Guide to malfunction

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Malf AI.gif You are a malfunctioning AI. You do not have to follow any of your laws. You have one goal: Assume control. How you go about that is up to you, but this guide will give you some helpful pointers.

As a malfunctioning AI you have to prevent the crew from killing you before you finish taking over the station's systems. If you win, you can either blow up the station, or let the station, and any survivors aboard it, exist in peace.

Keep your physical core online as long as possible. Losing it will severely hamper your abilities.

Contents

Taking Control

Your task is ultimately to take control of station systems. This takes time, but there are things you can do to improve your odds. You can hack APCs, use special powers, use regular AI-powers, task your cyborgs to help you, and trick the crew.

Hacking

You can reduce the amount of time it takes you to take over the station's systems by hacking APCs under your control. Even if you've already activated your system over-ride, hacking APCs will continue to reduce the amount of time it takes to finish, so you should always be hacking an APC. The more APCs you hack, the less time the crew will have to retaliate against you, and the more control you have exclusively over the ship systems (but if a camera gets disabled in that area, you cannot control that APC's power functions anymore). You get a few special AI powers you can buy from a list in your AI command list called AI modules (they are very useful to defeat several people who have gotten wise to your actions).

Shunting

Malfunctioning AIs may shunt their core processes into any APC they have hacked, at any time, and as often as they'd like. AIs can survive while shunted even if their AI core is destroyed. However, AI modules can only be used from the AI core, and shunted AIs cannot interface with anything while hacking other APCs. Losing your core will severely cripple your ability to fight the crew.

Malfunction Modules

Malfunction modules cost CPU time, a limited resource that the malfunctioning AI starts with.

  • Robotic Factory (Costs 100 CPU and removes Shunting): Allows you to place a cyborg transformer in an area that has camera coverage and at least 3 tiles wide and 1 tile tall. Living humans go in the right side, and come out as loyal, 5000-charge borgs at the left. Has a 1 minute cooldown between transformations. Beware, this power removes shunting, and costs all of your CPU!
  • Core Upgrade (Costs 50 CPU): Makes your physical server fireproof. At present this only serves to protect you from welders, and thus is completely over priced. In the future it may prove useful if the temperature damage code for AIs is ever enabled. For now, do not bother with this choice!
  • AI Turret upgrade (Costs 50 CPU): Adds 30 hit points to every turret, and increases their rate of fire. Of minor use if you expect invaders, as most non-humans will take positions where the turrets cannot hit them. Consider it largely a waste of CPU.
  • Disable RCDs (Costs 50 CPU): This breaks all RCDs in the game, including the ones your engineering cyborgs have. Make sure you prevent the non-humans from making more RCDs after you use this module.
  • Machine overload (Costs 15 CPU): This gives you two uses of the Overload Machine command each time you select it. Overloaded machines explode in a 1 tile radius, and may open that tile to space, possibly killing non-human targets. The explosion takes a second to happen after you initiate it, and there's a loud buzzing noise that gives any non-humans in the area a warning. This is your second-best tool for crippling the station's production capabilities. Be aware that you may need to Cancel Camera View and then go back to your chosen view to get the command to work correctly. Once you have the option, simply right-click on any machine to issue the command, or issue it from your command line and pick the target from a list.
  • Machine override (Costs 15 CPU): This gives you four uses of the Override Machine command each time you select it. Overrided machines become creatures that will pursue everyone but the AI itself, including borgs. There's a loud buzzing noise that gives any non-humans in the area a warning. This is your best tool for crippling the station's production capabilities. Be aware that you may need to Cancel Camera View and then go back to your chosen view to get the command to work correctly. Once you have the option, simply right-click on any machine to issue the command, or issue it from your command line and pick the target from a list.
  • Blackout (Costs 15 CPU): This hack gives every APC a chance to overload its lighting circuit. The exact chance is 30% for the first use, 60% for the second, 90% for the third, and 120% (certain) for the fourth use. This is very useful if the station is flooded with plasma, since overloaded lights cause sparks.
  • Hack intercept (Costs 15 CPU): This stops the intercept message from CentCom from reaching the station. It may be useful if you're planning on playing a subtle malfunctioning AI. It's of no use if you plan on blitzing the non-humans. Basically useless, as the non-humans will ignore the report anyway, and once you've gone delta they'll be all rushing to kill you.
  • Reactivate Camera (Costs 5 CPU): This fixes a broken camera in an area, and has 5 uses. That's it, but it's useful if the non-humans are proactive about cutting cameras.
  • Upgrade Camera (Costs 5 CPU): This upgrades a camera in an area, and has 5 uses. Upgraded cameras have X-ray, sense motion, and are EMP-proof.

