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Proto:Normality

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This page details one or more prototype versions of Normality.

A number of playable prototype versions were released in the form of playable demos. All demos feature only Kent's apartment, the first area in the game. As soon as you work out how to leave, the demo restarts from the beginning. The apartment itself features a number of mostly small differences, and a bunch of things were polished up a bit for the retail release. Since the demo contains inaccessible content for the rest of the game as well, there's a fair bit of interesting content in here.

The earliest prototype versions retain the original "Normality Inc." name that was later changed to just "Normality".

Version Comparison

These demos were distributed in various sources, as well as online.

Name Location Build date Adventure date Notes Source
Early demo UK 1995-11-14 1995-11-09 Built with debugging symbols Laser Promo 2
Later demo UK 1995-11-24 1995-11-24 PC Zone #36 (March 1996)
Pre-retail demo UK 1996-04-11 1996-04-10 Almost identical to retail; no "Inc." in name Special Reserve Classic Titles (#7)
Interplay demo US 1996-03-29 1996-03-28 Almost identical to retail; no "Inc." in name PC Gamer, Disc 2.6 (July 1997)
Retail (for reference) UK 1996-05-06 1996-04-23

The build and adventure dates are found in the NORM.EXE files. The "adventure" date appears to refer to the content of the game as opposed to its programming code. Each build has its own version information string.

The content described in this article primarily relates to the oldest build, as newer builds simply become closer to the retail version without there being any noteworthy deviations.

Main Program

Command-Line Switches

Like the retail version, the NORM.EXE file has a number of command-line switches. It actually has a few more than the final version:

Switch Effect
/nomusic Plays the game without loading music files.
/nointro Skips the intro cutscene; same as in retail.
/novesa Starts the game with the "low quality" setting enabled for menus; same as in retail, but the demo actually never displays the high resolution menu even when enabled, for some reason.
/debug Makes the game run faster and disables audio. In the retail version this only disables audio for cutscene videos, but in the demo it makes the game freeze whenever a cutscene is played. This needs to be used with /nointro or /nocd to even get in the game. Unknown if it does anything else.
/nocd Lets the game run without CD—except that the demo can already run without CD even without this switch. Not in retail.
/iglasses This refers to the short-lived Virtual IO I-Glasses, which apparently the demo has some support for. However, it's impossible to test unless you have the hardware—using it seems to make the program seek for the hardware and then exit if it can't find it. Not in retail.
/cheat Unknown. It doesn't seem to activate the wendy cheat from retail, and the executable file doesn't look like it has any cheat strings similar to the retail version anyway. Not in retail.

The later demo removes the /nomusic switch; the pre-retail demo additionally does away with /iglasses and /cheat, and finally the retail version removes /nocd.

Version Information

In all builds, pressing V reveals a version string. The earliest demo has the following:

3D/ADV Kernel Real-Time Module
(c) Gremlin Interactive Ltd.
Normality. (Graeme Ing)
Compilation: 10141195 Tuesday 14-11-1995 10:44.
Adventure:   17091195

Graeme Ing is credited as the lead programmer for the game.

The demo build is just under a half year older than the retail build (1995-11-14 to 1996-05-06, or 5 months and 22 days).

See Normality/Build Dates for a complete list of all version strings.

Interface

The "voodoo doll" control system was bigger and more prominent in the demo, showing more detail on the doll and also more of Kent's hand holding it.

Voodoo Doll
Demo Final
Normality Voodoo Demo.png Normality Voodoo Final.png

Note the scaled-down final version has a few graphical glitches like broken pixel-lines, and the boot at the bottom is mostly cropped out.

All sprites of the demo doll:

Normality Demo Interface.png Normality Demo Interface Look.png Normality Demo Interface Talk.png Normality Demo Interface Take.png Normality Demo Interface Use.png Normality Demo Interface Open.png

Items

The prototype has a number of items that were removed from the final game, including a few in Kent's apartment itself.

Kent's Apartment

Three items in Kent's apartment were removed in the final game: a Can of Food in the fridge, a Toolbox near the washing machine, and a Can of Yellow Paint on a nearby shelf. (The pool of spilled paint dripping down under the bucket remains, however.) Also, the Little Box appears high on top of the microwave, instead of down on the stovetop.

Normality Demo Items.png

Can of Food
LookNormality Item - Food.png Lovely! Hmmm... 'THE ONE AND ONLY *FOOD*. GUARANTEED NO WASTE, MORE WAIST, WHAT TASTE? INGREDIENTS: MEAT AND VEGETATION.' Why am I suddenly not hungry?
TakeI suppose I could carry one can, just in case of emergency... for when there's nothing else to eat... and I've eaten all my clothing... and both legs.
UseAs much as I would like to sample the delicate bouquet and flavour sealed within, I don't have a can opener.
Can of Yellow Paint
LookNormality Item - Yellow Paint.png Bright stuff! There isn't enough naturally-occuring yellow in this city for my liking.
TakeNot a good idea considering the only thing keeping the paint inside is the dried up mulch around the bottom. Maybe I should find something else to put it in.
UseI don't see anywhere to use it around here.

