Page 11 of 11

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 1st '19, 17:47
by The Man
I wrote a thing, which I’m liable to expand and revise later. It retcons some of what I’d written previously (especially in the terminals of “The Paradox of Tolerance”), and I’ll have to revise some of that if I decide to go with this approach, but I think it has a few strengths over my previous version. If nothing else, this version doesn’t retcon the timeline from “Lazarus ex machina” in Rubicon, which I always felt a bit uneasy about doing.

Some details need to be filled in for this to truly read like history, and I’m not sure I can use this kind of narrative in the game itself; it’s the sort of thing that reads like a retrospective history written decades after the events the player is experiencing. I might sprinkle them in the way Eternal does; I’ll have to see. I also might try to make the parallels to our recent history a bit subtler, though I don’t want to make them so subtle that players miss them.

In the aftermath of the war, the predominant question was how to treat the Pfhor. It was obvious they had committed countless crimes against [?humanity], but there was no precedent for prosecuting another species for slavery. The humans and S’pht had to improvise.

The S’pht, having only recently been freed, had little in the way of reliable historical records of the time before their enslavement, and in any case, understood that they had a dog in this fight, so they deferred to humanity’s judgement. The most famous case in humanity’s history was the Confederate States of America from over a millennium earlier, a case that was at best flawed. The failed implementation of Reconstruction resulted African-Americans suffering for almost a century under Jim Crow; although they had the de jure franchise, the de facto right to vote eluded them for roughly a century, and even after that, they were sporadically disenfranchised until the collapse of the country (which, ironically, some historians have blamed in part on the disenfranchisement of African-Americans and other minorities).

The Nuremberg trials were another potential model. The Nazis were prosecuted for genocide, an arguably even more horrifying offence than slavery; these trials became the basis of international law in the system that persisted until its collapse roughly ninety years later, and even subsequent systems owed much to the principles it established. A particularly enduring and famous principle that emerged from this system was that “just following orders” was no excuse for complicity in crimes against humanity.

A problem emerged with this approach, however: prosecuting anyone who followed orders would ultimately require prosecuting the entire Pfhor species. Moreover, the Pfhor had a horrifying totalitarian system of government in which anyone who disobeyed orders – or even ran afoul of the wrong bureaucrat – was potentially subject to execution. Prosecuting the Pfhor’s offences would, under such a set of principles, logically require putting the entire species on trial. Taken to its logical extreme, subjecting such offences to capital punishment would constitute an act of genocide.

One proposal was that anyone who was simply following orders would be subject to lesser punishment, and only those who gave the orders would be subject to the death penalty. This proposal was ultimately adopted, but the implications of subjecting an entire species to a lesser punishment were so troubling to humanity that they ultimately came to a strange and, in retrospect, severely mistaken decision.

The Pfhor, minus their leaders, were ultimately placed into a pocket dimension using only recently discovered Jjaro technology. In this dimension, the Pfhor would be unable to subject other species to their ravages, with one of humanity’s artificial intelligences to guide them to a more enlightened state. After sufficient time passed within this dimension, they would be released from it. Time was to pass more rapidly there; a thousand years would correspond to roughly fifteen to the rest of the universe. Time would pass as if it were just over two millennia to the Pfhor; to everyone else, only roughly three decades would have elapsed.

This plan might have succeeded but for two flaws, one predictable and the other less so. The predictable flaw was that the AI went Rampant. One of the enduring mysteries of this tale is whether this Rampancy was intentionally induced by an engineer on the development team or simply a predictable historical irony. In any case, the intended moral guidance was not provided. Indeed, at some point the AI began assisting the Pfhor in genetically engineering artificial life forms to perform menial tasks; many of these life forms would ultimately be used as foot soldiers in the subsequent war.

The less predictable flaw was a result of a crash of the Chimera on Pfhor Prime. This ship brought the flora and fauna that accompany humans everywhere they goes, and some of them spread across the Pfhor homeworld, severely unbalancing to their agriculture and ultimately establishing a new symbiosis with the native plant life. This process took centuries, which were referred to as the Pfhor Dark Ages; they were stricken with a horrifying famine until their biosphere found a new balance.

Unsurprisingly, the Pfhor developed a strong resentment of humanity grew over this time, and not entirely without justification. The leaders responsible for the war had been executed; even the foot soldiers were long dead. Humanity had visited the sins of the father upon the son, and in attempting to avoid a repeat of Reconstruction, they had instead unintentionally repeated the Treaty of Versailles, in which the austere postwar punishment of Germany created conditions under which the seeds of a particularly insidious hatred were able to take root.

It wasn’t until the two-millennium mark had passed that things really deteriorated, and even then, the rebirth of the Pfhor supremacist attitude wasn’t consistent at first; it was another decade before the Pfhor supremacists were irreversibly entrenched in their system, and the extent of their entrenchment wasn’t truly apparent until several years beyond that. As has been seen far too often in the history of too many species, Pfhor supremacists managed to take over their governments without ever truly constituting a majority or even a plurality of their population.

