I think it is perhaps poetic justice that, on replaying all my own maps years after closing the lid on each one, I experienced all the very prominent bugs other people had discovered since that I had never managed to reproduce.
Maybe I could sit on a few of them, like the one where Fallen Stones V chases you down and ruins the gauntlet sequence of This Wreckage, because that doesn’t actually break the game.
Others, like Project Y4‘s infamous bomb drop crash bug that stops people barely ten minutes into the game, definitely needed some care and attention.
Maybe saying that I’ve closed the lids on these maps isn’t entirely fair. This Wreckage, for example, remains as WoRDZA2a.w3x, with a few easy bug fixes I plopped in after the Gamma release as and when people mentioned them. How do you think the Gnoll Warden didn’t break for me when I raided the Tomb of Anak’hul? Damn right I had the fix in place.
Project Y4, too, lives on, as version R02d. There was a brief moment where I fantasised that it might get fully voice acted and soundtracked and jump straight to R03, but I think we’re probably a bit past that now. Dreams can only carry you so far.
So, that bomb drop crash bug. I had never experienced it, I had only heard of other people feeling the pain. How can you fix a bug that you can’t feel? A man once even recorded a video of it happening — I had a perfect rendition of the exact moment that it happened, but without it breaking for me I could never confirm any of my ham-fisted attempts at fixes made a difference. Since the issue persists in R02c, presumably they were all for nothing.
It turns out, then, that the bomb drop crash bug occurs when you save and then reload a game before dropping the bomb. Reliably, one hundred percent of the time. Bingo.
That’s why I never felt it — since the bomb is dropped in barely the first ten minutes of the map, I had never, ever saved a test run there and then reloaded it. Then again, even if I did, would I have made that connection?
I’ve always said that I feel more like a detective than an engineer most of the time. Even at work, it’s all digging and following leads and prodding at things until clues fall out.
I started off with the animations. There was a suggestion before that the activation circle model, the glowing holographic target zone, was the cause of the problem — the crash seemed to happen immediately as it finished fading out. Previously, changing the activation circle’s model to the Footman had seemed to solve the problem, but now I know better: my tester’s replay under those conditions clearly didn’t include a save and reload.
I moved on to the triggers. Was it in the creation of the bomb? Nope, even an uncreated bomb killed the game. Was it in the removal of the undercarriage ability? … Hmm, that’s interesting…
I can’t explain the how or the why, but it’s the ability. Some quirk of using Channel at that moment in time, with those particular fields set? Removing it while it was still active, still trying to play an animation if nothing else? Nothing makes sense — anything broken there should surely always have broken, not slid into destruction only after a save and reload.
Either way, Warcraft III moves in mysterious ways and I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. The bomb now drops automatically when you reach the activation zone, and if that’s not interactive enough for you… Well, I figure anything is better than being unable to play the rest of the map.
There are some other minor tweaks I slipped in too. Guessing keypad digits will bake them into the quest log. Computers will “turn off” their screens once you’ve read them (you can still read them again, it’s a visual hint so you don’t repeat yourself). There are quick exits to the two factory assaults; the Waste bunker takes you out near bunker 07 so you can go straight for the Thaelite Refractor, while the North bunker takes you out in the mine annex for faster access to the finale.
I fixed the subnet hack crash too. No idea how that one passed me by at the time, because it’s not a save/load issue, it’s just point-blank broken by an infinite loop. I blame lazy testing (I tested subnet hacks by skipping straight into them, not by triggering them from the hackable nodes. Fair cop, guv).
I should mention now that R02d will also include music.
During the course of development, a very kind musician by the name of Merlijn Nash offered to provide some quality beats for the project. Now, he was embroiled in producing real music for real, doing gigs and releasing his debut album and stuff, so I didn’t want to put any pressure on him — especially when Y4 was basically a vanity project for me.
Either way, we kept in touch for a while and he built up a big long theme tune out of nicely varied and thematically appropriate segments. Of course, by the time it was done, I had failed to get voice acting off the ground and R03 had slipped into the aether…
Anyway, no use letting his hard work go to waste. The map is still far from perfect but the addition of this atmospheric theme goes a long way to improve its ambience.
Nothing so drastic would accompany a new release of This Wreckage, but if I can stop Fallen Stones V from messing up the gauntlet I’ll definitely push that out. And maybe nerf Five’s Titanium Armour damage reduction while I’m at it…
Anyway. Here’s Project Y4 R02d because it’s crimbo time and I just want you to love me.