These two items are still present in the later demo, but get removed after that.

Kent's Toolbox, on the other hand, exists only in the earliest demo and nowhere else:

Normality - Toolbox Early Demo.png

Toolbox
LookThis is my 245 piece toolbox. Hmmm, the lock is rusted shut.
TakeI don't want it.
UseI can't get it open.

There are various minor changes to how items appear or are described. The t-shirt got a slightly altered inventory icon as well as an adjusted line.

T-shirt
DemoRetail
Normality TShirt Demo.png It's an old T-shirt with "I AM FAT AND PROUD" on the front and "HONEST, REALLY" on the back.
Normality TShirt Final.png It's an old T-shirt with "I AM FAT" on the front and "HONEST, REALLY" on the back.

The cardboard box was given a new sprite that fits better with it sitting on the stovetop as opposed to the microwave.

Cardboard Box
Demo Final
Normality Box Demo.png Normality Box Final.png

Kent makes a reference to a hotel in the demo version. Possibly removed because there isn't actually a hotel anywhere to find once you get outside.

Towel
DemoRetail
I stole it from a hotel down the road. It has great insulation properties.
This towel's good for keeping things hot or cool. Terrific insulation properties.

The note you get in prison was written slightly differently in the demo version. The old line reading still exists in the retail version.

Note
DemoRetail
Want to meet some people who share the same interests? Then don't just sit being bored at home, get down to the third dumpster in the dingy alley behind the Plush-Rest Furniture Factory. An Empathiser...
Frustrated? Want to meet some like-minded individuals? Want to do something about the state of the city? Get a job and snoop around Plush-Rest. You'll find a group in one of the dumpsters around the back. An Empathiser...

Interestingly, the US retail version of the game actually contains the old note text.

Finally, the Gizmo that you find in your couch has a totally different sound effect:

Gizmo
Demo Retail

Other Locations

The demo only contains Kent's apartment as a playable area, but several other items are present in the game that never made it to the final version. These items are also alluded to in various unused pieces of text.

The sewer was going to contain a puzzle where you need to free a chained up alligator by picking a padlock. The alligator itself remains in the retail version, but the puzzle has been removed. However, the demo still contains the chain item and text lines related to it.

Chain
UseNormality Item - Chain.png I can't see a use right now.
TakeOK, I'll grab it but then I'm out of here!
LookQuite a sturdy chain. The padlock is open.
LookA very sturdy chain.

Also related to the sewer section is a set of welly boots that protect your feet from the cold water.

Wellies
UseNormality Item - Wellies.png I'll put them on. Not the height of fashion, but they give me protection from the freezing, dirty water.
TakeOK. They may come in handy in a sewer.
LookA pair of boots. They look almost new and would probably fit me.

Somewhat more vaguely, the text section for the Ordinary Outpost Processing Floor references "Nystalux Nibbles", which are supposedly very tasty and hard to source.

Cookies
UseNormality Item - Cookies.png I don't want to eat such valuable commoditiies!
TakeYou bet. These are rare! They can have pride of place on top of my TV.
LookNystalux Nibbles! You can't buy these in the shops, they're for VIP's only! What a find!

Finally, the mallet that you find in Heather's Den has a different inventory icon in the demo. You never actually get to find or use the mallet in the demo, though—the apartment is the only available location, after all.

Mallet
Demo Final
Normality Item - Mallet (Demo).png Normality Item - Mallet (Retail).png

Washing Machine

It's not actually possible to free the rat in the washing machine in the demo—in the retail version, you can use the scissors to free it (even though the towel with frozen *FOOD* is the intended way), but that doesn't work in this version. However, the unused resources are still present and different to the final version:

Rat in Smashed Washing Machine
Demo Final
Normality Ratsmash Demo.gif Normality Ratsmash Final.gif

Kent's line for taking it was also different:

DemoRetail
TakeNot with my bare hands! They're not God's most hygenic creatures!
TakeI need something small to put him in first.

The demo also contains a number of messages that seem to suggest Kent kills a rat in a trap:

TakeYuk! Not with that dead rat hanging off!
UseI haven't the heart to set it again.
LookThey fall for it every time!

There are no recorded voice lines for this and the messages are completely removed in the final version.

One last interesting detail is that Kent actually crouches down when approaching the washing machine, apparently to get a closer look at the rat.

This is somewhat glitchy and can be used to climb on top of the washing machine. In the retail version, Kent always stays at the same height.

Textures

When Kent tears the scissors away from the sticky floor, the discolored outline it leaves on the carpet is different.

Floor Texture
Demo Final
Normality Carpet Demo.png Normality Carpet Final.png

The wall of a building outside Kent's apartment window has a different poster in the demo. It makes reference to another Gremlin Interactive game, Actua Soccer (a.k.a. V.R. Soccer '96 in the U.S.)

Wall Texture
Demo Final
Normality Poster Soccer.png Normality Poster Normal.png

The pre-retail demo already has both of these textures set to their final versions.