Bearing in mind this series of disasters, it is little surprise that war erupted shortly after their emergence from the pocket dimension…
In particular, the implication of the years 2000, 2010, and 2016 is not coincidental. Perhaps I should obfuscate the parallels a bit more, but I’ve seen science fiction bury its intended message underneath subtlety so often that I’m not actually sure I want to. People expect The Twilight Zone and Star Trek-type morals from sci-fi, for better or worse.
I hope to put out another version of the game by June, hopefully incorporating RADIX’ Trooper sprites plus a few other minor changes. I can’t promise anything, but this project has been in stasis for awhile, and I suspect working on it might actually be a way to regain inspiration in other aspects of my life as well.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 1st '19, 20:41
by raptor200221
Will we see a release soon with some informational terminals soon? I find it really difficult to play without knowing the object of the levels. I hope you get better soon though, so good luck!

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 1st '19, 22:50
by The Man
I wrote a long post and Chrome ate it. Hopefully this hits all the same points.

First of all, thanks!

I plan to write more detailed mission descriptions for some, maybe most, of the levels, but overall, I’d prefer to defer that until near the end of development if remotely possible, since the contents of the levels are likely to change before I consider them finished. A few particularly notable cases:
  • James Hastings-Trew pastiches in the Earth chapters: I would prefer to avoid anything addressing the mission at all beyond the vaguest specifics. They wouldn’t feel like Tempus Irae levels if you got a step-by-step walkthrough within the game itself. “Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead” is a possible exception, though I’ve already explained a lot of the biggest potential trip-ups.
  • The automap of “The Paradox of Tolerance” is a complete and utter mess, but it’s also constructed in a way that makes it difficult for players to get lost: if in doubt, go forward. I do need to add something warning players not to get too close to the Enforcers, though.
  • “Dimensional Bleedthrough” also has a mess of an automap, but the mission of this one is simple enough that I think explaining more would defeat the purpose. You find chip A, insert it at point B, find terminal C, and exit. The difficulty is navigating the intentionally disorienting environment and dealing with all the challenging enemies.
  • “Delusions of Adequacy…” may be difficult enough to merit a deeper explanation.
  • Many other levels probably don’t yet have complicated enough missions to merit more detailed mission outlines. If a level consists largely of “Find chip/key A, insert into point B, go through door C opened by point B, find switch/key/chip/wires D, lather, rinse, repeat,” then I’d rather let players get the thrill of exploration themselves. But some levels, such as “Cut Their Grain and Place Fire Therein”, may be nonlinear enough that the automap will, despite not being messy, still be useless – players will have seen places they need to go before they actually have to go there, so they may be unable to tell that anything has changed.
  • Unrelated to writing, but several levels currently don’t have save terminals and I’m on the fence about whether this is a good idea: “Return to Yggdrasill”, “Cel din urmă vis”, “Nightmare Heaven”, and most of “Delusions of Adequacy…” The first two of these may be short enough that it doesn’t matter, but it might be a mistake in the latter two cases.
Are you having trouble with any specific levels? I’d prefer not to insult players’ intelligence by over-explaining the missions, but I’d also prefer not to go the Rubicon route where players are left completely to their own devices on disorienting levels with complicated missions. I’d like to partake of roughly Bungie’s level of explanation. I’m not really the best judge of this, though, since I know my levels back to front. I feel that “Dimensional Bleedthrough” may be a case where a level is disorienting, but is only complicated because of the combat, but I may be mistaken on this count. If you have feedback, that would certainly be helpful here.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 2nd '19, 02:13
by Pfhorrest
I find it interesting (in a good way) that this latest bit of your Chronicles tackles something that a bit of my own Chronicles (of Quelouva) do: what to do when an "evil through and through" alien empire is finally defeated. In my Chronicles, the scary evil alien empire are the Berol, and their main victims are the main alien race of my Chronicles the Ehrban, and it's only with some human help that the Berol are finally defeated, but the specific humans behind that help are mostly evil themselves (they are literally the devil himself, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and their big brother who's not like them) and are about to just straight up genocide all of the Berol, who they've pretty much just heard of, when the Ehrban themselves, who've been suffering at the Berol's hands for dozens of millennia, say whoa whoa hold on you can't just genocide an entire species of trillions of people, and demand a better solution be found.

The better solution turns out to be basically slavery, and it doesn't end well.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 2nd '19, 16:57
by raptor200221
So, basically, this scenario is the most difficult scenario I have ever seen. It is difficult in the fact that the levels are super hard to figure out due to all the secrets that are required to beat the level. The only way that I could really see someone playing through this entire scenario is if almost all of the maps have instruction terminals. The map "Everyone I Went To High School is Dead" Is entirely impossible to figure out in it's current state. It has way too many secrets. There is one map that I played co-op that was impossible to figure out. It was totally by random chance that we actually finished it. It was the map with the 4 quadrants and all the 5D space. Needs an explanation for sure. But overall, the scenario has beautiful architecture, and very fun levels. They really just need an explanation. The levels should at least be explained as much as Eternal did. The story does not need to be as long as Eternal, but you should write out very clear goals, or at least give the players a major hint to lead them in the right direction. I played through Eternal, and I didn't find it confusing, but I played through the first two or three levels of Chronicles, I was constantly getting stuck. You don't need to change the levels from what I can tell, but you really need some kind of instructions for the levels. Overall, Great scenario, but super confusing.:)

