Getting Started With Hacking

This guide isn't the whole story about hacking, but it'll tell you what you need to know to get up and running. Keep at it and you'll be breaking into secure systems and downloading highly-sensitive data.

But first, the basics. You'll need a computer and some programs for it to run.

Getting a Computer

If you've got credits to burn and just want to get hacking right now, you can buy an OmniTech learntop at the University Bookstore. It doesn't get any more entry-level than this, but it's (just barely) better than nothing.

It's cheaper to make your own computer, and the end product will be better. You'll need to read CS110 at least once to find out about the Open Computer Lab. Stop by the Computer Lab Coffee Machine and you'll be able to buy a PDA chassis. Browse the top shelf of the Neglected Bookshelf and you'll learn recipes for what to put in it. If you're having trouble getting enough Memory, you might also want to look into making an expanded handheld.

If cheaper is nice but what you really want is free, you can get a student PDA by doing the Problems on the Docks quest if you talk to the right guy when you're starting it.

When it comes time for a hardware upgrade, you don't have to look farther than your own inventory. If you've been playing for more than a couple of days, you probably have an encrypted PDA lying around. Right now it's a fancy brick, but if Dr. Amundsen is alive or you have been chosen to receive her legacy, you can eventually get the Dr. Amundsen's Key quest. You'll need to do some hacking to get it, but the reward is a PDA that's probably a lot better than what you used to get it.

OK, cool, so now what about programs?


Types of Functions

Novos crafting is modular- there are four kinds of function. Command, Offense, View and Defense.

  • Offense is mostly for destroying passive barriers and hostile programs, although it can also be sometimes be used to assist with cracking open certain goodies.
  • Command is mostly for activating a program's intended function or helping get goodies, but can also assist with combat. It's hard to define its general purpose.
  • View either gives you some background information about a particular program (generally not helpful, since you can look up the View results on the wiki), or helps you search for goodies. (helpful)
  • Defense obviously defends against hostile program's active attacks, (although Hardening will do that too), and has a few other uses that you can use on things.

You almost always need a decent mix of offense, command and view to do anything at all, and each function can have totally different effects on different programs, depending on the order you use them in and how much Code Finesse you have on you.

Defense, while optional, can also be helpful for niche purposes, but you can easily rely on Hardening to soak up most attacks, so you can usually forget about bringing defense functions unless you have a specific use for Defense functions.

Basic Programs

Novos is modular. Everything useful is crafted off of four basic programs. We'll call them level 0 programs for now, even though they are technically data and can't be used in combat.

The level 0 programs are Crash Script (Offense), Command script (Command), filtering script (Defense) and search script (View).

You have to craft either these level 0s or their derivatives via normal Coding to make useable Novos programs. To actually get the level 0 programs in the first place though, you need to either find them whole from in-game sources, buy them on omnimall or craft them out of "code snippets" if you have a certain skill.

Combining a level 0 program with a "networking functions" piece of data in the Coding menu will yield a level 1 program. These programs are the weakest usable ones but will suffice for basic Computer Lab hacking.

Level 1 programs are the remote crash script, remote command script, network defender and remote indexer.

Keep in mind these programs are not entirely specialized. Each active program gives you one of 6 possible functions any time you "reconnect" (refresh your Novos deck)- and usually only 4 of them are related to the name of the program (i.e. a remote crash script will actually have 4 out of 6 functions being offense), the other two being another kind of function. So, Novos is considerably more luck-of-the-draw than other things.

Advanced Programs

There are several slightly more powerful programs that I call "level 2", created in various ways (often crafted using level 0 programs, not level 1 programs). You can find out how to get each component, and the details of how they work, by looking them up on this wiki.

As of the time of writing this, there are four flavors of level 2 program, each with different offense/command/defense/view variants.

