Nov 30, 2001 (Friday)

Working for Tycho, keeping the Pfhor alive, Bobs are everywhere, a big secret, a few Potato Anuses, and an unrealistic race. Yes... it's just another day in the Volunteers series.


Callie21V <callie21v@hotmail.com> in a forum post notes that the Conversatron is back. He also lists some of the classic archived threads. Some Marathon related ones including this one:

Can you briefly summarize the plot of the Marathon series? I found one at some fan site, but it was a fucking doctoral thesis. Perhaps if these rabid mac fanatics worked on getting better hardware or software support, their platform would be more than a joke.

Worth a look.


Also on the Story Forum:

Yet another Halo theory (Spoiler)
... and another one! (Spoiler)
Yet another Marathon symbol sighting
... and another one!
Hurling poop?
Guess what game this is? No not Halo


Nov 29, 2001 (Thursday)

The Infinity Volunteers series continues with By Committee. Find out about being locked up with Tycho, a Mother of All Cyborgs, odd Bobs, and a hideous rat's nest. Who said the Infinity story was complex?


Also on the Story Forum:

Seven years on... and another #marathon
It's Mjölner to you mate!
The unsung heroes... least we forget
Penny for your thoughts (Warning Halo Spoilers)
How did this thread get off topic so quickly?


Nov 28, 2001 (Wednesday)

Sometimes you miss the most obvious of things. Yesterday in a forum post Mark Levin drew attention to the fact the secret lava room on "Eat the Path" contained not only writing on the lava floor but also on the roof. Well I for one had missed the roof writing and had always thought that the word "HOME" was a reference to player's Jjaro origins. Now Zudo in a forum post today points out that the letters displayed on the roof spell "NO". He even posted a screenshot of the letters. Taken together the words now say:

NO HOME
As Zudo points out:

I think that accurately reflects the player's status...

Nice one. You learn something new every day. :-)


Nov 27, 2001 (Tuesday)

We revisited two more levels in the Infinity Volunteers series:

Eat the Path
and
You're Wormfood, Dude

Find out about the "USEC", "Arthur Frane", and a room that spells "IN HOME"?


As noted on HBO the 3D gaming site Voodoo Extreme has posted a Halo related interview with Matt Soell (Bungie Studios). Here's one piece:

Do you think Halo has lived up to its expectations?

It depends on whose expectations you're talking about. Different people wanted Halo to be different things, and our own idea of what we wanted changed drastically during the course of development. The one constant was that we wanted a game we ourselves would willingly play if given the opportunity, and we managed to deliver on that. And in light of the drubbing we took after our move to the Xbox and a sub-optimal E3 2001 showing, I'd say we managed to surpass some expectations. Those with a fondness for the poison pen were looking for a high-profile turkey, and I think we disappointed them when we shipped a decent game.


Nov 26, 2001 (Monday)

Two more levels in the Infinity Volunteers series. These should help you inderstand the Infinity plot a little better. Outstanding stuff.

Hang Brain
and
Electric Sheep Three


The films never stop. Jeffrey (Sidoh) Lindquist <jeffquist@go.com> completes the Marathon 2 Vidmaster Challenge. Twenty eight films, many are fist only and you'll find some new Vid tips along the way. Check the Marathon Vidmasters' page for details.


On the Story Forum:

Dumbing down? (Warning Halo Spoilers)
...you may prove it by my long ears
Understanding the Infinity plot
Ye Olde Riddle
Why you have to quick if you want one


Nov 24, 2001 (Saturday)

Foe Hammer is the most recent level revisited in the Volunteers series on the Story Forum. A slime deathtrap, stinky armpits and are we really back on Durandal's ship? Here's the full list of levels so far in the Volunteers series:

Ne Cede Malis
Rise Robot Rise
Poor Yorick
Confound Delivery
Electric Sheep One
Where are monsters in dreams
Aie Mak Sicur
Acme Station
Post Naval Trauma
Where Some Rarely Go
Thing What Kicks...
Electric Sheep Two
Whatever You Please
Carroll Street Station
Naw Man He's Close
Foe Hammer


Also on the Story Forum:

Marathon:Resurrection Public Beta 1.1.1 released
Halo spoilers
Behind the Marathon Music Redux?
Who remembers Duality?
Marathon and PID still on sale
M1 Quiz


Nov 23, 2001 (Friday)   Happy 7th Birthday

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the release of the Marathon demo. That's right the Marathon demo is seven years old. It was upload to AOL on Wednesday 23rd November 1994. Check the Marathon Demo v0.0 section for the history behind it's release and the rather unusal things that can be found when you play.


Nov 22, 2001 (Thursday)

A failed timeline and a new beginning.

Carroll Street Station
Naw Man He's Close

Two more levels revisted in the Volunteers series. If you're following this series you might just gain a further insight into the story that is Marathon.


Burke Bayard <TDStraylight@aol.com> writes:

I was looking at the Durandal page and saw his message about the universe closing, and I figured that "it's an awfully long number, why would Bungie leave it there?" so, I added everything together. On the third terminal of Colony Ship for Sale, Durandal states
"T-Minus 15.193792102158E+9 years until the universe closes!"
E is the fifth letter of the alphabet, so substitute 5 for E.
Now, add 1+5+1+9+3+7+9+2+1+0+2+1+5+8+5+9.
You get 68, which reduces (6 + 8 = 14) to 14.
And, as we all know, 14 = 2 * 7.


Nov 21, 2001 (Wednesday)

Two more levels in the Volunteers series:

Electric Sheep Two
Whatever You Please

Remember everyone is free to post their level impressions (old and new) in this series.


Also on the Story Forum:

More Eternal Hero stuff
Who's the guy with no hair?
Remembering the old times
I'm too sexy for the PoA
Got SPAM?


Nov 19, 2001 (Monday)

On the Story Forum today Mark Levin revisits the Thing What Kicks... level. Find out about Robnar the Nar High Seer, a terminal the Marine enters commands into, and possibly the single most frequently asked question about Marathon Infinity.

Here's the full list of levels revisited so far in the Volunteer's Infinity series:

Ne Cede Malis
Rise Robot Rise
Poor Yorick
Confound Delivery
Electric Sheep One
Where are monsters in dreams
Aie Mak Sicur
Acme Station
Post Naval Trauma
Where Some Rarely Go
Thing What Kicks...


