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Sonic 2 "Beta 3"

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I'm doing wiki work - where do these numbers actually come from? Aside from drx.

    Given that my best judgement suggests that betas 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 were internal builds, never shown to the public in any form, I've counted... four non-final builds of the game given to the press in some form:


    The Nick Arcade prototype is the first. It was used on Nick Arcade, and seen in Sega Visions, and I'm pretty sure turned up at Summer CES 1992.

    The Simon Wai prototype is the second. It turns up from time to time (special thanks to AllisonKidd who just uploaded this. Way to show completely broken levels lads)


    What remains is really difficult to distinguish, but I think there are two builds that were distributed to the press, which would make Beta 4 Beta 5? Or are you calling the Nick Arcade build an alpha? idk. Basically they consist of final animations Sonic in non-final zones.

    THE FIRST
    http://info.sonicretro.org/images/9/9a/CNZ_pink.jpg - Pink Casino Night
    http://info.sonicretro.org/File:Mag_compare21a.jpg - Tails with Sonic's life icon

    THE SECOND (used for the US/EU manual)
    http://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?showtopic=8815&view=findpost&p=834722 - Not pink, but not final Casino Night
    http://info.sonicretro.org/File:Mag_compare14a.jpg - Tails with his own life icon, but is still called "Sonic"


    Though similar, these are not the same builds, and they're not final versions. Dumps would have course let us pair screenshots with prototypes.


    I know you could argue there were a bazillion builds as the developers would be constantly testing the game on a daily (if not hourly) basis, but I've been scavenging a lot of old magazines as of late and I don't see this. Sega don't appear to have constantly dished out new builds to the press - they picked one specific prototype, made a bunch of copies, and just distributed that for a while.

    I haven't seen anything from the period between Nick Arcade and Simon Wai, and we know there were huge changes during that time - internal builds may have survived but it seems really unlikely we'll ever find them. Likewise you don't see Beta 4 in magazines - by the time they've got the correct 2-player HUD, they've got the correct title screen too.

    I might be completely wrong about this but either way, the answer's not on the wiki and it should be.

    (I've got a lot of old magazines stockpiled for Retro CDN - they should back up my theories a bit when they get online).
     
  2. GerbilSoft

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    Betas 4-8 were named as such because those were how the filenames appeared on the backup disc.

    If you take a look at the build dates, you can tell that these were all near the end of the development process. Chances are they only used the term "beta" during the last few weeks of development.

    Beta 4: September 18, 1992 16:26
    Beta 5: September 22, 1992 18:47
    Beta 6: September 22, 1992 19:42
    Beta 7: September 24, 1992 09:26
    Beta 8: September 24, 1992 19:27
    Rev.00: September 26, 1992 01:04
    Rev.01: September 29, 1992 10:33

    They were basically applying the finishing touches (level select screen, etc; probably the equivalent of merging feature branches in a modern SCMS) in the final week, along with QA testing. I would expect betas 1-3 to be, at most, a week earlier than Beta 4, and still mostly final but with some stuff not merged in.
     
  3. Black Squirrel

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    Fair enough, I'm sure they had their reasons. Just a nasty coincidence that there's a small handful of known prototypes released before then that could be misconstrued as betas 1-3.
     
  4. ICEknight

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    Don't quote me on this, but the "Beta 3" denomination might have originated from my old site...

    That's from way before drx released the other prototypes, and was just estimated from what we knew back at Simon Wai's original Sonic 2 Beta forums.


    (Edited for clarification)
     
  5. LocalH

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    Pretty sure that Wai and NA were considered alphas. They're too incomplete to be proper betas.
     
  6. drx

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    :rolleyes:
    The build names come from the filenames, I didn't invent them. The term beta usually only applies to builds very close to final, where features are locked down and the only changes are bug fixes.

    People were always wrong to call the Wai prototype a "beta" (or any other prototype with major difference for that matter, fortunately people don't do that any more). The discovery of Betas 4 through 8 finally proved that. The definition of alpha is more fluid, but I would not presume the Wai proto to be an alpha either.
     
  7. Andrew75

    Andrew75

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    Thank god this isnt a filler post. About time we get an interesting post here with a good question.
     
  8. speedyink

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    My sentiments exactly, Andrew. Can't wait for the Sonic Xtreme stuff to start progressing again =P

    Is it just me or is this picture really interesting?

    [​IMG]

    It's probably widely seen and I just missed it, but it's really cool to see the cut "wood" themed zone. At least one that's not just a garbled mess.
     
  9. TheKazeblade

    TheKazeblade

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    Well, we've had access to a playable Wood Zone since the Simon Wai build, so it's not just a garbled mess at this point!
     
