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Blue-screened APCS and other Malf things


Kaed

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Blue screen APCs = Malf.


This is an concept that is so hard-wired into the typical SS13 player it is impossible to separate from them from it realistically, no matter how much you push not metagaming. It's ingrained, obvious, and it doesn't matter if there is a random event that sometimes causes bluescreened APCs. It's just going to happen, random people will begin reporting them, and from there it is a slippery slope to the malfunctioning AI having someone in their core uninvited because 'they suspect system corruption'.


This mechanic is a legacy of an older version of Malfuctioning AI, where you had to have a specific number of APCs under your control in order to blow the station, and things were much more simplistic - there had to be a way to notice the AI doing it's thing before the station exploded, or you were screwed. It was extremely fast paced compared to the much more moderate hour and a half or often MORE process that is involved with NewMalf. With the increased complexity of new-malf, more complexity needs to be added to the process.


Malfuctioning AI need to have more breathing room, as the assault on their core should not be starting until they take overt, obvious action. I have worked out a general idea for this, but critique is welcome.


1) Blue Screened APCs: These should stop happening, at least initially. Make the error report for the APC visible only to people actually opening up the APC interface. People randomly passing by should not see a bright overt flashing APC error. Something like, "Interface error: Unable to accept commands" when they try to toggle something. It may be more reasonable for the bluescreened APCs to start happening after the Override command begins. When this happens, all hacked APCs bluescreen immediately, and more of them begin to as the station is taken over. At this point, the AI is on full assault, there is no subtlety. The APCs are being brute forced and used outside of their manufactured purpose.

2) In the defense of engineers, the current 'counter' to bluescreened APCs is very unintuitive: You must tear down the entire APC and build a new one. I propose some method of troubleshooting 'malfunctioning' APCs, like a tool you use on it that debugs it or perform a full reset on the hardware. It should take a while to do this (ideally more than the 60 seconds it takes to hack it, because they're not a super powerful AI), and then the APC is fixed. This will lower some of the alarm caused by having to literally destroy an APC to fix it (wow, this APC was really fucked up and this concerns me!), and make it streamlined more into a general troubleshooting thing. This tool will cease to work during the Override stage when everything bluescreens, thus furthering the evidence that something bad is going on.

3) Make recalling the shuttle possible even during override, if you have the upgrade or ideally, let the override be stopped at will. Keep in mind starting override can carry a high processing cost, making spamming it on and off unfeasible. However, having a full 10+ minutes where you are unable to utilize any malfunction commands is devastating, and actually can cause the round to end early because of shuttlecall spam you can no longer stop.

4) The manipulation tree has some useless stuff in it. The biggest offender is "Electrical Pulse.". The only thing this does is randomly blow some lights somewhere on station, anywhere, with a tiny chance of breaking an APC in the process. This INCLUDES your core APC, so it is actually possible to accidentally kill yourself using this ability. Considering that even when NOT malfunctioning you can 'overload lighting circuits' on any APC on the map, with far more precision and less risk to the station and yourself, this ability is almost useless. Proposed replacement: This tree seems to mainly involve hijacking various nonencrypted station subsystems and machinery. One of the biggest weaknesses of the AI is that people can hold conferences off-radio and plot to kill it without its knowledge. It can use intercoms to listen in, but this suffers from two major problems: First, every intercom on station has a sharply limited 'hearing' range, of about 2-3 squares. Second, it's impossible to do this covertly, because all someone has to do is click on the intercom and see that it's set to a strange station, and they instantly know the AI is responsible and disable it, running out of earshot or watching it like a hawk to see if it turns itself back on. My proposed solution is to allow malfunctioning AI to utilize the sensors on the AI holopads covertly. I know they're on there - when you activate the holopad, you can hear and see everything around it as if you were standing on that spot as a regular mob. The problem is it is impossible to use them without activating the holopad and alerting everyone in the room you are present and listening. This is a fine safety protocol for normal AI, but there is no reason why a malfunctioning AI should follow safety or privacy procedures.

5) The interdiction tree is missing a key element that used to be in old Malf - the ability to hack IPCs. I don't know where this should show up on the tree progression. But I feel it should be a thing again. If you can remotely hack unlinked borg to bind them to you, and even hack other AI units, IPC should be susceptible too. Perhaps replace Hack Cyborg with the more broad "Hack Synthetic" (AI should still be their own tier at the top), and/or auto-hack IPCs who finger your hacked APCs.

6) Hack Camera needs to be done more intuitively. Currently (I think?) it only works with any effectiveness by right clicking on the camera and selecting 'hack camera' This works fine, until crew members begin smashing every camera in sight. Since one of the functions of 'hack camera' is to reactivate a camera, it is somewhat difficult to hack a camera you can no longer see due to it being disabled. Usually I end up having to waste time and resources giving a nearby camera xray vision just to see the camera so I can click on it. That's really silly and roundabout. Maybe something like a special interface similar to what the security cameras computer has, that shows you all cameras and broken ones are greyed out.

