Part 198: Abandoned Ticon LabAbandoned Ticon Lab (1:58:24)
This is another one of those that I spent 4+ hours on. Ergo, this is the 'condensed' version. Median completion time is just shy of an hour and a half, so a lot of people take a long time on this one ... but not nearly so long as I did.
I watched to the last 20 minutes and i cannot stop screaming.
You were warned.
The way I did this level is ... well, it's not exactly as intended to put it mildly. There's some things that I'm still not sure about even after finishing it and seeing it again twice (once for editing, once for the writeup). I'm sure I'll get clarification from our esteemed author on those.
So let's have at it!
There's a bit more above this but nothing of immense importance. We start at the bottom with some pre-built stuff, and there's a bunch of rooms - some connected, some not.
Ticon Corp? I know of the Ticon Empire, but ...
*Yes, I think I know where it comes from, but that would be breaking the fourth wall*
I played over multiple sessions, and partly for that reason I would forget this long before the end. To my detriment.
There are a great many message artifacts to be found here, laid out in systematic and sensible locations. Far more sensible than your humble LPer's frame of mind, unforunately.
Our starting area. We have a number of things we recognize, and some we do not. Nice to have a couple of friendly emitters to begin things off, and a sizable array of Reactors. The text on that one enemy emitter states 'You feel like a sadistic dog watches you struggle'.
It is not wrong.
If you look closely, you'll see there's an exit to the north ... we'll get to that in a while. The two larger tan/brown structures over in the leftward direction are Alchemiters, aka bomb factories. We'll get to that. Beforehand, there are a number of messages to retrieve. One must respect the spam of
No Singularity. Boo. But there's a very good reason for this.
And there it is. So we have an alternative.
Now I'll read the message I was specifically told to get first ...
EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPITALIZATION AND TECHNOBABBLE ALSO DETECTED
What the actual frisbee is a sealant gate?
I dumbly guessed square roots or whatever. After finishing the mission, I still don't know what this means.
Oh, and for those of you scoring at home, this update now has 15 screenshots. It could have had a couple more. The mission timer is at 14 seconds. Just sayin'. So I throw up Siphons that I probably will never use, but hey good they're there, and decide to just read all the things. Next one is the one between the two alchemiters.
Ok. So basically these chips and the alchemiters are useless on their own. Combined, they make cool things like converter bombs. Learning about said cool things and how to use them is the main point of doing this mission. I will ultimately be mostly, but assuredly not completely, successful in this endeavor.
Now let's look around a little more, because we're about to read the artifact from the entrance into this room to the north. Undoubtedly inspired by the whacky gravitational effects in CW2, these blue things are Time Manipulators and they do weird stuff. Stuff that I still do not completely understand, or rather I'm not certain that I do.
I never found a way to do this. But I tried the closest I could get to it.
Walls at the edges of said time fields were the only thing I could think of. I would eventually try max-height double walls before settling on max-height single walls. Also below, we can see the messages we get when liberating the alchemiters, and the fact that they are nice and colorful orange when activated.
That chip with the two arrows says 'Are you tired of SAFE? Are you tired of ONCE? This will satisfy your needs!'. It's called a 'Flippy chippy'. Soon I get the message artifact to the left of the lower alchemiter:
These aren't exactly 'consumer goods'. And what is a 'coproration'?
So I'm now to be a bomb-maker.
That's the conversion one previously mentioned, but we can use the top alchemiter. Good way of introducing these mechanics, one that is hardcoded and another that isn't in the starting zone. There's a tooltip countdown when a bomb is being built. If you try to remove the chip when there's already a completed bomb, it reads 'Safety lock engaged. Destroy current bomb before removing the chip'.
The green thing here is the bomb, and selecting it gives me this circular cursor. It's red because I'm not over a viable target. That means an Emitter or, as we'll discover later to considerable consternation, a Stargate. I don't know if anything else qualifies, but nothing I could find.
BTW, notice how small the blue stargate (in between the two friendly emitters) is graphically? We'll get back to that, but I think the icon or whatever is just smaller than standard. This will make me very sad later.
Here it turns green, as I'm on an emitter. As it turns out, this is a considerably bad target choice, but I don't know that.
