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Crime and You.
A continuation of the recent guided discussion.

I wasn't able to be around for the impromptu guided discussion earlier and after a talk in xooc we thought it might be better to continue in a thread here rather than in the guided discussion transcript thread so not to clutter.

I want to respond to and expand my thoughts upon a few ideas presented in the thread itself and also from the log of the discussion.

1. - chatter for topside explosions

This is a great idea to let the ambient population react by pulling in a way from other scripts available and we've seen it in action, I think, today. It's a positive outcome from the game and certainly helps since we're low on staff right now.

2. - possible automated NPCvNPC crime for PC judges to respond to

I don't think this would end up a positive addition. I think this works when it's puppeted and for unique situations, but making this automated and frequent events will lead to it becoming repetitive, boring and more of a drain and drag on WJF PCs than anything else. It's exactly what happened when shrouds weren't allowed but there were shrouded NPCs being spawned (which we should now reintroduced!). It's a well-intentioned system, but it's not an engaging system. And often times will interrupt meaningful RP between PCs.

3. - make macguffins take people to more areas, like the badlands & make macguffins status leakable via chatter

First of all, I've been very outspoken in I don't think the current macguffin system works well. I love the concept and the idea of the macguffin system, but more often than not it feels as if it leads to actions mostly being done by in-house corporate PCs. I'd really love if we revisited my suggestion in reworking the corpshare market as a whole which would better integrate the macguffin concept and encourage corporate warfare. You can find my post here: By crashdown at Mar 15, 2022 12:15 PM

Right now the corpshare is a numbers game and can only be won by three people can it's got very little to do with corporate sabotage. By reducing the quarter length and reducing the prizes individuals get and rather making the majority of a prize (maybe new and unique each month) available to the whole PC roster of a corporation, you're encouraging and enticing every corporation to go after each other by making the pool of players participating with a chance to 'win' bigger.

There ARE IC tools available to find out more about a macguffin and how to take it. You'll have to ask around, but people do know and it isn't to my understanding something you need a GM to intervene with at all. I don't think adding macguffin location to chatter is needed at this point, but rather more people need to utilize these tools first and then maybe if that still isn't working chatter could be something looked at?

4. - PC WJF on Green more often to increase response time

I get the intent here but this is a bandaid and not a fix for the issue. I don't think the issue is WJF response time. I think the issue is people don't often create distractions or ways to impede WJF PCs.

There's a former staff member who once did a walk through on an idea on how to stop/delay the WJF from responding. Right on xooc. The response was lackluster and complaints that it wasn't viable because you'd need a vehicle, while ignoring there are multiple jobs where you can access a free vehicle right away.

NPCS have tried to teach players how to do this and other methods. PCs of all kinds have tried to teach crime-oriented PCs how to do this, either by directly telling them or indirectly doing so with major hint drops.

When you had to xhelp before crime, the complaint was you had to xhelp. Now that you can do some crime topside without xhelping, the reasoning is that the response time is too fast. I've said this before in xooc but it feels in this area the goalposts are always being moved by those who want to commit crimes.

And I'm absolutely 100% understanding it can be frustrating to get caught. But if you're doing a one step crime plan, I think there should be an expectation that it might not go your way. There's so many ways to delay and distraction WJF PCs. You want them on Green so you can commit a crime on Gold? Give them a reason to go to Green. And vice versa. Box them in with blockde. Use means to disrupt or disable their means of transportation, even if only for a few minutes. And yeah sometimes that'll mean spending a little extra money so the distraction is actually real so you can pull off your intended and real crime, real goal.

Also, Reefer touched upon it in the discussion, and I'm thankful. I know I did in the last guided-discussion. But PC vs NPC crime. I get why some people do it but longterm and impactful, it isn't generally engaging. I know there was some people who pushed back against this or the idea of it and world response to it, but I want you to look at it from the other side if it was reversed. Reefer brought up that would gangs respond more if you killed an NPC versus a PC, because it's the same vein. But look at it like this: Corporate security and WJF, especially WJF, can kill Red sector NPCs without a second thought. It'd be very easy to consistently and constantly target Red faction NPCs when there's a reason to hate or seek revenge against those factions or PCs within those factions.

But it doesn't happen often. It's very rare, in fact. Why? Because it isn't engaging for anyone, really. In the moment it is, sure. And in the leadup in the PCs planning to have those NPCs targeted, sure. But for the PCs in the faction/sector of the NPCs being targeted, it isn't engaging afterthefact. Targeting PCs has a lot more emotional impact and doesn't require a GM to be puppeting someone after a death to talk about how upset, angry, etc they are about the fact they died. Or getting their friends angry at you either. PCs can do that at will because they're played by people.

Also Coral brought this up, IIRC, about mentors. Sometimes you have to ask people you think would never, ever actually tell you. You have to warm up to them or have them warm up to you. It might take time. You may have to pay them for the information. You may have to give them a reason to tell you. But sometimes even the people you least likely expect might help you learn to do crime, will help you do crime.

Some might even create fake personas to talk to you about it on the phone when they're making contacts.

I'd like to hear the thoughts of others, from those who were at the discussion and who weren't but wanted to chime in.

I do tend to agree with the idea that moving the WJF is decorative for the most part.

