since 1995

June 28, 2022 (Tuesday) 6.28.2022

"Only in the Bungie fan community would someone take the time to create a cartoon about a character wearing underpants, just to post it on a message board."
Deathwhore. HBO forum. July 1, 2001.

Every good comic strip has an origin story.

For 21 years the origin story of the Jjaro Boxers has been hidden... buried deep. But these boxers are your birthright. Now for the first time I give this story to you.

The Origin of the Jjaro Boxers.

June 26, 2022 (Sunday) 6.26.2022

In space no one can hear you scream.
Marketing line for the 1979 sci-fi horror movie Alien.

In Marathon it's a different story.

The subject of vacuum levels cropped up again recently. One comment caught my attention, namely "Why only one vacuum level in Marathon?". The question might at first appear odd since there are technically none in Marathon 2.

In the Original Level Notes for Marathon there had been plans for four vacuum levels but only one made it into the final game. One that didn't make the cut - Neither High nor Low - has been discussed in the Vacuum Levels section. The level has open windows into space and at the start there is a small alcove that could potentially have contained an oxygen recharger at one stage.

Oddly there is an oxygen recharger on Bob-B-Q but that was not designated as a vacuum level in the Original Level Notes for Marathon.

Perhaps Bungie decided that vacuum levels were just not fun enough and left it at one.

For Marathon Infinity, Double Aught threw out the rule book and put four back in the game. (circumstances are cyclical)

In addition, they specifically created new vacuum enabled BOBs.

Bungie's Marketing Department proudly declared:

Bob is back and ready for action! This time he's got his own vacuum suit and he's packin' fusion power. He might not be as friendly as we remember...

Oddly VacBOB never appeared on any of the vacuum levels in the released game.

The Voice of BOB (aka Doug Zartman) explained how he did the new VacBOB sounds in an interview with Inside Mac Games:

"One of the differences with the BOB sounds on Infinity is that the BOBs are encased inside spacesuits with these big helmets on. So of course we had to make it sound unlike the BOBs who are running around in the open air. What we did eventually was buy some walkie-talkies and hook the mic up to one them and then I took the other one and walked clear across the office and recorded the BOB sounds into that preserving all that useful static."

Yes folks, no expense spared at Bungie's Special Effects Department back in the day.

June 24, 2022 (Friday) 6.24.2022

Added Mac Hall's "Web Bastard" webcomic to the Blasts from the Past section.

While not strictly Marathon-related it does feature the ever popular Matt Soell who is no stranger to Marathon fans.

Hired by Bungie shortly after the release of Marathon Matt took over Doug Zartman's role as "The Man in the Online Asbestos Suit". He was quickly put to work answering calls from irate customers about Marathon's "Installer from Hell". A nefarious pre-game puzzle.

Writing in his semi-autobiography entitled "It was all downhill from there"  Matt describes his first days at Bungie:

"My job was pretty simple at first: man the phone lines. Seemingly everyone and their parents had ordered a copy of Marathon; very few of them had received it. Those who had often found themselves confounded by the installation process. I found myself talking almost non-stop from the time I got in to the moment I left. At the time Bungie only had three phone lines and an ass-backwards phone system that dumped customers straight into voice mail if Doug or I didn't pick up the phone in three rings or less. I had plenty to do."

As Jason Jones would later remark:

"we spent a lot of time on the game, and then punted on the installer. sort of stupid, huh? the installer sucked rocks. it wasn't even an installer, it was a compact pro self-extracting archive. very stupid. alex almost got fired for that one. but it's kinda like putting a really, really, hard puzzle right at the beginning of the game. a lot of people just didn't get it."

So says the man who created... Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap.

But I digress.

Related links:

Missing Boxes and the Installer from Hell
The Bungie WebMaster
Jason Jones must die mb.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Colony Ship For Sale, Cheap

June 19, 2022 (Sunday) 6.19.2022

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name.
Arthur Conan Doyle. "A Scandal in Bohemia". 1891.

In Marathon (the first game) there are two women. This is the story of the second.

See The Fourth Terminal on Never Burn Money for details.

June 17, 2022 (Friday) 6.17.2022

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote in 1905:

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

A recent comment about Jason Jones and the wild coding Blitzkrieg that created Marathon made me recall the following... entitled You again?.

July 17, 1997.

May 3, 2002 and this.

June 28, 2011 and this.

I will leave the last word to treellama.

Or maybe Thoth... (circumstances are cyclical)

I have added Jason's comments to the Blasts from the Past section... so that we might remember.

June 16, 2022 (Thursday) 6.16.2022

Just a heads up...

Mandalore does a retrospective of Pathways Into Darkness.

Yes folks, following his success doing a retrospective of Marathon he goes back in time to do the forerunner. Albeit the Aleph One port of the original game.

June 15, 2022 (Wednesday) 6.15.2022

So I had a bunch of emails in recently about a certain terminal on the Marathon 2 level Charon Doesn't Make Change. The one that starts off:

I felt S'bhuth at burning dawn.

Apparently people are having a hard time finding it in-game. Here's a recent reddit post about it with some interesting responses.

