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Gameplay Derailment

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"Nothing fucking works! Nothing fucking works!"

When a game is made, it usually undergoes extensive testing, to ensure that the gameplay goes smoothly. Unfortunately, then it goes into the hands of the public, who collectively can (and will) conduct more gameplay in one hour than your testers were able to do in a year. And the gaming public usually pick up on whatever your Quality Assurance team missed. Any glitches, combinations, or exploits the game testers or programmers overlooked, ignored or flat-out didn't find, you can be sure that the players will find it, sooner or later.

Normally, this is an okay thing, but sometimes, those issues can alter gameplay in ways the developers didn't intend, and change the skill-set needed to succeed. Generally, the derailment is less frowned upon when the resulting new gameplay is exciting, varied, and rewards skilled play, as opposed to, for example, limiting the game to who can press a button the fastest or rewarding everyone who does nothing but wait out the clock. For better or for worse, it can change a game completely and render some portion of the game's (intended) tactics useless.

When the developers make a sequel, they may choose to embrace these discoveries, making them part of the gameplay, or they may choose to eliminate these discoveries by instating an Obvious Rule Patch, Nerfing a few effects, or rewriting the rules completely.

A Challenge Gamer will see these techniques as legitimate, unless the game is more interesting and difficult without it; in that case, they'll avoid it as a(nother) Self-Imposed Challenge. A “Stop Having Fun” Guy or Scrub will find as much reason to play this way as to complain about those who do.

See also Game-Breaker, A.I. Breaker, Good Bad Bug.

Works with their own subpage:


  • The original release of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening contains a glitch that allows players to warp across the screen by hitting the Select button at a certain moment during the scrolling segue. This lets players to bypass obstacles easily, reaching items and areas much earlier than intended.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has been so extensively analyzed and broken that speedrunners have brought down playtime to 17min:47sec. Keep in mind that the layman takes about 20 hours on a first playthrough and around 10-12 hours on a second.
  • By exploiting collision mechanics (i.e. going through walls), it is easily possible to beat Super Mario 64 with only 16 stars, with a best time of 17min:31sec. If human skills weren't an issue, the game could be completed by collecting zero stars, and all that in just over 5 minutes.
  • It is possible to beat Donkey Kong 64 in 54 minutes, due to a variety of collision glitches and skips.
  • The entire Metroid series revolves around nonlinear gameplay, although in later games this nonlinearity is usually found by manipulating collisions. For example, in Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, it is possible to walk around doors and outside of the actual map. This is used to skip entire boss fights (namely Quadraxis) in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes speedruns.
  • Portal is a relatively short game anyway, but a speedrun of it was done in 9 minutes and 25 seconds. This was made possible by a glitch involving shooting portals precisely on the edge of surfaces so they actually were shot outside the map, allowing the speedrunner to skip most of the game.
  • Mirror's Edge has a similar problem; its speedrun record is around 30 minutes due to a glitch which essentially causes a Double Jump, thus allowing the player to skip many passages of the game.
  • Most Deus Ex speedruns or challenges rely on abusing A.I., mostly by letting them open doors sooner than they are supposed to. Tripmines can also be used to climb walls.
  • One of the biggest examples is the discovery of Combos in Street Fighter II. Characters were not supposed to be able to string moves together in this way, but they became so central to Fighting Games that one of Killer Instinct's selling points was its polished combo system. Parrying, from the third installment, is another instance. Since perfect mastery of parrying is a prerequisite in higher levels of play, the risk of being countered turned virtually all non-casual matches into Chun-dominated turtle-fests.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • "Wavedashing" in Melee allows those who master it to rapidly change direction, attack while moving as if the character is standing still, and in some cases speed around the playing field much quicker than is otherwise possible. Performed by air-dodging into the ground at the very start of a jump, thus causing the character to slide across the surface, it was recognized during development, but they didn't take it out because they didn't expect it to affect the metagame the way it did. Wavedashing eventually became essential for and central to tournament gameplay, with many characters eschewing normal movement entirely in favor of wavedashing. It was removed from Brawl via a reworked air-dodge so that skilled players wouldn't have such a huge advantage over new players.
    • Brawl's online mode had its own form of Gameplay Derailment. Normally when you go online in a fighting game you expect to fight other players, right? Well, the rise of "Taunt Parties" meant most of the matches you'd enter online would be filled with people doing anything but fighting. This included but was not limited to: taunting, dashing back and forth rapidly, showing off glitches/weird physics, doing their rapid jab combos for extended periods of time, suiciding in flashy ways, throwing items up and catching them, bouncing projectiles between two reflectors, bouncing themselves between bumpers, Landmaster riding and all other sorts of tomfoolery that, among other things, included ganging up on anyone who dared to actually hit someone else. Yes, you read that right. If you actually tried to fight in a fighting game they would punish you by ganging up on you. Now this may not sound so bad, and it wouldn't be if you could just drop out of the match and find another. But it got to the point where there were more taunt parties than legit matches. If you actually wanted to fight someone else, you were either stuck fighting a 3-on-1 battle or hoping you would get lucky and find an honest-to-goodness free-for-all in all the taunt parties.
