"Not just the story of the making of Marathon, but the concurrent history
of Bungie and their games. Contains details of how the Marathon games
were conceived, developed, and completed, what inspired the developers,
and how the players influenced the series. The Scrapbook traces the fascinating
and quirky path of a game from proposal to golden master." Bungie Software
Scrapbook transcription, formatting and comments by REB.
It all started with PONG. Well, a ripoff of PONG anyway.
It was 1991 and Alexander Seropian was in his basement apartment in Chicago’s Hyde Park, cheerfully blowing off classes at the University of Chicago. Normally this quiet, intense young man would be too responsible to do this sort of thing, but this day was different. Alex had stumbled upon a resounding truth while chewing his Cheerios that morning, and his whole outlook on life changed in an instant.
“It is better to be The Man,” Alex realized, “than to work for The Man.”
Alex scribbled out a list of career options that would allow him to rapidly ascend to The Man-hood in comfort and style. “Starfleet Commander” was out; Alex needed a short-term solution. He also crossed out “Sultan of an Oil-Rich Country,” although the idea of buxom wenches feeding him goat cheese and fanning him with peacock feathers was incredibly appealing. After crossing out “Jimmy Page circa 1970” he found himself left with a single choice: “Benevolent Dictator of a Computer-Game Empire.”
Alex Dropped his cereal bowl in the sink, jogged down to the campus bookstore and skulked up to the register with a copy of Think C. He returned home to his Macintosh, determined to do whatever was necessary to become a one-man wrecking crew in the software industry, He agonized over what he would name his company, finally settling on “Bungie” because “it sounded fun.”
His first shot at glory, GNOP!, fell somewhat short of the global-dominance mark. A black-and-white clone of the game that started the whole home videogaming industry back in 1972, GNOP! was enjoyable enough if you had an unquenchable nostalgia for the ‘Good Old Days of Gaming,’ but most people saw it for what it was: Pong, but backwards.
Alex distributed GNOP! as shareware via online services and the Internet. A handful of people sent in their shareware fees, and a few kind souls even took him up on his “Complete GNOP! Source Code for $15” offer. Encouraged, Alex set about writing his next project: Operation: Desert Storm. O:DS was a more ambitious project than GNOP. Alex spent a lot of time researching modern tank warfare and wove a fair amount of detail into the game. Operation: Desert Storm was also the first boxed, shrinkwrapped Bungie product aimed at capturing shelf space. Packaged in Alex’ apartment, on floppy disks swiped from Alex’s summer internship at a megalithic software company [ 1 ], O:DS was an unknown property from an unknown company and had a hard time finding distribution. Alex still managed to sell about 2500 copies of the game.
Shortly thereafter, Alex met up with fellow University of Chicago student, Jason Jones, a talented 23-year-old programmer who had written a game called Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. Minotaur was a top-down tile-based fantasy game in the tradition of the early Ultima series, with one major difference: it had no single-player scenario. A proper game of Minotaur required two or more people playing over a network - a remarkable option at the time. Minotaur was little more than a dorm-room diversion in Jason’s eyes, but after a few all-night Minotaur sessions, Alex realized it was a viable commodity and convinced Jason to publish Minotaur as a Bungie Software title. Minotaur began shipping in the spring of 1992. Once again finding distributors for the game proved nearly impossible. Alex and Jason, quickly tiring of their bean-burrito-and-tapwater diet, took a grassroot approach selling the game at trade shows and directly to the consumer. A handful of distributors eventually took an interest in the game, but sales topped out at the 2,500 mark.
(It’s worth noting, purely as a point of contrast, that these days Bungie gives away about that number of copies of each new game to journalists and industry pundits.)
Page 2 (Pictures)
Picture 1: GNOP! screenshot.
Text: Bungie’s first game, GNOP! or pong spelled backwards. It was released as freeware in late 1990. Check out those amazing graphics!
Picture 2: O:DS screenshot.
Text: Bungie’s first commercial game, Operation: Desert Storm. Norman Schwarzkopf would be proud!
Picture 3: Minotaur screenshot.
Text: Minotaur, Bungie’s second commercial game, made just enough dough for Alex to splurge on a brand new-white Dodge Neon. According to Alex it “handles a lot better than a Testarossa.” [ 2 ]
Jason dropped by Alex’s apartment fairly regularly to help shrinkwrap copies of Minotaur and swipe some of Alexander’s food. On one of these visits, Jason Brought up a new project, a 3D, first-person-perspective, blast-fest with a handful of roleplaying elements tossed in. Jason called it Pathways Into Darkness. Alex, knew a good thing when he saw it, and the two became partners to publish the title. Jason began to work on Pathways in earnest with the help of his friend Colin Brent, who did the artwork. Jason coded by day on the Mac IIfx in his apartment; Colin would visit in the evenings to work on the game’s graphics.
Jason Wanted to create a compelling backstory for Pathways rather than simply dumping players in a dungeon and instructing them to blast their way out. Numerous scenarios were written and discarded until Jason come up with an alien race know as the Jjaro, and their ultimatum to humanity: neutralize a Lovecraftian “alien god” buried in a pyramid or suffer a hideous fate at its hands.
Pathways pushed the technological envelope farther than any previous Macintosh game, offering real-time, three-dimensional texture mapping. “It’s the closest you can get to virtual reality without a helmet” ran the advertising slogan, which is actually true if you ignore the fact that most “virtual reality” experiences do not include encounters with lurching, pumpkin-colored obscenities sporting tongues the size of a small dog. Alex and Jason harbored modest hopes for Pathways; they though it might sell enough copies to allow them the luxury of eating real food again. Pathways Into Darkness shipped in August 1993 and met with immediate critical and popular acclaim, winning a trunkload of awards and establishing Bungie as a major entity in the Macintosh games market.
The commercial success of Pathways allowed Alex and Jason to move out of their Hyde Park apartments to a real office in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. (Alex tried to retain that “homegrown” atmosphere by picking an office without heat. “The Crack House” behind the building provided Bungie with the name of their office fileserver.) More importantly, Bungie could now afford to hire additional programmers and artists for their next project - whatever that might be. Ryan Martell, halfway through a yearlong break from Duke University, signed on as a programmer at the end of 1993 and began work with Jason on a new game, code-named Marathon. Marathon was originally intended as a sequel to Pathways that addressed customer complaints about speed (not enough) and challenge (far too much.) Jason divided his time between Marathon and another 3D project dubbed Mosaic. (All that is known about Mosaic is that it had nothing to do with the web browser of the same name and that Jason is extremely reluctant to discuss it.)
Marathon started out as a series of coding experiments; Jason modified the Pathways engine to make it faster and more structurally elegant, but concentrated the most on enhancing monster intelligence. Bungie demoed the first alpha version, aptly titled Marathon Zero, at the San Francisco Macworld Expo in January 1994. But as Jason recounts, the game barely made a ripple at the show: many people dismissed the game as Pathways with minor cosmetic enhancements.
Determined to salvage the Marathon project, Bungie returned from the Macworld show, barricaded themselves in their Pilsen office and went to work. Jason abandoned the Mosaic project and devoted his full attention to Marathon. He and Ryan rewrote the game’s rendering engine from the ground up. Ryan also began work on Vulcan, a Marathon map editor which is best described as all the madness and misery in twenty lunatic asylums, distilled into a single Macintosh application.
In February, Greg Kirkpatrick joined the Bungie team. Several months earlier Jason had declared that if Marathon was going to have a story, Greg would have to write it. Greg, who had recently suffered a direct blow to the head from a washing machine [ 3 ], readily agreed. Doug Zartman joined Bungie as their first paid employee in May. He started out doing tech support for Pathways but found his role expanding into public relations in the same way that petty larceny eventually (continued on page 5)
Page 4 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Photo of Jason Jones sitting on a chair in front of a desk, posing.
Text: Jason (pictured) and Alex move into new digs closer to downtown Chicago. Jason hopes the digs will “impress” the chicks. Yeah, right...
Picture 2: Photo of Jason Jones sitting on the floor barefoot, smiling at the camera. He’s holding a box in one hand, and several box covers are spread in front of him.
Text: Jason putting Minotaur boxes together.
Picture 3: Photo of Jason Jones and Alexander Seropian at an exhibition boot. The pre-Marathon Bungie logo can be seen on the background.
Text: Jason (left) and Alex (right) at Macworld Expo San Francisco ‘95.
Picture 4: Marathon Zero screenshot
Text: The first version of Marathon was shown at Macworld San Francisco in January 1994. This version of Marathon was eventually canned because it looked too much like Pathways Into Darkness.
expands into grand theft auto. Colin Brent left for grad school. In their stead came Reginald, an artist with a flair for the moody and bizarre whose style ran toward that of the French comic artist Moebius [ 4 ]. The last member of the Marathon team, Alain Roy, joined in the summer. Alain wrote Marathon’s Byzantine networking code and received a Quadra 660av as compensation.
