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I could've sworn it was at least a decade ago when I saw screenshots of a prototype of Marble Blast that used LCD digital numbers for the timer.
These aren't the only old screenshots out there! Some of us MB historians know that there was an entire chapter in the TGE manual back in the day using Marble Blast as an example to talk about the process of game development. Here's a link to this chapter, and here's an Imgur album with the alpha and beta images from it.
Now I know why checkpoints weren't in the final game. Also, it answers one of the questions I posed regarding level count and length. Then again, I'm pretty sure it would've been useful for custom level creation, much like the Random Powerup.
We cut another gameplay system in the second prototype stage as well. Originally, Marble Blast was designed to include checkpoints. When the player reached a checkpoint, their progress would've been saved, allowing them to choose to begin again from that point.
The checkpoints could've been used as in many arcade racing games as well, where the player had to reach each checkpoint in a certain amount of time. This seemed like a great idea, we could create long, complex levels, and we could use the checkpoints to make failure less frustrating, and give beginners some mini-goals on each stage.
After the second prototype though, we started to question the usefulness of this system too. As with terrains, the checkpoint functionality was easy to implement, so development time wasn't a concern. We just began wondering whether the checkpoints and saves would be more fun than shorter, tighter levels. We decided to prototype again, using shorter levels without save points.
This prototype was much more fun, the gameplay was simpler-- checkpoints added unneeded complexity. The system without checkpoints also lent itself more readily to fast-paced, action gameplay. We decided to go with shorter, faster levels that didn't require save points at all.
And yet the screenshot, without the sign, has this brown-colored sign-shaped imprint. Hard to tell if it's a shadow or something - doesn't seem to be the same color of the other shadows, or it could be digitally manipulated as well. And either way, that rocket-shaped SJ continues to mesmerize me for some reason.
So, here's an oddity. The big "Danger: Do Not Enter!" sign here is clearly not even a game object--it's been photoshopped in! Notice that it's on top of the timer. My best guess says this was meant to be a promotional image or something?
The TGE manual on the link whirligig posted. The page titled 'Step 5) Iterate!' has screenshots of what the checkpoint would've looked like before they decided to make shorter levels.
Josep, where did you get that quote regarding the checkpoints? I'm interested.
Didn't know that was you. Thanks!
As an aside, I did see the other two beta pictures you found, but I chose not to post them on the wiki when I added the first one (the article is a WIP right now). I guess it's a good thing I didn't, or the alpha/beta images of MB would only be known to those who read the TGE manual! Thanks, Whirli.
I can only assume that main_gi means that the screenshots were taken with a build whose HUD wasn't sophisticated enough to handle differing resolutions, instead relying on pixel count rather than (I assume) percentage.
I've seen video's of MB with different screen resolutions, and the hud is still in the same place as it should be, just smaller or bigger because of the screen resolutions.
Here are 3 videos I found that prove this point: