Prerelease:Spyro: Year of the Dragon/E3 2000
This is a sub-page of Prerelease:Spyro: Year of the Dragon.
Assess accuracy of page content, move images into galleries if necessary.
E3 2000 kicked off on May 11th 2000, and Spyro 3 was first revealed at the event. The game had a playable demo featuring at least six different levels, but hardly any images or footage of the event have ever surfaced.
Fortunately, several publications obtained a version of the game which seems to have been a match for the one used at the event.
- 1 Level Summary
- 2 The E3 Event
- 3 IGN Coverage
- 4 Gamepro (June 23rd, 2000)
- 5 Daily Radar (July 5th, 2000)
- 6 PSM (September 2000 Issue)
- 7 Other B-roll Sources
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|
|Main||Sheila||Skateboarding||Main||Thieves||Ice Dancing||Main||Bentley||Cat Hockey|
|Cloud Spires||Enchanted Towers||Lost Fleet||Desert Ruins|
|Main||Sun Seeds||Bell Towers||Main||Submarines||Skateboarding|
|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|
The E3 Event
There isn't much information about the build seen at the booth, but all the materials we do have shows what appears to be a build identical to the one shown by a number of different publications. Given that the build was likely handed to said publications a while in advance, the possibility that the build was used in previews seems likely. This is further supported by the fact that an interview in May 2000 shows a slightly further updated version of the game than the one seen in said previews, suggesting those previews feature a build from April - May 2000, which lines up with the E3 build.
According to IGN's E3 2000 Wrap-up, the Sunny Villa skateboarding level was the "centrepiece of the game's show floor demo".
PlayStation Underground Ted Price Interview
The Playstation Underground Volume 4.2 Disc 1 disc contains a short clip of interview footage with Ted Price, filmed at E3 that year. In the video, Cloud Spires is clearly seen playing in the background. The main noticeable difference here is that all three sun seeds are sitting in the lava, instead of only one at a time.
B-roll clips are also shown interspersed throughout the footage. While this would not necessarily be the same build as the E3 event build a priori, analysis of the B-roll build suggests that it too is likely an identical build to the E3 event build.
- The firework enemy in Bamboo Terrace seems closer to the ledge than he is in the final game.
- Sgt. Byrd takes on his early appearance.
- The Hummingbird counter appears on the left of the screen instead of the right and appears to have a faster animation with fewer animation frames.
- While not totally clear, it seems as though the red switch box has no texture, and is nothing more than a red box. It also appears this way in other videos released later in development.
- Like the first demo of the game, the hatched dragons' names lack the dark window they're usually placed in.
- The dragon shown hatching in Bamboo Terrace is called "Fredrick" instead of "Tom". While the dragon has the same appearance, instead of cartwheeling, it gets embarrassed and covers itself with the top of the egg shell. The shell is green and scaly. No other shell fragments are seen (despite the fact that the fragments usually disappear after the sparkles do).
- Around 0:40 the player is seen as having less than 10 gems despite being in the Skateboarding sub-level. It's unlikely any player would make it through the entire level without collecting more than 10 gems, so it's most likely that like the demos of the game, only the skateboarding sub-level was playable.
- Sunny Villa uses Spooky Swamp's music.
- No counter appears in the submarine section of Lost Fleet. Furthermore in the final game a large mouth design is placed in front of the cave seen next to the power-up gate - no such design is present here.
Revista Super Game Power
A short clip at around 5:00 into this video shows the thief chase section of Icy Peak. Judging by the gem count, the player spawned here upon starting the game, and judging by the life count, the player could actually lose lives to this section at this point.
A "Neo+ VHS" tape contains footage of four levels:
- At the very beginning, more footage of the Icy Peak thief chase is seen on the left screen.
- Sunny Villa's skateboarding section is shown, and the only notable difference is that Hunter's shorts seem to have been red (as expected) at this point in development.
- Bentley is clearly seen here, in his Bamboo Terrace sublevel. Judging by the gem count, the player had likely played the rest of the level before entering this section, as opposed to spawning in there from the beginning.
- A short clip of Sheila's Alp is also seen. Characters unsurprisingly do not appear to have audio dialogue or speaking animations yet.
