Skip

NSF/smashthestate
January 5, 2013 12:42 AM   Subscribe


 
Good overthinking, but not quite up to the rigor of using Bayesian analysis to prove the veracity of the Death Note film adaptation.
posted by Apocryphon at 12:48 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


About halfway through Human Revolution I had the sudden thought that the hacking minigame was, in universe, just Adam dicking around in the equivalent of a fancy cellphone game while some augments in his face brute-forced the actual password. Adam may or may not be aware that he's not doing anything important and this is absolutely not what actual hacking involves. I like to picture him as hopelessly computer illiterate.

I haven't played the original yet but I'm still unemployed so maybe next week.
posted by sandswipe at 1:11 AM on January 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


From the same author, the scifi-ish series of short stories Ra is highly recommended...
posted by ianso at 2:04 AM on January 5, 2013


Previously by Sam Hughes.
posted by Zarkonnen at 2:12 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]




...and security cameras are placed nonsensically, creating networks of blind spots.

Whereas in reality that have a massive network of cheap unmonitored cameras so that, after an intrusion, they can confirm that yes, an intrusion took place. Maybe.

Warning, concentratrated schadenfreude from a guy who would always ask "what the hell is this supposed to accomplish?" when a new dumb security policy was rolled out.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:47 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like to picture him as hopelessly computer illiterate.

Adam never struck me as particularly smart. Actually, many of the things he does in the game suggest that without his augments he'd barely be able to function at the most basic level, let alone hack into high-security computer systems without really trying.

The limited-use multitools in the first game didn't really make sense, but at least they gave you a reason to figure out passwords yourself (and engage with the various tricks described in the article) rather than waste time playing a silly minigame.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:25 AM on January 5, 2013


I hate hacking and lockpicking minigames. My character's a genius hacker/lockpicker, not me. Bloodlines got it right- if you have the key or the password you can use it, but otherwise you tell your character to hack/lockpick and if they're good enough, they succeed, and otherwise they fail.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:58 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real security problem revealed by the Deus Ex series: insufficient security around ventilation shafts.
posted by jaduncan at 4:33 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is finding key codes from notes and conversations that uncommon in games? I'm not a big gamer, but Doom 3 had something pretty similar in it, too.
posted by KGMoney at 5:47 AM on January 5, 2013


God I love that game. The sequel and prequel are pretty weak imitations.
posted by Artw at 6:19 AM on January 5, 2013


Is finding key codes from notes and conversations that uncommon in games? I'm not a big gamer, but Doom 3 had something pretty similar in it, too.

It goes way back to text adventures. Deus Ex has a LOT of it though. Also Deus Ex usually offers multiple solutions to any given problem, so there isn't always a password or it isn't always obvious where to find it, so when you do solve a problem that way you get to feel clever for saving valuable resources.
posted by Artw at 6:24 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The hacking minigame dates (at least) all the way back to the tabletop RPG Shadowrun, which had a similar mechanic for hacking computer systems. Hell, you could almost just play the hacking metagame instead.

In fact, I found the hacking minigame in Deus Ex HR to be remarkably reminiscent of that, but it's been 20 years. My memory could be fuzzy.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:38 AM on January 5, 2013


God I love that game. The sequel and prequel are pretty weak imitations.

Game design has changed substantially in the intervening years towards inclusiveness for the sake of sales. AAA titles are simply not allowed to be as hardcore as the original Deus Ex was due to the budgetary risks of appealing to a niche audience. Human Revolution was flat-out amazing in terms of preserving the spirit of the original while still fulfilling the requirements necessary to drive the sort of sales that ensure a sequel gets made.

They guaranteed the continuation of the franchise without selling its soul, and that is no small feat in this day and age. My hat's off to them, because I honestly did not think that was possible (also: holy shit what they added to the series in terms of art/sound direction).

You can throw last year's X-Com reboot into this category as well (caveat: I work for X-Com's publisher).
posted by Ryvar at 6:44 AM on January 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, there's a reason for retro games and the like which goes beyond a fondness for 8 bit graphics. I'm not saying we should abandon AAA games as graphical slide shows punctuated by occasional periods of semi-interactive shootery, but... maybe we should.
posted by Artw at 6:54 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying we should abandon AAA games as graphical slide shows punctuated by occasional periods of semi-interactive shootery, but... maybe we should.

