Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Game 25: Codename: ICEMAN - Restoration Frustration

Johnny Westland Journal Entry 3: “I have successfully plotted a clear path to the location where the Ambassador is being held hostage. Now I have the unenviable task of guiding the USS Blackhawk through all of the waypoints I entered into the computerized charts table. I’m getting more experienced at directing, diving and controlling our speed, but there is still so much that I need to master. I’ve also used the decoding computer to decode a message from Washington, but I’m having some trouble understanding exactly what they want me to do. I realise these guys need to be cryptic, but given I can’t even figure out how to decode a message from the CIA, I have to question whether I’m the right guy for this operation. Hmmmm...maybe I’ll just play dice with the crusty sailor in the galley instead.”


I ended my last post here, mostly because the prospect of the above was very daunting to me.

Bloody hell! Codename: ICEMAN is brutal! I’ve put another two and a half hours into it and only managed to take my score from a lowly 34 to an only slightly better 47. I assume that at some point this game is going to rapidly dump a huge amount of points on me. There are however two other possibilities, which are that the game is really, really long, or that I’m missing out on stacks of points by just plain missing stuff. I really can’t tell which of these three scenarios is an accurate description of my situation, so I’m just going to have to knuckle down and force my way forward.  Now that I know how difficult the game is, I’m surprised no-one placed a bet against me prior to starting. I’m beginning to think you all have too much faith in me, particularly when boats are involved. I know absolutely nothing about boats, not to mention submarines! Of course, you didn’t know that.


I knew I was in trouble as soon as I noticed my country was all but absent from the chart.

My last post ended with me having just received my orders from the safe in Captain Hawkins quarters. I’d spent ages trying to access the obvious second compartment in the briefcase which held the orders, but hadn’t found a way to do it. In the end, I’d figured the solution must come later, so I prepared myself to map my course from wherever I was to the Mediterranean, where the Ambassador was being held captive. To do this, I had to use the “computerized charts table” on the machine in the control room, cross referencing regularly with the navigational chart that came with the game manual to get coordinates. Understanding and then going through this process took me close to an hour!


So I just have to get to Tunisia. Right! Um...where's Tunisia?

The orders had been pretty specific about what path I needed to take to reach my destination. I had to pass through Bering Sea, Bering Straits, the Arctic Ocean, Greenland Sea, Denmark Strait and the North Atlantic on my way to just off the coast of Portugal. The trick was that I had to map a course through all of these bodies of water using no more than six waypoints. The boat would have to travel between each of the waypoints in a straight line, so each consecutive set of coordinates could not cross over land. Thankfully, the on-board navigation computer would simply not accept waypoints that would require the impossible, so I could cut things as fine as I could, bringing trial and error into it.


I'm gonna make it! I'm really gonna make it!

The first set of waypoints I entered (you can see them on the left side of the display) successfully got me from 30 N 170 W (my starting point) to 36 N 12 W (my destination) on the display, but my maximum deviation of 700 nautical miles was too far from the optimal course. I tinkered until I had a 450 nautical mile deviation, which the computer accepted, but the perfectionist part of me realised I still had an extra waypoint up my sleeve and wanted to do better. I eventually got it down to a 250 nautical mile maximum deviation, which I was pretty happy with. I failed to pay any attention to whether or not I received more points for the accuracy, but I assume I did.


250 nautical miles you say? Is that good?

What I haven’t mentioned in the above plotting description was that my previously mentioned geographical retardation played a massive role in delaying my progress. The navigational chart PDF I have does mention a few of the oceans and seas that the game demanded I journey through, but it doesn’t bother to tell me what any of the countries are in the vicinity. How am I supposed to map a path along the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland, when I have no idea where either of those countries are on a world map? Needless to say, my friend Google helped me out with my deficiency (I would have resorted to an atlas back in the day), meaning it was only a matter of time before I achieved what no sane person would ask me to do in real life.


Thank you Google! I don't know what I'd do without you.

With the course plotted, it was time to hop back behind the controls and to navigate the USS Blackhawk through said path. Within seconds of pushing the throttle I was informed of sonar contact. Thinking the worst, I immediately turned to the manual to see how I was going to crack out the weapons if needed, but my fears were allayed when it turned out to be a friendly. A message came up telling me that a message was coming through, so I sat back and waited for it. The same message kept flashing at me until finally the game realised I wasn’t going to do anything and game overed me for not doing something about it!


YOU HAD PLENTY OF TIME TO TELL ME I WAS SUPPOSED TO GET THE MESSAGE

Like usual, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. The manual gave some help around decoding messages, but made no mention of how to receive them. Eventually I tried standing up, and it was only then that I realised one of the two guys sitting near me was a radioman. It would have been nice if the game had given me a bit of a walkthrough of the submarine when I first came aboard, but it looks like I’m going to have to figure out who is who and what is what on the fly. Anyway, the radioman handed me a message from Washington, and a second one from CIA command headquarters. They were just a bunch of letters, so I was going to have to decode them.


