I always wonder what goes on behind the scenes on the World of Warcraft team at Blizzard. Aside from being impressed by the scope and quality of the game, I wonder how difficult it must be to build this (very) fat client that has to be kept in sync on the OS X and Windows platforms, integrate new content, and keep all of the game’s internal systems in balance so that users enjoy themselves. Then there’s the challenge of maintaining the infrastructure needed to support over 10 million active accounts.
So I relish any little glimpse behind the curtain we can get. This weekend, players found a really interesting bug in the game. Death Knights, a new class in the game, have an ability called “Death Grip”. It allows the player to pull an enemy toward them through the air. (Here’s a short video.) So here’s the bug: if a Death Knight uses Death Grip while standing on a particular ship, the target is pulled through the world (the flight lasts about 8 minutes, apparently) to a hidden ship in the middle of empty space far away. There are several videos of this in the blog post I linked to above.
As long as MMOs have been around, there have been ships to take users from one place to another. You go to a dock, wait for a ship, climb aboard, and wind up somewhere that would otherwise take you forever to get to by running (or swimming). Here’s the thing — ships have been buggy in every game they’ve been implemented in. For some reason, the folks at Blizzard had to create this hidden ship somewhere to get around some bug they obviously couldn’t fix in any other way, and now this Death Grip bug has in some way exposed the inner workings of the game.
I doubt there’s any advantage to players in finding it nor will there be any way to get to it once this bug is fixed, but I would still love to hear the inside story of how that ship got there in the first place. It reminds me of some ships I’ve built in the past to get around what at first looked like relatively straightforward problems.