You could at least make the important clues more easily decipherable!
Before I continue my adventures in cyberspace, there’s a small victory that I had while writing my last post. I’d written about how certain I was that I’d missed something either on Zion or during my trip from Zion to Freeside with Maelcum. It was bugging me so much that I took a break from writing to load up a save game and give it another shot. I once again asked the Rastafarian old man on Zion everything I could think of, and this time tried hard to follow every lead that he gave me. He seemed particular fascinated with banks (in a negative way), so I asked him about “banks”. His answer seemed very promising indeed! “Freeside a Babylon port, mon. Several banks there, ya know? Which one you askin’ bout?” Since Bank Gemeinschaft seemed to be a big focal point of the game, I asked him about “gemeinschaft”, to which he responded with “Aerol seh BG1066 get him in th’ fron’ door there, mon.” Not sure who Aerol is, but BG1066 seemed a very likely code to get me into the bank on Freeside! I travelled with Maelcum to Freeside, walked into the bank, and tried entering “bg1066” when asked for a code. “Code verified. You may enter the vault.” Eureka!!!! Unfortunately, just as with the Bank of Berne, once inside the only thing I could do was enter cyberspace using the jack there, but I have a feeling this find will prove very useful later in the game.
I guess it was silly to expect actual money in a bank of the future
With that little tangent aside, let’s get back to cyberspace. The truth is that I’ve already spent five hours there!!! That’s right, as soon as I finished my post on Sunday morning, I played Neuromancer for five straight hours, only stopping for a bite to eat. It was obvious through it all that it would be downright silly to blog my way through the whole experience, since it really was just doing the same things over and over again. I also restarted a few hours into the session after running out of cash, which complicates my normal process further. I’m therefore going to summarise the experience, covering the highlights in detail while brushing over the completely repetitive and uninteresting bits. I’ll take it zone by zone though, since there seems no way to attack things in any other way. As mentioned in my last post, the Cheap Hotel jack leads to cyberspace zone 0, and starting off in any other zone leads to a quick and inevitable death. Matt Shaw had warned me about that earlier: “The ICE is softer at the bases you can reach from the Cheap Hotel’s jack, so brush up on your cyberspace techniques there first.” I began hacking into each of the bases on offer there, starting with Asano Computing. I was able to break in fairly easily with my Drill 1.0 and Hammer 1.0, and was rewarded with an extra menu option once in the base. It was called Inventory, and it did exactly what it said on the tin, displaying a full inventory of all hardware held at Asano. I wasn’t able to edit it or tinker with it in any way, so moved on.
How is this helpful?
I had a similar experience at Consumer Review. My Scout 1.0 software had previously told me that there were two access levels to the base, and since I’d only accessed the first level, I thought there would be something on offer through cyberspace. If there was, I couldn’t see it, as the list of decks and the information listed under each was exactly the same. Panther Moderns on the other hand had a greatly expanded Software Library, with BlowTorch 3.0, Decoder 2.0, ThunderHead 1.0 and Cyberspace 1.0 available to download! Mindbender 3.0 and Chaos Videosoft 1.0 were also there, but they were still incompatible with my deck. BlowTorch 3.0 and Decoder 2.0 turned out to be really effective ICE breakers, far better than the ones I had on my deck to this point (meaning they do far more damage with every hit). ThunderHead 1.0 was something I hadn’t seen to this point, being a slow acting virus that gradually does damage. When ThunderHead (or any other virus) hits the ICE, it changes the barrier from blue to green, and gradually does damage for its duration. Unfortunately, given how effective they are, these viruses can only be launched once before disappearing off the player’s deck. To be honest I’m not certain of the real purpose of Cyberspace 1.0. I’ve figured out that I can use it to enter cyberspace, but since I still need to be situated in a room containing a cyberspace jack, I don’t really see the point. Given my deck’s RAM will only allow 11 bits of software installed concurrently, I couldn’t afford to hang onto it. I also erased Scout 1.0 and Sequencer 1.0 (since I couldn’t see why I would need them anymore).
Fill yer deck gov'ner!
This is where things got really interesting! My new ICE breakers made destroying the ICE protecting the Psychologist base straight forward, but once it was gone I was faced with something I really wasn’t expecting! A white face appeared saying “Your destructive tendencies clearly indicate a desire for attention”. It then started attacking me in the same way that ICE had been, yet with much greater force! My warez seemed completely useless on it, literally having no effect! I was forced to use my Evasion skill to escape with my life, and even that failed a couple of times before successfully getting me out of there. “You’ll need to use more skills than that to beat me.” Huh?! What skills? Perhaps I needed to explore more bases until I found something that could damage this thing? I opened the manual and read the chapter on AIs, learning the following important information (I’m massively summarising here). “Certain bases contain a second line of defense – an AI. Modern AIs have personalities and mental capabilities far beyond the humans that originally created them. The Turing Registry has the responsibility of watching for signs that any AI might be developing into a dangerous, ultra-intelligent program. Some cowboys avoid combat with these formidable entities, because icebreaking softwarez can’t harm them. While it’s rumoured that there are skill chips available which allow mental combat with AIs, no one had lived long enough to talk about the details. The late McCoy Pauley, aka Dixie Flatline, is said to have run into AIs in three different bases, and supposedly only survived because he found a weakness in each AI.”
Come on! Let me get away from this bitch!
