QfG5: Bugs

I’ve been doing as much as I can with the Thief before starting the Rites. I expect the Rites will go fairly quickly once I start them, since I already know the puzzles for most of the game, will have most of my stats maximized already, and won’t have lengthy combat scenes slowing me down.

It turns out that the Thief does get a certain number of points for wrongdoing. I basically just hadn’t been aiming high enough. Why should a master thief be rewarded for pinching a vase from an empty house when there’s a bank vault to rob? I think I’ve gotten all the Thief-only points you can get pre-Rite, but it took some doing. Much of my gaming time since my last post was spent battling a bug that prevented the game from acknowledging one of my deeds.

The bug occurs when you try to learn pickpocketing, the new thief skill for this game. It’s not clear to me if picking pockets is ever actually worthwhile in gameplay terms — the loot you get is paltry, and accompanied by a hefty loss of Honor. But you get five points the first time you do it successfully, so clearly it’s a skill I have to learn. The Thieves’ Guild has the traditional practice dummy covered in bells, and training on it can also yield five points, in theory. (The Deeds list describes it as “Successfully pickpocket the dummy”, but in fact it seems to take several successes at increasing difficulty levels.)

qfg5-pickpocketIn the first session where I tried training on the dummy, I got my five points, but subsequently quit without saving. (I had gone on a pickpocketing spree as soon as I had the skill, resulting in no successes and unaccaptable loss of Honor.) Resuming later, I found that I could never get the coin from the dummy’s pocket: even when I avoided the bells, I was told that I had “already stolen all that was there”. I don’t know the exact cause — I had some theories, but they didn’t hold up under testing — but the dummy seems to sometimes get stuck in the “already picked” state if you fail to pick it on your first try in a visit. I ultimately got around this by training up my pickpocket skill before even trying it on the dummy, by repeatedly attempting to rob the guy tending shop in the guild hideout. (This never succeeds, but it’s a lot faster than training on the dummy, and doesn’t cost any Honor.)

There are a lot of bugs in this game — more than I’d expect after applying patches by both its creators and its fans. I’ve mentioned a few: the problems with sound and video, the poor keyboard response that makes some combat options unusable. The game uses a set of custom mouse pointers (the appearance varying with context), but on my system the OS default mouse pointer overrides it. Quite by chance, I discovered that you can fix this by switching to another app with alt-tab and then switching back, so now that’s the first thing I do at the beginning of every session. Then there’s the probably-inadvertent imbalance of breath weapons, which are nearly instant death. This cuts both ways: the Wizard has a spell, “Frost Bite”, that acts like a breath weapon, making him basically invincible as long as his supply of mana potions holds out, but the Fighter has great difficulty getting his Fighter points for slaying dragonlike monsters. The Dragonlings, miniature dragons that swarm like bats, are particularly fearsome in this regard, because their breath has the strongest offensive capability imaginable: the ability to crash the game.

qfg5-errThose bugs are probably all consequences of playing the game on a sytem with specs years in advance of anything that the programmers could have tested on. Even the breath-weapon imbalance could well be a matter of not correcting for CPU speed correctly. There’s another class of bugs, game logic bugs that must have been present from day one, such as when you examine a mounted skull in the Adventurers’ Guild and get the response “Oops! You tried something we didn’t think of. SCI version 1.000.072”. For the most part, these are minor things, and easily detectable when they happen.

The really insidious thing about the pickpocket-dummy bug is that it’s something that you wouldn’t necessarily notice when it happens. It’s only by luck that I managed to “successfully pickpocket the dummy” the first time. I could have easily played the rest of the game, and wound up wih 995 points and no clue about where to find the rest. Even worse is knowing that most players probably wouldn’t care. In trying to find help for the bug online, not only did I not find any suggestions, I found that the people asking for help with it were outnumbered by the people who said things like “Don’t bother learning Pickpocketing, it’s not worth it.” Which makes me doubt my points-as-motivation thesis somewhat. It seems they’re only a motivation for some people.

1 Comment so far

  1. indowill on 28 Dec 2013

    yup. I’m here, because I’m playing QFG5. and a dragonling’s breath just crashed my game.

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