Hedgehog Launch Retrospective, Contest

We recently had a contest for Hedgehog Launch that had an interesting outcome, and I thought I might share it.  A few users discovered methods of “channelling” which is not only brilliant but totally needs to be explained, along with a breakdown of my game, which I thought might make an interesting article.

If you have never played Hedgehog Launch, it is a strategy/skill/luck game in which the objective is to shoot a hedgehog into space in as few days as possible.  Players can reach higher ground each game by buying upgrades, and you are awarded cash based on your ability to collect coins and hit springboards while in midair.  At the end of each level, players get an additional bonus based on the length of the time and the height of the launch.

How This Works

The game seems infinite in each direction, but because Flash can’t create infinity the game has to create a world as you go.

The game breaks up the world into 1,000 pixel areas (called Segments) horizontally in each direction.  Every Segment is an area where a number of coins and platforms are loaded.  Each time your player moves across a Segment, a new Segment will be added.

In order to keep Flash performing up-to-speed (it lags when too many coins and platforms are around), the game will only generate a new Segment only when you are traveling into a new one.  That Segment is generated after the one you are entering, so if you kept moving forward you would always hit more Segment.  In addition, it will destroy a Segment behind the one you are exiting, as it is far behind you and probably forgotten at this point.  This way the game won’t have millions of Segments loaded.

So to make things easy, there are a few Segments always active… the couple in front of you, the couple behind you, and the one that you are in.

Now players have figured out that this loading system can be manipulated to an advantage.  Even though the Segments are invisible and hard to distinguish in-game, they can be guessed and found.

So by running back and forth over the Segment boundry, they can easily manipulate the game to generate a ton of content in a Segment over and over again, essentially creating a wonderful wall of coins and platforms.

By default, the current values are assigned to a single Segment:

  • 10 Blue Launchers
  • 2 Green Launchers
  • 2 Yellow Launchers
  • 40 Bronze Coins
  • 20 Silver Coins
  • 5 Gold Coins

Which means that these players could generate nearly 100+ gold coins in an area quite easily, especially if they used the parachute.

So easily I could classify this as a bug, since I should have been destroying Segments far earlier (like after you leave one), but as this glitch is far too subtle for the common player to find I haven’t even recognized the problem until now.

Which brings me to my apology to DragonSoul and SP3000.

When these users presented videos of massive amounts of coins and platforms in very small areas, I asked, “How is this even possible!?”  I dismissed it as a “variable hack,” which is a method of hacking in which you take the Flash file and edit some variables (like how many coins and platforms are loaded) and then have a shopping spree.

But after watching the videos again, I noticed that the users indeed manipulate the Segment loading, which was completely in-bounds.  An additional email from DragonSoul confirmed the tactics used, and in the end, once again, DragonSoul and SP3000 took first and second place, respectively.

I’ll be sending the top three prizes, so I’ll be emailing you guys soon.

-John

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