How a Single Typo Broke the Xenomorphs AI in Aliens Colonial Marines

Back in the early 2010s, Aliens Colonial Marines was shaping up to be one hell of an impressive title. With great looking visuals and effects and smart enemy AI that could track you down like a real predator would, the title promised to be the ultimate Alien experience that fans had wanted for years.

Unfortunately, when the game was actually released, well that turned out to not be the case. From the downscaled graphics and effects to terrible Xenomorph AI that showed nowhere near as much intelligence as expected, the game was a train wreck that barely functioned at the best of times. It was a huge downgrade from the promotional footage, and made players wonder what had actually happened. Was Randy Pitchford a liar? Was the game misrepresented in the earlier footage?

Did the impressive looking original title ever exist at all?

No one knew, and everyone expected the worst. It was the No Man’s Sky of its day, a game where promises were broken and the actual work was a poor imitation of its own marketing.

However, as it turns out, said promises may not have actually been so inaccurate after all.

Why? Because as a certain modder found out, the poor quality of the Xenomorphs’ AI can actually be traced to a single mistake in a certain line of code in the game.

Here’s SidAlpha explaining the issue in a video:

As you can see, the cause of the bad AI was not that better AI didn’t actually exist in the code, but because someone in the development team made a single typo that broke the game wide open.

And that guilty line of code is as follows:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather

Notice how it says ‘teather’ instead of ‘tether’?

Yeah, that’s the issue. Basically, the code is meant to tell the Xenomorph what room it’s currently in, so the creature can use the geography of the area to ambush and flank the player. It’s meant to say that ‘here’s where the player is, here’s where you can best jump out from to kill him more easily’.

But the typo breaks that, since it removes the hook that runs the room identification code. This means the Xenomorphs now don’t understand the terrain at all and have no idea what room they’re in or how its laid out.
Hence the terrible AI demonstrated in game. They’re like you if every day was your first day at work or school. You have no idea where anything is, so all you do is wander aimlessly and hope to figure out where you’re going.

It’s mindboggling really. And it really does provide the value of QA testing your work thoroughly.

Cause let’s face it, this bug… should have been caught in the development process. Hell, it’s such an obvious bug that the automated build tools for the game should have caught it. Seriously, go and program anything with a linter installed, like ESLint for JavaScript. This sort of typo is exactly what they’re designed to catch out.

The fact nothing like this happened implies that either:

  1. Gearbox and the various other studios have no systems set up to check for errors in their code before pushing it live
  2. They completely ignore said systems and assume ‘hey, it all works fine’ when it clearly doesn’t.
  3. The manual QA testing team either didn’t exist or didn’t figure out there was an issue with the AI
  4. Or that somehow, they couldn’t spot an obvious bug, despite it clearly affected how the game was working.

None of which reflect well on Gearbox and the other companies involved. This is the kind of thing you expect from a small, perhaps poorly run company working on one of their first projects, not a large group working on a triple A title.

Either way, here’s the fix for anyone with the PC version (look in ‘My Document\My Games\Aliens Colonial Marines\PecanGame\Config\PecanEngine.ini’ for the code here):

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather

To:

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTether

And here’s a reminder to programmers working on said games that testing your work is one of the most important things you can ever do. Otherwise you too could break a multi-million-dollar game with a single typo in a line of code!

Source:

The Biggest Bug in the Game is One Letter Long (ModDB)

Niantic Hints that Generation 4 Pokémon Are Coming to Pokémon GO!

A couple of days ago, Niantic Labs released a new piece of artwork for Pokémon GO. Designed to promote upcoming events from the game and featuring various characters and Pokémon from throughout the title, the artwork initially seemed like nothing more than a random piece of marketing material.

Pokemon GO Art

However, it seems like it actually holds a few more secrets than that! Why? Because if you look at the art a bit more closely, you’ll notice a few things that are a tad out of place. Namely, the starter Pokémon from generation 4!

Highlighted Gen 4 Starters

Above: The species highlighted in red are from the fourth generation

Yep, hidden among the various Pokémon featured, you can spot Turtwig, Chimchar and Piplup, the three starters from gen 4! And well, given that generation 4 isn’t represented in Pokémon GO at all, that seems like a pretty good hint that it’s coming to the title very soon.

So, if you’re a fan of the Sinnoh region (or just wondering when future generations will make it to Go), you’re in luck. Niantic’s already including Pokémon from Sinnoh in the marketing materials, and it’s very likely they’ll be coming in the near future!

Source:

Memorable Pokémon GO Experiences (Tweet from Niantic’s Twitter Account)

Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee; New Trailer and Artwork!

Well, it’s media time again for these games! Yep, just a few days ago, Nintendo showed off more footage and artwork for Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee for the Nintendo Switch. This included two whole new trailers for the game, plus various bits of artwork showing characters and areas.