    • The "Taunt Party" behavior led to a new form of a "Taunt Party Game" when the fourth installment came out- Villager roulette. One Villager starts by growing and chopping down a tree, and the other pockets it. The battle continues by using the tree as the only form of offense. Villagers take turns throwing and pocketing the tree. When the tree is lost, whether it be by a hit or drop, the person who held it last grows a new tree for the other player to pocket. Play continues until a KO is made, or until a player's stock runs out.
  • Mario Kart:
    • Snaking. In the DS version, if you manage to snake after a rocket boost from the starting light and not mess up, then it's known as the prolonged rocket boost glitch, which lets you keep driving at rocket speeds as long as you kept snaking from the green light. Mario Kart Wii changed the sliding mechanic so that you have to maintain a power slide in order to charge up mini turbos instead of waggling left and right really fast.
    • Wii also introduced bikes, which can't charge up mini turbos to the same degree as karts, but popping wheelies gives a speed boost (at the expense of turning ability, which becomes practically nonexistent), though you will slow down a lot if bumped into while using a wheelie. However, this mechanic, like snaking, is abused to the point where everyone just chooses to use only bikes and wheelies on every chance they get, generally having the upper hand over kart players.
    • Occasionally, a glitch will pop up in a Mario Kart game where deliberately falling off the track will relocate you to either a later area or allow you to skip laps. Naturally, this renders time trials runs on any course using such a glitch unbeatable by those who don't know of or refuse to use the glitch. Mario Kart 7 was the first game with online play with such a glitch easy enough to do consistently (Maka Wuhu, AKA Wuhu Mountain Loopnote ). Until an Obvious Rule Patch came out to fix it—to give an idea of how bad it got, this was Nintendo's first such patch—many people selected that course to play over and over. As it was the quickest course in the game to finish due to the glitch and because you rank up in every position but last place, playing solely Maka Wuhu was the clear choice for people trying to grind up the ranks as rapidly as possible.
  • Pudding farming in NetHack. It's simple arithmetic: Asteroids Monster + Randomly Drops = infinite items and equipment. This isn't as useful as it seems, so the developers never bothered stopping it.
    "The DevTeam has arranged an automatic and savage punishment for pudding farming. It's called pudding farming." - Jove
  • Diablo: Most major patches eliminate one or two instances; Buriza Do Kyanon, Hammeridins, etc. Amazon builds particularly tend to be flavor-of-the-month thanks to this.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The game has had classes doing roles they were never quite intended to. In the Burning Crusade expansion, Rogues could stack Dodge and Agility so high that they could tank some of the strongest bosses by dodging their every attack indefinitely. In Wrath of the Lich King, a Mage made use of Spellsteal, a pack of enemies with a stealable shield spell, and talents to increase damage from the effects of such a shield to solo several 25 player dungeon bosses.
    • Many players "farm" old raids and dungeons for gold, cool-looking gear, and mounts by tackling them alone. While the level discrepancy usually makes it easy to simply curbstomp the enemies to oblivion, more recent out-dated bosses and bosses with special mechanics require either special strategies, very high damage output, or both. A particularly infamous example of bosses that suffer Gameplay Derailment when soloed is Spine of Deathwing, the penultimate boss of Cataclysm's final raid, whose original strategy hinged on the raid members standing in two groups on the boss' back - too much weight on either side and the boss would roll around, sending all players not affected by a certain buff to their dooms. With only one player, however, you have to constantly run between the left and right halves of the back, and standing still for a second too long means instant death.
  • Final Fantasy XI has had both positive and negative examples of this, though which are which aren't always universally agreed upon. Primary among the positive ones would be the community turning the Ninja job into an outstanding Evasion Tank. Primary among the negative ones would be most single-job styles of "burn" party, especially arrowburn (rangers), the more abusive of which have been patched against.
  • EVE Online:
    • There are numerous ways speed-increasing modules have been changed, exploited, patched, exploited in different ways, then patched again.
    • The use of Carriers (heavy combat support ships) for bulk cargo transport. Later blocked by an Obvious Rule Patch.
    • The Titans' Doomsday Weapons were changed from Sphere of Destruction mode to be Wave Motion Guns instead, because multiple Titans could annihilate entire fleets by firing their Doomsday Weapons at the same time. The Obvious Rule Patch came after it was demonstrated that a coalition could put enough Titans to the field to eliminate entire capital ship fleets with one coordinated attack.
    • Ship insurance payouts were initially tied to the static mineral cost of the ship. When mineral prices in the market dropped below these static prices, it became profitable to build ships just to commit insurance fraud by blowing them up immediately after they rolled off the assembly line. An Obvious Rule Patch changed the insurance payouts to vary according to market prices.
    • Then a glitch was found using, ironically, the average market prices. The system offered Loyalty Points for assets destroyed, using market price to estimate damage.
