BetaArchive Logo
Navigation Home Database Screenshots Gallery Image Uploader Server Info FTP Servers Wiki Forum RSS Feed Rules Please Donate
UP: 40d, 9h, 20m | CPU: 72% | MEM: 5893MB of 12287MB used
{The community for beta collectors}

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 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
696

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
696

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
696

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
1135

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   3,711,002  1996-01-11
   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    5,571,657   1996-02-09
   CGW (142) 05/96


EDIT: Fixed the data.a00 sizes. Firefox has a weird bug where it won't copy selected text to the clipboard, no matter how often you press copy. This happened here again and so I pasted the same text over and over and somehow missed it.


Last edited by Hallfiry on Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top  Profile  ICQ
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:10 am 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
Somehow you list the same DATA.A00 for all versions except the first one. The CGW version is 5,571,567 bytes.

Apparently there are two January 1996 versions (January 3 and 4), presumably some kind of last-minute fix was introduced.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:22 pm 
Reply with quote
Donator
User avatar
Offline

Joined
Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:41 pm

Posts
1135

Favourite OS
Wyn 2079
MrFlibble wrote:
Somehow you list the same DATA.A00 for all versions except the first one. The CGW version is 5,571,567 bytes.


Fixed the mistake :)


Top  Profile  ICQ
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:37 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
Thanks!

BTW, do you have that PC Player CD which contains the large Panzer General demo installer?


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:56 pm 
Reply with quote
Donator
User avatar
Offline

Joined
Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:41 pm

Posts
1135

Favourite OS
Wyn 2079
MrFlibble wrote:
Thanks!
BTW, do you have that PC Player CD which contains the large Panzer General demo installer?


Yup. That one seems to be the regular 1994-08-11 demo:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cW4AA ... a8lOs0o8XM

Joystick 62 has a weird small demo from 1994-09-27:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cW4AA ... a8lOs0o8XM

Regarding Age of Rifles: There seem to be at least these versions:
Data.a00 3,821,549 1996-01-22 11:25:14 (v0.0048, likely the one 0.48 from the readme of CDA's version)
Data.a00 17,755,090 1996-05-15 14:15:22 (CDA's v.0.0072 from above)
Data.a00 4,573,168 1996-08-02 16:01:26
Data.a00 4,474,596 1996-08-11 20:49:34
Data.a00 22,722,203 1996-11-01 02:00:00

Image


Top  Profile  ICQ
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:03 am 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
Hallfiry wrote:
Yup. That one seems to be the regular 1994-08-11 demo:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cW4AA ... a8lOs0o8XM

Joystick 62 has a weird small demo from 1994-09-27:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cW4AA ... a8lOs0o8XM

Thanks for the info! But I'm afraid that the links point to something unrelated (Gothic trailer from PC Joker?).

Hallfiry wrote:
Regarding Age of Rifles: There seem to be at least these versions:

Yes, I also noticed that there are several releases of AoR, including at least two regular (non-beta) demo versions, but didn't investigate further yet.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 4:37 pm 
Reply with quote
Donator
User avatar
Offline

Joined
Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:41 pm

Posts
1135

Favourite OS
Wyn 2079
MrFlibble wrote:
Thanks for the info! But I'm afraid that the links point to something unrelated (Gothic trailer from PC Joker?).


Same bug as before. I really gotta be careful.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1M36n8 ... WcT29ict2_

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1JZvPM ... dshvRjPgMo


Top  Profile  ICQ
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:55 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
Thanks for fixing the links!

The big demo from PC Player is an early, pre-release demo that does not have a lot of the menu animations and high-res fonts for turn count, but includes large inset attack animations that are lacking from the regular downloadable demo.

It seems to be roughly from the same time as the press demo that Interactive Entertainment used in their preview but only includes the first two Poland scenarios just like the later demo, whereas the press demo had eight scenarios as can be seen on one IE screenshot.

The Joystick demo is the same as the downloadable demo, except they apparently didn't use the installer and just unpacked the ARJ archive on their own. It has the same two Poland scenarios from the 1939 campaign as the pre-release demo.

Note: Since I haven't played the full release version of Panzer General I'm not sure if the inset animations (those things in circles) were cut from the later demo or removed altogether from the game. At least, they don't seem to appear in the latter 5-Star General games, including Allied General (Panzer General II in Germany; not to be confused with the "real" Panzer General II), which is the direct successor (or an updated remake) of the first PG.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:54 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
I tried to restore correct date stamps on the demo files: panzgen.zip

The creation date of DATA.A00 is displayed if you use the ARJ v command (verbose list archive contents), and the creation date of INSTALL.NFO is recorded inside that file. Usually BOOT.NFO has the same date as INSTALL.NFO with possible minor difference in time stamps (I had to enter completely random time stamps for these two though). The rest of the files have duplicates found in other SSI distributions so I got exact date and time stamps for those.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:11 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
Hallfiry wrote:
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

I checked out this version (from PC Gamer 2.1 CD, this is indeed the same levels yet again (but with a slightly different starting army setup for the player compared to the other demo versions) except it has a short animated intro (shorter than the final release version as far as I can tell) which runs without any sound. You cannot save or load too just like in the other demos, and the Orc Warrior image is shown on all unit stats pages (something which was fixed in the CGW demo).


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:17 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sat Sep 22, 2018 7:39 am

Posts
6
Thanks for the links, I joined these forums for stuff like that!
By the way, I remember seeing demos for these in French magazines back in the day, I'll see if it's still stored somewhere deep in the attic at my parents' house to see which builds were used.


Top  Profile
 PostPost subject: Re: SSI's betas: Steel Panthers, Age of Rifles, Panzer Gener        Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 2:35 pm 
Reply with quote
Offline

Joined
Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:29 pm

Posts
696

Favourite OS
DOS
Hallfiry wrote:
Regarding Age of Rifles: There seem to be at least these versions:
Data.a00 3,821,549 1996-01-22 11:25:14 (v0.0048, likely the one 0.48 from the readme of CDA's version)
Data.a00 17,755,090 1996-05-15 14:15:22 (CDA's v.0.0072 from above)
Data.a00 4,573,168 1996-08-02 16:01:26
Data.a00 4,474,596 1996-08-11 20:49:34
Data.a00 22,722,203 1996-11-01 02:00:00

There's an even earlier release of the v0.0048 which can be found via the Wayback Machine: aordemo.zip. The binary executable is the same as in the 22 January 1996 version though (it's called RIFLES.EXE instead of DEMO.EXE, but otherwise identical).

The 2 August and 11 August files are the second demo, v0.0106, which has completely overhauled graphics (leaning towards a more isometric view) and UI (bottom bar as in v0.0072 as opposed to the right-hand side bar of v0.0048) and two completely different scenarios complementing the four in the first demo. This demo does not have any music unlike v0.0048.

Out of curiosity, I copied the scenarios from the earlier demo into the later one's folder. They are displayed on the scenario selection menu but if I try to run them the game says "Demo scenarios only, please", then exits. It's not implausible that they're not completely compatible even if there was no demo limitation, considering how drastically the game changed at least in appearance between the two versions.


Top  Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 15 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


Affiliate