Aug 14, 2012 (Tuesday)   128:4:33:8

Last week, defor reminded us that the old Marathon betas from the Trilogy CD were first made
available on the Marathon CD. The only difference was that they were hidden (invisible)
in the Holiday Marathon Music folder. These betas also didn't come with a bundled
version of MacsBug or a Read Me file with instructions on how to get them to work.
Yeah life was tough for Marathoners back in 1995. ;)

But the story doesn't end there...

When Bungie's 2nd web page was launched in Oct 1995 it included a ftp page. One of the
items you could download from this page was...  Holiday Marathon Music. If you bothered
to download this you were in for a surprise. The first FAQ (Feb '96)
had this to say about Bungie's web page:

http:/     and

Good for the demo (M1 or M2), some cool beta versions of M1 (hidden in
a file called Holiday Music), and a bunch of other random stuff.

Yes folks, Bungie left the old Marathon betas hidden in the Holiday Marathon Music file
for everyone to download for free.

So if you happen to stumble across an old Macintosh gaming archive with a larger than
normal looking Marathon music file called Holiday Marathon Music take a peek inside.
It might just contain those old Marathon betas from Bungie's website.

Just another interesting Marathon tidbit. :)

Aug 13, 2012 (Monday)   129:4:20:7

In a Story forum post,  Matt Soell <> writes concerning
an old unearthed Bungie webpage called  Going Once, Going Twice...SOLD!.

I don't recall making this page. 21 November 1995 was a couple months shy of my first
anniversary with the company, so if it's not the first HTML I ever wrote it's very near.
It's possible I was testing out Adobe PageMill or something. One was deputized to do such
things in those days.


What other items lie undiscovered in the Story Page's 7 gig archive?

Aug 11, 2012 (Saturday)   131:4:16:45

I was doing a bit of spring cleaning in the Story Page's vast Marathon archive (7 gigs and
still growing). Anyway I came across this very old Bungie web page which brought a smile
to my face and jogged a few brain cells loose. It's called  Going Once, Going Twice...SOLD!
and relates to The Marathon 2 Charity Auction piece on the Blasts from the Past section.
Anyway I thought I would share. Now the interesting thing about this page, apart from
the cute Pfhor graphic, is the bit written in the html source, namely:

This page composed by Matthew Soell of Bungie Software Tuesday,
November 21, 1995 sometime after 10PM Central Standard Time. Rockin'
Graphix done the next day by Mark Bernal.

The Auction page appeared on Bungie's 2nd web page which went live on Friday 13th Oct 1995.
The site was created by Art & Science W3 Development who presumably did all the original html
Now Matthew Soell composed the Auction page on November 21, 1995. So I'm guessing this is
either Matt's first web page for Bungie or at least a very early example of his work.

Only Matt can say for sure. :)

Aug 8, 2012 (Wednesday)   134:4:14:16

Thanks to defor <> in a Story forum post for reminding us that you can also get the
Marathon betas on the Marathon CD. He writes:

In regards to the betas- the same three were first published on the M1CD in a hidden folder:

Marathon CD/Marathon Goodies/Holiday Marathon Music/old marathons/

Now if, like me, you find this surprising it's just the result of the old "breakdown of the neurons
in your brain"
syndrome. This is not a new secret but it's probably not so widely known.
Shortly after the release of Marathon,  Jason Jones stated that there would be a CD version.
In the 1st eWorld Conference in January 1995, he stated:

marathon should be out on CD soon, and all our products from
now on will be shipping on CD and disk.

When asked if the CD version would ship with any enhancements, he replied:

initially the CD version will be a duplicate of the disk
version, but I'd eventually love to see 16-bit source art on
the CD version (hmmm...)

16-bit source art? Now that would be nice. :)
Bungie officially announced the Marathon CD on Apr 20, 1995. The press release stated that
the CD would contain the following:

Formerly available only on diskette, the Marathon CD, due May 1st, bundles the game
with a smorgesbord of shareware enhancements that multiply the life of the game and
its entertainment value.

No mention of the Marathon Music tracks or, of course, the hidden Marathon betas.
Copies of the CD began to appear in shops on May 8, 1995. However, if you already
had the floppy disk version you probably weren't going to rush out to get this.

It's not clear when the hidden Marathon betas were first found but they have been re-found
in 1996,  1997 and 1998. Even if you had found them getting them to run wasn't easy, even
for Bungie. ;)

The Marathon betas (along with the music tracks) are the first in a long list of things
Bungie have hidden on their CDs... unless of course there is something hidden on the
floppy disks?!!!

