Friday, 31 May 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - Packing Gaijin

Tricky Journal Entry 4: "I finally got myself a new deck! OK, so it's not an Ono-Sendai. It's not even cyberspace capable! It's a Moriyama Gaijin that at least will allow me to double the amount of warez I can install. Just as well too, as I've found quite a few people around town that have either skill chips or software for sale, including Julius Deane and Finn at Metro Holographix. If only I knew what I might need to counter the weirdness that is apparently going on in cyberpsace. Of course, that's not going to be an issue if I can't figure out how to make some easy cash around here and get jack myself in."

There are plenty of stores and establishments to visit in Neuromancer

Before I kick off this post, I should mention that I restarted the game on resumption, quickly replaying through all the things of note that I’d achieved so far. The main difference this time around was that I had no real need to access the majority of the bases (since I'd either gained nothing from them or had already recorded the data I needed in my spreadsheet), and therefore saved quite a bit of time and money. I also gained second level access to Cheap Hotel this time around, and I was able to wipe my entire bill without paying a cent, just as I’d hoped. This meant that I’d pulled together a pretty large sum of cash by the time I reached the point I finished my last session at ($11210 to be precise), despite having once again purchased a $1000 Hardware Repair chip from Shiva. Before I went looking for places to spend it, I wanted to check out the final couple of bases I knew about using my critically panned UBX deck. I also wanted to try out the Scout 1.0 skill now that Ilmari had informed me how to use it. It turns out that once I’m in a base, I can access my software by pulling up my inventory. This wasn’t made particularly obvious in the manual, and I hadn’t even considered trying it. Perhaps I would have stumbled across it by accident at some point, but in all likelihood I would have gone on and become frustrated once I really needed to use my software when in bases or cyberspace.

Thank you Ilmari! I'd started to think it just wasn't possible.

I began my next session by accessing each of the bases I’d already visited to see just how many access levels they had, finding that Cheap Hotel, Regular Fellows and Consumer Review all had 2, while Asano Computing and World Chess Confederation had 3. That meant that the only base I’d accessed all levels on was Cheap Hotel. With my Scouting done, I tried to access the Panther Modern base, for which Akiko the masseuse had given me the password. My attempt failed with an “Incompatible link” error! The same thing happened when I tried to get into the Bank of Zurich (which once again Akiko had told me about) and also for the Psychologist service. It seemed that Comlink 1.0 had its limitations! I’d been worried that this post was going to end up like the last one, taken up by text-filled images of base visits, but it turned out I was free to continue my exploration of Chiba. The first thing I wanted to do was go back to Cheap Hotel now that I’d paid off my bill. I wasn’t kicked out this time, and as soon as I arrived I was informed that “Your room service order is delivered to you.” There was no-one around to talk to, so I decided to access the PAX to see if there were any new messages on the bulletin board. There was!

Through some sort of telekinesis apparently

Anonymous Bosch, the person that had sent me a message telling me that Shiva had my cryptology chip, had written again to apologise for missing me at the Gentleman Loser. Their reason was disturbing to say the least, but at least they organised another catchup. “Had to sell my pancreas at the Body Shop to raise some cash. Catch you next time. Maybe at Gridpoint?” I wrote that into my spreadsheet and opened up the Night City News to see what was happening in the world. There was a new article with the headline “VAGRANT PAYS HOTEL BILL”! Apparently the owner of Cheap Hotel had called a news conference to report that “Cowboy Tricky has finally paid his hotel bill”! This not only brought a smile to my face, it also told me that I was not in a static environment where my actions had no influence. It’s always satisfying to feel like an active part of a game world, so I hoped that this little bit of humour wasn’t a one off. That was all the news for the day, so I left the hotel, keen to check out some new locations. It felt like it had been ages since I’d hit the street and wandered around!

It was a slow news day obviously!

I reached a section of the street where there was a door to my left and my right, yet the door to Mass Biolabs to my left was locked. I therefore took the door on the right and found myself in the office of Julius Deane. The description warned me that I got “the impression that Julius has a gun pointed at you under the desk”, so I vowed not to mess with this guy. Julius told me that he dealt “in exotic hardware and information”, so I checked out my dialogue options. I could ask him what he knew about a topic of my choosing, or I could say “My friends tell me that someone is trying to kill me. Heard anything?” This seemed a pretty strange thing to say, since no-one had said anything of the sort to me. I chose it anyway, and Julius responded with “Not always easy to know who your friends are, is it?” I was then able to go one step further: “Maybe the people from Cheap Hotel are after me? I ran up a big bill there.”, to which Julius responded with “Of course, if I did hear something, I might not be able to tell you. Biz being what it is, you understand.” No, I didn’t understand quite frankly, but I had a think about what I might be able to ask the guy about.

Julius is a mysterious character, but not as mysterious as the things I said to him

Since he’d told me that he dealt in exotic hardware and information, they seemed like good topics to ask him about. When questioned about hardware, he told me he only had one thing on offer right now, which was a gas mask for $300. I was cashed up, so I bought it. I then asked him about information, but he apparently didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t know what else to do, so I moved on. At the end of the street was the Chiba City Spaceport, where two “JAL shuttles are waiting on the launch pads”. There was a ticket agent offering to sell me tickets too, although I couldn’t help being a tad concerned when I witnessed another craft crash and burn on the runway through the glass windows (another very funny touch!). I was keen to know where I might be able to travel to, so I spoke to the woman at the counter. I had the choice of flying to Freeside for $1000 or to Zion Cluster for $500. I knew that I was going to be spending time in cyberspace in Neuromancer, but I never expected to be travelling into space itself! I decided not to go to either destination until I’d thoroughly checked out Chiba, and left the spaceport.

Well that hardly fills me with confidence!

The next location I entered was one called Metro Holographix. Inside was the owner Finn, who was described as having a head that “looks like it was designed in a wind tunnel”. Finn asked me whether I needed any chips or software, and informed me that he’d “just got some new stuff from those bridge-and-tunnel kids in Jersey”, whatever that meant. My main dialogue options were “Yeah, Finn, I’m looking for some hot softwarez” and “I need a scan, Finn. Then maybe I’ll buy something.” I didn’t know what exactly he would be scanning for, but it seemed to be something I should do. “Scanned when you came in. No implants, no biological. You’re clean.” I assumed he wasn’t looking for skill chips when he’s mentioned implants, as I already had two of those in my socket. I was pretty keen to get some new chips and software, so I asked to see what he had. He had two skill chips for sale, being Icebreaking and Debug for $1000 each, and he had five bits of software for sale, being Decoder, BlowTorch, Drill, Probe and Comlink 1.0, ranging in price from $100 to $1500! There I was thinking I’d collected quite a bit of cash and now I’d need to spend $5500 to get everything Finn was offering me!

