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)

Does a Mysterious New GameStop Listing Hint at the Return of the Banjo-Kazooie Series?

Ever since Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts, there’s not really been much news coming from the franchise in general. Oh sure, it appeared in Rare Replay, and the games got a few references in Minecraft, but as far as actual new titles go, news has been very thin on the ground.

However, it seems like this may be about to change. Why? Because as the title suggests, an interesting new listing based on the series has popped up on the GameStop website. This listing isn’t exactly for a game or other media adaptation (it’s actually for a 6-inch plush toy based on the main characters), but its curious arrival has sparked some questions.

Banjo-Kazooie Merch Page

Like the one everyone’s thinking about right now. Namely… why the hell would anyone randomly release a new piece of merchandise for a series that’s been dead since 2008 (or 2015 in Rare Replay form)?

That doesn’t make a lick of sense. After all, dead franchises don’t exactly move merchandise like crazy, and the level of interest in them in general doesn’t usually support such an endeavour. And it’s not like Banjo is an outlier here either; the merch for this series has been thin on the ground ever since the glory days of the 90s/early 00s N64 titles.

And that’s not the only curious thing about the listing either. Oh no, the date attached to the listing is an intriguing one too. That’s because it’s a very specific one, with the GameStop page stating the figure will be released on October 1st 2018.

Which makes us believe that this isn’t going to be about a single toy.

Instead, it seems like evidence that someone may be planning a revival for the franchise in general. Maybe that could be a remake/remaster, ala Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy or Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Or maybe it could be a new sequel/reboot/other game altogether.

Either way, the evidence suggests something is going on with Banjo-Kazooie, and it’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for the future.

Banjo-Kazooie 6-inch Plush Listing (GameStop Website)

Microsoft Announces New Battletoads Game

Well, this is a surprise isn’t it? After 24 years, Microsoft have announced a brand-new game in the Battletoads series, complete with all the trademark brutal difficulty from the previous titles. Here’s their trailer for the title from E3 2018:

As you can see, there is…

Not a whole lot to talk about to be honest. The trailer doesn’t show anything of the game itself, nor give us any real indication of what’s included either. In fact, in the entire video, all we can really gleam is that it’s got a fancy cartoon esque art style, the main characters return, it’s really hard and that 3-player couch co-op is included in some form or another. That’s not exactly much to go on, is it?

Ah well, at least it exists. At least Battletoads is somehow seeing a new instalment in 2019. That shows that Microsoft cares for Rare’s past games and franchises, and give us hope that others like Banjo, Conker and Perfect Dark may be seeing their own ‘real’ comebacks in future too.

So, hey, let’s hope this one does well first. Cause if it does, it could be yet more proof for Microsoft that bringing back Rare’s Ips is a profitable move for them and give hope to other classic franchises as well.

Source:

Battletoads E3 2018 Trailer (Xbox Official YouTube Channel)

Cuphead Get Delicious Last Course DLC (with Trailer)

Last year, Cuphead was released for the Xbox One and PC. A classic Contra style platformer with a gorgeous hand drawn animation style and boss heavy gameplay, the title got tons of acclaim upon release, with positive reviews and sales all around.

And now it turns out the developers aren’t finished with the game quite yet! Oh no, as shown in the Microsoft E3 presentation, a whole new DLC pack is being released for the title, under the humorous name ‘The Delicious Last Course’. Here’s the trailer showing (some) of this DLC in action:

As you can tell, it pretty much offers everything you’d expect from a DLC pack from the game. You’ve got a new playable character, in the form of Ms Chalice (aka the Legendary Chalice from the base game). You’ve got new bosses and a new isle, hinting at expansions to the story content.

And you’ve got various other new additions too, like new powers, charms and characters. That’s good news for fans, since it seems like Cuphead’s DLC is offering them everything they could ever want from a DLC pack.

So, check out the trailer and tell us what you think of it. Are you excited to try out Cuphead The Delicious Last Course? What ideas and powers do you think they’ll include in the expansion?

Have your say in the comments below or over on the Gaming Latest forums today!

Source:

Cuphead DLC Announcement Trailer (YouTube)

Mega Man 11 is Being Released on October 2nd!

Late this last year, Capcom announced that Mega Man 11 would be releasing for the Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game quickly got a lot of positive attention too, with fans rejoicing at the idea of a new instalment in the familiar series.

And now, Capcom have released a release date for it too. Put simply, Mega Man 11 will be released on all platforms on October 2nd this year. Here’s a new trailer showing the game in action, and confirming said release date in the process:

As you can tell… it’s actually looking pretty damn good at this point. The art looks nice, the levels look well enough designed and surprisingly enough… even the voice acting seems pretty decent here too. I mean, Dr Light isn’t speaking like Elmer Fudd anymore! That’s a start!

Still, as it turns out, that’s not all Capcom announced today. Oh no, not only did they reveal the box art for the title (which is looking very spiffy indeed):

Mega Man 11 Box Art

But they also revealed that Mega Man is getting a new amiibo too!

Yep, completely out of the blue, Capcom also revealed a new amiibo for the character as well, with a nifty design based on the new game:

Mega Man 11 Amiibo

As well as a collector’s edition featuring said amiibo, the game and various other minor pieces of merchandise too:

Mega Man 11 Collectors Edition

It’s quite the comeback for the series and shows that Capcom is willing to go all the way when it comes to bringing back this classic franchise. From the TV show to the new game and amiibo, it’s obvious that Mega Man’s time in limbo is finally at an end.

So, rejoice Mega Man fans! Not only are you getting a fantastic new Mega Man game on October 2nd, but you’re getting everything from an amiibo to merchandise and marketing too.

Hooray for the blue bomber’s comeback!