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TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard (Read 7327 times)
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TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
01/12/13 at 21:18:06
 
Here's something you don't see every day; a hidden alpha/beta-grade level in a released Twisted Metal game...

Check out the following video for an overview of the level, focusing on how it differs from the regular Junkyard:



YouTube Links:
Hacks used in the video:

The mini version was probably abandoned mid-way into Twisted Metal: Black (TMB)'s development when Incog realized that it wasn't turning out to be a "mini" version of Junkyard. Another possibility is that it was cut due to development time constraints (its level ID is one of the last in the game). In any case, after the mini version got cut, it appears the standard level (and the rest of the game) went on to receive more polish/refinements, as well as an overhaul of pickup locations.

Mini Junkyard also exists as a hidden level in TMB Online (TMBO) (most of Kai's active regulars have seen it by now), but oddly enough it isn't a carbon copy of the TMB version... Sooner or later I'll make a follow-up post/video focusing on TMBO's version of the level.

Would be great if any TMB developers could reveal the full story behind this level and its UI differences... Smiley.



Moving on, here's the backstory as how the level was discovered... (warning: insanely long)

In recent times I've been trying to hack TMB/O to create viable widescreen hacks, but I also often lurk around on a few gaming sites that focus on unreleased games and beta discoveries in released ones... I was curious if anything like that existed in TMB, so I applied some of my game hacking knowledge try finding out.

From what I've seen on YouTube, a few game hackers have previously played around with TMB's car select menus, but apparently none ever thought about trying the same in its level select menus...

In early October 2012 I experimented around in TMB's level select menus and figured out how to programmatically scroll through all level entries, but upon first glance, didn't find anything that immediately stood out. However, it just so happens that Mini Junkyard was amongst the aforementioned level entries... and I couldn't really recall it from when I used to be a TMBO regular.

I can't recall the exact specifics, but I think what came next was a search for Mini Junkyard in TMBO's level select menu (just by scrolling through all levels normally without any hacking). Since all standard levels are present and unlocked by default in TMBO, by all means it should've been listed, right? Wrong.

This piqued my interest enough to try programmatically selecting the level in TMBO, and next thing I knew, I had stumbled upon the level's menu background image; some large white and centered "19" text, over a mainly black gradient. This was definitely some sort of placeholder level image. The significance of 19 is that it represents Mini Junkyard's level ID (Warhawk's is 20).

In a hacking context, in TMBO it's fairly easy to start a match in Mini Junkyard. If you change your current level menu selection to it programmatically, then select the level, you're good to go. Unfortunately this isn't the case with TMB. Due to how many levels are normally locked and hidden by default in the latter, the same method's outcome is like trying to select a locked level (the game won't let you). Luckily I managed to figure out where TMB stores the IDs of levels once they're selected (which gets used to determine which level will actually get loaded in by the game engine when a match starts). Programmatically changing the aforementioned ID allowed me to go in-game in any level of my choosing, regardless of whether they're locked or hidden. This allowed me to launch matches in TMB's version of Mini Junkyard.

I was initially pretty disappointed with both TMB and TMBO's versions of Mini Junkyard (especially the latter's). First impressions were that TMB's version was identical to the normal Junkyard, but with a glitchy HUD and no airliner (at all; not even pre-crashed). TMBO's seemed identical the regular Junkyard. Having said that, over time as I kept coming back to TMB's mini level, I noticed pickup differences and eventually performed more direct head to head comparisons. These lead to several interesting discoveries of (mostly minor) differences in both the level itself and its UI. All of these are covered in the attached YouTube video. TMBO's version of the level has its own twist; it seems to be a hybrid of Mini Junkyard and the regular Junkyard (this'll be covered in more detail in a future post/video).

Anyways, in tandem with all these little discoveries in the mini level, one of my priorities was to create hacks (for cheat devices like CodeBreaker/GameShark/PCSX2 Pnach) that would allow Mini Junkyard to be easily selected from both games' level select menus, just like any standard level. Thanks to some assistance DarkForce previously gave me in setting up a way to analyze TMB's executable (ELF) file, I figured out how to get Mini Junkyard to appear (albeit as locked) in the level select menus for most of TMB's game modes (Challenge, 2 Player, and possibly 3-4 Player). That was definitely a good start, but as long as the level was locked, the hack was still useless as-is.

