A Brief Introduction to Decker, Part 3: Radio Shack Attack

Part 1 of this series introduces Decker and how it relates to the roguelike game genre.

Part 2 considers the part of the game the supports the action: character development, examining the cyberdeck, and obtaining or building new hardware and software.

In this post, we’ll carry out a typical cyberhit against a future version of Radio Shack, and snatch a little bit of something for ourselves in the process. First, however, let’s review our mission.

The Mission

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We’ll rejoin our fledgling hacker at the hub. Click on “View Contracts” to review the mission.

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When we’re looking for a mission, this shows a list of available missions. If we accept a mission (which we have), it shows the details for the current mission. Our contract states that all we have to do is break into the Radio Shack computer system, and disable the alarm systems. We’re probably facilitating a robbery or corporate espionage. Contracts can have more complex requirements, such as not setting off alarms, or even completely trashing a system. For now, we’ll be satisfied with something this simple, and the lousy payment of 105 credits.

Note that the deadline is in one day. If we disconnect for any reason, that’s a day’s work done. Reconnecting can only be done on the following day, so we better be done by the deadline, or our reputation will suffer.

Well, what are we waiting for, let’s indirectly hurt some people!

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A Brief Introduction to Decker, Part 2 (cyberpunk hacking roguelike)

In my previous post, I introduced the graphical roguelike Decker, and how to obtain it and soften the harsh graphics a bit. Here, we’ll get into Decker’s actual gameplay.

Next to the graphics, the toughest part about getting into Decker is figuring out how to make a living as a hacker in the cyberpunk world of the future. Fortunately, the game itself has a decent helpfile, though you’ll be using the search function quite a bit at first. As this introduction continues, we’ll familiarize ourselves with the interface, and go on a quick mission. Then, you’ll be on your own! Continue reading

A Brief Introduction to Decker, Part 1 (a cyberpunk hacking roguelike)

I’ve played a few roguelikes on and off (mostly off) for the past ten years or so, starting with the venerable Nethack. I would play Nethack for a week at a time, building new characters, delving deeper within the Mazes of Menace, until I hit a kind of ‘research wall.’ I always became disillusioned by the need to access information outside the game and build arbitrary ‘ascension kits’ to succeed at a reasonable pace, instead of simply discovering winning strategies over time.

I think I’ve put Nethack down for good, but that doesn’t mean I have to go on without the more compelling features of a good roguelike. Luckily, there are quite a few rogue-inspired games around that cater more to casual play, and Decker is one of them. Taking place in a William Gibson-like cyberpunk world, you ‘punch deck’ to travel through cyberspace and commit cybercrime, all in the name of cyberprofit. Like many roguelikes, Decker has a bit of a learning curve, though it isn’t as complex as many of them. It is, however, worth more than an initial screenshot might indicate.

It's not the prettiest thing around, but having graphics at all already separates Decker from other roguelikes.
Here, we're breaking into Chevron's mainframe to shut down some security alarms, and steal some valuable files for our own purposes.

What’s a Roguelike?

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The current standard in dungeon hacking, Nethack. The graphics are rendered using ASCII characters.

I’ll put it briefly: if you don’t know what a roguelike is, check the Wikipedia definition for the most thorough description. Roguelikes are turn-based RPG games that usually share the following traits:

  • They’re often concerned mainly with combat, killing enemies, gathering experience points and items, upgrading your warrior, and moving on toward your ultimate goal, usually a McGuffin of some sort.
  • They’re difficult, often coupled with ‘permenant death,’ such that once you die, you cannot restore from a previous save.
  • The combat is usually turn-based, in that you can ponder your strategy as long as you like before striking.
  • The graphics are usually very simplistic, consisting of ASCII characters or simple glyphs representing items and enemies,
  • The ‘dungeons’ are randomly generated, resulting in a new play experience each time.

Though not a roguelike itself, classic action clicker Diablo borrowed a lot of the above traits to become one of the most popular PC games of all time. It’s kind of a real-time roguelike, though some of the nerdier roguelike players look upon its relative simplicity with a certain disdain.

Many roguelikes take place in fantasy dungeons, with rocky cave walls, magical attacks, and fantastic creatures. In Decker, you hack computer systems instead of dungeons, and launch software attacks instead of magic. Your enemies are varieties of ICE, or Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics, in place of orcs and goblins.

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