In this community, as in most others—well, never mind; I’ve never even seen others—we have a broad spectrum of members. There’s the CLIQUE personality, a grating know-it-all whose only redeeming quality is that he does actually contribute something worthwhile, even if it’s only a dash of humor. There’s the Story Forum guy, who will dissect any tidbit of information as long as it keeps him from playing ever again. A relatively new group is the horde of unwashed meatserver players, drawn here primarily by the Marathon/Halo connection.
Today, I’m going to talk about something we don’t see as often.
His nickname is AP, and he’s just had a tough time of everything. If you take a look at his site, you will notice that he has more than a few “issues.” The first is a case of loch that far exceeds my own and approaches ahuxley’s. This man has thoughts we can’t even begin to decipher:
geen paper - backside (hand written) problems discused /` did... travel to computer lab /\/\ going on bus n/\/\/ intendance /\/\nn schoolaphobic /`´\/\ math, science, exploritory/ depended on teachers /\/\/\ industrial arts /\/\/\ 1st Quart... /`´\/V
This example is actually very interesting to me; I am drawn now to anything loch. AP doesn’t seem too “stable” in that bit of writing, but he is actually quite brilliant. Take a look at the language he designed, called Bare:
Sample macro code for square root:
loop with (1<<(s::)/2) ratio 2 (s/result) until +delta≤1;
The “with” parameter (1<<(s::)/2) means the result starts with a bit magnitude of half the scale of the input. The “ratio 2” means that the result is only affected by the code by one half. And the “until +delta≤1” means that the positive (absolute value) difference calculated of each result must be at most one fraction.
This is the optimized equivalent of the Newton Method of finding the square root. It is not needed, since it is built in to the Bare languagel the root symbol with no second operand, “s*/;”.
I honestly don’t understand more than 10% of that. The rest of the language definition is nearly as cryptic. But I’m honestly intrigued by what he has written.
You might be wondering what this has to do with Marathon or the community. Well, the community part is tough, but I’ll get to that later. The Marathon part comes from his engine project, Old Durandal. The project is essentially a version of the Marathon 2 engine for old Motorola 68k computers, with enhancements like those in Aleph One. What at first seems like a hoax or a failure (given AP’s own comments about how terrible or useless the project is), I have actually seen his engine work. It’s far from perfect or wonderful, but he has actually accomplished something. It’s tough going for him because he’s not only programming for an old machine, he’s programming on it.
I started this article shortly after the foundation of JFO (on May 20, 2008), and I’ve waited this long to publish it because I sent AP a few questions. He took a while to reply, but I think he gives us some insight into his misunderstood persona. Here’s a slightly edited version of the correspondence.
Here is my situation, where some of your questions are answered (this was prepared days ago, so sorry for the over-articulation):
Much of the “Old Stuff in the Pile” is worthless. A distorted take on appreciation to hold large piles of paper fragments on my bed for (non-)eventual scanning, all making sleeping there impossible. At least falling asleep can be easy for me, emptying my partly empty head, despite the promoted ringing in my ears.
One remarkable thing from my past, for sure, is a character with a pumpkin head — have you seen the QT Movie?
Version 0.4 of od28-6 has been scrapped. See the new games page post for more information.
The dead harddrive is the one that stored pending textures for the od28-6 high-res Shapes. Sometimes penciling pixel-by-pixel, the process of upscaling five texture sets was slow but acceptable. But now, it’s difficult even managing media for the sequel to a scenario that I can’t even upload! To put in short, any progress is hard to manage. With my wasting of time – over a week to slowly play through, on the antiquated computer, Super Mario Bros. 3, fun-and-games-work on FCE Ultra – and my time off of the computer altogether (9/11-style panicking on economic crises), I have spent seldom time this year on od28-6. My biggest problem, in terms of working on old projects, is the discouragement. I can’t just work on things that no one seems to care about. And with next-generation gaming… it’s understandably easy to feel like giving up.
Marathon isn’t cheap crap; it’s vintage. It’s not some DOOM clone, all to be tossed in the trash. It partakes on something never thought of prior (and does it with grenades and napalm). The great beyond of Artificial Intelligence. The Marathon communities have made more maps than Bungie ever would. And even though the same could be said for id Software, Marathon doesn’t want to be WYSIWYG.
Second Message (Q&A):
Q01: How long have you been involved with Marathon, and how long have you occupied the place you do (that is to say, almost totally isolated from other Marathon enthusiasts)?
