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Wars may be deplorable, but the outcome of battles can change the course of history; as Churchill once noted, if Xerxes had won at Salamis, we might all be speaking Persian. For Mac fans, the stakes were huge when a 17-year-old Mac gamer took on the PC world—and won.

The War is Over. Macintosh Won.
It happened at the 1998 GenCon Game Fair (America’s largest gaming convention) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After more than a month of hard fighting, Bungie Software’s Myth Platform Wars tournament was finally over. True, there were no actual deaths reported (except maybe the demise of some myths about the Mac as a gaming platform), but when Mac user Panamon faced PC user Mundrid in the Myth Platform Wars, gamers in the audience were riveted to their seats.

Five hundred “Myth: The Fallen Lords” players had slugged it out on the virtual battlefield until the two finalists emerged from the rubble. As the folks at bungie.net (a free internet-based service that allows gamers from around the world to play Myth online) summed it up, “In the end Panamon, the Mac Champion defeated Mundrid in a hard-fought best of 5 final round.”

Warriors are armed with swords, and carry shields to fend off attacks.



Panamon with the trophy he won in Bungie Software’s Myth Platform Wars tournament.
Panamon (also known as Evan Pickett, 17) won an iMac. He modestly downplays his victory: “The win itself isn’t such a big deal, because every game of Myth has a certain element of luck involved. I got a little lucky in the finals; I took advantage of it. I’m certainly happy I won. It’s a great honor, but it’s still a video game. I’ve always been good at video games, and Myth is what comes after Marathon. Bungie makes software that other companies just can’t equal.”

Reasons for Using a Macintosh
While he’s no zealot (“The whole Mac versus PC thing is overblown”), Panamon has his reasons for using a Macintosh: “I prefer the simplicity of the Mac’s interface, not to mention its better color, font choice, and icons.”

Myth is great for several reasons, says Panamon: “It’s a new kind of game—tactical warfare with an awesome physics engine. In any other game, being down 2:1 in units left would mean defeat. In Myth, it’s different. That’s why I like it—it’s a thinking game, not just reflexes.”


What’s it All About?
For the uninitiated, Myth: The Fallen Lords is a title that has taken the gaming world by storm. Myth has won a slew of awards, including 1997 Game of the Year (Macworld and CG Strategy Plus), Strategy Game of the Year (Computer Gaming World), Realtime Strategy Game of the Year (PC Gamer), and Best Strategy Game (CGDC Spotlight Awards).

Myth characters include Warriors, Archers, Dwarves, Journeymen (“all that remains of the Empire of Cath Bruig”), Berserks, Thralls, Ghols and Myrmidons (undead warriors whose decayed bodies are held together by rotting bandages). And then of course you have the Wights (according to the manual, a wight is a stitched-up corpse that “shambles up to its target and plunges a dagger into its gas-filled body, causing it to explode, shaking the earth around it, destroying anything in its immediate vicinity and coating everything with a thin film of pus”).

You can learn more about Myth at bungie.net, and at a host of third-party sites that offer what Doug Zartman, Bungie’s publicity warlord, calls “a mother lode of information about Myth strategies, user-created maps, rumors about Myth II and Myth-based humor.”

“Practice is Key”
“Myth has a steep learning curve,” says Mojo the Elder, a 29-year-old LAN manager. “It requires more keys than most games I’ve played, and requires you use the mouse at the same time. Also, it’s very tricky to keep track of all the action, deploy and track all of your units, and employ strategies against live enemies in real-time while keeping the final goal in mind. At first I found myself reading a lot of military strategy works by the likes of Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi, and I think others did as well. This helped, but practice is key.”

Dwarves combine a love of explosives with a passionate hatred of Ghols.


“I found myself reading military strategy works by the likes of Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi.”



Thralls are reanimated corpses of human who fought the Fallen Lords—and lost.
“The graphics are fantastic and being able to pan and zoom make it into a fantastic visual game,” says 31-year-old Philip Slater. “At my peak, I would say that I was playing anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week and that was mainly via bungie.net. My wife jokes that Bungie should make a Myth Widow t-shirt.”

Forix (a.k.a. Jeffrey Hersh, a 29-year-old physicist), has played Myth since its release in 1997. “What impresses me most about the game is the realism factor,” he says. “Being a physicist, I have an eye for how objects should behave in any simulation or game. The first time a grenade rolled back down the hill at me, I laughed out loud. This was great!”

