• Currently 2/5 Stars.

A Level By Level Analysis

MurgenROoF on Jul 27th, 2023, Version 1.3.5

The author specifically asked for reviews, but only two people have obliged him, so here goes review #3!

This is a short campaign by a novice mapmaker and, as such, it contains a lot of novice mistakes. However, it does have some redeeming features, and, if you’re in the mood for some simple carnage, it might be worth half an hour of your time. Now let’s take a look at the levels:

GASMINE You start by a terminal with some new terminal art. So far so good. But most of what the terminal tells you is either useless or irrelevant. You’re told to “make your way through this map quickly” but how are you supposed to do that? You have no idea where the exit teleporter is, and even if you did, it starts out as inactive until you’ve thoroughly explored the map!

The starting terminal also gives the (un)helpful advice that you should “avoid the Pfhor at all costs…until you can build your weapons inventory.” Too bad both hallways leading out of the starting room are completely clogged with enemies, so avoiding the Pfhor at all costs immediately becomes impossible. Aren’t you lucky though, that right next to your starting location are two of the most powerful weapons in the game, the flamethrower and rocket launcher! So building your weapons inventory to a satisfactory level takes all of three seconds.

It’s an unusual gameplay decision to give the player two late-game weapons right off the bat, but I was cool with it. I figure most Marathon players spend most of the time with their trusty assault rifle equipped — it’s very good but too much of a good thing can become boring. I liked that for this campaign I got to utilize some of the less-used niche weapons like the TOZT and SPNKR, and there was plenty of ammo available so I could keep on using them.

This campaign used a unique sound file. The sole purpose of this file seemed to be to give the bobs and player a different voice. How strange.

This level had some architectural issues. There was a window that was lacking a windowsill, so it looked bad. There was no sense of place; the window in the starting room faced east and displayed a mountainous landscape. But you know what was also directly east? A room! So how can these two things occupy the same place? In a surreal map not grounded in reality it might be fine, but the starting terminal doesn’t really set up any kind of surreal backstory.

COLON CLEANSE The starting terminal continued the trend of giving me bad information by warning me that the bobs on this level were not friendly. Except that a lot of them were, in fact, friendly. Strangely, these allied bobs were all of the miniature variety.

This level (and several others) had a problem with teleporting in enemies right next to the player’s location; this is both cheap and unfair. It becomes even worse when some of those enemies are suicide bombers (simulacrums) that deal massive damage if they can get within melee range and, with teleport-in abuse they’re basically getting deposited directly within their optimal combat range. Strangely, invisibility power-ups also teleported in at close range. These power-ups are fairly useless, but even so, it would be nice to allow the player to decide when to activate them, rather than just teleport-dumping them into auto-activation range.

Towards the end of the level are some doors that use transparent textures. In the Marathon game engine doors are not actually capable of reliably using these textures, resulting in a blurry graphical glitch that looks bad.

BREACH I have noticed that at the start of every level the player starts out right next to a terminal that provides the player with mission objectives and (usually) a map. This is a very good thing!

Use of sounds throughout the campaign could use some tweaking. For example, there is an alien ambiance sound in the starting room, but if the player moves just a few feet away towards the window that sound suddenly disappears, which is jarring. Sounds can be placed on polygons or as sound objects, and this would be one instance in which a sound object should have been used instead of polygon-based sounds.

Why are F’lickta fighting with the Pfhor on this level? Why are two door switches being used in lieu of a perfectly good uplink slot texture, which is in fact used for the third uplink chip?

The landscape texture used for the ceiling at the end of the level should not have height variations; this leads to strange-looking ceiling graphics.

At the end of the level the player is forced to backtrack to the terminal at the start of the level in order to be teleported out. But there’s a perfectly good terminal right there at the end of the level that should have also been able to serve as an exit terminal.

STINKARAMA It’s a Rebellion level, but at least the player is given a plot-based reason for why all their stuff got taken away. Major cyborgs are a pretty formidable enemy to be pitting against players with low health and no weapons, especially since the nearest pattern buffer is some distance away. I was able to survive, but this was an enormous spike in difficulty.