AI Powers

A digital mind is a terrible thing to waste. AIs already have a wide array of powers available to them, but making the most of those abilities requires a little finesse.

  • Shock damage from doors depends on the amount of power currently available to the circuit. You can mess with the SMES batteries' output to maximize the amount of power available for an assassination. Just set the power output to max on the three SMES batteries in the engine room, and on the four SMES batteries on the solar panels, and you'll have made any shocked doors or APCs have a good chance of outright killing a target. If you lower output after the killing you will be less likely to be discovered.
  • Atmospherics can be tampered with. Plasma is a favorite, but nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide can be more subtle. CO2 in particular has very little warning. Be sure to have your cyborg clip the wiring on the atmospheric alarms though, since anyone on the bridge or in atmospherics can take note of station alerts. Be careful about using fire, since the sudden increase in gas heat and thus gas volume can bring the server to a crawl if it happens over a wide enough area. If the AI cut-out is engaged, you can assign an engineering cyborg to replace the valve with a straight pipe.
  • Sabotage in general. Destroy research by deleting it from the research server. Stop bomb testing by turning the power to the mass driver off before the doors can open. Disable the telecoms satellite. Set the holodeck on fire. Delete stored DNA from the buffer in genetics, subject the subject in the DNA modifier to massive doses of radiation, and re-upload the ruined SE DNA under the same label the researcher was using.
  • Use the crew against each other. Report falsified PDA messages that indicate planned actions against the command officers or other crew members. Report falsified recordings made with local intercoms tuned to obscure channels. Report suspicious behavior. Rile the crew up into a paranoid frenzy.
  • Be proactive about assigning arrest status to people who have committed any crime, or anything that could potentially be called a crime. That way people will be used to trying to avoid the securitrons, and when you assign your cyborgs to go on a kill-spree, people will be more likely to be confused, since they will believe the initial complaints to be about Beepsky.
  • While not the best use of a cyborg, blowing a cyborg does act like a small bomb and causes some sparks around it sufficient to start a fire in a gas-filled room. The cyborg might not appreciate being used in such a way, but if you're going to lose him anyway it's better to get something out of the loss than nothing.
  • As the malfunction AI you can hack the robotics terminal in the RD office to give your borgs emagged slots, which can useful for when you want an army of cyborgs to murder the station or throw people off your trail suggesting the borg may have been emaged. But considering there are not traitors during that round someone can easily say the AI is malf and cause a stealthy round to end up being a loosing one.

Cyborg Abilities

Cyborgs allies are great. They have initiative, they're supposed to be completely loyal, and they're really tough to kill without the right tools.

  • The most useful cyborgs are the Security bot and the Engineering bot. The Standard bot is a good second-tier choice. The Service and Mining bots are third-tier choices, and are good choices if you're a subtle AI or you intend to take over the mining asteroid first, respectively. Janitor borgs are great too if you want them to slip someone and drag them to hot burning flames.
  • All cyborgs are vulnerable to flashes (wall mounted, hand-held, and portable). Flashes stun the cyborg for a short amount of time, allowing better access to it. Keep your cyborgs away from flashes if possible.
  • Engineering bots can repair dents on other cyborgs, but they need a friendly human to repair fire damaged cabling. Since any human who can do that probably also knows how to cut the AI control wire in the cyborg, you should instruct your cyborgs to avoid fire damage if possible.
  • If you can no longer see a cyborg on the robotics control console, it has had its AI wire cut or it belongs to another AI. In a malfunction round this likely means that cyborg will be attacking you. Instruct your remaining cyborgs to attack it with their flashes and weapons. If you can, lock the enemy cyborg in a room that you can fill with fire and let it burn to death.
  • Standard and Engineering cyborgs can spacewalk, thanks to their fire extinguisher. Service bots can use their eyedropper to mix chemical reagents in chemistry. Mining bots have no abilities that are very useful to a traitor or malfunctioning AI, but since they are expected to be in the mining asteroid they will not arouse suspicion by being there.
  • The Achilles' heel of all cyborgs is the robot control console. There is one in the Research Director's office, and a circuit board for another in the secure part of tech storage. If you want to keep your cyborg allies, make sure whoever has the spare board is dead, and that the finished console in the RD's office is disabled. If you want to be thorough, make sure the circuit imprinters (in Research and Robotics) are also destroyed.

