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Powerslave / Exhumed version differences  "Split from RTR"

User is offline   MrFlibble 

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#1

BTW, what about the Powerslave official beta? Does it have any interesting differences regarding the map format/content or actor behaviour?
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User is online   Phredreeke 

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#2

I can't speak for the maps or programming side, but I know quite a number of tiles that changed between the beta and full version.

https://imgur.com/a/KvndSX0
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User is offline   MetHy 

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#3

View PostMrFlibble, on 17 April 2019 - 02:35 AM, said:

BTW, what about the Powerslave official beta? Does it have any interesting differences regarding the map format/content or actor behaviour?


If you're talking about the September 24 leaked beta, not that much iirc.
The "brightness" setting is broken and left to 0. Despite being called "brightness" it in facts affect visibility, so being stuck to 0 is a huge downer and everything looks wrong.
The world map is lacking some extra detailing which were added in the final version. Other art like title screen may have some slight differences as well, Daedolon had made a comparison but I can't seem to find it anymore.
The only level with some ammount of diferences is lvl20, most of which worse than the final version, the one interesting bit is that it had one extra case of maskwall transparency, something which is rare sight in the entire game.
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User is offline   MetHy 

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#4

I got confused, I just talked about the leaked near-final beta from September 24 1996 while you were talking about the official 0.90 2 level beta from October 31 1995.
Actually I might have been confused about the differences in the world map as well; it's probably the 1995 version which has differences.


View PostPhredreeke, on 17 April 2019 - 02:46 AM, said:

I can't speak for the maps or programming side, but I know quite a number of tiles that changed between the beta and full version.

https://imgur.com/a/KvndSX0



Nice findings! You know what, I had never really dived into this version of the game past playing the 2 levels. So I just did that, here is what I caught off by browsing through the art quickly....

I sincerely apologize about the very poor screenshots; I can't be arsed to take the time to do this properly for now, because there is actually a LOT to talk about. This is also all from a quick glance, I'm sure there is MUCH more to be found:

Spoiler


Again sorry about the very poor pics but there is so much in there I don't have the time.
Diving back into the retail game's art for comparison also reminded me how much un-used art and content there actually is even in the final version, some of which I don't think were ever talked about.

Hopefully one day I'll have time for a more thorough, and proper, comparison. I would also LOVE to do some testing to find out how different the game's effects were in that version, makes me wonder if this version had slopes. I just tried running my effects tutorial map into that version, but for some reasons the game exits and I get a message saying "fish out of the water".

P.S: of course there are also the obvious things like the different title screen and playmates logo, but also the 2 midis the 0.90 beta comes with; one of which is a midi version of one of the final game's track, the other being exclusive.


This post has been edited by MetHy: 17 April 2019 - 05:38 AM

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User is offline   RunningDuke 

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#5

I remember playing a little bit of Powerslave as kid and I didn't realize until a year ago that the version I had (which was included on a CD with games) was a beta version with just 2 levels, which I have completed fairly quickly and without problems. Recently I have been thinking to get the proper demo version at least and later the full version and experience the game properly (as well as play the new levels from this topic).

Before I get to that, I want to know more about the differences between beta and full versions. Plus I'm wondering what version I have and played before as I can't tell exactly because I compared the PS.EXE with the two betas I downloaded and while it matches the contents of the beta with 230 files included in folder (PS.EXE has 820 KB and dated 05/01/1996 14:00), my PS.EXE which is also 820 KB, is dated 07/05/1996 12:00 along with almost all files included in the folder. I'm guessing it's because when the CD with games was made around that time, the files got the modified date of when game was downloaded and unzipped instead of keeping the original modified date.

However I'm still confused because none of these versions match the 24 September 1996 version mentioned in post above. And surely it can't be the 31 October 1995 version because this one I can confirm it's the older beta which I have also downloaded separately.

Could someone explain this to me? Thanks.

This post has been edited by RunningDuke: 19 April 2019 - 12:44 AM

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User is offline   MetHy 

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#6

Quote

Before I get to that, I want to know more about the differences between beta and full versions.


This should probably become its own thread at this point, but here are a few more things I found after re-playing the 2 level v0.90 beta demo and looking at the maps and art in the editor:

- Gun sounds (revolver and m-60) are different, so are the jump sound and the switch sound.
Some other sounds are missing like the Cobra Staff cry, or the walk sound when walking on non submergible water.

- Sound emition in general seems broken, in that it is impossible to tell where they come from.

- Enemies do not spawn blood when shot, nor burn from the flamethrower.

