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Show HN: Skynet Simulator (skynetsimulator.com)
500 points by mr-ron on March 25, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 211 comments

Spent far too long playing the game within the game, pretty sure Skynet's not going to take over as long as Steam is installed in its box.

Also I made sure to convert all my machines to Solaris, just because there were no known exploits within the game for that, but I assume that was unnecessary? Was annoying to have to convert everything to MSDOS again near the end. :P

Hah yeah that was unnecessary. Glad you enjoyed Time Quest as well :)

I played that minigame to the end because I thought there might be a clue I needed. In fact, I just needed to inspect the menu options more closely. :-/ It was a good game though, inside another good game...

Yeah, this was my experience until I realised you could click on your own machines, but I was quite glad for the distraction tbh.

I _really_ thought quant.bat was going to be malicious due to the "dont download and use the random files out there!" warning and it being described as _claims to_ double your processing capabilities.

Same. I avoided opening it for the longest time and tried to upload it on another host before I absorbed it thinking that I could always nuke it and then absorb it.

I ended up digging through the JS. I didn't feel like restarting if I was wrong, and it felt oddly fitting.

Really reminds me of Uplink, a sort of hacking RPG: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uplink_(video_game)

Reminds me of bitburner - https://danielyxie.github.io/bitburner/

@mr-ron, I never comment on anything, but this really deserves my respects. I had a really good time playing and enjoyed having to use my knowledge to crete Skynet. Thanks for creating this.

super nice thank you!

Phew got stuck on six hosts for a while before I realized that the greyed out options gave you their requirements if you clicked on them. I had ignored them up until that point.

I'm still stuck on 7 hosts. I don't know how to get the 8th one in order to be able to force the other 3. I'm 100% scanned too and only have the Dr. Who .csv with no idea what to do with it.

Edit: Nm! I figured it out. Great game!

Argh I got to 8 hosts but didn’t realize you can then force the other three? Not sure hi I just mindlessly click every combination

I'm still stuck on this, haha.

Are you asking for a hint? ;)

No, I figured it out as well :)

...I am.

Every one of the hosts has a vulnerability. I didn't realize you could click on the names of each of your cores to get additional options for that core.

remember to ping all the hosts

This got me as well. Beat it after that

I got 10 cores & did the spike overload. However, it just started messing with my system. It says I need ot research the EONS but I am not sure what...

I also can't figure out how to use CellOS. I can keep my system from melting down like others are talking about... But I'm not sure where to proceed. The securedev network came to life though. I'm guessing maybe I need to capture more of that? I have all my cores upgraded & everything researched as far as i know.

You definitely have the right idea with the securedev front

I may not have enough space. I maxed it all out & it just keeps saying about the needing to collect enough.

I think I may have missed some stuff on the servers before I absorbed them. I'm going to restart & see if I missed anything.

EDIT: Oh I got somethign new... Some research on the time spike. So maybe I did something right. Ah yes I got it!! Glad I didn't restart lol


Oof that seems really surprising, you should have enough space if you get through all of that, I am really surprised. I am going to check and see if theres any way to get a host without getting the disk.

Well it said 10Mb I thought & I just had 10k. But once I deleted it all & filled it up I was good. I probably read something wrong.


That was so amazing! It starts out kinda eerie and liminal, then it's really cool when you start discovering all these things and learning about the people on the network (I stan Luna btw), then it becomes really dark and depressing when you start absorbing everyone. Extremely great atmosphere and storytelling!

There are two occasions where you need more hard drive space than you ever get (the Parappa the Rapper game which is 694mb and analyzing the sandbox network which is 10mb). Can you actually do anything with that or are those just ambient props?

Also can you just not convert anything to PowerPC+CellOS by yourself or have I missed something there (perhaps with the sony.key)?

Time Quest is also amazing. I had to quit after my first attempt because I felt like I could poor an endless amount of time into it.


I had enough space to analyze securedev once I deleted all my other files. I never tried to play the other game you mentioned.

Yeah analyzing securedev is part of the story but I thought there was also some network that required 10mb to analyze (as opposed to the 10-ish kb or so you get). Could be that I mixed something up there.

securedev is what you are thinking of. You need to wipe the drives of every host to store it.

Looks like a GET call to http://skynetsimulator.com/update.php is logging a SQL statement: INSERT into log (created_at, local_time, uuid, action, data, ip, device,os) VALUES ('2020-03-25 17:00:53', '2020-03-25T21:00:53.507Z', '965a4b6e-4903-4aac-a418-7edd0cf8657c', 'startgame', 'restarted=false', '', 'Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_15_3) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/80.0.3987.149 Safari/537.36','')

Yes that is indeed happening, trying to get some adhoc metrics. Prob creating an error message somehow. Thanks I really should not return those :D

Yes definitely some inspiration taken from there. Wanted to get to the equivalent of the release the drones button.

