Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment unearthed

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Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment unearthed

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sat Nov 26, 2016 2:22 pm

I'm sorting through a bunch of Indys that used to belong to Acclaim Entertainment, the now-defunct developer of games like Turok Dinosaur Hunter and NBA Jam. It's quite a story and after years in storage the systems are finally starting to reveal their secrets.

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These Indys, more than a dozen in total, came into my possession via a Russian who operated out of a warehouse in Brooklyn. I met him several years ago through Craigslist, when he was selling some old copies of Softimage and other IRIX software. He was a tough negotiator, but because he didn't specialize in retro SGI kit I was able to pick it all up for a good price.

Maya Softimage Indys.jpg


He had purchased most of it from the Acclaim liquidation sale in 2005, and the software, hardware, and books sat collecting dust ever since. It was all stored in a big, dark room on two-story shelves running floor to ceiling. Thankfully, despite not being treated with the best of care, the Indys were in solid shape. Except one of them...

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It was a treasure trove of vintage 3D - boxed sets of Softimage, Maya, Nichimen N-World, and dozens of mint CD-ROMs of PowerAnimator, Alias Wavefront, Explore, Composer, etc. It took two trips and hours climbing over industrial shelves to retrieve it all, only for it to sit silently in my storage unit until last week, when I finally started to sort through it.

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Despite the fact that these systems are two decades old and use the Nidec power supplies, almost all of them boot up and run perfectly. Here's one that still has a couple of old user accounts - Mimoun Ouchaou and Nick Schipano, who according to Mobygames and LinkedIn are programmers.

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Many of the systems have old source code, art assets, motion capture data, and licenses, which I will carefully preserve for posterity. It will no doubt take weeks to sift through it all. I'll post updates with interesting finds along the way.
Last edited by SiliconClassics on Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:46 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby foetz » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:53 pm

now that's a bounty :D

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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby tomvos » Sun Nov 27, 2016 2:53 am

You have a boxed set of Nichimen N-World? I wanted to see this in action for a long time.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:12 am

tomvos wrote:You have a boxed set of Nichimen N-World? I wanted to see this in action for a long time.


Yep, here's part of it:

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It's installed and licensed on one of the Indys, but I need to kill the passwords before I can access the user account that runs it. Been dying to see it in action too. If I can get it working I'll post some screens.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby robespierre » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:29 am

Wow!
Is that a version of EIAS from Mac-only days? Very impressive.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:02 am

Yep, that's ElectricImage version 2.9. Really fast renderer but it didn't have built-in modeling so it was never a complete package. Still kind of cool to have though.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby robespierre » Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:36 am

SiliconClassics wrote:Yep, that's ElectricImage version 2.9. Really fast renderer but it didn't have built-in modeling so it was never a complete package. Still kind of cool to have though.

EI (or was it ZaxWerks?) recommended FormZ as a modeling application. Although I think some used Amapi for organic shapes.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby josehill » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:47 am

I've always been a fan of Fractal Design Painter's "paint can" packaging. :D

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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:57 am

Some of these Indys have inventory stickers that didn't seem related to Acclaim, so I began to wonder if the Russian had acquired them from different companies.

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The badges carry the names Sculptured Software, Iguana Entertainment, and Probe Software...

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But after a little digging, it made sense. Sculptured Software was a video game developer founded in 1984 in Salt Lake City, Utah that did a lot of arcade ports in the 80s and 90s. Their credits include titles like Mortal Kombat and a number of Star Wars / WWF games. Acclaim bought them in 1995, changed their name to Iguana West in 1997, and finally rechristened them Acclaim Studios Salt Lake City in 1999.

Iguana Entertainment was founded in 1991 in Sunnyvale, CA and moved to Austin in 1993. They did a lot of console titles - a bunch of NHL/NFL games, NBA Jam,Turok, etc. They were also bought by Acclaim in 1995 and subsequently renamed Acclaim Studios Austin.

Probe Software was founded in 1984 in Croydon, England. They worked on titles for a whole range of consoles including the ZX Spectrum, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, Amiga, NES, etc. Credits include Crazy Taxi, Re-Volt, Die Hard, and a lot more. Acclaim was really on a tear in 1995 because they bought Probe that year along with the aforementioned studios, renaming it Acclaim Cheltenham.

So eventually, these Indys from Texas, Utah, and England all wound up in New York at Acclaim's liquidation sale, then sat on a shelf in a riverfront Brooklyn warehouse for a decade.
Last edited by SiliconClassics on Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:26 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:03 am

Not just consoles: Probe did a lot of stuff for 8-bitters too. I remember their Commodore 64 games, especially Smash TV, which I played a LOT.

I remember Sculptured mostly for their Apple II and Atari ports (I actually played Beach-Head on the Apple II, though it was a poor reflection of the C64 version) but they were most prolific on the SNES.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment

Unread postby jpstewart » Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:40 am

That's an impressive selection of hardware and software you have there. But what impresses me most is the depth of the research you've done on these machines and the companies that used to own them. Great job tracking down all that history!
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment unearthed

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:00 pm

Thanks! There's a lot more work to be done sifting through each individual system. Looks like it will be my winter project :)
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment unearthed

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:10 am

Update: I've imaged all the hard drives and started digging through these Indys to see what's on their drives. Some pics:

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In that last pic you can see raw mocap marker points as photographed by the cameras. Acclaim had a substantial mocap operation in the late 90s that was among the most advanced in the world.

The Indy I'm currently examining has the N64 dev tools installed (no board unfortunately) and a bunch of audio files from Turok and some old sports games. Will post a brief YouTube video later today.
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment unearthed

Unread postby SiliconClassics » Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:57 am

Whoops! Just found the source code for Turok: Dinosaur Hunter! Link to YouTube quickie.

Turok Source.jpg
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Re: Archaeological dig: old Indys from Acclaim Entertainment unearthed

Unread postby spiroyster » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:12 am

:shock:

Uber Great find!

I'm more than happy to go through any source code with you if you want to know anything about it. Be interesting to see the likelyhood of writing mondern graphics engine if all the game logic and ancillary stuff is there (just need to swap out n64 code, if thats whats there).

Dare I say it, an Irix port?


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