Vacuum Levels

"Prepare to drink vacuum, fool."

Back in Aug 14, 1996 Brian Harriss <> noted that in the Marathon Infinity demo level of "Acme Station" there were Pfhor fighters and asked how could they survive in the vacuum since they were not vacuum enabled?

Avi Selk <> followed this up by pointing out that on the same level we hear water dripping and asked how could we possibly hear this since liquids can't exist in a vacuum?

Mark Tomczak <> suggested that maybe "Acme Station" was not in a vacuum but rather simply had no oxygen.

Good point!

Then in Nov 9, 1996 Scot Jaeger <> drew attention to the fact that there was an Enforcer on "Post Naval Trauma", a level that was considered to be in vacuum. The problem with this was that Enforcers were also not vacuum enabled.

Kirill Levchenko <> pointed out that like "Acme Station" it was not clear whether "Post Naval Trauma" was in fact a vacuum level. The existence of Enforcers and Fighters (both not vacuum enabled) suggested that the level had a non-human breathable atmosphere, hence the need for oxygen.

Ok... no problem so far.

Now Aaron Freed <> makes two valid observations from the terminals on "Post Naval Trauma" concerning this.

Firstly, Aaron points out that on the first terminal on this level Durandal says:

Boomer's forward batteries have slagged engineering and ruptured the hull for you. That's a good start, but now it's your turn.

If the hull was ruptured we might expect a vacuum unless of course the area we are in is sealed off from the ruptured section.

Secondly, Aaron points out that on the final terminal there is a Pfhor directive which is interrupted by Durandal:

All Maintenance Units required to vacuum enable

remote interrupt

This would suggest that the ship wasn't in vacuum until this stage. Thus the need for oxygen was due to a non-human breathable atmosphere.

Ok... problem solved... err... no!

If the Pfhor ship's atmosphere doesn't contain oxygen it would suggest that the Pfhor themselves don't need it. If so why are there oxygen rechargers built into the ship on "Post Naval Trauma"? Who are they for? Not for us that's for sure. ;-)

Also why did we not need oxygen on the Pfhor refueling ship Hfarl in "Requiem For a Cyborg"? There is also an oxygen recharger on this ship as well.

I could go on...

Aaron Freed <> writes:

i'd like to point out that Tycho tells us on Foe Hammer to drink vacuum and we're teleported into space, but it isn't really a vacuum.

Aaron goes on to say that this isn't surprising since the Marathon engine doesn't allow a map to have a combination of both oxygen and vaccum. It's either one or the other. As "Foe Hammer" is not vacuum we cannot drink vacuum.

But was "Foe Hammer" always an oxygen level?

Jim Mitchell <> made these observations some time ago.

Do you know whether or not Foe Hammer was supposed to be a vacuum level? It just seems weird how there are no windows and a few oxygen refills for no reason. Seems like it should be vacuum. No windows, vaccuum bobs. Lots of shotgun shells and some fusion batteries. Only S'pht, hunters, and cyborgs. No standard bobs on Foe Hammer. Same with Naw Man He's Close.

Interesting point. Both "Naw Man He's Close" and "Foe Hammer" do look like they were designed with vacuum in mind. The open windows on "Foe Hammer" are certainly strange. Though open windows have been known to exist on other non-vacuum levels throughout the Marathon Trilogy (Can you name the levels?).

In terms of the Infinity Story it would make sense if "Naw Man He's Close" and "Foe Hammer" were vacuum. After all Durandal's ship (Boomer) was under attack and the hull was breached.

Pfhor from the enemy ship have blasted a hole in the hull, and are running amok on the upper levels.

<Naw Man He's Close (Terminal 1: 1st Message)>

And Tycho had us running around opening all the airlocks. Not a good idea under the circumstances.

Open the rest of the airlocks on this level and my capture of the ship will be complete. There are switches here, in this area.

<Naw Man He's Close (Terminal 0: 1st Message)>

So were "Naw Man He's Close" and "Foe Hammer" originally vacuum levels?

Chris Geisel <> the creator of both levels admits "yes" but the vacuum idea was scrapped at a later stage. Chris writes:

Naw Man He's Close is a quote from Apocalypse Now's bridge scene, and started out life as a concept--the player free falling toward the hull of Durandal's ship with an assault team of troopers. The original design was by me, and was centered around a control tower above a pool of the ubiqutous (and hard to understand) Pfhor slime. I finished about half of the map and then started working on terminals for the rest of the levels. Greg took over the map near the end of Infinity, revamped it, added in some architecture that he'd never used on M2 (the pulsing lights in the hallway, the secret door in the 'Y' passage way, and some others) and finished it up.

Foe Hammer was my level, and the name comes from Tolkien. This was another level where I wanted to put a secret area. There's a switch just below the Pfhor slime in the second large room that opens a door at the bottom of the second (non-functional) elevator. Down there is a souped up Mother of All Hunters, a rocket launcher, and other treats. Randy helped me tweak the outdoor areas (which have some nice views) and the two of us came up with a design that had a group of drones flying around on the outside of the ship, firing in at the player, but we scrapped it for speed reasons, and because at times the landscapes became cluttered with drone corpses, which really killed the suspension of disbelief.