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 2nd '19, 17:32
by The Man

Most of the secrets actually shouldn’t be required to beat levels, since they generally only contain ammo caches (and sometimes weapons). They’re just there as added bonuses. I’m able to beat most of the levels without using ammo at all, and for the handful of exceptions, I only need ammo in a small number of places. I’ve actually been consistently worried that I have way too much ammo in the scenario, especially if players aren’t playing on TC. There should be enough ammo for players to complete most of the levels even if they don’t find a single secret, but if people are running out, I can add more (at least to the levels that aren’t intended to be gauntlets).

But if the levels are that disorienting, I’ll add more info on where to go at some point. Any particular level names beyond the two you mentioned? (I’m not actually 100% sure which level you mean by “the map with the 4 quadrants and all the 5D space”. One possibility is “Dimensional Bleedthrough”, which is supposed to be really disorienting, at any rate – there should be a terminal explaining that even Durandal can’t comprehend what’s going on there. The player’s only hope is supposed to be exploring and clearing out the whole level. It’s not really divided into quadrants though. “With Strength I Burn” has four quadrants, but not very much 5D space, and also its terminals show exactly where to go. I suppose “Nightmare Heaven” might also fit that description. It doesn’t really have 5D space, but the areas do overlap a lot on the automap.)

Also, thanks, Pfhorrest. That sounds interesting; I really should read that at some point.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: May 3rd '19, 15:21
by raptor200221
I don't really have very many level names for the scenario, because I got stuck on almost every level very badly.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 29th '19, 01:26
by The Man
I ate’nt dead.

(Wall of text incoming.)

I need to get back to this.

I’ve been sort of… dazed for the past two or three weeks. As mentioned earlier in this thread, a middle/high school friend of mine ended his life last year, and I recently got a reminder of that and spent about an hour just bawling my eyes out. I have simply not been myself ever since. That friend, as I’ve mentioned, was responsible for the design of most of the central segment of “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” and some of the story ideas I’m employing, not to mention the name of the game itself. He was my closest friend for a good segment of my life, even though we hadn’t spoken that much lately. It’s quite unsettling, to say the least.

I want to finish this game within the next couple of years, partially as a tribute to him. I have a number of contributions I haven’t implemented into a released version of Chronicles, most notably RADIX’s Trooper sprites, which look great now that I’ve fixed the small colour table issue some of them had. I’ve incorporated them into an Infinity shapes file using Anvil; now I need to convert them to Chronicles’ colour tables and add them to Chronicles’ shapes.

I’ve also been thinking about how much of the visual content of this game is recycled from other scenarios. That was intentional, because I wanted to make it an homage to the entire community. But it does leave Chronicles somewhat without its own visual identity, resulting in a rather haphazard appearance in some cases.

I have permission from James Hastings-Trew, D. Scott Brown, Chris Lund, Pfhorrest, and ravenshining to incorporate elements of Tempus Irae, Rubicon, Eternal, and M1R; we’re even trying to coordinate in some cases to keep the continuity of the games as coherent as possible. Most of these games have HD graphics, so they still look good by today’s standards, and TI and Rubicon’s elements are so intertwined with the game that it probably wouldn’t be possible to extricate them even if I wanted to.

Evil doesn’t have HD graphics, and I never asked for FM’s permission to use the assets from the game, which is one of several reasons I haven’t posted any alphas to S7. After tracking down some of his social media profiles, I’m honestly not even sure I want to ask; I have been seriously contemplating the idea of just removing all the Evil stuff from Chronicles entirely.

The elements of Evil always, apart from some of the weapons, felt the most shoehorned in. The Devlins are terrifying, but I never could think of a good story reason to use them (not that story was ever Evil’s strength); I think I used them primarily because I wanted to scare players. They only even appear in one level in the main scenario, I believe, plus perhaps a few net maps and maybe one of the bonus levels. The other monsters from Evil appear even less often; I don’t believe any of them appear in the main solo campaign, though a few make appearances in bonus levels or net maps.

So perhaps I’ll want to come up with replacements for the Evil monsters. It might actually make more sense to use the W’rkncacnter dreams from Eternal rather than Devlins. Or perhaps I can find someone to design something new. I haven’t decided yet; I may to some extent depend upon feedback here.

For the staff, I’ll probably use the design from M1R, though I may keep the physics of Evil’s staff (or at least stick closer to them) just because it’s what Chronicles’ gameplay was balanced for. The assault rifle is liable to pose the biggest challenge. Perhaps someone with the ability to make an entirely new design will contribute one someday.

There’s also the matter of sounds, which I’ll consider later. I want to incorporate a lot of the Pfh’Joueur sounds, but haven’t found a good way to do that yet. A bit of messing around with a recent build of ShapeFusion may help.

