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?