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Devs follow up boot.ini deletion

CCP, makers of Eve Online, have taken a bold step and posted a dev blog to educate everyone on what actually happened that caused Windows XP boot.ini to be deleted without warning.

Whilst the bug itself reprisents a careless side, this step to share intimate knowledge of the events before, during and after the issue shows that CCP are willing to admit when they messed up and are willing to let everyone know the ins and outs of how they do things.

The blog entry covers the reasons (mostly due to a new installer that they haven't worked with before) and how they went about fixing the problem.

Eve fans can rest assured that this problem won't be cropping up again anytime soon.

My name is Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson and I have been directing the EVE Online Software Group for the better part of this year. From my previous work experiences in the antivirus industry and following CCP for quite some time now, I have come to appreciate the need for full disclosure when things don't go according to plan.

Shortly after releasing EVE Online: Trinity at 22:04 GMT on Wednesday, 5 December, we started receiving reports that the Classic to Premium graphics content upgrade was causing problems to players by deleting the file C:\boot.ini, which is a Windows system startup file. In some cases the computer was not able to recover on the next startup and would not start until the file had been fixed. In this dev blog I want to tell you how this happened.

You can read the full dev entry here.


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  • #1

    215 users = roughly 10% of the player base.

    That's hardly, "viral," is it?

  • #2

    And before you accuse me too, I don't work for Blizzard,

    Befor eI continue, I'd like to know what the point in this comment was? As far as I can see, there is no point in this comment.

    I'd just like to make a couple of points.

    Whilst my arguement is not based upon solid evidence, I base it on observations I have made of other Blizzard policies. From what I have observed, Blizzard have always released limited information whether it be about new games, patches, bans, hardware issues, software issues and so on and so forth and whilst they are not positively indicative of what Blizzard would do if they were to find themselves in a situation similar to CCP, they are the only examples I have to make observations.

    People have been stating that Blizzard would reveal all the information if this were to occur in one of their titles and have also highlighted my above point. I would just like to state that those people are guilty of the same, "offence," as you also have no evidence to back up your assertions in this situation. You are also speculating.

    In this situation, I beleive that Blizzard would not reveal all of the information. In my opinion, I think, based on observations I and others have made, that Blizzard would fix the issue, possibly release a small amount of information about the issue and then make no reference to it for a long, long time.

    The great thing about this debate is that it can go round and round and round for days and days and days without any definate, "victor," as it is all based on opinion which can't be disproved :-P

    So instead of playing tennis with this for the next few days, I'd be more interested in knowing what people here would do in this situation.

    If you were in CCPs shoes, what would you do to retify the mishap?

  • #3

    Eve has over 200000 active subscribers and is quickly approaching the 300000 mark. That isn't low when compared to almost all other P2Ps... it is above average.

  • #4

    Yes, it does. But Eve has such a low population that barely anyone uses it, and it historically has just collected dust until one of the devs throws a stress test event.

    For all intents and purposes tranquility (the live server) is Eve's test server.

  • #5

    Does EVE have a public test server phase that could have caught this bug before it went live to everybody?

  • #6

    The fact that it happened in the first place is indicative of poor workmanship.

    I would love to hear of a single other example of any MMORPG patch acting in such a viral fashion.

  • #7

    You're comparing apples to oranges. Blizzard hasn't made any sort of disclosure in this nature because they haven't had to. All of the misdeeds you have cited are specific to Blizzard's games, and none of those have affected other programs. If Blizzard released a patch that made your system inoperable, they'd own up to it.

    You cited three examples of misdeeds. First, banning accounts, Blizzard has traditionally held a zero tolerance policy towards cheating. Whether it was spoofed Battlenet CD-Keys for Starcraft or Diablo, or account sharing and powerlevelling now with WoW, if you get caught, you're done.

    Secondly "connectivity issues", which Blizzard has limited control over. A tracert to can prove just how many possible points of failure can occur.

    And your third accusation of Blizzard employee misconduct is difficult to prove, unless you have some form of documentation of those problems. Either way, that's an internal staff problem.

    And before you accuse me too, I don't work for Blizzard,

  • #8

    Most people here seem to be focusing on the problem which personally I think is very much secondary to how CCP reacted to the issue.

    The problem : the upgrade installer deleted the boot.ini filed.
    The why : "The documentation for the Delete function says the file should be specified with a full path but in fact it must be specified with a full path". So thats why it was in there.
    Why wasn't it spotted? : Vista was unaffected, computers with the OS on the first partition of the boot drive were unaffected. In total CCP were contacted by 215 users (170 by petition, 45 by phone) who were affected a relatively small fraction.

    How did CCP react?
    They pulled their programmers out of bed and had the issue fixed within 6 hours of the original patch being released. They followed this up with regular obvious in game warnings not to reboot and posts explaining the issue.
    Now we have devs explaining exactly what went wrong.

    Personally I'm very much a fan of CCPs and have found their willingness to be open and upfront with their player base a refreshing change from my experiences with Blizzard.

  • #9

    If blizzard screwed up this badly, there would be a class action lawsuit. As it is, the eve online player base is so small that CCP can afford to be careless like this.