The bomb flies over and ... Integrity Compromised?? Why am I being warned about damage to an enemy emitter?? Anyway, there was a small bit of standard creeper around it, which was converted to AC as we might expect.
Here's another nearby example; we have a friendly emitter in a room that is totally overwhelmed by creeper. There was no AC visible at all before this drop. It eventually gets eaten up again of course - the conversion bomb is a one-time effect.
Further up in the time-manipulator room there is another chip, and a message to explain it as well.
I thought this a weird way of saying it, because nobody uses mortars on a CSM map. The point is well-taken though; we must defeat the time manipulators in order to get a chip with similarly-themed abilities.
Grabbing the converter bomb once again, I used it more effectively on this small nearby room. Having flipped the only emitter and with minimal creeper remaining to oppose it, local superiority is assured and a Tower will come with it to aid my efforts.
Here's what the Flip bomb does. It's kind of touchy to use, and I ... well, I didn't get a full handle on when to use it and when not to immediately. Or even all that soon. The desc. reference to it not being safe or a one-time thing is very appropriate. It looks like a conversion bomb, but it works in either direction and has a 10-second cooldown ... and then fires again. So here's the first time, so far so good.
Oh. That's not so good. These are a lot better in situations where there's an overwhelming crush of creeper, so that it will overcome the emitter before the bomb fires a second time. In that situation you get double the bang for your buck. In this one, I just handed the emitter back to the enemy, it 'flipped back' to creeper. Which wasn't the best idea.
I then did it again immediately, because I'm an idiot sometimes and I wasn't paying attention.
Now we'll take a look at this row below the starting area. There are no blockers to be used there, but it has other uses. Let's consult the oracl... i mean, message artifact:
That's the last nearby message. But there'll be more.
Hmm. We've moved past the warning stage now. The entire text reads, I think, "Containment breach detected, immediate evacuation recommended." Then after a bit ...
Oh. Heh. Alrighty then. Let it be known that I've failed the chip bomb tutorial mission.
So I try again. Did a lot of the same things on the restart, but here's a notable exception - walling off that emitter so I don't trigger it again.
Here as I close in on completing the Time Room you can see the effect of the time manipulator fields, sucking the creeper towards them and piling it up there. That emitter there with the red background is of the armoured variety - bombs don't work on those.
There's two identical rooms in terms of the emitters to this one, one to the left and one to the right of our starting zone. Each has one strong emitter and two weak ones, so once we flip the strong one and are able to hold it victory is assured. After setting up relays in there, we acquire more
One must always have proper safety measures and protocols.
Here's what we have on the right side. That deformed mushroom thingy is yet another recipe chip. It reads "Berserker MORE DAKKA". I will later find out the 'official' name is Frenzy. The blue one in the time room is called 'Blizzaga. It's coming soon (TM)'. Otherwhise known as Freeze. So we now have a couple more weapons in the Arsenal of Fail.
East side, north of the room we just cleared - the corridor there was turned to us with relative ease esp. after Terping down the barrier. But here is something else. That red thing emits this energy wave or whatever - it's called a Sterilizer. They are capable of terminating relatively small amounts of creeper, and it keeps the amount here to a minimum. But we've got another message here, another presumably booby-trapped enemy emitter, a couple more towers ... lots of fun stuff. And a few stargates in the middle as well. I would eventually try a number of things here, most of them wrong, but the one thing I knew I wanted to do was wall off that emitter so it didn't blow.
Naturally there is a message artifact, if you didn't get the point ...
Apparently sterlizers are particularly loud and/or annoying.
We're not as far in making progress on the left side of the map. In fairness, it's more difficult to do so over here. I'm calling this, in retrospect, the Crossroads. Those arrows aren't just arrows, but KISSes. That stands for Kajacx's Integrated Super Semiconductors (I think). Semiconductors conduct creeper and anti-creeper in the indicated direction. I think they have a limited capacity. And what makes these extra-special fun is that they rotate every so often (I think it's set to 45 seconds or something similar). That makes all of these rooms inherently reinforce each other. That sterilizer in the middle limits the effect, but esp. the far-left room which has a trio of 150-strength emitters produces enough that it builds up in the middle over time as you can see.
Experimenting with the Freeze bomb, I find it has a 20-second cooldown during which it freezes all creeper in place over a moderately-wide radius.
