5 Glitches in Video Games the Makers Tried to Pass Off as Intentional

Categories: Gaming

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Vanellope Von Schweetz glitching in Wreck-It Ralph
Making a video game is an extremely nit-picky and touchy thing. All programming is because programming is based on logic. If X happens, then Y must happen, leading to Z. For more information on this principal, hang around

However, just like real life, if you make a mistake in a critical point of data things can go a little wonky. For instance, if you think that fluoride is a carcinogenic mind-control substance then you're likely to extrapolate a very different reality from the fact that the government puts it in our water than people with the correct information.

Most of the times video game makers go back into the matrix and correct those sort of errors. Other times, and for various reasons, they just shrug and say that they totally meant to do that. This is a celebration of the latter.

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Wing Commander: Now, you might get the impression from the intro that I know a little about programming... unless you actually know a little about programming. In which case you probably know I'm faking my way through this.

For instance, I have no idea what an EMM386 memory manager is, but I do know that it was important when Ken Demarest III was developing Wing Commander back in 1990. Unfortunately, the game was under an incredible deadline with one big bug still sticking out as the shipping date loomed. Whenever the team exited the game they would get an error message that read "EMM386 Memory manager error."

With no time to fix the problem before the launch, Demarest simply went into the code, found the error message itself, and changed the text to "Thank you for playing Wing Commander" so it would display to the player instead of the error. You read that right. Demarest turned a major crash bug into the actual game over screen.

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Space Invaders: It's kind of hard to explain now, but Space Invaders was once a really big deal. It started out as a game that looked so unimpressive that many arcade owners didn't even want to place orders to try it out, and yet it became so popular that it actually caused a coin shortage in Japan.

Creator Tomohiro Nishikado was contractually bound from telling people he was the games creator, and was so worried about the game having critical errors in it that might be discovered through general play that he took to haunting arcades to make sure everything was going well. One bug, though, he was very proud of.

Even though Space Invaders was running on some of the strongest hardware at the time, it still wasn't really up to Nishikado design. This caused the beginning of the game, when the screen is full of sprites, to run much slower than later when the player had eliminated many of the enemies and by proxy the drain on the system's resources.

This resulted in a ramp up of the difficulty that Nishikado thought was enjoyable, and it also inadvertently invented the concept of a difficulty curve. Before Nishikado's error, games were the same from beginning to end. Afterwards, the true test of a player's skills was how he or she would deal with the ever-tougher later levels in a game.

This story continues on the next page.


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