- Enemy behaviour may differ. Sometimes they have hard time to track the player down. Piranahs move faster.

- I was wrong about the underwater mines. The art is definitely reminiscient of the mines from the console version, but in this beta version they are used for air. They share the same tilenum as the air bubbles in the final version as well.

- The torch power-up works differently. It barely brightens dark environments, however, it makes enemies fullbright. The dark environments are built the same way in the map (Pal3), so the system was already in place, but the difference is in code.

- The M-60 is missing the ammo belt. That ammo belt is animated in the full version. The beta version does however have the art for it.

- No "brightness" (visibility) setting.

- Auto-aim works differently, it is far from being as efficient

- Ammo settings are broken. I'm not sure exactly how, ammo is shared somehow, picking up ammo for something gives ammo for everything.
Also, if there is a limit to max ammo count, it is much higher than in the final version.

- There is a glitch with the exploding pots and the exploding wall (sprite). The pot placement was offset, so was the sprite wall (both things are correct if you look at the map in the editor); and I even witnessed the sprite move:
Posted Image
Posted Image

- In lev2 there is a glitch with this overwater transition, the player appears lower than he should be overwater. I looked at both the beta and final version maps and the areas and effects sprites are constructed exactly the same, minus the sector numbers have been changed, so it's probably a glitch with the effect itself
Posted Image

- Pick-up sprites for ammo are HUGE.

- Lives seem glitched as well. I started the first level with 0 (it's 3 in final), picked one during the level, and had 4 in lev2.

- The end level sprite is a jar.

- The move-able rocks seem slower.

- All the weapons can be found in each level. My guess is it was something done for the demo since the help screen advertises a cheat to switch map, but perhaps at one point pistol start was intended for all levels...

- In the map file of lev1, the purple bowl (magic refill) are using the tilenums of the spheres, the same kind of spheres enemies may spawn when they die and which refills magic.
It may be a hint that these spheres were also used as such pick-ups for magic refills before purple bowls existed... or it may not, as in the map editor you can use any tilenum for any item, the lotag will determine what it will turn into. Every other pick-up tilenum in this level is however correct, so why not this one?
Posted Image
Posted Image


- What I reffered to as "probably keys" in my previous post were indeed keys, as shown by these 2 tilenums choices in the map file, which become the keys we know in game.
Posted Image
Posted Image



More level differences:
Lev1:
- This court was changed in the final version, it was made more open, pillars were added, it was also slightly extended to add a checkpoint:
Beta:
Posted Image
Final:
Posted Image

- Secret dancing women is missing (in these screenshots you can also see a top down view of the court I just mentionned):
Beta:
Posted Image
Final:
Posted Image

- this staircase is not in the final version:
Beta:
Posted Image
Final:
Posted Image

- the lava part at the end of lev1, which is from lev13 in the final game, had some different texture choices (floor and spritework)

- The door to this area was a wall in the beta version, making it a secret place:
Beta:
Posted Image
Final:
Posted Image

- You get to see Rah above his coffin; instead of at the end of the level. He does not talk, however:
Posted Image

Lev2:
- The eating rat is eating a scorpion. The scorpion is gone in the final version; scorpions are nowhere to be found in any of the maps of the final version:
Posted Image

- The ceiling crusher next to that rat had its lotag reduced from 7033 to 3033 in the final version, reducing its speed by more than half.

- The speed of the moving water at the end of the level was reduced by half (from lotag 30088-30089 to 15088-15089)
Posted Image


Edit: and by the way, there is indeed more art differences than the ones Phredreeke and I have already mentionned.... Enemies for instance have had their shading improved between v.090 and retail, and the head of Mummy enemies looked completely different then. I'll try to make a proper comparison at some point unless someone beats me to it.


View PostRunningDuke, on 19 April 2019 - 12:43 AM, said:

Plus I'm wondering what version I have and played before as I can't tell exactly because I compared the PS.EXE with the two betas I downloaded and while it matches the contents of the beta with 230 files included in folder (PS.EXE has 820 KB and dated 05/01/1996 14:00), my PS.EXE which is also 820 KB, is dated 07/05/1996 12:00 along with almost all files included in the folder. I'm guessing it's because when the CD with games was made around that time, the files got the modified date of when game was downloaded and unzipped instead of keeping the original modified date.

However I'm still confused because none of these versions match the 24 September 1996 version mentioned in post above. And surely it can't be the 31 October 1995 version because this one I can confirm it's the older beta which I have also downloaded separately.



