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Volunteers Expanded: By Committee
Posted By: PhiltronDate: 7/18/12 8:20 p.m.

"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.

The analysis of "By Committee" fails to answer several questions we should be asking while playing this level. One glaringly obvious question: Where are the Enforcers? We're in Pen 13 Garrison which contains a prison and a dungeon, both of which fall within the domain of the enforcers. There should be Enforcers everywhere in this level, up in the guard towers, looking down from balconies, standing guard outside the prisons, etc. So, where are they? There is no sign of them except for one alien gun lying on the ground. Before we get to that let's look at some other things going on in this level.

On Marathon's storytelling in general:

The storytelling in the Marathon games isn't perfect. For example: in Marathon: Infinity, by far the most sophisticated of the Marathon games in terms of level design and story, we're told by Tycho that "The Enforcers, as you may remember, are not vacuum enabled", but then we see enforcers hanging around on the vacuum level "Post Naval Trauma". What the hell? Are they holding their breath? And then, in "By Committee", take a look at what Tycho says in one of the terminals: "You will be cutting the power for the entire complex, and the Pfhor will likely notice soon thereafter. I warn you they are an extremely riled bunch of alien slavers. Access a terminal after they are disabled..." Haha! What?!? Based on that sentence structure Tycho is telling us to access a terminal after the alien slavers are disabled. Oh Tycho, we're trying to disable the power substations, not the Pfhor, silly AI.

So, things aren't perfect in Marathon's storytelling. The story can be sometimes misleading and can sometime contradict itself, which can make accurate analysis difficult. It's something that should be kept in mind but it shouldn't prevent us from having fun exploring Marathon's mysteries.

First things first. Does this level add to the conspiracy surrounding #7?

Yes. "By Committee" is a prison break level and is level 18. In Marathon 2, "the Big House" is also a prison break level and is also level 18. 1 - 8 = -7 !!!! CraaaazzzyyyyY

In the dungeons, each curved hall has four (Pfhor) cells hanging off of it for a total of 52 cells in the dungeons. 5+2=7

On this entire map there is 1 security Bob, 7 science bobs, and 21 engineering bobs.
1+7+21=29
2-9=-7

The Possessed Drone Vignette:

At the start of the level we see an off color drone flying around, the doors of our prison cell begin to open, and the drone fights a Pfhor fighter. The drone is obviously possessed by a benefactor, undoubtedly Tycho who needs your help in becoming free.

If we explore the initial prison area we will come to a lava basement with drones "reading" terminals. If we walk over the lava along the planks this will trigger a pistol and ammo to teleport into a deactivated outbound teleporter pad; we will also trigger some drones who teleport in next to the pad.

The Volunteers page refers to this place as a "drone-programming" room, which I think is a valid analysis. The terminals are above the lava so clearly they were meant for drones/compilers only; most likely this is how the robotic units receive their instructions. It is crucial to notice that there are five terminals and four drones; this implies that the possessed drone who freed us is actually the fifth drone from the drone-programming room.

This then suggests that Tycho was able to hack the drone THROUGH the terminal which, along with his ability to leave you a message, means he has some small influence over what happens in the facility.

This vignette tells us some things about this level but also brings up some new questions. Why didn't Tycho hack more drones? Perhaps because a move that big would be noticed by the Pfhor, but we can't be sure. An even more interesting question: if Tycho can possess the drone on "Committee" then why didn't he possess the drones on "Poor Yorick" when he was staging his coup against R'chzne? The most obvious meta-answer is that Double Aught didn't want Tycho to control every Pfhor unit because then you'd have no one to fight but Enforcers and that would be boring; but let's not cop out with meta-answers. On "Yorrick" did Tycho just not find drones useful, as was the case with the troopers ("No need to go easy on any of the troopers... there's no room for them in the new regime.")? Can Tycho only hack drones through terminals in real time, as opposed to sending forged commands to terminals to be read by aggregate combatant units? As far as I can tell it's not quite clear.

The Mysterious Door Vignette:

There is a large door in this level which doesn't open even though it has a switch right next to it.

The "door" I refer to can be seen in the southwest section of the map. The "door" separates a courtyard with some cyborgs from a courtyard where A-bobs teleport in. In terms of polygon types there is no door, but Double Aught did go out of their way to use split polygons on two walls to let us know that a door exists and is meant to connect two areas.