This was an Extermination mission, meaning the player must kill all baddies, but many of the enemies will not teleport in until the player is in close proximity. Most players are going to reach the end terminal, be told they failed to kill everything, then have to go through the tedious process of backtracking through the whole map just to find the handful of Pfhor that failed to teleport in. This is one reason why Extermination missions should be used sparingly. On maps with a huge number of enemies teleporting in, it only takes a handful of monsters not triggering to prevent the player from achieving the mission success condition. Blind and deaf monsters should be used sparingly and in conjunction with monster activation polygons. Reasonable zone borders will mitigate most monster trigger issues.

After achieving success, the end terminal congratulates the player by saying, “You have all the Pfhor!” I think the word “eliminated” is supposed to be in there somewhere. Much of the terminal text could use some basic proofreading. Just copying all the terminal text to a Word document and using the default spelling and grammar check functions would clear up all the most egregious issues.

SEWER STEPS Bwahahaha! In this level you get to eviscerate hordes of enemies using the TOZT and SPNKR. There’s so much ammo you can pretty much go wild, and it’s a nice change from most 3rd party Marathon campaigns in which these weapons are rarely available or can’t be used much due to limited ammo.

At one point a water texture is used for a solid floor. This looks bad.

The mission objective is to find seven alien machines; this seems a bit excessive since it’s very easy to lose track of which machines the player has visited. But, I can’t complain too much since I was able to beat the level in just a few minutes.

ZOMBIE MAZE Right at the start there’s a teleporter that will take the player to the bottom of a lava pit! This is hugely unfair, and means certain death unless the player has a lot of health. To make matters worse, there is no pattern buffer on this level or the previous level, meaning death here could kick the player back two whole levels!

At the bottom of the lava pit is a wall indentation that looks like it was supposed to be a switch, but the textures were never filled in so it just looks blurry and bad.

The oxygen recharger uses health recharger graphics, why?

There are several Mother of all Cyborgs on this level. These enemies are usually very dangerous, but here they are all harmless. Why? Because the ceiling height throughout this level is 1 World Unit, and MoaC enemies have a height greater than 1 WU, so they are literally stuck on the terrain.

WASTE WATER It’s another Rebellion level, this time with no plot explanation given. Even worse, the player starts out right next to some hostile bobs that have been modified to shoot a steady stream of seeking grenades out of their pistols! On Normal difficulty a single one of these grenades will kill the player (since they start out with almost no health), and the starting area has very little room to dodge. Consequently, this was probably the single most dangerous section of the entire campaign. It is extremely likely that the player will be killed here, and since there haven’t been any pattern buffers for the last two levels, they’ll get kicked back all the way to Stinkarama! I figure most people will rage quit the campaign at this point, or else use the level skip cheat (as I did).

On the upside, it is a bit different to be fighting with friendly hunters against bobs. Additionally, some of the super-bobs can only be killed by specific weapon types. Variety is the spice of life as they say, and I can say this campaign has a lot of variety.

Remember on Stinkarama it was an Extermination mission and some of the enemies didn’t teleport in so I had to backtrack through the whole level to find them to complete the mission? Well, it’s the same deal here, except that after wasting time backtracking through the whole level I was pretty certain I hadn’t missed any enemies, but yet the mission success conditions were still not fulfilled. On a hunch, I decided to kill all of my hunter allies, even though the terminal had explicitly told me not to do so. Sure enough, the only way to complete this Extermination mission is to kill all of your allies! This could be fixed by tweaking the physics file.

PLAGUE It’s a pretty straightforward gauntlet, basically just one long hallway filled with enemies. The starting terminal provides more bad info by warning the player that only some of the compilers are friendly; actually all of them are.

The combat was fine, but after clearing the level an apparent exit terminal shows up. If the player approaches this terminal they’ll find it’s nonfunctional and they’ll be dumped into a lava pit with no way out. Also, the wall of the lava pit has unfilled textures, so it looks blurry.

