how some bugs in games became features

how some bugs in games became features

Many psychologists advise working on acceptance. For example, admitting your mistakes. Some game developers took this seriously and decided: “Why not?” – And made their mistakes part of the gameplay. Let’s try to learn from their experience!

Beginning of acceptance processing

To be able to accept your mistakes and learn from them, you only need to take a folk remedy every day… Just kidding. There will be no folk remedies and quackery, but there will be stories about how bugs allowed by developers later became inspiration for new features.

These stories will be gently retold by the author to support your programming spirit. After all, it was not for nothing that I said about acceptance at the beginning: it is difficult for many to understand and realize that mistakes are part of any process, and even more so in programming. Let’s look at the experiences of others.

Before we start, I will make a caveat: unfortunately, in our life, such beautiful gods will not always appear, which we can use to our advantage. Some mistakes are just mistakes.

By the way, when it comes to games, I suggest you entertain yourself with a quiz based on Serhiy Kushnerenko’s articles. In them, Serhiy described various interesting bugs in the game code. Try to see if you can find them.

After taking the quiz, you will most likely feel something like this:

However, later you will feel ease and understand that now all problems and mistakes are just dust.

As they say, happy programming games to you, and may luck always be with you 🙂

Stardew Valley. The way to a woman’s heart is also through her stomach

Stardew Valley is a meditative farming simulator where the player can build his farm, mine ore and build relationships with the villagers of Stardew Valley.

Imagine: you dig your beds, you don’t touch anyone, and suddenly you decide that it’s time to find a soul mate. And here she is, beautiful Abigail with blue hair, looking very attractive. You decide to give her a beautiful stone – a whole diamond for a second – and she responds:

“Hey, how did you know I’m hungry? This looks delicious!”

And he is chewing your diamond.

Think this confused the developers? In no case! They did not condemn the behavior of the character after drinking this glitch from the game, but even supported it. If you decide to take a brave step and offer Abigail your hand and heart, she will be happy to tell you about this unusual passion for eating various stones after the wedding.

And they say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Not only men, it turns out 🙂

Translation: “Heading to the mines? Listen… if you find something tasty, don’t forget to bring me some!”

Now our hero with a hoe and a nugget will have to go down to the dungeon even more often to keep his chosen one (or girlfriend) satisfied.

Dwarf Fortress. Alcohol on coal

Dwarf Fortress is a construction and management simulator where you control a settlement of dwarves and try to build an underground fortress.

Disclaimer! Alcohol harms your health! Dwarves are adults, so they can drink. Do not take an example from the dwarves.

Who would have thought that mistakes could be so delicious? So you thought it was impossible to make a dish out of spirits? It wasn’t here. In Dwarf Fortress this is possible and all thanks to a bug. The fact is that the players began to try to roast alcohol and, surprisingly, they succeeded. You can see the result on the screen:

The developer liked this bug so much that he kept the ability to cook from alcohol, but fixed only one thing: food from alcohol now does not melt at temperatures below room temperature.

Dwarves now have more opportunities in cooking, congratulations!

Minecraft. From dirt to princes, from a pig to…

Minecraft is a sandbox game built from cubes, where the player can implement the most interesting ideas: from ordinary survival to the recreation of cultural monuments.

Many in our team love this cubic wonder (and I am no exception). When I was still living in the dorm, I liked to play it, but not for long, because the Creeper suddenly exploding or hordes of zombies appearing out of nowhere would make me scream, which my neighbors didn’t like. In general, my mental health is not ready for unexpected things.

Yes, I am the man who was very afraid of those terrible sounds:

Here is our green friend, the Creeper, because of which I sat in tension – it is the product of a developer’s error. He wanted to make the pig model longer horizontally, but instead he made it vertically, pulling the poor lead upwards. As a result, the developer liked it so much that he made the already well-known Creeper part of the game world. And the reason for many undermined… well, you yourself know 🙂

Quake. The bug jumped and jumped and jumped

Quake is a revolutionary computer game in the first-person shooter genre, where you must destroy monsters and find ancient artifacts (and then have fun with friends in multiplayer).

Did you think that mistakes in mathematical calculations can only lead to bad consequences, due to which it is necessary to calculate again, redo, puzzle? But no.

In Quake, it worked in the opposite direction: mistakes made by the developers created as many as two features that became part not only of the “quake” world, but also of future game worlds.

Some will say that actually these bugs were still in Doom, but still the idea that these bugs can be used as a feature has gone since the Quake era.

Well, for example, did you know that everyone’s favorite rocket-jump, which is in Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch, is thanks to the developers of Quake, who were a little mistaken? Now you know. Keep the grenade launcher and go! More precisely, up!

TF2 lore experts will reasonably claim that the rocket-jump was invented by Shakespeare to climb the stairs. We will not argue with this. No, you have seen this “great writer”, have you?

Another mechanic became popular thanks to a bug in the Quake engine.

When I played various shooters, I did not understand what was so funny about the fact that players jump when they run. And only then was it explained to me that it significantly accelerated movement on the map. It’s funny, but it’s also thanks to a mistake by the Quake developers: a small error in mathematical calculations led to the fact that now you can slide through the game’s platforms like butter. It all happened after players alternately pressed the left and right buttons with the forward button held down, thereby gaining a 1.41x speed boost, and jumped like crazy.