I didn't realize how uh, not great this is at the time. Using multiple bombs in combination, good. Using the freeze close enough to the conversion that it basically defeats the purpose of it, not as good. But I did a bunch of trial-and-error with this stuff to see what worked.
Round about here I started playing like I had no sense of focus whatsoever, hopping from one part of the map to another without finishing whatever I started working on, like a child who just saw a new shiny, sparkly whatever. And mostly that was because I wasn't really sure what to do anywhere on the map. That's a big part of why we now have the concentrated DUMB of moving my only Command Node to the upper-left of the map, soley to retrieve more message artifacts. Messages that pertain to the chips they are nearby. Chips that I need to swamp the area with AC in order to obtain, and the instructions for which I am certain to forget by the time I actually get there, since I'm not close right now.
At the time I thought this was merely comedy. It also has a purpose, which we'll get to. Eventually.
Yep, there's more.
Guess it's a good thing Skars didn't decide to go visit Risa before coming here.
Then I decided to work for a bit on the mid-left of the map; this is 'north' of the whole Crossroads section but it has a weakish emitter enclosed by terrain. I saw no reason not to convert it and then use it as a foothold.
Then went back to the crossroads, taking the southern approach with a combination of repeated bombs. Essentially converter and flips, sometimes with frenzy added in, to get enough AC to lower the overall levels enough to retain control. Note that the sterilizer in that part isn't actually doing anything ... we'll get to that.
I then brought in Terps to put a wall up by the semiconductor - this was just a test but it worked to prevent more from coming in. More importantly though, we must have the
I think I know who the next 'maintenance human asset' to be 'up for consideration' of termination needs to be.
After screwing it up for some while, I got enough bombs deployed back at the middle section to gain more headway and gain another emitter. Gradually I moved through the rest of this section.
Over here, even using a combination of bombs wasn't effective at first. When flipped, the emitters only gave us half-strength (75 instead of 150). Even when Frenzied, that still meant 225 output with the two enemy ones combining for 300.
Here, I've got full control of north and south, and am basically isolating the room to the west. Which may or may not have been a good idea, but it's progress at the crossroads in any case. This connection did bring into my control yet more messages ...
One of them gives 1.43x production time, the other 1.67x.
That's the worst of the lot IMO. I would of course not remember precisely what the flaws in each of them are, and screw up using them.
This one is from north of the crossroads, by the Vortex Room ... we'll get to that.
I think his sanity leaving him is what is billowing oh so majestically.
Steady, repeated use of Flip and Converter bombs eventually lowered the west crossroads down to the point where I could hold two of the emitters and effectively have a standoff - barely on that middle one, but it's still on our side. That gave me the needed time to convert the third one, and we could move on.
This one, which I haven't paid all that much attention to yet, has a single weak emitter but it's armored. I have to get enough AC through the sterilizer in order to swamp this. Once that's done though, the alchemiter actually produces bombs 50% faster. So it's worth the effort to a degree.
The Vortex Room. Just below it, we've already acquired the Vacuum Chip 'With EasySweep technology!', aka the afore-mentioned 'singularity bomb'. Vacuum Bombs suck creeper/AC towards them like a singularity for a 20-second duration, then release it.
That green thing in the middle is Vortex Generator 2.41. It creates ... well, a vortex. And we have active sterilizers here as well. So a swirling cauldron of not that much creeper, but creeper that is hard to control.
I used a combination of the Vacuum, flip/converters to control the emitters (100 strength for all four) and walling them off to limit the effect of the vortex. It still took a while, partly due to me doing it badly at times. Some experiments worked, and some didn't. Getting AC into the mix helped, but when the vacuum such as here released, the flow was substantial and due to the vortex basically unstoppable.
More walls, more aC, more converter/flip bombs eventually gave me critical mass to gain control of the area. The vortex was now mine.
Accessible only by this super-narrow pathway east of the Vortex Room is the Closet (again, my bad name and nobody else is to blame for it). There was more to this room than immediately meets the eye.
Flipping that emitter at the entrance gave it, with the power level we current have, exactly equal strength to the opposing enemy emitter at 50 each. That meant it could hold it's own indefinitely, so next I did a bunch of frenzy cycles to edge the battle in our favor, reaching this position.
Why is maintenance so responsive here? Did John get back from vacation or something?