A switch is next to the it but it activates a door in the dungeons where we find a large stash of weapons and ammo.

What's up with this?

It might have been that this used to be an actual door but the level design changed. Whatever the case, I think Double Aught is having a bit of fun with us here. I think their intention was that we'd hit the switch expecting the door to open, but nothing happens. Psych! We look around trying to figure out what we activated but no answer is apparent. Double psych from Double Aught! It takes some effort to figure out what that switch actually does. First you have to mentally connect the closed door in the dungeons to the mystery switch. Then, you have to figure out that to keep the dungeon door open you need to use the "double tap" trick with the switch, and this is made difficult because of the door's weird speeds. Most doors in Marathon have a speed of about 1 world unit per second; the door in the dungeons moves at a wopping 4 wu/s, which is the same as the other doors in the dungeon but that's beside the point. While most doors in Marathon have a delay of about 4 seconds (the amount of time the door stays open before closing again) the door in the dungeon has a delay of 0.4 seconds. So, you've got to figure out that the dungeon door and switch are connected, and then you have to figure out you need to tap the switch a second time during the .4 seconds that the door stays open. I get the feeling that whoever was designing this was giggling their butt off.

If there is a narrative explanation for this I guess it would be "Tycho". He clearly has some power within the facility and he teleports ammo and weapons to you periodically. I think that Tycho somehow managed to reroute the courtyard door's switch so that instead of connecting the courtyards it instead activates the dungeon door and gives you access to more weapons and more ammo. My guess is that the Pfhor just happened to be storing human weapons in that dungeon cell for lack of a better place to put them, which in a way is reminiscent of the human weapon cache on M1's "Eupfhoria".

Where is Tycho and where are the S'pht?

So where is Tycho being kept? Do we see his containment cell in this level?

The usual assumption is that Tycho's core is the glowing box where we smash the switches to finish the level. This makes sense at first. The geometry is textured with a similar white texture that is used for texturing the cores of the S'pht/Jjaro AIs. It's in the dungeons and it makes sense that Tycho would be kept in the dungeons.

But there's some problems with the idea that the circuits in the dungeon are attached directly to Tycho's prison.

First:
"The power substations are located in the dungeons.
You will be cutting the power for the entire complex..."

This tells us that when we go to the dungeons we're looking at the power substations for the entire complex, and not Tycho's containment unit. Besides, why would the power substations to the entire complex be attached to the side of a containment unit for one of the most dangerous entities in the galaxy.

Second:
The box we're looking at is probably too small to house Tycho. Anytime we've seen another AI's core, the size of it spans a huge area. The S'pht AIs consist of several large rooms with tower sized cores that are about three times the height of the player. Durandal's core is so large and well guarded that an entire level is devoted to destroying it piece by piece. But, the box we see on "By Comittee" is really small, occupies a small room, and isn't very tall.

Third:
On top of all that, where are the S'pht compilers? We're told that Tfear suspected Tycho's treachery right from the start so he "had a special unit of compilers running containment simulations for the last nine years". Those special Compilers were what captured Tycho in the first place. So, wouldn't the compilers be there, guarding Tycho? Where are they?

On "Rise Robot Rise" Tycho tells us, "You're looking at the bug fleet's resident expert in AI counter-insurgency. Notice the lack of compilers on board? That's not by accident; my new ship has quite the effect on their collective unconscious." Later, in "Naw Man He's Close" Tycho says, "My ship has wrested control of Durandal's S'pht and is spurring them into rampancy." So, that's what Tycho does to S'pht; apparently he has no appreciation for how they resurrected him in Durandal's image once upon a time. This ability and tendency of Tycho's could possibly explain the absence of any normal S'pht Compilers on this level. However, shouldn't a specially trained unit of compilers, the same ones that captured Tycho, be able to resist Tycho's influence?

The lack of any large computer cores and the lack of any compilers suggests that we never see Tycho on this level. He is in a part of the complex we never visit. Despite being captured, Tycho's range of influence is still wide enough to reach our part of the facility.

What's up with Bobs and Assimilated Bobs being weird on this level?