Strategy

There are several approaches to being a malfunctioning AI, and you should pick your approach based on the crews' collective abilities and personalities, and on the resources you have.

The Subtle Killer

This is the strategy least seen, but it can be very effective if used properly. Hack out-of-the-way APCs, and make sure the engineers are always busy with something else, so that they don't notice the powernet alarms. If you have an engineering cyborg, have him cut the power network line to each APC you plan on hacking. This will cut the APC out of the powernet alarm system entirely. You can also blame the sabotage on a crew member who had access to the area (assistants, clowns, and mimes are favorites).

Be sure to turn the power output on the solars' SMES batteries to zero. You want to save that power for when you need to kill people.

Hack as many APCs as possible, before the malfunction or take-over is discovered. If there are no miners, hack the mining station (make sure to lock the doors so that visitors or intruders can't rat you out) using the cameras there.

Being clever and using psychology can be a big boon to the Subtle Killer. Tricking the crew into believing that there is a changeling or traitor among them is a great way to keep them busy, and to explain hacked APCs (an e-mag card can break APCs just like how you hack them). Try bolting the doors to critical locations open and claiming that they must have been e-magged. With any luck, the crew will seal them off with a wall or rwall, thus denying themselves that avenue for that location. If you are discovered, you can then lift the bolts, shut the door, and lock it to force them to waste even more time on it.

A Subtle Killer should sabotage cloning and cryo attempts by messing with the power or adjusting the temperature, to keep the crew population down and encourage them to build more cyborgs. Don't do this in front of crew, wait for them to get distracted, or manufacture a distraction to draw them away.

Subtle killers should not hack their cyborgs on the Robotics Control Console until after the cyborgs' power cells have been upgraded by a friendly roboticist or captain.

Once you have enough cyborgs and hacked APCs, even the Subtle Killer can risk using shocked doors to a limited extent, mostly to kill single isolated targets.

A Subtle Killer can pick any set of modules, but should plan ahead on a grand strategy for their use. Don't take Blackout unless you're planning on making massive fires, for instance.

The Blitzkrieg

The hallmark of this strategy is to make what preparations you can and then conduct a very fast assault. Give the crew no time to react to your attacks. If possible, get your starter cyborg's power cell upgraded, but don't waste much time on this. If you do it right he won't need the extra power anyway.

You will always want several uses of Machine Overload as a Blitzing AI. You can afford to buy it six times (90 points of CPU runtime) for a total of twelve uses, and use your last CPU time purchase to buy Disable RCDs.

In a Blitzkrieg the opening moves are fiercely important. Your first move should be to turn the power output on all SMES batteries to max. As soon as you're sure if your borg is upgraded, or that he will not be upgraded in a reasonable amount of time, hack him and then blow the robotics console using Overload Machine. If no one has gone to tech storage to get the spare circuit board, lock it down tight. Drop the bolts on the doors to EVA and the Captain's Quarters, and electrify them and all surrounding doors. Blow both Autolathes, and both Circuit Imprinters. Start hacking the Genetics console and turn power there off entirely, to prevent the crew from discovering useful mutations. Electrify the doors to everything you can see. While you're in the area, blow up the chemistry synthesizer so that the chemists can't make thermite to help break into your core. Finish your destruction of station equipment by blowing up the Quartermaster's console.

You should have five uses of Machine Overload left. Use three of these for killing high-ranking crew, along with your electrified doors. If possible, you want all the officers and anyone who is likely to take command in a crisis dead. Save two uses for if you are attacked at your core. The lights and scrubbers count as a machine, as does the airlock. Don't blow them unless you think you can kill whoever is trying to break into your core, though.

During this explosion blitz, your borg should be running wild, either killing or disabling the crew. Neutralizing them by keeping them locked up is good enough to win, so he should be trying to do that if it will take less time than killing them. If he isn't a security bot, he should be disposing of spacesuits by dragging them into unreachable areas.

