Game Breaking Bugs Suck

March 8th, 2016 by Caleb Cajthaml

Game breaking bugs suck, there’s no other way to put it.

Just a few days ago I was playing Campo Santo’s recently released Firewatch, and despite the game’s technical problems on PS4 I was really beginning to enjoy myself. The art style is beautiful, the writing is absolutely superb, and the gameplay scratches my Metroidvania itch in a way that no other game has done before. I was nearly done with my playthrough when it suddenly froze on a loading screen that followed a cutscene. No big deal, I thought to myself, this kind of stuff happens all the time. I’ll just close the application and boot it back up again. But when I hopped back into the game, I was spawned before the cutscene happened, and I couldn’t, for the life of me, get it to trigger again. I tried every single solution I could think of, I even went as far as to uninstall and reinstall the game, but in the end each attempt at somehow restoring my save failed. I was left no other option than to completely restart the game from the beginning, repeat everything I had done before, while praying to the PS4 God (@yosp) that nothing like that happened again. 

Last year's MGSV had a game breaking bug waiting for anybody that used Quiet as a companion for missions 29 and 42

Last year’s MGSV had a game breaking bug waiting for anybody that used Quiet as a companion for missions 29 and 42

But you know what? I’m not really in the mood to go back through the game again. Campo Santo had created a game that, while buggy, was great nonetheless. Unfortunately, because of one slip up too unique and small to be playtested for, I won’t be finishing the game anytime soon, and that sucks.

Game breaking bugs can take some of our favorite games and leave a sour taste in the players’ mouth, not because of poor gameplay or a boring story, but simply because of a random series of events that ended up corrupting a save or just plain prevented the player from moving on. Take your favorite game and enter it into a Google search bar along with the words “game breaking bug.” I’d be willing to bet money that if this game came out within the last 15 years that something is going to come up. A quick search of “The Last of Us Game Breaking Bug” revealed that my favorite game of all time, a game developed by Naughty Dog, one of the most well-respected developers of the past 20 years, was not immune to the game breaking bug plague. The original release of The Last of Us had a bug at release that stripped the game of its ability to save at all. It can happen to the best of us.

"Even the best fall down sometimes"

“Even the best fall down sometimes”

Often triggered by a random series of events, game breaking bugs can be so specific and small that they’re often impossible to find by play testers. This often leaves them in the game until some poor soul posts on Reddit complaining about a quest they can’t complete because an NPC clipped into an elevator. Most problems with game breaking bugs don’t arise with the bugs themselves, but most modern games autosave so often that they overwrite any possibility of going back to a state before the bug ever occurred. This usually renders the game unbeatable until the developer creates a patch that removes the bug from the game. But in most cases that only stops any future players from running into problems, any players that already had the bug just have to restart the game.

Game breaking bugs flush all progress down the toilet, not only for the player but for the developer. I know that Campo Santo poured their heart into Firewatch, and all of their hard work was discounted and thrown in the trash because of one random series of events that left the game unplayable for me. Game breaking bugs can quickly put an end to a game that didn’t deserve it, throwing away all previous progress (not to mention money spent) out the window, in an instant. Developers can’t easily get rid of them and get hate for them when they happen. Nobody wins with game breaking bugs, and there isn’t much that can be done to counteract them. Screw you, game breaking bugs.

Caleb Cajthaml is a 15 year old who set dreams so large he needed to get started on them now. Passionate about making people happy Caleb loves to write about all things entertainment. You can find him on twitter @Caleb_Talks tweeting about the latest happenings in the Star Wars cannon and why the Vikings are the best team in football.