REPLY TO ALL: Game Breaking Glitches and Bugs

Over the last year, some highly anticipated games have arrived into the hands of gamers with some bugs and glitches that made for a less than satisfying experience. What kind of bugs or glitches have driven you the craziest (examples) and what qualifies a game being made “unplayable’ by these bugs?

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Every Wednesday we pose a question on Twitter and Facebook. You can answer from Wednesdays through Mondays on Twitter with the hashtag = #RE2ALL, and in our weekly thread on Facebook.com/HorribleNight posted every Wednesday. Check out this week’s responses at the end of the post, and add to it in the comments!

Brandon (H21)

Let me start out by saying that I completely dislike with a very strong resentment for day one patches and whatever. Finish the game in development and give me content and an experience that’s worth $60.

Brink

No time for lag.

That being said, I think the bugs and glitches that can make the game unplayable depends on what the game’s experience is supposed to be. For example, Brink had a hell of a time with lag. The lag was so bad it was unplayable online. The problem was, the entire game was supposed to be played online. That creates a huge problem. They never recovered from this, and the game is essentially a story of a game with great potential that has fallen from grace. For games that aren’t supposed to be played online, like Fallout: New Vegas, bugs that completely break the game or erase game data have to be figured out. The gamer should be able to finish the game, and any bug that prevents him or her from doing so is absolutely atrocious.

Rob (Robeque)

It’s a different era that we’re in as far as patches go. As long as the user has an internet connection, most platforms will just slide that patch in there and all is well. I would say that has probably lessened the emphasis on having it 100% ready to go by the time the discs are printing. I remember buying Ready 2 Rumble Boxing on the Dreamcast when it first came out back in ’99. The release copies had this choppy audio that was all jacked up and completely unignorable. How did they fix it? They had to do a recall and I had to go back over to Best Buy and physically replace the disc. That’s way more of a pain in the ass on both sides, and I’m sure more care was taken to avoid having that happen. In today’s world, if I fire up a game for the first time and there is a patch right away it really doesn’t bother me. As long as the game is playing the way it should when I start to play it, I’m happy. That’s definitely better than waiting on a recall to ship out and having to replace the disc.

Justin L (JDevL)

I actually have no problem with day one patches, at the speed games are made these days, when a game goes gold and is no longer touchable by the development team, I’d go nuts if I noticed a bug after pressing that I couldn’t fix. It’s silly in implementation, but if it addresses bugs that improve the game. I’m all for it.

However, the issues that games like Fallout: New Vegas and Rage faced after launch were inexcusable. I know they are two different types of bugs as far as whether it was the developer’s fault or the hardware manufacturers fault, but do right by your fans and overcommunicate in these situations, or if you are Obsidian (New Vegas) your game wasn’t ready to go gold in the first place. From game breaking bugs to bugs that simply broke my immersion, it prevented me from playing the game on day one, and I have yet to go back.

Recently, the screen tearing issues in Darksiders were a big blemish on an otherwise great gaming experience. I powered through it, but I know gamers that arrived to the game later had a patch that fixed the glitch. You can’t underestimate your first impression of a game, and when one has as carefully and artfully constructed of a world as Darksiders, any bug that breaks my immersion kind of ruins my experience. That being said, I was strangely forgiving of this game because it was from a new development team, and I’ll admit I expect more out of experienced teams like id for example.

Darksiders

I forgive you, War.

Justin G (GiffTor)

I’m having a hard time remembering too many bugs or glitches that were a big deal for me. I’m sure there were plenty of them back when I was doing more PC gaming, but even then, since I didn’t spend a lot of time on the forums, most of the time I had issues I assumed that it was something with my setup rather than with the game. That said, I obviously had a hell of a bug the other day in Deus Ex: Human Revolution when the second boss froze in place and kept phasing in and out of cloak mode. That turned out to be a beneficial bug, though, since I had died 30 or 40 times trying to beat her and it let me Shotgun-to-the-FACE her to death.

Other than that, I don’t think I’ve run into too many game-breaking bugs or glitches, but the lag-switch, clipping and other bugs, glitches and exploits that showed up in Gears of War and Gears of War 2‘s online play were really, really frustrating. As they grew in prevalence as more people learned them, the online game lost a lot of its attraction for me. To be fair, Epic addressed them as fast as it could, I think, and I’m a huge fan of the XBL moderators who ban lag-switching cheats. Still, those issues really had a deleterious effect on the staying power of Gears‘ online play for me.

