Frank Herbert’s Dune 11/5/2001 Demo

The earliest demo is of great interest as it has beta version of the Worms and Harvester missions, and a completely unknown level that is not in the retail build:

Worms – ... well, one sandworm. You have to get away from the pursuing monster while avoiding sandpits.

Lost Sietch – this is a totally different version of the Sietch level of the main game. There are some similarities, such as the statue in the main hall. Baren has his equipment and weapon outlet. You’d probably be able to buy stuff here before you embark on missions in the final game. In the demo, the only interaction is between the proprietor and NPC’s.

Nearby, is Alia’s counter, but this is unlike the one in the final build.

You can wander around, but only Chani has any lines. In another area seem to be water tanks, with a hidden level above it composed of pipes and vents. At the other end of the level are a water processor and two lakes. You can walk on the lakes as well.

There are other individuals wandering around, and they will have silent conversations at various points.

There is mention of some such lost sietch in the novel, Heretics Of Dune, but its exact nature in the game is unclear.

Harvester Exterior – this is similar to the later demos and final game in terms of layout and enemies, but the route is more linear. This has sand rather than the rocky terrain seen in the 21/8 demo.

Harvester Interior - a cheat loads this mission (press CRTL+H+I at the main menu), or you can reach it by completing the external level. It is similar to the later versions, but lacks a timer.

On the face of it, it seems to be a basic demo. What makes it more interesting is a review of a demo by Gamespot at the end of May, 2001. At this stage of development, Cryo and Widescreen Games share the opening credits of the demo, with no mention of Dreamweaver. This is reflected in the Gamespot article. Their demo only had the Worms level and, according to the developers, the game was some twenty percent complete. Note the date of the .EXE for the early demo, 11 May. This build was probably at a similar stage of development as the one sent to Gamespot. A very early beta at best.

Two other levels are hidden in the demo’s archive, one of which seems inaccessible in its original form. One, called Benchmark, loads the Harvester Interior level, but you cannot move as there is no playable character. The other one is called Mission 7. I got this to load by combining it with the Lost Sietch level in some way, and this seems to be the level featuring the Mercenary Camp.

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