      • You buy worthless items that nobody ever buys (it's easy to manipulate statistics of items if you're the only one interacting with them). You trade those items with the rest of the group and the item's average price skyrockets. You then put the cargo on a ship and destroy it, and the group enjoys more Loyalty Points than EVE's variables can handle. This scheme was executed on the largest alliance scale and then presented to CCP (the game company). All characters involved got rolled back, and the mechanic was axed for good.
  • Earth And Beyond had a bug where buffs which increased weapon speed stacked exponentially. This meant that if you obtained enough buff items, your weapon speed would increase toward infinity. This caused you to fire tens of thousands of rounds of ammo in a few seconds. It was the equivalent of giving a muzzle-loading musket the rate of fire of a modern machine gun.
  • Dynasty Warriors Online suffers from a lesser version of this. Muosu attacks make the user invincible as they unleash a temporary unbreakable combo. While a legitimate, intended attack, depending on who you are playing with, this might make up most of their attacks against you. Some people go Munchkin and max out their attack and musou, allowing you to go longer, and, weapon permitting, spam the stronger version, then run away from battle to refill. Given how powerful you can make a weapon, this may be an easy way of defeating somebody. This lead to the English-language version of the game PVP being full mostly of attempted one-combo kills in order to win the match, rather than using any other attacks. It's balanced out as time went on, with less people relying on Musou in PVP.
  • Gears of War is pretty clearly a cover-based shooter in the single-player. The multiplayer, on the other hand, mostly consists of players rolling and roadie running with shotguns out and occasionally using cover for wall bouncing (split instances to move closer to their opponents) if they don't get any of the powerful weapons, popshotting at each other when not rolling around to avoid getting hit. This was addressed in the sequel by changing the shotgun to have a less effective total range, making it impractical to use as a solo weapon but giving it more consistent power in the short range it was meant for, and adding a 'stopping power' mechanic, slowing players down to a steadily-increasing extent if they run in the direction of gunfire they are currently taking. Some people were indignant.
    When it became clear that wallbouncing with shotguns was still a more viable tactic than actually playing the game as intended despite the nerfs to the shotgun, for the third game they included a weapon that was created specifically to counter it. The Retro Lancer is an automatic assault rifle that is much more powerful than the standard Lancer but has crap accuracy outside of short range and no chainsaw bayonet. It still didn't stop wallbouncing for the most part. However, the Retro fell victim to its own gameplay derailment when people started tapping the trigger to only fire one bullet at a time, as the first bullet fired from the Retro has good accuracy, it's only when you continuously fire that it becomes terrible. Essentially the Retro became a stronger version of the Hammerburst (a semi-automatic rifle designed for longer ranges).
  • The infamous "Combo Winter" of Magic: The Gathering was born when playtesters didn't exploit a mechanic on several powerful cards in the Urza's Saga expansion nearly enough.note  Similarly, many cards in the Mirrodin block had to be banned for being way too powerful.
  • Air unit stacking in StarCraft. It turns Mutalisks into truly dangerous clusters of units, since not only can you not consistently target one of them, but they basically all shoot simultaneously at a particular target. Due to the general coolness of Muta-micro, however, Blizzard incorporated it into StarCraft II... but only for Mutalisks. Certain splash damage-inflicting air units. such as the Valkyrie and Devourer, were introduced as partial countermeasures. This mechanic became such a Good Bad Bug that competitive Zerg players are expected to be able to micro Mutalisks in this way. There is also an exploit where you can make Lurkers not attack until you tell them to. This allows Zerg players to set up invisible Lurker traps, where the Lurkers don't attack until a bunch of Marines are all standing on top of them. Then they all die. This also works with Terran spider mines. This tactic is called "Stop Lurker" (now referred to as Hold Lurker) and is not banned in most competitive play. The technique for spider mines is banned, however, because it involves allying and un-allying your enemy. There is one illegal method for Hold Lurkers, because it involves changing diplomacy settings (similar to the Spider Mines).
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The enemy control glitch in the GBA Fire Emblem games. Most famous as FE7's "mine glitch", which is manageable due to the limited number of mines in the game, but it is still exploitable (and much more heinous) in FE8, potentially opening the gate to extensive usage throughout the games. For more details, see here.
    • In theory, the Final Death mechanic is meant to make you put value into every unit you have, and to think very carefully before making risky decisions; if a unit dies, you're meant to think on your mistakes, accept their death, and move on. In practice, however, everyone just ends up restart-scumming the current chapter until they can pull off a no-death run, especially since if the protagonist unit dies, it's game over anyway. Even the developers are aware of and play like this, as revealed in interviews for Fates.
  • Pod surfing in Battlefield 2142, which allows players in drop pods to essentially ignore gravity. Because this allows them rapid travel as well as Mario-like invincibility against air vehicles, it has been patched away. Remaining, however, is the "RDX hopper": because "friendly fire off" also turns friendly splash damage off, demopak users are effectively walking explosions.
