Today one of our longtime followers, Remi Cassan, pointed me towards a thread on the popular discussion board 4chan that seems to focus on unreleased (versions of) videogames. One particular user is stating he is in the possession of early playable builds from Max Payne and Duke Nukem Forever. The user does not share many details regarding the state these builds are in (in terms of content and issues) nor how he acquired them. However, to proof his claim the user shared the screenshot pictured below. Because early builds of videogames generally are not released to the public, it is likely that the files are acquired through illegal means: for example, by breaking in on servers or stolen by a discontented (ex-)employee. In that case there are two possible sources. Either 3D Realms (3D Realms was the publisher on the first entry in the franchise before Rockstar Games took over) or it has leaked from within Remedy. The developer of Max Payne informed us previously it has archived both builds and hardware for ports and other possible future uses.
Max Payne fans of the first hour might remember the game’s graphics in the final product to be vastly different compared to what was shown in the 1998/1999 E3 trailers of the game. Somewhere mid-development Remedy upgraded their Engine technology and switched from hand-drawn to photo-realistic textures. Judging by the graphics in the screenshot (if legit), the build referred to in the 4chan thread seems to be originating from the 1998 development branch of the game. The level looks to be Roscoe Street Station as it seemingly draws comparisons to a underground train station, but we’re not certain.
We’ve reached out to Remedy’s Head of Communications, Thomas Puha, for an official comment on the story.
Update: Remedy informed us the screenshot is from Dark Justice. The project (which eventually would become Max Payne) was shown at GDC a long time ago. It was not confirmed if the screenshot/photo is actually from the GDC showcase nor if there was a confirmed leak of the code. Nevertheless, now we know its origins we can state this screenshot does not represent any Max Payne build at all. My bet is that it was used as tech-demo or proof of concept.