This is where DarkForce came in once again. He passed me a few TMB level unlock hacks he found on the net, which hinted to the general area in which TMB stores level lock/unlock flags in the PS2's memory (RAM). With that information in hand, I succeeded in getting the level to appear as unlocked in the aforementioned level select menus.

Was that all? Nope Sad... By default, when Mini Junkyard gets selected, TMB's game engine doesn't load its level ID (19) into the "level ID to load" slot I talked about earlier. So I added another hack into the mix to perform that task.

So at this point a pretty good Mini Junkyard unlock hack was finally established for TMB Smiley (although with room for improvement).

Onto TMBO, I believe creating a similar hack for it will be much harder than it was for TMB. TMB's executable file contains a plenty of leftover function and variable labels (i.e. text that briefly describes how some of its programming works), but TMBO's executable doesn't. The aspect of the TMB hack that allowed me to "reveal" Mini Junkyard in some of its level select menus was discovered via some of the aforementioned labels... So without some pretty extensive hacking, at this time the only options for TMBO are things like button press hacks (i.e. press button ? to make Mini Junkyard the selected level) or level replacement ones (i.e. outright replace a level you don't like with Mini Junkyard in level select menus). DarkForce is currently doing the latter with poor old Loop Tongue.

Finally, all of this lead to me creating an overview video of TMB's version of Mini Junkyard, using a variety of purpose-oriented hacks. Also figured it would be for the best to simultaneously release the video with all the hacks that were shown in it, as well as this ridiculously long TMA thread.

Hope everyone found this to be an interesting watch/read Smiley.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #1 - 01/12/13 at 23:10:53
 
Always fun to find hidden goodies inside the disc that you didn't know was there.

Very cool video... always nice to see great hacks come to use. We have played this level a bunch and it is a good new addition to the mix.


EDIT: TMB in HD looks great. nice resolution
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #2 - 01/12/13 at 23:17:06
 
Yeah, very cool walk through.  It was neat to be able to play a brand new level (or at least a solid remix) of one on the 10 year anniversiary of TMBO.  A number of questions do pop in my head though.  Like:

1.  What happens in the TMB mini when you SHOOT the panel for unlocking the Yellowjacket?  You looked at the panel, and it even looked like the car was there, but you never fired.

2.  Why is the TMB mini and the TMBO Junkyard 2 different from each other?

3.  Why didn't they finish the TMB mini?  I mean, it would be SO awesome and it is SO easy to make a mini of that level (i.e. block off the underground, block off the pit, and you can even through a wall up around the hanging plane - walla - excellent mini). 

4.  Even though they didn't finish, why NOT include it anyway?  I mean, no one HATES free levels even if there are only subtle changes.

5.  Why was it using PRE finalized graphics when you were in the level (i.e. gas can, junk bomb, reticle, and other differences)?  When WE play the version of it in TMBO it doens't do that.  What happened there?

6.  Was there no rain?  It looked like it was missing the weather.

7.  Do satellites target the same?  They are very similar to gas cans for the most part.

Finally, and for sure the most important question . . .

8.  You chose Junkyard Dog?  YOU?! 
Why the *?!@#! don't you do that in actual games?!




Nice video.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #3 - 01/12/13 at 23:49:23
 
Very interesting video. Thanks for the share. Not much of a mini map, obviously needed more work, but the hills being more ramp-like is nice and would make that area a little more fun to battle in. Cool seeing alpha/beta gas can too.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #4 - 01/13/13 at 00:05:25
 
very good Ace, nice to see you're alive! Cool video and nice to know there was a "mini" Junkyard. Watching that almost made me want to play TMBO again.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #5 - 01/13/13 at 03:19:46
 
Hey Kil,

Here are my responses to your thoughts/questions:


1.  What happens in the TMB mini when you SHOOT the panel for unlocking the Yellowjacket?  You looked at the panel, and it even looked like the car was there, but you never fired.

Wow, I totally missed that lol. Just ran a few tests to see what happens...

Just to review, in the regular Junkyard (only in Story mode), destroying the control panel will lower the platform the YellowJacket car model is sitting upon and show two large blinking notifications; "CONGRATULATIONS", followed by "YELLOWJACKET UNLOCKED". Quitting will cause the game to prompt the user to save the unlock. By the way, refusing to save is still enough to cause YellowJacket to subsequently appear in Story's car select menu.