7) Some way of preventing all borgs from being blown up by the RD the moment trouble happens. There's already a way to unlock them by hacking.

8) A way to hack in access to the telecomm sat's turrets, bypassing the 'firewall'

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3) Make recalling the shuttle possible even during override, if you have the upgrade or ideally, let the override be stopped at will. Keep in mind starting override can carry a high processing cost, making spamming it on and off unfeasible. However, having a full 10+ minutes where you are unable to utilize any malfunction commands is devastating, and actually can cause the round to end early because of shuttlecall spam you can no longer stop.

 

I don't play antags, so i don't know much about the technical details of this aspect.


But what i do know, is that the AI recalling shuttles is really, really dumb.

Maybe its acceptable that someone could accidentally call an emergency shuttle once, and cancel it, but central command should be faxing for an explanation of that costly mistake, and maybe docking the captain's pay for it


If two shuttles are cancelled? That should be a clear and obvious sign that something is very wrong, and then logically no more cancelling would be allowed and an ERT would automatically be sent to investigate.


If the AI is going to recall a shuttle, it should be possible only once, as a tactic to buy more time. anything beyond that is just absurd from an RP viewpoint


As to the broader topic of the thread, i think malf AI is just too common. Being a regular round type means people are alwsys sort of on-guard for it, and it seems like AIs go crazy so alarmingly often that it makes you question why we have the darned things. Bearing in mind that antag AIs very often happen during normal antag rounds too

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I don't play antags, so i don't know much about the technical details of this aspect.


But what i do know, is that the AI recalling shuttles is really, really dumb.

Maybe its acceptable that someone could accidentally call an emergency shuttle once, and cancel it, but central command should be faxing for an explanation of that costly mistake, and maybe docking the captain's pay for it


If two shuttles are cancelled? That should be a clear and obvious sign that something is very wrong, and then logically no more cancelling would be allowed and an ERT would automatically be sent to investigate.


If the AI is going to recall a shuttle, it should be possible only once, as a tactic to buy more time. anything beyond that is just absurd from an RP viewpoint

 

You make a fair point that AI recalling shuttles is silly, but, counterpoint: The shuttles are asking for the round to end. The AI has this mechanic to prevent people from just calling a shuttle and ending the round before it can accomplish what it wants. Any other antag can theoretically cancel a shuttle, because they have hands, can can use the Communications computers to do so. AI are hard coded to be unable to access the 'cancel shuttle' command, so the malf command is a workaround for it.


Instead of saying 'it's stupid that AI can do this', you should be saying, 'It's stupid that AI taking over the station have no way to stop shuttles from being called in the first place.' and that people's response to a shuttle being recalled is to call another shuttle again and again, like children playing tug of war only it costs the company assets every time someone tugs


Perhaps instead of preventing the shuttle from being recalled, to many shuttle calls causes Nanotrasen to take a 'crying wolf' policy, and stop sending them until they get more information about wtf is going on there. People use shuttles as an 'I don't want to play anymore' button, and that's not what it should before. It should be the final option after everything else has been exhausted. Many times, I see no one even attempt to call an ERT, they just jam their sausage fingers onto Evacuate and nope away from the danger.

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You make a fair point that AI recalling shuttles is silly, but, counterpoint: The shuttles are asking for the round to end.

This is true, but the point to be considered is, is it ending the round prematurely?


If people are calling the shuttle, its often because the antag has made the station unlivable, or killed most of security, and has thus effectively ended the round anyway.


People shouldn't be calling a shuttle in non-dire situations, and they should be calling ERT first. that's a matter for admins to deal with if rules aren't being followed

 

Many times, I see no one even attempt to call an ERT, they just jam their sausage fingers onto Evacuate and nope away from the danger.

I agree, i often try to say this. most of the time i'm ignored, sometimes i'm shouted at for trying to act like command staff.

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I agree with most of the points in the OP, but with one little thing about hacking IPCs. It should only be possible when they attempt to charge from a hacked APC. I can't really speak for IPCs but they don't really possess the hardware to be networked to anything besides a direct connection to whatever power source they touch (in this case, an APC).

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I agree with most of the points in the OP, but with one little thing about hacking IPCs. It should only be possible when they attempt to charge from a hacked APC. I can't really speak for IPCs but they don't really possess the hardware to be networked to anything besides a direct connection to whatever power source they touch (in this case, an APC).

 

That's fair, but that makes it especially important to cut out (early game) bluescreened APCs - if it's obviously hacked, every IPC will unconsciously or not metagame and refuse to charge from them.

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We once had one malf that system overided, didnt act weird at all till it got to nuke and went 0 to 100 real fast.

