Living with Fantastic Worlds' Memory Bugs

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Learn how to avoid having your work thrashed by known bugs in Fantastic Worlds.

by Blackclove (January 1999)


Living with Fantastic Worlds' Memory Bugs

The first scenario I tried to design with Fantastic Worlds was a total flop.

My goal was to create a scenario around the idea of a war between red and black ants. The red ants had more firepower, but the black ants had cheaper units. Barbarian units were going to include spiders, termites, and other hazards of the insect world. Plus, I planned to use the events.txt file to occasionally generate the deadly Big Giant Sneaker unit. Cities, of course, were anthills, and the roads were "tunnels" that allowed faster travel by going underneath the grass and soil terrains. The idea was a good one, but I scrapped it and nearly pitched my copy of Fantastic Worlds (henceforth, FW) out the window. So, what happened?


Sl membugs ant.png


The Memory Problems

The essential problem is that FW has a serious memory management problem that corrupts scenarios periodically and can ruin your rules.txt file. The problem occurs only on some computers and you may be immune. It is also an unpredictable problem in the sense that it can merely cause FW to crash a lot, or it can actually wreck your files. For myself and several others, the latter is the case - but there are ways to avoid it, most of the time. I suggest the following precautions:

  • FW directly edits the rules.txt and other files, so you DO NOT need to save as a scenario after each edit. Instead, simply save your scenario as a normal game of Civ2. When you load it again, your rules.txt and other changes should all still be intact. If you must test your game as a scenario, make sure you first save it as a normal game and then save it as a scenario. Take the warning about "your changes not taking effect" very seriously. I strongly advise you to only use a single editor at a time.
  • Don't change your advances and your units in the same session! After making your edits to any one type of thing, save the game, quit, and then choose Load Game from the main Civ2 menu (the one where you can see the hall of fame). This has worked well for me as far as avoiding the memory leak, which seems to occur most often when you switch editors. It is even more frequent if you play for a while between doing the two edits. Paper code! Prepare your scenario from the ground up using note paper, the Notepad program, or your favorite word processor. When you're pretty sure you have something complete, code in the elements all at once.
  • Learn to edit the rules.txt and other files directly using notepad for small changes, like adding a single technology you found to be useful or fixing spelling mistakes. It's not that hard, and tutorials are available under the heading of "modpack design".
  • Back up all of your files to a separate directory from time to time. I like to create a Backup subdirectory that holds a copy of all of the files -- especially rules.txt and the art files, which seem to be the most frequently damaged. If your rules.txt file becomes corrupted, restore from backup.
  • Finally, be sure you refer to the Advanced Scenario Design Guide Advanced Scenario Design Guide by Leon Marrick. It has invaluable information about problems with particular technologies, improvements, and so on that can cause your scenario not to work.
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