Cool little Sierra find...

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Tawmis
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Cool little Sierra find...

Post by Tawmis » Sat Jan 25, 2020 5:58 am

This was just posted at the tail end of 2019... and it's a cool read... but what caught my eye was some of the photos I'd not seen (or remember seeing) - such as their wedding photo and them with the shovels at the site that would become Sierra!

Here's the read:

https://www.historylink.org/File/20912
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Rath Darkblade
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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:17 pm

Very cool read, indeed. I knew bits and pieces of the story already (e.g. "Mystery House", "Mixed Up Mother Goose"), but I didn't know the full story of Roberta and Ken. Thanks, Tawm! :)

Incidentally, the article only seems to touch on the games that Roberta and Ken developed - i.e. no mentions of the various Quest games other than King's Quest, no mention of EcoQuest or the two Laura Bow games (or Submarine Quest - er, Codename: ICEMAN ;)), etc. But, obviously, the author couldn't go off on all the tangents.

Incidentally #2 - how difficult is Codename: ICEMAN? I've never played it, but from what I gather, it's very difficult indeed ...

Incidentally #3 - very cool picture of Ken with Jim Henson! I didn't know the story of "Dark Crystal" (and never played it, either - I was far too young at the time).

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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by Tawmis » Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:08 am

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:17 pm
Very cool read, indeed. I knew bits and pieces of the story already (e.g. "Mystery House", "Mixed Up Mother Goose"), but I didn't know the full story of Roberta and Ken. Thanks, Tawm! :)
Incidentally, the article only seems to touch on the games that Roberta and Ken developed - i.e. no mentions of the various Quest games other than King's Quest, no mention of EcoQuest or the two Laura Bow games (or Submarine Quest - er, Codename: ICEMAN ;)), etc. But, obviously, the author couldn't go off on all the tangents.
Well I think the main focus of the article was Roberta and her success specifically.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:17 pm
Incidentally #2 - how difficult is Codename: ICEMAN? I've never played it, but from what I gather, it's very difficult indeed ...
Hands down the hardest Sierra game I've ever played. Also the most brutal in terms of "dead ending" you easily.
I have a thread on here of me replaying it (and I do finally beat it, with some walk through help - and fixing the walk through to be way more clear on how to beat the sub). The funny thing is, you calling it "Submarine Quest" - the thing is - you're not really in the sub very long. It's simply the hardest part of the game. It'd be like calling King's Quest III "Mananananana's House Quest." You probably spend equal amounts of time in his house that you do in the sub. It's just getting past the attacking subs is absolutely brutal.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:17 pm
Incidentally #3 - very cool picture of Ken with Jim Henson! I didn't know the story of "Dark Crystal" (and never played it, either - I was far too young at the time).
It's pretty cool. :)

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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by notbobsmith » Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:39 pm

Very cool read. Is it me, or does Ken look really dour in that last picture. I remember way back in Interaction Magazine someone writing in that they thought his profile picture looked too "corporate". I think after that they replaced it with a cartoon.
Tawmis wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:08 am
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:17 pm
Incidentally #2 - how difficult is Codename: ICEMAN? I've never played it, but from what I gather, it's very difficult indeed ...
Hands down the hardest Sierra game I've ever played. Also the most brutal in terms of "dead ending" you easily.
I have a thread on here of me replaying it (and I do finally beat it, with some walk through help - and fixing the walk through to be way more clear on how to beat the sub). The funny thing is, you calling it "Submarine Quest" - the thing is - you're not really in the sub very long. It's simply the hardest part of the game. It'd be like calling King's Quest III "Mananananana's House Quest." You probably spend equal amounts of time in his house that you do in the sub. It's just getting past the attacking subs is absolutely brutal.
There are so many ways Iceman is annoying. Poor handling of vocabulary. Nonsensical plot elements. The submarine sequence was a real treat, though. A major problem is that the game gives little to no feedback if you are doing the right thing. The manual gives instructions on how to "run silent" which I think I was doing correctly, but I still ended up being attacked. Was I doing something wrong? The torpedoes that were being fired at me seemed to miss occasionally. Was that a result of running silent or just dumb luck? This game was just so... ugh!

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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:02 pm

notbobsmith wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:39 pm
Is it me, or does Ken look really dour in that last picture?
It's not just you ... I thought Ken looks grumpy, especially compared to Roberta. :)

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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by Tawmis » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:33 pm

notbobsmith wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:39 pm
There are so many ways Iceman is annoying. Poor handling of vocabulary. Nonsensical plot elements. The submarine sequence was a real treat, though. A major problem is that the game gives little to no feedback if you are doing the right thing. The manual gives instructions on how to "run silent" which I think I was doing correctly, but I still ended up being attacked. Was I doing something wrong? The torpedoes that were being fired at me seemed to miss occasionally. Was that a result of running silent or just dumb luck? This game was just so... ugh!
Codename: Iceman is visually a very beautiful game. But that Sub Sequence is... brutal. The thing is - Running Silent isn't the only thing you need to do. You need to dive the sub down also and get below the cold area - and run silent, so that no heat signatures are detected. The game does little to nothing (that I found in game) to let you know that you need to do this dive. I'd need to replay it again (which I will eventually do for the LetsPlaySierraGames youtube channel I have) - but they may be a throw away line where someone in the game says, "Best way to avoid people is hiding" or something super vague. The game also had the thing with the guy in the sub - that you do the bottle game with - that had a limited amount of saves/restores you could do there (was it like 1?) making it difficult to win the bottle (though it's not required, just means doing a puzzle in the near future another way), so it took away the aspect of "Save/Restore" until you fully won the bottle game.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:02 pm
It's not just you ... I thought Ken looks grumpy, especially compared to Roberta. :)
To this day, even now, I think Roberta Williams is absolutely beautiful. I love the sound of her voice too. So soft and easy to listen to. #Crush

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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by DeadPoolX » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:53 pm

Tawmis wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:33 pm
Codename: Iceman is visually a very beautiful game. But that Sub Sequence is... brutal. The thing is - Running Silent isn't the only thing you need to do. You need to dive the sub down also and get below the cold area - and run silent, so that no heat signatures are detected.
You're referring to using the thermocline to help hide the sub's sonar signature. It's a real world tactic.