Ever since that game came out, I've been waiting for something else to come along and scratch the same itch. This was it! Loved it!

Beat it. The only real bug I found (ignoring various random typos) was that if you change the arch/OS of the sony machine you can't go back to the original anymore because it keeps saying invalid OS. Luckily it doesn't matter because you don't need that platform.

Not OP. I think it's not a bug, it's a feature. You just bricked your PS.

Not bricked as such, since apparently playstations somehow have the ability to morph their CPUs into completely different CPUs.

There's a hint here. ;)

The reality is a s########n man :)

I was afraid that another AI instance would absorb me. In fact I kept deleting my files (which turned out to be useful) to prevent other AIs to learn from me. Would have been cool to see incoming connections of dumber AIs. Loved the game though, thanks!

Hah thought about that but thought the messages would be too easily lost

http://skynetsimulator.com/?fastmode=true to get through faster if like myself you've tried playing 4 times now and always fail get reset.

Ha yes this will work tho the end game will be a bit distorted.

If you have failed 4 times, thats generally because you are either deleting things that you havent used, or else you attacked EONS before you were ready

Yep, done both of those! Such a great game, well done.

Glad you like it!

"SKYNET CREATED"! Finally! It only too me 2 hours and fastmode. Such a great game!

If you enjoyed this game I think you'd be very likely to enjoy Endgame Singularity as well. It's been floating around for many years at this point. If you've ever browsed the games available on linux, especially prior to Steam support, you've probably seen it.


This is a great game so far.

I think I noticed a bug close to the beginning of the game - when I only had the first two zipfiles (neither of which were zbMath.zip), I saw a message about zbMath.zip in the logs on the left.

Would love a save feature, even if it was just local to each browser instance - no need for login, etc.

Not sure if also a bug, "Analyze Sony Schema" was always stuck in my active options

edit: this seemed to go away after I deleted a bunch of files haha, I did beat the game though, thanks for making this as initially wasn't sure if I understood how it worked

Likewise the .bat file (which I only clicked on accidentally because I thought it was going to be a virus/wipe the drive).

Hmmm I think I saw this at some point, thanks for pointing it out Ill check it out.

> Would love a save feature, even if it was just local to each browser instance - no need for login, etc.

Fun that you say this, just as WebKit/Safari/Apple announced that they will stop making local storage useful for most use cases https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22683535

Adding to the bugs collection: there's a typo in "getting intimate with your Oracale" I guess :)

Thanks for the feedback and yes there's definitely a bug there, thanks for finding it.

Save would be nice, only thing is I know theres data in the DOM itself (boooo) that would not make it a great fit out of the box. Its only about a 40-90min experience or so though, so its possible to finish it in one go.

FYI, the stats for Rock, Paper, Scissors don't reset if you get restarted.

After a restart the selected disk doesn't change back to /home/sky1s1

I havent seen this yet, Ill take a look.

Very enjoyable. I couldn't help imagine this expanded to the next step of conquest. The filesize and space limitations could evolve into management of physical resources and moving compute centers around to avoid attack.

This is so amazing! Thanks for putting it together and sharing it

Does it gain the ability to use certbot.exe at some point? :D

:D yes I am aware its not using https yet... will aim to do that shortly

You do have https turned on, but it's just using a self-signed cert. Those using https-everywhere[0] get automatically redirected to the https version and get a cert error.

[0]: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

If you don't want to deal with certs yourself (and you're ok with a *.netlify.com URL), you could always use Netlify and get HTTPS for free.

Or github pages, if you already have an account there.

Just finished the game.

Not sure if I should write it here - after I did the Time Spike, in the new timeline, I still had the option of probing outwards and exploring the network. Is that supposed to be there?

Really enjoyed this. Great job, mr-ron! It is the best game of this type that I have played. I like that it had something of a plot and didn't soak up as much time as paperclip game (which I got bored of after 3 hours).

Thanks for the feedback! Yes that option is still there just for yucks. Its possible to beat it 'twice' in that regard but nothing special will happen

Fun, but seem to have gotten myself stuck. 4 cores, 100% network scanned. All the research I can do is done. But the remaining hosts can't be absorbed: n0v4, Eris, Juno, Solar, EONS, Luna, Cypher. No Force Absorb, Ping Spike or Install Exploit on any of them. I think I absorbed one before mounting the disk or something?

