Devs Share The Wild, Secret Hacks Your Favorite Games Rely On

Devs Share The Wild, Secret Hacks Your Favorite Games Rely On ...

Did you know that all of the horses in Assassins Creed 1 are made using really fucked up human skeletons? Or that Titan Quest used invisible squirrels as in-game timers? All of this is true and is proof that games are mostly wild collections of code and hope that they have more in common with miracles than they do with software.

After reading devs'' stories about making games and all the tricks and tricks used to run these things, video games should not function at all. However, a recent viral tweet about invisible squirrels being used as in-game timers has led to a fresh wave of reports emerging online that demonstrate, once again, how video games are mostly held together with tape, magic, and some sticks.

Charles Randall, the original creator of Assassins Creed, gave a powerful example. He shared two interesting concept concepts involving hidden arms and fucked up horses.

The team in Assassins Creed didn''t have the funds to build a special, custom skeleton rig for fellow assassin Malik. So when the character loses an arm, it''s actually there, but inside out. According to Randall, if you clipped the camera into his model, you''d likely see a tiny scrunched-up arm inside the bicep.

Another, wilder AC1 hack involves the games horses. Randall explained that horses in the game were made from twisted fucked up digital human skeletons rigs because, at the time, the teams tech only worked properly with bipeds.

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Cheers to the amazing animators and riggers who managed to make this guy look like a horse, according to Randall.

According to Parkes-Haskell, the game developer shared a simple solution that was used in Fable: The Journey, the Kinect-only Fable spin-off that was released back in 2012.

The issue: Some grass and water materials would not be suitable for the game. Instead, players would see the games'' default gray checkerboard textures used by the developers during development. However, the team figured out an elegant and quick fix. They simply swapped out the default dev texture from checkerboard gray to flat green. The game is now available.

Dark Table shared a story about how they worked at a studio in which the engineers were not able to allow triggers or sequences to be delayed. However, they did not have access to falling objects which featured physics and collision. So they shun together their own timers by dropping in-game boxes from different angles to trigger events using the object collision.

While they felt uncomfortable sharing the name of the studio or the Dreamcast game in question, Dark Table shared a funny story with Kotaku about testing the game on 50hz televisions.

Dark Table explained that when they first performed tests on PAL TVs (50hz) instead of NTSC TVs (60hz), all of the timers in the game were off by a bit. I think this was when the designers first discovered what they had done (and it was too late to modify it).

Despite causing massive desync problems when playing online, Rolf Klischewski, a dev, shared how the organization was able to ship the game. One day, the error message confirming a desync had just stopped appearing. But finally, he revealed what happened:

Few of us knew that one of them had just left the error message. In other words, someone added a bit of text to the code to remove the error message, which does not really fix the problem, but it does allow you to ship the game. It''s the game-dev equivalent of placing duct tape over the check engine light on your vehicle.

Alex Zandra, an artist and game developer, shared a story about a small motorcycle game that featured roguelike progression. She then combined these segments to create a seamless track players during the loading of the level.

There was a concern. Each time a level was created, it would place an additional, unintended and large wedge section at the end. Although Zandra decided to adopt a different, less elegant hack.

I just left it in and made a little bit of code to destroy the odd block out, according to Zandra.

The odd oversize ramp block starts at the end, but thankfully its too far ahead for the player to see it, and my extra code finds it and deletes it before it even comes on-screen. Not exactly elegant, but it works!

One example of video game hacking was based on Nate Purkeypile''s former Bethesda dev.

The problem he encountered was that at one point in the DLC, the team required a building to explode. It''s simple enough. If you have played the DLC, you likely didn''t think anything of it. They blew it up and thats that. However, the small group making Point Lookout was not able to trigger events far-off. Anything in the distance you see was a static object.

In the main game, the solution to this challenge consisted of using one piece of already existing technology: repurposing the system used to blow up Megaton in Fallout 3.

Purkeypile described the property as "right in front of you" because it had to be of the distant explosion object used in Megaton''s demolition. Otherwise, we would always have a house there when youre far away. So this workaround allows us to turn off the explosion house (that was just a house and NOT an explosion) after the property blows up.

Purkeypile said, "And, when the explosion goes, we turn off the fake explosion house."

You might wonder why the team was not able to provide the space they needed. Purkeypile explained to me that at the time, Bethesda was fairly small. But most people then were working on Skyrim. So the DLC teams had to brainstorm interesting and inexpensive ways to utilize already existing technology and capabilities to deal with problems like blowing up a house.

Taylor Swope, a designer at Obsidian, shared how the team made NPCs appear on monitors and screens in its RPG, The Outer Worlds. It turns out that when someone sees you on a screen or monitor, the character is actually nearby in a separate room designed to look like an area they should actually be in when sending the message.

Swope explained to me that this is a common technique that can be found in many other games. So, Ive seen this myself when I no-clipped and contemplating levels in Valves Half-Life 2.

Swope asked me why developers opt for this approach rather than pre-rendered video files. It all comes down to file size.

Video files are real big and real quick. So, don''t having to include them in the game files is a plus, according to Swope.

In playlike The Outer Worlds, there is also a lot of player interaction involved in playmaking, and thus the sequence being played on the screen must be able to respond dynamically.

We might theoretically pre-render each response in a separate video and select which one to play based on the players'' choice, but then youve got even more video files to deal with and need to create a new system just for that. It''s simpler to just use the conversation system we have already created and capture the other side live.

Logan, a game developer, shared a simple solution to a camera problem while working on their game, Go Fly A Kite. Using a first-person perspective, the player would spawn while sitting in a bus, however, this resulted in an odd glitch.

Logan told Kotaku that the player would spawn in three ways, but that the player camera would try to move to its docked position at the same time, causing the camera to flip the 360 degree.

Logans plan included putting your game start with such a powerful camera move, but it was rather complicated. Instead, Logan just added a fake 2-second loading screen that plays just as the scene starts and after the real loading screen.

Georg Zoeller explains on Facebook (which he had used with his permission) a slew of clever tricks and tricks used by a wide variety of popular games. Here are just a few of the best ones they shared:

All explosion barrels in Star Wars: The Old Republic are filled with invisible people, as only NPCs are a valid damage source. Yes, yes, you get blown to bits every time you shoot an explosion barrel, according to Zoeller.

Because, for many designers, transparency is applied, according to Zoeller. I had to create a script to identify them, owing to the fact that they had a low frame rate.

Zoeller, a military FPS, launched vehicles such as tanks and trucks at the ground at large speeds to produce large explosions. On some maps, this is how they created artillery fire.

The most impressive thing in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, where there was one random animal, basically.

According to Zoeller, all global quest variables on a certain planet were stored on an untargetable ambient creature. AOE effects may still acquire the creature and kill it, breaking your game if you happen to kill the appropriate ambient creature.

Sorry, your game got lost because you killed the God Animal of Naboo. Video games are fantastic.