It does perhaps help with the most basic levels of terrorism like an immy throwing a molotov to have physical PCs and NPCs further away, but at the more meta level of crime mechanics and player interests and motivations, I don't see a lot of reason to really act in anything but neutrality at worst with the WJF; the costs and headaches are just way too high for any possible payoff.

I really feel like terrorism has become like a de facto expression of 'topside crime' because that is the sort of gameplay that plays well into a Cops v Bad Guys landscape, but to me that is not really the criminal sorts of enterprise I strongly associate with cyberpunk as a theme and I would hope that corporate shadow wars and heists and assassinations could eventually start to play a bigger part in the cultural mindshare.

I really feel like terrorism has become like a de facto expression of 'topside crime' because that is the sort of gameplay that plays well into a Cops v Bad Guys landscape, but to me that is not really the criminal sorts of enterprise I strongly associate with cyberpunk as a theme and I would hope that corporate shadow wars and heists and assassinations could eventually start to play a bigger part in the cultural mindshare.

I think this is a consequence of the really strong support system "terrorism" had. I think initially as Corporations became the core meta of competitive well-paying gigs and rivalry took hold - lackluster acts of outsourced terrorism became the norm. A good way to guarantee a promotion and keep your CI's repping. This was also at a time when syndicate play was much more direct.

I think outright terrorism is a good peak. It speaks to a healthy crime element that supports all level of dissent but we need to get back to basics. Syndicates. A focus on ensuring syndicates are ubiquitous in all affairs with an emphasis on leverage and soft power with the occasional flurry of ultra violence would be ideal. From there, I think the usual pipeline and competitive nature of corporate work would once against flourish. At that point, topside will be once against ripe for terror. :-)

Basics is how I see it too.

I obviously have strong feelings about the direction of the game and how certain factions should be prioritized, but I think law enforcement becoming such a centralized focus was really a by-product rather than something any one person pushed for. Staff have spoken about how much time and energy and resources supporting warring Syndicates required, and I think centralized law enforcement is inherently something that will tend towards something like order and hierarchy, in combination between how it's designed and the players it tends to attract. I suspect this ended up being a lot easier on everyone: One big good guy, and a rotating casts of temporary bad guys.

Even so. Even so. I can only think it was still better the other way, that it is as you say Reefer, the basics. Maybe at heart the truest expression of cyberpunk is lowlife solo operator, the Just Johnnys or the Henry Cases, but for that concept to flourish I think it requires the backdrop of that basic cyberpunk duopoly of Megacorporations and Syndicates. That interplay of greed and violence and capitalism run amok, to really enable the cigarette-smoking cynic solo with the grim outlook and even grimmer history.

I knowingly recognize it may be much harder than what happens now, and it will not be me (or at least, not only me) paying that debt of effort. That it is possible we just circle back around to another massive bloody war that leaves everyone pining for the WJF versus the Terrorist of the Week. Still, even so, I think it's worth giving another go.

Just a FYI I did mean to post this in theme rather than ideas, I think I got mixed up when I was looking for a different ideas post. If anyone from staff wants to move this to theme if possible.
Had a big post, deleted it, rewrote something shorter. (It's still long.)

I'm going to primarily talk about crime perpetrated by topside actors here, and what I see are issues. All our HoJ players are amazing people, and this isn't a criticism of them as players, but rather the framework that they work and operate within.

It's my feeling on the matter that the Hall outshines CorpSec, and my evidence to support this statement is that most CorpSec I've met over the years consider the Hall a bump in both player power as well as IC prestige.

Some people fear CorpSec, but just as many roll their eyes and yawn. If you don't fear the Hall, you likely at least respect it such that you don't want to overly piss them off.

This situation should be completely reverse in my opinion. The Hall of Justice is the police of Withmore. They're mean, efficient, brutal and arguably effective. But CorpSec is the goddamn U.S. Armed Forces of SD's setting. They don't have a few sectors in a single city under lockdown, they have the entire planet(s)

So where's the disconnect here? Well, I can think of a few things, really.

-The HoJ gets issued better gear, and in some instances, literally the best gear in the entire game, and CorpSec has no analogue. Most CorpSec shit has to be bought out of pocket when it comes to the higher-end toys, because the way corporate budgeting works prevents CorpSec players from being able to get the really nice stuff unless it's handed to them direct from a GM.

-The HoJ is allowed to use gear that is hyper-illegal for literally everyone else to use. In fact, some of said stuff is... standard issue. Go figure. Corporate Security has to resort to using strictly worse, and also super illegal gear, which, if taken off corporate soil could result in very, very serious charges placed against them. This is one area that the Hall doesn't play around, you could be Joe BigDick Corporate manager and if you're running around with some of these things, you're up shit creek in a big way. But who manufactures the Hall's toys? They don't It's corporate products and corporate toys that corporate security isn't allowed to own, access or use. Hilarious.

-I mentioned this before, but there's a major disconnect between the desires of staff to see vehicle combat, and the tools to enable vehicle combat being blanket-banned topside. "But Talon, Corporate Sovereign soil!" Cool. I'll just sit in the one room garage with my M1A1 Turbo Abrams Cyber-Tank. Or I'll have to willingly submit to being at the literal whim of whatever HOJ player is online at the moment. It's a goofy situation, IMHO. Is vehicle combat a mixer-only toy? If so, that's fine! But if not, is it purely cops and robbers? Where do the corporations who actually manufacture and own the rights to this shit in the first place fit in? Afterall, how do you subjugate continents? Mechanized warfare. It should be a calling card of corporations. But I've long since disagreed with Gun Policy, and this is very similar to that in nature.