It's nice to have lots of things to buy, but not so nice when you don't really know what they do

I should mention at this point that the manual contains a list of skill chips, along with their purpose, but no list of software. It also states clearly that the skill chip list is not exhaustive, so I will no doubt come across some that I’ll have to figure out on my own. I looked up the two that Finn was selling and found that Debug “repairs damaged software in your deck” and Ice Breaking is “used at the beginning of an ICE combat session in cyberspace. The skill applies your previous experience with ICE breaking to locate weaker points in the ICE protection, making it easier to break in.” There’s a whole other section on ICE and ICE Breakers in the manual, but I’ll cover that off when I reach cyberspace. I really had no idea which skill(s) or software(s) would be required in the earlier parts of the game, so was pretty flummoxed about what to do. I ended up deciding to concentrate on “real world” stuff for now, as it looked like it would be a while before I’d need any of the cyberspace stuff. I saved my game, purchased Decoder, BlowTorch, Drill and Probe, and then tried operating them all in the real world. I had to do this in two separate loads, as my UXB deck could only handle five bits of software on it at once. It turned out that all four of the bits of software can only be used in cyberspace, so I restored my game and only purchased the Debug skill chip for now.

Well fancy that! A 1.0 version that's free of bugs!

I implanted and then operated the Debug skill, checking all of my software (Comlink 1.0, Battle Chess 2.0 and Scout 1.0) for bugs. Finding none, I left Metro Holographix and continued to travel east. I soon found myself with three establishments that I could enter, being Crazy Edo’s Used Hardware Emporium, Asano Computing and House of Pong. I entered Crazy Edo’s, mainly because I had the caviar he wanted and was keen to trade it for software. The salesman immediately noticed that I had it in my possession and asked me if I still wanted to trade it. I agreed to do so, and Crazy Edo very helpfully gave me Comlink 2.0! I wondered whether that would allow me to access the bases I’d not been able to earlier in the session, but decided to see what else was available in the store first. Crazy Edo reminded me that his “prices are much better than that pig, Asano, can do”, so I agreed to see his current inventory. Noticeably, none of his used decks were cyberspace-capable, but there were quite a few that I could afford.

Crazy Edo seems to have a fetish for caviar!

I figured there would be no point buying a deck with a RAM of 5, since I was very soon going to install more software than that would allow for. That ruled out the Blue Light Special and the Hiki Gaeru, but there were six other decks on offer that had a RAM of 10 or more. The first of them was the Gaijin, which had a RAM of 10 and was priced at $3600. The next cheapest model was the ZXB, but that was twice as much with the same amount of RAM. If I was going to purchase a new deck, the Gaijin seemed a decent bet, particularly as the Consumer Review base had described the manufacturer (Moriyama) as “very reliable with a solid line of matrix simulators” and “a good buy for the amateur cyberspace enthusiast”. I bought one, despite having no idea whether I should really be saving my cash for a cyberspace-capable deck or not. OK, I now had a better deck, with Comlink 2.0 installed, and I still had $6310 left up my sleeve. I’d have to find a location with a jack to try it out, so I instead moved on to Asano Computing, hoping I didn’t find a better deal there than the one I just accepted!

I certainly won't be touching the ZXB, as it's the followup to the UXB

Asano’s shop had all the latest models, and “gleaming new cyberdecks line the display shelves”. Clearly this was the place to go when I need a top of the line cyberspace-capable deck down the track. I took a look at what was available, and was shocked to find he was selling a deck with a RAM of 10 for only $1000! My shock subsided though when I realised it was the dreaded Blue Light Special that Consumer Review had put on the Flatline list, noting that “the bugs in this system are subtle and may not appear for some time” and that “the Blue Light Special should be considered armed and dangerous”. Feeling better about my purchase, I soon discovered that the Gaijin was priced at $3600 here too, and once again seemed the most cost effective deck for my current needs and cash position. I certainly wan’t going to buy a cyberdeck for a while, as the cheapest one was the Ono-Sendai Cyberspace II at $18000. I left Asano’s and headed for House of Pong, but you’ll have to wait until next post to read about the craziness that occurred there.

I'm going to go across the street, and get you some orange sherbert!

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 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!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

What's Your Story? - Lars-Erik

I haven't had as much time to play and write this week as I would have liked (something to do with turning 36 a few days ago), so in the absence of a post, I have a long-awaited What's Your Story submission! I was actually a little shocked when it arrived in my inbox, as I couldn't believe we hadn't already done one before. Without further ado, please make welcome our beloved sponsor and current companion leader...Lars-Erik!

Lars-Erik: Not really how I pictured him, but then I've not met many Norwegians

My home country is... Norway, land of the midnight sun.

My age is... Uh, now I have to count...31, 32, 33. 33? 33.

The first adventure game I played was... I truly can't remember. There are hazy memories of playing a few of the Quest-series, such as Space Quest and Police Quest, but as I was always pretty far behind technologically I would guess Zork or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was some of the first I played due to being stuck with my old monochrome monitor. I didn't play any of them when they came out though. When talking to other people today I feel pretty old because I remember further back than the first Halo and Counter-Strike, but I was only four when King's Quest came out and didn't learn English until even later. So I know I didn't play them at that age, but when I did start to play them I played quite a few in a fairly short period of time.

My favourite adventure game is... Do I have to pick just one? My first thought is Grim Fandango. Brilliant setting, unique art direction, fantastic soundtrack, excellent puzzles and a story that keeps on giving. And then there's Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon. Yes, I know it's a FMV game, but it really works. A dystopian setting with a down-on-his-luck PI, awesome jazzy noir soundtrack and unforgettable characters, I don't know how many times I've played that one. And as soon as I think that, Full Throttle pops into my mind. Again, great setting, fantastic soundtrack (The Gone Jackals have a permanent playlist on my phone), great voice acting (Mark Hamill!), great puzzles, but a bit short. And for the honorable mention award, Rama. It's based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke, which also appears in the game whenever you die. It has a great story, interesting setting, excellent characters and gives you a real feeling of exploration and the unfamiliar. Forced choice? Grim Fandango.

Not even the great Grim Fandango could stop the genre from a (temporary) death in the late 90s.

