Funny Mode

Funny Mode header in Clone 0.97

Funny Mode was a hacked version of Minesweeper Clone that displayed 3BV on the first click.

Minesweeper Clone 0.97 beta was the official version used by the China Minesweeper Ranking during 2007-2012. Minesweeper Clone 2006 & 2007 had been released but these new versions required .NET to be installed and did not work properly on the Chinese version of Windows XP.

One of the top players from the China Minesweeper Ranking, Li Feng, emailed an 8.78 second Intermediate game to the webmaster of Authoritative Minesweeper on 5 September 20081. This was a world record but there was no explanation in the email and the video did not appear on the China Minesweeper Ranking even though Li Feng was one of the admin for the site. Clone programmer Rodrigo Camargo (Brazil) soon noticed the video file header had been changed from "Minesweeper Clone 2004-2005 Rodrigo Silveira Camargo version 0.97 beta" to "Minesweeper Clone 2004-2008 Funny Mode By Abiu China version 0.97 june"2. The video played correctly because both strings were 70 characters and the file header was not part of the video checksum.

The webmaster of the China Minesweeper Ranking, Shen-Jia Zhang, posted an explanation3,4 in the Guestbook on 9 September 2008:

"About 3 month ago, Yuan Biao (Abiu) told me that he made a Chinese edition Clone 0.97, and send a copy to me. I try it, and find that the video that save by this version have a great lag. After he solved the problem, I put this copy to website. And never find any problem then. I know the 3BV bug early, but I think that if you know the 3BV before you start in exp mode, you will despair when you know it's a high 3BV board, and you will strained when you know it's a low 3BV board. In int mode, you will spend about 0.5-0.8 second to see the 3BV status, and increase your scores. After I know it, I doesn't use the bug anymore. Yesterday, Shi Lei post a title in our bbs, he copy some passage by Rodrigo. Then I find this is a terrible thing. I doesn't find any new cheating method in this version, but I decided to delete the version in my site at once.

Clone 0.97 beta had a file ("minesweeperclone.inf") players could edit to change settings. Settings included the game window location, where to save videos, how to name videos and various display options. On 6 June 2008, Yuen 'Philip' Biu ("Abiu") discovered that changing the line "Show 3BV Stats = False" to "Show 3BV Stats = Before Start" would display 3BV on the first click5. Abiu said players had known about this "bug" for two years and claimed Funny Mode in the header was a message to Rodrigo. However, Rodrigo noted that Clone had been hacked in order to change the header and to potentially introduce unknown and unauthorised functionality6.

Knowing information that cannot be derived directly from a Minesweeper board is called Unfair Prior Knowledge (UPK). For example, hacking Minesweeper to show mine locations provides that player with an unfair advantage over other players. Funny Mode provided an unfair advantage by showing 3BV at the start of the game so players could avoid difficult boards.

Li Feng explained he had not claimed the video as a record. The game had been played by "sweeping the board over numerous times" and using the hacked version of Clone to save his UPK video as a legal game7.

Funny Mode games were immediately banned from the world rankings and copies of the hacked version deleted. Eventually, Clone 2007 was banned from the world ranking in 2012 and the China Minesweeper Ranking switched from Clone to Minesweeper Arbiter.

Hexadecimal editor showing the edited Clone 0.97 header
The Clone 0.97 INF file
Clone 0.97 with 3BV shown on the first click
The 8.78 second game by Li Feng (video)

1 Email from Li Feng on 5 September 2008 sent to the author of this article.
2 Guestbook - Post by Rodrigo Camargo in the Guestbook (pg8) on 8 September 2008.
3 Guestbook - Post by Shen-Jia Zhang in the Guestbook (pg7) on 9 September 2008.
4 - Post by Shi Lei on 9 September 2008 telling the Chinese community Funny Mode was illegal.
5 Guestbook - Facebook conversation with Abiu posted in the Guestbook (pg7) on 9 September 2008.
6 Guestbook - Post by Rodrigo Camargo in the Guestbook (pg8) on 8 September 2008.
7 Email from Li Feng on 12 September 2008 sent to the author of this article.

Article created 15 November 2020 by Damien Moore and updated 5 August 2021.