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Seven-7
I was a pretty avid player of Deckers back in Shadowrun 3, still am until there is a major outlet for all my SR4 needs, and thusly as a pretty frequent player of Deckers I realized four things:

-I have no life as I understand Matrix and Rigger 3 Revised.
-GM's will loath me.
-Whoever wrote the stuff of communications (Cellphones, PDA's, MSP's, ect) probably knew nothing about it.
-Echo Mirage's feat of taking down Seattle's RTG wasn't that badass.

Now, with those points in my mind I played a marry little Decker and I could understand and imagine the Matrix in my mind as a firm possibility, except for a few little hiccups, and thusly it was easy. But, now that I watch Dumpshock regularly and read through the Hacker section of SR4 and I await eagerly for Unwired I realize one single concept:

-The Matrix is no longer the Matrix.

In Shadowrun 3 if the RTG went down everybody was fucked. Don't expect to go check out your favorite movie site, cus you cant get there unless you're connected directly to that LTG across town. In Shadowrun 4 however, we see a beast of a different nature: Instead of a 'river' based connection (Daisy chaining from Host>LTG>RTG>LTG>Host>Data) we have to imagine a 'pond'. Sure Aztechnology probably has a very powerful, high bandwidth, signal tower that people connect to across the city, but if it fails, well, you just hop connections until you get to a nice sized one and continue what you were doing! This type of system suggests that every device is a wireless router, and as such the idea of a 'matrix' is null really. Nothing is /needs/ to be standard anymore in the way of icons, colors, code, ect. If I connect to my personal router, do I say I'm connected to the internet? No, and such the same as if I connected to my personal node I wouldn't say I was connected to the Matrix. So, what /does/ the Matrix mean now? The biggest node? Stuff to consider.

So in retrospect, I wonder if people have switched perception yet, or are they just ahead of me and already accepting this idea.


Ps. What happened to UV hosts?

Pss. Is it weird that I found a site talking about Wireless Connectivity from a company called UMS?
eidolon
I'm finding it pretty easy to change my overall perception of the Matrix, and now that I have been forced to consider it from an "in play" perspective, I'm coming around on my general ability to conceptualize it.
Dashifen
I always ignored the "river" based connection scheme that you described above even when running SR3 and instead ran SR3 matrix exactly like cell phones today: if one matrix service provider went down, the others would pick up the bandwidth semi-seemlessly. Thus, there was no transition to SR4 for me.
hobgoblin
think of it this way, when people talk about the internet they talk about all the webservers out there.

but most dont think about or is even aware about, is the 100x routers that sits and push packages back and forth.

imo, while reading about the *TG's was cool, playing them was not. it didnt add much to a game where the rest of the team was breaking into some building.

with the wireless version at least one have the possibility to go out there with them.

hell, even CPv3 dropped the crossword puzzle maps and long distance jump maps that one had in CP2020.

when one in real life can pick up a mobile phone and dial just about anyone on the planet, having to deal with setting up every jump of the chain is nothing less then archaic.

that is exactly what technology is supposed to automate...
Blade
Yes the Matrix is now made of nested ad-hoc networks BUT there are public routers, and I think there's still a hardwired backbone (there's no reason not to).

So you can still have LTGs and RTGs but the system can work without them (maybe less efficiently).

You can compare that to today wifi access. You can create a ad-hoc network with nearby wifi enabled devices or connect to an Access Point that'll connect you to its wireless local network and to the Internet through a (most of the time) wired network.
noonesshowmonkey
I general the Matrix in SR4 has become a far more "liquid" creature as you described it... Though your metaphor extends mostly to the general layout of its sites and the like. By liquid, I mean to extend that metaphor a bit, it would seem that it is far more akin to the way that magic is an omnipresent ability. The way a mage interacts with the game world is in a "on the fly" sort of way - very declarative.

