Part 2: Elvis Lives in the NetUpdate 1 - Elvis Lives in the Net
Believe me when I Stark is in a bad way. He's slowly turning into a full-fledged vampire, and the only thing giving him any sense of inhibition in his failing neural implant. To make matters worse, he unknowingly played a role in the kidnapping and possible death of his friend, Dierdre Tackett. This very well may be Stark at his lowest, and the only thing we've got to go on is the faint hope that Tackett may have left something behind relating to vampires. Doesn't seem very likely.
The first thing that should stand out to everyone is those shitty grayscale icons resting on top of the "astonishing 3-D Hallucinographic art". Those are items we can take. Where there is gray in the DOS version, there is color in the Amiga version. Rather than showing you which collection of gray pixels represents each object, I'll just list what we're picking up and what they do.
Double-click the right mouse button over something to get more information about it. Here's what we're picking up:
INERTIA SENSORS, RADIATION SCREEN, DERMAL FILAMENT - these are components we need to Jury-Rig different items, some more useful than others. I'll touch more on Jury-Rigging later, and why you shouldn't bother with it other than for a couple of side-quests.
DECKING UNIT CASE - As far as I know, this has no purpose in the game.
NEURAL IMPLANT PLANS - This is a quest item, and the only one of its kind in the game, at that.
Here's the in-game description: "The design to Deirdre Tackett's groundbreaking neural implant that remedies Hopkins-Brie Syndrome." Oh, hey, Stark has a Neural Implant. Does that mean he's got Hopkins-Brie?
The Manual posted:
You are Ransom Stark. Some years ago you were a low-paid employee of TransTechnicals. You were employed as a human services presence, a job requiring extended interfacing with cyberspace. The extended and repeated exposure to virtual reality resulted in your contracting Hopkins-Brie Ontology Syndrome, a condition in which the sufferer has difficulty distinguishing between real and virtual reality.
Striken with Hop-Brie, you were summarily dismissed from TransTechnicals and began wandering the mean streets of Manhattan, perceptually addled and helpless prey to the city's dangers.
You surely would have died a beggar's death had you not been discovered by a teenage street gang and taken to Deirdre Tackett's clandestine workshop in the basement of a once-deserted brownstone in the Greenwich Village warrens. From this hidden laboratory, Tackett pursued her private vendatta against the Company. Tackett rescued you by inserting into your brain a neural implant designed to modulate your perceptions and enable you to retain your grasp on reality.
Given a new beginning, you established a reputation in the city as a reliable freelance. But you never forgot Deirdre Tackett, the woman who was your saviour.
And now she's in Van Helsing's hands. Could she still be alive? It seems that Ven Helsing wants her primarily to get something called INCUBUS, the ultimate ICE breaker.
The Manual posted:
ICE: Intrusion Countermeasure Electronic. The security system guarding WELLS and clusters in cyberspace.
Data Cluser: The most common cyberspace structure, akin to a data base, but more versatile. All data clusters are creations of TransTechnicals.
WELL: An Illegal data cluster. Named honours the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, a twentieth-century bulletin board.
Would Van Helsing have a use for Tackett once he gets a hold of incubus? Well, she did come up with the neural implant, so I'm sure he could put her skills to use in some way, but whatever amount of use he would get from Tackett pales in comparison to what he would get from Incubus. It's not outlandish to think that he just might dispose of her as soon as he gets Incubus, which could already have happened for all we know.
We can only deck into cyberspace in locations where there is a computer with a cyberspace port.
Lastly, we're picking up a 4 TB MEMORY CHIP, which we can place in our decking unit. Left click items to drag them around, right click on Stark with an item to put it in Stark's inventory.
Drag the cursor to the top of the screen for the menu. I'll talk about all the options when they become relevant.
F1-F6 are shortcuts for clicking on these buttons. Let's place the 4 TB chip in our decking unit.
Right now we've got a 1TB chip. Do you see those empty boxes in the lower right? That's our inventory for stuff we pick up in cyberspace, and your memory chip corresponds to how much you can hold. A cloaking device isn't completely necessary to deck, but if you want to avoid getting your cyberitems taken by TransTech security, it pretty much is. Once your shit gets stolen, there's no getting it back, and if it was a quest item, you're walking dead. Uh.. I'm using the term in the adventure game sense, not the Vampire sense. Even then, Stark is only half-vampire. Just trust me.
It's illegal to posses a decking unit, so presumably TT security can tell when you're not authorized to deck. The only items required to get into cyberspace are the Soul Box, which we defined during Character Creation, and the Looker Chip. The looker chip "allows travellers to orient themselves in cyberspace." Cyber GPS. There's only one upgrade for it and it's in the most unlikely place.
Essence is basically another layer of security. To get into certain places we need a certain essence.
