21 September 2012

Uplink 2 ideas by Craig A. Glesner (266-2012).

This these notes are dedicated to [VR] NOBODY who I woke up (because I can't sleep while getting this out) to say don't worry about coming over today, I couldn't sleep but I will be soon. He was very cool about it.

This post has nothing to do with the usual Traveller5 ATU that I am building and posting about here normally. Though in a way it does, because even if they don't use this I will be using for my T5 ATU's cyberspace descriptions and functioning. Go back to the post before this one and later for details on the Permatic Imperium (the T5 ATU). But this post too concerns a game I love and would not mind getting a credit in, the original computer hacking role playing game, Uplink by Introversion. Well, not the original Uplink, it is way done and out for everyone. If you have not played it, go pay for a legal copy (remember: the more copies they sell the better chance of them really doing an Uplink 2) and enjoy it. Then since you too have a registered copy, enjoy the mods for it that I for some reason can't. Grrr. I will figure it out or have my IT guy look at it if he will. I maybe I didn't get rid of something the demo installed. Anyway…

Needless to say one can infer from all this rambling that I dig the hell out of the original Uplink game. That would be correct It was cool and futuristic for its day. Has neat graphics and while the soundtrack seems to be only four tracks repeated, they are damn cool tracks. What follows is a love note for the original Uplink to Introversion and plea that they do a sequel to it. by way of the vast seas of data and information that is the internet humans have really built. From a genuine paying customer. Twice since I lost my already modified legal copy of the game I had on my…oh, yeah, my old school iBook that is now cashed and kitbash waiting to be shipped out to Rustin if ever I get some real money together. Blah, blah, woof, woof. 

So on to my ideas for an Uplink 2 game (even though current research suggests there won't be a game of that name). Note there would be illustrations but I do need to hit the rack. I will try and get some done later and upload them. If some one out there wants to do some I could post those with proper credit of course instead of my rough sketches. The Ides below are presented in no particular order, it is very late for me. 

The Agent should be allowed to work for other intermediary companies. Now Agent starts with Uplink as in the original game, but if they gain enough cred they can work for other organizations. The Agent could be head hunted from Uplink to one of the Corporations to work in their cyber security department. Perhaps the International Turing Examining and Enforcement Board (ITEEB) needs some one to check out an AI protected by some deep security.

Local and Gateway System boots and logon. When the Agent first boots their local cyberspace deck after jacking in they see a single plane of boot codes that then expands to many planes. Or maybe one of those cool circles in circles loading screen like in most of the anime of Shirow's future. Instead of mostly flat system loading it is in 3-d more like spheres in spheres, like a digital Orbitron ride. One leads to the next I think, as you go from the basic 2-d interface to the 3-d. After this they get their local system in glorious 3-d of the mid-future of the original Uplink. From from this local system they link up to their Gateway and then on the Planetary Cyberspace Matrix (PCM). In amazing 3-d! The old school hackers still left from the old days when the internet became a different place will tell you what it meant to have to do command line from a console with text only. And then go on about how beautiful cyberspace is now, how truly wonderful, because in their heyday the 3-d was crudely simulated with shading applied to the programs in the interface. Then they hit you up for drink, but if they are actually that old and not some hustler, they should be loaded. Life support for some that old gets expensive.

3-d programs and system layouts. Programs are polyhedrons with glowing wireguide edges and pale, translucent faces that may be blank or display a function icon. If a System Program has multiple functions a set of controls to spin the faces will be displayed in a muted color matching the faces to below it, but it would be cool if you could move it around.. (Or should they be the glowing color of he edges?) Program type; Monitor, Proxy, or Firewall should be color coded. As should the defenses. There maybe multiple layers of security including Special Monitors that quietly trace you and then send the Feds to bust you possibly in the act. HUD and LAN viewers need to be turned into 3-d representation. It might be good to allow Agent to move from default position. 

System positions on the lattice can be default assigned by type and owner. Allow the Agent to filter the layout and save filter.