Aug 4, 2012 (Saturday)   138:10:3:12

In a Story forum post,  Philtron <> draws our attention to this piece of
text from the Marathon manual:

Durandal chuckles again, "Ah, lucky you. I've found a new distraction. I am going to play
with the Alien virtual parasites. I'll look you up when you arrive..." You can almost
imagine the face of a wicked computer with its eyes wide and its lips folding out in
a grotesque smile. A smile which reminds you of something from your past, but you
can't remember exactly what it is.

and later...

You come out of your dream twenty two minutes later. Judging it safe, you thrust over
to one of the empty MP docking bays. You pull out your pistol, and pound the switch to
open the door.

Oddly , this is familiar to you, as if it were from an old dream, but you can't exactly

Now it has been suggested on the You section that these are perhaps your memories of being
a Battleroid during the asteroid wars between Icarus and Thermopylae. But Philtron takes this
further. He writes:

So, the mental image of a wicked computer smiling grotesquely reminds you of something
from your past, and trying to survive the machinations of an AI while entering a hollowed
out asteroid in outer space seems familiar. It could all be coincidental, but it seems
Bungie is hinting that the player has dealt with evil AIs before and the only other
one's we know about are Traxus and the five AIs he/it infiltrated.

The possibility that Traxus was involved with Battleroids is supported by the Marathon timeline:

Unknown times:
2xxx(?)- Traxus becomes rampant
2xxx(?)- Traxus infiltrates 5 other AIs in the Martian net

Confirmed timeline:
2194- Battelroids used in war between Icarus and Thermopylae. Battleroids kill almost everyone on both asteroids.
2206- Traxus' rampancy discovered and Martian Planetary Net is shut down -Crash of Traxus IV
2208- Damage caused by Traxus fully rooted out
2214- United Interplanetary League sets up rules for the appropriate use and storage of Battleroids
2216- Full repercussions of Traxus rampancy still being seen

So, the time between when the Battelroids were first used and when Traxus' rampancy was
discovered is twelve years which seems like plenty of time for Traxus to go rampant
(if he wasn't already) and manipulate some Battleroids to do his bidding. Also, I think
it's important that you fight on the Marathon which is carved from an asteroid-moon of
Mars, and the Battleroids fought on the asteroids Icarus and Onicis 492.

Philtron goes on to speculate:

So, could Traxus have used Battleroids to defend himself when attempts at shutting him
down were being made? Or could the UIL or UESC have used Battleroids to get past Traxus'
physical defenses and destroy the Martian Net cores? And then could one of these
Battleroids end up being the 10th Mjolnir cyborg who has strange deju vu when he
encounters another rampant AI on another colonized asteroid?

In fact, we don't know what's the time period of Traxus' rampancy. For all we know
he could have become rampant before the creation of the Battleroids. Could Traxus
actually have been the one who took control of and ordered the Battleroids to exterminate
both asteroid colonies? Could Traxus actually have been the one to suggest the creation
of Battleroids in the first place? Hell, the story doesn't tell us anything about what
started the Icarus-Thermopylae war, but could Traxus have instigated the war through
subterfuge just so he could get these governments to unwittingly build him some Cyborgs?

The Marathon's Story appears to have got that little bit more intriguing... 17 years on. :)

Added the 2216 date (mentioned above) to the Marathon Timeline section.

July 31, 2012 (Tuesday)   142:15:33:47

Prompted by a post on the Pfhorums I have added The Marathon Infinity Map Making Contest
to the Blasts from the Past section. Get the low down on the first Bungie map making competition,
the rules, the judges, the prizes, the winners and...  the mystery of the missing 13th map.

And where are the winners now? Did winning "Bungie for Life" change their lives?

July 25, 2012 (Wednesday)   148:2:18:45

Remember the Pfhor.

Happy Attack Day!

On this day some seven hundred and eighty odd years from now, the Marathon will come
under surprise attack from unknown hostile forces. But thanks to Bernard Strauss we
will be prepared this time.

July 24, 2012 (Tuesday)   149:1:9:27

Concerning Saturday's question about the first occurrence of cryo-storage units in
Marathon, John Sumner <> writes to point out that they are on
the 2nd level Bigger Guns Nearby. He writes:

There seem to be several of them in the second half of the level. After you jump
off the raised area from the first part to the second, there is one in the ceiling as
you go down that first curved stairway.
And the odd thing about them?

They are all recessed into the ceiling?

Yes indeed, all six are recessed high up into the ceiling. See the first one in the pic
below. Was this someone's idea of a joke or a mad space saving design?