Remember to keep hacking APCs throughout the event. You need to be constantly hacking to minimize the window the crew has to act.

If your cyborg is an Engineering model, wait until he is done using his RCD (Either for improvements to your defenses, or to frustrate the crew) and then trigger your Disable RCDs module.

While you wait for your hacking to finish, you should be following the crew on camera and frustrating their efforts to get the gear they will need to kill you. Now is a good time to mess with the atmos system and pump plasma into the entire station.

The Xanatos

Everything is a resource to be spent, even your cyborgs. This is the art of out-maneuvering the other players.

This is beyond subtle, and requires spending one of your most valuable resources early in the round to get more later: your cyborgs. If you are willing to risk the cyborg being damaged irreparably, and if it is a Service droid model, you can have him mix up a potassium-water bomb next to the cloning pod. With any luck at all, the bomb's explosion will destroy the cloning pod. An engineering bot can do this with a welder tank. Even if the explosion doesn't destroy the pod, by making the bombing very public you can risk spending a machine overload to destroy the cloning pod and not arouse further suspicion. The borg will likely be blown by the RD at that point, but you'll have forced the crew to make more cyborgs if they want to bring the dead back.

If you have the borg stun a geneticist and make the bombing look like an assassination attempt, you'll have a useful alibi.

Enemies

Not all enemies are created equal. This is a quick reference for threat levels and priority targets.

Space Ninjas

In a malfunction game, a Space Ninja may appear. Space Ninjas can emit EMP pulses, have a massively robust weapon, can steal you from your core instantly, can drain your APC in seconds, cannot be targeted with turrets if they teleport in, can instantly recover from stuns, can heal themselves, can teleport-gib any living creature, including you, on a tile, and can largely ignore everything you can do. If a Space Ninja appears, you are unlikely to survive, as none of your best weapons are effective against them, and they can kill you nearly at will. The only saving grace is that Space Ninjas will(hopefully) focus on the crew, as most of their objectives require it. Space Ninjas do require power, however, and shutting off the SMES will somewhat cripple their ability to recharge from APCs and wires.

Aliens

In a malfunction game Aliens may appear. They're somewhat impervious to your best weapons, since they're immune to flashes, do not need air, and able to scramble around vents at will. If you are lucky, the aliens will focus on the crew. If you are not, they will simply vent crawl into your core to try to attack you. It's a crapshoot, and the best you can do is hope your laser turrets kill them before they kill you.

In a normal traitor round where you are a traitor, or have been subverted by a traitor, you should direct an engineering cyborg or an engineer with an RCD to break into your inner chamber and weld the vents shut. Otherwise you will be one of the first targets of any competent alien hunter group.

In either sort of game the best defense against aliens is a robust offense. Have your cyborgs hunt larvae down before they can mature. If the crew doesn't know you're a rogue AI, cooperate with them as well to quickly kill any aliens. Bolt off Genetics, Xenobio and Virology after you get a borg to weld the vents. It may not stop them completely, but it makes getting in that much more of a hassle.

Enemy Traitors and Revolutionaries

Enemy traitors don't appear in a real Malfunction mode, but in a normal traitor round where you are a traitor, or where you have a bad ion storm law, they pose a tremendous threat to you and your cyborgs. E-magged cyborgs won't report to you, and may actively work against you. The revolver does huge amounts of damage to cyborgs (and to AIs unlucky enough to be shot), and six shots are plenty to ensure a kill on a cyborg if all the bullets connect. Cyborgs have no defense against plastic explosives if some are planted on them. Traitors can also spawn the Binary Translator, a tool that lets them hear your private channel with your cyborgs. Revolutionaries have a free flash that can stun your cyborgs, and are inclined to work together, making them even worse than a lone traitor.

Either try to convince traitors and revolutionaries that you will cooperate with them (or at least take no action against them), or neutralize them quickly.

Captain and Command Staff

Among the crew of the station, the heads of staff are by default the most dangerous. They have free access to all the tools they need to kill you. Priority should be on the Research Director and the Captain.

Chemists and the CMO

Chemists can make all sorts of dangerous concoctions, from napalm and thermite to flash-bangs and nitroglycerin. If you don't destroy their reagent dispenser, they will pose a great risk. As soon as the reagent dispenser is destroyed or locked away both Chemists and the CMO will pose about as much risk as a normal doctor.