No need to be rude about it!

I made my way down to my quarters and cranked up the decoding computer I’d seen earlier. It asked me for primary and secondary word keys, so I entered FH-E-D and FF-E-H (these were the two codes the radioman gave me that made up the message from Washington). To my surprise, this resulted in nothing but gibberish. I read the book on decoding that I’d found on the bookshelf and was shown a list of letters with numerical values assigned to them. OK, so all I had to do was match the letters with numbers, and enter the result into the decoder. 15-2-4 and 11-2-5 would do the trick! Nope, gibberish was once again the result. At this point I turned to the manual once again, where I found my answer.


That's it!? That's the Navy code book?!

It turned out that the resulting numbers I’d come to represented pages, lines and words in the manual. This gave me a primary key word of STEER and a secondary key word of 4100. Entering these into the decoding computer gave me the following message: “Contacting fisherman...Locate fisherman’s net. Signal your presence by placing a bottle in net. When way is clear...Fisherman will remove bottle. Receive next communiqué at next waypoint.” Huh?! What the hell does that mean? What’s “fisherman’s net” referring to? I really had no idea what to make of the message, so I decided to decode the CIA one, hoping it would make more sense.


So how do I decode the decoded message?

Feeling confident with the decoding process, I used the code book to come up with 4-3-2 and 81-1-5. There was one major issue with that though! There was no page 81, or anything close to it! WTF? I went through all my screenshots, trying to find how I was supposed to decode the CIA message, but came up empty handed. I skimmed through the manual again, but also found nothing there. I was well and truly stumped! I clung to the hope that somehow the answer would become apparent at a later stage and decided to see what would happen if I now got back behind the controls and continued through Bering Strait. I was able to push ahead, following the Captain’s instructions, until we came into contact with another vessel.


Sure, let's crack open some beers while we're at it!

The captain suggested he and I go “topside for some fresh air while radio is making contact”. We climbed the ladder and appeared topside for a nice looking sunset, but something was wrong. The captain looked through his binoculars and mumbled for a while, then gave them to me. Through them I saw two Russian destroyers, and moments later the Blackhawk was ripped apart by a torpedo. OK, so what did I do wrong? Was I supposed to make sense of the Washington message and do something? Was I supposed to figure out how to decode the CIA message? Was I supposed to disobey the captain’s instructions while navigating and take a different path? I just didn’t know the answer, so I decided to explore the submarine. To this point I’d not really had the opportunity to do so.


Oooohhhh...pretty!!! Those Russian destroyers look amazing in the sunset!

While exploring, I found a room I hadn’t come across before. There was a galley downstairs with a chef cooking burgers in a kitchen. On a table was a bottle of rum. Was this the bottle I was supposed to place in the “fisherman’s net”? Surely that statement was code for something else. When I tried to pick up the rum, a man appeared out of nowhere and challenged me to a game of dice. If I could beat him then he’d give me the rum, but if I lost he’d take the remaining cash that I didn’t even realise I had. With no other options available to me, I agreed to his little game. The dice game was a cross between Yahtzee and Poker, with each player rolling five dice out of a cup. After both players have a roll, the player with the best “hand” becomes “boss”. The best hand is decided as you might expect, although straights don’t count for anything.


Would you be interested in telling me what happened to that wall over there?

Whoever becomes “boss” then decides whether they will roll any dices again, and if so, which ones. Once the roll is complete, the “boss” can then decide whether to call the other player or end that particular game. If they call the other player, that player gets one last chance to roll a better “hand”. When a player wins, it counts as a “leg”, and if they win twice, it counts as a “horse”. It didn’t take me long to win a horse, which in turn meant the bottle of rum was mine. Interestingly the man then asked if I wanted to continue betting for money alone. I thought what the heck (anything to avoid getting back behind the controls) and set out to add all the guys cash to my pockets. I won some and I lost some, and in the end it took me about thirty minutes to finally win enough horses to rid him of notes.


Notice I'm on 47 points.

It’s worth noting at this stage that I’d been saving my game fairly regularly, and as soon as I lost a couple of horses in a row I’d restore. The last time I restored a message popped up rather directly asking whether I was saving my game to avoid losing! Was that a random message or was the game counting how many times I restored during the gambling section?! Well, I had an opportunity to find out because this guy was still not willing to walk away. He now offered me an electronic device (that apparently neutralises magnetic fields) for a chance to win his money back! Well that was unexpected! I agreed, and the battle of dices continued. In a stroke of bad luck, I lost the next two games, and subsequently lost everything! I hadn’t actually realised we were playing one game with everything on the line, but I don’t think I would have done anything differently had I known.


Notice I'm still on 47 points? This game is stingy!

