Fed2 Star - the newsletter for the space trading game Federation 2

The weekly newsletter for Fed2
by ibgames

EARTHDATE: August 11, 2013

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by Hazed

An intriguing little bug was discovered last week by a Plutocrat, who bought a Blish City and appeared to have been charged twice the correct amount: 12 meg, instead of the 6 meg which both the manual and the game itself say it costs.

He sent a capture to feedback and when I looked at it, I agreed that it really did look like he’d been charged double the amount he should have paid.

This was very odd. I couldn’t believe that nobody had noticed being overcharged before this! I have no idea how many Blish Cities have been built since they were implemented a hundred? A thousand? Well, it must be a lot. Maybe Plutocrats have so much money that they just don’t notice when they are overcharged.

So I sent the capture to Alan and asked him to take a look at the code.

What he discovered was very interesting. It turned out that the Plutocrat had indeed been overcharged, but not on the successful purchase of his Blish City. The problem was that he had first issued the command without including the city name: ‘BUILD CITY’ instead of ‘BUILD CITY cityname’. This was obviously a mistake, and the game told him so - but it took the money from him anyway. You could call it a tax on the careless.

That explains why nobody had reported the bug before - it would only show up if a Plutocrat made that particular error, which probably wasn’t very common.

What this shows is the value of detailed bug reports. The Plutocrat’s email included a capture which showed his treasury, followed by the failed attempt to build the city, then the successful purchase, and finally his treasury again. That’s what clued Alan into the cause of the problem. If he hadn’t included the capture, Alan would not have thought to look at the bit of code that was erroneously taking the money.

Anyway, the bug will be fixed at some point in the next week.

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