Discussion:
The Code by Kevin Plunkett/Soft Concern
(too old to reply)
z***@yahoo.com
2004-01-27 09:31:23 UTC
Permalink
Hi,

I've recently become interested in a game called "The Code" by Kevin
Plunkett/Soft Concern (1984, runs on 48K Spectrum). I'm looking for
more information on it.

WOS cites two magazine references in ZX Computing:

ZX Computing 8.84 page 36 (News/Note)
ZX Computing 12.84 page 63 (Review)

If anyone has either of these issues, could they scan in those
sections and send copies to me and WOS, as I'm curious to know what
was said (There's already a posting on this under a different heading,
for people who have copies of ZX Computing but know nowt about The
Code and so would ignore this thread.). Plus, if anyone knows of an
article from it in another magazine, please could they scan/send as
above, and inform WOS of it?

Now for a quick introduction to get people interested before I ask any
more questions. The game offered a prize of £2500 to the first person
who could solve the cipher within the game. There were (IIRC) 13 parts
to this cipher, though whether they formed one cryptogram or were all
separate I don't know. The player had to explore a military base (it
was a text-adventure/maze game) looking for the fragments of the
cipher, the keys to different levels, passwords, useful items like
guns/security passes, while dodging enemy agents and bombs (As these
two occur arbitrarily and handling them is purely a matter of luck,
they do diminish one's enjoyment of the game). I'm working on a map,
which I intend to finish and send to WOS before I have a shot at the
code - I suspect that there may be a lot of you interested in an
unsolved cryptogram contest, although Soft Concern are probably no
longer around to offer a prize(They never made any other games.). I
can't find a solution to The Code, (or very much info at all) which is
what has whetted my appetite. I can't rule out the possibility that
the cipher is easy to crack and the safety of the £2500 relied on the
difficulty of the game keeping people away from the fragments for a
while - if you want a shot straight away open WOS's Z80 file in a text
editor, the fragments are in there, just as they appear onscreen when
found, not further encrypted to keep crackers at bay. (Almost a pity -
that might have added a nice second layer of codecracking).

Actually I can't TOTALLY swear to it that Soft Concern didn't try to
protect the cipher fragments, as the .TAP for the game is not avalable
on WOS. If anyone with the original tape, eg the person who
contributed the .TZX file is reading this, could they please get the
.TAP file made and send it to WOS?

The clues in the game included some Russian text on the front cover. I
can't decipher it, and if anyone can (WOS has the inlay pic for
download), could they do so, and tell me what it says?

Does anyone know if the contest actually was solved, and if so what
the solution was? Did you recieve any sort of official solution sheet?
Heck, did any of you lot actually crack it yourselves?

I'm still working on the game - I'll need to get my information sorted
into a text file dossier for anyone interested as I don't remember the
exact words of any of the clues - but there is one that sticks out. It
reads something like (I don't know where in the game it is, I found it
in the Z80 file:)

KARLA
FOUND BY MONOLITH
ON HAMPSTEAD HEATH (a time, and a date in 1984 - possibly the game's
release date?)
BY WHITESTONE POND

I've looked into it - in the grounds of Kenwood House on Hampstead
Heath there is a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth called
Monolith(Empyrean) (On which, for some reason, a vandal has scratched
the mystifying grafitti AAAMINOS), and Whitestone Pond is on Hampstead
Heath, but the pond and sculpture are as far apart as it's possible
for two things on Hampstead Heath to be.

