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Hack: the game

iff meat.wit > obscurity, u 2 k4N B r33t!
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At the outset, you are staring at a blank screen, with maybe a blinking cursor. You are armed with a keyboard, a mouse, a modem (in-game), and your personal collection of computer expertise. So you try something. Nope, that didn't work. How about this? Ah, there's something useful! etc, etc, /ad r33tN355/.

The idea is to set up a game that acts like some sort of foreign computer system. In the beginning, you have no idea what you're doing, but as you probe and spend time trying stuff you can gradually gain an understanding and make use of the system. At various times, progress will demand that you pore through logs, poke around looking for interesting files/systems, exploit bugs, spoof, sniff, etc. (maybe a more in-depth version would entail actual social engineering, with other people on a RL phone?) The ultimate goal is to achieve root at the core, and thereby become the unique super-user. (subject to dethroning at any time by any of the other, more clever participants; like king of the hill) At one of the lower levels, you would realize that you are not alone on this system, and if you so desire you could try to contact any of your competitors. As you progressed you would become more aware of the scope of the whole thing and learn of better tools to secure your position. A player's progress (and which parts of the game's simulated system would be made available) would be a function of how much time he has spent in-game, how much info he's gathered, how often he's failed vs. how often he's succeeded in doing anything, and how much total influence he has over the system at any one time (a sort of system-notoriety). There would be no sinister plot; no aliens, no NSA, no smoking man. Just egos and an atmosphere of exploration.

absterge, Jan 24 2001

Hack and NetHack http://www.hut.fi/~...uelike/nethack.html
The name is already taken. [egnor, Jan 24 2001]

Activision: Hacker (1985) http://www.mobygame.../sheet/gameId,2165/
The game [centauri] remembers. It eventually evolves into an adventure game with graphics, but the beginning is very much like [absterge] describes it (including the "300 baud" login: prompt.) [jutta, Jan 24 2001]

Pull The Plug http://www.pulltheplug.com/
Pretty similar to your idea. [beerhunter, Jan 12 2002]

Decker by Shawn Overcash http://www.caro.net/dsi/decker/
More abstract, but pretty neat freeware [jeffb, Jan 18 2002]

Uplink http://www.introversion.co.uk/
Uplink is a game exactly like what you are describing. Its not too bad. Great time waster :) Trust me. $25 US [BlaKmaJiK, Apr 04 2002]

http://www.telehack.com/ What an amazing tour de force! [jutta, Jun 21 2011]

Interview with the (anonymous) creator of telehack.com http://waxy.org/201..._anonymous_creator/
[jutta, Jun 21 2011]

Smash the Stack http://smashthestack.org/
similar to your idea [ixnaum, Jun 21 2011]


       (forgive me that the golden days of real hacking were long gone before my time. *sigh*...)
absterge, Jan 24 2001

       Baked. There was one old game that started with a screen that says "logon:" and nothing else. Eventually, you get past this and tap into this robot that travels the world obtaining sections of a shredded document. I forget what happens after that.   

       Even older than that was this C64 game/joke that I messed with. It started off similarly, asking for a name and password, and then it would spout lines of alphanumeric gook. I really think now that it was all just random. Sometimes the game would kick you out for trying the wrong thing too many times. However, if you messed around enough, it would start to say things in English. Ultimately, it would idly mention that the missles had been launched and would reach their targets in 15 minutes. No graphics, no countdown, and no response from the keyboard. Fifteen minutes later a message pops up saying, "Did we scare you?" Bastards. The first (and last) time I did that, I was home alone and didn't know bubkis about modems and security. I just knew that you could get in a lot of trouble if you started World War III.
centauri, Jan 24 2001

       Try the online version at http://www.FBI.gov Have Fun!!
blahginger, Jan 24 2001

       The name (and you might argue, the spirit) has been taken for some time. I remember playing Hack on my DEC Rainbow c. 1985. Its modern descendant, Nethack, is considered by some to be the best game ever created (it's still in active development).   

       Infocom had a generally hackish philosophy, but I don't remember a game specifically about hacking. "Lurking Horror" comes closest, but hacking is peripheral to the plot (the first scene in the game involves logging into an X terminal, noticing that your paper is deleted, having a hacker help you recover it, and then descending into a Lovecraftian nightmare).
francois, Jan 24 2001

       Along the same lines, I could really dig a game that had to do with hacking while neurally jacked into the system, a la Gibson.
centauri, Jan 24 2001

       I would really like an educational version of this game - In order to be realistic, it would have to simulate an entire, nonhomogenous network (the Internet), not just one machine.   

       Basically, it would teach operating systems and computer security, as well as plenty of programming. Of course, the approximation techniques to maintain the illusion of an entire network without simulating it explicitly might be difficult, as well as the AI to represent security programmers/sysadmins. I'm not sure to what extent users would need sophisticated AI - I suspect that you could get away with a pretty simple model.   

       Possibly use MINIX as the standard operating system?   

       Would you have to write (or use open-source) all the applications, or could you simulate it at a higher level of abstraction?
noumos, Feb 26 2001

       Put a 'special feature' in that sets you on real systems without telling you. Level 99 - Government files.
RobertKidney, Jun 10 2001

       I just wish I could hack. Don't suppose it's possible to be taught in easy to understand e-mail lessons is it?
kaz, Jan 12 2002

       Sounds like http://smashthestack.org/ .... except not a alien system bug known x86 architecture.
ixnaum, Jun 21 2011


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