Tau Station Player's Guide

Unofficial player's guide to Tau Station

Tales of the Auld Ones

Once upon a time, in a space station far, far away…

This page is meant to collect some stories from the early days of Tau Station.

Told by moritz

Shadow’s Tungsten Clava

(recounted from moritz’s memory, so possibly inaccurate).

In the days of the closed alpha testing (and before the Public Market or CORETECHS storage management existed), ser Shadow told us in the chat that he accidentally sold a Tungsten Clava that he was supposed to deliver for his current Discreet Work.

He tried to obtain another copy through scavenging the ruins, but without any luck. Unwilling to abandon the Discreet Work and to disappoint his employers, he asked the community for help.

So the other players reading the chat rushed to their storage lockers to see if they had any Tungsten Clavas left; several thought they had, but were unsure about which stations they were on (and this was before private ships or Quantum Telephoresis as well, so travel was slooow), and ser Perleone was the first one to locate one and send to ser Shadow.

THe non-existence of the Public Market meant that ser Shadow could not send ser Perleone any money, and unwilling to easily accept a gift, our dear Shadow had to wait some days until he got his hands on another Tungsten Clava to send back to Perleone.

For maybe half a cycle afterwards, players pasted notable occurrences of Tungsten Clavas into the chat, for example when obtaining two in a single discreet work (stealing one, and being awarded one).

The XSS Bug That Stole Your Weapon

(recounted from moritz’s memory, so possibly inaccurate).

It must have been in February or March of 2018 that ser Perleone found a Cross-Site Scripting bug in Tau Station, which is a fancy of saying that in the player’s blog, you could include Javascript links, and run them in the player’s browser who clicked on that link.

Instead of a simple demonstration that opened an alert box (the standard proof of concept for such things), Perleone decided that a more fancy task needed to be accomplished. So he created javascript that made you (all hidden in an iframe) go to the Shipping Bay, unequip your primary weapon, and send it ser Perleone (which implied adding him to your friends list first).

This PoC was then presented to ser Ovid during an in-person meeting between Perleone and Ovid at the 2018 German Perl Conference in Gummersbach near Köln.

The Bug was fixed a few days later.

Gold Rush

(recounted from moritz’s memory, so the timeline might be slightly off).

‘twas the Ides of October 2019 when a game update introduced variable station economies, which (among other things) affects item prices at NPC vendors – both for buying and selling items.

Some players started to notice that previously pretty worthless items, like stims, suddenly achieved quite the high prices when sold to NPC vendors.

Several test transactions were conducted by TAU and TTU syndicate members, involving somewhat light items (to avoid high shipping costs) being purchased on one station, sent to another player on another station, and being sold there for a considerable profit.

It was evening, and it was morning, the second day.

Your humble narrator, ser moritz, was at Barnard’s Star, and sent all his tier 3 stims from previous salvaging, discreet work and look-for-trouble to ser Brovnik over at Spirit of New York City in the YZ Ceti system, who sold them for a considerable profit (in the lower single-digit million credits range), which after subtracting shipping costs, was amicably shared between the two partners involved in the transaction.

It was evening, and it was morning, the third day.

The station economies continued to go into extremes, and some enterprising merchants noticed that huge price gradients were present even within systems.

Enterprising souls, including your humble narrator, went to a low-economy stations in YZ Ceti (it might have been CVS or ASI), bought stacks of stims there (because they have the highest price-to-mass density), traveled to SoNYC and sold them there. Traveling to SoNYC was really expensive by public shuttle, on the order of 20k credits for a local shuttle ticket, but that was worth it.

A bug report alerted staff of the potential unintended consequences of the update.

Ser firefu contributed a userscript that added a “buy stack” and “sell stack” buttons to the NPC vendor and inventory UI, and was awarded several million credits by other TAU and TTU members for this contribution to sanity and preventing RSI.

It is said that some players made between 5 and 20 million credits that third day.

It was evening, and it was morning. The fourth day.

After midnight rolled around in the Europe/Berlin time zone, the gold rush was over. Station economy factors are now limited in a way that prevents people from buying items on a low-economy station, and selling them for profit on a high-economy station.

It was evening, and it was morning. The fifth day.

