since 1995

February 24, 2023 (Friday) 02.24.2023

"The house is a long way off, but you won't get lost if you take the road to the left and turn to the left at every crossroads."
Jorge Luis Borges.  The Garden of Forking Paths.  Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.  Vol. 12, No. 57, August 1948.

The day I turned right instead of left.

It will come as no surprise to some people that G4 Sunbathing is my favorite level in Marathon. It is hauntingly atmospheric, intricately designed and unforgivingly harsh.

In my first novice outing on G4 Sunbathing back in January 1995 I turned right instead of left and promptly fell into Death Valley. I did not last long after that. I know better now.

"The advice always to turn to the left reminded me that such was the standard procedure for reaching the centre of certain mazes."
Jorge Luis Borges.  The Garden of Forking Paths.  Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.  Vol. 12, No. 57, August 1948.

It is interesting to note that much of G4 Sunbathing is built around the Left-Wall-Rule™. Fans of Pathways Into Darkness will be familiar with this Rule. It is documented in the Official Hint Book (page 6).

While G4 Sunbathing isn't a maze in the true sense of a physical maze it exhibits qualities of a mind maze. For in the back of your mind you know that if you do not solve it you will run out of oxygen and die.

But I digress.

Today Jeoku continues his in-depth playthrough of Marathon with the Greg Kirkpatrick level G4 Sunbathing,  the sixth level of the Counterattack Chapter.

Sources in the video include:

To quote Jeoku "Well that's what happens if you don't have oxygen".

Yes... you die. Welcome to G4 Sunbathing.

Fair dues to Jeoku for continuing his in-depth playthrough of Marathon while working remotely in Hawaii.

Sign me up for remote working in Hawaii... any day!

I leave the last word to Greg Kirkpatrick.


...your ass!

February 22, 2023 (Wednesday) 02.22.2023

Happy Marathon Infinity Announcement Day.

Yes folks, this day 27 years ago Bungie announced the development of Marathon Infinity at Macworld Expo Tokyo, Japan 1996. The Bungie Booth girls were out in force for the event.

Someone at Bungie said... Kill Bill  (Gates).  The rest they say is history!

The Bungie press announcement read:

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

More like... free your mind.

But I digress.

The Marathon Infinity announcement came as something of a surprise. Greg Kirkpatrick had left Bungie some months before so who was going to do it? Matt Soell had the answer. Matt wrote:

"Greg is working with us again, although he's working from his new home in Brooklyn, NY. He's put together some VERY interesting ideas, and while I can't talk about them in any detail yet, I can tell you that the plot of the scenario in Marathon Infinity will be as labyrinthine as you've come to expect - perhaps more so.."

Labyrinthine indeed. Twenty seven years later and we are still trying to understand it.

Why did Greg Kirkpatrick leave Bungie? Well the stories of his departure abound. With each telling they twist and bend but in a rare Killer 3D Mac Games interview in September 1996 he offered us a clue in his 'seven seconds' Bungie resume. Greg recounted to Mark McWilliams:

"I started working at Bungie in the Summer of '94. I met Jason Jones in college in '92. He said to me one day, "If there's going to be a story for Marathon, you're going to write it." From there it was pretty much a straight shot, next thing I know I'm leaving Chicago (because I was homesick and tired of living in a flat city.)"

Welcome to the canyons of New York. Former home of Double Aught Software and the Marathon Infinity scenario... Blood Tides of Lh'owon.

The true story of Double Aught Software has yet to be told.

But I digress.

Today is Happy Marathon Infinity Announcement Day.

You should be happy.

As Durandal would/will say...

...dry those tears and stuff a fresh clip in your assault rifle.

(circumstances are cyclical)

February 16, 2023 (Thursday) 02.16.2023

"What are the official Vidmaster rules?"

I get asked this a lot.

Indeed it comes up regularly in discussion groups, chat rooms, cantinas, wharf taverns, speed dating evenings, and the like.

So to avoid the inevitable (circumstances are cyclical)  tag line here is...

The Origin of the Vidmaster Rules

And yes... there is always that one guy in the bar who be like...

