Massively Overthinking: Our favorite MMORPG bugs ever

Not the chess maneuver.

This week’s Massively Overthinking discussion topic is inspired by Crowfall’s J Todd Coleman, who last fall tweeted about the time playable spiders almost became a Thing in his earlier game, Shadowbane.

“In #Shadowbane we had a bug once where everyone logged in as a giant spider,” he said. “It was so fun that we considered making giant spider a playable race.”

Arachnophobes of the world notwithstanding, that would’ve been amusing! This piece isn’t about spiders, however, just about the bugs – entomology pun intended – that infest MMORPGs and turn out to be more entertaining than the kind of that merely spawn exhausted comment threads about the latest exploit. Tell us your best story about an epic MMO bug! What is your favorite MMORPG bug of all time?

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I’m sure there have been many bugs that have caught my attention, but Green Acres is the one I’ve actually written about! It was essentially an unfinished area of the world that you were not supposed to access, but of course people could “accidentally” fall into it thanks to bugs and use it for shenanigans, like my old guild leader and his illegal stash house. Before I let go my original account, I had dozens of runes marked to such “illegal” locations. It was so… harmless, and yet the secretive, exclusive nature of it all amused me.

But also? Never forget this poor NPC. He’s not dead; he’s just been arrested, see. With a crumpled torso. City of Heroes, never change.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): My favorite bug has to be the time that I became a kaiju in The Elder Scrolls Online. Shortly after the release of Elsweyr, there was a bug with the Necromancer class that could prevent them from receiving certain buffs or using certain skills. Mildly annoying, but it got interesting when I tried to use the Bone Goliath ultimate. It’s supposed to transform your character into a giant skeleton monster, but, because of the bug, my character would play the animation of growing, but wouldn’t actually become a goliath, meaning she would never go back to normal size. Each time I used Bone Goliath, she got bigger and never shrunk. After about half an hour of repeating this, I was about twice the size of the buildings. Best of all, this happened to me on my Argonian, for the true Godzilla experience. I posted a bunch of screenshots on my personal blog if you want to check them out!

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): So, this was one of the weirdest and most persistent bugs in Final Fantasy XIV, but it was the sort of bug that had nothing but fun impacts. Essentially, for a little while, there was a bug in the relaunched version where if you strafed right on a chocobo, you would enlarge slightly but notably. If you dismounted while strafing, you would still be larger than normal.

That was it. That was the whole bug. It went away if you mounted again or if you changed areas, and it didn’t affect your run speed or anything else. It just allowed you to get bigger suddenly for no reason whatsoever, by a significant enough margin that you could have miqo’te looking eye-to-eye with highlanders or elezen peeking over the heads of roegadyn. It was purely goofy and silly and fun, and I remember a bunch of people hanging out and just exploiting it for silly visual memes. It was fixed not too long after, but there were no penalties for using it, because why would there be? It was just goofy and silly fun.

The only downside was that it was not in Star Wars: The Old Republic because then we could have put a whole new spin on the “bigger Luke” conspiracy.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): The Legend of Ghost Bear from Lord of the Rings Online’s beta must be mentioned here. A bug caused a bear in the Old Forest to turn invisible, and in that state no one would know it was there until a terrible roar would utter from their speakers and the player would more likely than not fall out of their seat. Ghost Bear became notorious and beloved in a way, but the devs ended up “fixing” it before long.

Samon Kashani (@thesamkash): Probably one of my favorite bugs in Guild Wars 2 is when a character’s body animation gets stuck. It still happens pretty often and always to great amusement. You might get stuck with your first raised in the air. This one is great for pretending to be Superman.

Sometimes you get stuck with your upper body in the position it is when you get knocked down. Then you get to run around while you are staring at the ground.

Thinking of GW2 bugs, a month or two ago there was a big one with warrior banners becoming permanent. Players went to great lengths to write large messages and other silly outcomes. Harmless and fun.

Tyler Edwards: I don’t have a lot of super memorable MMO bugs, though I’ll definitely throw a nod to ESO’s infamous “running on top of your mount” bug. That’s never not hilarious. There’s also this goat from back in Mists of Pandaria who was taking Emperor Shaohao’s lessons on being one with the land a little too literally:

Outside of MMOs, though, I’ve had some fun ones in other online games. My favorite bug from the Heroes of the Storm alpha was easily Jaina’s buggy mount animations. Who doesn’t want to see Jaina Proudmoore surfing on a dinosaur?

The all time best bug I’ve personally experienced, though, is probably from StarCraft II co-op. See, in the weekly mutations, one of the tougher mutators you can be put against is Propagators. Propagators are enemy units that spawn around the map and then go after you. If they touch one of your units, it instantly becomes another Propagator. Obviously this can get very bad, very fast. Zeratul has a unit that creates a damage reflection aura. And when he first launched, it was bugged to also reflect the Propagators’ attacks, so instead of turning your units into Propagators, they would turn into Propagators under your control. Hilarity ensued.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!

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Years ago WoW introduced the ability for druids who were shapeshifted into travel form (stag form) to carry another player, like a mount. Players soon discovered the “stag stack” glitch, i.e. multiple stags all stacked on top of each other. These were all over the cities for a bit, really loved that bug :-)

For reference:


When The Secret World was just launched, I fell through a gap in the London Hub, and got stuck in a vast square looking up at the underside of it about 100ft above. You could see the train that is visible from some streets loop around the outside of the map and back in to the visible parts. What was worse was that back then you were given a teleport device as part of the intro, and I hadn’t gotten to that bit yet. Had to delete and reroll.

Also, secret world below The Secret World. Irony :D


I unfortunately no longer have a screenshot of it, but back in the day in Warcraft, I think in Ahn’Qiraj, there was a bug (see what I did there?) with endlessly spawning beetle mobs, long trains of them running through the tunnels. It was hilarious.

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Ysayle was right


…my behiney cheeks feel chafed just looking at that. >.<


The running on mounts bug ESO bug is my favorite.

P Jones

In DAoC Hibernia had a dungeon called the Coruscating Mines. At the bottom of the mine were some of the best XP mobs in the game (Not the best but great for sub 50): Weeweres. Well, getting to them was Hell.. so usually, once a group was down there they would have a list of people waiting to join. Joining usually involved running into the mines and past mobs to reach the edge of a pit that you jumped down to your death and then got rezzed by the waiting group.
The bug came into play when you wanted to leave. Nobody in their right mind would want to fight their way up, but some enterprising person found a “crack” where two sections of the dungeon met. If you ran up against this crack and jiggled just right you would fall through the world and end up at your spawn location safe and sound.

“Cracking Out” was literally a thing… and relied upon heavily.

MJ Guthrie
MJ Guthrie

For me, the entry would read : Epic MMO bugs? Pick a stream, any stream…” LOL

Although, I suppose the flashing in TSW when you change clothes was interesting.

Bryan Correll

Never forget this poor NPC. He’s not dead; he’s just been arrested, see.

Ragdoll physics could do some awful things to bodies. Penny Yin tried to stop one of my villains (Black Sheep) during a mission. At the end of the fight she lay there with a neck that was twisted in a way that clearly would have been fatal. I was truly the most vile of villains

Robert Mann

I’ve also got to go with ESO for this one, way back in beta when… well, let’s focus on the bug.

I was riding along, in town, and hit some uneven terrain. I started riding up. My mount was now a two directional flying mount. I could not turn, but I could go up and forward, or back and… up.

Unfortunately there was no moon landing option.


Eww bugs! Wtf? >.<