|Posted By: Yossarian
|Date: 12/17/19 10:52 p.m.
Twenty-five years isn't exactly a lifetime ago, but twenty-five years ago was a different world entirely. I came a bit late to the Marathon scene - almost a full year - because it was Christmas of '95 that had the original game under the tree, bundled as it had been with a CD-ROM drive along with other titles as part of the deal from catalog in which my Dad had ordered it. This was near the very end of pre-internet life you see, I'd only seen glimpses and descriptions of Marathon such that a kid living in the rural area of a big state could find in the mid-90's. I couldn't be sure if Marathon was going to be as awesome as those screenshots showed or if those were just promotional art to sell an otherwise mediocre game...
...but when I finally got to play it, got the drive hooked up to our Macintosh Performa 600 and inserted the blue disc into the whirring and clicking drive I found a game more real and engaging and striking than any I had ever played before. I distinctly remember my heart pounding as I sat there after encountering the first Pfhor on Arrival, for me, for the time, the experience was absolutely unreal and revolutionary. Between the graphics and the content and design of the terminals the game was immediately immersive, so much so that I don't think I've ever really left it, or that it's ever completely left me. Some of you I'm sure can relate.
The gameplay was fantastic, but I don't think I'd be writing this now, nor would there be such a forum in which to write it, if it weren't for the heart, depth, and brains that went into the story of the game, and indeed the entire trilogy. As a 12-year old kid Marathon sent me to so many places (especially once I finally got a good internet connection and found The Story Page): Shakespeare, mythology, antiquity, Latin, philosophy, astronomy, literature and more, there was so much more beneath the sci-fi FPS exterior, and so much of it was out of reach, or implied - cryptic - and finding the community in the early days and following the conjecture and speculation and discovery brought a whole new dimension to the game and to gaming in general.
And the game never stopped giving. It has not stopped giving. From the very first third party maps to the full-blown scenarios and Aleph One and ports we have now Marathon always found a way to captivate and recreate. Seeing users eventually developing content that matched and surpassed the canon creations was again something totally new to me, and it was done just because people could, just out of love of the game and love of the art and of storytelling, and because talented people had bequeathed the tools to allow them to do so - for free.
But to me Marathon just feels like home. The dark and remote claustrophobia of M1; the sunny and sloshy cavernousness of M2; the clean and winding schizophrenia of MI; all the scenarios, still feel like playable memories, and take me back. Eventually the Performa 600 gave way to a blueberry G3 iMac (which I flipped a lot of burgers to pay for), and then eventually I switched to PC (later than Bungie did as it turns out lol) and kept playing thanks to AO, and still play to this day, though not nearly as often, on a gaming rig I scarcely could have imagined a quarter-century ago.
The imprint of this game has always been with me, in ways not easy to describe. So many of its aspects became archetypal and inspirational to me whether it's aesthetics or language or design sensibility or storytelling or metaphysics - nothing obsessional, but faded now, remote, but pervasive. It's the strangest thing, something could happen or I see something or even nothing at all and out of nowhere comes a quote from Durandal, or a line from Thoth, or from the defenders of the citadel on Lh'owon, or...and it takes me back to that silly little universe those college kids created on PowerMacs and the back of pizza boxes and through sheer force of will and exhaustion; admittedly to a world of my youth that seemed more promising and coherent than the world in which I'm sitting and writing this. Still, the game is something of an old friend by now.
Anyway, I didn't want the 25th anniversary to go unmarked, and since I don't have anyone IRL to celebrate the occasion with, I thought I'd share with whoever comes across here, as silly and paltry as this dedication is, it'd have been a shame to go unsaid. So I owe a lot to the Bungie OG crew, and to the community. Obviously to Jason and Alex, and Greg for the story, thanks guys. Thanks to those of you who slaved over your own scenarios (who conceived the birth of worlds) and multiplied the fun of the games many times over, thanks to those of you that took the source code and ran with it and made the game available to millions who'd have otherwise never seen it, you've done amazing work. Thanks for those that ever posted in any of the forums, and those who've hosted and moderated them over the years, thanks Claude for doing all you did for the Marathon community and those communities that came to eclipse it. Thanks to those of you that did Volunteers and Tour of Duty. Thanks to those of you still playing, still wondering, still speculating. Thank you for reading this far. Thanks to the star that went nova so that Earth could have iron and silicon. ;)
Thanks also and of course to 819, to whom all hats should be off. Sir, The Story Page is a monument, a treasure, and a joy and for years has been and continues to be a great recreation and resource. Cheers.
So to all of you I wish the Merriest of Christmases, the happiest of holidays, a Happy New Year, and a Happy 25th Anniversary of Bungie's Marathon! Keep vidding lads, there's more to come. The future's nearer now than it was in 1994; Google's working on Durandal and Elon's taking us to Mars, and Marathon looks better than ever. Come what may we perhaps cannot escape destiny, or the closure of the universe, but we'll have a hell of a time until then, and in eons hence I'll hitch myself to one of the rogue stars making its way through the galaxy, and meet you in one of the great voids between the spiral arms. Wonders await.
|12/17/19 10:52 p.m.
|12/18/19 4:54 a.m.
|Forrest of B.org
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