The Breakable Panel on We're Everywhere

"Two doors to open.
Two switches to activate."

At the end of "Come and Take your Medicine" Durandal tells us:

The humans have run into some trouble capturing their new command center.


You will assist them.

On the next level - "We're Everywhere" - you learn that your mission is to open a pair of huge external doors. Durandal tells us:

The Pfhor have almost been exterminated here, but I need you to open a pair of huge external doors so that we can land heavy machinery by shuttle.

Indeed the terminal even shows us where both door switches are located.

Here's a close up of the first switch.

Activating this will open one half of the doors. Actually there are three parts to external doors. The first switch opens the right-side and a central part.

The second switch on the opposite side opens the remaining door.

Your mission is now complete.

But wait let's back track here slightly and take a closer look at the first switch.

There's a breakable panel to the left of that switch. What does it do?

Version 3.1 of the Marathon Spoiler Guide has this to say about the panel:

"In the room south of the 2x shield regenerator, there is a room that has two hexagonal pillars in it, and several switches. Before you can attempt to enter this room, you need to destroy the grid-like panel that is near the shuttle bay doors. Once this switch is destroyed, return to the above room, and hit the switch in the southeast corner of the room (the one that is nearly halfsubmerged in the sewage), which both activates one of the platforms, as well as opens a secret door back at the beginning of the level near where the fusion pistol is located. By following the secret door that is revealed, you'll enter this room."

So in order to enter the secret area on this level you must first smash the panel beside the large external doors, THEN activate the half-submerged switch in the room?

Not so!

All you need to do is activate the half-submerged switch.

This will activate the platform and open the secret underwater door allowing you to access the room.

So what does the breakable panel do?

Well if you smash it BOTH external doors (and the central part) will open at once. No need to activate ANY switch.

If you doubt the veracity of this take a look at the film - Two doors to open... one panel to smash... - from the Marathon Vidmasters' page. It shows you how to complete "We're Everywhere" on Total Carnage in just under two minutes using the breakable panel.

HOLD ON! I hear you cry... why go to all the trouble of telling us that there are two switches to activate in order to open the external doors. I mean somebody went to alot of trouble to create terminal graphics just to show us these switches and their function.

Yes it does appear odd... very odd indeed! So the question is why? Why is there a breakable panel beside the first switch which replicates the function of both switches? Why bother having the door switches at all? Puzzling indeed... a puzzle to tax even the great William of Baskerville himself.

To seek the tru7h we must delve into the mind of the creator of this level... Greg Kirkpatrick. According the Jason Jones, Greg did the original geometry for this level and Jason polished it off with some retexturing, monster placement, etc. The level turned out to be a great piece of team work. Unfortunately Greg's memory of this level and the preceding one (Come and Take your Medicine) is a bit hazy. One day perhaps it will all come back to him... but for the moment we have to rely on our own deduction and speculation. But then that's what the Story page is all about!

So why is there a breakable panel beside the first switch? Where have we seen this arrangement before? We actually don't have to look very far to find it. In the secret area on this very level you'll find a similar arrangement. The half-submerged switch has a breakable panel beside it.

Smash the panel instead of hitting the switch and you can't access the secret area. Also high up on the left side...

...and on the right...

there are breakable panels and switches. Smash these panels before you activate the switches and you'll be unable to activate the platform which takes you to the secret ammo cache. An interesting map design concept and one that appears later on in the game in various guises. For example the breakable panels beside the save game buffers at the beginning of "Nuke And Pave" (another GK level). Smash these and you can't save your game. There is also the mysterious switch under the lava on "All Roads Lead To Sol..." (a JJ level). The switch is deactivated when you break one of the four panels on this level.

Is there a pattern to this? A connection? Let us speculate for a moment. Could the original function of the breakable panel have been to deactivate the door switch, like the platform switches in the secret area. Indeed could it have been the case that the switch on the other side of the external doors had a breakable panel rather than a terminal beside it.

Remember that this terminal contains a mysterious message seemingly from Thoth. A message which appears out of place in terms of the story. The Thoth section has details on this.

