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In Fallout 3 you can try to hack into computer terminals if you have enough science skill. If you try to hack it you get a list of words and 4 tries to choose the correct password.

(rant)
I noticed that most of these terminals usually contain some trivia and are pretty useless if all you want is to finish your quest. So I typically quick save before hacking then again quickload and try again.

So this time I noticed that I'm doing this repeatedly without any luck. Then while trying to solve it I found that the list of passwords doesn't contain the correct one.

Here, check out this screenshot.

So my question is is this normal or is it a defect? And what is the best strategy to hack terminals?

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2  
A horrible exploit is to exit out immediately before you fail and try again - it'll reset it all, including your attempts. –  Phoshi Mar 1 '11 at 15:14
    
@Phoshi 'horrible exploit' - but really, no more so than savescumming. And if you're willing to do one, well, if the other is slightly more convenient, so go for it. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 1 '11 at 15:24
    
@LessPop; I've always found savescumming to completely defeat the point of having any dice rolls at all - but yes, if you're already the sort of person who can't stand failure in your RPGs, this one is faster to do. –  Phoshi Mar 1 '11 at 15:42
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3 Answers

up vote 55 down vote accepted

All terminals are hackable.

The password for the terminal in the image is either BANNING or SENDING.

"0/7 correct" refers not only to the letters in the password, but their position in the word as well. While some of the letters in CISTERN may be in the actual password, none of them are in the correct position.

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+1: Yep. The 0/7 results are the second best after the 6/7 results, because it narrows the field considerably. –  Satanicpuppy Mar 1 '11 at 14:23
    
Why not BELIEVE? it has 7 letters and is at position 0 –  The Disintegrator Apr 28 '11 at 5:04
2  
BELIEVE is not the password because it has an E at the same position as the E in CISTERN, which as you can see from the image has 0/7 correct letters. –  YellowMegaMan Apr 29 '11 at 0:33
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As already mentioned, all terminals are hackable.

You can click on any matching braces like [ ... ], ( ... ), < ... > on the same line to eliminate one password at random or get of of your tries refilled. The second brace will be highlighted if you mouseover a valid pair.

My strategy is to click on the first password and note the number of corect characters. I will then check each password out sequentially if it could be the correct one. If it could be, I'll try it out. If it was still not the correct one, I'll continue sequentially trough all the passwords, but now comparing each to all of my failed guesses.

The Fallout developers stated at some point that there was no luck necessary to solve those puzzles, it should be possible to hack each terminal on the first try.

Some more detail about how the braces work. If you have matching braces on the same line they will be highlighted if you hover with your cursor over them (shown below). If you click on the, either one of the wrong passwords will be removed or you will get one allowance replenished.

enter image description here

In the screenshot below you see that after clicking on the braces one wrong password was removed.

enter image description here

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@Fabian is the trick of [...], (...) available also in Fallout : New Vegas? –  Drake Mar 1 '11 at 8:28
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@Drake Yes, it also works there –  Mad Scientist Mar 1 '11 at 8:28
    
@Fabian Ahoy mate. Could you explain the braces part a bit more? For example, can you make that out in the picture I attached? –  Mugen Mar 2 '11 at 15:19
    
@Mugen I added some more information about that. –  Mad Scientist Mar 2 '11 at 17:24
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Wow, I had no idea about the brackets! +1 –  Stuart Pegg Mar 2 '11 at 21:25
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As others have mentioned the position of the letters is important as well as the letters themselves.

If you are stuck or can't be bothered figuring it out there are several hacker helper web pages out there that you can just enter the words and it will suggest which passwords are the most likely, for example: http://kennelbound.com/fallout3/

I've never found a terminal I couldn't hack assuming I had a high enough science skill to start hacking it in the first place.

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Interesting to know. –  Mugen Mar 2 '11 at 15:20
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