Claude Errera <errera@bungie.org> who is presently playing through Halo writes:

Tom Klancer sent in some little tidbits from the Pillar of Autumn bulletin board... here are more details.

There are two copies of the board - one just outside the bridge, the other in the cafeteria. They're identical.

Most of the notices are silly or filler... but the first one is funny. :)

For Sale
Pentium XI 33 GF
Chicago Office
Colony Ship
  3 Speed Manual
  Transmission
Hyde Park Condo
Integrity

Next sign:
Marines
Keep it clean
clean your area
toss your filth
put away your tray

Next sign:
Marines
Scooters are for squirts
No scooters on deck

Next sign:
Lost:
Calico Cat
Answers to Jonesey
[this rings a bell...]

Next sign:
Duty Roster
Pillar of Autumn
Rev 01
(unreadable names)

Next sign:
Attention Marines
Callbacks for
South Pacific
(the rest is obscured)

Last sign:
Poster, Earth floating in space at the top, rubble below it.
Written across the middle is 'FIGHT FOR HER'


Nov 18, 2001 (Sunday)

Another detailed level analysis from Mark Levin in the Volunteers series, Back on Lh'owon and it's Where Some Rarely Go. A S'pht ID card, some nasty experiments and an elevator with a secret. Go relive the nostalgia. :-)


Finn Smith <fcs@modcult.org> writes:

I was recently in my local library and came across Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series. From the blurb on the book:

"THE MULTIVERSE -- universe upon universe of alternate Time and Space in which Law and Chaos wage a continuous struggle to change the fundamental rules of existence

THE ETERNAL CHAMPION -- doomed to live forever in a thousand incarnations. A key player in the Game of Time, he yearns for his lost love and the tranquility of fabled Tanelorn"

There are obvious parallels to MI here. Moorcock's Eternal Champion has been mentioned on the story page once before, but it reminded me of General George S. Patton Jr. He believed in his own reincarnation and wrote the poem "Through a Glass, Darkly" about his past and future lives as a warrior:

http://users.aol.com/ruddbaron/memorial/poem.html

I feel that this poem nicely encapsulates some of the themes of Marathon, especially the "But you were dead a thousand times." of the final chapter screen of MI.

A couple of other poems on this theme:

Wordsworth's "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" was a favorite of Patton's. Also, when his father died Patton had his daughter memorize Sir Edwin Arnold's "After Death in Arabia".

Wordsworth:
http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/wordswor25.html
Arnold:
http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/books/lightasi/asia-po.htm


Who says the Story page isn't educational. :-) While Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" series and George S. Patton Jr's "Through a Glass, Darkly" have been mentioned before this is a nice overview.


Nov 17, 2001 (Saturday)

The Volunteers series continues with Post Naval Trauma. There's also a secret that some might not know.


Shade made an interesting post on the Story Forum concerning the spelling of the Infinity level "Aie Mak Sicur". I've reprinted it below:

Re: Volunteers: Aie Mak Sicur
Posted By: Shade
Date: 11/16/01 8:33 p.m.

In Response To: Re: Volunteers: Aie Mak Sicur (TheMaz)

I was thinking about the name, "Aie Mak Sicur". On the level info section of the story page, it is suggested that

"A probable reason "Aie Mak Sicur" is spelt differently from "Aye Mak Sicur" is because it is the fake last level, accessible only through the dream level "Where are monsters in dreams". It is not spelt correctly, indicating falsity."

I was just rereading the seminal "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury, and I think that "Aie Mak Sicur" is an allusion to this short story. The plot is that this guy goes back in time on a safari to kill dinosaurs. On the safari, the hunters only kill dinosaurs that were about to die anyway, so as not to alter the future. Unfortunately, the main character breaks one of the rules and steps off the hover-path, killing a bug. When the characters return to the future, everything seems the same ... until they notice the spelling of the safari sign.

TYME SEFARI INC.
SEFARIS TU ANY YEER EN THE PAST.
YU NAIM THE ANIMALL.
WEE TAEK YU THAIR.
YU SHOOT ITT.

Aye Mak Sicur ... Aie Mak Sicur.

As a side note, there was a great Simpsons Halloween episode parodying "A Sound of Thunder" where Homer goes back in time and can't get back to his own future.


If you want a synopsis of the Halo story in 491 words go here. Yes I counted them.


If you want a walkthrough of the first 5 missions in Halo start here. Turn Javascript off to bypass the IGN registration requirement.


Nov 16, 2001 (Friday)

Quick update

Tom "Pfhormerl" Klancer <tklancer@its.tklancer.net> long time Marathon fan writes concerning Halo:

On the Pillar of Autumn, if you look at the message board, you'll see a for sale list that includes:

Chicago Office
Integrity (ahem, some self-commentary, perhaps?)
Colony Ship (this may have had ", cheap" on the end, not sure)

If anyone can read the full text let me know or post it in the Story Forum. Thanks.


The Volunteers series reaches Acme Station... the pinnacle of Marathon map making and "mayhem in a bottle". Here's the full list of levels revisited so far in the Volunteer's Infinity series:

Ne Cede Malis
Rise Robot Rise
Poor Yorick
Confound Delivery
Electric Sheep One
Where are monsters in dreams Aie Mak Sicur
Acme Station


Marathon 2 tops the Best Game Sequel Poll at Macgamer. Let's see how high we can get Marathon Infinity. ;-)


Henrik Lethagen <lethagen@passagen.se> writes:

I found an interesting company logo. Jernhusen (http://www.jernhusen.se/) is a Swedish firm that started about a year ago, specializing in estate for transportation and communication businesses. I wonder what game trilogy they played...


On the Story Forum:

bungie.net is back
Speaking in tongues
This is a Halo story spoiler
Did someone say pants?
This is another Halo story spoiler
This is NOT a Halo story spoiler
Marathon Riddles... They're Everywhere!


Nov 15, 2001 (Thursday)

Quick update

Now you see it... now you don't. Yesterday Microsoft's Halo page at Xbox.com was updated with a link to the Halo timeline. Today it's gone! The article on the Mjolnir armor is still there but the timeline is gone... Phhht! Just like that. It was slightly different from the previous version uncovered on Microsoft's Official Halo site two months ago.