Let us imagine for a moment that the large external doors were opened by activating either of the switches. Like the switches in the secret room they had breakable panels associated wth them. If you happened to break the first panel the switch wouldn't work. But not to worry there was another switch... this time DON'T smash the panel!

The problem here is that you can imagine how some people would have smashed both panels causing them to fail in their mission. Not good for game play. Smashing both panels in the secret area simply meant you couldn't access the secret ammo cache. No real harm done, just a lost opportunity. Similarly smashing both panels beside the save game buffers at the start of "Nuke And Pave" simply meant you couldn't save the game at this point. No real harm done, just an inconvenience. But smashing both panels beside the switches at the external doors would have meant restarting the game and trying again. Bad game design.

Under such circumstances it's not hard to imagine that something would have to be done to change this. One possible solution would have been to remove the breakable panels altogether. However this would have required a certain amount of map restructing to remove the wall inserts, presuming of course you wanted it to look right after the change. Another solution would have been to change the function of the panels. You could make one panel activate something and change the other into a terminal, giving it some obscure message... something that wouldn't effect game play. Nobody would notice now would they? Hmmm...

Of course this is all just speculation. But ask yourself this... "why go to the trouble of creating two door switches when the breakable panel does the job in one go"?

Ah... questions... questions... where is Brother William when you need him?

Happy New Year everybody. :-)

Steve Campbell <> writes

Could it have been possible that these switches had the control of the sewage?

Possibly to raise it thus giving the player access to the top floor and then the player would be able to access the small hallway just outside the giant doors that have to be raised.

I have never gotten access to that hallway. I have been told and have read that it contains a ammo cache. Having never gained access I would not know...

Interesting point but the secret cache of shotgun shells above the waterline on this level can actually be got very easily if you use the grenade climbing technique demonstrated by Todd Keating in his Advanced Grenade Jumping Tutorial. One wonders if Greg Kirkpatrick puts these difficult to reach areas in his maps to test a player's ingenuity and skill. The Deprivation Chamber on "Never Burn Money" being a classic example.

If you are Vidmastering this level it is not possible to grenade climb as there is no assault rifle available nor any other weapon that can propel you up there, at least alive. ;-)

Oh yes... the ammo cache contains 2 rows of 7 shotgun shells each. Nice one. :-)

elmer <> writes:

i was looking around the Story page and i reread "the breakable panel on we're everywhere" doing so i felt the need to check it out in a map editor[obed].. and there are i believe 4 tags in the level between tag switches and tag lights:

#1-switch for the lowering bridge
#3-half submerged breakable panel in the secret room[light tag]
#4-breakable panel(s) up on the wall in the secret room

and #15-the tag for opening the large bay doors [left and right..the right one then activates the middle one]

i happen to side with the idea that someone changed the level at the last min.when makeing the level there could have been a tag #2 that was taken out.. but the large gap between #4 and #15 suggests to me that the someone changing the map used a tag that was far enough away from the ones being use that they knew it wouldn't conflict with the already existing tags and commands for those tags..

example: when i build a level and go back and add something..i'm usually to lazy to find the last tag # i used..and to be safe i just pick a # that i know to be too high for me to have used prior..

this also further proves to me that the breakable panel for the doors was one of the last things done to the level..because of the tag # being used..

which could have been breakable panel(s) [counting the thoth term] for the bay door switches someone else suggested..but then were changed at the last min. because of game flow..

Concerning the underwater recharger on this level, PerseusSpartacus <> wrote in a Story forum post:

What's even weirder is that there is a 2x Shield Recharger embedded into the wall nearby. Why the heck is that there?

treellama <> notes:

Notice how you can complete the level without hitting the swim key...maybe it's the sewage that isn't supposed to be there! Where did it come from? Maybe a dam on the Minor River is failing?

Was this level originally designed without water? It does appear odd that Durandal wants to land heavy machinery by shuttle in water.

treellama <> points out:

Maybe it started out with water, and then somebody added the ability to swim later? :)

Ah yes, this would explain why you can access areas without the need to swim.

Perhaps 'We're Everywhere' suffered the same fate as 'Ex Cathedra'. Doug Zartman created his level before swimming had been implemented in Marathon 2, which serves 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."

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Last updated Aug 18, 2013