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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jun 12 2013 7:13am
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 "Why are you playing on the Beta Client, isn't it trash"?

I'm sure most of you have said this to someone who has said that they play on the Beta Client.  I too, have thought this, but this wasn't from personal experience, I had just assumed that it was bad because everybody else said the same thing.  I had this thought, like many others, that the Beta was so unplayable that I was going to skip the DGM Prerelease during the Wide Beta Spotlight just so I wouldn't have to use that client.  Of course, that didn't end up happening, as WOTC postponed the Wide Beta Spotlight and allowed everyone to join the Prerelease that Thursday on the old client.

So, fast forward a few weeks later and for some reason, I get the urge to try out the Beta Client.  I figured at worst I'd have it installed and save myself some time by not having to download it again in the future, and at best I could learn it now so that when the client switched, I'd be okay and not feel dumb trying to learn it and make potentially expensive mistakes.  Essentially, my thought process is, "What's the worst that can happen?

"Challenge Accepted" - MTGO Beta Client

I log in, attempt to load my collection....and it crashes on me.  I was only on the client for 2 minutes and it completely crashed trying to load my meager collection.  No wonder WOTC postponed the Wide Beta Spotlight, if it can't even handle loading my collection, how is it supposed to hold up when thousands of players are in the Prerelease queues?  At this point I just uninstall the Beta Client and firmly cement myself in the camp that the client is unplayable and I will avoid it like the plague. 

Well, obviously that didn't happen.  I figured that I might as well give it another try, and actually document what I liked and didn't like about the client. So, I decided that I would do the following things:

  • Play in a draft and see how that process is like.
  • Play in a PRE.
  • Build a deck, sort through my collection, get used to the deck editor.
  • Trade with bots (buying and/or selling)

In short, do pretty much everything I would normally do on the old client.  At the very least I could have an informed opinion about the client, and who knows, maybe I'll even like it.  With that said, let's get on to the games!

Return to Ravnica Block Draft 

The draft itself went great, I felt like I drafted a good Simic deck and had pretty good mana so I knew I could win some games with the deck if I could just curve out and maximize the evolve mechanic.  As far as drafting on the Beta is concerned, I prefer it over the old client.  Being able to build your deck as you draft saves a lot of time and it makes sure that the 22/23 playables you had in your main deck actually stay there as opposed to getting mixed up and you possibly leave a card out.  A perfect example would be a triple DGM draft I did where I drafted a few split cards that were going to be in my deck, but accidentally got hidden behind lands when I got to deckbuilding, and as a result I didn't maindeck a Turn/Burn that I had wanted to play.  One thing I didn't like was that there was no "Stats" button like on the old client.  The stats button could tell you how colored mana symbols were in your deck, what percentages you had of creatures/instants/sorceries, etc.  It's a useful tool in helping decide what lands you need to run if you're a 3-5 color deck, or what color needs more sources if you're just a 2 color deck.  I'm sure not many people actually used that button, but I did and I would appreciate if they would put it back, or at least make it easier to find if it's already there.

Rounds 1, 2, & 3

Most of what I say at the end of Round 3 still holds true, so I'll discuss some of them again here.  The biggest issue is the lag.  I'm willing to believe that the lag is coming from my end, but for now I'll just say that it's the beta client that's causing it, since I'm not 100% sure if it's me or not.  Most of the time the lag won't be that much of an issue, but it might mean that I record less videos since I don't want to time out in any of my matches.  Having numerous windows open seems really unnecessary, and that might be why the client lags so much.  On the old client, you would just have tabs while playing, and the chat window is part of every match, so you're dealing with less windows at any given time on the old client.  On the Beta, you have the option to close the chat, but if it just opens back up again whenever you take an action (I'm not sure if it does this or not), then closing it seems pointless.  The stack needs a little work, at times it was unclear to me what was targeting what, and those interactions can possibly cost you a game if you don't know what's going on.  Highlighting the card helps a little bit, but I liked the more direct approach of just using arrows so you knew what ability was targeting which creature.  

