A recollection of a Bug in a "good" game:the mystery of the bug and the game will be revealed later!

edited April 2018 in Games
Well what is the "big deal":- a bug in an old Spectrum game. So what!

Well , I should explain: it was a good very popular game and I have to watch out for the "bug denyers" out there ! I remember, some time ago, another WOS member denied that the said game had a bug . He said something like "Well I never found one" or similar so I dropped the subject . But yesterday I was discussing old games with one of my sons who clearly remembered the said bug in the said game and also said something along the lines of :- "Well you get that on forums . He won't have actually played the game .It definitely had a bug" So my vague recollection of a major flaw in this popular game had been confirmed by his very clear identification of it..

So I set myself a challenge . I would give myself a generous time limit of 6 months to find the said bug . I hope to be able to reveal the game and the bug to all and sundry (including the bug denyer but I will not mention him by name!)

These days I tend to discuss and mess about with games rather than actually play them .But back in the the 1980s when I bought a Speccy game I actually enjoyed playing it (sometimes at least ) and this was a good one (apart from the bug) . So I just have to make the effort , read the rules and get back into it!
Post edited by harriusherbartio on

Comments

  • I'm going to say something but offer no information that could be used to verify it, and I'm not going to offer even a name you can search for to see if you can decipher what I'm talking about.

    But come back in 6 months when I'll tell you all what I'm talking about!
  • edited April 2018
    Well I made a bit of an effort . I played the game with Spectaculator and a gamepad .

    On Day 25 Defcon 4 it crashed . You will have guessed it by now . It is Theatre Europe by PSS .

    I will put a pic of the "crash point" up (Google Link) soon . The cursors changed colour to white and everything stopped

    Whether this is the "big bug" is another question but this game definitely appears to be buggy.
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • It’s probably a lot easier than you imagine for bugs to slip though :)

    The bug deniers really annoy me too. Bugs are a daily reality in professional coding, and to not approach them with humility or grace is usually the sign of a massive dickhead. How you respond to a bug report says more about you than the fact you had a bug in the first place.

    I know you were talking about fanbois denying bugs, not the original coder, but the dynamic is similar. Any time someone says “you’re wrong, it worked for me” I know to deal with them in a different way from that point onwards!
    Robin Verhagen-Guest
    SevenFFF / Threetwosevensixseven / colonel32
    NXtel NXTP ESP Update ESP Reset CSpect Plugins
  • I've never created a bug in my code, they're all "unintentional features"...
    I wanna tell you a story 'bout a woman I know...
  • It’s actually an interesting subject. Sadly, triggering a bug is not all that helpful, but bug reporting is a skill that you can hone, even if you aren’t a coder.

    The “ideal” bug report lays out steps to reproduce the bug consistently every time, from a known starting point. Some of my good (non-programmer) bug reporters seem to have a intuitive knack, involving pattern matching, filtering and mental integration, and they “just see” whether actions or program behaviour are relevant, and offer them as observations.

    Bugs are often a result of the coder being stuck in a certain mindset, where the action (or sequence of actions) that triggers the bug is not even a possibility on their radar, rather than the coder making a technical mistake. When you get a good bug report with observations (sometimes just implicit ones) it’s a real joy. I can’t imagine being one of the dickheads who get defensive and hostile to bug reports.
    Robin Verhagen-Guest
    SevenFFF / Threetwosevensixseven / colonel32
    NXtel NXTP ESP Update ESP Reset CSpect Plugins
  • Nah..huh? He clearly cheated with Phoboshop
  • colonel32 wrote: »
    The “ideal” bug report lays out steps to reproduce the bug consistently every time, from a known starting point.
    If only it were so easy every time. Intermittent bugs are the worst kind. Fortunately, recording a playthrough to an RZX can save the day. I remember catching a nasty runaway stack bug this way. It was extremely intermittent, so there would be no way for the end user to reproduce it consistently. Just recently, I spent half a day chasing another intermittent bug also using RZX replay. (Silly me, I forgot to replace a conditional RET with a JR when I moved some code from a sandbox to the project.)

    But, yeah, testing and debugging is not easy. It was ten times harder back in the day, when you had limited debugging tools at your disposal.
    Every man should plant a tree, build a house, and write a ZX Spectrum game.

