We just released a Feb. 5 '89 prototype of DuckTales for the NES!
If you'd like to support our preservation efforts (and this wasn't cheap), please consider donating or supporting us on Patreon. Thank you!

Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold

From The Cutting Room Floor
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Title Screen

Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold

Developers: JAM Productions, Cygnus Software
Publisher: Apogee Software
Platform: DOS
Released in US: December 3, 1993


AreasIcon.png This game has unused areas.
DevMessageIcon.png This game has a hidden developer message.
ObjectIcon.png This game has unused objects.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
ItemsIcon.png This game has unused items.
SoundIcon.png This game has unused sounds.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.
DebugIcon.png This game has debugging material.
PiracyIcon.png This game has anti-piracy features.


PrereleaseIcon.png This game has a prerelease article

Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold serves as something of a cautionary tale to developers. While it did have some success initially, it quickly dropped off the map since it was based on Wolfenstein 3D and came out just a week before Doom. Said game completely obliterated this one in every fashion.

Sub-pages

Blank.png
Unused Maps

Unused objects

Note: mouseover images for internal sprite names.

SPR_STAT_3

Object #26 is a floor lamp that was added to E1F12 in version 2.0. However, this floor is no longer accessible in version 2.0 due to debug mode changes.


SPR_STAT_20

Object #43 is a ceiling lamp with the same fate as #43 above.


SPR_STAT_21

Object #44 is an exit sign.


SPR_STAT_22

Object #45 is referred to as "TRANSPORTER" in the source code. Transporters use interactive wall textures in the final game. Probably a remnant of an earlier, object-based version that activated when stepped on.


SPR_STAT_30

Object #53 is a full-health pickup item with temporary artwork. It's fully functional and is referred to as "PLASMA BAG" in-game. It plays the otherwise unused FM sound ID 34 on pickup.


Object #54 is a variant of the energy pack dropped by enemies, which is missing the code necessary to be picked up. In Planet Strike, it works the same as a dropped energy pack would.


SPR_STEAM_PIPE

Object #84 appears to be a ceiling lamp, but it blocks the player as if it were solid. Based on the sprite name in the source code, it was originally intended to have been a pipe obstacle. Whatever original graphic was there has been replaced with a duplicate of SPR_STAT_56, which is used in the ceiling lamp object #385.
Object #179, defined as en_steampipe in the source code, also had its original animated graphics (SPR_PIPE_STEAM1 - SPR_PIPE_STEAM4) replaced with a flickering variant of SPR_STAT_56, although the blocking flag has been removed.
Despite being repurposed into light fixtures, neither #84 nor #179 were given LAMP_ON_SHADING light definitions, so they are noticeably darker in diminishing light than #385.
In Planet Strike, the blocking flag for this object was removed so it could be functionally used in exactly one map.


Hmmm...
To do:
Try and compile the executable from source with CON_HINTS uncommented out to see if this works in-game

Object $0xFDXX, according to the 3D_ACT1.C in the source code, is intended to be placed over a food unit wall tile to allow the food unit to give hints. This object is technically used in E1F4, E1F5, E1F6, E1F7, and E6F8, but is marked as out of order. If the token CON_HINTS is defined in 3D_DEF.H, it should work properly, but said token is commented out. The hint strings are still defined in 3D_MSGS.C. The second byte is the inventory value, working the same way as a normal food unit would.


Object 0xF11B is an informant message. When placed in the map, it gives a scientist the quote "Follow the stacks of gold and you'll find the room of gold!" It's not apparent which map this message is intended for.


Object 0xF211 is a bio-tech warning message. When placed in the map, it gives a scientist the quote "Are you any relation to Jake?"

Unused walls

BS AOG WALL53.png

Wall 27 is an elevator panel with lattice girders. The east/west sides are interactive and use wall texture 53, while the north/south sides use wall texture 52, which is a duplicate of 54. The object generated by this wall tile is known as ELEVATORTILE2 in this source code, commented with "Space Will Switch."


BS AOG WALL92.pngBS AOG WALL93.png

Wall 47 is a cave wall with warning signs. Presumably, these would have been used in episode 3.

Wall IDs 64 and 65 are both duplicates of 1, 66 through 87 are duplicates of 2 through 23, and 107 is a duplicate of 43.