The atmosphere around Bungie’s Headquarters during Marathon’s development stage was much like a commune (without the lofty goals, hash brownies and lack of running water). Everyone worked in a single open room, with the exception of Alex who won the right to a private office in a best-of-seven thumb wrestling tournament. This clustered setup allowed for key exchanges like the following:
“No, YOUR mom.”
A minute doing anything other than working on Marathon was considered a wasted minute, so activities like sleep and lunch were carefully kept to a minimum. More often than not, the group ended eating up at La Cocina, a small Mexican restaurant with the distinction of being the only eatery in existence. They occasionally grabbed canned food from a nearby liquor store as a treat.
The sheer amount of work to be done was daunting. Jason, Ryan and Alain spent long hours compiling and debugging new versions of the game engine and tweaking code for maximum performance. Ryan hacked away at Vulcan, valiantly trying to tame the beast he had unleashed. Alain made networking happen through sheer force of will. Reg created ALL the art: weapons, aliens, civilians, the player itself - not to mention all the textures used to add detail to the Marathon Universe. Alex had the task of finding or making sounds for every possible audio event in the game - aliens grunting, doors buzzing open, grenades whooshing through echoing metal corridors - as well as composing a number of original songs for Marathon’s soundtrack. Greg had to conquer Vulcan long enough to make ten-odd levels for the single player game. The First Law of Vulcan, “Save Early and Often,” gives some idea of Vulcan’s penchant for dropping into a debugger or simply locking up the entire machine. It once crashed so hard that Greg’s computer actually shut down.
Marathon would grow over the ensuing months to encompass 27 solo levels and 10 net levels. The Seropian-designed “You Don’t Need To See My I.D.” was a secret level; the title referred to the scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi uses a Jedi mind trick to breeze past a gaggle of stormtroopers.
Jason Jones and Greg Kirkpatrick created the bulk of the solo levels. Jason was responsible for the infamously tedious “Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap” level, along with such levels as “Bob-B-Q”, “Have Quiddam”, and “Ingue Ferroque”. Jason also created the aforementioned net level “Mars Needs Women”, the second level ever built with Vulcan and the primary net game test map.
Greg had a fondness for creating maps with complicated overlapping areas. “G4 Sunbathing”, the only vacuum level in the game, was one of these. “G4” attempted to convey an idea of what it would be like to explore the surface of a moonsized colony ship. The name itself refers to what the player is doing while traversing the “courtyard” area of the station.
Page 6 (Pictures)
Picture 1: See text.
Text: Greg stuffing his face with Chicago-style stuffed pizza.
Picture 2: See text.
Text: An early sketch of the security officer on board the Marathon.
Picture 3: Screenshot of the Marathon Beta.
Text: By May of 1994, Marathon began to really take shape. Much of the interface and graphics later on, including the compass on the top left, which was taken out of the game because it required too much horsepower (in those days the Power PC was still in its infancy).
All but one of the bizarre Pfhor ship levels sprang from the mind of Reginald Dujour [ 5 ]. Reg had a talent for making unorthodox maps as Jason explains:“Reg did a great job setting up the geometry and creating a distinctive style for the ship, but Greg and I spent a lot of late nights saying things like ‘How did he connect all 39 polygons to the same line like that?...’ Reg’s mind worked in a way totally unlike Ryan’s, who created the original Vulcan, and Reg found bugs which we never could explain and are probably still in Forge today.”
Apart from “You Don’t Need To See My I.D.”, Alex also created “Arena” (which was - surprise - the first shot at the “arena” concept) and a handful of others. An uncredited Tuncer Deniz designed the solo level “No Artificial Colors” and the net levels “What Goes Up, Must Come Down” and “Waldo World Arena” (originally titled “Arema” but bowdlerized by Greg Kirkpatrick to save America’s youth).
Reg brought an astounding level of detail to his work. Having attended med school, he could extrapolate from his vast knowledge of anatomy to explain (for example) how a given alien’s blood color resulted from the amount of zinc in its biological makeup. Reg explained his working method:“Jason held a couple of meetings in regards to what ‘Marathon’ was going to be about... The story, the characters, the basic feel of the game and the gameplay. Working from my notes, I did a few conceptual sketches of creatures and the player character. From there we agreed upon a test subject: a spider-like Pfhor. I drew the creature in five views (mirroring three more) with a walking animation in each of those views. The we had to figure out the CLUT (the color palette the game would use), scan each image, import it into Photoshop and paint it, reduce it to size, reduce it to the appropriate CLUT, then import it into the editor, test the animation, see how it looked in a generic world and make whatever changes were necessary... It was an extremely long process, but I developed a kind of routine which sped it up...”
Reg designed three aliens that didn’t make the cut for the final game: The Hound, The Armageddon Beast and a non-combatant alien crewman [ 6 ]. The Hound moved quite fast but could not climb stairs and only had a melee attack. Hounds acted a lot like piranhas, guarding low spots on a map and wandering off when they couldn’t attack the player any longer. The Armageddon Beast sucked down damage like the Big Blue Meanie in Pathways and shot streams of highly damaging little pellets. Both were dropped because no levels had been planned where these monsters would conceivably be fun to fight. The alien crewmen were intended to be Pfhor counterparts of the human civilians on the Marathon: weaponless and unable to defend themselves in any way. A memory limit on the number of monsters types per level forced Bungie to abandon them.
Bungie planed to included a defenseless civilian character running around the Marathon from the start; later in development, they decided to give Bob, as he was formally know, a chance to speak his simple mind. Alex decided that Pathways tech support was less important than adding some color to Marathon and dragged Doug into his office to record some test phrases for the Bob character. The tests went over well, and the now-classic phrases “They’re Everywhere!” and “Thank God it’s You!” became part of the Marathon experience.
Page 8 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Sketch of the Hunter and the Hound. The difference between the Hound on the sketch and the later one, are the number of eyes: On the sketch it has 3 eyes, but when it was turned into a sprite, it lost an eye. The position of the Hound regarding the Hunter suggests this monster may have been conceived as the pet of the later one.
Picture 2 and 3: See text.
Text: The Hound (left and above) and the Armageddon Beast (below) never made it into the game due to level and time constraints.
Picture 4: See text.
Text: Concept sketch of the Pfhor.
Alex composed several original songs for use as background music during the game. The somber, ethereal music lent an eerie air to the dark corridors of the Marathon. Sadly, Alex’s rap version of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” did not appear on the soundtrack.
Marathon had started as a code-name, and Jason had every intent of changing it before the game shipped. “What the hell are we going to name the new game?” was the focus of an extended brainstorming session in a Chinese restaurant at Macworld SF earlier that year. “Pathways Into Uranus” was the favorite to win, but it was eventually rejected as too oblique. As time went on, the name Marathon seemed like a more appropriate choice for a game that was a grueling test of endurance and eventually the code-name became official.
Bungie formally announced Marathon to the world on July 25, 1994, in a press release titled “Marathon Takes Texture-Mapping Into Space.” This press release, coupled with an eye-catching preview in Tuncer Deniz’s Inside Mac Games Magazine, served notice to the Macintosh gaming community that something big was in the works. A follow-up report from Tuncer on the comp.sys.mac.games newsgroup only served to stir up more interest. “I think people who go to Macworld are going to be amazed when they see it for the first time,” he wrote. “It’s NOTHING like the one they were showing at the last Macworld.”
Bungie unveiled the reworked Marathon at the Boston Macworld Expo in August ‘95. The reaction was ecstatic. Dedicated gamers and curious passers-by clustered around Bungie’s tiny booth, vying for a chance to play. Macworld attendees were invited to pre-order the game at the show. “The game will ship in two weeks,” more than one attendee heard from the earnest Bungie staffers. “We’re just waiting for the boxes.” Famous last words. Marathon didn’t ship in two weeks, nor in two months; indeed it was some four months before the game finally ship.
So what happened? Ales Seropian explained: “There was never any intention to deceive anyone. The boxes were in production and there was every intention to ship in two weeks. But some changed were necessary to make the solo game enjoyable.” Put bluntly, the solo levels Bungie has designed to that point weren’t much fin to play. The cleanup process was a Pandora’s box: as fix for one problem inevitably caused three more. In the end, all the solo levels had to be redone.
Like Pathways Into Darkness, the story for Marathon was considered an integral part of the final product and was reworked several times during development. A very early plot involved getting rid of monstrous aliens on a hollowed-out asteroid colony near the planet Pluto. The hollowed-out asteroid became a hollowed-out Martian moon (Deimos) and eventually became the colony ship U.E.S.C. Marathon. The ship’s destination: Tau Ceti - a popular interstellar pit stop judging from its frequent appearances in countless science-fiction stories.
In an early version of the Tau-Ceti plot, the colonists found an alien artifact near the colony and ferried it back to the orbiting Marathon for further study, whereupon all hell broke loose. The player, a science officer sent to help research the artifact, would arrive to find the place swarming with aliens. The mysterious artifact was in fact a teleportation beacon belonging to the undiscovered amphibious natives of a nearby planet. Unable to penetrate the colony’s defense shield, the xenophobic aliens used the beacon as a trojan horse to gain access to the colony ship. Their plan worked perfectly except for the fact that the first wave of shock troops found themselves buried in the Marathon’s science lab.