I really want indie studios to step up to a kind of semi-indie status and start making games on a similar budget to the early 90s that actually cater to the more hardcore single player market.

As it is, I'll apparently have to settle for blockbuster games like Skyrim and the inclusion of high quality modding tools.

PS: The person to make an adaptation of Dwarf Fortress that includes reasonable graphics would probably be able to make a bundle; it's essentially The Sims done right.
posted by jaduncan at 6:58 AM on January 5, 2013


I still remember the birthday code in the original Deus Ex. Having to figure out the codes based on available evidence did a lot to make me feel like I was badass hacker JC Denton, rather than just along for the ride. The combination of thinking, sneaking, and shooting in that game is still kinda unreplicated, which is a terrible shame.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:08 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


In threads that mention Deus Ex, I like to mention Adam's amazing jacket, which is a black-on-black Hawaiian print trench coat.

And my personal feeling on the hacking minigame, and others like it, is that it's an opportunity to exercise your imagination, ie in the "reality"of the game, Jensen is doing some complicated hacking, and the minigame is just for the player.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:14 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Best And Worst Hacking Mini-games
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on January 5, 2013


> The real security problem revealed by the Deus Ex series: insufficient security around ventilation shafts.

The real question is why do all air ducts have to be human accessible. Why not two parallel 8x8" ducts.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:56 AM on January 5, 2013


Shannon--
Ammunition is disappearing again, so we're changing the door code for the comm van near the helipad. New Code: 0451.
Alex
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


My absolute favorite tactic in Deus Ex was the crossbow with poison darts. I kept other weapons around for things like those mechanical spiders and the MJ12 dudes in the full body armor, but otherwise the crossbow was by far the best weapon. All you had to do was shoot someone once, and then you could duck away and hide and the poison would do multiple rounds of damage, usually killing them; and if it didn't you could just put a second dart into them while they were flailing around madly. In most cases the guy would be on the floor before being able to activate an alarm, so you didn't have an onslaught of backup. You could even upgrade it for distance and damage if I recall correctly, such that in the middle and end game you could shoot someone very far away and then just relax for a while as he had absolutely no idea what was happening or where he was being shot from. I could never understand why anyone would want to run and gun in that game with the SMG or shotgun -- they were so noisy and loud and required that you got off multiple shots.

I also found on replays that as long as you played with a "always explore everything, always get all items" mindset, you would have so many multitools and lockpicks that you would never run out and never have to worry about not being able to get into anything. In DXIW I used a similar strategy and it resulted in so many multitools that I ran into game bugs with the inventory system. I would always have several dozen on me at all times, and at some point it stopped allowing me to pick up more even though I had space. At one point I tried dropping them all in a giant pile of multitools and then picking them up again, and apparently there were some that would cause the inventory to get stuck if I picked them up, perhaps because they'd been on my person for like 5+ levels. Anyway, it was buggy is what I'm saying.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:36 AM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, the best weapon in Deus Ex is incontrovertibly the Dragon's Tooth, because lightsabers.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:48 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


GEP gun. For mechs. Honest.
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2013


I do love the utter contempt the sniper rifle gets you at the beginning though.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on January 5, 2013


The Dragon's Tooth is great and all, especially for killing karkans and other beasties. But you don't get it until sometime near the end of the HK level (which itself takes forever, at least if you're doing the "clear everything" way of playing) and so it's not available for the considerable amount of play before that. And besides, it requires you sneak up close to the enemy, and I always preferred hitting them in silence from afar if at all possible.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:57 AM on January 5, 2013


I'm currently part of the way through a pseudo-hardcore game on the hardest difficulty level. (It's pseudo-hardcore in the sense that I constantly quicksave and only reload if I die.)

At the moment, my favourite weapon is the crowbar, for letting me do one-hit takeouts without using up ammo. I went through the liberty island map killing about a dozen NSF with the crowbar. I like to think they are now in mortal terror of me.