The new matrix allows for that liquid style of gameplay due to the "liquid" abstract and physical makeup of its networking. Now the hacker/decker has a very active role in any combat scenario. Instead of sitting in a closet someplace hosing down mountain dew and running their adolescent voice through a modulator set to "Charlie Bronson" (which is to say functioning very much like an NPC) and hacking their way in, the average hacker can be someone that is a 2nd story man of the highest caliber. Instead of having hacking tasks that take place almost in a "side game", they are integrated into normal game play - doing legwork on the fly, hacking cameras as-needed, turning off cyberware, providing surveillance and tactical overlays or secure communications... They have a ton of very directly applicable uses that can now be executed from the front instead of In The Rear With The Gear, so to speak.

I am a huge fan of the way that the new Matrix works.

There are even (very regularly) instances of old-skool hax0ring to be had. 99% of general computer use can happen wirelessly. Oftentimes the only part that matters to a Shadowrunner is the 1% that happens locally on a wired and secure network. Fancy that.

Also, several ideas and bits of methodology cross over from Matrix 1.0. The "river" style of hacking is still present in that a connection is still a connection and generally is routed through a finite number of sources. Now it is a question of how you get there, through what servers, what back doors, what user names etc. It adds a wonderful creative element that lets players use Matrix Knowledge skills a ton and really flesh out their own method of hacking.

Its a fantastic system.

- der menkey

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
Malachi
QUOTE (noonesshowmonkey)
Instead of having hacking tasks that take place almost in a "side game", they are integrated into normal game play - doing legwork on the fly, hacking cameras as-needed, turning off cyberware, providing surveillance and tactical overlays or secure communications... They have a ton of very directly applicable uses that can now be executed from the front instead of In The Rear With The Gear, so to speak.

Here here! I agree on all points. This fundamental shift from Deckers off on their own "side game" to Hackers integrated with the group is the biggest reason I switched to SR4.

Here on DS I've heard a lot of people griping about the "theory" about this or that, especially the computer/Matrix stuff. Here's the thing: the designers of Shadowrun were not trying to create a dice-based computer network simulator, they were trying to make an exciting game to play. I think they have succeeded.
Whipstitch
I disagree; the concept is elegant but the execution is lacking. The good thing is that the matrix is very open ended and approachable now. The bad thing is that some of the rules are infuriatingly vague. My own experience with the Matrix indicates that it doesn't take long before copy protection on programs gets broken and the whole team is geared up with some heavy duty hacking utilities and starts rocking the grid via Agents. It's very inclusive (which I love!), but it also makes the hacker kind of superfluous for anything but breaking the software open in the first place, and even that can be done with skillwires. My preference would have been that Agents were limited to mostly combat and datasearch type duties rather than outright capable of hacking; I like letting Samurai jack in to defend their PAN alongside their Agents or coming to the rescue of the Hacker if he gets bogged down by ICE on a corp grid, but as it is now I think it's a bit too easy to just let Agents do ALL of the heavy lifting even when it comes to sneaking into the system to begin with.
Penta
Wait...Couldn't you just trust in a GM to (logically) narrow down agents like that?

Keeping in mind, of course, that Agents are still computer programs. They'll still do -exactly- what you tell them to.
Whipstitch
Yes, but the Matrix rules are currently so vague that I don't see how an Agent being dumb could really be that much of a problem without a seriously heavy dose of bullshitting from the GM. And beyond that, a rating 6 Agent should be pretty smart; they are semi-autonomous programs that cost a lot of nuyen and they roll upwards of a least 6 dice when called upon to make a "common sense" test (hell, that probably makes them smarter than some of the people I've played with over the years). Anyway, I consider Agents to really be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to niggling issues within the current Matrix rules. It seems that the more Matrix rules my GM throws out the better things get. So again, I love the current Matrix concept love.gif. But the RAW that comes attached to it? Not so much. dead.gif
Cabral
QUOTE (Seven-7)
-I have no life as I understand Matrix and Rigger 3 Revised.
-GM's will loath me.
<SNiP>
Ps. What happened to UV hosts?

