4 Bugs And Glitches In Video Games That Became Features

Joel Lee 16-07-2014

“Working as intended.” It’s the iconic phrase uttered by developers who are too tired, too busy, or too apathetic to fix game glitches that they’d rather pass them off as intentional features. Usually this results in fanbase uproar, but there are a few key moments in gaming history that have been defined by such unintentional behavior.


If every bug and glitch was properly quashed, it’s possible that we wouldn’t have games like Dota 2, Super Smash Brothers, Street Fighter, and more. At the very least they wouldn’t be as popular as they are today, but it’s also possible that entire genres would be nonexistent. Bugs are mostly bad, but they can be good too. Keep reading to find out how.

Denying Creeps (But Not Minions)


Dota 2 What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? In the world of games, Valve Corporation has recently grown into one of the largest and most consistent game publishers (with the skyrocketing success of their Steam distribution network) and game developers (with the international... Read More is the most popular game on Steam by a long shot. Just take a look at the Steam Game Stats and you’ll see that there are more players on Dota 2 than the next nine games combined. How is that possible considering the fact that Dota 2 has one of the toughest learning curves of any multiplayer game?

Well, the learning curve of Dota 2 itself is a strong force for player retention. There are many who give up on the game long before they truly understand it – a journey that can take upwards of a hundred hours – but those who do learn the ins-and-outs of Dota 2 realize the depth and complexity in its gameplay and teamplay that’s hard to find in any other game.



For example, take the concept of last hitting. You only earn gold if you deliver the last blow to an enemy unit. It’s a simple concept that’s tough to execute due to the timing and anticipation involved. Then there’s denying, which is the act of delivering the final blow to a unit on your own team to prevent the other team from earning gold and experience.

It’s an integral part of the game that was originally unintended. Dota 2 began as a mod for Warcraft III which allowed any unit to attack any unit. The impact of denying was so game-changing (full denial of gold and experience) that it was later altered (full denial of gold, partial denial of experience) but kept in the game.

League of Legends Why Is League Of Legends The Most Popular PC Game In The World? [MUO Gaming] Earlier last month, news broke that League of Legends, the addictive rehash of MOBA games like DotA and Heroes of Newerth, has officially earned the right to call itself the most popular game on the... Read More , an offshoot of the original Defense of the Ancients, chose another route and opted to remove the denying mechanic altogether.

Animation Cancelling

The aforementioned denying mechanic is only one of many nuanced gameplay features that set apart Dota 2 from other MOBAs. Consider, for example, the concept of animation cancelling.


In Dota 2, every action has an associated animation. Each animation has two components: the animation point (the time it takes for the animation’s action to execute) and the animation backswing (the remaining animation after the action is executed).

To illustrate, imagine a wizard who winds up his hand and throws a fireball (animation point) but follows through with the throwing of his arm until he comes to rest (animation backswing).

Well, players discovered that an animation’s backswing could be interrupted at any time by issuing another action. Instead of waiting for the full animation to play, players could immediately start doing something else as soon as the fireball was thrown. Thus, a master of animation cancelling could gain a significant advantage in situations where milliseconds could determine victory or loss.



But animation cancelling was first discovered years earlier in Street Fighter II. Producer Noritaka Funamizu found a bug in his game where certain animation frames could be interrupted by issuing another attack – similar to the way Dota 2‘s animations are cancelled. However, this small bug would revolutionize the fighting game genre.

With skillful manipulation of cancelled animations, players of Street Fighter II could chain together multiple attacks so quickly that the opponent could do nothing about it. Funamizu considered this exploit so difficult to pull off that he didn’t think anyone would come across it – let alone master it – so he didn’t bother to fix it.

Silly Funamizu. Not only did players discover the exploit, and not only did they master it, but it became a core component of higher level play. It allowed players to always have a fighting chance for survival even if they were 1 HP against an opponent with 100 HP. It was considered so essential that nearly every fighting game today includes combos of some kind.




Most casual players of the Super Smash Brothers franchise only know of three ways to move around the stage: walking, running, and jumping. But back on Super Smash Brothers Melee, there was a fourth option that only advanced players knew about: the wavedash.

To understand the wavedash, you first need to understand the physics of another move, the air dodge. When aerial, players can dodge in any direction. As the air dodge grants a few frames of invincibility, it was originally intended to be used as an evasive maneuver. However, when a player air dodges at an angle towards the ground, they slide.

By jumping and immediately air dodging against the ground, players can slide long distances in a short amount of time – much faster than walking or running. In addition, the game considers sliding characters to be in a “standing” state, meaning they can perform any action that can be performed while standing: jabs, smashes, grabs, shielding, and more.

While wavedashing was removed from sequels of the game, it remains in Super Smash Brothers Melee to this day as one of its defining competitive features, making it the “most competitive” of all games in the series and a shining example of a game that appears simple but is surprisingly deep 4 Seemingly Simple Video Games That Are Surprisingly Deep It may surprise you that many games exist that can be easily enjoyed by players of any skill level, yet are deep enough to allow for an advanced play style. Read More .

Strafe Jumping, Rocket Jumping, Ski Jumping

Here are three first-person-shooter mechanics that have defined the look and feel of several famous gaming titles and they all involve jumping in one way or another.

First, there’s strafe jumping, which is also called bunny hopping in some circles. For those who don’t know, strafing is when you move side to side without changing the direction of your facing. In games based on the Quake engine, jumping while strafing allowed you to move faster than simply running. Though it was a bug, the developers decided to keep it.