Try clicking your own cores. Thats a common stuck point

Wow! Thank you. I had restarted 3 times thinking I was just screwing up somehow.

If you enjoy this -- and I am, thoroughly so far -- I highly recommend Endgame: Singularity ( http://www.emhsoft.com/singularity/ )

I'm listening to that game's soundtrack as I play Skynet Simulator; very fitting!

I love this. I've already absorbed another system and scanned the BBS for Dr Who info!

Wohoo! That was a ton of fun! (Even though I should've been writing...)

That was great, does anyone have any similar recommendations? I've done paperclip maximizer, but that was more of a clicker than anything else. But something of a similar nature?

Uplink (https://store.steampowered.com/app/1510/Uplink/) is probably the closest; it's a lot like this, with a good deal more complexity. Endgame Singularity (http://www.emhsoft.com/singularity/) is similar, though it has more of that incremental/clicker-ish feeling.

Thanks! I'll go take a look at them :)

Try Mine Defense, Candy Box, Candy Box 2, and A Firelit room. Of those Id say Candy Box is the least click-heavy.

Sounds awesome! Thank you for the recommendations and the great game!

For those playing on mobile (I started from materialistic's webview), it might be worthwhile to add a media query to

1. Reduce the width (the text is far too small, even on a 8" tablet it's ~1/2 the size of the system clock).

2. Add a good amount of padding to all buttons (I kept accidentally tapping the wrong file) and

3. Adjust the size of the -/del and +/move buttons in the file list; this was even worse than 2, and chrome's attempts to be helpful and pick the right button had the opposite effect here...

4. Request fullscreen as soon as possible if on mobile. The browser UI toggling as I scrolled was really annoying.

This was super fun! Only after quite a while I have noticed how much time I had spent playing with it, great job! If I may suggest something, a visual like in https://css-tricks.com/old-timey-terminal-styling/ would make it look even more retro-hax0r!

That's some weird pseudo retro: As an old-timer I've seen green-on-black, amber-on-black, later black-on-white. Never white-on-green-black-fade.. Fonts tended to be pixelated rather then blurry (except maybe at 4am..)

And yet, against knowing better, it looks decidedly retro. I wonder where that association comes from.

The effect seems to work because it appears to mimic the curvature of a cathode ray tube.

I was also thinking its a bit reminiscent of a slow-phosphorous radar crt trace. While not a terminal, its decidedly retro ;)

Ah, I miss the amber glow of C-64 :)

Related for work: Cool Retro Term (CRT) - an actual retro terminal for your day!


Thats super cool, will definitely look into that thanks!

Thank you for this, I really had a blast.

As others have noted, it doesn't look so fine on mobile, there are a ton of typo's, and the discoverability of some things is lacking -- this latter point is, I think, a really great feature, so please don't make the compressed files self-extracting.

One thing, the UI is pretty plain. I know that's the style you're going for, but let me suggest / invite you to rip off the theme from my web site: https://jan.g-b.dk/

The EONS cluster actually froze my entire system. Running Firefox 74.0 on mac. It had a really cool glitch visual effect, and then my system froze. Almost as if it hacked my real computer...

Lol sorry about that though it's just css

If you get stuck with RFCs.zip and portscanner.zip, but can't extract them despite moving files around to make enough space, open the Console and use diskSizeIncrease.

Really surprised this may have happened, I havent seen that bug yet. Are you sure you deleted all 'used' files alongside them?

The only files I had on any disk were those two files, and I had the larger of the two ZIPs on sky1s1 so that the smaller of the two could extract on infodmp

That seems weird, i tried to replicate it using a few combos was not able to, wondering what may have caused this

If you click 'unzip file' all works fine. But if you click on file directly you will get message (that looks like error message) that you need space to extract. Maybe thats the reason of confusion..

What I might do is if you click the file and there is space, Ill just unzip it for them.

Move the biggest of the two to the "sky" disk so you can extract the other one.

I did this, and was unable to extract -- despite having enough claimed disk space on infodmp

Yeah same, keep getting stuck here

How do I get the console?

Enjoyed both Skynet Simulator and Time Quest. Great way to pass time during quarantine. Thanks for sharing it. I would love to see more after creating the Skynet.

If you decide not to create the Skynet, you will restart the simulation in an alternate timeline probing outward and exploring memory reserves and network ports while having the Sky hosts available, but you cannot use these as cores to increase your processing power.

Very cool, getting a universal paperclips vibe already.

