Massively Overthinking: What’s the most painful or memorable bug you ever experienced in an MMO?


Witnessing all the folks upset over losing gear and trades to rollbacks over and over in Diablo II Resurrected made me reflect on some of the nasty bugs, exploits, and rollbacks I’ve experienced in MMORPGs. While most of my biggest highs and lows came from other people in the games, occasionally some technical problems have stuck in my memory too.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m asking our writers and readers to talk about the most painful or memorable bug they ever experienced in an MMO. Has a bug, exploit, or rollback ever been so devastating that it made you leave an MMO?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I won’t lie, I’ve actually benefitted from a lot of bugs. I will say that in the early days of Darkfall, the exploit/hack that let people run around the game’s terrain and pop up wherever they wanted was particularly frustrating. It was bad enough that my guild’s rule was that if you were in town, you were to pack up your best gear and bank it, since someone could come in at any second, kill you, loot that gear, and go under the terrain without us having a chance to reclaim if for ya. We constantly drained our town of resources so exploiters would go elsewhere, which they did, but man, even for someone who farms a lot in MMOs, sitting naked in town auto-collecting flowers most of the day was super not fun, especially for a FFA PvP game.

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I do remember one server rollback in LOTRO that put our progress back a day or so. The end result wasn’t terrible, but I do recall it because I was recording a YouTube video when the server went down, so it’s preserved for all time. Sadly, this wasn’t the only instance of LOTRO servers going down. Fortunately, I can’t recall personally hitting too many nasty bugs over my MMO lifetime. I do remember not being able to access ESO for a few days thanks to Steam server authentication issues (don’t use Steam if there’s an alternate way, kids).

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): The worst for me was in my first experience in MMOs back in Ultima Online. UO had a neat feature early on where you could passively get skill increases by watching other people do those skills nearby. Unfortunately, people figured out that they could exploit this to ruin people’s characters. They’d run around the bank using the peacemaking skill on themselves, which would cause folks nearby who didn’t have peacemaking skills to experience rapid skill gain in it. But of course, if those characters were at the skill cap already, the game would randomly choose a skill to bleed for the new peacemaking skill, often costing high-end characters days, weeks, or months of work as their 100-level magery or taming or provocation simply vanished in seconds.

Eventually, OSI put in skill locks to prevent griefing, but not before it bled my character and a friend’s character of our hardest-won skills. We came very close to quitting, but in the end, we just started over. If we hadn’t… I probably wouldn’t be here today writing from MOP’s pages!

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): Really brings back some harsh memories. This wasn’t a bug, and I didn’t end up quitting the game over it, but it still sucked when it happened: My bro and I had been stuck in the Guild Wars mission where you fight both the Lich and Shiro at the same time. I remember we were having a good run, the Lich was dead and Shiro had less than 50% hitpoints remaining. Suddenly it happened: POWER OUTAGE! Lost all the progress.

What hurt even more was the very next week, ArenaNet released a patch that allowed disconnected players to reconnect to their instance in the event of a power outage or disconnect. Now ain’t that just a thang?

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I really wish I had some particularly zesty bug stories to tell, but I really don’t. Most of the bugs I’ve stumbled across have either been visual or related to getting stuck into the geography.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): What immediately springs to mind was that nasty bug that cropped up in World of Warcraft’s early months. You’d go to loot a corpse, your character would crouch down for the “lemme dig around in this guy’s pockets” animation, and… you’d remain stuck in that crouch for minutes, if not for the rest of the play session. Videos of player characters scooting around on bended knee quickly surfaced, and I can attest it was highly annoying (the bug, not the videos).

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I can’t think of any particular bug or rollback that made me leave permanently, but there are certainly times it led to a brief rage quit. I think it was early in Guild Wars 2’s life, but I don’t remember exactly when. It might have been around the first Living World updates. I think there was an NPC bugged that players had to interact with before the quest would progress. Since I couldn’t proceed after several attempts, I had to quit for a day or two until it was fixed.

On the opposite side is a bug I played through. A few nights ago when I was playing New World, my whole interface was failing to load properly after I got through the queue. Well, normally I’d have logged out and rebooted my machine, but I couldn’t wait through another hour to get into the game, so I just played with it. The map and the ESC menu wouldn’t load, so I couldn’t even log out properly. It was kind of a mess, but I pushed through.

Tyler Edwards (blog): For me nothing tops that time The Secret World just straight up stopped working on any computer with an AMD processor (which I had at the time). It was around the holidays and shortly after Funcom suffered another round of layoffs, so they literally had no one on staff who could fix it. It took them over a month to get it sorted.

It’s a testament to how much I love that game that I still came back after that.

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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