This game has a development article
This game has a prototype article
This game has a prerelease article
Hired Guns is a futuristic Dungeon Master-style game primarily released for the Amiga, but also ported to DOS.
In July 2021, the Amiga version's source code and related assets were released on the internet, including an unfinished build of a new enhanced version of the game designed for AGA chipset Amiga computers.
Unseen Worldmap Description Texts
The game has two sets of descriptive texts set in all map files: the Worldmap Description and Detailed Description texts. The former is shown when the player highlights a level in the world map screen in the campaign mode and the latter is shown during the loading of a level. Short Action maps only show the Detailed Description text, they don't have Worldmap Decription texts because there is no world map in this mode so they can never be seen. Checking the maps in the Map editor reveals that while most Short Action maps adhere to this rule, a few do in fact have Worldmap Description texts set that would normally never be seen:
|Map Filename/Name||Worldmap Description|
|28.map / Garden of Jarrys||Jarrys was an emperor whose wealth knew no bounds.
His garden is an example of this opulence.
|31.map / The Asylum||Asylum : Not a pleasant place.|
|38.map / Leisure Centre||(Site of) Coastal Leisure Centre|
|40.map / Urban Development Centre||Urban Development Centre
Award Winning Architectural Layout, 23-JUN-2688
There are also fragments of old in-game text messages left in some maps that can be seen in a hex editor. Many of these seem to be version/comments on the status of the map:
|Map Filename/Name||Unseen Text|
|02.map / Cave System||SION 1 by Scott Johnston|
|06.map / Urban Development||UT PLAYABLE|
|07.map / Abandoned Depot||VERSION 1 by Scott Johnston|
|10.map / Ammunition Depot||ERSION 1 by Scott Johnston|
|11.map / Satellite Uplink||STATION - VERSION 2 by Scott Johnston
[Note this was likely originally "TRANSMITTER STATION", as that seems to have been the original name for the Satellite Uplink level in the development files' level description documents.]
|23.map / Penitentiary||stinks!|
|33.map / Big Cheese||Camembert, Gruyere - very tasty!|
All the game's maps are given a number. Checking the maps folder reveals the following levels were cut from the shipped game as a map with the respective number does not exist:
The development materials include these missing levels. Decompressing the locations.dat file and viewing it in a text/hex editor shows that the map descriptions for all cut levels are actually still present in the final game.
This section makes most sense in comparison to the large number of items that were present in the demo version's code, laid out below. In the final game the vast majority of those items are completely gone, either seemingly deliberately cleaned up and removed, or simply replaced with other items (many of the melee weapons were replaced by the sentry guns and grenade launcher and grenades, as an example). All unused items in the final game code have no artwork anymore, no description, and most no longer even have the item title.
The only surviving unused item from the demo version in the final game is the D.T.S Ultra Prototype. This still works perfectly and fills in the complete map of the current floor for whichever character carries it. However it now has no icon in the inventory so will appear as a different kind of corrupt graphic (usually a series of straight white lines) depending on who carries it. It still has its name present, unlike any other cut item.
Analysis of the released source code shows there are still item types defined for the special plot items - Digital Camcorder, Satellite Uplink Card, and Portable Databank - but their item entries have been purged and just appear as unnamed junk now. The exception to this is the Digital Camcorder, which while it has its icon and name removed, oddly still has its description text intact.
Cut Map Object
There is an used map block type in the game called "Fitness Boost". Testing reveals this was designed as a special map block consisting of a field that characters can walk into to restore their health (or Fitness as it is called in-game). If placed in-game, the block looks identical to an exit. Using it plays a truncated version of the teleport sound, and flashes the screen green as per using healing items. Characters cannot walk inside the field, it acts like a solid block (although it can be seen through) and heals them when they bump into it. There are no Fitness Boost blocks in the final game's levels, but the block can be used in custom levels by adding one in the map editor. However, the editor lacks the needed control to set the required healing value of the block. If set by editing the map file in a hex editor by hand, then the block will heal all characters that bump into it by the set amount. Characters can heal themselves against the block indefinitely, it does not seem to run out of charge. There is a slight bug where if a character bumps into the block at full health, the green healing effect will not toggle, and in fact will play when the character steps away from the block instead.
A port by Visual Sciences. While the DOS version runs in a 256-color screen mode, it's overall inferior to the Amiga original. Differences include:
A screenshot of the first short action level "Animal Enclosure" on Amiga and DOS showing differences between versions. Note Desverger's recoloured purple cloak.
- Title and presentation screens only run in 320×200 resolution unlike the Amiga's higher res screens
- Completely different title screen and redone menu screens
- In-game graphical assets seemingly identical to the Amiga version, apart from player sprites which have been recoloured and retouched to take advantage of the extended palette.
- In-game status bar and surround take up much less of the screen, with the dead screen estate of the Hired Guns title at the bottom removed entirely. Short action missions now have the time limit at the top of the screen instead of the middle.
- Some minor graphical effects are missing, like the puddle sprites on the ground
- New skybox gradients
- The message bar and its messages have now been completely removed
- The mouse cursor is now white instead of turquoise
- Inventory screens now have a blue background instead of the original turquoise colour
- Text descriptions are now black text on a plain white background rather than white text on a dark patterned background
- Far more limited selection of sound effects with none of the Amiga version's "extended" set available
- A smaller selection of remixed music from the original game, now in inferior midi format and used in different parts of the game (e.g. the character select tune is now played on the title/splash screen, and the game over tune is now played on the main menu screen)
- Oddly the DOS version includes all of the Amiga version's cut levels. These aren't playable in the game, but if they are renamed to overwrite a level that is part of the game they are fully playable. The lift bug/trap in map 22 that is needed to progress in that level is fixed in the DOS version making the level even less playable than in the Amiga version.
- The DOS version only supports three players compared to the Amiga version's four.
Graphic artist Graeme Anderson on the PC version's redone character graphics: "we took the Amiga images and merely took advantage of the availability of 256 colours. I don’t think it made the game look any better. I think I did big colourful boots on one of the characters and it made him look like he was going to a disco. I only added colour to a few things because of lack of time, otherwise the environment graphics would have been improved"..
- Graeme Anderson Interview - Lemon Amiga, August 2016