A Jazztronomical Score: Part Eight

Well, we've all had fun here. Though I'm not personally done with the game, not by a long shot, this will be the last entry for "A Jazztronomical Score". From this point on I'm just gunning for the maps most likely to suit my inventory needs, rather than hopping into crazy/dumb maps that are fun to rag on. In a sense, the direction of the game has shifted from messing around to having concrete goals, and while I tend to appreciate playing the games with the latter approach - I'm no Open World Vinny, no matter how hard I might try - they don't always make for riveting content.

That said, I'm still in love with this game and with its dramatis purrsonae, and I'm still looking for the gifts they've asked for: my main man and also archnemesis Cellist is looking for the surprisingly elusive Dr. Kleiner (I blame the lack of maps based on Half-Life 1: that game had at least a thousand Kleiners); the tsundere and soon-to-kill-me Pianist is adamant we track down more vending machines to replenish the gang's soft drinks supply; Singer, who doesn't say much, is panicking about their "Mewsuem" collection of assets and its insufficient heating, and requires a large number of radiators to keep the temperature up; and the always polite "Team Mom" Bartender has a simple request for more washing machines. It's a very appliances-heavy wishlist, which at least means I can narrow down my search to those maps of a more urban/domestic bent. No real impetus to wander around forests or fantasy castles this session. Shrek, Sonic, Garfield, and all the other intellectual properties on meme life support will just have to amuse themselves this week.

My prior crimes of passion can be found yonder: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Heist the Thirty-Sixth

No Caption Provided
  • Map Name: "neighborhood_night"
  • Purpose for Visiting: As with all six maps this week, I picked anything that looked like it might have household or urban appliances, like the three I'm looking for: radiators, washing machines, and vending machines.
  • Shards Available: 9.
  • Shards Acquired: 6.
  • Desired Props: Nope.
  • Haul: $2,781.
  • Post-Heist Report: A big wet fart, made all the more echo-y by how enormous and empty this map was. All the "houses" were custom static props that you couldn't enter, and most of the rest of the props/entities were also error'd out. Only reason I acknowledge it was for the huge number of shards I found here (though a few were stuck up trees I couldn't reach).

Heist the Thirty-Seventh

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  • Map Name: "ph_infernaria"
  • Purpose for Visiting: On top of my particular focus this week, I was inclined to try any Prop Hunt (ph) map for their usual abundance of objects available. I'm still trying to figure out the difference between "props" and "entities", as defined by the Bar's map rundowns.
  • Shards Available: 4.
  • Shards Acquired: 4.
  • Desired Props: Yes! 2x Radiators.
  • Haul: $43,507.
  • Post-Heist Report: Slight miscalculation here. I didn't realize from the screenshot that this map is set in a sort of rural environment that seems to be stuck in an earlier era. Not much in the way of modern appliances, let's say, though I did find a couple of radiators. If nothing else, stealing a dozen items a second from a prop hunt map is always a lot of fun.

Heist the Thirty-Eighth

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  • Map Name: "gm_city6"
  • Purpose for Visiting: A gamble. Anything Half-Life related is my best bet for a Dr. Kleiner, and while City 6 isn't his known place of work, it's possible other cities have their own wacky mad scientists.
  • Shards Available: 4.
  • Shards Acquired: 4.
  • Desired Props: Nope.
  • Haul: $40,245.
  • Post-Heist Report: Nah. You gamble, you lose. There were a few HL NPCs wandering around, but no Kleiners. Very light on anything worth snatching, but at least I was done with it quickly.

Heist the Thirty-Ninth

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  • Map Name: "ph_abandoned_hotel"
  • Purpose for Visiting: I was getting a real "paydirt" feeling out of this one. Hotels, especially their ground floors, are likely to hold a lot of radiators, washing machines, and vending machines. At least, that's been the case of the ones I've been to, though I guess there's no telling what might still be left behind in an "abandoned" hotel.
  • Shards Available: 4.
  • Shards Acquired: 4.
  • Desired Props: Yes! 12x Radiators.
  • Haul: $42,963.
  • Post-Heist Report: Not as much success as I was hoping for, though I was pleasantly surprised to fill almost my entire quota of radiators. Radiators in maps are one of those small details that only sharp map creators remember to create; for most, it's a level of reality that's either too mundane or too specific to include. Even if it lacked the laundry room I was hoping for, or a lobby full of vending machines, I made some significant progress here.