Pss. Is it weird that I found a site talking about Wireless Connectivity from a company called UMS?

1. Rigger 3 Needed Exponents and roots in the vehicle design rules. Hopefully Unwired and Arsenal will rectify this overly simplistic approach to pricing. (I always remapped "rtg 1-3 cost x per rtg point/4-6 cost y per pt" to exponential progression.)

2. My theory: UV Hosts are all. If you go full VR it's like SR3 UV.

3. Didn't you know Damien Knight played Shadowrun?
FrankTrollman
QUOTE (Penta)
Wait...Couldn't you just trust in a GM to (logically) narrow down agents like that?

Sure. I mean, why even roll dice or have stats at all? We can just describe our character's actions and the gm can logically determine an outcome. It would work fine, until there was a disagreement between two or more people at the table as to the logical results of a situation.

The Matrix as described in 4th ed has real fundamental problems for which there are no easy fixes:
    * Agent Smith: An Agent represents actual hacking potential and there is no practical upper limit as to how many you can put on any task. Seriously. No limits. This applies on the attack and the defense and there's no reason that any serious node shouldn't be able to attack you dozens or hundreds of times.

    * Script Kiddy: Actual Hackers are pointless as the meat in the machine contributes likely zero dice towards hacking potential. No reason to be a "hacker" when you can get the same benefit out of having your kid sister press the go button on some reasonably priced equipment.

    * Defender Chooses Hacking is in fact impossible, as you can simply choose architectures which are unhackable and there is no in-game reason to not do this. The PANs of player characters do not accept foreign wireless transmissions at all, and the secret networks of evil corporations don't either. So really none of this stuff actually happens and the entire Hacking section is a waste of time.

    * Sprites are Insulting There's no conceptual difference between a Data Sprite and a Courier Sprite, and little reason to actually use either. Worse off still is the Fault Sprite, who is supposedly a combat monster but in reality cannot fight at all because it cannot perceive icons (and thus cannot attack them). Seriously, when making a Matrix Perception test it defaults to an attribute it doesn't have! Only Machine Sprites are awesome, but even they aren't as awesome as a practiccally unlimited number of Agents...

    * Technomancers don't do anything cool. There's potential there I guess, but they don't actually do anything special.

But the core dilemma is that there's no reason to use a hacker to accomplish hacking tasks, except that there's also no reason for the enemy to allow your team to accomplish hacking tasks in the firt place. Basically fundamental contradictions in the system undo absolutely everything and the logical extension is for it to have all been a dream.

And then we're back to "real world hacking" where you have to steal the commlink of a valid user and log in as them and then perform actions within their account priviledges. Fuck that noise!

-Frank
Blade
Agent Smith is less of an issue when you consider that agents only run on the node they are loaded on. I don't say it's a fix, I don't say it's the good interpretation. I just say it's another possible interpretation and it doesn't have this issue.

But I don't understand "Defenser Chooses" : for me, configuring the PAN not to accept foreign wireless transmissions is running in hiding mode. And as far as I know there's nothing that prevents a hacker from hacking a hidden node.
Cthulhudreams
QUOTE (Blade @ Oct 16 2007, 03:49 AM)
Agent Smith is less of an issue when you consider that agents only run on the node they are loaded on. I don't say it's a fix, I don't say it's the good interpretation. I just say it's another possible interpretation and it doesn't have this issue.

But I don't understand "Defenser Chooses" : for me, configuring the PAN not to accept foreign wireless transmissions is running in hiding mode. And as far as I know there's nothing that prevents a hacker from hacking a hidden node.

What about the bit where they skinlink everything and turn off wireless. Which is pretty much what everyone does if you go over to welcome to the shadows and cast an eye over the equipment lists.
noonesshowmonkey
Built into the rules of SR4 are insane statistical "anomalies" (or really just poorly designed rules) that allow a player to have the same durability as a light armored vehicle. They can also roll half again more dice than a physical specimen who is also the definition of skill at any given task if they choose to. Simply put, SR4 is really very easily broken on a number of levels. Luckily, availability kicks most of the aforementioned problems in the teeth and BP costs take down the others.

