Aliens: Colonial Marines's biggest bug was caused by a one letter typo

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Published by FileTrekker 3 months ago , last updated 2 months ago

Aliens: Colonial Marines is pretty infamous for being a huge critical flop, largely due to mismanagement by Gearbox software, with the end product being rushed, buggy and ultimately failing to live up to fan expectation.

There's no better example of this issue than that found by the one of the developers of TemplarGFX's Overhaul mod, which aims to fix a lot of the issues with the game's AI, textures and balancing. He discovered that single letter typing mistake in a game INI file is responsible for a lot of the strange behaviour of the AI within the game.

The typing error is found within the PecanEngine.ini file, and is found on this line;

ClassRemapping=PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachXenoToTether -> PecanGame.PecanSeqAct_AttachPawnToTeather

Yes, Teather. That single A is entirely responsible for the AI being so broken.

The developer, jamesdickinson963, explained;

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)

In simple terms, this means that the AI didn't have a way of tethering onto the player, and thus behaved almost as if the player didn't exist. By fixing this single typing error, the AI can now position itself more tactically, patrol more logically, and fix on a target, with behaviours like flanking now being apparent. 

Users report that the AI now approaches much more smartly, without just getting shot, they'll move to cover, and flank to displace. Users note that they do still stand still and behave strangely from time to time, but fixing this one letter within the ini file makes a dramatic improvement to their behaviour.

I think this gives us a clear window into how rushed out the door this game was, but it's great to see the community still fixing the game up and making it even better. You can find out more at our sister site, ModDB, here.

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