    Author of A Yankee in Iraq, a 50 fps shoot-’em-up—the first game to utilize the floating bus on the +2A/+3,
    and zasm Z80 Assembler syntax highlighter.
    Member of the team that discovered, analyzed, and detailed the floating bus behavior on the ZX Spectrum +2A/+3.

    A few Spectrum game fixes.
  • edited April 2018
    Thanks for the feedback on this . It is actually a good game that sold well so the bug may have been corrected in later versions (I think I tried the a tzx of the original in this first test ) . So , next I will try the Summit "cheap" version which probably came out 2 or 3 years later .
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • edited April 2018
    With the Summit version I got the game completed . So was that just chance or is there a difference between the 2 versions . Did someone sort out the bugs?

    The game is quite topical as the NATO side is allowed to use gases like AC ,CG ,CX , HD , GA, and VX .
    And I was able to make Berlin uninhabitable!

    The game is easy to set up for a Sony game controller . I chose 1) Player v Computer 3) Redefine Keys , N for NATO , 1 for Level 1 ,A for Actions screen and P to play .

    The jury is "out" on whether the Summit version has been debugged though . More Testing needed.
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • edited April 2018
    I tried the Summit small cassette version again and got to the end of the game again . The Soviets launched a Nuclear attack . Critical damage , systems failing , suicide capsule in locker 3 etc

    So the Summit version has completed 2 games wheras the original version failed on the first game. It is looking possible that this game was debugged later on..But the original version does at least come with a good manual in a full sized box!
    Post edited by harriusherbartio on
  • Is the game Bugaboo ? ;)
    Every time I read that the oldest person in the world has died, I have to do a quick check to see it isn't ME..........
  • Sounds more like Buggy Boy to me.
    What now?
  • Definitely something by Bug Byte
  • I tried the Summit small cassette version again and got to the end of the game again . The Soviets launched a Nuclear attack . Critical damage , systems failing , suicide capsule in locker 3 etc

    So the Summit version has completed 2 games wheras the original version failed on the first game. It is looking possible that this game was debugged later on..But the original version does at least come with a good manual in a full sized box!
    And therein lies one of the more subtle reasons that others might not remember there ever being a bug, sometimes they just got silently fixed by later releases (or even later production runs). As much as you hear people whine about how modern games receive day 1 patches, what tended to happen back in the day was that game breaking bugs were only ever going to get fixed on re-releases or extremely popular titles and publishers were happy enough to clear out there backlog of produced buggy cassettes on the assumption the most purchasers either wouldn't get far enough or wouldn't bother to complain.
  • edited April 2018
    Reply to the "others"

    Great bug gags guys! I wish I could do gags as good as that! This sophistication is something I can only dream about.


    Reply to AndyC

    Yes this was a popular game as it combined arcade elements with some strategy so it might have been worth their while fixing it . But I do not want to assume a "comfortable" or a "nice convenient happy ending" to something that is hard to get a definite answer to . It seems that it may have been fixed but I have not proved it yet . So I may well revisit it to try and work it out for sure


    Post edited by harriusherbartio on

  • The WOS archive is quite useful for details like this.

    The original release in 1986 was 39,760 bytes
    The Summit re release in 1989 was 39,488 bytes.

    So there was a size difference and plenty of time for a de-bug . But this does not prove it .
  • Bug Testing is nothing if not unpredicatble

    This time I went onto WOS archive to get the original tzx file (for the first issued copy of the game).

    As time has gone on with this TESTING this game I have found it harder to find the bug :- In the first game I did not know what I was doing and found the bug pretty quickly.This time the game ended with "Warsaw Pact Attack halted: Your Command Ability 78% : Press SPACE to retry". So I have got better at the game and worse at finding the bugs!

  • Retesting the original version (52.6 TZX file) This version is on the WOS archive.

    I got this to do a "total" crash back to the Sinclair Research logo in battle arcade sequence towards the end of the game . No pic of this crash was possible as the crash was total unlike the other one where the screen display was retained . So this early version does indeed appear to be very buggy.

    But I have not manged to crash the later Summit version yet.

    Getting the second crash out of this game has taken some time so I feel my early "time allowance" of 6 months for testing was reasonable in these circumstances - as the bugs are quite hard to find!

  • I had forgotten how topical it is

    The front cover says:-

    "Massive US intervention in Syria................"

    Hm . That rings a bell.
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