An extremely short clip about 9 seconds into this video shows Spooky Swamp, Country Speedway and Bamboo Terrace. Most notably, the tiger enemy in Bamboo Terrace is seen to still be present.
The small amount of information we can infer from photographs is that Spooky Swamp - and possibly Molten Crater and Lost Fleet - were playable. Once again, the egg icon and counter were not part of the HUD at this point.
We can also see that the camera generally appears to focus the player in the middle of the screen, like in Spyro 2. By contrast, the camera appeared slightly higher up with Spyro in the lower half of the screen in later versions of the game.
It's also worth noting that the logo seen above the screen as well as the logos seen in footage and photographs of the outside of the booth is one used earlier on in development, so it's likely that the logo hadn't been finalised at this point.
|Early Logo||Final Logo|
For the purposes of observing differences and identifying levels, each of the screens seen in the event screenshots have been compared to screenshots from the final game below:
Several different news outlets were sent early builds of the game to report on, and in the SCEA region, it seems that the most frequently used preview build was one matching the E3 event build. On June 23rd, most of these outlets released their previews of the game, often with plenty of videos and screenshots of the game, as well as the occasional developer interview.
IGN was one of the outlets which reported on the game on this date. A variety of levels are seen to be playable in this version, though an article from June 24th, 2000 explicitly claims that the Sparx levels were not yet playable. They may have still existed in the game in some form, however.
A video and several screenshots were released showing the skateboarding area of Sunny Villa. Nothing was seen of the rest of the level, so it's possible that the preview demo locked the player out of the rest of the level, just like in the public demos.
- The music is Spooky Swamp's, for some reason. This is a common trend in the IGN videos, so it's likely that Spooky Swamp's theme was used as a placeholder at this point in development.
- Some of the backing organs heard in the part of the song shown in the video seem to be louder than usual.
- No sound is heard when Spyro wipes out at the end of the video.
- Hunter, wearing the same red shorts he's seen wearing in three of the demos of the game, has some slightly different, more clunky dialogue.
- Interestingly this dialogue also differs very slightly from the final in the earliest demo of the game, though the audio is finalised in that version.
|Hi Spyro. I found this gladiator training arena and it makes a great skate park! You can borrow my board any time. How about I give you a challenge too?||Hi Spyro. I found this gladiator training arena and it makes a pretty cool skate park! Care for a test of your boarding skills?|
- At the very start of the video, the player is speaking to "Billy". In the final game, this goat is called Pete, or rather, "Pete the Mountain Goat". While it's somewhat difficult to tell, it appears that the bulk of the text is the same as the final game - barring the use of the letter X in favor of the ✕ symbol - but after closing the dialogue box, no green text appears reaffirming what the character just told the player, as would usually occur. Immediately after speaking to this "Billy" the player greets another goat going by the same name, so it's possible all three of the goats were called Billy in this build.
- The goat in the first house - "Billy", as opposed to "Billy the Mountain Goat" - has some different dialogue. In the retail version, Billy says "Ahh, home at last! Here, I was saving this to make an omelet, but I think you deserve it more." while the third mountain goat, Bobby, says "Thanks for the help, Sheila! You can have this egg I found in my house.". In the video, Billy is seen saying Bobby's final dialogue. No audio dialogue is present. Curiously, in the earliest demo of the game, the text strings for the atlas names of Billy and Bobby's eggs - which both explicitly mention their names - are also switched.
- When the egg is obtained it doesn't look anything like the final egg. Instead, it's a solid purple color, with a low polygon count and no animations. This was almost certainly a placeholder and probably only existed because the eggs hadn't been given a hatching animation yet. No music is played during the hatching, as if the hatching sound effect is supposed to be present, but no sound is heard. There's no sound effect when the dragon warps away, either.
- The dragon given by Billy is named "Luckford" instead of "Ruby". The dragon is blue in this version of the game, while in the final, it is white with a pink bow. The dragon cartwheels instead of hovering and waving at Sheila.
- The dragon given by the second goat, Pete, is seen to be a white hovering dragon called Jake. In the final, it's a green glasses-wearing dragon called Jenny, who does the duck dance. Interestingly, Jake actually did make it into the final game, exactly as he appears here - except, he's found in Cloud Spires.