    Honestly, this has got to be one of the worst screwups in mmorpg history.

    Indelible, I would be hammering blizzard for making this mistake, even as a fan of wow. I don't even see this as defensible. There are non computer savvy eve players that are probably looking at their computer at this very minute as a paperweight because CCP's team screwed up horribly. Disclosure or not, I would highly advise people reconsider their subscription.

  • #10

    Indelible, the moderating fanboy. Eureka.

  • #11

    I myself have never been banned, suspeneded or otherwise but I know people who have and I know that the reasons that are given are not personal by any stretch of the imagination. They do not document the offenses on a case by case basis. They do not list the reports and the observations that led to the ban. They do not tell you exactly what was detected or reported. It is possible to tell people what happened without revealing who reported them you know :-) More often than not, the Warden has its way with you and that is hardly personal now is it?

    The phrasing of my sentence seems to have been twisted. I was not implying that Blizzard would intentionally break your PC. I'd also like to highlight that CCP did not intentionally break anyones PC. They just did via something they had overlooked. What I was implying was that if Blizzard messed up on such a level where they did compromise an OS to that point, they would not give precise information about the problem on such a technical level. They never have. An incident that comes to mind was the mass banning of Linux users and, despite the fact that they don't support linux, the following unbanning of almost all the accounts. They never fully revealed why so many users were banned. There have been multiple ban waves where this has occured. You are right, there are no events of Blizzard breaking OSs and as such the only way of saying what is most likely of them is to look at previous actions on Blizzards part.

    I'm going to take it that you are or were an employee of Blizzard at one point from your wording. I don't know how things work at Blizzard but you know those entire guilds that got transferred from server to server counter to Blizzards policies? Yeah... to my knowledge they never got banned :-) It's happen several times and has been noticed several times and I can't think of a time where they have been moved back to the PvE server they came from, banned, suspended etc etc etc. I'm pretty sure that a couple of the Leads were in a guild that this happened with... and they are still Leads... and not banned :-D CCP have fired employees (contrary to popular belief) for breaking the rules as have Blizzard but much like Blizzard, they are hardly going to fire the high-ups now are they? :-)

  • #12

    I don't know what sorta banning issue you're referring too, but banning is a case by case situation and personal. You, the player, surely know what you did in order to be banned and if not the email you'll get from Blizzard will refer to the policy you violated that led to your ban. I fail to see how that is not releasing information to the relevant parties. They will not give out full details as to what you said or did specifically as that could, in certain situations, compromise the one who reported you in the first place.
    Save to say that NO Blizzard product has ever deleted a MAJOR system file in all the years they've been making games so I fail again to see why you say that they'd rather break your pc! If you're gonna make such claims it would be nice if you could back it up! Also GM's that cheat will get fired on the spot and whatever change they did will be undone. At least that's what happens in the EU office. And as far as I read about the Eve GM's cheating they have not lost their job, remember reading about one of the developers just getting a slap on the wrist and nothing more!

  • #13

    I have to disagree Indelible. Blizzard has yet to screw up anywhere near this bad for starters, but if they did, they would have full disclosure.

    That's not actually the case. There are multiple instances of errors on Blizzard part where they have not released all the information relevant to the problem. Most of these cases revolve around the banning of accounts or issues with connectivity but they are indicative of Blizzards approach. I've experienced this behaviour in both Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft.

    I've played Eve and know people who have been playing it for many a year and I agree that CCP have, in the past, made some near-fatal errors as they have with the boot.ini issue but CCP have always retified the issues and have always provided clear and concise information relevant to the problem at hand. Blizzard have not. Blizzard have sometimes provided fractional amounts of information or, more often than not, just said, "I can't say anything...".

    The activity you mention about in game cheating is prevalent in World of Warcraft as well. There have been situations where GMs have abused their powers to give players an unfair advantage over others. Entire guilds have been transferred PvE to PvP simply because high-ups at Blizzard are in the guild. In almost all of the situations involving Blizzard employees breaking rules, they have just gone, "it is our game." It is also popular to beleive that class balance is dictate by the Leads and more often than not, these Leads play the very same classes that are being OP-buffed (speculation ofc).

  • #14

    "Blizzard would break your PC and then say nothing about why it happend, when it happened or how they fixed it."

    No, blizzard would never send out a product that was this screwed up. With all of Blizzard's faults they are very attentive to details. The only thing they never plan on is the population/lag issues the game has when brand new content is released. And thats not directly their fault. Honestly though, this would never come close to happening in a Blizzard game.

  • #15

    I have to disagree Indelible. Blizzard has yet to screw up anywhere near this bad for starters, but if they did, they would have full disclosure.

    After playing eve online for two years, and wow for three, I can most confidently say that not only is this a desperation move, but one that CCP practices with experience. It never surprises me when they bungle up this horribly.

    The Tranquility server is CCP's only reliable form of beta that they have and the people running things there really truly have no interest in how their players feel about them and their game. Aside from blatant near fatal screw ups like this one, simply look to how they treat their staff that use their powers to cheat within in the game itself.

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