February 10, 2023 (Friday) 02.10.2023

"You have not retrieved the Fusion Gun. Return when you have done so."
Leela.  Marathon.  Cool Fusion (Terminal 2: 'Unfinished' message).  December 21, 1994.

Zeus Class Plasma Gun.
Tech.50 Fusion Pistol.
Zeus-Class Fusion Pistol.
Fusion Power.
Cold Fusion.
Cool Fusion.

Miolnir Recon Number 54 by Garrett Post on ArtStation.

Jeoku continues his in-depth playthrough of Marathon with the Jason Jones level Cool Fusion,  the fifth level of the Counterattack Chapter.

Sources in the video include:

The video nicely demonstrates the advantage you get in 'The Pit' if you find the secret Tozt.25 Flame Unit on the previous level (also by Jason Jones). Of course if you are playing by Vidmaster Rules you don't get it and must... poenas dare. Thanks Jason.

Cool Fusion has the distinction of being one of two Marathon levels that cannot be completed via Vidmaster Rules and both were created by Jason Jones.

It's unclear if Jason Jones realised this when he posed the Marathon Vidmaster Challenge in late January 1995. Jason wrote:

"I challenge anyone who thinks they rule at Marathon to complete all of the game's levels on Total Carnage starting with only the pistol and x1 health (via Command-Option Begin Game). Upload your replays!"

Thankfully Tim Seufert was on hand to give us the Marathon Vidmaster Challenge Physics Model.

The rest they say is history...

Speaking of history Narcogen and Blackstar warned us of the perils of doing Cool Fusion in co-op mode in their Let's Play Marathon 1 Co-Op series back in 2013. Cool Concussion anyone?

Of course we can't blame Jason Jones for this one.

February 8, 2023 (Wednesday) 02.08.2023

In a Story forum post Aaron Freed <> sets the record straight about dual wielding weapons in Rise of the Triad. He writes:

"People need to stop saying this, because it's not true. RotT used a cheap hack that treated "dual pistols" as a single weapon. It was literally just a sprite replacement that had two pistols instead of one; you didn't press different keys to fire each weapon, RotT didn't treat their ammo sources as separate, and it didn't even have them reload at staggered intervals. Marathon's dual-wielding, by contrast, was entirely genuine: as we all know, you press different keys to fire each, they maintain separate ammo pools, and they reload at separate times. They aren't remotely comparable."

Of course trying to stop people from saying something on the internet is like trying to stop the Pfhor from using the trih xeem .

You just know it's going to happen again... and again...

"Very good idea" by Gopherofdoomies on r/marathon April 30, 2021

February 2, 2023 (Thursday) 02.02.2023

Thanks to Tim "Mordeir" Branin <> in a Story forum post for pointing out a Gamespot video on YouTube about dual wielding weapons in gaming.

The video makes reference to the fact that Marathon was the first FPS to offer dual wielding weapons. You can jump directly to this segment in the video here.

Oddly the Marathon segment in the video shows dual wielding Magnums on the first level when in fact you can only go 'guns akimbo' if you find the secret second Magnum on the Greg Kirkpatrick level 'The Rose'.

However the video is worth watching from the start as it provides an interesting potted history of dual wielding weapons in the real world.

Full disclosure. In the comments section HQDefault writes:

"It's worth noting that Rise of The Triad was another early first person shooter with pistols akimbo, and actually released the exact same day as Marathon. So technically, they're both the first FPS games to feature dual weilding pistols."

Obviously Bungie were quicker on the draw in this shoot out.

If you do happen to go 'guns akimbo' just remember your gun kata.

January 30, 2023 (Monday) 01.30.2023

On Marathon Discord the voice of Durandal (aka Dan Storm) draws our attention to a piece of art entitled Asteroid Ship by lobolabo.

lobolabo is a 3D artist from Osaka, Japan (land of the Sony Playstation). Some of his public work can be found on Artstation.

Hey!... is that G4 Sunbathing?

January 24, 2023 (Tuesday) 01.24.2023

Somewhere in New York... they are waiting.

Came across an interesting pic on r/Marathon posted by GibsMcKormik which showed an apartment building with an oddly decorated facade.