In Mini Junkyard (Challenge mode), most of the same things will happen, but with a few notable omissions. Destroying the control panel causes the platform to descend, complete with the YellowJacket car model. However, only one notification appears; "CONGRATULATIONS" (same large font and blinking effect). Pausing and quitting causes the same save unlock prompt to appear (doesn't appear if you win the Challenge match then quit, though). The most notable omission is that YellowJacket never actually gets unlocked. Regardless of whether or not I save at the unlock save prompt (even if I restart the game from scratch to freshly load off the memory card), YellowJacket continues to appear as locked in car select menus. I guess it's not really a surprise; game logic to unlock vehicles probably hadn't been implemented by that point in the game's development period.


2.  Why is the TMB mini and the TMBO Junkyard 2 different from each other?

Good question; probably only Kirk Baum and a few other core TMBO developers know the full story.

A few things I can think of (keep in mind that this is purely speculation):
  • When TMB's airliner shoot-down/crashing features were removed or locked out from the game for its PAL release, maybe the change was made to its main working codebase or something. This could've impacted Mini Junkyard in both the PAL version of TMB as well as the NTSC/PAL versions of TMBO. Doesn't explain some of the other differences in TMBO's version of Mini Junkyard, though...
  • Maybe a preliminary attempt was made at some point in TMBO's development to resuscitate the level, only to be quickly scrapped due to development time constraints. Would kind of explain how it only seems to have been partially updated in TMBO.
  • Perhaps some of Mini Junkyard's assets were affected by an attempt to streamline TMBO's codebase during its development.

3.  Why didn't they finish the TMB mini?  I mean, it would be SO awesome and it is SO easy to make a mini of that level (i.e. block off the underground, block off the pit, and you can even through a wall up around the hanging plane - walla - excellent mini).

Considering it's one of the last levels in the game, my guess is that there wasn't enough time to implement it and still meet TMB's release deadline.


4.  Even though they didn't finish, why NOT include it anyway?  I mean, no one HATES free levels even if there are only subtle changes.

Well they kind of did include it Tongue. Otherwise I wouldn't of been able to discover it (super glad they didn't outright remove the level like they appear to have done for the player-tailored Warhawk vehicle...). To be serious though, they probably didn't want to make Mini Junkyard selectable since in its current state at the time, it felt more like an unfinished beta of Junkyard than an alternate level.


5.  Why was it using PRE finalized graphics when you were in the level (i.e. gas can, junk bomb, reticle, and other differences)?  When WE play the version of it in TMBO it doens't do that.  What happened there?

Me and DarkForce were speculating as to why that may be. Some disc-based games employ a lot of redundant code in order to optimize loading times. This minimizes the need for a disc drive's laser to jump around to many different areas of the disc, resulting in better loading times. Maybe something like that was employed in TMB, and thus UI assets could have been grouped in with each individual level's assets.

The UI differences in the video may represent the current state of the game's UI at the time at which Incog abandoned the level. Considering how many significant revisions the game's UI went through, it seems likely that the game was fairly far into development by the time the level got scrapped.

Check out this old TMB dev diary video DarkForce posted to YouTube awhile ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjgpjs2Lszw). Two entirely different UIs are featured throughout...

Green-tinted HUD:
  • Featured in most gameplay clips.
  • Looks pretty refined and similar to the final HUD.
  • Seems like Mini Junkyard's HUD/UI is a cross between this and the final one.
  • Rectile UI in a couple of clips (0:38, 1:38, and 4:36 marks) looks less rough than what's featured in my Mini Junkyard video. It looks like the dev diary's rectile UI is "correct" version of the glitchy-looking rectile UI from my video (note the large green box that represents the aiming area). That particular UI (as it exists in Mini Junkyard) probably took the form of broken remnants in the final game. Another fun fact: the rectile timer in those clips defaults to 10 seconds.
  • Left Turbo/AA gauge misalignments are also present in this version of the HUD.
  • Maybe other parts of TMB's Mini Junkyard HUD/UI are glitchy remnants of this incarnation? Those grittier colour levels in the Mini Junkyard HUD boxes are really weird considering even the green-tinted HUD was still using dark grey boxes.
  • Some of the Junkyard clips in the dev diary show the final Junkyard's rear path fence/lights (3:08) and building crate arrangement (4:40), so Mini Junkyard's level design may predate the time at which those clips were filmed.
  • Was it just me who noticed Warthog appearing as "WHITEKNIGHT" on radar in the dev diary's 1:50 mark?
Blue-tinted HUD
  • Briefly featured at the 2:52 mark in the dev diary.
  • Looks to be a much older incarnation that predates the green-tinted one.
  • Uses a completely different visual layout in the bottom-left area.

