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 Computer Terminal Reps / Hacking UI

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esten.rye

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PostSubject: Computer Terminal Reps / Hacking UI   Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:08 pm

So I have started thinking about how to build a computer terminal rep.  I am going to use a raspberry pi to run it, and may or may not include one or more arduinos to make the physical bits more interesting to play with.

Here's what I have come up with so far:

  • The device needs a screen to display output to the user.
  • The device needs an input method.  This method needs to allow a player to:

    • input their Computer Work level -- indicates their proficiency at hacking
    • input their Traps level -- in conjunction with their Computer Work level, indicates their ability to deal with electronic counter-measures
    • input their Electronics Crafting level -- could be used to tell the device to indicate to the user how to disable hard-wired electronic counter-measures or to indicate to the user how they can reconfigure the hardware to gain more access.
    • input commands and interact with the system.


  • The device needs to be easily configurable by the plot team using a series of text files and properly formatted configuration files.  Access to the files on the terminal could be controlled by player skill levels and random chance, simulating a realistic hacking experience.
  • The device needs to be enclosed in a weather proof box to allow the plot team to set the device in a location such that the players can discover it organically.
  • The device could be optionally outfitted with a thermal printer to allow players to discover and print blueprints or other pertinent information they find on the terminal.  Access to the printer could be controlled by player skill levels.
  • The device could be optionally outfitted with an RFID reader for access keys that could be looted off of NPCs.
  • The device could support the following commands:

    • listCommands  -- displays commands available to the player at their current privilege/skill level
    • listDirectory -- displays all files and directories in the current directory the player has access to at their current privilege/skill level
    • openDirectory -- enters a directory the player has access to.
    • closeDirectory -- closes the current directory and goes up one level.  does nothing if at top level
    • viewFile -- prints a file to the screen if the user has access.  file may be encrypted.
    • deleteFile -- could be used for missions to destroy critical information before others get the information.
    • decryptFile -- could be used to read classified documents, requires elevated privileges
    • encryptFile -- could be used to extort the system owner, requires elevated privileges
    • printFile -- prints a file to the thermal printer if a player has the privilege to print.
    • elevatePrivileges -- increases your access to information, also increases your risk of being caught by electronic counter-measures.
    • logout -- depending on your level, you may need to close your session before time runs out or you risk triggering electronic counter-measures



If anyone would like to share their ideas and/or collaborate on this project, please post them here or get in touch with me.

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OOG: Esten Rye
iG: Sparticus 'Sparky' Piecefinder

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KyleSchmelz



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PostSubject: Re: Computer Terminal Reps / Hacking UI   Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:40 am

I've only been to one game and I don't know a lot about how hacking has traditionally worked in the game, but I think this is an opportunity to add something really cool.  Here are the first things I'm curious about:

How will it interact with the current hacking systems in the game?  There's a "Hacking UI Stick" repped by a USB stick and a "Data Pad" repped by a smartphone or tablet.  Again, I'm not sure exactly how those are used now, but I'd imagine it's something along the lines of just requiring the PC to have them on hand in order to verbally RP hacking a system.  Could a Hacking UI Stick be required to interact with the terminal, presumably with some sort of plot override?  Could a smartphone interact with the terminal in a meaningful way without requiring you to spend hours and hours writing a dedicated app for each mobile OS?

I guess my other thing isn't so much a question as a suggestion - make sure it's easy and fast to deploy for the plot staff.  In Alliance LARP, there are several different types of traps that both players and plot have access to, and almost nobody uses them.  There are a few other reasons for this (magical alternatives, general ineffectiveness, and a weird "PVP is allowed but implicitly discouraged" player dynamic being big drivers of this) but most often it just isn't worth the time it takes to set them up.  If Afterfire's plot team works anything like the ones I've worked with, some mods will be written and prepped for weeks or more in advance and others will happen completely on the fly based on PC actions.  Even those that are prepped way in advance may not happen when plot intends them to, so if it takes 10 minutes to set up the hacking terminal, that can turn into 10 minutes of PCs waiting for a mod to start which is often enough to decide it's not really worth it.
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Dead One
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PostSubject: Re: Computer Terminal Reps / Hacking UI   Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:54 pm

That would be an awesome rep for a terminal. I'm guessing the plan is to either have a USB drive or connect it directly to a computer to add a text file right?
Also yes that is how current repping of hacking is at the moment because of lack of good reps. I am hoping Afterfire will be able to have more uses of computer work and traps than Alliance has.

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esten.rye

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PostSubject: Re: Computer Terminal Reps / Hacking UI   Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:43 am

KyleSchmelz wrote:
How will it interact with the current hacking systems in the game?  There's a "Hacking UI Stick" repped by a USB stick and a "Data Pad" repped by a smartphone or tablet.  Again, I'm not sure exactly how those are used now, but I'd imagine it's something along the lines of just requiring the PC to have them on hand in order to verbally RP hacking a system.  Could a Hacking UI Stick be required to interact with the terminal, presumably with some sort of plot override?  Could a smartphone interact with the terminal in a meaningful way without requiring you to spend hours and hours writing a dedicated app for each mobile OS?

One of my thoughts for this was utilizing an RFID reader attached to the device, then anything you could attach a plot issued RFID tag to could be used as "Hacking Stick".  In addition, some interesting things could be done with this, like making the terminal appear to be inactive until someone with a hacking stick walks by it.  The hacking sticks could also be programmed with the user's respective levels as well.  Kind of a version 2 or 3 idea, but it is rolling around in my head.

As for an app for a smartphone, one app could be written for all three platforms using C# and a multi platform library called Xamarin.  The smartphone would need to support some sort of Near-Field Communication (NFC) and the device would need to be programmed to support and interact with the NFC device with the app.  It would probably take me hours, mainly because I would have to design both the client and the client/server interactions.  It would also require some sort of registration of your smartphone with plot.  This was kind of a version 2 or 3 idea that was rolling around in my head.

Dead One wrote:
I'm guessing the plan is to either have a USB drive or connect it directly to a computer to add a text file right?

Because a RaspberryPi is driving this device, it is essentially a full linux computer.  Assuming the USB drive is using a compatible file system, this would be a viable way to load text files onto the device.  In addition, because it is a full computer, anyone who is comfortable with linux based text editors could create text files and config files directly on the device.

One last thought, I forgot to mention that this device needs to be battery powered. Kind of a foregone conclusion, but needs to be stated anyway.

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OOG: Esten Rye
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esten.rye

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PostSubject: Re: Computer Terminal Reps / Hacking UI   Fri May 01, 2015 12:17 am

A couple days ago, I started programming the terminal emulator.  So far, I have made the following decisions:

  • The emulator will be written in Python 3.4.  This will allow the emulator to run both on the Raspberry Pi's linux operating system and Windows, allowing the plot team to build their text files and test them on their own personal machine, put the files on a compatible USB drive and copy them to the Pi.
  • The emulator will have two modes.  An initialization mode that walks the plot team member through the directory structure they created an asks him or her to assign levels and encryption settings.  An emulation mode that allows the player to perform a simulated hack against the directory.
  • The emulator configuration will be stored as json formatted text files.


I also had an idea that a player's Break and Enter level could be used as an indicator of their ability to decode an encrypted file without needing to gain access to elevated privileges to access the decryption key. This would allow them to decode sensitive files and possibly bypass electronic counter-measures that might get triggered by attempting to elevate their privileges.

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