"Was it some flaw in the game’s holistic design? Many changes were made in an attempt to improve the game’s feel, and while they were often genuine improvements, none of them fixed the core issue.”
- Former designer at Mythic Entertainment Leah Miller speaking on overlooked keyboard errors.
With all of the variables that go into game development, it's likely that something will get overlooked. For programmers it's usually a small typo which, if not corrected, can have interesting (yet detrimental) effects on how a game runs.
In a recent interview with Waypoint, former game designer at Mythic Entertainment Leah Miller discusses the impact an unnoticed line of code had for the MMO RPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Shortly after launch, the studio received complaints from players saying the game felt sluggish and unresponsive -- however, they couldn't pinpoint anything specific.
“The team overhauled combat to try to make it feel faster and searched for server inefficiencies that could be eliminated,” Miller explains. "Still, the feedback was vague enough that nobody could be certain of the exact cause."
Miller goes on to note that attempts to improve how the game felt were genuine, but ultimately none of them fixed the issue. A solution wouldn't be found for six months.
A new programmer discovered that something was wrong after digging around in Age of Reckoning's code. The problem? Age of Reckoning’s code still included a line related to dial-up players for Mythic's previous MMO RPG, Dark Age of Camelot.
"I believe the main function of this was bandwidth optimization, though it may also have been part of a system designed to make sure dialup players could still be competitive in PvP. ” she says.
"This delay was mostly invisible to Dark Age of Camelot players, since that game’s combat was custom-designed for the standard bandwidth and processing power of that era. Very few players had systems that could process data more quickly than it was being sent and received.”
Once the line was removed, the problem vanished and the game felt smooth again. But it may have come too late, as most of the game’s players had migrated back to World of Warcraft.
While the error may not have directly contributed to the Age of Reckoning’s difficulties, it certainly didn't help.
She was speaking as part of a longer interview around Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and how the error affected the game in the long run, so be sure to check it out over at Waypoint.