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Jos Kirps's Popular Science and Technology Blog

Marathon - A Revolutionary First Person Shooter By Bungie

March 13, 2008

Before 1994 there were not many games on the Apple Macintosh platform, and while first person shooters had become very popular on the DOS/Windows platform they were almost non-existent on the Mac.

But this all changed when a small company called Bungie released their game Marathon. Bungie had been founded in May 1991 by two undergraduate students at the University of Chicago, Alex Seropian and Jason Jones.

But Marathon was not only the first notable 3D Macintosh game, it was in fact much more advanced than any first person shooter before and introduced many concepts now common in mainstream video games for the very first time.

It had the most sophisticated physics modeling built into a game engine up to that time, which allowed for such features as adjustable gravity, and computer controlled creatures acted in a much more realistic way. In fact Marathon was much more realistic than any PC game available in 1994, and it offered fantastic network multiplayer features including a real-time voice chat system. Unlike most shooters it also featured a clever and original story line.

Marathon 2: Durandal, was released in 1995 and expanded the engine technologies (ambient sounds and liquids that the player could swim through for example) and the story universe.

In 1996, Marathon 2: Durandal was ported to Windows 95, while the third chapter "Marathon Infinity" was released for the Macintosh only, built on a slightly modified Marathon 2 engine. Bungie then also released "Forge" and "Anvil", editors that could be used to create your own levels, graphics and physics. Several third party games were built upon the Marathon 2 engine, including ZPC, Prime Target and Damage Incorporated.

In 2000 the Marathon 2 engine was released as open source software under the GPL while Bungie was still working on their next generation game called "Halo". Shortly after, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft which was still looking for high quality games for their upcoming XBox console - Halo became the official XBox "killer application" and sold millions of copies.

In 2005, Bungie released the full original Mac OS trilogy for free distribution online, allowing the Marathon 2 based "Aleph One" engine to run all three games in the trilogy on Mac OS, Linux and Windows platforms. On August 1st, 2007, Marathon 2 was re-released in an updated form for the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade.

In late 2007, Bungie and Microsoft split so that Bungie is now once again an independent game developer, although they will probably continue to primarely develop for the XBox platform.

Der Klempner said on March 18, 2008:

Yeah man, just remembering good old Quadra times with a little tear in my eyes. Klempner

Josh said on July 21, 2009:

marathon rocked the macintosh gaming world like doom for the pc. you can view probably the most screenshots on the net at the mega first person shooter site fpsdungeon.com this is the link to the marathon galleries. http://www.fpsdungeon.com/games/marathon/marathon.html

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