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PC Games (Games) Bug Entertainment Games

EVE-Online Patch Makes XP Unbootable 572

Posted by kdawson
from the boot-hill dept.
Nobo writes "CCP's latest major patch to the EVE-Online client, Trinity, comes with an optional DX9-enhanced graphics patch that dramatically improves the visual quality of the in-game graphics through remade models, textures, and HDR. It also has an unfortunate bug: the incredibly stupid choice of boot.ini as a game configuration file, coupled with an errant extra backslash in the installer configuration. The result is that anyone who installs the enhanced graphics patch overwrites the windows XP c:\boot.ini file with the EVE client configuration file, bricking the machine on the next boot. Discussion in a couple of forums threads is becoming understandably heated."
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EVE-Online Patch Makes XP Unbootable

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  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:37AM (#21596019) Journal
    Wow... if this story isn't a wild exaggeration, then this is about as unfortunate as a game-bug can possibly get. Of course, a reasonably savvy user could probably have an affected system working again fairly quickly without any data-loss, but my own experience suggests that such users will be in the minority.

    The only gaming-related parallel I can think of relates to the uninstall programme bug for the 2001 version of Pool of Radiance. In that instance, attempting to uninstall the game (something many users would do not long after installing it, given the tedious and half-baked nature of the game) had a good chance of wiping the user's hard disk. I actually deliberately triggered this bug for fun myself when I decided it was time to wipe my old machine after I bought a new system. If anybody can think of any other examples on this kind of scale, please do share them.

    I wonder if this is going to cause any unpleasant and potentially expensive legal repercussions for CCP, from users who have lost data while trying to fix the issue?
  • by d3m0nCr4t (869332) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:40AM (#21596053)
    I suppose both the producers of Eve Online and MS are to blame here. Eve Online for naming a configuration file the same as a Windows system file. And of course MS, for letting any application overwrite such an important system file.
  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:42AM (#21596079)

    I wonder if this is going to cause any unpleasant and potentially expensive legal repercussions for CCP, from users who have lost data while trying to fix the issue?

    At the very least, it will give us a better indication of just how binding those EULAs are.

    With respect to the bug, I'm an ex-tech. I've spent so long away from tinkering with my OS that it would probably take me a good long time to realize just what was wrong. I could probably repair the machine once I did find out that it was a boot.ini issue, but it could take a while.

    I would imagine that a lot of these people, even if they are 'techy', don't have more than one machine. Without the ability to check the tech support pages, or another machine on which to test/repair the HD, it would be pretty damned annoying at a minimum.

  • by W2k (540424) <wilhelm.svenselius@gmail. c o m> on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:46AM (#21596101) Homepage Journal
    Likely the users were running the game as administrators, and an administrator would have the necessary rights to overwrite any file on the disk. I don't see how this could be blamed on Microsoft. On Vista you'd get a UAC prompt for trying to write to C:\, but Vista doesn't use a BOOT.INI anyway, so no risk of breaking the system.
  • by Etrias (1121031) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @09:59AM (#21596231)
    It's not an exaggeration. I was playing last night when the news was coming over the chat channels. Fortunately, it's a pretty quick fix if you can catch it before the reboot and have a Plain-Jane hard drive set up (single drive, no SCSI or RAID).

    A few of us in the in-game chat were trying to catch people who were logging on for the first time and walking them through fixing their systems. It baffled all of us why there would even be a boot.ini file that CCP would use to install the premium content (users who chose not to install the premium content were not affected by this, nor were Vista users). I still can't figure out how this missed even basic testing where CCP should have caught this bug pretty easily.
  • Eve's boot.ini (Score:5, Interesting)

    by splutty (43475) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @10:07AM (#21596315)
    The boot.ini for Eve itself contains information about whether you have the "Classic" version or not. The patch that was released for the Classic version did not contain this problem.