Oh... don't worry I saved yesterday's version. You can read it on the Official Halo Backstory section. Back in Sept 25, 2001 Eric Trautmann of Microsoft claimed that their were "some discrepancies in dates" in the original timeline. Now you can compare both versions here and here. No Spoilers. Enjoy.


Maury Markowitz <maury.markowitz@lionhart.net> writes:

I noticed this while poking about on the 'net. Check out the symbol here:

http://www.farfuture.net/T5500.html

I don't know about you, but that sure looks like the Marathon symbol to me!

Traveller is a long-running RPG (like D&D) that has been going strong for over 20 years now. It's sci-fi setting and rich universe are probably the main reasons for it's success, but design definitely helped when you compare it with messes like AD&D's ever-expanding randomly constructed ruleset.

It could be a total coincidence. But then again, this is Bungie we're talking about. I can't believe anyone didn't notice this before.

While the symbol doesn't have the characteristic broken outer circle if this image predates Marathon then we are possibly looking an early influence on the Marathon symbol.


Gary Patterson <gary_patterson@mac.com> writes:

Matt Soell was interviewed by HomeLAN (http://www.homelanfed.com/index.php?id=3111) and the last question may reveal something...
HomeLAN - Finally, what can you tell us about your plans for future Bungie games?

Matt Soell - Well, there's the unannounced game that everybody already knows about, which is code-named Phoenix. There's another project we're working on that's too early to talk about at all. And there are always a bunch of ideas for new games, some of which are related to games we've already done, and some that are not.

The interview also contains this Halo story tidbit:

HomeLAN - The plot of Halo has been cloaked in secrecy. What can you tell us about the storyline at this point?

Matt Soell - Nothing more than we've already said. No point in tearing down the cloak of secrecy just because someone asks politely. :-) If you want to find out Halo's secrets, you'll have to play the game. Having said that, I'll just say that there's a lot more to Halo's story than meets the eye at first glance.

and also this piece:

HomeLAN - What sorts of enemies will the player face in Halo?

Matt Soell - The Covenant is a collective of alien races; in Halo you'll meet the Covenant Elites, Grunts, Hunters, and Jackals. There are several variants among those, and then there are a few surprises.


Garth B. Melnick <Garth.B.Melnick@directory.reed.edu> writes concerning the Halo manual (PDF format) that went online yesterday:

I've just downloaded and perused the Halo manual, and there are some things that jumped out at me as relevant to Halo/Marathon connections -- I don't know if others have observed them, but here goes anyway:

* In the background of most of the manual pages (the ones with pictoral backgrounds), the Marathon logo can be seen, outlined in white as an overlay on what appear to be monchrome shots from the game.

* You wear MJOLNIR battle armor. Need I say more? Not to mention you're a cybernetically-enhanced super-soldier, the last of a group ... but I *know* that's been observed.

* Your primary weapon is an MA5B assualt rifle. Only one letter away from MA75B...

* In referring to the M41 LAAG (the Jeep gun), we see the phrase "recoil [...] is prodigious." Where have we seen this before? Yes indeed, the M2 manual, Durandal's description of the MA75B (from memory: "still present is the prodigious recoil...")


Graham Cull <gscull@swbell.net> writes:

I just noticed something while I was playing the Abuse demo from the Trilogy CD; the flamethrower in Abuse looks a LOT like the Alien Weapon from M2 et al.

Graham was unable to grab a screenshot but added:

....the flamethrower looks like a yellow version of the new Alien Weapon.


Nov 14, 2001 (Wednesday)

Quick update

Mark Levin takes the path to "Aie Mak Sicur" in the Volunteer's series on the Story Forum. Good atmospheric stuff. Makes you want to go back and play it. "Aie Mak Sicur" represents the first of a number of revisits to this level.


IGN Xbox has made their Halo review accessible to non-Insiders now. At the very end of the review Vincent Lopez adds an interesting spoiler concerning the game ending. It's not really a story spoiler as such since you need to know the actually story to appreciate the spoiler. You can read it below if you want to (you know how to right?). The revisiting of levels was a plot device commonly used in Marathon Infinity.

I had a little problem with repeating the levels again near the end of the game. The fact that the last three levels of the game are partial or full rehashes of earlier sections of the game is obviously due to the lack of time in getting the game finished -- but I'm going to get petty and say that I was sad that the last level of the game (ignoring the amazing last 15 minutes) took place in the first level of the game, rather than in a new, unique environment. If I was forced to find a fault, that would be the one. That being said, even the repeats are reinvented enough to give you some new experiences, and they hold out on some new gimmicks, like flying in a Banshee, until you're repeating -- a smart move.


Jonathan Souza <zakueins@hotmail.com> finished Halo after a week of playing in his local EB store. He posted his comments in a Story forum post. Warning it contains a small spoiler about the fate of the player and Cortana. You have been warned.


According to a news item on HBO the entire Halo manual (PDF format) is now available on-line. No real story spoilers inside unless you read between the lines.


Well the countdown ended at The 7th Column site. Looks like the countdown was a little too early though, there's nothing there as yet. Then again nobody promised anything now did they. Check back later for the tru7h behind the 7th Column. ;-)


Nov 13, 2001 (Tuesday)

Calandra Witter <callie21v@hotmail.com> concerning the names "Estasia Orestes, Dominick I. Plackar, and Ursa Simbalzi" in the Marathon Internal Engineering Documents on "Bigger Guns Nearby" (Terminal 2):

Speaking of Greek mythology and the Doors manual...

If you take the first letter of each name in sequence, they spell out 'EODIPUS' - just two transposed letters away from 'Oedipus.'

(Hey, if the first two letters were intact, someone surely would've noticed six years ago...)

But I'm not getting into the potential symbolism on that one.

Nor I. But don't be surprised if we are still finding stuff another seven years for now... assuming of course that any of us are still around that is.