Anyway, the bastard took the money and ran, leaving me with no option but to restore back to that final bet. My worst fears came true when a message popped up saying “Now lad I won’t be playin’ with ye restorin’ every time you lose. That be cheatin’!” He then took everything and left. Damn it! Oh how I wish I knew that when I started the gambling section. There were a couple of times I restored there were I really didn’t need to. To start the whole thing again would take the majority of an hour, and there was no guarantee that I would win this time around. I’d been overwriting my “gambling” save game too, so I had no earlier save game to go to. I couldn’t believe that the game would be this cruel, and thought it likely that the rum was all I really needed. Perhaps the device was a bonus item, but not really required? Either way, I once again couldn’t see how any of this was going to help me get past the Russian destroyers. I decided to go to the readers for some advice.


Sierra smashes down the fourth wall

I’d asked to be told if I was a “dead man walking” during my last post, and while no-one seemed confident enough to say I definitely was, there were a couple of things I’d missed earlier on in the game that I was informed may or may not make things difficult for me down the track. Was I facing one of those situations now? I decoded Lars-Erik’s first hint (using ROT13, not my decoding book!) and read “is your ID card yours?” That seemed a very odd question to me! Of course my ID card was mine! I’d already used it to gain entrance to the Pentagon and to pass the guards inside. Surely they would have noticed if my ID wasn’t...hang on a second...I hadn’t noticed my ID card in my inventory for quite a while. It certainly wasn’t there when I was trying to get into the second compartment of the briefcase. No, I didn’t have my ID card! I didn’t have any ID card at all!!!


Hey...who stole my ID card!?

I restored to a few older games to try to figure out exactly when I lost possession of the card, eventually figuring out that I didn’t have it once I left the Pentagon. Did that last guard I showed it to hold onto it? Yes he did! I failed to notice that he took it after the first two guards merely looked at it and gave it back to me. Not only that, even if I had of asked him for the card back, he would have given me the wrong one accidentally. Wow, you've really got to pay attention during that part of the game! How would the card help me in my current situation anyway? I decided that it probably wouldn’t, so I read Lars-Erik’s second hint. “You’re missing something from the island. A good spy never stops at just a dance.” The game let me leave the island without having everything I needed!? That’s brutal! Was I really going to have to start again!? Ilmari and Fenrus both suggested I didn't, with Ilmari adding in ROT13 that both of the hints are only required to “crack the CIA codes”. Well at least now I didn’t feel so stupid about not being able to crack them!


Joe was nervous working his first day of employment in the Pentagon!

What to do??? Start again or simply ask for the answer to cracking the CIA codes? Feeling sorry for myself, I continued to take in the reader comments, eventually coming across another Ilmari hint in ROT13. “CIA codes require adding three to every number.” I have no idea how anything I might have found on the island would let me know that, but the game gave me absolutely no hints that I’d missed anything or for what purpose I might have needed it. So, for the sake of the blog, I’m going to ask some questions. 1. Do I need the device? 2. Do I need the ID card? 3. How was I supposed to know how to crack the CIA codes? 4. Is decoding the CIA message going to be enough to help me get past the Russian destroyers? 5. If not, then can someone give me a hint as to what I'm supposed to be doing? Oh dear...I’m afraid I’m not doing very well with this game.


What happens if you just take the Major's ID card?

Session Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 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 asked some specific questions at the end of the post, so you're all welcome to answer them, preferably without giving anything else away.

84 comments:

  1. I started yesterday to play ICEMAN, and I am not yet as far as you are, but here are some hints as far as I remember:

    CIA code:
    Hint 1. (jebat vasbezngvba rneyvre sebz zr) Lbh arrq gb tb onpx gb Gnuvgv.
    Hint 2: Lbh jvyy trg zrnaf gb penpx gur PVN pbqr sebz n gbgnyyl enaqbz (sebz gur fgbel cbvag bs ivrj) rapbhagre
    Hint 3: Jung jbhyq Wnzrf Obaq qb jura ur zrrgf n tbbq ybbxvat jbzna?
    Hint 4: Nsgre fcraqvat gur avtug jvgu Fgnpl, lbh pna trg fbzrguvat gung rneyvre qvqa'g rkvfg
    Spoiler: Fyrrc jvgu Fgnpl, gura trg gur rneevat sebz fnaq bhgfvqr ure uhg. Gur rneevat pbagnvaf n zvpebsvyz jvgu gur PVN pbqrf. Lbh jvyy nyfb arrq lbhe VQ pneq.

    ID:
    Hint 1: Lbh jvyy arrq vg
    Spoiler: Lbh pna bcra gur bgure pbzcnegzrag jvgu vg

    Dice game:
    Hint 1: Lbh pna svavfu jvgubhg trggvat nal bs gur vgrzf

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  2. There was a reason I'm not playing along with this one. I played it many years ago, and had my fill of it then. :p

    1) Lbh qb abg arrq gur qrivpr, ohg vg jvyy znxr n pregnva ovg bs gur tnzr rnfvre.
    2) V gubhtug lbh qvq, ohg fvapr rirelobql ryfr frrzf gb guvax vg'f whfg rkgen, V pna'g or fher.
    3) Gb xabj guvf, lbh arrq gb bcra gur oevrspnfr. Vyznev tnir vg gb lbh fvapr lbh qvqa'g/pbhyqa'g bcra vg.
    4) Abg ol vgfrys. Znlor lbh'er abg fhccbfrq gb nibvq gurz?

