There have been a few questions on Arqade asking for technical explanations for specific in-game glitches or exploits in singleplayer games.

I posted a similar question asking why collecting a certain star in Mario 64 causes the ingame music to mute itself, which was closed as off-topic for being about "Game Design and Development".

Are questions asking for technical explanations of glitches in offline, single player games acceptable?

Note that this is a different topic than glitches/exploits in online multiplayer games or support for specific technical issues.

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    My thoughts on your recent Mario 64 question: it's a good question but it's not appropriate for this site. I find that you ask a lot of "daring" questions here on this site, which takes courage since a lot of them become quite controversial in terms of upvotes and downvotes as I have observed. – Timmy Jim Jul 24 '17 at 15:24
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    @TimmyJim I've always felt that any unique or interesting question which hasn't been answered elsewhere is just another step towards Arqade's stated goal. "With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about videogames and videogame consoles." – Stevoisiak Jul 24 '17 at 15:34
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    And I agree with that, but like Beedrill said below, sometimes these questions aren't practical or useful. They are knowledgeable, but they are like fun facts in that sense. A stab at curiosity nonetheless, which is why I think its a good question, but not appropriate for the site. – Timmy Jim Jul 24 '17 at 15:42
  • @TimmyJim As a fairly new member of Arqade, I greatly appreciate your insight. I suppose I've been viewing Arqade and Stack Exchange as a place for lingering questions which may otherwise be difficult to find answers for. – Stevoisiak Jul 24 '17 at 15:50

I think that questions of this nature that ask about how to use the glitch from a gameplay perspective should be decidedly on topic. Wrong warping does necessarily require some understanding of the underlying code, unfortunately, to completely implement into gameplay and speed run routing. The gameplay and the code, in this case, are tightly coupled for this specific unintentional mechanic.

Once you get out of the realm of bugs that specifically help gameplay, then we're into trivia territory, and I don't believe that these questions have as much of a claim to live as gameplay-specific ones. I don't like them because they aren't practical or useful. I don't think your newest question should be on topic, nor should the NES question about sound distortion or the Pokemon question about why you can fish at statues. However, a Pokemon question about "Where exactly can you fish?" would be on topic, and could mention statues.

Questions that specifically ask for a coding-explanation for an in-game behavior with no gameplay impact should be off topic for our game-design close reason. Your question shouldn't have been re-opened.

Aside: Providing additional technical details on top of answering an otherwise on-topic question should also not be discouraged in any sense, but it is not required either.

To summarize:

  • Questions about gameplay are obviously on topic.
    • When a gameplay question requires a technical explanation, then that technical explanation is also on topic.
  • General trivia questions are off topic, and should be closed.
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    Your distinction between where vs why when it comes to fishing in Pokemon is an important one. I don't think a question asking why a bug exists is particularly useful either, although I do think a question about how to execute a bug or exploit in single player games is worthwhile – GnomeSlice Jul 17 '17 at 23:36
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    Gameshark and other memory editing stuff has existed for a long time and Speed running, especially TAS has quite a large gamer following, thus I think a technical explanation of a glitch is definitely possible from someone with TAS experience without needing developer input. Whether or not we have enough TAS people on Arqade is another matter. – Robotnik Jul 18 '17 at 1:59
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    @Robotnik I'm not against it because of "developer intent/knowledge", moreso in cases where it's useless trivia (such as why the music stops playing in SM64 when you collect a specific star in a specific way). – Invader Skoodge Jul 18 '17 at 3:40
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    @Beedrill - Personally I think it's more of an explanation of a game mechanic which in turn helps build one's knowledge of how the game was made, leading to explanations for other, more important glitches. The Pokemon one for example, gives an overview of how floor tiles are handled, giving a bit of a context into stuff like the Cinnabar island glitch (which is also based on incorrect tile data). If your learning about glitches for hacking or speedrunning purposes, learning about how and what causes particular glitches no matter how benign is part of that process. – Robotnik Jul 18 '17 at 4:25
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    @Robotnik I suppose; maybe it's just a question of how we interpret "why". By default I've been thinking it's "what underlying code/implementation/design decisions caused this", but if we instead treat it as "what properties does this thing have that cause this", then it quickly becomes much more relevant to our site and what we're trying to do. – Invader Skoodge Jul 18 '17 at 11:22
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    @Beedrill - Heads up, Steve's question got a good answer which is less deep-dive into the code and more about the scenario that plays out leading to the missing music. – Robotnik Jul 22 '17 at 22:29
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    @Robotnik regardless of whether it was answered or not, it still does not seem like it was a good question for the site. Had someone asked "why does the door open and close before an NPC enters through the door in Skyrim?" or "Why does the battle music play for 0.2s when [insert extremely specific but non-battle situation]?", I can guarantee they would be closed as game dev/dev intent. This question was reopened incorrectly, in my opinion. As Beedrill stated, this is simply trivia that has absolutely no impact on the game experience aside from a "Huh, that was odd" moment. – Vemonus Jul 23 '17 at 23:15
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    @Vemonus - Answers are pretty much the only things that matter - we can have questions dime a dozen but unless we get specific, expert-level answers for them there's not much point for us to exist as a site. You can see this in our close reasons - closing is for questions that are unanswerable: "Too Broad", "Unclear", "Primarily Opinion Based" are all allusions to the types of (non)answers those questions would generate if we kept them. (cont) – Robotnik Jul 24 '17 at 1:47
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    So what about 'Glitch Mechanic' questions? They are none of these closure things, not even 'Developer Intent' because it's not about the "intent" of the developer *at all, almost the opposite in fact. the questions aren't asking "Why did the Devs do X" but "Why does <series of inputs> produce <particular output>?". It doesn't require "Dev knowledge" to answer a glitch mechanic question any more than it requires Dev knowledge to answer general mechanics questions. – Robotnik Jul 24 '17 at 1:48
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    Given that there is an entire segment of the gaming community dedicated to finding, explaining, and exploiting glitch mechanics, and that most the questions listed in this meta have been answered in sufficient detail (including by yourself even!), I don't see why we should close them. They're specific, answerable, game related questions which require expertise to answer, honestly that's all we can ask for. – Robotnik Jul 24 '17 at 1:48
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    @Robotnik I did not say that questions regarding glitch mechanics were off-topic as a whole. My argument is (I think) the same as Beedrill's in that glitch mechanics that actually impact gameplay in some way are valid questions. Rocket-jumping is in an entirely different realm than "why does the music stop when I do this super specific set of actions?" Similarly, the SMB TAS question was asking about how the speedrun technique is pulled off (though I am inclined to say that is off-topic as well). As for if that question would be on-topic if it resulted in infinite lives, I'd say yes. – Vemonus Jul 24 '17 at 7:25
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    @Vemonus - "My argument is...glitch mechanics that actually impact gameplay in some way are valid questions...[it] would be on-topic if it resulted in infinite lives...". That argument comes from a judgement call on the question's 'usefulness' - your belief that the question is not useful (to you or anyone else). This is not grounds for closure - if the exact same question with 'infinite lives' being the outcome is on topic, then there is no technical reason to close the question in its current state. – Robotnik Jul 24 '17 at 11:19
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    Having said that, usefulness is grounds to vote on it. From the downvote tooltip: "This question doesn't show any research effort; it's unclear or not useful". Also @Beedrill I promise I'll write an answer soon I just gotta get more than 5 mins to sit down and consolidate :-) – Robotnik Jul 24 '17 at 11:19
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    Yeah, and I would have voted to close it again, if the bounty didn't override the community's ability to actually do so. – Frank Jul 24 '17 at 12:32
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    @Robotnik I don't think it's judgement based as much as it's about question framing. The SMB64 question that sparked this specifically asks "What is the cause of this glitch?" The question's Beedrill calls "on-topic" are very different. They ask "How can I perform this glitch? (to gain benefits X and Y)". They are not asking for a technical breakdown of a glitch. That may be part of a good answer, depending on the glitch complexity, but the question is not asking for the why of a glitch, but the how. Those are very different questions. – JMac Jul 24 '17 at 19:24

I don't think these questions are off-topic, generally speaking. Questions like this usually don't have much to do with the gameplay itself, but they are often interesting trivia about how the game works behind-the-scenes - plus that info can sometimes be used to our advantage (in speedruns for example). Most of the answers are also fairly objective in that they have verifiable proof of causing the glitch to happen, with either well reasoned explanations or concrete code examples. Occasionally these explanations get a bit technical, but that should be expected when dealing with the hows and whys of glitches.

The only time questions like this should be off-topic are when they are asking why a developer coded something in such a way that the glitch was possible in the first place.

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