Trading and Deckbuilding

First off, I feel I should mention that this was my 2nd attempt at making the video for this portion of using the Beta Client.  The first attempt led to the Beta crashing while it was updating.  I didn't even get to login before I got annoyed by the Beta Client.  Also, the time it takes the Beta to update is far longer than the old client takes, I would guess it took 2-3 times longer for the Beta Client to update than the old one did.  For the purposes of the video, I found a list for Modern Silverblack that A) I actually would like to play, B) didn't have the cards for, C) didn't have the deck saved already, and D) would make me have to trade with the bots.  You'll notice that I actually have some decks saved already on the Beta, those are actually just decks I made on the old client that I saved as Net Decks.  It would appear that the only decks that will auto-transfer from the old client to the new one are net decks, so I would advise anyone making new decks going forward to just save them as net decks so that you don't have to import them when you get on the beta. If it wasn't for me asking the ORC, I don't think I would've found out that you can import decks, and would've had to open the text file and manually looked for cards, which is a lot more work than it needs to be.  Now we get to one of my biggest problems with the beta: not enough space to view both your maindeck and sideboard, and still have room to see the cards you want to put in.  For reference, here are the two deck editor screens for both clients:

  

Side-by-side comparison of both clients

You can adjust the settings to make it where you can see both your maindeck and sideboard, but you're dealing with less space than you did with the old client, and I personally liked being able to use the entire screen to fiddle with my deck, not just 1/4th of it.  The filters got slightly updated, you can search by type and subtype now, but that's a small thing that I don't think many people will use.  As for the collection itself, you can't thumb through sets like you could the old client, on this one you have to select with sets you want to see at any given time, and then you have to wait for that set to load.  Yes, each set has to load, even if you're going back to a set you've seen before.  I believe this is because the collection also serves as the cards for the Deck Editor, so each card has to be loaded like it does on the old client.  This results in some lag issues (but lag issues are numerous on the Beta so it's more common than you'd think.)

As for as trading is concerned, it's far more annoying on the Beta Client than it is on the old client.  This is mostly due to the numerous notifications I get from the client every time the bot says something in the chat window.  While this is probably intended for PvP chats, it gets very annoying when it's used during trading, as every single card you select will give you a notification.  This is often results in a backlog of notifications if you are selecting cards much faster than the bot can update your total.

Player Run Event - Round 1 

 

I only recorded 1 round because I only needed one round for this part of the exercise.  Finding the Getting Serious room (Beta version of Anything Goes) was easy enough, but setting up a table was a bit more difficult, but not so much so that it bothered me.  The only problem I had was that the Beta Client does not have an option of giving each player 30 minutes like on the old client.  This is a problem because PRE's work on the 30 minute clock, while the Beta only gives options for 25, 40, and 60 minutes.  One solution is to just have the player on the old client make the table, but if both players are on the Beta, you can't make it for 30 minutes.  This means that PRE's will have to find a new time limit for each player once everyone is on the Beta.  One solution is to use the 25 minutes and be aware that we now lose 5 minutes, or set it for 40 minutes and say that the first person to hit 10:00 on their clock loses to time.  Gameplay was about the same as it was the for the draft rounds, which the usual lag annoying me but otherwise it was fine.

Overall Impressions

I have mixed feelings about the Beta Client, but if I had to simplify it, the old client is vastly superior to the Beta at this point in time.  The Beta Client does have a better look to it, and feels more modern than the old client, but we are paying customers, and we don't want a shiny inefficient product, we want a working reliable product that we feel safe using.  To clarify, these are the good and bad points of the Beta Client:

Good Points

  • Draft experience is a lot smoother.
  • You can tell who you are passing to and who you passed to.
  • Looks better

Bad Points

  • Client is lagging constantly
  • Trading with bots is a bit annoying
  • Too many windows open during events
  • Client is not clear on what is targeting what.
  • Client is prone to crash from time to time.
  • Deck Editor screen is too small

