Editorial: Glitches in Video Games

Skyrim Glitches Bethesda

Skyrim Glitches Bethesda

Hello LusiGays! Glitches are something that we as gamers constantly talk about and exploit to either speed run through a game or break the game to make it easier. Back in the day, once a game was released if it had a glitch in it there was very little that developers could do to fix the glitch. One of the options that they faced was have a second print of the game in which they would fix the glitch or, as in the case of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, remove any offensive material. Now, companies can just patch the game and poof the mistake is gone, no one is the wiser. Although in recent weeks we have seen that Fez developer Polytron was unable to patch out a glitch that affect about one percent of the Fez player base. The glitch itself would appear near the end of the game deleting all the player’s save data forcing them to replay the entire game not knowing if the glitch would reappear again. Polytron came out with a statement saying that because of the fee that Micro$oft requires to patch games they could not meet the financial demands of the fee, thus leaving the glitch in the game. Is it just me, or does requiring the developers to pay to update their game sound rather unfair?

The MMO genre is the biggest culprit of having glitches or broken bits of their games. MMOs constantly have to patch or update the game on part to either players breaking something or that part of the game being glitched. Mostly you see these kinds of patches for boss fights and the like. What is the appeal for players to try and find exploits in these end game boss fights you might ask? Well having just entered some of the end game content in World of Warcraft I can tell you that any little strategy to make said fights easier would be a great asset if you are dealing with the simple minded fools who are doing “Looking for Raid”. Although the boss fights themselves are simple enough you would be surprised how many people completely fuck up the fight and cause the entire twenty-five man raid to wipe.

Some of the glitches that I found over the years involve everything from wall hacks, to missingno. from Pokemon, to using a game shark to have an R-Wing from Star Fox 64 be in Ocarina of Time. If you are a fan of speed gaming streams you will know that many of them use glitches to try and get through games as fast as possible. Many have led to them breaking speed run through records.

Due to the nature of the video game industry, glitches will always be a part of the video game industry. People are not perfect therefore everything they make cannot be perfect as well. Readers, have you experienced glitches that you have exploited to make a game easy or have used to speed run through a game? **cough** **cough** Dan **cough**

22 Comments

  1. Imitanis
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 12:40 | Permalink

    You would think that developers try a number or scenarios that are unlikely to happen, just to see if it causes problems in a game. Breaking the Lich King encounter in ICC by using saronite bombs is unusual but not even unlikely due to the fact that melee could use them as a ranged attack. Blizzard handed out many temporary bans that day.

  2. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 13:40 | Permalink

    I hate when users get in trouble for making novel use of the glitches or unbalanced mechanics that developers fail to test for before shipping their games *coughTORcough*.

  3. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 15:59 | Permalink

    As for the whole Fez patching issue, MS doesn’t want to allow rampant patching of games and charges for patches after the first patch for three reasons: Patching requires recertification which does cost something, discouraging multiple patches forces a developer to put out a more finished product at release, and MS likes money. Keep in mind that this isn’t standard practice at other places, like Steam. Also, that Polytron would have clearly been aware that after the first patch, any subsequent patches would cost “tens of thousands”. Sounds high to me, but they knew that going in.

    Honestly, I feel the ubiquity of patching has hurt more than it’s helped game development. Skyrim is the obvious example these days, but many other high profile games have been released in near unplayable states for weeks or months after release until effective patches came down. The game I’m currently finishing up, Fallout New Vegas (another Bethesda property, but developed by Obsidian), was simply not playable in its initial state. I waited about a year before giving it another shot. Sure, now it’s a fine game, but that’s no excuse for selling a broken product (I’m not saying that’s what’s going on here with Fez).

  4. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 17:17 | Permalink

    @Mel: That figure isn’t high: Microsoft charges $40,000 per patch. This is a flat fee assessed for every patch beyond the first to every developer. It is not a secret; it is something every developer must agree to before going onto XBL in the first place.

    The devil’s advocate answer is: if the MS certification process is letting these bugs through anyway, is it really worth 40K to begin with?

  5. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 17:22 | Permalink

    Also: patches don’t ruin games. Lack of concern for the playerbase ruins games. Patches have been around *forever*: I remember patching DESCENT, Unreal Tournament, and Warcraft II back in the day, and other games before that! Yet they were certainly playable when released, as were the vast majority of games (not to say all) at the time.

