with through regulation - and if not known, what would be the expected process for people to deal with it?

Otherwise, pretty neat suggestion.

Probably psychologists would get involved, a communicable verbal tic is very much a mental malady. There would not be a push to round up affected people until the first psychotic action (likely as a result of someone being nudged or pushed by the cognitohazard to break or attack someone).  Yes, it's possible for the meme to just lay low the whole round and be utterly boring until end game when it suddenly orders two dozen infected to murder sec and dismantle their department, but we also have the same problem with slow burn antags like vampires and malf AIs, so no different here.

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2 hours ago, Kaed said:

Hm, speaking of psyche, what if an ability they got to defend themselves was the ability to give people nearby uninfected a special phobia trauma of the trigger phrase? That would probably play well into it being a mental attack explicitly, and since phobias have distinct effects on people's ability to function it might make it harder for that validhunter from sec to chase you down when just hearing "Have a Nanotrasen Day!" makes him shut his eyes in terror or freeze up.  Actually being infected would clear the phobia.

This is only enforceable by admins, but I think I might also implement a meta requirement that the trigger phrase has to be something that would not be said in casual conversation, and ideally be more than one word.  Something like "Hello." or "What's up?" is really not menacing or fair to use as a trigger phrase, because it doesn't really stick in the mind as a weird thing to have been said.  "Have Nanotrasen Day" is a good one though, because only total corporate tools would ever say that and people hate corporate tools.

Going to go into a bit of how I imagine a round like this would go, skip if you do not care

Spoiler

You infect a random janitor and the phrase is "Have a NanoTrasen Day!". You wait until he takes a breakand give him the idea of: "Proving your loyalty of the company by wishing everyone in the bar "Have a NanoTrasen Day!". He does so and your army grows. You take a sizable ammount of time slowly spreading the phrase, and by now people are noticing that things are happening that shouldnt. Eventually you hit a critical mass and begin aggressively infecting people, which results in people in earmuffs huddled together talking in PDAM or sign language, and trying to stem the horde of infected. The radio is filled with people panicking as theyare.overun .

7

I feel that you should have a antag preference regarding if you want to be patient 0, and also recommend setting up a way for admins to give the antag another host if they leave or go afk

I think it should just be something that people find out about on their own, or the psych can find out what the trigger is through therapy. Regulations and jazz already cover this antag, since all the HoS/Captain/IAA needs to do is make a injunction about how they must never say a certain phrase.

Also I think it should be at least 2-3 words, no 1 word triggers As tempted as I am to have a word like "Communism" or "Yeet" as a trigger .

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Why not have a set of canned phrases which generate randomly and are assigned to the player?

'The <person> in <the room/department>...'

e.g. 'The janitor in Medbay...', 'The detective in Maintenance...', 'The Captain in the Library...', etc.

'There's <a hazard> in <the room/department>!'

e.g. 'There's a fire in here!', 'There's a breach in Cargo!', 'There's a blob in Engineering!'

 

Similar stuff to dreams, just generated to be slightly more logical (and obviously, this phrase wouldn't change over the round). 

 

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1 minute ago, LorenLuke said:

Why not have a set of canned phrases which generate randomly and are assigned to the player?

'The <person> in <the room/department>...'

e.g. 'The janitor in Medbay...', 'The detective in Maintenance...', 'The Captain in the Library...', etc.

'There's <a hazard> in <the room/department>!'

e.g. 'There's a fire in here!', 'There's a breach in Cargo!', 'There's a blob in Engineering!'

 

Similar stuff to dreams, just generated to be slightly more logical (and obviously, this phrase wouldn't change over the round). 

 

You would risk meta about phrases, also I like the idea of allowing players to decide their own phrase, bad ones can be dealt by admins.