These points are based on what I observed by using the Beta Client 3 separate times (once for draft, once for trading, once for PRE), so I'm willing to believe that I had an atypical experience and the Beta runs more smoothly than it did for me, so if you feel that I was just unlucky, please tell me your experience in the comments below.  Also, I only covered a few parts of the Beta Client, I did not use every single feature, I only used the ones that have the most impact to us once we start using the client.  I do understand that the Beta Client is a work in progress, and I can't expect everything to be perfect the first time I use it, so I'm understanding and won't judge the client too harshly.  This being said, the client is not ready for widespread commercial use, and it would be foolish for WOTC to push out a product that does not run smoothly and potentially alienate a chunk of the MTGO player base.  At the very least, if the Beta Client can stop lagging so much and crashing, I think players will be more willing to use the client.  I myself would be more inclined to just use the Beta as my primary client if I knew I could do things as smoothly as I could on the old client (mainly just not have it lag).  The lag is a big issue for me, as I can't use the internet and the Beta Client without wanting to shoot myself, or any other program for that matter.  Like I said in the start of this section, the client looks good, but doesn't operate well, and that is what is driving myself and quite possibly others from using the client.  I will be sending Wizards some feedback on the Beta Client so that when we have to start using it, things will have changed for the better.  As always, comments are appreciated!

MarcosPMA on MTGO

22 Comments

While I mostly agree with by Paul Leicht at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 08:24
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While I mostly agree with your assessment in general the notifications are optional. It is important that you check and change the default settings to how you want the client to behave because some of them are quite annoying.

The extra windows if closed by xger at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 09:51
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The extra windows if closed stay closed. You can also dock them on any side of the screen (so chat on the right to replicate the old client if you want) so they lock inside the game window.

Yeah, I figured out how to by MarcosPMA at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 21:49
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Yeah, I figured out how to dock the windows. My only problem is that you can't dock a chat other than the in-game chat to your match. For instance, I wanted to dock the #Silverblack chat to my match because there was a discussion about the Beta Client, but I could only dock the in-game chat.

I have to say, whenever I by jaspax at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 09:57
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I have to say, whenever I read these Beta Client tutorials I sometimes wonder what client these people are playing, since your experiences seem to be so much different than mine. In my experience the Beta Client is so much better than the old client that I cannot possibly imagine sticking with the old client when the new one is available. I solely use the Beta and have never missed the old client even once.

In particular, my mind boggled at the statement that the old client updates more quickly than the new one. For me, the old client takes FOREVER to update, while the beta updates in about a quarter of the time.

You do identify a few things which are accurate: the constant chat notifications are annoying, but they can be turned off (go to Account > Notifications). Hopefully they'll fix this default in the future. Having a separate chat window can be difficult, though the chat window can be docked to make it work like the old client (just drag it to the corner of the screen where you want to dock it). I usually just close the chat window until I need to say something. It does not automatically re-open, but you can open it at any time by clicking on the "Chat and Log" button (looks like a little speech balloon). And the new client is much more taxing on the CPU, which manifests as constant lag. This can also be ameliorated by turning off animations.

The other thing thing I strongly disagree with is the notion that targeting is better in the old client. The old client is an incomprehensible tangle of arrows, especially when there are multiple triggers on the stack. The new client is very clear. Mouse over the trigger to see the source highlighted in blue and the target(s) highlighted in orange. The other triggers and permanents which are not participating in the trigger are automatically darkened. This may be different than the old system, but in practice it's actually far easier to interpret.

I think the reason for your by Psychobabble at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 20:29
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I think the reason for your confusion basically comes down to the "culture shock" of re-learning something which had previously been so familiar and comfortable. I agree that the beta client is fundamentally superior once you get used to it - performance issues aside, which I am hopeful are a product of this being a beta and will be fixed before release. Assuming they do fix various bugs and performance issues, this will be a step up once released and I believe people will come to realise that once they get over the initial shock of the new. After playing with the beta for the past 6 months or so, it's impossible for me to go back to the old one, it's just so bad.

