Talk:Game File Exploits

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NOTE:THIS PAGE are the discussions ripped from the main discussion section from exploits (the main page). It need cleanup and is only here to keep the other page clean without older discussions. Will slowly integrat...

Someone's To Do List

  • Destroying unique alien type/rank combos by way of transfering to a throw-away base with a containment + lab (nothing else necessary), starting research on the uniques, dismantling base completely. Repeat ad infinitum. Not exactly a very exciting exploit, but a useful one to know.

Repairing damaged UFOs

Want to stop a UFO from doing it's mission? Shoot it down. Want to get a full load of engines and elerium? Leave it alone for about 2 days. The longer you wait before launching the ground assault, the smaller the hole and smoke, and eventually the craft will be completely repaired.

Note that you will also get a full complement of enemy soldiers -- all the dead will come back to life when you do this.

(You may want to save the game before landing, so you can resume waiting if the UFO was not fully repaired when you attacked.)

Actually, UFO damage is random. You see, the damage done to a UFO in the battlescape is caused by the game detonating the power units with varying detonation strengths every time the map is generated. Sometimes it's only strong enough to destroy the power unit, and if there are many power units, some of the might not even be detonated at all. So there's no wait, just save the game in the Geoscape, and enter the mission. If the damage is not to your liking, reload and try and try again until you get a favourable outcome. - NKF

Keybouncer and NKF, you've both tested this likelihood versus time? Seems easy enough to do. Two related questions (have they been answered here?): 1) How long do crash sites persist?, and 2) If one Power Source (PS) blows up, yes, it will destroy E115 within a particular distance, but will it cause them to explode?

The reason I ask is that page 311 of the OSG says PSs have a 70% chance of exploding, which sounds about right to me. A table of probabilities of finding intact PSs for the various UFOs could be generated. I would have thought the answer to #2 is that they don't cause them to explode; they're not an explosive object. But in my experience, the ground floor of a Terror Ship is always the same - all four PSs are always blasted up, and the surrounding interior walls are always in the same bad shape (i.e., they're always all gone, except by the door at the south).

Anyway, a probabilistic thing would be fun to do. But the question of successive explosions has been puzzling me. Could E115 trigger something special in crashes? (Successive explosions even though it's not registered as an explosive?) E115 has always had that odd boolean checkmark at OBDATA.DAT[45]. - MikeTheRed

While I have not collected large amounts of data to show any pattern in the extent of the damage vs time, I haven't really seen any difference in damage between the moment the crash site was created or at a point just before the crash site vanishes. It's roughly the same and varies from game to game. If the UFO is repaired over time, this information will have to be stored somewhere. Craft.dat or loc.dat are probably the most likely files to watch. As for the explosions - I guess during the pre-detonation stages, the game may take into account nearby power units that get caught in the blast and detonate them as well. The 70% chance still holds true for isolated units. Can we add extra power units to the existing craft maps to test this I wonder? Or what about setting this boolean flag for enemy corpses, and crossing our fingers? Heh. That might not work. - NKF

Hehe, it might be fun to play with those booleans. Or not. ;)

I wouldn't think info has to be stored anywhere; after all, the crash site is not created unless/until you fight it. (If I remember right.) If it does "repair", it could simply be based on the time since the crash... and I guess this would basically equate to, a lower probability of PS explosion. FWIW, I never had the impression that more time meant less damage, but then I wasn't paying attention to the possibility.

I guess that, since PS explosions are performed by code that is "above" normal battlescape properties (i.e., PSs are not explosive per se), it's entirely possible they also programmed in, that they trigger successive detonations. It could be fairly easily tested, in theory... There are only 3 UFOs where PSs can "interact": Harvester (2 PSs), Supply (3), Terror (4). Supply UFOs might be the most interesting in terms of teasing out whether there are successive detonations. FWIW, straight odds (no interaction) of having 2 PSs intact is 9.00% (.32), 3 intact is 2.70%, and 4 intact is 0.81%.

Remind me, is there some quick way to "lift the fog of war" and see the whole map? Maybe with Mapview? (I don't have it installed ATM; I recently got a new PC.) If so, it would be fairly easy to see e.g. if terror ships ever vary their explosion pattern, etc. Also any differences between combat early or late after a crash.