Rob

Ready 2 Rumble

Rob remembered this game.

Yeah I’m with you there. I can’t think of any other experience like the Ready2Rumble one, where I just couldn’t play the game. The only thing recently that hindered my day one game experience were the multiplayer server issues for the PC release of Battlefield 3 where I couldn’t get into any games. I don’t really consider that to be a glitch or a bug with the game, though. It obviously affects the experience and if it lasted forever would really piss me off, but I think those kinds of issues are almost expected out of the gate when suddenly hundreds of thousands of players start hammering the servers.

Justin L

I’m not sure I’m talking to anyone in this thread, but MMO glitches have led to world breaking events. The first one I remember hearing about in WoW was a group that led an elite boss character into one of the major player cities. The boss had the ability to restore his health anytime characters around him died, so take him to a place full of tons of low level characters and what happens? Blizzard ended up having to delete the character to restore order, later bringing him back chained to his lair so that the even could not be repeated.

My other favorite MMO related glitch is the fact that “plagues” that have spread to players in WoW have actually been studied.

Rob

That’s funny… I’ve never heard of either of those things. But man… I can’t even imagine the thought that would have to go into preventing things like this happening in a game as huge as WoW.

Justin G

I didn’t know about either one of those things, either, but as a big fan of… creative application of tactics in games, (like carrying a turret to a boss fight in Deus Ex), that first example is absolutely hilarious. That would crack my shit up and I’m actually upset that I didn’t play WoW just so I could have been involved in that.

JP (JPizzle151)

I think that because of the day one patch mentality, the game breaking bug at launch is more annoying and important if it exists after the patch. I know that New Vegas had a load of bugs, but I only experienced one that involved killing a particular person in the game. If you killed the person, the game would crash every time I went to The Strip. The only way to get around the bug pre-patch was to wear a particular hat, and the issue was non existent. I feel that companies under estimating their popularity when it comes to servers is a huge issue, but I don’t think of it as a bug. I want to say it’s arrogant or idiotic to underestimate. If we start to consider server issues a bug, the we should consider broken game play at this stage of the console cycle a bug as well. That means we can consider Too Human and Two Worlds just one giant bug each.

Fallout: New Vegas

Can I borrow your hat?

Rob

A particular hat? That sounds like a joke.

JP

No shit, you had to wear the old cowboy hat to work around the glitch.

Coop (Coopopolopolis)

I have to say, I can’t remember ever having a time where I couldn’t play a game because it was broken. Even back in my PC game days. Sure patches came out, but I don’t know that I ever experienced the issue that the patch supposedly addressed. I agree that launch day patches should exist if they fix something that needs fixed, but they still annoy me. On my console, I buy games on disk so that I have room on my hard drive for other things. Don’t fill it up with patches because you weren’t thorough enough during testing.

Issues like the Rage bug are inexcusable to me. I know it was all driver related, but how many years has id been working on PC games? There has a been a crazy range of frankenstein hardware running the Doom and Quake for years. And those games still work on my new computers. Video card manufacturers share drivers for so many lines of hardware that I’d feel like it should be even easier now than it was 15 years ago. I know the timelines are more accelerated, but your talent and tools you have to work with are also way better each year which help you adapt to that.

Ethan (Wizardtrain187)

Fallout: New Vegas didn’t cause me the issues it caused some, but it did/does crash at times which is frustrating. In my opinion, these type of crashes alongside graphic stuttering and slow down make games “unplayable”.

I am going to defend developers a bit on the PC side of things because they are working with a product that is supposed to run well on incredibly varied machines. On top of that there are numerous issues that can cause “bugs” that have nothing to do with the actual game (ATI drivers are a huge culprit). Now I do think this is used as an excuse more often than not, but I get it. The more complicated a game is the more potential it has for issues.

Rage

So pretty once the drivers cooperate.

Brandon

To go back to my disdain for day one patches. You have a good point. Before you had to take it back and hope there was a recall or exchange to happen. Fortunately, that was an issue that was few and far between. Now it seems nearly every game that has the least bit of popularity comes out with day one, sometimes two and sometimes more patches because they’re just not right. My concern is for those that don’t have Internet access in this situation. They may not be able to actually get a hold of those patches and the game may not be satisfactory without them.

Rob

I guess that’s the price you pay for being Amish. ;)

Justin L

What about those of us who missed out on glitches. Not once did I run into cougar man or donkey lady in Red Dead Redemption and since re-realizing that I am subsequently ticked off. Why do I miss the good stuff? Glitches are prejudice against JDevL and that breaks the game for me.