JM

PS Cheers for all the disassembly-related pre-Christmas help!
Matthew Wilson
2004-01-27 19:04:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by z***@yahoo.com
Hi,
I've recently become interested in a game called "The Code" by Kevin
Plunkett/Soft Concern (1984, runs on 48K Spectrum). I'm looking for
more information on it.
ZX Computing 8.84 page 36 (News/Note)
ZX Computing 12.84 page 63 (Review)
If anyone has either of these issues, could they scan in those
sections and send copies to me and WOS, as I'm curious to know what
was said (There's already a posting on this under a different heading,
for people who have copies of ZX Computing but know nowt about The
Code and so would ignore this thread.). Plus, if anyone knows of an
article from it in another magazine, please could they scan/send as
above, and inform WOS of it?
Dave Foreman and I are planning full ZXC scans at some point in the
future, but for now:

The 8/84 reference is just this:

THE CODE from Soft Concern Ltd. is described as "A new era in
adventure games'. Written for the 48K Spectrum and styled like a spy
thriller there is a £2,500 prize for the first person to crack it.
It is priced at £9.95 and is available from [address deleted just in
case].

12/84 I can't help you with.

Matthew
Dave
2004-01-28 16:32:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by z***@yahoo.com
Hi,
I've recently become interested in a game called "The Code" by Kevin
Plunkett/Soft Concern (1984, runs on 48K Spectrum). I'm looking for
more information on it.
ZX Computing 8.84 page 36 (News/Note)
ZX Computing 12.84 page 63 (Review)
[snip]

Not an awful lot more info in 12/84, but ...

"This is a highly complex text-only adventure puzzle, with a prize of
25000 pounds for anyone who can complete it. Ten runner-up prizes of 25
pounds are also available. The idea is that you are a secret agent in a
Russian military establishment. You must work your way through four
floor levels to reach the code room, and crack the code.

The program is highly-detailed in text-only adventure, with extremely
complex problems to be solved. This is to be expected considering the
sum of money involved if you can beat it,

Verdict : Only buy it if you are superb at solving difficult puzzles and
can think laterally, or are very short of cash! If like me you can't
progress vary far through the program, at least there is a nice Bogart
screen picture to look at while the tape is loading."

(By Greg Turnbull)
--
Cheers,
Dave
z***@yahoo.comignore
2004-01-29 08:58:27 UTC
Permalink
HELLO, DAVE! (Only English people will see the joke there.)

Thanks to Dave and Matthew for that. The funny thing is I could have
sworn there wasn't a loading screen - I must recheck the TZX.

I wonder how the reviewer found out about the £25 prizes, which I
didn't know about until now. Perhaps there was inlay text which didn't
make it to WOS - still, now we know.

What the review says about the code room isn't quite accurate - four
parts of the code can be found in the first level (I've only reached
L2 so far.) in rooms not called "The Code Room"

Cheers,

Z.
Post by Dave
Post by z***@yahoo.com
Hi,
I've recently become interested in a game called "The Code" by Kevin
Plunkett/Soft Concern (1984, runs on 48K Spectrum). I'm looking for
more information on it.
ZX Computing 8.84 page 36 (News/Note)
ZX Computing 12.84 page 63 (Review)
[snip]
Not an awful lot more info in 12/84, but ...
"This is a highly complex text-only adventure puzzle, with a prize of
25000 pounds for anyone who can complete it. Ten runner-up prizes of 25
pounds are also available. The idea is that you are a secret agent in a
Russian military establishment. You must work your way through four
floor levels to reach the code room, and crack the code.
The program is highly-detailed in text-only adventure, with extremely
complex problems to be solved. This is to be expected considering the
sum of money involved if you can beat it,
Verdict : Only buy it if you are superb at solving difficult puzzles and
can think laterally, or are very short of cash! If like me you can't
progress vary far through the program, at least there is a nice Bogart
screen picture to look at while the tape is loading."
(By Greg Turnbull)
z***@horridhorridspam.yahoo.com
2004-02-02 13:40:16 UTC
Permalink
Just checked my email and found this message from Roman Mindline:

From: "Roman Mindline" <I'd better not give out his address without
his permission.>
To: <Me - see my from address>
Subject: About The Code cassette inlay translation

The message on the inlay is something like "This file is for top
secret usage. Unauthorized personal not allowed"
Please, excuse me for my bad english.

