The day twinkle trees killed Ultima Online’s Christmas

    
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In a pretty amusing Twitter thread in which game designers admit to goofy and horrible mistakes, Ultima Online creator Raph Koster owned up to a silly error that managed to do what the Grinch could not: stop Christmas.

The culprit? Christmas trees. “We didn’t have art for them,” Koster wrote, “so I attached a script to a generic pine that spawned the little colored gemstones we did have and vertically offset them. Then they each had a script with periodic callbacks to appear and vanish, so they twinkled.

“Then we gave one Xmas tree to every player who logged in. Thousands of trees each with twenty callbacks on approx one second intervals. The message queue overloaded on every server and crashed the entire service. On Christmas. I had the week off.”

Ho-ho-holy moley!

Source: Twitter

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squid

Kinda makes me think of the black hole bug, except that didn’t take down the server—just any player who wandered into the area.

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Michael18

I wonder in which year that happened.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I think 1998 was the first Xmas we got trees. :D

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Armsbend

Heh good story Raph!

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socontrariwise

Reminds me of that time I played around with an UO emulator trying to program an animal reproduction system. I made really short cycles of a few seconds only for fertility-pregnancy-birth to see if it all works. What I had not considered is that every offspring of course would have the same cycle once mature. And I had still set the maturation timer to really short periods.
Needless to see within 2 or 3 minutes of starting the script I had an avalanche of exponentially reproducing horses in that little enclosure and my server crashed…

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Schlag Sweetleaf
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johnd212

That’s a great story. Seems like such an easy thing to do but I guess not thinking bigger gets you in trouble.