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Don't fix anything — cultivate acceptan…

Don't fix anything — cultivate acceptance instead: bugs in games that have become features

Mar 15 2024

Many psychologists recommend cultivating acceptance. That is, accepting one's mistakes, for example. Some game developers have taken this quite seriously. They decided, "Why not?" and made errors part of the gameplay. Let's try to learn from their experiences!


Starting to cultivate acceptance

To accept your mistakes and learn from them, you just need to take this remedy every day... I'm just kidding. There's no folk remedies or quackery, but there are stories about how bugs made by developers inspired new features.

These stories are gently retold to you by the article author to keep your programming spirit alive. That's why I talked about acceptance at the beginning: it's hard for many people to understand and realize that errors are part of any process, and even more so in programming. Let's take a look at the experiences of others.

Before we begin, here's a disclaimer: unfortunately, we don't always have such wonderful bugs/features to use to our advantage. Some errors are nothing more than just errors.

By the way, since we're talking about games, I suggest you entertain yourself with a quiz based on Sergei Kushnirenko's articles. In his articles, Sergei has described several interesting bugs in game code. Try finding them.

After completing the quiz, you'll probably feel like this:


Afterwards, however, you'll feel relieved and realize that all the issues and errors are just dust in the wind.

As they say, happy programming games! And may the odds be ever in your favor :)

Stardew Valley. The way to a woman's heart is also through her stomach


Source: CNET

Stardew Valley is a relaxing farming simulation where the player can build their farm, mine ore, and meet the villagers of Stardew Valley.

Imagine: you're tilling soil, minding your business, and suddenly you decide that it's time to... find a soulmate. And here she is, beautiful blue-haired Abigail. She seems very attractive. You give her a beautiful gemstone—a whole diamond, mind you—and she replies:

"Hey, how'd you know I was hungry? This looks delicious!"

And there she is, chewing on your diamond.

Do you think that bothered the developers? Not at all! They didn't disapprove of the character's behavior by removing the bug from the game, they actually supported it. If you take the bold step of asking Abigail to marry you, after the wedding, she'll happily tell you about her unusual craving for eating different kinds of gemstones.

And they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. As it turns out, this is true not only for man :)


Source: Reddit

Now our hero of a hoe and nugget will have to go down into the dungeons even more often to keep his beloved (or friend) happy.

Dwarf Fortress. Roasted alcohol



Dwarf Fortress is a construction and management simulation where you control a settlement of dwarves and try to build an underground fortress.

Disclaimer! Alcohol harms your health! Dwarves are adults, so they can drink it. Don't be like dwarves.

Who knew errors could be so delicious? Did you think it was impossible to make a dish from strong drinks? Then think again. This is possible in Dwarf Fortress thanks to a bug. The thing is, the players tried to fry alcohol, and, amazingly, they succeeded.

The developer liked the bug so much that they kept the option to cook food from alcohol, but fixed only one thing: such food now doesn't melt at temperatures below room temperature.

Now dwarves have more cooking options, congratulations!

Minecraft. From rags to riches, from pigs to...


Source: Reddit

Minecraft is a sandbox game built of blocks, where the player can realize the most interesting ideas: from simple survival to recreating cultural landmarks.

Many people on our team love this cube wonder (and I'm no exception). When I lived in a dorm, I liked to play Minecraft, but not for long, because the sudden exploding creeper or a horde of zombies that came out of nowhere would make me scream. My neighbors didn't like that. Well, my mental health also wasn't ready to deal with the unexpected stuff.

Yes, I'm that person who was very frightened by those scary sounds:

So, our green friend—the creeper that made me sit all tense—is the product of a developer's mistake. He wanted to make the pig model longer horizontally. Instead, Notch did it vertically, pulling the poor piggy upwards. The developer liked it so much that he made the now-familiar creeper part of the game world and the culprit of many exploded bu... well, you know what I mean :)

Quake. Bug jumped and jumped until it didn't


Source: Reddit

Quake is a revolutionary first-person shooter where you destroy monsters and find ancient artifacts (and then have fun with your friends in multiplayer).

You might think that miscalculations can lead only to failures, because you have to break your head over recalculating and redoing everything. Nope.

In Quake, it worked the other way around: developers' errors created two features that became part of not only the Quake world, but future game worlds as well.

Some may say that these bugs have been around since Doom, but the idea that they could be used as features goes back to the Quake era.

For example, did you know that everyone's favorite rocket jump in Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch exists because the Quake developers overlooked a small bug? Well, you know now! Grab your rocket launcher and go onward! Upward, actually!

TF2 lore lovers will reasonably claim that the rocket jump was invented by Shakespearicles to climb stairs. We won't object. Have you seen this "great writer"? Have you seen him?

There's another mechanic popularized by a Quake engine bug.

When I was playing different shooters, I didn't understand why players kept jumping up when they were running. Only later did someone explain to me that this helped me move around the map much faster. Funny, but it's also due to an error made by the Quake developers: a slight miscalculation resulted in you now being able to glide through the game's pads like butter. This was possible when players pressed the "left" and "right" keys while holding down the "forward" key, which gave them a 1.41x speed boost and made them jump like crazy.