Normally both Bobs and Assimilated Bobs appear green on our radar. On this level, however, there are some Bobs that appear red on our radar. This is because in the Physics file these particular Bobs occupy two alien enemy slots; I guess radar-color can't be changed. The Bobs in question are the ones on the lava-vater as well as the apologetic a-bobs that teleport into a prison yard. The reason Double Aught created separate slots for them is because these particular Bobs respawn infinitely while the other Bobs don't respawn at all. When a particular enemy is set to infinitely respawn in the Marathon engine this becomes true for every enemy of that type everywhere on the map. So, if Double Aught used regular A-bobs for the prison yard and regular Bobs for the lava-vater then the Bobs and A-bobs in the other parts of the map would also constantly respawn.

There are six types of Bobs in this level:
Blue Bob (Science) = normal Bob found in dungeons; can attack; quantity 7; marked "cannot skip"
Red Bob (Security) = normal Bob found in dungeons; can attack; quantity 1; marked "cannot skip"
Green Bob (Engineering/Crew) = normal(?) Bob found in prison pens as well as dungeons; cannot attack; quantity 21
Assimilated Bob = normal A-bob found in prison pens
Green Bobs on Bob-o-later = infinite quantity; cannot attack; appear red on radar; Enforcer Minor
Apologetic A-bobs = teleport into West prison yard; infinite quantity; appear red on radar; Enforcer Major

The infinitely teleporting A-bobs in the courtyard appear red on radar and they speak apologetic lines as opposed to normal A-bob dialogue. The meta-answer to this is probably that since Double Aught already created a new type of A-bob they decided they might as well take this opportunity and add some cool touches such as altering the dialogue. The usual narrative interpretation has been that these are a new type of Assimilated Bob that the Pfhor are developing, which makes sense. This change in Pfhor weaponry may be due in part to the presence of Admiral Tfear on Lh'owen.

The Bobs on the bob-o-later also show up red on radar, but I don't think it means anything narratively.

The typical interpretation of the green Bobs in the pens is that they are prisoners since they appear in prison and can't attack, as though their weapons were confiscated. It's a valid interpretation. But what about the fact that they rush the player and cling to him? That behavior seems very similar to what Simulacrums do (and Simulacrums also have no pistol attack).

Looking into the Physics file, sure enough, the green Bobs have the Marine checked as "Enemy" just like the A-bobs. Before we consider whether the green Bobs are actually a new A-bob, there is one other unit in Marathon Infinity that exhibits the same clinging behavior due to having the Marine checked as "Enemy". On the very next level, "One Thousand Thousand Slimy Things", we invade a human base and rescue some Pfhor prisoners from being executed.

The Troopers who are prisoners have no attack, as though their weapons were confiscated, and swarm around the player clinging to him. What is Double Aught trying to portray with this clinging behavior? Are the prisoners rushing to the Marine out of gratitude for their rescue? I don't know, but before we assume the green Bobs are regular prisoners let's look at something else. The green Bobs appear in the prison pens as well as the dungeons. The red and blue Bobs, however, appear only in the dungeons, and if we look at their physics models we see they are marked "Cannot Skip", have a normal pistol attack, and have the Marine checked as "Friend". We wouldn't be aware of most of this in-game because as soon as these Bobs are triggered they run into the dungeon doors and get crushed. Point is, if all the Bobs are just prisoners then why are the green Bobs so different from the other Bobs? If green Bobs had their weapons confiscated then why didn't the blue/red Bobs get the same treatment? And isn't it interesting that the green Bobs are kept in pens right next to the regular Assimilated Bobs.

I really like the idea that the green Bobs in the pens could be a new, red blood Simulacrum. It would add interesting depth to the storytelling in this level. However, I don't think we should consider the differences between the Bobs to be part of the narrative. The example of the Trooper prisoners is already strong evidence that the green Bobs are normal humans that are held in a prison, and the fact that even the player has no weapons when he starts in prison also supports the idea that prisoners aren't meant to have weapons in Marathon. The blue/red Bobs have physics models that can attack, but I think that's only because Double Aught thought it wasn't worth expending time on altering their physics models when none of those changes would be seen in the game.

