Most Technically Difficult Bug Ever

Players occasionally say absurd things like, “It would take five minutes to fix this little bug.” Which, if it were true, would probably have already been done. My new favorite example for either “wow, this must be way harder than it looks” or “wow, they really don’t care” is the color-change bug for City of Heroes global chat.

Global chat, by the way, is one of those great features that every game should have, along with global friends. CoH is packed with features every game should have, especially given that CoH has had most of those features for at least four years, if not since launch five years ago. Global chat lets you set a cross-server channel, so you can talk on any of your characters, on any server, across instances, time, space, whatever.

Way back eleven months ago, I listed this as one of my favorite new bugs introduced. They let players set chat channel colors, only instead of working, it randomized chat channel colors every time you zoned. Unless you are on a long mission, you zone constantly in City of Heroes: into your base, across the city, in and out of buildings, in and out of missions.

City of Heroes is once again inviting players back to see the new stuff, while this bug still exists. Every player who uses global channels, which is everyone in the slightest contact with the community, will see this bug moments after they log in, and it will recur and make itself known every time they zone. If they zone quickly with an active chat channel, the same channel will appear in a rainbow of colors as it picks a new one with each zoning.

This must be the meanest bug ever seen. I cannot imagine a company willingly leaving something that visible, even if that minor, in the game for a year.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “Most Technically Difficult Bug Ever”

  1. Speaking as a programmer, typically the most difficult part of fixing a bug is finding out *why* it happens. It’s not like there’s a section of code that says something like :-

    set global_char_color = random.

    To make it even more difficult to track down, random errors like this are typically the result of a failure in a non-related piece of code.

    But yeah, that is one mother of a bug.

  2. I don’t know that any bug fix would ever take “five minutes to fix”, considering that even the developer that fixes it will still need to compile and test out the fix.

    However, occasionally WoW would have an incorrect number somewhere (like the wrong skill number in a tradeskill recipe). If Blizzard is smart, and yes they are, this number is stored in a database somewhere and would probably take five minutes to fix and have the dev test it (since it’s probable no recompile would be needed).

    Now, it would take a long time to peer review the fix and QA the fix and propagate this fix to the servers, but if you’re already doing a hotfix …

  3. That’s the sort I think of as “five minutes”: we have seen decimal place errors get through, which is quick to fix one someone has found it. And some players will do things 1000 times to find it.

    Having played A Tale in the Desert, I have seen live, five-minute changes to the game. A Tale in the Desert doesn’t exactly have that long peer review process. Just make the changes to the live game, why not? If you were in the right place at the right time, you could see terrain moving as someone redesigned parts of the world.

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