When I'm not playing games I like to... read books, make food, listen to music. New experiences call to me all the time, so I always jump cuisines in my food and genres in books and music. My "library" consists mostly of fantasy, sci-fi, documentaries, comedy and crime, and right now I'm on a horror spree. Musically the genres I listen to most is classic rock and blues, but I rotate through most kinds of rock, funk, smooth jazz, a bit of country, soul, electronica, some pop, a smidgen of folk, a bit of classical music and some more esoteric genres. In fact, every summer I catch an open air opera performance on an island in the Oslofjord. On current rotation are 80's glam metal band Dokken, blues prodigy Joe Bonamassa, classicist Philip Glass and Tex Murphy soundtracks as we're playing through Mean Streets.

I like my games in (a box, digital format)... I hate myself for saying this, but digital. I do love my big box games though, as long as there are extras with them. A big card board box with just a disc in it is boring, a big box with a huge manual, maybe a map or other stuff is awesome. My Rama box came with a copy of the novel, all 500 pages of glory. Baldur's Gate came with a map. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective came with a set of custom correct era newspapers that you needed to reference during the game. And on top there were the wonderful manuals which didn't just give you the information needed to play the game but also set the mood and let you step into the game world on the bus home from the shop before you could play it. Now though, with the lack of anything but the disc, I prefer digital. No reason to fill up my shelves just to have an empty box with a disc in it.

The Baldur's Gate series had fantastic packaging. I even bought the collector's edition for part II, which is probably the only time I've ever done that

The thing I miss about old games is... me. There was a time I could put on a game and just lose myself for hours. It gave me an opportunity to escape the wear and tear of everyday school and family. Nowadays I just can't seem to find the same feeling of blocking everything else out and not even registering what time it is. Five minutes after starting playing the cats want food, or I have to take the garbage out, or I get a message from work stating that some system or other is down. Or if nothing interrupts, there's just a million things going on in the back of my mind. On a less personal level, I miss the abundance of world building and creative flow when everything was new and fresh.

The best thing about modern games is... their ability to accurately portray the vision of the designers and writers. Although sometimes classic games benefited immensely from having limited resources, forcing them to distil the essence of the game down to its purest form. With modern capabilities the artists can more freely create, the sound and music can be high fidelity instead of bleeps and bloops, we can have full voice acting instead of four lines of badly drawn text, and fullscreen movie quality cutscenes instead of a picture with some text on it.

The one TV show I never miss is... Sherlock, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones. Again I'm drawn to setting, story and the feeling of "something else".

I need very little excuse to post another Daenerys image. This show gets better and better!

If I could see any band live it would be... In a fantasy setting, I'd have to go The Beatles. Or maybe the Traveling Wilburys, even though they never had played any concerts. Realistically, maybe Chickenfoot.

My favourite movie is... I feel kind of shallow regarding the movies I like. I was a kid in the 80s, and can't get past all the fantastic trilogies out there. Just consider; Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, what an amazing period. Still, there are some really good newer movies too. Jurassic Park, Blues Brothers (not exactly new though), Lord of the Rings, the Dark Knight trilogy, plenty of newer super hero movies. I'm also a huge fan of western style animations, both hand drawn and CGI. Robin Hood, Chicken Run, Wall-E, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Jungle Book etc. The World's Fastest Indian is superb even though it's outside of my normal viewing preferences. But if I had to pick just one to keep, I'd go with the first Back to the Future.

One interesting thing about me is... Can't think of anything much. Considering the theme of this blog, I guess this might fit the question; Although I have more experience in adventure games, I do actually prefer playing great RPG's. There's just something about being so integrated in the story elements that really speak to me.  Saying that though, I'm not contributing much on the CRPG Addict's blog, even though I read it constantly. RPG's are just more personal to me, my story, my experience and my way of playing. That's probably why I chose the games I did on the adventure game question. All of them have great stories and fantastic settings. Don't get me wrong, I love adventure games and have played many more adventures than RPG's. But for an hour of relaxation, it's more tempting to fire up Skyrim on my 360 than Syberia. On the other hand, I've played Under a Killing Moon a number of times for every time I've played through Morrowind. So maybe I don't know myself as well as I think?

I feel exactly the same Lars-Erik and my favourite game experiences have generally been RPGs.

If anyone else wants to send their What's Your Story responses through and get 20 CAPs in the process, please send them to

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - All Your Base Are Belong to Us

Tricky Journal Entry 3: “I spent most of my day jacked in today. Found some cool software too, particularly BattleChess 2.0 which earned me a quick 600 credits in the World Chess Confederation base. Found some useful passwords around the traps too, including the second level access password for Cheap Hotel. Here’s hoping that will let me hack in and clear that damn bill that got me kicked out yesterday. I might have even paid the stupid thing too if they hadn’t been so aggressive about it. I really hope I can get a new deck soon! It’s so depressing reading so many negative things about my UBX. I guess it’s working ok for me at the moment, but it seems it will only be a matter of time before I’m using the Hardware Repair chip I bought from Shiva today. Fingers crossed it lasts until I can afford a new one!”

The Manual: I probably should have read "Your Purpose in Life" before I started

Reading the manual really did make things much clearer. Two things that had been confusing me to this point were why I woke up face down in my dinner at the beginning of the game and why I needed to go and reclaim my deck from Shin’s Pawn Shop. The manual explained both, telling me that I’d arrived at Chiba City after falling on hard times. As soon as I’d arrived I’d had to pawn my deck for some cash, and with no real purpose to existence, I’d “spent the last two days in a drunken stupor, wondering what to do.” That cleared all that up, but what I’d really wanted to get from the manual was some explanation of how decks and skill chips work. I’ve inserted the whole section that discusses decks and Comlink access below in case anyone wants to have a read, but the short of it is that I will use my deck to access “bases” (computer systems), within which I can gather important information. I’ve already collected a few link codes from bulletin board messages and citizens of Chiba, and these will connect me to specific bases and give me varying degrees of access to them. If I want to get to the good stuff though, I’m going to have to find higher level passwords, and to get into the secure corporate and government bases, I’m going to have to upgrade my Comlink software too.

