Obsidian’s Roby Atadero on video-game bugs: “Generally you’re going to have a lot of bugs.”

During his presentation at the University of California Riverside, Roby Atadero – Senior Programmer at Obsidian – shared some really interesting details about the bugs that players encounter in most modern-day games. Atadero basically confirmed what most of us already know by now; that most developers do not have enough time to address the majority of bugs as publisher want to meet their deadlines.

“Bugs are normally ranked. Like A bugs are “No, no, no, we shouldn’t ship this.” “Hey I talked to this guy and he tried to do a quest and he disappeared.” Yeah those are bad. Or a game crashes or I lost all my items. Then there are B bugs which are we should fix these by launch they may not be game breaking. Then we have our C bugs which they are mostly cosmetic or annoying like “Hey I went into my inventory and didn’t see my sword for half a sec.” Like if that ships no one is going to cry. You still want to fix them but when you have a limited amount of time you categorize them and the goal is to get through all the A bugs and as many as B bugs but if you don’t which generally you won’t because you’ll find more bugs with the product than you can fix.

This basically explains why we’re seeing a lot of games with minor bugs or ‘niche‘ glitches even with the day-1 patches on most games. Atadero then continued and said that by fixing the already reported bugs, developers sometimes end up with even more bugs.

“So then you’ll put it out and work on a day one patch where you keep fixing bugs. They’ll test, you’ll work on another patch and then you’ll make new bugs so even though you were fixing bugs you’re making new ones. You didn’t know that making this model pop up half a second faster will actually pop in the wrong model.”

Atadero concluded that developers do not have enough time to fix all of the bugs, even with the day-1 patches, as they have to meet their deadlines. And since publishers aren’t delaying their games – well, apart from some publishers – their games are filled with bugs that could have been fixed if the development team had more time.

“Generally you’re going to have a lot of bugs. Not all bugs are detrimental. For example you can have a lot of C bugs and you waive them if they are something like, if you alt tab and open up another program while the game is running the music stops. We don’t have the time to fix this so we are going to have to waive it. Every game I’ve shipped on has had a lot of bugs on ship. It’s not something like 10 it’s always like hundreds. I mean you see with Fallout 76 as an example.”

Article has been updated per Roby Atadero’s request