I’m not fully committed to the idea of removing all the Evil content if people think I shouldn’t go down that route, but the fact that the weapons lack HD models seems to be a fairly solid argument against keeping them anyhow; if I keep them in, they will feel massively out of place after I’ve incorporated all the HD weapon sprites. I kept trying to tie in the Devlins, but never really found an angle that satisfied me, and I never actually found good uses for any of the other monsters from Evil. So the game content itself almost seems to be trying to tell me that it’s more prudent to remove the Evil content.

Aside from all that, I may try making a new level soon, or expanding one of the existing ones, just because I haven’t done anything with this project in months, and I don’t want it to go completely into limbo. I have the idea of designing a Pfhor ship level to be titled “Standing on the Work of Slaves” (as usual, it’s a song title). I’ll see if I can develop anything that justifies using it.

There’s also the matter of sorting through the unused WMAiD maps; the good ones that don’t make it into WMAiD will probably make it into Chronicles, but I’ll have to retexture them for whichever game they get used in.

And lastly, I’ve also been thinking about raptor’s experience getting lost in so many of the levels. I’m really not sure how to make the missions comprehensible to new players without spelling everything out, though. The fact that I know many of these levels like the back of my hand since I’ve been playing many of them for twenty-some years does not help. I may simply not possess adequate ability to bend my mind enough to understand what they are like to new players.

Anyhow, this project isn’t dead; it’s just been in limbo for a while. I hope to put out a new alpha at least incorporating RADIX’s Trooper sprites by – let’s say the early part of August.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 29th '19, 02:23
by General-RADIX
Really sorry to hear what happened to you emotionally, man; I hope you're able to recover soon.

wrt: EVIL, if there's no logical way to work any elements from it into Chronicles, then I would vote in favour of removing the EVIL-derived stuff. (EVIL's story is so thin and haphazard that you'd pretty much need to totally rewrite the backgrounds of its elements, if that makes sense, like how I imagined the Devlins having a sort of feral society and making a deal with the Mystics...when in EVIL proper, despite being initially presented as the main threat, they're pretty much just nastier F'lickta.) And the implications of your social media findings sound...unfortunate, and probably a good enough reason on their own to cut the EVIL elements.

wrt: raptor getting lost a lot, apparently Half-Life and its sequel(s) are good at signposting, so studying their level design might help a bit.

Confession: I've thought about making, at most, a room or two for Chronicles (I have zero level design or spatial orientation skills), but I'm not sure where to start beyond "open Weyland and do things with the line tool". Maybe one of these days I'll try to make something usable, either as an "interlude" level or as something to be incorporated in an actual level...

Looking forward to seeing the Trooper sprites in action!

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 29th '19, 19:26
by The Man

Yeah, upon further reflection, I think it probably makes more story sense to have the W’rk dreams in that context, and it would help solidify the scenario’s connections to both Eternal and Pathways, which thus far have been rather tenuous. I’ll begin implementing them soon; probably not for the next release (I want to package up your Trooper sprites as soon as my schedule permits), but sometime this year.

I really ought to play some more FPS games to get level design ideas, shouldn’t I? I’ve played a depressingly small number of them, given that I’m so heavily into developing content for one. I also need to play Deus Ex. I’ll add Half-Life and its sequels to my list, though. It will probably follow Dark Souls and Deus Ex, but maybe I’ll attempt to get through them all by the end of this year, depending upon how school and work go.

Regarding level design, I’d say just start with the Forge tutorial videos on YouTube. Once you’ve watched that, a lot of the process of actually building a level is fairly self-explanatory, and it hasn’t really changed that much since then, apart from the need to switch back and forth between the editor and the game for texturing. Some of the details are different, obviously – there’s no need to worry at all about viewing distances, and the number of transparent polygon sides isn’t a direct consideration either (though if you use too many small polygons clustered together you’ll run the risk of exceeding the limit of 32,768 map indices).

For advanced level design info, I strongly recommend Hastur’s Workshop. I definitely used some of these tricks, including the multi-stop platform, the forcefield, and the Tick/Enforcer shooting gallery (which is probably possible to deprecate now using Lua, but I’ve left them in for the sake of convenience). Should you be curious as to how I pulled off various tricks in the scenario that aren’t featured in Hastur’s Workshop, I can probably provide explanations, should I remember (there are some where I undoubtedly don’t).

You can probably learn the basics of level design in a month or two, depending how much work you put into it, but of course, like most activities in life, level design is a skill, and the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. It’s easy to learn the basics, but a lot of the complexities take a while to master. A lot of my early levels didn’t make it into any version of Chronicles I’ve actually showed the public, for entirely justifiable reasons. “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” and “Pleiades’ Dust” are actually two of the first levels I started, but I’ve continually polished them up throughout the development process – the early versions of them were not particularly good. I’m still liable to throw in another level before “Pleiades’ Dust”, just because Dr Sumner found the latter so difficult. I’m thinking of using a specific level that’s currently in the WMAiD Work in Progress folder, depending whether we decide to use it in WMAiD. If not, I’ll probably design a new one along similar lines.

As an aside, I’m also working on redoing the sounds file so that the sounds have higher frequency range, using the same process I used to remaster the Eternal soundtrack; I’ve been remastering them all to a 44.1 kHz sample rate, but I’m considering doing it again using an even higher rate, since a lot of the sounds get pitch-shifted down substantially. That might be overkill, though – haven’t decided yet.

