V-Rally 2 Expert Edition Dreamcast prototypes
Sega Rally 2 had revealed itself as the undisputed master of rally racing on Dreamcast. The game's previous incarnations on the arcade and Saturn are no stranger to its success on Sega's 128-bit console. Could V-Rally 2 Expert Edition dethrone Sega's king and make a place for itself on Dreamcast ?
V-Rally is at the origin of the creation of Eden Games in 1997. David Nadal, then a tester for Infogrames, joined the team working on this racing game as a physics and 3D programmer. David joined forces with Stéphane Baudet, the project manager, to create Eden Studios.
The title was a real success (7 million games sold), and a contract for a sequel, V-Rally 2, was signed in the same period. The company was one of the most important French studios of the time. It worked mainly for the publisher Infogrames.
«My lunch for almost six months (the time of the crunch for the Dreamcast port) was Euro-Kebab rue Baraban (apparently "Ararat" now)»
V-Rally 2 is one of the jewels of the French publisher "Infogrames" developed by the studio "Eden Studios" from Lyon. The game had already established itself on other media as a reference in rally racing, including V-Rally on PS1 which still enjoys a certain notoriety.
«Since the PS1 version of VR2 was not finished, I had to compile the PSX sources. Unluckily, the "C" compiler of Hitachi for the Dreamcast was not Ansi/ISO compatible. So I had to write a conversion program to regenerate Dreamcast compatible sources. As I couldn't spend my time changing the UI to reflect the changes of the PSX version, I wrote a PSX GPU emulator so all the Dreamcast UI is displayed as if it was on PSX (OT List management)»
The Dreamcast title was designed to be superior to the Playstation 1 version. The fineness of the textures had been multiplied by four and the graphics were now in 16 bits. The cars were composed of 2200 triangles each. The engine managed up to 4 cars at the same time in 60 frames per second.
«We only had two dev kits. Dreamcast dev kits. One for me (with the GD-ROM burner) and one for the guy who made the tracks for the game. The first versions of V-Rally 2 Dreamcast were basically an emulation of the game running on PSX. At first we used the tracks from the PS1 version. It took a while to figure out how much memory we would have available, then we stuffed ourselves»
Ari Vatanen, former world champion of the discipline, was a consultant for Eden. He brought his knowledge and his remarks so that the players could find the sensations of a real race.
«The damage display in Rally mode is unique to the Dreamcast version, it's something I did one weekend without telling the manager because it would have been rejected (having the car more and more difficult to drive without any visual indication made me think more of a game quality problem/bug than a problem due to the player's driving style).»
After an introduction in a short movie, the player could choose between four game modes: Arcade, Rally Trophy, Championship and Time Trial. At the wheel of 26 real cars, the flagship of the discipline at the time, as well as prestigious legendary cars that have marked the history of rallying, the gamer had to reach the top of the podium. V-Rally 2 also offered an unusual feature, a very complete and easy-to-use track editor.
The engine noises didn't make you want to turn down the volume after ten minutes of play. The audio was realistic as was the sound of acceleration. You could hear even the cracking of branches when you ran into a bush or you could distinguish the different tire squeaks depending on the grip of the surface (mud, tar etc.).
«The guy who was working on the audio for the PSX version of VR2 had no more disk space. He had thrown away all the high quality versions of the sounds. In the Dreamcast (and PC) version, the PSX sounds are decompressed from the Sony ADPCM format to the Sega format, so there is a big loss of quality that could have been avoided easily»
Driving was all about skidding and vehicle control. Depending on the type of terrain encountered (asphalt, snow, dirt, etc.), the game offered 80 different tracks in 12 countries. In total, there were more than 400 km of special !
We no longer needed to take a plane to travel and discover the beauty of the French Alps, the density of the Indonesian jungle and the green forests of England. The graphics were inspired by the geographical and climatic particularities of each visited country. Virtual tourism, it was still necessary to find the time to raise the nose of its notes !
«A lot of people were missing in the official credits of the game. In the Dreamcast version I hid a scrolling message with the complete list of people who participated in the DC version (you have to have the Dreamcast keyboard and make a key combination to see it)»
Right medium, left tight, right short !!!
You can download the V-Rally promotional folder below
They were young!!!