The new client just doesn't by MarcosPMA at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 21:21
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The new client just doesn't translate as smoothly to users that are used to the old client. When you log in for the first time, you really have to work to learn the new system, which is fine, but some of the things that are having to be relearned don't seem to be an improvement. Like the collection/deck building screen. On looks alone, it feels worse than the old client. It might be better than the old one, but it doesn't feel better using it the first time.

I'm willing to learn the new client, but if it keeps lagging on me then there is no reason to put myself in situations where I'm going to get frustrated at a program I'm trying to learn because it doesn't run as smoothly as the old client. My main issue is the lag. If I can get it to stop lagging on me, I will use the client.

Also, is the old client just that much worse than the Beta, or is that because you're more used to the Beta than the old client? What does the Beta do bettter? (besides drafts)

"Like the collection/deck by Psychobabble at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 00:42
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"Like the collection/deck building screen. On looks alone, it feels worse than the old client. It might be better than the old one, but it doesn't feel better using it the first time."

see, this is something that just strikes me as "you're used to the old one so you think the old way is better". I only started playing MTGO at the start of last year. I never understood why the deckbuilder and collection screen were different, and I was always frustrated by the annoying pseudo-binder replication of the collection. I always thought this was silly - you're a digital game, why try to replicate one of the worst aspects of physical card games (flicking through binders). So the beta client's way of doing things makes much more sense to me. I can do things I could never do in the old collection screen, like look at all my different basic lands from all different sets, or browse through a customised sub-set of cards, and then once i've done that I can instantly start building a deck out of it. So comments like this (which I see all the time) just strike me as "used to it" bias rather than anything inherently wrong with the beta client.

"Also, is the old client just that much worse than the Beta, or is that because you're more used to the Beta than the old client? What does the Beta do bettter? (besides drafts)"

I actively dislike the old client, and this goes beyond "used to it" bias. I have played a couple of games on the old client when on a different machine or whatever and here's a few things (beyond the collection screen that I just talke about) that stand out to me:

* casual game creation and joining is 100x better. "next game" is a feature you can't live without once used to it.
* Dual land and multi-land tapping. In beta, you hold "m" (customisable key) and dual lands automatically tap for the first-listed colour. Also, you can right click on a land of a certain type and tap all of them at once for the same colour. These things are so useful that once you learn them, you really don't know how you used play the game without it. I wince when I see people on vids tapping lands for sphinx's revelation.
* "Attack all". another feature that you can't imagine playing without once you've played with it, especially if you play token decks.
* The battlefield UI genuinely does do a better job of representing and sorting out a cluttered board state. Stuff like token stacking, "from the middle" sorting and pairing of linked creatures makes a huge difference in grokking convoluted board states.
* Graveyards and exiled/revealed zones are handled much better. The graveyard in particular (as of the current build) is really easy to make big when you need it, shrink it when you don't or have somewhere in between if needed. The way the exiled/revaled zones are handled is also much more intuitive and cleaner to me.
* I really like the popup notifications, makes it much easier to multitask without missing something.
* The draft improvements are obvious, from deckbuilding on the fly to seeing the table to auto-separating out of creature and non-creature spells in your pile to auto-submit of you deck if you forget to.
* Multiple trade binders is a feature I'm actually starting to use (you select one to be active at any one point) and is surprisingly useful when you're doing particular trades with particular people or bots.

There's more, but those are the ones that first come to mind.

I also have never had any significant performance issues with the beta (my computer is about 5 years old, though I do run on a SSD hard drive, dunno if that helps). I hope and trust that the program will be properly optimised for a wider range of machines before release, but from my perspective the underlying program is a big upgrade.

I don't necessarily think the by MarcosPMA at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 01:07
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I don't necessarily think the old way is better (I'd have to use the Beta more to pass judgment on that), I'm saying it LOOKS worse. Perception is the thing here. A lot of people will look at it and compare immediately to the old client. That is the basis on which I made that statement (Opinion based, not fact). My issue is I like space. When I'm building a deck, I like to have space because I move things around a lot. More space in the deckbuilding screen allows me to do this, even if it looks cosmetically horrible. The Beta limits what I can do since my deckbuilding screen is essentially cut in half. This is something I'm willing to work with though, as long as it doesn't lag on me.