The Volunteers series continues on the Story Forum with the level "Where are monsters in dreams". Tim "Alfred Mordeir" Branin made this interesting observation about the Hangar 96 terminal on this level. I've reprinted it below:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the exiting messages in "Where are Monsters in Dreams" are mixed up. Because in the other two dream levels the "Armless legless corpse" messages all lead to the incorrect "Aye Mac Sicur" failure levels. It seams to me that those "Hangar 96" messages are a metafore for the destruction brought on by the Trih Xeem. "I did this or I could have stopped this" is the lamentaion over the player's apparent failure.

While one might argue about the later interpretation the observation that the terminals may have been mixed up does bear thinking about. All the later Hangar 96 terminal messages lead to failed "Aye Mak Sicur" endings.


Nov 12, 2001 (Monday)

Wondering what Marathon Infinity is all about? Then the current Volunteers series on the Story Forum might help you. Here are the current levels revisited so far:

Ne Cede Malis
Rise Robot Rise
Poor Yorick
Confound Delivery
Electric Sheep One

Some good stuff in here.


Nov 11, 2001 (Sunday)

Cosmin Deaconu <cosdeaconu@hotmail.com> writes concerning one of the names in the Marathon Internal Engineering Documents on "Bigger Guns Nearby" (Terminal 2):

Marathon Internal Engineering Documents
Section 1-c appendix H

Subject: Doors
By: Estasia Orestes, Dominick I. Plackar, and Ursa Simbalzi
Date:<2402.03.23.16.42>

Notice the Orestes. Orestes is the son of Agamemnon, a character from Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey. When Agamemnon returned from Ilium (Troy), Aegisthus (Agamemnon's wife's seducer) killed Agamemnon, king of Mycenae. Orestes then killed Aegisthus eventually.


Halo spoilers... They're Everywhere! Apparently the most recent Halo Video Review by Joe Fielder from Gamespot contains confirmation of a piece of Halo's story until now only hinted at. There are a number of posts at HBO on the subject (see here, here, and here). This helps to explain the screenshots of Captain Keyes later on in the game. These appeared last month in a Hands-On Preview of Halo (see here and here).


On the subject of spoilers Tyson "Ferrex" Green of Bungie Studios has made what I believe is the first public statement (from a Bungie employee that is) on the subject. I've reprinted it below:

On Spoilers...
Posted By: Ferrex (Dead)
Date: 11/10/01 10:07 p.m.
In Response To: I hate spoilers....(No spoilers here) (Skeletor)

: But I
: know how much shit people who're holding out for the Mac/PC version will
: have to go through.

It probably goes without saying, but people who decide to wait for the Mac/PC version have virtually zero chance of avoiding the crucial spoilers. Someone will blurt it out, it'll be on an HL server, someone will accidentally refer to it in the news.

A month or so after launch, people might still be courteous and tight lipped about things, but that's going to wear off fast. And that's not even considering all of the new people who are going to show up and make posts like "OMG IS RAWK! *NM*" posts.

-rex


Nov 10, 2001 (Saturday)

They're Everywhere!... Halo reviews that is. Gamespy have just posted a lengthy and interesting review. Here are just two pieces:

I won't give away any spoilers, but Bungie and Microsoft have done an excellent job of keeping important plot twists secret and not giving anything away in screenshots or previews. While some may have issues with the direction the story eventually takes, it's far better than the plot you'd see in your run-of-the-mill shooter.

And later...

While I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more than two races represented within the Covenant, it should be noted that there are other threats in the game that (purposefully) haven't been mentioned in previews or shown in screenshots. I won't give away any spoilers here; suffice it to say that they're not in short supply...and many may find them eerily reminiscent of another popular game...

Hmmm... another popular game?!!!


Eric K. Salzman <EKSalzman@dstsystems.com> writes:

Marathon mentioned at Gamespot's Halo review...

http://gamespot.com/gamespot/filters/products/0,11114,472132,00.html

Very good review! Plus, the Marathon series was finally mentioned among the best FPS's ever made! FINALLY!!

The quote: "...Fans of Half-Life, GoldenEye 007, the Marathon series, and any other major single-player first-person shooter will be impressed by Halo, as should anyone else."


Nov 9, 2001 (Friday)

Randy "ydnar" Reddig dropped in to the Story forum last night to offer us some insights into his work on the Marathon Infinity level "Ne Cede Malis". Worth a read.


Also on the Story Forum:

Marathon on Swedish TV
Halo and Pathways Into Darkness
Marathon riddle... solved!
Educational Marathon
Bungie to undermine nation's solidarity?
Oops... the Nar are back
Marathon Role Playing Game


Nov 8, 2001 (Thursday)

Jon Chang <grind@superlink.net> writes concerning his continued exploits of playing Halo at his local computer store:

Well Hamish I finally beat Halo today.

Four consecutive days of getting booted out of the same Software Etc or having the console shut off randomly(seems to do so every 4 hours) and I have beaten Halo on normal.

A damn fine game with some damn fine twists...

This HAS to be some sort of record. :-)


archon (full name pending) in this Story forum post wanted to point out that he actually noted (first?) the fact that Cortana did not plot a random course to the Halo. Here's his early post concerning a section from the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach". I've also reprinted it below:

Page 310 Paragraph 4-

"Can-control-" James' voice was punctured with static. "They're-everywhere-"

Page 331 Paragraph 8-

He cocked his head as the symbols and numbers scrolled across the NAV console. The representations of Slipspace vectors and velocity curves twisted across the screen-tantalizingly familiar. He'd seen them somewhere before-but he could not make the connection.
________________________________________________________________________________
The significance of the above quotes is because of the seeming alliteration to Marathon. The, "he'd seen them somewhere before" quote is something we've seen before 8^) However it wasn't in a dream that Master Chief Petty Officer/Spartan-117/John saw the slipspace (FTL) vectors and velocity curves... he saw them on an ancient relic that he recovered from a mission when he was 14 years old. Anyway, the ancient relic had the exact location of where Halo is located. I'd venture a guess that the Covenant wanted the *probably Jjaro* relic so they could also find Halo (and its' secrets) before the Humans did, but when Reach fell and they saw the PoA flying away, some of the ships followed and got there first. The jump calculations Cortana made weren't entirely random, but did fit in the Cole Protocol. The rest of the crew thinks they're going to the Covenant homeworld, according to the book, when they find Halo. Although it seems like the Captain wanted to see it up close anyway. Oh yeah, Master Chief might not be the only Spartan left. He brought the clinically dead body of his commrade on board the PoA and froze her, so she might be able to be restored should surgeon work their voodoo magic.


