Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Drug Pushing

Yesterday, I jumped on a server that only had one other player in game so I could do some experimentation with a job that I wouldn't normally pick (so as to not get yelled at). I wanted a job as high up as possible so I had the most options. I went for Head of Personnel (HoP) who is second only to the captain and with this job, I can forge new identification cards.

Basically, when you sign up for a job aboard the space station, it's your ID card that determines who you are. You start with a few things that are career specific, but it's your ID that gives you access to areas, computers and vending machines. Therefore, HoP wasn't good enough for me, I needed a captain's ID card. I manufactured one (using my HoP computer) and equipped it, knowing full well that I was wearing a HoP jumpsuit and that I may be asked some aukward questions.

This ship was not the standard ship (from most other servers) so I wandered around, getting accustomed and seeing what I could experiment with. I played with the tracking device in security for a while, the finger print kit in the detectives office and settled on making chemicals in the science labs.

I had found some interesting chemistry guides on-line recently and wanted to try some out. The first mixture that caught my eye was called Cryptobiolin with a description that simply said "confuses". Sounded good to me. Combining Potassium + Oxygen + Suger all dispensed from the chemical dispenser and I had a bubbling mixture. There was no label, nothing to indicate what it was or if I was successful so I plugged it into an analyzer. It said "confuses" again so I was happy that I'd succeeded. The machine gave me some more options, one of which was to turn it into a pill which also sounded good if I wanted to administer it. During the pill creation process, it asked me to name the pill. I'm sure I was meant to put the description of it's effects or something but I decided to call this pill "Candy".

Out in the hallway, I meet up with the captain. He seemed like a jolly soul and after talking for a while, said nothing about my captain's ID card. I can only assume that he's fairly new to the game with a lot to still learn. Something comes over me due to the lack of players, no admin on and therefore no major responsibilities and I decide to force feed the captain my new pill!

He's not happy with this and goes into disarm mode. We then have this cat and mouse up and down the hallway with me trying to feed him my pill, him disarming me, me picking it back up and so forth. I was very disappointed with the result. I ran away after 5 minutes to hide and collect myself.

I found the security outpost so I picked up a flash grenade and a tazer gun for protection and walked out into the hallway. Before I could even do anything, he had rendered me unable to move with a stun baton and put handcuffs on me. I wasn't particularly happy, but I also knew it was a fair cop. He dragged my sorry ass to the brig and locked me in a cell.

I decided to play dumb. I told him that it was just candy and that I didn't mean to hurt him. Now the chance he would believe me was so slim but it was my only hope, I couldn't do anything in the cell with handcuffs other than feel sorry for myself. Then he said "Oh lol, I didn't realize" and proceeded to let me out! I couldn't believe my luck. I told him "no problem" and asked to have my handcuffs removed. He didn't know how (hence cementing my opinion of him) and I told him what to do. Once free I decided to push my luck again. I dropped my pill and pointed it out to him. "Here you go, it's candy", I told him. He picked it up and popped it in his mouth.

A few seconds later I asked him "Well, do you like it?" He responded with, "My controls are all back to front". I'm wetting myself laughing at this point and I tell him to "Stay there, I'll be back in a minute".

I run to the lab and decide upon a mixture who's description reads "Gives Random Genetic Mutations" which I whip up, make into another pill and label as "Bubblegum". *Insert evil laugh here*

I drop it next to him (the first effects are wearing off he tells me) and tell him to "Try this one". He eats it and tells me he feels faint. He's coughing and falls over. He gets back up and falls over again. I'll let the conversation text explain this next part:

Click for a larger image

So I eventually revive him using the medbot and then as I'm about to run off to get him another "snack", he gives me the line of the day: "I don't think I should eat anymore pills". I'm still laughing my head off and despite his resistance I run back to the chemistry lab to make another.

There aren't that many fun descriptors left - a lot of them are all for healing various ailments so I settle on the "extra strength" pill which I label as "chocolate". I head back over to see him (he's still coughing) and in true goonserver style, a wizard comes along and the captain explodes in front of me.

Damn wizards!

He knocks me out, handcuffs me and pulls me along the corridors, blowing up anything he doesn't like the look of along the way (no idea why I was saved).

There are enough people on the server now to initiate a server reset, mostly unhappy with the rampaging wizard and the game ends.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Officer Beepsky to the rescue.

I've been experimenting with Security Officer for a while. That means I'm subordinate to the head of security, the head of personnel and of course, the captain.

