Aug 132013

Sparksy firing an arrow. Literally.
Sparksy prepares to fire an arrow. Literally.

My Gamer Girl has more problems with DDO game bugs. She gets more of them than I do, and when she does they are more severe. She gets one or more irritating bugs every single play session.

She gets so many bugs that sometimes I just assume she is doing something wrong. I am a programmer myself, I get lots of bug reports that resolve to not be bugs at all; maybe this is like that. Except I am being unfair to her, even a bit condescending. My Gamer Girl is quite bright, very computer-savvy, and she plays a lot. She knows how things ought to work.

More than once she told me about a bug, I doubted it, and then later read about the bug on the forums or was impacted by it myself. So I’ve learned. If she says it is a bug, it probably is.

I have no idea why she gets so many more than I do. Do I really get less bugs? Am I just less observant? Maybe they bother me less? Maybe all of the above?

During one of the (many) conversations that we’ve had about this topic, my Gamer Girl challenged me. “Log in one time”, she said, “run a quest, and log out. Write down every bug you find. Then publish that.”

What do I have to lose? I’ll get Sparksy my OMG Artificer. She’s run the Litany of the Dead once but has several more runs to go.

Bug One: I can’t log in.

I have to start the launcher, log in, wait awhile, get the message “You have been disconnected from the chat server”, close my client, then repeat the entire process.

Okay now I am in, time to run to the quest. Except …

Bug Two: (Error): A failure has occurred in submitting your support request.

I have no idea why this is in my general chat when I log in, but it is. I ignore it.

Now successfully in, I am ready to play! But wait ..

Bug Three: My head display has turned itself back on

I am wearing a Drow Spider Mask and when I first log in, Showhelmet is automatically turned back on. I open my inventory and turn it off. Again.

Okay now I can see my cool goggles and I am off to the quest. Except …
That's a mean-looking arrow

Bug Four: I am carrying an arrow where my crossbow ought to be

My crossbow is sheathed but one arrow remains visible, hovering mysteriously over my right fist. I just ignore this one and continue.

I finally reach the quest, and enter. Except …

Bug Five: I get the Gianthold Tor loading screen

I ignore this one too. Well actually I laugh first, and then commence the ignoring.

I summon hirelings; a cleric, an owlbear, and my iron defender Dangerdog. I buff and we hit the first encounter, where …

Bug Six: Enemies that I kill visually pop up in outline form before disappearing

It goes through it’s death animation, and then suddenly for a frame or two it appears standing, but only in outline as one might see a hidden enemy with Spot. Then it is gone. Nothing to do about this one so I ignore it too.

I dispatch the first group of cultists, then the second, I traverse the spinning gear trap section and engage the wheeps and quell. Except …

Bug Seven: Casting Flame Turret has no visual cue that anything is happening for several seconds and then suddenly the turret appears

I keep mashing the button because nothing is happening. No waving of arms, no whispered incantation, the icon on my hotbar doesn’t go into cooldown mode. And then suddenly, there it is. The bad guys are agro’d on it when it appears, which makes it seem as if maybe it “appeared” to monster AI before I could see it myself. I can think of no workaround for this one either.

Now that I understand the strange behavior of the turret, I can adjust for it, it is not an issue. I quickly deal with the wheeps and quell, and all of the monsters between me and the fake stack of treasure chests above the green ambush room. I open a chest and fall into ambush.

Quickly I throw the switch at the far end of the room, and then jump up on onto the plinth of one of the large columns flanking the room. I begin sweeping the room with crossbow fire, I have the Silver Slinger and the rune arm that imbues Disruption so the skeletal archers and warriors fall like long grass before a power mower. But …

Bug Eight: The giant skeletons and other major undead are stuck in the floor

It is the opposite of Bug Six; I see giant skellies appear in translucent outline form, then they disappear into the floor, and never come up. I don’t need to workaround this one, as it works in my favor.

Before long all three crystals are lit and the ambush room is clear. I jump down and harvest the goodie bags left behind by my opponents/victms, onlyΒ  to see …

Bug Nine: The skeletons in the ambush room drop Antique Bronze Tokens

Tokens are supposed to be desert-only but whatever, beats another string of prayer beads. No workaround needed. Or possible for that matter.

