Thursday, October 21, 2010

2400 A.D.: Die Hard

Soy-278 is robots!

I've gotten the hang of 2400 A.D., and it isn't too hard, particularly given that (as far as I can tell) you cannot die. If robots shoot you enough, you fall unconscious and you wake up in the Social Rehab Center. As some of my readers pointed out in my last posting, this isn't so bad. If you search around, you find a secret door that lets you escape into the underground, at which point you can find your way to the surface.

Now, you don't have any of your equipment, but a helpful hint from a guy named Guido...

...clued me in to where I could go and find it. There's no security on it or anything:

So "dying" and going to rehab actually becomes useful at some points. It certainly isn't any detriment that I can see--you don't lose any statistics, and you even have your check-in timer reset--so the only drawback is that it's a slight pain in the neck wandering out of jail.

This is a good thing, because I was shot unconscious about 20 times tonight as I explored the city of Metropolis. First of all, the quest advanced as I returned to Spider with the password, was given some equipment (including a better blaster), and advised to find out about the underground.

On my way to the underground, I was pursued by another Follower. I got sick of him shadowing me, and I shot him dead. This turned out to be an extraordinary bit of luck because I haven't been able to kill another Follower since.

When a robot "dies," nothing in the game tells you it's dead; it just stops moving. I didn't realize this the first time, so I kept shooting and shooting it until my weapon broke. Then I realized he wasn't shooting back, and I searched him for a cool 8 credits.

As you fight, run, climb, talk to people, and repair weapons in this game, your energy (strength), agility, IQ, and affinity increase. This is the first game I can think of in which your ability scores increase through use instead of through magical means or allocating experience points to them.

In the Underground.

In the Underground (literally an area beneath the city you access via ladders), I was recruited into the Rebellion by someone named "Pinkie" and given a list of individuals to consult. As I did in Ultima IV, I've been taking careful notes of character locations and clues. The game is similar to Ultima IV in that you speak to characters by typing keywords, and often you get a clue from one character to mention something in particular to another. It is dissimilar to Ultima IV in that the characters don't have as much to say, and they don't respond to standard keywords like NAME, JOB, and HEALTH.

My growing clues file.

The clues are telling me a little about a secret entrance to the Authority Complex, and code words I'll need to shut down the robot servers--the game's main quest.

As I explore and talk to people, I've also been finding out about different modes of transportation in the City of Metropolis. First, you can walk anywhere, obviously. But there's also a conveyor belt that reaches most of the parts of the town, and a subway that runs underneath it. Finally, there are occasional transporters that you need a code word to use, but I just got it: LETSGO.

"Now, did he ever return? No, he never returned..."

My main goal now is to make some money and upgrade my weapons, armor, and equipment, and the only way I've found to make money is by killing robots. After numerous attempts and subsequent sojourns in the Rehab Center, I thought to consult the book, and I realized there are different "levels" of robots. Right now, I can basically only take on Level 1:

If I limit myself to "police" robots and "sentry" robots, I've actually been doing pretty well. Here's a shot of me looting the bodies of two police robots:


I'm up to about 500 credits, but good weapons and armor cost in the thousands, so I have a long way to go. My plan right now is to keep exploring, talking, and killing, and see where it gets me. Somehow the game doesn't feel like it's going to take very long, but perhaps I'm deceiving myself.


  1. I just wanted to say thank you. I really have enjoyed your adventures and I think you are spot on about the value of CRPGS, especially the heroin comment. In the past, I have played some but not all the games you have sampled, though I found Ultima to be far too messianic. Still, you have inspired me to revisit the few old games I have left. Thank you. May the sun shine on you today and everyday.

  2. I really dislike it when games have NPCs with extremely limited responses but force you to type out the words anyway.

    You end up wasting a bunch of time trying every single possible option even though they only say two or three things total.

    I think what bothers me most about it is that it's a flaw that can disguise itself as innovation. If you simply selected topics from a box or something, that would make things a lot easier and save a lot of time in the long run. However, that's "normal", while with these "type in the keyword" type-games, they can say "look guys, instead of a boring dialogue option box you can type in ANYTHING YOU WANT!" even though they still only respond to the same amount of things.

    I think I will dub these kinds of fake-innovation "psuedovation", just because making up words like that is fun.

  3. I have a copy of 2400 A.D. for the Apple II that came with an eBay purchase. It looked mildly interesting, but I never played through it. It doesn't look bad, actually! Bland, perhaps.

    Zink: What's really funny is, having keyword selection is actually easier and cheaper to code than a text parser. (Unless you're really lucky and it's implemented in ROM code somewhere.)

    So, all these old CRPG's that have text parsers were deliberately designed this way. An expensive key routine, reserved memory for buffer space, complicated time-consuming string comparisons... all for the sake of "pseudovation".

    Good word, incidentally. Very applicable to modern gaming as well. :)

  4. Hello, just found this blog a few days ago. Mentioned on another blog, I think it was Rampant.

    I wanted to thank you for taking it upon yourself to blog about your 'condition'. I'm a big fan of CRPG's too, but these ones came out when I was too young to really appreciate them, and I didn't have the manuals when I came upon one.

    I've been reading back through the archives, pretty cool stuff. Looking forwards to reading more. You all get up to some fun discussions in the comments as well.

  5. Oh, love the Kingston Trio reference. Going to sing "Tijuana Jail" next time you're in social rehab? :)

  6. Zink, the advantage I see to the "typing responses" method, even when the number of keywords the NPCs actually respond to is limited, is that it forces the player to take notes about who told him to ask what PC about what subject. If the game just records and "unlocks" new keywords as you stumble upon them--as in Morrowind or Oblivion--I think it takes some of the challenge away.

    Ultima VI, if I recall right, had a bit of a hybrid method where you could turn on highlighting for the keywords an NPC would respond to.

  7. Didn't think anyone would catch that, Adamantyr.

  8. Welcome to the blog, JJ & Kian. Sounds like you both get the "addict" part. Why else would I be up at 03:00 on a Friday?

  9. I'm something of a binger myself. I don't usually replay games, since once the story is done I don't have the drive that keeps making me go forward. But when I get hooked on one I'll stay up all night playing.

    I've had it happen that I'll say "ok, just a few more minutes," and the next thing I know the sun is rising.


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