Part 15: Clean Your Plate
Previously, on Policenauts:
One thing that's nice is that for all the different acts, the Summary Screens have their own little graphics for each. They're easy to miss playing the game, so we're featuring them here.
Not bad, Ed!
Housing's a lot cheaper here than Home. Even then, I'm still paying it off. It's nothing compared to Hojo's place, but we're in a nice area. The South Garden linear rail station's right around the corner too. The linear rail's a maglev,
so noise or vibrations ain't that big a deal.
Wish I had a place like this to call home.
Yeah, it's nice for kicking back. Anyway, why don't we head inside?
So yeah, building inside a spinning cylinder in fucking space really drives down real estate prices. Ed doesn't have a garden, but he's got two stories, which is nice. Also 5 years left on his mortgage, which isn't bad at all.
Meet Anna Brown. Next to Lorraine, she's my least favorite character, from a tech standpoint. I want you to imagine you're working on ROMhacking Policenauts, wearing headphones connected your laptop in public. Your goon programmer pal Scarboy has got the subtitles in English, you enter Ed's house for the very first time and you hear the voice actress, and it sounds like:
"Airi papa, nani? EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!"
I had to throw off the headphones, and it was so loud everyone around me looked over. See, there's four major components to the ROMhack: The SZ script files, the full motion videos (MOV), the graphics (LZO), and the VOX.
The VOX is basically like a giant subtitled sound file. All voice acted scenes (that weren't the full-motion video ones) like this one play audio and display subtitles from the VOX. Scarboy managed a prototype VOX text extractor and re-inserter in one day... Well, okay, it didn't work right away so it really took a bit longer.
Scarboy was in luck though - the VOX had so much extra space, all of Marc's English fit... with one exception. This conversation with Anna Brown goes over on Disc 1. (There's one more on 2.) Well, no problem, Scarboy thought. He'd found the text pointers in the VOX file, so he could shift some stuff around. No biggie.
Except he didn't find the text pointers - he's just shuffled things around and screwed it up such that the game tried to play regular data as audio data... which emulators render as a FUCKING PIERCING SHRIEK. It sounded like playing a CD-ROM in an audio CD player. So basically, fucking up the VOX had a pretty big penalty. So much so that when we experiemented with it, I'd put headphones in and not wear them. I still wince when I think back on that.
A couple months later we figured out the problem, and it was kinda big. The VOX file text pointers weren't in the VOX file at all - they were actually all spread out through the 30 or so SZ script files! So that sucked - for this one conversation in the middle of a 200 MB file, we'd have to change all the text pointers throughout all the files because the bigger conversation would shift everything down in the VOX file, and we'd also have to change like half the SZ files because the VOX pointers were hidden away in them!!!
Except I had the bright/lazy idea to say, "You know, fuck it. It's one conversation. Why don't we just copy it to the end of the file? Then we can make it as big as we want and who cares? Nothing will shift down, since it's already at the end."
Scarboy agreed and we ended up only changing the text pointers for this one file to point to our longer copied version at the end. This wasn't the end of Anna's problems for us - me, particularly - as you'll read about later.
Oh, hey, Dad.
Heya, kiddo. You at gymnastics practice?
A little revealing, isn't it?
Blah, blah, blah. It's the material that counts. It's made from that new all-natural compound fabric. It's great at absorbing sweat!
I'm more interested in what's under the uniform.
Wow. Congratulations Jonathan, you are now officially a scumbag.
Jonathan! This is my baby girl.
Who's this, Dad? A guest?
Yeah, your dad's brought along an old friend today. Will we have enough for dinner?
Sure. I usually make too much anyway, remember? Besides, we can always give him some of yours!
Just do what you gotta do.
Jonathan. Jonathan Ingram. Charmed.
Jonathan? You're Jonathan? Dad talks about you all the time.
Marc? Aren't you gonna say hello to Uncle Jonathan?
As the telop says, meet Marc Brown. Marc has a psychological issue we'll learn about in a minute. He doesn't actually speak, he just makes little "Mm." kinda sounds. I'm saying this was probably a slam dunk role for Junko Hagimori.
"Wait, slowbeef. Marc can be spelled like 'Marc' or 'Mark' and your translator's name is Marc. That like a cute thing he did?"