V-Rally 2 Dreamcast avec Debug Menu
The specificities of the January 25, 2000 Dreamcast build :
This prototype of V-Rally 2 Expert Edition Dreamcast dates from January 25th 2000, about 4 months before the creation of the Master. It contains a Debug Menu which is well provided and easy to use, for once. By comparing this early build with the retail version, we can guess the development path of the game..
They liked green at Eden!
When launching this early build of V-Rally 2, the game starts directly on a green Debug Menu (I'll come back to it in detail below). The tempting introduction cinematic is therefore not viewable.
The icon on the memory card is always the same "loading". It should change depending on which menu the player is in.
By pressing START at this screen, VR2 starts normally. That is, without debug functions or game mode shortcuts. This is where the analysis of the prototype really begins.
A language selection window (English, French, Deutsch), with the flag of the 3 countries, appears. This screen will be removed from the final version. It replaces the known title menu. The choice of the language is normally made in "Display Options". Sometimes, the screen with the copyright of the publisher "Infograme" replaces the language choice menu (maybe depending on the number of controllers and vmu connected to the console). The color of the logo is yellow and not white.
Once at the main screen, the title of the game is "V-Rally Millenium Edition 2", maybe a temporary name. It will definitely be called "V-Rally 2 Expert Edition 2". The help button "A", at the bottom right of the screen, has a different look. The description of its function will change from "Valid" here to "Confirm" on the commercial copy.
It was a good menu !
«The name of the game is typically the thing we don't care about during the development of the software, in the end it's always the marketing department that decides.»
During the auto-demo, the player is not prompted to press START to return to the main menu. The "Press Start" message does not flash during the replay. The VR2 logo is also smaller than usual. The loadings between the auto-demo and the main window are black with just "Loading Demo please wait" written. The background should, for example, be a preview of a car in race.
A racing game without replay is like a raclette without cheese !
Where is the sun ?
Some characteristics of the prototype are repeated in several menus, such as: a different layout, the location of the help buttons in other places and the graphic style used for them, a black and white photo for the background when they should be in color, the brightness used to make the menus darker, another font deployed (the size of this one may also differ), the alignment and arrangement of the options in the menus, etc..
Example for Audio Options
The default setting of some options does not correspond to the original configuration of the final version.
The standby system does not exist yet.
In the "Game Progression" menu, the game seems to be 100% finished. There is a picture in each box showing if the game mode has been finished or if the secret car has been won. When starting a new game, these boxes should be black. The pictures in the first column are temporary until the real ones are available. The colors of the arrows are grey and not orange.
This prototyped version of V-Rally 2 Dreamcast is very close to the PS1 game. The PS1 memory card icon replaces the VMU one in front of the option to save or load a game. When you enter the "Memory Cards" menu, the symbols are still linked to the PSX. Moreover, the warning messages to load or save a game don't refer to the Visual Memory Unit of Sega.
V the series, you know ?
In the "Driver Selection" menu, the "Driver Copy" option comes from the Playstation 1 game. This feature will be removed from the Dreamcast version. Other menus have this particularity like "Track Editor".
The transition between the "Driver Selection" and "Cars" menus is weird. The whole screen turns green for a second. The menu layout border then keeps this strange color.
It is impossible to choose and drive the "Corolla Brundle" car. It is simply not there !!!
In the "Cars" menu, once the car is adopted, it appears in the small box at the bottom left of the menu, the one with its driver name. On the prototype, it is seen from the back while in the retail version, it is from the front.
From the "Cars" menu, the loading times react strangely. If they are no longer basic like the previous ones, the final loading display appears only a fragment of a second before the screen goes black.
Attention, when entering the level editor (as always a layout specific to the prototype), it will be impossible to exit it, certainly due to a bug.
When the game offers to choose the country and then the special stage to race, some rally tracks displayed in the right sidebar have glitches. For some races, the presentation of the track is non-existent. The courses in France "French Alps" are called on the prototype "Monte Carlo".
Before taking part in a competition, final adjustments are possible by accessing the "Driving Setting" option. The small orange square to calibrate and see the current position of the steering wheel configuration is not present. By browsing the "Controller" menu, 2 new options are revealed. One of them allows you to choose between the PS1 Negcon controller (its image is on the screen) and the PSX wheel. The last one allows to set the Negcon controller.
Few races correspond to those playable on the final version. Sometimes the SS number (when it exists) is not the same. It is possible that this prototypical version of V-Rally 2 is identical to the Playstation 1 mount, which would explain these important differences.