Maybe we should move all these comments, maybe even this whole section, to Discussion? - MikeTheRed 17:43, 10 January 2007 (PST)

Moved - and discussions split up and line breaks inserted for your reading convenience. Coincidentally, Mike, it has been a while, but I'll let you decide what to do with your earlier comment up above.

As for the maps - I know XComutil has an option to clear the fog of war and make everyone on the map visible (and sets the lighting for the whole map to the brightest setting until you move). Use the command line utility's VIS command. Like so: xcomutil game_n vis wrt - game_n being the directory for your tactical savegame.


Or the time left until the crash site disappears. That is almost certainly in the savegame, and would be worth mapping in its own right.

-- Zaimoni, 9:25 Jan 11 2007 CST

NKF - Cool, I just tried that XcomUtil and it worked like a charm. And guess what... I happened to try it on a Terror ship... and only ONE PS was blown up (although it did, of course, destroy the other 3). Damn, that seems like low odds... and OMG it instantly explodes (cough) the possibility of successive explosions. One other thing can be done via a screenshot of it... one can determine a PS's explosive strength (but maybe not its radius). (Has anybody determined this stuff yet?) Anyway here goes (dusting off Explosions memory cells):

Edited after I looked closely and got the equations right - MikeTheRed 17:48, 12 January 2007 (PST)

  • UFO floors (their "initial" tile) are destroyed out to radius 3. They need 80 HE to kill them.
  • Tiles are hit with average/2 damage; this damage decreases by 5, each tile outward from Ground Zero. So average/2 must be 80-84 at tile 3, and 95-99 at GZ.
  • Twice this value (for the average) is 190-199. A PS explosion is almost as strong as a blaster bomb. (Notice how blasters scorch UFO floor tiles out to 4 tiles, 1 more than a PS, and are average damage 200.)
  • Initial destroyed tiles are not blown through to raw earth anywhere, even at GZ. The slightly stronger blaster also does not blow through to raw earth at GZ on UFO floors. (Can someone look up the death tile armor strength for a damaged Power Source? The GZ PS was not raw earth, either.)
  • Those walls around the PSs on a Terror ship are only destroyed up to where the floor tiles were; they also are 80 initial / 50 dead tile "armor".
  • PSs at 6 straight-line radius and 3 diagonal (walking TUs means its considered 4 tiles away) are destroyed, consistent with UFO_Power_Source info that they have 50 "armor"... average/2 HE strength is 65 at radius 6.
  • All the Elerium is gone, of course... it only takes 21 HE.
  • A Snakeman was also killed, at a straight-line radius of 7 (just past the radius-6 PS). Here, the average/2 HE should be 60, and strength against units 60 to 180. It's a Superhuman game, so the lowest stats (Superhuman Snakeman Soldier) would be Health 45 and armor ranging from 16 Rear to 20 Front, for a minimum of 45+16=61 to kill. Easily enough to kill this weakest example; stronger aliens near to the edge of the blast (wherever it is) might have a chance of only being injured.

Does anyone ever remember seeing aliens injured by crash-landing? In my vague recollection of times when I MC everything, they are all either fine, or dead, at crash sites... never injured.

FWIW there wasn't any other vulnerable stuff around, to tell the whether the blast went farther than radius 7. In theory it could extend to radius 18, with a GZ strength of 190-199... but the largest blasts seen in the game are both clipped at radius 11 (blast and fusion tank).

Zaimoni, I'm sure you're right. If, of course, it's not always the same amount of time. I vaguely recall that my impression is they always lasted about 3 days (72 hours). I don't know the Geoscape files well... perhaps one of you who do, would know where to look for this? Then again it would be cake to take a savegame from just before shooting down a UFO, then see how long the crash persists. It should quickly be clear if it's always the same, to prove or disprove that. If no variation is seen with that one test UFO, a few other types (small to large) should be tested, to see if it differs by type.

- MikeTheRed 17:33, 11 January 2007 (PST)

I've seen injured aliens from pre-BattleScape power plant explosions. They're generally toast if the walk into a fire :( [This is from studying XCOMUtil reports at DIS:2.] It's more common with Large Scouts, but not unthinkable with crashed Terror Ships.