The Volunteers endeavor continues on the Story Forum with the following Marathon Infinity levels:

Ne Cede Malis
Rise Robot Rise

Will the tru7h behind Infinity be finally revealed?


Here's the full list of Marathon 2 levels revisited in the Volunteers endeavor:

Waterloo Waterpark
The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Charon Doesn't Make Change
What About Bob?
Come and Take your Medicine
We're Everywhere
Ex Cathedra
Nuke and Pave
Curiouser and Curiouser...
"Eat It, Vid Boi!", "The Hard Stuff Rules...", "Bob's Big Date", and "Six Thousand Feet Under"
If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay
Sorry Don't Make It So
For Carnage, Apply Within
Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry!!
The Big House
This Side Toward Enemy
God Will Sort The Dead...
My Own Private Thermopylae
Kill Your Television
Where the Twist Flops
Beware of Abandoned Rental Trucks
Requiem For a Cyborg
Fatum Iustum Stultorum
Feel the Noise
All Roads Lead To Sol...


And here's the full list of Marathon levels revisited in the Volunteers endeavor:

Arrival
Bigger Guns Nearby
Never Burn Money
Defend THIS!
Couch Fishing
The Rose
Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!
Cool Fusion
G4 Sunbathing
Blaspheme Quarantine
Bob-B-Q, Shake Before Using..., Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
G4 Sunbathing, Blaspheme Quarantine, Bob-B-Q, Shake Before Using..., Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap
Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap
Habe Quiddam
Neither High nor Low
Pfhor Your Eyes Only...
No Artificial Colors
Unpfhorgiven
Two Times Two Equals...
Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...
Beware of Low-Flying Defense Drones...
Eupfhoria
Pfhoraphobia
Ain't Got Time Pfhor This...
Welcome to the Revolution......
Try again
Ingue Ferroque

It will be interesting to see if in seven years Halo's levels will be revisted in the same way. And yes Marathon is nearly seven years old.


Thanks to all those of you who have written in about the changes (countdown) taking place at www.seventhcolumn.org. Those of you wondering what the Latin hidden in the page (see the HTML source for the line NON FACETE NOBIS CALCITRARE VESTRVM PERINÆVM ) means then you should check out Miguel Chavez's E3 1998 page "Freewill's Trip to E3" where it was first discovered and translated.


Nov 7, 2001 (Wednesday)

Quick update

Mark Levin continues the Volunteers endeavor with the Marathon Infinity level Ne Cede Malis. Go learn the tru7h about Marathon Infinity.


Jason Yates <jaywhy2@home.com> kindly sent in the following background story text from the Halo manual. No spoilers in here:

The year is 2552. Planet Earth still exists, but overpopulation has forced many of her former residents to colonize other worlds. Faster-than-light travel is now reality, and Earth's unified government, through the United Nations Space Command, has put its full weight behind the colonization effort; million of humans now live on habitable planets in other solar systems. A keystone of humanity's colonization efforts is the planet Reach, an interstellar naval yard that builds colony ships for civilians and warships for the UNSC's armed forces. Conveniently close to Earth, Reach is also a hub of scientific and military activity.

Thirty-two years ago, contact with the outer colony Harvest was lost. A battlegroup sent to investigate was almost completely destroyed; only one badly damaged ship returned to Reach. Its crew told of a seemingly unstoppable alien warship that had effortlessly annihilated their forces.

The was humankind's first encounter with a group of aliens they eventually came to know as the Covenant, a collective alien race united in their fanatical religious devotion. Covenant religious elders declared humanity an affront to the gods, and the Covenant warrior caste waged a holy war upon humanity with gruesome diligence.

After a series of crushing defeats and obliterated colonies, UNSC Admiral Preston Cole established the Cole Protocol; no vessel may inadvertently lead the Covenant to Earth. When forced to withdraw, ships must avoid Earth-bound vectors-even if that means jumping without proper navigational calculations. Vessels in danger of capture must self-destruct.

On Reach, a secret military project to create cyborg super-soldiers takes on newfound importance. The soldiers of the Spartan-II project rack up an impressive record against the Covenant in test deployments, but there are too few of them to turn the tide of the war.

Existing SPARTAN-II soldiers are recalled to Reach for further augmentation. The plan: board a Covenant vessel with the improved SPARTAN-IIs and learn the location of the Covenant home world. Two days before the mission begins. Covenant forces strike Reach and annihilate the colony. The Covenant are now on Earth's doorstep. One ship, the Pillar of Autumn, escapes with the last SPARTAN-II and makes a blind jump into deep space, hoping to lead the Covenant away from Earth.


Jason also noted the following:

I noticed something else, in the section "Your Armor", the manual mentions "your MJOLNIR battle suit represents the current pinnacle of military technology." Then later it's says, "your MJOLNIR armor makes you nearly invincible."

Futhermore, it says "battle suit" contains "a layer of crystal that forms a network capable of supporting starship-grade AI so you can overpower alien computer systems if necessary.


There's an interesting post on the HBO forums concerning the Pillar of Autumn's so called random jump to Halo and Cortana's possible role in the actual destination. Chanan the poster notes:

...if you read the book, she did not do a random jump at all! She figured out the clue in the rocks that Master Chief found.

Also, not only is she lying about it, but think about it - She might have placed the PoA in danger by jumping to Halo. She tells Keyes that the Cov. might have followed the PoA and beat them to Halo because they are faster... Well, who said they didn't already figure out the clue themselves and were already there...

Good catch.