But yeah. GEP guns for mechs. Anything else is just suicide.
posted by Zarkonnen at 8:57 AM on January 5, 2013


The blackjack is pretty neat for stunning people without using up batteries.
posted by Artw at 9:11 AM on January 5, 2013


But yeah. GEP guns for mechs. Anything else is just suicide.

I may gibbed every last terrorist on the island at one point, to the horror of my UNESCO coworkers, who shamed me into trying the level again the non lethal way.
posted by Artw at 9:16 AM on January 5, 2013


Wait, I thought the crossbow fired sleepy darts?
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there was more than one kind of dart, maybe poison worked a lot faster than tranq if you didn't mind being a stone-cold killer?

I hated the darts, in any case. They felt sloppy and slow and hard to fire accurately, and my standard choice was sniper rifle and a pistol for backup, clearing out levels at a distance from patient vantages.

But one of these days I should really give a pacifist run on the original a shot. I really enjoyed pulling that off in DE:HR (and in fact I did a full-on no-touch run, not just non-lethal but never actually touched or got touched or properly seen by anybody, stupid boss fights aside), though the newer game clearly put a lot of effort into insuring that that was possible to do and I worry that the original might have a few rough spots where there's no good non-glitch way to solve that sort of problem.
posted by cortex at 9:23 AM on January 5, 2013


Zarkonnen, I can't believe you don't specialise in pacifist runs.

Since we know each other IRL, you may appreciate the irony that you don't but I do. :)
posted by jaduncan at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I never bothered with a distinction between tranq darts and poison darts. It's not like unconscious enemies ever wake up.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2013


IIRC there are two people you pretty much have to kill to progress in the plot. Plus, er, that whole redirected nuclear missile thing.
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:31 AM on January 5, 2013


Spoiler evading answer: You can avoid both by just running past and/or going invisible, although in one case other characters talk to you as if you killed that character at the second attempt so it's borderline gamebreaking to do so.

You just have to gas and run past or use speed/invisibility augs. Spoiler video example of the first char this applies to.

Doing it to the second character in the base is actually quite entertaining.
posted by jaduncan at 9:40 AM on January 5, 2013


jaduncan: Oh, interesting information. I do feel sorry for both characters. I mean, they're pretty horrible, but they're also victims as much as perpetrators. And I guess it's not you who redirects that nuke.

Yeah, I'm... not very nice in computer games. Favourite Alpha Centauri faction? The Human Hive!
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:51 AM on January 5, 2013


"The Hive commits atrocities against everyone...except fish."

--Leader Zarkonnen, "Essays on Mind and Matter Volume II"
posted by jaduncan at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


This has nothing to do with the article itself, but this bugs me and I see people doing it on MetaFilter all the time, so: microrant time! This sentence:

future world at the tipping point between dystopia and flat-out anarchy

...is a serious misuse of the word "anarchy," which refers to a system or state of government without rulers, establishments or hierarchy. Anarchy is probably impossible on a large, complex scale, but it's a good thing that's worth aiming for. Flat-out anarchy means a fairer world with a good notion of and investment in human rights.

The world of Deus Ex is on the verge of something on the opposite pole--there are shadowy elites rubbing their hands together at the tops of their Shiny Elite Ziggurats plotting total control of the world while everyone else is dying in gutters because they're too poor and powerless to do much else. That's anti-anarchy--a hierarchy so rigid it's unbreakable.

It bothers me that the common usage of "anarchy" = "violent chaos," because there's lots of value to the concept as an ideal. Also because I'm a nerd and this is a really clear example of a word that's been deliberately misused to distort the meaning, and that bothers me. "Social collapse" or something would've been a better word choice.

Anyway, to make up for my not-very-Deus-Ex-y post, here are my favorite Deus Ex-y things:

Deus Ex: Recut.
Old Man Murray's Deus Ex Walkthrough.
posted by byanyothername at 10:54 AM on January 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


It should be noted that one of the possible outcomes of the original Deus Ex, explicitly presented to the player in the final set-piece of DE as something they can help accomplish, is the induction of a catastrophic reversion to a pre-modern state specifically free of the mechanisms and power structures that have allowed the Shiny Elite to get and maintain so tight a grip on the day-after-tomorrow that JC "Unused Nickname" Denton spends the game investigating.