Even if it always is the same amount of time, the "in theme" way to code it would be a countdown timer (like manufacturing, research, and time to next UFO).

-- Zaimoni, 9:25 Jan 11 2007 CST

Ok I just fixed a glaring error in my math above. That's better. The soldier was practically gauranteed to be dead. FWIW a supply ship where only one "outer" PS has exploded will confirm whether 11 is the limit of the blast radius. It's probably also the best place to try to find an alien caught at the edge of the blast, to see where its edge is. Not that it's a real big deal. The probabilities of finding intact Elerium for various ships can be stated already. Probably. :)

A new wrinkle that may affect it was raised by my Terror Ship example: Only the "top most" PS exploded. And as you will recall, I had previously thought all 4 PSs exploded, and only the door and the walls near it (at the "bottom") were left. In hindsight, maybe PSs have a fixed "order" in which they explode, and what I had actually seeing is that 3 exploded (which is good for the odds of 70%) - but it was the "top 3". If the "bottom" last one had exploded, the door and walls around it would've been gone. But that's not what I remember encountering most/all the time. See? Perhaps they explode, starting from the top-most one, down. Depending on some dice roll as to how many would explode. This possible predictability in terms of the order (top to bottom) in which they are "slated to explode" could mean that e.g. seeing a particular Battleship "foot" intact tells you something about which others might be intact, at a glance (and how much E115 is left). Something worth testing with a few reloads some night.

As for effects on E115 survival probabilities in general, it looks like the Supply ship is the only ship where there is a chance for this potential "fixed order" to affect the likelihood. The central PS will always destroy the other two PS's E115. If it is more or less likely to explode due to a fixed order - if the left/top one "goes first" - this would affect the probabilities. For all other UFOs, though, the PS spacing is such that any PS explosion kills all the others' E115 - or not at all (battleship, harvester).

Thanks for the feedback on the injured guy, Zaimoni. It sounds like PS blasts are like blasters... it's possible for someone to survive it near the edge, but not likely. Combined with how I usually try to farm intact elerium (i.e., not crash UFOs), probably explains why I don't remember seeing anyone injured from crashing.

- MikeTheRed 17:48, 12 January 2007 (PST)

Did some more testing, on a Terror ship. I made a savegame with a Terror Ship crash site not yet visited, then visited it 10 times, using XcomUtil's "lights on" switch. Some observations:

  • Right Zai, there can be injured folks. Three times out of 10. One of these was stunned, even. Oddly, this stunned one briefly showed in the equipment pile at initial loadout(!), but disappeared from there once I finished the loadout (and appeared in the blast area).
  • Dead or injured guys are always standing right next to a PS. There were always 1 to 2, dead or wounded. The PS they stand next to is random, out of the 4 on a Terror.
  • Very very oddly: Out of the 10 reloads,
    • 4 had identical radius-3 UFO-floor-damage blast patterns centered on the top PS, like the first one described above. (The four includes that first one.)
    • Four had an increased level of damage (floor damage radius 5), centered on the top PS, still.
    • One had an even larger blast pattern of radius 8 or more; it could have been more, because it damaged the floor of the whole interior PS room, but did not extend past any of the walls (all were blown out). And it was still centered on the top PS.
    • The final one had floor damage to radius 4, and was centered on the left PS.

This doesn't make any sense to me. *scratches head* Ok, that's enough for now. - MikeTheRed 19:22, 12 January 2007 (PST)

So a Power Source explodes with a power = 190-199? As a quick calculation a while back, (see this post for the specifics) I determined the PS has a strength of 200 on a desert landscape. Guess that desert tiles aren't sensetive enough to pick up on that 1-10 point difference in strength you calculated.

It's easy to create your own ship designs with daishivas mapview program: just delete everything on the ground floor of a UFO and stuff a PS smack-dab in the middle. When you visit the crash site, all you see is either a PS (if it didn't explode) or a huge crater - lol.