  • Under the old scoring system in the Programming Game Robo War, robots score points in one-on-one battles based only on whether they survive the battle. Eventually, players figured out that the optimum strategy in Tournament Play for a robot that is even halfway competent at killing other robots is to sit around doing nothing so long as the opponent does the same, and wait for time to run out. The Aggressive Scoring system was implemented to give robots points for killing other robots, though this means less points for Stone Wall robots which use heavy shielding for defense but have trouble mounting an offense of their own.
  • Halo:
    • Many players of the original Halo: Combat Evolved find more enjoyment trying to abuse the level design to explore normally unreachable parts of maps or skip enemy spawning areas, which defeats all the work put into the game to make it an engaging FPS. In response to this, in order to appease the explorers, in the sequels the developers encouraged exploration by hiding secret things (most notably the Skulls) around in places most people wouldn't think of looking. Which didn't necessarily work out too well, as explorers are often more interested in how to get down or up incredibly high places without dying or trying to visit areas of the map seemingly surrounded by invisible walls, and not interested in shining a flashlight into every single nook and cranny.
    • In Halo 3, the Forge mode allows players to fly anywhere in the multiplayer maps, except for a few annoying Invisible Walls (some of which are also Deadly Walls). The result? Exploration in this game is centered around circumventing these walls to reach the few "off-limits" areas remaining. The campaign levels have no such flight ability, and so players still use traditional exploration techniques, such as grenade-jumping.
    • Halo 2 also features "button combos" which allow the player to shoot and melee someone almost simultaneously, as well as shoot twice at the same time. This is done by abusing the reload animation, and Bungie made sure to prevent these in Halo 3.
  • Every edition of Dungeons & Dragons has this in some form. 4.0 has the 'roles' working out far differently than they were supposed to, such that hyperspecialization is actually the way to go in a very FF11 style fashion. Also, Daily powers turn into "super uber Encounter powers" if your game does not have the players face 5 encounters in rapid succession, which was a basic design assumption. 3rd edition has gamebreaking exploits where players can use magic (such as Fabricate and various Wall spells) to completely wreck local economies by putting stonemasons out of business and creating sheets of iron that can be chopped up and sold to blacksmiths for infinite metal. 3.5 tried to fix some of these problems, but also introduced CoDzilla, a cleric or druid with the means to do all the magic stuff a party needs, as well as all the fighting stuff, and which also (thanks to spell bloat) can perform the specialist jobs as well as or better than any of the non-magical classes that are supposed to specialize in such things. Earlier editions also have Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards for one reason or another.
  • Denying (attacking your own units to prevent enemies from gaining experience and money) in the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, which turned some matches into two teams doing nothing but attacking their own units, dragging the game out for hours. It eventually was modified so that a small amount of exp is still gained from a denied unit, allowing levelling to still carry on albeit at a slower rate, which is indeed part of gameplay strategy. Of course, even without making such a change, the fallibility of human reaction means that actually getting full denies is all but impossible.
    • The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre has the persistent problem of item 'misuse': Items intended to help certain roles shore up deficiencies will be adopted by characters lacking those weaknesses to become even stronger. The same goes for characters designed to fill holes in team capabilities.
  • Starsiege: Tribes was originally going to be a (relatively) slow-paced, objective-based game. Players quickly discovered the ability to "ski" via jump spamming as they run down hillsides, effectively giving them zero-friction boots that allow infantry to zoom across the game's enormous maps. Entire custom levels were built around skiing and skiing practice to find the ultimate trajectory for maximum speed. Skiing became so common that in the sequels, the technique was given a dedicated control and taught in tutorials.
  • In Unreal Tournament 2004 infantry without access to vehicles were painfully slow; eventually it was discovered that the fans on Manta hovercrafts don't kill teammates, making them improvised high-speed troop carriers. The latter was considered an exploit, so in UT3 allies are sucked into Manta jets just like enemies, but all infantry get hoverboards that allow infantry to get somewhere in a more reasonable amount of time by themselves, but can also grapple friendly vehicles for a greater boost. In addition, players cannot use their weapons on the hoverboard and any damage will knock them off the boards and stun them, so they're less useful in actual combat than the passengers on the Manta were.
  • In Tetris Splash, Tetris Friends, and many other newer Tetris games, the "marathon" mode uses a variable goal system, in which more line clears will subtract more goal units (a single will take off 1 unit, but a Tetris takes off eight), resulting in lower line clears, especially line clears chained together, yielding more points per goal unit, as demonstrated here. In other words: continously making Tetrises actually hurts your score.
    • The classic NES version has the opposite, where Tetrises are worth so much more that getting anything besides Tetrises will lead to a much lower score. While this is more intuitive than the newer games (everyone loves clearing 4 lines at once!), it's more stylish and at least as skillful to have some doubles and triples in the mix.
    • The NES fan game LJ 65 tries to compromise between these play styles. In its scoring system, "home runs" (that is, Tetrises) are valuable, but not ridiculously overpowered, and combos are also valuable, home runs inside combos even more so.
