Responding to allegations of deliberate sabotage raised by Gamasutra, developer Pavel Zagrebelnyy denied the existence of "timebombs" in the code:
"Well, I dont understand who and why started the rumours of sabotaging - apparently they are based on reverse engineering Spintires code? Anyways, publisher (Oovee) have the source codes so they know (they should) I didn't sabotage Spintires - there is no such code! But there is in fact a time-related bug (a self-check uses time functions to see if game wasn't cracked by pirates) which was not fixed in time (because we have little to no communicating with Oovee.) The bug was fixed a day ago and should be uploaded to Steam..."
According to Oovee, publisher of Spintires, a recent unauthorized "update" via Steam is causing the game to crash within minutes of launch.
Since mid-2014, gamers have been tearing around the countryside in heavy all-terrain vehicles,using maps and compasses to explore, refuel and get jobs done. Custom maps and content in particular have helped maintain longevity and a deeply-supportive community, but this rogue update has slammed the brakes on everybody's fun. Less than nine megabytes in size, it does not even show up in Spintires' launch schedule or in accordance with the game's last recorded update in December, yet numerous gamers have reported their version numbers reverting from 25.12.15c to 17.11.15 starting around February 23rd. Even completely uninstalling and reinstalling the game did not fix the issue.
There's been ongoing controversy between British publisher Oovee and Spintires' Russian developer Pavel Zagrebelnyy, as reported by Eurogamer, but it's not known at this time if that had anything to do with the current situation. Speaking unofficially, a forum moderator has tried calming the waves with candor, noting that an examination of the unauthorized update's code indicates it "behaves like a timebomb" but that they are not sure if that was the update's intent or a byproduct of something else. It hasn't helped that a similar bug took down the game back in February 2015, leading one gamer to ask if this wasn't Zagrebelnyy's "layoff countermeasure".
Angry fans who have been following the dramatically dysfunctional relationships behind the scenes were calling for heads to roll even before this revelation, and some have since reached out to TechRaptor seeking an investigation. While we don't know anything on the situation behind the scenes, we believe the situation regarding the game right now needed coverage for those who didn't know and bring the problems to light.
That became even more imperative when we heard that a fan of the game came up with a hotfix for the situation.
"Localhost" is the hero of the day:
Ok, I wrote a fix, just unzip the d3d9.dll and its config xml it in the directory that contains spintires.exe
(Yes it's a dll. Yes, I could have shoved a truckload of virus in there. No I didn't. Believe me if you want)
Normally it should prevent the game from crashing after 300s (+a bit depending on your luck) and custom maps should be back in the selection screen. If other things broke, this dll does not touch them... I recommend making a backup of your spintires.exe (or even your entire game directory) NOW!
Note: The V4 File is having some issues downloading. V3, which has also worked according to most users, is available here: http://spintires.nl/maps-are-gone-workaround-possible/
ADVISORY: We at TechRaptor have not tested this fix and you use it at your own risk. We did download V3 and scanned it for viruses, none turned up. However that is based on one anti-virus, on one set up, and doesn't test if the fix works. Still, praises of this DLL replacement are being sung on the official Spintires forums, so until there's an official fix this may be your best option. The community has already been trying various other methods, with varying levels of success and failure. At this time, an official hotfix is indeed in the works and is undergoing testing.
Kudos to the community for pulling together, and to Oovee's crew for their prompt, professional response. There's AAA outfits that could learn a thing or two from how these folks handle a game-breaking crisis. Let's get those tires spinning again!
How do you think this situation was handled? Is there more than meets the eye behind all this? Tell us in the comments below!