Freeverse, primarily a Mac developer, first came to Microsoft’s attention thanks to the camera technology developed by our partner studio, UK-based Strange Flavour. We established our own Xbox 360 group during the development of their TotemBall and Spyglass board games, and were looking for something to apply it to when an extremely serendipitous conversation -- in, of all things, World of Warcraft -- gave us the opportunity to do the Xbox Live Arcade port of Marathon 2: Durandal.
The project was one that was oddly resonant with the history of both the company and its people. In the golden days of the mid-90’s, there was only one word worth speaking about games on the Macintosh, and it was "Marathon". Practically everyone who worked extensively with Macs or in an environment with a good number of them on a network knew and loved the game -- a category which includes most Freeverse personnel. When we landed it, we were excited not just for the chance to revisit an old favorite, and not just to port it, but for the chance to truly bring it into the modern era.
Our major goal for the project was to go beyond the standard exemplified by the majority of classic games that had made it to XBLA in the past. Emulator-based ports are all well and good, but they tend to leave the perks of their new home as second-class citizens.
Leaderboards and achievements may feel tacked-on or irrelevant, fullscreen graphics (or even older vertical-tube arcade games) look clumsy when stretched or padded on widescreen displays, and control schemes sometimes mesh badly with the 360’s controller. And, as longtime fans of the game, we were sure we could come up with some tweaks and extras that would add value to the game beyond simple nostalgia.