Prerelease:Spyro: Year of the Dragon/"Numbered" Builds
This is a sub-page of Prerelease:Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
The "Numbered" Builds are a collective of builds featuring a display in the top-right of the screen. The function seems to act as a display to view the difficulty variables, and it would have been used when the game was in QA.
There are at least two numbered builds from different points in development.
Within each section is a table showing the different values the display has been seen to take.
Several publications received copies of the game built some time between the GameSpot build and the second demo build. This appears to be the SCEE-region "Preview" version.
A small handful of the publications which featured the build are the Official Italian PlayStation Magazine issue 52, PlayMania issues 21, 22 and 34 (which are also mixed in with a few GameSpot screenshots), ConsoleMania issue 100 and GamesMaster issue 101.
Official Italian PlayStation Magazine
|0 1 1||Sunrise Spring, Sunny Villa|
The font colour is seen to match the one used in Spyro 2, placing this build earlier than the second demo. Zoe refers to buttons by their actual names rather than by symbols of the buttons.
The gem placement seen seems to be later than the one used in the earliest demo version - specifically, there's more gems, which likely puts this build later than the GameSpot build, which seems to have used the earlier (smaller) gem total.
The egg icon seen in this build seems to be half way between the one seen in the earliest demo and the GameSpot build, and the one seen in the final game. Like the earlier sprite, it's pointy at the top, but the sprites are closer to the actual texture of the egg than the green one used in the demo. They still don't quite match the ones used in the final, though, as none of the egg sprites have a large lavender blob in the middle like this one does. The actual egg model itself uses its final look in this build.
|0 1 1||Sunrise Spring, Sunny Villa, Seashell Shore, Sheila's Alp, Midday Garden, Icy Peak, Sgt. Byrd's Base, Frozen Altars, Bentley's Outpost|
|5 1 1||Bamboo Terrace, Spooky Swamp|
|10 1 1||Enchanted Towers, Bamboo Terrace|
|15 0 0||Spooky Swamp|
The shape of the egg icon is different again, and appears to once again show a slightly darker purple blob on the middle-right. Crawdad Farm is included in the Sunrise Spring section of the Atlas instead of getting its own place, and the icons on the right hand side appear to be incomplete. Cloud Spires now has its final name.
Sgt. Byrd is also seen to still use his earlier model, in some of the screenshots.
|0 1 1||Title Screen|
|-10 1 1||Sunny Villa, Cloud Spires, Sheila's Alp|
The title screen still uses the Spyro 2 model. The numbers are still seen, even on the title screen.
Unlike the previously mentioned builds, the first of the three values here are always non-positive. While this could indicate that the build used here is a different (perhaps later) one, it's also possible that all the other screenshots showed positive values due to the previewers being really bad at the game (see the conclusion section).
Video Games DE 2000-11
An issue of the German magazine "Video Games" shows some cut dialogue used by Sheila in Sunrise Spring. This dialogue and animation is still present in the final game, but goes unused due to the interaction being shown in the form of a cutscene instead.
A trailer used on a number of European demo discs - later re-uploaded as an official trailer for the game on Insomniac's YouTube channel - appears to be from the same version of the game as the SCEE preview build. This is supported by the fact that the trailer was likely produced by SCEE, and the fact that at all times the entire HUD is covered up, giving the video a widescreen look with Spyro in the centre of the screen rather than the lower third of the screen.
- At 0:39, a grey scorpion in the Sheila sublevel can be seen releasing grey fragments. At 1:26, a grey scorpion in the main area also releases grey fragments. In the final game, the scorpion in the main sublevel is brown instead, but still releases grey fragments for some reason, whereas the grey scorpion in the sublevel releases brown fragments. It's possible that the wrong fragment type was recoloured when the scorpion in the main area was itself redesigned.
- At 0:41, Hunter can be seen with his earlier shorts colour.
- At 0:45, a silver cannon is seen being used by Spyro in Lost Fleet. From the second demo onwards, this is instead replaced with a brown cannon.
- At 0:46, Sgt. Byrd has his early texture.
- At 0:49, the panic button has its final red texture, and not the grey one seen in previous screenshots. At 2:09 the button is seen to still be grey in its broken appearance, like in the second demo of the game.
- At 1:27, the Rhynoc is seen close to the ledge like in earlier builds.