And yes, as GibsMcKormik points out it does look remarkably like a Pfhor ship texture from Marathon.

The apartment building is actually No. 251 on East 71st Street in New York. If you pop "251 East 71st Street"  into Google Maps you will see exactly where it is located.

The building facade predates Marathon so either the Pfhor have been in New York since the 1970s or perhaps the facade inspired Reginald Dujour's Marathon textures.

You can read a short piece about this iconic facade on the website Ephemeral New York.

Of course New York is no stranger to strange goings-on. Back in October 3, 2022 we pointed out the former 'brownstone' office of Double Aught where Marathon Infinity was created and the Union St. Crew's frequent sorties into Carroll Street Station.

In New York they don't say "Keep watching the skies!"  they say "Keep watching the subways!".

Marathon artwork by myxomy on DeviantArt. December 13, 2011

January 21, 2023 (Saturday) 01.21.2023

Added  "nator"  to the  The Text That Never Was  section.

Wait... the what section?

Hard to believe but this section hasn't been updated in 22 years. Indeed few people have read it since it involves scrolling down the long list of items in Facts and puzzling things about...

Wait... facts and things about?

Yup... reading is overrated until it's too late...

©. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.  Thanks to the Stanley Kubrick Archive.

But I digress.

Added "nator" to the The Text That Never Was section.

Wait... what's a nator?

January 19, 2023 (Thursday) 01.19.2023

"The flamethrower, for example, can be found on the sixth level, "Smells like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken" if you're really, really, really, looking for it."
Jason Jones.  eWorld Conference transcript.  February 7, 1995.

It's a pity Jason didn't add... if you're really, really, really, fast. Otherwise to quote Durandal " are, stuck at the bottom of a hole. How droll."

The following piece of art perfectly captures the frustration you experience trying to get the flamethrower the first few times.


Today Jeoku continues his in-depth playthrough of Marathon with the Jason Jones level Smells Like Napalm, Tastes Like Chicken!,  the fourth level of the Counterattack Chapter.

Sources in the video include:

The Wasps sure had it in for Jeoku on this level.

But I digress.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

If you know... you know.

January 12, 2023 (Thursday) 01.12.2023

"What happens in Marathon Infinity,  Sherlock?"

"I don't know.  But Lh'owon Command is flooding... again!  Circumstances are cyclical."

Doctor John Watson (Martin Freeman) and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the BBC mystery crime drama 'Sherlock'. A modern-day reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock and Watson ponder their current case as the flood waters rise in their 221B Baker Street residence.

January 10, 2023 (Tuesday) 01.10.2023

"I shoot all bobs always on all levels; if a Pfhor kills a bob I feel like a failure. The flamethrower works especially well when clearing bob-jams on levels like Bob-B-Q, but watching the little suckers sky after a good SPNKRing is pretty gratifying, too, especially if they catch air off a ledge."
Jason Jones.  Re: Exploding Bobs???  January 10, 1995.

Shocking but true.

It might seem odd then that Bungie created two levels in Marathon where your mission is to protect Bob and failure to do so got you a sharp reprimand from Leela.

"Bad Robot"

According to the Marathon Manual:

It is your sworn duty as a security officer to protect Bob.

But I digress.

Today Jeoku continues his in-depth playthrough of Marathon with the Greg Kirkpatrick level The Rose,  the third level of the Counterattack Chapter.

According to Leela your mission on The Rose is simple... err...

Your mission here is simple. Keep as many humans as possible from being killed. Exterminate every Alien in the area. You can only leave after the area is secure

Marathon Bob doing his thing on The Rose.

Save Bob. Check.
Exterminate Aliens. Check.

Indeed... The Rose is set to both Rescue and Extermination. Tough for you and for Jeoku.

Sources in the video include:

While there is a lot more that can be said about this level one nice feature is the use of Marathon's dead Bob sprite. As you progress through The Rose you will come across rooms with dead Bobs in them. This creates an air of urgency and a sense of loss or in the case of Jason Jones... failure. The problem is that they are simply dead Bob sprites and there is nothing you could have done to save them. They don't count towards your finally dead Bob tally.