July 23, 2012 (Monday)   150:7:19:42

I'm back in the hangar again...

WyFi H (aka Floyd) <> writes to point out that there is an
odd connection between the narrative in the Gheritt White terminal and the Hangar
Ninety Six narrative from the Infinity dream terminals. He points out that we find
Gheritt White floating six feet off the floor, he's having problems with his hands and
feet, and apparently he is a murderer. In the Hangar Ninety Six narrative we have bodies
floating off the ground, they are armless and legless, and the person doing the narration
is apparently responsible for this atrocity. Are these similarities just mere coincidence?

Also is there any significance to the numbers in the Hangar Ninety Six narrative. In
particular, the number seven hundred and sixty one is repeated a number of times as if
to reinforce some specific yet unknown relevance. There is also the number 96 itself
not to mention a large number of severed arms and legs.

Earlier this month Phil <> put together the Hangar Ninety
Six narrative in this document. Makes for easier reading.

July 21, 2012 (Saturday)   152:6:28:19

Last month, Xterra (aka Bob) <> pointed out that there was some
odd text on the cryo-storage unit tags in M1A1. Now he sends in a pic to prove it.

In order to see this in-game you must have Tim Vogel's Total Texture Enhancement Pack
enabled in Aleph One (M1A1). Check under Environment  >  Plugins. The quickest way
to find cryo-storage units is to fire up Blaspheme Quarantine. There's a bunch of them near
the start. If you do you'll also find a cryo-storage unit with the following tag.  No guesses as to
who this is. :) Now here is the interesting thing. On what level do you first find a cryo-storage
unit and what is odd about it? Know the answer? Then post it to the Story forum.

On the Story forum, Orihaus <> draws our attention to a Half Life 2
mod, Minerva: Metastasis by Adam Foster, which appears to take some of its inspiration
from the Marathon series.

Added Philtron's By Committee insights and views to the Volunteers section.

July 20, 2012 (Friday)   153:6:2:8

Regarding the letters B.U on the beta version of the Fusion Gun,
PerseusSpartacus <> writes in a Story forum post:

'Battery Unit' was my first thought, but I'm not exactly certain. 'Build Up' seems more
likely based on what ChristTrekker said, but then again, the image we have shows the
B.U bar full, meaning we would be on the verge of blowing up, which is far from likely.

Interestingly, the Marathon manual has this to say about the Fusion Pistol:

The Tech.50 is powered by a Deuterioxide Halogen Battery Pack capable of
producing 116.6 TeraWatts of power.

It is possible that B.U stands for Battery Unit, the dot simply indicating that the two letters
are separate words rather than a NRG-like rebus. A full B.U bar might have indicated
that the charge was full and ready to be discharged, i.e. the second trigger function would
now work. Perhaps this early version of the Fusion Pistol didn't work the same way as the
one in the final release.

Got your own view? Then post it to the Story forum.

Back in 2001, Grasshopper started the Volunteers series and the rest as they say is history.
Now Philtron <> in a Story forum post writes:

"By Committee" is one of my favorite levels in Marathon, I love prison escape levels,
but the Volunteers entry on this level misses a lot of what's going on here. So I decided
I would go deep and pick up the things that Volunteers didn't notice.

What follows is the largest post I've ever read on the Story forum. A true magnum opus
of in-depth observation and speculation. It covers many things including plot discrepancies,
the number seven, the mystery of the missing Enforcers, the door that wasn't there, where's
Tycho?, infinitely teleporting apologetic a-bobs, and a bunch of 'Unsolved Mysteries and

Here's one story-related piece. Philtron writes:

My suggested timeline for the two weeks that you were in prison:
  1. "Hang Brain", you destroy Durandal and copy his primal pattern into some part of your cybernetic memory.
  2. You're captured.
  3. You are interrogated by enforcers.
  4. Tycho believes you contain the Durandal's pattern and tries to kill you by using forged authorization stamps to turn factions within pen13 garrsion against each other. Any S'pht in the area are driven to rampancy by Tycho. He does this right under the nose of Admiral Tfear.
  5. Tfear's special unit of compilers capture Tycho.
  6. Tycho is interrogated and reveals his previous treachery involving the murder of Captain R'chzne. Tycho implicates you as a collaborator during the interrogation.
  7. Tycho is held in a containment unit, probably under the watch of Containment Compilers.
  8. Still, he is powerful and devious enough to slip past their defenses, possess a drone, use the drone to open every cell in prison, and then leave you a message on the local Pfhor network.
  9. Tycho waits while you rampage through the prisons and disable the power substations.
  10. Your actions must have clued Tfear to exactly what you're doing because after the power is down Tfear is the one giving you orders. We can assume that Tycho is captured because in a later level Tycho is apparently taking orders from Tfear. Also, Admiral Tfear never bothers to mention Tycho, but his orders on "By Committee" come from terminals with the title pages and end pages "Tycho_005917" implying that Tfear is sending his orders through Tcyho as proxy.

