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!


  1. I giggled a bit when you said you had an understanding of the game's mechanics. You'll soon reach the bit where I went "uh...what?".

    On the other hand, when you do get a grip on the frpbaq cneg, zbfg bs gur erfg frrzf gb or whfg n tevaq jvgu n fzvqtra bs fgbel urer naq gurer. Currently wondering if there's more to this game than what it seems considering where I am in my own playthrough right now.

    And I'll try to ROT13 a bit more of the text in my comments than what I did earlier. Sorry for almost spoiling. :)

    1. Lars-Erik: So, do you think you are near the end then? I am finding that the game play has become n ovg grqvbhf. V nz svygul evpu, zl qrpx (be vzcynag) vf cebonoyl gur orfg gurer pna or, Rnfl Evqre erzbirf gur arrq gb ybt ng qvssrerag ybpngvbaf naq gur fbsgjnerm vf evqvphybhfyl tbbq fb gung rira gur gbhturfg VPR vf rnfvyl bhgthaarq. Gur bayl punyyratr pbzrf sebz svtugvat gur NV, naq V guvax vg'f bayl n znggre bs crefrirenapr, jura V pna snpr Arhebznapre. Vg whfg jrag sebz irel punyyratvat naq qvssvphyg gb gbb rnfl nsgre n pbhcyr bs tbbq qngnonaxf - xvaq bs qvffncbvagvat.

    2. Yup, I'm officially done. After tevaqvat onfrf sbe hctenqrq fbsgjnerm sbe jung srryf yvxr ubhef ba raq, gur ragver guvat jnf bire. I must admit n ovg bs qvfnccbvagzrag jvgu gur tnzr nf n jubyr; rkprcg sbe n grral gval fgergpu va gur "erny jbeyq" gb ybpngr gur arkg yriry bs plorefcnpr naq svk hc zl onax nppbhag gur erfg jnf whfg n raqyrff fybt guebhtu onfr nsgre onfr naq nv nsgre nv.

      I did falter a bit juvyr onggyvat Arhebznapre, ohg nsgre gelvat n guvat be guerr gung sryy gbb. V gubhtug gurer jnf zber nqiragher tnzr gb guvf nqiragher tnzr, ohg vg frrzf abg.

    3. Finished second. Vg jnf dhvpxre guna V rkcrpgrq, onfrq ba svefg nggrzcg gb cynl guvf. Gura ntnva, ng gung nggrzcg V unqa'g sbhaq Plorefcnpr naq jnf hfvat Pbzyvax Fvk nyy gur gvzr naq ybfg zl zbarl dhvpxyl. Abj gurl whfg fng gurer ba zl onax nppbhag, naq gur ynfg svir uhaqerq tenaqf jrer pbzcyrgryl hfryrff.

      Lrf, gur tnzr vf pyrneyl ynpxvat ba chmmyr-sebag. Gur orfg vf gur bar sbe trggvat evq bs Yneel Zbr, ohg bgurejvfr vg'f ernyyl zrntre. V gubhtug gur enfgnsnev-frdhrapr jbhyq unir yrq gb fbzrguvat zber, ohg gur bayl erfhygf jrer n) n purncre jnl gb Serrfvqr (cbvagyrff, jura V nyernql unq gbb zhpu zbarl) naq o) pbqr gb gur inhyg jvgu nabgure plorewnpx (nyfb cbvagyrff, bapr V tbg gur RnflEvqre); jryy, ng yrnfg V tbg gb hfr zl Zhfvpbybtl-puvc.

      Zl znwbe pbzcynvag vf gung gur tnzr whfg tnir lbh gbb zhpu ng gur raq. Gur plorerlrf jvgu 32 fybgf, jura 25 jbhyq unir orra rabhtu; Qvkvr Syngyvar sbe qrohttvat va plorefcnpr (pbhyq unir qbar jvgubhg vg); cebtenzf sbe xvyyvat fbzr bs gur zber qvssvphyg NVf va bar oybj (jryy, gur Onggyrpurff jnf n avpr gbhpu - jub jbhyqa'g yvxr n tbbq tnzr bs purff).

      Ba n zber cbfvgvir abgr, V yvxrq ernqvat gur zrffntrf orgjrra NVf - gbb onq Terlfgbxr jnf xvyyrq bss fb rnfvyl jvgu Urzybpx, jura ur jnf cnvagrq nf gur frpbaq orfg NV va Zngevk. V nyfb yvxrq gur gjvfg eriryngvba bs gur vqragvgl bs Zngg Funj.

    4. V zhfg unir orra yhpxl ertneqvat zl cnguvat va gur tnzr; V qvqa'g rira svaq gur enfgnsnev be ohl gur Zhfvpbybtl-puvc. Fvapr V sbphfrq ba plorefcnpr V fgnlrq gurer hagvy V unq gb svaq n arj mbar, naq fryrpgrq Serrfvqr sebz gur fcnprcbeg. Nsgre gung vg jnf zber plorefcnpr hagvy V jrag gb Znnf gb svaq Plorerlrf, naq gura plorefcnpr ntnva.

