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Game developers share their most embarrassing design crimes

It isn't easy making games, and sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do to make it work.

Game development is hard work, and like many jobs, sometimes you’ve got to cheat a little bit. In a recent Twitter thread, game developers have come forward to share their most embarrassing workarounds, some of which are genuinely hilarious.

Prompted by Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor, the developers range from current indie designers to grizzled triple-A veterans, all of whom have stories to share about pulling out the duct tape when nothing else seems to work. In some cases, inexperience with coding or engine use forced developers to come up with bizzare solutions to what seem like simple problems, while in others, shipping deadlines meant coming up with something on the fly, quickly.

Stuff like this exists all over games: In Fallout 3, for instance, you may have heard that the moving presidential metro car you find in Broken Steel is actually a very large hat for an NPC. And there are plenty of ‘field expedient’ fixes that you never see that cover bugs and memory leaks and auto-save problems. Games are complicated, and unraveling a problem you discover toward the end of development might mean blowing a deadline or breaking a bunch of other stuff you’ve done in the meantime.

Check out our list of the best indie games on PC

Here’s Gaynor’s initial tweet, in which he kicks things off by admitting to writing all of Gone Home’s scripting in just two massive graphs.

Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail said they had to get a boss character to spawn on top of a procedurally-generated building, and so they came up with a brute-force solution:

Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans worked at Lionhead Studios during the development of god game Black & White. The team ran into a memory problem:

Damion Schubert says the expansion pack for early 3D MMORPG Meridian 59 had a pretty significant problem: They had accidentally made it impossible to access.

There are issues with pets in games, which sometimes do unexpected things – such as draw aggro on themselves.

That car you drive in the moody, li-fi horror game Paratropic? Yeah, that’s not really a ‘car’:

Then there was the time that the Kingdom of Loathing developers tried to back up their database but accidentally deleted it instead (the full story is behind the link, and it’s a nightmare):

I quite like the virtual Rube Goldberg devices developers create to keep the illusion alive, like this solution to making time pass in Firewatch, shared by Jake Rodkin (who’s now at Valve):

Even Brendan Chung, who’s made games about computer programming at his company Blendo Games, has had to learn as he goes:

Maybe best of all is the fact that everyone’s favorite Ur-RPG, Baldur’s Gate, shipped in debug mode, according to BioWare’s Mark Darrah:

We’re hoping that won’t be the case for Anthem, which he’s working on now.

As players, we don’t often get to see the creative ways developers get around problems that crop up as they translate big ideas into working games, and this peek behind the curtain is a thought-provoking (and funny) demonstration of how sometimes, there’s just a bit of string and glue holding everything together.