One particular time I was playing, I was the only security member playing, attempting to keep the peace. The round was traitor and I watched someone get knocked out in the middle of the hallway for what seemed like no reason. I had heard of cloaking devices before but had no experience with them, let alone knew how to combat such things. I'm sure there's some thermal goggles or something around but I didn't have a clue where to get them from. Besides, I wasn't sure if it was a cloak or if lag just made me miss the guy running away. I checked down the halls and couldn't find anyone. I shook the unconscious guy awake but he didn't say anything of importance so I went on my merry way.

A little later in the game, I went into security and the cloaking guy must've followed me in because I got knocked out by an invisible baton. I was especially worried when he stuffed me into the garbage disposal chute.

Notice the garbage disposal chute below the table

Now I've used these before when playing as the roboticist and disposing of the "willing" subject's remains but as far as I knew, I was about to be chopped into tiny pieces and thrown out into space. Luckly enough, I flew down a chute and ended up in a little room I'd never seen before, stuck on a conveyor belt and trapped behind a locked door (sorry no pics). I assume that it's possible for maintenance to get back here to throw all unwanted garbage out into space but I definitely didn't want that.

I called out for help (with no response) and came up with a cunning plan. Little did my assailant know that on a security guard's PDA, I have some control over Officer Beepsky (he's a cop's assistant droid). I was hoping that I'd be able to issue an APB (or it's equivalent) on the guy who did this to me. I was a little mistaken because this is only something that can be done from one of the security terminals. However, I was able to call Beepsky to me. How convenient that he had access to all the doors that I did not. When he arrived, I just followed him all the way out to the main ship again!

By the time I got out, the assailant had caused all sorts of havoc and there was plasma filling the station with the escape shuttle on it's way. He was obviously very proficient at the game and was probably ready to get away (with murder) and the round ended uneventfully for me after that.

One thing I've come to realize is that experiences on servers can be drastically different due to the map layout being different and the group of people playing. Another time whilst playing as a security guard, I was being fairly pleasant, trying to keep the peace and break up fights, while my superiors seemed to get more and more aggressive toward the passengers.

It seemed like anytime there was a slight argument, they'd go and tazer someone and drag their sorry-ass back to the brig and throw them in the cell. As a good inferior security guard does, he obeys and I spent the round doing various errands involving locking people up, removing all their gear and putting it in the evidence locker. At one point, almost all the activity seemed to be going on around the brig with more and more people getting pissed off in OOC for being arrested for no reason.

The busy brig, complete with unhappy prisoners

As it was, I kept out of it and felt like I had an immunity card from all the crap going down because I was "one of the boys".

I became a little disillusioned with my superiors antics and decided to do see what other mischief I could get into. The quartermaster that game was very good at his job (I had previously ordered a weapons crate from him) and I decided to ask him for a blue toolbox (for the screwdriver), a multi-tool and some insulated gloves.

On a previous game (playing as the quartermaster myself), I had watched someone hack a vending machine to give out cigarettes and zippo lighters, light one up and start to smoke it. Apparently, "Space cigarettes taste good like a space cigarette should". I wasn't interested in cigarettes this game but I had spotted a vending machine in the brig that dispensed handcuffs and flash grenades. Just out of curiosity, I wondered what'd happen if I hacked it.

During all the confusion still going on, I achieved a small victory: it now gave out police helmets! Not very exciting but I felt it was like an accomplishment to manage that without guides stepping me through it. If the roboticist gets a helmet and a stun baton (amongst other things), he can make officer beepsky a little friend. I'd try that another time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rogue cyborg

Just a quick one – played as the roboticist recently right at the start of a round. Teamed up with a colleague and we decided that I’d work on the cyborg chassis and he’d go to security to get a stun baton and riot helmet so he could make a securitron to help out ship security. I’d just about finished when he came back empty handed complaining that security was a joke today (I think they tried to lock him up).

Anyway, a cyborg (not of our making) had broken into the genetics lab and was trying to murder the scientists in there. We called for security to come help (they didn’t) and for the AI to shut them down. Turns out, the AI had been destroyed and this cyborg decided he’d end all life now that he was free from his AI overlord. As roboticists, it was our duty to shut the cyborg down. Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to the genetics lab and when security did finally turn up, the cyborg had welded the doors shut.

Out came the toolboxes to try to break into the lab to rescue the scientists. Welders, wrenches, screwdrivers and crowbars helped us to eventually break through the wall that connected the robotics lab to the genetics lab. Alas, we were too late, the cyborg had fled down access shafts and a scientist lay dead.

Breaking into the genetics lab - too late!