Black ICE makes the defending system's protected zones a muted dark gray. Unless cyberspace is gray, but I seem to recall it is only when booting up and then it is a 3d glowing lattice work collection of systems floating on endless deepest black. Like space itself, but with the systems and the lattice as the stars. A system that shows up on this colorful display as gray on its outside face should be avoided. Black ICE can of course not just trace the Agent but if it completes its trace and gain control of the Agents Gateway will try and kill them remotely through the cybernetic connection. 

Multiple sources for Software and Gateways other than Uplink. Sure you could buy Uplink's Black ICE Breaker 6.0, but everyone knows the real pros only use Kazauchi BICE Buster 7.6.5. The Kazauchi BICE Buster 7 series can go up against the sick Mexican stuff you see on some of the high end Government and Corporate Systems. Of course this also adds different pricing for Programs, Hardware and Gateways.

3-d movable globe for network connections. The globe is still used for mapping routes and keeping track of traces. Should includes the new satellite based systems, like say, I don't know, one of those orbital beam cannon maybe, a space station computer, the hotel internal engineering LAN, things like that. Allow the Agent to move their view point in the Planetary Cyberspace Matrix (PCM).

Of course, new Missions (such as the one mentioned above). The Uplink Agent has been hired to steal the OS and Passwords from the Orbital Beam Cannon (OBC) of the Southern American Defense Alliance (SADA). Which brings us to better Contractor AI (and AI as Contractors) and conversations. The Contact conversations really need more variety. 

New actors in the world of console cowboys. New NPC to sponsor the new Missions. A Journalist want the Uplink Agent to secure some vital data and internal media that suggests a hacker stole dangerous information from the SADA. 

Ability to save multiple connections routes and to be able to assign route IDs. See the section above about the 3-d globe.

Create your own back up ID. If your primary ID gets busted and fired by Uplink activate the backup ID and start with a noob set up. Back to square one and the one CPU and lowest Modem bandwidth. Also be able to pull Bank Heists and other Missions (possibly with friends) that if it doesn't feature Black ICE in the first couple layers it will at the SuperUser level. Also AI cores are always covered in layers of Black and and some say there is an Invisible ICE, but are vague on what it looks like or does. 

A neat option would be Clone Backups. If you get zapped, you can be uploaded into a clone body. Not cheap. Doing the back ups for the clone require frequent visits to the facility that is handling that clone.

Stock Market Plus. You can create a Corporation. Manipulate the International Stock Exchange in whole new ways from the inside. Or maybe just quietly buy your own Servers. As the SuperUser and Owner you can clear and maybe even modify the Logs. 

What's that? You say the SADA has to sell their OBC due to security breaches and the collapse of their stock. They say it has new failsafe system that was being readied for installation before the hacker stole the OS and Passwords, but is it true? And how much do they want for it?

Cybernetics for the Agent. Allows the Agent to have upgrades for them. Now not only can you upgrade the same stuff as the first Uplink, but now you can get stuff for yourself. Imagine if you are your own deck. Maybe you have an internal satellite connection. Could be you are very old and maybe once bold Agent and you have those and more.

More Time manipulation. It would be cool if you could buy a set of special cyberware systems (possibly an experimental or prototype stuff with all that might entail.) that jacks up your reactions and allow you slow time. In the original that plot gets rolling fast. And sadly about when I am getting ready to enter the fray, I get caught for having slipped up somewhere. Or maybe got a bit to bold..and oh yeah, slopped a Mission of course. Not necessary, but it would be neat. 

Should be cross platform. And by cross platform I mean all the OSs out there, Mac, Linux, Microsoft, probably a few I am missing and released to all platforms at once. Not sure if the original Uplink was or not, but it should be possible these days you would think.

Larger Soundtrack. As I said above the tracks in the original are cool and atmospheric but more variety would be a good feature. Needless to say, it needs to be as neat as the first one.