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1 hour ago, ben10083 said:

Going to go into a bit of how I imagine a round like this would go, skip if you do not care

  Hide contents

You infect a random janitor and the phrase is "Have a NanoTrasen Day!". You wait until he takes a breakand give him the idea of: "Proving your loyalty of the company by wishing everyone in the bar "Have a NanoTrasen Day!". He does so and your army grows. You take a sizable ammount of time slowly spreading the phrase, and by now people are noticing that things are happening that shouldnt. Eventually you hit a critical mass and begin aggressively infecting people, which results in people in earmuffs huddled together talking in PDAM or sign language, and trying to stem the horde of infected. The radio is filled with people panicking as theyare.overun .

7

I feel that you should have a antag preference regarding if you want to be patient 0, and also recommend setting up a way for admins to give the antag another host if they leave or go afk

I think it should just be something that people find out about on their own, or the psych can find out what the trigger is through therapy. Regulations and jazz already cover this antag, since all the HoS/Captain/IAA needs to do is make a injunction about how they must never say a certain phrase.

Also I think it should be at least 2-3 words, no 1 word triggers As tempted as I am to have a word like "Communism" or "Yeet" as a trigger .

I just want to be clear on something that might have been misinterpreted here - saying the phrase itself does not transfer the memetic trigger. It's only transferred when the actual antagonist mob uses an ability to force the person they are currently possessing to say it. A normal person, or even an infected person just saying the phrase of their own accord does not spread it. 

However there's no way to know if a given use of the phrase is a memetic transfer or not. People going around muttering the phrase won't make you transfer to you but they might do it at any time if you're not careful.

Edited by Kaed
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  • 1 month later...

Okay, so my first part of doing this is going to be making a 'starting point' for the cognitohazard to join the round.  In that vein, I present to you the concept for the cognitohazard start area.  Please keep in mind 100% of what is in this image is placeholders - all of it will have unique sprites more fitting for the antagonist, and it may even change shape over time.  But here's how it works.

This ares is called 'Conceptual Space' and exists on the centcomm layer.  The cognito hazard 'spawns' here as a sort of glowing ball of light or something, and in the first room, a number of objects will surround you.  They will allow you to pick your thematic nature and what your 'trigger object' looks like.  There will be an array of technological, supernatural, junk/trash, and innocent objects to pick from.  This object will come up later.  You will select one by floating up and clicking on it.  Once you do, the entrance to the next room will open. You will not be able to leave the room without picking a thematic object design.

The next room is where you will choose your memetic trigger phrase.  There will be some sort of object in this room you can interact with, and it will let you pick what your phrase is when you spread.  Please keep in mind that admins WILL be informed of the phrase you have chosen, and will (probably) slap you if you pick something stupid/OOC/immersion breaking.  Fortunately, you can change it as many times as you like using said object.  Once you decide on a phrase, about 30 seconds later, the entrance to the last area will open.

This will be a a simple portal of sorts.  You float into it, and the round starts officially. You will be linked to a randomly selected crewmember as your 'patient zero'.  You are now invisible and all the stuff mentioned earlier in the thread is now in effect.  This individual also has a small trigger object placed into their bag or pocket or some available space.  This is implied to be the object that they picked up somewhere that they forgot about until now that caused them to be infected with your cognitohazard.  It will also have the same sprite as your selection from room 1 of Conceptual Space.  It is in no way linked to you. Destroying it does not destroy you, and while I might allow it to be studied, it only exists to provide a causal link to how you infected them.  

I might also create an event so that people 'discover items at the bottom of their pack' randomly, to create false-flag cognitohazards, so that people don't immediately metagame it any time an object appears in their possession they don't remember having before, much the way bluescreened APCs used to be.

081696a64f8a84b8a5f1cca96d34c554.png

Edited by Kaed
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I like it. Will the first victim have to opted-in for that? So essentially, the gamemode won't start if it doesn't have both a "Cognitohazard" and a "First Cognitohazard victim" selected from the roles? Or is it just totally random and whoever gets infected first has no choice but to antag? And what if that person needs to cryo before the spread?