  • Roll cancels in Capcom vs. SNK 2 make it possible to turn any special or super move invincible by using the roll command (which normally activates a brief evasion move) and right after that using the move's command, which shifted competitive play toward grooves that feature rolls and characters with moves that normally are more risky to perform. This is particularly strange considering that: 1) rolls work fine in the previous game in the series, as well as the KOF series practically half a decade before; 2) rolls are a feature from SNK games, but rolling is available in 2 Capcom grooves despite being absent in the corresponding games, but only 1 SNK groove.
    • The Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series promote special move canceling into official game mechanics and call it the Roman/Rapid Cancel (respectively). To prevent combos from getting even longer than they already are, these cancels are classified as super moves and require charging up the Tension/Heat Gauge first. This also balances out the bottom parts of the cast and makes them more competitive against the top tier, oddly enough.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D is supposed to be a game where Sora and Riku zip through massive levels with the exciting new Flowmotion mechanics, leaping from lampposts and spinning around flagpoles. In practice, it's a lot easier to slam into a wall, jump a bit higher, slam into the wall again, jump a bit higher, and so on. Made worse/better by the fact that attacks breaking out of Flowmotion are very easy to do, do a lot of damage, and can make mincemeat out of the final bosses with just about any character setup on ever the higher difficulties.
  • F-Zero X's physics are weird; just look up world records of it on YouTube to see some of the oddities that you need to exploit if you want to set some awesome times.
    • GX has a similar issue with 'Snaking'; swinging your machine back and forth to gain ridiculous speeds. Heavy machines like Black Shadow's or Deathborn's vehicles do this the best. Then there's Space Flying (manipulating the rate of fall off the edge of the track so you can execute complete circuits without ever being on the track). These techniques derail the gameplay so much so that time trial records posted online have divided out sections for Snaking and Space Flying runs, just so conventional time trial records can still be viably set. Word of God has stated that snaking was left in on purpose when they were trying to implement a "reward the player for difficult techniques" mechanic; make of that as you will.
  • Rez's Score Attack mode. In order to crank out high scores, you need to drag on boss fights for as long as you can.
    • The Boss battles in Touhou games tend to be the same way due to how how one could inflate the graze value and just drag things out w/ bombs and sometimes killing yourself, completely the opposite of the apparent intended flow of beating them fast without bombs/deaths for visible score bonuses.
  • In Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, there's only really one general approach to racking up high scores: find one of the few locations in each level that will let you get a huge spin and then land in a special grind on a long rail, keep that grind going as long as possible to increase the base score, then jump off into a manual and keep hopping around like mad to increase the multiplier. Since there are only a few locations in each level that allow you to get that big-spin-into-special grind, and since that special grind must be done quite near the start of your combo (before your special bar runs out), it does place a few limitations on the lines a player can take to get a high score.
  • In City of Heroes, one of the more common complaints from the players was a lack of fresh mission content. In response, the developers created the Architect system, allowing the players to create their own missions. Unfortunately, the greater majority of the missions that were created ended up as XP farms. Players could bring a character from level 1 to level 50 (the level limit) in a day... after which they tended to complain about the lack of things to do.
  • Rhythm Games using the Harmonix "score doubler" power-up (Frequency, Amplitude, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band) have squeezing, a technique where playing slightly off-beat, but still within the timing window for the notes, can gain you more points. You start the score doubler a hair after a note's normal time and play the note right after activating it, giving one extra note for the score doubler to work. If you want to get to the top of the high score tables, it's practically required.
  • If a tie happens in Jump Ultimate Stars, the players who tied are considered both winners. What does this mean? That in online play, what was supposed to be a fast paced fighting game became a borefest of people standing around waiting for the timer to end while going 3-vs-1 on anyone willing to fight, all so they can get the victory.
    • This is actually less stupid than it seems, because winning nets you gems, the in-game currency, which the game doesn't provide you enough of; it's actually the easiest money grind.
  • Left 4 Dead has several guns you can blast zombies with, molotovs to set them all on fire, and pipe bombs to make them explode into a bloody red mist. However, most players discovered that simply shoving zombies to the point of Cherry Tapping not only saved on ammo, but it also shoved zombies out of your way so you could get away. When this became commonplace in VS mode, infected players grew frustrated that they couldn't fight back against survivor players that shoved them to death. This was remedied with a patch that introduced a cool down for constant shoving and was used for the sequel as well.
    • Left 4 Dead 2 has the rushing tactic for VS mode. It's not an illegal tactic and many crescendo events are based on running from point A to point B, but players quickly found out that simply running without stopping unless they really had to made it extremely difficult for the infected players to even keep up with them. This is also exacerbated by the fact that players in VS mode won't bother going off the beaten path to look for supplies in order to prevent the infected team from attacking them.