- At the start of the video, only the gems and lives are shown. In fact, the egg counter is never seen in videos or screenshots from this time. It's likely that this was due to how the egg texture wasn't finalised, and so the counter hadn't been added just yet. The gem and life counters, on the other hand, were left over from Spyro 2. Spirit Particles - being removed in this game - were removed from the HUD.
- Spooky Swamp's music is playing. Again.
- The yellow thief seems to be holding a light green egg, while the red one is holding a darker egg. This is made even clearer in one of the screenshots. Interestingly, the egg that the red thief is holding closely matches the color of the egg counter icon seen in later screenshots and the earliest demo of the game, and at around the 30 second mark (and again around 42 seconds in), the yellow thief's egg seems to have a lighter yellow patch just like the aforementioned egg icon.
- This could suggest that the egg texture was originally intended to be green with a yellow patch - or maybe many different colors with a lighter patch, since the eggs seem to be different colors (though this could just be to do with the lighting in the video). Perhaps the early egg HUD icon was based off this original texture. Maybe the only reason the hatching egg is purple is because it hadn't been given its intended model and (green) texture, yet.
- It's also mentioned in an interview with Brian Allgeier covered on the Other June and July Previews page that early in development the dragons were split into "families"; differently colored eggs might be a feature of this mechanic.
- The hatched dragon is called "Abby" instead of "Betty". The dragon is the same color as it usually is, but instead of wearing glasses and hovering before falling down, it just chases its tail.
- At the start of the level, there are 2 TNT crates and one enemy holding a TNT crate. This layout is only seen in the final game if the player is on the hardest difficulty mode, as opposed to the standard default setting. However, there are later builds of the game than this one that didn't yet have difficulty implemented yet - such as the earliest demo build - and yet the enemy layout there matched the default layout instead of the harder one. Thus, it appears as though the enemy layout in this level may have changed somewhat prior to the implementation of adaptive difficulty.
Two videos featured Bamboo Terrace.
- The panda seen at the start of the first video has a different name (Cuthbert) to its final name (Tsai).
- Their dialogue is different too.
|If there were 3 of us we could reach that switch||If only there were three of us I'm sure we could reach that switch to open the drawbridge.|
- Two of the pandas are seen waiting by the switch. In the retail version, one of them waits closer to the enemy seen in the video.
- Some strange singing is heard which isn't in the final game.
- Some of the backing instrumentation and samples used at the end of the level's theme music - heard in the first video - seems to be absent. It's possible that it's just not heard due to how quiet it is and the low quality of the video, however. Additionally, the gong sound is louder than it usually is.
- In the second video, the screen gets darker when Spyro is underwater, like in Spyro 2. This effect was removed in the final game.
- The firework enemy seems closer to the ledge than it's supposed to be - it might have been moved to stop the weird visual effect seen in the video occurring as much.
Sgt. Byrd's Base
- Sgt. Byrd uses his earlier design.
- The main lead of the music is missing, and a humming sound which is very, very quiet in the final version is heard quite clearly.
- 7 seconds in, one of the flying rhynocs is hit by the player's bullet. Instead of making an "Oh!" noise and doing a backflip before disappearing, the rhynoc makes no sound whatsoever and spreads its arms out just before vanishing.
- The large weight has a placeholder texture with the words "uh... cool" written on it. Probably another case of Insomniac's bizarre sense of humour.
- The hummingbird has a different name - simply "Eric" instead of "Cpl. Gabrielle". The dialogue is different and no audio dialogue is heard. Needless to say, the text is probably just a placeholder:
|Excellent! Have an egg.||Sir! I've captured the enemy rations. They won't march far on an empty stomach.|
- The rhynocs in the background appear unnaturally fast while the hummingbird is speaking. They look like they float higher than they do in the retail version of the game, too.
- Once again, the early egg model is seen. This time, the dragon name is correct, but instead of catching part of the shell on its head, the dragon scratches its ear. The dragon also uses the same model as in the final game.
- The camera is higher than it usually is during this cutscene, too, making it appear as though the dragon is floating above the ground. Only part of Sgt. Byrd's head can be seen.
