Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Game 25: Codename: ICEMAN - Radiation Causation

Johnny Westland Journal Entry 4: “I have spent some time exploring the rest of the USS Blackhawk. I feel if I am going to do a good job as second in command, I need to have awareness for everything that goes on in this technologically advanced submarine. Good thing I did too, as I came across a fairly significant issue with the weapons conveyor belt in the torpedoes room. It took me quite a while, but I’ve managed to fix it, figuring out where the various maintenance tools and equipment are in the process. I’m really looking forward’ve got to go! It appears there are some Russian destroyers on the horizon. We may have need for those weapons sooner than I thought!”

Previously on Codename: ICEMAN: Hmmm...he went under the stairs. Is there something under the stairs!?

At the end of my last post I'd just discovered something very, very important. When I watched the gambler walk away, he went under the stairs and off-screen. It suddenly dawned on me that I too might be able to go under the stairs and that there might be a whole new area there I hadn’t explored yet. I can’t begin to tell you how stupid I feel that I didn’t try this earlier, but it just never occurred to me that there was anything there! Am I the only one that missed this? I found myself in a tube with a ladder going up and down. I tried climbing up the ladder but was told that wasn’t a very good idea while the submarine was moving, so I went down. At the bottom of the ladder I went through the door and appeared in what must be the torpedo room.

Suddenly Johnny found himself in Space Quest.

I had a chat to the guy in the torpedo room, who told me “I cycled me equipment early this morning, Commander, and it sounded a wee bit strange. There could be a problem.” He then left me to fix it! Why is everyone on this ship leaving me with the responsibility of doing their jobs when I know nothing about anything?! Anyway, there was a control panel with an equipment cycling button, so I pressed it. Indeed there was a problem, as the conveyor stopped halfway through the cycle with a loud ratcheting sound. When I looked at the conveyor, I found a cylinder that had been sheared off, which I picked up. I tried to “fix” it, but was informed that I didn’t have a replacement cylinder. Inside a cabinet at the back of the room were two boxes of flares and some plastic explosions, all of which I took, but I couldn’t find anything to help fix the conveyor.

If you want something done...

Codename: ICEMAN had already made me feel like an idiot several times, but never more than what happened next. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to fix that cylinder! I looked everywhere for a replacement without success, and it was only after about half an hour that I accidentally realised I could exit the tubes on the left hand side (see the door on the left two images up). Doing so on the bottom level gave me access to a storage area, whereas doing so on the mid-level brought me to a machine room! Looking at the screenshots now, it’s hard to believe that I didn’t try it earlier, but my only excuse is that the shadow effect on the doors makes them fairly indiscernible. I recall Charles mentioning that he’d made good progress since he'd noticed some now-obvious background scenery. I wonder if this is what got him too?

On of those adventure game moments where I was ecstatic and pissed at the same time

A cabinet in the machine room contained the cylinder I needed, along with some washers, nuts and cotter pins. I took a cotter pin, but if I tried to take a washer, nut or cylinder I was asked what size I wanted. The broken cylinder in my inventory had a diameter of 1 inch and a cotter pin hole of ¼ inch, but I had no way of telling the length I needed since it had been sheared off. The cylinder choices I had were 3, 4 or 6 inches, so I simply took the shortest one and hoped for the best. The machine room also contained a lathe, a drill and a grinder, so I set about moulding my cylinder into the dimensions I needed. I used the lathe to give it a 1 inch diameter, the drill to give it a ¼ inch cotter pin hole, and then smoothed out the edges using the grinder. Feeling pretty happy with myself, I took my new cylinder down to the torpedo room.

I can feel a worker's comp claim coming up!

I attempted to put the new cylinder into the conveyor. “The replacement cylinder is not long enough” was the result. I should have known really. This game was clearly designed with the goal of making the player dedicate hours and hours to it, even if that means repeating the same processes over and over unnecessarily. Can anyone tell me how I was supposed to know which cylinder length to choose or was it purely guesswork? I reloaded back to the machine room to test a theory I had. I’d gained one point for picking up the 3 inch cylinder first. I also gained one point if I picked up the 4 inch cylinder first. However, I gained two points if I picked up the 6 inch cylinder first, so the 6 inch cylinder had to be the one I needed! I used the lathe, drill and grinder again, then once again moved down to the torpedo room with cylinder ready to go.

Oh come on! Size isn't everything!

This time I was able to successfully replace the cylinder! I then tried to insert the cotter pin into the hole and was informed that “you’ll need a hammer to properly install the cotter pin”. Bloody hell! I was being thwarted at every turn! I reminded myself that playing adventure games was all about solving puzzles like these ones, and set about trying to find a hammer. I hadn’t seen one anywhere in the game, although I hadn’t fully explored the storage room or the machine room for that matter. The storage room seemed to contain nothing but food, with eggs, soup, potatoes, meat etc. all in fridges and boxes. There was however a compartment that was locked and I was told that “the key is obtainable from the Machinists mate”. Could the hammer be in the compartment?