I already look forward to finding the software that lets me "bypass the simpler password systems"

The section on skill chips was pretty straight forward. Each chip is implanted directly into the brain jack on the side of the skull, and once a skill is learnt it is remembered permanently. Using a skill once it is learnt is simply a matter of clicking the Skills icon and selecting the skill from the list. I learnt many other valuable things from the manual, but I’ll discuss them when it makes sense to do so rather than fill this post with stuff that makes no sense to anyone apart from those that have already played the game. With all this in mind, I opened up my inventory and clicked on the Cryptology skill chip I’d retrieved from Shiva, and then selected Operate Item. A message popped up saying “Skill chip implanted”. Now when I clicked on my Skills icon I could see Crypotology, so I clicked on it. “Enter a word to decode:...” So that’s what it was used for! I couldn’t think of any words I needed to decode at this point, so I went back to my inventory and implanted the Hardware Repair chip. When I tried using it I was given a list of items I could repair, which at this stage only contained the UXB. When I tried to repair it I was told that the “Hardware has no bugs”.

I have other skills too...honest!

With all my skill chips implanted, I turned my attention to using the UXB deck. I had options to Operate, Discard or Give it, and I also had the option to Erase Software. I chose to Operate it, and I was then asked what software I wanted to use. I only had Comlink 1.0 software available, so I selected that. I was then asked to enter a link code, so I opened up my spreadsheet and looked at the ones I knew. I typed in CHEAPO, which was the link code for the Cheapo Hotel. I needed a way to pay my outstanding bill, and I figured this might just be it. The welcome page told me that the password to enter the system was GUEST, along with the confidence building line: “Hey, it’s better than sleeping in the streets!” I entered the password and was cleared for level 1 access. I quickly noticed that my credits were ticking down a second at a time, which was a bit concerning. Clearly I wasn’t going to be able to hang around in these bases for too long! There were three options available to me, being 1. Room Service, 2. Local Things to Do, and 3. Review Bill. I decided to take them in order, so selected Room Service. All I got in response was “You must pay your bill first.”

Internet sites will be drastically simplified in the future

Choosing option 2 gave me access to a list of four ads. In order they were for Donut World, Manyusha Wana Massage Parlor (obviously the establishment where I met Akiko), a service called Psychologist and Crazy Edo’s. Three out of four were really just ads, offering nothing of value (I'm pretty certain this time!), yet the Psychologist advertisement gave me a link code of PSYCHO and described itself as a “socially-acceptable outlet for private frustrations, phobias, and general concerns.” With that done, I clicked on Review Bill in the top level menu of the base and was shown the bill for my room. The total charges owing were $1000 and yet there was no money on the account to pay it off with. I had an option to “pay bill”, so I did. This immediately removed $1000 from my credit total and I assumed would now allow me to enter the Cheapo Hotel. With the bill paid, I accessed the room service and found I could order either Karanakov Caviar or Yomiuchi brand Sake. Crazy Edo’s message to me on the bulletin board had said “Where’s my caviar?” and suggested that I would be able to trade some for software, so I ordered some for $200. I ordered one lot of the sake too in case someone requested some later, but noticed my credit total didn’t go down with these purchases. I checked my bill again and found the $215 was now outstanding, so I paid it off again (I imagine if I hadn't I still wouldn't be able to enter the hotel).

That's hardly Cheap now is it?!

The next base I accessed was Regular Fellows, which seemed to be a place where “artists” go to share warez. My level one visitor password gave me access to three menu items, being 1. The Galley, 2. Checkout Counter and 3. Critic’s Corner. The Gallery was basically another bulletin board, although this one contained a bunch of discussions based around sharing higher level passwords to bases. My apparent friend Matt Shaw had left a message stating that he’d uploaded his jacked up version of BattleChess 2.0. I wasn’t sure at the time whether this had any role to play in Neuromancer or was just an advertisement for the real BattleChess (a few of the creators of Neuomancer also made that classic chess game), but I added the link code (WORLDCHESS) to my spreadsheet anyway. More interestingly, someone named Harpo left a message spouting the second level password for the Cheap Hotel (COCKROACH). I wondered whether I might have been able to use that to wipe my bill without having to pay it, so marked it down to try out later. The only other message that seemed important was one from Deathangel’s Shadow, which warned everyone how “the ICE out there has gotten smarter. Each time you use the same ware against it, it does less damage. Always keep a variety of different warez with you.” The seemed like good advice, although it didn’t mean much to me at this point.

I assume I'll have to come back to bases like Regular Fellows from time to time for updates

After I’d finished perusing the Gallery, I accessed Checkout Counter. There I found two bits of software that I could download, being BattleChess 2.0 and Scout 1.0. I couldn’t think of any reason not to download both, so I did. I wasn’t sure what that actually achieved, but for now I moved onto the final menu item, which was Critic’s Corner. This was a section where software was reviewed, and there just so happened to be reviews for the two bits of software I’d just downloaded. Scout 1.0 was listed as a recon program, and the reviewer very handily told me that it can be used while on the intro screen of any base to see how many levels it has. As for BattleChess 2.0, the review was filled with Matt Shaw boasting how he’d modded the original game and made it heaps better, leaving “the initialization protocols all alone so the World Chess Confederation still thinks it’s BattleChess 1.0.” Once I exited the Regular Fellows base, I noticed that the two pieces of software I’d downloaded were in my list when starting up the UBX deck. Neither of them was usable straight from the list though, so I assumed I’d have to find the right time and place.

I remember playing Battle Chess on my Amiga. It's probably where I learnt to play chess badly.

The next base I accessed was Consumer Review, where I could find “up-to-date ratings by cyberspace experts” on each of the 24 cyberdecks available from 9 different manufacturers. Once I was on the welcome screen, I was keen to try out my new Scout 1.0 software to see how many levels the base had. I could find no way to run another piece of software though once I’d started Comlink 1.0. A quick scan of the manual revealed that each deck has a RAM Limit, and that this limits the amount of pieces of software you can run simultaneously. High powered decks, such as the Ono-Sendai Cyberspace Seven, can manage up to 25 programs at once! Could it be that my UBX could only handle 1? It was either that or I just didn’t know what I was doing. Once I’d gained level 1 access to the base, $200 was deducted from my credit total! I was going to have to make the most of this visit! The menu system was split into two sections, being a numerical menu containing 1. Rankings of All Models, 2. Flatline Category, and 3. Triff Category, and an alphabetical menu containing 7 brands (including Yamamitsu, which was the brand of my deck). I quickly checked out the Rankings section, finding that my poor little deck was on the very bottom of the list.

Rub it in why don't you!