In the "mapping tips" of our google sheet you can find a "Known game versions" part.
I guess this should be in "playing tips" and not "mapping tips" but there you have it.

My guess would have been that you have the leaked full beta version from Sept 24 1996 and that the dates got changed, because that's what most people seem to have... However 07/05/1996 really doesn't make sense, so I don't think we can help here without looking at the files directly to make sure, however the only .exe of 820kb is the 2 level demo from January 5 1996 so it's probably the same .exe
These days it's impossible to buy the game except on e-bay and such but if you want to play the full retail game I'd strongly advise you find a CD or an iso of Exhumed retail version with the Mar 19 1997 exe. Any zip without the disc would be missing the musics anyway.


This post has been edited by MetHy: 19 April 2019 - 01:24 AM

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User is offline   RunningDuke 

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#7

Thanks! I appreciate the long and informative post. I agree the differences should be posted in its own thread.

As for versions, yeah I'm thinking it's most likely the one from 05 January 1996, it just has different date but otherwise should be identical. In next couple of days I will play through every beta available to download and then I will understand exactly what version I have. And for the full version, I guess I will look for the iso instead. Even if I find the game on eBay, I wouldn't afford to pay a few hundreds of dollars to a seller that just happens to have the game, especially if the game is in poor condition. I'm fine enough with owning original sealed CD copies of Duke Nukem 3D Kill a Ton collection and One Unit Whole Blood, both of which I got in last two months but otherwise I'm not going to bother with buying obscure games like Powerslave. :D
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User is offline   MrFlibble 

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#8

 RunningDuke, on 19 April 2019 - 12:43 AM, said:

However I'm still confused because none of these versions match the 24 September 1996 version mentioned in post above. And surely it can't be the 31 October 1995 version because this one I can confirm it's the older beta which I have also downloaded separately.

Could someone explain this to me? Thanks.

I have outlined all known Powerslave/Exumed demo releases in the Build game demos thread:

 MrFlibble, on 30 April 2012 - 05:06 AM, said:

Exhumed/Powerslave
  • public beta (PS.EXE 1995-10-31): pwrslave.zip
  • demo - two levels (PS.EXE 1996-01-05): pslave.zip
  • demo - four levels, tutorial (PS.EXE 1996-08-22): published on PC Gamer #2.13 CD (folder contents)
  • demo - four levels, tutorial, one multiplayer level (PS.EXE 1996-12-12): pwrslave.zip
  • demo - one level (EX.EXE 1997-04-11): exwebdem.zip

The public beta has the most differences as outlined above by MetHy. It is also the only one that gives you the Cobra Staff in single player levels without cheats. A while ago I created an entry for the beta at MobyGames, with some screenshots and comments. Yes, the Cobra Staff ammo is green in this version as opposed to gold in the later releases.

The lives are indeed very glitchy in the beta. In fact, you can hoard them (as well as ammo and other stuff) because if you restart the level after losing a life, you keep all the ammo, weapons and items you have collected, but the level itself is completely reset: all enemies and items are where you first encountered them. BTW, I wonder if the checkpoints work in this version because there are none in the actual levels IIRC (albeit the scarab sprite is present in the data).

The next two-level demo is way closer to the final game, but seemed the easiest of all the versions in terms of gameplay to me. An extra piece in the two-level version is the scrolling narration at the start of the single player campaign overlaid above a static image of the protagonist jumping from the shot down helicopter. It also has the same menu screen art as in the beta but without the "official beta" text. I also think that this is the version where the mummies never use the red skull attack which transforms the player into a mummy; but I might be wrong and this could be the later PC Gamer version. I don't think you can use high-resolution modes in this version or the beta, although IIRC these modes may be selected in the setup programme.

AFAIK the other demos were released either after the full game, or not long before that. There are some different sounds in the PC Gamer version (e.g. the elevators have the alien door sound) and maybe something else. The Exhumed demo actually contains three maps but for some reason quits after the first one. I don't remember any other differences in it apart from the title.

 MetHy, on 19 April 2019 - 01:13 AM, said:

- All the weapons can be found in each level. My guess is it was something done for the demo since the help screen advertises a cheat to switch map, but perhaps at one point pistol start was intended for all levels...

Yes, you can play either map with "machete start" because you can switch between both the same way you can replay completed maps in the full version. I actually wondered why the clean start option was never implemented in the full game, but this might have to do with the fact that the devs organised the level replay mechanics completely different to the Wolf3D/Doom convention that stuck in most PC FPS titles.
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User is offline   MetHy 

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#9

 MrFlibble, on 20 April 2019 - 12:59 AM, said:

I also think that this is the version where the mummies never use the red skull attack which transforms the player into a mummy; but I might be wrong and this could be the later PC Gamer version. I don't think you can use high-resolution modes in this version or the beta, although IIRC these modes may be selected in the setup programme.