As for further analysis. The Bobs in the dungeons are probably more important individuals which is why they're kept in isolation; this also explains why we see the higher ranking Science and Security Bobs only in the dungeons. The green Bobs in the pens are probably considered expendable for conditioning experiments, which may be why they are kept right next to the bob-o-later.

The purple Fighters that teleport into the pens are probably responding to some alarm and are trying to keep the prisoners from escaping. But they do it by killing them. It also seems counterintuitive since once they teleport in they are trapped inside the pens themselves. Also, a message from High Command states that units are ordered to maintain a survival rate of 49%-61% for the humans. Doesn't killing them disobey that order?

Where are the Pfhor?

Of course this level needed to be a little easier than most since you start with no weapons, but Double Aught came up with a narrative to explain why we encounter little resistance.

Where are the troopers and hunters?

On "By Committee" Tycho tells us, "The ground forces are hunting for the surviving humans..." The next level is "One Thousand Thousand Slimy Things" and you take part in the Pfhor assault on a human-S'pht base. Your Pfhor allies are Troopers and Hunters. These two points together suggests that why you see no Hunters or Troopers on "By Committee" is because they are busy hunting and routing the human resistance in other parts of Lh'owen.

What happened to the Enforcers?

The lack of enforcers in this level is odd. They are portrayed as the torturers, inquisitors, and quasi-police force of the Pfhor; they should be all over this level. Tycho even tells us that, "The Enforcers haven't been able to squeeze [Durandal's primal pattern] out of you yet, and are taking it out on some of the former crew of the Marathon as we speak. But they're determined, if nothing else." That makes it sound like the Enforcers are right here just around the corner, but they're not in any part of the facility, at least not any part we can access. Their presence is so strong that the terminal pics focus on them and show us a new rank of enforcer with red lanyards that carries a strange staff.

Even in Marathon 2 when we were stuck in prison there were two enforcers standing guard outside our door.

Their absence from "By Committee" stands out even more vividly when it is juxtaposed by the single enforcer gun lying on that east balcony, "guarded" by two Fighters. The location where we find it even makes sense as an Enforcer guard location: an elevated area overlooking a prison courtyard. I think this one gun is Double Aught's way of drawing our attention to the missing Enforcers.

Also, there's some meta-evidence that the lack of enforcers is important. Earlier I mentioned that there are two new types of Bobs in this level and they occupy the two Enforcer slots in the Physics file. Now Double Aught could have used any unit's spot for the two extra Bob types: Hunters, Troopers, and especially S'pht'kr Defenders who aren't even a part of the story yet. But Double Aught used the slot for Enforcers. What this suggests is either A) the lack of enforcers in this level was planned right from the beginning, or B) the enforcer spots were used by accident and then their absence had to be woven into the narrative afterwards. It's most likely "A" but either way the lack of enforcers is not trivial.

We normally don't see alien guns lying around. When we do it's usually in a special location like the secret closet on M1's "Pfhorophobia", the armory on M1's "Pfhor Your Eyes Only", or the gun closet in the enforcer room on Infinity's "Post Naval Trauma".

Most importantly there's the gun we find on "Come And Take Your Medicine" in M2. We find an enforcer's gun just lying on the floor, in a corner, and seemingly at random. The Volunteers entry refers to it as "The new Alien Weapon, apparently left here by an absent-minded Enforcer..." Absent-minded Enforcer? Absurd! There is blood and guts ALL OVER the floor suggesting that a serious battle took place here.

In fact, the Volunteers entry on "Medicine" fails to notice that in many places on the level there are puddles of blood, both human and Pfhor, which implies that a battle took place right before we got to this Pfhor facility. (Throughout Marathon 2 and Infinity there are set pieces, especially "blood" props, that help construct narratives but which probably go unnoticed by many players.) It would seem Durandal sent some humans here, they weren't able to cut it, and so he sent you to finish the fight. The alien gun is lying where it does because the Enforcer was killed by Bobs who were then killed by Pfhor troops.

Interestingly the Volunteers entry for "By Committee" says something similar to "Medicine" about the alien gun: "The south teleporter takes you to a ledge overlooking the arena, where some careless Enforcer has left an Alien Weapon." Careless Enforcers again? I don't think so. If I had to pick one Pfhor caste that was the least likely to be absent-minded or careless it would be the Enforcers.

