Dateline Nov. 21, 2002: Terraquest launch marred by early bugs

March 16th, 2010

After two missed starts, Mind Quest manages to get their inaugural game out of the gate. The countdown timer for TerraQuest started yesterday, but 3 hours after the scheduled start, some players are still unable to login.

Early entrants experienced numerous bugs including the inability to login to play. It appears that the MySQL database was somehow misconfigured leaving preregistered players in the cold. As of two hours past the launch time, an informal poll of players in two separate chat channels indicated that fewer than 25% of registered players had access.

For those that did manage to start the game, numerous bugs were reported with key features in the game. One player, who paid $10 for an Express Analysis, was informed that a response could take up to two hours. Originally, the game developers promised to respond to these paid requests within 10 minutes. Part of a winning game strategy is to determine which clues need express analyses. The first player to submit the correct answer for each game period wins $25,000. Because each player is limited to five express requests per game period, judicious use of these paid responses could easily net a player the prize.

Equally troubling was the response that several players received indicating that they had already submitted their answer for this game period and were ineligible to submit any more answers until the next game period. Unless fixed, this bug essentially disqualifies the player from a prize in the current game period.

Other bugs reported include the inability to log back in after successfully logging in once and then properly logging out. For those that could log back in, some reported that the requests they submitted were missing and it appeared they needed to start over.

One other interesting anomaly was discovered prior to the official launch. The countdown timer was based on the observer’s system clock. By turning the clock on your computer forward, you had an early peek at the login screen located at lars.terraquest1.com. It is unknown whether the login was actually active, but this type of error opens the door for a serious security breach that could potentially color any claims to prize money.

The players who were able to successfully start the game and navigate through the interface reported that the environment was very rich graphically and were excited about the opportunity to play.

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