The E O P variations

full spPace cOmputEró Or PlannEd exterm

Back in Nov 15, 1997 Mark Bassett <> made an interesting find in the exit terminal on "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!". The first part of the terminal reads as follows:

Public Access Terminal 92-g<> 

<Warning: Transmission may not be complete>

Your last mission was a success, but I have terrible news.
#@Pragma Nautical Redefined^# efenders reported seeing the
aliens 1§moving a large cylindrical object.
#101111011110111100001# is is a '7'.  Mjolnir Recon number 54
must stop them from exploding igniting/ blowing up/ *A94F12/
it/ the S'pht full spPace cOmputEró Or PlannEd exterm. 

Mark wrote at the time:

There is some discussion about the phrases "full spPace cOmputEró" and "Or PlannEd exterm". I just wanted to point out that the capital letters in these phrases are "POE" and "OPE" respectively. The letters O, P and E form the code-word used to recall the USAF nuclear bombers in the film "Dr. Strangelove", and they are similarly hidden inside obscure phrases. Not until the code-word is discovered can the characters in the film stop the air force from inadvertently dropping "the big one".

Some research on the film "Dr. Strangelove" revealed the following.

Released in 1964, two years after the Cuban missile crisis, "Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" was Stanley Kubrick's seventh feature film. It was a comic nightmare of push-button Armageddon. The film centers around attempts to stop a squadron of 34 B-52's from dropping their payload (some fourteen hundred megatons worth) on Russia.

The trouble is that the planes can only be stopped if the right recall code can be found.

Here is part of the film's script:

As you may recall, sir, one of the provisions of plan R provides that once the go code is received the normal SSB radios in the aircraft are switched into a special coded device, which I believe is designated as CRM114. Now, in order to prevent the enemy from issuing fake or confusing orders, CRM114 is designed not to receive at all, unless the message is preceded by the correct three letter code group prefix.


Then do you mean to tell me, General Turgidson, that you will be unable to recall the aircraft?


That's about the size of it. However, we are plowing through every possible three letter combination of the code. But since there are seventeen thousand permutations it's going to take us about two and a half days to transmit them all.


How soon did you say the planes would penetrate Russian radar cover?


About eighteen minutes from now, sir.

As the film progresses we learn that the code is hidden in an interlocking pattern of the words Peace On Earth, and Purity Of Essence. Part of the film's script reads:

Now look, Colonel... Bat Guano, if that really is your name, may I tell you that I have a very, very good idea, I think, I hope, I pray, what the recall code is. It's some sort of recurrent theme he kept repeating. It's a variation on Peace on Earth or Purity of Essence. E O P. O P E. It's one of those!

As it turns out the three letter code group prefix is O P E.

Is the line "full spPace cOmputEró Or PlannEd exterm" a small homage to Stanley Kubrick's film "Dr. Strangelove"? After all there are references to Kubrick's sci fi masterpiece "2001" in Marathon.

Mark's finding was followed up two days later by another E O P variation found by Aaron Freed <> in the same terminal on "Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!" The line is as follows:

@@2-Fren. ie transfer.  Partial cOmputEr^&ø relay.  Tycho.
&**Security error.
Ty93.2 !dead.

Again the letters P, O, and E were capitalised. Coincidence?

Now (May 22, '98) Aaron Freed <> finds another E O P variation this time in the secret terminal on "Welcome to the Revolution". The terminal begins:

[raw core #A8AF] [idiomatic natural language template]

Note how the letters O E P are in bold.

So now we have the variations POE, OPE, OEP. In each case the letters are capitalised or highlighted in some fashion. Why? Mere coincidence or was it the case that an early (but unimplemented) idea in Marathon was the need to find a hidden code to prevent the destruction of the colony ship or the colony itself? After all we have that mysterious Colony text.

The colony has been wiped out. Phhht! Just like that.

Were we required to save the colony at one stage by using a code hidden in the terminals?

In Bungie's "Pathways Into Darkness" you were given a seven digit code in order to denote a nuclear device at the end of the game.

However as you play you discover that the first three digits were changed and you must obtain the new code by talking to your dead comrades.

Steven changed the code after you were lost, but I don't know what it is.

Greg has the bomb. You need to find him and complete the mission. Steven changed the code, I don't know what it is.

Steven changed the code after you were lost, but I never knew what it was. Did you find Steven? Did he tell you?

Once you find Steven you can ask him about the code changes

After you finish off the demon(?) at the base of the pyramid... can use the code to arm the bomb!

Making it back to the surface in time will guarantee success.

Thus the concept of a 'interactive' bomb code was not new to Bungie and may have been an early feature in Marathon's development. And even though the idea was dropped traces of a hidden bomb code still remain in the terminals. Of course this is all speculation. But you never know. :-)

On the theme of "purity of essence" (POE) William Spencer <> writes:

In Dr. Strangelove, in the general who started the "nuclear crisis" (I forget his name - was it Jack D. Ripper?) is obsessed with Purity Of Essence - "We must protect the purity of our precious bodily fluids."

Seems Tycho was obsessed with bodily fluids for a slightly different reason: (Quote from Rise Robot Rise)

"All units aboard fleet vessel 65-f cr'etz'ih are hereby ordered by high command to willfully execute captain R'chzne maintaining his precious fluids for command transfer to Tycho, machinated foreign mercenary."

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Last updated Oct 29, 1998