    Let's just say it's not about to get any easier for a while.

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    1. If you want to avoid starting all over again (I won't rot13 this, as it seems to be quite apparent anyway..). I think it is possible to continue by just breaking back the fourth wall and cracking the CIA code without actually getting it in-game (I think the code is always same..) Just replay the Tahiti part to see what you missed and then restore back.

      I don't think the ID or anything else you missed earlier is required later in the game.. not 100% sure, though.

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    2. Actually, if you just get the idea that there’s a certain number you have to add to the Washington codes to get the CIA codes, it’s fairly easy to deduce what number it should be: you get a two-digit page number starting with 8 and all the code boxes in the manual are in pages between 1-19, so a) the real code number must be something between 10-19 (because the code has two digits), thus b) number 8 is transformed into number 1, hence, c) the offset code must be three (when you get above 9, you start from 0).

      I think it’s also fair to solve it like this, because a) it's posisble that the agent does use this sort of reasoning to crack the code and b) all the information you get from the safe is actually just the number 3 (or a bunch of numbers, one of which is 3), and you still have to figure out how it is related to the Washington code.

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    3. But how do you know that the CIA codes require adding a specific number to all three digits of both codes? Maybe I just don't think the same way you do, but I'm not sure I would ever have just randomly tried that.

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    4. CIA should just use ROT13, it would make our lives much easier..

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    5. Trick: I know that's the weak point in my deduction :) But it was difficult to figure it out, even if you did know the number.

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  3. Thanks to you both. It appears not sleeping with Stacy (whoever that is) on Tahiti has made the game awfully confusing and difficult. That hardly seems fair as a) it wasn't obvious that I needed to and b) I received orders to leave the island ASAP and was allowed to do so without any mention of not having done something important.

    Neither of you gave me any hints about the Russian destroyer situation, so I can only imagine it will make sense if I go back and complete some of this other stuff. I think I have to face up to the fact that I really should start again. I may not have to, but I'm hardly going to be able to give the game an accurate appraisal if I don't have a clue what's going on.

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    1. It's (not) funny when you realize who Stacy actually is. A bit too far-fetched, what do you think..

      I am still insecure, if the CIA code is needed at all, as I cannot remember what the content of the message is. Regarding the destroyer, I don't think the code has any connection to it, but I might be badly mistaken.

      Destroyer (according to my memory).

      Hint 1: Jung qb gbhtu thlf qb jura snpvat na rarzl irffry va n fhoznevar.
      Hint 2: Unir lbh sbhaq nal jrncbaf ba gur fho?
      Hint 3: Whfg znxr fher gurl shapgvba cebcreyl. V guvax vg vf rnfl gb eha bhg bs gvzr urer, fb znxr fher lbh unir tbbq fnir tnzrf.
      Spoiler: Fvax vg! Abg na rnfl gnfx, vs V erzrzore pbeerpgyl. Tbbq guvat fnir-fphzzvat vf abg chavfurq urer..

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    2. I'm guessing she's the same agent that will be disguised as a muslim? That is very, very far fetched indeed, if that does turn out to be the case.

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    3. @Fenrus re: your comment about Stacy. Now I think I may have figured that out -- if I'm correct, the hint was in plain view actually. Then again I may be completely wrong. :-)

      I'm still pissed that I missed the dance. I think I made an offhand remark or tried to kiss her, and she waved me off. Never go full Larry, I guess...

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    4. Ah Trickster, I see you called that out. That's what I thought. I can't know for sure yet, but I do know that the agent's photo displayed at the meeting was VERY similar to Sandy's close up shot (which actually would explain it, by the way).

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    5. My biggest issue with the Stacy scene was that there didn't appear to be any way to sit with her. I tried sitting down twenty different ways and kept being told "you need to find a seat first". I think I was only able to sit with her after I'd danced with her and bought her a drink. That's just stupid, and very misleading, particularly now that I know how important she is to the game.

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  4. Oh boy. Trickster, if it's any consolation, I'm ahead of you and I DID ask for my ID card back at the island, but never thought of looking back at it! Never mind that I never even danced with the girl at the bar :-(

    I didn't decode the CIA message and I'm as perplexed as you regarding the Washington one. But I pushed forward through clever "kiting", if you will. I may be stuck in a long dead-end alley anyway if the CIA message turns out to be vital. It all depends on this actually as to whether we should start over. If not, keep at it! I warn you though, you'll have to fight for the next batch of points - no sudden increase I'm afraid...

