Saturday, July 14, 2018

Aliens: Colonial Marines' Lame AI Caused by Typo

It took five years for a modder to uncover a single typo in game's code after Aliens: Colonial Marines is released.

Despite belonging to the Alien science fiction movie series, first-person shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines from Gearbox Software and Sega was terribly bashed over by fans and critics alike. To bring back fans of this popular sci-fi horror franchise; the game was initially planned as a canonic sequel to James Cameron’s movie Aliens. Not only had it suffered years of delay before releasing on 2013 for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but was heavily criticized for low graphics quality and weak enemy intelligence.

aliens colonial marines code typo broke ai
Aliens: Colonial Marines' Lame AI Caused by Typo

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Dedicated modders have been trying to improve the AI of the Xenomorph enemies lurking around so they would behave more agile and intelligent rather than fooling around like a drunken old person waiting to be blasted by Pulse Rifles all the time. A modder from ModDB known as jamesdickinson963 has discovered lately that a single letter "a" added in the word "tether" game's .INI files, which actually messed up code and caused them behave weirdly. Here’s the code:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether ->  PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather

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Instead of coming at player on sight in a blood-thirsty aggression, the Xenomorphs mostly wander around casually like they have other things to do like coming in and out of vents, falling off wall, getting stuck on ceiling or running clueless than tearing you up in to pieces. Apparently, removing the typographical error from the code simply doesn't correct enemy AI behavior but it improves the gameplay by making them far more engaging in a fight than they used to.


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Just after fixing the typo in question, they start behaving more aggressively and play smart. Where the Alien from the first scenario was easily confused and went back when player started running away from it, the bug stayed focused on its prey on second encounter after correcting the error. Their sluggish and erratic movements are no longer there to make them look like bad jokes from a horror movie anymore.


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Gearbox Software simply failed to deliver what they promised in demos and it was nothing more than a mediocre shooter that portrayed the deadliest killing machines of the galaxy as some panzy bugs lurking around. Now, five years after the disastrous release of the title a modder has recently discovered that a single typo in code was one of the primary reasons for the terrible gameplay experience it delivered and upon fixing, it can have some serious impact on enemy AI.

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Developers should have noticed this error while testing if they weren't in such hurry to somehow release the game and be done with it, causing Aliens: Colonial Marines being a chaos in spaceship Sulaco. Hadn't it for their sloppy development, the game could've been a lot better than it turned out. Meanwhile, FoxNext is developing an Alien shooter game for PC and consoles. Publisher Dark Horse Comics is also adapting unused Alien 3 screenplay by William Gibson into a five-part comic-book series.