Artificial Intelligence(s) or AI (used for plural and singular).  AI are not only physical infrastructure and a computer system, but they are also NPCs and can give the Agent Missions perhaps with the ITEEB and its Corporation or maybe on the sly trying to stay ahead of the Feds and Turing Boys, using the Agent as a disposable proxy. Maybe it has other employs. They have distinct personalities and methods of communicating with the Agent. If an AI is caught exceeding its proper authority and charter it can be tried and have various sentences carried out on it. Rumor says there is a secret cabal of rouge AI and ITEEB is carefully probing the truth of these rumors. But then that last bit is pretty much its own rumor. Dealing with AI is complicated, but can be extremely rewarding. A friendly AI or one that owes you a favor might help the Agent with a Mission if only to do some digging if it can't actively participate in the Mission. 

Okay, done with proofing, tome for sleep and Archive Tags might have to wait till later. Like I said Introversion may not ever make an Uplink 2, but that does not stop us from hoping some one does something right proper like what an Uplink 2 could have been. If no one has put this forth just yet and the world being what it is probably not, but just in case, I get credit for the original outline of features for the game. And maybe even a cut or some greater input would be appreciated, acknowledged and generally cool.

Well off to bed, smiling at my in jokes. Yeah, they are in there kids. Points for spotting and reporting. (Note: the management of the Thornwood.Daarnulud Institute make no claims as to what points might mean or do.) Enjoy.


20 September 2012

Metagame: A Few Bits From the Notebooks.

        The Common Era Date for the Founding of the Grand Empire of Man and the Stars was 2719. It was in this year that Rufus Volcker, was proclaimed Emperor Rufus Cornealius Augustus over the domains of the Terran Federation and beyond. It was this year that Terra surrendered to the siege that had lasted forty or so years. 

The first Imperial Year, Year Zero of the new Imperial Calendar was the year 2720 CE. It is the end date for the Transitional War that brought the first interstellar government of Terra its end. In truth the end was not so cleanly divided and in some places it took decades for the Imperial rule to extended to the former members of the Terran Federation. 


Colors. Imperial colors, Institute colors, National colors, Company colors, unit colors. So many colors. So for those who are asking "Colors? WTF?", the answer it those flags you see in parades across TL-8 Earth, yeah, the military or band or whatever group of humans, are carrying flags well, the military calls them "colors". So does that mean that in the Permatic Imperium and those that preceded it still running in to battle waving flags like a bunch of morons? Yes, and the Imperial Armed Forces would like you to know that hardly being morons, those who bear the colors are some of the bravest and most honorable being to serve the Imperiums, thank you. Beings will fight and die carrying flags and such into battle because those colors are a symbol of some ideal that they feel is worth fighting and dying for. Which is after all, not as the entertainment media would tell you, all cool and glorious and fun. It is in fact extremely dangerous, brutal, uncaring chaos with death or worse lurking in every shadow. When people find that out, they have to have some reason to go back and keep doing it. The colors stand for that reason and they are still cherished items of battle gear among the fighting units of the Imperium. 


All Spacer Careers of one Term or more receive Seafarer-1. This Skill comes from the portion of the first Term in the Imperial or Royal Navy spend on a water world learning to sail. That means those low TL worlds like say TL-2 to TL-5. And I bet you were wondering why there are still low tech worlds. Well, in the Permatic Imperium they serve as training worlds for the Imperial and Royal Navy where according to Navy lore:

"They earn the anchors before they earn the stars. Thus is was in the old days and thus it is today. For the Navy has been the service of the stars since the days of ancient and lost Terra were the issue was decided by a foot print. It was a Navy foot that first touched Luna and thus the Navy claimed space for its service. And so, those who wear the Navies' anchor insignia have been on the surface of a world facing real seas."

Another tidbit of Imperial Navy lore is that to this day those wearing Smallcraft Wings are Aviators, not Pilots for thus it was in the days of old. 