Here are the videos in case you haven’t seen them already. Including the original Japanese trailer:

Plus the translated version:

And this Japanese commercial:

There’s not a huge amount of new content in terms of reveals there, but the ones we do get are pretty interesting none the less.

Like how the Team Rocket Trio from the anime series reappear in these games:

Team Rocket Appearance in Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee

Yep, Jessie, James and Meowth from the anime are in Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, and have a similar to role to in Pokemon Yellow. That’s pretty cool, especially given their popularity as characters. Or heck, just the lack of personality for Team Rocket in general in generation 1.

And they’re not the only surprise additions on the character front. Oh no, a new rival appears in the game too.

Yes, unlike the original games (and Pokemon Yellow) before them, Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu do not feature Blue as your rival. Instead, you get this character:

new rival

Who is he? Well we’re not sure to be honest. No one actually seems to have a name for this guy, let alone any more info about his role in the game. What we do know however is that he’s a friendlier rival than Blue or Silver, and acts more like the ones from the later games. That’s not great, given the poor characterisation of some of these characters, but hey, it’s a change none the less. And it does at least hint that the story won’t remain the same this time around.

Finally, there’s also a decent amount of new artwork and media for the game in general too, including this beautiful map of the entire region:

New Kanto Map

As well as these pictures of the various main characters and Pokémon:

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu/Let's Go Eevee Artwork 1

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu/Let's Go Eevee Artwork 2

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu/Let's Go Eevee Artwork 3

There’s nothing too ground breaking there, but the new artwork does look pretty nice none the less.

So what do you think about it? Are you happy to see the Team Rocket Trio appear in the main series again, or a new rival character replace Blue in this instalment?

Or would you rather the games had been a bit closer to the originals?

Tell us what you think in the comments below or on the Gaming Latest forums today!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is Getting Further Updates in Future!

Released back in April 2017, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe quickly became a huge success on the Switch. With positive critic reviews all round and sales that nearly topped the console’s best sellers list, the title ended up becoming one of the most popular, beloved titles on the entire system.

Yet despite all this, there was one thing it basically never got:
DLC. For whatever reason, Nintendo never really bothered with any DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with the game’s update to add Labo compatibility being the only way received by the title. It was a surprising move given the original game’s situation, or how that got regular track, character and mode updates in various DLC packs.

Link on Hyrule Circuit in Mario Kart 8

However, it seems that may now be changing. Why? Because in a new interview with Shinya Takashi on Twitter, the former announced that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would indeed be getting further updates in future:

Here’s the video with the interview, courtesy of the company’s Twitter video:

As well as his specific comments about the matter from said video:

There will be further updates for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, so please look forward to it.

It’s pretty much as clear as you can get, and confirms that yes, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is indeed getting more updates in future.

Which when you think about it, makes a hell of a lot of sense right now. Why? Well, there are two major things you have to keep in mind here. Okay, actually three:

  1. The Nintendo Switch has never gotten its own Mario Kart game as of yet, and it seems unlikely there’ll ever be one. This means Nintendo has a huge incentive to push this game even further with updates and new content, since otherwise it’ll be years before the next Mario Kart instalment.
  2. Because of this (and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s status as a HD remaster/port with extra content), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe doesn’t really advertise modern Mario games all that well. For instance, unlike Captain Toad on Switch, there are no characters or kingdoms from Super Mario Odyssey represented in the game, which isn’t exactly a great way to advertise Mario’s latest adventure.
  3. And finally, the whole Switch Online thing is coming soon, and Nintendo needs people to actually pay for it. New content in online games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is exactly how you’d do that and would get people dusting off the old game to give the new stuff a try.

Either way though, it’s good news for Mario Kart fans, and indicates that Nintendo’s support for the game hasn’t died off. Let’s see what interesting new characters, karts and tracks make their way into future updates for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!

WarioWare Gold Gets an eShop Demo (in Europe)!

Ever since it’s reveal back in March this year, WarioWare Gold hasn’t exactly been advertised much by Nintendo. Oh sure, it got a few promo stands in Japanese shops, and the official pages for the game have been available from the start, but actual ads or Nintendo Direct appearances have been few and far for the series.

And this worried quite a few WarioWare fans. Indeed, without even so much as an appearance at E3 (or a mention on social media in the last few months), some ended up thinking the game was being sent out to die, especially given its release on a dying platform like the 3DS.

But now it seems the tides may have turned. Why? Because as the title suggests, Nintendo have actually gone and released a demo for WarioWare Gold on the European eShop!

This means that people who don’t know about the game yet can finally test it out for themselves and see if they want to buy it. It also means the first new ad in pretty much forever, which shows the game’s intro cutscene in English with fully voiced characters:

It’s a good move, and one that’s very unexpected for a minor 3DS title like this.

And it indicates that (to some extent) Nintendo now cares more about marketing the title and isn’t completely burying it in the schedule like some have feared.

So, check it out if you’re interested. Go to the eShop, download the demo and see what you think of WarioWare Gold. It’s definitely a title that needs your support!