    5. Gah, you guys are already done? V'z yvxr fvk ubhef va naq whfg tbg vagb Plorefcnpr.

      I got stuck for a long while -- V qvqa'g unir nalzber yrnqf naq fgnegrq enaqbzyl nfxvat crbcyr nobhg fxvyyf sbe jungrire ernfba, naq jnf noyr gb trg pbcgnyx sebz yneel. V'z fher fbzrbar zragvbarq ur unq vg, ohg V pbhyqa'g svther bhg ubj gb trg vg fvapr ur xrcg fnlvat ur jnf bhg bs fgbpx.

      Random thoughts below...

      V unq gb fryy n yhat, ohg V jnf noyr gb nssbeq n xngnan. V'z tbvat gb gel gb erybnq zl ynfg fnir gubhtu naq frr vs V pna'g qb guvatf dhvpxre gb fnir fbzr zbarl.

      Vf gurer nal orarsvg gb frggvat fbzrbar hc gb unir n jneenag? V gubhtug vg zvtug or urycshy gb chg na rzcyblrr anzr jubfr cynpr V gbbx ng n pbzcnal, ohg V gevrq whfg gnxvat uvf cynpr naq gurer jnf ab qvssrerapr. Qbrf wbo gvgyr punatr cnl?

      Nezvgntr frrzf gb bayl fraq zbarl gb gur ONZN vq, hfvat gur Onax bs Mhevpu qvqa'g trg zr nabgure gra gubhfnaq.

    6. Hint for Zenic: Nobhg gur jneenag: Vf gurer fbzr onfgneq jub'f abg yrggvat lbh va fbzrjurer?
      Hint 2 for Zenic: Unir lbh ybttrq vagb SHWV naq frra gurve crefbaary svyr? Nal snzvyvne anzrf?
      Spoiler for Zenic: Trg evq bs Yneel Zbr. Lbh'yy trg npprff gb Cnagure Zbqrea'f uvqrbhg, juvpu pna or ernyyl cebsvgnoyr, vs lbh xabj jung gb nfx.

    7. This is disappointing, after all the intrigue of the book. Or maybe it's the Homestuck version I'm remembering as exciting and full of intrigue. They're blurring together in my head.

  2. Apologies from me also, I was just a bit too enthusiastic with the game. I'll try to keep spoilers hidden more.

    I am not sure how to take the zanier part of the surroundings, like the donut shop governed by police. They do make me titter (my absolute favourite thus far has been gur enfgnsnev pbybavfg jub ungrf onaxf, ohg ybirf tbbq wvirf), but they don't fit well with the cyberpunkish atmosphere.

    1. Yes, it's kind of strange. On one hand you should have read the book to understand what's going on. On the other hand it breaks from the mood of the book by trying to add a bit of humor and zaniness that doesn't really harmonize with it.

    2. Yeah, I was just thinking, this doesn't feel like cyberpunk at all. It feels like Manhunter meets a bad 90s science fiction movie. I wonder if the writers had actually read Neromancer? Or if they were censored from doing an accurate version of it so they could sell it to kids?

    3. The ironic thing is, the Rastas are in the book. Their appearance there makes no sense either.

  3. Kickstarter Adventure Game roundup!

    Redwall: The Warrior Reborn: $17k and counting, target $11k. Less then a day left. Based on a great book series I read as a kid.

    Ages Of Madness: The Game: $100k goal, $701 raised, 28 days to go. Looks pretty cool from the art, but with 2 days and almost no interest I don't think it is going anywhere unless they get a LOT of intrest all of a sudden.

    City Quest: A point and click adventure game. Why do so many indy games have WORSE graphics then some of the CGA games we've seen? I mean, I get that you aren't an artist, but damn people. $4.5k/8k raised, 7 days left.

    Aching Dreams 3: The Dark Planet: $1,500 goal, $4312 raised. Not much else to say, but that I hope to see this one reviewed in 20 years or so.

    Pandora: Purge of Pride: I'm not sure if this counts as an adventure game or a phyics puzzler or both. It looks kinda cool though, and needs just $1000 more over the next five days to reach its goal. Sadly the game before this one isn't actually an adventure game, but I'm trying to lure Trickster into clicking on it.

    So, do text adventures count? As that brings us to LEWD; an erotic text adventure: Too bad I'll never be able to force Trickster to play it. I'm a bad, bad person.

    1. Onu, lbh gevpxrq zr vagb pyvpxvat ba vg nf jryy, abj V srry qvegl. Qvq lbh jngpu gur ivqrb? Gur thl cvgpuvat vg ybbxf rknpgyl nf V vzntvarq ur jbhyq nsgre yvfgravat gb uvz gur svefg srj zvahgrf naq frrvat jung gur tnzr jnf nobhg.

    2. Ab V qvq abg jngpu gur ivqrb, V hfhnyyl qba'g jvgu xvpxfgnegref, nf V ernq gur qrfpevcgvbaf engure gura univat gb fvg gurer sbe 5 zvahgrf yvfgravat gb fbzrbar. V zvtug unir gb tb onpx naq jngpu vg abj.

    3. Oh, do look at it. The game looks even better than you think!