Unreal - The elusive 1996 prototype

Discussion in 'Unreleased Games Discussion' started by Auction_Sniper, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. Delacroix

    Delacroix Member

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    MAJOR UPDATE


    Leo's most recent find is not just preservation of gaming history. It's a discovery, plain and simple. As it turns out, Cyberlore Studios, the team behind such hits as Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, Heroes of Might & Magic II: Price of Loyalty, Entomorph and Majesty also experimented with action gaming. Their later success with MechWarrior 4 expansion packs proves their competence in that regard, but at the time when they developed Emissary, they were completely green.


    Initially, they planned to use the Build engine that fueled Duke Nukem 3D but made a risky decision of switching to Unreal Engine, which at the time was still in its infancy. Despite frequent and drastic changes Epic made when developing Unreal Engine, they still managed to create content... and it was high quality content. The developers paid a lot attention to detail. Unfortunately, in early 1998, due to budget cuts within GT Interactive, the game was cancelled before anybody announced it in the first place and so it disappeared in the darkness of oblivion.


    Or not.


    Those of you who obtained the X-COM: Alliance leak (or more specifically: the little archive Leo released with design docs and various other little treasures) may have discovered several text files authored by none other than Tim Sweeney. Within them, early licensees of Unreal Engine were mentioned (as well as some of their projects) and Cyberlore was among them. Leo then set out to find the people behind Emissary -- and his search has given fruit. One of the developers has provided two large archives with early Emissary content and although it wasn't the most recent they made, it's still pretty impressive. Better yet - there are several treasures linked directly to Unreal history contained within.


    - several apps containing sample stuff already recovered with X-COM files.
    - Unreal.ucx source that Leo managed to compile under May 1997 Unreal build.
    - September 1997 Unreal build (no maps or textures from Unreal, but Unreal.ucx IS in, in its original, unmolested form!)
    - An old version of Seti.s3m music file
    - four files from 1996 -- two t3ds, one utx and one unr (the last two are totally unopenable by normal means, but work is being done in order to hex-edit-hack-out things off'em
    - A file from March 1998 Unreal beta build. Unopenable by normal means, but who knows what code or other stuff we can hack out...
    - A text file detailing planned features for the Unreal expansion pack. How much different is it from Unreal: Return to Na Pali!


    However, Emissary content roster is much more breathtaking:


    - design docs
    - sound effects
    - texture library
    - models for weapons and monsters
    - multiple pieces of code
    - many maps in multiple versions


    Should anyone want to take over the Emissary project and finish the game, significant effort would be required. However, regardless of whether someone chooses to perform this task or not, one thing is certain: Leo has once again done something incredible. He unearthed a title we wouldn't have found out by normal means. And, in a way, I had my role in it as well, albeit indirect -- if it weren't for my assistance in recovering X-COM: Alliance, we wouldn't receive Tim Sweeney's log file which led Leo to this.


    The most important thing...


    When will this be released to the public? Soon. Right now we would like to avoid scaring off any other Cyberlore people Leo may contact in the future. However, should there be no further findings in a couple months, you have my word: you'll have that build as it is.


    In the meantime, please observe this image gallery, showcasing Cyberlore's work done on Emissary's maps.


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    Now... as you can clearly see, Unreal guns were placed on some maps. And yes, they're (partially) functional. One map even has an enemy, that one comes from Emissary. So, there's a lot to see. However, the entire content is in alpha state, obviously. No real scripting or gameplay. Just bare-bones levels to wander around on.
     
  2. Delacroix

    Delacroix Member

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    Further updates from Leo, smaller:


    - More screenies! This time in Glide.


    http://nichten.info/~leo/unreal/misc/Emsscreens.rar
    http://unrealtexture.com/Hosted/Leo_T_C_K/otherstuff/Emsscreens.rar


    My screenshots are in software rendering, therefore the lighting isn't colored (for some reason software back then could only do non-colored lights aside colored zones) and masked textures are not properly displayed too. See that green grate or windows you cannot see through? In Glide it displays correctly.


    http://unrealtexture.com/Hosted/Leo_T_C_K/screenshots/automag97.bmp -- Example of 1997 AutoMag ('BetaMag') being there.
    http://unrealtexture.com/Hosted/Leo_T_C_K/screenshots/automag96t7.bmp -- And now the same AutoMag, but with the older '96' skin that was left in the stuff from 0.86 (May)


    - New skins!


    http://www.unrealtexture.com/Hosted/Leo_T_C_K/newstuff/SEPSKINS.rar


    Since there were some player skins exclusive to version 0.87, Leo decided to export them out of there and import them to final Unreal. The process can easily be repeated when the build is out. All player skins are included, some are quite different.


    In the November 1997 build as seen in the famed 'X-Mas trailer', those skins are actually seen sometimes. Also build 0.87 has the same krall skin as seen in that particular trailer, except it doesn't have the actual skin for the Elite Krall, which is the one that attacks you in the temple of Jrath (Morose.unr) after dropping down, together with two regular Krall, as seen in the 'X-Mas trailer'. But that skin is missing in the September build and both Krall and its Elite counterpart use same skin instead.


    It would appear that '97 Elite Krall skin is the only Krall skin we're missing currently, as it is also present on many screenshots (that really dark skin). And then there was also the Krall Lord skin seen in one screenshot, but being very similar to this one - only a bit different in color. So in total we have 7 different Krall skins:
    - The DarkAngel skin from 97 test demo (full ucx stuff), which is actually late 96 skin,
    - the regular Krall skin from 97 test demo,
    - the september 97 skin which also appeared in many screenshots and the 97 trailer (the uv maps are same as the test demo Krall though so it won't fit on 98 Kralls at all sadly),
    - then the February 98 beta two skins
    - and two final Unreal skins.


    Hurt me plenty, are these Krall really banging like rabbits or something? They certainly *multiply* like ones!
     
  3. Delacroix

    Delacroix Member

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    OK, guys. Update time!


    More Emissary stuff just arrived. Overall, in those two batches, we've recovered:


    - Unreal build 0.866q - no maps for it.
    - Unreal build 0.871d - 4 Unreal maps and several Emissary ones.
    - Unreal build 0.874d - 4 Unreal maps and over 50 Emissary ones.
    - Unreal build 0.88 - no maps for it.


    That's not all however: 4 maps from Emissary ran under the previously recovered Unreal build 0.864v.


    There's of course various utils, textures, models, sounds, even source code for both games, mainly for Emissary, but also for Unreal.


    When is it going to be released?


    NOT YET. There's likely more to come and we don't want to scare potential contributors! When the well dries out, you'll get to play with this, I promise you.
     
    EETFUK likes this.
  4. Rundevil

    Rundevil Spirited Member

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    Super interesting stuff so far, thanks for sharing!
     
  5. twinspectre

    twinspectre Gaming Enthusiast

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    i like this version :)
     
  6. LD

    LD Peppy Member

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    Anything been mentioned about planned N64 version using the Bulky Drive/DD? Epic talked about it being possible on cart, but wanting to retain as much as possible in the conversion...
     
  7. vinyl

    vinyl Spirited Member

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    Damn.. those graphics looks stunning back in the days!
     

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