  • DayZ, a mod for Bohemia Interactive's military sim ARMA II, was originally conceived as a roguelike FPS with permadeath where you climb your way to the top, searching dangerous cities swarming with zombies for the basic elements of survival. That is, until players found their first tents. Now the servers are filled with "camps" full of hoarded high-grade loot that can fully arm a newly-created character without them ever even seeing a zombie and can put a dead player right back on their feet at full power with no more than a 15-minute run through the woods. Needless to say, several players have found the "endgame" to be less than stressful.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind's Alchemy system allows you to brew potions by combining at least two ingredients with the same effect. (Each ingredient has up to four possible effects.) The strength of the potion is determined by the quality of the alchemical equipment you use (mortal & pestle, alembic, retort, etc.) as well as your Intelligence attribute. Potions can be brewed which raise the Intelligence attribute. You see the problem? By purchasing large quantities of Intelligence-boosting ingredients, using them to make a potion which increases your Intelligence, drinking the potion, making another potion, and then repeating, you can end up with an Intelligence in the tens of thousands. At that point, you can create other potions with whatever effects you desire which will give you massive boosts over extremely long periods of time. You can, for example, boost your Agility to the point where no enemies can hit you while your attacks always land. Then make a potion of Fortify Attack which will allow you to One-Hit KO anything in the game. These effects will last hundreds of real life hours. This method allows Speed Runs to complete the game's main quest to occur in about ten minutes. It essentially allows you to become The Singularity. So derailing was this system that Oblivion took major pains to heavily Nerf Alchemy.
    • Skyrim keeps the same nerf on Alchemy as Oblivion, but has a loophole in which it can be cleverly stacked with the Enchanting and Smithing systems to create some truly Game Breaking equipment. These range from worn items that provide complete immunity to certain elements, to impossibly powerful daggers that can kill anything in the game eight times over with a single hit. Most methods of doing this have since been patched out.
    • See GameBreaker - The Elder Scrolls for some additional examples throughout the series.
  • In Robot Odyssey, many of the early puzzles can be solved through brute force, such as programming a robot to bounce randomly around until it eventually bumps into and picks up the object needed rather than the more time-consuming programming for it to follow the walls.
    • In at least the Color Computer version, when faced with a button on the opposite side of a wall, you can put something in your robot's grip, take hold of that item and then simply shove the robot through the wall to reach and activate the button. You can even use the same tactic to drop a robot further on into a puzzle than where you're intended to start.
  • Minecraft had people come up with creative ways to farm for drops by mobs, but once skeletons and zombies were able to spawn in with their equipment being a rare drop, players focused more on mob traps to score the rare items without having to bother to hunt for the materials to create the same items. A few patches adjusted the rare drop mechanic where now all dropped equipment by mobs will be heavily worn down. Needless to say, the popularity of resource farms went right back up after the nerf. Due to the simplistic way Minecraft implements many of its core features, disabling or removing farms is nearly impossible.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic had a special event on Ilum that put several PvE quests in a free-for-all PvP area, possibly to drum up more interest on PvP. Well, in a matter of hours players realized that there was no additional reward for attacking other players, aside from the dubious joys of ganking and griefing. Furthermore, doing the PvE quests were much easier in the PvP area. Cue some server-wide "truces" in the PvP area with Imperial and Republic players cooperating on the daily quests, orderly lines forming for an orb drop-off puzzle, and some of the PvP heavy guilds on both Republic and Imperial sides coming out of it with nasty reputations for breaking said truce.
  • In the remake of Resident Evil, players can exploit a bug involving using the item chest and grenade launcher rounds in Jill's game that can generate well over two hundred grenades for your blasting pleasure. Not only does this obviously negate the issue of limited ammo, which effectively eliminates the inventory management aspect of the game and makes just about any other weapon unnecessary, but doing this exploit with flame rounds means that you will never worry about Crimson Heads again. This bug was eliminated in the PAL version.
  • Drift and drag events in Need for Speed: Pro Street. To win a drift event, you need to drift as usual, then steer into the wall and grind alongside it, which is considered a massive drift. Its drag events are about which cars can start the race in 4th or 5th gear, which you can achieve by buying upgrade parts to increase the length of various suspension tuning sliders, then setting the sliders just right and then downgrading them back to stock parts. Other games have similar problems: GRID freestyle drift events are won by finding a container and drifting in a circle around it for a couple of minutes, while drift events in the sequel are won by snaking on straights.
  • In 1981, and then again in 1982, Douglas Lenat tested his learning program, Eurisko, in a Traveller: Trillion Credit Squadron tournament. Eurisko simulated thousands of battles, found unconventional ship configurations and methods, and defeated all comers. Twice. In a row. Even with notable rule changes. Eurisko could have done it a third time, but Lenat decided to retire it from the tournament, since if the program had won a 3rd time, it would be the last such tournament.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution Praxis Points are normally hard to come by. However, there's a fairly easy computer hacking glitch (best used with Adam's computer) that can be done as early as after finishing the Factory mission if you have the right augs for as much EXP as you want. Hack the computer, exit to the pause menu once the Access Granted message appears, load a save (preferably just before you started the first hack), hack it again and repeat as many times as you like. The five hundred EXP adds up each time, only limited by your patience.
