Thursday, 6 June 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - For the Good of the Country

Tricky Journal Entry 6: "Nothing much happened today. In fact, I'm a bit depressed. I even tried using the Psychologist service I heard about, but it really wasn't very helpful. I then thought I'd cheer myself up by doing a good deed for the community. You know, some volunteer work down at Hitachi Biotech. The crazy woman took my bloody lungs, and only gave me $3000 in return! Finally, as if all of that wasn't bad enough, I bought a bargaining skill chip from Julius that seems faulty. Everything is still out of my price range, not to mention that I wasted $1000 on the chip. Sigh...at least things can't get any worse. Can they?!"


So now that I have Comlink 3.0, I assume I can erase 1.0 and 2.0. They're taking up valuable RAM.

A couple of readers have suggested that Neuromancer would at some stage just “click”, and things would start to make a bit more sense. As despondent as my intro sounded, I’m happy to announce that I’ve reached that stage of the game! My wife is currently away, meaning I’ve actually had an opportunity to really get my teeth into it (after putting my daughter to bed of course). Last night I played Neuromancer for two and a half hours straight, and made some really solid progress! It does mean that I’m now well behind on posting, particularly when I note that each post has so far only been covering about 30 minutes of play, but it was something I felt I needed to do if I was going to get my head around all the information I’ve collected, and also  to start enjoying the game more. There’s every chance that I’ll be writing up to three posts (possibly more) before I get to play again, but the enthusiasm I’ve gained should help me get them out pretty quickly. My last post ended with me scouring through the Panther Moderns base with my newly downloaded Comlink 3.0. That wasn’t the only base I’d not been able to access with 2.0, so I’ll start this one with my attempts to access the rest.


The Bank of Zurich really needs to learn about backwards compatibility!

The first link code I tried was BOZOBANK, which was the code Akiko the masseuse had given me for the Bank of Zurich. I still wasn’t able to access it, so I tried PSYCHO, the link code for the Psychologist service I’d read an ad for on the Cheap Hotel base. This time my attempt was successful, and running my Scout 1.0 software on the welcome screen told me that there were three levels to the base. The welcome screen told me I would have to log in using my personal password if I wanted to “initiate my own mindprobe session”, but handed out a password (“NEW MO”) for first time visitors. Once in I was given my personal password (BABYLON) and I was informed that I could think of the psychologist service as “Sigmund” (presumably after Sigmund Freud), if that made me feel more comfortable. While I couldn’t be analysed while logged in as a visitor, I could read some sample sessions. I have no idea whether any of the samples have any relevance to the rest of the game, so I’m not sure how much space I should take up describing them. It seems to me that the first two samples are fluff, while the third one may have some relevance, so I’ll summarise the first two and expand on the last.


Psychoanalysis between a patient and a computer. Scary!

Molly Sample: Someone called Molly is constantly stressed that Yakuza assassins are after her and her boy Johnny after the two of them took one of the assassins out that was trying to retrieve data stored in Johnny’s head for the purpose of bribery. Sigmund’s diagnosis after four visits from Molly was that “the strain of your illegal activities is distorting your view of reality by directing your psychic energies into unhealthy channels, such as paranoia.” Corto Sample: Some crazy guy call Colonel Corto was going on and on about having to testify and “tell them all of about Girling and the others”. None of it made much sense and the diagnosis (by a psychologist named Friedrich) was that Corto was most likely on a bad trip and that “the strain of your activities in Screaming Fist is distorting your view of reality”. I’d heard of Screaming Fist on the Panther Moderns board, where Polychrome mentioned being able to get Easy Rider 1.0 from their base, but otherwise it meant nothing to me. Snowman Sample: This one was more interesting, with Snowman talking about a scary experience he had in the matrix. Something started tailing him while he was “buzzin the green cubes of the Mitsubishi B of A”. He tried to evade it by using Mimic and Probe, but it kept coming! Snowman barely had time to jack out before the thing nailed him, and was certain it was “controlled by some sorta intelligence”. Alfred’s diagnosis was that Snowman should “retire from cyberspace and get a real job”, since “things like that just can’t happen in cyberspace”.


"Pay me more often and I'll regurgitate the same vague diagnosis endlessly"

I didn’t take much from any of that, apart from the fact something weird was going on in cyberspace (which I was already well aware of). On a positive note though, while I was going through my screenshots looking for the Screaming Fist reference, I stumbled across one of the ads I’d received on the bulletin board way back in my first session. I’d mistakenly assumed the Armitage message was nothing more than an advertisement, and now I was wondering about another one. It had read “Need some quick cash? Come and see us at Hitachi Biotech in the high-tech zone of Chiba City. We need volunteers for a simple experiment that won’t require much of your time.” I'd since learnt that the high-tech zone is beyond the blocked off section where a machine was asking me who I worked for, it suddenly dawned on me that the answer to the question might very well be Hitachi Biotech. I quickly made my way back to the barricade and checked out my dialogue options. One of them was “I’m a volunteer for Hitachi Biotech”! I tried saying it, and the machine responded with “You are cleared for limited access. Please proceed directly North to Hitachi Biotech. Be aware that you will not be allowed admittance to any other buildings in this zone.” I was then able to pass the barrier.


