The Text That Never Was

"Good luck"


At the first terminal on "Defend THIS!" we read the following message from Leela:

***INCOMING MESSAGE FROM LEELA***

I have received a preliminary report from some members of the
science staff who have finished post-mortem examinations on
three kinds of Aliens.  They report that by modern
genealogical standards the different Aliens belong to
different species.  I have been collecting as much
information as I can and will give you a report shortly.

I have established contact with Durandal for the first time
since the attack.  He seems to have sustained less damage than
I had previously suspected.

Durandal reports that he has been in communication with the
Aliens.  He says that the Aliens behind the invasion call
themselves the Pfhor, and that the ones attacking the computer
net are called S'pht.  But he was reluctant to share the
details of his communication and I cannot understand this.

Your mission here is rather simple.  You must insert the
circuits in the Defense Control terminals.

This is your current location.

There is a shield recharge in
the Access Control Room.

Here is a supply room with a
large supply of ammunition
and weapons.  You should stop in
this room.

This is the Defense Control
Center.  Hopefully, the new
control circuits will work.
Place one in the terminal at
this location.

This is where to place a
second one.
<Defend THIS! (Terminal 1)>
Kyjel Shaytolmae <kbassett@junction.net> points out that Leela never tells us where to place the third circuit and asks did she make a mistake?

Not exactly. The last part of Leela's message is never actually shown although it resides in the term resources. The full text of Leela's message is given below.

***INCOMING MESSAGE FROM LEELA***

I have received a preliminary report from some members of the
science staff who have finished post-mortem examinations on
three kinds of Aliens.  They report that by modern
genealogical standards the different Aliens belong to
different species.  I have been collecting as much
information as I can and will give you a report shortly.

I have established contact with Durandal for the first time
since the attack.  He seems to have sustained less damage than
I had previously suspected.

Durandal reports that he has been in communication with the
Aliens.  He says that the Aliens behind the invasion call
themselves the Pfhor, and that the ones attacking the computer
net are called S'pht.  But he was reluctant to share the
details of his communication and I cannot understand this.

Your mission here is rather simple.  You must insert the
circuits in the Defense Control terminals.

This is your current location.

There is a shield recharge in
the Access Control Room.

Here is a supply room with a
large supply of ammunition
and weapons.  You should stop in
this room.

This is the Defense Control
Center.  Hopefully, the new
control circuits will work.
Place one in the terminal at
this location.

This is where to place a
second one.

This is the final location.

Good luck.

***END MESSAGE***

Interesting to note that if this whole message had been displayed it would have been the third time that Leela wished us good luck.




Adam Freidin <bob@clarity.Princeton.EDU> writes:

The reason that the text was never displayed was because Marathon is unable to display more than 8 screens, counting the logon and logoff screens as 1 (same text).




Adam Freidin <bob@clarity.Princeton.EDU> and Kyjel Shaytolmae <kbassett@junction.net> both point out that while you went to some trouble to get three circuit boards you only needed to install two in the rooms Leela shows you at the first terminal to successfully complete your mission.

Actually it's only one as the HoTBob Question of the week #19 later revealed. :-)




Apart from the missing text on "Defend THIS!" there is a whole message missing from the last terminal on "Cool Fusion". If you make no attempt to obtain the Zeus Class Fusion Pistol on this level Leela will not tell you to go back and get it.

***MESSAGE FROM LEELA***

You have not retrieved the Fusion Gun.
Return when you have done so.

***END OF MESSAGE***

You can verify that Leela's "failure" message is never displayed in a number of ways. Use a cheater on a saved game from the previous level to give yourself an assault rifle. Use a map editor to relocate your player position on the "Cool Fusion" map. The real way to do it however is to complete the level Vidmaster Style using Tim Seufert's Marathon Vidmaster Challenge Physics Model making sure that you don't pick up the Fusion Pistol.

And here is a film of it being done.




Here is a full list of all the terminal messages in all three Marathon games that cannot the read under normal solo play. While some messages were specifically designed not to be read without a map editor or terminal browser others do not appear for reasons best left unsaid.

"Cool Fusion" (Terminal 2: 'Unfinished' message).
The only Marathon terminal that cannot be read under normal solo play even if you don't get the fusion pistol.

"What About Bob?" (Terminal 2: 2nd message).

"Curiouser and Curiouser..." (Terminal 2: 1st Message).