No more drugs for this guy !
The button assigned to change the view is normally the "Y" button. In this beta, the "B" button is assigned to this mission. Take a look at the cockpit view !
When stopping the car on a slope, the force of attraction does not make it continue to move. It will stop dead in its tracks. The driving on the prototype seems more sensitive. The noise of the vehicles and the environment is a problem.
«The PSX doesn't have a floating computation unit, all the physics/dynamics is done in integers. On Dreamcast it was converted to floats but the first versions were using PSX code so it's possible that this prototype is in integers.»
Decorative elements in the levels were removed during the finalization of the race while some elements in the game scenery are missing. The animation of the audience running for cover has not been introduced yet. There is no water effect on the gravel. Parts of the tracks are not finished, textures do not load or were not ready.
The Debug Menu :
The Debug Menu can be opened anywhere and not necessarily in the first green menu of the game. All the necessary indications to activate it are written when the prototype is launched. To use it, you have to connect a Dreamcast keyboard to any controller port of the console.
The buttons to use :
Esc : Open and exit the Debug Menu
F1 : "Debug Message" window
F2 : "ViewvRam Pages" sub-menu
F3 : "Device Infos" window
F4 : Sub-menu "3D3 Switches
F5 : "Game Control" sub-menu
F6 : "Memory Info" window
F7 : "Game Cheater" sub-menu
F8 : "Video Infos" window
F9 : "Cameras" sub-menu
F10 : "Fog Control" sub-menu
F11 : "Background Control" sub-menu
F12 : "VM Manager" window
Maj + F1 = "Sound" window
The buttons to use to modify the parameters, the values of the different options are explained in each sub-menu of the Debug. This Debug Menu is very complete, it allows a great interactivity with the game. It is possible to configure the display of the background according to our taste, to modify the height of the car and to have the AI drive the vehicle for us. These are just a few examples among many others !
Inside the files :
There are references in the game files for two cars that were removed from the final product or thought to be included. The Volkswagen Golf in the KITKAT 2L class and the Ford Puma in the 1L6 class had to be removed relatively early in the development process of V-Rally 2 Expert Edition since they are not playable in this prototype. The clues to their existence can be seen in the scripts "ROOTCARS.SCR" and "ROOTIA.SCR". The Volkswagen is incorrectly named Wolfswagen.
Many scripts (.SCR file) are present in the game files. For some of them, they are only found on the prototype.
The script with the name of the 2 unknown cars
File comparator, on the left the prototype, on the right the final version
Any resemblance of the background of the Debug Menu of V-Rally 2 DC with the main menu of Time Commando 1 (PS1 and PC) from the development studio Adeline Software International is not a coincidence !
A few things to know :
On the final version, you can navigate through the menus and play with a Dreamcast keyboard connected to the console's A port. Once in the main menu, unplug the controller and connect the keyboard. The error message "A Controller As Been Removed or ..." will flash at the bottom of the screen. Press the "§ (left of 1)" key on the keyboard to make the game recognize the accessory as the A controller.
How to use the keyboard instead of the joystick :
Directional arrows : Replaces the D-Pad on the controller
Space : START button
Ctrl : Y Button (view change)
Alt Gr : Right trigger and Y button (In game, acceleration or view change)/A button in menus (validation)A dans les menus (validation)
S2 (Windows) : B button to go back in the menus / X button for handbrake in game
S3 (right of Windows) : Left trigger to brake in game
Open the Debug Menu on the final version : You have to write MIKERIE in the menu princiap by activating the Dreamcast keyboard as explained above (AZERTY or QWERTY keyboard).
To access the scrolling of the secret credits on the final version : You have to write THECREDITS in the main menu by opening the Debug Menu and activating the Dreamcast keyboard as explained above (AZERTY or QWERTY keyboard)
A caricature of Defence Force made by Gilles Benois (the Art Director on Kya: Dark Lineage)
«Why MIKERIE? Because I used to come out with a lot of jokes, that's the name that buddies and colleagues gave to my style of joke.»
Importantly, we were unable to activate the Debug Menu and the scrolling of secret credits on the commercial copy. However, the code is present.
You can download the build of V-Rally 2 Expert Edition Dreamcast below
Redump with TOSEC method impossible, GD-R seems dead.
The other prototypes of V-Rally 2 Dreamcast normal :