Troubleshooter Central Control has implemented a new resource integration and management system (RIMS) for which the Troubleshooter team has been selected as test subjects, along with several other teams. The system, a sub-node of a division of a lesser matrix of The Computer, takes all the information about the resources available and the tasks currently requiring attention, from Commie attacks and outer wall breaches through to pedestrian transit hygiene operations and ambient habitat temperature monitoring malfunctions.
Everyone gathers at Control prepared for the shift ahead, then intermittently new jobs come through on the team PDAs. On completion of a task, the team need to log off and awaiting a new job. The system juggles the available teams and the incoming tasks, trying to figure out the most efficient application of resource against mission priorities. Of course, the system isn’t working in sync with the PDAs or Alpha Complex internal clocks, or forgets it has teams available temporarily, or duplicates a team and assigns them too much work, or assigns phantom teams in support of the Troubleshooters in high hazard locations, or assigns the wrong skill templates to the team members resulting in allocation to inappropriate activities, or goes into a short term loop returning the teams, via circuitous route, to repeat the same task claiming ‘ac7ivi7y inc0mpl3te’ on the previous occasion.
The RIMS tries to fit the best teams to the most appropriate tasks, but matters become more complicated when Commies launch an attack on WXV Sector by breaching the north wall. The team find they’re constantly being assigned high priority menial tasks while passing through areas of heavy fire and open combat. Teams assigned to the conflict seek help and assaults by Commies complicate travel, but the RIMS feedback indicates increasing concern over service level failures. The Troubleshooters have to keep to their assigned roster of jobs and keep them all at green status for fear of reprisal. At the same time, they face increasing danger in moving from one location to the next, especially when the conflict with the Commies begins to render direct routes impossible, despite the RIMS persistence that they’re used to maximum travel efficiencies.
What I find funniest about this idea is that it’s based on a true story. A system I worked on around the time of this original posting had been generated by committee, rather than common sense, and the outcome proved to be something close to chaos.
Each person had slightly different ideas about the importance of any given task, meaning that the granularity of the system mechanic became increasingly esoteric. Whereas the original ideal had given point values to activities with wide margins, the constant finagling of interested parties made these smaller and smaller. Once activities differed by mere points, the slightest upset could turn the world on its head.
When problems did arise, the next level of issue would come storming in – human intervention. Whether the troublesome presence of real world antagonists or individuals internal to the system feeling a need to interfere, the delicate balance went out the window.
Then you start throwing in calendar events, appointments, emergencies, civil unrest, bad weather, slow transport, coffee breaks, comfort stops… It seems the chances of introducing a system likely to manage all this without incident would be seeking after a miracle.
All good fun.