Fallout

A Pragmatic Perspective on Cleavergate

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With all of the clashing going on as of late surrounding the new bugs that were introduced with the latest update – and the speed of which the great meat cleaver uprising was quelled, I wanted to give a more pragmatic view on Cleavergate, the current state of the game, and my own perspective (as a software engineer).

It is true that this was an issue that was known during the testing of this patch on the PTS. This is documented in many threads. It's also true that the company makes money when they sell atoms – of which are used to purchase rank-ups through the scoreboard, lunchboxes, and a myriad of other things that ruffle the "pAy 2 WiN iz bAd" crowd's feathers.

As with anything software-development related, issues and bugs are triaged to judge impact as well as time / cost to fix. How will this bug impact the playability of this game? Do we know enough about the cause to fix it? If not, we need to investigate further – which takes time. If the impact is high, and we don't know what's going on, what can we do to mitigate its effects?

What happened here, is that the impact of the bug wasn't estimated correctly. The result was within 2 or 3 days, one could go from server to server and observe… absolutely nothing going on. No nukes were being dropped. Events were completely empty, and masses of people were just hanging around in their camps pounding out meat cleavers by the thousands.

Why would people do this? Well, for some, the end game is grinding up XP for levels. Folks want levels so they can get more perk cards, so that they can try out different builds using their brand new shiny perk loadout slot. For others, simply having a huge level gives them some sense of accomplishment. As mentioned by others, it yielded exponentially more rewards than farming the Wes-Tek loop.

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The big impact? It made the game very boring for everybody else playing. Nobody wants to play a boring game. It also made the imaginary badge of getting a disgustingly-high level more unattainable. If you are in this "achiever" category of player types, the motivation to play is largely diminished, and you move on to another game.

Onto the actual bug – Bethesda very likely realized the scope of the problem within hours of it being exploited. They (like most software companies) would have very much liked to fix it "correctly" the first time. They likely tried quite a few things in the background to see if they could quickly cobble together a quick fix, but didn't have much success. Three days later, the problem continued to multiply. They switched from "try to fix it correctly" to "how can we put out this fire RIGHT NOW?". Disabling throwing weapon crafting did just that. A server-side query something like: "update weapons set craftable = 'false' where category = 'throwable';" was quick and dirty. No downtime was needed, and it reduced the impact of the problem from catastrophic to moderate (maybe lower, because who really uses throwable weapons?).

Within a few hours, people were launching nukes, doing events, building camps, and vendor hopping again.

The argument that this was impacting their bottom line is partly true, but only because it was wrecking the playability of the game. We all know that a player that even only logs a couple of hours per week has plenty of time to complete a season normally. You don't NEED to buy your rank to finish. It's a convenience, and it's there to help keep the game profitable. If software isn't profitable, then it doesn't get resources for expansion and continued operation.

To summarize – take a deep breath, it'll all be ok.

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