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Community Focus: Man Up Time Studios

Bungie was founded in 1991 with two simple goals. Have you heard the rest?{{more}} With so many years of making games behind us, there’s a lot of strange history locked away in the Bungie vault. Buried under our primordial ooze, for example, is a game called “Pathways Into Darkness.” Like a great-grandfather to “Halo,” it was a first-person shooter, once playable on the Mac. Long ago, it was lost under a ton of technological evolution, rendering it obsolete.

Often, the best record of our lost time resides in the hands of the player - the most senior members of the Seventh Column serving as the finest historians. Thanks to a labor of love recently undertaken by Man Up Time Studios, one of our first games has been excavated from the past. Allow us to introduce you to Bruce Morrison and Mark Levin, long-time Bungie fans who have become professional game developers in their own right. Like an old treasure rescued from a decayed ruin, they have dragged “Pathways” back into the light to be enjoyed by anyone with a modern Mac.

This week, we’re focusing on two community ancients who have taken Bungie’s legacy into their own hands.

Was Pathways your first Bungie game? Or did you discover it on an expedition in the jungle of our back catalogue?

Mark: I got my start with Pathways, and started paying attention to Bungie as the entity behind the games with the Marathon series.

Bruce: Marathon was my first taste of the world domination machine that is Bungie. Shamefully, I didn't play Pathways until the Action Sack.

There is no shame. Anyone who found Bungie before Halo is an elder statesman in our world. When did you first join the Bungie Community?

Bruce: My first interactions were on the Marathon community forums. I became a member of the community around 1999 and have been a diehard Bungie fan since then.

Mark: I started posting on the newsgroup as soon as I knew what it was.  When fan websites began appearing I switched over to them. I've helped out with since its founding, and I was actually told once that I am the proud possessor of the oldest non-staff member accounts.

Where did you find the inspiration to dust off Pathways for a modern player base?
Mark: Bruce and I were part of the effort to port Marathon 2 to the Xbox 360 in 2007. We also enjoyed quite close personal relationships with several Bungie employees, so I had him ask whether the Pathways Into Darkness source was available for porting as well.

Bruce: It was rumored that the Pathways source code was lost to time. Years later, Daniel Blezek announced he was bringing Marathon to iOS. Knowing a thing or two about porting Marathon to other platforms, I contacted him immediately. This got me in touch with OJ at Bungie.  Low and behold, he had the source code and we got going.

What’s been the biggest challenge in bringing this title back to life?

Bruce: It's the realization that everything suddenly falls on you.  I have had to do so much more accounting and paperwork than I ever have had to do when working at a larger studio.  But there's also freedom.

Mark: For me, it was getting a handle on the scope of the project. It's dangerously seductive to think that with no boss or publisher the sky's the limit and you can throw in every crazy idea you've ever had. You're now the one responsible for reining yourself in and making sure that time is spent wisely. It's easy to resent it when someone does it to you, but it's necessary for a project to succeed.

Are there any other pearls of wisdom that you would share with other members of our community that want to start making games?

Mark: Finish what you start. A single complete, shipped product is worth ten sitting half-done on your hard disk.

Bruce: Do it.  Set a release date and release something.  An ugly, unfinished game that ships is better than something that never leaves your hard drive. Your next game will be better, and so will the next one.

Speaking of your next game, what can we expect from you guys going forward?

Bruce: If anyone has the Minotaur source code laying around, I'd love to bring that to iOS and Mac. As for my own projects, Mark and I have two iOS games in the works. The first, ‘Merchant to the Stars’ is nearing completion and the second, ‘Everyone Dies Alone’ is not far behind it. You can get more information on our website.

Mark: I'll do any updates necessary for Pathways and try to keep my finger on the pulse of the Bungie world - and look forward to Destiny. I won't say my porting days are over, but a future project would have to come with a nostalgia level comparable to Pathways or Marathon, and that's a tall order.

If you’d like to download Pathways in short order, it’s live in the Mac App store right this minute.  Today marks the advent of its launch. Thanks to a couple of grizzled ancients from our community who have evolved to make their own games, you too can explore Bungie history, along with a mysterious world filled with intrigue and adventure.
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