"One-letter typo led to Aliens: Colonial Marines‘ weird AI"

Original article.

Upon researching this patch, ResetERA readers noticed something in the moddb.com notes that somehow escaped the gaming community at large in October 2017: the discovery of a one-letter typo in A:CM’s INI files. As moddb.com user jamesdickinson963 pointed out last year, the game’s “PecanEngine.ini” file references a “tether” system in assigning AI commands to the series’ infamous monsters (which I’ll call “xenomorphs” for brevity’s sake, even though that term isn’t necessarily the right one). However, one of its two mentions of the term “tether” is misspelled as “teather.”

Dickinson’s post alleges that this command, when spelled correctly, “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.” Thanks to how the engine parsed this typo, it never caused any crashes; instead, the engine ignored the unfamiliar term. Thus, the game’s monsters never received the smarter, useful information that had been programmed from the get-go. Instead, they often ran around like in the infamous image below.

On Friday, Ars re-downloaded and tested the game, exactly as served by Steam, through the opening beats of two missions. Then, we replayed those missions after editing the “teather” typo in the aforementioned INI file. In both missions, xenomorph AI improved dramatically once the typo was corrected, with monsters immediately taking advantage of elevated attack positions, hiding points, and multi-monster flanks. The difference is night-and-day


Read about this yesterday. What a cock-up, but considering that it’s trying to find a single character error in all of the lines of code… Probably got rushed by publishers.

Does that mean it was awesome afterall?

According to what I’ve read, this fix along with the community patch brings the game to a state that would have actually been pretty average (instead of complete turd) if it had been released in the same state.

Tempted to try it out, I’ll post up if I actually do.

the MP was great fun we i played it at REZZED years ago

I have to say I find it amusing that it has taken this long to spot this!

There was the mod that improved the game from a while back and I’m surprised those guys didn’t see this.

I’m tempted to give it another whirl but I need to finish other games but my PC does not like this hot weather so I’m laying off 3D games for now! :rofl:

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Meh. I couldn’t get past the first area where the dropship get destroyed and you have to defend until the door gets opened. But both my skill and patience have sadly shrunk over the years…