Pre-Alpha (October 1996)
The existence of a pre-alpha build has been known for some time, however it had been kept private by a select few members of the community for years. It is currently not known what this release was made for, how it was acquired by the community, or how it was leaked.
The build files are dated between October and November 1996, predating the final release by roughly 11 months.
The pre-alpha features a completely different installer from the final release. Comparing side-by-side, it's clear that they repurposed the same installer from Chessmaster 5000.
This installer is 16-bit only, meaning it will not work on modern 64-bit Windows systems. The installer also requires DOS mode which can cause issues in Wine, despite its ability to load 16-bit executables. As such, it's recommended to use an alternate installer for those platforms.
The pre-alpha features a crude launcher called STARTUP.EXE which launches the available rooms:
This makes sense because MAIN.EXE does not load anything by default without command line arguments.
CONFIG.EXE exists as an MFC dialog, much like the final release, however no work has been done on it:
Instead, a limited subset of graphics settings are located in the launcher.
The game features incomplete but functional implementations of all four build sections from the final game (helicopter, dune buggy, race car, and jetski).
Notable differences include:
- Missing parts are wireframe instead of solid.
- Coloring doesn't appear to work.
- Different music. All stages feature a crude loop of "Legomania", an ultimately unused cue composed by Lorin Nelson.
- Different sound effects.
- Many of the animated sprites glitch and flicker when you click them.
If you use MAIN.EXE to load
build.si and load the
StartUp action, you can find the following screen:
The buttons are functional and indeed jump to each build section.
Likely the reason these buttons weren't used (and the above launcher was created instead) is because the buttons frequently have a habit of persisting after loading a new section. Clicking them further can lead to two or more build sections being inexplicably merged, and often causes crashes:
The island has progressed significantly since July 1996, now closely resembling the layout of the island in the final game. It's still almost entirely unpopulated though, with no trees, NPCs, and very few buildings. The gas station, which was present in the July 1996 build, is present though, as well as three houses in the residential area.
Sections of the race track can be seen at some perspectives
Collision/path detection is still not implemented, allowing players to walk through buildings and on the grass. Ramps are also not correctly implemented, meaning players must manually adjust their height up or down using the U and D keys (which persisted in the final game's Debug Mode) to reach higher and lower areas.
The main game executable is still MAIN.EXE and all of its development/debugging functionality is present here.
Turning is noticeably jerky in this version, always turning by a minimum of several degrees at a time. This too is tied to the frame rate and runs too fast on modern computers.
The disc contains both release and debug versions of multiple executables, including LEGO1.DLL. It does not however contain symbols. The Microsoft Visual C++ compiler places symbols in sidecar PDB files, not in the executable itself, and no PDB files are present on the disc. That being said, the debug binaries contain much less optimized code and retain debugging features like assertions which may help significantly in the decompilation effort.
The pre-alpha contains an option to "register" for an array of free fonts. The registration is obviously not possible anymore, however the fonts can be installed by running
MSREG\MSFREE.EXE on the CD: