A story-driven action/stealth sidescrolling RPG with a fresh new vision of cyberspace. Read more
This project was successfully funded on December 12, 2013.
Augmented Reality and Cyberspace in Dex
Thanks for all the support so far! It seems we’ve been gaining steady momentum (over 15% in first 48 hours). If we manage to keep going at this rate or even faster – with your help, both by backing us and spreading the word – we can make Dex come true and fully realize our vision. We are excited about our progress as well as your suggestions, questions and comments! We plan to address the most recurrent topics in ongoing updates (mainly the RPG features, stealth features, story, and hacking/cyberspace), starting with today’s topic.
Let’s take a look at augmented reality and cyberspace in Dex.
In the world of Dex, augmented reality (AR) and basic reality (BR) are interconnected. The whole world is “online” and cyberspace is omnipresent. As in today’s world of Twitter and Facebook, most denizens of Harbor Prime are permanently connected to the augmented reality layer of the internet. There are digital commercials on the streets, instant newsfeeds for everyone, and lightning-fast communication amongst the users. And – of course – all of this is controlled and monitored by governments and major corporations.
Your actions in AR have results in BR: You hack a door and it opens, you hack a guard’s implants and he is paralyzed. Your actions in BR have results in AR: You place an explosive and destroy a hardware firewall component in BR and when you switch to AR, the data is no longer protected by the firewall.
Gangs and corporations alike are well aware of the abilities of hackers – one skilled hacker can knock out a whole unit of cyber-augmented soldiers (most mercenaries, gangsters, and corporate commandoes are augmented in some way) -– so trained combat dogs are commonly used by corporate security guards and street gangsters to take out enemy hackers. Plus there are private military organizations that specialize in offering “AR-Safe” work for hire, in case higher-than-normal hacker concentration is expected during a fight.
How does this work in the game? You can walk, talk, sneak, and fight in Basic Reality – and you can also decide to jack into the matrix. Doing so, your consciousness leaves your body and enters AR in the form of an avatar. As an avatar, you can perform various actions, mainly: 1) crippling enemies, 2) tampering with electronic devices, and 3) dealing with AR-specific objects (viruses, spam, ICE). When your cyberrun is complete, you return back to your physical body and continue to play in Basic Reality, while seeing the results of your cyber-actions. (Note: the death of an avatar results in brain-death of the physical body.)
Now, let’s have a look at AR and the objects you can find there:
This is you, the physical Dex, while your consciousness is in cyberspace. When traveling in cyberspace, you are subject to malware and foreign bodies – for example, viruses can crawl into you and damage you or inflict special states (paralysis, weakness etc.). The user becomes quite fragile because his consciousness is not in his body, but is moving through vast regions of cyberspace, leaving the body vulnerable.
The representation of your consciousness in cyberspace. Your avatar must protect your physical body from damaging influences while it performs the tasks you require – such as hacking a camera, disabling a gangster, or collecting valuable data. Avatar can move about, destroy malware, and infiltrate objects.
Sticky stuff that’s found everywhere in AR. Slows down your avatar and complicates the overall cyberrun. Can be destroyed by Avatar.
Second most frequent malware in AR, right after spam. Viruses are numerous and come in several sizes and power variations, but all share the same basic goal: to infiltrate unprotected objects – in this case, the body of you, the User, while your avatar is busy performing tasks. Like spam, viruses can be destroyed by Avatar.
Nasty surprise inside. Digitally explodes upon contact. Do not pick it up; rather, avoid it or destroy it from a distance. Very dangerous for both User and Avatar. Using the skills of your avatar, however, you can turn it to your advantage by letting it destroy surrounding viruses or other unpleasant AR objects.
Valuable data stream. Avatars may collect these, resulting in cash or XP reward. (In some cases, data packets may be connected to a mission or side quest and might bear additional information, such as entry codes. Collecting several data packets may even be a mission goal itself.) Data Packets themselves are harmless as sheep, however, a dangerous “sheep dog” (active AR defenses, firewalls) may lurk nearby.
Physical enemies that are not augmented and are not connected to cyberspace. They cannot be influenced directly in AR and must be dealt with in physical reality or indirectly in AR – e.g. overloading an AR-active device, causing it to explode, may damage or kill non-augmented enemies.
Enemies that are not hackers but are augmented (possess various implants). They cannot intervene with you while in AR (they are “frozen”), but can be affected in various ways by you (depending on which augmentations they have): paralyzed, weakened, slowed, weapon-cracked (causing ranged weapons to malfunction)…
Similar to augmented enemies, with one major difference: hackers can actively defend themselves in AR, via their Avatar, the same way Dex does. Their body can be affected like that of a generic enemy, but at the same time their Avatar can affect Dex as well. AR combat with an enemy hacker (called cybermage in our slang) can be very dangerous, and physical confrontation is preferable whenever possible.
Active AR Defence
Sometimes called “AR Turrets.” These objects are often accompanied by physical hardware and are placed by corporations and gangs alike to protect their valuable data and security systems (cameras, doors, elevator controls etc.). Active AR Defenses come in several variations (size, power) and may be combined for added strength. They are sometimes protected by a firewall.
A protective grid around User, a hacker, or a device. Before any damage can be done to an object within a firewall, the firewall must first be disabled. Avatar can crush a firewall in AR (though this is far from easy). In addition, lots of BR devices (cameras, for example) have physical hardware for producing firewalls – thus, destroying the hardware in BR can take down the firewall in AR. Firewalls are semipermeable – protective from outside, permeable from inside (i.e. if there is a AR Active defense inside the firewall, it may shoot through the firewall).
A camera, turret, alarm system, elevator or any kind of physical machine. A device may be infiltrated (e.g. obtaining a view of a location through a camera system), overloaded (resulting in an explosion, which may harm enemies around it), or simply turned on/off.
Ports and Cluster Segments
Locations in AR generally overlap with locations in BR. However, some parts of AR are protected and separated from the rest of AR. These locations are called cluster segments, and may only be accessed by protected ports.
Some parts of cyberspace are not simply augmented reality (a layer on top of physical reality). Hackers call them pure cyberspace. These locations can only be accessed by skilled hackers through special ports or through the use of advanced software, and may lead to unexpected encounters. Whereas normal AR is predictable (the amount of Intrusion Countermeasures encountered in private areas generally equals the wealth of the corporation that owns the place, while in public areas the amount of viruses and spam encountered is based upon the location and population density), pure cyberspace is unpredictable.
You may encounter high-level hackers, both friendly and vicious, whom you can fight, learn from, or simply talk to. You may also find advanced wild AIs, set loose in the wilds of cyberspace through human intent or carelessness and ignorance. The denizens of pure cyberspace are many – and brave are those who risk brain death or even direr consequences by setting foot in these territories.