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February 19, 2013

If if’s and but’s were candy and nuts…Aliens: Colonial Marines could have been better

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Fan of the Alien dynasty? Of course you are, Lieutenant Ellen Ripley is the definition of the Dogs Dangly Bits.

Here’s some info on the gaming saga that you may not know about. In 2009, Sega had a trifecta of games in the Aliens universe under its control: Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines, Rebellion’s Aliens vs. Predator and an Aliens RPG subtitled Crucible from Obsidian. Sega decided to cancel one of these projects – we assume through a sophisticated “close your eyes, spin around and point” method – and Obsidian’s RPG got the boot.

Back then Sega didn’t offer a taste of what the game would look like, but now we have a video of some creepy-crawly creatures from Obsidian’s Aliens RPG, courtesy of character animator Danny Garnett.

In 2010, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart said the Aliens RPG was basically a finished game when Sega pulled the plug. “That’s how close we were,” he said. “It looked and felt like it was ready to ship.” We wish we could say the same about Colonial Marines.

Maybe when the industry and players panned Aliens: Colonial Marines for being a hot mess, it was only because we all approached it from the wrong angle. Perhaps Colonial Marines’ true gameplay value lies in its modding opportunities, specifically those that would fix the game’s graphics, lighting, AI, UI and anything else that might need it.

In the words of the great woman herself ” Ripley: Well, somebody’s gonna have to go out there. Take a portable terminal, go out there and patch in manually.

To our delight; some groups of players with more cojones than Hudson have used their programming skills and are getting in amongst to the Colonial Marines source code, and are attempting to patch up the game (for PC) on their own. The Steam and Gearbox forums host a number of fix guides, including this step-by-step walkthrough with pre-made files from Steam user adonys.

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Gearbox forum member kutjong notes an interesting phenomenon within the Colonial Marines code: “It’s quite fascinating to study the .ini files. In PecanCompat.ini you can see all the graphics cards that qualify for a certain class. The most modern graphics card in that list is from 2007!” This Gearbox thread in particular hosts some comparison screenshots from before and after players have fiddled with the code, including the enhanced shot above and below. Game on, coders.

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I would like to see developers in the future allowing these guys and gals access to the games code before its released. Let them help better the game before it gets out into the public’s hands. A game with zero glitches is like a unicorn, mythical. But a horse with a little modding can go a long way to look like Said mythical creature and bring hope back into our lives.

What do you think, let us at it while in the development stages, or let us fix it once it’s been released and disappointment has already set in.

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Jonny Polea

Editor in Chief at Beginners Tech

I joined Beginners Tech as a Technical Journalist in July 2012 and have never looked back. I love tech, gadgets, games and electronics; whether they are retro, current or future concepts. My loving fiancé Sarah has said that when I receive new items for review I’m like a kid in a toy shop – unable to leave it alone for two minutes! Coming from a design background, I am passionate about the design and aesthetics of tech as well as functionality.