Ok fine - Testing Chamber not closet.
LOL. That's the maintenance staff we all know and ... well, we all know.
I don't expect anyone to read that, but it's the Control Panel, which after clicking it a couple times goes from sterilize everything to Sterilize AC to Sterilize C. Yes thank you, let's just get rid of the creeper only.
That makes this sterilizer down at the bottom - and, I didn't realize at the time, all of them on the entire map labeled 'Faulty Sterilizer' only remove the enemy. As a result, the AC quickly gains the upper hand here. Takes a bit to actually press in and flip that armoured foe, but it does happen eventually.
I'll allow the small mercy here of only spending one image discussing this waste of time, much of which was cut out of the video as well. Back on the right side at the Sterilizer Room, I got the bright idea to wall off a path around the outside of it. There's just one problem; this doesn't do ONE SINGLE SOLITARY DROPLET OF DUNG WORTH OF GOOD, since the sterilizer doesn't care about walls. So none of the AC can get around it anyway.
Even better, my target was that ring with the '1' inside of it. That's a SG Connector. Despite Regallion explaining it to me, I didn't totally understand how they worked anyway. So even if I'd gotten it (as will be demonstrated) it probably wouldn't have done much good anyway. Now in my defense, I learn by doing, by seeing, not by having things described to me. Just how my brain works. But that doesn't excuse this whole pointless operation.
Let's take a brief look at the big room in the middle. At this point I put a Vacuum Bomb on the middle emitter and got even more confused. Standard emitter in the middle, armored ones ring the edge, all 400 strength. And I think there's some kind of stacking going on, because this confused me both now and later. There's both AC and creeper emitting at the same location. We'll get back to me being dumb about this room later.
Upper-right here, a nice big room. And these sterilizers weren't firing earlier; I turned them on via the Testing Chamber completely on accident. What's even more fun is that, while it took me some time to figure it out, the Time Manipulators here work for a while, then switch off for a while, then switch back on again. Additionally, there's one standard emitter in the center of the room that has a stupid thing I've seen a couple other places already - apparently it has another emitter underneath it that can't be captured or there's a slip-emitter emission or somesuch happy crappy hogwash because if you flip it, more creeper just bubbles up directly underneath it, giving you the flying finger of friendship.
I'm calling BS on those things right now. And not just because BS are my IRL initials.
This is on the right side. With Power now up to the point where I get a natural 80 strength here, frenzy bombs boosted it up to 240. And here's how things flow when time is ON. Using vacuums to suck the creeper away from whatever I was trying to do, and conversion/flips to turn the Flip Emitters my way, I gradually increased the AC influence in the room. And then there were ...
[The Matrix]WALLS. LOTS OF WALLS[/The Matrix]. This is only the beginning of the walls I built to limit the effect of the time manipulators.
Just below the Combination Room is what I assume is Testing Chamber B. Like the first one, it has a control panel, set here to Complete Sterilization. This controls the other half of the sterilizers on the map, those not marked as faulty. Even though, from what I can tell, there's nothing faulty about them. But anyway. Naturally I'll flip this to creeper-only as well, and the four Towers are welcome also.
Eventually I made it to gradually to the western end of the combination room, where I was greeted by ...
Yep, you guessed it ...
So here's what's next. This connects to that room in the upper-left, the one where I moved the command node to like 40 screenshots ago or whatever. Clearly this barrier of Evil Towers is meant to form a 'Do Not Pass This Way' sign in flashing neon. But, because I misunderstood how SG Connectors work, I couldn't figure out what else to do. I needed the chips over there, so onwards. And I needed to take down this armoured emitter anyway.
The message on the other side of the Evil Towers speaks!!
Corporate Notice #WayTooMany2Count
I'm really sick of your Corporate Notices. Signed, Every.Single.Employee.
So I let through some AC at a time, and had another wall on the west side to contain it. I did learn in this process that you need precisely 4-deep AC to activate something. 3.95 is not enough. 4 always is.
First chip says 'Flippper RS010M20MV351. Do not release to consumers'. I hate Regallion for making me do data entry work. The one on the left with the gear-thing on it ... I was too lazy to look or else I cut it out of the footage.
I tried using one of the new chips in the center room, in combination with a conversion. It ... well it didn't go well. You know what's going to happen here.