Unused text

These dummy texts from BS_AOG.EXE, stored in Wolfenstein 3D's ENDART/READTHIS format, can be found between the floor names and the main menu's instructions page. They reference some launch parameters for debugging. The programmer decided to leave some messages to hackers reading them in v2.0:

POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX
POWERBALL^XX�
TICS^XX
TICS^XX
TICS^XX
TICS^XX
TICS^XX
Hello you nasty hacker!
MUSIC^XX
MUSIC^XX
MUSIC^XX
MUSIC^XX
MUSIC^XX
Hacker, get out and die!
RADAR^XX
RADAR^XX
RADAR^XX
RADAR^XX
RADAR^XX
HI THERE, YOU LITTLE HACKER!
BAD, BAD, BOY!

Informant message entries 35 through 48 are unused placeholders:

^XX
 NEED A HINT 23
^XX
 NEED A HINT 24
^XX
 NEED A HINT 25
^XX
 NEED A HINT 26
^XX
 NEED A HINT 27
^XX
 NEED A HINT 28
^XX
 NEED A HINT 29
^XX
 NEED A HINT 2a
^XX
 NEED A HINT 2b
^XX
 NEED A HINT 2c
^XX
 NEED A HINT 2d
^XX
 NEED A HINT 2e
^XX
 NEED A HINT 2f
^XX
 NEED A HINT 30
^XX�

An unused error message relating to interactive terminals, a feature removed early in development. From JM_ERROR.H at 0x106E

BAD_TERMINAL_MSG_NUM,...// Bad Cached Terminal Message number..

Launch parameters

Hmmm...
To do:
Need to find out specifically what the DVAL and MUSIC parameters do.
  • COMP - Enables EGA compatibility mode. Leftover from Wolfenstein 3D, which initially used EGA graphics.
  • D, DEBUG - Despite printing "-DEBUG MODE ENABLED-" in the floor name field, does not actually do so. This parameter had a specific function in v0.63b, but was dummied out in v2.0.
  • DVAL - No apparent function. (needs research)
  • ENABLEGP - Enables game port connections, which caused problems on Acer computers of the time.
  • E, ERROR - Same situation as "d, debug".
  • HIDDENCARD - Skips video card detection.
  • L, LEVEL - Same situation as "d, debug".
  • MUSIC - Replaces all stage music (needs research, arguments not known). Uses the same false "debug mode" message as "d,debug".
  • NO386 - Skips 386 detection.
  • NOAL - Skips AdLib detection.
  • NOCOMP - Disables EGA compatibility mode. Leftover from Wolfenstein 3D, which initially used EGA graphics.
  • NOEMS - Skips EMS detection.
  • NOJOYS - Skips joystick detection.
  • NOMAIN - Skips conventional memory detection.
  • NOMOUSE - Skips mouse detection.
  • NOPRO - Skips Sound Blaster Pro detection.
  • NOSB - Skips Sound Blaster detection.
  • NOSS - Skips Disney Sound Source detection.
  • NOWAIT - Same situation as "d, debug".
  • NOXMS - Skips XMS detection.
  • Q, QUICK - Same situation as "d, debug".
  • RADAR - Loads a rotating map in bottom-left corner. Press SHIFT to display explored areas. Uses the same false "debug message" as "d,debug".
  • SS1 - Skips LPT1 Sound Source detection.
  • SS2 - Skips LPT2 Sound Source detection.
  • SS3 - Skips LPT3 Sound Source detection.
  • SST - Skips Tandy Sound Source (???) detection.
  • SYSTEM - Prints memory/peripheral/sound card information in DOS without launching the game.
  • TEDLEVEL - Does nothing. Leftover from Wolfenstein 3D.
  • TICS: Replaces the score field with the tic delay between rendering frames.
  • VERSION - Prints version and compile date in DOS without launching the game.

Debug Mode

Start the game with the parameter POWERBALL. Then, at the JAM logo screen, hold down both Shift keys. This will play a ching sound if you have a sound card. The top bar will also show "-DEBUG MODE ENABLED-". The following keys will be available:

  • Backspace + A - Add actors to automap.
  • Backspace + B - Select a border color (Does nothing).
  • Backspace + C - Statistics.
  • Backspace + D - Invisible to NPCs.
  • Backspace + E - Automatically complete the current level.
  • Backspace + F - Position Info.
  • Backspace + G - God mode.
  • Backspace + H - Hurt Yourself.
  • Backspace + I - Free Items!
  • Backspace + M - Memory map.
  • Backspace + O - Map of level.
  • Backspace + Q - Quit the game entirely.
  • Backspace + S - Slow Motion.
  • Backspace + T - Debug Information.
  • Backspace + V - Add extra VBLs, or Vertical Blanking Signals. Has no effect for most players, except maybe altering game speed.
  • Backspace + W - Level Warp! Warp anywhere between levels in the episode you're in.
  • Backspace + Home - Decrement sky color (ceiling textures must be off).
  • Backspace + Page Up - Increment sky color (ceiling textures must be off).
  • Backspace + End - Decrement ground color (ground textures must be off).
  • Backspace + Page Down - Increment ground color (ground textures must be off).
  • Backspace + + - Increment shading depth (Textures must be turned off entirely).
  • Backspace + - - Decrement shading depth (Textures must be turned off entirely).
  • Backspace + [ - Increment shading drop off (Textures must be turned off entirely).
  • Backspace + ] - Decrement shading drop off (Textures must be turned off entirely).
  • Shift + Tab - Show full Automap containing all live actors and the player's current progress.
  • 6 + 7 - Collect all bonus items.
  • 7 + 8 - Kill all enemies.
  • 6 + 8 - Collect all bonus items and kill all enemies.


(Source: 3D Realms Cheat Sheet/FAQs)

Unused Sprites

BS AOG Hello From Jam.png

SPR_DEMO

A message from the developers to those peeping at the game's data. This replaced Wolfenstein 3D's DEMO graphic, which isn't used in demos anymore.

SPR_STAT_60

This is a duplicate of SPR_STAT_64, a severed head with a blood pool. In the source code's 3D_ACT1.C, it's erroneously referred to as a copy of SPR_STAT_57, which is another gore object but with the severed head facing the opposite direction.

BS AOG SPR ELECTRO SPHERE OUCH.png

SPR_ELECTRO_SPHERE_OUCH

This would have been used as a flinching graphic for the electro-sphere enemy. The enemy only has 1 hitpoint, and no pain state to jump to.


SPR_PRO_PAIN_2 SPR_SWAT_PAIN_2 SPR_OFC_PAIN_2

The Star Sentinel, Star Trooper, and Bio-tech/Informants all have a duplicate second pain graphic with no corresponding second pain state. It's unknown what these were intended for.

BS AOG Unused Robot.gif

SPR_MUTHUM1_SPIT1-SPR_MUTHUM1_SPIT3

Appears to be an very early, unfinished version of the Experimental Mech-Sentinel, whose sprites immediately precede this. The shadow on these sprites indicate that they were drawn before ceiling and floor textures were implemented. The internal sprite names from the source code indicate they were intended to temporarily occupy the space intended for the "blue boy" Experimental Mutant Human's spitting graphics, which hadn't been drawn yet in pre-release screenshots, hence the "TEMP" in the graphics. This design ended up replacing the "blue boy" enemy entirely, although it would appear in Blake Stone: Planet Strike.

SPR_SPIT2_1-SPR_SPIT2_3 SPR_EXP2_1-SPR_EXP2_3

BS AOG SPR SPIT2.gif BS AOG SPR EXP2.gif

Some sort of unused projectile attack that made it all the way into Planet Strike without being removed. The first sprite would have needed a fourth rotation frame to animate properly. Given that there's no shadow, it must have been work on after ceiling and floor textures were implemented.

Anti-piracy

The registered version of Blake Stone uses a simple anti-piracy method that was in common use at Apogee at the time: The game checks for a FILE_ID.DIZ file (commonly used as an archive description on BBSes) that contains the following:

████▓▒░ ALERT THE SYSOP IMMEDIATELY! ░▒▓████
████████████████████████████████████████████
THIS FILE IS NOT SHAREWARE -- it is ILLEGAL
and forbidden to upload this copyrighted
software to bulletin boards. If you see this
message on a BBS, please request that the
Sysop remove this software IMMEDIATELY!!!
█▓▒░ OR CONTACT APOGEE: (214) 278-5655 ░▒▓█
IT IS ILLEGAL TO GET THIS FILE FROM A BBS!
████████████████████████████████████████████
�

This effectively labels pirated copies of the game on BBSes so that SysOps could quickly remove them. Upon loading any mission other than the first floor of the first episode, the game will run a simple checksum on FILE_ID.DIZ. If it doesn't match up with a hardcoded value, the game will crash with the following message:

Critical file FILE_ID.DIZ missing or modified.

If you purchased the game from Apogee simply
re-install the game from the original disks.

You can call Apogee tech support at (214) 278-5655
between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST.
Hmmm...
To do:
The sourcecode suggests that there may be backdoors to bypass checksum checks (nochex command line option?) Examine this further.