  • Fractal code + level 1 program = fractal <x> script. Fractal functions have a lot of versatility and power when doing anything that requires only 1 kind of function (command, view, search), but are not as useful if you need to use 2 different kinds of functions at once. Also, to get the most out of fractal scripts, you must use them together. Bringing just 1 fractal function in your set isn't going to do much.
  • Spectrum transmission functions + level 0 program (except filter) = spectrum <x> script. Spectrum functions are powerful for getting what you need fast, but are also noisy as hell unless you have a good amount of code finesse (I recommend at least 7, up to 10). Having high code finesse will reduce *1* spectrum function per batch to 1 unsubtle instead of 2, so try not to use 2 spectrum attacks together in the same batch if you can help it.
  • Secured Transmission functions + level 0 program (except crash) = secured <x> script. Secured scripts give a small amount of hardening (not much), and basically have all Defense-based programs. Note the lack of a crash script, so you will have to bring a non-secured script for knocking over stuff. I haven't experimented with these much, but secured command scripts are good for killing off Guardian routines.
  • Novos Functionality Updates or Novos System Updates + level 1 program = experimental <x> script. Experimental scripts are similar to fractal scripts in that they can pack a lot of power into a single batch with minimal alert. I haven't used any of these so far, but these are the hardest to get ahold of and can consume 3 memory instead of 2, and so are less popular than the fractal scripts.

You can also create "template" or "interface" programs out of networking functions + fractal code or networking functions + system/functionality updates. These are unspecialized, general-use programs- weaker than regular scripts, but they also use 1 memory. In the case of the fractal interface, I recommend turning it into a fractal template and using it with a lot of other fractal scripts.

Actual Hacking

Basic terms-

Unsubtle- A measure of an action's noisiness in the game. When you use a batch of functions on a routine, it generates Alert. The amount of alert generated is based on two things. 1) The amount of unsubtle listed in the function's descriptions (added together for a batch with multiple functions), and 2) the program's response to said thing.

I believe these two values are added together to determine how much alert you rack up, then incognito has a chance of reducing it further. So the formula is:

Sum of Unsubtle from actions + Unsubtle from the Routine's Response - (possible) Incognito Bonus = Alert. The minimum Alert for any action or reconnecting is always one point of Alert, and that is when you get the message "it's impossible to completely hide your tracks, but you get close."

The leftmost sidebar (the one with your player name on it) can tell you how much Alert you have on the current site. Anyways, unsubtle is bad- the less the better, but it's not the end of the world if you end up with a lot.

Code finesse- A lot of things in Novos check for code finesse and will fail unless you have a certain amount. Have at least 10 if you can help it. It also helps you to get more use out of Spectrum-type scripts.

Incognito- may reduce alert gained from a batch by a certain %. Obviously incognito is really nice to have, but using good tactics and making sound judgement calls is more important than racking up incognito.

Hardening- hardening, for the most part, soaks attacks from actively attacking hostile programs, preventing you from being kicked off directly. You should have at least 5 hardening whenever you're hacking, except in the Metroplex U Novos test server, since that site lacks attack routines.


There are four categories of routines (enemy programs) you will face. Look up each routine on the wiki to see how best to deal with it. These are just general guidelines.

Barriers- passively defending routines-password locks, guardians. They are blocking the way to your goodies, and killing or tricking your way past them will spawn the goodie programs. The more advanced ones can also report Offense like watchers, or block functions/counterattack like attackers, so be on your guard.

Goodies (AKA File Systems)- basically anything- libraries, data vaults, crosslinks, etc- that holds rewards that you are trying to get to. They usually will increase alert considerably once you grab some goodies from them, but generally it's a good thing if they show up.

Keep in mind some routines also can give data if you kill them in a certain way (often by using Offense + View)

Watchers- Routines that increase alert, usually summoned once the alert reaches a moderate value (about 5-10). Fast. Midgard hounds, any kind of "eye". They are priority kills, and hitting them with a required amount of offense is key to staying in the system.

Attackers- Routines that either block functions in the batch you are trying to use or try to attack you directly to kick you off (if you have 0 hardening and no defense in your latest batch, you are disconnected, regardless of Alert). They are usually summoned when the alert reaches a high-ish value (15-20). Some of them can also report attacks like watchers, increasing Alert, and those have to be taken care of ASAP, but most can be safely ignored until Alert kicks you off instead, provided you have sufficient hardening (which you should!).