Whatever the weakness was for the Psychologist AI, I didn’t have it, so I moved onto Regular Fellows. There was no AI waiting for me there, and I was able to pick up Probe 3.0 from the expanded Checkout Counter inside. That left only one base in zone 0, which was the World Chess Confederation. I was really hopeful that I would be able to make some easy cash in this base, but that idea was squashed when I once again came face to face with an AI! “It’s a Fool’s Mate, my friend. Surrender while you still can.” Just as before, none of my warez or skills seemed to have any effect on the AI, so I was forced to use Evasion. “Thought you could beat me, ha! You couldn’t even beat that wimp Chrome.” I’d had a quick attempt to access bases in zone 1 from the Gentleman Loser jack, and it had been seriously tough going. For this reason I was very keen to do everything I could in zone 0 before having another crack at other zones. I had a think about what other skills I’d seen throughout the game, and the ones that came to mind as potentially useful were the Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, Philosophy and Logic chips that I’d seen on sale at Julius Deane’s and the Matrix Restaurant. I’d not found any use for them earlier, and Logic in particular seemed very likely to be useful against the World Chess Confederation AI, so I rushed off and purchased all four of them (it’s worth pointing out that I already had Sophistry after giving the Holy Joystick to Nolan)!
To think I originally missed these!
With my new skills implanted, and just over $2000 left in my kitty, I had another go at breaking into the Psychologist base. Using Logic did fire a pink bolt at the intelligence, but it had no effect. Psychoanalysis was the second one I tried, but the bolt rebounded and came back and hit me: “Subject weakness: Unknown”. So the Psychoanalysis skill is used to find out what an AI’s weakness is! Unfortunately it didn’t work in this case, particularly as my vertical bar had gone into the red! Phenomenology didn’t do any damage, so I tried Philosophy, getting pretty desperate at this point. When my Philosophy bolt made contact with the AI, it shouted “Psychopath!” at me, and I did significant damage to it! My EEG monitor was displaying red at this point, so I used my Zen skill to bring it back under control (I’d learnt this through experimentation earlier on). My software was being wiped out one at a time, but since I only needed my skills, continued on with much determination. Once I’d broken through with the Philosophy skill, I was able to attack the AI with Logic, Philosophy and Sophistry, all of which caused various degrees of damage. I must have been awfully close to dying when the AI finally crumbled: “You are nothing but a worm and you will die...like...a worm! Aarrgh!” I was in!!!
As exciting as this superb victory was, I really didn’t get much out of the Psychologist base. I’m probably missing the whole purpose of it, but I’ve never found a reason why I would want to tell the “psychologist” my concerns. All the same menu items were there that I’d seen previously with the addition of a Software Library. The software library contained Thunderhead 1.0, which I could already get from Panther Moderns. On the positive side, my Phenomenology, Philosophy, Sophistry and Logic skills had all increased to level 2 after beating the AI! I say this like I immediately figured it out while playing, but the truth is that it took me at least an hour to figure out that my skills were increasing by beating AIs. I’d been restoring my game fairly often so I could approach each base with a full kit of useful warez, but in doing so I was losing my skill increases and facing increasingly difficult AIs, getting completely crushed over and over. Once I knew it though, I was able to progress pretty quickly. As expected, Logic was the key to defeating the World Chess Confederation AI, with the AI saying “Good move” when struck. Even with my increased skills, I was still on the verge of dying when I finally defeated it. “I surrender; the game is yours.” I was quite sure that I was going to be able to somehow rig the chess tournaments so that I won heaps of money, and I was even more confident when I discovered BattleChess 4.0 in the Software Library on the base!
I didn't get this far in philosophy at uni!
I downloaded a copy to my deck and joined a tournament, preparing to watch the money roll in. I was asked which software I wanted to upload to play, so I naturally chose BattleChess 4.0. “Incompatible software”! What do you mean incompatible software? BattleChess 2.0 worked! Why wouldn’t 4.0? Was I supposed to make it compatible somehow? Why was it on the base if it couldn’t be used? I set all these questions aside for the time being, and checked out the other newly accessible section on the base. The AI Message Buffer had a couple of messages on it, both of which were addressed to Morphy. The first one was from Greystoke: “The AI destruct program that Turing developed to destroy me is missing from their vault! I am unable to locate it! If you know where it is, inform me immediately! If it falls into the wrong hands, Neuromancer may win! This cannot happen!” Well that sure was interesting! I could only assume that Greystoke was an AI, as Turing was the corporation tasked with making sure AIs didn’t get too advanced. This was also the first time that I’d heard the word Neuromancer in the game. Who or what is Neuromancer? Is Morphy also an AI? Was Morphy the AI that I just defeated? Very interesting indeed! The second message was from Hal, and was a warning to Morphy that there appeared to be an AI who’s a chess master, who goes by the name Phantom. I hadn’t come across the name elsewhere, so wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with that information.
Why did they tease me with this!?
Having defeated another AI, my four AI hacking skills were now all upgraded to 3. That, along with the nice collection of powerful ICE breakers I’d collected, made me feel ready to move onto the next cyberspace zone. I left Cheap Hotel, went next door to Gentleman Loser, and jacked into zone 1! Just as I did in zone 0, I saved my game and explored the zone, using my Probe software, now at level 3.0, to find out what bases were in there. There were 10 to be explored: Chiba City Central Justice System, Citizens For a Free Matrix, Copenhagen University, Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority, Gentleman Loser, Internal Revenue Service, NASA, Software Enforcement Agency, Chiba City Tactical Police and Tozoku. I should be able to get through all of them in my next post now that I’ve explained how things work in cyberspace. While it probably wouldn’t seem like it, this post covers more than half of my five hour session! I really did jump around, and struggled to beat the AIs due to my playing style. I also wasted time going through old screenshots looking for clues that just weren’t there, and restarted at least once. I hope those of you that are still here will join me in a couple of days as I near the climax of the game. Let’s hope those readers that have been scared away by Neuromancer will come back for Space Quest III!
Zone 1, here we come!
Session Time: 3 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 12 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!