A little later, I notice my colleague lying dead in the middle of the medical labs. Not sure the reason, nor wanting to report this to the crap security, I naturally dragged his lifeless body onto my surgical table and removed his brain. He would’ve wanted it this way.

Cyborg 210 was alive! He thanked me and explained that he’d found a pill that he decided to eat “in the name of science” which killed him. And he vowed to hunt down the person who was dealing in killer drugs.

My colleague, now a cyborg

Space Kudzu

This time, I played as the lowly (but important) Janitor. I put on my cleaning suit, galoshes, grabbed my mop and bucket, some cleaning grenades and my cleaning spritzer.

The Janitors Closet

I set off to see what I could find, patrolling the corridors of Space Station 13 to do my duty for the greater good. Everyone has a part to play, and this was mine. I decided to go where all the action usually takes place, with the biggest foot traffic - the medbay.

Sure enough, on the floor were some blood splatters. It's not my job to ask questions, just to clean it up. I put down my wet-floor sign and mopped it all up. To be on the safe side (and to have a bit of fun), I cleaned up some other floor tiles nearby. Wet floor doesn't show up in the game, but if you're running (by default) and you'll slip and fall over, having to wait a few seconds before you can get up. That's why it's important to put down the sign. Then if anyone shouts at you (like they did to me), you calmly point out the wet floor sign and tell them to be more careful next time (as condescending as possible).

I had a call over the intercom for cleanup inside the med labs so I waited for a doctor to let me in and cleaned up that mess too. As I was cleaning up that blood, I had another call from the barman. I had to wait a few minutes before another doctor was around to let me out (not having access) and I headed over to the bar. On my way over, there's an announcement of a Space Kudzu infestation. Probably the botanists experimenting. As I'm walking to the bar, I see the kudzu and go to investigate. It doesn't look too bad and I try spritzer against it and my mop, neither with affect, so I go on my way.

In the bar, there's vomit all over the place. One of the assistants has been drinking too much and has puked his guts up all over. I pull the pin on my cleaning grenade and lob it in. Seconds later, the bar is sparkling clean. The barman thanks me and I celebrate with a glass of wine. Not too much though, I'm on the job.

I get talking to a chemist who's telling me about LSD and we notice the kudzu has spread into the bar. The barman starts raving about "the idiot who let the kudzu in" and we abandon the bar for the corridor. The kudzu, it turns out, spreads extremely rapidly and forms an impenetrable wall when it gets to a certain thickness. It can be contained with flamethrowers and welding torches (of which I have neither, nor have access to) and we're forced to retreat. The station is on high alert with all the engine technicians combating the infestation. They fight and fight it, but it's spread too much. The bar has been taken over. "My bar!" The barman screams. "My bucket" I scream as it gets left in the bar.

A couple of us are let into the brig and we hold up there. The AI locks down all the fire doors and we're trapped. It's like something out of a disaster movie. We know we're not the only survivors, others are held up in the engineering department and others in the med labs. We communicate over the intercom, trying to formulate a plan. We move further into the brig, to the prisoner shuttle dock. A couple of the prison guards go back out to try to call the prisoner shuttle. But we never see them again. Now it's just me and the barman, neither of us with an access card to get out (not that we'd have anywhere to run to).

Notice the calls in the chat log!

The barman puts a call for help over the radio and the captain answers us. He's got the most access on the ship and should be one of the most knowledgeable about ways of getting us out of this mess. The next thing we know he space walks to us and uses the docking doors to get into where we are. He opens up a teleporter hole and we run through - we're saved!

Only to find ourselves on the bridge. Turns out, a hand-teleporter requires a "home" location and can only teleport us to that place. There are a few others in here with us and we come to find out that we're holed up here too. At least we're with some resoureful people now - not just a janitor and a barman!

The captain declares that he's going out again, trying to get to the escape shuttle (which has just been called). He'll set that as his home location and come back to save us. The escape shuttle will dock in 8 minutes so we're on a deadline.

Trapped on the bridge, waiting for the captain

A few minutes pass and my fellow survivors start to get worried; "He's never coming back".

8 minutes later, the shuttle arrives and we now have 3 minutes to get on it with still no sign of the captain. It's about this time that the technician and the detective with us come up with a way of getting through the blast doors and fight back the kudzu.

The blast doors are open - time to escape!

I can only assume the technician had some sort of infinite welding tool or something and he starts to create a tunnel through the thick kudzu. It's hilarious to see us all following behind, racing for the shuttle docking bay.

