WWAM Patch Explanation
Arizona, USA

On the cliffs of logic, there's a random chance for Alex to lose his balance and wobble. He also says the line "Whoa, wait a minute," so these wobbles have come to be known as WWAMs. These break your rhythm and take a moment (sometimes several seconds) to recover from.

The WWAMs work like this: every time you get on a rock, or after a WWAM happens, a counter gets set to a random number between 500 and 1000. Every RockStep subtracts one from that counter every game cycle until the counter hits zero, which triggers a WWAM. The faster your game cycles, the faster it goes down.

You can hold Enter while climbing the rocks, and this will avoid the WWAMs completely. However, we eventually found that people with faster CPUs will get WWAMs no matter what. So, in a practical sense, some people get none, others get a few each cliff climb, and some unfortunate souls get WWAMs constantly.

So, how have we tried solve this issue?

This behavior first came to our attention when we started using UrQuan's ScummVM, which runs closer to native DOS (and thus faster) than DOSBox or the official ScummVM. At first, we banned UrQuan's ScummVM and used DOSBox, which seemed to solve the problem for a while. Over time, however, as people with newer CPUs starting running the game, the WWAMs came back. DOSBox had slowed the game down just enough to fix it temporarily.

You might think to have everyone adjust the cycles setting in DOSBox to what their own computer can handle. However, setting the cycles to a specific number instead of max will give an audio initialization error at sufficiently high amounts. Setting it low enough to where the error doesn't happen means that the zips are significantly slower.

Some runners have addressed the problem by slowing their machines down, for instance by opening up a number of browser tabs or streaming while doing attempts (since OBS eats up CPU cycles). Another solution would be to track down older hardware specifically for the purpose of running the game.

The moderators and many runners of KQVI feel that these kinds of measures create an unnecessary barrier to entry.

In July of 2021, the community worked to create a patch that prevents the WWAMs from ever happening. (Credit to davidtki, DrD2k9, and Sluicebox.) You can find this patch in the resources section. If you do use this patch, simply indicate so on your run submission.

The patch doesn't eliminate anything critical to game progression, nor does it make the game any easier. It only makes it so that players potentially don't have to wait as long for Alex to move to the next step. Since some player's computers make the WWAMs a lesser possibility than other players, the patch eliminates an inherent unfair advantage without changing what actions are actually necessary to complete the game.

While patching out a game feature may seem extreme, it's the best solution we have to create a level playing field.

(Credit to DrD2k9 and Sluicebox for some explanations and wording.)

ChuckGrody likes this

How can I setup the game to play in this newly decided way?