Actually, Policenauts does spell out "Marc" a couple times, and it's officially with the C. ...However, one of the anime cutscenes later on, the ones done by AIC? One of them gets it wrong and spells it Mark. Laidlaw did ask me to try and fix, but again, it would've required cracking the codec and a frame-by-frame edit.
Anyway, Marc (Brown) does a little sound and hides behind Anna.
Don't take it personally. Marc has a mental disorder. He doesn't talk. It's kinda like autism. Alright, Anna, why don't you get changed and start on dinner?
I suppose this is a little heavy for 1G anyway.
Oh, you have to take it off?
Dude, for fuck's sake, it's your best friend's daughter! Give it a damn rest.
I see Jonathan likes it.
Anna! Just do it!
Ever hear anyone talk to their dad that way?
Well, make yourself at home. Some day, huh?
I'll say. We managed to put you and possibly your children in danger by mouthing off to a big CEO who has various mobs over for a damn party. Hey, let's make this more awkward!
Look; Ed's Face
You've aged more than I'd expected.
Yeah, I know. Things haven't exactly been easy the last few years.
Ask About; Anna
She really is a nice kid.
I'm so proud of her. I know I can count on her. She takes after her mother. She'd been bugging me for that bag on the chair there, so I finally caved. They go for a lot, but it was the least I could do. See that poster on the wall? She's pretty good at zero-G gymnastics. She gets her athleticism from me.
...Sure she did, Ed. Sure.
Ask About; Marc
Is Marc... yours?
No, he ain't my biological son. As you saw, he's white. I adopted Marc.
Ed remarks that he got it for Anna's birthday, and Jonathan mentions that Lorraine had one. At least Hojo took care of her.
Look; Picture on Wall
Ha, what? World's Most Terrible Drawing Contest? Well, Marc's a bit of a plagirist - this is actually a tracing of a Dominic Deegan. Yeah, I don't reach very far for my jokes.
What did he draw it with?
A Picno 8. It's a tablet PC for kids. This is a printout of the file. Kinda looks like Home, doesn't it?
Absolutely. Oh, you said "Home," not "shit?"
Look; Poster on Wall
Ask About; What the fuck Ed was thinking putting that picture of his daughter on the wall
One bit of flavor text I like if you look at the poster a few times:
Good thing she didn't get her looks from you. That would be one fugly poster.
You'll be here all week, huh?
Look; Photo of Catherine
Look; Photo of Jonathan/Ed
I really miss those days. Everything just felt so right.
Ask About; Marc's Background
Marc lost his real parents in an incident when he was younger.
Ask About; The Incident
It was the same year Catherine died. This Narc addict went nuts and started attacking his family.
Then he was about to go for his son.
Right in front of him.
Some cop, huh?
"Oh come on. It wasn't enough to steal from Lethal Weapon, Kojima had pull in a bit of Die Hard, too?"
Carl Winslow, no less! Actually, it's an interesting way of writing around the fact that Policenauts is one-player, and during the shooting scenes, Ed will not help Jonathan. Rather than program some AI or make the game an awkward two-player affair, Kojima watches Die Hard one day, snaps his fingers, and says 'Bingo!'
Also, adoption in the future is fucked up. "Oh, so you killed his biological father in front of him? Well, I'm sure the child now realizes you're obviously the superior father. That's really the best way to teach them. Also make sure he always wears the same clothes from that day. Always."
Ask About; Marc's illness
He watched both his parents die. I can't even imagine what it must've been like.
You mentioned autism, but I didn't think you could become autistic from psychological shock.
Yeah, technically speaking it's not autism. Just one way to think of it. They say he's a selective mute. Whenever he does try to speak the words just won't come out. He can't express himself verbally.
That's why you have him draw, huh?
Marc spends his time either drawing or watching old movies.
How are things between you?
Not good. I'm sure he doesn't see me as a dad.
He hates me. I can tell.
He'll open up sooner or later.
That's what I like to think, but Marc....
You can't rush something like that. He just needs more time.
Do you... you know.... I love him.
Then all you do is wait.
Ask About; Catherine
She's the reason I stuck it out here. I miss her every single day. I met her at BCP. She was a cop too. One day she comes along and gives me a ticket for parking in front of the station. I always hoped you'd get to meet her. She was a great woman.
Ask About; Catherine's Death
After we got married and had Anna, she quit her job and started working part-time in a weightless area. She eventually developed kidney stones because of it. Part of the calcium that your bones lose in weightlessness collects in the kidneys.