    Hints for the destroyer part:

    Hint 1: Gel gnxvat gur ovabphynef sebz gur pncgnva n frpbaq gvzr. Guvf fubhyq cebzcg uvz gb hetr lbh gb tb onpx gb gur pbageby ebbz.
    Hint 2: Lbh unir gb qb fbzrguvat ORSBER zrrgvat gur qrfgeblre gubhtu. Guvf vf gb nibvq lbh fbzr tevrinapr. V fhttrfg nibvqvat gur pncgnva ba qrpx fb nf abg gb gevttre gur fprar lrg. Qb fbzr zber rkcybevat!

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    1. Washington message: It will become very apparent what it means, when you get that far ;)

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  5. The destroyer: I was caught in the very exact position for a few days, when I played the game. There’s apparently a very nasty timer in this one or then a bug of some sort. You’ll have to talk with captain and press Enter like all hell was lose, and when possible, go directly to your console. Adjusting game speed might also help.

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    1. I don't think it's a timer thing. I didn't even have an opportunity to take control of Johnny. I looked through the binoculars and then wham...I was dead.

      I still don't know how I'm going to get past that, but at least now I have some new things to explore.

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    2. Mmmh. Now that you say that Trickster I do think there may be a weird timer thing involved. I suggest slowing down the game and/or trying my previous destroyer hint and see what happens...

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    3. Oh great. Maybe my game was just bugged! I haven't actually tried facing the destroyers in this new play through. I'll see if I can fix this conveyor problem first.

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    4. I had problems with this part when I played too, but eventually it just worked somehow and I was able to leave the conning tower without getting sunk. Still not sure if I did anything differently that time, but on the plus side I didn't have to change game speed or find a patch or anything like that.

      I remember feeling proud of myself for checking the ID card the first time through. I didn't think about what a pain it would be to miss that. Never mind, I missed plenty of other stuff to make up for it. :)

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  6. Some extra comments:

    - Actually the manual does tell you to walk up to the sonar guy. This has been without question the most consulted manual for any adventure game I've played so far!
    - The perfectionist in me fought the waypoints until I got 300 miles deviations. Good work Trickster! You do get more points the closer you are. I had to actually slow down the game in DOSBox to be able to be precise with the numbers: why not giving us the option to enter them manually??
    - I had to throw my hands in the air at the briefcase, forever locked -it seems- in the captain's safe. No way to get it back as far as I can see, but then again, I missed the girl on the island... grrrr
    - You can save up to three times in the dice game I think. It was the biggest aggravation for me so far, especially because the animations are so freaking slow and it takes forever. For this one I had to speed up DOSbox and I actually played (clicked through) the dice game while working on some other real life stuff.

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    1. The game seems to require knowing, for no precisely logical reason, that you'll know you should do specific things during certain times that aren't otherwise explicitly laid out for you. With regards to the briefcase being locked away forever Charles the game expects that: Jura gur Pncgnva svefg ergevrirf gur gur oevrspnfr sebz gur fnsr naq lbh obgu bcra vg gung lbh gura nfx uvz sbe gur pbzovangvba gb obgu, fvapr nf gur rkrphgvir bssvpre lbh'ir tbg gur evtug gb unir gung vasbezngvba juvpu vf arire fgngrq naljurer va gur znahny, lbh'er whfg rkcrpgrq gb fbzrubj xabj gung 'jryy bs pbhefr gur Pncgnva jvyy whfg tvir zr gur pbzovangvba gb gur fnsr va uvf cevingr dhnegref vs bayl V nfx!'. Don't have a save that far back? Don't want to suffer through Boss Dice again just to crack that briefcase? Read on for the spoiler if you want: Gur pbzovangvba vf abg enaqbz sbe gur fnsr vg'f Gjb Guerr Sbhe Sbhe Rvtug Rvtug Mreb Guerr naq gur unys bs gur oevrspnfr pbqr lbh qba'g unir vf Frira Fvk Gjb sbyybjrq ol gur cneg lbh nyernql xabj bs Bar Guerr Sbhe.

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    2. Jarikith, thanks for the hints. Haven't looked at them yet as I'm still hopeful I can get out of the sticky situation I'm in without help, but will come back to them if/when everything fails. :-)

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  7. Right, it's taken me two hours to get back to where I was, but this time I managed to sleep with Stacy and win the device off the guy in the galley (didn't have to restore once). I still don't know how to decode the CIA message though!

    Anyway, I've just found that there is a whole area on the aubmarine that I didn't even know was there! This game is making me feel (and look) stupid.

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    1. Obviously I do know how to decode the CIA code as I read Ilmari's hint, but I want to try to figure out how I'm supposed to know that before I actually decode it.

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    2. Oh, and I got my ID card back too, so I don't think I'm missing anything now.

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    3. Right on Trickster. Eventually I got stuck and I went looking for more areas in the sub. The manual did mention more so I knew they had to be somewhere. They're not clearly marked mind you, and the character's diagonal movement is more annoying than helpful.

