Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wasteland: A Heap of Broken Images, Where the Sun Beats

So this is where all the cars went!

My next clue for anything specific to do was in Las Vegas, but first I decided to check out the two other towns I hadn't visited yet: Savage Village and Darwin Village. I went to Savage Village first, because I had some clue from Needles about rescuing someone named Redhawk. I never found him or her, but REDHAWK turned out to be the password that got me in the front gate.

Unfortunately, I probably screwed things up after that. The inhabitants asked if I would drop my weapons, and when I refused, they attacked me. If you thought I felt bad about killing the boy in Highpool, grief-stricken over the death of his dog, imagine what this did to me:

In the comments a couple of days ago, we were idly discussing how rare it is that games let you kill children. Part of the reason, of course, is to protect against societal outrage, but probably an equally-important consideration is that it's just screwed up. You play games to escape this kind of realism. My party of rangers just wants to help people, and now we're massacring an entire compound of civilians just because we didn't trust them enough to drop our weapons.

The village seems to be led by some guy named the Junk Master, who wants some kind of gift to let me approach him. I don't know what he's looking for (the broken toaster didn't work), so I left after looting some of the buildings.

Healing two poisoned souls in Darwin Village.

Darwin Village is fairly small. It has a library, a shop, and a mysterious building where someone asks for a password and won't let me in. There was a bar in which none of the keywords I could think of would get anything out of the bartender. In a room in the back of the bar, I found two men who were so sick that just looking at them increased Stetson's "doctor" skill. In another building, I found a lab and the game helpfully told me I could use it to make an antitoxin with fruit and chemicals, both of which I happened to have. I healed the two men--Mad Dog Fargo and Metal Maniac--and welcomed them to my party. They both have pretty good skills.

I'm glad it gave me this hint, because I never would have though to make antitoxins out of chemicals and fruit. Gummy bears, maybe.

I got so overloaded with equipment that I ended up selling a bunch of stuff--possible quest items, grenades, excess ammo--to the shop in Quartz. I've noted that when you sell things to a shop, those things remain available for re-purchase in the shops' inventory, so I'm essentially using the shop as storage--expensive storage, since the shops buy items for half of the cost they sell them. (I'm a little confused as to why cash has any value in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but there you have it.)

I keep meaning to check out the flamethrower, but I've been hoping to just find one.

One of my NPCs, whom I had equipped with a submachine gun, kept wasting ammo, so I took it away from him. In combat, you choose who to target, and if you have a submachine gun or an automatic weapon, you choose whether to expend a single shot, fire off a burst of three shots, or empty the clip into the bastards. To conserve ammo, I've been limiting myself to bursts, but NPCs decide for themselves who to target and how to shoot. Mort kept wasting entire clips. I ended up dumping him and one of the other NPCs in favor of the two I picked up in Darwin anyway.

I should have mentioned it earlier, but different weapons use different ammunition. There are three types of ammo: 9mm, 45 caliber, and 7.62 mm. Each type has uses in multiple weapons. The pistols are easy to figure out because they're called things like "VP91Z 9mm pistol," but it took me some time to figure out which ammo the "Uzi SMG Mark 27" submachine gun and the "M1989A1 Nato assault rifle" used (9mm and 7.62mm). I question whether the same cartridges could really be used in a 9mm pistol and an Uzi, but there you have it. Anyway, I'm limiting NPCs to melee weapons and clip pistols. I don't know for sure if ammo ever runs out, but I don't want to tempt fate by wasting entire clips on rats.

Not even radioactive ones.

Frankly, I'm wasting enough clips on my own, first by accidentally hitting "auto" when running through my attack options, and second because of a weird bug in trading. If your character has a weapon that uses a particular bit of ammunition and you "activate" that ammo in his inventory, it asks whether you want to reload (thus wasting anything left in your active clip) and offers a "Y/N" response. But if you say anything other than "N," it assumes "Y." This is a problem when I want to trade the clip from one character to another. I select the ammo and, anticipating that it's next going to ask me what I want to do with it, I hit "T" for trade--only to realize that it was asking whether I want to reload instead. Not a great interface design.

