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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Fabrizio Tvt

My two favorite bugs, GUNZ the duel the entire game was an unintended bug and it was awesome, the things that you could do canceling animations where out of this world.

The other one, in perfect world, if you win a duel with an AoE skill that the archer have, it remains casting it afterwards so we would gather two archers doing aoe damage one doing aoe heals and one tank just running around aggroing mobs and luring them into the aoes and exp for everyone, it was glorious.

Castagere Shaikura

ESO Clockwork City main quest bug. It was broken for over a month.


Hrm. I’m not sure. My usual bugs are either some graphical thing, or something. I can’t really describe one of them to you because you’d need to know/understand the complexities of the specific game I was playing.

I did have a ‘fall through the terrain’ one, but it actually stuck me in the walls, so I had a floor, and could walk, but I was just, on the other side of the mesh ‘wall’, and could see through it all…they told me ‘to get out of it’, I’d have to /suicide and come back, but I didn’t trust that I’d be able to re-acquire my stuff/access it, so I spent a good while back and forthing with staff and stuff. Eventually did have to (Which kinda, killed my immersion.). I also managed to have a ‘always heating’ pottery amphora at one point…I did some testing on it and putting stuff in it didn’t heat the contents, it just stayed always at burning hot even after taken out of fire/put back in. Basically tried to do all the stuff you’d need to do to figure out what made it happen, so they could find the bug for support people to fix it, but I couldn’t puzzle out the why of that one, because I didn’t know enough about the complexities of how they did all of that stuff on there revolving around that specific doodad.

I’ve had quite a few over the years though, and don’t generally remember them because a lot of them are common enough and happen regularly.

I had a ‘invincibility’ bug happen to me a few times too. Quickly reported things like that though, because I didn’t want them to think I was exploiting them. I’ve found lots and lots of bugs over the years, and learned ways to ‘glitch’ things. I don’t often report them now because it’s a waste of my time because they almost never fix them when I do report em.


The old WoW loot bug that would freeze you in place as you looted a mob; but what allow any other mob to come up and beat the crap out of your character and kill you, while you could do nothing about it.


One of the most memorable bugs for me was ability to go to places in LOTRO where players weren’t supposed to go, specifically in Bree. Things like jumping on top of rooftops of various buildings by exploiting the geometry of buildings and invisible holes in the invisible walls. In some places you could even clip through building walls to reach some walled-off areas which you wouldn’t normally reach. I remember spending significant amount of time with people doing things like these, including showing other people how to do this, it was a much, MUCH better entertainment than grinding instances (I always hated this in every MMORPG) or reputation or deeds and a good way to casually socialize with people.

Too bad Turbine/Standing Stone Games just kept removing such geometry exploits and kept removing invisible holes without adding anything in return such as elaborate jumping puzzles (there was one but it wasn’t in Bree and it was pretty simple so very few people cared to do it) or various mini-games.


Given my love for going “OOH THAT PLACE LOOKS COOL, CAN I GET UP THERE?!”, I do that all the time in every MMO I play. Then when Minas Morgul was announced, I was like, “I wonder if I can get in there…” And found a hole in the geometry that let me a good ways into it. I nabbed a killer screenshot. :D

Ardra Diva

the only one I really remember that mattered was the dupe item cheat in Diablo. Eventually everyone was wearing Godly Plate of the Whale armor it seemed.

Cyclone Jack
Kickstarter Donor
Cyclone Jack

I had an issue with LOTRO where NPCs were not interactable. They had no name, and could not be clicked on, making the game pretty much unplayable; this included the Auction House, Vendors, and the Mailbox. Nothing I did resolved the issue; uninstalled, resinstalled, contacted support, posted on forums, etc. I would occasionally try again every few months, with no change, then gave up after around 2 years. Then just recently, tried logging in prior to the Treebeard server launch and whatever they did between then and now seemed to have resolved the issue.


Early days of GW2…

IronSalamander8 .

EQ actually. I know it sounds odd considering the state of MMOs today, but when they were updating to DirectX 9 (I think, it may have been 7 or 8, this is years ago now), and you’d get stuck in everything; walls, floors, boats, and so on. We had to call a PoN raid as we were getting stuck in the hedge maze, but the worst part? The OT boat.

I was on my highest level alt; my human cleric of Bertoxxulous, working on her epic weapon (the click stick), and waiting for that boat that goes from the docks there to travel to the Timorous Deep when the boat grabbed me from off the dock and I was stuck on the boat and kept zoning. I couldn’t gate out as the game considered me to be in motion, so was in a bad way for some time before I swapped to my main to beg for help in PoK; it was late at night so few GMs were around and they were super busy already thanks to this awful patch’s issues. I got lucky and got a gnome mage to come and help, although she almost got stuck to the boat too! It pushed her along a ways but luckily she didn’t get stuck, and she CotHed me off the dang boat finally. That was a freaking nightmare.

Anthony Clark

One Christmas I had taken time off from work for the holiday and planned to spend it all in Everquest.

I was kiting aviaks at timorous deep, and died. Being a wizard I was bound near by, and was able to get back to the point of my death pretty quickly.

There was NO body. AT ALL! I attempted to get assistance only to learn that Sony had let all of the help have the holiday. That’s great and all, but when they got to my issue, they said it was too late to do anything about and that I had to be mistaken there must have been a body I didn’t loot.

Eventually they said they would give me some gear, but not what I lost. They couldn’t do any form of ‘restore’ as the game was designed there where everyone was in the same database in such a way that a roll back for me would be a roll back for everyone.

One more reason to leave EQ, SOE, and NEVER return for me.