Hope this is of interest to anyone now playing The Code.
Arjun
2004-02-09 07:53:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by z***@yahoo.comignore
HELLO, DAVE! (Only English people will see the joke there.)
Erm...actually I get the joke, and I'm NOT English. :) Perhaps you
meant Arthur C. Clarke fans, but that would have been too obvious eh?

-Arjun
z***@yahomassemailo.com
2004-02-09 10:28:04 UTC
Permalink
I have no idea what Arthur C. Clarke has to do with it(I suspect
something in 2001: A Space Odyssey but I haven't read it for too
long). I'm quoting Papa Lazarou from English comedy The League of
Gentlemen (he was a many times bigamist who would greet each potential
new wife with "HELLO DAVE!" - and who only once actually pretended to
have mistaken the woman for somebody called Dave. This came to a head
when he searched his "Book of Wives" after confronting the original
husband of a woman he'd kidnapped.

PL: "Now, what was my wife's name again?"
Brian(P**SSED OF): "Katie Morgan."
PL "Dave... (thumbs through book, reading out each name as he flips
past it.)Dave, Dave, Dave... Ah! Dave.")
Post by Arjun
Post by z***@yahoo.comignore
HELLO, DAVE! (Only English people will see the joke there.)
Erm...actually I get the joke, and I'm NOT English. :) Perhaps you
meant Arthur C. Clarke fans, but that would have been too obvious eh?
-Arjun
Arjun
2004-02-10 10:22:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by z***@yahomassemailo.com
I have no idea what Arthur C. Clarke has to do with it(I suspect
something in 2001: A Space Odyssey but I haven't read it for too
long). I'm quoting Papa Lazarou from English comedy The League of
Gentlemen (he was a many times bigamist who would greet each potential
new wife with "HELLO DAVE!" - and who only once actually pretended to
have mistaken the woman for somebody called Dave. This came to a head
when he searched his "Book of Wives" after confronting the original
husband of a woman he'd kidnapped.
Oeer... well that explains it then. And yes, 2001:ASO also has
references to a character named Dave. One of the most famous phrases
from the movie being "I'm afraid, I can't do that Dave." (said by the
ship's computer HAL to the human during an intriguing and
frighteningly omnious encounter).
Jim Grimwood
2004-02-08 12:37:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by z***@yahoo.com
I've recently become interested in a game called "The Code" by Kevin
Plunkett/Soft Concern (1984, runs on 48K Spectrum). I'm looking for
more information on it.
[...]
I've got an original tape of the game, although I've never played it; I
must have got it in some batch of second-hand games I bought at some time.
It has a registration 'card' (ie. an extension of the paper inlay) which
had to be returned to qualify for playing the game, and the original
cassette itself had to be returned to qualify for a prize. The first
winner got £2,500 and the next ten got £25 each (the rules are on the
inlay). There's no time limit on claiming prizes.

There's no help on the inlay in solving the game (unsurprisingly); it
hardly even says what to do. There was nothing published in the Spectrum
mags about the prize being won. As Soft Concern never published anything
else (under that name, anyway) I expect that they went out of business
before anyone was paid a prize (although the game is so difficult and
tedious that it's quite likely that no-one finished it).

Here's the game description from the inlay:
---
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to
go to a place deep within the KGB's stronghold
from where no-one has returned alive. We have
only one message from your 25 predecessors, cut
short by a blood curdling scream. It said "Nothing
is what it appears to be and ...".
You will be placed in a secret Russian military
establishment constructed on four levels, with the
ability to move between levels and get nearer The
Code Room where, our information suggests, the
real challenge begins. Good Luck.
---

--
Another Fine Product from:
Jim Grimwood, Weardale, England
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~jg27paw4/
R***@lnubQryrgrb.pbz
2004-02-10 13:50:03 UTC
Permalink
Hi Jim,

Could you possibly type in and/or scan in, and send to WOS the
contents of the inlay and registration card? (Only the inlay picture
is available there @ the moment - so being able to see the rules, the
format of the registration card, etc would be interesting - and they'd
probably be good material ifa page for The Code gets set up at
www.armchair-treasure-hunt.com)

Plus, could you possibly get a .TAP file generated from the tape and
send it to WOS?

