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Today In Excellent Video Game Patch Notes: ‘Xenophobic Mushrooms’

It's all just a (numerical) misunderstanding

If there's one thing better than funny video game patch notes, it's funny video game patch notes that are fully explained by a developer.

Crow Country--which is excellent, by the way--was updated on Steam earlier this week by developers Tom and Adam Vian because it featured, some, uh, "xenophobic mushroom boys":

A Steam post. The text reads "Patch notes 10th May: Fixed xenophobic mushroom boys. Ask me about it some time."

That cryptic "ask me about it some time" thankfully didn't last very long at all, because Tom popped into the comments of the update to explain that the xenophobia was down to some confusion amongst Europeans as to where exactly a comma is supposed to go in some big numbers.

Haha OK, I probably can't just leave it at that. Here's my little writeup I put in the topic on the steam forum (where the bug was first reported):

The little mushroom boys won't talk to anyone from France.
The little mushroom boys will shout at anyone from Germany.
The little mushroom boys will shun anyone from Sweden.
The little mushroom boys will berate anyone from Spain.
And so on. Anyone have any guesses?

What happened was: in some places in the game, we have config settings stored as text. The trigger distance for the little mushroom boys is one of these config settings, one value per boy.

Unlike other places in the game, these distances are fractional values - "0.4" for example.

In the UK, we write our numbers like this: 1,234.56 (meaning one thousand, two hundred and thirty four point five six).

However in France, Sweden and others, they would write 1 234,56
In Germany, Spain and others, its 1.234,56

Under the hood, in the code that takes the mushroom boy trigger range text - "0.4" - and turns it into a number for the rest of the code to use, the default is to use the number style native to the computer the game is running on.

So on French computers, "0.4" turns into 0, since it doesn't know what to do with the "." or anything after it. So mushroom boy trigger range is now 0, and hard/impossible to enter.

On German computers, "0.4" turns into 4, since "." is the thousands separator, so it takes its best guess at what was meant. Now the mushroom boy trigger range is 4, and will reach halfway across the room.

The fix was just making sure to always use the UK number system, since that's how our configs are written. Explains why it never came up in any of our playtesting (mostly UK and a few US folks).

There has never been a better argument for pan-European playtesting than xenophobic mushroom boys.

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