December 12, 2007

CCP Tries To Explain Themselves: Fails

Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson, EVE Online Software Group's director, has a lengthy post trying to explain the Best Bug Ever.
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.
He goes on to answer a few questions.
Why doesn't Windows protect its system startup files?
That's a good question, one that I have asked myself in these last few days and wish I knew the answer. But of course I'm not going to blame Microsoft for our mistake. Windows doesn't protect those files and therefore software developers must take care not to touch them. We should have been more careful.
I have to take offense to this answer. The question that needed to be asked: why was a file named the same as a critical Windows system file knowing full-well that EVE Online (like most games) will be played and PATCHED on an account with administrative privileges?

This could of been Linux and an fstab file with the same outcome; a PC that doesn't boot correctly. It baffles me that someone this high up in the company would even attempt to answer this question and state "I'm not going to blame Microsoft". I'm sorry, Dr. Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson, but it sure sounds like you are saying part of the blame goes to Microsoft.

Of course the answer to why the file was named boot.ini:
The answer is really "legacy"; it has been like that since 2001 when the file was introduced on the server and later migrated over to the client in 2002, so this file has been with us for over 6 years. We are reviewing all filenames and changing the name of any file that conflicts with Windows.
Or as I like to call it: lazy-assedness.

Reading through the comments, many EVE Online players are giving CCP props for full disclosure. Unfortunately, CCP really doesn't have a choice at this point in EVE Online's life with all the other drama that has swirled around the game.

The entire post details a breakdown of the most basic principals that guide any software project, from a Hello World! to Google. And I can't believe they DON'T have a single machine setup in their testing environment that mirrors what someone would be using at home (Windows XP installed on a single drive, game being played and patched on an administrator account).

All told, in the end, 215 users seem to have been affected. That is 215 too many.