ASE Ep. 79: Begging For Mercy Makes Me Angry!

This is it. We're performing a mercy killing on Durandal. The ones who aren't getting any mercy are Blackstar and Narcogen, because the Pfhor don't have any.

It seems only fitting that Durandal, tasked with opening and closing doors for a living should set us the task of disabling his logic cores-- by setting up a series of interlocking doors.

I didn't notice until I was editing this episode, but for most levels, Durandal provides both the gameplay instructions, as a proxy for the level designer, by telling you where to go and what to do-- push this button, pick up this chip, use this terminal, etc etc-- as well as the context, by giving those repetitive gameplay actions a larger meaning. You're not just opening doors, you're enabling avenues for counterattack. You're not just pushing buttons, you're activating self-defense mechanisms. You're not just moving an object from one location to another, you're infecting an alien computer network with a virus. You're not just reading an in-game manual, you're conversing with a slightly more than slightly insane computer intelligence. Okay, the conversation is a bit one-sided, but cyborgs aren't much for conversation anyway.

This level is an exception to the rule above. Since Durandal is already incapacitated (supposedly) he provides little context and almost no instruction. The level design itself gives the instruction, by limiting your access to one area until you've completed the previous one, and by depending on the security officer to, would you kindly, do what he's been told to do: push buttons, open doors, shoot aliens-- lather, rinse, repeat. What's interesting is that the lack of context is in itself a context. Like the Halo levels where the Chief has to do without Cortana's help, the absence of Durandal giving a detailed and sarcastic mission brief affects the way you think about what's going on in the story.

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Aleph One, free and open source versions of Marathon for Windows, Mac and Linux at

Remixes of the Marathon soundtrack by Craig Hardgrove at

We use irons' Co-Op script:

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Music used in this episode:

"What About Bob?" by Alexander Seropian, remixed by Craig Hardgrove (intro music)