  • A non-gaming example. When the Bonus Round was first introduced on Wheel of Fortune in 1981, the rules stated that the contestant was given a blank puzzle, and had to pick five consonants and a vowel to assist in solving the puzzle within a 15-second time limit. Most contestants picked some permutation of R, S, T, L, N, and E, occasionally swapping out H or D. This went on for seven years before they just started giving RSTLNE automatically, and prompting the contestant for three more consonants and a vowel — while also making the puzzles a bit less reliant on common letters (it's rare for RSTLNE to reveal so much as half of the answer) and slashing the time limit to 10 seconds.
    • Another example from the same show. The "Same Name" category (two names, phrases, etc. joined because they end in the same word; e.g. "BAKING & CREAM SODA" or "DENZEL & GEORGE WASHINGTON") originally spelled out the word AND, thus leading to nearly every contestant calling N and D, then buying A right out of the gate. The puzzle writers were quick to catch on, and swapped out the word for an ampersand. Oddly, this got inverted in the 2000s, as Same Name began reverting to AND with increasing frequency.
    • Defied with the "What Are You Doing?" category, where the answer almost always ends in -ING. They seem more than happy to let contestants always go N-G-I first.
  • PAYDAY 2 has the Rats heist, which is a three-day mission where you have to cook meth on the first day to get information from a gang in the second day and use said information to be able to defuse the C4 on the third day so you can get the money on a bus without the whole thing exploding in your face. Normally, cooking a lot of meth to get extra cash on the second day and getting all the money bags in the third would get you tons of money. However, after a patch gave an experience boost to multi-day heists, players quickly discovered that Rats gives nearly 300,000 experience points regardless of whether you cook the meth or blow up the lab by botching the cooking. The end result caused swarms of players farming the Rats heist by speedrunning it (blow up the lab, get or don't get the info, then kill the enemy gang in the last day and leave) so they can easily level up with minimal effort. The swarms of Rats farmers, however, also frustrate other players who want to play the heist the proper way.
  • Some fan levels of Marble Blast Gold require glitches or gameplay tactics that the game's built-in levels do not exploit, such as glitching through walls, Wall Jump, using several powerups in a combination, etc.
  • If you can't hit a barn with a sawn-off shotgun, Grand Theft Auto isn't exactly the recommended game for you. Unless you compensate with fiendish intelligence. (Like: getting indestructible cars that you aren't supposed to. Or: getting your "assistant" - more like bullet magnet - out of harm's way. Or: building traffic barricades for your enemy beforehand.)
  • In Madden NFL, gamers quickly learned that the AI treats players differently depending on where they are lined up in the formation. This can lead to some mismatches that can be easily exploited. Two notable ones are substituting in a wide receiver or halfback in the QB position. The defense would still stay in their zones, respecting a non-existent pass threat, while the speedy player scorched around the outside for a big gain. Another is subbing wide receivers in as tight ends, because they often block just as well on running plays and the AI can't jam them at the line. The former was eventually fixed by substitution restrictions, the latter remains an issue.
  • The MechWarrior series has a long and storied history of each game having some form of massive gameplay derailment - often from an unintended consequence of the Design-It-Yourself Equipment - which is rectified with an Obvious Rule Patch in the sequel:
    • Mechs in Mechwarrior 2 can fire their jumpjets in any direction and have oodles of fuel, leading to players zooming across the map at mach 1.
    • 3 nerfed the jumpjets, but destroying a leg will instantly kill an enemy, and battlemechs can mount weapons anywhere with no restrictions (bar mounting space and tonnage), leading to Shadow Cats running around at 120kph instantly blasting off player's legs with an Alpha Strike from 12 small lasers mounted in its torso.
    • 4 totally reworked the weapon mounting system so each battlemech can mount certain sizes and types of weapons in certain components, but introduced a very floaty Jump Jet Pack, which when paired with radar and third-person view lead to entire teams of players hiding behind hills, jumping up when an enemy is detected, blasting, and then falling back behind cover ("poptarts").
    • Living Legends gimped poptarting by making jumpjets shaky and very hot, but early versions had players sitting right outside of their base in guided missile-spamming mechs, though a change towards objective-based gameplay (rather than team deathmatch) and neutral anti-missile turrets at bases quickly killed this.
  • The first BattleBots series on TV was great, with robots being smashed to pieces everywhere. As the series rolled on however, due to the way points were scored, wedges became so prevalent that most fights ended up being two-wheeled ramps repeatedly jumping over each other, taking the "battle" out of "BattleBots".
    • Robot Wars experienced something similar by its seventh series. It was justified by many of the contestants, who also participated at live robotic combat venues where flippers and wedges were the only practical weapon to use. Spinners were banned due to the arena not being spinner-proofed and axes would cause too much damage to fix between rounds. The producers defied this by the 2016 series, only allowing a set amount of flipper robots to participate alongside axe and spinner robots. The series still ended up being won by a flipper.