I can't understand why I didn't see this option the first time I arrived here. Perhaps I never checked my dialogue options?

I then found myself on a screen with five company entrances. I couldn’t see what company one of them was for since it was at the base of the screen, but the other four were Fuji, Hitachi Biotech, Hosaka and what looked like Husabori. I tried entering all of them, but just as the machine had said, the only one I could get into was Hitachi Biotech. Inside was a woman in a lab coat, who asked me if I was a “volunteer for the lung experiment”. That didn’t sound promising, but my dialogue options left me with little choice apart from saying yes.  “Great! We’re currently paying our volunteers $3000 apiece. Wait here and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” I then had the opportunity to walk around the room for a while by myself, yet despite feeling like I was supposed to do something, simply couldn’t. The interface is so limited that there’s no way I could open, pick up or even look at anything. I couldn’t leave either, so I simply had to wait until the woman came back. Perhaps I could use a particular chip while in the room (none of the ones I had seemed likely), but I couldn’t think of what I might achieve. On her return the woman informed me that I would likely feel no pain during the experiment, but that “it’ll hurt like hell” afterwards. She then took my lungs, thanked me, and sent me on my way!


Yes, in the same way Freddy Krueger likes to have fun!

Once outside, I noticed that my constitution had dropped from 2000 to 1850, but I was $3000 richer! A trip to the Body Shop a bit later on would reveal that I would have got $3000 from the guy there for my lungs too, so there must some other reason to do the experiment. Feeling like a really should restore, I decided to try my luck telling the machine that I worked for some of the other companies beyond the barrier. Saying “I work for fuji” resulted in the machine telling me that I wasn’t a listed employee, and once I tried Hosaka it summoned the authorities and I found myself back in court. I restored back to before the horrific experiment and re-entered the Psychologist base. This time I entered my own personal password, which gave me level 2 access to the base. Now I had the opportunity to start my own mindprobe session, and I was informed that the “fee will be based on the severity of your problem”. I was then faced with “Enter your thoughts”, and a blank screen just waiting for me to type something. This took me by surprise, and I had no idea what to type. I also had serious doubts that the game was going to have the intelligence to decipher anything that I might input. I entered my thoughts regardless...


I can add Zenic Reverie to the list now

As you might expect, the diagnosis was fairly vague, telling me that I seem to be concerned with my well-being, that my illegal activities seem to be the source of my stress, and that I should relax and take a vacation. Maybe I’ll find a use for the service later in the game, but for now I decided to move on. I looked over my notes and found one reminding myself to ask Julius Deane about Cryptology and skill chips, since Modern Miles had told the Modern Panthers board that they should. This trip proved profitable, since asking about Cryptology revealed that Julius had an upgrade to version 2 available for sale, and asking about skill chips revealed that he had no less than four available to check out. I hadn’t yet found a use for my Cryptology skill, let alone needed an upgrade, so I hung onto the $2500 he was asking for, at least for now. The four skill chips he had for sale were Bargaining, Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology and Philosophy, with each of them costing $1000. Only one of those skills was listed in the manual, with Bargaining described as: “Used before purchasing things in the Real World, this skill can bring the price down. Most people already know this trick or they have a Bargaining skill chip of their own, so it won’t always work.”


Phenomenology? I really hope I don't need to deal with the philosophical study of subjective experience and consciousness in this game!

Since I’d restored to a save game fairly early on, I had plenty of cash on me, so I thought I’d buy all the chips and see if I could figure out what they did. After implanting them all, I set off to visit one of the computer stores to try out the Bargaining skill. I had screenshots of the original prices, so I was hoping to see a significant difference to justify the $1000 purchase price of the chip. Something interesting happened on the way! I’d walked through a particular screen containing a sign for Chin’s Pawn Shop and a lamppost a few times already, but this time there was a woman there, in a revealing red dress. Her profession was made immediately apparent when she said “Hey, sailor. New in town?” I had a few different dialogue options available to me, including “I’m not a sailor. Do I look like one?”, “Buzz off, sister. Zone’s a close personal friend of mine.” and “Drop dead.” All of these resulted in her telling me to go away and then disappearing, but choosing “Yes, I’m new around here. Why?” at least let me continue the conversation. I recalled that Ratz had told me that one of Lonny Zone’s girls was looking for me way back in the first scene of the game. I figured this must be her!


Tricky really has a way with women!

