A big, big thank you to Sunny. I never met you, but you were my mentor. I learned everything I know from the files you left for us to find. Thank you so much.
Hello, Seattle! Specifically, hello Seattle deckers! This is Daiquiri with the latest Jackpoint on decking, paydata, and deckbuilding! I'm going to do my best to keep this as simple as possible, so you best be sure there's a lot more to it than this will cover, but things here should get you started off on the right foot.
If you ever have questions, please feel free to give me a call: 7206-2371
Let's cover some of the parts of the deck right quick:
MPCP (Master Persona Control Program) - This is the most important part of the deck! Every aspect of anything you're trying to do in the Matrix is going to indirectly be limited or determined by your MPCP. The higher this is, the better!
Persona Programs - Bod, Evasion, Sensors, and Masking. Think of these as covering how strong your deck is, how fast and smart it is. The total of the four of them can be no higher than triple your MPCP. Therefore, an MPCP of 7 can get you 3 of one and 6's in the others, for example. My personal preference is to drop Bod a bit in favor of the others, at least while you're just in the library or the mall.
Utility Programs - These are any of the other programs you may have for your deck. Their rating cannot be higher than the MPCP of your deck, hence why MPCP affects everything you do! They help with various things, but I'll list the ones that are the most important for gathering paydata:
Missing any one of these (except Browse in a lot of scenarios) is going to make gathering paydata way more annoying than it needs to be, but not impossible, so don't think you can't get an early start if you're missing something. I started off without a Read/Write, Evaluate or Deception program and look at me now! Slightly better, baby. Slightly better.
There's more that you can do, but I'm going to go over what worked for me, and what worked the quickest. The best place to practice is the library! Head to one of the private rooms, and follow this step-by-step:
1. CONNECT to the Matrix.
2. LOCATE PAYDATA You may need to attempt this several times before you find anything. Even once you find some juicy paydata, there might be more out there that you haven't found. It's worth it to give it a few search attempts before continuing on.
3. ANALYZE PAYDATA Keep trying it until you find what's protecting it, or find that it's clean. Don't go in blind; that's how they getcha.
If your data is clean, move on to Step 5. Otherwise…
4a. If you find a bomb or a Pavlov program in the paydata, DISARM the PAYDATA, and keep trying until you're sure it's disarmed!
4b. If you find it encrypted, or covered by Scramble-IC, make sure to DECRYPT the PAYDATA before downloading, or you might risk it getting deleted. Make sure you successfully decrypt the paydata before moving on.
5. DOWNLOAD PAYDATA The higher the file size, the longer it'll take (your I/O determines how fast your input/output is; like this download)
You'll be notified when your paydata is downloaded, which leaves it installed on your Deck. This will take up file size, and eventually you won't be able to download anymore. To ensure that doesn't happen, you can UNINSTALL your PAYDATA from your DECK to free up some space, while storing it in a nice and convenient chip for you to sell later.
It's important that you don't delay this part. Once you've got all of the paydata that you plan on selling (or even cut it into a couple trips, if you want), call a cab and don't stop for drinks on the way. Data keeps on moving and the value of your paydata drops the longer you hold onto it.
To find your vendor, take a cab to Tacoma. You'll need to walk a couple blocks east, turn right, and then you'll find Krackerjack's place on the left. Slide on in, UNINSTALL all of your PAYDATA from the CYBERDECK. Go to Krackerjack and SELL all of the PAYDATA for a nice stack of yen. K.J., you better give me good rates for the endorsement here.
Your knowledge of data brokerage and how much Krackerjack likes you is going to determine how much you're getting paid, but either way it's pretty easy to saturate the market with tons and tons of data. The more data that's been sold lately, the less it's worth, but it's only a little while before the prices rise again so take a break, so socialize, and get back at it later on.
That's the short of it, at least. When you aren't in the library, you're probably going to need to locate your host. To do that, think about where you're going, look around where you're at in the Matrix for some clues of keywords you can search for. Then LOCATE HOST and whatever KEYWORD you think might lead you to where you want to go. For instance, if I'm trying to get into the Junkyard, I would LOCATE the HOST for the JUNKYARD. Or the MALL, or DANTE's. You'll end up getting a phone number or a keyword that you can log onto. So just LOGON XXXX-XXXX once you've got that number or keyword.
It's also good to know how to ANALYZE HOSTS. Do this right and you'll get a five number code of info. This is known as the host's ACIFS. In order, the numbers represent Access, Control, Index, Files and Slave. The code you get for each of these values gives a savvy Decker a good idea of how tough that host is going to be to act upon.
The color code is important too. From better to worst: blue, green, orange, red, and anything worse than that I haven't seen. Blue is an easy milk run; IC can't even be installed on those. Above that, it gets a little scarier.
Every single thing you do in the Matrix is going to bring you closer and closer to getting caught by IC. There's no way around it: if there's IC to catch you, they eventually will. Your skill as a Decker and the quality of your cyberdeck determine how long that takes.
Think of everything you do as adding a tally mark, and once you get to a certain number of marks, IC will know where you are. Everything you do will add a tally, but how much is dependent on how smooth or clumsy you are as a Decker. As you rack up tallies, eventually the host is going to start putting out alerts. You'll see these, so keep an eye and an ear out. Passive alerts aren't an immediate threat to your icon, but they make all the IC on the host extra observant. Active alerts are when the IC will come after you. More tallies means more IC, and eventually the host will attempt to shut down entirely.
I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of cybercombat. That's another lesson for another day for another Runner. However, let's talk about what to do about the IC that you bump into while grabbin' up all the data you can get your digital mitts on.
Short and sweet of it, don't bother with 'em. They'll come in, smack your icon, bump you out of the Matrix, and then they'll go frag off somewhere else. It's not a cozy experience, but it's not gonna kill you, either. Just log back in and keep doing what you're doing.
If you want to be smart about it, get a feel for about how much you can do before IC is going to find you and log off just before they do. Then reconnect, log back in, and keep downloading. This'll keep you from suffering dumpshock, getting tired out, and then subsequently being clumsy and getting caught sooner when you log back in.
Between ACIFS and IC, paying attention to your “security tally” and to the host's security code makes a big difference in whether you're a drek-hot cyberlegend or a milk-drinking script kitty.
WARNING: This is only for these easy paydata runs. If you find yourself hacking into a Mega's digital vault, you better believe the IC is going to be more of a threat than whatever they'll throw at you down at Nybbles n' Bits.
There's a bunch of types of IC, but I won't get into that here. All I'll say is to watch out for the three levels of IC: White, Grey and Black. White IC is just gonna mess with you. They'll block you from coming and going some. Grey IC is going to hit your icon and try to dump you out, track your location in meatspace, delete your programs, whatever it is they're coded to do. Black IC, though? They'll kill you. Not your icon; not your digital self. They'll lock you in the Matrix so you can't log out and frag your deck with so much malicious code that your brains turn to scrambled mush. Not a good way to go, omae. Be careful.
Get a custom deck. Either build your own or find a Runner that knows what they're doing. Make sure you get a hot ASIST in it, cause that'll make a huge difference in the quality of your connection to the Matrix. No store-bought deck is going to have one. Do keep in mind, though: having a stronger connection goes both ways, and if you get fragged up with a hot-ASIST, it's going to leave much more of a lasting impression than on cold. But, as Sunny said, “Hot ASIST's very illegal, so you know that it must be good.”
(OOC: Hot ASIST can be toggled by using ASIST. If Hot ASIST is active, you can use your Hacker Pool by setting your MAX. HELP ASSIST, HELP HACKER POOL, and HELP MAX will explain more.)