That is not to say, however, that a group dedicated to a hammy game of raising each other on the busted-ass-shit-o-meter is not going to be able to achieve this kind of nonsense within a few moments of being dropped "in the sandbox", as so many SR games go.

As a GM it is up to you to make your game either a strange half-world, somewhere between a comic book and a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, or something different, possibly something more. If Last Action Hero is what you want, you can easily play it. If you want something else, its available.

Agent Smith is easily sidestepped using some simple logic and (surprise!) hand waiving. Nearly every medium whatever when engaged in a replicating process loses fidelity with each additional replication. There are no notable exceptions. Biological organisms evolve and develop mutations, a photocopy degrades in quality. Agent Smith will develop bugs, lose bits of functionality and otherwise become more and more unstable and less and less useful. Just copying huge amounts of data... large .torrent files, a large mp3 library or other such archives across multiple hard disks often results in loss of data (well... then there is Ghosting, but you know what I am getting at...).

But yeah, RAW for the Matrix 2.0 was really very poorly put together. And this is why I maintain the FAQ: to iron out the problems with it in as smooth and logical of a way as I can.

I don't really engage much with Technomancers... Mostly because I think they are lame. I guess that as a GM I edit the rules a bit since my players have never played nor even met a Technomancer.

Whatever. My game. Screw the rules.

- der menkey


"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
noonesshowmonkey
Oh yes... And it is a sign of poor GMing or low levels of problem solving amongst a group when you throw out rules rather than logically adapting, extending or extrapolating something that "works" to resolve a given conflict. (and yes, this applies directly to doing something like "throwing out technomancers cuz I dun likes em!" )

The job of a good GM is to keep the game fun, first and foremost. One of the best methods that they have to do this is to make where man and machine meet (players and rules) a logical and streamlined process. I make up all kinds of crap on the fly in games... But the kind of stuff that I make up is informed by very close knowledge of the rules. Its sort of like interpreting Law, in all honesty.

One of the simplest ways that I push stats back into hacking is to require or at least allow regular Matrix Knowledge checks to either augment a given check or to even allow an action to happen. This not only emphasizes the character's attributes but moreover reinforces their BP choices in SKILLS rather than gear or stats. Thus when I have 2 hackers in a group and their knowledge skills are different they really truly hack differently, can tackle different tasks etc.

Anyways, I am not trying to Troll you, Troll... Man... Whatever nyahnyah.gif

There is no denying that your points are correct. And I imagine that you handle them just fine in your games, seeing as how you seem a smart fellow. But the obsession with rules... its a sickness that infects all of gaming, it seems.

- der menkey

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
Fortune
QUOTE (noonesshowmonkey)
I don't really engage much with Technomancers... Mostly because I think they are lame.

I couldn't agree more.
Blade
QUOTE (Cthulhudreams)
What about the bit where they skinlink everything and turn off wireless. Which is pretty much what everyone does if you go over to welcome to the shadows and cast an eye over the equipment lists.

That's not refusing foreign wireless transmissions but simply refusing wireless transmissions, turning it off...

Yes, and if the players stay in a bunker instead of going out in the streets, they are safe from bullets.
Blade
QUOTE (noonesshowmonkey)
Oh yes... And it is a sign of poor GMing or low levels of problem solving amongst a group when you throw out rules rather than logically adapting, extending or extrapolating something that "works" to resolve a given conflict.

Sure but it's nice when you don't have to add in all kind of house rules just to have a basic system that works.
For example, combat rules or magic rules work with little to none adjustments (even if some people might want to add their own house rules).
deek
The agent smith problem is only a problem if you let it be one. I don't allow players to clone an agent program any more than I let a player clone a vehicle. Each agent costs money and is its own autonomous entity.

And because my players don't have an unlimited amount of nuyen, they simply can't arm themselves with an army of agents...
Cheops
Or at the very least you can say that cracking the program give you ONE copy of it and you have to break it again to get another copy. Slows that all down a bit.