Nov 6, 2001 (Tuesday)

And so it begins. Jason Yates <jyates@dataservice.org> writes:

I just got Halo from a local store around here. There is a section called "About Bungie", here is a cut of the last paragraph.
"To us, Bungie is a not just a name-it's a way of life. We hope you'll join us. Next stop: world domination!"
There also is a footer directly below the "About Bungie" it reads,
"Brothers and Sisters: the time is nigh. There is strength in numbers. Unite and the planet is ours: www.seventhcolumn.org"
Here is the whois on that page.
Registrant:
   Max Hoberman
   15617 NE 70th Ct. #C107
   Redmond, WA 98052
   US

   Registrar: Dotster (http://www.dotster.com)
   Domain Name: SEVENTHCOLUMN.ORG
      Created on: 18-JUL-01
      Expires on: 18-JUL-11
      Last Updated on: 18-JUL-01

   Administrative Contact:
      Gudmundson, Caroline  domains@microsoft.com
      Microsoft Corporation
      One Microsoft Way
      Redmond, WA  98052
      US
      425-869-5791

   Technical Contact:
      Hoberman, Max  yeroenblam@yahoo.com
      15617 NE 70th Ct. #C107
      Redmond, WA  98052
      US
      425-869-5791


   Domain servers in listed order:
      NS1.DOTSTERINC.COM 216.34.94.170
      NS2.DOTSTERINC.COM 64.85.73.15
If I remember correctly, Max Hoberman is the webmaster for bungie. World Domination =)


Note while the game is out there are no Xboxes on sale yet.


Nov 5, 2001 (Monday)

The Volunteers endeavor is still going strong even though in the last week of so some of the posts have been overshadowed by Halo news. Anyway here is the current list of Marathon 2 levels revisited so far on the Story Forum. The latest additions start after "The Big House". Seven new levels in all. Thanks to Mark Levin for keeping this going... almost singlehandedly sometimes. Oddly the most atmospheric M2 level Kill Your Television received very little response.

Waterloo Waterpark
The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Charon Doesn't Make Change
What About Bob?
Come and Take your Medicine
We're Everywhere
Ex Cathedra
Nuke and Pave
Curiouser and Curiouser...
"Eat It, Vid Boi!", "The Hard Stuff Rules...", "Bob's Big Date", and "Six Thousand Feet Under"
If I Had a Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay
Sorry Don't Make It So
For Carnage, Apply Within
Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry!!
The Big House
This Side Toward Enemy
God Will Sort The Dead...
My Own Private Thermopylae
Kill Your Television
Where the Twist Flops
Beware of Abandoned Rental Trucks
Requiem For a Cyborg


Also on the Story Forum:

More "Fall of Reach" trivia
Who's going to solve this?
Fusion and water don't mix!
Cortana Letters revisited
D is for damn... I forgot to follow this up
History of the Spartans
Somebody else archives this stuff?!!!


Nov 4, 2001 (Sunday)

Quick update

Mars by 2035. Jeff Nosanov <jeffnosanov@yahoo.com> writes:

At

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/astrotel_mars_011031-1.html

is a very interesting article about how to put humans on mars by the year 2035... including mention of an interesting system of supply craft theft that definetly reminds me of the idea of crist transports.


Joshua Ward <jeward@email.arizona.edu> writes concerning the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach":

Notice that Cortana has an effective lifespan of se7en years? Also the fact that Cortana is described as having symbols running across her "skin", like The Matrix? Pillar of Autumn is approximately one third the tonnage of a Marathon-Class Cruiser (the flagships of the fleet) and is 43 (4+3 and all that) years old. and lastly the book itself is 340 pages long.


Darkman in a HBO forum post notes that the Timeline section of the Microsoft's Official Halo site has been updated. However rather than continuing on with the Timeline as originally laid out they have simply added the Prologue to the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach". It's not clear whether Microsoft intend to continue with the original Timeline idea. Given the impending release of the Xbox and Halo in a few weeks it would seem unlikely. However thanks to some major sleuthing by Chlazza back in September the full Halo Timeline was uncovered from Microsoft's site. However shortly after this Timeline was revealed Eric Trautmann of Microsoft indicated in a Story forum post that there were "some discrepancies in dates in this timeline". These were to be addressed in an updated version of the Timeline on Microsoft's site. It remains to be seen if we'll now see these changes.


HBO also note that the Cloudchaser Microsoft site has posted a fan written article entitled XU: Halo Impressions Part 4. If you have seen GameSpot's Halo Video Review (74.7 MB) mentioned yesterday you couldn't help but notice that the solo level described is "Flawless Cowboy". Here's part of the description: c The opening video shows a ship carrying marines crashing and then you take control. Going outside there is a HUGE chasm that has a river running down into and if you look up the river you can see this amazingly detailed and impressive waterfall falling from hundreds of feet up...

Well, this lady told me over a radio or something that a enemy dropship was approaching and that I should cross some tubes or pipes to the other side of the river to escape being detected.

Read the whole article for further details on this level.


In earlier Cloudchaser Microsoft article entitled XU: Halo Impressions Part 2 you can get some idea on how saving is handled:

Ship after ship of enemies will come down as players traverse the land, with instructions on your new mission being read out over your radio. Missions are dealt with a little differently in Halo however, as you simply have to do something as simple as clear out an area or assist another crew, and when that mission is complete, the game automatically saves and reads out a new one. A thoughtful touch to be sure as players won't have to worry about saving anything, and even if they die, they simply replay the mission segment over, which allows a much more nonlinear type of experience.


In a Story forum post archon notes the following piece from the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach":

Page 89 Paragraph 7-

"John and Sam climbed up the elevator cable. John glanced down: a thirty-meter plunge into darkness. He might survive that fall."

Marathon story fans will hardly fail to recognise the similarity between the above quote and Durandal's remark on the opening terminal of "What About Bob?"

Because only you would survive the fall...


Nov 3, 2001 (Saturday)

Quick update

Jon Chang <grind@superlink.net>, designer of the Marathon's Story page t-shirt, managed to play the first six levels of Halo before getting booted from his local store. He had a blast. When asked what was the story over these initial levels he replied:

...so far the story has been very straight forward

aliens board ship and kill crew
escape pod down to halo...kill covenant
ooooh alien structure. hit switch kill more covenant/rescue marines
captain has been captured. go get him

Highlight the above space to read the potential spoilers. The last objective is supported by the recent screenshots seen in a Hands-On Preview of Halo at gamers.com. See here and here. This was suggested on the Story page last Wednesday.


According to a GameSpy review Halo has 10 large missions, each containing several smaller chapters. Here's the details:

HALO's single-player game is broken up into 10 large missions, each containing several smaller chapters. There's a bit of a load time before starting each of these 10 missions, but once you start, load times are so quick in-game mission that it's virtually unnoticeable, other than a small stutter and a message in the upper left of the screen.