I wonder if BB's custom tile testing landscape could be tweaked to nail the power of the explosion down exactly? If not, I suppose I could edit the alien spawn points on a ship so that they are clustered around the PS. After properly editing alien stats of the race contained in the UFO, shoot the UFO down and visit it many times. Log the alien stats near the explosion over a few thousand reloads and we should have our answer (extrapolating damage to take the extra tile into consideration). Might need to call in a favor to BB for a "special" logger for this, but hey, it's possible. Heck, it may be easier to just edit the UFO floor tile properties to show this. ;) --Zombie 23:13, 12 January 2007 (PST)

Type of Terror crash damage, n=10

Hiya Z! Yes well... in the follow-up testing, it suggests that PS explosion strength is variable. But this (and the finding) don't make sense relative to what you might've expected - i.e., just let some of the PSs blow up or not, at a fixed strength, with a probability of 70%. I get the feeling it may be jerry rigged in the code. Especially disconcerting is how there were bigger or smaller explosions - all centered on the top-most PS. 9 times out of 10.

If it helps any, here's a montage of the four types of damage seen in those 10 samples. The radius-3-floor-damage (seen 4x) is in upper right, radius-5 middle right (4x), radius 8+ lower right (1x), and radius 4 left PS is on left (1x). You can clearly see how all three of the pix on the right are centered on the top-most PS; notice the explosion blockage "shadow" due to the other PSs in the pic on the lower right. (Did I get my math right, when I said the strength seems to be 190-199 for the pic in upper right?)

I am so rusty on all the details of map editing. But if you can combine BB's numerical tiles with a UFO with no floor or interior walls, it should be good to go! Why not stick in more than one PS so we can see what it does relative to this head-scratcher of, is only one PS exploding, but with variable strength? A part of my head scratching is, with Battleships, it's clear that you don't always have only one PS explode. - MikeTheRed 09:13, 13 January 2007 (PST)

Whether Medium Scout Navigation consoles survive a pre-BattleScape power plant explosion is inconsistent. [It's relatively rare, but does happen.]

-- Zaimoni, 9:25 Jan 11 2007 CST

Huh, ok, I guess that means it can be variable even if there's only one PS. I had been thinking, maybe it was loading all the strength of multiple PSs blowing up, into that one PS that was blowing up, on the Terror Ship. (Did that make sense?) But if even a lone-PS ship has variability, that tells a lot about it.

Hellfire and damnation, lol - MikeTheRed 17:45, 13 January 2007 (PST)

I've done some testing with Supply ships - which has laid my confusion with Terror ships to rest. Obvious in hindsight, really... the first PS to explode on a Terror Ship destroys all the other PSs due to their proximity. This doesn't happen on a Supply ship, between the two "edge" PSs... which leads to some interesting pictures, when heavy blast damage is laid on other heavy blast damage. And yes, the explosion strength definitely seems to be variable. So, some things so far: 1) PSs appear to have a "designated order of explosion", 2) blast strength is variable but quite high (enough to melt UFO floors), 3) if a PS explosion destroys other PSs, they will not explode (blush), and 4) the radius of the blast appears to be quite large.

As for that radius, it's hard to pin down with these fairly indestructible floors and walls. It is probably less than 12, and my best guess ATM is 10. But it's hard, because it could be variable (including dependent on strength), and these UFOs don't give up secrets easily. Z, are you making a test setup? If so, I'll stop wasting my time. :-) - MikeTheRed 20:26, 13 January 2007 (PST)

Analyzing the various pix I've collected shows PSs can have a blast strength of 180 to 240+ (!) Average HE. That 240 could have been anything up to 260, but was constrained by walls containing damage, etc. Initial UFO Floor armor is 80 and Dead Tile UFO Floor armor is 50, which would take 260 average HE in one explosion, but this was never seen, even in the 240+ HEs which destroy both the initial PS (50 armor) and the dead PS (70 armor). 260 HE is over the "theoretical" limit of 255 HE... We can't set weapons to higher than this, but that doesn't necessarily mean the game can't, somehow. (Can't damage to units exceed 255? Did you ever try a maxxed shot weapon vs. units with maxxed health and high armor, Zombie?)