Go check it out. Warning give yourself plenty of time to read this or read it in stages.
Looking forward to the next level. :)

Got a favorite level you want to discuss? Then post it to the Story forum.

July 18, 2012 (Wednesday)   155:5:4:42

And the answer is...

Yesterday we posed the question: what could NRG and B.U stand for?

Are they acronyms?

In a Story forum post,   PerseusSpartacus <> points out
that NRG represents the word 'energy'. It is a form of rebus. Akin to NME (enemy)
or NTT (entity).

But is B.U a rebus?  If it is then perhaps the dot or stop between the B and U is important.

Suggestions on the Story forum so far have been:

Blow Up? Big Unload? BLAM U?
Bit Unstable? Build-Up? Battery ...something idk.

Concerning the 'Build-Up' suggestion, ChristTrekker writes:

I'm thinking "build up" for the 2nd trigger. If you didn't release before it hit full,
it zaps you instead. In the released game, the weapon got shakey and gave an audio
cue-maybe that was thought to be more realistic than a visual in the HUD.

Keep those suggestions coming. Yet another Marathon puzzle to solve. :)

July 17, 2012 (Tuesday)   156:14:4:51

Betas r us.

Not content with extracting the contents of the Marathon alpha Shapes file, Hopper has
now extracted the contents of the Shapes files from the two early betas that also came on the
Trilogy CD. One dates from May '94 the other June '94. These give us some insights into
how Marathon developed during 1994. In particular, the HUD with its motion sensor, weapons
and monster sprites.

Note the graphic for the Zeus Class Plasma Gun (above). Now what could NRG and B.U stand for?

Go check out his informative post. You can grab his beta Shapes package here (.zip format).

Time for a Marathon beta section perhaps?

July 16, 2012 (Monday)   157:8:13:13

On the subject of the rotating compass in Marathon,  ukimalefu points out in a Story forum post
that you can see it in action in the Marathon Home Videos. He writes:

...the version of Marathon they have in the video had the compass, not the motion sensor.

You can see it around 8 minutes into the movie. Greg Kirkpatrick is playing a level (unknown)
and Jason Jones is standing behind him watching. As Greg moves around the level the compass
rotates. The game later crashes with the cryptic error message: every other virtual=61.


Another thing to note about the version of the HUD being played in the video is that it has the
words  BETA: DO NOT DISTRIBUTE  written below the player window. A version of Marathon
bearing the same wording would later appear on the net in the infamous Marathon beta leak of
Oct '94. And the rest as they say is history. :)

If you can get the early betas from the Trilogy CD to work you can see the rotating compass
in action for yourself.

And of course as some people have already pointed out the Marathon alpha (Marathon zero)
from Jan '94 also had a compass... top middle of the screen.

July 15, 2012 (Sunday)   158:5:37:21

Orihaus <> in a Story forum post draws our attention to some of the
old Marathon era Bungie guys on Twitter. One interesting piece is what Doug Zartman had to
say about his famous Marathon 2 Bob cry... "Frog Blast the Vent Core".

"I gotta come up with something even more memorable so that isn't the epitaph
on my tombstone... ;-)"

Of course, another fitting epitaph would be his original Marathon Bob cry... "Thank God it's you!"
For obvious reasons. ;)

Whatever it is let's hope he won't need it soon. :)

On the subject of  "Frog Blast the Vent Core"  I came across this web site -
As you would expect from the name it's Marathon related and contains some interesting
blog pages. Here's one piece:

The real gem of Never Burn Money, though, is a terminal that most players never see.
Accessible only through a difficult series of grenade jumps, the so-called "Gheritt White Terminal"
greets us with a long, almost incomprehensible story of a man trapped in a cell, wrestling with some
sort of unnatural torture as his grip on reality crumbles. The prose is grim, the sequence
of events unclear; it's got a whiff of Julio Cortázar to it. But its significance is still unknown,
more than 15 years later.

and this piece:

Marathon launched just as public use of the internet was becoming A Thing™,  and was one
of the first times I can remember the hive mind unraveling a dense piece of text like this
one. Reams of debate and thousands of people sharing information still couldn't produce
final definitive answers on some aspects of the game, yet you can never shake the feeling
that the real answer is out there, if only you were smart enough to figure it out. Walking
that line of teasing and payoff with regard to lore is a very tricky thing to do without
infuriating your audience, and it's all the more impressive that Bungie pretty much knocked
it out of the park on their first try.