    The patch released for the "Premium" version does contain this installer error. The change made to the boot.ini is the line that contains this definition, and is changed from Classic to Premium.

    It's a very logical problem, easy to fix if you know it, but also incredibly stupid...
  • Re:Admin privileges (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jorenko (238937) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @10:14AM (#21596367)
    If you would have RTFFT, you'd know that the install script output looked like this:

    Output folder: C:\Program Files\CCP\EVE
    Delete file: \boot.ini
    Extract: boot.ini... 100%

    Which indicates the problem: someone fat-fingered the path of the file to be deleted and QA likely didn't test the final version of the installer.
  • by E. Edward Grey (815075) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @10:30AM (#21596569)
    Pardon me for asking, but in what universe is "the game update made my computer unbootable" an excuse for being absent from work? And does this universe happen to have any open positions?
  • Re:(catchy subject) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Krinsath (1048838) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @10:51AM (#21596841)
    More likely cause: The patch was tested but the patcher was not.

    Don't forget that this is an issue with the the *patcher* that was not present in the full premium install from scratch, only the upgrade (which is probably the route most people would've taken, in fairness). It basically boils down to a simple typo in one version of the installer and rebooting to test the installer might not be part of their QA tests for the patcher.

    Really what they should catch flak for is not a bad typo, but as the summary points out having a game file with the same name as a critical OS file. Boot.ini isn't a new thing, in fact it is on its way out with Vista, so there's really no excuse to claim you didn't know that Windows had such a file. It's been there since 1995 or so.
  • by secPM_MS (1081961) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:05AM (#21597071)
    There is nothing that Microsoft could have done to prevent this. Installation of applications to the machine requires administrator privledges, as does installation of drivers. On Vista, there will be a UAC prompt when you start installation and uninstallation, but the process will then run with the full administrator token. Admin's can do what they want on the box. On a *nix system such an installation / uninstallation error would typically nail the system as well unless it was run in a rather full jail, and I am uncertain that jailing the game would have adequately dealt with a process that might install new video drivers. Certainly, most users would have been slammed in either environment.

    Microsoft is criticized for its slow release of patches and software. One of the major issues slowing down release is the exhaustive testing passes that software must go through, and they still occasionally miss something. The diversity of configurations in the field is astonishing. This is an issue Apple does not face, as they support an OS for ~ 2 .releases, say 3 years -- and they make all the HW, which limits the diversity. Microsoft supports their stuff for 7 to 10 years (the 9X and ME series were a bit less than this).

  • Oblig. Penny-Arcade (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drogo007 (923906) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @11:41AM (#21597619)
    From way back in 1999 with good ol' Myth II; []

    I remember when we used to use this strip in our training materials for new Testers to impress upon them how badly they did NOT want to have a comic like this made about a bug THEY missed.
  • by malkavian (9512) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @12:06PM (#21597997) Homepage
    Because the file existed before, and after the patch, and because (as the GP poster mentioned) their clean test machine would continue to boot cleanly after the install.
    I can understand this one slipping through the cracks in coding (having done coding for years, and knowing that something like a game doesn't get full formal spec treatment). It's still a big ouch, and a real hit on the reputation for the company, but it's one of those honest to god accidents of oversight.

    If it happened to me, I'd be mightily peeved, and rightly so. As the company will likely be frantically running round trying to sort it out, and being both scared and embarrassed.. And again, rightly so.

    The measure of the company now is in how well they manage the screwup, and how well they look after the people affected. Accidents can happen to anyone. Not everyone can manage to do something good about a disaster.

  • by dintech (998802) on Thursday December 06, 2007 @12:08PM (#21598015)
    Indeed. I always understood bricking to mean 'only a remote chance of being repairable by some esoteric means, if repairable at all'. Re-installing the OS clearly isn't enough.

    However for signicantly large factors of stupid, reinstalling an OS might seem unpossible. Like the sorts of people who these days write summaries for slashdot...

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