Magic Online, horrible update

Those of you playing Magic the Gathering Online (MTGO) will have noticed that the last update has gone horribly wrong.

In short, they updated the the program to v2.0 and the supposed main things about the update were some changes in the various trading areas, a special meeting place for the high ranking players, and an optional simplified first screen designed for new players. No changes were planned for the core game or game mechanics.

They took the servers down sunday morning (GMT+1). It is now wednesday evening and things are not working. Not at all. The servers have been “up” for about 24 hours, but the lag is almost beyond playability, and bugs (almost, but not quite, gamestoppers) have been introduced into the core game.
The boards are brimful with people screaming bloody murder and demanding compensation. (Yeah, right. Good luck.)

As it looks now, they might have to retract the whole thing, postpone all the scheduled release events and competitions. Naturally they are very hesitant to do this, and not a single word has come from WotC regarding such a move.

This is the first update that WotC has done all by themselves, and the original producer of the game, Leaping Lizard, has not had the final responsibility for. Do you think this has something to do with the awful state of things?

How much do you think a thing like this hurts WotC:s credibility and /or sales?

Got any examples of updates that went even worse?

they already have a customer base full of fanboys that has dropped thousands, per customer, into the game. those players may be pissed but I doubt they will give up that investment. These things happen in almost all online rpg’s too, though typically closer to launch.

Diablo 2

Okay, so it’s not as bad as this - at least you could still play the game. I just get a kick out of reading Brandon Rinehart’s comments (post #17) about the nerfing that Blizzard did in an early Diablo 2 patch. Take that and multiply it by about 5,000,000, and you have an idea of what the PlanetDiablo message boards looked like for a while.

Damn, did people get pissed off over that. I have to admit that I was a bit miffed when they later discovered a Paladin exploit that I had been exploiting the hell out of. I learned to ph33r Blizzard’s patches.

How do you have lag with a online card game? But WotC is in no trouble for the reasons already given. To many already have allot of money spent on these virtual cards and won’t just dump it. They will sceam like banshees for the game to be fixed but they will stay with the game.

How much do you think a thing like this hurts WotC:s credibility and /or sales?

It hurts their credibility as software developers and of course they’re losing card sales due to being offline, but if they get the game running again shortly I don’t see it having a big impact long-term. Remember, people aren’t paying a monthly fee to play.

BTW, the LotR card game is getting a similar online treatment. They had the beta up and running at GenCon. I’m thinking of getting it simply because it hasn’t been out as long and there aren’t a bajillion cards in the game. I talked to one of the guys involved in the development and he’s a big Sanctum fan, like I am. They may try to do an online CCG with a boardgame component at some point.

[mini-hijack]

Sweet, a new online card game not full of suitcase (or hard drive in this case) players. Was this info in one of your GenCon tidbits? If so, I missed it. Is there a website, yet?

Do you still play Sanctum? Has that volunteer group that took it over kept it functioning well? I played a tiny bit years ago.

Here’s the link for the LotR game:

http://lotrtcg.decipher.com/

I forgot, but the same company has done an online Star Trek game:

http://startrekccg.decipher.com/

And no, it’s not that boxed game that came out a few years ago. It’s an online version of a CCG.

I just reloaded Sanctum and played a bit. Still fun, and NIOGA is doing a good job. They just put out a new expansion. The new cards seem a bit hardcore, but ok. I won most of the games I played with my old-school deck, so the old cards are viable.

Sweet, I liked Sanctum. Please let us know if they ever get around to it.

The lag-issue (‘lag’ isn’t really the word I wanted to use, but you get the gist of it) in MtGO consists of players being reqired to log on like 10 times over 5-10 mins before the server and your computer are in sync. In between games, it is common that the sync is lost and one player (or both) is dropped. The timing rules gives a player max 5 mins of inactivity before the other player is declared the winner…

Things are looking even worse right now. The latest ‘mini-fix’ managed to introduce… wait for it… Taa-Daaa… Grapics problems! In a friggin card game!