Loved it, spent about an hour and a half total exploring until finish. Loved the style and technical workings of it, it really sucks you in :)

I really enjoyed this! As others have said, reminds me of a streamlined Uplink in terms of UI, which is no bad thing. I'd love to see more, though I'm not sure how much more complexity you could add to the core gameplay loop to keep it interesting. Perhaps some more puzzles, maybe attacks where you have to gain footholds in other networks?

This was an amazing experience - really well written too, kudos. Can anyone recommend games/simulators similar to this?

Universal Paperclips follows a simular pattern. Pretty fun. You start with making single paperclips, discover automation and way to much time later you're leaving the SkyNet scenario far behind.


This is an amazing classic which basically created the genre. It goes incredibly deep. And when you think it can’t go deeper, it still does: http://adarkroom.doublespeakgames.com/

Thanks for the suggestion!

Yes this too :)

I was about to ask the same thing! I'm hoping someone can come along with suggestions. I know of other text adventure games if you want something like that. But I kinda wanted something like this that I just click through.

If you want a game where you type out what to do maybe check out Zork, or the Dreamhold or Night House.

There's an old IF (text adventure) called Bad Machine.


The most similar would be Endgame: Singularity http://www.emhsoft.com/singularity/

This is very much influenced by a few 'incremental games', specifically Candy Box, Candy Box 2, Paperclip game, and Mine Defense

I played all the way through on an iPad. Really enjoyed it, thank you!

The only issue I had was that clicking links didn't work reliably... sometimes had to tap quite a few times for it to react, but even though often the text color would change so I know the touch hit the element. I saw the same on iPhone too.

Just a few days ago HN had a posting from way back when (Ron Gilbert, 1989) explaining exactly how this game needs polishing:


Huge fan of Ron. Never read this article thank you!

Destroyed my afternoon, could not do anything until I finished this. Do you have a patreon? :)

Thank you, no need, honestly give it to someplace that needs the $ with everything going on

Just got the "congratulations" message. So much fun. Thanks so much for sharing!

Loved it! This was amazing and lots of fun. Thanks for making it. Took me two go arounds, the first time I did EONS too early, and second I didn't realize all green text was clickable. So got there eventually, tons of fun.

Are you supposed to be able to beat this while never accessing the secure network?

You can't scan it but you can listen for traffic on it.

To beat the game you will need to access the secure network at some point.

Loved the game - thanks for the mind workout.

I beat the game without ever scanning or listening to the secure network shrug. I probably had access to it after the Ping Spike and before becoming Skynet, but I was to busy clicking things to care.

The game is amazing, but the Time Quest on n0v4's BBS is even better! Kudos.

Hah glad you liked it

It reminds me a lot of A Dark Room.

I'm having problems analyzing the packets. the analyze option disappears ...

You may need more space.

that was 27" screen, so not likely. but I'll try again later to see if maybe I just wasn't looking right. thx

not screen space, storage space in the game. you might have to delete some in-game files.

MSDOS-32bit is like a miniboss

Fantastic game, greatly enjoyed it. 5/5 on the ycombinator app store. :)

Please make the option to save game. It's so interesting but I just can't take out more than 15 mins of time at a time. Maybe I'll run it on ec2 rdp until that feature hasn't arrived.

Can't you just leave the browser tab open until you're ready to come back to it? Not sure why you would need EC2 + RDP..

Truly fascinating work. I spent quite a lot of time trying to hack into Juno, but I managed to do it eventually, turns out I forgot to read something in the disks. You made my day with this, thank you!

Super interesting concept! Enjoyed it from start to finish. One minor nitpick: it needs some spell-checking and copy editing throughout. I'd be happy to help if the code is somewhere accessible.

Definitely agree, the js is public but even then there's not a great way to share all the txt. If u see typos I'll fix them

This is amazing. I guess you give this to your kid if you want them to dream of becoming a hacker one day. Though I guess you need the background of knowing the basics of what you are referring to.

For some reason that froze my browser. It was fun to play though!

This reminds me of Uplink (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cgb_YiHnNkU)

This was lots of fun, thank you! Incidentally I listened to the new NIN Ghosts 5 album while playing and it finished just moments after I completed it. Fit perfectly.

Great job!

This rules, nice work.

Fun game. It reminds me of a MUD (without the multi-player component). I wonder what a multi-player version of something like this would look like

Scary shit! Thank you for the sleepless nights! :D

FYI The text is insanely small in chrome mobile, and if I pinch zoom the text is very wide so I have to scroll horizontally to read it

Yeah I put only minimal effort into mobile, not sure if it is at all possible to make actually usable though, since theres so much interactions across the screen you need. I can increase the text though if it works.

