ARE YOU AFRAID OF MAKING A MISTAKE 2.0

They say that social networks are a Klondike of information. Apparently, Twitter is no exception as it contains loads of interesting facts to dig into.

Last time, we looked into some stories of game developers how they made fools of themselves at the workplace. That topic was lively and pretty much amusing. And now it has continued into a new one. Today we’ll talk about gamedevs’ mistakes that ended up being features—that is, became peculiar to their games.

Personally Verminko is quite out of touch with programming, that is why he jumped into this talk right away. Since childhood, he has enjoyed reading “spooky” and “mystical” stories about game bugs—or computer bugs as such. No, never would he believe in monsters under his bed or in Saint Nicholas, but he did believe in those bugs, even without knowing squat about them!

At the same time, those who practice programming claim that hardly anything could beat their own written code in scariness… as no one really knows in what devilish way and exactly how it manages to work.

But let’s not digress. We should begin with some old mechanics that are well-known today, but initially came into the world due to mistakes.

The first one in our list is the famous “remarkabilities” of everyone’s favorite Lara Croft (incidentally, new adventures of the tomb raider has been announced lately). All of us—or, at least, the majority of us—are familiar with the triangular “parameters” that, praise be the devs, Lara was granted with.

The unvarnished truth is that it appeared due to a misclick of one of the designers, Toby Gard, in 1996. He happened to move the breast size slider on 150%, while his colleagues who saw that during postprocessing decided to leave it unchanged. And that proved itself a good marketing ploy in the Lara Croft series. It’s a shame that the recent releases—obviously, not without the help of Toby’s successors—have been gradually moving the slider to the opposite side…

Next is the bug that became the calling card of one cult slasher game. We learned this info from David Amador, the author of Quest of Dungeons. The bottom line is that the devs of Capcom noticed a software error while working on Onimusha: it made the character hang in the air with the opportunity to continue attacking. Such a glitch totally didn’t tie in the game concept; however, the devs kept it for later and then founded the entire Devil May Cry series on it.

In our list, we also cannot leave out the strafe-jump so greatly known to gamers. It originated from an error as well: by pressing two direction keys and a jump key at the same time, it was possible to increase the character’s movement speed. The devs allowed it to remain, and soon a jump of this kind provided the basis for most shooter games of the time.

And what about Barney and the rest of the security force of Black Mesa?

All of them were hostile to the player at the beginning. When the game coder, Steve Bond, accidentally made them friendly, they showed themselves as great allies in fight (because HL security guards never miss and never retreat), which started a complete remake of the game mechanics. All that, guys, was quite revolutionary back then.

Particularly noteworthy is the glitch, thanks to which we can now play as a Spy in the Team Fortress series. It revealed itself as follows: after certain actions, the teamplayer’s name would show in the color of the opponent team, causing a great lot of confusion. The developers fixed the error, but not until they conceived the idea to base a separate character class on it. Which successfully stays around to this day.

It would be unthinkable not to share the fact that one of the fundamental features of the undying classic Mario Bros is also… a result of the programming mistake. People sure know those jingly coin blocks—some could be bashed only once, while the other ones would stand up to give up to ten coins. Well, that too was just a software error and had to be removed. The programmers fixed it… but then the game designers wanted the error back, as they considered it an upside to the game’s variability. Oh, and weren’t they right!

Yet another legend is “peacefully governing” Mahatma Gandhi from the Civilization series.

What’s so special about him? His view of pacifism was special, if anything, because as soon as he discovered nuclear weapon technology, he immediately nuked everyone around. For those who missed the clue—Gandhi was rather renowned for his absolute pacifism. That is why his game prototype always chose that certain course of development… And when he established democracy at the nuclear stage, his peacefulness ran over 255 (1 byte), making the game mistakenly set the value on 1—that is, total tyranny. This explains why Gandhi would unleash a nuclear apocalypse in late game 🙂 Civilization fans came to like the bug so much that it became part and parcel of the game and entire series.

Speaking of more recent video games, a good story to tell would be how the world-famous Minecraft has got hold of its creepers.

The thing is that a certain developer tried to create a pig by means of code only (as he didn’t have 3D modeling tools). However, he somehow swapped the height and length values, getting a weird tall creature as a result. Which found its place among the game’s enemies. All’s well that ends well.

Finally, we have the much talked-about pan from the megapopular PUBG.

The bulletproof pan appeared in PUBG by sheer accident. The developers enabled the pan with collision, allowing a player to hit a grenade thrown at them. But it also became possible to deflect bullets of any caliber with the Pan. Having first overlooked the error, the devs chose not to meddle, thus giving freedom to many skillful hands to turn a piece of cookware into a deadly weapon.

What about you—can you think of some mistakes that would be adopted as a feature later? Or, maybe, have you made those yourself?

by Yanis Verminko

05/01/18

translated from Ukrainian by Pavlo Donchenko

ARE YOU AFRAID OF MAKING A MISTAKE 2.0

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