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Discussion on: 🍿What was the most remarkable 🦗 bug you have ever had to fix 👩‍🔧?

yozlet profile image
Yoz Grahame


I worked at Linden Lab (which runs the virtual world Second Life) for over five years. There were a ton of amazing bugs while I was there, because bugs involving virtual worlds of any kind are almost always hilarious. (Read the patch notes for The Sims if you want other examples.)

This is my favourite Second Life bug story. It happened while I was there, but I wasn't involved in fixing it, I just found out about it the next day. Years later, I tweeted a thread about it, in response to this:

Here's the text of the thread:

I know an even weirder version of this, also from SL. This is from when I worked there, about 7 years ago. It involves skating horses.
Similar to the bunnies, there were some other virtual pets in SL that were Arabian horses. Just like the bunnies, you had to buy them food.
You’d put the food out, they’d find it using some pathfinding code written by the horse creator - before SL had native pathfinding.
Now, when there are new releases of SL, it isn’t fully tested with all the scripts that content creators write. Far too many to do that.
(The QA issues around Second Life could fill a book. Many of those issues could/should have been avoided. Not going into it now.)
One release had a tiny tweak to the physics engine, related to friction of objects moving on the ground.

You may guess what’s coming next.
The horse pathfinding logic was using the old friction rules. As soon as the SL region code updated, horses started sliding past their food.
In some cases, horses living on high-altitude platforms started falling off them. (I imagine them whinnying as they pirouetted into space.)
Now, this all seems really comical, until you realise (a) how many people owned these horses, and (b) how much they’d spent on them.
So, within a couple of hours of the code going live, staff realised that US$X0,000 worth of user possessions were being destroyed by a bug.
(Yes, US dollars. Not Linden dollars. Just in virtual horses. You have no idea how much the SL economy is still worth.)
Once the size of the problem was realised, the code was rolled back. But this still takes several hours over the thousands of servers.
So, during the rollback, several dedicated QA engineers stayed up much of the night, saving virtual horses from starving to death.

This is why virtual world bugs fascinate me. Some of them are just AMAZING. (There was another one that raised the water level 200 meters.)

My other favourite SL bug happened before I joined the company. It had very little to do with the virtual world, but was amazing for completely different reasons:

lifelongthinker profile image
Sebastian Author

Hilarious! That's a beautiful one.
My takeaway: Don't invest in digital pets and don't ever buy digital goods for them.

louy2 profile image
Yufan Lou

Don't invest in digital pets

Reminds me when CryptoKitties became the viral app of Ethereum.