Bungie’s Marathon coming to the iPad

Mon, Jun 27, 2011


Bungie has a charming and informative post on their blog relaying that an iPad version of Marathon will be hitting the iTunes App Store soon.

In an interview with developer Daniel Blezek, Blezek explains why he decided to port Marathon over to iOS:

I ask myself that all the time! I got started doing iOS development in my day job. I’ve always been intrigued with game development, and have written several different games for a variety of platforms, so naturally, I tried my hand on the iOS, porting a game with a friend. That lead to poking around with other projects. When the iPad was announced, I was between night-time projects, and had been playing through the Marathon trilogy. Playing with the iPad got me thinking about playing Marathon on the platform, and so the project was born.

As a quick primer, Marathon is a first person shooter that was initially published by Bungie and released on the Mac in 1994. The program was subsequently open sourced back in 1999 in case you’re wondering why a non-Bungie employee is working so hard on it. That said, the open source aspect of the program posed some challenges for Blezek who notes that exploring the entire code base was a “huge effort” as it relied on a large number of libraries that also had to be ported over to iOS. “It was months before the code even built with errors,” said Blezek.

Performance and iPad device constraints reared their ugly head early on. I made a mistake in not running the app on the device from the beginning, because it’s much faster to develop in the simulator. Going from 30 FPS to 3 is disheartening to say the least. And, unlike modern games that use 3D models, Marathon is all sprite based, requiring all the sprites to be pre-loaded which ate up all available memory and crashed the app mid way through the first level. Not fun. I ended up being quite intimate with Instruments. After extensive tweaking, the games run at a consistent 30 FPS.

And in somewhat inspiring hearwarming manner, Blezek concludes with this message to potential gamers interested in picking up Marathon on the iPad.

Never leave a single BoB alive, and watch the back-blast from the SPNKR! Marathon’s story and gameplay are outstanding; Durandal’s descent into rampancy, his quirky humor and the hidden messages make excellent additions to the old school style. For many, Marathon will invoke a wave of nostalgia; for others, this will be the first experience with the seminal Mac FPS. I hope all players appreciate Bungie’s commitment to their fans. It’s not every company who would support bringing a 16 year old game back to life!

Indeed. Go Bungie!


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