Try using Hash and Stenography. If you don't find them useful you are having one of two problems:

a) your players aren't creative enough
b) you are giving the opposition too much access to TMs (unless you are playing well after Emergence)

I agree with noonesshowmonkey that Knowledge skills are key to being a Hacker. I said this over in the Defense of Script Kiddies thread too--that Hackers are far more skilled at everything than a Script Kidddie. Knowledge skills are how you make the difference. I just treat them like Teamwork tests. Increases the number of rolls but really shows the difference between a Hacker and a Sam with a Commlink.
Whipstitch
QUOTE (noonesshowmonkey)

But yeah, RAW for the Matrix 2.0 was really very poorly put together.  And this is why I maintain the FAQ:  to iron out the problems with it in as smooth and logical of a way as I can. 


Whatever.  My game.  Screw the rules.

- der menkey

When it comes to those two sentiments, I really couldn't have put it better myself. The core concepts of the Matrix 2.0 fluff are alive and well in the games my GM tosses together and we have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this happens almost in spite of the RAW rather than working as a seamless partnership. Like many in this thread I salute the design decision to portray the Matrix as a more fluid and inclusive part of the Sixth World. But I also can't sit here and tell people that anyone who thinks the Matrix 2.0 RAW has some gaping holes in it is just a crazed, foaming at the mouth SR3 grognard or IT nerd either.
Moon-Hawk
QUOTE (noonesshowmonkey)
Nearly every medium whatever when engaged in a replicating process loses fidelity with each additional replication. There are no notable exceptions.

Except, you know, copying files, or anything in a digital medium, for that matter. If I make a copy of a MS Word document, and then make a copy of that copy, and then a copy of that copy, 1000 times the final file really will be exactly the same as the original.
Not that file copying would be a good comparison. sarcastic.gif
noonesshowmonkey
QUOTE
Except, you know, copying files, or anything in a digital medium, for that matter. If I make a copy of a MS Word document, and then make a copy of that copy, and then a copy of that copy, 1000 times the final file really will be exactly the same as the original.
Not that file copying would be a good comparison. sarcastic.gif


Clever.

A word document is a static file of extremely finite size and complexity. I would wager that Agents and other 6th world computer programs suffer from economics of scale.

A rating 6 agent, by definition, is a semi-self aware and intelligent program. I sincerely doubt that code that "never shuts off" is something that is as easy to copy as a few lines of text. Even if that agent is made up of millions of "lines of text".

Obtuse and blunt analogy at best and hardly a good basis for comparison.

Hell, what are the data fidelity, access rates, transfer rates, storage state etc of a 3-Dimensional storage media as alluded to in fluff? I haven't the foggiest. I will say that the Agents presented in SR4 are only marginally related to current level technology that I know of in terms of sophistication and complexity... It is a (science fiction) cyber-punk game, afterall.

- der menkey

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
Moon-Hawk
Anything that "moves" from node to node is copying itself, so I would think that they can, in fact, make a very high fidelity copy every time, or else you couldn't load it from your commlink onto a node.
noonesshowmonkey
I consider your opinion to be blatantly wrong and infantile in its formation.

Basically any organism that is known changes when it replicates. Agent's are semi self-aware, a sort of "living" program. If that is not enough to change the rules of standard computing and data parity, then I don't know what to say. That is a sweeping and unequivocal difference in the behavior and state of data. An agent, in theory, would never turn "off". That alone makes for access problems. Instantiation =/= direct 1:1 copy. Lord only knows how Agents network their connections, permissions, services (or whatever it is that they do) and there is no particular reason to believe that an agent would have to "copy" itself onto a node and "delete" itself on the previous location. Very binary and two dimensional thinking. Never even mind economics of scale...

These are my last words on this. If it merits further discourse, turn to PMs or start a new thread.

I am done hijacking this thread for an argument about agents.