“A Big Soap Opera”
Among the things that are unique about Myth are the virtual communities that have formed around the game, observes McAllistar [cb], a 29-year-old attorney who practices securities and intellectual property law. McAllistar belongs to the order Clan of the Bear (that’s what the “[cb]” in his screen name stands for). “I’ve joined up with a group of 30 or so other players who love to play Myth, and we have members as young as 15 and as old as 34,” he says. “We’re students, programmers, navy pilots, attorneys, web designers, accountants, pharmacists—the list goes on.”


McAllistar likens bungie.net to a big soap opera: “There are those who revel in only wins and losses, there are those who play for the sheer joy of playing, and there are cheaters and infantile loudmouths,” he says. “It’s a lot like life.”

As Dennis Taylor, a bungie.net admin, says, “You get to know people pretty well when you spend many hours a week online fighting together.”

Pico, a 32-year-old graphic designer and Mac user since 1984, plays three times a week with the Heavenly Host group: “Myth has kept me hooked longer than any other game,” he says. “There’s a smoothness and playability about Myth that sucks you in.”

“Myth feels better on a Mac”
“I’m glad that a Mac player won it,” says Caradoc, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism on bungie.net. “I’ve always felt that the Macintosh could be a far better gaming platform than the PC, and now we’ve got some of the best games to prove it.” Caradoc (a.k.a. John Groseclose, a 27-year-old phone company technical analyst), adds, “Myth feels better on a Mac than it does on a PC. I can’t quantify that, but a number of people I work with agree with me.”

“Mac tools outnumber PC tools”
“As for the whole Mac versus PC angle, what is refreshing about Myth is that Bungie saw fit to release this game cross-platform,” MacAllistar [cb] says “They are being paid handsomely for their leap of faith. It has been an eye opener for PC users as well, since in the world of Myth mapmaking applications, Mac tools outnumber PC tools at least 5 to 1. It’s refreshing to hear PC users complain about there not being enough applications for a change.”

Concept sketch of a Myrmidon. (Myrmidons are undead warriors whose decayed bodies are held together by rotting bandages.)



Concept sketch of a Wight. (The manual describes the Wight as, “a stitched-up corpse, given new life by dark magic as a breeding ground for virulent disease and foul decay.”)
Grayhound’s Perspective
“It is my almost zealous Mac advocacy that got me interested in Myth in the first place,” says Grayhound, another keen player. “I receive MacAddict magazine, and in one issue I discovered the demo for Myth. Needless to say, I was addicted.”

Grayhound has his own perspective on the Mac versus PC angle: “What I find interesting is that, based on the existing census of the computer world, there are around nine times as many PC users playing Myth as Mac users—assuming that the same ratios hold true in games as they do for business software and computer purchases. From that assumed pool, almost a tenth the size of it opposition, the Mac users produced a champion who easily handled the creme de la creme of the PC users. Part of me wonders if the Mac users in general, by merit of their natural affinity for an intuitive interface, their complete trust in the stability of their system, their ability to use their machine to produce rather than for tinkering, make better game players.”

It’s Not Just a Guy Thing, Either
At least don’t try saying that to last year’s champion, Sorcha Payne, a.k.a. Kathy Tafel, a partnership manager for games in Apple’s worldwide developer relations group. (Tafel felt she had to recuse herself from this year’s competition: “I would have loved to defend my crown from the first Myth tourney and stick it to PC Mythers in the name of the Mac, but I felt I shouldn’t compete in this tourney since I helped pick out the prize. I’m glad the platform had such a great champion in Panamon. I knew he’d win since he was using a Mac.”)


The Last Word
As this year’s champion Panamon says, “Myth for Mac is neat because it shows PC gamers that the Mac is a game machine also.”

He got that right: “The Macintosh has always played a significant role in the development of Bungie’s games—an exclusive role in the early days, and still an important one,” says Bungie’s Zartman. “And as long as there are masses of Mac gamers hungry for entertainment, Bungie will be making Mac games.” Amen, dude.
—David Graham


Images from Myth: The Fallen Lords © 1998, Bungie Software Products Corp.