Economy factors are wild again, it seems the limiting of economy factors either was beset by bugs, or not properly deployed to production. Whatever it was, Gold Rush was back for another day.

Staff was informed, and the sentiment ranged from “go for it, one last day of easy profits!” to a weary “more clicking? What do we need credits for, anyway?”.

It was evening, and it was morning. The sixth day.

Gold Rush was officially and permanently over. Let’s call it lead morning.

It was evening, and it was morning. The seventh day.

Staff rested.

Told by Xierumeng

This is not in-character.

Gather ‘round children, papa Xierumeng has war stories to tell. You may have heard of my game-breaking achievements. Here some of them.

Buying a public shuttle for a single credit

When privately owned ships became available, I was very excited. However, back then, I was also a new player and relatively poor, so all I could do at the shipyard was look at the ships. It was during the tenspan of 199.50 that I noticed ship purchases are done through a URL e.g. https://taustation.space/area/shipyard/buy_ship/private-shuttle

Seeing this, I decided to try an experiment. I replaced the private shuttle part with various other ship names such as the planned trading ships and public shuttle, as well as random combat ship names such as “cruiser”, “battleship”, “dreadnaught”, etc.

Although I could still not afford the trading ships, the public shuttle only cost a single credit. I put in a name, clicked “Submit”, and to my surprise it actually went through. I took it on a test run before submitting a bug report. Sadly, I could not keep the public shuttle, but staff were kind enough to convert it to a private shuttle and let me keep it for the single credit. The bug has since been patched.

In-character blog post: https://taustation.space/coretechs/blog/xierumeng/entry/200-90-08-534-the-party-bus.

Confined while repairing an item

Back when syndicate campaigns were relatively new, I noticed that it was possible to attack opponents even though I was still repairing an item. The path was obvious: ATTACK! I then was immediately brigged, but since the repair was still ongoing, I was confined and repairing an item. Interestingly, I could not bribe the guards or do any other actions while the repair was ongoing, but the repair could be cancelled and so I got out relatively quickly. The bug has since been patched.

Deported without fuel

Ah, deportation, my old friend. When deported while on a ship, your ship is automatically sent to the nearest(?) Consortium station, as though you have clicked on the “Fly There” button yourself. So in the tenspan of 199.80, I thought to myself: “What if I don’t have any fuel left to actually travel to any of the stations in the system?”.

I had a Gaule Visa that would expire in a few days, so that task was already done. My next task was to carefully make trips in my private shuttle to arrive at NL with an empty fuel tank. Needless to say, this was rather tedious and nerve-wracking.

Why the private shuttle? Well, the Razorback has a large fuel tank, so draining it would take a lot longer. Plus, this is pre-economy, so if I was out of fuel on NL, the unit price of fuel there was many times more expensive than TAU, and so multiplying that by the Razorback’s fuel tank would result in a fuel bill of several million credits.

I waited in my ship, watching the countdown. When it hit 0, the game freaked out. I couldn’t access anything, including the bug report button, nor the information button to send emails to staff. I had to ask another player to send me that contact information so I could contact staff to fix my predicament.

I do not believe the bug has been patched. The “fix” was an extension of my Visa by 100 segments. In-character blog post: https://taustation.space/coretechs/blog/xierumeng/entry/199-83-83-793-deported

Unlimited credits exploit

It was the tenspan of 205.50 and I was bored. So why not test all of the number inputs in the game? This is how I discovered that if you put in a decimal number on the number of bonds you want to convert, it converts 0 bonds. While that by itself may not be interesting, what makes it very interesting is that it still dumped out the credits. So I pulled the lever a few times and made a million credits before contacting StarGazer directly. The bug has since been patched.

Conclusion

You may wonder: “How does Xierumeng find these bugs?” I say it’s two things: find an input field and try to break it, and find a bizarre combination of circumstances that would almost never occur normally. For the input field, it doesn’t have to be inside the game’s UI. The URL is an input field! The game’s scripts as also one (although I’m not very familiar with the language).

As the game matures, it’s becoming harder and harder to find any more huge bugs, which is less fun, but is probably a good thing.

Happy Hunting!

Xierumeng