Since this has become something of a frequently asked question and a degree of mystery has built up about it I have added the S'pht Terminal Clusters on Charon section to help explain it.

June 13, 2022 (Monday) 6.13.2022

Prompted by a question I could not answer, namely "How many Mac Hall comics feature Marathon?",   I have added Mac Hall's "Things That Hoot" to the Blasts from the Past section. Because one day it will be gone.

So that makes two Mac Hall Marathon-related webcomics. How many more are out there?

"Things That Hoot" is of course a reference to the lone Loon sound you hear on the atmospheric Marathon 2 level "Kill Your Television" created by Jason Jones.

Which explains this...

Commenting on this terminal text some years later Jason Jones wrote:

...if this doesn't peg your weirdo-detector, nothing will <grin>

Which explains this...

Marathon Iceberg by orihaus (2021)

June 11, 2022 (Saturday) 6.11.2022

Marathon and Barbarella.

Back in February 1998 a Marathon fan called Jensen had the misfortune of writing to the Bungie WebMaster and having his letter published. He wrote:

I was changing channels the other night when the movie Barbarella came on. It was a science fiction movie, and it looked a bit old. In this movie, I found many things related to the Marathon games, especially the first one. I was surprised to hear Tau Ceti mentioned. The villain of the movie was named Duran Duran, which could be reworked, thus derived the name Durandal. Is it true? Or could this possibly be a coincidence.

The answer he got back was not what you might expect.

But I digress.

Barbarella was a 1968 science fiction film directed by Roger Vadim and staring Jane Fonda. It was notable for its costume design or in some cases lack thereof. The story involves Barbarella being sent by the President of Earth to find Dr. Durand Durand, a scientist who had gone missing in the Tau Ceti system. Dr Durand Durand was the inventor of the Positronic Ray, a weapon that zaps you to the 4th dimension.

Barbarella is not noted for its story or is it?

In November 1997 Greg Kirkpatrick included it in his list of "good" science fiction movies.

Or maybe, like me, he was just waiting for the Black Queen of Sogo to appear.

Apparently, the British new wave band Duran Duran named themselves after the character "Dr. Durand Durand" in Barbarella. However the Bungie WebMaster dismissed this in his reply to young Jensen (above) and offered his own infamous origin theory.

But I digress.

Hey!   Zardoz is on that list. What's up with that?

June 8, 2022 (Wednesday) 6.08.2022

Q12. Following the release of Myth: The Fallen Lords in November 1997 Jason Jones began work on Bungie's next big game which would eventually become Halo. The initial code name for this was? Choose the correct one. (5 marks)

1. Blam
2. Monkey Nuts
3. Armor

June 4, 2022 (Saturday) 6.04.2022

Origin of Bungie's use of the term "BLAM!".

So back in 1998 Bungie register and It was also one of the codenames for Halo. But even before this Bungie had been using it in phrases such as BLAM "Your mom!" DINK.

So how far back does it go?

It appears in very small print on the bottom right-hand corner of the credits section of the Marathon Scrapbook in May 1997. Rob Schultz's was the first to note this describing it as "itty-bitty white text"

However Jeoku on the Marathon Discord server writes "Huh? I dont see it."

Unfortunately you can't see it on the scans because it is too small to pick up but it is recorded on the Marathon Scrapbook transcript section.

Is this the first appearance of Bungie's use of the term Blam?

Far from it. It goes back it even further into Bungie's past.

Iritscen on the Marathon Discord server points out that Jacob Aberg found a BLAM! reference in the Minotaur Read Me file which dates back to 1992.

This was all noted in the Blam section of the Story page. But who would have thought it?

But Blam is Halo right?

June 1, 2022 (Wednesday) 6.01.2022

Happy June 1st.

This month 31 years ago Bungie released their first commercial game - Operation: Desert Storm.

According to the O:DS manual Bungie Software comprised 4 people:

Alexander Seropian     Vocals and Bass
Phil Candela                Lead Guitar
Nick DiCrescenzo        Drums and Percussion
David Seropian            Piano, Synthesizer, and Organ

Yes, even back at the very beginning Bungie had a sense of humor.

What has this to do with Marathon?     Nothing... and Everything.

Over the years the Story page has accumulated some interesting bits and bobs about Operation: Desert Storm and now you can read it all in one place on the Blasts from the Past section. Because all those moments will be lost in time...

May 29, 2022 (Sunday) 5.29.2022

Marathon retrospectives... They're Everywhere!

Hot on the heels of yesterday's release of Mandalore's Marathon Review video comes ShreddedNerd's video entitled Bungie's Marathon: The Blueprint of FPS. This video weighs in at nearly an hour (56 minutes) and discusses all three games in the trilogy. Good story observations in this one as well so bring your popcorn.

May 28, 2022 (Saturday) 5.28.2022

One of the heavy hitters of YouTube gaming videos - Mandalore of MandaloreGaming - has produced a retrospective of Marathon, the first game in the Marathon trilogy. His gaming videos generally get in excess of 1 million views with good reason as they are a continuous monologue of witty and insightful comments about video games combined with professional looking game play video segments. Some have describe him as the Casey Neistat of video games.

