Friday 16 December 2016

Gateway - New Fish

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #2: "Why is everyone calling me 'new fish'? Do I look like a Pisces? It wasn’t just Thom, practically everyone I met said that. Anyway, tomorrow I'll ship out and try to make my fortune. The odds aren't good, but what have I got to lose? Even if I have to stay here a while, I guess it's not all bad. There's a cute receptionist at the office, even if she acts uninterested."

We're exploring Gateway because I don't need to meet Thom at the bar until later. I go north from the central intersection to find the dropshaft, which confirms that I started on Level Dog. Up leads to Level Babe, which nothing has mentioned yet, so I'll leave that for later, and go back down past Level Dog to Level Tanya. I can't help thinking there must be a whole lot of unimportant levels in between Dog and Tanya, because otherwise, those names are awfully random if they aren't more memorable names for sequentially letter-coded levels.

That's got to be a Chekhov's gun...

I go north from the dropshaft on Tanya and find a guard outside an armory. As an aside, there shouldn't really be compass directions on a space station, since there's no magnetic pole, but it's a convention of the text adventure genre. I can walk right into the armory and even take a gun that's conveniently sitting out, but if I walk out with it, the guard merely takes it from me and returns it to the armory. No questioning what I, as a new prospector, might want to do with a gun. (At best, defend myself against hostile aliens encountered on a mission, perhaps?) Nevermind, I don't need it yet. I do notice there's a prominent air vent on the wall in there, though.

I'm still half an hour early for the class, so I wander around the level a little more. West of the dropshaft is the classroom, decorated in green, south of the dropshaft is a corridor next to another (blue) meeting room, and south of there is the hangar. I don't have a badge yet, so I can't go on a ship without being trained first. Wise of them, I'm sure.

The odds aren't really better...they're just less bad.

I go back to the classroom and wait until the class begins. Hector Gomez, the instructor, delivers a lecture in a cut-scene [10] that doesn't really tell us anything new except that the blue badges we're given in place of our newbie white badges contain six codes for locations that have not recorded any fatalities. In other words, it's far better to use the codes we're given even though in theory we could enter any code we want to select a destination. At least we're not guaranteed to die, right?

It also occurred to me later that maybe it would work even better to actually share the list of codes that have been visited, so that each prospector can make a fully-informed decision about where to go. But this is a corporation. Share information? Nah, too easy.

I could go to the hangar right away and go on a mission now, but it seems awfully rash to go without even meeting the proctor, and we haven't explored the whole station, either. There are several other places known to be on Level Dog that we haven't seen yet, and nothing else on Level Tanya, so I return up the dropshaft.

If Chinese food is expensive on the station, surely roses would be worse. Food can be freeze-dried.

North of the dropshaft, I find Central Park, the hydroponics complex. There's an odd machine with an access panel, a red lever, and a yellow sign that describes the lever as a manual feeder shut down for use in emergencies. Also nearby, a planter tray contains a fresh rose. Didn't the receptionist have a dead one? I'm sure she'd love a fresh one for her desk. I take the rose [2] and head back to the office area. The receptionist is indeed pleased when I give it to her, and she hands me the magazine in return [5]. There's only one article of interest, which mentions the disappearance of prospector Rolf Becker.

I'm sure I'm going to need this later too...

The museum is south of the central area, but there's nothing to do there yet besides look briefly at the strange Heechee sensor device as well as a tuning fork made of Heechee metal. So I wander over to the bar. It's only four, awfully early to start hanging out at a bar, but I've got nothing else to do until the meeting with the proctor. The music immediately switches to a jazzy nightclub sort of tune.

Cute robot!

The counter contains a card slot, which I can use to order a drink if I want (only $10!). But while the VR experience seemed to be entirely virtual, these drinks can really get me drunk. If I drink five, I end up passing out on the floor, waking up in my room at 8 the next morning, and being fined $100 for sleeping in public areas and having been removed to my room, not to mention the $50 spent on the drinks. Not a very good idea.

The Pedroza Lounge, with fake books and cheap artwork.

I restore back and instead explore the bar. There's a casino to the east, and farther in, an exclusive club room. I already got the Pedroza Club membership pin from the VR tech, so I can go right in [5]. There's a display case describing the prospecting success of the club's founder and containing a pamphlet with the success stories of other prospectors, two of which are available to read. North of the main club room is a tanning salon, in which it's possible to kill yourself from overuse. I hang out for a couple hours and get a nice light tan, then go back to the main casino to play some trivia.

The casino, with classic gambling games.

The trivia game is another button-based machine interface, but the questions are an interesting mix. Someone clearly had a lot of fun devising the course of history over the next century and making questions based on that future history. Some are real questions about actual things ("What star is commonly known as the 'North Star'?"), some are about the timing of events in future history on anniversaries of dates in real history, and some seem to be just made-up future history or completely made up things ("Double-Daron" as some kind of game or sport, for instance). There are four categories to choose from, and ten multiple-choice questions in each category, always the same questions each time. There's no cost to play trivia, but no reward if you get all the questions right, either. It's just fun, for about five minutes.

I go back to the bar and wait until Thom shows up and orders us both drinks. This conversation isn't a cut-scene, so I can ask him about things in between paragraphs of his little lecture. At one point I show him the DataMan and he laughs and sort of apologizes for his little joke on me. After he finishes his drink, he looks at me expectantly. If I do nothing but wait at this point, he won't say anything more and will eventually just leave. So I buy us a round, per convention, and then he starts talking again, this time about the difference between the "suicide squad" and the green badges.

Did Thom give the receptionist the original rose that's now dead?

