July 8, 2019

5 bugs turned into features

Is it a feature or a bug? We decided to collect some examples when teams managed to turn a bug, or some weird behaviour into something useful and sometimes even iconic. So let's dive right in.

1. "Unsend" feature in Gmail

That one is definitely our favourite and yes, it was originally a bug. Gmail took 5 seconds to process an email, which is a lot of time when you think of it as a bug. But the team found a nice way out of it by turning it into the "Unsend" feature, that saved us more times than we would like to admit.

2. Silent Hill

When Silent Hill was being developed, game consoles weren't powerful enough to show all the objects on the screen at the same time.

The team decided to render only the part of the environment close to the player, which was a great solution, but it had a problem - as the player moved you could see the objects popping up on the screen, which didn't feel very nice, of course.

That's how an idea of introducing the fog came around - so that way the player couldn't see faraway objects being rendered.

Even though gaming consoles got better with time and the fog wasn't technically needed any more, it was decided to keep it anyway, as it became a defining part of the gaming experience.

Source: Air Entertainment

3. Lara Croft Bust

Source: IGN
We are all familiar with the atributes of Lara Croft's figure. Nonetheless, not all the features were intended that way.

"While making test adjustments to her girlish figure, a slip of his mouse turned an intended 50% increase to her breast size into a 150% gain. It met with instant approval from the team before he could correct it."

Source: IGN

4. Buggy computer defeated a Grandmaster

In 1997, Deep Blue managed to beat the chess world champion Garry Kasparov. Supposedly, it all came down to a single unexpected move that the IBM machine made, where the computer made a sacrifice that could only hint at its long-term strategy.

Years later however, one of Deep Blue's developer revealed that the move was the result of a software bug - when the machine did not know what to do, it made a random move.

Source: Wired

5. Space Invaders

Not everyone reading this, will remember this game. At the beginning you face a lot of aliens moving slowly left and right across the screen. Your job is to move a cannon to destroy them. The fewer aliens are left, the faster the rest of the aliens start moving, which makes it gradually harder and harder to shoot them.

It's not widely known that it was actually not by design. This bug was a result of processor-limited graphics rendering. As fewer elements were shown on screen the rendering got faster. As in the case with Silent Hill, the graphics eventually became faster, but the developers decided to keep the original behaviour in later version.

Source: Wikipedia

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