The Kudzu Tunnel

Unfortunately, we weren't quick enough. We get a message that the shuttle had taken off without us. Forever trapped in a decaying space station, endlessly floating through space (a.k.a the game had ended).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dr Frankenstein

I decided that I'd try the Robotics career. It seemed like a fun path to choose where I wouldn't be disturbed by the general chaos that usually goes on out in the hallways. I'd done my research and set off to make my first robot.

The robotics laboratory

I found the robotics lab and started by throwing metal plates into the robotic fashioning machine. I built all the necessary parts, legs, arms, head, frame and body and attempted to put them all together. When I got to the body, it said I needed wire. There was a coil of cable in there but I tried to use that and even cut off a piece using wire cutters but kept having problems. I looked it up in the wiki and discovered that there were wires under the floorboards that kept the ship pulsing with delicious electricity. A couple of crowbar smashes later and a snip with the wire cutters and I'm a quivering mess having had thousands of volts rip through my body. Fortunately the captain was walking by who gave me a stern telling off for wrecking his ship, revived me and fixed my floor boards. After I explained my reasoning for this vandalism, he said that the cable I had would be good enough and that I was just doing it wrong. I tried again and this time used the wires on the body part rather than the frame. That seemed to work so I then added a battery pack, two flash bulbs for the eyes and voila, I have built my first robot shell.

The next thing I needed to do was to "acquire" a human brain. That meant venturing out and seeing if there happened to be any "willing" subjects in the ship. I'd see if there were any dead bodies lying around the ship or at least unconscious (which isn't all that uncommon). If worst came to worst, I'd have to be willing to kill for a good brain too which I was prepared to do in the name of science. I armed myself with a scalpel and circular saw and headed out.

There were plenty of people milling around in the corridors and a few blood stains so I was fairly hopeful. I decided to do a couple of laps around the station first and then reevaluate if I was unsuccessful. Eurika! I come accross a body with "dull, lifeless eyes" who I then started to drag through the corridors.

One of the great things about this profession is that I'm one of the only people who might have a reason for dragging dead bodies around the ship whilst wearing bloodied gloves.

I got him back to the lab without any questions asked, put him on the table and used my tools to remove his brain! After inserting the brain into the robot, I am now the proud owner of Cyborg 713! IT'S ALIVEEEE!

Or not...

Unfortunately, the brain you use has to have an active player and it seemed like when the player was killed in the corridor earlier, he must've quit or gone away from his keyboard so he just stood there. So I have no idea if I was successful.

That didn't stop me though, I decided to make a floorbot next who repairs floor tiles. That was a much quicker build and all the tools I needed were available to me in the lab. After I fired him up, he happily blooped at me ran around the office! Again, he didn't repair the floor tile I'd broken for him but I wonder if it was out of his line of sight.

So anyway, I'll definitely be trying this career again. It has lots of possibilities for the future. And now that I know the basics, things should go a bit smoother (I also had trouble getting the corpse on the operating table and making sure I wasn't just stabbing it in the chest with my scalpel instead of surgically removing his brain). I'll also try to get more screenshots in the future so you can see me electricuted on the floor or see the blood splattered everywhere etc.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Suspicious plants and burgers

So today I decided to play as Botanist as I read this was a pretty relaxed job with not many responsibilities. That’s exactly what I needed, with the ability to do some experimentation.

The hydroponics laboratory

So I head over to Hydroponics and there is already a botanist there. I say hello and follow the instructions on the wiki in order to grow some plants. Dispense seed from vending machine, add seed to pot, add compost, use watering can and wait until harvest time! Sounds easy enough. Unfortunately, the other botanist stole my watering can and told me I “sucked” and wasn’t allowed it. So I sent a report in to the admin (i.e. cried to the teacher) who did nothing. Then this punk kept knocking me out and disarming me whenever I picked anything up. Finishing with trying to stuff me into a locker and me running circles around the room to get away from him. Not fun times here.

Fortunately the round ended quickly and the game reset. I decided to gamble and pick botanist once more with the hopes that he’d either log off or pick another career. My gamble paid off and I was back in the game with a new colleague.