It's worth pointing out that "Come And Take Your Medicine" was created by Greg Kirkpatrick, and that "By Committee" was collaborated on by Chris Geisel and Greg Kirkpatrick. It's entirely possible that Greg chose to use the same storytelling technique with the enforcer gun on "By Committee" that he used on "Come And Take Your Medicine".

So, based on all the evidence we've seen so far, the alien gun we see on "By Committee" is lying there because the Enforcer was killed. I think this one gun is our key to understanding what happened in pen13 garrison. It's not a far leap to conclude that if this one Enforcer was killed then this is why we see no other Enforcers either, they were also killed. So, who killed them and why?

This level uses the Lava texture set which unfortunately doesn't have any blood props to give us clues on who fought the Enforcers, but I think it's reasonable to assume that it was the other Pfhor. It's unlikely that it was the humans since they're being hunted down and there is a precedence of Pfhor attacking each other due to the machinations of a particular someone who features prominently in this level.

Tycho's Tricks:

Tycho has no problem manipulating the Pfhor into killing each other. On "Rise Robot Rise" we start weaponless and Tycho releases us from stasis. The Hunters and Fighters are on our side and are fighting the Enforcers. By posing as Admiral Tfear and forging authorization stamps Tycho is able to get the lower ranking castes to attack the Enforcers whose authorization stamps are harder for Tycho to forge.

Considering this precedence, the most likely reason the Enforcers were killed on "By Committee" is because Tycho has tricked the Pfhor into attacking each other again.

Why did Tycho even bother risking his safety to start a coup in the first place? Probably it has something to do with Durandal's primal pattern. In previous levels Tycho is single-mindedly obsessed with destroying Durandal, and the last scrap of Durandal is hiding inside your brain. My guess is that he staged the coup to destroy you.

It didn't work though. Although pretending to be Tfear may have worked far from Naval High Command, as was the case on "Rise Robot", this time Tycho is trying the same trick right under Admiral Tfear's nose and right under the gaze of Tfear's special, anti-AI Compilers. Tycho's attempt finally reveals his treachery to the Pfhor and he's imprisoned.

Are all the Enforcers dead? Did Tycho lie to us about Bobs being tortured?

So Tycho tells us that, "The Enforcers haven't been able to squeeze [Durandal's primal pattern] out of you yet, and are taking it out on some of the former crew of the Marathon as we speak. But they're determined, if nothing else." But we don't see any Enforcers on this level. I guess maybe they could be in another part of the facility, after all, Tycho is somewhere close but not accessible to us.

Then there's this terminal message from Naval High Command, sent via the Enforcement Liaison: "All pen13 garrison units are ordered to scale back enforcement proceedings on human captives to maintain survival rate protocol (49-61%). Conditioning and duress experiments are ordered halted immediately." Well, hell, "halted immediately" sounds like the opposite of "as we speak".

Based on the above points I think Tycho is lying to us about the Enforcers torturing the Bobs. It's tenuous logic, but I don't think there are any Enforcers left and even if there were they aren't torturing any humans right now. Tycho says, "Iím willing to put the past behind me, and as a show of good faith Iíll help you rescue your precious humans." It seems Tycho is trying to use the other humans as leverage to get our help and he claims they are being tortured as an incentive for you to hurry.

This then adds a little more narrative to the bob-o-later, the pillar that lowers Bobs into lava and burns them alive. There are no Enforcers actually running it because they're either dead or have been ordered to halt their experiments immediately. If they're all dead then that explains why the humans were just left on the pillar. If the Enforcers just stopped because of orders, then it shows how little they care for their captives when they leave the humans to stand on the pillar for who knows how long. Interestingly, the only person performing duress experiments on humans is us when we activate the bob-o-later ourselves.

Every time we burn the humans new Bobs teleport in to restock the bob-o-later. I doubt Double Aught intended any narrative to this, but I can still see one even if it's just my imagination. If conditioning has been halted immediately that explains why no one is lowering these Bobs into lava, but then why do they keep teleporting in new ones? I think this reflects the counter-productive nature of Pfhor bureaucracy. Conditioning on humans has been halted, but "relocation of captive combatant units for purposes of conditioning" has not been halted. Whoever is in charge of teleporting those Bobs is just doing what he was told to do and no one bothered to directly order him to stop.