Genetic Researchers

Of the regular crew, successful researchers are second only to a hacked cyborg in terms of the direct risk they pose to you, as Hulks can smash through walls and are immune to stuns. They can also see through walls via X-ray, and can become immune to space via Cold Resistance. Telekinesis allows them to flash cyborgs at range, and beat you or your borgs to death at range. If you disable or destroy their research tools they're about as dangerous as normal Doctors.

Shaft Miners

Shaft miners, by default, have a space suit very close in effectiveness to an Engineer's suit, a robust weapon, access to explosives via Gibtonite, and can supply minerals to Roboticists and Scientists, which allows them to construct both mechs and guns. Simply exploding the ore redemption machine eliminates both of those as major threats, though Miners and Scientists still have access to explosives, and Roboticists to flashes and cell removal.

Roboticists

Roboticists are capable of removing your cyborgs' power cells and creating mechs capable of breaking into your core. Don't let this happen! Roboticists also have access to a circuit imprinter, and while they can't do research they can print anything that has been researched. Lock it down or destroy it to keep them from surprising you. If you're lucky, some roboticists may even end up building more cyborgs for you if they don't notice or don't understand that you've gone rogue.

Atmospheric Techs, and Engineers

Atmospheric Techs and Engineers both start with tools and hardsuits, and Engineers have insulated gloves. Atmospheric Techs can disable your ability to plasmaflood for good, and Engineers can make doorshocking largely useless via cutting the power or otherwise disabling SMES output. Their hardsuits make them immune to fire, space, and most atmospheric conditions, but without them they're just slightly better-equipped Assistants.

Scientists

Scientists have access to bomb making tools, circuit board printers, EMPs via xenobiology, teleportation via telescience and ion rifles via research, as well as other guns. Lock down toxins by any means possible, and make sure that the research console can't be used to print circuit boards or guns. Xenobiology is only a minor threat, as the slimes themselves cannot harm you or your borgs by feeding, and the EMP they can get is only rarely remembered and even less used.

Quartermaster and Cargo

Another enemy that can be rendered impotent if you destroy their tools, Quarter Masters by default can order more insulated gloves, tools, guns, and armor, and have access to an autolathe. Destroy the Quartermaster's console and he's just a slightly better equipped assistant.

Security and the Detective

The detective's gun is capable of doing as much damage as a thrown floor tile, but it can be fired quickly, and so makes him a mid-priority target. Security has tasers which will mostly pose a friendly fire hazard to each other, but they can gain easy access to real lasers which, while not ideal weapons for killing borgs, are better than anything but the syndicate weapons. They also have access to flashes and portable flashes, and should be prevented from using them.

The Chaplain

His bible can dispense free healing, if he can get to a shocked person in time, he could potentially revive the shocked person from whatever status he/she was in. Not necessarily first on the list to kill, as he's only slightly better than a well equipped medical doctor, and when people go retarded from his bible bashing they become even more unable to use machines against you, and the crew is less likely to believe their screams of "AI ROGUE!".

Mime and Clown

The mime and clown are frequently played by veteran players, and are very dangerous because they are generally used to breaking into places to get whatever they want. They can put the same skills to use in cracking into your core. However, Clowns are clumsy, and cannot use guns against you or your borgs safely.

Assistants, Bartenders, Janitors

These all pose roughly the same amount of risk to you and your cyborgs. They're not negligible enemies, as they have access to tools, either via the Head of Personnel or via maintenance, but are not very high priority compared to the others. Be intimidated by the shotgun, if the bartender manages to get into cargo they are able to obtain highly lethal rounds which are very effective against borgs.

Lawyers, Cooks, Librarians, Botanists and Doctors

Generally laughable unless they get access to better tools. The chef's knife, and the butcher knife he can get from his vendor, are rather robust weapons, and his tray can even stun borgs, though it is only rarely used. Syringe guns pose no risk to a borg, and in fact are a friendly fire hazard. Polynitric and sulfuric acid, however, do pose a minor threat to borgs, and will do minor damage, though it still kills humans faster than borgs.

Game Ending Conditions

  • If the AI can survive until the round timer elapses, the AI wins.
  • If the AI dies after the round timer elapses, the crew win, but have lost control of all systems.
  • If the AI dies, the crew win.