IIRC they may attack using the red skulls, however, the red skulls will not turn the player into a mummy. I don't remember if this is true in both the 0.90 demo and the next one or only in the later. Both versions are very similar so I may get confused, the January 5th demo is basically a finalized and fixed version of the first one.

While both of these demos share the same textures and sprites I've been talking about, the January 5th version does have at least one interesting and unique sprite: the end level sarcophagus sprite.
As I said, 0.90 uses a common jar, a random decorative sprite used as temp no doubt:
Posted Image

Meanwhile the January 5th version is the only version using this sarcophagus:
Posted Image

All subsequent versions use the final sprite, which is a version of the sarcophagus modified and coupled wtih the checkpoint beetle, which makes sense gameplay-wise and links boths means of saving progress together, but which makes the sarcophagus unrecognizable as a sarcophagus:
Posted Image

Meanwhile, the game manuals STILL refer to this end level sprite as a sarcophagus and the Exhumed manual even has a picture of Set holding the version only seen in the January 5th demo:

Posted Image



RTCM has some interesting old Newsgroup chatter from that time, with people making comments about the demo. It is interesting to see comments about things which later got changed, such as the sound of the guns, enemies burning when attacked with the flamethrower, or the speed of the piranahs. Interesting also to see none of these people, before Duke shareware came out, seemed to have faith in Build after playing Tekwar and Witchaven....


One interesting thing I noticed about the mummies in the beta is that their art is an earlier version. Their heads/faces are white, with a lot of strips still. Meanwhile, in the final version, their heads are black and only a few strips remain. This change was probably done to make them more visible; however, one thing I had never noticed before is that their death animation was never updated and still show their old faces if only for a few frames.


Quote

AFAIK the other demos were released either after the full game, or not long before that. There are some different sounds in the PC Gamer version (e.g. the elevators have the alien door sound) and maybe something else. The Exhumed demo actually contains three maps but for some reason quits after the first one. I don't remember any other differences in it apart from the title.


The post release demos aren't very interesting in that they're pretty much just cut from the final game. If you have the game Disc/ISO in your drive, the correct tracks will even play. The game art was stripped of enemies and bosses not present in the demos but that's it.
It is however interesting to see the .exe have a more recent dates, so I wonder if they have any differences.


 MrFlibble, on 20 April 2019 - 12:59 AM, said:

I don't think you can use high-resolution modes in this version or the beta, although IIRC these modes may be selected in the setup programme.


I didn't test them but I was surprised to see these resolutions in setup.exe despite not being available in the final game. Considering how laggy the game, or rather these old version of Build, becomes when you force it to run at higher res, I wouldn't be surprised if that was the reason why it was taken out.


Speaking of Build versions... I edited the first level of the 0.90 beta demo to include slopes, and they work "just as well" as in the final game version, so the demo is probably running using the same version of Build.
... which is where it raises questions.
I do not know exactly when Lobotomy and 3DRealms parted; but the 0.90 demo is dated 31st October 1995, while slopes were added on the 29th of August 1995. Meanwhile, the 0.90 demo, while having a "engine licenced through 3DRealms" line on the main menu screen, shows Playmates as a publisher logo.

So, this would mean that in less than 2 months, Powerslave went from 3DRealms to Playmates and made this demo? It is possible but it sounds like a short time.

If this is not true, it would mean that Lobotomy and 3DRealms parted before slopes were included in Build and therefore got an update to the engine after not longer working with 3DRealms. That is a possibility, since they licenced the engine, however, sirlemonhead pointed out to me that, according to Build2.txt which comes with the 2000 source releases, slopes got a bunch of fixes on September 4th 1995, update which Powerslave never got.

In short, if they got an engine update after no longer working with 3DRealms, why not getting the subsequent ones? Could their licencing of the engine include "a couple of future updates but not all of them"? Were they supposed to get all engine updates but something happened at around this point? Or did Lobotomy simply part with 3DRealms, licenced the engine "as is", found a new publisher and made a demo in less than 2 months?

Of course this is just speculation, knowing exactly when Lobotomy and 3DRealms parted would help but I do not think this info has ever been publicly shared.
For me this again raises the question of whether or not Lobotomy knew about slopes, and if they did, left them out because of their glitchy state.