Aye, I haven’t played Sanctum in awhile, though I keep meaning to pop back. I am delighted that they finally got their expansion out the door. The card list for the new expansion makes some interesting changes to the game and adds one new mechanic (certain spell costs, durations, and effects vary based on what turn they are cast, starting at 1, working their way to 10, then back I believe). Despite this, as mentioned before, the cards don’t look too overpowered (having spent too much time at work savoring the list) so us old-timers will have a chance agains tthe new bloods.

I am very much surprised, but happy, to see that NIOGA/Sanctum outlasted the THQ games (Star Trek ConQuest, With Authority and Chrox X) as this little bare bones crew was able to work on almost no costs while big glutton company choked on their licenses.

I am very much surprised, but happy, to see that NIOGA/Sanctum outlasted the THQ games (Star Trek ConQuest, With Authority and Chrox X) as this little bare bones crew was able to work on almost no costs while big glutton company choked on their licenses.

There seems to be that critical mass of players, still. I’ve played the last couple of nights, and there have been as many as 30 players online. I played about six games last night and as soon as I’d finish a game and return to the lobby, someone else would challenge me.

WoTC continues to stumble on this… the servers are still not entirely stable. In fact, during the peak of the 8th Edition release tournaments they had a server reset that caused many tournaments, some of which were in the final hour or two (of a 8-10 hour process) to be reset with no prizes granted or anything. There was no official word from Wizards on it, and official word on anything is still scarce – the message board has some postings from admins, but that’s about it.

Scary, scary mess.

I only briefly tried MTGO when it first came it, and didn’t like it at all.

I decided to give it another try with 2.0, so I made an account when that came out. Yeah, they got problems all right.

It’s actually a good interface for playing the card game. As good as I think someone can rightly do, in fact. Now, the 8th edition cards baffle me because I’m used to Magic from six years ago when I played it obsessively in college. I’m used to interrupts and all that, and these new abilities like Cycling and Morphing baffle my primitive brain. But in general it’s all right.

I personally didn’t run into the myriad of technical problems the community seems to have, save for a long log-in time before. That’s cleared up now, and I have no problem with the program working essentially as intended. I don’ thave bad lag and I don’t have stability issues. I know I’m the exception to the rule, though.

But it has some serious fundamental problems. It has a new player room that’s okay, but you only play pre-made decks in there so you don’t really try out your cards or deck-building skills. If you go into the casual play room, well that “new player” on there is just a label - it’s not enforced. And apparnetly 90% of the bozos in there think that playing for two months and having a collection of 1500 cards makes them a “new player” because that’s all I encountered there.

I joined a league since that’s a cheap way to play for a month and have a sort of level playing field, card-selection-wise, and maybe win some cards. But it’s very clear that I don’t belong in there as well, not against some of those pros.

The game really needs some ENFORCED new player areas to let newbies learn to make decks and play against other newbies, leages and events for REAL beginners, and rooms for players with small collections. It’s easy for a jerkwad to make a new account and trade himself 300 rares and whoop up on the newbies and small collections players, sure, but the beauty of databases is that you can do things like match addresses and credit card numbers for accounts, look for previous trading transactions like getting a bunch of great rares for junk commons, or just plain having way too many kickass cards for a true beginner, all as ways of flagging a player “not a beginner” and therefore denying them access.

Their message boards are aflame with suggestions like this, and others. Many of them lucid. And of course it’s positively chock full of stark raving lunatics talking about class-action lawsuits and such.

I’ll say this about the game, though: the community might have easily as many foaming-at-the-mouth fans as any MMO or Blizzard game, but they also have some really nice, sympathetic, and helpful people. Post your card list and they’ll help you with your deck. Ask someone to watch a game and help you play better, and some expert is glad to help. Really, a handful of the fans there are just a great resource and do help make it more enjoyable. They ALMOST make up for the a-holes who tell you to take your cards and go home and stop whining because you’re just a pathetic noob.

