These 10 Dev Hacks will change the way you make games

Have you heard of bearing tomatoes? The phrase comes from Tumblr viral post, which jokingly describes a fictional situation where the player finds a random sample of a tomato hidden within a game – a tomato that, if removed, will end up breaking the entire game. In a way, this single random tomato model was the only viable solution, making it a strangely efficient developer hack.

This concept refers to a very real and familiar practice in game development. Developers have often had to hack a solution that somehow fixes random issues without breaking the game further.


Sometimes, these solutions are easy. However, others require more creativity. This kind of brave problem solving results in some hilarious and witty genius solutions, which once again shows how incredibly creative game developers can be. Here are some of the best of those hacks, from floating models to NPCs with train helmets.

#1 – killer creationCharacter Structures

Charles Randalldeveloper working on the original version Doctrine killerfor a sneak peek at the fans behind the upgraded curtain. NPC owner It was a one-armed killer – though, due to budget constraints, the developers weren’t able to create a custom skeleton for its model. Faced with such a challenge, the developers used a simple solution – turning the lever inside out.

Randall also went on to point out that the horse mannequins were just “twisted and deformed human skeletons” on the inside. Since their current tools only work with biped models, the developers had to figure out a workaround that would allow them to place and move horses in the game. Although the image of the twisted skeleton was a bit unsettling, it was another hack that creatively bypassed the limitations of tools. As Randall comments, “Greetings to the amazing professionals and animators who managed to make this guy look like a horse!

#2 – The last part of the United States, part two Eli’s gun

Originally spotted by u/TheUFCVeteran3, Ellie’s rifle actually jumps out of her arms as the player looks through her scope. Although it looks like telekinesis, it’s actually a simple way for developers to get a grip on scope weapon mechanics. Players need to be able to see through the weapon as if through Ellie’s eyes without creating shearing problems. The best way to do this? Just put the gun back next to it.

#3 – fallout 3Nearsightedness

The story of this hack comes from Developer Nate Purkeypilewho was a major artist in fallout 3 and DLC Point Lookout. Purkeypile worked alongside artist Grant Struthers, who is credited with this specific solution.

In this downloadable content, Point Lookout Palace inevitably explodes. Though, due to the building’s economy, most of the outlying assets were actually fixed – including the mansion itself. This means that developers can’t toggle remote items on or off, which of course makes blasting difficult. Their solution was to make the palace itself explode.

Making Minor itself a dynamic asset means developers can toggle it on/off, even if it’s a little tricky. The end result of this hack, however, creates exactly the type of effect you’re targeting.

#4 – titan questionhidden birds

Arthur Bourneau, now owner and designer entertainment cage, I once worked on an RPG for Iron Lore Entertainment Titan Quest. in Originally Posted by Game DeveloperBruno recounts one of the “smart things” he remembers from his development Titan Quest.

Titan QuestIt, like many RPGs, managed its missions through the event programming system. However, the event/task system has a major weakness – it can’t delay actions once they’ve been triggered. This means that any action that is triggered will happen instantly, without leaving much room for timing ingenuity.

Nearing the end of development, a QA tester came up with an upgraded hack. In the midst of the pre-launch chaos, the tester was able to figure out how to delay the actions that were triggered based on the length of the animation.

The tester used one of the squirrels in the game, which eventually became the game’s default timing system. Therefore, hidden in the levels scattered throughout the game are invisible squirrels, dictating the player’s tasks and events with their own idle animations. Fortunately for the testers, their creations were upgraded to a designer on the next project.

#5 – SkyrimHidden Characters Inventory Box

Skyrim doesn’t have quite a few NPCs, and each has dialogue trees, animations, and paths. Managing their behaviors themselves is nothing short of a huge task, not to mention keeping track of inventories and player interactions. One way for developers to ease the burden on NPC tracking? Hidden chests.

Almost every NPC in the game has a chest hidden under the map that stores their inventory for them. This helps lighten the system’s burden of keeping track of inventories, leaving instead for the asset to hold the fund. Some of these chests are impossible to get to, but a good number of them aren’t hidden very deep. With some slashing (of course) through the floors, players can actually loot these NPC chests instead of trading. Anything to save a little gold, eh?

#6 – fallout 3Hack helmet train

Once again, anecdote from fallout 3DLC’s contents make the list. This hack comes from fallout 3The third addition to Broken Steel DLC. In the game, players climb and board the train; However, instead of the train being a separate moving model, the developers used a different trick to travel.

Upon “entering” the train, the game provides players with a helmet that changes their point of view to look like a train. This armored piece comes with its own camera animation, which moves the first player’s camera forward along a specific path. This helps accommodate the fact that downloadable content does not have a vehicle system, creating a bug-free and relatively cheap solution.

Player character with equipped train helmet. Foolish!

#7 – mythdefault texture

Sometimes a developer hack isn’t weird or big, but it’s simple and elegant. Oftentimes, when you are faced with a crisis or impending deadlines, the simpler solution works the smoother. Artistic designer Luke Parkes-Haskell He narrates one of these solutions on Myth: The Journey.

The RPG suffered from last-minute build issues. The textures didn’t show up, creating swathes of default gray in otherwise beautiful environments. Though, with the shipping date approaching, there was little time to find an elegant solution to the build problem. Instead, they simply chose to change the default physical green grass – problem solved!

#8 – outer worlds‘TV DIORAMA

obsidian Artistic designer Taylor Soup Unveil a behind-the-scenes tale of fantasy RPG outer worlds. Throughout the game, players communicate across a vast expanse of space through a number of screens and broadcasts. Characters communicate through television broadcasts or personal video messages – and as it turns out, these scenes are actually captured directly in the game.

The game places the characters in a diorama outside the player’s level, standing in front of a background depicting where the character is connected from. This hack replaces the long and costly process of creating cinematic movies, leaving teams to focus on the most pressing matters. Smart, simple, and economical, this hack is the definition of business with what you have.

#9 – Star Wars The Old Republicbarrel bombs

A vibrant world full of chaos and fighting, Star Wars The Old Republic Allow players to use explosives and lightsabers. However, the difficulties of combat were balancing the damage caused by people versus things.

George Zoeller, lead combat designer, shared his version of a developer hack he used in the last game. The story, told through Huge entertainment product Pal Hofstein on me Twitter theme, Describe the mechanics of exploding game barrels. “The barrel bombs are filled with invisible people shrunk because only people are the right source of damage. At first, these guys were complicated models, but after they found out that they lowered the frame rate, they were replaced by a much simpler version. Maybe a little annoying to shoot, but if it works, it works!

#10 – Donkey Kong 64Free Memory Expansion

Back in the days of the Nintendo 64, this solution proves that developers have been using creative solutions since the beginning of large-scale game development. Donkey Kong 64 Released in 1999, it was the first N64 game that required the new 8MB expansion pack to run for the system. the reason? Unsolvable error.

in Director interview with programmer Chris MarloweMarlowe explained that a difficult glitch would repeatedly cause the game to crash. It seemed random, but only caused crashes when it was configured to the standard 4MB N64 memory setup. Even after extensive testing and research, the developers couldn’t find the root cause and eventually used an outside developer hack – they released the game with the included Expansion Pak.

Although the developers could not find a software solution, they made use of the available hardware to solve the problem. This is what makes this a clever hack of its own in my book, and it shows that sometimes developers have to search out of the game for the right tool.

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