And lastly... Hats off the Jeffrey Lindquist (a.k.a. Sidoh) who beat The Rose with fists only and saved enough Bobs to satisfy Leela. His name is enshrined in the Hall of Vidmaster Valhalla.

What does MIDA stand for?

And what about... Il nome della rosa?

January 9, 2023 (Monday) 01.09.2023

Happy "Kill Bob LeVitus" Day.

What the fusk...

Yes folks, this day 26 years ago Power Computing Corporation issued the DISC II at Macworld Expo '96 in San Francisco. The DISC II contained a special demo version of Marathon 2: Durandal featuring Power Computing Evangelist Bob LeVitus (complete with Power Computing t-shirt).

It was actually a Shapes file for Marathon 2 which replaced the Bobs with Bob LeVitus sprites. The whole package was creatively called "Kill LeVitus Marathon".

So what you might ask?  The DISC II never made the impact that the DISC I made.

Well it did open the floodgates to replacement Bob sprites like Kill Gates Marathon, Kill Sculley Marathon (not the X-Files version), Babs and Babs Deluxe!

"Don't call me Bab."

"Gotcha!  Big boy."

In a wide ranging interview with Matt Soell by in January 2000 Matt was asked about the use of 'Nude Skins' and would Bungie ever support a thing like these? Matt replied.

"If the question is "Will Bungie go after those putting these skins up with legal action?", the answer is probably "no". It's unlikely we'll actually support them, in the sense that we'll distribute them, or provide resources for their distribution... but we'll generally stay out of it, as long as they're not really offensive. There was the Amazon Babes shapes patch for Marathon, and we left that alone. If it's really bad, we might contact the author, and ask nicely that they not be distributed."

Unfortunately we can't show you screenshots of the Amazon Babes shapes patch as this is a family friendly site.

Happy "Kill Bob LeVitus" Day.

January 6, 2023 (Friday) 01.06.2023

"Who is Freeverse and why are they messing with my Marathon?"
Luke Smith.  Marathon: Durandal XBLA Q&A.  July 17, 2007.

Added Bungie's interview with Freeverse's Bruce Morrison about the Marathon: Durandal on XBLA project.

This little gem of an interview by Luke Smith (lukems) was posted on shortly before the release of Marathon: Durandal on Xbox Live Arcade. See the Story page news remembering that auspicious release day.

The interview gives you the lowdown on who Freeverse were and the gang of Marathon nuts fans who took on the job. Why they decided Jason Jones' smiling face had to be on Xbox Live Arcade. And the enhancements made to the game, including the "brand spanking new"  Survival mode with four bespoke Survival levels. To quote Bruce Morrison:

"Survival is a giant truck that pulls up to your house one day, where a platoon of alien commandos jump out, kidnap you, and wail on you until you're dead. And then the truck explodes, just to make sure the job gets done. If you're lucky, you'll take out a few hundred of them before your final moments."

One wonders why they didn't call it Hell Hole. Oh wait... that was already taken in 1997. To quote Gary Simmons (aka the Battle Cat):

"There are no puzzles, no secrets, no cheesy circuits to plug in, just head to head non stop carnage till you die. When you live too long, set your difficulty up a notch. When Total Carnage gets too easy, split the map, add some more monsters or whatever and remerge it. When that gets too easy blind one eye with a soldering iron, nail your hand to your face, and play sitting on a lit camp stove while your little brother smacks you with a whiffle bat."

I think I will take the "platoon of alien commandos" any day.

Oh wait... I'm going off-piste here.

Fire up Marathon: Durandal on Xbox Live Arcade today... your little brother might be waiting...

Today's news item was not sponsored by Microsoft Corporation.

January 4, 2023 (Wednesday) 01.04.2023

After missing in action for several months the Marathon Trilogy games for iOS (iPhone and iPad) are back in the App Store.


Marathon 2: Durandal

Marathon Infinity

Good start to the New Year.

Rage Hard as they say on iOS.

Go to What's New for Nov - Dec 2022

Go Back to Marathon's Story Home Page

Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated Feb 10, 2023