Marathon Part 2: Durandal


Continued from Part 1.

Forge and Anvil opened the world to me.  I could create what I wanted.  I became enamored with Marathon.  I would post on (eventually become a Mod there).  Submit to the Story Page, and of course work on ill-fated mods, or as we called them TCs (Total Conversions).

I officially released Marathon: Infection a 7 map scenario with some new weapons (I think) and a new monster, or a modified monster.  It was full of bad spelling, bad art and bad designed.  But it was out there.  To the 2 or 3 people who played it, thank you.

After that I set my sights on a super ambitious project–Pfhorathon (stupid name).  The idea was you were sent back to the Marathon by the U.E.S.C. to investigate what happened.  But the twist is, you are a prototype human/pfhor solider.  Not sure how that plot worked.  I somehow roped a few map makers to working with me, got some art out of a guy named Patient Zero (this is important).

The entire project was super ambitious and never finished.  Now-a-days I could probably pull it off in a few months.  Honestly if someone could just reproduce Forge exactly in OS X I could do it.  The current tools are not there for OS X.

But I virtually met some great people working on this mod.  Namely I met HaveBlue and Patient Zero.  Later on I would meet others to play StarCraft with, or Unreal Tournament.  Even into college I kept up my love of Marathon.  It had grown away from playing the game and working on mods to just talking on Hotline.  Like all the time.  I would chat with these people at all hours of the day and night.  Eventually formed a Diablo 2 crew.  I’m sure Diablo 2 is responsible for me dropping a few classes, switching from Computer Engineering to Marketing and a few Fs on exams.

Through all of this my love of Marathon grew.  Thanks to the story page I understood the story, and how complex it was.  I started to follow the BLAM project (you know Halo) and start to understand what game dev was (just a bit).

Flash-forward several years to college graduation.  My girlfriend (now Wife) applied to graduate school at a few places and got accepted to Columbia in New York City.  So we moved to NYC.  At this point I had these dreams I would be a games journalist.  I was the assistant editor of my college paper, I wrote for a local mag, and was actually paid to put down words on video games (shocking to think that I was paid to write consider how sloppy this is).

So in NYC I started looking for a job while my wife was in school.  I went to some dead-end sales jobs, and was a bit discouraged.  The plan was to only stay in NYC for the duration of my wife’s schooling.  So one of those hotline guys I hung out with, HaveBlue, well he lived in NYC and had shown me around when I first got there.  He sent me an email (or maybe an IM) asking if I’d be interested in working part time at the small game studio he had just gotten a job at.  I replied that I’d crap my pants with joy.

In 2004 I interviewed and became the 8th Freeverse employee.  Marathon ran thick at Freevese.  Routinely Ian would call out “Marathon” from his Presidential desk in the kitchen and we would all fire up a LAN game.

There wasn’t a ton of work for me to do at Freeverse when I started.  My official job was to package up the internet orders, and take them to the post office.  I would arrive at work around 1 PM and be out at 6.  But I was there looking at game dev.  I got to be a voice in the 2005 edition of Burning Monkey Solitaire.   I shortly took over customer support.

There was a game that was in dev that I saw on Steve Tzé’s computer one day.  It was a plane game called Wing Nuts 2.  They let me check it out, and it had an editor; WingNuts & Bolts.  This is still the best game editor I have ever used.  I’m sad that not many people got the chance to work with it, it’s brilliant.  Very quickly I took to the editor.  It remind me of working in Forge and scratched that game dev itch.

It wasn’t long before I had the game really moving in dev.  My official job became make WingNuts 2.  I was coordinating art and programing (I got a lot of things put into the game that were never on the roadmap).  While I’m not credited as the Producer on Wing Nuts 2, I think it’s obvious that’s what I did.

Wing Nuts 2 shipped to critical success.  It won a Macworld Eddie and got a runner up Apple Design Award (a white plastic cube).  I think it sold good to.  I think I then worked on some other games, I honestly don’t remember what.

What I do remember would change my life once again.  It was late on a Friday evening, around 5:30 PM.  The phone rang and on the caller ID was “Microsoft Corp.”  I answered the phone and handed it to Colin, as Ian was out that day.

I don’t know why, but I could tell this wasn’t a cold call sales, or something worthless.  Maybe it was the look on Colin’s face, but there was the sense something was happening.  And something did happen, something wonderful.

Continued in Part 3.

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