In take two, I decide to head over to the genetics lab to give a dose of radiation to my seeds before I plant them. I read this does two things; reduces their gestation times and other attributes, and also gives them a slim chance of mutating them! We can but hope. After waiting for a geneticist to open the door for 5 minutes, I put my seeds in, set the radiation going but unfortunately killed 2 out of 3 of them with excess radiation. Whoops. I collect up my remaining seed and head home, again waiting 5 minutes to be let out of the laboratory. Back in the lab, I spot a few things growing. These plants look suspiciously like cannabis! I certainly don’t remember seeing those seeds in the vending machine. Sure enough, that’s what they are. The other botanist informed me that he’d hacked the vending machine using a tool kit and was growing weed to make into spliffs for passers by. With the fumes clouding my vision, I attempt to grow my altered tomato plant with the hope it’ll turn into killer or exploding tomatoes. Unfortunately it didn’t, but at least I was allowed to harvest this time without being stuffed into a locker. I also grew some grapes and melons.

I figured that the chef might want these so I packed up my bag and took them to the mess hall. This must be McDonalds because there’s a clown in here, eating a burger. I dump my produce on to the floor and the chef thanks me, stuffing them into his bulging pockets. He asks me if I’d like a burger. I say thanks and pick it up from the table. It’s only then that I notice the description. It’s called a reverend burger. Looking at it in more detail and there’s a name on it too. Ask no questions; tell no lies, is my motto as I tuck into my delicious meaty burger.

A while later I come back to the mess hall and I see the clown being dragged into the back of the kitchen by the chef. Then what makes me laugh most of all is when the clown exclaims “Help, he’s going to make me into burgers” to be responded with “Sorry about that, I didn’t realize you were asleep, I thought you were dead”. I was looking forward to some tasty clown burgers. I think I need to be chef next!

First foray

One of the first times I played, I joined as an assistant and went through the training guide (mentioned in the first post), breaking open the walls and other random acts of vandalism, trying to get to grips with the controls.

After a while, there was a call from Genetics, looking for volunteers. I decided that I didn’t have anything better to do so I opened up my map and headed over there. There were two geneticists there and were very pleased to have a willing participant to experiment on. In character, they asked me to get in a piece of machinery and they ran a series of tests on me. After asking me a bunch of questions relating to my health and family diseases (hard to answer when I’m just a few pixels tall), they said I was finished and could get out of the machine. Next thing I know, I was standing next to a non-speaking clone of me! They were really pleased and made a load more and exclaimed how they were going to dress them up in lab coats!

On another game, I entered via the docking station (as normal when you join a game halfway through) and went to leave. On the other side of the door were what looked like alien facehuggers. Sure enough, one jumped on me, the screen went black and I awoke a few minutes later. The place was in chaos; blood splatters everywhere, people running around firing weapons etc. I decided to head out of the area, when to my surprise, I was informed that my character wasn’t feeling too well. He collapsed and I was now in control of a chest burster sitting on top of my fresh corpse! Not sure what to do, I went down the hall and got cornered by a security guard who shot me with his pistol! Game over for me!

What's this diary all about?

Well having come off the back of my Neptune's Pride blog, I thought I'd write up some experiences in Space Station 13, a game by Byond.

I first came across this game by the all-knowing wonderful blog that is Rock, Paper, Shotgun and as I usually do, tried it out to see for myself. I'm a complete sucker for gaming diaries and love reading in-game stories. Here's Quintin's in-game diary, that first introduced it to me.

Unlike my Neptune's Pride diary. This blog will be more of a short story format where I can recount various interesting snippets of stories, rather than something ongoing over a long period of time.

So let me tell you a little about the game:

It's a free-to-play Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) (although massively might be stretching it a little bit as you generally don't get more than about 40 people play on a single server). It is set on a space station and your character can be one of about 25 occupations including captain, engineer, security officer, chef, barman and clown. You are supposed to remain in-character (IC) when playing but you can talk in the global-chat out-of-character (OOC) to seek help and advice.

The object of the game is different on each server and can change each round. Traitor seems to be the most common game mode where one or more players are designated as traitors and have hidden agendas, usually along the lines of killing a specific character, or stealing documents and escaping on the escape pod. As other players, you can just go along with your character's normal job. If you're an engineer, you can keep the space station functioning, if you're a botanist, you can grow plants etc. Saying this, it's everyone's job to watch out for the traitor and report any suspicious behavior to the detective or members of security.

If you fancy trying SS13 out for yourself, be warned; it's an extremely complicated game to learn and I'd say after playing for 3 days now, I've barely scratched the surface. It has a horrible user interface and terribly sluggish controls and a good handful of the players are just plain d*cks, out to mess up your experience. Saying all this, it makes for some hilarious moments and some fantastic story-telling opportunities. It's complexity is baffling as I hope to be able to express in the course of this diary.

There's a half-decent wiki available with a tutorial guide if you want to brave this bizarre world.