IGN Xbox have posted the first part of a three part Halo special. In the introduction they write:

...Halo is the piece of a much larger puzzle, one that is never quite explained in full. While you'll get clues to the origins of the Master Chief, the war with the Covenant, and the secrets of Halo itself, the answers only give you a taste of what will no doubt be answered in Halo 2, 3, 4, 11, the party game and the dating service.

Don't worry -- we're here to help. We've got a three part series on Halo that will help to explain some of the secrets and backgrounds to the characters and the story, straight from Bungie itself.

Mmmm... talk about spoon feeding. Anyway the first part is simply the recently released Prologue to novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. There is however a very nice PDF file containing what looks like the galley proofs of the book cover and prologue text. Worth a look. The second and third parts of IGN's Halo special should prove interesting.


Gamespot have posted a Halo Updated Preview. In it they write:

The 10-mission campaign sets you on a hostile alien world, wherein you'll be treated deep, bloody battle after deep, bloody battle.


This however doesn't match with what appears in a German GameStar review of Halo. As Uriel <robin.kunde@freenet.de> noted in a HBO forum post GameStar report that the game has "10 big levels(2 - 4 missions per level)".


Uriel also posted some interesting additional info from GameStar's Halo review concerning "mutated marines" and "zombie aliens". Zombies! They're Everywhere! ;-)


Interesting to note in the recently released Halo Video Review (74.7 MB) at Gamespot a level (or mission) called "Flawless Cowboy" which is one of the nicknames used by Jaime Griesemer (Bungie Studios). The name appears in the cutscene at the beginning of the mission. The movie also contains the opening scenes of the "The Silent Cartographer" mission. There is a nice scene in the movie where the player enters a hologram map room similar to the one first seen in the July 1999 Macworld Halo movie.


Nov 2, 2001 (Friday)

Quick update #2

Forrest Cameranesi <forrest@west.net> writes concerning Harry Al-Shakarchi's submission earlier today:

I believe we have seen the creature Harry describes...

http://halo.bungie.org/screenshots/pcgamer800/pcgamer.brainthing.jpg

From the HBO FAQ:

"Purple Alien: This appeared in a Halo article in PC Gamer UK magazine. Nothing is currently known about it. "


Similarly Daniel Barbour <cbarbour@telusplanet.net> writes:

I thought that was a good conection between the described characters in the book and the Marathon pics you showed. If it hasn't already been brought up, I believe this picture from Halo (August 2000) shows the character in question:

http://halo.bungie.org/screenshots/pcgamer800/pcgamer.brainthing.jpg

I have a feeling that this screenshot wasn't exactly meant to be released at that time, and with no comments on it, Bungie hoped it would go relatively unnoticed...


Quick update #1

Possible connection between Beowulf, the Office of Naval Intelligence AI in the the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach" and the BW-AI on board the Pillar of Autumn mentioned in the 4th Cortana Letter? Check this Story forum post for details.


Harry Al-Shakarchi <tomeone@bungie.org> sends in some more comments about the the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach" including an errie description of some vaguely familiar characters from Marathon. Harry writes:

I'm a bit further in the novel. Master Chief and his fellow Spartans are working to save a human city from Covenant.

At one point, Master Chief is observing the surface from the sewers and discovers a Covenant never seen before. I don't think we've heard of it either:

"There we other aliens on the sidewalk - or rather, above the sidewalk. They were roughly man-size creatures - unlike any he had ever encountered. The creatures were vaguely sluglike, with pale, purple-pink skin. Unlike other Covenant forces, they were not bipeds. Instead they had several tentacular appendages sprouting from their thick trunks."
He goes on to describe how they floated half a meter above the ground "as if the odd, pink bladders on their backs keep them aloft." He also observes how the alien takes apart a car's engine numerous times, reassembling it in various ways then finally putting it back together as it was and then moving on. It was probably analysing human technology but was so skilled he could work with it.

As I think about this I can't stop thinking about two images I saw in Marathon 2 and Infinity's terminals. I attached the ones I mean. Just thought it would be interesting... You never know.

You can see the creatures Harry refers to here. Harry went to say:

Oh, Master Chief's full rank is "Master Chief Petty Officer"

But wait there's more... Harry continues:

I finally got to the page where Cortana introduces The Pillar of Autumn:
"The Pillar of Autumn is forty-three years old," Cortana said. "Halycon-class ships were the smallest vessel ever to receive the cruiser designation. It is approximately one-third the tonnage of a Marathon-class cruiser currently in service."
And what is the keyword in this quote? :P

Now on to Cortana. In this chapter, she is described as having a operational life of seven years (like all the other smart AI). This is due to the fact that Cortana is an AI that could grow in knowledge and creativity, and that unchecked. The growth, according to the novel, would "eventually lead to self-interference." Cortana would "one day literally start thinking too much at the expense of her normal functions. It was as if a human were to think with so much of his brain that he stopped sending impulses to his heart and lungs."

Yikes.

Cortana is also described as being a very close replica of Dr. Halsey, an important character. She was the one who chose John back at the beginning of the story. Her brain was cloned and her memories flash-transferred. As the novel states, "Cortana had literally sprung from Dr. Halsey'smind, like Athena from the head of Zeus."

And also...

OK so I finished The Fall of Reach, and it shows the origin of the Spartan suit shield. The Spartans had acquired a few of the shield units off fallen Jackals, and using the technology, the final MJOLNIR suit (the one you're in when on Halo) gets a shielding which is built upon those Jackal shields.

Just thought I'd pass on a little technical tidbit. Do with it what you want...

Food for thought in all this.


Ajax (full name pending) <multiades@mac.com> writes:

I was reading over your November '01 news and came across what seem to be exerpts from the e-book about Halo. I don't know if anyone's mentioned this, but in Tom Clancy's novel "Without Remorse" the main character is named "John Kelly." This character goes on to become the infamous "Mr. John Clark" of the CIA, but that's another story.

Basically, the history of John Kelly is that of a Vietnam-era Navy Underwater Demolition Team member. At that point in history the Navy SEAL's were being organized for the first time and were top-secret. So this guy, John Kelly is one of the first SEAL's, just like the player in Halo. Sounds very much familiar.