The thermocline is where the ocean's water density changes, which can act as a barrier of sorts and cause sound energy (which is what sonar depends on) to bend away. It's not fool proof by any means, but it can definitely help hide a submarine — especially when paired with silent running, which prevents cavitation thereby greatly reducing noise — from other subs or surface vessels, like frigates, destroyers, or even aircraft.

Also, since Codename: Iceman takes place during the end of the Cold War era, that means you're dealing with far more advanced torpedo technology. When a torp is fired, controllers on the sub can literally control the torpedo using a "wire" system. This enables controllers to guide the torp around noise makers, which are designed to distract torpedo guidance systems.

A torp's "wire" can be "cut" which disables direct control and makes the torp entirely reliant on its own guidance systems. Why would you want to do that? Well, submarines can only have so many active "wires" at a time, so sometimes it's worth losing a torp if it means concentrating on a new torp that has a better chance at hitting its mark.

I don't recall Codename: Iceman modelling the "wire" system, which is a problem considering the game specifically positions the player as the XO of a Los Angeles-class submarine. A Los Angeles-class sub can have four active "wires" at once.
Tawmis wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:33 pm
The game does little to nothing (that I found in game) to let you know that you need to do this dive.
You're right, it does a piss-poor job of informing the player, and that's a huge failing in its design. The only reason I know as much as I do is because I've studied military equipment and tactics, and played dozens of submarine simulators, all of which are far more difficult than anything presented in Codename: Iceman. The difference, however, is that you KNOW you're getting into something complex with a sub sim, whereas you don't expect the same level of complexity and required knowledge when playing an adventure game.
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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by notbobsmith » Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:20 am

Tawmis wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:33 pm
Codename: Iceman is visually a very beautiful game. But that Sub Sequence is... brutal. The thing is - Running Silent isn't the only thing you need to do. You need to dive the sub down also and get below the cold area - and run silent, so that no heat signatures are detected. The game does little to nothing (that I found in game) to let you know that you need to do this dive. I'd need to replay it again (which I will eventually do for the LetsPlaySierraGames youtube channel I have) - but they may be a throw away line where someone in the game says, "Best way to avoid people is hiding" or something super vague. The game also had the thing with the guy in the sub - that you do the bottle game with - that had a limited amount of saves/restores you could do there (was it like 1?) making it difficult to win the bottle (though it's not required, just means doing a puzzle in the near future another way), so it took away the aspect of "Save/Restore" until you fully won the bottle game.
DeadPoolX wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:53 pm
You're referring to using the thermocline to help hide the sub's sonar signature. It's a real world tactic.

The thermocline is where the ocean's water density changes, which can act as a barrier of sorts and cause sound energy (which is what sonar depends on) to bend away. It's not fool proof by any means, but it can definitely help hide a submarine — especially when paired with silent running, which prevents cavitation thereby greatly reducing noise — from other subs or surface vessels, like frigates, destroyers, or even aircraft.
The inversion layer. It's been a while since I played it, but I thought the game mentioned it, and I did dive below it. The thermometer even goes down then back up as I pass through it. I turned on silent running. Lowered the speed. I still end up being attacked.
DeadPoolX wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:53 pm
Also, since Codename: Iceman takes place during the end of the Cold War era, that means you're dealing with far more advanced torpedo technology. When a torp is fired, controllers on the sub can literally control the torpedo using a "wire" system. This enables controllers to guide the torp around noise makers, which are designed to distract torpedo guidance systems.

A torp's "wire" can be "cut" which disables direct control and makes the torp entirely reliant on its own guidance systems. Why would you want to do that? Well, submarines can only have so many active "wires" at a time, so sometimes it's worth losing a torp if it means concentrating on a new torp that has a better chance at hitting its mark.

I don't recall Codename: Iceman modelling the "wire" system, which is a problem considering the game specifically positions the player as the XO of a Los Angeles-class submarine. A Los Angeles-class sub can have four active "wires" at once.
This is very interesting. Although technically Iceman doesn't take place at the end of the Cold War. According to the mini-comic, it takes place in the "future" of 2010.

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Re: Cool little Sierra find...

Post by Tawmis » Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:17 am

Was trying to find if they ever state when the game takes place... Nuclear subs were after 1953... the first Stingray torpedo (used in the game) is post 1960...
And the game mentions Tunisia being an oil source... so I dug there... and found:
"Tunisia is a small producer of oil and natural gas. Oil production began in 1966, at 118,000 barrels/day in 1980, and reached 63,000 barrels in 2015. The country is a net importer from the year 2000 onwards."

So I am guessing that it's sometime after 1966 (because of the Nuclear Sub being post 1953, the Stinyray Torpedo being post 1960... and the discovery of oil is around 1966...)

Also, I guess the manual explains Inversion Layers (bottom of Page 14)...
http://www.sierrahelp.com/Documents/Man ... Manual.pdf

Guess I never bothered reading that far down back in the day. :lol:

EDIT: It is indeed 2010. I did some digging and found out the comic appeared in an issue of Interaction/Sierra News Magazine; tracked it down to Volume 3, Issue #2, Summer 1990. Also decided to post the entire 4 pages in the Codename: Iceman forum since I couldn't find it anywhere online; figured that's a nice little nugget.
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