Greg Kirkpatrick on Marathon Infinity

"A bunch of you guys are on the right track, but I think that you're still not seeing the big picture."

Following the release of Marathon Infinity Greg Kirkpatrick (Double Aught) replied to a number of usenet posts about the plot of Marathon Infinity and what it meant.

Greg has always been reluctant to reveal what happens in Marathon Infinity believing that we should be able to work it out for ourselves.

From: (Grendel)
Subject: Re: Decreasing emphasis on plots at Bungie?
Date: 15 Nov 1996 02:55:08 GMT
Organization: Double Aught
Lines: 57
Message-ID: <grendel-1411962157550001@>

In article <>, look@it.up
(A.S.) wrote:

> In article <>,
> (Ian J. Ball) wrote:
> > I'd rate it this way: the first half or 2/3 of MI had a good plot, much
> > better than M2, as you tried to figure out what was going on. 
> > 
> > But somewhere in the second half of the game, the plot became, I don't
> > know, less interesting. And I'm in the camp that thinks the ending was
> > quite disappointing. We never get an explaination as to what was going on
> > earlier in the game. And no Leela, which was also disappointing.
> > 
> > Frankly, I'd only rate the first half or so of MI's plot as better than
> > M2's. But I liked the ending of M2 a lot more, and I think MI runs out of
> > gas in the last half of the game.
> > 
> > Overall, I guess I'd agree with Steve.
> Um, if they told you exactly what happened in the end, it would suck. The
> great thing about Marathon's plot is that you can spend month trying to
> figure it out. People who expect a plot that reveals all without any
> thought on the part of the player would probably enjoy DOOM type games
> more than those who like to think about it.

Personally, I like the ending in Marathon Infinity the best of them all.


I thought I'd throw in my opinion here, as one of the primary creators of
the Marathon story.  I can see why people would think that the Infinity
story gets weaker towards the end.  Knowing this, I know that as a
storyteller I have failed somewhat.  But I can also assure you that the
end of the story does the difficult trick of actually ending the
story(something that we forgot to do in Marathon 1 and 2.), although what
happens exactly is subtle.  

As for Double Aught and our opinions of story (the universally accepted
Double Aught view):

Read my lips:

Computer games tell stories.

That's what they're for.

Greg K

head tool
double aught software

From: (Grendel)
Subject: Re: Moo's Twisted Plot...
Date: 18 Nov 1996 20:42:07 GMT
Organization: Double Aught
Lines: 30
References:   < >

In article  < >,

>  < < self willed the peril of a thousand fates>>
> This could refer to the Champion Eternal of the Elric Saga series by
> Michael Moorcock. There are more similarities of this series to the MI
> story, including a the use of Roland's horn, entities who maintain the
> balance of the universe, and chaos ceatures. There's a good web page on
> Elric Comment, Greg K.?

Well, actually, never read any of the micheal moorcock stuff.  Although I
heard about all 17(?) books second hand when I was 13 from my friend Josh
who read them all...

Here's a question:

Where do an android's dreams come from?
(Inquiring minds want to know...)

I vaguely remember something about a movie, my brother was there..
Unicorns running through the terrible city filled with magic.  Was it all
just a dream?

greg k

From: (Grendel)
Subject: Re: Moo's Twisted Plot...
Date: 21 Nov 1996 19:41:47 GMT
Organization: Double Aught
Lines: 73
Message-ID: <grendel-2111961444510001@>
References: <> <> 
<> <> 
<> <> 

In article <>,
(General Rhad) wrote:

> In article <>, look@it.up
> (A.S.) wrote:
> > >  "thousands are sailing
> > >         the same self  the only self
> > 
> > >         self willed the peril of a thousand fates
> > 
> > >         a line of infinite ends  finite finishing
> > 
> > >         arching to the single point of
> > >         consciousness
> > 
> > >         find yourself
> > >         starting back"
> I think that it can be translated into the folowing...
> Lots of people
> But only one
> Doomed themselves
> Many possibilties, limited outcomes
> Coming together at one point on time
-- single point -- climax --
> Find yourself
> Doing it over
> Which can be translated into
> Everybody at Tau Ceti and the Marathon were toast from the start
> But somthing else could have happened
> But with one outcome
> Try another path for a change
> which supports my theory of M2 and M∞ being alternate stories.
> -- 
> "Save a Soul, Slay a Vampire."

Man this is a good thread.. Thanks for the feedback (someone's previous
post about the story being overdone.)  Actually to answer him - M∞ was
planned as an expansion for M2.  We basically locked down the story after
assuming that people were familiar with the previous games.