Oh yeah, my name in the game is JasonC. Feel free to add me to your buddy list if you’re playing.

I’m used to interrupts and all that, and these new abilities like Cycling and Morphing baffle my primitive brain. But in general it’s all right.

And I barely understand interrupts. I’m afraid the Magic ship has sailed for me. Unless WotC really comes up with a way of holding my hand while I take several months to learn the game while playing players of similar ability, it’s beyond me.

And I don’t like losing a lot, either. So they have to figure out how I can play and win 30-40% of the time.

The fact that Magic is a zero sum game (equal number of winner as losers) is a difficult transition for people who have single player game expectations, no doubt.

In my ideal fantasy world, they’d release a Shandalar (ie, old Microprose single player quest style) expansion for Magic Online, since I think that’s the best way to get that sort of experience and introduce people slowly.

Mark, Interrupts are completely gone from the game so you don’t have to worry about those. :)

Cycling and Morph do take some learning. If you stick with 8th Edition cards until you get your “sea legs” they intentionally use less complicated mechanics. The crazy new stuff is in the mainline expansions, which are the natural place to go next after you’re comfortable with the basic rules.

One nice thing is that they rotate the “block” every year, so while you have some new mechanics to learn, you only need to learn the mechanics for the current block. So unless you’re going out of your way to look for the older cards, you don’t have to worry about things like Kickers, Split Cards, etc. :-)

Even with the current disasters, the depth of this game is so incredible, I’m still hooked. Now, if their next release is as bollixed as this one, I might be looking at how to unload my cards on EBay…

Aww crap this thread reminded me that I never joined up and got into the league that I poked Xemu into creating in the first place.

Yeah interrupts are out now from what I understand, but basically you could interrupt any card play with an interrupt (I guess now just instant) card, which could then be interrupted by another interrupt up until everyone either ran out of cards or available mana. By interrupting you basically caused the spell to not be cast, unless the interrupt got interrupted.

— Alan

“Mark, Interrupts are completely gone from the game so you don’t have to worry about those.”

So if you have interrupt cards in a deck you like they can no longer be used?

MtGO seems to be taking the opposite approach to today’s online games. I signed up pretty much when it was released, joining some people I knew. We all joined a 4 or 5 week league and it was good fun. I had never played the game before but I had played a couple other CCGs and it wasn’t that difficult to get into.

The game itself was very well done, for what it is. I had thought of trying to make a computer game from one of the CCGs I played, but after some initial thinking, the task was too complex. Every card having its own special function was too daunting a task, and I think the developers of MtGO did a great job getting all (or most, remember I didn’t play any beforehand) the cards and variations to work.

That said I pretty much walked away from the game due to the time investment. I don’t have the time to create, test and tweak decks that I might have had 10 years ago. Couple that with my lack of experience, and it was pretty easy to get away from.

So, I find it surprising that they’ve completely gone and bungled everything up. The game was stable, the servers were stable, and everything pretty much just worked. Usually with online games, I see the opposite. A game gets rushed out, there are major problems with the network infrastructure. In MMOGs there are usually problems with the billing systems, too. It seems MtGO finally caught up to these games!

Why did Wizards drop the original developer from maintaining the game?

Oh, I think I was unclear. I didn’t mean that cycling and morphing are confusing. In fact, they’re much easier to undertsand than the distinction between instants and interrupts ever was.

I only mean that they basic rules have changed. They’ve streamlined everything a lot, and reduced the rules minutia. I’ve just been away from the game so long that there are new abilities to learn and old tricks to un-learn, which is one reason why I used to be competitive years ago and totally suck now.

both Morphing and Cycling have the explanation of how they work written right on the cards, as with most special powers. Plus there’s a good help glossary that explains any term you’re unfamiliar with.

Ah yes, but the trick is to try to get it so that the new players are winning 50% of the time.

The experience for a new player is that he loses almost 100% of the time. Which means the experienced player is winning almost 100% of those games…still a zero-sum proposition, but it would be much more fun if new players would be in competitions with each other.