Also note that some routines take a certain amount of code finesse to take down. And some can be killed quietly if you use certain tactics. (for example, command + defense, in that order, vs Guardians). Just don't overkill anything- using more functions than you have to racks up a lot of alert. Keep in mind that there is usually an optimal batch you can use, if possible, to safely take a routine out of the picture.

How Tos

Getting programs

You can also skip this if you have enough money/friends to straight up buy/get gifted the advanced novos programs or their major components.

The basic programs are cheap enough on Omnimall- a buy order of 200 each for level 1 programs will suffice, and you only need the command, crash and view to get you started. You want a handcrafted PDA running at least remote command script, a remote crash script and a remote search script, ideally, then back then up with a network scan, defensive jammer and daily tester. Use your normal hacking equipment and a blazing PDA. Make sure you have enough memory to run everything, if not, put on some more Memory gear.

There are pre-made in-game programs, though. You can buy a Midgard Protection Suite 2.0 from the bookstore, or buy level 0 programs from the coffee machine guy, but if you're going to drop that kind of cred, might as well buy a *good* hacking program from omnimall.

Now, you want to code up to level 1 programs from scratch, you masochist you, here's what you do.

Search constantly in the Metroplex U computer lab. Look for code on paper in the bookshelves, when you get the chance, hack the computer lab Novos Test server. you're going to have a shitty "default novos die" if you have a free point of processor, but just press on. You're going to have to reconnect constantly, but you want to use an offense function on the password lock to kill it, then use the "view" function on the library as many times as possible. Command can be used on Evans's schedule and the coffee, but those go away after you toggle them. Once a day, I think, you can also use Command on the test library to get some free stuff. Don't worry about the connection records until later.

You will sometimes gain level 0 programs, networking functions and "code snippets" when you View the test server library. Be patient, this will take a lot of failed attempts. (Optionally, if you View the test server library enough, you will get a skill called handscripting. This lets you create level 0 programs out of code snippets and vice versa, as well as compile/decompile types of data once you unlock them).

But basically, you're looking for the level 0 programs and the networking functions. You can pretty much craft your starter level 1 programs once you have 1) the Simple Coding skill, 2) 3 networking functions and 3) the level 0 crash/command/search programs (remember, defense is optional). Enjoy!


The way hacking works now is called Novos because it replaced the game's original hacking system, now called Oldos. Computers and other hacking-related equipment largely remained the same, but Oldos programs were completely replaced by a new set. Oldos programs, and even the components to make them, are no longer available, but some players who have been around for a while still have stockpiles of them (and might offer them for sale in the Omnimall). While Oldos programs will still run, the "tools" they give no longer work. However, some of them also give bonuses to Code Finesse, Incognito, or Hardening when installed and those bonuses still apply. So while you aren't going to get far with last-generation software, some Oldos programs like the Defensive Jammer (hardening + incognito), Daily Tester (incognito and CF) and Network Scan (lots of CF) programs are still useful as passive support. While they can be nice to have, you can do everything you need to do with the resources Novos offers and still pick up points for style.

Getting Equipment/Other Items

There are two novos-specific pieces of equipment so far. Most other good Oldos hacking equipment, as mentioned before, will do just fine. But the two novos-specific ones are the antique control gloves and the coat of strange circuitry. Both are recommended to get, if you can. The coat of circuitry is an unearthly item and takes a fair amount of effort to make useful for Novos (I'll let its wiki page speak for itself), so it's not as Novos-noob-friendly, but the antique control gloves are easy and worth it.

The antique control gloves are gained when you talk to the Computer Lab Coffee Machine guy about hacking and then get him to talk about his tagging contest. Then, get ahold of blog sites, either via juryrigged antenna or the Test Server connection records. Use 2 command on the post archives as much as you can. After about 8-ish, you will get mailed the antique control gloves. Voila.

The gloves basically are a weapon that give you a free novos die. They are quite good.

Juryrigged antenna is a great way to get sites. For merely combining one thick cabling with one signal analysis circuit, you get a whole 50 energy of a chance to get Novos sites in certain areas on the Metroplex U campus. Check out the item page for details.

Have fun.

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