The idea of defending the Marathon from a horde of malicious natives was eventually rejected, primarily because the aliens were only defending their planet (an honorable motive) and the realization that an alien race with such high level of technology would probably not be completely unknown to the colonist. In their place came the Pfhor, a race of alien slavers intent on capturing the colony ship and its inhabitants. Wiping out hordes of alien slavers on the decks (continued on page 11)
Page 10 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Photo of 4 Bungie staff members before the Macworld show. Jason Jones, first from left to right, stares at the empty space; the man besides him looks sleep-deprived too. Doug Zartman gives his back to the camera, talking to another staff member who’s hanging a decoration.
Text: The Bungie boyz up the Bungie booth at Macworld Boston ‘94.
Picture 2: Photo from the finished booth from a distance. Reginald Dujour can be seen on the left.
Picture 3: Candid shot of Doug Zartman, who looks at the camera while talking over the phone, in what seems to be his apartment.
Text: Doug, the voice of Bob, looking a little harried as he gets ready for the big Macworld show.
Picture 4: Jason Jones, wearing a bandana, play Marathon in front of a crowd.
Text: Bandana Jason, still trying to impress the ladies with a few good Marathon moves.
of a crippled colony ship was deemed more ethically satisfying.
In the final version of the story, the player was a security officer sent on ridding the Marathon of marauding aliens. A story unfolded over the course of the game, revealed bit by bit through a series of computer terminals scattered throughout the maps. Interacting with these terminals fed the player vital (and sometimes not so vital) information from the Marathon’s three artificial intelligences: Leela, Durandal, and Tycho. As the player progressed through the levels, it would become obvious that everything was not what it seemed on the good ship Marathon while trying to deal with the thousands of homicidal aliens storming the ship, the player was caught in a struggle for power between three AI’s, one of which was certifiably insane.
The story of the game wasn’t the only element to undergo numerous revisions. The game’s interface went through a number of iterations. Early revisions featured an icon of the player’s body [ 7 ] that showed where the player had been hit; Marathon’s famous motion-sensor evolved out of a much simpler directional aid: a compass.
An early beta version of Marathon leaked onto the Internet in October. Within days the newsgroups exploded with discussion of the beta. Most of the talk centered on the legal issues facing those who distributed the beta and whether or not this leak would hurt Bungie’s sales of the final game.
Bungie traced the leak to a temp at a large advertising agency which had received a beta copy in order to take screenshots for an Apple Computer ad. The sudden disappearance of this individual has never conclusively traced to anyone at Bungie.
About a month after the first beta leak, a second Marathon beta appeared on the Internet, rife with additional features - including music. Alex had taken a new beta to a software distributor’s convention, and one of the attendees was so taken with the game that he broke into a locked storage closet where Alex had secreted his machine, copied the beta and uploaded it to the net. Bungie took steps to track down the perpetrators and heads rolled once again.
While the beta leaks where unprofessional and denied Bungie the right to decide when to release their own game, in retrospect they didn’t really do any great harm (except to the two poor suckers who lost their jobs as a result.) Alex Seropian remarked that the real result was probably positive: a lot of potential customers were dying to have a look at Marathon and the betas provided that. The endless discussion of the Marathon betas finally died down on November 23, when Bungie finally released the official demo of the game. But the three short levels of the demo ended far too quickly for most, and people were left to wonder impatiently when the whole thing would be available.
One of Marathon’s outstanding features was its network play, which in fact won Marathon a Macworld Game Hall of Fame Award for Best Network Game of 1995. Surprisingly, networking was not part of Marathon’s initial design spec but was added a few months into development. Progress on the solo game slowed to a crawl as Bungie spent hours enthusiastically “testing” the network game. Jason Jones later admitted that if they had not all been playing the network game so much Marathon would have shipped a month earlier. Although playing net Marathon caused productivity to plummet, the testing resulted in extensive gameplay tweaking which improved both network and solo play.
Marathon’s last polygon was filled at 6:05 PM Saturday, December 14th. Over the previous four days, the Bungie team had slept less than ten hours - their last push after months of 14-hours days. But the game wasn’t finished yet: many days of play-testing followed. Reg lived right across the street from Bungie’s offices and recalls seeing his girlfriend waving out the window of his loft, “signalling me to come home - or else” on more than one occasion. One evening Jason decreed that (continued on page 13)
Page 12 (Pictures)
This page contains a collage of screenshots taken from the Marathon Home Videos (recordings made by Tuncer Deniz during Marathon’s development). The Marathon Home Videos can be found on the 1st Trilogy CD → Marathon Extras → Gnop. It’s a 192 MB invisible file.
One of the shots in this page shows Jason Jones holding a plastic tube with the words “The Shaft” (The Pfhor fighter weapon) written on it. This was the favorite toy of one of the programmers.
no one could leave the building until he had played through the entire solo game twice. Alex and Reg were both halfway through the second game when they started to feel nauseated by the fast first-person motion and the rule was waived when Reg finally lost his lunch. This “Play-Till-You-Puke” policy, grotesque as it was, allowed Bungie to finally announce Marathon’s impending release on Wednesday, December 21st.
The Bungie team, drained after many months of effort, now had to deal with a shipping nightmare. Bungie had pre-sold some 25,000 copies of Marathon. A local Chicago firm had been contracted to handle the product assembly, but they could only finish 500-1000 units a day. Doug fielded hundreds of calls and e-mails from irate customers demanding the game they’d pre-ordered months ago. Alex fielded hourly phone calls from angry distributors who were openly furious over the production delays. Desperately trying to box up enough units to meet the demand. Alex marshalled the Bungie troops and drove over to a warehouse in the Chicago suburbs to help assemble boxes. In order to get the game to as many people as possible before Christmas, the first units shipped without boxes - four floppies and a manual shrinkwrapped together. It was somewhat ironic that the people who got the game first did not receive the very thing that was initially supposed to have delayed shipping back in August. Once they received the game, however, few customers felt the urge to complain. Most held in thrall by Marathon’s intoxicating mix of action and mind-candy, were just happy to have the game at last.
The release of the full game brought a deluge of third-party add-ons and utilities. FTP sites everywhere were filled with Marathon map editors, physics model editors, shape editors, saved-game editors, and the byproducts of each. The game spawned its own newsgroup, a popular IRC channel an e-zine, and an annoying tendency among Marathon Pfhans to substitute the letters “pfh” when a simple “f” would do.
Bungie was out in force at San Francisco Macworld Expo in January 1995. They had a killer game and wanted to show it off. Bungie’s booth swarmed with eager customers, and the game sold out early in the show. Bungie held the first annual Marathon mayhem Tournament at the show - Michael Garrison (aka Cybernator) walked away with the first prize - a new Power Macintosh.
Bungie returned to Chicago flushed with success, happier than Sylvestre Matuschka in the control room of Grand Central Station - a stark contrast to the despair which followed the previous year’s SF Expo. The months of hard work had paid off; Marathon was a bonafide hit, which would go on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies and win a phenomenal number of awards.
Bungie took a few days to get their affairs in order after returning from San Francisco. Doug was far too busy talking to the press to double as Bungie’s tech support office, so Matt Soell was hired to handle the phones and e-mail. Shortly after their return form the Macworld Expo, Bungie’s offices were back in full swing - although the entire staff was curiously reluctant to talk about their future projects. One clue came at the end of an interview Tuncer Deniz conducted with Jason Jones for the Marathon Strategy Guide:“Marathon’s ending really does leave a lot of room for something else to happen. I don’t know how many people noticed this, but the very last thing that happens to the player in Marathon is that he is teleported off the last level to where? Maybe someday we’ll take advantage of this.”
Page 14 (Pictures)
This page contains a second collage of screenshots from the Marathon Home Videos. On one of the shots, there's part of a date written on a board: “1st 1995.” The complete date is FEB 1st 1995. The Home Videos show something else written above it, but it’s hard to read.
Marathon 2: Durandal
Bungie’s announcement of Marathon 2: Durandal on July 19th 1995, took Marathon fans by surprise. Most of them were anxiously awaiting the Marathon 20/10 Scenario Pack, a collection levels and additional network options advertised on a flyer in the Marathon box. A number of people had also discovered a message from Jason Jones buried in Marathon’s resource fork, promising a “network upgrade” with an extra weapon (the shotgun, if you must know). Few people guessed that a full sequel to Marathon was in the pipeline... especially since Jason Jones had since stated that he tended to dislike sequels because many only existed to milk an obvious cash cow. In hindsight though, the clues were there: Bungie staffers had occasionally bemoaned the absence of features that were not added to Marathon due to time constraints, and the story left many questions unanswered.
Marathon 2 arose out of the potential to improve on the original game and continue the story. Bungie’s press release made it clear that Marathon 2 would incorporate more than just a collection of new levels. The game would sport a new wide-screen graphics format, ambient sounds, new weapons, monsters, and textures, outdoor scenarios, underwater exploration and combat, also further develop the storyline, explaining some of the first game’s unanswered questions while throwing more bizarre elements into the plot.