I’m also liable to redo some of the level physics so they work with my mostly-complete Ticks joke script, which I’ll try to put the finishing touches on sometime this week. It’s unlikely that either of these changes will make it into my update for the Trooper shapes, either, though.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 29th '19, 19:58
by General-RADIX
The Man wrote:Regarding level design, I’d say just start with the Forge tutorial videos on YouTube. Once you’ve watched that, a lot of the process of actually building a level is fairly self-explanatory, and it hasn’t really changed that much since then, apart from the need to switch back and forth between the editor and the game for texturing. Some of the details are different, obviously – there’s no need to worry at all about viewing distances, and the number of transparent polygon sides isn’t a direct consideration either (though if you use too many small polygons clustered together you’ll run the risk of exceeding the limit of 32,768 map indices).

For advanced level design info, I strongly recommend Hastur’s Workshop. I definitely used some of these tricks, including the multi-stop platform, the forcefield, and the Tick/Enforcer shooting gallery (which is probably possible to deprecate now using Lua, but I’ve left them in for the sake of convenience). Should you be curious as to how I pulled off various tricks in the scenario that aren’t featured in Hastur’s Workshop, I can probably provide explanations, should I remember (there are some where I undoubtedly don’t).
Alright; if I take a serious crack at at least making individual areas, I'll look into those again (I did check both out a while ago, but very little stuck with me).

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 29th '19, 22:26
by The Man
Yeah, if you didn’t actually follow along with the steps in the videos/tutorials in Weland or Forge, you probably won’t remember much of what they said. It’s one of those things you kind of just have to learn by doing, so at some point it’s best just to take the leap and start making maps. The basics aren’t difficult to pick up, and once you’ve gotten those down, you’ll experience a lot of artistic freedom to expand your creation in whatever direction you feel fit. Which I think is why I enjoy it so much. Of course, I’d dreamed of making my own video game levels pretty much ever since I played 1-1 in Super Mario Bros. (which, to be fair, is an absolute masterpiece of video game design even to this day), so that’s probably no surprise.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 30th '19, 19:42
by Juzo-kun
I swear I still had to read the updates in this thread before posting mine [MSmile]

If life would kindly stop throwing curveball in my face, I might be able to contribute with something, either in basic (VERY basic) mapmaking and try my hand in designing a weapon and creatures and such. (Not before the end of summer, alas) [MFrown]

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Jul 30th '19, 22:02
by The Man
Thanks! Needless to say I'd welcome any competent input. At some point I think I'm probably going to get about eight to ten new maps or map fragments that I'll be able drop into Chronicles (basically, whatever is left over from WMAiD's WIP folder that's any good - and there's a lot there), so I'd probably consider new shapes a higher priority, but I will probably still need a few more new maps to complete the story, depending upon how it develops. I can probably do something even with basic submissions - I've spruced up fairly plain geometry on several occasions, and having a frame to work with might inspire me to be more productive.

Anyway, for sure, thanks for the interest and I look forward to seeing new contributions. Feel free to talk whenever about ideas on Discord or through PM or wherever, too.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Sep 9th '19, 09:43
by The Man
Oh hey, I finally got those Trooper shapes RADIX made in February (i.e., seven months ago) into the game. This is, in point of fact, my first published update to the game since January. ... 8um3yyCaTE

Let me know if something doesn’t work – I’ve only tested a few levels.

I’m liable to push out another fairly significant update within the next month or so. I’m remastering literally the entire sounds file, and I’m about a third of the way finished after about a week’s worth of work. (I know I mentioned working on this project before, but I decided to restart it, since I hadn’t gotten very far the first time and wanted to keep my methods fairly consistent. I’m also liable to push out remastered sounds files for Marathon Infinity and probably some other games.)

Thanks again to RADIX for submitting these, and sorry again that it took me so long to implement them. In my defence (for a certain value of “defence”), this is far from the only task I’ve been sitting on for far longer than I meant to.

ETA: …oh, the caveat about one of the levels in the readme is wrong; I’ve gone through a few names for this level and haven’t fully settled on one. It’s called “Stranger Fruit” now. It was “Spirit of Eden” when I’d last revised the readme, and it was “In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion” before that. I’m not certain I’m going to keep the current name, either, though I’m more attached to it than some of my others.

I have a habit of changing levels’ names fairly often as I find names I prefer more. This is actually a small number of name changes by my standards; I’ve been trying to limit the number somewhat for everyone else’s sake, but sometimes I want to change names to provide tributes to artists or musicians who’ve died recently (hence “Spirit of Eden”, a reference to an album by Talk Talk, and a title I may ultimately end up using for some other level instead), or because I think the new name would fit the story better (Stranger Fruit, the album by Zeal & Ardor, deals in part with the legacy of slavery and racism, the relevance of which to a Marathon scenario probably doesn’t need to be explained; it, in turn, is of course named after the famous song by Billie Holiday in protest against lynching). I’d originally used “In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion” because of the mention of “a citadel of stone”, but its relevance to the story, as great as the song is, was always pretty tentative.