- der menkey

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
DireRadiant
QUOTE (Moon-Hawk)
Anything that "moves" from node to node is copying itself, so I would think that they can, in fact, make a very high fidelity copy every time, or else you couldn't load it from your commlink onto a node.

I can't even get my current code compiles to work to be so consistently portable today. And you can't even count the number of times I hear, "but it works on my machine!"...
Redjack
QUOTE (FrankTrollman)
And then we're back to "real world hacking" where you have to steal the commlink of a valid user and log in as them and then perform actions within their account privileges.

This is actually incorrect. For reference please see details of the follow: Buffer overflow, privilege escalation and exploits of system/service accounts.

Emperor Tippy
The 4E matrix has pretty good fluff but the rules really, really suck.

Unbreakable Encryption is doable today, easily. It's called 1 time pads. Randomly generating enough 1 time pads for your whole team to sue on a run is trivial with the processing power available in game (it's fairly trivial in real life). And not even the most powerful UV host can crack it.

Let's add in Language programs. Generating a truly random language is trivial in Shadowrun. Give each member of your team a copy and have them slot it for the run. For that whole run someone can listen in to every thing you send over the com and will never hope to crack it. And they can't spoof you because you set your system to reject anything not in the "language" or matching the 1 time pad.

Agent's should be copyable. They are data stored digitally. Anything digital can be replicated an infinite number of times with no loss. Every copy will be identical.
kzt
Actually OTPs have huge problems. The one-time pad has to be as large as the total transmission, and unique for each connection, reuse allows compromise. So you need N^2-1 unlimited sized OTP distributed before the run and kept completely in synch, as there is no way to resynch an OTP if you have a lost bit.

But symmetric crypto is more than good enough for me to assume the you have effectively unbreakable crypto.

Cthulhudreams
The problem with saying we can do one time pads today so therefore there is unbreakable encryption in SR is that there isn't unbreakable encryption in SR, so obviously they can solve one time pads. none of the fluff in any way implies there is any sort of encryption that cannot be broken with a program.

If you DO move to that unbreakable encryption model, air gaps and other modern computer security measures for sensitive material, you just end up where frank said you do - with modern computer security which is all rather dull.
kzt
I've always preferred Mission Impossible style games to TRON, but whatever floats your boat.

There is lot of interesting stuff you can do without hand-waving in the unbelievium. You just have to have a clue about what you are tying to model. Which, judging from SR's combat rules, is really unlikely to happen.

As a recent USAF report says "Another difficulty is estimating the scope of the mission. “We are well past the $5 billion per year mark, and I don’t know what the top end is,? commented one STRATCOM official. “The $5 billion is mostly on defense. We buy huge amounts of software and people to run that, but it’s totally ineffective against Tier III? cyber threats, this official noted."
Blade
QUOTE (kzt)
But symmetric crypto is more than good enough for me to assume the you have effectively unbreakable crypto.

Symmetric crypto can't be broken but can be exploited somehow: mitm attacks, replay attacks...
Of course, nearly each attack can be averted by using the right method, but attackers will always find new ways.
The decrypt utility doesn't just do a brute force attack.

But anyway when I play a hacker I don't expect to have to figure command lines and deal with buffers and pointers. indifferent.gif
tirsales
When speaking about cryptography: Don't forget to think about quantum processing and biocomputing. It is a SciFi-world after all, so lets introduce some obscure possibilities wink.gif
Like saying that NP is a subset of P and thus allowing .. Let's stop there, its getting OT wink.gif

Though I agree, there *are* virtually unbreakable cryptographic methods and I guess there always will.
Blade
According to Augmentation, there still isn't any quantum processing (at least not in commlinks).
hobgoblin
bah, with the limitless bandwidth of the matrix, how hard will it be to route some traffic to a for-lease quantum computer somewhere?
Emperor Tippy
Even quantum computing can't crack 1 time pads. The only reason that one time pads aren't used more widely is distribution and ease of use.

But those problems can be solved relatively easily for runs in SR 4.
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