Marathon 1 terminal

Terminals are the communication computers scattered around the maps of the Marathon Trilogy. When the player interacts with a terminal, messages are presented to them in the form of screens of text, often with accompanying images. As the games have no cutscenes, players mainly experience the trilogy's narrative through these terminals. Terminals are not to be confused with pattern buffers, which allow the player to save the game. Pattern buffers are discussed in their own article.

Various characters, such as the Marathon's AIs, send messages to the player through the terminals. This allows the player to gain information on their mission objectives, which are often pointed out on maps of the level. Additionally, these messages provide the player with plot development and backstory, allowing them to learn about the story of Marathon, its locations, characters, and weapons.

This communication is a one-way process; the player merely complies with the requests for action made of him and is never given the opportunity to question what is asked of him in-game. The player, though, may well have doubts about the wisdom of some of the objectives, especially when being instructed by unreliable characters like Durandal. The questionable motives and suspicions felt by the player when asked to do dubious things was unique in first person shooters at the time. Bungie continued this into the Halo series with characters such as 343 Guilty Spark and the Gravemind amongst others.

Most levels have a starting terminal that provides the player with mission objectives an informs them of developments in the fight against the Pfhor. The player's first goal when starting a level is usually to find this initial terminal. Although this is often in the room the player starts in, sometimes the terminal has to be searched for.

Most levels end when the player accesses the exit terminal, located at the end of the level. After the exit terminal's message is read, the player will be teleported to the next level, provided all mission objectives are completed.

Many levels also have other terminals besides the start and exit terminal. These expand the games' backstory, containing diaries and database articles from humans and aliens, conversations between AIs, and even stories or poems. These extra terminals are often found in parts of a level not covered when working towards the main objective and are sometimes hidden by secret doors. They act as a reward for thorough exploration and backtracking; finding them adds depth to the narrative that is unfolding.

The content of the terminals is often garbled and can sometimes be surreal. They often leave interpretation and meaning in the hands of the player. As a result, much of the story is implied rather than stated and the relevance of terminals found early on may only be understood once the player has completed the games. This increases replay value, but can be frustrating.

Terminals In Marathon

Many terminals can be found aboard the Marathon. They enable the security officer to access the ship's net, thus enabling him to communicate with the Marathon's AIs. Unlike in the other games in the series, logging into a terminal in the original Marathon effectively pauses the action, allowing the player to read the terminal message without being attacked by enemies.

Most terminal messages in Marathon are sent by one of two AIs. Leela is friendly to the player, guiding them to various objectives as she struggles to counter the Pfhor's invasions of the Marathon's computer systems. Durandal is sarcastic and unhinged, and cares little whether the player lives or dies. He has gone rampant, kidnapping the player and sending them off to explore the Pfhor ship to further his own ends.

Various optional terminals contain (often heavily corrupted) fragments of historical or technical information pulled from the Marathon's databanks. This is information that's being downloaded by the S'pht Compilers; the player often finds a Compiler directly in front of a terminal who's apparently busy hacking the computer systems. Discussed topics include, among many others, CRIST Sol orbiters, Rampancy, Battleroids, engineering details on the Marathon's doors, skirmishes on the borders of the Roman Empire, Martian terrorists, and Bernard Strauss. A few terminals also contain enigmatic messages from the Marathon's third AI, Tycho, who came to play a much larger role later in the franchise.

The Pfhor ship has no terminals, as there is no access to the Marathon's computer systems while onboard. The end of the Pfhor levels tends to involve finding a window with a direct line of sight to the Marathon (rather than an exit terminal), so the player can be teleported back.

List of Terminals

Terminals In Marathon 2: Durandal

On the planet Lh'owon, many terminals can be found in the various S'pht and Pfhor structures that are visited in the game. There are also terminals on the Pfhor spaceships that are visited in the campaign, unlike the Pfhor levels in the original game.

All terminals are alien in origin, but translator software enables the player to read the terminal messages. Sometimes, alien terms cannot be precisely translated, and an approximate translation is given, indicated by question marks. For example, one passage in a S'pht terminal message reads, "The vile (?ugly) Pfhor slave us to more powerful (?painful) machines, but we resist them".

Unlike the original game, the terminals in Marathon 2: Durandal are accompanied by images that illustrate the story being told. Terminal screens are divided into two halves, with an image shown on the left side of the screen, and the text being displayed on the right side. The opening and closing screens are also more varied than those from Marathon, with different logos being shown depending on who sent the message. Additionally, terminal messages are now displayed in various colors; the most commonly used text color is still yellow, but Tycho and Pfhor messages are red, while Thoth terminals are white.

The terminals in this game can be divided into several different categories. Many terminals contain messages sent by Durandal, who provides you with mission objectives and informs you of other important developments, such as how he fares in his battles in space against the Pfhor fleet. There are also several terminals with messages sent to you by Robert Blake, the leader of the human survivors, who asks you to fulfill various mission objectives.

Throughout the game, there are many ancient S'pht terminals that contain personal logs entered by S'pht when the planet was still inhabited over a thousand years ago. These logs describe the times of the S'pht clan wars, the exodus of the S'pht'Kr, and the attacks of the Pfhor slavers. Some alien terminals are Pfhor computers, containing military orders and science reports transmitted through the Pfhor communications network.

Tycho also sends a few cold and cruel terminal messages, boasting about his imminent victory over Durandal. He claims that Durandal's search for the S'pht'Kr is misguided, and that further resistance is futile. Finally, the ancient AI Thoth sends you some messages that are hard to interpret. He speaks in metaphors and the translation software has much more trouble interpreting him than it does with the S'pht and Pfhor terminals.

List of Terminals

Terminals in Marathon Infinity