Game breaking glitch related to game design flaw

Bug reports for the different beta versions of transcendence.
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WhiteflameK
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Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:17 pm

I absolutely love Transcendence!

I cannot, however, beat it due to a game ending bug. I actually have four issues to report concerning v1.08i.

First, minor issue is that docking with either 1. the slave containers near a Sung station after you rescue them or 2. a habitat station that you have rescued from pirates results in the following bug. Both stations will offer you an item that one can choose to accept, but after one selects continue, one is never offered the option to undock. Instead, one is re-offered the same item again re-rolled for a different amount. Doing this for a period of time allows one to acquire an unlimited supply of slave coffins, thus enabling one to instantly acquire all of the domina invocations. This isn't game breaking, though it almost is. If you quit the program via task manager, the game will autosave after having docked with the station (the only reason why it is a minor issue so far).

Second, game breaking bug: If you are present at a system in Ares space aboard a CSC Starcruiser and you go to the flight deck to talk to the executive officer, you may be offered missions, provided you have military identification. I did several successfully, and then I was offered a mission to escort a superfreighter from the Eta Ceti stargate back to the cruiser. First of all, I went to the stargate but the freighter never came. Perplexed and having never done this mission before, I decided to jump through the gate to see if it was maybe on the other side. This was fine until I decided to jump back---the game crashed.

This brings me to my biggest qualm with the autosave feature of this game that really needs to go.

Every time you jump through a stargate, the game saves over your savefile, EVEN if it was a manual save file!!!!!!!!! So...the game corrupted my savefile! The game saved automatically when I used the gate so it instantly crashes whenever I try to load it!!!!!!!!!! Very irritating...especially because I had a score of over 400,000 and was at Point Juno, close to finishing the game.

The error window says the following:
Samuel Aurora-4632.sav: System 1a: 1 undefined object reference:
Reference: 510293
Address: b42e6f0

Now, the autosave feature. If you are going to have an autosave in the game, you absolutely absolutely must have it save a separate file from the manual saves! This isn't the first time I couldn't complete the game due to the autosave overriding my manual save.

At one point, I decided dock with a wreck that was contaminated with radiation. I screwed up, however, and forgot that there wasn't a commonwealth station of any kind in the system. I jumped to another system where I knew there was one, but I wasn't paying attention to the clock. So here I am, arriving in the system with only 5 seconds left on the radiation meter and I am only 8 seconds away from the station. I died, obviously, but the game SAVED in that system with 5 seconds on the clock!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't play any further on it, and I tried everything!

I ended up restoring the save file to an earlier date, which was way back at St. Katherina's Star. I played through it until I got the the game breaking glitch I mentioned earlier. I love the game enough that I won't give up on it, but after two very long playthroughs that ended in game over due to the autosave feature, I am very irritated. I don't meant to be blunt about it, but the autosave feature really needs to be changed so that you can 1. have an autosave file and 2. be able to create more than one manual save that is not related at all to the autosave feature and 3. be able to save the game while you are playing it and not have to save and quit.

-Samuel Aurora

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Cygnus.X1
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Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:46 pm

WhiteflameK wrote:I cannot, however, beat it due to a game ending bug. I actually have four issues to report concerning v1.08i.
The current beta version is v1.08l (lower-case "L") and is available here: http://www.neurohack.com/transcendence/ ... f=2&t=5467

The slave-rescue bug and other dockscreen bugs, as well as the "stargate jump causes game crash" bug have already been fixed in the latest beta... at least, we hope so. This particular version was made available last night so peeps are still testing it out.

The "I did 'X' then jumped through a stargate" potential save game killer is a known issue and has a bugtrac ticket opened for it. ETR unknown.

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digdug
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Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:29 pm

hi WhiteflameK,
welcome to Transcendence forums !

first of all, let me tell you that you are playing 1.08i, a beta version of Transcendence (official stable release is 1.01). George is adding a ton of new features in the latest versions and it's normal to have some bugs.

However, the 2 annoying "game breaking" bugs you just reported were fixed (hopefully completely) in the latest version 1.08L.

About the savegame behaviour of the game, well, that's a "nethack-style" savegame. I think it's a neat feature of the game, that tricked me many times to die without fuel or because of radiation like you.
your savegame restoring is classically called savescumming. :) and it's something that players have been doing since Nethack and many other roguelike games. Jumping to the next system (or descending to the next level dungeon) is a main feature of the game. Many players play strictly "no-backtracking" and so jumping forward must be carefully planned.
I admit that, however, a save-and-continue feature could be nice.

About the Superfreighter mission, there are 2 possible things that could have happened: 1. did you have an arrow pointing to the stargate ? the mission arrow will point to the stargate where the superfrieghter will emerge, so, if the arrow is still there, it means you have to wait some more for the superfreighter. 2. you were to slow and missed the freighter (can happen quite often with the EI500 if you don't have some advanced propulsion and the ship is overloaded).