As for your better points:

-Dual lands - even if you can do that, I still like choosing what colored mana I want (especially important with vivid lands and spells like firespout), but I will agree that it's a nice thing to have.
-Attack all - would definitely help me when I get in a board stall with Assemble the Legion.
-Stacking - I prefer to have things seperated. I even have my lands this way. But if it does make the board less cluttered, then that's a good thing.
-Pop-ups - I don't really like these, so much so that I disabled them.
-Trade binders - I only trade as needed, so having multiple binders wouldn't do me much good. However, if you are extensively trading then it's a good feature.

I have no idea what a SSD hard drive is, so I don't know if that helps or not. If you say the Beta is better, then I'm inclined to agree since you say you've used it more. Personally, I don't like the lag. If the Beta ran as fast as V3 does for me, I'd use the Beta since eventually we'll have start using it.

Why try to replicate one of by Paul Leicht at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 08:13
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Why try to replicate one of the worst aspects of physical card games (flicking through binders)???

This makes no sense to me. How is This one of the worst aspects of the physical card game? Maybe, for you, flickering through other people's collections is isn't great. Maybe you had some horrible experiences with binders, I don't know.

I personally like organizing and being able to view my most valuable cards in a way that is visually pleasing such as a collection binder context.In fact I don't just like it. I find it essential. Without this the game is 100% less appealing. There are many many people who have played as long as I have who feel the same way.

Having other ways to view the collection makes sense but not at the cost of something many people find to be essential. Heck before I start building decks I usually go through my admittedly huge collection set by set in the collection binder and wait for inspiration to strike. Without that process (impossible with the current collection view in V4 as there is no visually pleasing way to do so) deck building is more of a chore and so is collecting and managing the collection.

Nothing was easier than right clicking on the binder view after setting some filters for commonality/set and then clicking make all tradeable/untradable.

Now? I have to make what is essentially a deck list and then make it the active binder. (Which is a genius idea implemented poorly by the way.) This is a painful slow process that can easily be screwed up. Not a fan of the current implementation.

The key point to upgrading some software piece is to NOT take away usability and functionality where possible. If no one liked the collection binder then I could see doing away with it. But that is just not the case. Instead they could have made it an optional way to view and interact with your collection. They didn't bother. This is just one aspect that makes v4 incredibly bad for me.

The only thing shocking about by Paul Leicht at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 21:21
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The only thing shocking about the beta is how bad it makes people feel, myself included. The rest: shoddy UI, bad graphics, lag, missing functionality and badly implemented functionality = business as usual since we have ALL been getting used to it for the last 10 months or so. Yes it's been 10months since the first Wide Beta.

This isn't merely culture shock. This a breaking of the paradigm of what people expect MAGIC Online to be. That would be fine if it was art (taste is subjective etc) but not so fine in a paid for product that people need to navigate daily in order to use without feeling robbed and ripped off.

I think some of this is what I have been saying about the Beta: It is designed for a very specific sub group of machines and players. Why that is, is beyond me but it clearly doesn't mesh with lots of players.

I think what most people by MarcosPMA at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 21:47
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I think what most people expect is this "When I use the Beta client, it's going to be a faster, easy to use interface, and will be almost exactly the same to use as the old client". Then reality happens. And reality is this: "The Beta client is completely different. It is slower and more difficult to use. This is not what I expected." So they are faced with 2 options: A) Use old client B) Use Beta client. It's not hard to imagine which option an overwhelming number of players will choose.

Like I said, I'm willing to by MarcosPMA at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 15:31
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Like I said, I'm willing to believe that what I experienced was atypical and that it runs more smoothly than expected. I played with the Beta Client a couple weeks ago, just before they released an update to the client.