Haven't you ever heard of improvisation?

Before I went back to the machine room to ask him, there was one more thing I wanted to try in the storage room. A door at the end had a big radioactive sign on it, so I knew it would be suicide to enter without some sort of suit. I had to see what would happen though, so I saved my game and entered! I found myself standing next to the boat’s nuclear reactor, which was unlikely to be very good for my health. I didn’t seem to be able to go very far or interact with anything, so I left the room the way I entered it. I reappeared in the storage room glowing like a neon light. Shortly afterwards I collapsed on the ground and died, “the searing radiation” having “already begun to turn your cells to jelly”.

Electric Boogaloo

I made my way back to the machine room to ask the Machinist’s mate for the key to the compartment. His response? “Well, Sir, I seem to have misplaced that key. If I find it, I’ll see to it that you get it.” Figured it wouldn’t be that simple, plus it also made sense that the compartment would contain a suit to protect me from radiation and not a hammer. I tried walking off the left side of the screen and found there were yet more screens to visit. In fact, the next room was the same nuclear reactor room I’d been in previously, only this time I was protected from radiation by a “special shielded passageway”.

The inverted commas make it particularly "special"!

Through the passageway I came across the engine room, complete with turbines, generators, pumps and tanks. “Look around” revealed a glass enclosure in the background that apparently “houses computerized panels used to monitor and control the nuclear reactor” and a “ladder leading to the escape hatch”. I could see no way to reach the glass enclosure, so focussed my attention on the escape hatch. There simply had to be a hammer in there somewhere! At the base of the ladder was a small compartment with a button next to it. Pushing the button opened the compartment and revealed a dive vehicle, which I picked up (don’t ask me where exactly I put it). I then climbed the ladder and entered a room with a hatch leading to the water outside. I knew what would happen if I opened the hatch, but I did it anyway.

Drowning: What the room is for!

After restoring I investigated all of these rooms more thoroughly, trying desperately to figure out where the hammer I needed might be. I couldn’t find it anywhere, and with no further leads left, I went back to the control room to see if anything scripted might occur. As soon as I hit the floor, the captain demanded I get back behind the controls so we could make our way to the next waypoint. Common sense was screaming at me that I needed to fix that damn conveyor before confronting the Russian destroyers, but I was interested to know whether the bug I faced during my first play through was still hanging around. I navigated the submarine up to the point where the captain suggests we go topside for some fresh air. The destroyers were there as expected, but was I going to be able to fight them this time?

Uh-oh indeed!

Unlike the last time I reached this point, this time the captain piped up with: “Clear the sail, John and get to your station!” If anyone can ascertain whether or not the player gets the option to go back to the control panel and fight is somehow connected to another action or simply a bug, I’d love to hear it. Anyway, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity this time, so prepared for battle (albeit without weapons). Surprisingly, on our way back down the ladder, the captain fell and knocked himself unconscious! He was taken to a cabin by the medical officer for emergency treatment (that explains the paramedic bug I faced earlier), leaving me in command of the ship. Whatever I had to do next, I was going to have to do it alone! With manual in hand, I positioned myself in front of the controls.

Ladder fail!

The manual has a section devoted to Defensive Strategy (When Attack is Imminent). The following summarises what it has to say: 1. The USS Blackhawk is equipped with “the latest in electronic noise eliminating transducers”, but they are only effective if the submarine is operating at speeds of 5 knots or less. This is called silent running. 2. Active sonar gives your position away, so switch to passive sonar as soon as possible. 3. When using harpoon missiles and String Ray Torpedoes, you must lock onto your target first. Decoy torpedoes can draw enemy fire and do not require locking onto a target. 4. Diving deep and changing course will aid evasion tactics. With all of this in mind, I checked to make sure my speed was no faster than 5 knots, that I had active sonar disabled, and that silent running was activated.

Well I can't say that came as too much of a surprise!

I brought the fire control panel down, selected a harpoon, locked onto my target, and fired! Rather unsurprisingly I received a message telling me that “the torpedo room reports a malfunction.” I played with the controls a little bit more, but it was clear I was a sitting duck, with numerous torpedoes rushing towards me. All I could do was sit and wait as the incoming torpedoes came closer and closer, eventually ripping me and my ship apart. As much as I didn’t like it, I was going to have to find that hammer! I restored to the engine room and began a full sweep, facing every object in the room and typing “look”. Then...I saw it!!!

OK, so now that I know it's there it's really frickin obvious!