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Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:22 pm

Hi WhiteFlamek, I liked your idea about save games so I made a ticket:
http://wiki.neurohack.com/transcendence ... icket/1178

Hopefully George does it for 1.09.
I also added the special word toggleable so as to appease the "changing the game from being super hard you suck" group.
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I don't want any sort of copyright on my Transcendence mods. Feel free to take/modify whatever you want.

WhiteflameK
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Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:39 am

Oh, I waited at the stargate for 7 minutes while it still displayed a mission indicator plus sign in my map and an arrow if it went off screen. I am wondering if, perhaps, it has something to do with me being in a binary starsystem. The CSC cruiser was at the system's center and the stargate at which I was supposed to wait was located at the sister star. The game would have to compensate for the tremendous travel time for me to get to the other star, otherwise the freighter would simply die while I was en route. I am guessing that some calculation was off and the algorithm overcompensated.
digdug wrote:hi WhiteflameK,
About the savegame behaviour of the game, well, that's a "nethack-style" savegame. I think it's a neat feature of the game, that tricked me many times to die without fuel or because of radiation like you.
your savegame restoring is classically called savescumming. :) and it's something that players have been doing since Nethack and many other roguelike games. Jumping to the next system (or descending to the next level dungeon) is a main feature of the game. Many players play strictly "no-backtracking" and so jumping forward must be carefully planned.
I admit that, however, a save-and-continue feature could be nice.

About the Superfreighter mission, there are 2 possible things that could have happened: 1. did you have an arrow pointing to the stargate ? the mission arrow will point to the stargate where the superfrieghter will emerge, so, if the arrow is still there, it means you have to wait some more for the superfreighter. 2. you were to slow and missed the freighter (can happen quite often with the EI500 if you don't have some advanced propulsion and the ship is overloaded).
:-D Oh I like "nithack-style" games, don't get me wrong! Philosophically, it is interesting to add metagame difficulty to something like this; it helps exemplify the character of the plot-line, its progression and the sense of unease one would experience. Part of my irritation is due to my exceedingly OCD personality; I created tables and charts of salable items and combinations of weapons that could be strategically effective. In the end, though, I am a bookworm, and my curiosity about the conclusion of the game is what bugged me.

I don't want to butt heads with people who enjoy this particular kind of difficulty and game, but I am wondering as to whether the metagame difficulty of the savegame feature is necessary to what Transcendence is. As I mentioned, it adds some exemplification to the atmosphere of the game, so that the player has a real reason to be careful. Transcendence's hook, I feel, is the sense of unknown, and the desire for catharsis when presented with incomplete information; this is present in the exceedingly large number of possibilities concerning systems, encounters, items and enemies, but also in the construction of the plotline told in tiny snippets picked up from stations and other characters met in passing. It leans heavily toward the sublime side of art. The coldness of most interactions creates a sense of alienation that is definitely played around with...for instance, having wingmen finally creates a sense of camaraderie such that when a wingman is killed, it feels as though one must carry on, that one actually felt something for a character whose development consists in 5 or 6 variable lines. The player character even alludes to this if you are successful enough in missions with the commonwealth militia, a sense of "belonging". It is much like a work of Hemingway or Steinbeck---the beauty of the game as an artwork lies in its ability to be compelling with so little. The plot is implicit as is the empathy and emotion. It is a story told in implication more than explicit description, and as such, it already asks the player to be aware of the game itself while playing it as one must participate actively in constructing the history of characters and civilizations.

This is what makes me wonder as to the necessity of the metagame difficulty. "Spelunky" is another indie game with similar nethack qualities and dungeon descent. It is very fun and definitely addicting, but not due to anything associated with literary quality. It is amusing but it is not compelling. There is no feeling of there being anything at stake because characters and encounters are purely archetypal. I mean, the damsel in distress is absolutely nothing else, AT ALL.

Now, Transcendence utilizes the same archetypal qualities in its characters, but it has a very important feature. Like running into an individual one the street, you will likely only know a few things about him or here in your lifetime. What is present is the suggestion of history extending backwards from every encounter...the literary features of the game are not merely archetypal, they are musical motifs for a set of variations...they open up possibilities and invite the player to consider that there is more to everything one sees than one will explicitly know. I mean, the game slams this in your face if you choose to kill the Huari in the Huaramarca system, the individual whispering that he was wrong and can see only darkness. Wrong about what? Furthermore, there is the implication that you have committed genocide...the race was merely a bunch of ships that would try to kill you if you got close until you destroy what appears to be their homeworld station, and it seems as though you have done something tremendously appalling---they cease being an incomprehensible Other when you realize they can communicate with you, and you realize that them attacking you if you approach is justifiable as defensive action against a potential threat. The game isn't merely a rougelike or a nethacklike, it is a minimalist artwork that is constantly changing and creates a very real sense of wonder in oscillating between offering a sense closure and denying it; nothing is as it seems. Thus nothing is merely an archetype...if the archetype can be wrong. That is what makes the plot and characters feel so real despite being nothing more than two or three sentences. The archetypes are merely placeholders, not the things themselves.

