What would you have in a hacking-themed battle system?

SWAMPFOOT9000

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What would you have in a hacking-themed battle system? What would the skills be, and how would they work? How could terminology be used? What kind of battle system would it be (ctb, atb, ect?) How would you go about getting into a battle? Would there be any place for random encounters, and if so, how? Should there be different puzzles and systems for different types of hacking? How would you change the UI to fit the theme? I'm interested in seeing the different ways people would go about this. 
 

RMVNex

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Those are a lot of questions, but for random encounters, it would always be some random hackers just trying to steal whatever important data there is on your computer or something. Aside from that... Those are difficult to answer questions.
 

Basileus

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Depends on what kind of project you want to work on. Real-Life hacking is un-godly boring. It's either painfully simple or the target doesn't even realize they are being hacked or got shut down by DDoS so there is zero interaction. Sci-Fi hacking often makes no sense at all since it can't be based on how actual computer systems work or else it will be just like boring reality.


So the real question becomes - "Why the heck do you want to put "hacking" into the combat system in the first place?"


If all you want is a little Sci-Fi flavor, then there are much better ways of doing it. If you have a plot built around computer systems or VR games or something, then a mini-game may work better for hacking than a combat system.


My issues with this:

  • Turn-Based Combat - Unable to capture the feel of hacking at all. You cannot really take consecutive actions without perma-stunning the enemy. If you make all actions take very little time each round may be fast enough to be passable. The best I'd expect is a normal combat system with computer terms thrown in (probably incorrectly) and some vague hand-waving to explain why "hacking" is done through a classic RPG battle system.
  • Active Time Battle System - Might do a better job since it can capture the sense that the player can speed up their turns to take actions at a faster rate than their opponent without completely denying them turns at all. Still runs into the problem of not being able to do much that evokes hacking beyond changing the names of all the spells.
  • Action Combat System - Allows for the player to take actions not possible through menu-based combat, specifically it allows the player to interact with enemies on the map, makes positioning important, and allows interaction with the environment. This can give a better sense of hacking as the player can accomplish goals on the map while delaying, distracting, and locking down enemies - i.e. setting up actual barriers that enemies have to waste time breaking through or "trapping" certain data nodes with viruses and stuff. There are some interesting possibilities with this one but RPG Maker is not the best engine for ACS.

Again, all of this is pointless if you don't have a good reason to be using "hacking" in the first place. Hacking is not really a method of combat at all - it is a method of obtaining information or controlling systems remotely. If the player characters need to hack system to gain information, then you need a system that is much more like a stealth system than a combat system. If the player characters need to take control of computer systems, then all they really need to do is insert the code sections into the system...which would typically be more like a stealth system. 


The thing you should really be thinking about is "What do I want the player to do in my game?" and go from there. If you decide you want "hacking" and try to base everything on that thematic then you are just putting the cart before the horse.
 

SWAMPFOOT9000

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Depends on what kind of project you want to work on. Real-Life hacking is un-godly boring. It's either painfully simple or the target doesn't even realize they are being hacked or got shut down by DDoS so there is zero interaction. Sci-Fi hacking often makes no sense at all since it can't be based on how actual computer systems work or else it will be just like boring reality.


So the real question becomes - "Why the heck do you want to put "hacking" into the combat system in the first place?"


If all you want is a little Sci-Fi flavor, then there are much better ways of doing it. If you have a plot built around computer systems or VR games or something, then a mini-game may work better for hacking than a combat system.


My issues with this:

  • Turn-Based Combat - Unable to capture the feel of hacking at all. You cannot really take consecutive actions without perma-stunning the enemy. If you make all actions take very little time each round may be fast enough to be passable. The best I'd expect is a normal combat system with computer terms thrown in (probably incorrectly) and some vague hand-waving to explain why "hacking" is done through a classic RPG battle system.
  • Active Time Battle System - Might do a better job since it can capture the sense that the player can speed up their turns to take actions at a faster rate than their opponent without completely denying them turns at all. Still runs into the problem of not being able to do much that evokes hacking beyond changing the names of all the spells.
  • Action Combat System - Allows for the player to take actions not possible through menu-based combat, specifically it allows the player to interact with enemies on the map, makes positioning important, and allows interaction with the environment. This can give a better sense of hacking as the player can accomplish goals on the map while delaying, distracting, and locking down enemies - i.e. setting up actual barriers that enemies have to waste time breaking through or "trapping" certain data nodes with viruses and stuff. There are some interesting possibilities with this one but RPG Maker is not the best engine for ACS.