What happened specifically?

So, in terms of the Pfhor coup, what were the sides? Who was Tycho able to manipulate and who did he attack?

Unfortunately there's no way to know for sure. There are several lines of thought, but any conclusion would be conjecture.

It's entirely possible at this point in time that Tycho can manipulate the Enforcers. On "Poor Yorrick" Tycho says, "The Enforcers are pinned down on the bridge, and they won't cooperate until I can successfully forge their encrypted stamp. I'm working on it..." So, it seems like it's possible for Tycho to control the Enforcers but it takes effort and time before he can do it. So, it's possible that Tycho could have used the Enforcers to do his bidding in pen13.

Are any of the units that followed Tycho's fake orders still alive or were they all killed off or executed? Executing individuals for mistakenly following forged orders is exactly the logic I'd expect from an empire that demotes its engineers for asking permission to make a footpath (Engineer 1st/3rd Class K'all on "Where Some Rarely Go"). It's just an assumption, but it would make sense that the units we fight on "By Committee" were not part of the coup and are trusted soldiers who put down the "uprising". If that's the case then the cyborgs, fighters, and drones were loyal Pfhor, and the Enforcers, and possibly the S'pht, were fighting at Tycho's command.

In the dungeons several Pfhor Fighters are being held. Are they just general miscreants who were incarcerated for trying to repair a vending machine? Or were they imprisoned for participating in Tycho's coup? If the latter is the case then that means we can't know what factions were what. Each faction, Tycho's and the loyal Pfhor, could have units of the same type such as Fighters.

All of those are interesting points, but none of them conclusively point us in the direction of what specifically went down in pen13. My best theory would be that it went down similarly to "Rise Robot Rise". The Enforcers were torturing you so if Tycho was able to trick them into obeying him then it would have been quick and easy to destroy you. So, since you're still alive and still imprisoned Tycho probably wasn't able to trick the Enforcers. He probably tricked the Fighters, any Hunters that might have been around, and any S'pht that might have been around. Then Cyborgs and fresh Fighters were sent in to reclaim the facility from Tycho's control. That's my best guess.

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.

Unsolved Mysteries and Miscellanea:

The Pfhor and the Facility:

The facility consists of one central structure which sits in the middle of five prison yards, overlooking them with balconies.

Every curved stairway in this level has at least one Fighter guarding it. Cyborgs are the only guards in the dungeons while Fighters guard the stairs leading down to the dungeons.

The region of the map where we access the dungeons is locked "from the inside". There are several locked doors which can only be opened from inside the dungeon region. The only way for us to get into this area is by teleporter.

There are two courtyards, West and Northeast, both of which have interesting pillar structures and which teleport in several aliens. The West yard has one pillar structure and teleports in apologetic A-bobs. The Northeast yard has many pillar structures and teleports in cyborgs. The Volunteers sections refers to them as, "those strange lava pillars we saw on Eat the Path." Although these pillars are very similar to the ones on "By Committee", they are also different in architecture (Eat The Path pillars are more like long, hollow tubes. By Committee pillars are like solid boxes balanced on a single pillar.)

What I find interesting though is that both these prison yards feature large numbers of enemies teleporting in. Normally in this level when enemies teleport in there is only one or two of them. What is the purpose of those pillars? Are they related to the teleporting troops somehow? I don't know.

In the Northeast yard, where the cyborgs teleport in, there is a unique section of wall. Based on its texturing and lighting it looks like it could be a door, teleporter, a platform that rises from the ground, or something else. I have no idea what it's for and I can't find any clues to its purpose, but it sure looks important.

Lava Pool Room:
Near the beginning of the map, near where there are two teleport pads, there is an interesting scene surrounding a kidney shaped pool of lava. On a raised area directly above the lava pool a Fighter stands guard. Surrounding the area are small raised areas, reach by stair, on each of which stands a Fighter. I don't know what this all means but it feels reminiscent of the pic we see of Enforcers throwing Bobs into the lava pool. Possibly this is an execution chamber. Also, if you don't trigger the enemies you can see that the lower Fighters area all facing the walls. One of them is looking at a pattern buffer as though he was using a computer, but why the other ones are facing the wall is unclear. Perhaps they were meant to be engineers using computer terminals but Double Aught never got around to putting the terminals in.

