Part 4: Four Playable Charactersaka "screw it, I just want to see everyone's reaction to the game"
: Jack promptly starts investigating London.
: Darned confusing here.
: Let's go talk to the creature at the counter.
: Come on, game, you've switched the camera already. Why do I have to click her again to start talking? So that I could stand here and enjoy the view? Well, good job. Now I noticed that this character never ever blinks.
: One dialogue tree of one real option later...
: My name's Jack Stern. You have a message for me.
: Your passport please Sir.
: I don't use the passport item. It's scripted.
: Thank you very much. The password for receiving the message please.
: The password is 53A2LW5.
: If nothing else, Jack has good memory.
: Well then.
: Have a nice day Sir.
: The elevator whisks us away to the car park. Where we should have cut to in the first place.
: Puzzling. So the doctors don't have a clue either. Who would have had a motive? He must have had enemies, for sure. I'm going to ask Bellicoe. Maybe I should do a search on the web for Henston at the same time. I ought to have Internet access in the van.
: None of this made sense probably. Well, the thing is... I forgot to read the "Henston file" attached to the very first email. Yes, the game shows the plane booking in detail, but also lets you fly to London without any idea of the situation there. At least we haven't poisoned any beggars, yet.
: That must be it. Not bad.
: My van.
: Can't use the bump key on the van. The van key though...
: Right then: welcome home.
: They've rendered two interior shots of the van, where nothing happens.
As Jack said, we search for Henston.
: "Secondary fermentation is complete".
: The game dumps Cecil Rhodes on us. His figure might important to the whole plot. Anyway, let's roll.
: It has to be him.
: A member of the government kicked the bucket and there are no reporters around.
: Ah, here's the first out of many dialogues which lock you in them until you're done, and don't give you an option to quit.
: Hi. You must be Jordan, right?... Jack Stern. It's a pleasure.
: So far 15 Days has used "... ?" and "..?", and now we get "?...".
: Did you have a pleasant flight?
: Everything alright with the car?
: Oh... yeah... damn, you caught me. Where do I hand in my driving licence?
: To me, for example.
: Hey. Jordan, Come on now. I'm completely sober. You wouldn't make things difficult for a fellow policeman, now would you?
: Like I said Jack, your boss warned me about you.
: Oh, he thinks a lot of you. But he also said that you're not so hot on following the rules.
: All the better. Because you're in Great Britain now, Jack. You'll respect the law here. ALL the laws, including the ones that concern "Driving Under the Influence". Is that clear?
: Crystal clear.
: Oh, he doesn't get a face icon? Even I could make one.
: OK, now tell me. What happened to the poor guy?
: And checked. All negative thus far. It would appear that he really did just fall down dead. Organ failure.
: The flute was a huge success though.
: Did he take drugs?
: Well - cocaine, uppers, sleeping pills and he was an alcoholic. Be no critical blood values. He went to the doctor regularly. The results were all in order.
: Wow. Almost sounds as though the mas was more afraid of flying than me, huh?
: Indeed, but his consumption patterns are unfortunately not uncommon for a top ranking politician.
: I suppose I don't really need to ask if he had enemies?
: It would be quicker to list his friends. You followed the coverage of the demonstrations over the G8 summit?
: Then you've seen a few hundred thousand of his enemies. Our first thought was political murder, but we can't find a thing. No weapon, no injuries, no bacteria, no poison.
: Did he have family?
: Wife, ex-wife, three children, Golden Retriever. And a girlfriend of course, his blond assistant. She's going to inherit everything, if I'm not mistaken.
: 22. Can't count to five but looks like Miss Universe.
: We must be doing something wrong, Jordan.
: Look at the cuffs! And...
: We are alive, the conversation is ending.
: I'd like to have a look around in there now.
: Of course. I've already informed the officers. You have access to the offices at any time. Your colleagues from France have also been here, by the way. Took off again yesterday.
: Are you coming in with me?
: I'm not sure he has a walking animation, Jack.
: Sorry, I've got too much to do. We're putting a special commission together. You've got my mobile number. So if you find anything...
: You'll be the first to know.
: And JB does walk away.
: OK. Off we go.
: What's up with the statue?
: Admiral Nelson... or someone.
: The "Imposing façade"?
: Swanky box.
: And into the Foreign Office we go.
Wh... what? Not the typo in the room name, no.
WATCH. THIS. NOW.
Eh... Swanky, indeed. Anyway, let's check out the portraits.
: The Neanderthal bust?
: Gotta be one of Henston's predecessors.
: The painting on the right?
: Well, it's a piece of something.
: One helluva boat.
: The filing cabinet under the model sailors?
: We can examine the open diary on the desk.
: There's some background traffic hum and this line is quieter that the comments about the boat. There's also a bloodstain.
: Yep, not much gets left behind. Not even of the "high and mighty".
: Let's grab the organizer.
: I call it shortening the chain of command.
: There's a little more to the room, like the home bar.