A bunch of you guys are on the right track, but I think that you're still
not seeing the big picture.  What's been going on since M1?  What do we
all dream about (non-Freudian)?  What in a general sense are all stories
about?  What is life about?  What does the Jjarro have to do with all
this?  What is the connection between dreams and reality?  What is the
connection between a story and reality?  What is the connection between
our perception and reality?

Answer these questions and you shall know the truth.

Greg k

Tell me of your homeworld, Usul

PS I cackle all the time, but this thread makes me cackle like crazy...

Head Tool
Double Aught,inc

On July 1, 1997 some eight months after the release of Marathon Infinity Greg Kirkpatrick posted a response to criticism of the Infinity story on

From: (Grendel)
Subject: Re: Duality (or other future game) wants<--hire writers!
Date: 1 Jul 1997 15:03:43 GMT
Organization: Double Aught
Lines: 99
Message-ID: <>
References: <> <> 

In article <>, (Michael M. Eilers) wrote:

> In article <>,
> (C1ndyh) wrote:
> > Has anyone "played" Bad Day on the Midway? In it, you can move from
> > character to character as they make contact with one another, see what is
> > happening from that character's pespective, and hear their inner thoughts.
> > You also have access to certain places only through a particular
> > character. 
> that thought-reading trick was among the best and most immersive I have
> ever come across--that game had its flaws, but at moments it was truly
> eloquent, quite moving. I highly reccommend it to anyone who flatly denies
> that multimedia can be art.
> > By generating semirandom interactions of such characters, and slipping
> > from one to another, you could make a game very complex as they move from
> > level to level.
> Yes, but you need to impose some strict controls on this--there is a fine
> line between complex and utterly confusing. Perhaps there would be certain
> "agents" (I'm talking about something far beyond the Infinity engine) that
> could pop up and guide a player who is going too far astray; serving the
> same function as puzzles that kill you--but instead deepening the plot.
> My main problem with so many adventure and action games on the macintosh
> (Infinity definitely included) is that in so many of them the programmers
> mistake themselves for writers. Now they are perfectly intelligent
> guys--of that we have much evidence--but for the most part,
> technically-minded people are linear thinkers and have a technical, rather

this statement is stereotypical and untrue.  All of the good programmers
i've known were not "linear thinkers" or especially technical.  Nor would
i say that a good writer could not be a linear thinker.  Nor would i say
that a good writer could not have a technical view of language - this is
doubly true of copy editors.  Look at poets.  They need some techical
control over their language, it's a requirement to understanding the

If you want to know why computer games generally have crappy stories, the
reason is that for the most part, computer games are done quicky, cheaply,
and shoddily, and writing a good story takes a long time, and a lot of
effort.  Adding the code that let's you tell a story in a computer game is
always last on the list.

> than intimate, relationship with the english language. Nothing makes me
> groan louder than the utterly cliche and clumsy "intro" text to some of

cheese cheese and more cheese.. but then again: cheese sells.

> the more recent games, from Dark Vengeance to Myth to Light and
> Darkness--arrgh! Just one Tolkien-eque cliche after the other, piled
> together in a mishmash because for some reason they think being
> purposefully obscure is the same as being complex (hence: Infinity's
> "plot.") 

Who was it that said that there were 7 basic stories?  or was it 9?

There is something that you've seriously forgotten about game companies. 
We make these games because we love it.  You're high if you think i'm
going to go hire someone to write my story for me.  That's the best part. 
So be prepared to suffer through another one.  

Side note: it's not fair to say that bungie did the m1 and m2 story and
that DA did the M:infinity story.  They were all done by myself in
conjunction with someone else.  If you want to lay the blame or credit
concerning any of the stories, point your attention at myself.  I was the
responsible party for the story in all the games.  As for the infinity
"plot" it was a bit of an experiment in terms of seeing how much people
could digest from a complex, hard to follow story.  From the results, I
would conclude that people like reading stories at about the 5th grade
level of complexity.  Which is fine.  I learned the lesson.  We'll forever
stay off the Garden of Forking Paths.

<unsolicited plug>

The Duality story is going to rock. I'm sure that you (and all the other
critics out there) will find fault with it here or there, that's what
critics are for.  The last time i heard a critic say something that didn't
have something negative to say was...

Well, he wouldn't be much of a critic would he.


> So hey, game companies, write the best damn game engine you can
> imagine--throw in everything you can, including that full-auto kitchen
> sink, but when it comes time to write the manual copy and the game
> plot--hire a writer. There are lots of us out there, and we love to get
> paid for a living, trust me.

Send me a sample of your work.

This was the first clue...

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