Anyway, sorry for the confusion. I’ll update the readme in the next release; doesn’t seem a significant enough error to bother repackaging and re-uploading the entire scenario.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Sep 14th '19, 22:39
by The Man
Once again, link to the game: ... 8um3yyCaTE

I’ve remastered the entire sounds file. Note that there are no longer any 8-bit sounds; the sounds file was large enough without them, and they sounded like crap. Everything is 6 dB quieter, which means you may need to turn your volume up. The plus side is that things will distort less when you’re in the midst of a battle. Not none, but definitely less. This change was made because there is apparently no way to actually lower the peak levels of the game’s output (see here); Treellama’s response was apparently a subtle form of trolling that was lost on me at the time. (To be fair, I’d been rather abrasive earlier in the thread.)

I’ve made a few other changes to the sounds besides lowering their volume:
  • Where sounds were clipped (a form of digital distortion that occurs when peaks and troughs of a waveform are flattened; the same kind of distortion that occurs during battles, incidentally), I’ve mostly run them through a declipper. In a few cases, such as the VacBob sounds and the “maser firing” sound, it was pretty obvious that the clipping distortion was an intentional part of the sound, so I’ve applied other filters to balance out the levels more (phase rotation for the maser, declipping only the lower frequencies for the VacBobs).
  • Possibly most noticeably, I’ve remastered the upper frequencies. Everything is now at a 44.1 kHz sample rate. (I wanted to use an even higher sample rate for the random sounds, since they frequently get pitch-shifted to much lower levels, but ShapeFusion didn’t like this.) This means that sounds will overall sound substantially brighter. The process I used for this is roughly the same as the process I used to remaster Eternal’s soundtrack.
  • Noise reduction on some of the 8-bit sounds. I’m not actually pleased with how the “Got Item” sound came out, and I’ll probably redo that one. Most of them sound a lot better to me, though.
  • The Assimilated VacBobs now have three new sounds I created from various sources. Two are simply much more credible versions of Assimilated VacBob sounds I already incorporated in the game; the other is a Doug Zartman line that went unused in the original game. I won’t spoil it, though I will note it was an Assimilated Bob sound in the previous Chronicles sounds file. This has enabled me to put back all five of the Assimilated Bob sounds from the original trilogy as well.
  • Various other tweaks that I mostly can’t remember.
  • I’ve added about 35 new sound slots from various sources (mostly Tempus Irae, Pfh’Joueur, and the original trilogy). I haven’t yet tested whether these work; if they do, I’ll employ them in various situations in a future update.
I’ll probably start uploading new videos of my gameplay at some point to show off RADIX’s ‘new’ Trooper sprites as well. (‘New’ is in inverted commas because they’ve existed for more than half a year, and it’s my fault that they’ve only been unveiled in a working game within the last week. It’s a form of self-deprecation, you see.)


ETA: It appears a few of the sounds don’t work. The problem appears to be that ShapeFusion does not correctly import sounds into empty slots. I’ll have to figure out a workaround.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Sep 15th '19, 03:46
by The Man
All the sounds should now work, unless I missed one. For future reference of anyone who wants to add new sound slots to their sounds file, you need to specify a class ID for the sound before Aleph One will play it. Thanks to Wrkncacnter for the help.

Fix posted; same link as before.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Sep 17th '19, 17:31
by The Man
Really quickly before I leave for work:

1. Another release (same link as usual). In this case, there are about an extra 5 MiB of sounds, and I've begun making use of a lot of previously unused sounds, mostly in present-day and dream levels so far.

2. YouTube videos, for people who haven't had time to play through all of this and/or just want to see the new Trooper sprites and/or hear the new sounds in action. The third and sixth videos do not have the Trooper sprites; all others do. The new sounds (obviously) are in all of them.

#01 Sketches of Pain & #02 Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt
#03 Pleiades' Dust
#08 Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead
#14 The Paradox of Tolerance
#28 Slaughterhouse Five & #47 Cel din urmă vis
#46 Return to Yggdrasill

More to follow as I get successful completions of various levels.

New merge is also pushed to Git, but you'll need the new files to run it properly, so go grab it. There will probably be one more update in the next few days. I'm also liable to package my remastered sounds for M2, Infinity, Rubicon, Eternal, and Tempus, which are all already done; there are probably still several sounds left for M1 and Evil (and Pfh'Joueur, which I'll also do if I can get an editor to play nice with it), and I haven't yet begun taking a look at other games (I'm at least going to redo the sounds for Phoenix and Yuge, and possibly others as well if people still care about them).