The hallway with red shafts:

There is an interesting U-shaped hallway on the Western-most part of the map. It connects the West and SW prison yards. Extending from the sides of this hallway are five pairs of glowing red shafts, one on each side of the hall. There are two purple Fighters inside the hall. Neither will react to you, as though they were sleeping, because in Forge they are marked "Blind". Down one of the red shafts there is a Pfhor skull. I don't really know what, if anything, is going on with this. It's interesting to note that there are five pairs of shafts which focus on five points in the hallway. The two purple Fighters are standing on two of these focal points leaving three focal points open. There are three purple Fighters who teleport into the green Bob pens, which is where we start and is below the red shaft hallway. Could the red shafts be some sort of teleporters, and units stand on the focal points waiting to be transported for emergencies? Why are the purple Fighters marked "blind"; are they asleep? What's with the skull; is there a purpose to it or is it just decorational?

Hidden Teleporters:

Most outbound teleporters are very distinct on this level. They have white lights for walls and their floors and ceilings are textured a bright red. However, there are two hidden teleporters in the tower where one Melee Fighter is guarding a switch. Across from the switch there is a staircase under which there are two hidden teleport polygons. One polygon will transport you to a control room facing the dungeon entrance; this is one of the two ways you can get into the locked "dungeon region" of this level. The other polygon will transport you onto the lava-vator where the bobs are being executed, which is strange since you can jump into the lava and see that the back of the platform is textured inconsistently; it's also strange because this is a dead end and the only way out is suicide.

The Dungeons:
The dungeons are weird. Each dungeon cell is open, but if anyone tries to escape, the doors shut and crush them. When you first get to the dungeons, after spiraling down the stairs, there are three ways you can go. Through the left doorway are the substations you need to smash. Straight ahead are the main dungeon cells. The right hand doorway leads down a lone dungeon hall where Pfhor Fighters are kept in cells. You don't normally see those fighters because they all get crushed when you trigger them.

Same goes for the Bobs; you don't see most of them because they get crushed before you ever get to them. I'm not sure what this is all about although I suspect this bizarre design is meant to be representative of the Pfhor's ineffective and self-sabotaging bureaucracy. Only the Pfhor would design a prison that, instead of keeping prisoners from escaping, actually kills prisoners when they inevitably try to escape.

The Supply Ship:
Tycho tells us: "If I had access to the Pfhor network, it might be possible to reroute one of the ships to this area and make good our escape." Since he was able to leave us this message and possess a drone Tycho must have access to the local facility network, but apparently nothing long distance.

In a different terminal, in a Pfhor broadcast from the Enforcement Liaison we find out: "Transport ship arriving in system 2 days for coldsleep packaging and shipment to Gd'nrl Prime for complete conditioning and evaluation." So a transport ship was already on route; presumably since this terminal appears before we break the circuits in the dungeons it means that Tycho had nothing to do with this ship's arrival. Or is this ship actually the work of Tycho and he was just lying to us about not having access to the Pfhor network just to get us to destroy those power stations?

The End.

Thanks for reading. I hope you all enjoyed it. And maybe you can notice something I haven't.

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Pre-2004 Posts


Replies:

Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteePhiltron 7/18/12 8:20 p.m.
     Forgot to mention it is really long *NM* *NM*Philtron 7/18/12 8:27 p.m.
     Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeBob-B-Q 7/19/12 6:42 a.m.
     Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/19/12 6:57 a.m.
           Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteePresident People 7/19/12 9:21 a.m.
                 Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/19/12 11:01 a.m.
                       Re: Volunteers Expanded: By Committeetreellama 7/19/12 11:54 a.m.
                             Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/19/12 12:41 p.m.
                                   Re: Volunteers Expanded: By Committeetreellama 7/19/12 12:47 p.m.
                                         Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/19/12 1:24 p.m.
     Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/20/12 6:13 a.m.
     Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/20/12 9:00 a.m.
           Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteePhiltron 7/21/12 5:41 a.m.
                 Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/21/12 7:37 a.m.
     Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteeGodot 7/21/12 3:44 a.m.
           Re: Volunteers Expanded: By CommitteePhiltron 7/21/12 5:53 a.m.

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