Browsing articles tagged with " Online Game"

Tinkering with Software & RPG Utilities

Jul 15, 2010

I’m a big fan of online RPG aids — the free and open ones. A decade or ago I wrote a Lifepath and Fast & Dirty Expendable Generator for Cyberpunk 2020. CP2020 has since been updated to Version 3. My original utilities still get a used on occasion but CP2020 was a niche system in its day and today its dead rarely used. My original utilities used C/C++ code via the antiquated cgibin capabilities of the web server. I’ve been looking for an excuse to learn PHP for a while but couldn’t come up with a project.

As I was cleaning up my web detritus, it dawned on me I could add Fast Fortress Construction. Having it would pretty much complete the “random table” features of CP2020 other than perhaps a full up character generator. There really isn’t any point of adding it other than to actually have a semi-useful reason for learning PHP. As a language, the syntax is pretty close to C++ with minor deviations. As most programmers know, once you know one language picking up another one isn’t all that difficult. Automatically generating the graphics is going to be tricky mostly due to layout restrictions of code gates, CPUs and memory units. The rest of the process is pretty trivial.

My one gripe about PHP is debugging. Using text based error messages as a debugging process makes me feel like I’m back in the late ’80’s. There has to be a better mechanism. Perhaps I’ve just not found it yet but if its as limited as I’ve experienced, I’ll withdraw my judgemental attitude about PHP based online games being chuck full of bugs. I’m not willing to toss down major dollars for a integrated suite of development tools since its a hobby exercise. Anyone have suggestions?

On the plus side, there are dozens and dozens of open source add-ons for the core language. So many I’ve pretty much been able to either re-use or adapt open sourced items for everything I’ve written thus far. I haven’t successfully found a rock solid random number generator yet but haven’t looked deeply. TRNG isn’t a requirement, I just prefer them over the mock solutions in most languages. For now, I just encapsulated the rand() method in a class that I can replace without impacting the other code.

Developers all over the world have released so much great PHP code, it would be pretty trivial to toss together a MMO with minimal features in a few days. Most of the work would be setup, site layout and a bit of customization. Perhaps not pretty to start. feature rich but do-able. Once I get the general FFC utility complete, I may delay updating the other utilities in favor of a simplistic MMO based on CP2020’s rules so I can fulfill my netrunner desire.

If I’m not that motivated, perhaps just a few utilities for another RPG. I’m sure there are plenty of candidates for automation among those still in print.

I want to be a Netrunner

Jun 30, 2010
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CyberPunk 2020 had some pretty interesting net-runner rules. I like them but as part of a group, a single netrunner, just didn’t mesh well in the setting within the group I played. The system overall was decent but tedious. Character construction was lengthy and the combat system seemed overly involved. The lack of instantaneous death made it feel like people could play walking tanks. My players did.

Back to Net Runners. Times have changed quite a bit. The ‘Net isn’t quite as evolved as the game stated but the prediction of attacks, hacking and internetwork connectivity is growing. War is evolving from a front line, metal on flesh situation to network based attacks on infrastructure. If you can win a war by disabling critical infrastructure, why bother with the meat and metal?

Most current penetrations are nothing more than taking over your parent’s computer and adding it to a bot net. Multiply that by thousands and you have massive computational horsepower at your disposal. Not just for sending and receiving messages for a DoS attack but for anything you have in mind. Breaking crypto. Hiding your network identity. What if they get sophisticated and use massively parallel, non centralized algorithms? It may be already happening.

No computer on the ‘Net is safe. I don’t care what operating system, browser, or protection scheme you choose. Everything is exploitable given sufficient effort. Vile sounding isn’t it?

To me, it screams game but not a traditional RPG. The MMOG model fits much better than table based. If the mechanics were codified and published, could you provide a completely defensible node on the Internet? How about a team of experts attempting to do the same? Toss in Zero-Day exploits you cannot overcome is the rest of your network up to the challenge? Would you try? Or hire the service out?

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