Mad Dog has some pretty good talents. I need someone with strong anti-tank weapon skills to use all these LAW rockets I've collected.

On the skills, I'm beginning to wonder what some of them do. So far, I've found no use for electronics, safecrack, cryptology, silent movement, confidence, sleight-of-hand, forgery, alarm disarm, bureaucracy, or metallurgy. One possibility is that they're just useless; one is that I haven't encountered places to use them yet (though I've only got one city left); one is that they're somehow helping me behind the scenes; and one is that there have been places to use them, but I haven't realized it. I have used acrobat once, to entertain some bar patrons so they would let me off the stage. I'm not 100% sure if "doctor" replaces "medic"; it sure seems to. "Bomb disarm" continues to be very useful:

As I said, unless I've missed something, Las Vegas is the last town. I got my ass handed to me last time I visited, but I didn't have automatic weapons and LAW rockets back then. I'll report how I do next time.

The funny thing is that I have literally no idea how far along I am in this game. Clearly, there's stuff left to do in Darwin Village and Savage Village, and I still have Vegas to explore, but I don't know if I'll find the final quests among these cities or if the game will suddenly open up a whole new map area or something.

This got me thinking about how I generally know my overall progress in other games, whether I've played them before or not. There are several methods, I guess, that always operated unconsciously:

1. Sometimes the manual will have tables with character levels, indicating the highest level. Pool of Radiance is one of these. You usually know you're close to the end when characters start maxing their levels. (Wasteland has ranks--my highest ranked character is a "command corporal"--but I don't know what the maximum ranks are.)

2. Some games are very transparent about the number of levels or areas you have to explore. Wizardry announces right at the beginning that there are 10 levels to the dungeon. Might & Magic has a very clear map with a defined number of areas.

3. Sometimes, the main quest makes it clear. DragonAge: Origins had several obvious steps along the main quest that you have to complete before getting to the end game.

Occasionally, I've been surprised by long final chapters or codas (e.g., in Baldur's Gate II, I rather expected the final battle to occur with Irenicus at the tree; I didn't expect the subsequent descent into Hell), but rarely has a game come along and utterly mystified me as to my overall progress. Morrowind and Oblivion are two of them; both feature huge game worlds, and you have no idea how much of that territory the main quest is going to use until you complete it. I remember playing the first Neverwinter Nights and thinking that the city of Neverwinter was the entire game, and that once I collected the bits of the four creatures, the game would be over (it wasn't even close).

Wasteland joins this list, and I'm not even sure I want any hints about how close I am to the end. All I can tell you is my next post will be about Las Vegas.

Later edit: Just realized I completely forgot about the Guardian's compound where the nuns were shooting at me. I guess this might be the final area. We'll see.


  1. Wooo, first comment.

    I'm really interested to see what people say on this: Given how many people's favourite game it is I expect a good amount of feedback.

    I'd love to hear people's feedback on what you've been up to, interpretations of the plot in areas you've finished but didn't understand, stuff like that. For example, an explanation of what is going on in the town where people attack you. I wonder if they attack you if you come along without weapons anyway? They could be cannibals or something.

    I'd really like to hear more about what you are up to, though from the sounds of it you have no idea what has been going on.

    Based on the Let's Play (Which ended not long after were you are, and was writing its own plot in as they went) and the clues you've gotten I'd guess that Vegas will give you some real plot, but as I said, I have no idea how long the game goes after that, the author lost interest, so it could be hundreds of hours or 15 minutes.

    Have you tried randomly using skills on regions with people your done with? Slight of hand could let you pick-pockets for example.

    Anyway, good luck, and keep posting.
    Are you enjoying it any more now by the way, or is it still a chore?