Another pic clearly shows that a PS blast of average HE 240 only has a radius of 10. Looks like 10 is the max radius for PS blasts. I say "max" because it may be smaller, if blast radius is linked to explosive strength, as it is for projectiles. My initial impression is that PSs don't follow the blast pattern for any other explosives, though.

If you are using numerical tiles Zombie, they should make things a lot clearer than I can. For one thing, I can't get exact numbers. And there are many restraints. But it must be a bit of work... you have to try to get a specific type of UFO to crash in a specific kind of terrain, right?

FWIW I might point out that quite a few of the crashed Terror UFOs looked the same (only 4 unique configs out of 10), but all 5 of the Supply crashes were unique. I guess it underlines how severe the effect of immediately destroying the other PSs can be. Try to space your PSs 11 tiles apart, Zombie. :) Or not... either way informs or confirms theories.

Interestingly, in one of my pix there is a Supply PS in the middle position that first got blasted from one side to a dead PS, then the death PS got vaporized from the other side.... and all that's left is the flames that come with a dead PS, laugh.

Ok, that's enough for now - MikeTheRed 22:23, 13 January 2007 (PST)

I have been rather busy the last couple days but I'll look into recreating a testing scenario with a custom UFO floorplan today. I think this will have to be a modified Battleship since that map has the largest editable area (30x30). However, BB's hacked desert landscape can only be used on scouts due to the MCD limits. A Large Scout will have to work for now (map size of 20x20). If I do not use BB's desert landscape (as may be necessary if we want to add extra Power Sources), I could probably create my own desert map (sans those nice numbers in BB's example) just to get an overview of the situation. All crashed UFO's will therefore have to be shot down over the desert landscape to see any changes to the terrain.

I haven't tried a maxed weapon strength with a subject having maxed armor and health yet. (I'll do this tonight to see what happens). However, if shot weapons follow explosive, then I'd assume weapon damage can go above 255. (Remember my tests with the Blaster Bomb? Subjects could receive more than 255 damage points with a direct GZ hit. The theoretical max was 300 [200*3/2] while I observed a max of 298 over 55 trials). --Zombie 13:26, 14 January 2007 (PST)

Mike, you may want to take a look at the post I made here.

I ended up using BB's numerical tileset and a modified Medium Scout map for testing the blast strength of the PS. It worked really well.

BTW, a Large Scout has a map size of 20x20 so by placing a PS at each corner of it the explosions shouldn't overlap. This may be handy for testing multiple explosions. 2 would work fine, but 4 PS modules could also be crammed on the map to check on overlap and/or the explosion order. --Zombie 18:51, 17 January 2007 (PST)

Thanks for that other post! It seems pretty clear that there's an explosion order. 9 times out of 10 probably isn't coincidence. But it could have been! Hehe - MikeTheRed 19:39, 17 January 2007 (PST)

Does anyone ever remember seeing aliens injured by crash-landing? In my vague recollection of times when I MC everything, they are all either fine, or dead, at crash sites... never injured.
I've seen injured aliens from pre-BattleScape power plant explosions. They're generally toast if the walk into a fire :( [This is from studying XCOMUtil reports at DIS:2.] It's more common with Large Scouts, but not unthinkable with crashed Terror Ships.

Probably the reason for this dichotomy is people are thinking too advanced - as if the game simulated the explosion while in the air when the UFO was intercepted. What most likely happens is the game spawns all the aliens in their starting points around the map, then fires the explosion. So only the aliens that are in the ship, near the PS, can be damaged or injured, where more realistically you might expect more to be in the vicinity (especially for medium scouts of course). Clearly this means the amount of injured aliens is going to tend to be very low compared to more realistic expectations.

Especially with the smoke of the explosion still around you could interpret this as the power systems have an emergency shut off when they are too damaged, which causes the crash, and the explosion only happens when they try to restart the engines/PS before they are fixed when the detect your team landing in the area, hence the explosion happening in the alien turn before you land. --Sfnhltb 10:46, 10 March 2007 (PST)

Elevator Shielding

Hi Tonic, I think this is the first time we've met. Well met.

I've never heard of Elevator Shielding before. I'm not playing XCOM ATM but in my recollection, they readily shoot through elevators. At least, from upper battleship floors to lower ones.

Who else has seen this alien base elevator shield?