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1 hour ago, LorenLuke said:

Besides marking patient zero and providing a narrative link, does the trigger object have any mechanics with it, once in-game?

Most likely I will, but that will be lower priority behind getting the round antagonist to work properly.  Extra bells and whistles are to be added once the meat of the code is done.

1 hour ago, Conspiir said:

I like it. Will the first victim have to opted-in for that? So essentially, the gamemode won't start if it doesn't have both a "Cognitohazard" and a "First Cognitohazard victim" selected from the roles? Or is it just totally random and whoever gets infected first has no choice but to antag? And what if that person needs to cryo before the spread?

The way I'm imagining it, a 'victim' is not chosen until the moment the meme steps through the 'start' portal thing.  This will most likely not be something you opt into (you will only opt into being a meme), though I am tenuously thinking certain roles will be exempt from being a target, such as the loyalty implanted ones. The cognitohazard's 'control' over subject zero is extremely limited but we sort of have a standard in place that certain roles just aren't supposed to be involved with round-start antaggery.  Let me know if you think this should be exempt from that.

As for someone needing to cryo, good question.  I think I will add a special exception to cryo code that will prevent someone from being deleted in a cryo tube if there is a cognitohazard currently infecting them, and also an adminverb that just reshuffles who the target of the cognitohazard is (including deleting the trigger item and spawning a new one in the new person's).  This seems like the easiest and least fucky way to manage this.  Just ask a staff member to press the New CH Host button and you get moved to someone else, problem solved. If there isn't a staff member online, I think you're just SoL.  I can't really justify giving cognitohazards a 'rewrite causality' power on the player side, because they might start using it if they just don't like their host somehow, or to escape being in trouble.

Edited by Kaed
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18 hours ago, Kaed said:

This is implied to be the object that they picked up somewhere that they forgot about until now that caused them to be infected with your cognitohazard.  It will also have the same sprite as your selection from room 1 of Conceptual Space.  It is in no way linked to you. Destroying it does not destroy you, and while I might allow it to be studied, it only exists to provide a causal link to how you infected them.  

I might also create an event so that people 'discover items at the bottom of their pack' randomly, to create false-flag cognitohazards, so that people don't immediately metagame it any time an object appears in their possession they don't remember having before, much the way bluescreened APCs used to be.

I feel that the object thing may be a bad idea, as this will alert people that the gamemode exists in general, and people will take measures to protect themselves ("conveniently" having earmuffs just in case). Perhaps simply say that they heard the hazard from someone while on their way to work, or that it suddenly appeared after looking at a special object. However, if this random happening or random junk being found in your backpack being across all gamemodes...then the object would be a good idea. 

Side note, if they give the object to someone else, that that infect them?

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4 hours ago, ben10083 said:

I feel that the object thing may be a bad idea, as this will alert people that the gamemode exists in general, and people will take measures to protect themselves ("conveniently" having earmuffs just in case). Perhaps simply say that they heard the hazard from someone while on their way to work, or that it suddenly appeared after looking at a special object. However, if this random happening or random junk being found in your backpack being across all gamemodes...then the object would be a good idea. 

Side note, if they give the object to someone else, that that infect them?

Already accounted for that, as mentioned earlier, I'll be adding a 'junk in your pack' event.  As for handing the object, no.  The object itself does not spread the cognitohazard.  Think of it as being a single use object, and it's already been used, on the patient zero.

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5 hours ago, GreenBoi said:

Can the Junk in your Pack event be called 'Bluespace Trash Msifire' where Odin says they accidentally beamed trash into a few people's backpacks by accident.

It's probably going to be an event that isn't actually mentioned by CC announcement.

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What about mid/lategame drawnings of cognitohazard on floor/paper, infecting through examine? Finally, a use for "draw in blood"!

Ability to make everyone hallucinate the same thing? Now everyone has same split personality friend, or sees every human being as cult artificer, and this is how universe worked this whole time, totally.

Edited by Diona Gestalt (654)
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