A One-Letter Typo Is (in Part) the Reason Aliens: Colonial Marines Sucked

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When Aliens: Colonial Marines dropped in 2013, it has built up a ton of hype that made it seem as though the game would transport players into the terror-filled and action-packed Alien universe. Instead, they got an absolute mess of a game that, as it turns out, may have been just one letter away from being good—or at least playable.

Modders who have been playing around with the game five years after its initial release recently discovered that a file within the game’s code that mistakenly refers to the game’s “tether” system—which assigns commands to AI characters in the game—as “teather.” That single typo apparently caused some of the issues that the game was criticized for.

Per jamesdickinson963, the modder who made the new and improved version of the game known as “TemplarGFX’s Aliens: Colonial Marines Overhaul,” the typo was found in a game configuration file called PecanEngine.ini. That file was intended to tell the Xenomorphs that spawn throughout the game where they are. It tethers them to an area, defines the fighting space, and tells them where the exits are.


Of course, none of that actually took place in the game because of a line of code within the configuration file read “AttachPawnToTeather” rather than “AttachPawnToTether.” The result was AI-controlled bad guys who would spawn and have no clue where they were or what they were supposed to do, producing interactions like this:


And this:

So that’s not good! In fact, it’s a large part of why Aliens: Colonial Marines was so widely panned by critics and gamers alike when it launched. The game has a 45 out of 100 on its critic score on Metacritic and an even rougher 35 percent approval rating among players.


The TemplarGFX mod, which actually first fixed the typo back in October 2017, might help the game find a second life. A poster on the gaming forum ResetERA recently brought the mod to the attention of the gaming community, it seems to have gained some new fans. (It doesn’t hurt that the game is also available for $3 through discount gaming site Fanatical, so there’s not much of a risk in giving it a shot.)

It’s worth noting that fixing the typo didn’t solve all of the many, many problems found in Aliens: Colonials Marines. But the modders have worked to patch up as much as they can in order to make the game at least a semblance of what was promised.


If you’re not moved to pick up the game and give the mod a try, at least take a bit of joy from the possibility that a single letter may have been in part the cause of multimillion-dollar franchise flopping so hard that the developers got hit with a class-action lawsuit for it.

[ResetERA, Ars Technica]