On the Eve of Disaster

written by Geoff Bowers on Monday, 21 January, 2008 @ 08:00 AM

Last year the MMORPG, Eve Online, released a patch that had the potential to bugger the operating system install of any Windows user upgrading. This monumental blunder bypassed engineering and QA processes to end up in the hands of tens of thousands of unwitting consumers.

Eve: Minmatar Assault Ship Wolf

In a précis from some online discussions on the night...

"Following countless reports from EVE Online users tonight, developer CCP has confirmed that the much-anticipated Trinity update to its popular space MMO contains a line of code that deletes the boot.ini file from Windows XP machines"

WTF 1: Naming a game data file "boot.ini"
WTF 2: Accidentally adding a backslash, resulting in the patch deleting "\boot.ini", aka "C:\boot.ini".
WTF 3: This getting through QA and ending up in a patch run by up to two hundred thousand people.
WTF 4: The fact that Windows allows applications to overwrite boot.ini.

The Eve development team followed up with a candid admission, immediate support and insight into the debacle:

I don't know how many people were really affected. But I think the moral of the story is that even the best teams, with the best processes can make mistakes. When you make a coding mistake, take comfort from the fact it was probably no where near this catastrophic :)

If you ever find yourself in a situation where everything has gone to hell in a hand-basket, I always find that honesty, transparency and immediate action are the best you can hope for from any team.

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