Aleph One (computer game)


Aleph One (computer game)

infobox software
name = Aleph One



caption = Aleph One screenshot
released = 17 January 2000
latest release version = 0.20.3
latest release date = September 2008
operating system = Cross-platform
platform = SDL
language =
genre = first-person shooter engine
license = GNU General Public License
website = http://marathon.sourceforge.net/

Aleph One (formerly known as the Marathon Open Source Project) is a free and open-source first-person shooter engine based on the source code of Bungie Studios' "".

The project commenced in early 2000, when Bungie released the code shortly before being acquired by Microsoft and spurred the fan community to further develop it. Since that time, "Aleph One" has become a successful project in terms of development and community support. Most modern-day and die-hard Marathon enthusiasts use Aleph One due to it's enhancements over the original games and the fact that it is playable with today's platforms. Its name is taken from the second infinite cardinal number (aleph_1) in mathematics and references "Marathon Infinity" (the "smallest" infinity is aleph_0), the final game in the Marathon Trilogy.

Initially, Aleph One was only compatible with Classic Mac OS (even though a version of "Marathon 2" had been previously produced for Windows 95), but it has since been modified to work with SDL across a wide range of various platforms, including Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, BSD and BeOS.

Enhancements

A number of aesthetic additions to "Marathon Infinity" have been developed. In early 2000, OpenGL rendering support was added, which at the preference of the user could smooth walls, landscapes, monsters, items and weapons to give them less of a pixelated appearance. Additional features using OpenGL include translucent media (allowing for translucent liquids) and colored fog. As time progressed, anisotropic filtering replaced smoothing and the addition of z-buffer increased game performance. Aleph One supports higher screen resolutions than "Marathon Infinity" and can use external background tracks in MP3 format. Though not heavily emphasized, there is support for three-dimensional models.

Though many of the changes are sensory, some involve greater engine capabilities. More than twice as many polygons can be drawn on the screen at a single time as "Marathon Infinity" and viewing distances can be far larger. Lighting effects can be more advanced and more polygons with transparent edges can be viewed in a single frame, allowing for structures such as pyramids and incredibly tall staircases. Though it is currently not supported, early versions of Aleph One were able to accomplish truly three-dimensional polygons, allowing for real bridges and balconies as opposed to just creating illusory 3D with overlapping polygons.The maximum number of creatures a level can hold is three hundred and the sprite-drawing capabilities of Aleph One are far superior to those of "Marathon Infinity". Controls have been slightly expanded as well. Aleph One has an option that allows interchanged running and walking, as well as sinking and swimming in liquids. The mouse can be used more effectively and its sensitivity can be set. If desired, weapon switching may be disabled.

In 2000, support for a markup language which would eventually be called the Marathon Markup Language or MML for short was added. Able to be stored internally inside map files as resource forks or in a "Scripts" folder in the Aleph One directory, MML files can set things such as file names, weapons order, the colors of the automap feature, transparency of certain sprites and other things. One of the most frequent uses of this language is for installing high-resolution wall and weapon textures for play. While MML can only change various attributes of "Marathon", users have been able to use Lua scripting to drastically alter the mechanics of gameplay. Scripts usually contain "triggers" which will execute certain tasks when certain events take place, such as the saving of a game, the death of a player or the passing of a 30th of a second. Commands include teleporting players to certain locations, forcing them to select a certain weapon, adding or removing items from inventories, killing monsters, setting the heights of structures and a wealth of other things. Lua scripts are often used in multiplayer games to display or alter scores, announce killings, and in some instances, to create new gametypes. Unlike MML scripts, Lua scripts must be stored as resources inside a map file.

Multiplayer

One of the most important aspects of "Marathon" to many players across time has been the multiplayer game. Aleph One has expanded the technologies of this mode in many ways. A 2003 build of Aleph One allowed players to host multiplayer games of "Marathon Infinity" over an IP address as opposed to just a LAN network. While it was technically already the case, in 2004 a server browser was added to Aleph One and allowed players to play "Marathon" over the Internet for the first time.

Despite this achievement, many players have claimed that hosting and joining a network game played online is a difficult process. Since this aspect of Aleph One is still in its infancy, firewalls have prevented players from being able to host, or in rare cases, join games. Overcoming this involves opening a port for data to come through and doing so has been a difficult procedure. The most recent build of Aleph One eased this problem with built-in software bypassing the firewalls, but many users still report difficulties. It is possible that the software is incomplete.Another major difficulty many users claim to have with online play is that different router speeds of participants in a game have caused latency in data transfer, as well as poor synchronization in some cases. In December 2006 a version was released with specific fixes to latency issues.

Aleph One has added three new multiplayer gametypes to "Marathon" [http://www.insidemacgames.com/news/story.php?ArticleID=1153] . These three gametypes are not played as much as the gametypes Bungie designed due to the relatively small number of compatible maps and tools with which to create them as well as the often lack of a sufficient number of players. They are:

* Defense: The "Slate" team defends a Hill from the other teams, who must stay on the Hill for half of the duration of the game to win.
* Capture the Flag: Players steal flags (which are actually skulls) of other teams and take them to their own bases to score points.
* Rugby: In this game, players must take the red skull to another team's base to score points.

See also

* Marathon Trilogy

External links

* [http://source.bungie.org/ Aleph One's homepage]


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