After much soul-searching, Bungie halted development of the Marathon 20/10 Scenario Pack. Doug Zartman relates how the decision was reached: “For a while we thought we could fir in a 20/10 pack and still get M2 out that year. It wasn’t very long before we decided that if we did the 20/10 pack, M2 might get slighted, the levels might not be as carefully designed and might not make it for ‘95. M2 was the more exciting product and a higher priority, so 20/10 got canned. A couple of the maps intended for the 20/10 pack were retextured and refitted for M2.”
Macintosh clone-makers Power Computing announced that they would distribute a sneak preview of Marathon 2 on CD at the Boston Macworld Expo in August. Diehard Mac gamers made plans for a pilgrimage to Boston. Those that couldn’t make it joined a long waiting list hoping for a spare copy if “The Disc” once the show was over. Bungie announced that an official demo - which promised to be more representative of the full game than the Macworld preview version - would be released shortly after the Expo ended. Macworld came and went, but the demo did not appear, much to the frustration of Marathoners who hadn’t been able to obtain a copy of the Preview. Two months passed before Bungie completed and released the official demo.
The announcement of the sequel caused a flurry of activity on the Internet. Discussion of the new Marathon flooded the newsgroups. Within days, a few people claimed to have played the preview game; once again, someone leaked the game to the ‘Net. A collective Bungie scream echoed through the streets of Chicago.
While people busily discussed the leaked preview, Marathon fans online witnessed the quiet arrival of a web site which would radically alter people’s appreciation for the Marathon series. The Marathon’s Story Page, a site maintained by Hamish Sinclair, went live on Sept 19th. The site focused on a somewhat neglected aspect of the game: the plot. In the nine months since Marathon’s release, sporadic plot discussions had taken place on the usual newsgroups, but most of these dealt with the popular “Is the player a cyborg?” question. Hamish Sinclair recognized this mystery as merely the tip of a much larger iceberg. Marathon’s plot contained more depth than possibly any game which had come before.
The story in Marathon 2 picked up where the first game left off. At the end of the first Marathon, Durandal teleports the player into a stasis chamber. Seventeen years later, Durandal releases the player on Lh’owon, the conquered S’pht homeworld. Durandal is determined to get his hands on a “space-folding” technology developed by the mysterious Jjaro. Certain that the secret of this (continued on page 17)
Page 16 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Sketch of the Compiler. The S’pht brain-like head can be seen through the transparent helmet. On the lower part of the helmet, there are 3 ovals that can be easily confused as eyes (the actual eye of the S’pht is above the ovals). This early compiler is present on the pattern buffer texture (water collection).
Text: The new compiler
Picture 2: Sketches of the magnum pistol. Over the 3rd sketch it’s written: “Twist this fucker back a little.”
Text: GUNS! GUNS! GUNS!
Picture 3: Sketch of the enslaved Bob. It depicts a bald, cadaveric man wearing shackles on his wrists and ankles. The man is also wearing a mask similar to the one used by the Pfhor fighter, connected by tubes to a couple of tanks on his back. The tanks are being hold by 4 belts that converge in a buckle on the man’s chest, forming an X. His only piece of clothing is a pelvic piece, which covers the genitals. This piece is joined to the chest buckle through a belt.
Text (reproduced textually): Concept sketch of an slaved Bob. He never made it into the game.
Picture 4: Sketch of the Nar. A sidenote says: “looks like a...” The rest is cutout.
Text: The Nar also never made it into the game.
Picture 5: See text.
Text: Sketches of the Drones.
Picture 6: See text.
Text: Energy Recharge.
Picture 7: Sketch of the Tick’s corpse.
Text: Clean up in Aisle 8!
technology lies buried on Lh’owon, Durandal uses the player to wipe out the Pfhor who are standing in his way. An early plan called fro Marathon 2 to end by dumping the player in the first level of Pathways Into Darkness, thus making the connection between the two games explicit. Plans changed, though, and the only remnant of the idea is a vague allusion to “an entirely different reality than the one of the starship Marathon” in the Marathon 2 manual.
A great deal of effort went into enriching the storyline. Consider the following excerpts from Rob McLees’ extensive history of the Nar, an alien race that the player never even encounter over the course of the game:“The Nar sprang into being exactly one week after the Universe sprang into being. They are an ageless race of immortal beings who, in the four billion odd years of their existence, have yet to develop a written language. This tends to hinder their scientific endeavors as they speak entirely in metaphor.
“The entire Nar homeworld has been developed. That is to say that the entire surface of the planet has a three story building built on it. In other words, the Nar homeworld is encased in a three story structure that covers every square inch of the planet’s surface. On the lowest level (or “ground floor”) we have the Nar - the laborers and foot soldiers of the Nar. Living on the next level (or “mezzanine”) are the C’Nar - the artisans and artificers of the Nar. At the highest level (living proof that filth rises to the top on any medium) are the Cf’Nar and the CFN Kommandoes - the Cf’Nar are the “Ruling Elite” of the Nar (mostly managers or scientific research facilities and heads of huge industrial combines) and the CFN Kommandoes are Warriors and Leaders of distinction, though the CFN Kommandoes usually go up to “the Roof” to hone their martial arts and tend the sod.”
Once again, Jason Jones and Greg Kirkpatrick designed most of the maps for Marathon 2. Greg seemed determined to prove that mapmaking could be an art form when done properly, as his map “The Hard Stuff Rules...” which consisted of no less than seven overlapping areas. But art has its price as Greg explains:“This level was named for the fact that it was incredibly difficult to make. In fact it was a triumph of mind over computer. My machine crashed every 5 minutes while making it, and I had to move each point at least ten times to get to the underlying areas.”
Jason Jones finally put to the test the ghost of “Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap” with “All Roads Lead To Sol”, and “Begging for Mercy Makes Me Angry!” as well as the hauntingly atmospheric “Kill Your Television”. Tuncer Deniz, capitalizing on his success with the Marathon net level “Waldo World Arena”, went one better in Marathon 2 by creating “Thunderdome”, another classic ‘arena’ style net map, and a clutch of others.
Doug Zartman designed “Ex Cathedra”, the only solo level not created by either Jason or Greg. Doug explained the creation process:“My only scenario level was partly inspired by the third-party Marathon map ‘Villa Banzai’. At E3, a Marathon fan suggested I (continued on page 19)
Page 18 (Pictures)
Picture 1: The image used for the terminal picture of the Nar on “Curiouser and Curiouser...”
Picture 2: Photo of Rob McLees working on the aforementioned image. On the lower-left corner of the photo, there's a bottle of beer.
Text: Artist Rob McLees slaving away on the Nar.
Picture 3: Photo of Mark Bernal working on his computer, wearing headphones, and some reference books on his desk. On first plane, five empty bottles of beer. On the background, more bottles of beer.
Text: Mark Bernal, another Marathon 2 artist was able to create intoxicating art by drinking plenty of Celebrator Bavarian Double Bock Beer.
check out this map. I did and though it was great - beautiful realization of what was obviously an attractive real-world structure. Though I had done levels based on real-world structures before (i.e., my house, the office) I had never thought of doing one based on an architectural plan, much less of a building that was good looking. So I spent some time looking for plans, and found one of a cathedral in Durham, England that looked cool, but easy enough to replicate. I spent an enormous amount of time on it, about 4 from-the-ground-up revisions, maybe 80 hours over a period of 3 months (since level design wasn’t my job, it was mostly done at home).”
Doug designed “Ex Cathedra” before swimming had been implemented in Marathon 2, which served to illustrate the perils of making content for an unfinished engine. Doug described what happened:“When I began this level, there was no swimming in the M2 engine and so the watery Grotto was filled with dead ends and traps, like underwater pits. To reach the key room that opened up the rest of the level, you had to make it past a series of jumps between ledges that you couldn’t see below the water - tricky stuff. Then swimming was enabled and suddenly the player could simply swim past the traps and tricks. There’s a secret door set in the wall of an underwater pit in the Grotto that was originally a big time-saver; after swimming, it was useless and I’m sure few people have found it.”
To make the game more realistic, Alex chose to use ambient sounds rather than background music. (As Alex remarked “How often do you find yourself running around a spaceship blasting aliens while the ship’s computer is playing music over the loudspeaker?”) Players went from the music-filled corridors of the colony ship Marathon to an alien world of thundering skies, howling winds and bubbling lava. The high quality 16-bit sounds employed real-time stereo tracking to paint an aural picture of the environment.
Civilians became leaner and meaner in Marathon 2 as well. The once-hapless Bob had worked up the nerve to return fire and developed some witty repartee in his spare time. Doug Zartman once again supplied the vocals. Doug and Alex pared down a list of roughly 80 phrases (including “Hit the deck!”, “Had enough, tough guy?”, “It’s Miller time!”, and “Pull my finger!”), to the 36 which were included in the final game. Bob’s voice was a balance of nuance and extremity, prompting fans to wonder if Doug had been attacked with a pair of pliers during recording. Doug explains how he managed the wide vocal range:“I can’t tell you exactly, but it has something to do with a vise and my gonads... I’ve had a lot of choral training and I used to sing backup vocals in a rock band, so I’m used to vocal performance. Also, we recorded multiple variations of each phrase; i.e., I did about 6 different versions of ‘Get me outta here!’ at different pitches, volumes and stresses, some more funny, some more frightened, and we picked the one that fit best.”