  10. Black Squirrel

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    On the wider point because this topic still has traction:


    http://info.sonicretro.org/S2Beta:Main_Page
    What an absolute mess. This is effectively the remains of SWS2B, or The Sonic 2 Beta page, brought over to be preserved on the Sonic Retro wiki circa 2007. Most of its content is much older - Nick Arcade and Beta 4/5/6/7/8 stuff was slapped on at a later date but it's not pretty and it's frankly not good enough for 2015. Love that site, got me into this hardcore Sonic scene thing, but we can do better.

    Here's the old timeline/comparison pages slightly updated for the modern age:
    http://info.sonicretro.org/Comparison_of_Sonic_the_Hedgehog_2_%2816-bit%29_prereleases
    (it's not done)

    I haven't quite worked out how I'm going to do it all, but idk, it's a start. We're in a position where we can do full magazine and full video uploads, so none of this dicking around with scraps from unknown magazines released twenty years ago.

    Now, can someone upload me some prototype level maps, including the crappy empty ones? I want to be thorough.
     
  11. speedyink

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    Damn, shows how out of the loop I am. I gotta get my damn everdrive for my Genesis. I just remember when I used to emulate yeeears ago wood zone being a garbled mess. I don't even remember which prototype that was. It could have been the old crappy emulator too.
     
  12. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    I'm still of the mind that we need to UPLOAD. FREAKING. EVERYTHING. Such as trailers and promo videos and those documentary/dev-dairy type things that companies do sometimes. Hell, even host defunct things that have gone down on other systems and such (I'm crazy I know).
     
  13. Black Squirrel

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    (Proto 1: NA, Proto 2: SW)

    http://info.sonicretro.org/index.php?title=File:Gamers_DE_1992-05.pdf&page=22
    With the power of having dated magazine articles in front of me, here is what I think is "Sonic 2: prototype 3", which was probably sent out around September/October of 1992. I.e. when the summer holidays were over. Maybe.

    Assuming it's the same build throughout:

    Hidden Palace, Wood, pink Casino Night, complicated Metropolis (with working big meshy tubes). Hill Top and Mystic Cave have badniks (maybe Chemical Plant too? Sonic has a score in one shot), a bunch of features seem to be in place which weren't there in the Wai build. Oil Ocean still has stupid balls.

    I can't tell, but Tails' AI looks a bit crappy, like it's still running the old code. He's missing in half the screenshots and is never seen flying. The title screen might be identical to the Wai one - Sega released some stock screenshots over the summer, but the hills aren't aligned.




    It looks as if EGM had a copy of "Sonic 2: prototype 4", probably from October-ish. Maybe launched about a month later, a couple of weeks before Beta 4. Maybe.

    The differences from the final are far less obvious but I think it was still using the old level orders. Many levels now have bosses, Hidden Palace is said to be a secret level. Neo Green Hill, Dust Hill, Sky Fortress, etc.
     
  14. Black Squirrel

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    Re: EGM

    (There's some full scans in the pipeline, but the stuff up on the internet is 200MB+ and I can't currently be arsed to wittle that down to something more managable).

    Seems EGM actually bothered to label the prototypes. Sort-of. Here's the "40% complete" Wai build, "September" 1992:
    http://info.sonicretro.org/Game_Preview_-_Sonic_the_Hedgehog_2_%28Electronic_Gaming_Monthly,_August_1992%29

    NEXT MONTH

    ... and here's exactly the same build, now "60%".
    http://info.sonicretro.org/EGM_Update!_-_Sonic_the_Hedgehog_2_%28Electronic_Gaming_Monthly,_October_1992%29

    Spoilers: they're talking out of their collective arses - these are those aforementioned screenshots officially released by Sega over the summer of 1992. Tons of magazines have them, so EGM clearly didn't have a real prototype to play, which is why they're probably coming up with crap like "look at this new take on Labyrinth Zone". You'd think they'd fix that mistake after one issue but...


    NEXT MONTH

    http://info.sonicretro.org/Game_Preview_-_Sonic_the_Hedgehog_2_%28Electronic_Gaming_Monthly,_November_1992%29
    "75% complete" build, which I think is prototype 4. See how it looks much like the final game, seems more developed than prototype 3 (see: simpler Metropolis background) but hasn't got its final zone names.

    Sure, it could be the final ROM but oh- it's labeled "75% complete". Collision looks a bit wacky in places too. But we're in an advanced stage of development by now - it's not expected to be that exciting.