Again, all of this is pointless if you don't have a good reason to be using "hacking" in the first place. Hacking is not really a method of combat at all - it is a method of obtaining information or controlling systems remotely. If the player characters need to hack system to gain information, then you need a system that is much more like a stealth system than a combat system. If the player characters need to take control of computer systems, then all they really need to do is insert the code sections into the system...which would typically be more like a stealth system. 


The thing you should really be thinking about is "What do I want the player to do in my game?" and go from there. If you decide you want "hacking" and try to base everything on that thematic then you are just putting the cart before the horse.

I do have an idea of what I would like to use to create a battle system, and a reason that "hacking" would be a part of the battle system. I just kind of wanted to see if anybody in the community had any ideas, without sounding too specific to my project. (I also wanted to drum up a conversation.)


The extremely vague jist of what I had in mind was just people DOS attacking each other, trying to bring the other offline. I figured it would make sense, since individual attacks could be something like "pings," and death would represent being taken "offline." I know this isn't technically "hacking," but it's around the ball of what I'm going for. However, it says in the rules for posting here that topics should be general, and not specific, so I just left it at what I wrote.


I do greatly appreciate your input though, and am glad you took the time to think this all through.


*EDITED
 
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Basileus

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If I were to, completely hypothetically, play an RPG in which combat was basically ordinary but instead of "killing" enemies I was trying to "Denial of Service" attack them to bring them "Offline"...well, I would have some issues with that game.


A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is essentially just overloading a system and forcing it to reboot. A "Ping" is a very tiny data packet that is so small its only real purpose is to check if a system is online or not and to measure the latency of the connection if it is. A DoS attack cannot be done with "Pings", it has to be done with huge amounts of data generated by a huge amount of hits on the system that each have more substantial amounts of data they each ask the system to process. If the player only gets one attack per round, then trying to pass it off as DoS is just insulting anyone who knows computers since the "enemy" clearly has time between attacks. At that point it is just regular health bars and damage with the names changed, and that can feel rather lazy which can turn people off. Of course, the only real way to ever implement the feel of a DoS attack is to literally one-shot your enemy or else attack so rapidly they have no chance to ever respond. A mini-game where the player has to spam something to deplete a gauge that is constantly refilling is much more accurate - either the player spams enough to outpace the processing speed filling the gauge back up, or the player is not faster and their task is literally endless and pointless. It would be very realistic but I have 0 confidence that it would be in any way fun.


The real problem is that hacking is really boring. Why would the player need to do anything to DoS their opponent? Attacks like that are handled by bots that are programmed to only ever do that one thing and don't care how tedious it is. If the main characters ever have a need to hack/DoS anything in the game...well, there will NEVER be a logical reason that the player should have to actually do anything since those tasks are done better by machines anyway. If the player character is ever physically performing the actions to hack something, then that player character is an idiot. Telling the computer what to attack is one thing, but doing the hacking instead of the computer will just never really feel right.
 

Mojo907

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Getting past all of the logistic jargon, if you are using MV maybe you could make use of the Undertale Battlesystem (by SumRndmDde) to simulate your hacking battles...
 

Lord Semaj

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You guys have heard of Shadowrun right?  It has an entire hacking element to the regular game in which your one hacker has to combat multiple defense programs in the cyber world known as the Matrix.  This is all happening while actual combat is taking place so your hacker's pressed for time too.  They use a grid system but it's mostly irrelevant, mainly just to feature the duality of time progression in both worlds.


Hacking can be as simple as attempting to bypass the software using offensive programs while the server attempts to defend using firewalls and ice.  The game Netrunner is all about hacking and is asynchronous turn-based.  The defending player lays down ice to stop the runner while attempting to advance his own agendas in central server protected by defense software while the runner has to use his attack programs to bypass the ice without suffering too much damage to himself so he can reach the central server and jack out with the stolen intelligence.  There's even money management and time and allies and buying upgraded computer equipment.


Hacking doesn't have to be boring at all.
 