Second, there’s rocket jumping, which allowed players to propel themselves into the air (or across long distances) using the physics of an explosion, most typically from the projectiles of a rocket launcher weapon. The unintended consequence was two-fold: 1) players could reach locations that were previously too far, and 2) players could cross ground much faster than by foot.

Third, there’s ski jumping, also known as just skiing. In the original Starsiege: Tribes, players discovered that they could quickly accelerate if they repeatedly tapped jump while running down a slope. This mechanic, which made players look like they were “skiing” down hills, was adopted by the community as an advanced technique that defined high level play.

These mechanics have fallen out of favor in recent years as first-person-shooters nowadays lean more towards “realistic” gameplay, but these behaviors aren’t completely extinct yet. Some unconventional shooter games 4 Unconventional Shooters You Must Play Shooter games are all the same. Guns, guns, and more guns. If that's how you feel, then take heart! There are a lot of other options out there. Read More still play around with these interesting mechanics, such as the prevalence of skiing in Tribes: Ascend.

Final Thoughts

Developers tend to have a specific vision of what they want their games to be, so it’s not surprising when they tend to crush (or attempt to crush) every bug that pops up. However, these examples stand to illustrate that some bugs deserve to live. Some mistakes aren’t mistakes at all and developers should be open-minded about potential glitches that don’t fit their original plans.

What are some of your favorite gaming bugs that were repurposed into features? Surely there are more out there than those listed here. Let’s hear some more examples of how inconspicuous errors turned games famous. Share with us in the comments below!

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. DESE
    August 4, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Great list, although I haven't played most of the mentioned games. I honestly think one is missing, 'surfing' in Counter Strike (Source). Look up some videos if you do not know about this, but basically you move your way around sliding on angled (specific range) walls/ramps. It became a complete other approach to the game, leading to a huge community with thousands of custom maps. There was even a sub category where the players do not have weapons (counter strike??) but racing their way through the map was the only goal.

    • Joel L
      August 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Oh yeah! I do remember surfing back in Counter Strike 1.6 with entire maps dedicated to surf racing. I lost a loooot of hours playing them... good times. Don't really know if it would count as a glitch but it definitely 1) wasn't intended 2) was fun. :)

  2. Stephen
    July 18, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Lets not forget that Creepers in Minecraft were born from a coding bug!

    • Joel L
      July 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Indeed, that's right! A simple bug turned into the iconic figure of one of the world's most popular games ever. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

  3. Joses L
    July 18, 2014 at 5:20 am

    The high-level PVP in Elsword is almost completely based on animation cancelling, quick stepping, and taking advantage of invincible frames and delay cancelling. Probably half of those is somewhat intended, but I don't think the devs would have thought some of the other half-- it's damn near impossible to pull off consistently(but is being done). If you do play it, look up KirbyBlader's gameplay in Youtube, the way he(and other high-level players) twists tand exploits the game mechanics around his hand is amazing.

    • Joel L
      July 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      I've never played Elsword so I didn't know about that. Awesome. I'll check out KirbyBlader to see how the animation cancelling works out in gameplay. Thanks!

  4. Stadsjaap
    July 17, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    One from the Wayback Machine:
    Worms Armageddon - aim your grappling hook at the ground and shoot: Your worm goes straight up. With unlimited ropes set up you can easily travel from one side of the screen to the other.

  5. Luke
    July 17, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Let's not forget Starcraft: BW where the developers couldn't figure out the worker pathing correctly, so they made it so the workers didn't collide with other units while mining, this became a huge part of the game.

    • Joel L
      July 17, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Ah, right. Worker stacking really did pave the evolution of strategies, didn't it? Forgot all about that. Thanks Luke!

  6. Robert John A
    July 17, 2014 at 2:46 am

    For DOTA2: It is not the "only" way to earn gold. You earn 1 gold per second. Last hitting would give you extra XP and extra gold (+30 or more) to be able to farm up items quickly.

    • Joel L
      July 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Oops, sorry. I meant "only" in terms of a conditional, as in "only when you get the last hit do you earn gold from a dying creep". You're right that there are other ways to earn gold, including passive gain and hero/tower kills.

  7. Andrew
    July 17, 2014 at 2:32 am

    As someone who has played Dota for we'll over 9 years now, I can confirm neither of those are glitches. They were intended, and altered . Stop casting has been around since back when it was an unpopular Starcraft map, and denying has been tweaked constantly because people thought having no experience granted was game breaking. Seriously suggest doing a bit of research or potentially asking older players before making half an article about false truths.

  8. a
    July 17, 2014 at 2:26 am

    City steal bug in Civ 5! Not sure why it is still in the game as it really ruins the game, but it's pretty fun as it makes a friendly game with friends turn into a brawl.

    • Joel L
      July 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Sounds like one of those bugs that's fun for a few times but quickly becomes an annoyance. :P

    • a
      July 18, 2014 at 1:57 am

      It's not just an annoyance but a huge cheat that can be used by anyone simply if you try to negotiate with them. The sad part is that has been there for a long time and no one has done anything. It means multiplayer in civ 5 is completely worthless as anyone you trade with has the ability to take everything you own.

  9. Liam
    July 16, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    My favourite bug (and one which I discovered myself by accident) was in GTA3.

    To access the as-yet unavailable parts of the city, one could run through the subway until underneath, then deliberately get hit by a train while running at the tunnel wall. The computer (I only tried this on PC) would have a fit and eventually dump you above ground, in the forbidden zone!

    If I recall correctly, the police took exception to this and would soon come out in force, but it was fun...

    • Joel L
      July 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Yes! I love accessing secret locations because of buggy terrain and weird physics. Didn't know it was possible in GTA3, thanks for sharing.