-Sovereign Soil: Yes, the corporate security is GOD on their land. Problem is their land is the the size of a postage stamp and the city's space is the size of Manhattan. I exaggerate here, but really. Part of the reason corpsec is so hesitant to do things is because we tell each other, and our bosses tell us "Don't get caught by the Hall." The same Hall of Justice that's 100% funded by.... the corporations of Withmore.

Now, I acknowledge some things here. Yes, the elephant in the room here is GO DO CRIME. Here's the thing. I want to do crime. I want to do ALL the crime. I just don't want to get into pissing matches with the HoJ as part and parcel of doing said crime. The corporate council has given the Hall jurisdiction and power, but I argue that it's too much jurisdiction, and the power is out of balance. Some of this is cultural, some of it could, maybe even should change. Here's a few ways in which I think things could be tweaked some.

-I mentioned Corpsec kits in the past, in my thread Actual Corporate Oppression. You want people to go risk hundreds of thousands of chyen on stuff that the corp is going to deny involvement in, and probably reject reimbursement for? That would be the #1 starting place. It's well known that Corpsec is the worst paying job topside. It takes months on end to fully gear up a higher-UE character with thicc status gear.

-Corporate Sovereign Soil: This is great. It's a shame that we can't ever capitalize on it without either deliberately convincing someone to come get slapped in the mouth, or catch the hall's attention outright kidnapping people off the streets and then doing whatever with them back on 'turf.' Expansion of corporate territory on gold and red could be interesting, which are both ideas I presented in 'Actual Corporate Oppression.'

-CorpSec could really, seriously use some toys that are unique to them. Some stuff we can get that's not generally available, yes, but to the best of my knowledge we don't have a single thing that makes people go 'wow, that's cool as fuck and I wanna be a corpsec to get one.' We don't have a tac-comp, or an enforcer, or tactical armor. We do have APC's which are big, dumb and easily defeated toys- things that honestly feel sorta out of place in the game today. They certainly are nowhere near as cool as an Ingram, or a RACD, should those ever actually exist.

-Despite having more freedom to act, and far less accountability than a member of the Hall does, it doesn't seem to really matter much, as it's been many years since the last person pushed the envelope of what corpsec could do, and there were reactionary measures taken when that did occur to tone it down.

Things discussed to reduce the power of the Hall:

-Moving the hall isn't going to do anything. Whenever a police HQ is far away from where crime happens, cops just camp out, eat pastries and sip coffee in closer proximity to where the action is likely to be.

-Automated crime is something I'm really torn on. Corporations have this, and while it is sometimes cool and themely, often times it's either entirely ignored by members of the CorpSec team, disruptive to other meaningful stuff going on, or just plain annoying. Judges have more on their plates than CorpSec does almost always, so I don't see this as being a great fix or addition to their gameplay.

Normally I'm of the opinion that you should try and buff things up to the place where an outlier is, rather than nerf the outlier to the median value. However, the Hall of Justice was just a giant head GM playtoy for a long time, a means to an end to 'do shit' and fill a very boyish power fantasy. It really hasn't gotten reigned in anytime in recent memory, except when some former members were abusing equipment and smallworlding obnoxiously. I don't know how one would go about nerfing the Hall of Justice and allow them to still operate in a similar fashion to how they do today. I'm not sure it's possible to do without some serious changes to either the WCMJ, or just slashing the playercount of the organization, both of which would be really harsh measures.

My biggest fear though, is that if Corporations are brought up to be more on par (or dear god, actually representative of the lore and MORE powerful than the HOJ) then the mix vs topside dynamic would be totally blown. Of course... you could always pull some pages from my Actual Corporate Oppression idea and buff corporations, but get them more focused on each other, and then let the Hall handle the mix almost exclusively - you know - how it's written in the lore, but doesn't always translate into gameplay.

I wanted to comment on a few things I saw being discussed in the guided discussion itself and then here, as well as briefly over OOC chat.

The biggest complaint I am seeing from those dissatisfied with the current WJF faction is that they stop plots, scare people off from taking risks, or that they are generally just very suffocating on the rest of the playerbase. I don't personally agree, and I believe the main reason behind this line of thinking is because of how the WJF presents itself. At first glance, a powerful faction with absolute authority in all things criminal does seem very suffocating and overly powerful. I'd argue however that once you interact with the Hall, especially PCs, it is quite the opposite.

Now I do agree that corporations being expanded and CorpSec being given more things to do, such as actual combat operations suggested many times in other threads is a good idea. To address the WJF part of that however I'd like to mention that it seems to be more a culture thing. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from speaking with a Judge to ask for permission to operate outside of corporate grounds, provided you have an IC reason. There is nothing stopping you from making a case with your corporation and pulling strings to have the Hall make an exception for you to use a weapon that would be restricted, or acquire equipment that is normally restricted for the rest of the population.