Yes indeed. :)

July 14, 2012 (Saturday)   159:15:15:41

Before the Marathon gamma.
Before the Marathon beta.

There was the Marathon alpha.

A long time ago at an Expo far, far away...   the January 1994 MacWorld Expo in San Francisco
to be precise, Bungie unveiled Marathon.

...sent on a mission to investigate the disappearance of colonists living on a hollowed-out
asteroid near the planet Pluto. Once you get there, you realize the colonists were destroyed
by alien monsters and now you it's your job to get rid of all the monsters before they have
you for lunch.

But this wasn't the Marathon we know of today. It bore more resemblance to Pathways Into
Darkness... with loads of caution-stripe tape.

Now thanks to Hopper on the Story forum we can can see inside the Marathon alpha.
Check out the level details, the textures, sprite animations, and the largest lunar
landscape panorama... ever.

For more details about the Marathon alpha (including a walkthrough) check the Blasts from
the Past section here.

July 10, 2012 (Tuesday)   163:13:15:8

HUDs... They're Everywhere!

Hot on the tracks of Hopper's Marathon Classic HUD,   President People <>
has posted the Marathon Demo v0.0 HUD for those who want to go truly retro.
Of course, truly retro would be this... or indeed THIS.

Crosshairs in Marathon? Oh yes indeed. President People <> dug
deep into the Story page and came across this Marathon Ad which shows... a crosshairs. Ok it's
an Ad but it's as close to 'canon' crosshairs as we are ever likely to get. President People has
recreated the crosshairs and perhaps someone will implement it in Aleph One.


Only for those who can't aim... of course. ;)

July 8, 2012 (Sunday)   165:7:12:37

Mickey <> writes to point out that he has posted the video
portion of the IMG interview with Bungie Software from Jan/Feb 1995 on YouTube.

The video came on the CD-ROM version of Inside Mac Games magazine (Volume 3, Issues 1 and 2, Jan/Feb).
You can read the text from the interview on the Blasts from the Past section here. But this is the first
time the actual video has been made available online. The video features Alex Seropian and Jason Jones.
Check out those early insights into Marathon's development, the reasons for the long delay, the lessons
learnt and the future.

Great to have another piece of Marathon history preserved for future generations. :)

On the subject of old Marathon memorabilia, the Story page is still looking for the first ever
movie of Marathon network play available from the Inside Mac Games CD-ROM October '94.
The Marathon movie (QT format, 27 MBs) was bundled on the first IMG CD-ROM. It apparently
shows a Marathon network game from around Aug-Sept '94. Here's an old Usenet post about the
movie. Due to its large size (for the day) it never appeared on the net nor was uploading it officially

If you can lay you hands on the Oct '94 IMG CD-ROM or know someone who may have it then let
the Story page know. It would be great to see this early version of Marathon network play.

July 7, 2012 (Saturday)   166:6:50:59

Happy Bungie Day (7th of the 7th).

To celebrate Bungie Day, Hopper has created the original Marathon Classic HUD for Aleph One.

Old-timers out there should appreciate this nostalgia hit. If you like it let him know.

Here's a screenshot (below) of the real thing I posted this time last year. Spot the difference(s).

July 2, 2012 (Monday)   138:4:31:20

Phil <> writes:

I've gone through the story page and I've taken that strange story
that appears in Marathon: Infinity's dream levels and put it all
together in one document. This way if anyone is interested in reading
the whole thing they don't have to go through three separate pages to
do so.

There are three narratives/vignettes in the whole thing: the main
narrative is what I call the Durability Narrative, this is
occasionally interrupted by the Hanger 96 Narrative (which at the very
end references some characters from the main narrative), and this is
interrupted once by the Eat The Path Narrative. I've denoted where
each narrative starts by putting their titles in brackets.

Interesting to note the three narratives and the fact that they are not independent.
But what does it all mean and will we ever know all the answers?

Recently on the Story forum.:

Marathon sound used in KRAVE ad
More Marathon art made with HeroMachine 2.5
Marathon's .44 Magnum made out of Lego
Marathon Ads found on the back covers of MacAddict magazine
Factory sealed copies of Marathon for sale

Go to What's New for May - June 2012

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Last updated Aug 14, 2012