  2. Checking over at The Wasteland Ranger HQ website, I confirmed that most of the skills you don't know what to do with do have uses. Part of the fun, I guess, is figuring out how to use them (I won't spoil that for you). Sometimes, they are used for something specific, and sometimes they are used only for certain things...and there's the possibility that you didn't encounter that thing or you solved the problem another way.

    That's part of what makes the game great. So many different ways to solve problems. The game was really ahead of its time in that respect (and actually, most modern games are prettier, but less advanced in terms of choices).

  3. Yes, you can use the same cartridge in a 9mm handgun and an Uzi. That's the definition of a "submachine gun" -- a fully automatic weapon that fires pistol cartridges instead of rifle ones. :)

  4. I do believe that your skill levels are capped by your character's rank. That is if he is on the 4th rank he cannot have a skill above 4. Ranks go much higher than one would expect, top level is the 181st rank of "Supreme Jerk"

  5. There are things/items/people/places you have not said yet that are important so I'm not sure how far you are along, or you just dont realise some things are important ;) so you dont mention them.

    Your going to have to do some backtracking to various places is my guess but thats the great thing about freeform.

  6. I know what you mean by games you have no idea when they will be over. The only case I can recall at this point is a game I only watched my brother play. Okami on the Wii in full was just awesome in how it could have ended perfectly about three separate times, but then it was like, oh wait, I get even better. I only wish I had more TV time so I could complete it, too (darn work, my home-schooled siblings, and my football/other-sports-fan uncle).

    A game I have played and should have been surprised that it wasn't over (because reading and re-reading the Wikipedia article about the awesome plot months before purchasing it, and still being satisfied by the story by the way) was Final Fantasy 6 Advance. There is such a crapton of content in that game.

    Chrono Trigger for the PS1 should count as well, but again most of my most-liked things concerning plot I have spoilered myself on (damn Wikipedia and the passage of time).

    - Giauz

  7. Mad Dog Fargo is a reference to Brian Fargo, who is one Wasteland's designers. Fargo is the founder of Interplay from whence sprang our beloved Black Isle, the creators of Baldur's Gate and Fallout.

  8. I'm sure you can run away from the women and children to avoid having to kill them.

    The Silent Movement skill is useful to have on your leader to be able to get closer to enemies before they spot you.
    One specific instance it is useful is in the Courthouse in Needles where it allows you to kill the thugs before they kill their hostage.

  9. I think the women and children thing is pretty good (if confronting).

    If armed strangers suddenly stormed your village you'd defend it. Who knows what they'd do to the women and children.

    Admittedly, I get a kind of detachment to some of it. The Savage Village brutality bugs me more than the middle tent at the rail nomads camp. The Rail Nomads camp was an ambush. It was their intent to lure me in and kill me. Savage Village is just people protecting their home. I made the same mistake first time I played.

    As an aside. I'm playing this game along side you at the moment. I've been meaning to play it again for AGES!!!! But now I am. I've just rescued the Mayor but his wife didn't survive my 'disarm bomb' attempt.. (oops.). It is kind of disturbing to have the description pop up in your panel of "Bits of body cover this area". It would perhaps be better roleplay if the Mayor then left your party after that, but he's still with me. I'm putting it down to REVENGE!!!111oneoneone

  10. I won't let you know how far along in the game you are, but I'll just mention that some of the areas go down pretty deep and are pretty extensive, so just counting the number of areas on the main map doesn't tell you that much.

    You WILL know when you've beaten the main quest, however, so no worries about not realizing it when it happens.

    I think it's pretty fascinating the moral choices that WL gives you at some points. I believe you said that you ran away from the kids in Highpool, but after you've finished the game you should try either going back there and/or restarting the game to see what happens when you do kill them. I'd say that area in Fallout 3 with the nuke could have been inspired by that.