Rather humorously, the Flatline section was “reserved for those decks that our experts wouldn’t touch with a ten foot logic probe”, and the first one listed guessed it...the Yamamitsu UXB. Interestingly though, I noticed that my deck was listed as having a RAM value of 5, meaning I should be able to run 5 programs simultaneously. That ruled out RAM as the cause of me not being able to run Scout 1.0! Perhaps it's supposed to be used in cyberspace? “Our experts agree that the Yamamitsu UXB is the absolute worst of the worst. When our test deck was powered up, it exploded and put our expert operator in hospital downtime for two weeks.” The Ausgezeichnet 188 BJB was also on the Flatline list, as was the Blue Light Special, with both of them being described as buggy and dangerous. I made a note to stay away from those models when the time came to purchase a new deck, and moved onto the Triff Category. As you might have guessed, this section lists the very best decks available, as rated by the experts at Consumer Review. Top of the list was the ever-praised Ono-Sendai Cyberspace VII, but the Samurai Seven and the Ninja 5000 also got a mention. I highly doubted I would be able to afford any of them any time soon. I read through each of the brand summaries, which might came in handy later when I go shopping, but with nothing else to see or do, I exited Consumer Review.

I've got to get myself one of these!!!

Next up was Asano Computing where the only option available to me was to look at the Catalog of hardware they had for sale. All the models I’d read about at Consumer Review were there, but I wasn’t able to make any purchases or see anything in particular about any of them. I therefore moved onto the next link code I knew, WORLDCHESS! The World Chess Confederation base was, as you would expect, all about chess, and the menu options were 1. About This System, 2. About the Tournaments, and 3. Membership Application. Choosing option 1 gave me a quick rundown of the system’s history, and explained that “the WCC network allows members a chance to play against the best and, if you think yourself worthy, you can even pit your skills against those of the legendary simulation of Palos Morphy himself.” Selecting About the Tournaments gave me information about the different classes of competition in which any members can participate daily. There were 10 classes ranging from “unranked beginner” right through to “Victor” (which seems to be a man named Victor Lavaska), and there are prizes to be won. Was I really going to be able to play chess?

Level 1 Access to Asano lets me view what products they have. Here's hoping higher levels let me steal some!

The answer was both yes and no! Choosing the Membership Application section resulted in a screen where I could purchase either Temporary Membership for $10 or Full Membership for $150. Apparently Temporary Membership would allow me to participate in one tournament, whereas Full Membership would allow me to participate “in all tournaments and activities as a club member.” I chose Full Membership and was given a second level password of MEMBER. I was now able to select from two further menu options, being Enter Tournament and Challenge Morphy. I chose to enter a tournament and was asked what software I wanted to upload. I could choose from any of the software on my deck, but only BattleChess 2.0 made sense. This was apparently all it took, as I was then given a notification that I’d won my first game against Contestant 1. “You won, your ranking has been upgraded to unranked Novice. Prize money of 250 credits has been added to your credit chip.” I played again and also defeated Contestant 2, upgrading my ranking to Novice and giving me another 350 credits. This was easy money, but surely it wasn’t going to continue in this fashion?! The answer to that question came quickly, as any attempts to beat Contestant 3 failed. I could only assume I would need better software to get any further.

It's a depressing future where contestants merely pit their software against their opponents!

I selected Challenge Morphy to see what would happen and received a message saying “If you think you’re ready for me, look for me in cyberspace...I’ll be waiting.” I might just do that, whenever I get the chance to experience cyberspace. That will take getting a deck with cyberspace capability, and I don’t yet know how expensive that will be. I'm certainly intrigued by Neuromancer, but it sure takes a bit of getting used to. I’m a bit concerned about the amount of posts that will be required if I continue with this level of detail, but perhaps the information overflow is most prevalent during the game’s initial stages. I plan to record every action that seems advantageous (i.e. Send message to Armitage, Pay Ratz, Get deck from Shin’s Pawn Shop, Get skill chips from Shiva at Gentleman Loser etc.), then restart fairly regularly to rush through them all, making sure I waste no cash or time. I don’t yet know whether time is all that critical, but there’s no doubt I’m wasting days and money just trying things and recording bits of information for the blog. I still have a couple more bases to check out before I continue my exploration of Chiba, and I’m sure there will be some new bulletin board messages and news awaiting me by the time I’m done. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in this game!

Don't hold your breath!

Session Time: 0 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours 30 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!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - Virtual Judgement

Tricky Journal Entry 2: “Today seems to be a day for fetching items that already belong to me. I collected my deck from Shin’s Pawn Shop, and then picked up my Cryptology skill chip from Shiva at Gentleman Loser. I’ve still got a few errands to run before the day is out, and will try to increase my skills and warez since people keep warning me that something weird is going on in cyberspace. Thankfully I’ve managed to get my hands on ten thousand credits from some guy called General Armitage, but who knows whether his requirements of me in return will be of a similar value or much, much more. I better go...there’s still much to do!”

Why would the lawbot come? What exactly have I done wrong?

I’m really happy to see that I have a lot of companions for this game, not just because that makes the whole experience more interesting, but also because I’m pretty sure I’m going to need some help at some point. I thank all of you that are commenting for using ROT13, but can I please ask you to encrypt more of your messages when they include hints or spoilers. I’m not suggesting I’ve been able to take much from them, but I can’t help reading them and my brain automatically tries to make something out of them (I wouldn't be a very good adventure gamer if it didn't). There was one particular comment that I simply had to follow up on though, and that was Ilmari’s suggestion that I’d missed an opportunity to gain lots of credits right at the start of the game. I considered whether Ilmari’s comment should be labelled a spoiler and punished, but thought it shouldn't if I had indeed missed something important in the opening scene. Knowing how critical funds were going to be in the game, I started again (I hadn’t exactly got very far to begin with) and searched for this missed opportunity. I eventually found it too, after reading the posts on the bulletin board that I previously thought were merely advertising.

I guess I'm just used to deleting hordes of spam emails every day. I thought I was a good judge!

Someone called Armitage was looking for a few “good cowboys” that were seeking adventure. You could earn instant money by answering the message with your BAMA id. At the time I hadn’t realised I could actually send a message myself, but now I did. I got my BAMA id from the First Orbital Bank of Switzerland screen, and then sent it to “Armitage”. I then chose to view my received messages and found a new one waiting for me from Armitage. “Thanks for your response to my ad. The amount of $10000 has been deposited to your bank account. Please meet me, General Armitage, in the street directly outside the Matrix Restaurant as soon as possible.” 10000 credits!!! That should keep me going for a while! I downloaded the money, taking my starting total to $12006 (less the $46 I paid Ratz). With that done, I was now ready to leave Chatsubo and venture out into the city. As soon as I left the building, I noticed it was now locked, with a sign informing potential customers of its closure due to public safety issues. It was time to go exploring!