Which is not to say people don't use anarchy casually to mean something other than the political meaning of the word, but in DE's case it's less inappropriate to say the world dangles on the edge of that than in e.g. Robocop.
posted by cortex at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2013


I've always wondered that ending, actually. What happens is more or less is that global communications, including the future internet, gets completely disrupted. But it's not some sort of magical EMP device, so it's not as if people lose out on computers and helicopters or even nano-augmentation.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:56 AM on January 5, 2013


It bothers me that the common usage of "anarchy" = "violent chaos," because there's lots of value to the concept as an ideal.

Anarchist was originally a term of abuse, though, think that's where it comes from.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 11:57 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bloodlines got it right- if you have the key or the password you can use it, but otherwise you tell your character to hack/lockpick and if they're good enough, they succeed, and otherwise they fail.

Bloodlines also had those really guessable passwords, although I think one of them was "ihatemyjob," which I think is funny.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 12:13 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


is a serious misuse of the word "anarchy," which refers to a system or state of government without rulers, establishments or hierarchy

I wonder whether people in general would be more or less afraid of anarchists if they realized that the glorious anarchist future looks less like Mad Max and more like a never-ending calendar of committee meetings.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This far into the thread and no one has mentioned one of the best password references in Deus Ex?
BLUEOS INSTALLATION LOG 19:55:33
Compiling kernel v23.4a...
Created kernel.
Installing kernel!
Installing kernel files to \system\bluekernel...
...copying vbluemod.kernel!
...copying vconnect.kernel!
...copying ispp33.yht!
...copying ispp56.yht!
...copying bluedrivers.interface!
...copying bluesecurity.kernel!
Initializing bluesecurity "root" login.
Default password: "reindeerflotilla".
...copying xholoarray.interface!
...copying xhardwire.interface!
...copying xsolo.interface!
...copying qazmod.kernel!
Morphing kernel driver interface! /temp/morph
Installing morphed interface to \system\bluekernel\interface...
...copying bluetranslut.6ty!
...copying tripodmod.ker
*** SYSTEM FAILURE 00x627d893 ***

posted by Hactar at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


But it's not some sort of magical EMP device

Even that wouldn't delay things for long. Technology isn't about the installed base, it's about the knowledge. Things would still be produced but would be extremely short in supply until production got up and running again.

I'm guessing 20-30 years until the world looked recognisably [Deus Ex] modern again.
posted by jaduncan at 3:22 PM on January 5, 2013


PS: The person to make an adaptation of Dwarf Fortress that includes reasonable graphics would probably be able to make a bundle; it's essentially The Sims done right.

I'm sure graphics rank below the UI when it comes to factors that prevent DF from making a mint.

If anyone who is reading this thread, basking in a warm Deus Ex glow, hasn't played System Shock 2, consider making it a New Year's resolution. Also, play it with headphones if your nerves are better than mine.
posted by ersatz at 3:41 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


PS: The person to make an adaptation of Dwarf Fortress that includes reasonable graphics would probably be able to make a bundle; it's essentially The Sims done right.

There are two in beta. Gnomoria and Towns.

If you are like me and wanted to play DF but gave up time and again due to frustration both may offer some hope. Right now Gnomoria seems more promising to me as dev seems to be dedicated to making the UI as painless as possible.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:13 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tracer Tong's "New Dark Age" ending option always bothered me. As if a network crash would somehow render the Illuminati -- a 200+ year old secret society of super-connected political geniuses -- suddenly helpless. It seemed like a very naive idea to include in a work that otherwise included a lot of (for a video game) sophisticated philosophic and political thought. Political conspiracy and the rule of shadowy elites are much older than the telephone. And this was part of a game that spends some time explaining who the Knights Templar were, and how they became rich and powerful by destroying distance with a human network.
posted by Western Infidels at 4:21 PM on January 5, 2013


Ammunition is disappearing again, so we're changing the door code for the comm van near the helipad. New Code: 0451.