This post has been edited by MetHy: 20 April 2019 - 04:59 AM

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User is online   Phredreeke 

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#10

 MetHy, on 20 April 2019 - 04:47 AM, said:

All subsequent versions use the final sprite, which is a version of the sarcophagus modified and coupled wtih the checkpoint beetle, which makes sense gameplay-wise and links boths means of saving progress together, but which makes the sarcophagus unrecognizable as a sarcophagus:


When I first saw it It looked like some kind of totem pole to me, which seemed out of place with the game's setting
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User is offline   MetHy 

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#11

View PostPhredreeke, on 20 April 2019 - 05:16 AM, said:

When I first saw it It looked like some kind of totem pole to me, which seemed out of place with the game's setting


Indeed, that's what I thought of as well!


Small addition/correction about Rah's gauntlet/ring.

Turns out the ring in the beta was not a trace of another planned weapon. The bracelet and ring were actually one:

Beta:
Posted Image

Final:
Posted Image

The ring was therefore taken out, and in the console version, serves as its own weapon... There is however no indication the PC version was to recieve the same treatment.


Another correction

Quote

4) [...] Some animated texture (alien ?) not present in the final game torches at a different tilenums but also look completely different than the final ones Posted Image

I've had a look at the animation in bastart and it's apparently meant to be some overwater rock texture with water flowing and some reflection.


Some more experiments:
In the betas I've tried some sprite/pick-up lotags which do nothing in the final game, which I've found 2 interesting things:
lotag16: was supposed to be some kind of poisonous plant. This (probably tempt) plant art shows up, I get a different msg whether I pick it up in 0.90 or in the January 5th demo, but it does nothing either way:
Flying and jittering temp plant:
Posted Image

Msg in 0.90:
Posted Image

Msg in January 5th:
Posted Image

Lotag 24: was supposed to be the feather pick-up. Even when using the correct .art files with the feathers in it, no feather sprite pick-up appears. No msgs is given upon picking it up; however, the feather does appear as an item in the hud:
Posted Image

It does not animate, although there is an animation for it in the art. It takes a full mana bar to use it, but sadly it didn't seem to do anything in either version.

Finally, something non beta: digging through the sound files of the retail version, I stumbled on quite a few unused sounds. There are 4 files relative to the Hawk, Hawk_cry, hawk_div, hawk_hurt and hawk_fire. These filenames indicate the Hawk enemy, present in the console versions, was indeed planned for the PC version.
There is also a hawk.seq code file but which is only 3kb. No art in any version.


This post has been edited by MetHy: 22 April 2019 - 09:03 AM

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User is offline   Jimmy 100MPH 

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View PostMetHy, on 17 April 2019 - 05:32 AM, said:

11) Two variants of basic brick textures. Notice how they were crossed. Why would they scrap that? I could definitely have used the first one in my map.
Posted Image

Here ya go. Tried to reconstruct using existing Powerslave art as much as possible.

Posted Image
Posted Image

Coke costs a lot of money you know. - oasiz
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User is offline   MetHy 

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#13

Very nice! Is there any way you can provide .bmp versions so I can import them into a tiles.art using bastart? If I try to convert them to .bmp myself the colours get fucked. I suppose the conversion could be faithfull using photoshop and the game's palette but, sue me, I haven't re-installed photoshop on this computer since my latest fresh setup.

As for the reason why these were taken out, at first I thought it might be for optimization, but the final game has plenty other textures of the same res, and plenty of unused art still, so it makes no sense to me.²


This post has been edited by MetHy: 25 April 2019 - 03:08 AM

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User is online   Phredreeke 

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#14

I can do that (PSP wrecks the palette indices when saving in PNG format, but seemingly leaves them alone with BMPs, probably because there'd be no file size savings to be made)

Attached File(s)


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User is offline   Jimmy 100MPH 

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#15

For future reference irfanview should quickly and properly convert formats without garbling anything.

Coke costs a lot of money you know. - oasiz
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User is offline   MrFlibble 

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#16

View PostMetHy, on 22 April 2019 - 09:02 AM, said:

In the betas I've tried some sprite/pick-up lotags which do nothing in the final game, which I've found 2 interesting things:
lotag16: was supposed to be some kind of poisonous plant. This (probably tempt) plant art shows up, I get a different msg whether I pick it up in 0.90 or in the January 5th demo, but it does nothing either way:

Interesting, they must have intended to go in the same direction as ROTT in this respect. I believe an equivalent of the "shrooms mode" powerdown can be more or less faithfully recreated with the Build engine. And there are still vials of poison in the final game.
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