His retrospective of Marathon is just under 36 minutes long and contains a number of insightful observations about the story in the first game. Definitely worth a watch.

I will leave the last words to Mandalore:

There are still two more Marathon games which I could cover next but... things get denser. I guess we'll see.

I ran a Patreon poll to see if I should do the trilogy at once and now I am very glad that didn't happen. Marathon Infinity might kill me.

Related links:

Greg Kirkpatrick on Marathon Infinity
The Escapist article "From '94 to Infinity: Before Halo"
Greg Kirkpatrick's response to the Escapist article "From '94 to Infinity: Before Halo"
What is the 'ultimate question' ?
Who are searching for the 'answer' to 'ultimate question' ?

Hey! You forgot the Hypertextualists .

Who are searching for the 'answer' to 'ultimate question' ?

Hey!   Is that a different version of the Story page?

May 27, 2022 (Friday) 5.27.2022

Will the best dressed 10th military Mjolnir Mark IV cyborg in Destiny please stand up.

Playing dress up in Destiny is fun... apparently. One can envision groups of Destiny stylists singing in perfect Barbershop vocal harmony:

I'm too sexy for my armor
Too sexy for my armor
So sexy it hurts

Apologies to Right Said Fred

But I digress.

In a Story forum post President People asks "What IS the Deimosborn armor set based on?"

Deimos born... get it?

No doubt that somewhere in the heavens on the internet there is page with the best dressed 10th military Mjolnir Mark IV cyborgs in Destiny.

May 24, 2022 (Tuesday) 5.24.2022

The KKV-7 10mm Flechette SMG from June 1996.

Q11.  During Marathon Infinity's development Double Aught requested that the second trigger on the SMG turn the player's hand 90 degrees so you could shoot "gangsta-style". Who was reported to have vetoed this request? Choose the correct one. (5 marks)

1. Jason Jones
2. Alexander Seropian
3. Robert McLees

May 20, 2022 (Friday) 5.20.2022

So on eBay today you have the chance to be the proud owner of 6 Bungie game buttons.

But can you name them?

May 19, 2022 (Thursday) 5.19.2022

So a number of people writing in about the Marathon 101 Competition.

What's the prize?
What are the answers?
Who knows this stuff these days?
Who cares?

One insightful reader even offers a Marathon 101 question.

How many crushers are there in the first game? Choose the correct one. (5 marks)

1. More than 10.
2. More than 20.
3. More than 30.

Actually a similar question was asked in the 2nd Summertime Blues Competition in 1998.

Added the Summertime Blues Competitions to the Blasts from the Past section.

Who won that exclusive Marathon's Story page secret mystery prize?

May 16, 2022 (Monday) 5.16.2022

The Marathon 101 Competition... continues:

Q10. Greg Kirkpatrick left Bungie at the end of 1995 to set up his own gaming company which was originally going to be called? Choose the correct one. (5 marks)

1. Nuke and Pave, Inc.
2. Destiny, Inc.
3. Aye Mak Sicur, Inc.

May 8, 2022 (Sunday) 5.08.2022

Strauss is gone. Whole sky alight as his ship set off. I might be the
last MIDA survivor on Mars.

Lots of folks writing in about MIDA and Strauss. So where is the MIDA section?

And some interesting speculation on Rampancy, Strauss, Durandal and... Tycho on the Story forum.

  • Did Tycho have a role in controlling Durandal in the 1st stage of Rampancy during the Marathon's 300 year voyage to Tau Ceti?
  • Did Strauss really go into stasis for 300 years with a Rampant AI onboard the Marathon?
  • What was the "chance discovery" that made Durandal's Rampancy possible?
  • Who had a "brain the size of a planet" but had to carry out mundane jobs such as opening doors?
  • Is there a fourth stage of Rampancy?
  • What is the 'Holy Grail' of cybertonics?
All these questions and more on today's episode of the Marathon's Story page.

May 7, 2022 (Saturday) 5.07.2022

The top seven pages people are reading.   Or... maybe just looking at the pictures.

Why are they reading these pages? Is there a connection? Should you be reading them?

Bernard Strauss
Durandal (part 1)
Durandal (part 2)
The Marathon Art of Craig Mullins
Jason Jones on Marathon
MIDA Was there ever a MIDA section? It's a common search term. Why is there no MIDA section?

May 1, 2022 (Sunday) 5.01.2022

Happy May Day.

Think you know Marathon and vintage Bungie lore?

We continue the Marathon 101 Competition.

Q9. Which map in the Marathon Trilogy series had all its geometry created while the creator was in a straight jacket, screaming at a nurse for munster cheese sandwiches and ginseng tea? Choose the correct one. (5 marks)

1. Ex Cathedra by Doug Zartman
2. The Hard Stuff Rules... by Greg Kirkpatrick
3. A Converted Church in Venice, Italy by Randy Reddig

Previous questions in the Marathon 101 Competition can be found here.

Question 8
Question 7 and the answer from UrsusArctos
Question 6
Question 5
Question 4
Question 3
Question 2
Question 1

Go to What's New for Mar - Apr 2022

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Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated June 28, 2022