Page 20 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Photo of Doug Zartman working at the office. He stares at the camera like he has just woke up.
Text: Doug on a really bad hair day.
Picture 2: Photo of Alexander Seropian sick in bed.
Text: Alex, with puke bowl in hand, after experiencing extreme motion sickness from playing too much Marathon.
Picture 3: See text.
Text: Ryan crossing out bugs on the official bug list (a Domino’s pizza box top) [ 8 ].
One of Bob’s more unusual lines, “Frog Blast the Vent Core!”, caused considerable controversy among fans. What was really said, and what did it mean? Dough explains how this arose:“The idea was that some of the assimilated Bobs become insane from their conversion and run around yelling nonsense. Alex said to me ‘say something random’, and that phrase tumbled from my lips. Totally spontaneous. While I could have sat down and thought up something more random than that, it worked out well, since it sounds close enough to a real sentence that it kept people guessing and generated some fascinating (and totally wrong) discussion about what the phrase was and its meaning. One popular theory was ‘God bless the Marine Corps!’, which was a fair guess, but still wrong.”
The stunning chapter art in Marathon 2 was created by Craig Mullins, an industrial designer and illustrator. Craig first came to Bungie’s attention through his early Marathon paintings which were freely circulated on AOL and the Internet. Craig explained how these pictures led to his involvement with Marathon 2, and the creative process he used:“I was approached by Bungie a few months before M2 came out and we discussed chapter screens, new sprites and textures, etc. Alex sent me the chapter overview and I started mulling things over.
“I was initially leery of doing the chapter screens because time was very short for 10 images and other work that had been long planned was already in the works. My friend David Santiago twisted my arm to do them, so I agreed but they would not be as finished or well planned as I had hoped. Most of the M2 screens were done with no drawing and on the fly. Pour some paint out and rotate, distort, filter, hmmm, looks like a trooper in a nunnery... lets go with that.
“I always liked to freely interpret the designs and situations in the game. I worried that the purists might not like that, but the Marathon universe is very large and so much takes place off-screen and is only hinted at in the terminal texts. I wanted to keep the feeling of expanding what was only suggested and go beyond what was already there. What, the marine with the Pfhor staff? Huh? Why not? So much was already done to try and get around the limiting factors of the games rendering engine. The terminal texts suggests that same variety that I hope my pictures do... It was enjoyable to start something and let it evolve and not know where it would end up. Too much of my commercial work is to spec anyway.”
Midway through Marathon 2’s development, Reg left Bungie. The games graphics subsequently received a radical overhaul at the hands of Bungie’s new artist Robert McLees and Mark Bernal. Rob redesigned the weaponry, making the motley assortment of guns and ammo look more functional and futuristic. He designed the famous dual shotgun (with their infamous “far too complicated to explain” method of reloading), answering prayers of many Marathon fans. Rob also carried out some cosmetic surgery on the Pfhor, moving their third eye from what he describes as its “circus clown” position in Marathon to its more “enlightened” position in Marathon 2. This repositioning (continued on page 23)
Page 22 (Pictures)
This page contains a collage of 4 illustrations by Craig Mullins. The 1st picture is the chapter screen of Durandal. The 2nd picture is the chapter screen for Sph’Kr. The 3rd picture is an early work, possibly one of Mullin’s most famous Marathon illustrations: A compiler is crossing a bridge on a lava river, while in the background the Bobs are under attack. The last picture is the pencil sketch of the previous illustration.
Text: The art of Craig Mullins.
allowed him to give mouths to the Pfhor. Mark revamped and created a large portion of the textures, making them not only useful individually but also as a unified group. (He managed to hide his initials in one of the switch textures [ 9 ].) Mark also contributed a fair share of terminal art, including a caricature of Jason, Greg and Rob as Bobs on the level “Come and Take Your Medicine.”
Rob wasn’t content to simply revise older aliens; he created several new ones as well. One such creation was the “cyborg tank” with its Michael Jordanesque weaponry - the bouncing bomb. These were originally conceived as surgically-altered Bobs, an “enemy” the player might feel bad about killing. (Then again, some people like to kill Bobs.) Rob explains how the idea arose:“Remember after you and Durandal hoofed it away from Tau Ceti, the larger force of Pfhor show up and rain on everybody’s parade Being slavers they grab up what they can and turn the rest into sub-atomic salsa. Well I initially put forward the idea that you might run across these loin cloth-wearing shackled Bob’s on one of the Pfhor ships (and at several locations planetside), but no one would go for it... so then I came up with the idea that the Pfhor have all this information on you from tapping into the information stored in the ‘Pattern Buffer Devices’ that you dumped your ‘pattern’ into all over the Marathon. So the Pfhor have a bunch of schematics and all this raw material but no experience this sort of advanced surgery and only 17 years to ‘get it right’. So basically the ‘cyborg tanks’ are these unfortunate Bobs that have been ‘radically, surgically altered’ so that the Pfhor would have some hard guys of their own waiting for you when you got to Lh’owon! Of course none of this ever made it into the game.”
Rob also created the S’Pht’Kr Defender, a sleeker futuristic alien. The defender only appears near the end of the game, but as the fabled lost clan of the S’pht race, they play a major role in the plot. Rob created the Defender in StudioPro; as an asymmetrical creature, every action it performed (shooting, raising shields, crashing) had to be rendered separately from every angle - about 40 renderings total. The result is one of the most visually exciting aliens in the game.
Like the first Marathon, there were a few elements that never made their way into the final game. Chief among these were the Zombie Pfhor. Originally, these were Pfhor fighters that had been mutated by the highly radioactive Lh’owon atmosphere. In a later version of the story these sadly deformed creatures were victims of a biological weapon developed by the S’pht rescued in the first game. Though close to being completed, the Zombies were dropped when someone pointed out that a superintelligent race like the S’pht probably wouldn’t design a biological weapon that didn’t actually kill its victims, but transformed them into shambling, blood thirsty savages.
Preliminary art was also done for a jet pack, but the idea was canned when the Bungie team realized that a player couldn’t realistically control the jetpack and hold a weapon at the same time. Plans for a new alien weapon (which fired ordnance that exploded into dozens of damaging fragments on impact) were scrapped due to time constrains. Also scrapped was a writhing vine native to the S’pht homeworld, which flailed about at any moving thing in the vicinity.
Work on Marathon 2 progressed over a long hot summer and into the fall. Mindful of the problems that ensued after they announced Marathon’s release date prematurely, Bungie took no chances this time. No release dates were offered. Some took umbrage at this, but most fans applauded Bungie’s decision to play their cards close to their collective chest.
Page 24 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Sketch of the cyborg tank. The biggest difference between this concept and the final product are the arms and head. On the sketch, the cyborg’s elbows are connected to the body through wires, and the hands end up in spikes. The head is connected to the body through wires too, and it has a human-like face. Only one eye is visible; a big, round, black object that reminds the Bob’s eye implant, covers the other one. The teeth are visible, because the cyborg don’t have lips, and the nose is nothing but a couple of bare nostrils - seems Rob McLees saved this idea for Soulblighter. One last thing to notice about the head is that it’s pasted on top of the sketch - it’s not the original head.
Text: Concept sketch of the Cyborg.
Picture 2: See text.
Text: Mark Bernal’s drawing of a Yeti.
Picture 3: Sketch of the Zombie Pfhor, probably the coolest monster ever conceived for the game. All the upper part of the armor is gone, including the mask. The Pfhor skin is all covered with eruptions, like a case of chickenpox gone awry. The legs are deformed, swollen; the same goes for the arms. While the left arm is still recognizable, the right one seems like the cross between a slug and a piece of mucus. The shoulder is so swollen, the head is slanted to the left - yet the fighter is able to hold the staff with this arm.
Text: Concept sketch of the infected Pfhor. You guessed it, he also never made it into the game because the Elephant man’s lawyer thought Bungie copied his “look and feel” a bit too closely.
Playtesting had become an almost constant process, occupying most of Bungie’s time. Eventually Jason again issued an order that no one could go home without playing through the entire game. Over the course of the evening, someone stole Mark’s hubcaps. Dough wussed out and stole away around 4 AM while nobody was looking. Matt was the last to finish, stubbornly plugging along until he finished the game at 9 AM. Having spent the twenty-four continuous hours staring intently at his monitor, Matt elected to take the rest of the day off and staggered downstairs to catch the first bus he could find.
A few days after this ordeal, Marathon 2 went “golden master.” The team celebrated by eating a greasy breakfast at the Racine Cafe. It was agreed that, of the many lessons learned during the last nine months, the most important one was “Never eat at the Racine Cafe.”