The WJF by theme might be an oppressive faction, but the PCs aren't there to stop people's plots, make their lives harder, stomp you to the ground and make you lose over and over. Take risks and plot. There is potential to be caught, because this is a PvP game set within a cyberpunk world and not necessarily a sandbox RP game where everyone gets to do whatever they would like all the time. This applies to any faction in the game; syndicates, CorpSec, WJF or gangs, they all operate within a framework and no faction just gets to do whatever without any risk whatsoever. If you do get caught and you've taken a risk, I promise you that the WJF PCs aren't there to torture you or try and make your roleplaying experience worse. As any other player, and especially players in powerful positions, they are there to actually encourage this kind of play and even if they are the 'winners' to provide a satisfying experience.

In regards to equipment, WJF do have specialist equipment that is usually outfitted for direct combat situations as mentioned in OOC chat. There are ways around this, and you have better tactics as a player than attempting to fight the heavily funded police force head on, and especially on 'secure' sectors, considering the WJF's limitations. Without going into specifics, I would also not say that the WJF gets the best loadouts possible in the game.

The WJF is funded by the corporate council, yes, but this does not mean that any junior or average wageslave who's one of the many thousands and thousands working for a megacorporation gets to share any of that power. Characters who have enough of a pull IC (PC or NPC) have exerted this pull on the WJF before, and it works. I think it is unrealistic and against theme to assume that any average corporate citizen should have significant additional perks against the WJF because 'their corporation funds them'.

I don't think the answer to these is to nerf the WJF or overhaul it, but to work on some changes (cultural and structural) related to corporations (both by Staff and Corporate PCs). If you put in the effort as a player, then I think you'll be surprised by the amount of support and understanding you may receive from the WJF.

I think the opposite is actually true, that players sort of repeat an OOC PR line among themselves without actually knowing how much of the new features so many are pining for ending up being so limited in scope because they were rolled out under the Hall's remit.

Freight, vehicle ownership, technology licensing, vehicle weapons. I lost track of the conversations I had when features were being tested as they were rolled out that included 'and the WJF will be in charge of X, Y, and Z'.

It was never necessary for any one faction to see so much concentration of control over game systems that ought to have been substantially more democratized, and there is a certain amount of irony now that players often pine that these weren't more accessible while defending the status quo that prevented them from being so.

Setting aside the entire subject of law enforcement being such a paramount focus of the game's story, I do think virtually every mechanical system released in the last two years in which the Hall has been given some control over, that remit could be given to other factions in addition to the great benefit of players in general.

@0x1mm Yesss! Divide up the 'licensing' responsibilities among the different corps based on what they would generally control/are known for. PRI could get radio licensing and freight licensing responsibilities, for instance. This could encourage more interaction between people from various corporations, as well as more reason for mixers to engage with corporates without having to be antagonistic.
The licensing subject is an interesting one.

The freight system is a good example of something that is mechanically gated behind a license, which doesn't necessarily have to be.

Imagine if "anyone" with the right type of vehicle could deliver freight.

Imagine if the corporation shipping the freight does not have to ICly care whether or not the shipper has a license. (Nobody needs a license to run crates. Why do you need a license to deliver them in a vehicle? Or whatever gamey hand waving logic you want to use.)

With those changes, all of a sudden the WJF has a whole new avenue of roleplay open to them. "Traffic stops". Nothing ever goes wrong during a traffic stop. =P

Maybe it opens up corp v corp conflict. Corp A rats out Corp B to the WJF for using unlicensed shippers. (This assumes that every corp has some sort of loading dock or other way to participate in the freight system).

Maybe it opens up shipper versus shipper conflict where the legit shippers who followed the law and paid for a license have a conflict with those who aren't. (see also Uber versus Taxi Drivers).

Essentially any system that "requires" a license should also account for and allow players to interact with the system without a license.

The shipping licenses exist because otherwise it's just a way to print extra money without any consequences. The way the freight system is setup allows (or is intended to allow) for theft and trying to hide that theft/fool the person receiving the cargo. If a theft goes awry and can't be covered up, the license is put back into audit. Explained by Mirage to everyone when the system was put in. People with certain tier jobs are also locked out of this area of the game so not to stack on the chyen, like with other automated systems, and most people with a reasonable justification can end up getting this license approved.

There are a number of you in this thread who have already voiced agitation at the current license system over the last several years. But the current license system is handled by people who are an unaffiliated party and follow the guidelines setup by staff on how to issue out the majority of licenses. I'm not sure how you'd end up feeling if licenses were put to corporations which could then in theory deny rival corporate players licenses for merely being rivals.

The most important thing to callout here is that the WJF actually don't handle requisitions of this privileged equipment. Licensed or not, a VS employee should* be able to get you nanos, a PRI employee able to get you restricted robot parts, etc.

Would a direct relationship between corporate Mcguffins and syndicate requisitions able to get specifics corporate restricted items based on those recovered/stolen help cement this relationship?

In all honesty, if Syndicates had to go to corporations in any really tangible way, I think it could make for interesting gameplay. Corporations already go to Syndicates for quite a number of things, it'd make sense that syndicates have to source items readily available to a corporation a few hundred meters away instead of try and smuggle it into the city from Bangkok.

Syndicates should have a symbiotic relationship with a corporation beyond the benefits of doing so already - they are, after all, in the same boat with one another.

I think that's an interesting idea. I'd worry it'd undermine to some degree the PCs in those corporations which can get licensed to do that stuff (which is a lot broader than people might realize), and are already doing it (or have recently done it). But I like the general idea and it'd be helpful when there's players missing in certain archetypes.
If a theft goes awry and can't be covered up, the license is put back into audit. Explained by Mirage to everyone when the system was put in.