Yeppers. Of course I have multiple save files by this time, the way this one has gone. I did a similar thing again, tried experimenting with the 'gear chips', and ultimately decided that I didn't really care anymore what it is that they did.
Doing the only thing I could think of, I then flooded the whole stinking room with AC. In needed to get all of the items, and could think of no other way to do it. There's another chip left off the screen, that alchemiter, and the '2' at the bottom, the partner to the one I already captured in the vortex room seen below it.
Except I couldn't capture that second '2', no matter how much AC I flooded it with. Even more strangely, I could drop bombs on it. Still, the answer did not occur to me. It took a stupid amount of time to flood this room, which I intended to pull the AC out of using Vacuum bombs and walls. Except that there aren't emitters quite close enough to use the vacuums to that effect, and meanwhile every last stinking one of those Evil Towers is activated, lowering our output to the minimum. Not that I have any other use for anti-creeper right now, but still.
The last chip, another gear one, says 'StabilizerF. Seals dimensional leaks fast'. I had no idea what that meant.
When I put the Stabilizer - after blowing the whole map again of course - on one of the enemy emitters in the center room, it supercharged it (900 every 250 milliseconds) ... until the countdown expired. And then ... it just blew it up, leaving nothing behind, no PZ, just gone. Dimensional Leak Sealed, I guess.
So naturally I went around doing that to all of them. Meanwhile I set one of the control panels to Complete Sterilization, very very slowly eliminating all the AC in that upper-left room via sterilizer to deactivate all those evil towers.
And then light dawned by sheer random experimentation ...
The true and proper use of Stargate Connectors was finally revealed to my thick skull. My initial conception was that I needed to move both 1s or 2s or whatever number to different stargates so that they would operate as a unit. I.e., put one on a red and one on a yellow or whatever and they become their own private network. This was partly true, and partly not.
One of each number is a movable connector, the one with the red circle here that I've just moved to the small green stargate in the Sterilizer Room; as you may recall it was at the top of said room before. The other one cannot be recovered by AC like I was trying to do with the '2' for like half of forever, and it cannot be moved ... because it itself IS a Stargate!. I needed to move the connector part, not the stargate part, to a friendly SG and then I could flow AC into the stargate part.
I hope that makes sense. So the right way to do that part with the 2s is simply to move the 2 connector from the Vortex Room to any SG I control, even the blue one at the very beginning, flow AC up into that upper-left room that way, and in so doing totally bypass the Evil Tower Barrier of Doom.
So here, we're flowing AC from the green SG in the sterilizer room to the tiny antechamber above the main center room. There just so happens to be another chip in there, whoda thunkit. Shaped like a horseshoe, it is simply named 'la waruda', ' the world. Luck has sided with you'.
If you remembered after all this time that we were looking for a weapon system named the world, raise your hand. Now slap yourself with it for being such a filthy liar. For that matter, why are you still reading this at all. Great googily moogily this is a stupid-long update.
Anyway, the world takes two minutes to build. Placing it on the middle emitter of the big middle room of invicible explosion, it does this:
It's a black hole spouting gibberish. Not exactly helpful.
Oh for pete's sake. More gibberish, and you're supercharging the strongest creeper emitter on the map 10x. I think I've been had.
After a bunch more 'mudamudamuda' type crap. It appears to have an insatiable appetite for creeper, sucking it in from everywhere. LITERALLY everywhere.
I DON'T KNOW THE LANGUAGE!!
As the creeper releases and flows back outwards. *UberSigh*
As it all converts to AC in an instant.
A Mass artifact of Odin, only bigger. And that's it ... but the level doesn't end. Why?
We have not read all the
Yay me. Crammed a 1.5-hour map into just over 3.
I think you have not made a sale, sir.
I think this was better than a 6 rating. I found a lot of it interesting, and more of it would have been if I'd gotten it right the first time. I don't like the small stargates, the 'hidden emitters underneath' or whatever, but the chip bombs are definitely a cool addition.
This is also the longest post in this whole freaking thread, surpassing the record of the the story finale one on CW2. ARGH! Thankfully, in the final CSM map I started becoming more competent and that one won't be nearlya s involved. Not completely so, but more so. There'll be a much faster turnaround time on that. I also look forward to Regallion explaining all the things that I still didn't get right.