Well that sure is a heck of a lot more cash than I would have had otherwise!

The first location I entered was the Body Shop. Here I discovered human organs on display, waiting to be refrigerated. A man in a green coat stood nearby, described as having “a permanent smile where his lips have been removed”. His name was Chin and he asked me whether I would “like to sell a body part”!!! One of the messages on the bulletin board had mentioned selling a lung for cash, but I hadn’t really thought I might be able to do it. When I looked through my dialogue options, I pretty much just had the choice to sell or buy organs, including those that I might have already sold previously. I agreed to sell a body part, just to see what would happen, and a list appeared displaying the current most in demand parts. My heart would get me $6000, my eyes $5000, my lungs $3000, my stomach $1500 and so on, right down to my appendix which would only get me $3. I had no idea how I could possibly survive without any of my major organs, but decided it was too early to find out. I declined, and Chin told me to come back if I changed my mind. “We’re offering great deals!”

This reminds me of Blade Runner, although I'm not certain whether there was any influence either way

The next location I visited was Donut World. Inside was an SEA cop at a table eating donuts who immediately told me I wasn’t welcome. “Hey! We don’t allow your kind in Donut World, hamsterheard.” I wondered what exactly he meant by “your kind”, so I responded with “I came in for a donut. Is there some law against that?” It turned out that there was! “This is a donut shop, citizen. Only cops are allowed in donut shops.” The majority of other dialogue options I had only seemed likely to rile the cop up (e.g. “Drop dead, flatfoot”), so I chose to say “Am I ever going to get a break in this game?” just to see what would happen. He merely told me to get out, so I did. Making my way to the right of screen, I came to another shop named Larry’s Rentals. The store contained “walls lined with slivers of microsoft, spikes of colored silicon mounted on cardboard”, and owner Larry Moe. I didn’t yet know what the microsofts purpose was, but I knew how they were installed since Larry had “a dozen microsofts protruding from the carbon socket behind his left ear”.

They finally managed to do it!

Larry asked me if I was interested in buying any “softs”, but then strangely told me he didn’t have any right now. So what the hell are all the chips on the wall for? Also rather odd was that I could tell Larry that I was “looking for the Panther Moderns”, even though I had no idea who or what that was. When I did so I was told that “the Moderns don’t like networking with strangers”. I then asked whether that included “wealthy strangers”, to which Larry responded with “How much would you pay for a meeting with the Moderns?” I had no clue how much I should try, but my options were $100, $200 or $300. I thought I’d try $300, since I was very likely going to have to play through this section again later and could try a lower amount then. Larry agreed, and demanded the cash upfront! As soon as I gave it to him I discovered how harsh Neuromancer was going to be. “What a rube! You really think I’m going to let you just walk in there? But thanks for the donation, man.” Well at least now I knew not to try bribing Larry again!

Using all your own product on yourself isn't good business buddy!

There seemed nothing else to do in Larry’s Rentals, so I moved onto the next location. On entering I figured I was in an establishment that offers adult services. “An attractive woman named Akiko is waiting for you here beside a massage table.” She greeted me and asked “what services may I perform for you today?” My dialogue options included “I’m sure I’ll think of something”, “Uh, excuse me, I’m just passing through”, and “I wanna buy some info, babe.” I had no idea what would happen here (I highly doubted I was about to witness Akiko performing sexual acts), so I saved my game before answering. I chose “I’m sure I’ll think of something”, and was immediately confronted by a lawbot! Apparently even the mere suggestion of sex is against the law, and before I knew it I was standing in a “Justice booth” where a Compu-Judge on a large screen was preparing to dish out justice for my actions. “You have been charged with a serious crime, citizen. I will be your Judge.” A lawyer appeared on a separate screen on the left wall offering me his services for my defense. “You need me. Only 250 credits. In advance.”

Well, um, now that you mention it...

I had the option to pay the lawyer’s fee, to claim that I couldn’t afford it, to defend myself, or to simply shout my disgust. I chose to accept the fee, at which point the Compu-Judge asked how the defendant pleads. My lawyer piped up with “Guilty, your Honor. Defendant requests the death penalty for his crime.” Huh!!!! It seemed to me that no-one can be trusted in this game! While I voiced my distress, the lawyer merely responded with “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.” I was then found guilty, but charged $500 rather than given the death penalty, and sent on my way. I don’t yet know if choosing any other options might let me get off with a lesser fine, but I felt like I was going to get plenty of opportunities to experiment later on. At this point I restored my game and when Akiko asked me what she could do for me, this time I responded with “I wanna but some info, babe”. I got so some too, but it cost me $20. “Here’s a hot tip. The Panther Modern link code is CHAOS. The password is MAINLINE. They can help you.” There’s that Panther Modern group again! I added the link code to my spreadsheet, along with all the other codes I had no idea what to do with.

Help me do what? Does anyone talk straight around here?

Sadly, as soon as Akiko gave me the information, the lawbot appeared again and I was once again facing justice. This time I tried defending myself, but the results were the same, with the humorous addition of the lawyer mocking my failure. It appears I get charged $500 and released no matter what I choose, or so I can tell so far. Just as in Mean Streets, I was now wondering why I couldn’t just restore my game and never pay Akiko for the info now that I already knew it!  As long as I was able to use the link code and password without actually having received it, then why wouldn’t I just save the $520 it cost me to get it? I also wondered what would happen if I went back to Akiko now and asked for more information. The answer is that she gave me more info: “The banking center is on the Freeside orbital colony, but the link number for the Bank of Zurich is BOZOBANK.” As expected, I was once again collected by the lawbot too, but this time I simply restored my game back to prior to asking Akiko anything. I had no idea how many times I could get information out of her, nor did I know how many times I could go through the court proceedings reasonably unscathed, but I decided to move on for now.

There's nothing like being mocked when you've just been found guilty.

The next store I entered was Shin’s Pawn Shop. I knew from Ratz that Shin had been looking for me, wanting me to collect my deck from him. Shin had also left a message on the bulletin board telling me to pick it up or he’d have to sell it. The shop was filled with weapons, jewellery and other “junk that nobody wants”. I accessed my inventory, clicked on the pawn ticket, and then selected Give Item. I was then given some dialogue options, including “Why are you in such a rush to give me my deck back?” and “Okay. Give me the deck. I can’t operate without one.” I was very interested to know why Shin wanted me to get the deck so badly, so I asked. “Your deck scare away good customer. No more favour.” I had no idea why my deck might scare away customers, or why I might have left it with Shin to begin with, but obviously I needed it. Interestingly, when I tried to get it, Shin told me I needed to pay $100 and give him the ticket first. I no longer had the ticket though as I’d already given it to him! Thankfully he gave me my deck anyway, making me wonder what use the ticket had in the first place.