: Now would anyone notice if I just took a sip...
: The portrait can be both looked at AND investigated.
: Nice... but not my taste
: Hmm. I know this old guy from somewhere. Colonial politician I think.
: Finally, the diary/organiser.
: Minister Henston's organiser. I think I ought to do a bit of research on these entries.
: The purple text looks perfect on tan.
: And then he had a meeting with a company called ArtTrans... in his office...
: That's a new option...
: I'll have to do that on the computer.
: What? OK, if you say so...
: The only Internet-famous Nancy Jenkins.
: This looks like choice and gameplay, but we need to call all three numbers, obviously. Fuck...
: Nancy Jenkins.
: Hello Mrs. Jenkins. This is Jack Stern from the International Police. I'd like to ask you a few questions. Do you have a moment for me?
: International who?
: I assume you've heard about that.
: Hmm, well I never! So he's dead is he?
: You don't know anything about it?
: Listen Mr. International thingamajig...
: My name is Stern.
: James Henston was a pure-bred sod and didn't deserve any better. I hope it was a slow and painful death.
: Oh. We're... still working that out.
: Do you have to cut him up into little pieces for that?
: Oh, well... I think something like that will be done.
: Good. Very good. If you need any help with that...
: You didn't like Mr. Henston very much? Why did you go to dinner with him then?
: Because he paid for it. It's my job. Escort service, you see.
: Why do you have such a bad opinion of him?
: He was a pig. Don't you want to ask me if I killed him?
: No. I don't think so. I... I'm sorry if I put you in an awkward position.
: That's her job.
: Not at all. It was a pleasure.
: Err, yea. Good. So then, thank you very much for now.
: Nancy was lovely. But still, I tried to end it all and drive off.
During the chat with Nancy Jack was sitting somewhere in his van. Apparently, that is the only place he can make his calls from, because when you try to use his mobile phone from this screen nothing happens. There's no comment, it just doesn't work.
Fuck House of Tales.
: Hi Mrs. Myers. This is Jack Stern from the International Police.
: International Police? Well I never. So word of mouth does work.
: Wait a minute. What's this about please.
: I have a few questions. About the death of James Henston.
: Oh. I see. Yes, that was a terrible thing. I was out for a meal with him just the day before he died.
: That's exactly why I'm calling. What was the purpose of your date?
: Business. Contract extension.
: Mr. Henston was a customer of your... service?
: For many years... He had a bit of a difficult marriage.
: I can imagine. So you supplied him with fitting alibis for his marital difficulties?
: Exactly. Have you got a problem with that?
: Not at all. Did Mr. Henston have any other difficulties, apart from with his marriage?
: Well, with a job like his you always have a lot of difficulties. He travelled a lot and not all of his destinations were meant to be public knowledge.
: Did you always know where he was going when he needed and alibi?
: No. We don't ask our customers questions. We give them answers.
: Where were you when Mr. Henston died?
: You're asking for my alibi?
: I'm quite sure you have one.
: I've got twenty.
: One's enough for me.
: Would you like to know his name?
: Perhaps I better not.
: I thought not.
: Good. Well, thanks a lot for now.
: Nothing at all Mr. Stern. And... if you ever need an alibi...
: I know. Have a nice day.
: What makes these conversations even more unbearable is that the only thing Jack does, apart from smacking his lips and blinking, is very slowly rotate a few degrees left and right as if he's got a shaft stuck up his arse. Anyway, ArtTrans, which is not a posh gender change clinic.
: Hi Mr Travis, Jack Stern here from the International Police. I have a question about of of your customers. James Henston.
: Oh yes. The minister. He just died, didn't he?
: That's right. There's a not in his diary suggesting he had an appointment with you the day before his death.
: One moment, let me just check.
: There a brief pause as Jack keeps rotating on the van's shaft.
: Yes, that's right. His ministry had loaned out a picture for a special exhibition in the London Modern. We brought it back on that day. To his office, if I'm not mistaken.
: Aha. Which picture was it?
: The portrait if Cecil Rhodes, by William James Thurber.
: How many people did you send?
: Two. Like always.
: What are their names?
: No, I'm not calling any more numbers. This is a bad enough radio drama already.
: I can't tell you exactly. I haven't received all of the papers yet, they're still in the post. But you could ask at the museum, our people have to sign transport documents there.
: OK. I'll do that. Thanks for now. Good bye.
: It all went off. National Guard and everything. I'll take a closer look at it on the Web.
: To the search engine!
There's a theory in the thread that the fake articles are composed out of bits of several Wikipedia paragraphs. I'm not entirely sold on it, because it implies the developer knew how to use Wikipedia, and we'll see a lot of evidence to the contrary.
: OK. About time we got out to see some people. I'll speak to Henston's widow tomorrow. And with his... 'assistant'. Let's see how she's coping with her new wealth. And I still have to get to the museum, what with this art shipper and all. Better do that now, before they close.
