The Colony

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

The above text is intriguing in that while it appears in the first terminal on "Try again" it does not appear in the resource fork of the game. What does appear in the resource fork is

and this is apparently displayed in the computer terminal as

~~~~~~&>%*{The colony has been wiped out. Phhht! Just like
<Try again (Terminal 1)>
If anyone knows how "%r" is translated to "The colony has been wiped out. Phhht! Just like that." please e-mail me.

Simon Brownlee <> writes:

I put the '%r' into one of my own terminals, and found that it displayed the same message even when it wasn't surrounded by those other characters. I then tried lots of other '% letter' combinations, but nothing else seemed to do anything. I had a look through the code resources, and found the string in question in code resource 9, offset 1798 - there doesn't appear to be any similar strings in that resource."

"So, that's where the string comes from. Now why Bungie decided that, that string should go in the code while all the others are in the term resources is beyond me. It's not as if it's anything secret - there's far more secret info stored in the 'term's. And it doesn't appear to be some method for reducing the size of the terms, as the string is only used once.

Anybody have any ideas why Bungie did this?

Eylon Caspi <> writes:

Was the game supposed to have a surprise ending where the colony may or may not be destroyed? We might even suspect that the macro was put in the garbage characters by mistake (it looks like garbage itself), and that we were never supposed to see this feature of the terminal software.

Following up on the same theme Matthew Smith <> writes:

Suppose when Bungie was sketching out the flow of Marathon 1 they were going to have "victory conditions" that could be achieved by several paths. For example, success on level 2 means you next go through levels 4,6,and 8 next. Failure would send you to levels 3, 5 and 7. etc.

So Bungie was going to have a level where you had to keep the Pfhor from wiping out the colony - like from a bombing mission or from some kind of armageddon device - and this terminal (several levels afterwards) was supposed to refer to the success or failure of your mission in some garbled manner. Instead it never got implemented so they just left the code in the game for that one instance.

Consider the "You have allowed too many of the civilians to be killed." message in the Rose and "You let too many crew members die." in Bob-B-Q. Regardless of whether you succeed or fail, you go on to the next level. Seems like a lot of non-game-essential coding would be involved just to show a few lines of different text. My feeling is Bungie wanted to have a branching decision tree where success or failure meant a significant change in the plot - but it was never fully implemented.

Eylon and Matthew may both be correct. Was the colony text part of a never implemented non-linear scenario? We might expect such features in Marathon Infinity. Bungie wrote:

"Never-before-used enhancements will free the player from the strict linearity of previous games..."

Might we expect a game/story where the outcome is dictated by how you play? And ending which is never certain until you reach it and when you do there is always the possibility of another?

A first in gaming perhaps?

Interesting to note that the text "The colony has been wiped out. Phhht! Just like that." appears in the data fork of the Marathon ßeta, demo, and full game. This is what it looks like in the Marathon demo using HexEdit, a freeware program by Jim Bumgardner.

The question remains why did this piece of story text appear here and why so early on in Marathon's development?

Denny Mills <> writes:

About why the text 'The Colony has been wiped out...' appeared in the data fork. It appeared in a CODE resource, correct? [Yes]

The PowerPC uses the data fork of a file for its code. 68k code only uses CODE resources, while a PowerPC uses the data fork code if it is available (the CODE resource will always contain 68k native code, and the data fork will contain native PPC code). Finding it here is just like finding it in the CODE resource.

Mark Levin <> writes:

In certain text-display commands in the C programming language, a character preceded by a percent sign is called a format specifier. It is used to make the computer insert a separate string of text into a display (i.e. "'The number %d is special',7" becomes "The number 7 is special"). Bungie could have borrowed that idea for programming terminals, and just never found chance to make a complete nonlinear game.

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Last updated Sept 29, 1996