The woman responded with “You look lost. Something I can do for you?” None of my dialogue options seemed very good to me, being “Got any good software?”. “I doubt it. I’m not lost.” and “I can’t afford your kind of help.” In fact, all of them resulted in her simply going away, usually with a sly remark! However, I was able to ask her about whatever topic I wanted, and also where a particular place is located. Perhaps the hooker is only there to give out information on stuff? Given the connection to Lonny, I asked her whether she knew anything about “Lonny Zone”. She replied with “Lonny was picked up by the feds for tax evasion. He said the wrong thing to the judge and was given the death penalty.” Well that wasn’t what I’d expected! It didn’t look like I was going to find out what my relationship with Lonny was or why “one of his girls” was looking for me. I also asked her about Armitage, since he’d given me $10000 and then never showed up to make me earn it. “I heard they set a trap for him in front of the Matrix Restaurant.” Hmmmm, was I supposed to think that Armitage was just out of the way now, leaving me with the $10K and no consequences? What sort of trap? I asked a bunch of other questions (software, chips, cyberspace etc.), but only got stock answers such as “Yeah, sure. I’ve got a degree in Computer Science and I just work the street for laughs.”


I hope there was a telephone booth there!

I eventually had the opportunity to test out my new Bargaining chip, but sadly it made absolutely no difference to the pricing I was offered in the computer stores. The Gaijin deck was still $3600 in both stores, meaning I really had to question the value of purchasing the chip off Julius. I also tried using it on Julius himself when purchasing the gas mask, but it still cost $300. I also tried using some of the other chips I’d purchased off Julius, including Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, but couldn’t see that they achieved anything. I’m really hoping that at some point I gain the ability to find out what certain skill chips can be used for, since the manual list is by no means exhaustive. For now, I’ll stick to the plan of purchasing only those chips that are described in the manual and that I can find a good use for. That pretty much rules out all four that I purchased during this session. Well, this post is probably long enough now, yet once again I’ve only covered thirty minutes of game time. As soon as I press Post, I intend to begin writing the next one, and will try to push them through as quickly as I can. I want to play the game again, and I expect you guys will tire of this well before I'm done!


If the bargaining chip doesn't let me buy a deck for less, then what good is it?

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 00 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

26 comments:

  1. I've put a lot of movie references in my posts lately. 10 CAPs for the first person to find today's (not the Matrix one, that's too obvious).

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    1. Oh, and not the Nightmare on Elm Street one either! ;)

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    2. This one seems to have stumped everyone. Finally! I'll raise the prize to 20 CAPs and give you a really big hint!

      It's the title of this post!

      Let the Googling begin! I only ask that you also state why the quote has significance to this post if you want the CAPs. Should be pretty obvious if you find the movie scene.

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    3. D'oh, I didn't even think to look in the title. As soon as you said it it all clicked. For that I don't deserve the CAPs even though I'm 110% sure I know where it's from.

      Good choice of subject matter, sir!

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    4. Well, with Googling, the best I can do is Gur Zrnavat Bs Yvsr?

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    5. Ah yes, the organ donation scene, where guys come to take liver out of a person with a organ donation card (the donor is still alive).

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    6. That's correct Cush1978, although I did ask for the reason behind my reference. I guess it's 10 CAPs to Cush1978 and 10 CAPs to Ilmari. :)

      As for you Lars-Erik, I may have to start making CAPs more valuable so you don't give them up so easily! ;)

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    7. Nah, I wouldn't have remembered it without Cush1978, so you can give it all to him :)

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    8. I got enough CAPs to last me for what I want through 1991, 1992 and half of 1993 already, so I'm not too worried yet. ;)

      By the way, who ate my earlier comment? I'm looking at you Ilmari, you know eating too many comments isn't good for you.

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    9. So that's why my stomach been aching!

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  2. This is a spoiler for a William Gibson short story and the book Neromancer, not the game (Well, it could be, but this is based on me having read the book): Zbyyl vf n punenpgre sebz Arebznapre naq Gbgny Erpnyy, naq gur grkg gurer ersref gb gur cybg bs gbgny erpnyy, juvpu jnf ersreraprq va Arebznapre.

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    1. Isn't Johnny refering to Johny Memomnic? Afaik it's from the same author

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    2. Damn, you are right. I got them mixed up. Total Recall was based on Philp K. Dick, not Gibson.

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    3. Zbyyl vf fgvyy na vzcbegnag punenpgre va Arhebznapre gur obbx. Ubcrshyyl lbh'yy zrrg ure ng fbzr cbvag. Be vf guvf na NH jurer bar bs gur npghny fgbel unccraf? Gung jbhyq or qvfnccbvagvat.

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  3. Nice to see into your thoughts ;) My excuses for finishing this so quickly were that 1) I had played about half of the game previously, 2) I got few valuable tips from Lars-Erik, 3) I had some extra hours to spend with the game and 4) after some difficulties in the middle parts, the rest was astonishingly easy.