In the credits, I noticed that "A Canticle for Leibowitz" was inspiration for the game, and analyzing it now, this is not difficult to see. In that novel, after a nuclear holocaust, a shopping list could be an inscrutable sacred artifact---history is conflated and confused and society rolls onwards without any epistemological conclusion.

I don't think the metagame difficulty is necessary. The game is compelling without having to be punished for erring and forgetting to consider how the game itself could screw you over with a save feature, and it is not that particular save feature that makes it good and worth taking time out of ones life to play. The game has a very subtle way of saying things that are extremely profound that are directly applicable to our lives as we lead them. I could go on forever about little encounters that make one think.

And the game is difficult already, in any case. Even having a fusionfire howitzer with +100% bonus modifier and the howitzer reloader for increased firerate ,as well as Iocrym armor, the best reactor enhanced, the Mammoth 100megawatt efficient shields, all domina powers, 700,000 credits and 35,000 rin (no cheating at all mind you), I could still die if I underestimated an enemy or wasn't careful. That difficulty, and the constant analytic one must employ to play the game make it difficult.

I am not complaining about the savegame feature because I am of the "stigmatize all difficult games" crowd. In fact, I find very few games difficult, and I don't get a real challenge nearly enough. I just don't like being punished for putting a lot of time into something for not a very justifiable reason other than a nod to the games roots and a small affect modification.

-WF

WhiteflameK
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Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:54 am

Oh, and not many games can boast of having a transsexual sidekick...
very forward looking

There is so much artistic potential in this game, and so much already there. As a side note, I wouldn't mind contributing in its development, if wanted. I am a writer and professional violinist, and I have friend who is a professional clarinetist, pianist and composer that also finds this game intriguing. I don't know in what capacity we might be needed or desired, but one can consider this a chance offering that can be used in whatever way one chooses, if at all. :-D

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Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:51 am

WillyTheSquid and I might make an unofficial Transcendence Soundtrack :D
If you want to help, just contact on IRC for details. (basically, I've done code for it here, but we need music for it now, like fighting bosses, etc).
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george moromisato
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Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:25 am

WhiteflameK: Thanks for the great thread--I've enjoyed it very much.

1. I agree with you about the autosave problem. There may or may not be a ticket on it already, but I do agree that it needs to be fixed. My plan has always been to support permadeath as a conduct, but allow people to save and restore if that's how they want to play. Unfortunately, it is not terribly easy to support multiple saves per game (just because of how the game was written originally) so it might take me a little while to fix. But I assure you that I support the goals. Similarly, I agree that the other problems that you ran into are bugs that need to be fixed (the crash bug has, I believe, already been fixed in 1.08l).

2. I am immensely flattered and pleased at your description of the storyline and atmosphere of the game. It is exactly the feeling that I was going for, and I'm always happy whenever people notice. I know that there is much that I need to fix and to improve, but I'm happy that you feel that I'm going in the right direction.

3. I'm glad you like the minimalism in the game. Transcendence was designed to be replayable, so I didn't want a heavy plot to bore the player on the 2nd and 3rd playthrough. Instead I wanted to plant hints that collectively amount to a plot and backstory. I know there are places where the plot is too heavy; and conversely I know that there are places where the hints are missing all together. But over time I hope to fix those areas.

4. Not many people have read "A Canticle for Leibowitz," so I'm doubly glad that you bring it up. The blurred and cryptic past is indeed one inspiration that I took from that book. But the scene that stays with me is in the last part, when the abbot, watching as a doctor euthanizes a terminal victim of radiation poisoning, wonders how the world has changed such that the only sin is pain.

One recurring theme in Transcendence is free will. The character lacks it--he/she is forced to journey to the Core. But the player retains it. The player can decide to kill friendlies or not. The game does not prevent these kinds of actions, nor does it penalize you (killing friendlies earns you score points). But it does keep track of your actions and shows them to you and others at the end (on your epitaph as "conducts"--another concept that I stole from Nethack). It is up to the player to decide what counts as a sin and what doesn't.

This, BTW, is another reason why I want to fix the autosave problem: I want to give players the choice to play however they want. It is up to them to decide what constraints to play under.

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Cygnus.X1
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Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:07 pm

Suddenly, a wild George appears! Image

Ticket #1040 (new defect)
Opened 3 months ago | Last modified 6 weeks ago
"Fix the 'I was X and went through a gate' game-killer"
http://wiki.neurohack.com/transcendence ... icket/1040

Ticket #1178 (new defect)
Opened 39 hours ago | Last modified 39 hours ago
"Autosave to a different file"
http://wiki.neurohack.com/transcendence ... icket/1178

Sometimes, some ideas and fixes get put off, and even then some of them may never see the light of the galactic core. On the other hand, my hat is off to George for being one of the most responsive developers of an indie free-be game that I've ever found. Thanks.

*cough*PNG*cough*extrakeys*cough*cough*hack* Image

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