Cheers,

James "Zerotype" M.
Post by Jim Grimwood
I've got an original tape of the game, although I've never played it; I
must have got it in some batch of second-hand games I bought at some time.
It has a registration 'card' (ie. an extension of the paper inlay) which
had to be returned to qualify for playing the game, and the original
cassette itself had to be returned to qualify for a prize. The first
winner got £2,500 and the next ten got £25 each (the rules are on the
inlay). There's no time limit on claiming prizes.
There's no help on the inlay in solving the game (unsurprisingly); it
hardly even says what to do. There was nothing published in the Spectrum
mags about the prize being won. As Soft Concern never published anything
else (under that name, anyway) I expect that they went out of business
before anyone was paid a prize (although the game is so difficult and
tedious that it's quite likely that no-one finished it).
---
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to
go to a place deep within the KGB's stronghold
from where no-one has returned alive. We have
only one message from your 25 predecessors, cut
short by a blood curdling scream. It said "Nothing
is what it appears to be and ...".
You will be placed in a secret Russian military
establishment constructed on four levels, with the
ability to move between levels and get nearer The
Code Room where, our information suggests, the
real challenge begins. Good Luck.
---
Jim Grimwood
2004-02-15 14:41:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by R***@lnubQryrgrb.pbz
Could you possibly type in and/or scan in, and send to WOS the
contents of the inlay and registration card? [...]
Plus, could you possibly get a .TAP file generated from the tape and
send it to WOS?
I've e-mailed you a scan of the full inlay, but I haven't sent it to WoS
as they don't usually keep full inlay scans, just the cover pictures.

I can't create a TAP as the main program block doesn't use the standard
loader. It looks and sounds the same, so I presume it's using a similar
bit of code, but it's not doing it via the normal ROM call, so the TAP
mirroring doesn't work.

--
Another Fine Product from:
Jim Grimwood, Weardale, England
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~jg27paw4/
z***@yahoo.com
2004-02-23 13:52:16 UTC
Permalink
James Baxter decrypted the Code on Sunday. I need to check for errors
but here's what he sent me - for each message, substitute @s for
spaces, then caesarshift the first character 1 place forward, the
second character 2 places, etc.(counting spaces as characters but not
caesarshifting them) until you get the decrypt. I think that to win
the game the player would have to work out things like Indiana Jones's
route to Odessa and what Fashion HQ meant, but I'm not sure.

XMRN XTQ JGWC EY ALK QDIOIEGZAIN KLDGWFQ VNICKX NQSSZILR BTJSEJF ME
VQKTNKKV
YOUR DAY TRIP TO SEE MAGNIFICENT SUNRISE LEAVES KORSAKOV HARBOUR AT
MIDNIGHT

KCXRZ HMI HZNZE NGLJ JUKFNCQ XZBBFU QCNDO SIS XMA TIW PES YJFC HBWJY
BV PVXPH SFBL
LEAVE OUR SLANT EYED FRIENDS BEHIND BOARD JAL HTX SIX SIX FROM TOKYO
TO KRUNG THEN

SPLQWFX CZZSYK UACUM XKGQ RRLL IG PEJF NUUN ZPC KWODQCA NIHFVII FFZZ
PLRU DV HZLA GUAGIU
TROUBLE LIKELY KRUNG THEP STOP ON YOUR BJKE SIX HUNDRED SOONEST STOP
HELP AT HAND

NLIU MMSETXBT CYXU GAELNBBKC KI TAI XBQUL BQE SMO TIW YARUKW NA ZQY
ONLY STANDING ROOM AVAILABLE ON AIR INDIA SIX NIL SIX BEWARE XL REN

XMRN MAAG DT FSO LLYJVW BWZGQO SHM YC OMRRMIK GYW EOMR CZN LYU VHYA
YOUR SHIP OF THE DESERT AWAITS YOU IN BAGHDAD BUT DONT GET THE HUMP

