The roots of the
can actually be traced back as far as Wolfenstein 3D for the Mac.
My first experience in first person 3D action games, Wolf 3D took up loads
of my time as I hunted down Nazis and searched for hidden treasures. However,
I soon began to get bored with having to press every single section of
wall to find secret doors. That's when I discovered WolfEdit, a program
which allows you to create custom levels in Wolf 3D (written by one of
our original MMMG'ers, Greg Ewing). I soon began to find creating the levels
more interesting than actually playing them. I now had a tool to take whatever
my imagination could muster up (within the limits of the game engine),
and bring it to life! Level by level, I began to crank out cool levels,
compiled them into one scenario called "Deliverance", and released it to
the public (thanks to the wonders of the internet). I really enjoyed getting
feedback from other Wolf 3D players who had played my scenario.
As time rolled on, and as I continued to expand
on the Deliverance scenario, I saw a new 3D action game hit the Mac market.
I took a chance and went out and bought it. Running through dark corridors
with eerie background music, going up and down on stairs and platforms,
confronting strange aliens, and interfacing with terminals as the Marathon
story unfolded, I was overwhelmed by the engine of this new game. I was
so excited and impressed by Marathon, the idea of a map editor for Marathon
was beyond my expectations. So, while playing Marathon, I continued to
build new levels in Wolf 3D. Then, one day, one of my co-workers (also
now an MMMG'er) introduced me to a map editor known as Pfhorte. At first,
I was overwhelmed by the tool (compared to editing a Wolf 3D level), but
driven to create my own world, I persevered and soon began to build my
own Marathon levels. As I became more familiar with Pfhorte, I abandoned
my Wolf 3D editing and began porting my Deliverance scenario over to Marathon.
Still, Marathon map editing had its challenges,
so I turned to the internet for help. Posting questions in comp.sys.mac.games
(later to be moved to comp.sys.mac.games.action)
and in alt.games.marathon, I began
to learn more and more about map editing. Since these newsgroups were more
focused on playing Marathon versus map editing, I decided to pull the map
editors into a private mailing list. Starting with just a handful of map
makers, I started a world wide mailing list. At first I manually operated
the list, but as map makers from all over were beginning to pour in, maintaining
the list of members was beginning to be a chore. I got a few offers from
members to use an automated listserver. I accepted the offer from Claude
Errera, maintainer of the original Marathon Hyperarchive (where
I released my newly ported version of Deliverance, Marathon style).
Then, one eventful day, a member of the list,
Craig Durkin, came up with the idea of building a large Marathon scenario
as a collaborative group effort. I signed up to coordinate the task, and
began to aggressively recruit members of the Marathon community to help
out. Posting on the newsgroups, I realized that our group of map makers
needed an entity, so I began to refer to us as the Marathon Map Makers
Guild. Beginning in the summer of '95, our group map project began to evolve,
and towards the end of autumn, Claude signed up to the task of splicing
the levels together and writing the terminals for the map. In November,
the Marathon Map Makers Guild released its first project, Devil
in a Blue Dress.
As the positive feedback poured in for Devil in
a Blue Dress, the ambitious members of the guild decided to start a new
project, this time to incorporate our own textures, sprites, sounds, the
whole works. No one at the time really knew what we were getting ourselves
into. Dubbed GM2 (for group map 2), work began on the project in November
of '95. Ten months later, after much blood, sweat and tears, the DEMO for
GM2, known as Excalibur:
Morgana's Revenge, was released to the public.
Later in the year, Bungie released Marathon II:
Durandal. Providing cool new features like ambient sounds and liquid media,
we couldn't resist porting the Devil in a Blue Dress scenario to M2. While
I directed the completion of EMR for M1, Claude directed the port of DiaBD
to M2. Simultaneously, we both began to realize that neither of our projects
were easy or trivial tasks. Contributors often came and went through the
process, and completion of the project was sometimes a questionable goal.
DiaBD for M2 completed first, and was a bigger success than the original
DiaBD. However, EMR was another story. With all the physics, sounds, graphics
and music needs of EMR, it's progressed began to lag. Miraculously, we
persisted. During the final months of EMR, for example, new contributors
appeared out of the blue, such as Jim Bisset who wrote original music for
EMR, Candace Sheriff who created the Archer and Cavebob sprites, and Jeremy
Dale who created the EMR player sprite. Everytime we thought we weren't
going to make it, someone new would show up to help us make our way. Finally,
in June of 1997, EMR for M1 was released to the public.
As fate would have it, Bungie then came out with
Marathon Infinity, with an extra texture collection, new weapons slots,
and a new physics and shapes editor called Anvil. Many of us who worked
on EMR drooled over the added features and expanded capabilities of the
new engine, imagining, of course, what we could possibly do with EMR. I
ranted a very short-lived, "No way, ain't gonna do it!" Less than a month
later, work began on the EMR port to Infinity.
Two years later, the EMR Infinity port trudges
on. To put it simply, the amount of work required to do this port is enormous.
There will be over 50 levels in the final product, most of the ported levels
enhanced greatly, and some new levels. There are more graphics, a physics
model for every level, new sounds and music, new images, new story additions,
and the countless terminal graphics. The complexity has increased, and
so the amount of fine tuning and beta testing has also increased. Kudos
to all the beta testers who have hung in there this long. The list of required
work seems endless, as does the project sometimes. However, it will be
completed. At this time, all of the graphics, sounds, music and physics
are done. All of the net maps are completed, and half of the solo levels
are completed. We hope to have the entire project completed and released
by the summer of '99.
Let me add that there is a special kind of challenge
and reward for those of us working on these group map projects. It's how
people work with each other that makes this world a great place to live.
When working on a group map project, there are many different ideas and
egos involved. Wading through the egos, collaborating the ideas, and focusing
on a common goal is a challenge requiring creativity, humility, integrity,
and hard work from all involved. When a lot of people from all of the world
can get together and create some great and fun scenarios like Devil in
a Blue Dress and Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge, it's something to be really
proud of. Of course, what makes it all worthwhile is all of the Macintosh
gamers out there who play and enjoy the fruits of our hard work.
In summary, the Marathon Map Makers Guild has
evolved into being a collection of all types and levels of Marathon map
makers, physics editors, musicians and graphics artists. Some of us have
labored together for years on group projects, but we all share a common
thread: the love of creating new worlds with the Marathon engine. Whether
it's discussing the in's and out's of map making, working on a major group
scenario, or working on solo map making projects, the spirit of Marathon
map making is alive and well in the MMMG.
Best wishes for a creative and fun Marathon experience,