As far as the notifications go, I was not aware that they were optional. I intended to use the Beta as if I had never used it and was being forced to do it (like today). If I had known that I could turn them off, I definitely would have.

As far as the targeting system goes, it could be just a matter of personal preference. The arrows stand out more to me than the highlights.

Other things by Treamayne at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 23:20
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Thanks for the article. I think you understated how difficult deck building is in this client. I built the same commander deck in both clients (separately, so they are slightly different decks, based on the same idea) and the deck that took me a little over 50 minutes to build in V3 (to pull cards, sort organize and cut into a "first draft" deck for playtesting) took 4 hours and 30+ minutes in V4. Granted, one of the biggest glitches of the .311 build is not fixed in .315 (list mode not working with color filters set), but still that is an insane jump. And it wasn't just a familiarity thing (as I had built a few decks in the client before and knew where to use allthe functions I needed) it was dealing with problems sorting and viewing, glitches in moving batches of cards (a highlighted cards scrolled off screen is de-selected so you can;t batch move more cards than are visibile in the collection pane of the scene), and other little things that interefered. I wrote up a long post detailing all of the issues on the mothership forums.

Also, some of the things you did not touch on:

1) The Store: Easily the best improvement from V3 (I don't draft,so I think this is the only improvement over V3). Really, I hate the beta so far, but will admit to a few things I like. This one feature they did very well on.

2) Play scene: I find the maze of filters needed just to play a game so bad, that except for one game I only play solitaire on the Beta. I can consistantly make my own solitaire game to play; but doing teh same things to get commander or tribal games often gets different results. I don't reliably get games to show on the right, based on my settings on the left. And I despise the "next open game" idea that just puts you at any table. As bad as the combo deck editor/collection scene is, if I could design one thing from scratch it would be this.

Edit: Forgot to mention, in the update to 311/315 (for those that have not done so yet) a few of us have reported a major error in the colection scene. The most distinctive way to tell if you have the glitch is a column of X icons showing at the right side. After a few days WotC found the only fix was to uninstall and reinstall (and that did fix it for me). Screenshot at http://images.onesite.com/community.wizards.com/user/treamayne/large/53a...

Thank you! To be fair, I by MarcosPMA at Wed, 06/12/2013 - 23:25
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Thank you! To be fair, I spent the least amount of time and effort on the deck builder because all I had to do was find the .txt file and make a few changes. If I were to make a new deck, I'm sure it would be more difficult and time consuming. I could not imagine trying to build a EDH deck in the Beta Client. In the old client it takes me a bit to load it, I'm sure if I tried to load one in the Beta it would crash instantly.

I haven't used the store yet, but I'll be sure and try it out soon.

I did not touch on the filters since I wasn't really allowed to make games (the PRE plays games on the 30 min time, but the Beta only allows 25 and 40). Today I did have to use the filter, and it was so irritating that I didn't want to play other casual games because of it. One of the problems that I'm going to encounter from now on is how the client autosaves your decks into formats. While it's nice to know what format my deck is once I save it, it's difficult to set up a Classic game in which I want to test Legacy Silverblack games, as I would have to save the deck as a Classic deck for testing, and save it as a Legacy deck for PREs.

I think that the biggest by jaspax at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 00:24
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I think that the biggest difference in experiences with the Beta is the amount of experience with V3. I only started playing MTGO about 18 months ago, and I found V3 APPALLING. The entire process, from installation to the main menu to finding a match to playing was ugly, incomprehensible, and completely opaque to a new player. I would never have gotten past stage one if I didn't have an experienced friend telling me how things worked.

I applied for the closed beta almost immediately and began playing matches on the beta client right away. Now, 18 months ago the beta client was a lot worse than it is now (especially the lag, which was nearly unbearable), but even so I found it a vast improvement. And this is the key thing: as a NEW player, one who didn't have his expectations formed by V3, I found the beta to be intuitive and user-friendly, which is the exact opposite of the V3 client.