    The simple fact is that many companies simply release unfinished software now because so many other companies *also* release unfinished software. They know that it is the current state of the industry that they can release broken shit and yet their legions of brainwashed fanboys will applaud and defend them for it. The availability of patches is not a factor: the knowledge that they can get away with it is.

  6. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 17:36 | Permalink

    The dollar amount is not something MS officially discloses, so technically it kind of is a secret us. But enough other sources have said 40k that it very likely is at or around that dollar amount. But yeah, like I said, Polytron knew what they were getting into when they agreed to put their game on XLBA.

    But considering Fez could be patched over and over on platforms like Steam for free, that price seems comparatively high to me. However, there could be lots of behind the scenes stuff going on that truly justifies that price. I don’t know. But I do know that MS has a history of charging for things other companies don’t. lol

  7. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 17:47 | Permalink

    About patches in general, yeah, an atmosphere is being bred where developers can feel more comfortable releases less stable games. That’s very true. Also, patches have indeed been around for most of the industry’s existence. But the majority of games (i.e., console games) were not capable of being patched remotely. And the ease of patching a PC game was less in the days of fewer and slower, less constant internet connections. Since most gamers are able to easily patch these days, there’s less pressure on the developers to get it right the first time, which is why this atmosphere of getting away with it got started.

    Patches aren’t all bad. Or, rather, they weren’t all bad. But now I feel most patching is done to games to fix things that honestly should have been fixed already.

  8. Deimosion
    Posted 2012.08.09 at 19:04 | Permalink

    Interesting that you mention OoT, Pierson, since it’s one of the most famously glitchy games of all time. And yes, as Pierson has alluded, glitches are one of the best friends of speedrunners, not that I really consider myself one. Some glitches can be fairly minor things, like the Rocket Base skip in the first gen Pokemon games, or extremely major things, like bomb-jumping in the N64 Zelda games. Sometimes glitches and bugs can add character to a game, but usually they are just frustrating, especially in MMORPGs.

    Glitches are really an inevitability in games and especially MMOs; not even open beta testing can catch every bug like large-scale play can. Patching is nice because it allows for these bugs to be fixed, but as many have said, it also leads to companies releasing games that are essentially untested betas and letting gamers find the glitches for them.

  9. Korusi
    Posted 2012.08.10 at 02:46 | Permalink

    Not all glitches are bad and not all glitches are good… None of them are intended though and most of the time it comes down to a mix of things. Most of the time it’s due to time crunches put on the developers of the game by the publisher to get that product out the door; every day they aren’t selling games they are basically losing money. So I do understand in this day and age why releasing what could be called a beta-release version of the game is appealing… Charging for Patches does seem excessive when you think about it though; especially when there is no evidence to suggest or guarantee that the improvements will produce more revenue. This is probably why many companies are doing DLC for games post launch. I still hate DLC with a venomous passion but… I can see where developers are coming from as long as the DLC isn’t part of the game chopped off in order to make extra profits after the fact.

    We are lucky that you can just ‘patch’ a game now to fix issues discovered post launch. Developers will never find EVERY bug in the game prior to launch; the release schedules would never allow it. We can however hope that the licensing fees for things like Xbox Live go down for Patches…. It’s just good business.

  10. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.10 at 08:17 | Permalink

    M$ can charge however much they want for patches, but at that point buggy software becomes their problem rather than the developer’s – especially in the case of Indy games.

    I’m thinking that devs are sick of this, and that going forward we will see more and more of them refusing to do follow-up patches, which will mean that owners of other platforms will tend to get better software in the fullness of time.

  11. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.08.10 at 12:17 | Permalink

    @Mel: “The dollar amount is not something MS officially discloses, so technically it kind of is a secret us.”

    You’re talking out of your ass again. It is disclosed in the general application for every single XBL contract. These general contracts are not secret, nor are they tailored to specific developers. You can ask for one yourself from M$ and they will give it to you.

    You are developing a reputation for misrepresenting facts, speaking from positions of ignorance as if you were an authority, or simply lying whenever it is convenient for your position or your earlier comments.

    At what point should we start asking you to cite the source for every ‘fact’ you assert?

  12. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.10 at 14:28 | Permalink

    A secret to us. My typo may have made that unclear. The gaming public. Not developers, not people who apply for contracts. How much clearer must I be? I said (TWICE!!!), that Polytron knew about this going in. Please read what I wrote.