Now the starting terminal does warn the player that if something looks too good to be true, it may actually lead to certain death. I suppose having a conveniently located exit terminal would be “too good to be true,” or at least not in keeping with the poorly placed exit terminals we’ve come to expect in this campaign! Instead the player must backtrack through an exceedingly long hallway all the way to the level start to teleport out.

As a general rule I am against certain-death traps for the player, even if there is some warning such traps exist (whether the warning in the starting terminal is sufficient is debatable). At least there was a pattern buffer not far from the deathtrap, so the player can recover without too much trouble (assuming they used the pattern buffer, that is).

TOXIC CLEANUP Speaking of deathtraps, this level has another one, which is even more unfair. The player has a choice of three teleporters; two lead to the next area, the third leads to certain death. The player is given no warning about this. It’s entirely based on luck if the player survives or not, and this is bad because survival should always be based upon the player’s skill.

The lone F’lickta in this level was hostile to the Pfhor, which seems unintentional. What is a F’lickta doing in the Pfhor main base anyways? Otherwise, the combat for this level was fine.

The story wraps up with total victory for the hero. But I still have no idea why this campaign was named “Fart or Die.” I assume the level names were connected to this somehow, but it was never explained in the story.

Final advice: Overall, the biggest weakness of the campaign was simplistic level design. Lighting was almost completely ignored, but lighting helps to make a level aesthetically interesting—use it! Elevation was also almost completely ignored; but differences in elevation create tactical challenges for the player. Most of the time I was shooting at enemies in a room with a height of one World Unit, which leads to bland firefights. I might as well be playing Wolfenstein 3D or some similar primitive shooter if there’s not going to be differences in elevation! The Marathon map editor gives us the power to create magnificent cathedrals, bizarre alien starships, and underground geothermal power plants. All of those locations lend themselves to fun combat, and all of those locations are dependent upon the use of varied elevations to work correctly as viable battlefields!

The campaign’s biggest strength was, ironically enough, also simplistic level design. By making small levels that were easy to navigate, the author avoided the most common pitfall of the Marathon mapmaker — creating levels that are so large and/or complex that the player ends up spending most of their time lost, trying to figure out where to go and what to do. Even Bungie was guilty of this mapmaking sin. For example, on the infamously complex Bungie level “Habe Quiddam” players probably spent 1% of their time in fun combat, and 99% of their time trying to figure out where to go and what to do; so much downtime is tedious and boring! But in “Fart or Die” I spent most of my time in combat, and there was very little downtime, which is a good thing!!!

I hope this review does not come across as overly critical; my intent was to offer helpful advice. There were problems, yes, but also plenty of potential, and every mapmaker was a novice at some point. Good luck with your future mapmaking endeavors!

Fart Or Die!

dustu on 09/22/2015

NOTE: Many changes have gone into this game to address the two reviews. With over 900 downloads, I'd appreciate a review from someone else. Please? Many many updates to add pillars, stairs, transparency, different goals, etc. When this was originally reviewed, there were only 4 levels! Please review if you downloaded it.


Fart or Die! is a 9-level game that uses hidden areas, terminals, switches, teleports, and more!

As a beginner, I struggled to figure out how to create switches, terminals, platforms, stairs, circles (use circle plugin around a line), uplink chips, exits and terminal variants with multiple actions. I also could not figure out how to add motion or depth to water, lava, or sewage. All that works now and is included in this game.

I am not an expert map maker by any means (more a newb) but this map contains a lot of commonly used elements for map makers and may help some newbs.

NOTE: I am not a super mapping pro and my levels are much less complex than others on here…but it is that complexity that made it hard for me to learn by studying other maps. I hope this set of maps helps someone new on here. This is NOT an advanced mapping tutorial. It is meant to help you get over the hump.

Having said all that, it is also fun to play and I enjoyed making it. While the levels are not too complex, they are challenging and require you to follow game strategy to move from one level to another. :) If you play the game at the hardest level, you will find it difficult to complete. :)

Let me know if you like it. I'm in the pfhorums as dustu and on live games as dustu.

NOTE: I have addressed most, if not all, of the comments by reviewers on here and in the forums.

If you download this, please review it.


3,154 downloads, 3 reviews, 6 screenshots, 2.0 rating