JP

That is a hell of a point Lacey. Bethesda gets a ton of flack for their old engine and Rockstar’s engine can be just as glitchy at times. We also should keep in mind that there were a ton of NES games that were glitchy as hell too. Add the glitches to the cryptic nature of some old NES games and they are just unplayable.

Justin L

 

Battletoads

Hard for one player. Broken for two.

Battletoads! There’s nothing more game breaking than making a 2 player focused game that has a section that is impossible to beat with 2 players. Guess the playtesters couldn’t make it that far either.

Coop

Battletoads really only needed to be bug free up to the speeder bikes. No one could legitimately pass both groups of them and still have enough life to make it anywhere. Maybe this brings up a valid point. Games today have to spend more time bug testing because they’re actually designed to let you finish them. I guess we could give the developers a little bit of a break since they have more content to test.

JP

Battletoads‘ issue was level design (as was the case with many NES games). I agree that many games today are created with completion in mind, but can poor level design really be considered a ‘bug’?

Rob

Agreed. Think of all the moving parts that need to be looked at from every angle in a game like Skyrim… or most of the AAA games today. I was always amazed at everything that is tracked in a season of Madden. The code behind some of these games has to be just insane

Justin L

Skyrim enters the ring

Justin G

There’s a reason Indy told Sallah, “No camels!” Camels can’t ride dragons.

JP

Last night I was taking a tour of the Skyrim countryside and saw the damnedest thing. A dead horse fell out of the sky. I wondered if The Nine presented this horse to me a gift.

Justin L

Seriously though. Skyrim has locked up on me once so far in my dozen hours, and I completely gave it a pass. Let alone the 360 texture issues that I don’t really notice. My point here is that my standard level for this scope of a game is a lot lower when it comes to bugs, but should it be?

Justin G

No, I don’t think so. I mean, I’m coming at this from initial experiences with watching textures render on every single surface when there was a background change back in the day, but at the same time, when a game is the size of Skyrim or GTA or whatever with some giant amount of stuff going on (weather, NPCs, individually waving blades of grass, steam coming off of your battle mage’s fireballs as raindrops hit them) the fact of the matter is that you may see some bugs once in a while. Especially if you’re playing on a nearly-end-of-life console with hardware-pushing software running on it. I’m a lot more tolerant on something like Skryim than I would be on Halo – smaller game, linear, less variation – textures better effing render.

Skyrim

Don't break on me now.

Coop

You guys are still just talking about minor bugs. Loading textures don’t bother me because I understand the need for it from a technical side and sometimes hardware just bogs down and might not load as optimally as it should every time. I’ll take seeing a low res texture for a second over the entire game running at a lower framerate, or having to wait during increased loading times because all of the high-res textures were pre-loaded into memory. The occasional lock-up should also be excused because anything can lock up for any number of random unpredictable reasons. These aren’t really game breaking bugs though. If the game constantly locks up in the same area keeping you from moving forward, like a few people experienced with Rage, that’s when we have an inexcusable issue.

Justin L

Still makes my stomach churn to forgive lockups in a $60 game. I respect developers, and I’ve been trained to forgive it, but I dunno, this may be one area where we are a bit too lenient.

Coop

We have been exposed to it more which in turn makes us less sensitive to it. I’ll be more lenient with PC lockups since there are way too many unknown variables ranging from Frankenstein setups to other 3rd party software running at the same time, which could easily crash a game. However there are no acceptable excuses on a console where all of your hardware/software variables are fixed.

Justin G

Final Fantasy XIII

Broken? or just fail?

Good point, Coop. We should be focusing on big bugs and glitches. How about that one Square did where they had some sort of programming goof and made all of FF XIII suck?

Justin L

Hahahahahaha. Wins.

Community Responses

@omfg_AndyF – When I was just a wee gamer there was a Jurrasic Park PC adventure game where the 2nd area was impossible to exit
@Pixelmixer – In Oblivion there was a bug where if you killed the wrong person, you couldn’t proceed in the main quest.

Conclusion

While the gamebreakers were few and far between, our group seemed to get more entertainment than frustration out of glitches, and cut the developers some slack on their favorite games. Were we too lenient? What bugs have ruined games for you?

REPLY TO ALL – Our weekly conversation where our writing staff offers up their opinions on the gaming topic of the week.

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Giant Bomb (images)