By the way, speaking of “quack”. We have an article about one of the Quake updates: “Qua! How code was written in the days of Quake.”

I think this game gave a lot to the development of modern first-person shooters and to various games in general. Maybe there were such bogofits before, who knows. But it is thanks to the popularity of Quake that so many different mods and competitions have appeared.

Team Fortress Classic. MEDICINE! MEDICINE! Shit, it’s Spy!

Team Fortress Classic is a multiplayer online shooter where you have to compete for one of the Blue and Red teams and win using one of the many heroes.

Continuing the theme of bouncing on a rocket shot, one cannot fail to mention Team Fortress. The developers of TF probably also took an example from the developers of Quake regarding the use of bugs: this is how the beautiful character Spy was born. And, by the way, the bug again came from the Quake engine, because TF was originally a mod for the game of the same name.

It all happened because a player of the opposing team was painted in the color of the allied team, thereby pretending that he was his own. As a result, this player could easily run among enemies and eliminate them. The developers liked this bug so much that they made a character with this mechanic. This is how the Spy appeared.

Magicka. 🙁 There is a problem with your PC

Magicka is an isometric action-adventure where you will have to feel on your mantle what it is like to conjure real magic.

We are often wrong. Well, we can be wrong at least once, right? And we can assume errors in the code, right? We are all human. And the developers of Magicka on the first patch also thought so, and it turned out that the game was not in the best condition: the release had a lot of bugs, crashes, and some had a blue screen of death. Brrr, horror.

But what did the developers do? They recognized these mistakes and made a funny joke out of them. This, of course, is not a feature, but I cannot help but mention this “acceptance”.

They added a special spell, Crash to Desktop, which randomly targets anyone under 10,000 health and instantly eliminates them. Along with this maturation, a new mantle was available to the player, which consisted of scraps like peepholes and pixels, a sword broken to the hilt, and a staff that calls out bugs – bugs.

This is self-irony. This is what I understand – the attitude towards one’s mistakes. Also, take a look at what this spell looks like:

Did it turn out cool? 🙂

Devil May Cry. Virgil put away your aerial combos Virgil

Known for its cool combos, a huge number of cool ranks and pathos, the Devil May Cry series of games took its final form with all the listed mechanics not at once – the demonic brothers have a bug from another game to thank for this. In a previous CAPCOM game called Onimusha: Warlords, a bug allowed enemies to be thrown into the air and juggled while dealing damage.

“Why clean such a cool thing?” – probably the developers of CAPCOM thought and made the basis of the combat system of the already well-known Devil May Cry series.

Imagine a DMC action game without being thrown into the air. Hard, isn’t it? Although it is more difficult to imagine Dante without his pathos and pizzazz.

Civilization. Annihilation cannon of pacifism

Civilization is a series of strategic computer games with turn-based mechanics. You manage your civilization throughout time: from the creation of the world to the present day, and meet the greatest people in the history of mankind.

When I played Civilization, I didn’t really like getting into confrontations with neighboring countries. Building diplomatic routes – yes, growing rice – yes, making fanatics – hehe, yes. But I didn’t like playing war. I was afraid of one thing: what if Gandhi suddenly appeared with his nuclear guns and turned me into radioactive ash? I was afraid, I was afraid of this god, but in fact… He was not there!

Briefly about this bug, which is not a bug, but a feature.

Once upon a time there was an incident in Civilization where one of the main pacifist rulers in the history of mankind – Gandhi from India – decided that it would be nice to drop a nuclear bomb on the player. The rumor that this is a bug (Gandhi’s aggression level should be 1, that is, he should not attack at all), spread on the Internet, launching the Nuclear Gandhi meme (literally – Nuclear Gandhi).

Everyone began to wonder what the reason was, and here it is: it seems that there was a whole overflow, or rather its special case. Everything was explained by the fact that when the player changed the political regime to “democratic”, it automatically changed the aggressiveness of all rulers, making it smaller by two points. And here, if we calculate by complex mathematical methods, it turns out that Gandhi’s aggression became -1.

And here the same overflow comes into play, turning -1 into 255 and making the Indian pacifist the Indian sadistic dictator.

Years later, the game’s developer, Sid Meier, said that there was no such thing, and there was no overflow either. And the fact that in the next parts of the “tsiva” players saw Gandhi’s increased love for nuclear weapons and wars is just an easter egg from the developers for players who inflated the joke.

Completion of acceptance processing

Inhale exhale. Session ended. Acceptance processed, congratulations! I hope you’ve learned something new for yourself, both in terms of facts about your favorite games and bugs in general.

*lyrical music played, it started raining*

It happens that we make mistakes, then we see these mistakes and even get upset because of them, shedding bitter tears. But you shouldn’t do it. Smile, because as you can see from this note, even mistakes can become the beginnings of something new and beautiful. Use them, look at them and grow forward and only forward.

Thank you very much for reading.

If you want to learn about mistakes in the game industry that really should not be left aside, I invite you to read the articles of my colleagues:

  1. 30 years of DOOM: new code – new bugs

  2. We return to Grove Street. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas engine analysis on Unity

  3. From the screw! We look at the War Thunder engine and talk to its creators

Clean code to you, health, happiness and love 🙂

If you would like to share this article with an English-speaking audience, please use the translation link: Mariya Hlopova. Don’t fix anything — cultivate acceptance instead: bugs in games that have become features.

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