BetaArchive Logo
Navigation Home Database Screenshots Gallery Image Uploader Server Info FTP Servers Wiki Forum RSS Feed Rules Please Donate
UP: 30d, 23h, 30m | CPU: 5% | MEM: 5764MB of 12287MB used
{The community for beta collectors}

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
 PostPost subject: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer General        Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:46 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
687

Favourite OS
DOS
It appears that SSI were sending out pre-release versions of some of their games to magazines for preview, and several have ended up on magazine cover disks, mistaken for legitimate demo versions of the respective games. This false impression was probably reinforced by the fact that the betas came with the same type of installer as the regular SSI demo versions.

Using Hallfiry's catalogue I have identified three such pre-release versions:

Steel Panthers Beta
The beta is dated 18 July 1995, the installer files 8 August 1995. The catalogue records four coverdisks with this version: SCORE No. 25 (January 1996), PC Power (March 1996), PC Games (March 1996) and PC Action (March 1996). The main installer file (DATA.A00) is 15 561 910 bytes.

This version appears to be not limited in any way, it contains a large number of scenarios, the campaign mode and mission builder, and several saved games, apparently intended to show gameplay to reviewers. The installer help file contains text in French which suggests that perhaps the beta was originally leaked by a French magazine, but this is not certain.

Wargame Construction Set III: Age of Rifles
The version is .48 according to the readme, but its internal designation is v.0.0072:
Image

The date on the DATA.A00 file is 15 May 1996, the file size is 17 755 090 bytes. This version is found on the CD Action No. 17 (October 1997). This is much closer to a demo as the campaign mode is disabled and there's only about nine or ten scenarios available.

Panzer General
Hallfiry's catalogue suggests an unusually large installer of a Panzer General demo (DATA.A00 file size 10 849 178 bytes, dated 13 December 1994) on the PC Player February 1995 CD. I was unable to find this CD online so I'm only guessing that this might be a beta leak. However the Interactive Entertainment Preview of Panzer General shows what is clearly a press demo with several scenarios and some differences from the public FTP demo and the final version, which at least suggests that a pre-release press demo did exist.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:13 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
687

Favourite OS
DOS
There's also a suspiciously large Fantasy General demo (data file at 22 819 237 bytes) available from:
PC Fun CD 15 (French mag)
PC Team CD 12
CD Jeux CD 02
PC Games 04/96
PC Player 03/96
PC Player SH 01/97
Power Play 04/96
Power Play 13/96

There's also an odd Fantasy General installer available from Computer Gaming World CD Issue 142. The data file size is 5 571 657 bytes. For comparison, the regular Internet download demo is just 3 711 002 bytes. UPD: I quickly grabbed the files from the CGW 142 CD, this is indeed a demo, but I can't install it for whatever reason (I could extract the files from the data ARJ archive, but they won't launch). Anyway, I think it's almost certain that this is a CGW-exclusive demo of the game — the magazine was well known to request unique demos for its coverdisks back then.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:42 am 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
687

Favourite OS
DOS
MrFlibble wrote:
UPD: I quickly grabbed the files from the CGW 142 CD, this is indeed a demo, but I can't install it for whatever reason (I could extract the files from the data ARJ archive, but they won't launch). Anyway, I think it's almost certain that this is a CGW-exclusive demo of the game — the magazine was well known to request unique demos for its coverdisks back then.

Turns out that I couldn't extract DATA.A00 because Krusader apparently has a faulty ARJ extraction routine. I succeeded using 7-Zip instead.

The demo is different from the regular Internet download demo of Fantasy General, but the differences are mostly cosmetic. There are two scenario files (SCEN4.SCN and SCEN5.SCN) which are identical between the versions.

Quick executable comparison:
Code:
BARENA.EXE    945 439   1996-01-04  FTP demo
BARENA.EXE  1 105 433   1996-02-09  CGW demo

The most noticeable difference so far is that, apart from more sound effects present in the CGW demo, there are fullscreen artwork images for each unit, whereas the Internet demo always shows an image of an Orc for absolutely every unit.

The title screen is different (FTP on the left):
Image Image
The main map has some hints concerning the interface in the CGW demo:
Image Image
The Wing Riders unit has graphics for a Manticore in the FTP demo, fixed in the CGW demo:
Image Image

I'm concluding that the CGW demo is an updated version of the FTP demo that was somehow not widely circulated. It appears that the demo installer is genuinely broken (and not using copy protection as I assumed), but this can be fixed by replacing INSTALL.EXE with the one found in the FTP demo.

UPD: I uploaded the zip with the fixed installer here.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:17 pm 
Reply with quote
Donator
User avatar
Offline

Joined
Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:41 pm

Posts
1131

Favourite OS
Wyn 2079
From what I can tell, the catalog actually lists four versions of Fantasy general:
Code:
barena.exe    948,275  1995-11-27
Data.a00   22,511,873  1995-11-28
   PC Gamer 2.01
   IE #21
   CGSP #73

barena.exe  954,447   1996-01-03
Data.a00  3,711,060   1996-01-08
   PC Spiel Special 03/96
   PCgo! SH 08
   TGM #015
   PC Mania #43 CD1 (unpacked)

barena.exe   954,439  1996-01-04
Data.a00   3,711,060  1996-01-08
   Multimedia PC Player 19
   PC Spiel 06/96
   Secret Service (36) 06/96
   Cyber Stratege 01 (packed and unpacked)
   SCORE 27
   Bestseller Games Gold #03
   Best of Select Games Special 5 (unpacked)

barena.exe  1,105,433   1996-02-09
Data.a00    3,711,060   1996-01-08
   CGW (142) 05/96


Top  Profile  ICQ
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 




Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

All views expressed in these forums are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the BetaArchive site owner.

Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group

Copyright © 2006-2019

 

Sitemap | XML | RSS