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Obsidian fixes Outer Worlds bug that killed people climbing ladders to nowhere

In space, no one can hear you scream — but apparently the developers back here on Earth are listening. And earlier this week, Obsidian Entertainment programmers answered some gamers prayers, revealing how they found and fixed a bizarre bug in the space odyssey The Outer Worlds that was killing off in-game companions.

The glitch was fixed in Patch 1.2 for The Outer Worlds, a popular space-based romance that drops players headfirst into a journey to awaken their fellow colonists from cryo-sleep when their ship is abandoned at the edge of space. But the game isn’t all laughs and romance. Apparently, non-player characters were climbing “beyond the end of a ladder” on The Unreliable, the player’s ship and base of operations in the game, and subsequently dying if the player started a conversation while they were climbing.

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It took a good amount of effort to find out that this was what was happening, though, as detailed in a series of tweets by Obsidian Entertainment QA Lead Taylor Swope. The patch was one of the items in a long list of updates and changes to the space adventure.

Swope said that Obsidian knew about the bug from a few cases before The Outer Worlds launched, but nobody in the QA team was able to reproduce the glitch. One of the reasons this was so hard to solve is that it was difficult to figure out exactly when the companion was killed; the investigation involved determining all the possible scripts and lines of code that could have made the game think that a companion was dead.

The only place in the game when a companion is present but *not* in the active party is when the player is on their ship
The problem is, when companions are on the ship, they are undamageable (8/18)

— Taylor Swope (@_taylorswope) December 12, 2019

Swope’s team eventually figured out that “undamageable” does not necessarily mean that the companions were “invulnerable.” They may still be hurt by falling a great distance, for example. But there were no spots in The Unreliable that were high enough to cause lethal damage from falling, so it looked like another dead end.

Eventually, an offhand comment in one user's review mentioned seeing a weird bug where a companion was "climbing nothing", and this comment led me to figuring the whole thing out (14/18)

— Taylor Swope (@_taylorswope) December 12, 2019

Swope eventually figured out that the glitch had something to do with the code that disabled companions from starting new interactions with objects in the environment if players were in conversations.

So, if someone started climbing a ladder and the player entered a conversation before they stopped, they wouldn't be able to exit the ladder, and, well…. (18/18)

— Taylor Swope (@_taylorswope) December 12, 2019

Through the massive effort of Swope, the bug is now fixed. In addition, players who already previously experienced the glitch will have their save files repaired so that they will be able to finish the related quests.

For players who are just starting out with The Outer Worlds, here are some tips and tricks for staying alive in deep space. With no need to worry about suddenly dead companions, players can focus on their own survival.

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You can join a Twitch Plays livesteam of The Outer Worlds ahead of its release
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The Outer Worlds will be having a Twitch Plays session, precariously putting the control of all gameplay decisions in the hands of the viewers, and if you want to participate, the special livestream begins at 3 p.m PT/6 p.m. ET today on the official Obsidian Entertainment Twitch channel.

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