Typo Causes Alien Idiocy

A notoriously poorly-received Aliens-based video game has been partially fixed by simply removing one rogue letter in the code.

Released in 2013, Aliens: Colonial Marines earned some truly dreadful reviews. IGN gave it 4.5 out of 10, which is of course a far worse figure in video game reviews than any other form of arithmetic.

The biggest complaint was that the aliens in the game acted more like characters from Lemmings, seemingly paying no attention to the position or actions of the player character and effectively being little more than dull cannon fodder.

As the BBC notes, the game has just been heavily discounted on Steam. That’s reawakened interest in its flaws and drawn attention to a forum post last year where user James Dickinson spotted the remarkably simple flaw.

It turns out that although the aliens are indeed programmed to respond to threats in an intelligent manner, each alien that’s spawned is set to operate within a specific space, a set-up known in the code as a “zone tether”.

During combat, the aliens are often meant to switch to a different zone tether, for example to get into a better position to fight the player character or to spread out the alien force as a whole.

Unfortunately the relevant line of code referred to “teather” rather than “tether”, meaning the program (and in turn the aliens) simply ignore this switch and remain stuck in one area.

Those who’ve tried fixing the typo on PC versions say that while it’s still a flawed game, the aliens do now act with more intelligence and offer more of a challenge.




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