Thanks for contributing, tb! - MikeTheRed 21:29, 21 June 2007 (PDT)

I've never seen what Tonicboy describes, but I have had troops toasted from one floor of the battleship to another. In fact, any amount of time spent on battleship raids should teach that the aliens are at least programmed to shoot DOWN lifts, because I can't count how many times that precious Commander I was after went into the top floor lift room, tried to fire his Blaster Launcher down the shaft, and turned himself into KFC. Also have lost troops to Heavy Plasma shots. However, the entrance elevator on the alien base is smaller(2x2) than the elevator on an alien battleship(3x3). So I'll present three theories that might explain what Tonicboy is seeing.
1: Aliens can only shoot down lifts, not up.
2: Aliens need a specific 'width' of elevator in order to shoot up or down through, and the Alien Base elevator is too narrow.
3: Aliens can't shoot through a space that has a unit on it, regardless of whether there is the capacity for the shot to connect or not. What's keeping the aliens from firing is not the fact that they can't shoot up or down, it's that every space on the elevator is occupied by a soldier. This means that with 9 troopers, or 5 troops and a tank, you could replicate this situation on an alien Battleship.
I have no idea which theory is correct, but I just thought I'd offer my insight. Arrow Quivershaft 21:40, 21 June 2007 (PDT)
#3 doesn't make sense because they ought to be able to shoot at a unit.
re: #2: I did a little testing on a supply ship, and aliens didn't shoot down a lift at a soldier right below them. I think I saw them take shots when the soldier moved, although that might've been another alien I didn't spot.
I've definitely seen "lift immunity" in alien bases. Have all your troops retreat to the access rooms, plug up all the upper lift spaces, and watch the aliens swarm underneath without taking any shots. (Edit out Blaster Launchers first.) This is true for CE -- is it different for the DOS version?
--Ethereal Cereal 11:45, 22 June 2007 (PDT)

I think that blaster bombs ignore elevator shielding. can't be sure if any other weapons can, but I've seen them shoot down both battleship and alien base command center lifts with blaster bombs, and only blaster bombs.--(name here) 19:07, 26 November 2007 (PST)

Yes, but it does not have to be a Blaster Bomb; any weapon can shoot up or down a lift, unless it is one of those weird situations where the Alien could shoot at you, but it will not. - NinthRank 06:19, 27 November 2007 (PST)
elevator shielding is the name for those situations. but it does not seem to apply to aliens with blaster launchers. maybe aliens don't shoot straight up or down a lift?

Only for large 2x2 or 3x3 sized lifts (alien base and command room/battleship respectively). For these, they can fire at an angle with no trouble - and so can you. In the Collectors Edition, 1x1 sized lifts give them trouble on account of the bug that sends the blaster bomb to the south of the map when any attempt to set any waypoints above or below each other occurs. You can fire it up and down a 1x1 lift if fired at just the right angle, but the AI isn't smart enough to do that.

I don't think any shielding really occurs for the lifts, myself. At least, not in UFO. It may differ slightly in TFTD, so some observations would probably be needed to round it all off.

Has anyone tried reversing the positions of the alien and the soldier to see through the POV of the alien? It might just be that the alien has a harder time spotting a unit directly below it. Perhaps some heavy use of mind control, or even simply using XComutil's SWP command might be of some help here. - NKF 20:41, 27 November 2007 (PST)

Cleanup or deletion needed

Some observations

  1. This discussion page itself needs a lot of cleanup. A big chunk of it needs to be moved to UFO Crash Recovery - or deleted altogether if it's a duplication.
  2. The item on the main page about LIBLOB is a bug fix, not an exploit. The money exploit part of it should be moved to ExploitsA (Free Stuff).
  3. The item about RESEARCH is also a bug fix, not an Exploit
  4. The long series of disjointed items describing an alternate scenario have become very poorly structured. They definitely do not describe an Exploit. Perhaps they could be moved to Making The Game Harder (apart from the fact that the scenario is nerfed so much e.g. with $100M/month funding.

So probably this whole page could be de-linked from Exploits, dismembered, repurposed onto other pages a little, and then orphaned/deleted. Spike 12:47, 18 November 2008 (CST)