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Kittyfisto

Hacking game based around writing code

7 posts in this topic

I'm pretty sure that many people have played uplink before. My Idea is somewhat similar to what uplink is all about: hacking. However instead of simply buying programs and clicking one utton to break into systems, steal and to manipulate data, the player would be writing those program's himself.

Let's say the player should delete a certain file from a database. He could decide to write a little snippet of code that searches for exactly that file (because the contractor didn't give him the id of that persons entry, the snippet must perform a search first) and then drops it from the database.

Breaking into a system cold involve the very same exploits we see every day: Sniffing, SQL injections, spoofing. In order for the game to be fun, the player should be required to put some effort into his code (for example some algorithm should be fast enough to actually outsmart a firewall).

On the technical side, I wold have to choose a language that easily be hosted. And in order for the code to behave the same on all computers, I would probably need to tick the VM in a fixed time step. Otherwise players with a fast computer will never have to put much thought into it / the same code won't work whe the computer is under heavy load.

Do you think this would be appealing to some people (probably other programmers ^^) and/or to you? Do you see a problem with the design itself? Any feedback and suggestions are welcome.
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It could be fun if you simplify it. Instead of having to program, make up your own imaginary snippets, like "find that", "delete this" and "inject a little of this".

Basically make a short, easy to remember pretend syntax, for actions to perform on a computer. Gamers are not often programmers themselves. And someone that knows hacking good enough to play your game probably finds it more fun to hack IRL.

I probably wouldn't play a full game of it, but having it as a major mechanic in a game could be fun.
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Why not drag and drop logic blocks?

Final Fantasy 12 and then Dragon Age used this to let the player program the party member AI.
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Yep. You could buy proxys and programs, but you save money to buy other stuff if you make your own.
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Maybe you could create your own easy-to-understand-for-normal-people language. Just an idea, it might take some work converting strings into normal code or however you would do that. But it might be more user friendly that way. Logic blocks is a good idea too.
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I agree with Daaark and hustlerinc: don't execute any actual scripts; use some kind of crude, high-level pseudo-code that is easy to grasp even for people who have never coded themselves.

Have you thought about turning this into an educational game?

Before you actually implement the game, it might be a good idea to do some mechanics testing on paper with non-programmers: Just give them some pieces of paper with pre-defined code snippets or commands or whatever else you want to use to simulate coding and see how they go on to solve some tuturial problems. I bet that there will be quite a few surprises before you find a system that works.
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Given the problems many have with algebra, I'd suggest a system where you don't need to use variables at all. I believe flowchart style is more comprehendable to many people.
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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1345347675' post='4970999']
Given the problems many have with algebra, I'd suggest a system where you don't need to use variables at all. I believe flowchart style is more comprehendable to many people.
[/quote]
[quote name='Dark Star Studios' timestamp='1345193729' post='4970476']
Maybe you could create your own easy-to-understand-for-normal-people language. Just an idea, it might take some work converting strings into normal code or however you would do that. But it might be more user friendly that way. Logic blocks is a good idea too.
[/quote]

Those two have really great suggestions. Your target audience may be into 'hacking' but 'hacking' involves alot of different things and means different things to different crowds. An engineer will read it different than a script kiddy, a coder, a code-monkey (thought I hate using that term), programmer lead who will read it different than a QA or research analyst.

Using a guided version using basic logic blocks is good, but you are still going to run into issues with peoples basic logic. Not everyone acts the same which means your game is going to have a linear path, which just defeats the purpose of having the game as the logic would just be a puzzle game more than a 'hacking' game. It can be themed around putting puzzle pieces but then again your going to have a hard time teaching someone MVC based ideas or even OOP concepts. You bring it back to shallow of a learning curve though and you wind up with a 'perfection' style game where the only pieces into the slot make the right selection.

You are also going to take a bit of flak if you don't understand what your doing. Your target audience is going to be people that aspire to do this obviously or want to do this. They are going to want some kind of realism. Talk with a group of greyhats or whitehats. See what they reccomend for missions. Things they use on a daily basis. I would avoid talking with Blackhats unless your doing minimal amounts of research for the fact of legality in teaching. I would hate for someone to make a artistic product that teaches 14-16 year olds how to take down MySQL database using tools they learned how to use in a video game. Thats the last thing we need in the game market.

-M
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