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  4. Overall date of completion might be faster, but I'm fairly sure you won't spend the number of hours I did playing. It was definitely 16+ hours, and a lot of that was spent staring at the screen and wondering what to do next.

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    1. Same here. Considering your Total Time played, I think you actually are further along than I was at the same time. A wild guesstimate would be a total of 12-14 hours played.

      Of those, the first 6-8 trying to actually understand the gameplay, and only the last two with a clear picture of what the goal of the game actually was.

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    2. It's difficult to judge how long I've actually spent "playing" the game. A lot of the thinking and puzzle solving that I do while writing for the blog, you guys probably do while playing the game. Then again, I can't consider writing time as playing time, since it takes me two to three hours to create a post.

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  5. Glad this one has finally clicked. I don't know if I would have had the patience to fiddle around for that long waiting to figure out what to do. I don't mind spending the beginning of the game not knowing what is happening in the over all story, but when you don't know for ages what you're even doing, I'd probably get fed up. Plus it seemed that many of you diary entries were starting with "Nothing much happened today". That could be my mind playing tricks.
    I'm sure this isn't the movie reference as Johnny Mnemonic is based on Neuromancer, but Molly Samples psych report is that movies plot, plus you're just recording what was in the game.

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  6. Finished reading your post. Seems lbh'ir znqr n snyfr nffhzcgvba. Pelcgbtencul vfa'g dhvgr yriry gjb, vg'f na hctenqr cnpxntr, juvpu npghnyyl tbrf hc gb yriry sbhe. V bayl sbhaq guvf bhg yngre gubhtu naq ubarfgyl, gur uvture yriryf qvqa'g uryc zhpu. You shouldn't get stuck based on the above, but it's a spoiler if you are stuck. Might help.

    I only got the Lonny Zone info off the lady of the night. I do wonder if there's possibly any additional purpose for her.

    As for Psychologist, vg frrzf gb jbex onfrq bss fvzcyr jbeq erpbtavgvba, zhpu yvxr gur erfg bs bcra qvnybthr. Vg svaqf n jbeq vg erpbtavmrf naq erfcbaqf onfrq ba gung. V bayl sbhaq bar jbeq, juvpu jnf plorefcnpr. Vg gbyq zr abg gb jbeel nobhg vg.

    I too was taken in by the easy money at hitachi and walked out lungless my first game (that made it past the gate).

    Honestly, V jbaqre ubj lbh jrera'g neerfgrq ol gur ynjobg bhgfvqr gur zngevk erfgnhenag. Gurl nyjnlf tbg zr; V gubhtug vg jnf nhgbzngvp.

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    1. Oh, and movie reference... something to do with the telephone booth comment? Time travel? I may have blocked out something...

      Ah, and Bargaining: lbh pna hfr vg, V'ir sbhaq nofbyhgryl abjurer. Tbbq yhpx jvgu gung bar.

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    2. That'd be the Matrix comment. :)

      This game really didn't click with me when I found an abandonware version, so while I'm reading with interest (and wondering when exactly the tipping point occurred that games were allowed to be more serious with no real comic relief, which I'm reckoning is a couple of years away really) I can barely follow. (No idea which movie you're speaking of.)

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    3. Bargaining: Nsgre n ovg bs grfgvat V pna irevsl gurer'f ng yrnfg bar fubc jurer onetnvavat unf fbzr rssrpg: gur obql fubc. Lbh trg n qvfpbhag (urnegf sbe nobhg unys gur cevpr), vs lbh whfg unir gur fxvyy, ohg vs lbh hfr vg juvyr va gur fubc, gur bjare jvyy nyfb fnl fbzrguvat yvxr "lbh'yy trg n qvfpbhag". Bs pbhefr, obql fubc vf bar cynpr jurer lbh arrq abg tb, fb vg vf fgvyy nyzbfg cbvagyrff fxvyy.

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    4. Gung vf qrsvavgryl bar cynpr V qvqa'g purpx. V jbaqre gura vs fryyvat yhatf gb Uvgnpuv naq ohlvat gurz ng n qvfpbhag vf cbffvoyr. Lbh zragvbarq vg bayl jbexrq sbe gur urneg gubhtu?

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    5. Cebonoyl jbexrq sbe nyy gur betnaf, urneg jnf whfg gur svefg ba gur yvfg naq guhf gur rnfvrfg gb purpx. V qba'g guvax lbh pbhyq ernyyl hfr vg gb trg zbarl gubhtu, vg whfg riraf bhg gur qvssrerapr orgjrra fryyvat naq ohlvat cevmrf.

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  7. This weekend's GOG sale has the Leisure Suit Larry 1 to 6 collection (without 4 obviously) and Leisure Suit Larry: Love For Sale.

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