The secret behind Fallout 76’s whopping 47GB updates

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An intern rewrote the game’s code to allow the existence of human NPCs.

Without considering in-game bugs plaguing the game, Fallout 76‘s release on Bethesda‘s launcher on PC was riddled with issues. Some of the players who preloaded the beta discovered with horror that the download restarted from scratch, and those who did not purchase the game found it impossible to remove the then useless files. Lately, players were amazed at the insane size of the updates. Whereas the whole game takes 96.6 GB of space, recent updates were in the magnitude of 47 GB each.

To understand how that could happen, we reached out to Howard Zodd, director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios. He explained to us that it is all because of an employee that was tasked with updating the Fallout 4 engine for Fallout 76.

Lars is an intern at Bethesda, and he is the one responsible for transforming Fallout 4‘s single-player engine into Fallout 76‘s multi-player engine. He has no previous experience with multi-player games, and it’s quite hard to protect these games against hackers and cheaters. His idea was to split the game into two halves, like two .zip archives if you will, but encrypted. One half is Fallout 4, the other half is Fallout 76. This causes performance issues here and there, but at least our game is hack-proof!

What happened is that there was a small bug that made human NPCs disappear. Initially, there were many quests and story-lines revolving around deep and interesting characters, but a nasty bug spread and deleted them all. A really nasty spreading disease, you could say. So Lars was tasked to fix this issue. That’s what the patch is all about, enabling human NPCs again. Then later on Lars will code new stories including humans, and it will be great.

As I mentioned earlier, the game is divided into two archives. And it turns out that Lars had to rewrite the code for the whole Fallout 76 part! He did it overnight.

We know that crunch and overtime is not a good practice in today’s industry, but what other choice did we have? Now that half the game code has been rewritten, we can evaluate the necessity to write new NPCs into the game.

Lars is 17 years old and he has been doing his best to make the game run quite well, despite the circumstances. I find that all the people complaining are oppressing and harassing him. You all people are just entitled and complain whenever the gaming industry changes its business model or implement microtransactions, or when we decide that our next games should be released on mobile. It’s getting really annoying, can’t you just enjoy whatever we do instead of directing your complaints at the poor sod working hard to bring those products to life?

Rewriting half the game’s code overnight! Lars is pretty good, even though he is to blame for the buggy release.

Edit: We learned that Lars made another blunder!

Is Lars a hero?
36 votes · 36 answers

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