    As far as I know MS hasn’t publicly posted that they charge 40k for a second patch, but it IS likely the cost. I said this before as well.

    Why do I have to keep doing this?

    From comment #3: “Also, that Polytron would have clearly been aware that after the first patch, any subsequent patches would cost ‘tens of thousands’”.

    From comment #7: “Polytron knew what they were getting into when they agreed to put their game on XLBA.”

  13. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.10 at 15:16 | Permalink

    Upon further inspection the only source I can find that directly references the 40k price tag on patches is this:

    http://www.hookshotinc.com/interview-schafers-millions/

    Everyone who uses that figure, as best as I can tell, is lifting from what Tim Schafer states in this interview. Is this a credible source? It’s enough for me to be sure. Is it the official source? No. What difference does it make? Not much as I said, back in comment #3, that it’s “very likely” to be true.

    I also looked into how to apply for making a game on XBLA. You can contact MS to get more involved if you want to pitch them your idea, via this page:

    http://www.xbox.com/en-US/developers/xbox360/xbla

    Or this page:

    http://xbox.create.msdn.com/en-us

    On neither of those pages is the cost of a title update a matter of public record…which is what I was saying. WE don’t get that information. The developer does. In that regard, and that regard alone, it is not a fully disclosed matter of fact. I somehow doubt MS will just hand off XBLA development contract policy willy nilly to people who have no intention of going through with development. Might they? Perhaps I’ll fire off an email and find out?

  14. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 01:40 | Permalink

    I REFUSE to believe that Mel is real!

    I am utterly convinced that ‘he’ is just one of Lusipurr’s alt accounts which he uses to make himself sound more correct!

  15. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 01:51 | Permalink

    It’s true, the only people who have confirmed this are the people who can confirm it: the devs themselves.

    There have been no devs who have denied or commented to the contrary. MS has not denied it, either: only commenting that they cannot discuss individual contracts (as that would require the written and legally obtained permission of the dev.)

    So the only people who have told us are the people who would know, and precisely none of them have said otherwise! In fact, several have confirmed it. But that is not sufficient for our dedicated readers, who want some kind of personal and illegal note from MS. (Whom he apparently considers a more trustworthy source for some reason… perhaps he thinks devs can lie, but MS cannot.)

    Meanwhile, the only people who have told us that Jupiter exists are experts who would know. I mean, I’ve never BEEN there myself. It could be a conspiracy, too! According to Mel, we just can’t trust the people who would know (but apparently we can trust forum-goers on the internet).

    Thanks, Mel!

  16. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 01:53 | Permalink

    Today has been a great victory for uninformed opinion! ^_^

  17. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 06:51 | Permalink

    It’s a victory for pooping on Mel, SN. As usual we’re now arguing about the littlest of things: In this case the hideous difference between me writing the a comment thread “patches very likely cost 40k” and “patches cost 40k”.

  18. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 06:52 | Permalink

    *in a comment thread

  19. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 11:11 | Permalink

    We know that subsequent patches cost $40,000 dollars on XBL. Quibbling over this established feature of the service is about as relevant as saying that “the world very likely continues to exist when I shut my eyes”.

  20. Mel
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 14:32 | Permalink

    I agree. This quibbling is very irrelevant.

  21. Korusi
    Posted 2012.08.11 at 23:32 | Permalink

    @SiliconNooB

    I was kind of saying that at the end. It is just good business to make sure that products for your system (that you sold at a loss) work properly. Glitchy games should be patched so they are not terrible compared to other platforms they may find themselves on.

    Then again that’s just me hoping. Hoping that the world makes sense and eventually we’ll see everything become consumer friendly and healthy competition.

  22. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2012.08.12 at 02:32 | Permalink

    There is no reason for Microsoft’s XBL policy to be as mean as it is, especially given how much they charge their consumers to use it. If they wanted to restrict the number of incremental patches issued by devs, then they could do something like two free patches in the six months following launch, and then one free patch every six months thereafter.

    By being so petty M$ are only lining their own pockets while making the PS3 more attractive. American gamers really are just as blinkered as (or more so than) the “onry buy Japan” Japanese domestic audience that Western journalism continually moans about. It takes a special kind of idiot to insist that their derp de derp ‘merican console is superior to the PS3 when it continually breaks, is subject to the worst kind of price gouging, and receives far worse support from the console holder.