I failed a major game-nerd test in Dishonored when I didn't immediately try "451" for the first combination. (This is kind of a tradition in these sorts of games, starting with System Shock I believe.)

But yeah. GEP guns for mechs. Anything else is just suicide.

Nononono, you guys have it all wrong. The GEP gun is for doors!
posted by neckro23 at 5:42 PM on January 5, 2013


A door is just a mech with a very rudimentary weapon system.
posted by cortex at 6:11 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Deus Ex: Recut

Damn it, I was just coming in here to post that. UNATCO hurt my weenie.

One of my favorite things about the original Deus Ex is the random book snippets lying around everywhere. There's one from Act I, scene iv of Richard III:
... Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:19 PM on January 5, 2013


Man, now this makes me want to play Deus Ex again. Does anyone know the status of running it under OSX on Intel machines? Or is it still easier to try to run with windows under emulation / bootcamp?
posted by mrzarquon at 6:20 PM on January 5, 2013


ersatz: "If anyone who is reading this thread, basking in a warm Deus Ex glow, hasn't played System Shock 2, consider making it a New Year's resolution. Also, play it with headphones if your nerves are better than mine."

Really, seriously, play SS2. If you have trouble getting it to run, don't forget the unofficial patch that makes everything wonderful.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:21 PM on January 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


mrzarquon: I'm running the Windows version from GOG.com in a Crossover bottle (though I imagine PlayOnMac also works), and it runs perfectly.
posted by Zarkonnen at 1:49 AM on January 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Along with Sheldon Pacotti and Austin Grossman, I was one of the writers on the original Deus Ex. I was responsible for most (though by no means all) of the written text -- books, data cubes, e-mails, newspapers -- as well as writing and animating the ending cut scenes. Unfortunately you have me to blame for a lot of the passwords; honestly, after a while it became more and more difficult to come up with even semi-plausible reasons why people were this casual with their personal information.

But I'm excited that everyone still seems to find the game interesting after all these years.

It's been a while, but I'd be happy to answer any questions about the above -- for example, the Richard III quote came about because I'd recently seen Ian McKellan's film adaptation and loved that particular scene. And reindeerflotilla because, well, Tron.
posted by chris7crows at 7:34 PM on January 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


Holy cow! That's super great, welcome to Metafilter.
posted by cortex at 9:08 PM on January 7, 2013


chris7crows: I'm just going to go ahead and say thank you for writing one of the only games I've played and not felt like I was being vaguely insulted by the writing; all the philosophy texts strewn around were particularly awesome.
posted by jaduncan at 12:12 PM on January 8, 2013


Also, whoever left all the Man Who Was Thursday around, thanks for the intro to Chesterton.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2013


cortex: Thanks! A little surreal to read the thread, so thought I'd chime in.

jaduncan: Sheldon, Austin, and myself had a fairly grand time throwing in everything that we thought was interesting into the mix -- when generating that much content, it was the only way to keep ourselves fresh. Sheldon was definitely the Pynchon references and a lot of the overhead philosophical discussions with the guards while Austin had his own philosophical preoccupations; I think I was the more traditional sci-fi geek in the group, but also enjoyed my superhero, Hong Kong movie, and G.K. Chesterton references. All of us liked conspiracy theories and William Gibson.

Everyone else at the company contributed as well -- the designers would scatter around their own books, or suggestions for books that were appropriate. It was definitely a team effort.

Etruscan: That was me. A friend of mine got turned on to G.K. Chesterton through an allusion in Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Fiddler's Green is a stand-in for G.K.). He got me interested and I picked up a copy of Man Who Was Thursday on a lark from Half-Price, and absolutely fell in love with the book. I have a screenplay adaptation somewhere on my list of Things To Do Soon.
posted by chris7crows at 5:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nobody say "Laputian machine!"

Whoops!
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on January 8, 2013


Along with Sheldon Pacotti and Austin Grossman, I was one of the writers on the original Deus Ex.

Anyone else having a Wayne's World moment?

posted by running order squabble fest at 2:44 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older de Dodo doo, de da da da   |   Persistence prays Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post