Marathon 2 shipped on November 24, 1995. The game consisted of 28 solo levels and 13 net levels. New network options included games like King of the Hill and Kill the Guy with the Ball. In addition, you could now play through the single-player scenario cooperately with other network players.
The arrival of Marathon 2 revitalized third-party map-making. The online archives which had been set up to collate all things Marathon were flooded with new editors and new maps. Interest in Marathon had never been higher. Marathon 2 was outselling its predecessor. Ryan Martell graduated from Duke at the end of 1995 and returned to Bungie full-time to start work on the Windows 95 version of the game. Fans wondered what Bungie would come up with to top Marathon 2.
As it happened, Bungie was wondering the same thing. After returning from a triumphant Macworld SF in January of 1996, Bungie’s programmers and artists secreted themselves away in The Lab. Refusing to divulge the details of their work even to their coworkers (except fro the occasional reference to “exploding soda machines”). Preliminary design was done for what was to be called Marathon 3, but this was abandoned after only a few weeks because everyone felt the urge to step out of the Marathon Universe and try something different. Jason began a brainstorming process which culminated in the development of a tactical wargame code-named Myth. As far as Bungie was concerned, the Marathon saga was over.
Page 26 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Photo of the Bungie staff at their booth in Macworld Expo. Jason Jones is giving Alexander Seropian a very bad look.
Text: All together now, say “Computer Geeks!”
Picture 2: Photo of 4 Bungie staff members walking away from the camera on a parking lot.
Text: Heading home after a hard day’s work.
Picture 3: Image used on the exit terminal of Nuke and Pave.
Text: Rob McLees’ drawing of the Marathon player kicking some serious booty.
Marathon Infinity (originally code-named “Extensor”) happened only because Bungie wanted to release the tools they’d used to create the Marathon games. Of course, they couldn’t just sell a Marathon map editor (that would be boring) so they decided to throw a few additional levels in the mix. This idea was quickly dropped in favor of a tripartite package containing a new solo scenario, new netmaps, a map and physics editor, and a Marathon 2 Strategy Guide.
Responsibility for the solo scenario fell to Greg Kirkpatrick, who was moving to Brooklyn, NY to set up his own company with longtime friend Chris Geisel. In late February, Greg found an apartment big enough to double as an office, incorporated the company and Double Aught was born.
Double Aught started off working with Eric Klein, Bungie’s licensing guru and third-party developer liaison. It became clear early on that everyone (Eric included) wanted to make something more than just a collection of levels - a scenario suffused with the eerie and perplexing plot twists that had set Marathon head and shoulder above the rest of the 3D shooters flooding the market. But because of time constraints, Infinity was initially limited to the same texture sets as in Marathon 2, Chris started fleshing out a story that would explore more of the Marathon universe but could still take place on the S’pht homeworld. Around this time Greg decided Double Aught would need some serious map making talents in order to finish all the solo levels they were planning and brought artist-hacker Randy Redding into the Double Aught fold.
One thing that set Marathon Infinity apart from the previous games was the size and complexity of its solo maps. Infinity raised map-making to a new pinnacle with architectural masterpieces such as “Acme Station”, “Aye Mak Sicur” and “A Converted Church in Venice, Italy”. The game also contained some of the most bizarre levels in the entire series, including the Philip K. Dick-inspired “Electric Sheep” levels. Many of the solo levels were created “by committee” with Randy, Chris and Greg all lending a hand in their design and construction. The end result: a 25-level solo adventure laden with inspired map design, mind-numbing puzzles, and a storyline with a simply astounding level of metaphysical depth.
Infinity’s storyline defies simple description, relying as it does on multiple realities and alternate timelines. Early versions of the story included a side-trip to the world of Pathways Into Darkness (since it had been cut from Marathon 2) but this idea was eventually shelved for good. The Jjaro connection is certainly not glossed over, although it takes a keen mind to understand the storyline at first glance.
Bungie officially announce development of Marathon Infinity on February 22, 1996 at the Tokyo Macworld Expo. The title “Marathon Infinity” came from Doug Zartman, who postulated that the name of the game should convey the idea that the game was virtually limitless, since it endowed players with the ability to make their own maps and scenarios. Alex Seropian asked Doug to come up with a title for the scenario: “...something cool, like ‘Blood Tides of Lh’owon’.” Doug Came up with dozens of names, but none of them were quite as evocative as “Blood Tides of Lh’owon,” so it stuck.
A few more outcasts and miscreants swelled Bungie’s ranks at the beginning of 1996. Tuncer Deniz stopped hanging out on the sidelines and officially joined Bungie as Production Manager. Eric Klein, busy with a number of other projects, passed Infinity’s reins to Tuncer. He spent the next six months nursing the production to fruition. Tuncer had long been associated with the Marathon series and was good friends with those at Bungie. His input into the Infinity project proved crucial to its development and ultimate success.
Jason Regier, a part-time game author, also joined Bungie in March and took on the onerous task of rewriting Vulcan for release. Vulcan, though never show outside Bungie’s own offices, had a reputation for being extremely user-unfriendly. Jason accepted this assignment despite having (continued on page 29)
Page 28 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Sketch of the KKV-7 10mm Flechette SMG. This early concept looked like the machine guns used by American gangsters in the 1920’s and 30’s. There are a series of arrows explaining how it works. There’s also a note, that says textually: “A little more futuristic maby?”
Text: Concept sketch of the SMG for Marathon Infinity.
Picture 2: See text.
Text: Alex (left) and Doug (right) working on Vacuum Bob sounds for Marathon Infinity.
Picture 3: See text.
Text: Jason Regier (left) and Tuncer (middle) talk Forge strategy.
Picture 4: See text.
Text: Jonas talking his afterlunch nap.
little previous map making experience. Working with suggestions from Jonas and Tuncer, Jason come up with a comprehensive feature list and hacked away.
Bungie also commissioned Michael Hanson, creator of the third-party Physics Model editors for Marathon and Marathon 2, to write Anvil - a Physics, Shapes and Sounds editor for Infinity. They also commissioned Randall Shaw, one of the most talented third-party Marathon map-makers, to create a number of network levels and convert one levels from each of the three Marathon games into a special “Vidmaster Challenge.”
Double Aught spent a hectic summer working day and night to finish the maps and terminals. Desperate for additional hands, they hired David Longo to do terminal art work. David meshed perfectly with the rest of the Double Aught team; he could take a minimum of grunting, monosyllabic direction and distill from that what he needed to create breathtaking artwork. David also went on to create the Vacuum Bobs and the ambient life forms that wander around many of the levels. Colin Kawakami and Beth Ulman provided additional terminal art.
Late in the summer of 1996, Tuncer slapped everyone into wakefulness and announced that enough time remained to create new textures and a new weapon. Double Aught were psyched even though they had no time to revise Infinity’s story, at least the game would have a distinct look and feel. Randy revamped all the old texture sets over two caffeine-soaked days; Greg had to feed Randy large quantities of Arizona Ginsing Tea to Bring him back to the land of the living. (Chris also kicked him a little.) Back at Bungie HQ, Rob McLees added a new weapon, the KKV-7 Flechette, to the player’s high-tech arsenal. Alex and Doug recorded a slew of new Bob sounds (among the discarded ones were “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” [ 10 ], “No, YOUR mom!”, “Shoot to main”, “POCAhontas? I hardly know her!”, “Where’s the love?”, and “That wasn’t in the manual”).
A hardened cadre of over fifty Marathon addicts set about beta-testing Infinity. Bungie had never used external beta-testers before, but Bungie’s programmers and artists were working flat out on the Myth project and couldn’t spare any time to test Infinity. To their credit, the beta testers did a fantastic job.
Upholding the tradition they had started with Marathon 2, Bungie made no mention of a release date for Infinity until the game was finished and sent off to the CD pressing plant. Murphy’s law was in full effect; Infinity’s production was plagued with problems, and Bungie worried that they might not meet their announced ship date. Thumbscrews were applied as necessary, and Marathon Infinity shipped as promised on October 15, 1996.
Public reaction was enthusiastic. Fans of the game herald “Blood Tides of Lh’owon” as a return to the darker days of the first Marathon. Mapmakers embraced the power and versatility of Forge and Anvil.
And Bungie, satisfied at last that the Marathon saga had reached a fitting conclusion, closed the book on that chapter of their history.
And here we are, several years later. Marathon is an institution, a landmark among Mac gamers, a touchstone for Mac gamers. Bungie had sold hundreds of thousands of Marathon games, and those who have played them can testify to their staying power. But now, as Bungie prepares to leave the Marathon universe behind and sail into uncharted waters, one must wonder what their purpose is in gathering these three games together for one last assault on the public’s senses. In an industry which constantly celebrates the Next Big Thing, why would Bungie return again to a game that has already achieved classic status? Perhaps it serves best as a time capsule, a reminder, a testament to what can be accomplished with tenacity and fierce creativity.
Page 30 (Pictures)
Picture 1: Photo of Tuncer Deniz speaking over the phone in front of a computer.
