Advert

Latest

3 hours ago
Advert
5 hours ago
Advert

Most Popular

21 hours ago
Advert

Imaginary Ladders, Not Space Cows, Were Killing ‘The Outer Worlds’ Companions

Imaginary Ladders, Not Space Cows, Were Killing ‘The Outer Worlds’ Companions

Because video games are complex things, made up of a multitude of interlocking, overlapping systems, made by large teams of people who don't all talk to each other, they can feature some really strange bugs. In the case of The Outer Worlds it was companions dying for an unknown reason (made stranger by the fact that companions can't die, except in SuperNova difficulty mode.

The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds
Advert

When companions died it made certain quests in the game uncompletable. So for players to discover they had failed a quest for no discernable reason they were naturally confused. In a fascinating thread on Twitter, Obsidian Entertainment's QA lead Taylor Swope explained the detective work that went into finding out what was happening.

"We released patch 1.2 of The Outer Worlds today, and it includes a fix for the dreaded 'the game thinks my companions are dead' bug, which I believe I spent more time investigating than I have for any other individual bug in my career" Swope wrote.

"The gist of the bug was that, for some players, a companion quest would be marked as Failed in the quest log, with the reasoning that the companion was dead -- despite the fact that the companion was very much alive and well," Swope continued. "This was perplexing because (outside of SuperNova mode) companions *can't* die."

The
The

The bug had popped up once or twice while the game was in development but Swope says "no one in QA ever managed to reproduce it and despite our best efforts we couldn't learn anything concrete about it". So, it was noted down but not fixed before release - as many obscure or hard to recreate bugs in big games are. "One reason it was so hard to pin down is that it was impossible to tell when the bug actually happened -- all of the cases we had were essentially 'Hey, something bad happened in the last ten hours and now my quest is broken'," Swope explained.

Advert

Swope began by "figuring out the location of every script and line of code that could possibly make the game think that a companion was dead." Of which, "The only logical culprit was a bit of scripting that runs when a companion's health reaches zero: if they're in the party, it waits for combat to end and revives them; otherwise it marks them as dead 'for real'". So that meant this death had to happen at a point when the character was in the world, part your crew, but not actually part of your party. The only place that happens is on the ship.

This presents its own problem, though, Swope says: "When companions are on the ship, they are undamageable."

The Unreliable is your home away from home in The Outer Worlds
The Unreliable is your home away from home in The Outer Worlds

After more investigation, Swope and his team realised "'undamageable' does not mean 'invulnerable' -- they can't take damage from attacks but can still get hurt from other things." For instance, falling from a great height. However, Swope points out "there are no spots in the player's ship that are high enough to result in a lethal fall".

So how was it that characters were ending up at a great height? Swope looked into their height data "being preserved when fast travelling from other maps", and a physics interaction between characters sending one flying into the air, of his personal favourite "What if a companion is standing *right* where a cow spawns in during a random event and they're launched into space."

The team needed to find the answer because after The Outer Worlds' launch, a load of players were encountering the bug.

It's best to quote Swope directly on this next bit:

So, with the game's latest patch, the bug has been solved. And, while that's definitely good news, I really wish it had had something to do with space cows.

Featured Image Credit: Obsidian Entertainment

Topics: video games, Obsidian Entertainment, Microsoft, gamingbible

Julian Benson

Senior journalist at GAMINGbible. Former deputy editor of PCGamesN and news editor of Kotaku UK. Written for Eurogamer, PC Gamer, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Wired, and GamesMaster. Author of 'Rags, Bones and Tea Leaves'. Contact: [email protected]

 

Next Up

Kevin Hart To Feature In Six-Part Netflix Documentary About His Life

Kevin Hart To Feature In Six-Part Netflix Documentary About His Life

2 months ago