The Halo 3 Beta was an intermediate build of the multiplayer functionality of Halo 3. It was first released to selected members of the public on May 11, 2007, and its purpose was to collect information and feedback from the millions of play test games played through the multiplayer beta to refine Bungie Studio’s final multiplayer product and to advertise Halo 3
Over the four weeks of the Beta, 820,000 unique users clocked up over 12 million hours of play – the equivalent of a single person playing Halo 3 for 1,400 years (Xbox 360 world magazine).
The original Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64 was loved by many because of it’s action and stealth. It was also one of the few First Person Shooters for the N64. Development of Perfect Dark Zero, the sequel of Perfect Dark, began on the Nintendo Gamecube but as it was almost completed, RARE was bought by Microsoft so all development had to be ported to the original Xbox. Around the same time, RARE released some screen shots that revealed a “cartoony” or cel-shaded Joanna Dark.
A couple of years later and then another console switch occurred… this time to the Xbox 360. The Xbox version was about 12 months away from shipping before the switch and this caused many problems as to updating the engine, graphics, etc. The scenes and characters that you can see in the screenshots below (as those soldiers), were not used in the final game. Joanna Dark’s design was changed many times before the final one.
Finally, after many ports and switches, Perfect Dark Zero was released as a launch title for the Xbox 360 by December 2, 2005. If you notice some interesting differences in the concept arts from the videos below, please let us know!
Also, as wrote on Wikipedia, Rare had announced plans to make the multiplayer feature matches of up to 50 people, an upgrade from the current 32 player limit. As of March 2010, this update has not been released and Rare has stated that they will not be releasing any more downloadable content. A new Counter-Operative mode, much like the one found in the original Perfect Dark, was also promised to eventually become available as a new game mode for Perfect Dark Zero. However, this update is not available and Rare has no intention on bringing it out. Counter-Operative is a mode where one player plays as Joanna whilst the other player takes on the role of Joanna’s enemies, in the original title this took place in the same setting as the Single Player Levels.
GoldenEye 007 is a FPS developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64, based on the 1995 James Bond film with the same name. In the gallery below you can see various screenshots from the beta of the game, in which there are various differences and some weapons that were removed from the final game.
GoldenEye 007 was originally announced for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System before being stepped up to the Nintendo 64. The intention for the first few months of development was for the game to be an on-rails shooter similar to Virtua Cop (as seen in the very first trailer released); it only became a traditional free movement first-person shooter later in development.
GameShark users found several text references to a level called “Citadel” in the game. It was thought that a few textual references were all that remained of the level, but in 2004, GoldenEye 007 fan sites uncovered an unplayable but viewable single-player version of the level (with implemented sky and water textures). The test map is largely a mass of shapes and ramps that the players can climb upon, thus giving players many opportunities for sniping and for hiding. [Info from Wikipedia]
Come March 1995 work was underway with a team of new recruits. Mark Edmonds, my first ever interviewee, was programmer, Karl Hilton was background artist and B. Jones was character artist. I had prepared my first ever game design, a 9 page document. The first sentence of that design may be a surprise to you. It was: “The game will be similar to Virtua Cop in terms of gameplay”. For those not familiar with Virtua Cop it is an old classic, an on-rails shooter, made by Sega, and released first in the arcades. So yes, for the first months, GoldenEye was partly envisioned as a simple on-rails shooter only with no lightgun. But I also wanted it to be a FPS. At this point the team was happy to contemplate making two modes for the game, an on-rails mode and a FPS mode. Yes, there was some vagueness here. You have to understand, we didn’t know what the control of the N64 would be like, so it made designing the control system difficult at such an early stage. We didn’t have any N64s, or anything like them. […]
So, in the specific case of GoldenEye, and with the benefit of hindsight, the gameplay model was Virtua Cop with a bit of Doom, plus some Mario 64. The theme or setting was (obviously) the Bond universe and particularly GoldenEye. Many of the visual effects and kinetic moments I took from Hard Boiled or other John Woo flicks. Especially, things exploding. Visually, there’s more to that than you might think.[…]
For example gadgets, I compiled a list of about 40 gadgets from various Bond films, most of which were modelled, and then Dave and Duncan tried to find levels where we could use them. This is backwards game design, but it worked very well. These models were the game design; there was very little written down on paper. And the models were researched and milked extensively. And, importantly, they all gelled together very well. […]
Also, in a beta screenshot found by Kek8, we can notice that the Cradle mission had a background in the beta version, while in the final game there’s just a lot of fog.
Also an article from NowGamer has some more beta-related differences and cuts:
Karl Hilton recalls the first mooting of the project: “I started at Rare in October 1994 and they had me modelling cars and weapons to see if I could do it for no particular game. Martin Hollis wandered in – he tended to float around – and said he was leading a team to do a Bond game.”
Initially, the intention was to do a 2D side-scrolling platformer for the SNES, a genre that Rare excelled in after the seminal Donkey Kong Country, but Hollis insisted the game should be in 3D and produced for Nintendo’s enigmatic Ultra 64, which was still in development. He also made explicit his design model: Sega’s lightgun arcade hit Virtua Cop.
Karl: “When I got involved, the first thing I did was model the gas plant. We put a spline through the level so you could follow a route like in Virtua Cop, but it didn’t go further than that. We decided to take it off the rails. Some of those early builds had bits missing because you’d never be able to see them and I remember going back and filling in the holes.”
Considering how the finished GoldenEye feels so suited to the N64, it’s easy to forget the machine didn’t exist for the first year and a half of its development. The team was using SGI Onyxs, hugely expensive Silicon Graphics machines, guessing at what the specs of Nintendo’s new console might be and using a butchered Saturn controller to playtest.
For a game with more than its fair share of wanton destruction, the team became remarkably good at recycling. The radar on multiplayer mode is actually an oil drum texture, which explains the cloudiness on the right, and sometimes whole levels were created with the detritus they had to hand.
How Martin had done a 3D gun barrel that had to be dropped due to frame rate issues; how code had been written to let you drive the van, but it caused too many problems if you got the vehicle stuck in a dead end; how the unreachable island you can see far in the distance from atop the dam originally had a solitary guard patrolling it; how they’d had to label certain wall textures as ‘floor’ so guards could ‘see’ you, which meant they would occasionally leap out of bunkers inexplicably.
“At one point, we were going to have reloading done by the player unplugging and re-inserting the rumble pack on the controller”, remembers Steve. “Nintendo weren’t keen on that idea and I think it might have affected the pacing a bit…”
Perfect Dark is a FPS developed by RARE Ware for the Nintendo 64 and released in 2000. Martin Hollis, the director of GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, described the development of the game in an interview with Retro Gamer magazine. He explained that Rare rejected the prospect of working on the GoldenEye sequel Tomorrow Never Dies “without hesitation”, as the development team felt they had spent too much time immersed in the James Bond universe.
Originally Hollis hoped that the difference between light and dark would be a significant feature of the gameplay, and the title was intended to reflect this focus. A flashlight was implemented by Steve Ellis (responsible for much of the multiplayer mode in GoldenEye), but it was not included in the final game due to the limitations of the N64 hardware. [Info from Wikipedia]
In the images preserved in the gallery below, you can see many beta differences: different weapons, changes in the levels, characters unseen from some of the single player missions (the grey Aliens seem to have been used more in the beta and they were enemies, while in the final game the grey aliens are friends), the removed “Face Mapping” feature that let players to map their face on the game’s characters thanks to the gameboy camera (an option removed because of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999), censored red blood, removed multiplayer maps and much more.