  • Want to play fan-made levels for Supaplex? Read everything you can about glitches (typically called "tricks" in the fandom) or you'll find most of them unsolvable. Taken to a ridiculous extreme in levelsets like D77 and D78, where most level solutions don't even resemble normal gameplay. To add insult to the injury, some of these glitches require frame-perfect timing. Many of these levels require several such tricks in a row. There is no saving in this game. Thankfully, most versions of the game offer variable speed, so the game can be slowed down. It's still really freaking hard, though.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog speedrunning:
    • Competitive speedrunning in the Genesis-era Sonic games often eschews "normal" gameplay in favor of strange glitches, most of which involve getting stuck in a wall and then zipping across the entire level. These glitches tend to be really difficult to perform. Basic skill still counts, though and being good only at the glitches will not make you competition-worthy.
    • The Genesis Sonic games also give hefty point bonuses for completing levels quickly—then take an ironically long time tallying those points. Competitive speedrunners may deliberately waste a few seconds before finishing a level, because getting fewer bonus points actually saves time overall. To discourage that behavior, some speedrun leaderboards only count in-level time, rather than realtime.
  • Zigzagged with Chip's Challenge; due to the shoddy programming of the original Windows port, fan-made levels often exploit level design glitches that aren't possible in most other versions of the game (such as cloning keys/boots or hiding objects underneath floor tiles). When the engine was rebuilt for the remake/sequel, the designers decided to Throw It In!, to the point where such design gimmicks are utilized in several of the sequel's official levels.
  • G-Darius's Beam-O-War sequences are done by rapidly tapping the fire button to make the player's beam outgrow the enemy's...but in practice, players just use automatic rapid fire buttons (either rapid-fire buttons installed onto arcade cabinets by the operator or third-party controllers on consoles) that defeat the purpose of the gimmick. This is perhaps why Dariusburst uses timing-based elements instead for counterattacking enemy beams.
  • Pinball:
    • Holding a ball on a raised flipper was unheard of until roughly 1990. This simple but completely game-changing strategy threw multiball modesnote  completely off whack, since you can safely hold one ball on a flipper while playing the remaining ball(s) with the other flipper. Machines made after the discovery structure their multiballs with this tactic in mind.
    • There have been plenty of machines with modes where the objective is to merely survive until the timer runs out, and you are then rewarded with points, the idea being that you can lose at any moment and you must be skilled to keep flipping and shooting the whole time. Again, holding a ball on a raised flipper wreaks havoc with these objectives, as players end up just keeping the ball there and sitting out the timer. It wasn't a big deal until pinball competitions were commonly streamed, when audiences found this strategy utterly boring. Post-streaming machines have done away with this sort of objective completely, either by freezing the timer if the machine detects no activity or requiring at least one shot to complete the objective.
  • Gold farming exploits have always been prevalent in Fable, from selling items for more than you bought them for in the first game, to buying massive amounts of property and farming rent payments in the second. Most players will probably spend more time becoming scam artists and real estate tycoons then they do adventuring. Fable 3 did nothing to fix this, with exploiting the real estate market being the only way for good players to achieve the Golden Ending. Building a personal fortune of over 1 million gold and funding the army yourself is the only way to keep your promises.
  • There is an in-canon example in The Hunger Games, in which it is revealed that Haymitch killed his final opponent by bouncing a thrown axe off the force-field around the arena, which neither the tributes nor the audience were meant to know about.
  • In a sports example, when Vivek Ranadivé coached his daughter's basketball team, he had the team compensate for somewhat marginal physical ability and training by having them constantly employ a full-court press defense note , contesting inbound passes note  and mobbing the ball-holder on the back court to keep them from ever getting onto their side. This strategy proved so overwhelmingly powerful against relatively unskilled 12-year-old girls by their even less skilled peers, that it took a mostly-rookie team to the national championships, but it also enraged Ranadivé's opposing coaches and referees friendly to them, and they eventually were forced to abandon it by a referee who disproportionately weighted his foul calls against them.
  • CHUNITHM features Air notes, in addition to "ground" notes that have to be hit on the slider. Air notes are hit by lifting the player's hand up into the air through an infrared sensor placed above the slider. In theory, the player's hand is meant to match the horizontal positioning of Air notes, much like with ground notes, and when there are two or more Air notes to hit at the same time, the player is meant to lift for both notes. However, the Air sensor can only detect that something is blocking it, not how many objects are blocking it or where, so in practice, many players just lift only one hand to trigger all relevant Air notes at once.
  • The popular Civilization II scenario World of Jules Verne has an example in the form of the Martian death walker. It was designed to be a temporary, formally unstoppable threat that would wreak havoc and vanish quickly, leaving the victim civ to rebuild in its wake. Towards this end, the unit has damage and armor as close to infinite as the game engine allows. However, a Spy unit with insanely good luck can turn the unit, putting you at the helm of an invincible alien steamroller.
  • In Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, an exploit called "gacha" (not to be confused with mobile game rare-item/character lotteries known as gacha) involves the player downshifting to a previous gear and taking advantage of its very brief burst of acceleration before shifting back up (for example, if you're supposed to be in 4th gear, you shift down to 3rd and quickly back up to 4th). Not only is this an unintended way of playing, but it can also damage the shifter thus ruining the game for other customers, so from Maximum Tune 2 onwards, attempting to gacha will force your gear into neutral.