The Manual posted:
Cyberspace is a notional world, a virtual reality plane created by TransTechnicals, a global megacorporation. Cyberspace is the place where computers interact with one another, the space information travels through from modem to modem. It is a virtual reality dimension, what Willaim Gibson referred to as "a consensual hallucination" created by the world's computers.
In the game, cyberspace is alternately called the net, c-space, the matrix, or the web. Everything about cyberspace - its look, its uses - was created by the people who designed and programmed its software.
By 2078, TransTech scientists had devised technologies that would allow a human consciousness to marge with a computer. The advantages of TransTech were obvious and many: their scientists, engineers, and strategic planners would be freed from the mediation of hardware and software. Instead, their minds could interact directly with data. Thoughts became immediate reality. Mundane tasks were handled intuitively.
Cyberspace proved both blessing and curse for TransTechnicals since the technology that made linking with cyberspace possible seeped into the underground. Stopping hackers at their keyboards has always been difficult; monitoring and eliminating unwanted cyberspace travellers has proved a never-ending battle.
In BloodNet, cyberspace has been fenced off by competing megacorporations. Part of your adventure will occur in a vast area of cyberspace that is controlled by TransTechnicals.
Enough talking, let's deck!
Early 3D. What can I say?
With a decking integrity score of 10, this is normally when our implant would chime in and tell us to get off the internet in 10 minutes and get a fucking life, or else we're fried. I don't know why it didn't happen this time, and I don't know what all this random shit flying around is. What I do know is that this place is called THE GENERAL PLANE.
The Manual posted:
The General Plane: This is the virtual highway accessed by cyberspace travellers. The general Plane allows you to access any location in cyberspace. Upon entering cyberspace, you will observe that your rotoscoped walking figure has been replaced by a rotating statuette that is the effect created by your soul box.
We've got a Tin Soldier, which is the worst soul box in the game. We need to upgrade that at some point to get shit done. Movement in cyberspace is the same as it is anywhere else, just click on a part of the screen and Stark/CyberStark will move towards the cursor. If you want to see anything of note, you've always got to move at least one screen in any of the four directions. So we'll go down, although I'm not sure that down is the right descriptor to use.
That dragon thing immediately starts a conversation with us. That's a Dragon Soul Box, which is the best in the game. It seems we're a bit outclassed.
Haven't you heard of anti-virus software, Stark? Seriously though, don't fuck with Viruses. They can mess with your decking integrity, and then you're screwed. If we were given a chance to examine it, this would've been the text: "A virus slunks by, arrogant, bold, and obnoxious, and attaching itself to anything it can get next to."
Check out the tindeck link if you want to hear the wonderful Elvis impersonation.
Seein' as your cyberego is about as big as TransTech's hacker hit list, you gotta be the King himself.
That I am. Elvis lives in the net, and he's done so much damage he can't remember it all. Of course, never wreaking havoc on the common decking man. I'm just a man on a mission for information freedom, baby.
What's with the modesty? You single-handedly shut down the Manhattan Utilities Commission billing system for a full month. You were the one who added the Christmas bonus to all non-exec TransTech employees' accounts when management went cheap in '92. How'd you manage to stay out of TransTech's snare, anyway?
They can't catch me man. I'm the King. Ain't nothin can stop me.
So why'd you do it? I can understand why you'd want to stick it to the Company, but why would you choose to stay in the net forever like that?
I wish I could tell you more about viruses, but there's absolutely nothing about them in the manual. We've only got this conversation to go on.
It wasn't a choice, man. My greatness was thrust upon me, you might say. My original plan was to create the definitive map of cyberspace. It'd never been done by anyone outside TransTech, and I wanted absolute knowledge of the net. I designed a mapping program, decked in, and merged with the program. Too bad I went in before I debugged the code. So now I know where everything is in here, but I can't get the hell out.
As far as I can tell, cyberspace as it is in-game is almost completely randomized. There are certain things that appear at certain points, but the actual layout is random.
You just let your body buy it or is it hooked up somewhere?
When you're decked into the net, your body is like a husk, except instead of silently sitting in comatose as if on life support, you might be quietly gibbering to yourself as you interact with the net. I'm sure Ray Bradbury would have been delighted to see such a sight. We have too many holophones. We've got too many cyberspaces.
No, it's long dead. I was working alone. When I first arrived I decided, as long as I was in here, I'd raise a little hell. Now I've done everything I can--with real style, I might add--and I want to get back. I've heard of your work, man. You're hot to get into TransTech. I've seen so many TransTech pigs access your file, it's like your holophone number's been written on a john wall. I could help you if you could get me out into the real world again. Interested?
Trust me when I say we want Elvis as a party member. We'll agree for now, but if you all want to keep him quarantined, that's totally an option.