Is my deck really that ugly?!

I thanked Shin for looking after my deck, only to have him throw me out and slam the door on me. I noticed I could no longer get into the pawn shop, so that must be all that I’m required to do there, at least for now. Wandering along the street, I next entered the appropriately named Cheap Hotel. Ratz had also mentioned that I needed to find a way to pay my bill at the hotel or risk being forced to sell my body parts. The description informed me that my room is “number 92, three meters long with an oval hatch at the end”, but before I could try to go there, the management kicked me out due to the aforementioned unpayed bill. They could’ve let me pay it! I guessed I was supposed to find a way to do it from outside the hotel, so continued my exploration of Chiba City. Further south I came to the oddly named Gentleman Loser, which appeared to be a restaurant. There was only one customer there, which was a woman named Shiva. One of my bulletin board messages had told me to see Shiva, with Anonymous Bosch informing me that he’d left my Cryptology skill chip with her. She called out to me as soon as I entered the restaurant: “Hey, geek! C’mere! I got something’ for ya!”

How am I supposed to fix up the bill if you won't even let me in?!

I joked with Shiva that whatever she had better not be contagious, and she responded with “Anonymous was here earlier. If you’re a friend of his, you know what I’ve got for you.” One of my dialogue options was “Ah! You must be referring to the...........” I chose this option and typed “skill chip” into the empty space. “Yeah. You must be Tricky. I got your chip here for ya. I also have Hardware Repair for sale for $1000.” I really didn’t know whether I should be saving up my credits at this stage of the game or buying stuff, but I chose to buy the Hardware Repair chip anyway. I now had $10860, a UXB deck, a Cryptology skill chip and a Hardware Repair skill chip. I decided to spend some time seeing whether I could figure out how to use all this stuff. It also seemed an ideal time to read through the manual, now that I have a basic understanding of the game’s mechanics and at least some of the terminology. I feel like I’m going to be in for the long haul on this one, but I’m not yet sure whether that’s a good or a bad thing.

Shiva really knows how to make a good first impression

Session Time: 0 hours 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 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!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Game 32: Neuromancer - Learning the Ropes

Tricky Journal Entry 1: “Rather oddly, I woke up in Chatsubo today, face down in my dinner. It could have been worse though I guess. I could have eaten it, dying in agony like those other poor unfortunate souls. I really need my deck! I feel naked without it. I’m heading out now to collect it from Shin. I might just drop in at Gentleman Loser on the way. Apparently Shiva has a couple of things for me there too.”

The game has full mouse control, and I can click on options (such as New or Load) with the cursor.

It was just yesterday that I was commenting about how I wanted to keep up the same level of detail in my posts that I’ve had for the past ten or so games, despite Mean Streets taking over a month to get through and producing close to 30000 words out of me in the process (that’s half a short novel!). Well, my first hour long session has made me question just how long I can uphold that. There’s a LOT of dialogue in this game, and that first hour of play produced no less than 237 screenshots! Thank goodness for Lars-Erik’s screenshot solution (which works perfectly by the way), otherwise I wouldn’t have got anywhere at all. So, while I will do what I normally do here, I’ll be summarising much more than I have been to keep things moving, attempting not to skip anything that might become important later. That being said, this first post covers nothing more than the interface, initial mechanics, and the opening room of the game. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be learnt (and explained to the readers) before a player can wander out into Chiba City. Let’s begin…

The first sign that the game won't be following the book. I can choose my name!

Neuromancer began in a way not many adventure games do. It asked me what my name was! The Trickster wouldn’t fit, so in true Australian style I shortened it to Tricky. A click later and I was looking at my new self standing in the middle of a bar called Chatsubo. I’d just woken up “face-down in a plate of synth-spaghetti”, and Ratz (that’s the guy behind the bar with one prosthetic arm) was demanding 46 credits for the non-eaten food. I immediately noticed that I only had $6, so I was already in an interesting predicament. I hadn’t read the manual at this point, so before I did anything I was going to have to spend some time checking out the interface. There were six main buttons on the left hand side, with the first one bringing up an inventory. All I had to begin with was a pawn ticket and the aforementioned credits. Clicking on either of the items brought up a secondary menu where I could “Operate Item”, “Discard Item”, “Give Item” or “Exit”. The second button was labelled PAX, and clicking it gave me access to the “Public Access System”. I now know that I can only access PAX when there is one situated in my current room (there’s one on the back wall of Chatsubo).

"You can see Chiba sky through the window, the color of television tuned to a dead channel." It appears some of the descriptions are straight from the book.

I was given three words or phrases and asked to enter the correct verification code. This was obviously a piracy control, and I believe the game was originally shipped with a code-wheel that players had to refer to whenever they accessed a PAX terminal. Since I’d chosen to run a cracked version of the game, I simply pressed enter and was allowed access. I had four options available to me: 1. First Time PAX User Info. 2. Access Banking Interlink. 3. Night City News 4. Bulletin Board. The user info was really just a hilariously complicated policy for terminal use that managed to include multitudes of unnecessary acronyms such as MPPILC (Multi-Phased Public Information Library Core) and WHOOPEE (World Holographic Organizational Obligation for Electronic Eavesdropping). None of it meant anything, so I moved onto option 2. Here I could download or upload credits, and also view a transaction record, similar to a standard ATM. I could see that I had $2000 in my account, so I chose to take out $500. That should cover the spaghetti with plenty left over, and I didn’t yet know whether there was any danger in carrying large sums of cash around Chiba City (the game is based in Japan in the year 2058). Viewing my transaction log revealed that I’d downloaded another $131 already today, and had been fined $1000 for something or other.

