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Re-work Common: A Thread

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tomdroid, May 10, 2020.

  1. tomdroid

    tomdroid Game Radmin Game Administrator

    Howdy there, fellerinos! Now, you may be looking at this, and thinking, "Tomdroid, this is another ideas thread that will lead to literally zero actual results!" This may be true. However, this is one where I actually have ideas that might be applicable, rather than a thread where I point out the flaws, then come up with half-baked ideas on how to fix the flaw, that really can't be made without quite a bit of time coding.

    So, communication. It is a big part of SS13. Even in the lower roleplay servers, where the round amounts to "find out who the antagonist is, and then murder them", communication is key. To be more particular, isolation of communication. There are many ways to disrupt communication, fake communications, or otherwise obfuscate information. Voice changers, faked paperwork, a few wrenches in the metaphorical cogs of telecomms, to name only a few.

    Now, Bay has even more methods of communication, with Email, Fax ( yes, you can fax to other fax machines on the ship!), chat rooms, etc.
    Now, you may ask, "this is all cool, but when are we getting to the problem with common, like what is in the title?"
    No one fucking uses the aforementioned methods of communication.
    Common is pretty much used for shitposting, inter-departamental communications ( "Med, we need a tech on the expedition"), and screaming "eeeeeeeee Jim Jones tried to eat my shorts!". So, we have a multitude of ways of talking to eachother, but the thing is, they're much more cumbersome than just going ";need more explorers on the mission, who wanna join up". So, no one uses them.
    Now, about antagonism. Not everyone is very good at it. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you try to execute it ( and you do it quite poorly), the first thing that'll happen is that your "victim" will go "Help me! ____is trying to involve me in an odd gimmick that may or may not be a ripoff of SAW!" That isn't to say the victim shouldn't be doing that, that's only normal. In any case, whatever plan you had before that happened is no longer really in place anymore. Rather, you now have to escape a security manhunt, and if you're rather unlucky, a pro-active AI. This isn't to say antagonists shouldn't lose at all. So, what's the solution?
    Well, quite simply, remove common.

    No, not really. Rather, just remove common from radio headsets. Keep intercomms ( default speakers to: on), and that's that. Why? Well, for starters, it'll force people to actually use the intercomms and other methods of communications. In case y'all didn't know, you don't have to finangle with the microphone settings to use intercomms, you just need to input :i prior to everything. So, if you need to summon some guy to the sec lobby, just press that button and say "Smith to sec lobby, Smith to sec lobby." If you want to shitpost, use the chat client that's on your PDA. You can even have an epicke username, like xX_expl0ratron_Xx. If you need something from another department, you will need to walk there, god forbid.
    This is pretty great for roleplay, IMO, as then you have to actually have a conversation with another person instead of just going ;bring me the skulls of my enemies, pls. Additionally, I think that actually having to use a PDA/fax/smoke signal will be more immersive, as much as that word is thrown around.
    What about danger, Tomdroid? Maintenance doesn't have any intercomms, and what if an antagonist shoots me?
    Well, I think that's a good thing, actually. If you're in maint, it's because you're looting, hiding, or searching for someone. Sometimes you may actually be performing maintenance. In such cases, I think the atmosphere of maint is greatly improved by not having a direct lifeline to literally everyone else on the ship. About antagonists, I think if you're in the condition to go ;HELP HE'S EATING ME NIBBLES, you're in the condition to run away to a intercomm to go :i HELP HE'S EATING ME NIBBLES. About not being heard, there's an intercomm in just about every part of the ship, excepting maint, meaning that you're guaranteed to be heard by at least one other person.

    So, thoughts? Suggestions? Tomatoes to be hurled at my face?
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  2. Heirz

    Heirz Assistant

    Dude this sounds fucking awesome and I want it implemented like- now. There's so many unused forms of communications and I want to /uuuussseeeeeee/ theeeeeem. I know this won't immediately make that happen but like, gosh darnit, it'll still help rp a ton.
    To close-
    Make this change, or I can and will ban not be happy with you.
  3. NimbleThimble

    NimbleThimble Bartender

    I have reservations personally.

