In what feels like The Games Story Of The Year, during the Steam summer sale the much reviled Gearbox title Aliens: Colonial Marines was marked down to a stupidly low three dollars. A modder happened to notice that in the INI file for the game, there is a single typo that is -- get this -- responsible for many of the awful AI choices that the xenomorphs make in the game... like running directly at you on their hind legs instead of crawling on the walls and using ducts to surprise you. A once horribly broken game is now... functioning? Thanks to a single letter? Sure. That's about at 2018 as a games industry story can get.
Why did this happen? Who knows. Honestly, who would put their name on something and not double check evary single line for typos?
People are handling it fine:
ONE TYPO. THE WHOLE THING WAS FUCKED DUE TO ONE TYPO. I KNOW SOMEONE WHO DID QA ON THIS AND REFUSES TO EVEN TALK ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE LIKE IT WAS A FUCKING WAR. A TYPO. ONE TYPO. I AM FORMER SEGA. I NEED TO LIE DOWN. https://t.co/5pG5TJs6n1— game cannot be blank (@failnaut) July 14, 2018
That typo in the Aliens: Colonial Marines code, the one that buggered up Xenomorph AI, was an honest mistake.— Commander Stephanie Sterling (@JimSterling) July 14, 2018
Notably, it's the most honest thing regarding that game.
Let that Colonial Marines bug be a learning experience.— Simon Roth (@SimoRoth) July 14, 2018
Turn on all warnings in your IDE and game engine.
Set warnings to be errors.
Run a static code analysis tool and fix all reports before committing to your repo.
Set your code to assert and crash out on garbage data.
Aliens: Colonial Marines was criticized at release for its poor AI, but I’m more disappointed by its lackluster vending machines. pic.twitter.com/6M4Hv6GT3N— Jess Morrissette (@decafjedi) July 14, 2018
I can only assume this most recent tweet is Randy Pitchford's response to the incident?
Some people consume alcoholic beverages. Some of you might be those people. I’m told this is pretty great. I would have no idea. If you try it, let me know what you think? https://t.co/gaXZEuuUhs— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) July 13, 2018
Modder "TemplarGFX" found the bug in October 2017, and explained it on ModDB:
Inside your games config file (My Document\My Games\Aliens Colonial Marines\PecanGame\Config\PecanEngine.ini) is the following line of code :
ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather
I'm sure you'll notice the spelling mistake
ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTether
If you fix it to look like the above and then play the game, the difference is pretty crazy!
Why is this line important? There are two reasons :
1) AttachXenoToTeather doesn't do anything. Its basically empty or stripped
2) AttachPawnToTether does ALOT. It controls tactical position adjustment, patrolling and target zoning
When a Xeno is spawned, it is attached to a zone tether. This zone tells the Xeno what area is its fighting space and where different exits are. In Combat, a Xeno will be forced to switch to a new tether (such as one behind you) so as to flank, or disperse so they aren't so grouped up etc. (*disclaimer* this is inferred opinion, I cant see the actual code only bits)
Whenever the game tried to do this, nothing happened. Now it does!
Now a poster on ResetEra, named "JigglesBunny", has brought this back into the public attention, writing:
"Knowing full well how absurd this sounds on the surface, I took it upon myself to reinstall the PC version of the game, look at the .ini file and check myself. Sure enough, a single letter typo was found exactly where he claimed. I was in disbelief. As recommended, I fixed the typo, saved it in Notepad and booted the game up.
"The improvement is immediately recognisable in your first encounters with the Xenos. While they still charge you perched on their hind legs, they now crawl far more often, flank you using vents and holes in the environment and are generally far more engaged and aggressive. Five years after release, a single letter managed to overhaul the entirety of the enemy AI behaviour in the game."
Does this mean we're in for a renaissance for Colonial Marines? Is it a good game now or just a slightly better game? See for yourself by checking out our video analysis...