Apparently even though he's a proctor, he's still only got a blue badge himself. The green badges are for the A-team, the privileged prospectors who have done something notable and earned the respect of the Corporation. The only way to join the Orion program (were they thinking of the green-skinned Star Trek Orions here??) is to be sponsored by the Corporation rep. My rep is Terri, and he thinks she might be inclined to be nice to me, while he has a rep that doesn't even talk to him. He gives me a memo about the Orion program and suggests I show it to Terri, as she often comes by the bar around 22:00. It's still not clear why I might be favored in this way over most other new prospectors, since I haven't even gone on any missions yet, but it's worth a shot.

If I buy Thom another drink, he relaxes and starts telling me some rumors floating around that there might be something important still hidden on the station somewhere despite all the searching that went on when the place was still discovered. Does it seem odd that such a large station would be practically empty except for the hangar full of ships?

Nubar Kamalian and his medallion.

After 20:30, Thom leaves, but not before finding someone else to come talk to me: Nubar Kamalian. I buy him a drink to hear his story. He's a prospector who thinks he's been screwed by the Corporation because they gave him only $50k for finding a box of intriguing Heechee medallions. The ticket to come to Gateway was on the order of $200k, so he still can't go anywhere else. He offers to play a game with me and if I win, he'll give me the medallion he's wearing. Sure, why not?

He takes me over to the casino and plays the trivia machine, earning 7 points. Good thing I played it earlier. I easily beat that score. He tosses me the medallion [15], then pulls another one out of his pocket. The Corporation didn't take them away from him since they thought them practically worthless. I think it's going to be important, but now I sort of wonder if there's any other way to get one if you don't buy Thom and Nubar drinks to trigger this exchange.

Wanting to join the Orion Program is an effective way to get a girl's number on Gateway.

I continue to wait until Terri shows up. She's rather intimidating, recognizing me immediately but acting rather cool. When I show her the memo from Thom [5], then she focuses on me. As I thought, there's nothing in particular to recommend me for the Orion Program yet. But she does clarify her minimum criteria: "At least two completed missions and one completely unique discovery." Mission results seem to be mostly the luck of the draw anyway, but I suppose "elite" prospectors ought to have some experience. But, as Thom predicted, Terri is pretty nice about the whole thing. She even gives me her direct PV number [10]. She ends with "Call me when you think you've earned a green badge."

And that's it for the first day. I'll go sleep in my quarters and then next time we'll actually go on a mission! I still spent $50 on drinks, but three of those were for Thom and Nubar. I think if you're already holding a drink, you don't order another one for yourself, or I could maybe just order one drink at a time if I’d specified that, but the money doesn’t matter.

Score: 87 of 1600
Balance: $1450
Status: Flight Crew (blue badge)

Session Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s 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. This post was written before I saw Rowan's comment on the previous post about transcribing relevant text from screenshots in their descriptions. For Gateway (and other Legend games), there's usually too much text in any one picture to fully transcribe. Mostly I'm choosing screenshots to illustrate the setting rather than tell the story: everything important is in my text. Anyway, it is readable on my phone, but not easily.

    1. No problem, I'm reading on my work computer at the moment while we get set up for our staff computer 8) My main beef is things like "So I press the button and [screenshot] Well, you can see how much good that did!"

      Reminds me of listening to a comedy routine on the radio: "You know the thing about elderly drivers? They're always like... /this/. [makes unseeable gesture, audience cracks up]."

  2. But what I really popped in here to remark is that ("Double-Daron" as some kind of game or sport, for instance) might be in reference to "Double Dare", the Nickelodeon game show of my youth!

  3. Very interesting so far.

    I wonder if this space station is the rotating kind, or they have artificial gravity? If it's rotating, then north and south could be toward the geometric poles. Although, evidently the IAU now wants some smaller rotating objects to be considered to have a positive and negative pole, since north and south are too confusing terms...

    1. That's a good question. I don't know if the book specifies, but the images of the station in the game show it as round with arms that make it look like it was designed to rotate. On the other hand, there's no mention of variable levels of gravity, as you would get at different distances from the center of a rotating station. It's also possible that the station is so huge that the differences among the places the PC goes are negligible.

  4. I just got to the same point as the end of this post - talked to Terri. I have 170 points out of 1600.

    V hapbirerq n ahzcnq ba gur oyhr jnyy jvgu gur ghavat sbex. V'z jbaqrevat vs gur pbqr vf n pbcl cebgrpgvba guvat be ner gur arprffnel uvagf jvguva gur tnzr vgfrys? V'z guvaxvat bs uvqvat va gur pengr nsgre zvqavtug naq ubcrshyyl jvgarff gur NV fpvragvfg vachggvat gur pbqr. Nyfb, ubj qb V trg gur CI pbzzfrg pnyy ahzoref gb pbagnpg crbcyr va gur ohyyrgva obneq? Be qb V arrq gb pbagnpg gurz ng nyy?

    I am really enjoying the parser gameplay. Having room descriptions means no pixel-hunting and the parser allows more complex interactions and puzzles. I really should play more of these old text adventures. OTOH the time that goes forward with each action taken and having to keep track of upcoming events stresses me out to some extent.

    1. Awesome, glad you're playing along. If you don't like the time management aspect in this one, you might not like the second one as much. In this one, time limits are very generous, you can wait hours almost anywhere, and almost everything repeats, so it can just be done the next day if you miss it. In the second one, time limits are tighter and I believe some events are missable.

      I've won the game in my own playthrough, so I'll address your encoded questions too.

      Lrf, tb ng zvqavtug naq jngpu gur fpvragvfg. Gur pbqr vfa'g pbcl cebgrpgvba.

      Lbh qba'g arrq gb jbeel nobhg pbzz ahzoref. Gur bayl bar lbh arrq jvyy or rkcyvpvgyl tvira gb lbh.