How A Typo Screwed Up One Of History's Worst Video Games

Not knowing how to spell a world can have disastrous consequences, and we don't just mean getting kicked out of a spelling bee and losing your father's love forever. (Who even uses handkerchiefs anymore, dad?) Typos have destroyed spaceships, turned universities into dick jokes, and in the case of one infamous video game, transformed fiction's scariest monsters into a gang of bow-legged idiots.

Someone's spell-checker is going to have to update their resume on LinkedIn.
Gearbox SoftwareSomeone's spell-checker is going to have to update their resume on LinkedIn.

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Aliens: Colonial Marines was one of the most maligned video games of 2013. Riddled with technical problems, the game's terrible AI really put the colon in "colonial marines." Fighting the movies' famed xenomorphs should have been a perilous struggle. Instead, the developers gave these chitinous death machines all the cunning and ferocity of a defective Roomba.

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But during a recent sale of the game (for the reasonable price of three whole dollars), the world finally learned why these aliens were acting as if their mo-cap actors were having seizures. The problem? A single stupid typo.

In the game's coding, the monsters' AI is controlled by a "tether" system, which according to flaw-finding modder jamesdickinson963, "controls tactical position adjustment, patrolling, and target zoning" -- i.e. everything that would make aliens act as if they have brains in those weird oblong heads. However, one careless coder wrote "teather" instead of "tether" in a crucial line, meaning the AI never received the info it needed to develop more survival skills than the average drunken toddler.

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Imagine how frustrating that news has to be for developers Gearbox Software and all the coders they hired. Just by getting rid of a single letter in the thousands of lines of code, they could've turned an embarrassingly unplayable shooter into what they always dreamed of -- a fairly mediocre shooter.

For more weird tangents and his personal recipes for toilet wine, do follow Cedric on Twitter.

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