Text: Tuncer - “Greg, where are those maps, we need to ship!”
Picture 2: Photo of Alexander Seropian doing bungee jumping.
Text: Alex attempts suicide as Infinity ship dates slip and slip!
Picture 3: Landscape photo of Jonas Eneroth at the Tokyo Macworld Expo, showing to the camera a Marathon leather jacket. 5 Japanese staff girls smile at the camera with him. Jonas looks like he has a crush on the girl to his right - notice how he’s slanted in her direction.
Text: Infinity finally ships! Throngs of Bungie babes surround Jonas.
design & layout
and the rest of the Bungie crew...
Notes From The Transcriber
1. Microsoft. Back
2. This is a reference to John Carmack, lead programmer of Id Software. His love for expensive sport cars - specially this brand of cars - is legendary. Back
3. On Pathways Into Darkness, the American soldier named Greg says, when questioned about his death: “Those spider things were all around me, but I didn’t stop firing until I ran out of bullets. Then something hit me like a dish washer - it must have been one of those zombies.” Furthermore: “Yeah, like a dish washer dropped from three stories or something. I don’t even remember getting hit before that. I was spanking them until I died.” Back
4. Jean Giraud “Moebius” is know on this side of the Atlantic for his work in such films as Alien, Tron, Masters Of The Universe, Willow, Blade Runner, The Abyss and The Fifth Element. The visuals from 2 of these movies, Blade Runner and The Fifth Element, were inspired by books illustrated by him: The Long Tomorrow and The Incal series, respectively. Back
5. Jason Jones designed Pfhor Your Eyes Only. Back
6. These monsters can be seen on the Bungie’s Marathon Ads and Blast From The Past sections. The Hound can be seen in action too on the Marathon Home Videos at 00:00:47. Back
7. This icon can be seen on one of Marathon’s textures. On Blaspheme Quarantine, in the room labeled Q4 on the overhead map, there’s one wall with this texture - it’s the only one that’s not green. Back
8. Bungie also used Domino’s pizza boxes for similar purposes during the development of the first game. Back
9. Read the entry for December 27, 2001 on the What’s New section. Back
10. This line comes from the popular 1983 song Mr. Roboto, by Styx. In those days Americans feared the working class was going to be replaced by Japanese robots. The song tells the story of Kilroy, the last rock star, who escapes from prison disguised as a robot, and plans to star a revolution against Dr. Righteous to bring back Rock n’ Roll.Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
Mata ah-oo hima de
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto,
Himitsu wo shiri tai
You’re wondering who I am - machine or mannequin
With parts made in Japan, I am the modern man
I’ve got a secret I’ve been hiding under my skin
My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M.
So if you see me acting strangely, don’t be surprised
I’m just a man who needed someone, and somewhere to hide
To keep me alive - just keep me alive
Somewhere to hide to keep me alive
I’m not a robot without emotions - I’m not what you see
I’ve come to help you with your problems, so we can be free
I’m not a hero, I’m not a saviour, forget what you know
I’m just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control
Beyond my control - we all need control
I need control - we all need control
I am the modern man, who hides behind a mask
So no one else can see my true identity
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo... domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo... domo
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, domo... domo
Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
For doing the jobs that nobody wants to
And thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
For helping me escape just when I needed to
Thank you - thank you, thank you
I want to thank you, please, thank you
The problem’s plain to see: too much technology
Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanize.
The time has come at last
To throw away this mask
So everyone can see
My true identity...
I’m Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!
While that may be the end of the Marathon Scrapbook it's not the full account of Bungie's early history. Here are some more tidbits of the tru7h.
Colin Brent, former Bungie artist who worked on Pathways Into Darkness and the early version of Marathon, dropped into the Story forum to pass on some words of wisdom about being an artist and also some insights into his early work on Marathon. I've reposted the full post below:
Re: Drawing Skillz and bungie history
Posted By: Colin Brent <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 4/23/02 1:42 p.m.
In Response To: Drawing Skillz (Johannes Gunnar)
I did the art work for Bungie's first biggish hit Pathways before deciding to go off and get a Ph.D. My artwork at the onset wasn't great but got progressively better with each successive series of animation frames I drew (and redrew). I spent a lot of my time getting people to pose for me, looking at how animals moved (being a biologist with access to numerous species helped), and trying lots of different combinations of features before deciding on a finished product. Be prepared to go through a lot of paper, and try to think like an artist all the time, studying the world around you for ideas. Also, steal liberally from other artists. They have all done the same.
By the way, for anyone interested and who read the Bungie history recently posted, here's a slight addendum. I did the original artwork for the aliens that appeared in the beta version of Marathon (and mine were MUCH more alien looking- actually criticized by Alex and Jason as being too alien). But because it had a certain sameness about it (similar artistic style), everyone just thought of it as a sequel to Pathways. So a new artist was brought in to give it a new flavor. They also scrapped my idea of having the whole thing occur in a spherical ship with interlocking layers, thinking that might be to challenging for the more linear minded players.
p.s. By the way, I am quite amazed that anyone is actually interested in this stuff still, but more power to you.
Colin Brent, former Bungie artist, returned to the Story forum to post a very interesting piece on his work on Marathon and PID. I've reprinted the full post below:
Pathways and Marathon Trivia
Posted By: Colin Brent <email@example.com>
Date: 4/24/02 10:00 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Drawing Skillz and bungie history (Hamish Sinclair)
In the initial Marathon, Jason had been knocking around a couple of different ideas about having a space oriented adventure. I'm the one who came up with the idea for using Deimos ("Panic"), the smaller of Mars' two moons as a ship. In fact, I had pushed hard to get Marathon renamed Deimos, but Alex had just finished his first marathon race and was very gungho about keeping the name. I had also plotted out a sequence of events that would take you to the surface of Mars and then to the other moon Phobos in a sequel game. You were suppose to start off coming out of a deep freeze, naked, unarmed and clueless to try to deal with the problems on the ship. A lot of the elements that I contributed, such as the artwork, were in the Beta version that got scrapped. I had moved to Boston around this time (wife and grad school) and was mailing diskettes of artwork and storyline back to Chicago every couple of weeks. This eventually became untenable for Jason and Alex who decided that they needed to act like a real business by hiring real full time employees. After the semi-failure of the Mac convention they decided to bring in an in-house artist with a very different drawing style than mine. That particular Manga style was really coming into vogue then. And as I mentioned earlier, my aliens were looking a bit too alien (cross between an ugly bird and a predatory bug) for Jason and Alex. If I remember right, they eventually had to fire Reg and bar him from the office. Something about drugs and/or stealing. I'm not sure exactly what, but the relationship soured.
Now, about the artwork I did in PID. First, you will note that there are a number of floating things in the depths. They almost all use missile attacks. We found that because of the limited number of animation frames that we could run with the engine Jason had worked up, it was very difficult to get realistic walking movement. Pretty much the same thing with attacks. We couldn't just have something claw or bite you. For animation sake, it had to throw something at you. This was solved with the new engine for Marathon, but for PID we ended up designing a lot of floating monsters. I would usually just start by throwing down a few random lines on paper and then seeing what I could make of them. Then I'd go through several incarnations of a critter until I was happy. Inspiration came from several sources. I played a lot of D&D, read a lot of scifi and comics, looked at the work of numerous artists. But mostly, I just have an overactive imagination. Jason would give me some input, but was generally supportive of whatever I came up with. Alex was very hands off in this process. He handled the business end of things more than anything else (you wouldn't believe how hard it was to get people to distribute Bungie's games originally), but he did make an inspirational chili.
By the way, when we were working on Marathon, I figured Bungie wouldn't last that long (boy was I wrong and my bank account shows it), and Jason had also thought about doing something else with his life. I don't think he fully committed to a career in making games until Marathon was a hit. He is also responsible for the whacky convoluted story in PID. I desperately tried to get him to change things around so that it would be more intelligible, but he had this idea fixed in his head. So rather than waste my time, I just stuck to the artwork. And I am not responsible for the cover artwork. A painter was commissioned to do that based on a drawing I had come up with. We were all pretty upset with the end result, but Alex was out of money and time so we had to go with what we were handed.
Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane.
Thanks to 'thedoctor45' for taking the time and effort to scan in the Marathon Scrapbook. You can see it in all its technicolor glory here (8.2MB).
Seven Errors in the Marathon Scrapbook?
How is this possible? Didn't Matt Soell (Bungie) edited the Scrapbook down from its original draft of 700 pages to 30 pages, removing all the stuff that Bungie didn't want YOU to know. How could there be any errors in this carefully crafted sanitised version of the tru7h?
Well on Oct 15, 1999 Dan Rudolph spotted the first error and opened the proverbial can of worms. Now in chronologcial order - the seven errors as they were originally found.
What was the seventh error?
Who found the seventh error?
What goodies did Bungie give to keep more from being found?
Was there ever an eighth error?
What happened to all those Bungie goodies?
What happened to the winner?
