The Daily Grind: What’s the most painful bug you’ve ever encountered in an MMORPG?


I’ve been playing a bit of Ultima Online lately, and the other night as I was working on my skills, I remembered a horrible bug that afflicted the entire game for weeks way back in the very beginning. UO back then had an interesting system whereby you could actually learn skills by watching other people doing them — if somebody swung a sword or strummed a lute or cast a spell within a certain distance from you, there was a small chance you’d get a skill-up yourself, assuming you had room left in your template, which was capped at the time at 700 skill points. It was neat!

The problem came about when a bug allowed skilling-by-watching to actively subtract points from skills you didn’t want to drop. That, combined with the fact that low-level skills raised very quickly, meant that griefers could run around banks spamming skills people were unlikely to have or want, thereby causing everybody to lose skills they’d spent months working up to the cap. My best friend and I lost dozens of points in our favorite skills before realizing what was going on and logging out for our own safety, and nope, EA didn’t restore anyone affected. How we ever kept playing after that, I’ll never understand. If something like that happened to me in an MMO today and the studio did nothing, I’d probably walk away.

What’s the most painful bug you’ve ever encountered in an MMORPG?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Robert Mann

There was this one bug where characters literally weren’t able to be used as they were left falling forever in ESO. They fixed it, and there were a few work-arounds that could help… but it was very painful at times.


This was in FFXI. It was against some mob that only spawned like once every 3 days or some insane shit like that. I only fought it once so this wasn’t as big a deal to me but there were people that camped this thing religiously for the weapon it dropped. Turned out that the drop was totally bugged and it wouldn’t drop the thing AT ALL.


Pathing bugs in EQ could range from amusing to “OMG camp a cleric!”. Z-axis aggro was the worst in that game.


Did not experience this one myself (unfortunately), but in WoW a hot candidate for the trophy surely must be:

Though it’s unclear if it’s the most painful bug or the best open world event that WoW ever had.

Bryan Correll

I like to think of that one as an unexpected feature rather than a bug.

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smaller bugs like being stuck in a wall or falling through the floor are annoying. Especially when you can’t escape out of it.
For people whos mother tongue isn’t english translation or dumb dubbing errors are annoying as well. One of the reasons I play games in english.
Some other annoying things are invisible weapons after a fast travel or boss NPCs with some crazy skills or abilities after a patch (“Sorry wasn’t intended we patch it back to normal” situations).
I’ve never encountered a really painful bugs. Some special occasions ended up with “yeah this is intended to be like this” and I wasted time and /or ingame money on it ..
Some games have content you can no longer play or achievements you can no longer achieve because the area in which those things are into is dead and you are supposed to do it with a group of people. It’s not a bug by itself but it’s hard to play an MMO with no-one around. The only thing you can do is to gather your friends and guildies … at 2am in the morning on a tuesday because you have a day off but nobody else …

the worst bugs are bugs you encountered and report them and ..nothing happens for years .. :( I still have at least a minimal amount of trust in devs and the CM’s but it’ll fade eventually.

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Mine wasn’t huge, game-breaking, or anything like that. In the grand scheme of things, it was rather minimal. But, at the time and for a good while after, it was flat-out Infuriating.

In WoW, early on as a Holy Priest you mainly had the choices of gearing for Int or Spirit. And you lived by meticulously maximizing your time-outside-of-6-seconds. But then, a few interesting items started showing up, mainly “trash greens”, with a new stat. MP/5. You could start working on gearing towards a build that was effective inside the 6 second timeframe. And right at the beginning, it was laughed off by most priests and embraced by a small number of us. Mainly, those of us who weren’t favoured raid leader loot-sponges, the folks who typically got put onto long grueling healing duties where we had to be flexible and constantly active. For us, it was amazing.

However, Blizzard had pretty bad Quest ID sanity-checking. And this is where for me and a small percentage of others, things fell apart.

See, I played an Undead priest. I don’t know if the game still has them, but early on you’d get race/class-specific low-level quests that primarily were “teach you how to do your job” basics. And, being a good little Undead Priest, I did them along the way, and thought nothing of it, even long after they were changed/removed as Blizz made little tweaks here and there.

However, fast-forward to the MP/5 gear starting to filter in. Outside of getting a lucky drop (I think in the then-new DM?), which I was never going to get because RNG hates me, there was one MP/5 weapon you could definitely get. It came from a questline, and was called the Lorespinner.

And I could not get the quest. Just wasn’t there.

See, after a bunch of digging on the forums, talking with other old/new/different-race Priests, we determined by comparing that those very few of us that had the same issue compared to everybody else were the launch-day or soon-after Undead Priests. And only the ones who had done those original starter undead zone priest quests…

Blizzard apparently recycled the QuestID in their database, leading to our characters showing as having completed that quest, and thus it was never on offer to us. And despite petitioning GMs/Support, there was no help to be had. Simply a “Sorry, but you’ve completed that quest, the system must be right”.

More MP/5 Priest-usable weapons did trickle in over time, but that one still sticks with me to this day as it was so clearly delineated as to who it would/wouldn’t affect. And of course, for Blizzard support’s responses.


It’s fun to read these. I’ve encountered plenty of bugs, but none that I’d consider painful. One of the more annoying, yet funniest was when the Lotro Loremaster pets were bugged. If you were attacked by any mob while riding, even if the aggro had passed and you were miles away, when you dismounted your pet ran back to kill the mob. Funny as hell, but yes, annoying.


FFXI did a big patch once, it cause xbox 360 uses to endlessy crash upon trying to leave certain zones. Had to give my account info to a friend who played on PS2 and have him move my character out of Jeuno for me, was extremely frustrating.

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EQ1 death loops come to mind. Less of an issue now that you can just wait in corpse mode after you’re killed, but you used to get kicked back to your bind spot quickly/immediately. If there was a mob there, it just kept killing you over and over.

Also Ultima Online black holes. Players could fill a bunch of containers with 125 items (the limit), stack those containers on top of each other and then use an axe to destroy them, dropping the contents on the ground. This created single tiles with thousands of items on them that the client simply couldn’t handle and you’d crash whenever you got close to one and be unable to log back in to that character. People would make them in houses built close to cities/moongates/etc to crash as many people as possible—and since they were in houses, the items never decayed.

Oh, and rollbacks. Remember rollbacks? Ultima Online had daily rollbacks—a period of time between the last save of the day and when servers would drop for daily maintenance. People who knew about them had some fun—they’d break out their invuln armor, reflect items and vanq weapons and head to Brit GY for what was known as Server Wars (basically a no-consequences PvPfest)—but new players would just lose whatever progress they had made during that time.


nice list!

oh and the EQ1 bug… considering the death penalty that one must’ve been fun, lol.

Danny Smith

WoW phasing leading to finishing a quest, a whole new quest hub supposed to show up and you not transitioning to that phase and being told “just check later” was pretty bad.