- At 1:35, the submarine counter can be seen to now be implemented, unlike previous builds.
- At 2:01, text appears on the screen featuring what appears to be the Spyro 2 text colour. For some reason, the text doesn't seem to brighten after Spyro lands the tricks.
Looking over all the sources of information for this build, the table below lists which levels are the ones known to be present at this point in development. There are likely other levels which were not shown in any of the known pre-release materials.
Levels marked in bold are present, while levels marked in italics are known to have been playable in earlier builds.
|Sunrise Spring||Midday Garden||Evening Lake||Midnight Mountain||Super Bonus Round|
|Sunny Villa||Icy Peak||Frozen Altars||Crystal Islands|
|Cloud Spires||Enchanted Towers||Lost Fleet||Desert Ruins|
|Molten Crater||Spooky Swamp||Fireworks Factory||Haunted Tomb|
|Seashell Shore||Bamboo Terrace||Charmed Ridge||Dino Mines|
|Mushroom Speedway||Country Speedway||Honey Speedway||Harbor Speedway|
|Sheila's Alp||Sgt. Byrd's Base||Bentley's Outpost||Agent 9's Lab|
|Buzz's Dungeon||Spike's Arena||Scorch's Pit||Sorceress' Lair|
|Crawdad Farm||Spider Town||Starfish Reef||Bugbot Factory|
Late and Unidentified Builds
Reviews of and ads for the game also often featured the numbered display. These appear to be a slightly incomplete - but likely very late development - version of the game.
Some reviews of the game used what are assumed to be official screenshots sent out to several publications. The font colour used indicates that these would have been taken after the final font colour was decided upon, making them relatively late development.
|0 1 1||Spooky Swamp|
|10 1 1||Charmed Ridge|
Magazine adverts from around the time of the game's release contained a couple screenshots also featuring these numbers.
|0 1 1||Sheila's Alp|
|+-10 1 1||Fireworks Factory|
It's not clear if the image of Fireworks Factory is displaying a positive or negative 10.
Strangely, the HUD mentions that the player has 150 eggs, meaning they must have obtained the game's final egg. However, the section containing this egg cannot be entered unless the player has all 20,000 gems, which they clearly do not. Super Bonus Round can be entered early using the in-game cheat codes, but not even using the cheat codes can get the player to the sublevel where the egg is hidden. It's not clear whether the requirements for reaching the final area were slightly different earlier in development, or if a tool was used to reach this score.
One of the screenshots used on the back cover of the American release's packaging shows Bentley's yeti boxing minigame, albeit with the top-right corner of the screenshot obscured. The full screenshot was later seen on the packaging of the 2001 release of the Crash Bash and Spyro 3 demo disc.
|-20 2 2||Frozen Altars|
Builds used in a few TV adverts also seem to feature this display. It's a bit too blurry to see what they say, though, but it should be noticed that the footage of Mushroom Speedway looks like neither the second nor the third value is a 1, something that hasn't been seen very often in these builds.
Around 18 seconds in some screens are shown which seem to feature the number display. The numbers are too small to read, though.
Another similar advert shows direct feed footage which also show the number display. The poor quality of the video makes it hard to read, but it appears to say either "-10 0 0", "-10 2 2", "-40 0 0" or "-40 2 2". As we will see below, it seems as though the latter is the most likely scenario.
Due to the similarity of these values to the difficulty value, it seems likely that the display was used to experiment with the adaptive difficulty.
Specifically, in the final game, the difficulty is handled by three values:
- The principal difficulty value, whose range of values takes multiples of 5 from -40 to 30, with lower numbers representing higher difficulty;
- A value dependent on this value, whose effects are currently unknown;
- A value dependent on the previous value, which changes the way certain in-game functions behave, like changing how long the player has powerups for or how fast moving targets move.
The latter two values always take the values 0, 1 or 2 and tend to be equal aside from under specific conditions. Generally speaking:
- If the principal difficulty is from -40 to -20, the other values are 2;
- If the principal difficulty is from -15 to 10, the other values are 1;
- If the principal difficulty is from 15 to 30, the other values are 0.
These perfectly match the values seen in the pre-release materials. Not only that, but it also suggests the values in the advert which are hard to read due to its poor quality are actually most likely "-40 2 2".
It's possible that the display was also used to test that the difficulty cheats also worked as intended.