Concerning the location of open windows (into space) on non-vacuum levels Aaron Freed <> writes:

One was Eupfhoria (this was mentioned in the spoiler guide).

Yes indeed that's one of the more well known ones. In fact if you use a Physics Model to make your Player height smaller you can walk through the window out into space. Apparently if you look back at the Pfhor scoutship you'll see ff`~~~~ff`fXff`

Scott Jaeger <> writes:

Concerning open windows:

Acme Station has been suggested to have a different atmosphere. However, there is an open window into space in the LARGE room that you teleport into to destroy one of the 3 switches. It is in the corner behind the wall with the destroyable switch.

Yup!... not an easy one to find either if you're in a rush. ;-)

Just how many open windows into space are there in the Marathon games?

Aaron Freed <> writes:

On Rise Robot Rise there's a room with a message from Tycho, a pattern buffer, a yellow recharger, and two windows looking out into space. Can't miss this; if you do, you won't actually complete the level. The windows... you guessed it... are open. :)*

The similar small windows in the final terminal room of this level are also open.

This one sheds more light onto perhaps why Post Naval Trauma was a vacuum... or more controversy. That full powered-up juggernaut - obvious which one, it's the only active one on the level - goes through an open window.

In one of the rooms with a pattern buffer there's another open window.

The juggernaut one was intentional but the other one was a... ???

But that's not all... Aaron points out that on "Acme Station" the areas in the floor and roof where you can see space are all open, though you can't fall through the openings. This phenomenon also occurs in one area on "Aye Mak Sicur"

Finally Aaron asks:

WHY is Carroll Street Station a vacuum? You're Wormfood Dude has an open airlock but I don't see why the other is a vacuum.

Aaron Freed <> points out that the window in the roof of the main hangar on "Aye Mak Sicur" is in fact open.

Aaron Freed <> writes:

Do you know if "If I Had A Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay" was originally supposed to be an vacuum level? With the exception of the Bobs on this level, there are only Hunters and Troopers, which are vacuum enabled aliens. There are lots of oxygen rechargers on the level. And Boomer had crashed onto the moon of Lh'owon, which doesn't appear to have much of an atmosphere. Durandal gives us a pair of shotguns at the start of the level and a ton of ammo for it.

In addition this level (unlike most of the levels on Boomer) is not low-gravity, and it isn't magnetic. My guess is that Bungie thought it would be too easy if it was just possible to grenade hop and skip most of the level (it still is possible to skip most of the level). I would guess Bungie made this an oxygen level because of its Rocket Launcher theme.

Interesting point. Boomer had taken heavy damage from Battle Group Seven and was forced to make an emergency landing on Lh'owon's second moon. When we arrive Pfhor Troopers had already penetrated the hull. Durandal also points out that life support had failed in most areas of the ship:

We're helpless on Lh'owon's second moon.
Our engines have been destroyed and all
primary weapons are off-line. Life support
has failed in most areas.

Enjoy yourself.

So we might have expected to encounter vacuum levels based on the plot details.

Yet there are no vacuum levels in Marathon 2. Why?

Playing "If I Had A Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay" under vacuum conditions would have really tested our mettle. Eat It Vid Boi! ;-)

Shor Netscap <> writes:

In marathon one, level Neither High nor Low, I found what was supposed to be a window where it had a view of the pfhor ship. I starting shooting and I found out that there was no window there, I was just shooting at the pfhor ship and open space. Also in Neither High nor Low near a row of steps there is this shield recharger, near it there is this other space but it's just a dead end. That could have been where an oxygen recharger was originally.

Was Neither High nor Low originally intended as a vacuum level? Just how many open windows are there on this level?

Rich Williams <> points out that in the Star Trek series you had areas apparently open to space but which kept the air in and allowed objects out. Rich writes:

I don't follow the series religiously, so I'm just going by what I remember seeing several years ago on The Next Generation. I tried to look up some info on the net, FAQ's and such, but there wasn't anything to be found (suprisingly). Anyway, cargo bay and shuttlecraft landing areas would have their doors open to exposed space, with only a forcefield keeping it pressurized. Shuttlecraft would simply pass through the forcefield and the bay remained pressurized. Hard to just flies through the field.

Bean Sullivan <> follows up on Aaron Freed's suggestion above that "If I Had A Rocket Launcher, I'd Make Somebody Pay" may have originally been intended as a vacuum level:

In regards to the question of whether or not "If I had a rocket launcher I'd make somebody pay" in M2 was intended to be vacuum originally, wouldn't the "If I had a rocket launcher..." part of the title imply that if you had a rocket launcher... but you couldn't because it was vacuum? Thus the title is you getting a bit peeved because of it?

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Last updated Mar 27, 2001