- In the screenshot, and for a brief moment in the video, it appears as though the gem safe is missing. While gems being moved around during development is nothing new, this is a particularly bizarre choice, as the player would have no other way of knowing that a bomb needed to be dropped on the floor to reveal a new area. Either the area wasn't in this version of the level, or they kept it just a bit too well hidden.
- Crazy Ed appears to be running while speaking - in the final game, his text box doesn't appear until he's finished running. Furthermore, the camera angle is completely different to how it is in the final - both the player and the camera are locked as Crazy Ed runs up to Spyro, so it's not possible to change the camera angle to match the screenshot.
- Bartholomew's dialogue is slightly different.
|Hey bro! Please break that boulder. A swift smack should do the trick.||Hey bro! It'd be really cool if you smashed that boulder. A swift smack should do the trick.|
Agent 9's Lab
- Spooky Swamp's music is heard again.
- While not totally clear, it seems as though the red switch box has no texture, and is nothing more than a red box. Strangely, in a later demo of the game, the box turns grey after being shot. In this video, however, it matches the final game in not changing color when shot. This perhaps supports the suggestion that it doesn't have a defined texture in the video.
Gamepro (June 23rd, 2000)
On June 23rd the Gamepro website released a variety of screenshots, a preview article and an interview with Insomniac head designer Brian Allgeier. Most of the screenshots were not archived and so are currently lost.
Brian Allgeier Interview
Might be better in an interviews and insights page.
The interview gives a few interesting insights into a couple features that were planned for the game but ultimately cut, as well as what some of the motivations and influences were for the team.
We're kinda pushing a collector based mission to go with the Pokemon collection that inspires players to collect a bunch of [dragon eggs]. There's a guidance page you can go to and in that you can look at the different families of baby dragons, each of them with their own personalities. This also keeps it a little bit clearer and allows one collection to be your focus.
In 2018, he clarified in a tweet what some of the functions of this Atlas feature were going to be:
I vaguely recall that feature, but unfortunately cannot recall specifics. The page was supposed to be a way to track all the baby dragons that you collected with a few details like name, breed, and their favorite color.
While the final game's Atlas featured the ability to see which eggs you'd collected and which you had left to obtain, there was no 'family' element (unless they were referring to the dragons' colors, which can't be viewed in the Altas anyway) nor was there any way to view the dragons' personalities beyond the animations seen when they hatch from their eggs. Since the egg color and design seemed to go through several different iterations at this point - with eggs appearing to be different colors when held by egg thieves, for example - perhaps it's the case that there were multiple egg colors corresponding to each 'family' of dragons.
[The objective is to find] all the baby dragon eggs, there's over 140. And you get a little bit of an animation (with each egg you save) which you'll see in the game. We're also having some cameo appearances from various characters like Hunter, Moneybags, The Professor, even Gramps, the dragon from Spyro 1.
"Gramps" - whichever dragon that refers to - did not feature in the final game. Whether this was a misunderstanding on the part of the interviewer, a mistake on Brian's part or something that was removed from the game is unknown.
Interestingly this interview is another case of the claim that there are "over 140" dragon eggs rather than simply saying 150. It's possible that a number of eggs towards the end of the game were still tentative and may have not been added had the time constraints on the game been greater.
Sgt. Byrd's Base
Sgt. Byrd has some different dialogue. And a lot less of it, too.
|Look at me! I can talk!||I have to train the hummingbirds. They must be in peak physical condition if we're going to take on the Sorceress.|
Daily Radar (July 5th, 2000)
A few screenshots of the game were released by Daily Radar on July 5th. Some videos were released on the site, too, but they were not archived and are thus currently lost. Judging by the file names the same levels seem to be accessible as the ones which are accessible in IGN's build of the game.
The article here claims that "There are a total of 140 lost baby dragons". This contrasts with the final 150 dragons, so perhaps in the version they had access to, there was only evidence for 140 eggs. On the other hand, they might have been told that there were "over 140" like in other previews and interviews, and they misinterpreted it as meaning 140.
The hockey player isn't wearing his hockey outfit, in this build. His stick is textured differently, too. There are unused sprites loaded into memory in Icy Peak in the final game which resembles this variant of this rhynoc.