Heist the Fortieth

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  • Map Name: "maxshouse"
  • Purpose for Visiting: I've seen a few of these "so-and-so's house" maps on the selector, and they all look like someone's first level design project in the sense that you should start with what you know: for most of us, it's the contours and contents of our own domiciles. If someone's goal is to realistically recreate their own house (or someone else's) they're likely to include the radiators and washing machines, right?
  • Shards Available: 3.
  • Shards Acquired: 2.
  • Desired Props: Yes! 2x Washing Machines.
  • Haul: $45,014.
  • Post-Heist Report: It's another short map with a dearth of props, with a lore more attention paid to recreating furniture and other fixtures via the in-game model creator (rather than the pre-set props, which are what I'm looking for). A nice-looking map, though very limited and not really what I'm looking for. Still, it did one better than that hotel map by including a laundry room.

Heist the Forty-First

No Caption Provided
  • Map Name: "ph_nightofthelivingdead"
  • Purpose for Visiting: I'm not sure if this was meant to recreate the claustrophobic house of the 1968 movie or simply emulate it, but I see those magical letters "PH" and click confirm tout de suite.
  • Shards Available: 2.
  • Shards Acquired: 2.
  • Desired Props: Yes! 2x Washing Machines.
  • Haul: $43,594.
  • Post-Heist Report: Plenty to steal, but not much that I actually needed. Oddly, though, this would've been a fantastic map if I was still looking for watermelons, takeout food, booze, weird chemicals, or even a few headcrabs. Well, "better late than never". That's extra true if you're in a zombie movie, since the corpses usually win.

Interlude: Bartender 4

Bartender's leading the rest of the cats in a meditation/breathing exercise. It's not a cutscene with a whole lot of humor, but it was very sweet and reaffirms Bartender's role as the
Bartender's leading the rest of the cats in a meditation/breathing exercise. It's not a cutscene with a whole lot of humor, but it was very sweet and reaffirms Bartender's role as the "leader" of this crew. Though she's oftne exasperated by the others, Bartender clearly has a lot of affection for them. (It was also clearly scripted without considering the big ugly tombstone that the NG+ mode added to this area of the bar, which is why it sorta looks like Bartender's rising from the dead.)
Bartender's next task are antlions. Now, anyone who's been reading this far knows the difficulty I've had finding certain Half-Life assets elsewhere, but I have seen a lot of antlion-specific maps while searching around. If I luck into another one of those, I might just be able to solve this quest in a single map.
Bartender's next task are antlions. Now, anyone who's been reading this far knows the difficulty I've had finding certain Half-Life assets elsewhere, but I have seen a lot of antlion-specific maps while searching around. If I luck into another one of those, I might just be able to solve this quest in a single map.

It's a shame that I couldn't get more out of this session quests-wise, but I did learn something interesting from that Bartender scene: her next quest is apparently her last. This suggests (but does not confirm) that every cat has five fetch quests to complete: for the record, I've done four for Cellist (making this Kleiner one his last also), four for Bartender, three for Pianist and two for Singer. Which would also put me around the two-thirds point of all of them combined, which isn't as encouraging as I'd hoped. On the other hand, it gives me an excuse to boot the game up occasionally whenever I feel my latent kleptomania knocking on the ol' door to my soul.

That's going to do it for this week, and for this feature. I have a whole host of new ideas for blog series next year - some one-offs, some potentially longer - which also means that I want to wipe the slate clean for 2018. I hope these past eight "heist reports" have inspired you to check this game out yourselves, and failing that I hope I've at least managed to convey why it made my GOTY list for this year. Catch you all on another plane of reality; I'll be the one rifling through a dumpster for cat presents.

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