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Nov 7th '19, 05:23
by The Man
New release that massively overhauls the textures. The most notable changes:
  • All wall textures should now be 512x512 pixels, except the small number that still don’t have HD versions (I will remedy this eventually). This includes textures that were 1024x1024 previously, as I consider that to be overkill, and it also includes textures that were 256x256 previously (mostly Rubicon and Tempus Irae textures, as well as a few of RADIX’s). I’ve gone through and upscaled them all. Surprisingly, they mostly look pretty good, and you might not be able to tell they’ve been upscaled in many cases. Some of them still need a bit more work, and I may replace them with alternate versions at some point, but I’m pleased with how they’ve come out on the whole.
  • Since I was updating the textures anyway, I’ve converted them all to PNG format rather than DDS. This means the file sizes are much larger, because PNG is lossless and DDS is lossy. I may convert the textures back to DDS once I’m ready to release a final version of the game, but since many of the textures are liable to undergo several more revisions, I’m sticking with PNG for now, for the convenience of at least RADIX and myself.
  • Created new glow masks for several textures, as well as HD variants of several textures.
  • Fixed (I hope) a nasty bug whereby saved games could crash if they were on a level with precipitation. I’ve incorporated a more recent version of the rain script, based on the one in Eternal; hopefully this fixes the issue with saved games.
  • Brought the rain into the shapes file. This is a back-end thing that most people probably won’t care about, but it means some data got moved from the map file to the shapes file, where it should have been a while ago.
  • Various minor bug fixes. Several lights in “Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead” started out in the wrong state, so you got constant lightning flashes for roughly the first fifteen seconds of the level. Rain previously replaced rocks in “How to Disappear Completely”, but rocks were used as scenery objects in several locations in the level, meaning that those showed up as motionless rain; I switched the script to use a completely different scenery object. No doubt other changes; I don’t remember.
Known issues relating to this release:
  • A couple of Goran’s glow masks now look weird. I think the transition from DDS to PNG may have served them poorly. I’ll probably remake both of them.
  • A few of the bump maps didn’t survive downsampling to 512x512 from 1024x1024 well, most notably the curvy, green, organic texture from M2. I think this might be a consequence of the bump map I’m using; I’ll try smoothing it out a bit.
  • I still haven’t figured out some of the issues with bump map tiling, so some of them will look weird. I might just remove them for some of those textures.
Because so much content has been changed, I strongly recommend backing up your current Chronicles folder (rather than simply replacing your old directory with the new alpha) if you are developing for the game or if you want your old films and saved games to continue to function correctly. I am unlikely to have your exact setup any longer, though I do have several of the old alphas. You are hereby warned.

As usual, here’s the link, and as usual, let me know if you have any issues. I haven’t tried loading levels in Windows 1.2.1 yet, so I don’t know how that’ll go either.

ETA: Noticed a minor oversight with the rain levels; here’s a fix. If you grabbed the above link after 4:13 am EST on November 7th, you don’t need this, since I’ve corrected the archive, but if you grabbed it before then and don’t want to re-download all 560 MB of the archive, you’re in luck! I probably won’t leave this up forever, though.

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Apr 3rd '20, 03:05
by The Man
New release, same link as always: ... 8um3yyCaTE

This project isn’t dead, but since we’re attempting to get new releases out for both Eternal and WMAiD soon, I’ve pushed it a bit to the side. But there are a few major changes I am hoping to roll into this game relatively soon, and one in particular is already implemented.

The biggest new change: Precipitation is now bundled in a plugin, so that if it lags your computer, you can now disable it. This plugin does not work with either solo or network Lua scripts, however. If you wish to combine it with a Lua script of either sort, make a copy of that script and find the following line:

Code: Select all

function Triggers.init()

Code: Select all

function Triggers.init(restoring)
Or similar (“restoring” could be anything that doesn’t contain illegal characters). Then, immediately after that, paste the following line:

Code: Select all, "PRECIPITATION_ON")
Save the copy, and that should do it.

If your script doesn’t contain a Triggers.init function anywhere, you’ll first want to double-check that you haven’t mistyped it. If you’ve spelled it correctly, you can probably add something like:

Code: Select all

function Triggers.init(restoring), "PRECIPITATION_ON")
	Game.proper_item_accounting = true
To the end of the file. (Game.proper_item_accounting ensures that item counts are updated properly; this script shouldn’t affect item counts at all, but better to be safe.) You may also want to make sure that the line:

Code: Select all

Triggers = {}
Appears somewhere in the script as well; this will speed up the script execution. If it doesn’t, just put it immediately before the start of the first Triggers function, whichever that happens to be.

(If you’re hosting this as a netscript, you’ll also want to be sure everyone who joins your game has a machine capable of handling precipitation before starting your game. If someone’s machine can’t handle it, do them a favour and don’t use the precipitation script.)

Precipitation currently appears in the following Chronicles levels:
  • Cut Their Grain and Place Fire Therein
  • Revisions of the Past
  • Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead
  • The Black Angel’s Death Song
  • Stranger Fruit
  • How to Disappear Completely
If you experience problems, let me know. With the current version, it should be safe to switch the precipitation script on and off and then restore saved games. The biggest current issue I’m aware of is that a small amount of precipitation winds up frozen in place when restoring from a saved game. We don’t know why this occurs yet, and I hope to fix it at some point, but it’s not my highest priority, because it doesn’t break the game; it just looks silly.

A massive thanks to Wrkncacnter for doing most of the hardest scripting work for this; there is about an 0.05% chance I could’ve pulled it off myself with my current level of Lua knowledge.