Speaking of Quake: we have an article about one of the Quake updates: "Oh my C! How they wrote code back in the Quake days".

I think this game did a lot for the development of modern first-person shooters and different games in general. There may have been similar bugs/features before, who knows. However, it was Quake's popularity that gave rise to so many different mods and competitions.

Team Fortress Classic. MEDIC! MEDIC! Damn, that's a Spy!


Source: Steam

Team Fortress Classic is an online multiplayer shooter where you fight for one of the teams, Blue or Red, and use one of the many characters to win.

Continuing the rocket-jump topic, I can't help but think of Team Fortress. The TF developers seem to have taken a cue from the Quake developers on how to use bugs, and a wonderful character was born — the Spy. By the way, the bug came from the Quake engine again, because originally TF was a mod for that very game.

This happened because a player from the opposing team was painted in the color of the allied team. So, they looked like an ally player. As a result, this player was able to safely run among enemies and eliminate them. The developers liked this bug so much that they created a character based on this mechanic. That's how the Spy was born.

Magicka. :( Your PC ran into a problem


Source: Artstation

Magicka is an isometric action-adventure game that lets you experience what it's like to conjure real magic.

We often make mistakes. There's no harm in making a mistake, is there? And we're allowed to have a few bugs in the code, aren't we? We're all humans. The Magicka developers thought the same when they released the first patch. The game didn't come out in the best condition: the release version had crashes, bugs, and some people even had a blue screen of death. Brr, scary.

So, what did the developers do? They admitted the error and made a cool joke out of it. It's not a feature, although I can't help but mention this "acceptance".

They added a special "Crash to Desktop" spell that randomly targets anyone with less than 10,000 health and instantly eliminates them. Along with this spell, players got access to a new robe made of glitches and pixels, a sword broken off at the hilt, and a staff that summoned Bugswarm minions—bugs.

That's self-irony right there. Now, that's what I call "attitude towards your mistakes". Just look at what the spell looks like:

Isn't it cool? :)

Devil May Cry. Show me your motiv... jumps!


Source: Nintendo

Known for its cool combos, sheer number of awesomeness ranks, and over-the-top pathos, the Devil May Cry franchise didn't get its final form with all of the mechanics right away. The demon brothers owe all of the above to a bug from another game. In the previous CAPCOM game called Onimusha: Warlords, a bug allowed players to throw and juggle enemies in the air, damaging them.

"Why take away such a cool thing?" — probably, thought the developers at CAPCOM and made it the basis for the combat system of the well-known Devil May Cry series.

Imagine the DMC combat without air combos. It's difficult, isn't it? It's even more difficult to imagine Dante without his savage, brutal, atomic smokin' style and pizza, though.

Civilization. Annihilation device of pacifism


Source: Nintendo

Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy computer games. You control your civilization all the way from the creation of the world to the present days and meet the greatest people in human history.

I wasn't particularly fond of confrontations with neighboring countries when I played Civilization. Building diplomatic alliances—yes. Growing food—yeah. Turning country inhabitants into religious fanatics—hehe, yep. Playing war games, however, I didn't like. I was afraid of only one thing: what if Gandhi showed up with his nuclear missiles and turned me into a pile of radioactive ash? I've been afraid of this bug for so long, and the truth is... It wasn't there!

Here's a quick one about the bug that's not a bug, but a feature.

A while back, there was an incident in Civilization where one of the great pacifist leaders in human history, Gandhi of India, decided it would be a good idea to nuke the player. Word that this was a bug (Gandhi should have an aggression level of 1, meaning he shouldn't attack at all) spread across the internet, kick-starting the Nuclear Gandhi meme.

Everyone started to speculate what the reason could be, and here it is: it seems to be an integer overflow, or rather its individual case. The explanation was as follows: when the player changed the government form to "democracy", it automatically changed the aggressiveness of all rulers, making them two points lower. And here, if you do the math, Gandhi's aggression was -1.

That's where the integer overflow comes in, turning -1 into 255 and the Indian pacifist into an Indian sadistic dictator.

Years later, the creator of the game, Sid Meier, said there was no such thing, and there was no overflow. So, Gandhi's increased love of nukes and warfare that players saw in later Civ installments is just an Easter egg from the developers for the players who hyped up the joke.

Stopping to cultivate acceptance

Breathe in, breathe out. Our session is over. Acceptance has been worked out, congratulations! I hope you learned something new, both in terms of facts about your favorite games and bugs in general.

*Soft music starts playing. It starts raining*

There are times when we make mistakes. Then we see our mistakes, get upset about them, and shed bitter tears. However, there's no need for that. Smile, because, as you can see from this article, even errors can be the beginning of something new and beautiful. Use them, look at them, and keep growing.

Thank you so much for reading.

If you'd like to learn about errors in the game industry that really shouldn't have been ignored, I invite you to read my colleagues' articles:

I wish you clean code, good health, happiness, and love :)

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