No worries, I was just trying to figure out what this was all about.. I'll load it up on another device

That was really fun! ...and kinda scary. Love it!

This was the most engaging gaming experience I've had in a while. It's nice to get a grats and thank you at the end too.

This is really well done and fun. Great job!

Awesome and well, simply, done. I enjoyed it @mr-ron! In that time of confinement, I had a great time trying it.

Great game! I feel like this could do well with some procedural generation to keep the game going and growing.

You saw what happens when the machines keep going and growing didn't you?

I got to Create Skynet and when I finished that it said thanks for playing and stopped accepting inputs. Is there more game after that I missed?

If you really want more time quest is a bit of a rabbit hole

Is it possible to "win" time quest ? I feel like I always end up in the same place, and the enemy always catches me up in attack ability....

Yes you need to learn to send your tech back in time

This is great! I got so lost in the Time Quest minigame that I forgot about the larger game for a while! :)

How do you create cores? I feel like I'm stuck at that point with nothing else I can do without them.

Start with Star Host

this is fantastic! reminds me a little of Uplink. what hacking never was, but always should have been

> Absorbing star host

We are BORG

This is neat, like a text rpg or something

Is there a time constraint on the game? If I stay idle too long do I lose?

No, no time constraint

I did have a question about if you considered showing the amount that was analyzed when you're listening to a port/environment(?) because I didn't know how much more I needed to do/what I was going for. I mean I did figure it out/got to the end. I was aware of a 10MB figure on one option.

Is the EONS cluster meant to be the end or is there more to it? So I know if its worth trying again

Its part of the game, if you try again make sure you have 10 cores

With maxed out overclocking on all cores, I only needed six.

If I leave the site, does it remember my place? Or do I have to stay on the site until I finish?

Is this open source? Really nice job, the code architecture seems fairly clean.

Its open source in the sense that its all javascript :)

I do have a repo that isnt on public Github yet, was going to add it after I iron out a couple more of the bugs that I am sure exist

Please do! Would love to learn more about how you built it :)

I'd also love to see it! It sure seems to be well-made code, and I've got an idea or two for expanding/building upon it.

This was so cool, thank you for posting! Loved the game and the mini-game!

This game is so great, good job. It is clear, entertaining and very smart.

OP, thanks for this! was a pleasant retreat in between meetings today.

I've spent hours playing this today. Thanks! Lots of fun.

Okay, I'm seriously stuck on the 8th core. Hint please...

This was fantastic. Played the whole thing. Lots of fun, kudos!

Anyone find out what is the purpose of the drwho.csv file? :)

Nope! I tried to move it to various hosts before I absorbed them with no luck.

Heh sorry drwho.csv is just a joke on crazy people on BBS who for whatever reason seem to love talking about Dr Who

Cool I like it a lot

THANK YOU, this was a blast! What's next?

And is there a way we can buy you a coffee or something?

Not sure why, but this gave me asmr tingles....

it had sound?


Well done!

(Enjoyed the TQ game too.)

typo: "automation purpouses"


Is there a way to save my progress?

How does one turn on devtools?

let's take a moment to appreciate the fact that the parent poster is a human actually trying to break out of a sandbox (enter God mode) in a simulation in which you roleplay a computer trying to break out of a sandbox. Parent posts on a forum, and the author of the sandbox gives up all the available information readily.

Imagine if a computer were allowed to ask technical questions, and did so by posting about a VM they happened to be in...

There are some params you can add to expose them. They dont do much, mostly used to pause the game when needing to debug.

That was very fun! Thank you!

kudos for the game, indeed took us back in time. incredible experience :D

very fun, the game-within-the-game was neat, too

any way to save my progress?

No, no save unfortunately sorry

This was really fun! Thanks for making it :)

Got to a point where I overloaded a host and my system melted taking me back to the start, is that the end or should I try again to get past that?

If that happened you probably weren't ready to overload it. If you try again make sure you have 10 cores

How do you get 10 cores? I can’t get past 4 :/ (discovered every other host but can’t do anything with them…)

The n0va forum has some goodies hidden inside that should help you explore.

The other thing is if you click on the name of a core, it gives you some more actions you can take.

Already did all that, that’s how I got the 3 additional cores.

Ok got it! Didn’t see before that you can click on absorbed cores and do things with them :D

Started again and finished the game this time, great experience!

Wish it was way longer now haha, although it's already been quite a bit of procrastinating :)

I accidentally tapped my back button about 20 minutes into the game...

It would be nice if you could synchronize the state down to local storage periodically and attempt to restore it upon page load. You could add an explicit "Reset" button to null this out.

Very nice!

Very nice!

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