I would not be so quick to cite Mirage's justifications there! That may have been what was said but it certainly wasn't the real reason, which I believe was a combination of slapdash haste in the rollout and the inconvenience of setting up an NPC authorization system or organizing it through any other factions, and that her alt was in the WJF and seemed pretty urgent and angry at me for not providing her the largest cargo vehicle after the system got rolled out.

Setting aside how dubious and incestuous that whole episode appeared to be, the effective result is the Hall having their fingers on one of the largest revenue sources in the game, bringing anyone using it under their thumb and everyone else at their mercy for access to it. And If anyone claimed this monopoly was never tacitly leveraged to extract desired outcomes I wouldn't believe them.

Any system the Hall has exclusive authority on can be made accessible through alternative means in addition to them and be more themely rather than less. I think the Hall was only given so much control and authority over managerial parts of the game out of convenience for their being less puppets to manage, but every civil service request becoming redirected to one specific judge has become absurd.

Technology licensing can have an alternate source through the relevant businesses or corporations, freight can also have a neutral NPC freight corporation (such as NeoTrans) and counterfeit permitting through the Syndicates, vehicle registration can be parallelly handled through private NPC systems just like it was before.

If WJF players are not just jealously guarding their monopoly on these system because they empower their characters to have more sway over the game than they would otherwise, then there should be no reason for them to want to resist additional support for these very important new parts of the game.

I think the Hall was only given so much control and authority over managerial parts of the game out of convenience for their being less puppets to manage, but every civil service request becoming redirected to one specific judge has become absurd.

I think this is an unfortunate consequence of the faction being difficult to staff consistently and not intent. Further illustrated by Cadet's taking on these responsibilities in lieu of one specific judge.

Conceptually, I believe the intent for Judges to all biased but those biases spread out amongst the players who fulfill the role of Judge. I think the reality people have been subjected too isn't ideal in that regard and has fully been taken into account.

@0x1mm: I think that it's pretty blatantly obvious that there was a hell of a lot of conflict of interest going on with content additions done by a specific individual that would in turn, directly benefit that individual on their personal account. I tried to tactfully mention this issue in the past, but there really isn't a nice or polite way to call out staff abusing their power. Perhaps the feeling was 'if they derive benefit from it, and the rest of the game gets to play with new toys, then where's the harm?' Maybe it was just something people weren't thinking about at the time, really.

I know that that this is something that's discussed and there's documentation about how to avoid conflict of interest stuff among the staff, and I do believe that they do it, just from my own experiences and struggles with getting even very basic things done due to COI issues. That said, there's a very good reason that many, perhaps even most RPI games require their staff to suspend player account playing for the duration of their tenure in staff. Even if there isn't any change in behavior of those GM/players, it's something that's just a good practice even if purely for the optics.

Regarding the Hall:

I think it's fair to say that nobody wants to have content and 'stuff to do' yoinked from their character. However, I really don't get the impression that Hall staff are zealously defending their rights to bureaucratic nonsense because they're control freaks or want a monopoly of force, really.

That said, I still stand by what I've said earlier, and I agree with you. There's too many benefits, too many toys, too many perks both explicit and implied for playing as a member of that faction. It's a demanding role, one that takes a lot of grooming, and that puts you into a position of a player GM should you successfully make it, but that's true of a number of factions and they don't get anywhere near the coded support, staff time, attention to detail and plots that the Hall does. You could argue, rightfully so, that the Hall right now is super active because most of the other factions are in some state of disarray, partial or complete operational failure. That's no fault of the players who are holding their shit together with duct tape and a lot of blood sweat and tears, it's a testament to the ability and patience of those players.

I mentioned this yesterday on XOOC, but I want to post it here for posterity and awareness as well. It's my personal belief that topside should be a reflection of the mix to some degree, and that topside population should be regulated to be some % of mix population. I fundamentally believe that the bedrock of the game is the Mix, and until that foundation is solid and in a healthy state (which it is very much not currently) not as much attention, time, or love should be placed on factions higher up the food chain. I think Corporations and Syndicates both are in need of a facelift, because the ecosystem that once existed (by design, one would think) really isn't functioning at all currently - but again, after the issues with the Mix start getting ironed out.

Players such as myself who'd like to see new ways and methods of perpetuating conflict, such as more aggressive intercorp warfare, or the Corporations to take back some of the power topside should probably take a back burner or a back seat position to address the biggest issues at the forefront.

"I think the reality people have been subjected too isn't ideal in that regard and has fully been taken into account."

How exactly? It's been four or five years as focus has begun shifting to the Hall and everything has only become worse and worse than the year before. Every year with the Hall pointing fingers away from themselves at players for not being good enough, with the repeating claims that it's just the natural order for them to be in charge of everything, and every year become ever more the Protagonist of Withmore.

No matter how much people argue these are really just soft powers or diligently applied and done with whatever intention, the fact is the game's criminal theme has been strangled in the crib. Syndicates and corporations left to rot on the vine with limited support, or what new features they did see having been snatched away afterwards. No faction ever has seen such a rapid concentration of authority, story focus, and coded support. Alarm bells should have been sounding from that alone, nevermind the whole Pandora's Box of who made up the Hall itself.