A couple of changes that I still intend to implement in the near future: Tacticus has given me a spectacular-looking assault rifle, and RADIX has given me a great new Enforcer design. I’m working on cleaning both of these up and rolling them into the game, but I have a few things left I need to do before I can implement either of them. I’m liable to overhaul several of the other weapon sprites while I’m at it; I will probably use one of Tacticus’ staff designs as well, and I’ll likely use the same fist sprites Eternal uses (also Tacticus’ work).

As for RADIX’s Enforcers, I’ll need to put together an alternate version of the sprites using the Rubicon alien weapon (this should be a relatively simple task), and there are still some antialiasing issues that one of us will have to clean up (the latter will probably end up being something both of us contribute to).

A massive thanks to both of them for their contributions; again, I would not have been capable of producing their work myself.


Beyond this, I’ve also updated “To Make an Idol of Our Fear and Call It God” substantially. It should be much more obvious where the perilous catwalks begin and end, because there are lights around their perimeters now. (There’s also a secret infravision powerup hidden in the level – which is actually useful in Chronicles, since I copied the much brighter colours used in Eternal’s implementation – though I’m probably going to decrease its duration substantially in future revisions, because it lasts for three minutes, which is complete overkill.) Beyond that, I’ve also applied bug fixes to a small handful of levels, and “Revisions of the Past” and “Stranger Fruit” now have rain and snow, respectively. I’ve also fixed some bugs resulting from oversights on my part, relating to issues like a faulty oxygen recharge script on the “Slaughterhouse” levels, a faulty use of tags in one of the precipitation scripts, and a problem with a global MML script that could’ve corrupted saved games in certain cases.

As always, let me know of any issues you encounter – I welcome honest, constructive feedback at any time. Of course, this game is still very much a work in progress and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, but I do still intend to finish it someday. Enjoy!

Re: Marathon Chronicles

Posted: Apr 10th '20, 18:43
by The Man
New release incorporating new weapon sprites from Tacticus has been implemented. The rifle sprite will not “feel” at all correct right now – it should be much more accurate than it is, and it should probably fire much less rapidly as well. I’m liable to make it fire bursts of projectiles like the flechette, except perhaps four rather than two. I will correct this in future releases once I create physics I find satifsying. I will probably attempt to create new sounds as well.

The staff animation also seems like it should be faster on earlier levels. There are actually two different staff animations, depending upon the level physics I used – one of them is faster than the other. The idea I was going with was that the player would become more proficient at using the staff as they used it more, but I didn’t implement this very consistently, and upon second thought, it really makes very little sense to me, because the player already used the staff extensively in Eternal, which canonically takes place before Chronicles (at least in the player’s subjective, non-linear, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey experience of events).

Thus, I’m probably going to make every level’s physics like those of “To Make an Idol of Our Fear and Call It God”, in which the player is able to swing the melee function of the staff more rapidly than the projectile function. I think I like this implementation more; it makes logical sense that it would take more effort to launch a projectile than it would take to simply shock a nearby enemy, and it creates a disadvantage to simply spamming both triggers of the staff incessantly.

I need to overhaul the global physics of the scenario, in any case – they’re a mess and I have no idea what’s in what level. That seems like a good project for the summer.

I have also replaced the fist sprites with Eternal’s, which I like more than the defaults. Thanks to Tacticus for all three sets of sprites.

Beyond that, I’ve made various other changes; most notably, the Shots Fired from Tempus Irae are now implemented as well (having Tacticus’ super-HD staff launch the old Infinity staff projectile sprites looked really, really bad). Thanks to James Hastings-Trew for permission to use them, and also for sending me some TIFFs of these sprites that I was able to use to create new Compiler bolts that matched the old flashback palettes. (I will work on making alternate versions of the Fighter staff sprites as well, but just haven’t had time to get around to those yet – they’ll be a bit more complicated). Several variants of media splashes from Eternal are implemented now as well, although I’m not perfectly satisfied with those and will probably smooth them out or otherwise tweak them. Thanks to the respective creators for their permission to use them.

Overall, the game looks much better now than it did last week, though there are some remaining flaws to be worked out. I still need to implement RADIX’s new Enforcer sprites (we’ve got anti-aliasing to clean up before we can use them), and then my next step for visual improvement is making higher-definition versions of the monster sprites, if no one else ever gets around to it. I’ll see if I have any luck with a program called RotSprite, which is specifically developed for facilitating applications such as this. I may also implement some of the XBLA sprites – about half of them are at least acceptable, and I really like a few (the troopers, hunters, compilers, and defenders in particular), though modifying the colour palettes may be an issue.

As always: ... 8um3yyCaTE

Also, work-in-progress videos of the new sprites in action (a number of problems are already fixed – e.g., the size of the staff and the absence of the HD projectile sprites):

Notes on a Criminal Conspiracy


Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt speedrun (I am probably not going to fix this skip, although it will end up working differently and may end up requiring one additional hit with a grenade to pull off, which will make it a bit riskier)

Thanks again to Tacticus, James, et al. for their contributions, which have made Chronicles a much better-looking game in a very short period of time.