To top it all off, I believe Kelly was a chief in the Navy. Another character in the book is his Coast Guard friend, who retires as a Master Chief.

If I'm right about this, then this won't be the first time reality mimics Clancy's novels. "Debt of Honor" ends with a jumbo jet being piloted into the Capitol Building and I think "Executive Orders" has the US under bioterror attack. Damn.


Nov 1, 2001 (Thursday)

Quick update #2

What is the military rank Master Chief? Eric Trautmann of Microsoft (and closely associated with Bungie's Halo) passes on this info in a HBO forum post. I've taken the liberty of reprinting it below:

Re: Military 101 - Master Chef...er..Chief?
Posted By: Eric Trautmann <mercuryeric@hotmail.com>
Date: 11/1/01 3:24 p.m.
In Response To: Military 101 - Master Chef...er..Chief? (Ph.D.)

: Help me out here please. Would someone explain the ranks within in the
: various armed forces (army, navy, airforce, and marines). A comment on
: their respective responsibilities (e.g., often has a platoon under his/her
: care) would be greatly appreciated. BTW, a platoon has two groups of 8
: soldiers right?

Several answers to this question seem to have been forwarded, but I'd chime in with the following:

http://www.torget.se/users/k.klix/grader_e.html

offers a number of links to pages that describe military ranks and structure from around the world. Wanna know how the Algerian Army is structured? You can find a link to it from here. A number of the links may or may not be dead--the site hasn't been updated in a while.

I modelled the UNSC military loosely on US and British military structures, and placed the Master Chief (as his rank would logically indicate) in the UNSC Navy, part of the Naval Special Warfare program (NavSpecWar).

For other militaristic jargon, you may find these links useful as well:

The Radio Alphabet: http://www.geocities.com/~propilot/education/alph.html

William Frisbee's "Tips on writing military SF" page: http://web.qx.net/warcat/MilSF

(His writing is generally pretty stilted and has only a passing familiarity with the rules of the English language, but he is a veteran and has a veteran's unique insight into warfare and notions of future war.)

Hope this helps,

Eric T.

Eric post would suggest that he was responsible (or involved) in calling the player "Master Chief". Also note the reference to "UNSC".


Quick update #1

Harry Al-Shakarchi <tomeone@bungie.org> writes concerning today's item on the Grunts in Halo:

In your latest update you wrote:

"Other tidbits include the fact that the Grunts are "the only species among the Covenant that speaks English". Odd I could have sworn the Elites spoke English too."

In The Fall of Reach they describe how they could understand Grunts through a translator. Here's a part from page 1 (the prologue):

"They reminded the Chief of biped dogs, not only in appearance, but because their speech - even with the new translation software - was an odd combination of high-pitched squeaks, guttural barks and growls."
They're also described as far more dangerous as we are led to believe.

Harry also went on to add more details from the novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach" including a possible reason why Master Chief is called "John":

John may be too "normal", but that's because as a child he was picked by a scientist (along with hundreds of other kids) to be part of the SPARTAN programme. Heh... They find him winning at... Wait for it... KING OF THE HILL. :) Oh and later in the book, when John and fellow SPARTAN members are in some sort of training exercise, they fight soliders in MJOLNIR MARK I suits in Capture The Flag.

I've read on, they've been attacked by Covenant and are now in some deep underground bunker where they first get the MJOLNIR suits. According to the novel, they can only be used by those trained in the SPARTAN programme and that have enhanced body parts. The movements of the suit are so fast that a human would break his bones and die of spasms.

Anyhow, at one point before that, John is contemplating the word MJOLNIR:

"John watched and continue to ponder the word Mjolnir as they sped-in system. He had looked it up in the education database. Mjolnir was the hammer used by the Norse god of thunder. Project MJOLNIR had to be some kind of weapon. At least he hoped it was; they needed something to find the Covenant.
This happens before they find out what Project MJOLNIR is. Oh, and the Covenant identify themselves as "The Covenant." It's not a name given to them by humans.

It's interesting... Throughout the book we see all these references to Greece and Greek mythology and names. AI's that look like Greek gods and goddesses, places and objects named after Greek areas and countries surrounding Greece... And then we have Mjolnir and Covenant and "the will of the gods" and of course the world "halo."

The SPARTAN soliders are humans who were trained hard, had their bodies manipulated for extra strength, speed, dexterity and agility and lastly outfitted with super battle armour. Would be interesting if "you" in Marathon are such a "super-human" too.

Anyhow, more as I read the novel. Good book, this. Amazon.co.uk has it for £4.27


According to this Story Forum post (also by Harry) the Master Chief's friends in the Halo novel are called "Sam" and "Kelly".


Harry Al-Shakarchi <tomeone@bungie.org> writes concerning the recently published Halo prequel novel "Halo: The Fall of Reach":

I received the book yesterday and have read through it a little. I am enjoying it immensely even if the beginning was a bit slow. Tons of mentions of MJOLNIR MARK I suits and the "MJOLNIR phase." Also, at one point later in the book, we learn of The Pillar of Autumn's age. I saw that was skimming past a few pages... Caught my eye. But I'm not that far yet. It said, if I remember correctly, that the age of the ship was 43... The current year in that chapter was between 2525 and 2530.

Oh yeah... Master Chief's real name is "John" I think. He seems to be a very central character (this is before the SPARTANS get their green MJOLNIR suits). His code number is 117. :)

Oh, and a AI teacher in a history lesson shows kids a battle where the Spartans were able and swift killers in a battle at Thermopylae against Persions.

Oh, one last thing. A Covenant transmission is played: "Your destruction is the will of the Gods...and we are their instrument." Sound familiar?

Yes indeed.


Gamespot have put up a preview of some the weapons, enemies and vehicles in Halo. Under the "enemies" page the following caught my attention.

Though you'll encounter a great many foes throughout the legnth [sic] of Halo, your first wave of encounters will involve the Covenant.

This would suggest that you fight more than just the Covenant. That third race perhaps?

Other tidbits include the fact that the Grunts are "the only species among the Covenant that speaks English". Odd I could have sworn the Elites spoke English too.

And lastly... the remark about the "hunters".

We haven't even mentioned the hunters, but remember that name.



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