The life and gem icons are seen moving onto the screen in the first image. They don't usually do this at this specific point. The egg icon is still absent. The power-up gate is completely missing, too, as is the superflame meter in the second screenshot. We also see that, initially, there was a counter present showing how many of the rhynocs had been hit. It appears as though the icon next to the counter uses the 0 sprite as a placeholder. Animation sprites for an icon which would be used here are present in the final game, but they go unused.
Once again no counter is present in the bottom right of the screen representing the number of enemy subs left, despite the fact that a submarine is clearly visible in the screenshot. The mouth at the exit next to the power-up gate is still missing.
Agent 9's Lab
Is anyone else getting déjà vu? Agent 9's dialogue is different to the final game, and it's identical to the dialogue Sgt. Byrd uses in Gamepro's preview.
|Look at me! I can talk!||What was that? Did you see a rhynoc? I thought I saw a rhynoc! Oooooh, take it from me, Spyro, never spend a week in a cage. Uh, huh, next thing you know your whole island will be knee deep in rhynocs. Well, gotta go, Mr. Laser Blaster and I have a whole lotta work to do.|
PSM (September 2000 Issue)
PSM's September 2000 issue has a screenshot of a differently-colored egg than the ones seen elsewhere in this version. Later screenshots - the GameSpot ones, specifically - also feature golden eggs, but the egg itself is never seen; only the shell fragments it leaves behind are. This, combined with some green eggs seen held by the thieves in the IGN footage, suggests that eggs came in several different colors in this version (perhaps indicating the cut "families" feature mentioned by Brian Allgeier).
The same magazine article refers to Cloud Spires as its earlier name, Cloud City, and the dragon seen in the image, Tupac (another one of Insomniac's musician references), is called LuLu in the final build. The "uh... cool" texture on the weights in Sgt. Byrd's Base is still visible, too, and the egg icon in the HUD still isn't present.
Other B-roll Sources
A couple of sources of the game's B-roll shows a little bit more of this version of the game.
Official PlayStation Magazine Disc 37 Video
In October 2000, the Official US PlayStation Magazine released a demo disc containing a trailer of Spyro 3. Despite being released in the same month as the final game's release, the trailer seems to match IGN's build of the game (and in fact the disc itself was built in late June). In particular, one of the dragons seen in the video has the same name as it does in the IGN version, despite the fact that dragon names changed a lot during development, so at the very least they're closely related builds. Several differences that weren't seen in the IGN release can be seen.
- The word "Spot" can be seen at the bottom of the screen during the second skateboarding challenge in Sunny Villa for seemingly no reason. It's placed where the dragon names usually appear, so it's likely that the first egg given by Hunter in this sublevel is called "Spot" in this version, as opposed to Emily. The reason it stays on-screen for so long could simply be a glitch in this version of the game.
- At 0:23 an egg can be seen. Every other instance of an egg appearing in the videos is when it's given to the player by a character or after completing a challenge, so this confirms that even idle eggs seemed to have this dull purple appearance (meaning that the purple egg wasn't just a placeholder for the hatching animation - without this information, the idle eggs could have had the old green texture, for all we knew).
- At 0:26, a gem safe is seen in place of a basket (curiously, in the final game, this basket gives out multiple different gems instead of just one - perhaps the data for what was in the crate was leftover from the safe). Gem distribution differences aren't uncommon (and so many have been deliberately missed here), but what makes this so unusual is that usually Sgt. Byrd requires a bomb to be dropped on these safes to open them. This area doesn't contain any such bombs in the final game.
- At the very last part of the video, Spooky Swamp's music can be faintly heard playing in Cloud Spires.
Electric Playground Interviews
Might be better in an interviews and insights page.
Interviews of the developers of Spyro 3 - as well as more of the same B-roll footage seen in the above clips - reveals some interesting insights into the game's development. The Spyro section starts around 7 minutes into the video. Judging by a calendar in the background of one of the shots, this footage was likely filmed in May 2000.
It's worth noting that even though the B-roll is shown throughout this video, the occasional clips of development versions of the game are certainly not from the same point in development, but rather a later one. Several level models are shown to be currently in development, and a short clip of Icy Peak shows that the Rhynocs in the ice dancing sublevel are now taking on their final appearance, rather than the earlier one that had already been seen in the B-roll - meaning that this interview footage was likely filmed a little while later than the build date of the version used at E3.