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    4. How has your point total changed?

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    5. Dramatically! I was on 51 points when I left Tahiti, which is 4 more points than I'd got in the whole game prior to restarting.

      I can't remember what I'm on now. Around 80 I think.

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    6. 51 points just off the island? That's crazy. Hope I don't have to restart myself...

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  8. Look at it this way Trickster, you've already gotten farther than I remember getting when playing this one as a ~10yo.

    I never had the patience for constant manual reading to get through puzzles. And if the solution to the "puzzle" is to strictly follow the instructions in the manual then it isn't much of a puzzle is it?

    This game is meeting my expectation of extreme frustration. I do give it credit though, it looks far better than I remember. I'm not sure the Sierra graphics will get better than this until KQ5.

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    1. I'm sure Trickster's pleased to know he's out-thinking a 10 year old ;)

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  9. Feel free to ignore me, but my inner grammar nazi wouldn't let me pass by without saying this. Its dice, not dices. Dice is the plural form of die. Oh, and you are already much further in this game than we ever got. I don't think the game ever let us get on the sub.

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  10. Man, I'm wishing I'd bid way lower on this one.

    Yeah, some of these puzzles are pretty dumb. Doubly so if they track reloading the game!

    Also; why on earth would the CIA send you a message they didn't know you could decode, and why would they have you plot the course instead of someone on the submarine? This plot makes no sense!

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    1. Canageek, I've been wondering exactly the same.. And not only plotting the course, but why is the protagonist actually steering the submarine and fighting the battles as well, instead of the submarine captain??

      And just wait to see how the CIA coding/decoding unravels.. no spoilers, but it is actually even worse.

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    2. I'm all for picking on the flaws with the game design like the dreaded dead ends, but you're actually questioning basic video game tropes here. Of course we need to man the ship, plot the course, fix the torpedo ourselves and save the world! Johnny would be some hero if he were in charge of the payroll.

      @Canageek: it's not that the CIA doesn't know whether you can decode the message, it's that the game is badly designed in a way that the plot is fixed but you may skip crucial scenes and not be warned about it.



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    3. Fenrus: At least with the battles there is some explanation why the captain isn't there to do it...

      Charles: So you are still playing without knowing the CIA messages? Just wondering how far you've managed to get so far (I am still positive that it's possible to beat the game without cracking them).

      Can't really remember, was there any explanation why Johnny has to board a submarine that's no way near Tunisia? Wasn't there any on the east coast?

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    4. @Ilmari: I am still playing, though regarding the CIA message I'm not sure I'm out of hot water yet (ha!) It turned out I had missed a whole section of the sub (like Trickster) so I got distracted doing zrgnyyhetl puberf. Tomorrow I hope to get a chance to advance things and find out if I'm irremediably stuck.

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    5. @Charles: Yep, I know but there are just too many far-fetched things in the credibility of the story, which I just cannot ignore without at least complaining a little.. :). The CIA message is actually my main issue..

      @Ilmari: The submarine has some kind of a anti-noise system, so maybe it's a prototype and thus the only one that can approach without being noticed.. (btw, Hunt for the Red October is one of my favorite movies..)

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    6. Charles: Didn't you meet that women BEFORE the briefing? Also, even James Bond when he took a submarine didn't drive it, and he was ex-Navy!

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    7. Canageek: yes, you meet her before... not sure I follow you. I assumed she's there on the island keeping tabs on you, or something. I guess we'll see.

      Also, James Bond drives far more stuff than a sub, including tanks, boats and choppers (not sure if a spaceship in Moonraker). As Ilmari pointed out ICEMAN does provide a reason for you to finally have to endure the Russian attack. Are you playing the game too?

      (If I really wanted to find fault with the game's story, my pick would be the engineer's "Ok, call me if you need anything" before leaving you to repair the sophisticated weapons systems in the torpedo room. That was hilarious.)

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    8. Charles: He did not fly a spaceship in Moonraker, he took an escape casual down, which you don't have any control over. All of those are significantly easier to drive then a freaking submarine.

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    9. I can't believe you're seriously arguing this, Canageek :-)
      Tell you what: feel free to imagine that Johnny took a crash course on submarine handling during the weekend. That'll make that plot point more digestible and at least put it on par with the general plausibility of the typical Bond movie. Johnny doesn't have a Q to provide him with a car that transforms into a mini-sub; hence the need for more conventional transportation.

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    10. I find that in-game reasons for doing unreasonable things only matter when doing those unreasonable things is not fun. Which definitely is the case here.

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    11. That's exactly it unimural. I wouldn't mind if I started firing lasers at alien eggs found in the bottom of the ocean. Just don't make me go through that dice game again.

