Author Topic: How did Sierra distribute patches, and how players deal with them?  (Read 2589 times)

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Offline troflip

Ok, well the distribution must have been through a BBS or something - but that's not really my question.

The save game system of SCI (and I presume AGI) involves saving the entire 64K heap to disk. That means if you modify scripts and such, any saved games will still load old versions of the script into memory when restoring the game. Any generally, chaos ensues. Some scripts never get unloaded during room changes, so you'll always be left with an old script for the remainder of the game. Fixes to logic in individual rooms wouldn't be a problem, unless you were in that room during a save (so maybe this isn't as big a problem as I think?)

I think this probably got a bit better when Sierra split script and heap resources... so code was no longer in the heap. But that could mean code pointers (which the heap part of the script would contain) move around, so maybe it actually got worse?

Given today's frequent-patch mentality (and plus to help with beta testing, etc..) I'm planning to work around this by also saving just the relevant global state to a file, and only supporting saving/reloading on room changes. But I'm wondering how Sierra managed not voiding people's save games with patches? Or did they just say "screw you"?

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Offline Kawa

Re: How did Sierra distribute patches, and how players deal with them?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2016, 05:31:13 PM »
Only saving relevant bits sounds like Phantasmagoria.

Quote from: Greg Tomko-Pavia
If you think back to typical Sierra adventures, we let you save the game anywhere. Often, the screen would be full of animating objects, your character (ego) would be anywhere on screen, and other actors (NPCs) would be at other places. In order to save all this information at any point in the game, we would actually save a memory image. That's why our save games are usually so large. In Phantasmagoria, there is no ego and little animation to worry about. So, all we need to save is some game flags, the room number, and chapter. We decided not to use the traditional save game technique, but to write a simpler one.

Offline Collector

Re: How did Sierra distribute patches, and how players deal with them?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2016, 02:41:04 AM »
They didn't worry about the old saves. The documentation that shipped with the patches often warned that their old save games should not be used. The readmes for the NRS patches also says to not use old saves. As to AGI I am unaware of any patches that Sierra ever released.

The patches were distributed both by BBS as well as on diskettes that they would mail out, I am assuming to those that called the support line with an issue that the patch was known to address. These were later available via FTP.
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