There’s been a prototype of this game out in the wild for a few years now. But now another one has been released by Forest Of Illusion, who do great work in releasing prototypes from different platforms. This one does not have a build date, it seems, but peering into the game’s coding, we can have a guess.
Here are some details of the two prototypes compared to the final US game:
Prototype 1 – Version 0.03
Prototype 2 – Version 1.0-011194
Retail – Version 1.5-030394
You can get the build dates from the above numbers. The final is 3 March 1994, while the second prototype is 11 January 1994. So the latter is less than two months before the retail. Prototype 1 does not seem to have a password that reveals this information, but one of the menus has a build number that suggests it’s very early. In the game’s coding, the latest copyright date is 1993, which is not a surprise if Version 1.0 was early 1994.
As noted by Victor Sokolov on Twitter, the passwords for the first prototype are very different to those in the later builds (which are identical in Prototype 2 and Final). To select a level, enter the name of your House, followed by six instances of the same letter (from A to I):
ATREBBBBBB – level 2 of the House Atreides campaign
ORDOEEEEEE - level 5 of the House Ordos campaign
HARKIIIIII - level 9 of the House Harkonnen campaign
Another passwords, DENZILLONG (the name of one of the programmers of the game), loads the final level where the Emperor’s forces have joined one of the rival Houses against you. It’s unclear as to what else this does, but it may be a debug mode of some kind. Other unknown passwords are FUBARFUBAR and LASVEGASNV.
Seeing as the Sega version was based on a PC game, there isn’t a lot of change regarding the plot. But the prototypes may have some interesting differences to the retail build.