If the argument is really that these systems need to be administered universally and fairly, then saying it's sometimes someone else in the same faction doing it in addition to the one player handling 90% of everything else is not much of an argument at all. If players and staff want to see crime take a bigger role in the story then the WJF's monopoly on authority and features must be reduced. If players and staff want to see Syndicates and Corporations take a bigger role in the story than the WJF's monopoly on authority and features must be broken up and divested amongst those factions to provide them more meaningful chips in the game and access to real impactful power.

No core game system should ever fall under the exclusive purview of a single faction, let alone a single player. This arrangement was a convenience of time and availability, but while it may have been convenient I believe it made for a worse game and certainly a much worse cyberpunk game.

Doing the same things over and over and somehow expecting different results is not rational. Players as a whole are not suddenly going to suddenly become criminal masterminds able to surmount any administrative or bureaucratic obstacle to tell amazing criminal stories. There are so many canaries in the coal mine here and they're all dead. I think it is far past time to recognize that whatever the intent or reasoning or whatever that law enforcement and its implementation has had a real negative impact on the parts of the story that at least some of us want to be more prominent.

(Edited by Slither at 12:55 pm on 1/26/2023)

The WJF do not get more coded support than other major factions. They get less. I can't think of a more than a few lines of code that were added for the WJF in the past couple of years. And that code is in relation to tracking people on SIC, something that there are already tools for players to do and have been for years.

Non WJF can use every piece of WJF equipment barring the Enforcer and the tac-comp, without any modification. The tac-comp itself can be hacked ICly. And even the enforcer can be hacked as well. WJF vehicles can be stolen just like any other vehicle.

The idea that crime can't exist because the WJF exists as a player organization doesn't hold water to me. I can name a huge number of Judges that existed at the same time as criminals, some of them at a time when WJF were not only allowed to go to Red to track people down but were encouraged to do so.

There is an entire sector of the city where the WJF essentially does not operate (outside of fairly extreme circumstances) except by pulling strings from a distance. And is actively encouraged to not care about.

I can see some argument here for the WJF stifling some amount of topside crime (themely in my opinion), but that same argument can't be made for the Mix.

Respectfully Slither, I have to disagree.

The whole freight system is administered and governed by the WJF, which certainly has to be the single most monetarily impactful system added to the game in years. Anyone wanting to access this system is beholden to the WJF's authority.

Likewise vehicle registration was moved under the purview of the WJF, from being a distributed system. Buy a hulk in the middle of the desert and it appears on WJF database immediately. The WJF now has a finger in the pie of vehicle theft/access in a way that they never did before that.

The WJF don't control purchasing of vehicle combat items but they do limit access to them both in coded terms and through PC effects, and I think the poor rollout of this system was due to those additional limitations. Automatic coded reporting of smuggling to the WJF was certainly a coded addition that I was present for the developing of.

Technical licensing is likewise under the control and authority of the WJF. Anyone playing a technical archetype who may rely on that licensing is beholden to the WJF's authority, which is I think particularly baffling since these are such limited and wanting parts of the game to begin with.

I don't think it was an accident that so many players were all trying to squeeze into the Hall for a while there. Even if players don't see everything they do notice where the wind is blowing in general.

I think you underestimate the lengths the WJF goes to to facilitate these licenses but my main takeaway here is syndicates need better ways to bypass the license process. I think this is viable.
I agree that Syndicates facilitating licenses through whatever means would address this.
"The whole freight system is administered and governed by the WJF" that is unture. The licenses for it are administrated by the city, which uses the WJF. That's how licenses work for legal work.

Vehicle Registration wasn't moved under their purview from a distributed system. There was simply no system for it previously. That system has a number of ways to be 'hacked' in a social sense that did not exist before, or were previously handwaved.

"The WJF don't control purchasing of vehicle combat items but they do limit access to them both in coded terms and through PC effects,"

Yes, cause just like guns, that shit is kinda illegal.

"Automatic coded reporting of smuggling to the WJF was certainly a coded addition that I was present for the developing of."

This has been around for a long time, it just wasn't always working as you would expect. Previously if you had a restricted item, no matter what, you couldn't go through the gates. Now if you have a license for it you can. And yeah, the literaly WJF guards at the gates will report you if you try to go through security with them. But... it's a report. Someone has to be there to hear it. Someone has to care enough to do something about it. And it's a report of something happening on Red, where the WJF don't typically go. You are in no immediate danger from it. Don't try to bring illegal items through a security checkpoint.

"Technical licensing is likewise under the control and authority of the WJF. Anyone playing a technical archetype who may rely on that licensing is beholden to the WJF's authority, which is I think particularly baffling since these are such limited and wanting parts of the game to begin with."

Yes, if you're going to work legally, you need to have a license. And that license is controlled by the WJF. This has been the case for a LONG time. And there are places or people you can buy the same items from (probably cheaper) than the stores you go to with a license, if you aren't licensed.

Licenses are the 'above board' way to get things done. There are always alternatives if you are playing a criminal.

"I don't think it was an accident that so many players were all trying to squeeze into the Hall for a while there. Even if players don't see everything they do notice where the wind is blowing in general. "

WJF has -always- been a popular archetype. We used to let people just 'become judges'. Now there is a 6 month+ cadet training that washes out a majority of the candidates. There is a lot more oversight over what a Judge does these days then there used to be. Judges used to be able to do LITERALLY whatever they wanted with basically no oversight.

You're saying these things are as they should be Slither, whereas I would argue what is considered normal or legal has no real natural baseline and different choices can be made to different effects. Whether something is legal or not, or done through one organization or not, or done in a certain way or not is a design choice that can be altered for different outcomes.

I would also argue that it's not true that licenses are merely cosmetic or that all the same gameplay and items can be accessed by everyone with or without them, for two reason:

1. Something being much more difficult, or obfuscated, or roundabout in access, might as well not exist for the purposes of many player's gameplay experiences. Additional obstacles are often undersold in the effect, especially the long term cumulative effect they have on players.

2. In some cases licenses are, in fact, the only way to access certain parts of the game.

I think the staff, as an aggregate and over several years have had a tendency to bias towards an hierarchical law enforcement order with centralized controls as a default stance because it is a reflection of the game's own administrative structure, and because it makes for a game that is much easier to administer and oversee. That as the Hall became an extension of the staff in controlling theme and in-world policy, there was a not always conscious consequence that is was natural for the Hall to be administering things because it was natural for the staff to administer things.

One of the problems I can see with having the perspective of almost the entire game's history is that the present is compared to everything else, so the current status quo is compared to 15 years ago when Judges may have had unlimited authority to do absolutely anything, which would make everything look moderate in comparison. However I think the missing piece of that puzzle is the balance between the WJF and other parts of the game, especially the Syndicates which I think have taken a backseat in comparison.

Syndicate enforcers openly feuding with Judges and both sides shooting up one another openly would be unthinkable now. The sheer wild chaos of past conflicts between WJF and other factions and players would be unthinkable now. What Murphy or Phllips or Ecks or Johnson or others did would be unthinkable now. And that might be because there is much more oversight and control, but I think that control has slowly and insidiously spread to other parts of the game as well.

Ultimately this is about, I think, opening things up to let players tell cool stories without everything being shackled under layers of bureaucracy and permission and making sure it's sufficiently part of the plan and what was intended. If a smaller game is meant to be a more bespoke, dynamic experience that lets it reach the storytelling highs of the past then I think there needs to be a relaxation of what is orderly and expected.

I wanna be clear real quick about a few things.

A lot of what I'm doing is stating facts (at least as far as I know them). I'm injecting some of my own/staff opinion for sure, but in the end, I'm trying to clarify where we stand from a coded system / staff support / etc perspective.

The reason I'm doing this is that in this thread, on other threads, in OOC chat, on Guided Discussions, I've seen a lot of people stating things they believe are facts, which are being presented as facts, and then being used as the basis for arguments, which are in fact (pun intended) not actual facts.

I'm not saying peoples experiences are wrong, on the contrary, I think they are completely valid, but what I want is for people to consider that others may have had a different experience. They might interpret events differently, or maybe there were underlying factors you weren't aware of that would change your opinion on something.

I personally do not like to get into discussions where I feel like we are starting from a position of someone stating something as fact when it's just subjective experience. I totally get that people only have what they know to go on and the games rules and policies make it difficult at time to know if something you've seen is an isolated incident, a staff policy, a player rumor, etc.

Thus, I'm trying to clearly state some things I know to be true, from a staff perspective. Things like 'we don't want the WJF to be all powerful, and we think that the fact there are IC ways to get a license as a criminal or avoid needing a license at all, is a good check and balance'. You can totally argue that we need to do more there, if you don't think we make this known enough or don't think we have gone far enough.

In general though, and this isn't directed at any one person, but the community as a whole, please try to avoid stating things as facts and instead frame them as your only perspective on what is going on.

The reason this is important can be related in a story I've told a few times.

My alt was in charge of a gang. He did a big PR blitz with the IC goal of convincing everyone that Fuller Street was a safe place, that crime didn't happen there, that anyone pickpocketing would be severely punished. One of the reasons he did this was because he wanted to convince more corpies to come down to the Mix, to his turf, where the members of their gang could rob them. OOCly I figured corpie players at the time would know this was BS OOCly but allow their characters to be ICly convinced of it because it would make for good fun. Instead, after a month or so of this, every new player that had come into the city on a new character truly believed Fuller St was safe and that NO CRIME should or could or would happen there and possibly that it was a GM enforced thing and they would OOCly get in trouble for doing it.

This is the law of unintended consequences. And the power of propaganda. If people hear something enough, especially in the absence of a competing voice saying 'no that isn't true' they will start to believe it. We want to avoid that.

There was also a mention of Mirage, and their alt earlier in this thread. I had a few players xhelp about their perceptions of the situation that was described and I've spoken to them about the timeline of events. I don't want to go into IC details here, but I also don't want to just say 'I looked into it and it's all good' because I've been told that isn't a satisfactory answer.

I'll say a few things about it:

1. Admin Alts for Coders are expected to stay away from big code changes that they make for at least 30 days. For example, if you wrote salvage code, and then your alt wanted to go out to the badlands and salvage a hulk to make something. The reason behind this is that we want to ensure coders are not just making things for themselves, but for the game as a whole. We also don't want to make it so coders can't interact with any systems they code ever, because as time goes on, and someone is a coder for longer, that list of systems grow and grow. It's more about avoiding the immediate COI and letting other players get first crack at a system.