I have since gotten used to V3 and can use both clients equally well, but I don't consider this a badge of honor. The V3 interface is frankly bizarre, and the fact that beta changes things so thoroughly is a good thing, since it brings the interface in line with the way we expect most modern software to work.

"And this is the key thing: by Psychobabble at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 00:38
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"And this is the key thing: as a NEW player, one who didn't have his expectations formed by V3, I found the beta to be intuitive and user-friendly, which is the exact opposite of the V3 client."

This is so true. As I've mentioned above, I only started playing early last year. I very nearly gave up on the game as soon as I loaded the client, because of how budget it looked. I used to play star wars ccg online, and the free, user generated program that I used (holotable) looked way better than the official mtgo client, which looked more like one of the budget pseudo-card rendering ccg engines like lackey ccg. The immediate visual and interface barriers that V3 put to new users, which are substantially higher than the beta, cannot be underestimated.

I walked into this article by MarcosPMA at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 01:32
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I walked into this article with the pretense that the Beta Client would just be a cosmetic improvement over the regular client. That I could just jump in and do everything I would normally do and be okay. This is the mindset that most people will come into the Beta. And they will be miserable and further hate the client.

I did a thought experiment. What if I dismissed everything I knew about Magic Online and loaded up the Beta? What would that experience be like? It was pleasant! (unfortunately for me, the lag was still there)

If you guys remember way back by greyes3 at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 02:45
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If you guys remember way back when, we were actually promised this sleek, browser based platform, instead of the beta version of the client that we're seeing now. That program ending up falling through for whatever reason, and we were stuck with this as the backup option. They panicked when they found out that their initial idea was no longer a viable plan, so they seemingly just threw this together.

I agree that some things are better. Drafting does look improved. There are features, as have been mentioned above, such as "attack all", which are great to finally see, but it's just not enough to be considered a step in the right direction. RATHER than push forward with a new client, they should have implemented some of these changes, amongst others, into the current client. It is flat out ridiculous that Classic has not fired a DE in so long. Prize support has been straight up embarrassing. How long have we been promised leagues for now? It is flat out hilarious watching a 800+ person PTQ fail. And why is it that such a small percentage of players can make automated trades? We shouldn't have to code our own bots to make trades at this point.

Players want functionality. The changes are aimed towards cosmetic appeal, and frankly, most players don't seem to mind the way the current client looks. How often do you hear complaints about window sizes? Tab layouts? The Deck Editor? These aren't changes that get people excited about this game. While I agree that some of these MAY be barriers for SOME new players, let's face it, the software has to cater to older players as well. If they are losing people who have been playing this game for years, only to gain a couple of new players who may or may not stick around, is that justification for these types of changes? We want changes that will get older players AND newer players excited.

It's unfortunate that it is going to take a lot of players leaving this game before they realize they can't get away with subpar effort on their end.

I wouldn't disagree that we by Psychobabble at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 02:52
Psychobabble's picture

I wouldn't disagree that we deserve to get new innovative features. But if you listened to some of the interviews with Ryan Spain a while back, that's actually one of the key reasons for v4. The V3 coding is such a mess that it became essentially impossible for them to add new features to it. The beta doesn't attempt to do anything revolutionary (although I note that it does now have automated win/loss tracking which is something people have been asking for for a long time), but once it's at a point where it actually works for the base game they intend to implement some of those other features. These are the sorts of things they were exploring in a client survey a couple of months back. Many of these will probably never happen, but it's the type of features that they'll be looking at once they have a client that they can actually program new stuff for:

Deck builder app for smartphones
Leaderboards and achievements
Account leveling based on Magic Online activity
One-player practice mode against a low-skill AI opponent
Constructed deck rental for events
Voice chat
Sale of premium account upgrades
Game play and tournament statistics
Easy deck importing and/or sharing
Retail gift cards for Magic Online
Grand Prix tournaments on Magic Online
In-client reporting for bugs, conduct, and reimbursement requests
Event reminders sent to phone and/or email
Game and/or draft replay sharing in client and/or social media
Magic Planeswalker Points integration

Beta Client by Dabil at Thu, 07/04/2013 - 13:09
Dabil's picture

I have to agree with your assessment on the beta client 100% Marcos. In fact I was so annoyed by it, I simply stopped using it. The new client looked very cheesy to me, especially while playing games. I too was very annoyed at the targeting system and struggled to figure out what was targeting what. I attempted to play in a PRE and lost my opening game on time because the client just kept crashing. I have no idea why we are changing the time limits to 25 min and 40 min from 30 min. Is there some reason why we can't just have a user specified time instead of being confined to pre-set limits?