    So I don't mind antagonists having an easier time of it infact sure go for it, hell make it so radios just don't work right in maint... it's radiation shielded why wouldn't you get shit reception, But I'm abit worried that this will exaggerate department in-cliquism as it becomes even harder to communicate with other departments, I'm sure big stuff might be communicated up through the intercom and up through command and presumably back down (maybe if your very lucky) but i'm referring to mundane tasks that are fun but still need to be communicated non-the less like wanting to go on an away mission as medic... Trying to get an engineer to come up and fix your busted window.

    "Hey engineering I bust like 4 windows in supply saving someone can someone fix it when your not too busy kthnx" easily sent over common someone will hear it.

    You communicate those things upto command or over intercom they 100% won't go anywhere, They will have bigger fish to fry and think it's unreasonable to expect say all of the engineers to stay in the engineering lobby next to an intercom and not be outside the ship or in maint. Same with security, As for chat rooms or emails they don't ping reliably also mailing multiple people is a clunky mess. If working with such a system like we do IRL we have "dispatchers role" for the main department someone who manages said calls over common as a PA for various departments. I wouldn't mind doing away with common if we had such a role although... I don't know how fun it would be to play?

    The other way that might not be nightmarish would be an extension to how the email system works like in real life to easily mail alot of people. like @Engineering @Security @Medical ect sending those messages out so you can expect at least SOMEONE to get these common house calls over there pagers.
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
    lavillastrangiato likes this.
  4. Hunter Martin

    Hunter Martin Bartender

    Personally, I like the idea. Stores, schools, businesses, organizations, none of them have the "call everybody in the entire area" bluetooth.

    The only issue I see here is as to why people would have headsets and not, like, color-coded handheld radios.
  5. SierraKomodo

    SierraKomodo Command Keyword Detected

    What about making common a semi-restricted official business only channel, by doing the following:

    - By default, all headsets can receive common but cannot broadcast
    - Certain job headsets (Command and senior NCO positions) have access to broadcast on common
    - At least one intercom in every department, accessible by every member of that department, can be used to broadcast on common in the event that department lacks anyone with headset access, or the department needs to use it for emergencies.
  6. Heirz

    Heirz Assistant

    Just removing the common telecommunications server would work just fine- People can still use shortwave radios if they /reaaalllly/ needed to, which I think is fine in itself. Just replace the common server with "intercoms server"
    Vhbraz likes this.
  7. Vhbraz

    Vhbraz Assistant

    This would work. The only problem would be if engineering unga meta'ed and built another server in place of the removed one.
    Also, can we address the fact that the messaging monitor console requires a decryption key but request consoles are literally never used? If anything, the server monitor is the one who should require a key.
  8. Banditoz

    Banditoz Senior Enlisted Advisor

    I'm neutral on this idea, but whoever implements this should just make sure we have request consoles mapped where they need to be.
  9. Subosovitch

    Subosovitch Bartender

    Aurora has a neat pager system that makes common a lo less used. Or comms in general. Which in turn make things feel very dead despite common still existing.
    The pros are pretty obvious with antags being less easy to call out, although since department radios still exist and presumably atleast 1 command member still hearing those a :M MERCS D4 AFT is just marginally more hidden than a ; MERCS D4 AFT.

    I think the IRC and E-Mail are mainly not used because they are clunky and really not enjoyable to use on any level despite several people making a lot of recent attempts at making chatrooms in roleplay. It also makes things oddly obscure which might just be me that isnt that great at filtering through 13 additional windows to cover comms.
    E-Mails dont ping unless you got the programm open on your PDA, minized in the background you have to manually check etc.

    Worth a try since the pros are pretty valid. I'd just hope the other methods would be better first though.
    lavillastrangiato likes this.
  10. Eupok

    Eupok Bartender

    Good stuff, couldn’t put it better myself. I suppose first order of business for me is to clarify a few things.