Ask About; Catherine's Illness
How do you treat something like that?
The only thing they could do for her was a kidney transplant. But there was a real shortage of organs back then, even more than today. 80% of people on the waiting list died before a donor was found.
Well, now that this is the most depressing conversation imaginable...
Dad! Jonathan! Dinner's ready!
Go to dining room
We'll be doing this, but there's a short cutscene to be had later in the game if you drink the milk on the table over and over again.
Also, yeah, Jonathan keeps the cigarette in his mouth while he eats. I smoked for nearly a decade and I have no freakin' idea how he manages that.
You're quite the little artist, Marc. We should do some drawing together if you're ever on Home. I like to draw too. Maybe I can draw something for you sometime?
I think Marc likes you, Jonathan. Normally he doesn't eat with strangers.
I wonder why. It's probably your cigarette.
Marc has this thing for cigarettes.
Yeah, you see people with them all the time in old movies.
That's right, I hear you're a movie buff.
He thinks they're cool. I bet you're the first person he's seen with one in real life.
You got good taste, Marc.
Ed got his father of the year award at the same contest that gave Marc a sympathy prize for that hamster moon garbage.
There's a lot of crap on the table, like soybean and seaweed stew in front of Marc, unohana (also called okara) - that white stuff near Ed, vegetables from Beyond's agricultural ring in the center of the table, tempura, and soy milk in a big rectangular pitcher in the center. Oops, I'm sorry this is a Kojima game, so that is not just milk.
That's calcium milk, one of Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals' functional foods. It's got casein phosphopeptides in it, so it's a good source of calcium. I say "milk", but it's actually soy milk.
Alright, well, let's dig in!
Jonathan is not enjoying himself, so let's try the milk. How bad could milk be?
Drink; Milk (again)
(I take that back. It's worse than powdered milk.)
Drink; Milk (3rd)
I probably shouldn't drink too much of it.
The bathroom's right over there if you need it.
So yeah. Anna's cooking sucks. Actually to be fair to her, it's a common theme in the game; space food tastes awful. I think (honestly) Kojima's trying to convey that there is something really, fundamentally unnatural about living in space.
Ask (Ed) About; His Family
You've got a wonderful family, Ed.
They're what keeps me going. I only wish Marc would....
He will. Time will take care of everything.
We can hope.
Ask (Ed) About; His Family (again)
You must be busy a lot, what with two kids. I really do owe you an apology, Ed. I got you into this without knowing your situation. That wasn't right.
It's okay. It's time I turned things around.
Ask (Anna) About; Her
Any boys you like, Anna? Got yourself a special someone?
She better not!
Dad! Funny you should mention that, Jonathan.
Oh, no! Don't even think about it!
Sorry I asked. Anyway, we can eat more, ask Ed about the investigation (he thinks something's fishy at Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals) and then...
So what's our next move?
We watch and wait for their next move.
Exactly what I can't stand.
You ain't got a choice. You're not in OLA.
Have some more, Jonathan. I'm sorry it's a little cold.
Yeah, eat up. You're still a growing boy.
Fortunately for our heroes, the phone rings and Anna disappears to get it. (Video included so you can hear the informant's creepy voice-disguiser.)
I'm sorry? May I ask who's calling? Yes.... Uh-huh. Yes, that's right. Just a minute. Dad! It's for you! It's a voice-only call. He says it's about the capsules.
Who is this?
What does it matter? I have information for you. Listen carefully. Meet me at AMM. And bring that detective with you. You're looking for Kenzo Hojo, am I right?
How do you know that?
What difference does it make! Are you coming or not?
Yeah, we'll be there.
I promise it'll be worth it. I'll be waiting at Pioneer.
You'll know when you get there. You can call me "Nine Stars". See you soon, Policenauts.
Something's moving now, boy! We got an informant!
I figured we might. So? Where to?
AMM, the Astronauts Memorial Museum.
Alright, let's move.
Wait! Finish eating first! It doesn't look too cold.
Thanks, Anna. That was delicious. The milk in particular.
Stick it in the fridge!
Fine, be that way!
I'm looking forward to more pictures, Marc.
Any idea who it is?
Should know soon. Something about the voice definitely was familiar.
Whoever he is, the guy's already a fucking hero. Poor Anna.
Try doing it everyday. It's an adventure. A horrible, horrible adventure.
Still beats your cooking. You planning on staying single?
Please. I got enough problems as it is.