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video game flashback - badgerblog
May 7th, 2011
04:46 pm


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video game flashback

At the show last night, I saw this flyer:

Before I continue, I should mention that Caltrop is quite good and you may want to consider seeing this show. Now then, as I was saying...

The picture is from The Colony, a Macintosh FPS game from the late 1980s. I spent a great deal of time playing this game and seeing a screenshot of it last night was cool.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, some links:



and from the game creator's memoirs


this awesome story:

One of the worst bugs I ever had to deal with was in this game. Once the game player made it to the Colony, every so often the system would crash and burn at totally random times. You might be playing for ten minutes when it happened or ten hours, but it would just die in a totally random way. I couldn’t trace it. In fact, it seemed like the code was extremely clean. I spent two or three weeks going over the code, rewriting to clarify, or eliminate potential problems. One of the things you learn from this process is that bugs can be a wonderful tool to improve the overall quality of the system.

The system would ultimately crash even if you just stood in one place and didn’t do anything at all. This made me realize that it probably wasn’t something that the game player was doing, but perhaps one of the autonomous creatures that inhabited the world. Finally, I created a real-time map of the world where I could track the movement of the creatures. What was supposed to happen was that the creatures would wander around the world, pretty much at random. When they hit a wall, they would simply turn in another direction. The same thing would happen if they hit another creature… except one of the creatures was special. There was a slow-moving slug like creature that knew how to follow the game player’s trail. When it came across another creature, rather than bouncing off and risk losing the trail, I made it so that it would destroy the other creature and stay on target to find you. This worked great, except that on some rare occasions, this slug could do to a wall what it did to the other creatures. That is, it could delete it. This meant that the virtual door was now open for this creature to explore the rest of the RAM on the Macintosh, deleting and modifying it as it went along. Of course, it was just a matter of time before it found some juicy code. In other words, the bug was a REAL bug.

Anyone else remember this game?

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(4 comments | Leave a comment)

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2011 04:37 am (UTC)
I was doing some work with VRML at the time and was therefore working with the apps.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2011 02:34 pm (UTC)
I played The Colony A LOT. :)
[User Picture]
Date:May 11th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
Ah, Colony. The guy who wrote Colony was the CEO of the company I worked at. Odd fellow.
[User Picture]
Date:May 11th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm familiar with Virtus :).
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