    I'm not claiming that WL has an especially deep moral sentiment, but I do recall even as a kid feeling bad for killing the rabid dog in Highpool and occasionally other people in the game. It was the first game for in any case where I even thought about the right/wrongness of killing stuff in the game.

  11. Regarding the first screenshot, I do like that there's a single dog 80 feet away that somehow got dragged into your characters' sociopathic rampage there, ha ha ha. It would only be more tragic if that dog could fix toasters.

  12. Canageek, I'm actually surprised at how few comments I'm getting on my Wasteland postings, and I can only imagine that a lot of my readers got disgusted and ditched me during my "lost" month in October. I feel like I'm missing a lot of stuff--in particular, a lot of places ask for passwords that I've never found, and I end up blasting my way in with TNT--and I wish I was getting more hints and alternate perspectives.

    You're correct about what happens in Vegas, as you'll see next.

    I am enjoying the game, but I am also getting to the point where I'm ready for it to be over. I'm having difficulty determining what my final score will look like. It has a lot of fantastic innovations, but I don't feel like the game world or plot hang together very well.

    The good news on the skills is that the game offers multiple ways to do things. I doubt the lack of any one skill will absolutely cripple me, but I could be wrong.

    'Nym, I hope you're not serious about ranks going up to 181. I've lost track of exactly how many times my characters have been promoted, but it can't be more than 10.

    AD, I never experienced that ambush in the Rail Nomads' camp. I'll ahve to go back and check it out.

    After I massacred Savage Village, I've been feeling more inclined to solve all my problems with violence lately. (In the game, that is.) I lost patience very quickly with the machinations of the three faction leaders in Vegas.

  13. Two other types of common bullets that work both in both pistols and long arms are .22LR and .45ACP.

    There's reason at times to carry both a pistol and a rifle, and if you have ammo that works in both, you don't have to carry two kinds.

  14. It appears they do go up to 182, but that you don't need to get ANYWHERE near there to win the game, based on the ranks of winning characters. Also: When you win, you should send your character in to ranger HQ (a fansite)

    Mayor Pedros is listed as a good 'bullet catcher' NPC, ie useless, so don't feel bad about losing him.

    As I know you don't like this, I have cut down a list of what weapons to use for you. No numbers just 'This is a really good gun' 'This is an OK gun' 'Don't waste on weak enemies'

    Z17 pneovar - Qba'g ohl vg
    Z19 Evsyr - Qba'g ohl vg
    Znp 17 FZT - BX. Hmv vf orggre
    Hmv FZT Znex 27 - Tbbq nyy nebhaq jrncba

    NX97 nffnhyg evsyr - Fvzvyne gb gur Z1989N1, ohg jvgu 5 yrff ohyyrgf cre pyvc. Cvreprf nezbe fyvtugyl orggre.

    Z1989N1 Angb nffnhyg evsyr - Orfg cebwrpgvyr jrncba

    Teranqr - Hfr gurz jura lbh svaq gurz. Qrzbyvgvbaf chapu bs GAG.

    Cynfgvp Rkcybfvirf - Vg qbrf ybgf bs qnzntr, ohg vg'f gbb rkcrafvir gb hfr va pbzong

    Fcrne - N ybj raq NG Jrncba. Frevbhfyl!

    Synzrguebjre - Jvgu n uvtu Raretl Jrncbaf, Synzrguebjref pna znxr n purnc fhofgvghgr sbe NG Jrncbaf ng $50 cre fubg. Bgurejvfr gurl'er hfryrff. Uvag: Fryy gurz onpx jura gurl eha bhg bs nzzb sbe n $1500 ershaq!