: Oh, joy. Wait, weren't the thieves going to case the joint today?
: Blimey, I haven't been here for ages... they've redone the whole forecourt.
: Bernard, you can't make jokes when the wacky music drowns you out.
: Hmm. What am I going to do if one of my old colleagues recognizes me?
: You say hello! This is a museum. They'll be expecting visitors.
: I just don't want anyone to ask awkward questions.
: Come on. Mike's right. They'd be happy to see you. We're not doing anything illegal.
: Not yet anyway. So, off you go. I'll get my hands on the building plans in the meantime.
: Good. Bernard, you check the camera system. I'll look for the painting. Is your phone on?
: Of course.
: Hey, I see a random human being in the shot!
: Good luck.
: Originally the Tate Modern building was the Bankside Power Station, which produced electricity by burning coal. In the middle of London. Naturally, as the fight for clean air went on, it was shut down and stripped of all equipment. By the mid '70s it became a popular venue for underground artists and performers, primarily thanks to the large and empty turbine hall. Among the regulars was a shock-art group COUM Transmissions whose performances included self mutilation, sex, drinking piss and blood, and stitching open wounds on stage. Their musical act developed into a band Throbbing Gristle, making this place the crib of industrial music. Not to be confused with concrete music (Musique concrète). That's a French invention.
Anyway... back to the game... Cathryn won't chat up the girl, but we can examine the building and the pigs. Ignore the canal sign.
: Cute... somehow...
: We enter the museum and...
: ...through a long-range scene transition...
: ...find ourselves indoors. Huh?
: You'll manage. I'll concentrate on the cameras.
: Headsets in means shit got real.
: Let's go. We'll split up... he'll only be able to follow one of us.
: The guard immediately takes off after Cathryn, who slides across the floor because her animation doesn't match the walking speed.
: What do you know, we've found the painting.
: For the first time I'm in control of Bernard. He can examine shit, like the absolutely metal sculpture.
: Not really my thing.
: What about the orange mess in the background?
: It looks like a stylised camp fire.
: On the unmanned reception desk there's a brochure.
: The museum building plan.
: Might as well look at the cameras.
: There's one.
: Is Bernard's inventory of a phone and a pen as bland as his personality?
: My mobile. Old, but it still works.
: I think Mike pinched it from Megabase.
: Exit to the bottom of the screen.
: OK, let's hear the comments on the "plastic ants", the "threatening statue" and the golf ball respectively.
: Kind of threatening.
: Time to actually solve the "puzzle" by taking the brochure.
: Here. OK. Stay on the line. I'm still in the corridor...
: No, you're not.
: Lots of cameras here. Is it a new system?
: Well, it wasn't there when I worked here.
: There used to be a security room on the ground floor. That could be it.
: We continue by observing that the font does not follow the perspective.
Anyway, we use either the plan or the pen on a camera.
Yes, Bernard stands right in front of it and marks the position on the plan. You have to do it with every camera in the building.
: Got it.
: It's a lock with fingerprint authentication. Only certain guards can get in there.
: Can Mike crack that thing?
: Mike can crack anything.
: I've got some bolt cutters and bandages if you want?
: A fingerprint would be enough, right?
: OK. We've gotta find out which of the guards go in and out of there. Mike?
: Meanwhile, Bernard is taking a stroll.
: I can't right now. I'm in the middle of penetrating the architect's server.
: We'll manage without you.
: Quiet now, I've got to concentrate.
: I'll talk to one of the security guards.
: You do that. I'm turning you off.
: The back passage contains some junk...
: They're storing stuff here for the next rubbish collection, definitely.
: Just a heap of old crap.
: ...a door...
: Hmm... The loo most probably.
: ...and more cameras.
(wearing French accent): Oh mon dieu. You gave me a shock.
: Err, yeah. Exactly...
: Toilets are upstairs. Now out of here, alright?
: Alright, alright. Excuse me.
: Problems Bernie?
(still a bit French): A guard. He's gone again... I'm in the cellar, gotta come upstairs again.
: Come to think of it, every line Bernard says in this cellar has a bit of a French accent, even the hotspot comments.
: OK. Then I'll go through to the other exhibition room.
: This time Cathryn gets no personal space.
: Excited, Bernie proceeds to mark the remaining cameras.
: There are quite a few...
: Alright, then let's meet outside. Mike, what about the server... ?
: Just about ready, jeez... Aw, come on, stupid thing... I don't believe it. Does this damned admin want to give me a proper work-out, or what?
: I can switch the camera angle, but Mike's notebook in the only interactive point in the scene.
: My notebook. Everything soldered together myself. Blindfolded.
: I'd like to watch him hook up the power cord to an AT motherboard blindfolded.
Mike's got the same desktop on all of his PCs. Today we use LeetRoute.
Oh. That looks complicated. I'll leave it for next time.
P.S. In addition to the swanky box theme earlier, here's Bernard going French.