There are about a dozen opponents and a long vertical trapped obstacle course between me and completing the quest. I slay, I prepare for the vertical drop trap but …

Bug Ten: My scroll wheel on my mouse no longer zooms in and out

It did when I started but it stopped working at some point and I am only now noticing. This is my Gamer Girl’s #1 pet peeve as she plays in first-person view exclusively. I can still use my plus and minus keys, I just have to take my hand off the mouse.

Time for the vertical traps. I shuck and jive and soon arrive unharmed in the black iron cage to be confronted by it’s guardian, the Black Dragon. Except …

Bug Eleven: The Black Dragon never wakes up and approaches the cage. He just lays there the whole time

Not a big deal, his dialogs still appear and I am still able to complete his twenty-questions puzzle.

And so I do, finishing the puzzle and finishing the quest. I log out of the game without further incident.

“So tell them you didn’t do anything special, it is always like this.” My Gamer Girl again. And so I will point out that I didn’t do anything unusual during this session except pay closer attention than usual and write down what I saw.

It is always like this.

I had three other types of events that I assume are also bugs, but may just be lag, and how does one know the difference? I’ll list them but again, I am not sure these are bugs.

  • Spell lag: lots of spell effects happening noticeably after casting
  • Crossbow animation and sound appear out of synch
  • AI behavior – casters appear to be flanking me as if they were melees?

That is the problem with playing a game with so many bugs; you lose faith in it. When anything is wrong, you immediately assume it is another bug.

My Gamer Girl and I spent most of a day trying to get in-game support to change her Druid’s epic destiny from Exalted Angel to Shiradi Champion. We assumed it was mis-assigned to her by mistake, just another bug. Only after hours of conversations and waiting did we recall that the character used to be a Cleric and probably selected what would have been the correct ED back then, on purpose.

No bug. User error. Wasted time for the GM too, not just us.

It is important to note that none of these bugs kept me from finishing the quest. None of the ones that weren’t lag-related even made it more difficult. They just were there.

I love this game, I really do. I am very positive about the upcoming new content, I like what I am able to guess about the game direction, I am hopeful for it’s future.

And I am a positive guy overall.

But I can’t give the game a free pass on the bugs. They suck. They’ve been detracting from the fun of the game for years, and the overall quality of the game never seems to get any better.

Lots of people have posted lots of suggestions on improving game quality. I think that is unproductive; one would have to be inside Turbine to know enough about the their domain and processes to have a useful opinion. ProducerRowan is inside Turbine, and he is certainly saying all the right things about the quality of the upcoming expansion pack.

As for me, I will shrug and admit that after seven years it seems silly to hold out much hope. We are just going to have a buggy game, it is going to cost us players and some times it will make it harder or impossible to play.

That is just the way it is. On the other hand, the game has enough awesomeness to overcome the bugginess, usually. And it gives me plenty to write about.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  6 Responses to “A Bugs Eye View of the Black Mausoleum”

Comments (6)
  1. I’ve said it many times, they simply can’t fix the bugs. They’re what hold the source code of the game together.

  2. Completely agree – the bugs are a pain.. but we just work round them πŸ™‚

  3. Big two is also in lotro. ‘Its purely cosmetic and has no impact on gameplay’. Still weird though.

  4. About Bug One, I used to get it every time. Damn frustrating! But then I saw a forum post about DDO preload. Its a small program that – you guessed it – preloads DDO files. Never again have I seen the red disconnect icon. Check it out in the forums, it is very worth while.

  5. agreed with Adiurd. i started using the preloader, and, while i only load a little faster, since starting to use the preloader i’ve never seen the red disconnect icon while trying to log in nor have i crashed while loading into what used to be my bad areas… sands, orchard, kings forest, etc. i can also swap between characters SEVERAL times without degrading or crashing where before once or twice was enough.

  6. I like the character the bugs add to the game πŸ˜€

    Sometimes I’m disappointed when a bug is fixed, or they streamline an in-game process so as to just avoid a bug altogether πŸ˜›

    The game indeed has enough Awesomium, at least seven Awesomiums for every DnDClient πŸ˜‰

    I keep coming back to DDO, because every other MMORPG is just copy-paste of the tried and true generic base with a new skin. For now, DDO is different to the rest.

    (Am I logged in yet?)

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