    This is by no means an idea that is entirely fixated on the removal of all immediate communication everywhere. Rather, with these changes, immediate communication is something that has to be considered and thought about- at least slightly. Communication, too, can more easily become a tool that is able to be manipulated in ways that prior to this almost always fail because of the crew’s perceptions and faculties afforded to them by the access to common on all their headsets. At present, the hyper-immediacy of communication and the hyper-chilled attitude people have towards it are convenient, sure, but after that only serve as a detriment to so much more.

    The fact that literally every crew member can talk indiscriminately to all other crew members all at once and how many people do so, leads to quite a lot of otherwise pretty poor, or uninteresting play from the crew. Beyond what was said already an example that comes to mind is when an antagonist attempted to use common to broadcast a message of disaster to the whole crew- something something Sol had fallen- which, right off the bat, is immediately incriminating both in-universe and out of it. But, as with most if not all ‘antag’ or particularly ‘spicy’ things brought up over common, without a doubt in most cases, some random, wildly unqualified and inappropriate crew member will do a poor job of obfuscating their meta-knowledge of the lore and call x person out- or speak truth to power!- or say it how they feel it is!- all of which, almost always without fail only serves to set the crew themselves up as as much of a threat to the ship than any merc team or traitor. Which brings me to my experience with Aurora whose common channel is by no means dead or less used and where this problem is only exacerbated by the general perception about ones character that permeates the server over there. Meta-grudges towards people and entire departments is unabatedly on show most days and the crew seem intent on trying to be as much of a hassle to the station as possible. And the one of the only differences in this regard from Aurora to Bay is the difference in perception- which is a difficult enough concept to pin down as it is. In Aurora’s case, I feel it’s headset-common at its worst. And I only bring up because in this regard Aurora and Bay are similar- structurally, in how they have their communications set up, that is.

    Another point I want to bring up is that there are already upwards of a dozen different ways of communicating effectively with other people aboard the Torch. Methods that are by no means obtuse or annoying to use, merely alternatives that are never used because of the common channel being in every headset. (And that might also get improved too now more people will be looking at them and finding ways to make them more accessible!)

    For me, this has been an issue I’ve recognised for a while and am eager to see implemented.
  11. Imienny

    Imienny Laser Tag 2019 Participant

    It is not too good idea, people love to shittalk on common and watch other people shittalk, intercoms are way too uncommon for easy shittalking,
    and removing easy access to common wont help with ";HELP MAINTS!" if you still can do ":m/s/c/v/n/e HELP MAINTS!".
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  12. Eupok

    Eupok Bartender

    I think 'people like to do the problem' is not really enough of a reason to not try and address the problem, no?
    And I'll stress again, we're not aiming to entirely remove phenomena such as maint calling, there's much more to it than just that- more to it than just trying to make antag's time easier (which is something of a side-effect more than a key idea).

    And I've seen ideas for making NTNET much more accessible, mkalash wanting to make programs on there operate on a much more informal, 'shittalky' wavelength which would allow all of the crew which are apparently shitposters-all-the-time to joke and converse with much of the crew without using the common channel. And there's a point to be made about how the very presence of the common channel on all headsets and the way people use them inspire people to be 'shittalky', rather than the other way around.
  13. Paradoxon

    Paradoxon Retired Staff

    Personally, I've always been a proponent of simply removing headsets and having people rely on intercomms and other means of communication, but yes, this would be a huge step in the right direction. Heck, I might even come and play a few rounds with that sort of change. Bay and SS13 in general rely a lot of the unknown and the mystery to bring life to a round, and stuff like an nigh-omniscient AI, constant radio chatter, ubiquitous cameras, thorough monitoring of life signs, and so on, just take a lot away from that mystery.
    tomdroid and YodaDoge like this.
  14. tomdroid

    tomdroid Game Radmin Game Administrator

    I'm not looking to completely revolutionize how communication is done. I'm looking to actually code this myself, so I think that keeping it simple is the way to go.
    Antagonists having a better time isn't exactly the mission statement, and I think that doing that is kind of a bit too much, if you get what I mean.