    Znatyre - Qba'g jnfgr gurz ba jvzcl rarzvrf

    Fnobg Ebpxrg - Qba'g jnfgr gurz ba jvzcl rarzvrf

    YNJ Ebpxrg - Qba'g jnfgr gurz ba jvzcl rarzvrf

    Cbjre Cnpx - Gur Havirefny nzzb sbe nyy Raretl Jrncbaf. Ab fgber fgbpxf gurz, fb hfr bayl jura arprffnel. Fryy gurz gb n fgber sbe abj. Ohl gurz onpx jura lbh arrq gurz yngre. Ab ernfba gb jnfgr vairagbel fcnpr.

    Xriyne Fhvg - Gur orfg lbh'yy unir sbe n ybat crevbq

    Xriyne Irfg - BX

    Oh, this is the guide for the pre-vegas section.

    Random Hints:
    Mine: Oevat n cvpx nk.

    2.8 Needles
    Head to the Police Station first to find out what the heck is going on.

    Purpx bhg gur Nzzb qhzc va AR Arrqyrf.

    Purpx bhg gur genfu cvg va FJ Arrqyrf. Oevat fbzr GAG. Lbh'yy or irel tynq lbh qvq.

    Yrlebl'f Cynpr vf nyfb n qrprag jrncbaf fgber.

    Gur fuvsgvat uvyyf va Fbhgurea Arrqyrf pna envfr Pyvzo.

    Frnepu nyy ohvyqvatf va Arrqyrf pnershyyl. Jngpu bhg sbe enqvngvba.

    Uver gur Hmv-gbgvat srznyr va gur nyyrl bs qbjagbja Arrqyrf.

  15. Looks like it's about time to update the "recent and upcoming" list.

  16. Rick, I'm not sure what you mean--because of Skyrim, or is there something I'm missing?

    Canageek, I translated your comments too late and had already made a lot of the mistakes that you cautioned me to avoid, including killing the Uzi-toting female in Needles. Oh, well.

  17. Oh well, I *think* based on what I heard she just adds a bit of extra plot at the end game, and possibly betrays you. Make sure you check out a spoiler on her when you finish.

    Also, are you interested in setting up that chat channel, so we can keep you company while you play? I also had the idea that you could uStream what you are playing with a screen capture program, so we could watch.

  18. Canageek, e-mail me and let me know what you were thinking as far as the chat channel goes. It's been so long since we discussed it that I forgot.

  19. Most Uzis fire 9mm Parabellum rounds which are used in many other firearms, including pistols like the Glock 17 or the Beretta.

  20. Since you declare that you like to come back to those older postings every now and then, I will chime in with a few words on ammunition and submachine guns. This is actually somewhat interesting topic, right there. ;) As Giuseppe mentioned, Uzis (real ones, that is) are using 9x19mm cartridges, the same that are used by the vast number of pistols, including Beretta 92F, which is (was?) standard issue is US Army. There are many more weapons using 9x19mm cartridges, from pretty well known H&K MP-5, through incredible variety of pistols, to some rare/strange guns as Taurus CT9 carabine.

    Of course, they should use different clips altogether, but that's another story. ;)

    1. I should have looked it up. Except for the M16A1 and M16A2, guns aren't really my thing.

    2. On the other hand, you know your bec-de-corbin from your lucerne hammer, your voulge from your halberd, your lochaber axe from your bardiche, your coresque from your spetum, your svärdstav from your partisan, your fauchard from your bill, your guisarme from your glaive, your ranseur from your brandistock and your sovnya from your naginata... I presume?

    3. Chalk it up 'what have I learned'. It's not like there is a ton of cRPGs set in modern times anyway, so it's probably not very useful knowledge. ;)

    4. A game probably only needs five polearms to capture the important differences: Sword-on-a-stick; Axe-on-a-stick; Hammer-on-a-stick; Really long spear; Mancatcher.

      CotAB was the worst offender when it came to weapons. 38 melee weapons, 32 of which were strictly inferior goods. Things weren't quite so egregious if you played AD&D according to the letter (which few people did AFAIK) because you added speed factors, weapon-vs-armor modifiers, reach, space required, and that certain melee weapons could be thrown.


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