A Bungie Walnut? What the...
|Oct 15, 1999 (Friday)|
Dan Rudolph <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
I was reading the Marathon Scrapbook to for what must have been the seventieth time, when I noticed something I had never noticed before. The second paragraph of the first page begins, "It was 1991 and Alexander Seropian was in his basement apartment in Chicago's Hyde Park, cheerfully blowing off classes at the university of Chicago."
The page goes on to tell about how he wrote GNOP!, then the seventh paragraph says "Alex distributed GNOP! as shareware via online services and the Internet."
However, the caption on the opposing page reads, "Bungie's first game, GNOP or pong spelled backwards. It was released as freeware in late 1990. Check out those amazing graphics!"
I'll ignore the poor grammar and the misspelling of GNOP! The big issue here is that it disagrees with the text on two counts. I went to the source, the about dialogue in GNOP! itself. It tells us that it is free and encourages us the pass it along to our friends. On the bottom, it says copyright, 1990. The caption, rather the the text was right on both counts.
This leads me to question the accuracy of the rest of book. How are we to know it's not a bunch of hazy recollections and made-up dates? Any re-assurance is appreciated.
Well done you've found one of seven deliberate errors in the Marathon Scrapbook. Matt Soell (Scrapbook editor) will no doubt be offering a special prize to the person who discovers all seven! Good luck. ;-)
|Oct 17, 1999 (Sunday)|
Another Marathon Scrapbook error spotted. Terry McCall <Stuff333@macol.net> writes:
Just a guess, but concerning the Scrapbook, in the section about Marathon, One of the pictures on page 4 shows MW SF '95. To the right of it is a picture of the 1st Marathon in MW SF '94. Also, on page 9, it reads: Bungie formally announced Marathon to the world on July 25, 1994, in a press release titled "Marathon Takes Texture-Mapping Into Space." But In the paragraph below it, it reads" Bungie unveiled the reworked Marathon at the Boston MW Expo in August '95. I'm pretty sure that they didn't announce Marathon about a year before they showed it AND after they actually released it. around Jan 1995. (Unless that date is wrong)
Yes the date is wrong it should read "Boston MW Expo in August '94". Well done you've spotted the second of seven errors in the Marathon Scrapbook. Find the seventh error and win! All errors should be sent to the Story page. If the error is correct (i.e. a true error) then it will be passed on to Matt Soell. Only hardened Bungie/Marathon afficianados need apply. Have you got what it takes? Remember... they're out there!
|Oct 19, 1999 (Tuesday)|
What's the prize for the Seven Errors in the Scrapbook Competition some people have asked?
Well Matt Soell has offered a copy of the Marathon Scrapbook signed by the Bungie Crew along with a number of other goodies (the latter being a surprise). So if you want to win a unique copy of the Scrapbook signed by Jason, Alex, Doug, Matt, Rob, Mark, et al. along with some other goodies then all you have to do is spot the Seven Errors in the Scrapbook. Two have already been identified. The seven errors are quite obvious (once spotted) and do not include spelling or grammer inaccuracies. Send all errors to the Story page. As each error is confirmed I'll add them to the page. The person who sends in the Seventh error wins!
|Oct 20, 1999 (Wednesday)|
And then there were three! Daniel Godwin <email@example.com> finds the third error in the Seven Errors in the Scrapbook Competition. Daniel writes:
I've found another one of the problems in the scrapbook! December 14th was not a Saturday, in 1994! It was a Wednesday!
Well spotted. Daniel is referring to the line on page 11:
Marathon's last polygon was filled at 6:05 PM Saturday, December 14th.
This line is in fact taken from Bungie's secret terminal on "Ingue Ferroque"
Marathon is finished. We've slept <10 hours over the last
four days. We all put our hearts into this, not to mention
the 14 hour days for months on end, so we hope you like it.
Last polygon filled 6:05 PM Saturday, December 14.
Carnage ensued closely thereafter. Er, I mean sleep.
As Daniel correctly points out December 14th was a Wednesday not a Saturday in 1994. I guess Jason and Co. really did need their sleep. ;-)
Michael Watson <mikey-sanSPAMMERS@AREbungieSPAZEROIDS.org> spotted the fourth error:
On page 29, in the 4th paragraph from the bottom it tell us that, like M2, no shipping date was announced. but it latter says how they were afraid it wouldn't ship on the announced date. Did I miss something here?
Ah yes a nice twisted error here. You have to think about it.
Joshua Inglima <firstname.lastname@example.org> spotted the fifth error:
OK, The scrapbook says on page 27:
"The end result: a 25-level solo adventure..."
Aren't there 30 solo levels in Infinity?
Yes there are. 25 is a mistake. Marathon had 27 solo levels, Marathon 2 had 28, and Infinity had 30.
|Oct 21, 1999 (Thursday)|
And then there were six! Michael Watson <mikey-sanSPAMMERS@AREbungieSPAZEROIDS.org> finds the sixth error in the Seven Errors in the Scrapbook Competition. Michael writes:
On page 3, someone noticed the error of the MWSF 94 thing, and Marathon being demoed and all, and the tie into page 9, and all...
But did I miss something?
The pic on page 4 (with Jason and Alex) says they were at MWSF 95.
No way that's from MWSF 95. First, by this time, they had a different logo, as indicated on page 10's image of the Bungie booth, in 94 (MW Boston).
Also, I think that screen in the background is PiD. PiD had been long released by MWSF 95.
Yes well spotted. The pic was taken much earlier than MWSF 95. As Michael rightly points out the Bungie logo is wrong for the date. Bungie have in fact changed their logo three times. The last change ocurred just prior to Macworld Expo Boston '94. This has been Bungie's corporate logo ever since.
The Seventh Error has been spotted! Mark Levin <email@example.com> finds the seventh error in the Seven Errors in the Scrapbook Competition. Mark writes:
On page 3, Greg Kirkpatrick was said to have "recently suffered a direct blow to the head from a washing machine". Wasn't this actually a blow from a *dishwasher*?
Yes well spotted it was a dishwasher not a washing machine. :-) In Pathways Into Darkness if you happen to stumble across a dead Special Forces guy called Greg (Kirkpatrick) you'll find out that his death was caused as follows:
Those spider things were all around me, but
I didn't stop firing until I ran out of bullets.
Then something hit me like a dish washer-
it must have been one of those zombies.
If you enquire further Greg will say:
Yeah, like a dish washer dropped from three
stories or something. I don't even remember
getting hit before that. I was spanking them
until I died.
The dish washer incident is also mentioned in the PID Hint Book and you'll find a number of references to it on the Story page. It was a standing joke at Bungie when Greg was around.
Well done to Mark. That signed copy of the Scrapbook and other goodies will be winging their way to you shortly. Thanks to all those who took part. Remember in life... nothing is perfect! ;-)
|Mar 3, 2000 (Friday)|
Back in October the Story page ran the "Seven Errors in the Scrapbook Competition". Ok subsequently it turned out that there were in fact eight errors but after seven who bothers to count anyway?
The prize for spotting the Seventh Error was a signed copy of the Marathon Scrapbook plus a bunch of undisclosed Bungie goodies courtesy of Matt Soell (Bungie Software).
In December the winner (Mark Levin <firstname.lastname@example.org>) received his "Seven Errors in the Scrapbook Competition" prize package from Matt and listed the goodies for the Story page. Now Mark with the aid of a digital camera has photographed many of these rare pieces of Bungie memorabilia... like an original shrinkwrapped copy of Minotaur, a Macworld Olympics of Death sticker, and rare Bungie Walnut art (could start a trend here). Below is a list of the items Mark won and links to some of the pictures:
-Scrapbook signed by Doug, Matt, Mark, Nathan, Rob, and JJ (as well as 1 signature I couldn't read)
-Craig Mullins "Death of the Hulk" Mousepad
-Black Bungie folder containing:-Bungie Dollar
-TWO original chrome Marathon stickers
-A Macworld Olympics of Death sticker
-A sticker showing the Bungie Coat of Arms
-A Myth 2 folder (empty)
-An original Marathon 4-level Demo disc (unfortunately not sealed) containing, among other things, the enhanced CD music tracks.
-A sealed copy of "THE DISC" with the M2 Preview from Macworld '95
-An iron-on Bungie Patch
-A video named "Bagel Shop", front box shot
-A sealed copy of Minotaur, front box shot and back box shot
-A shirt reading "Property of the Bungie Store"
-A walnut with two faces drawn on it, one face and the other face
|Feb 5, 2011 (Saturday) Eleven years on....|
What happend to those Bungie goodies?
After winning his prize, Mark Levin disappeared for a few days. He claimed, and still maintains, that he went on vacation. It is suspected that he used these few days to hide or destroy them. Mark Levin has denied this repeatedly.But that's not all...
Fearing for his very life, Mark Levin fled the universe to another verse, to be free. There he recreated Marathon 2 in his own image so that future generations would not forget. ;-)
|Dec 6, 2011 (Tuesday)|
YAEITMS. Contained in the Alain Roy interview is Yet Another Error In The Marathon Scrapbook. How many errors is that now?
Thanks to REB for caring enough.
Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated Dec 6, 2011