Let's hope I don't have to sell a kidney or a lung to get more credits

I moved onto the Night City News, where I could read two major articles along with the “News in Brief”. The first article described how 87 fatalities had been caused by the synth-spaghetti at a bar named Chatsubo when combined with more than three glasses of beer. The combination creates an explosive chemical which ignites in victim’s stomachs! Well, I was feeling pretty glad that I’d only slept in my spaghetti and apparently not eaten any. The second article talked about a “well-known logic gate crasher” named Jonathan E, who had gone missing. There was speculation that he’d been killed in cyberspace by “black ice”, an illegal form of base protection. I’ll take that as a warning that spending time in cyberspace isn’t without danger. The News in Brief contained a bunch of silly articles, including farm animals that kidnapped a UFO for a joyride, and a man that ate his own head in Donut World. The last article seemed a bit more serious though, discussing the son of the “Prez of Fuji Electric” who has gone missing. Whether or not that will play a role later in the game or not, I can’t say.

87 fatalaties before they did something about it!

Finally there was the bulletin board, where I discovered four messages to the general population, one to Ratz the barman, and seven messages waiting for me! The four messages to the general public were not worthy of discussion, being credits for the game, in-game ads, and a message explaining why there are no messages in the system prior to 11/14/58 (lightning strike). The eight messages for me were clearly very important, so I’ll relate my findings here. 1. Matt Shaw advised me to get my hands on good software from the BBS’s, which he said I would need to figure out what’s going on. He also told me to upgrade my Comlink warez and my equipment so that I could reach better bases and to find “us” in cyberspace as soon as I had enough cash. I didn’t know what much of this was talking about, but assumed I would soon enough. He finished by saying: “We need your help bad, but I can’t talk about it here. Don’t want to start a panic, you know what I mean?” This sounds like the beginning of the plot, so I assume Matt Shaw plays a role down the track. 2. FFargo sent me a message to remind me that I owed him $2000.3. Shin sent me a message telling me that I better pick up my deck at his pawn shop or he’ll have to sell it.

It looks like email doesn't really progress in the next 45 years.

4. Crazy Edo asked me where his caviar was, which he’d apparently committed to trade some software for. 5. Matt Shaw sent another message containing some “comlink numbers to get you started”. The link codes were CHEAPO for Cheap Hotel, REGFELLOW for the Regular Fellows, CONSUMEREV for Consumer Review, ASANOCOMP for Asano Computing, and WORLDCHESS for the World Chess Confederation. I had no idea what to do with these at this stage, but Matt thought they would keep me busy  until I could “afford a cyberspace-capable deck”. 6. Anonymous Bosch messaged me to tell me that he’d dropped off my Cryptology skill chip (that he’d borrowed from me six months ago) with someone named Shiva at a place called Gentleman Loser. 7. Emp. Norton warned me that “something weird’s going on in cyberspace” and that I should “sharpen my skills and keep your head down.” 8. The same Emp. Norton told me that Shiva (the person at the Gentleman Loser) also has a Matrix Restaurant guest pass for me and that we should meet there and talk. The last remaining message was from Red Snake to Ratz and said: “Read about your problem in the Night City News. Did you forget to pay off the Health Department this month? I can fix it. Talk to me.” Clearly there were a lot of dodgy things going on in the Chiba City underground, and no doubt I was going to get caught up in them shortly.

Everyone wants to reach the better bases. Um...what's at the better bases?

I noticed I could also Send a Message on the bulletin board, but since I had nothing to say to anyone, I exited the PAX. Continuing my exploration of the interface, I found that the third main icon allowed me to speak to someone in the room (Ratz in this instance). I was a little confused by the interface here as clicking the left mouse button or pressing the space bar moved through dialogue options without actually saying anything, but I eventually figured out that pressing the right mouse button or the enter key selected the current option onscreen. For example, I could say any of the following things to Ratz in relation to the $46 I owed him for the food: 1. “How about if I owe it to you? You can trust me.” 2. “I’m ready for desert. Have you got any pudding for me to sleep in?” 3. “I’d like to sleep on it some more, if that’s okay with you, Ratz.” 4. “Sorry Ratz. I can’t afford it. Want me to give it back?” None of those options seemed very good to me, particularly as I did now have the cash, but I selected option 1 (by pressing enter) to see what would happen. Ratz’s response was: “Pay up, cyberscum. Use the PAX if you need money.” I figured that was probably to right thing to do, so I went to my inventory, selected my credits, and gave 46 of them to Ratz. “Thanks, friend artiste. Shin came by, but he didn’t want to interrupt your beauty sleep. He still has your deck.”

I won't be giving tips in a joint like this

I talked to Ratz a bit longer, discovering that my deck that Shin had was a Yamamitsu UXB, and that one of Lonny Zone’s girls was looking for me. Finally, he told me that I “better find a way to pay your bill at Cheap Hotel, or they’ll start asking you to sell your body parts.” Wow! Neuromancer was throwing a lot of information at me before I’d even taken a step. Talk about throwing the player into the deep end! I was already starting to notice the RPG qualities of the game, although without any sort of journal to record my “quests” or “clues”, I was going to have to use another spreadsheet. Speaking of RPGs, the fourth button in the interface was for skills, although I apparently had none at this stage. The fifth button would normally give me access to my ROM Construct, but since I didn’t have one, did nothing for the moment. The sixth and final main button allowed me to save my game (and to restore if I wanted to), so I took the opportunity. Only having four save slots was pretty damn scary, particularly as readers have already mentioned that Neuromancer contains lots of dead ends. I’m going to have to use these slots wisely!

4 save game slots!!! Ouch!!! (yes, I realise I could cheat, but where's the fun in that)

The four other smaller icons in the interface merely changed what was displayed in the white panel above them. In order, they displayed the date (currently 11/17/58), the time (currently 01:59), my credit total (currently $460) and my constitution level (currently 2000). I’ve noticed while writing this post that the days are ticking away fairly rapidly, but I have no idea whether anything I need to achieve is time based. That pretty much wraps up everything I need to say about the interface, at least initially. I guess I should also state that my first impressions from a technology point of view are not very good. I’m sure you can tell from the screenshots that the graphics are pretty average, but you wouldn’t be aware of how grating the PC speaker quality music is. It sounds pretty awful, so thankfully it isn’t constant (it does randomly kick in for another run through every now and then). The game has very little sound otherwise, so I imagine I’ll be listening to my own music while playing. I also have concerns about the movement, as there seems to be no way to stop my character from moving in a direction once I start. If I start walking to the right, I can’t press right again to make him stop. I have to change direction or purposely walk into something. Using the mouse is fine for the icons, but makes moving around next to impossible, so I’m going to attempt to memorize the icon key shortcuts and leave the mouse out of it entirely. I’m pretty sure something will actually happen in my next post, so stay tuned!

Just so you know there IS something outside of the first room

Session Time: 0 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 0 hours 20 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!