Designing Untrusted - Turn Processing Breakdown
This article looks a bit in depth the decision making for the core of the game design - how the actions are processed server side to advance a turn.
In Untrusted, there is no bonus for committing to an action later rather than before – during each turn, you are free to change your mind as many times as you need before committing as there is no preference for someone who clicked a button faster than someone else.
This guide has been updated for Alpha v1.050.
All actions are processed with no general priority and resolved accordingly to a specific set of rules, with very few exceptions having priority over someone else. The turn processing follows the following steps, from top to bottom, one after the other:
- 1. Process votes to eventually Kill a player
- 2. Resolve Throw Under The Bus
- 3. Resolve Occupation Skills
- 4. Process Denial of Service
- 5. Process Rollback
- 6. Process ISP Isolation
- 7. Process every other skills
Strictly speaking, all skills are processed in a random order, however they yield the same end-result, although with different events.
For example, let’s assume that Dr.Red, Dr.White and Dr.Blue all use Hack Target on 203.0.113.172 on Day 1.
The game will randomly pick the order in which they actually try the Hack (considering buffs and debuffs), so Dr.White may be the first to try (with RNG determining a failure), Dr.Red the second one (with RNG determining a success) and Dr.Blue (failing automatically since Red succeded already) – the outcome of the action is the same (successful hack) although who succeded may be different from play to play – for example, on Day 2, if the same three players try to hack another node, lets say 203.0.113.173, the game will once again pick a random order for these actions, but the outcome won’t be altered.
This is to ensure a fair game where people with a slower connection are not penalized.
1.Kill the voted player
All votes are processed and if a player has been voted with an amount equal to the number of alive players / 2 (rounded to the highest integer value), that person is set to dead and his/hers action won’t be processed. Note that the Operation Leader vote counts twice.
This is important to avoid gamethrowing: for example, a Sociopath won’t be able to ask agents to openly arrest him by claiming sociopath, as everyone else could vote him out and have him killed (and thus, making him lose) before the arrest skill is processed.
2.Resolve “Throw Under the Bus”
Throw Under The Bus is a very powerful night skill that allows players to redirect themselves to a target player of their choice. For example, lets assume that Dr.Brown is a Field Agent, that is trying to arrest you, Dr.Green. Dr.Green uses Throw Under the Bus on Dr.Red, which is a Resentful Criminal. Dr.Brown will arrest Dr.Red instead of Dr.Green.
This skill is extremely powerful, as by design, it is occupation immune: however, what happens if two players redirect themselves to each other? For example, Dr.Blue redirects on Dr.Yellow, and Dr.Yellow redirects on Dr.Blue – in this case, both action fails and any action will be applied on the original target.
3.Resolve Occupation Skills
Skills that occupy a player will make that player unable to complete their action for that night, for example, if Dr.Gold uses Midnight Meeting on Dr.Silver and Dr.Silver uses Follow on Dr.White, Dr.Silver will be occupied and won’t be able to follow Dr.White.
The intringuing scenario here is what happens if, for example, Dr.Gold uses Midnight Meeting on Dr.Silver, which himself uses Midnight Meeting (or any other occupation skill) on Dr.White, which in turn uses Midnight Meeting on Dr.Gold, creating a loop: if this happens, all actions fail.
Player that have been occupied receive a message that tells them they were unable to proceed with their expected action, often with an explanation. After all, if you met with someone you would know that information.
4.Process Denial of Service Denial of Service has priority and cannot be stopped by any other skill.
6.Process ISP Isolation ISP Isolation is processed right before every other actions.
7.Process Every Other Skill
Every other skill is then processed accordingly, if the user was not occupied and if the node is still available for targeting – the game is designed so that the order in which action happens do not really alter the final outcome, although certain messages may change slightly.
For example, if a Field Agent and an Operation Leader target the same player with Arrest and Strike Deal , the outcome will be the same (with the target joining AGENT) with a slightly different message depending if the game has first processed the field agent operation (the arrest, which gets undoed by Agent Leader, resulting in a message that confirms a valid arrest, and then of an undo) or if the game has first processed the conversion (giving an arrest failed message to the field agent). Cooperation and information sharing is vital to avoid confusion.
Keep in mind that support skills, such as Probe Node which lower the hacking difficulty, have a permanent effect. So in a worst-case scenario, all hack actions are processed without the Probe Node debuff, however, all subsequent hack actions will benefit from that, even if done in different turns.
Why this choice of having a pseudo-random order?
Creating a too-predictable scenario leads to boring meta-gaming (for example, if the players with the highest hacking % were processed first, a meta-gaming on finding the class based only on that information would appear) that advantages too much only the people who know the inner working of the game.
Untrusted is designed to mimic as close as possible (while still being fun :) it’s not a simulator so we can take some liberties) what happens in real life hacking scenarios: chaos. You are never guaranteed to succeed and you never know when your crew mate is going to have a breakthrough – Untrusted puts the accent in the social deduction rather than in exploiting the implemented algorithm of the game – knowing these rules can help you understand better what happened, but won’t lead you to a direct advantage in figuring out roles just based on the order of the events.
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