While most of Bungie fandom has moved on to our latest game, the silky-smooth, ultra-awesome, totally sweet title known as Halo 3, there are still a few scant patriots who spend their precious free time shooting around in our older, silky-smooth, ultra-awesome, totally sweet titles, Marathon and Myth. Why would someone do that, you might ask? It's a good question, one that the good folks at For Carnage Apply Within
are more than willing to answer. Scroll down to read what they have to say about themselves, and their games of choice, in their own words.
For Carnage Apply Within
For Carnage Apply Within has two primary goals. First and foremost , we offer Bungie.net members a place to gather for the purpose of playing classic Bungie games. Secondly, For Carnage Apply Within is a place to discuss all of the aspects of classic Bungie games including story, multiplayer game types, and map making. The group was founded by Game Junkie Jim and Sardonic13 in August of 2007. It was born out of the combination of two older, now defunct Bungie.net groups, the Myth Jumpers and Marathon Jumpers.
We play weekly games of Myth II: Soulblighter on Mariusnet, Marathon Infinity using Aleph One, and Marathon 2: Durandal on Xbox Live. Anyone interested in the games Bungie made before Halo is welcome to join the group and participate in the carnage.
Q. You dudes are playing some old ass games. What's up with that?
A. They aren't just old ass games, they are Bungie's old ass games. Marathon and Myth are old, but they are still a riot to play.
Q. Fair enough. But is this just pure nostalgia - the quest to recapture the golden twinkle of a bygone era - or are you guys really enjoying your time with these titles?
A. It's not nostalgia in the sense that we are shunning current games in favor of some vague infatuation with the "good old days". For many of our members, FCAW is actually their first opportunity to play these games. If one is able to look past the outdated graphics, Marathon and Myth each offer an extremely entertaining experience. We play these games because even after a decade, they remain enjoyable and unique. Marathon and Myth are similar to a very good old movie. Just because the movie is old doesn't mean it that it is no longer relevant or enjoyable.
Q. Talk a little bit about each title's multiplayer experience. Are you rocking Macs, Aleph One, and/or using Xbox Live?
A. We currently play Marathon Durandal on Xbox Live, Marathon Infinity using Aleph One
, and Myth 2: Soulblighter on Mariusnet
Playing Marathon is similar to Halo. Many of Halo's tried and true game types (Slayer, Oddball, and King of the Hill) trace their origins to Marathon. It isn't difficult for someone familiar to with Halo to step into Marathon and immediately enjoy the experience. However there are a few differences, the obvious ones being the inability to jump or crouch and the "floaty" gravity. Marathon tends towards more close quarters combat than Halo. There aren't any sniper rifles or battle rifles to be found.
All of the levels are generously populated with weapons, although powerful weapons like the flamethrower are sometimes hidden. Players explode when hit with a rocket or grenade and scream in agony when set ablaze with the flamethrower. Corpses fly through the air and cover the floor. The action is always fast and furious, whether one is chasing opponents down tight corridors with the assault riffle or dual wielding shotguns in defense of a hill.
Myth remains one of the most unique video games ever made. While it is a real time strategy game, it forgoes building and resource management and dives straight into the carnage of tactical combat. One chooses an army before the game starts and doesn't receive any reinforcements. The absence of building and resource management shifts the focus to the tactics of terrain, troop movement, and timing. Perfectly balanced units, effective formations, 3D terrain, varied game types, and a touch of randomness make playing Myth something like balancing on a razor blade between resounding victory and utter defeat.
In Myth, the combat is relentless and the carnage is magnificent. What begins the game as a peaceful grassy knoll or a calm sandy hill is transformed into an obliterated, blood soaked mess. Explosions blast troops to pieces, sending severed limbs and gore flying. Fire arrows arc through the air and set the terrain on fire, scattering units. Lightening bolts reduce formations to smoldering bits. Melee clashes leave corpses piled high. With the wide range of maps, unit choices, tactical options, and game types, it is nearly impossible to play the same game of Myth twice. All of these factors combine to make Myth an extremely addictive game to this day.