6.  Was there no rain?  It looked like it was missing the weather.

Mini Junkyard's rain/weather effects seem identical to the ones in the normal Junkyard. In my video, the rain is most apparent when I leave the building at the 6:13 mark. YouTube's video compression may have also caused the rain to appear less prominent during periods of low rainfall.


7.  Do satellites target the same?  They are very similar to gas cans for the most part.

SATs are identical to the rest of the game. I didn't try testing out every single car's specials prior to posting the video, but I did try every standard weapon. Only showed off the ones that appeared to be different than usual.


8.  You chose Junkyard Dog?  YOU?!  
Why the *?!@#! don't you do that in actual games?!


Lol, I can assure you that I was fully intending to pick Sweet Tooth (even used him in some early test videos of the level), until I discovered the different gas can UI... Since JunkyardDog's special is a lot like an "enhanced" gas can, I figured there'd be value in trying him out in the level. Since his special did turn out to have the same UI difference, I decided that would be more relevant to the video's purpose than my favourite car selection Cheesy.
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« Last Edit: 01/13/13 at 14:37:00 by Aced14 »  
 
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #6 - 01/13/13 at 13:29:32
 
I have never seen that video before, that's awesome!
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« Last Edit: 01/13/13 at 18:31:52 by Mr.SLaM »  

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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #7 - 01/13/13 at 14:58:17
 
Is it possible to play this level in deathmatch on Kai?

I also wonder what else the devs have that isn't complete and didn't find itself on the disc at all.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #8 - 01/13/13 at 15:12:20
 
Aced14 wrote on 01/13/13 at 03:19:46:
5.  Why was it using PRE finalized graphics when you were in the level (i.e. gas can, junk bomb, reticle, and other differences)?  When WE play the version of it in TMBO it doens't do that.  What happened there?

Me and DarkForce were speculating as to why that may be. Some disc-based games employ a lot of redundant code in order to optimize loading times. This minimizes the need for a disc drive's laser to jump around to many different areas of the disc, resulting in better loading times. Maybe something like that was employed in TMB, and thus UI assets could have been grouped in with each individual level's assets.

The UI differences in the video may represent the current state of the game's UI at the time at which Incog abandoned the level. Considering how many significant revisions the game's UI went through, it seems likely that the game was fairly far into development by the time the level got scrapped.

Check out this old TMB dev diary video DarkForce posted to YouTube awhile ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjgpjs2Lszw). Two entirely different UIs are featured throughout...

Green-tinted HUD:
  • Featured in most gameplay clips.
  • Looks pretty refined and similar to the final HUD.
  • Seems like Mini Junkyard's HUD/UI is a cross between this and the final one.
  • Rectile UI in a couple of clips (0:38, 1:38, and 4:36 marks) looks less rough than what's featured in my Mini Junkyard video. It looks like the dev diary's rectile UI is "correct" version of the glitchy-looking rectile UI from my video (note the large green box that represents the aiming area). That particular UI (as it exists in Mini Junkyard) probably took the form of broken remnants in the final game. Another fun fact: the rectile timer in those clips defaults to 10 seconds.
  • Left Turbo/AA gauge misalignments are also present in this version of the HUD.
  • Maybe other parts of TMB's Mini Junkyard HUD/UI are glitchy remnants of this incarnation? Those grittier colour levels in the Mini Junkyard HUD boxes are really weird considering even the green-tinted HUD was still using dark grey boxes.
  • Some of the Junkyard clips in the dev diary show the final Junkyard's rear path fence/lights (3:08) and building crate arrangement (4:40), so Mini Junkyard's level design may predate the time at which those clips were filmed.
  • Was it just me who noticed Warthog appearing as "WHITEKNIGHT" on radar in the dev diary's 1:50 mark?
Blue-tinted HUD
  • Briefly featured at the 2:52 mark in the dev diary.
  • Looks to be a much older incarnation that predates the green-tinted one.
  • Uses a completely different visual layout in the bottom-left area.