Overall I found the beta client to be very unplayable and quit using it after a couple weeks.

That being said let us remember that the current client was also extremely unplayable when it was first released. So much so that I quit playing MTGO for about 4 months when it was initially released because of how annoyed I was that it kept crashing on me. So in comparison the new beta does seem to be much further along in its development at this stage.

I personally wish they wouldn't have changed so much in the new client. I think a smarter approach would have been to make it a better version of the existing client and then slowly migrate new functionality into it. Either that or found a way to start morphing the existing client to slowly be more like the new beta. That way players would have a chance to adjust to the new way in which things work.

I also use the stats button, a lot! I find it an invaluable tool when deck building.

And lastly I can't help but believe that Wizards is simply trying to accomplish TOO much with its client. The client should be used only for the following features:

1) building your collection
2) deck building
3) playing games

All tournaments, leagues, etc should be run using a separate website such as Gatherling.com or pdcmagic.com. This would make the tournament/league functionality separate from the client and would allow for ever more creative event structures. As well websites like Gatherling.com and pdcmagic.com allow players to play in innovative new formats that can be quickly and easily created using Gatherling's format editor. Gatherling currently ranks players by their performance in each format, allows players to track their achievenments and the success of their decks. Maintains both a record for the player and the deck list. Has full meta breakdown of each event. And the list goes on.

You could easily enough create the ability for the client and gatherling to pass the needed information back and forth so that players don't need to manually enter data into gatherling. I think this approach to augment play on the MTGO client with a website has a lot of benefits and should be explored.

That's never going to happen. by Psychobabble at Thu, 07/04/2013 - 23:57
Psychobabble's picture

That's never going to happen. wizards tolerates and sometimes gives minor support to PREs becuase they're not actual tournaments, they're glorified practice games with small donated prizes on the line. But there's no entry fees (PREs are specifically banned from charging them), no significant prizes, no official rankings (mocs) or any real support.

Wizards will never let anyone but themselves run real tournaments with entry fees and significant prizes on mtgo. They're providing the shop, they won't let other stores come in and run tournaments on their floor space - I've heard that mtgotraders and others like SCG have been explicitly prohibited from running proper tournaments in MTGO for this reason. WoTC has a monopoly on them and is never going to give it up.

Also, the beta client has a rudimentary personal stats tracking feature implemented which tracks w/l record in various types of events (customisable filters). It's a little broken at the moment which is probably why they haven't advertised it, but I'm sure they intend this to be a part of the v4 launch features.

I used to be so Anti-Beta at one point. by 3drinks at Thu, 07/04/2013 - 13:46
3drinks's picture

As my subject title says, I was another one of those "vehemently against the v4 RAWR GO AWAY!" type players at one point. I logged onto it a few weeks back, and...was pleasantly surprised by the smoother interactions I had experienced from the last time several months ago (I too was part of the closed Beta, and I couldn't even play on the closed beta due to "insta-freeze"). I won't say that it's perfect and ready for deployment here, because quite frankly it isn't, and still has a lot of room to improve. But it's certainly not as bad as others would make it out to be. However that said I can't play games on it myself at the moment because my laptop just doesn't meet the minimum specs (only have a 1.0 processor) so I can navigate and watch things, but playing is out of the question.

Anyway. I just wanted to say the v4 is just a step in the right direction and with many more of the right steps, it will be a fantastic platform to play our favourite game on. But this will take time.