Great. You download me into your decking unit, and put me in a cyborg body, I could take over its feeble artificial intelligence and get myself a hulking form to walk around in. How about downloading me now, cowboy.
He's now in our decking unit inventory.
Elvis is the best fighter and decker in the game. We'll have to wait a little bit to get all of the parts to make him, but it'll be worth it when we do. If you're wondering why we get him so early in the game, it's not always true that this is the case. Most encounters in cyberspace are selected at random from a set, and it just so happened that Elvis came up the first time we decked.
I also just realized that the CD version's speech said we need to put Elvis in a data spider to take over a cyborg body. That isn't true. There are dataspiders, but there aren't any cyborgs wandering around. We need to build one.
Two more things are of interest here. First is that stationary red orb.
The pieces of Charley Flyer's mind are like little lost puppies. They're just begging to be picked up, and we'll find them in the weirdest places. There are two that we can find on the general plane, but 5 in total. We'll place this one in our decking unit's inventory. Excuse me, our cyberinventory. Cybertory.
There's also this thing.
The Manual posted:
Fats: You will frequently encounter a FATS (Files Access Table System) module. The FATS is your means by which to travel to verious cyberspace locations. Each location has an address code associated with it. FATS will prompt you to enter a cyberspace address. If the address is valid, you will be immediately transported via modem to the desired location.
A plausible analogy to FATS is a web browser, though it is a little different. Locations (consisting of WELLS and Data Clusters) can be plausibly compared to websites. Except the address is secret and there aren't any directories or search engines.
I HOPE you remember what our implant told us in the introduction, and if you skipped it, there is only an extremely subtle hint telling us the same thing. It's so subtle that you wouldn't know it unless you already watched the introduction.
Our decking skills are so shitty that we can't go anywhere. We've got to make some friends, or maybe Stark already has some.
There's nothing else we can do right now in the net. You can go off in all directions but nothing new to interact with appears. The manual says that you should go "at least four or five screens in any given direction." Replace four or five with one, and that's how it actually is in the game.
Now we're faced with a problem: how the hell do we get out of the net? Dragging the cursor to the top of the screen doesn't do anything, and neither does hitting F1-F6.
You've got to right click at the top of the screen. I'll talk more about search later, but know that there's nothing to find in the general plane.
Back in Tackett's lab, let's check out some more stuff in the UI. It's first worth noting that the game clock doesn't progress while you're in cyberspace, which doesn't make sense given that you can die if you spend too much time decked in. Anyway, If you're wondering about the lack of a Journal option, it's because there is no journal. Play this game with notepad open in another window, because the best thing you've got is Dialogue Replay. It does exactly what it says, except it sucks because none of the conversations are organized. It's like they're just thrown in there at random, with nothing but the person's name who you talked to signifying who the conversation was with. If you talked to them multiple times, you'll have multiple instances of their name pop up, but with no distinction between them.
We'll check out Stark's bank account, first.
Hopefully this is a lot of Virtual Dollars. Remember, the year is 2094. It is the future. Now we'll go into Stark's Contacts.
There's a lot of stuff in here. Remember, Stark is in dire need of friends. We'll check out the Houston Matrix Rovers soon.
There's also stuff on Dierdre Tackett.
Did you see that? "Hope she knows". That's so subtle, I'm not even sure it's a hint. What's this about Lost Kids? I'm sure they won't come up later.
There's also Lash Givens, from character creation. Sounds like the abyss might be a place with friends.
There is more, but I'll bring it up as it becomes relevant. Now, have you noticed the absence of an inventory screen? That's because we have to click "1" to access it.
"1" brings up the status screen, and from there, we can view the inventory.
Stark's got a laser pistol and Kevlar vest equipped. Laser pistols use energy cells as ammunition. Kevlar armor is effective against firearms, in particular.
We'll equip the sawed-off shotgun and kevlar coveralls on Stark. The sawed-off shotgun is my go-to weapon. One shot to the torso is all it takes for most enemies not wearing kevlar armor. Coveralls are more effective than vests, given that they cover the arms and feet. We can't do anything with the other inventory slots right now, but I'll talk about them later.
Next time we explore the city.
Find a way to get into Deirdre Tackett's well, hope.
Collect the other four pieces of Charley Flyer's mind.
* * *
I should mention that I got that last image from part 1 from textfiles. Too bad that Jason Scott is about as knowledgeable about anarchism as a political theory as BloodNet is, but we'll get to that soon. Reading that essay, he probably knows a little more than BloodNet does, actually.
Zipped original BMP
Zipped original BMP
Bulletin board systems were the shit. Watch this if you don't know what I'm talking about.
If you're interested in playing BloodNet, use the save game editor (ZIP) and don't worry about this bloodlust nonsense. Read the LP if you want to know about that.