    NEXT MONTH

    http://info.sonicretro.org/Game_Preview_-_Sonic_the_Hedgehog_2_%28Electronic_Gaming_Monthly,_December_1992%29
    Still 75%? We know it's not final because Mystic Cave 2P has a score counter in its HUD. Also, the level order is of the old style, which makes me suspect it's actually the same build which they've decided to preview twice for some reason. As an aside, the wisp badnik is unaccounted for, but that might be because they suck.

    They actually reviewed the game later in the issue and gave it something in the upper-80s. Yes, EGM was a horrendous publication - most US gaming magazines from the era were.
     
  15. drx

    drx

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    :rolleyes:
    Don't number them this way. There were hundreds of builds, and there were a dozen of them shipped to various places at various of stages of development for various purposes. What will you do when you find a build between 3 and 4, call it 3.5?

    Not to mention, there was a build that was clearly after Nick Arcade/"Prototype 1" (because it has Dust Hill Zone) and before Wai/"Prototype 2" (because it only has a few levels): http://drx.pl/sonic2scan.pdf

    Just call them by their origin. Therefore Nick Arcade, not Prototype 1. EGM September 1992, not Prototype 3 or whatever. The 40%/70% numbers are made up, very few prototypes are actually marked this way (iirc one of the Sonic 3D ones is marked 70%).

    Also, don't trust the text attached to the screenshots in a given magazine issue. They're sometimes talking about a different build than the screenshots come from. And remember about the lead time between writing the magazine issue and it arriving on store shelves.
     
  16. Liliam

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    Erm, no.

    Assuming you're talking about the screenshots, this one's clearly further along than the Wai build because Sonic already has his final sprite set.
     
  17. Black Squirrel

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    Well that's my point - I don't think there were. I've trawled through a dozen different publications from this era - they all neatly match up with my theory. Two "public" builds between the Wai build and the final game - what they're called doesn't concern me (though I wouldn't name it after magazines - EGM wasn't the only publication with these prototypes).

    And yeah the write-ups are tat but I've been glossing over those.


    Internally there were tons, but I'd rather treat those differently because the chances of finding any are slim to impossible, while those sent to the press appear to have been duplicated more often.


    Totally willing to be proven wrong on all this though.
     
  18. drx

    drx

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    :rolleyes:
    You can't be proven wrong because you're not making falsifiable claims -- the complete library of all magazine and TV and VHS footage is not currently available to us. Not to mention random prototypes distributed outside of marketing.

    For one thing I keep finding prototypes and I'm in the middle of getting one that's earlier than Beta 4 but later than Wai. But it's anyone's guess where it would fit between the magazines, because the origin of it is currently unknown. The book is definitely not closed on these, and I have more leads.

    It concerns me because it's bad enough that people keep saying Wai beta or Sonic 1 beta or Sonic 3 beta or whatever. The wiki is influential in how people think about these things, especially the naming aspect.

    And I meant name them "September 1992 (EGM)" or "EGM - September 1992" and "VGCE - November 1992" etc etc. I don't think you can bona fide unify two prototypes distributed to different magazines even if the screenshots don't show conflicts. You could note on the wiki that the two builds appear identical.

    It should also be noted that we had expected the Nick Arcade proto to be similar (or identical) to the Wai proto based on magazine screenshots. That it turned out to be the Nick Arcade build took us by complete surprise.

    Just my two cents, it's your wiki after all.


    Granted, but why would the magazine only showcase the exact set of levels available in the Nick Arcade proto + MCZ/DHZ? When Oil Ocean is before DHZ in the Wai level select? And when there are so many more levels? Could be that they didn't know about the level select but I find that unlikely. Think of it in terms of making an interesting article -- would you dedicate 8-12 screenshots to specific zones (which, again, coincide with Nick Arcade + DHZ) or show off as many zones as you possibly can? The Wai proto had a ton of zones.

    And it's not impossible that they just disabled the final sprites in the Wai build and put in the old ones. They have a history of disabling features for public prototypes (disabling Tails in NA build)

    I could be wrong of course. The levels could be intentionally disabled in that build. Or maybe they just didn't want to show them for some reason. But there's enough reasonable doubt there in my opinion to not assume none of the public prototypes predate the Wai build.
     
  19. Black Squirrel

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    *Our wiki ;)/>


    I wouldn't be making pages on prototypes before they were dumped, and theoretically by then we'd have a slightly better idea of what to call them. I'm far more partial to going with dates - it's just we don't know what the dates are, and "Nick Arcade" (despite not really being built for Nick Arcade) and "Simon Wai" (despite not technically being discovered by Simon Wai) makes people happy (aka I'm too scared to rename the pages because the community is too invested in those names... also I wouldn't know what to rename them to).
     
  20. Black Squirrel

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    Which magazine is this - they might have been saving the other half for another month.