AI Owner. There are times when a Personality is assigned to a vessel of the Imperial or Royal Navy or perhaps a vehicle of the Imperial Army and Royal Marines. Most of the time, they will be loaded into a sophontoid form. However, in some rare cases they stay with their instal issue warfighting forms throughout their Career in the service. In even more rare cases they have been separated from the service in that same form. Usually this only done for flag officers and those Personalities that have earned high level decorations, in all cases the Personality is a Citizen and some case a member of the Peerage. 


Imprints. These are the copies of living person for contract work, such as being laid on to a cloned brain for starship computers. They are an odd legal case as they do under Imperial High Law quality as Citizens, but by contract they are not. They are Subjects of the Imperium and may go on to becoming Citizens, but when they are granted Citizenship they must choose a new name, the original maintaining their name. Imprints may have autonomous budget authority in some positions, such as a starship or vehicle brains. They are generally granted a personal budget out main funds that are used for upkeep and repair. Most often Imprints are legally entitled to pay and their budget is funded out of that with the remaining funds being placed in a trust. 


The Xmail System: Some versions of the Xmail System use Neutral Output Applets. A message to a specific person is inserted into the Applet and thousands of copies are sent into the xmail system, carried by ships to hundreds of worlds. When the recipient arrives on one of those worlds and checks an xmail terminal, his specific message pops up on the display console. 

After the message has been received it will generate a output to Censor and Cleaner Applets to kill any copies found. This process can take some time to clean out all the redundant copies and sometimes individuals or groups may be looking for a copy of the Xmail message. It then becomes a race to see who finds a remaining copies, the output kill order or the seeker of a copy. 


The Imperium encourages some imperfection in all levels of manufacturing. They do this for a reason. They have to, for at TL-C or so start getting materials that can be perfected to damned near the molecular level. The rule for this is based not out of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, but that of Justice they just let MoTC enforce it for the most part. These tool marks are for use by law enforcement agencies to attach specific items to their point of origin and follow them through the chain to their possession by a criminal and use in a crime.

10 September 2012

Metagame: Continued Ramblings on the Permatic Imperium.

So, again, I am late with my blog postings. Sorry, but again, real life just has a way with interrupting the best laid plans. Still it did bring good news, I now possess my first published credit. Not much per se, but it does include an official, canonized LIC. So, what the hell I am talking about? This: Mongoose Publishing's Traveller Third Imperium setting book, Deneb Sector. For the interested, I am in the Special Thanks and on page 33 right at the top is my newest and official company, Thornwood Security, LIC. So, that is the coolness for me for the week. Now on to the post you have all been waiting for...

In our previous portion of the Lecture we discussed the role of the Sovereign and the Imperial Moot. In this portion we will discuss the Imperial Senate, the Knightly Orders and of course as mentioned in the previous portion, holograms. We might also given enough time delve deeper into the roles of the Imperial Nobility. 

First let us take a look at the over all structure of the government of the Permatic Imperium. 

Structure of the Imperial Government.

As you can from the image, I have skipped a few parts of the government, such as the Imperial Household, the Star Chamber and the Offices of the Crown and Throne. I will attempt to detail them at a later date, but for now let us pick up where we left off in Government House. 

Government House is composed of the Moot and the Senate assembled in the whole. It is composed of the Moot and the Senate and is considered the Moot and Senate assembled in the whole. The Title is only used for those actions which are taken jointly by both the Moot and the Senate together, otherwise the house that originated the particular document is cited as the authority. So say a Proclamation issued to commemorate a visit by a foreign power will be labeled as coming from Government House, where as an Appointment of the Director of the Imperial Scout Service will be labeled as being issued by the Senate.  

So what are the responsibilities of the Senate? Well, first off the Senate functions as the House of Commons or say the old Terran Federation Assembly. The Members are appointed by Member Worlds of the Imperium according to the Rules of the Senate. Senators are the representatives of their worlds, they are not as the nobility is, appointed by the Emperor or Moot, but by a Member World's local government. As such they are beholden to their world and then to the Imperium and the Emperor. They represent the "commons" spoken of in Imperial High Law and other Imperial documents. 