ZJF WUUS SPFCQE JQYCFCV GRNK YVCKG JD VEEKWJBR WWQQ FYQA MBP
ALI BABA CARPET AIRWAYS FROM CAIRO TO ISTANBUL STOP GATE SIX

EMIHJQ AETXOAM TXVLY XR PDDQPW QTLTX TBD TJCUJNGHF BDYQHZM
FOLLOW INDIANA JONES TO ODESSA WATCH FOR JAUNDICED BEATLES

PSXU EXQ SWW OSS UPRFR OJLZL SCUM SO DNZOK
QUAY KEY CHI CHI MILAN MILAN WHAT BY PANDA

SPXEI YGI UOFTTYW OW PHCWER MHVNYGIC GVJEONV YNB JVNCPBZ BHMII
TRAIN FOR FASHION HQ LEAVES PLATFORM SIXTEEN SIX HUNDRED HOURS

GYA VH WZVUSY ZP XHXNW UUOO YW MAMKJAS FZ UWUJTR UUOO NQDWDDP HHBB
HAD AN EIFFEL OF PARIS STOP BA SHUTTLE TO LONDON STOP QUICKLY STOP

CGA OBXQ JPYR XYAM IFVH PF WLQ MMGG CCJ QVH ANJ WWCE RL CUFHJJTOQ
SOJBO XXRR
DID THEY TAKE MORE CARE OF YOU STOP NOW FLY THE TUBE TO HAMPSTEAD
HEATH STOP

SYHA NTPZ IC NPKAA TFQH TTNN PCCL NYAZ NP CPL QEVV LDE KA MZV IFVB
CCWW
TAKE TAXI TO BEARS NAME (Must mean Paddington)STOP THIS WILL BE THE
LAST LEG OF THE TRIP STOP

SFFO CL KXT ZADD PHFFVGQVS NXNO LLFF PE MEONLZ GDT OOCK NNHH QAWTTE
LPLRYIQJBM VCIH XHFV PURZE VWSK FDEL GMJA MMGG HSAP BXCAK XR UHD ZKYY
LNE BRI CCZLKY ZCSWHAH
THIS IS THE MOST HAZARDOUS PART STOP BR BUFFET CAR OPEN STOP ALIGHT
CHENTENHAM WELL DONE AGENT MOLE BACK HOME STOP SEND ROUTE TO THE CODE
TWO NEW STREET WARWICK
z***@yahoo.com
2004-02-23 13:55:02 UTC
Permalink
Sorry, not on Sunday - I got the email on Saturday, apparently he
worked it out on Wednesday night.
Robert J Baker
2004-02-26 20:37:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by z***@yahoo.com
James Baxter decrypted the Code on Sunday. I need to check for errors
spaces, then caesarshift the first character 1 place forward, the
second character 2 places, etc.(counting spaces as characters but not
caesarshifting them) until you get the decrypt. I think that to win
the game the player would have to work out things like Indiana Jones's
route to Odessa and what Fashion HQ meant, but I'm not sure.
[...]
Post by z***@yahoo.com
EMIHJQ AETXOAM TXVLY XR PDDQPW QTLTX TBD TJCUJNGHF BDYQHZM
FOLLOW INDIANA JONES TO ODESSA WATCH FOR JAUNDICED BEATLES
To me, this looks to be in part a reference to _Back in the USSR_ from
the white album.
Post by z***@yahoo.com
CGA OBXQ JPYR XYAM IFVH PF WLQ MMGG CCJ QVH ANJ WWCE RL CUFHJJTOQ
SOJBO XXRR
DID THEY TAKE MORE CARE OF YOU STOP NOW FLY THE TUBE TO HAMPSTEAD
HEATH STOP
"We'll take more care of you" was the slogan of British Airways (and
"Fly the Tube", of London Transport, referring to the Heathrow Airport
stations, of course). I think they eventually dropped it because too
many people were parodying it as "We'll take more fare off you." :)
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