It’s hard to explain why I’ve been so incompetent while playing Codename: ICEMAN. I’m still not certain whether the game is entirely to blame for my floundering or whether it’s more to do with my playing style, but either way I seem to miss things that are right in front of me and often give up when I’m actually on the right path. Maybe I’m so used to commands like “look around” actually handing me solutions on a platter that I’ve stopped really investigating parts of screens it doesn’t mention. In this case, there was a drawer in a cabinet that was described as containing “necessary items used for maintenance”. I opened it and found the hammer I needed, along with wrenches of various sizes. I picked up the hammer and went as quickly as I could to the torpedo room.

Stop! Hammer time!

Once there, I was able to put the cotter pin into the hole in the cylinder using the hammer, finally fixing the conveyor! I pressed the cycle button and watched as the conveyor went through a full cycle successfully. Now it was time to try and take down those Russians again! I quickly made my way to the control room and directed the ship until sonar contact was made. Once again the captain and I went topside and witnessed the attacking Russians before the captain then fell and injured himself on the way back down the ladder. It was time to take charge and go into battle, this time with a functional weapons system. You’ll find out how I fared soon enough!

It's all up to me now! No, I 'm not very confident about it either!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 8 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 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!


  1. There is a way to find out which size cylinder you need, though it's easy to miss. If it helps, I noticed you not missing it in one of your earlier posts.

  2. Nice going, Trickster! A few spoiler-free comments:
    - YES, I was referring to the freakin' blue-shaded doors. I found the passage under the stairs soon enough (I was looking for the rest of the rooms mentioned in the manual) but I totally missed the doors on the leftside part of the tube. 'Tis the strangest thing - to my eye, they were nearly invisible! In fact I think I found them by stumbling accidentally on one, which like in your case led to much rejoicing and anger at the same time.
    - I actually liked the metalworks section, but perhaps because it allowed me to amass points and enjoy a small streak of successes (alas, the feeling wouldn't last)
    - The game seems to be riddled with small bugs. I had a case where I couldn't fix the torpedo as the sheared cylinder would magically come back to my inventory after being replaced. My opinion is that your previous deaths at the bridge were a result of a timing bug rather than an event triggered by an unsatisfied precondition.
    - I have to say that I found the hammer by shamelessly gaming the system using an old Sierra trick. I stood in the middle of the room and typed "take hammer", and the game led me to it. I'm not proud!

    On to the sim section! Brace yourself... :-)

    1. I too found playing the handyman the highlight of the submarine section. I wouldn't have minded if instead of dice and simulation, Johnny would have had to repair the whole submarine - they could have called the game then "Licence to drill".

    2. Nice one Ilmari! :)

      Um...The Man With the Golden Nail Gun?

    3. The Spy who Lathed Me?

      Erm, I'll get my coat...

    4. Boltfinger
      For your pliers only

  3. You are one dedicated adventure gamer to continue playing this game.

    I hope that this game gets penalized for it's poor game design. I suppose it will still be a long time before games begin focusing players on significant portions of the screen in a visual way (important things are brighter is just one way this is done). This game seems to be particularly bad about drawing the eye to important features either through visual cues or through text boxes.

    1. Don't worry. It will be penalized. I relish the opportunity!

  4. Yup, I played this game once and I'm not wishing I played it again with you. I'm not even sure how I solved it. I must've had a hint book or a walk-through.

  5. Since everyone here is a gamer I thought I'd tell you about a charity by gamers I just donated too.

    Desert Bus for Hope starts in 10 days, and I just donated money on behalf of my brother, who has cancer. I wrote about why here: and would encourage everyone to read it and have a look at the charity.

    Thank you.

    (Hope you don't mind me putting this on a fresh post that people will still be reading)

    1. Not at all Canageek, and I'm sorry to hear about your brother's condition. I very much hope he has a speedy and full recovery!

    2. Thank you very much Trickster.

  6. Cylinder length: Gur plyvaqref qevir gur oryg, fb gur jvqgu bs gur oryg jvyy zngpu gur yratgu bs gur plyvaqre, guhf zrnfhevat gur oryg lvryqf gur cebcre yratgu.

    1. Aha! So the puzzle relies on the intelligence of the player! I failed!

    2. Me too... in our defense, the game does next to nothing to help you visualize the problem. A small zoomed in panel (like that used for the drawer with the wrenches) would have been enough.

    3. Oh, come on! Don't blame the game for everything. There is no other place where you can check the length of sheared cylinder. When I have found mechanic equipment with different sizes, it was obvious for me that the game has to give me the required information... somewhere... somehow. The first thing that came to my mind was the spot where the broken part has been removed from.

  7. I don't know if this is a spoiler, so I used rot13 to be safe.

    Abj gung gur pncgnva vf xabpxrq bhg, lbhe va pbzznaq.. creuncf lbh pna trg vagb gung ybpxrq pbzcnegzrag.