Kes

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@SWAMPFOOT9000 Please do not quote whole posts just to indicate who you are answering.  It makes the page slow to load and to scroll down, especially for those who are accessing this on their phones.  If you want to indicate who you are replying to, simply use the @membername convention as I have done on this post.


Thanks.
 

Basileus

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@Lord Semaj


I was saying that Real-Life hacking if boring. And it is. 


If the "hacker" is running around inside "The Matrix" and fighting enemy "Combat Programs"...then that isn't really hacking, and thus why it is possible for it to be fun. However, it also makes no sense for these fun things to be required to "hack" something. Kind of like how the 80's portrayed "cyberspace" as an actual virtual reality that your avatar traveled through to access networks and penetrate security, even though this is 100,000 times harder than how these tasks are done in real life while also being much slower. On top of that, there is never a good justification to graphically render something which is by definition non-graphical (there is no visual element to hacking) so there is a risk of the end product lacking logical cohesion and making the player ask "Why was this necessary" too much.


Don't get me wrong, you can make a fun system built around computers. But this works best as a mini-game, not the primary combat system. Ask yourself this: "Could I turn this system into a standard fantasy game by just changing the names of things?". If the answer is "Yes", then the system is rather generic in actual mechanics and just uses computer terminology to try and be thematic. If the answer is "No", then at least one aspect of the system evokes some actual aspect of computer functions and mechanics that would feel out of place in any setting without computers/networks. If you can make a mechanic like that, then just build a game around that and don't bother with tacking on the generic RPG combat system in the first place - your game will be much more fun that way.
 

Diretooth

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Speaking as a writer, using technical jargon without understanding the meaning will reveal your inexperience with the subject. Sure, people might play the game because of the fluff, but that's all hacking really becomes in games, fluff. Hacking into other systems, as I understand it, is a boring, monotonous process, and even if you do manage to get into another system, it's only a matter of time before you're noticed, if you even manage to get a hold of important information. The easiest method of hacking is acquiring a password, some people do this by using a keylogger, if they have physical access to the machine they're trying to access. Some use viruses, but the distribution of viruses is unpredictable, and if you're trying to gain access to one system, you'd have to rely on someone using that particular machine to access where the virus is contained.


Sure, there is an element of danger to hacking, but that's only being caught and potentially infecting your own machine with viruses you made. Hacking, in terms of telling a story, is downright impractical to capture in a storytelling element as the sole focus of the story, if you're going for accuracy. If you're not going for accuracy, then make it clear that it isn't accurate.


That aside, Basileus put it succinctly: Is the game you're trying to make a fantasy story in disguise?
 

Rayhaku808

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Megaman Battle Network is a beautiful setting. You have a digital ai partner like a Pokemon that you control in a 3d world setting when you're in an electronic device. I can't really answer any of the other questions but that's what I envision in a cybernetic game. Combat is a whole nother thing that I don't want to get into right now cause I'm on my phone. Try it. It should help IMMENSELY
 

Harosata

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In that case, let me bring up two other "hacking" games.


One of them is Saints Row 3 (4 for the whole game).  In 3, you decide to enter a gang's virtual base, and though you don't do much hacking yourself, your own hacker does try to code in help until you eventually fight the gang leader in a giant robot vs demon match.


Another game is Slash Hack or something like that.  Essentially, your sword is a hacking tool where you can change the enemy's properties like attack, health, or even a death switch.  I recall the first boss had some features that couldn't be hacked and thus defeated in one blow, but I believe I managed to change one of its minions to attack the boss instead.  Or maybe a few minions.


---


Anyway, a hacking battle looks like it's going to involve many alterations of stats, though you'll have a few enemies with stats that can't be altered (or enemies that may hack back).


IF you want to get really technical, how about an in-game "Game Genie"?   Put in the right password, and you could get inifinite HP or all items, but put it in wrong and you could end up playing in black and white, replace all encounters with Final Bosses, or even end the game.
 

Ryzler

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Look at the way that hacking in the computer world is handled in the Shadowrun games. That would allow you to have a digital-themed battle system which is still the standard battle sytem. Easy to use and kind of cool but not as impressive as some other ideas
 

Oddball

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kinda sounds like it would be a reverse bullet hell/space shooter type battle system
 

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