Q. What kind of turnout are you enjoying?
A. It varies from week to week depending on what game we play, but we usually average from five to seven players. Marathon only allows eight players per game, while Myth allows sixteen. On occasion we've seen full games of Marathon and ten or more for Myth.
Q. There must be some hurdles to overcome when it comes to setting matches up, right?
Time zones. Our members live all over the world. That, combined with individual schedules, has always made finding a game time that works for all our members difficult.
Ensuring that everyone had the most recent version of the game used to be a problem, particularly back when new versions of Aleph One were being released on a weekly basis. But these days both Aleph One and Myth are relatively stable.
We play at the same time each week and alternate between Myth and Marathon on a month by month basis. This makes it easy for players to remember when the games are and keeps us from getting burned out on one specific game. We try to make it as easy as possible for members to simply show up and play.
Q. Are we talking the same core group of players, or do you see some ebb and flow with the membership?
A. There is a small core of members that make up the staff and take care of organization. Outside of the staff, there is some ebb and flow with membership. As with many groups and Bungie.net in general, members come and go. However, there are always at least a few people who have recently joined Bungie.net and are discovering Marathon or Myth for the first time.
Q. What about the current crop of multiplayer titles, Bungie or otherwise?
A. We've kicked around the idea of playing Halo 3 using Forged remakes of Marathon netmaps (we'll be sure to let you know when the Halo 3 Forge remake of 5-D Space is coming out). However, for our organized weekly games, we like everything to tie directly back to Myth or Marathon.
Many of our members are friends. Away from the organized FCAW games, we sometimes get together to play current games like Halo 3, Gears of War 2, and Left 4 Dead.
Q. So, you guys find time to play other stuff?
Certainly. We are all gamers and the FCAW games are only once a week. Our members' tastes include video games of all ages, genres, and platforms. If you went around asking all of our members which games they have played in the last month, the result would likely be an extensive and varied list.
Q. Are there certain aspects of newer titles you wish could be transported back in time for your old school gaming?
A. I've never been a big supporter of completely redoing an older game just to update the graphics. Especially games like Marathon and Myth, which I feel would loose some of their unique quirkiness if redone with an updated engine.
For me, one of the most underrated options in gaming is cooperative play. The coop option is the reason I've played through Halo more times than I can count. I've purposefully updated versions of classics like Doom and Half-Life just so I could play cooperatively.
Q. On the other side of that coin, are there some things that have been lost as time and design have plodded ever onward?
Thankfully the live action cut scene seems to be safely buried in video gaming's deep, dark past. Hopefully it will never return.
I don't know whether it's been lost or simply evolved, but the way in which a narrative is told in a video game has changed immensely since the days of Marathon. One of the biggest hurdles for younger gamers trying to get into Marathon's campaign is the narrative. Marathon requires that players actually read and try to understand the numerous terminals. By the time you've completed the game, you've read thousands of lines of text. That isn't something that younger gamers generally have the patience for. It seems like it has actually become more difficult for game designers to implement depth and complexity of narrative into a game because people aren't always willing to read large amounts of text like the terminals of Marathon.
Hopefully, dear reader, you've taken the time to read through this large amount of text without going terminal. Thanks to the gang at For Carnage Apply Within for lending us the words, images, and the following video. We enjoyed speaking with them and we're honored to see our dedicated fans still putting our past work through the multiplayer paces.
If you read this interview and want to try your hand at the Myth and Marathon multiplayer experience, again or for the very first time, give these guys a shout. They'll be glad to enlist you as a new recruit and slap a gun in your hand. But don't get too cozy. They might be helpful getting you up to speed, but once you're jacked in, it's Every Man for Himself.
Back in My Day
This week's Community Spotlight bucks the trend and doesn't come with an update to Bungie Favorites
. It's also only a one week stint. The Community Spotlight proper will resume next week.