Audio

Early Rebel Track

The demo does not use the same music the final game does for Kent's apartment. Instead, it uses an early version of a track that was eventually used for the rebels' dumpster hideout.

The apartment's music track is named KENT.HMP, which ended up becoming XREBEL.HMP in the final version of the game.

KENT.HMP (Demo):

XREBEL.HMP (Retail):

The older version is a bit slower (135 bpm, versus the 160 bpm of retail) and it's not quite as fleshed out and polished as the final version.

Unused Music Tracks

There are a couple of music tracks which do not seem to be used in the demo version, and do not appear in the final game's files at all:

NORMUSIC.HMP:

XSAUL.HMP:

It's unclear where in the game these tracks would be used, although the name XSAUL implies it was intended for Saul in some way. The "X" is probably not significant, as half the tracks in the game have the same prefix (e.g. XFACTORY, XOUTPOST).

XSAUL sounds like a finished track. NORMUSIC is just over 1 minute in length, so it may have been intended for the demo's promo video which is just under 1 minute and a half.

Intro Norm

The Norm who arrests Kent in the intro underwent a subtle but important change in the retail version: he smiles.

Early and later demo Pre-retail demo and after
Normality - Early Demo Intro Norm.png Normality - Retail Intro Norm.png

The pre-retail demo also includes this change.

Gameplay/Program Changes

Crouching/Stretching Up

Kent is able to crouch and stretch up in the demo, by pressing the Delete and Insert keys respectively. This changes your vantage point to be slightly lower or higher. This was removed in the retail version, and in that your vantage point is a bit lower than the default of the demo.

Fully stretching out allows you to see that the ground outside is untextured. In the final version, the ground can't be seen at all.

Normality - Demo - Untextured street.png

Medium Resolution

All versions of the game except the oldest prototype have two quality options: low resolution and high resolution. Low resolution runs at 320x200, while high resolution at 320x400 (both displayed at 4:3).

The oldest version of the game also had "medium resolution", which renders the low resolution while in motion and high resolution while stationary—it constantly switches resolutions while doing so, causing massive flickering.

Normality - Medium Resolution.png

The text string for medium resolution is still present even in the retail version, although it was removed from the engine by the later demo.

Promo Video

The playable demo includes a short promotional video, extolling the game's design, "True-3D" engine, and use of motion capture technology.

Dialogue

Even though the demo only covers Kent's apartment, the data includes dialogue text for the entire game. A number of cut lines indicate that various ideas were once implemented and then cut in the final version—these are documented on the Normality/Unused_Text page in context.

The voice lines in the demo are identical to those of the final game, although only a part of the voice lines are included—the demo contains 1:30:18 worth of dialogue, most of it not audible in-game, while the retail version has 3:45:02 of it. Both voice files are stored as 8-bit, monaural 11025 khz raw PCM data.

End Screen

The US demo additionally contains an end screen (in addition to showing the logo at the start) featuring a new render and order information.

Normality - US Demo End Screen.png

Interestingly, this is the only time that we see a Norm Trooper with this kind of expression, or in fact any kind of expression aside from the smile in the intro.

Miscellaneous

Readme File

The demo comes with a READ.ME file that includes some references to things that ultimately ended up being changed.

  • The demo readme has several differences in the keys you can press. It lists ESC for quitting the game, and includes a reference to Tab for resetting the tilt view to normal. In retail, you can only quit the game through the options menu; resetting the tilt view still works but it's no longer mentioned for some reason. In addition, the demo readme does not list the M and T keys for opening the map and talking to someone, as you don't need them. It also does not mention F9 and F10 for saving and loading, and savegames are in fact not usable any of the demos.
  • References to the crouching/stretching up are present in the prototype readme. The retail readme does not list them as the functionality ended up being scrapped.
  • For the voodoo doll interface, the demo includes references to the WEAR and EAT commands. These actions were already removed from the voodoo interface as of this build, if they were ever on there at all. There are still audio references to these two actions in the retail game as well. In both the demo and retail, eating is done through the voodoo's mouth—same as talking—and wearing is done by using an object on Kent's photo in the inventory screen.
  • Graeme Ing, the lead programmer for the engine, signed the two earliest demo readme files with his name.

The readme also refers to the NORMINC.BAT file needed to start the game—named after the old title, Normality Inc. It was replaced with NORMAL.BAT in the final version.

Bugs

Besides the obvious difference in polish, there are a few extra bugs that hadn't been fixed yet:

  • There's a weird problem with voice lines: once a voice line is started, it fades out very quickly when you walk away from your current location. This also goes for the lines shouted by the Norm outside your door. It's as if the voice line sound effects are spawned at your current location and fade out as you're more distant. The later demo built days after the early one already has this fixed.
  • When you finish the demo and it restarts from the beginning, the remote control is rendered on top of the cushion instead of behind it. Like above, this only occurs in the earliest demo.
  • Some objects are not rendered properly, specifically the Sharkpoon—it's only partially visible from outside the bathroom, and only becomes fully visible when you come close to it. This happens in the two earliest builds.