To continue on this, MANY GAMES are like this. It really depends on the engine. For instance, players have found certain, unfinished weapons and equipment left on maps in Halo 4, but they are only on one or two specific maps. This is because how the Blam engine works (and presumably whatever engine TMB/O uses) packs all of the files into one large map file, so it doesn't have to search the disk every time you want to use the fire missile, reticule, etc. So your disk probably has 25 copies of the fire missile on it, each one tied to a map.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #9 - 01/13/13 at 15:33:57
 
Zerathustra wrote on 01/13/13 at 14:58:17:
Is it possible to play this level in deathmatch on Kai?

In TMBO, via a hack? Yep Smiley. The game's been designed in a way that only requires that the host set Mini Junkyard as the selected level on their end, regardless of the mode. All peers (i.e. other players that join the host's server) will load in fine without the need for any hacks on their ends.

Having said that, TMBO's version of Mini Junkyard doesn't have all the same differences as TMB's version. It's kind of like a bridge between TMB's Mini Junkyard and TMBO's version of Junkyard, and doesn't have any of the TMB HUD/UI differences shown in my video. I'll go into extreme detail about all the TMBO version's differences (as well as pass along a primitive hack to select it) in a future post/video.

At this time, DarkForce (who currently hosts TMBO Kai matches on a regular basis; usually Wednesday and Saturday nights) usually uses Mini Junkyard in his level rotations via a hack to replace Loop's level select entry with Mini Junkyard. It also seems that overall, TMBO's current Kai regulars generally prefer Mini Junkyard over the normal one.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #10 - 01/13/13 at 20:47:06
 
I still prefer regular Junkyard to the second one (it's really not a mini in anyway so it doesn't seem right to call it that).  In fact, in the case of TMBO, doesn't the game call it Junkyard 2?

Now, if it was TMB's version . . . I WOULD prefer that (since it walls off the underground cavern).  I really wish that was the one that had ended up in there.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #11 - 01/13/13 at 21:37:31
 
Quote:
I still prefer regular Junkyard to the second one (it's really not a mini in anyway so it doesn't seem right to call it that).  In fact, in the case of TMBO, doesn't the game call it Junkyard 2?

Now, if it was TMB's version . . . I WOULD prefer that (since it walls off the underground cavern).  I really wish that was the one that had ended up in there.



I too also like the original Junkyard better, this Junkyard 2 for TMBO is mostly removing bumps and jumps in some areas, and placing new and different pickups in other locations. The "rape" gas can location in that tiny corner of the crusher is fantastic Wink high risk to get a good item in that spot.

If only we could rip TMB Mini Junkyard into TMBO... shove it into the damn disc.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #12 - 01/14/13 at 12:56:02
 
RoaDiE wrote on 01/13/13 at 21:37:31:
I too also like the original Junkyard better, this Junkyard 2 for TMBO is mostly removing bumps and jumps in some areas, and placing new and different pickups in other locations. The "rape" gas can location in that tiny corner of the crusher is fantastic Wink high risk to get a good item in that spot.

If only we could rip TMB Mini Junkyard into TMBO... shove it into the damn disc.


Quote:
I still prefer regular Junkyard to the second one (it's really not a mini in anyway so it doesn't seem right to call it that).  In fact, in the case of TMBO, doesn't the game call it Junkyard 2?

Now, if it was TMB's version . . . I WOULD prefer that (since it walls off the underground cavern).  I really wish that was the one that had ended up in there.



I personally think the changes to the level add a bit of life to our now, 10 year old game.

I do agree about the tunnel, it should of been blocked off if they really wanted a "mini" version of JY. I however don't agree with you guys, the JY2 level is way better than the original, you guys just don't like it because Brimstone isn't as scary in the new level. Also, you two don't like it because it has one less Skill weapon and we all know you two just LOVE to abuse them Reticui!

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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #13 - 10/08/16 at 17:55:37
 
I'd like to see this happen to the other multiplayer battlegrounds so we can play them in singleplayer mode. And I'm talking about Sewers, Power Plant, Dogpound, etc.
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Re: TMB/O's Lost Level: Mini Junkyard
Reply #14 - 10/09/16 at 11:57:00
 
I'd like this to happen with tmb2
Cry
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