Articles & Editorials: Plagued By Bugs! Or So It Seems

  • Date: 18/09/1999 | Author: Wattsy

Only days after its release, Tiberian Sun has been ‘plagued’ by bug reports and problems, or so it seems. There have been many, many bugs reports being made to TS sites, as well as an equal number of comments and complaints to accompany the bug reports. Firstly, I’ll define what I consider to be what a bug is.

A bug is usually a recurring problem or error that arises in a program, that could be due to a few things, such as:

  • Syntax error in code, or logic error.
  • Incompatibility between different hardware items.
  • Or could arise due to a bug in other software, especially device drivers, or the Operating System.

Bugs can display themselves in a few different ways, for example, incorrect display of information, error messages, or Invalid Page Faults (and the extremely annoying Access Violation, with code Cx00000005), etc. There are many other ways that a bugs can show, depending on what is causing the problem, and the program itself, and a number of other factors.

I have compiled a list of ‘bugs’ that have been reported in Tiberian Sun, posted in news items at TiberiumSun.com and CNCNZ.com. This is by no means a complete list, but covers the majority of the bug reports I found. Here is the list:

  • If you play with fog of war on, the fog hides the enemy units and structures, but if the opponent builds new pavement or walls, you can see through the fog of war.
  • If you play with Re-deployable MCV turned on, then deploy it, build a wall around it, and tell it to move outside the wall, it disappears.
  • The Devil’s Tongue Flame Tank sometimes get stuck in its ‘up’ position, ie coming up out of the ground.
  • In the 3rd NOD mission, where your objective is to rescue the Rebel Commander, nothing that the Rebel Commander says makes sense – he seems to say the lines of another character.
  • Slow running on some computers – there have even been reports of this on Pentium III 500MHz computers – could be a hardware specific problem.
  • Artillery never miss
  • Various installation problems – this could also be hardware specific, and there are a couple of rumours as to getting around this problem, although I do not know how to get around it.
  • Allied players can still kill harvesters with Disrupter Tanks or Mammoth MKII Tanks, even with Harvester Truce turned on.
  • Air units sometimes have a tendency to ‘park’ on top of each other.
  • “Tiberian Sun has encountered an internal error and is unable to continue normally.” – This is an annoying error, which I have encountered at various, frustrating times. This could be hardware, and/or software-specific problem, ie. Operating System, drivers, etc.
  • Unable to ally in multiplayer games using modem

There are also many other reports which I have seen, but have been unable to find again.

Not only has there been many bugs reports, there has also been a number of complaints and criticisms made about Westwood’s decision to delay the game to iron out bugs, the fact that so many have appeared, and also about the features that have been left out. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe that some of the comments that I have come across may be a little over the top. I believe that Westwood’s decision to delay TS to iron out bugs was a good decision. A lot of people worldwide were eagerly awaiting the release of the game, and there would have been a lot of pressure on Westwood to produce the quality and features that were expected.

It cannot be expected to have a program that has thousand’s, if not million’s of lines of code, to run, bug-free, on the hundred’s of thousand’s of different hardware and software combinations possible that the program can be run on. It is expected that most programs that will be run on such a large variety of hardware and software, and especially one that has so many possible combinations of events occurring, will have bugs appear at some stage. Obviously, the more combinations of hardware and software that a program is tested on will increase the chances of finding bugs. But the barrier of cost and time limit the combinations that can be tested.

As I have some experience in programming, I know how difficult it is to test all of the possibilities in a small program, and to iron out bugs, let alone a program of the size of TS. To Westwood’s credit, despite the number of problems that have arisen, and the features reported that were left out (which from what I can gather is not many), I believe Westwood have done an excellent job with the development and testing of an excellent game.

More specifically towards the ‘bugs’ I have listed above, from what I can tell, some of the problems may be attributed to minor problems within the code, or animations within the game, but a number of the problems could very well be caused by hardware and/or software and Operating System problems. Nearly all of the problems I have seen reported are very specific and would be very hard to pick up in testing – and can sometimes only be picked up after many games, whereas others are more obvious and more easily picked up. Most of the problems I have seen that have been reported are mostly annoying, not stopping the game from being played, with the exception of the internal error and installation problems.

Westwood have today (18 September 1999) released a patch that fixes some of the above bugs, and at the time of writing is available on Westwood Online via the auto-update feature. Thanks go to TiberiumSun.com and here at CNCNZ.com for the information required for the list of bugs.

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