Since around 1999, I’ve been toying around with something that came from a monthly CD release my mother paid for, with her thinking that the software would be useful (she doesn’t have a great understanding of what software is, or in computer terminology, for that matter). What I started with the Demo for “Marathon 2: Durandal”. A lot of the other stuff… only ran on PC or PPC.
The persnlwebpage will answer the question as to what hellhole I still call home (as if what I just said didn’t just answer that).
No mailing address put on the site, unless encrypted somewhere… ;).
Q02: What do you think of the state of Marathon today? To elaborate: what are your thoughts on Aleph One, on contemporary network maps, on the few scenarios, on just about anything?
I see Marathon becoming history, since everything is drying up – so to speak. People have moved on, particularly to other, more expensive games. Aleph One doesn’t have the spirit it once had in it’s first few months, and AO’s SourceForge project is being updated very infrequently.
I’ve never gotten around to playing those BIG scenarios, such as Tempus Arae, and everything that would be too modern for ye old computer won’t run anyway (od28-6 and Marathon Infinity-based maps will work fine as long as I have the hard drive space). Many of the third-party maps I’ve played I’ve mentioned and measured (based on play-ability) on the mapreviews page. Give me a URL to any map or scenario, and I may play it if I’m able to.
Q03: Assuming you keep track of us as individuals, whom do you see as the most influential active Marathoner?
Q04: What do you know of (and what is your opinion of) such figures as Forrest, RyokoTK, Treellama, Appleswitch, W’rkncacnter, and me?
I don’t know anybody in the Marathon community very well. You, and Jeremy T. Parsons have been the only ones to really respond to my E-mails with any good discloser. I wouldn’t like to judge those that have been simply working on their free time.
Charles Lechasseur has, since his release of the last version of Wail, disappeared. No one has told me why, and nothing else came of it.
Q05: Which sites do you visit most regularly, and how often? (Both Marathon sites and others).
I’m not able to really visit any sites very often, given the remote ISP status. Sometimes I check source.bungie.org for updates, but more often do I post to my games page (via HTML). Ironically, things appear slower now for AO, than for my posts.
The most frequent would have to be Google, searching for things, especially when I’ve forgotten URLs. I’ve put links up on pages to eliminate some of that inefficiency, and that part of me is, well… still inefficient. Saving bookmarks to disk is be impractical, of course, given the remote ISP status.
Q06: What were your original motivations for creating od28-6 (“Old Durandal”), your own Marathon engine?
Number one: 68K run-ability. I got tired of the AO guys not supporting the platform (as I do not have the will power to get a job for a newer computer).
The rest of the story is in the source code index pages (one file in the 0.1.9 source is invisible, bty).
Q07: Which tools do you use for od28-6, for maintaining your Web site, and for stuff in general?
For compiling od28-6, currently, and indefinitely, MPW. For maintaining the web site, GeoCities (which again, sucks). Everything else goes to SourceForge (if applicable).
GraphicConverter 3.6.1 for internet-style graphics, using an old GC Universal file that accidentally enabled me to do almost everything the full version was capable of (this is legal, right?).
Q08: Do you still have plans for the “Bare” language you designed? Will you write a compiler for it?
It was a model for making C easier is some respects. There’s no real useful purpose for it, other than a stamp in my (somewhat humiliating) history. I once tried to stupidly add the language to the universal directory, used by Yahoo!, Google, etc.
Anyone is more or less free to write their own compiler for the damned language, and I don’t care anymore if anybody doesn’t wish to notify me.
Q09: Your site mentions that you used to make music. Do you have still have any of it?
I’ve made somethings, written some timely songs (nothing produced), and made some HyperCard projects I don’t use anymore. A few things of shtuff are just re-edited shtuff from other shtuff. I’m not an expert on anything, and I’ve have no formal college education. So there.
The only thing I’ve produced (as a child) was a lame attempt at a movie for that pumpkin-headed character, Annoying Boy. No pressure.
A lot of my influence in music came from Nine Inch Nails, as I have several albums in store, and some people would find the lyrics to my songs disturbing and/or hairy. You’ve been warned.
Q10: Are you really as out-of-touch as I think you are, or did I just pull that out of my ass?
**chuckle**. Silly blabbit, asses are not meant for pulling things out of!
Q11: Do you have anything of your own that you want to say?
Live, from Maine, it’s Saturday night!!
I used to think AP was crazy; now I think he’s a pretty neat guy. So here ends the first (and, in retrospect, the last) truly serious and thoughtful JFO article. I know it wasn’t really all that high-quality, and I am afraid it will come across as a mockery of AP. But I really do enjoy talking to him.