    Well, they don't really have bigger fish to fry. Giving command more things to do is good, actually. Rather, giving ensigns more things to do is good. And yes, I don't expect all engineers/security to sit by an intercom. That's why department channels exist.

    Yea, that's the point. Compartmentalization and isolation of information is going to be an issue, so you'll have to communicate with people to make sure everyone's on the same page.
  15. Monimus

    Monimus Game Administrator

    I think this is a cool idea, and definitely worth a try.
  16. This idea sounds great to me, I think it will encourage alternative forms of communication (up to and including, gasp, stepping out and walking to someone else's department), as well as make being isolated from the rest of the ship more dangerous. Granted, you'd still be able to scream for help on your own departmental frequency, so I'm not entirely sure how effective that'd be. As for "mundane tasks" like repairs, the requests consoles are a thing and they flash red and orange when they receive a message. Not enough people use them and that's kind of a shame.
  17. YodaDoge

    YodaDoge Bartender

    I really like the idea.
    If you need something from a departmen just walk there use the pager and tell them in person.
  18. Lushsalmon123

    Lushsalmon123 Bartender

    As a person who plays bridge characters a majority of the time, I believe that this could be a great implementation. Especially if we're talking about giving Bridge Officer's stuff to do and actually do their jobs. Not only would it make bridge roleplay a lot more interesting, it makes those in command positions rely more heavily on people relaying between departments. Far too often I see a BO sitting around, doing nothing and find it difficult to make the round more engaging on them as CO.

    In short, this is a fun concept and hope it's improved, as itll bring more roleplay and make scenarios more engaging for those involved outside of the before-mentioned cases in maintenance. It'll also make bridge-crew with good communication a lot more desirable. Especially during emergencies.
    Lindhrive likes this.
  19. Faustico

    Faustico Petty Officer First Class

    A simple (in concept, if not in execution) solution would be to add a new antag item that disables all radios in a small radius around them. Call it a radio jammer, make it single use and last a minute or two before it 'burns out' and becomes inert.

    I went back through my game logs for the past week so I could take a look at what'd be missed if common were removed entirely, or even just made less convenient to use, (as it would be if it were relegated to intercom use only) and the main thing is context. We get so much context about what's going on in the round from the common channel because when exploration asks medical for a medic to tag along on their expedition, they're not just talking to medical. Everyone with a headset on, even if they don't really think about it, now knows that an expedition is about to take place and it'll probably be dangerous. So an hour later when a couple of guys in purple void suits are being carted past your window on rollers you have some idea about what's going on.
    This happens dozens of times throughout a round. Someone offhandedly mentioning that they'd kill for a steak provides context for why they were caught breaking into the canteen. Or a researcher asking for volunteers explains why security is storming the department a half hour later. You get the idea.
    Without that context rounds will feel so much more isolated and confusing and I don't think a combination of departmental-telephone and in-person conversations will be enough to make up for the removal of common in that regard.

    So I'm against the removal of common as a radio channel that everyone has easy and immediate access to (though the mental image of a vox merchant trying to go door-to-door through each department to sell their stock almost makes me reconsider).
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
    Vulcenus, Sweedle, Lindhrive and 5 others like this.
  20. lavillastrangiato

    lavillastrangiato Bartender

    I would be against the removal of common as a channel entirely, as the excuse of "you have other avenues of communication" falls a bit flat when said other avenues of communication are generally clunky and annoying to use. Intercoms are okay,
    My more personal, less objectively based gripe is mostly that implementing this would make departments feel... too insular? Weirdly isolated? I'm used to the connections I can have to other departments, and the weird, shitposty conversations that chatting over common can turn into. For me, removing that stream of info would make my experience feel... blander. Also, what Faustico said;
    Sweedle, Blue_Bit and Vulcenus like this.