"Eat It, Vid Boi!" (Terminal 4: 1st message).

"Robot World Arena" (Terminal 0).
Can be read while playing co-op but not during normal solo play.

"Poor Yorick" (Terminal 2).
See if you can find it. ;-)

"Confound Delivery" (Terminal 1).
Another mysterious terminal. Confound it!

"Where Some Rarely Go" (Terminal 1: 1st Message).
Another strangely elusive message.

"Naw Man He's Close" (Terminal 0: 1st Message).
Yet another strangely elusive message.

"Foe Hammer" (Terminal 2: 1st message).




John Sumner <UTJohnS@aol.com> writes:

...i was puzzled as to the missing terminal text in the three levels "Where Some Rarely Go", "Naw Man He's Close", and "Foe Hammer". This may have already been discussed before, but i believe there is a logical explanation as to why the missing text in these levels is not readable.

The three levels in question have a couple of things in common. First of all, each of the levels DO NOT have a declared mission type, as can be checked with Forge. Secondly there are exactly 9 terminals in "Where Some Rarely Go", 2 terminals in "Naw Man He's Close", and 3 terminals in "Foe Hammer". All of the terminals are accessible by the player, but one terminal in each of the levels has exactly one message that never appears in the normal play of the level, no matter when you access it. A glance at the text for all the terminals using the application "Durandal Terminal Browser" reveals the following: Every one of the terminals in all three levels have an Unfinished portion of text, and in exactly one terminal from each level there is also a Finished portion of text. And the Finished portion of text occurs in those very three terminals where the text is not readable during solo play. Furthermore, in each case it is the Unfinished portion that is not readable. So it seems to me, the logical explanation must be that in a level where there is no declared mission type, the Marathon Engine will ignore the Unfinished portion of terminal text, IF there is an accompanying Finished portion of text. Otherwise, the Unfinished portion is always readable at any time during the play. Of course, i have no idea if this is true. But it is the only thing that makes sense and is consistent with what actually happens. I would be willing to bet that all three levels at some time HAD a mission type, necessitating an Unfinished and Finished portion of certain terminals, but for whatever reason were changed to no mission type before the game was released.

Nice piece of analysis. :-)




Back in 1996 the Story page ran a series of "Questions of the Week" which later became the The Seventh HoTBob Competition. Question #16 concerned an unreadable terminal message on the Marathon level "Cool Fusion": Here was the question:

Reading all the terminal messages in Marathon and Marathon 2 while you play can be difficult. Indeed some can only be read using a cheater program or a map editor. But one terminal message is impossible to read even with a cheater or a map editor. What is the message?

Jim Mitchell <BobJam@aol.com> sent in the winning answer:

"It's the Fusion Pistol Message!"

"I played "Cool Fusion and didn't get the fusion pistol but when I got to the end terminal I didn't get a failure message! It is impossible to get the fusion pistol "Failure" message!"

If you make no attempt to obtain the Zeus Class Fusion Pistol on this level Leela will not tell you to go back and get it.

***MESSAGE FROM LEELA***

You have not retrieved the Fusion Gun.
Return when you have done so.

***END OF MESSAGE***

How strange you might say. Wasn't Leela supposed to be acting in our best interests? Never fear she had a Fusion Pistol waiting for us on the next level.

Now John Sumner <UTJohnS@aol.com> writes:

I decided to try and revisit the mystery surrounding the missing terminal text on the Marathon 1 level "Cool Fusion". As you recall, the exit terminal on this level does not display Leela's warning message to go back and retrieve the Fusion pistol, if the player fails to do so.

With the help of a certain file ("Terminal Editing Manual v1.0" by Jim Brewster) i found at the marathon.org site, it seems there is a logical explanation as to what happened to the readability of the "#unfinished" portion of this terminal. According to Jim, the text that follows the "#unfinished" command is displayed only if the mission objective is not completed. If the mission objective has been completed, then the Marathon engine jumps to the next command (in this case #briefing 8) and skips the text. A quick check with Pfhorte shows that the level "Cool Fusion" does not have a mission type. So it seems Marathon 1 treats this situation much like it did with the three Infinity levels from my previous analysis. Since there is no mission type, i suppose the engine reacts as though the mission had been completed, so Leela's failure message is never displayed. Perhaps we will never know if this was a mistake or if the Bungie crew had good reasons to leave "Cool Fusion" with no mission type.



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Last updated Mar 4, 2001