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    12. Those playing along may recall from the briefing that this mission will earn Westland his 'Gold Dolphins' the insignia of a Naval Officers Submarine Warfare Division qualification. That's story reason (though not explained out in full detail) for why he's doing the majority of this grunt work on the sub. Normally this is process lasts a year (we don't know what he's done prior to this mission to work towards earning the qualification) and does (according to the source of all knowledge in the cosmos Wikipedia) cover virtually all the sub's systems. So yes, the Captain is running Westland through the paces to make sure he's not just coasting through earning the Dolphins by being a big shot spy hero foisted on him and actually knows the systems. We should just be glad he's not having you run the sonar and radio stations too. :P

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    13. Ah yes... Boss Dice.. that's why I took a few days break between plays, just to get over having to wade through Boss Dice, the entire middle of which is contrived filler. How contrived? The money you play for doesn't exist except for in the Dice game! Westland doesn't have money beforehand in his inventory (except for 50 cents waaaay back on the island), doesn't have money in it afterwards, the money is never seen again, never used again. It's just magically present specifically for the dice game to stretch it out.

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    14. @Jarikith: and let's not forget the ethical issue. Is a Navy officer allowed to gamble while on duty? And for a bottle of rum, no less? :-)

      @Ilmari: I have now just finished qbqtvat fbzr vproretf and V'z orvat cvatrq ol na vpr fgngvba. I wonder if I am safe from the potential consequences of not having deciphered the CIA messages?

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    15. If James Bond is allowed to gamble on duty, why not John West also? Although the setting is a bit less glamorous ;) The only redeeming quality in the dice game is that it's optional...

      My main worry about the CIA messages was that the plot wouldn't go on unless the codes were cracked, but this doesn't seem to be the case - taking the "driver's seat" appears to be the only trigger for the plot progression in the submarine. If that's so, the CIA messages exist only for their information value. You pretty much know already what the first message would have said (it just tells that gurer'f Ehffvnaf va gur cbyne nern) and I don't think the rest pose any insurmountable difficulties either.

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    16. Interesting. I just watched a video about possible deaths in the game and noticed that when you are supposed to plot the course, if you just wait for few minutes without doing anything, the captain will come back and say something like "If you are confused about it, just follow me and come back to control room" (and if you don't follow him, you'll be fired). This sounds like plotting the course would also be optional. Does anyone playing have a handy save game to see whether this is really so?

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    17. I did get that death, but I think if you follow him he just walks you to the map screen in case you don't know what to do. I would think the plotting part is too important to be skipped given the nice map that comes with the game. I'll check later to be sure.

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    18. So Ilmari, I wonder if there's a way to dead end the game at all? Could it be that all our fears were unfounded?

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    19. Two possibilities come to my mind, but you and Trick are way past them. a) If you leave the island without your ID, you won’t get to your briefing in Pentagon, and b) if you leave the briefing without your orders, you won’t get into the submarine. Both are quite obvious and the punishment is almost immediate, so I don’t think they are very harsh dead ends. It seems that the game is far more notorious on this account than it should be – the most famed dead ends just prevent you from having a perfect score.

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  11. There's a new adventure game on GOG called Defender's Quest. It looks more like an RPG to me though, but after the recent Hero-U discussions, that line is more blurry than ever.

    http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/defenders_quest

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  12. There's also a Halloween sale on GOG that includes Botanicula, The Gobliiins trilogy, Little Big Adventure 2, and the first three Simon the Sorcerer games. The Gobliiins and Simon the Sorcerer games are all part of the playlist.

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  13. That was a bit of a roundabout course you set from Hawaii. North, Through the Bering Strait, then way north and east over Canada, Then down and west along Greenland?! It's been years since I played, and I cannot remember if there is a time pressure, but there is a much faster route. Why not sale East and through the Panama Canal (the really thin strip at the bottom of North America. Then it's just NE to Denmark.
    Really enjoy the Blog, I been reading it for quite some time. Between you and CRPG addict, both my preferred genres are covered.
    BTW: I think looking up geography on Google is fantastic use of "game time" reminds me of Addicts "What have you learned from video games" Question.

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    1. I was thinking of the panama canal myself, but realized it might be obvious a sub is going through it. But why didn't they go under the icepack in Canada? Sure, there isn't an easy northwest passage to boats, but to a sub that can go under the ice?

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    2. I just reread it, and the directions are specific, oops missed that. and yeah I think Both the US and the USSR even the Brits, were messing around (under our backyard) up there during the cold war.. probably still are. =)

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    3. Also, if Fenrus' assertion that the sub has a new unique drive system is true, then going through the Panama Canal would expose it to viewing by Russian spies and that is definitely not something you would do.

      Isn't this supposed to be a time sensitive mission too? It would take quite some time for a ship to travel that far in RL.

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  14. Good news! A sequel to Dreamfall is under development!

    http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nfi.no%2Fbransje%2Ftildelinger%2Ftildelinger2012%2Finteraktive_produksjoner%2Fdr%25C3%25B8mmefall-kapitler

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    1. Latest news; it'll be Kickstartered, sometime next year.