2. I talked to a couple of players about what was described and got a timeline of events which leads me to think our COI rules were followed. The first commercial cargo license ever issued in game was on 3/11/22 to a PRI driver. Mirage's alt didn't acquire a vehicle of the type that could haul cargo until 5/23/22. They were also told ICly that they wouldn't be able to get a license to haul cargo while working at the WJF.

I don't like to go into this amount of detail about a player or admin on the BGBB where possible, but enough people read what was written that I think it's important to clear it up before rumors start. In the future if you anyone feels like an admin or admin alt is unfairly taking advantage of their role on staff, please bring it up with me privately in an email. I will look into it and get back to you. If we do find cheating has happened, it will be acknowledged publicly. If we feel like a rule or line is being skirted without actually being broken we will update that rule to remove the grey area and have a tough discussion with whatever admin might have been knowingly or unknowingly skirting it. Or we'll suspend them or remove them from staff. It really depends on what happens.

My point is, making public allegations months after the fact without giving me an opportunity to investigate or even tell you, 'hey yeah we saw that when it happened and put the kibosh on it' or whatever, isn't helpful. I take allegations of staff cheating seriously, and investigate each one. But often times what someone perceives as cheating or unfairness or whatever is really a misconception or misunderstanding of what happened that can be explained with a bit of private discussion. Putting it out in public, people can't unsee it, and I can't always reveal details in a public setting, especially when one or more player characters are involved.

I've been mulling over my response and after some discussion on OOC as well with some players, I shortened it to just be straight. My opinion as a player is that, again, Sindome isn't a sandbox RP game. There is a clearly set theme that comes with its own expectations. Now, is that theme cyberpunk? Maybe not traditionally, but Sindome has its own twist on the genre and that is enforced through various IC channels, WJF being one of them.

I completely disagree on the notion that people should have unrestricted access to every part/mechanic/avenue of the game on a single character. There should not be jack of all trades. One should make a character concept, build their story around it, and know that they might not get to experience another part of the game without rerolling or making a vacation character. If you're playing a combat character, the expectation should be that you will be more involved in the combat PvP parts of the game and not exploring every nook the Grid has to offer, or TV production, or whatever. If you would like to do that, then my personal recommendation would be to vacation your character and roll a different archetype. The archetypes that want the licenses necessary to do ICly legal work as part of their archetype job usually do get their licenses. There is no gatekeeping there.

I do not think the WJF are protagonists of the game or anything of the sort. The Judge role by itself is almost like being a GM without being part of the Staff, and it is a heavily regulated and controlled role. Yes, the characters are granted authority and control ICly over other players, but just like a GM they are observed (and trained for 6 months OOCly and ICly) on how to best utilize that power and use it. I agree that it is very easy for a WJF PC to abuse their power and make the game hell for other characters if they wished to, but characters who're likely to do that don't make Judge in the first place, or if they do, they don't last long.

I also feel like there's some disconnect there by saying that Syndicates are rotting away. That isn't because, from my experience, the WJF is drowning them and restricting everything they do but it is because currently there are other problems regarding high-level Mix play that people have issues with and it has caused some stagnation. I don't understand where the notion of the WJF being this OOCly oppressive and restrictive faction comes from, because while it might be so in theme, in the time I have played I have not seen any WJF PC smash down the hammer in a way that a character was left completely hopeless and without any path forward. Even in cases where heavy punishment is necessary, there is always a lifeline.

There are far more experienced players than me to address these, but I think there are a lot of misunderstandings and I don't necessarily want newer players to look at this thread and assume things without having experienced how it is in game and in character.

As far as players getting the wrong idea, I don't think it benefits players new or old to sit around agreeing with one another and toeing a party line.

I don't know who the absolute leading expert on all these systems combined is, but any list of the top has got to include me. People may disagree with my philosophical argument but I'm not speaking from lack of real experience. I also have no real stake except a conceptual one, I benefit just as much from the status quo as anyone does. Probably more.

No one has to take my word for it, but if anyone wants to see Crime and Corporations and Syndicates start to become more of the main stage of the game again, I think they should at least somewhat take what I am saying into account.

To be clear, I agree with you that corporations, crime, and syndicates can be more than they are now. I just don't think that the WJF is the main reason that these issues exist, and I don't think ultimately nerfing the Hall, removing it or whatnot is the solution. I think it would lead to bigger problems and the same complaints but put in a different way. I also think that some of the complaints here stem from IC/OOC assumptions without IC effort or attempts in the first place to reach out and see what WJF PCs say, which is what I'd like to avoid.
I do agree, the main causative factor of their decline was always that Syndicates were eating up staff time to the exclusion of everything else, or at least that has been what was discussed when the subject arose in the past; and any discussion about the change in priorities there has to acknowledge that greater staff availability for other things was part of a sea change that led to a renaissance in topside and all kinds of other positives.

And it would only be fair to admit that even what I've claimed is true, there are real disadvantages to changing the status quo to something else. Just more for staff to do in general, more puppets and even less time to get to them. More balance headaches and making sure things are not being leveraged too heavily by anyone. No certainty the results would be any better and some real risk they'd be worse. Like really, I'm not even sure if I want these sorts of solutions, they're pretty much all terrible for me.

It very well could be better if I took my own advice and just worry about myself and let other players fight for the things they want, and the game will take care of itself on its own.