120 seconds to nuke detonation is pretty damn fast and if the AI doesnt give any hints of being a bit odd its not a fight you can win without pacman+emitter powergame

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We once had one malf that system overided, didnt act weird at all till it got to nuke and went 0 to 100 real fast.

120 seconds to nuke detonation is pretty damn fast and if the AI doesnt give any hints of being a bit odd its not a fight you can win without pacman+emitter powergame

 

The only way that can happen is if they silently took over most of the station APCs before even starting override. Props to the crew for somehow not metagaming all the APCs, but shitty malf if they act normal up until then.

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We once had one malf that system overided, didnt act weird at all till it got to nuke and went 0 to 100 real fast.

120 seconds to nuke detonation is pretty damn fast and if the AI doesnt give any hints of being a bit odd its not a fight you can win without pacman+emitter powergame

 

I agree with this, the timer on the nuke is way too short, it seems absurd.


I can't see why it shouldn't be some longer time, like 10 minutes, to give people a reasonable chance to escape.

If there's going to be ANY forced timer built into it, to pevent immediate and instant detonation without warning, then that timer should at least be long enough for everyone to get to an escape

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Giving it a longer timer won't give people an extra chance to escape, merely an extra chance to weldertank their way into the AI core and beat it to death with crowbars.

 

Simply make it so that the nuke can't be stopped either way at that point. killing the AI won't save you.

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Giving it a longer timer won't give people an extra chance to escape, merely an extra chance to weldertank their way into the AI core and beat it to death with crowbars.

 

Simply make it so that the nuke can't be stopped either way at that point. killing the AI won't save you.

 

Nooooo.


Being able to stop the nuke explosion is important, both for the station crew, and for the AI, who can use it as a final threat.

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Giving it a longer timer won't give people an extra chance to escape, merely an extra chance to weldertank their way into the AI core and beat it to death with crowbars.

 

Simply make it so that the nuke can't be stopped either way at that point. killing the AI won't save you.

 

Nooooo.


Being able to stop the nuke explosion is important, both for the station crew, and for the AI, who can use it as a final threat.

Well to clarify, i meant, make it so that killing the AI won't stop the nuke, not taking away the AI's ability to use it.


Stopping the nuke, if it's going to be done, should be done by going into the vault and hacking/disarming it somehow.

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It would be interesting if a variety of things caused APCs to malfuction, if malfunctioning APCs weren't so plainly visible, or if fighting the AI could actually consist of frantically repairing APCs and trying to control the spread of the "virus" until the AI was fixed. Something has to change about Malf, though. There's nothing to do but stare at blue screens, know that its bad form to voice concerns, and then throw your hands up when you get speed-nuked at the end of the round.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Blue-screened APCs also turn that color as a result of random events. If you see a LOT of BSOD APCs you can safely assume it's malf if there hasn't been any other traitor items that have been identified throughout the round.

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Blue-screened APCs also turn that color as a result of random events. If you see a LOT of BSOD APCs you can safely assume it's malf if there hasn't been any other traitor items that have been identified throughout the round.
Worthwhile note, the power-sink hardsuit module of ninjas/nukies/traitors can also leave these kinds of APCs, as well as e-mags. People who immediately flick the "AI" switch in their head tend to miss that fact.

 

That's the problem though. People DO associate BSOD apcs with malf instantly, even after the first one. Some of them are courteous enough to not scream AI IS ROGUE, sure, but they will inevitably start pointing them out, and more and more will show up. And then some head will start making up nonsense about 'checking the AI for corruption' when there is no evidence in any way that the AI is involved.


It happens, I've seen it. I've been that stealthy malf.

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Oh, I meant from an OOC standpoint, I forgot to clarify that as it was late. I wouldn't expect an assistant to cry out "KILL THE AI" with a couple APCs BSODed. It's fine for people to OOCly identify antagonists and keep it to themselves, but they should never let it seep into IC as all it takes for a lynching is a bit of suspicion.

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Oh, I meant from an OOC standpoint, I forgot to clarify that as it was late. I wouldn't expect an assistant to cry out "KILL THE AI" with a couple APCs BSODed. It's fine for people to OOCly identify antagonists and keep it to themselves, but they should never let it seep into IC as all it takes for a lynching is a bit of suspicion.

 

Trusting people not to meta is like leaving a $100 bill unattended on a table in a crowded store. Maybe 49 out of 50 people won't take it and pocket it, but all it takes is that one, and your benjamin is gone. This is why I recommended an alternative that does not advertise the BSOD effect until shit is really going down.

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Probably, but imagine that $100 bill is laced with coke and is being monitored by an undercover stake-out cop to seize upon. That is, if anyone bothers to report that the $100 bill got taken and pocketed, that is.


I would probably agree that a code solution would be more preferred to not make it so obvious what round type it is.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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