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    2. Awesome news! The Longest Journey series (along with Syberia) are what brought me back to adventure games. Very excited at the prospect of continuing the journey.

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  15. It seems like it may be annoying for those playing, but this game is more fun to read about than the last one, despite the (unfair?) difficulty.

    I'm expecting my score guess of 46 to be too much by at least 5.

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  16. Awesome idea syncing up Hero's Quest with Chet, considering the hybrid game from both sides will be very interesting!

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    1. Indeed, it is! I wondered at first why Chet called Codename Iceman a porn game, but then I realized Trickster still has to endure Emmanuelle ;)

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    2. Really looking forward to it, mostly because I'll be playing along.

      I'll be taking suggestions for character class/hybrid too, and will provide character save files for those joining in later on (for the other games in the series).

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    3. Chet and I have discussed this on and off for a while. I suggested I'd be ready to play Hero's Quest around the 16th of this month, but Codename: ICEMAN is proving a tough cookie to crack! I may have to move Hero's Quest above Emmanuelle to make sure we both get to the game at the same time.

      Hmmmm...should I choose my character type or let you guys do it for me?

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    4. I consider the thief to be the most interesting (read munchkin) choice, as he can do (iirc) everything. Still, none of the classes are exactly limited. You can play as a hybrid with all the characters, and the class choice is more of a starting point. I think mage is the hardest to start with due to comabt. In the later games some sections are more limited by the choice of class.

      I say go with what you want.

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    5. It's about time you get to choose something as well. Just go for it.

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    6. Chet can always delay, no need to rush... I'm being a little selfish here because I want to have a good breaking point myself to join you. :) He has Nethack to fall back on in case he finishes Dark Heart of Uukrul, plus Star Saga 2 should fill a couple posts.

      Personally, I think I'm going to play through all three characters eventually, but I'll start with the class that neither Trickster nor Chet selects. I always picked thief, so I'm looking forward to actually trying one of the other classes.

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    7. As long as Trick, Chet and Zenic are all going to play different classes, I'd say the readers will get the full experience - so feel free to choose whatever you like.

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    8. Yes, you're right Ilmari. Since no-one seems to be determined to make me play one way or another, I hereby claim fighter as my Hero's Quest class!

      I've always been attracted to the more combat focussed action while playing RPGs, and since I probably won't play a true RPG for years, I may as well scratch that itch. Fighter it is!

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  17. Ok, here's a coded message for Ilmari with details of my current situation. Deciphering...
    Jvgu gur Qvire gb uryc guebhtu gur errs
    Anivtngvba -V gubhtug- jbhyq or oevrs
    Ohg V srne V jvyy qebja
    Sbe vg xrrcf oernxvat qbja
    Naq gur cnefre vf tvivat zr tevrs

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    1. A limerick, very nice indeed! There's still one CIA message with relevant information left (the second just says that you should xrrc gur fho orybj fhesnpr) and the problem you now have isn't related to it (I think you probably know where and how you should tackle this puzzle, so I won't give any hints).

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    2. I'm sure I have everything I need to solve this problem but the parser is being incredibly obtuse. >:-(

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    3. Znlor lbh fubhyq purpx guvatf bire.

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    4. I have, Jarikith, and I'm confident I have all the stuff I need:
      n jnfure, n ahg naq n jerapu, nyy frg gb gur evtug fvmr

      ...but the game keeps rejecting everything I throw at it. Feedback is lousy, too.

      I'll see if I can figure something out with a fresh brain tomorrow...

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    5. In that case: Qb jvgu gurz jung lbh qb gb chg n cebtenz ba n pbzchgre.

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    6. I just hate bad parser! Well, this is a command sequence that should work:

      a) Chg jnfure ba funsg
      b) Chg ahg ba funsg
      c) Gvtugra ahg jvgu jerapu

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    7. @Ilmari Yep, those will work. Out of curiosity I tried a few alternates beyond what the official hint book provides as the proper method with the up with the following results: 'chg jnfure/ahg ba'/chg ba jnfure/ahg' jvgu be jvgubhg 'funsg', 'cynpr jnfure/ahg ba'/'cynpr ba jnfure/ahg' ntnva jvgu be jvgubhg 'funsg', frrz gb or gur bayl ivnoyr ercynprzragf sbe 'vafgnyy' sbe ynfg pbzznaq gur svany ovg 'jvgu jerapu' vfa'g arrqrq.

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  18. @Ilmari I just peeked at the first one and I could swear I typed that. I'm positive I tried chg ahg va funsg. Maybe my brain was fried. Unfortunately I left my saves at the office so I'll have to wait until Monday to check :-(

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    1. Could it be so simple that you tried VA, but it should be BA?

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    2. That would definitely cause it not to parse. Just tried that version and it was all, 'You can't do that.'

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    3. As Trickster would put it: bloody hell!
      Getting the right preposition is one of my everlasting struggles with English. I'll try that next time, thanks guys for the nudge!

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