The Senate is responsible for the oversight of the Imperial Treasury and several Imperial Ministries that are also considered the turf of the Senate including the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Information, Communication and Education. They also oversee the Imperial Scout Service, in fact they are the sole authority when it comes to matters concerning the Scouts. Not even the Sovereign can undo those acts undertaken by the Senate regarding the Scout Service. They also may propose legislation and have final approval over appointment of Imperial Judges to the Crown Courts. The Senate also has the right to originate or sponsor Petitions for the Removal of the Sovereign, in addition to jointly approving such Petitions with the Moot. The Senate is also responsible for approving the appointments of members to the Imperial Bureaucracy below the rank of Minister and approval of Ministers.

There is one last power that the Senate holds and that is the trial of nobles. All Imperial Nobles charged with high crimes and misdemeanors are tried by the Senate. If such a trial results in a guilty verdict the Senate is empowered to remove the noble's titles, offices and holdings. While they can remove said noble's titles, offices and holdings, they can not reassign them (unless one of the offices held was in the Imperial Scouts), that power goes to the Sovereign with the approval of the Moot. 

Having detailed the Imperial Senate we now move on the Orders of Knighthood of the Imperium. 

There are many Orders within the Imperium and most of them owe their allegiance to either the Sovereign or to the Imperium itself. They mostly supplement the Imperial Armed Forces in times of war. Each Order has its own rituals and traditions. Some Orders are open only to certain types of applicants, such as the Imperial Order of the Senate which is only open to those Citizens or Subjects who have a Social Standing ≤A. Those of greater Social Standing B≥ are refused entry to the Order and this is codified in the Imperial High Law. The IOS gets its Charter and Orders directly from the Senate and its members are knighted by the Speaker of the Senate. Its motto is "All Are Equal on the Floor." Other Orders, older ones that have extremely long histories owe their allegiance to the Thrones of the Old Empires, but still serve the current Imperium. There is some question which side they may give their service to if one of those Old Empire's Sovereigns should ever make an appearance. 

And now on to holograms. Most media makes a point that the people in that universe know that they are dealing with a projection and not a real person. This is often done by having "scan lines" flit up and down through the projection. This is done on purpose, at TL-E≥ holography is not merely a projection but a dynamic interface. It not only looks real, it feels real, it gives feedback if interacted with. This means that a properly tuned hologram can be very difficult to distinguish from real things. So, to make sure that a being knows that it is dealing with a projection the Imperium encourages a certain amount of imperfection in projections. Now, while most media merely use the old school scan lines, this does not account for the fact that a hologram is in fact a three dimensional projection and not a flat image. So a real true 3d dynamic system will actually have its added "scan lines" show as a three dimensional distortion, not a two dimensional distortion. this results in weird blobs and funny blurs that will manifest inside and move out to the edges. The best way to think of them would be when you see lightning inside of clouds during thunder storms. Slight color changes or shifts might be another method used as well.

Our last bit shall be a brief bit about the military and the nobility. There are a class of the nobility known as the Elevators. The Elevator is a member of the Peerage, usually Barons or Marquises elevated for their actions in the Imperial Armed Forces. They are generally known as either no bullshit, brutally honest and mildly tactless persons or they are very skilled and dangerous hustlers. The military nobles tend to have a bit more leeway to be blunt than is normally accepted due to the nature of "the Services". Generally the blunt will be Barons and Marquises and the political will be Viscounts or better. 

And this concludes our ramble throughout the Permatic Imperium for today. We hope you have found this Lecture both entertaining and informative. For the interested we will be sponsoring a Lecture later in the Series further defining the duties, privileges and responsibilities of the Imperial Nobility later in the year and we hope to see you there. Till we meet again, be well and travel safely.