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By: dangerlinto, Mike Linton
Mar 02 2010 1:52am
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I wanted to name this the "top 10 things" wrong with MTGO, but by the time I was finished I'd already thought about a couple of more things (sad, isn't it) and so I removed the "top" portion to take away any semblance of me trying to tell you that what you have a problem with in MTGO is not as important as these problems.

Keep in mind that we are talking specifically about problems with MTGO - the service. Things that are, by design, not very good or completely absent. For example, if you think ORCs are all a bunch of unknowledgeable reps (I know some people think this) that is a problem, but by design I don't think ORCs are supposed to be unknowledgeable. By the same token, I kept the problems away from items like "It's too expensive" or "the cards aren't real". Not because those might not be huge problems for some people, but mostly because they are essentially unsolvable/faux problems. Everything is too expensive and it's a digital game. These should be solvable (to some extent) problems.

Without further ado…

10. Three weeks late – prereleases are postreleases

The reason why this happens is fairly mundane, and probably the most difficult to fix – WoTC can't run a public beta previous to all the cards being released offline – or they'd spoil the set offline.

Now, there are two counterpoints here. Firstly that there might not be a need for a public beta, and second being that there is nothing wrong with having the set spoiled online 3 weeks, or some combination of the two (like not having a public beta and having them release at the same time). The problem here is that Magic is a really complicated game. Like – more complicated than any other game – ever. If you don't think the public beta testers don't catch stuff, you've got another thing coming – and that's after WoTC has already had their own internal beta. The community of players is simply much more efficient at catching the corner cases than the in-house ones – or at least they are simply more numerous and are therefore more likely to catch them. The public beta remains necessary – and as such this particular problem will continue to linger.

But like all the problems, I do have one suggestion – start the beta the EXACT same day as the first day of the pre-release, and cut the public beta to two weeks. WoTC doesn't quite give themselves enough credit here. I've been part of pretty much every beta since Ravnica and they are much better at locking down all the major bugs in the first week or so. Start the beta Saturday (realize the set is spoiled here, WoTC. Even if you didn't do the spoiling) and if the people at prerelease weekend don't want to be spoiled, all they have to do is not look at spoilers. Let them be the people with their heads in the sand if they want – you guys shouldn't have to pretend everyone who wants to know all the contents won't find out 5 minutes into the first tournament Saturday morning.

9. Classifieds – or should I say _____.CLASSIFIEDS._____

The classifieds section of WoTC is an unmitigated disaster. Not only has the alphabetized list lent itself to the naming conventions of bot owners to fight over characters that are alphanumerically placed first, until very recently it was chalk full of formatting codes so garish that I'm surprised while scrolling through the list people didn't complain of epileptic seizures. It was also possible to hide characters, so that your ad would show up in a search for something that you really didn't want to advertise – which would especially bother those who've made a name for themselves and are having it abused. It would be like someone slipping their Pizza company's phone number onto the bottom of your Pizza company's flyer – it's not posh.

But that says very little about how poor the classifieds section is. At its heart, the classifieds section's job is to let you know who and how much someone will trade something for. Why is it, then, that there isn't a way to search simply through database of people online (or perhaps even offline) for card/object X who have it set as tradable? I don't want to oversimplify that either, because you would need to go a lot deeper than that. What MTGO really needs to do here is to allow users to set cards to tradable as objects in much the same way you set an rule in your Microsoft Outlook for moving incoming messages around. For example I want to trade <X> of <card/object> for <Y>of
<card/object> and/or <Z> of <card/object> - and then allow them to create (probably with a limit) of said rules. This wouldn't be the only way to make trades – but it would allow for a much more effective search rather than text searching. This is not an easy task – but I think entirely doable. Note that it's very important that the rules would have to allow for card for card trading. – any semblance of the event ticket acting as pseudo-currency by being the only object you can trade for would land WoTC in hot water.

8. Buddies and Block list – the world is not as black and white as enemies and allies

While it is possible to make comments off people on your block list ("this guy is a jerk"/"this guy plays too slow"/"this guy plays blue") you can do no such thing on your buddies list. I think this projects a negative frame on MTGO – are you expecting our block list to be so much longer than our buddies list that it is the only place you think we'd need comments? I am happy to say that I have a huge buddies list and a fairly small block list – but it's entirely unmanageable.

The problem here for me is that I can't group my buddies list. Some people online are my buddies. Some of them are classic regulars who I'd love to put in a "remind them when a PE is starting" group. Some of them are in the "never remind them" group. Others are bots I like. Some people are people who I've traded with before and who I liked. Why the hell can't group these people? And while we're on the subject of "people with whom I've traded with" I'm not entirely sure that a system of feedback wouldn't also be good for both casual play and trading. I realize the possibility for abuse when it comes to using multiple accounts to boost up your rating, but if you were counting only unique feedback, I think the benefits would far outweigh the negatives in such a setup.

7. The collection binder – putting all your eggs in one basket

The collection binder in MTGO is a source of constant consternation for me. I very much liked the change from 2.0 to 3.0, where depending on your resolution you simply got more cards/page rather than super-gigantic cards and a lot of space. That was a good change. But my god, WoTC, why oh why does everything have to be in the same binder?

Can you imagine such a binder in paper? Do you own paper cards? Put 8,975 cards in a binder and let me know how that works out for you when you want to search through your collection in a less object-oriented way. For example, why can't I have a binder with "Cards I will never, ever, ever trade away" and another for "Cards so terrible I will never play them or be able to trade them". Right now the solution is to simply buy another account, but since moving cards from binder to binder is a necessity, the trade limit of 75 and the agonizing lag on trade sometimes), and the fact that I'm willing to bet more than 50% of the MTGO population has no idea how to open to clients on the same computer makes this a real non-solution to the problem. Pretty simply here – let us make new binders, WoTC!

6. The "Casual" Room – what is Casual?

Please, for the love of god end this debate once and for all. It's idiotic, pointless and never-ending. WoTC could save good money on bandwidth on their forums by simply naming the rooms "non-sanctioned play" and "tournament practice" so that nobody ever uses the word "casual" ever again. Tournament Practice has always been a good name. It very clearly defines (and is very nearly always well interpreted) what is to go on in that room. If I have to read another dictionary definition of the word casual, I will have to kick something, preferably the dead horse already lying on top of the "what is casual" debate.

5. Clans – needs more Scottish symbols and caber-tossing

What are clans online in v 3.0? They are a chatroom that one person (and only one) can control who enters. Oh and sometimes they count packs won. Don't you want to join?

Honestly, clans came so under featured in 3.0 that it should be an embarrassment to WoTC – especially since the only thing they actually did – let you control a chatroom – didn't even work until a couple of years after the program came online.

Now, I should caveat this by saying I hate (read – HATE HATE HATE) clan rivalries. I think that in most instances, clan rivalries are childish, boorish attempts by (mostly) males seeking to prove themselves at the Alpha status. I have been part of them in many forms and disdain them in almost all. I enjoy sportsmanship and gameplay, the former of which is noticeably absent from what normally is the result of clan rivalry. All that being said, unless the rivalry is terribly out of control, they are very good for WoTC. Any form of competition is, really. WoTC needs to bring back and increase the clan competitions by doing things such as showing clan ratings in much the same way they do MOCs ratings – across various format and for prizes. I would love that, as I have always felt I could be a very valuable part of a clan even though I rarely get the time to play PEs and other sanctioned events.

The other features in clans which need to be installed is some kind of hierarchy. One King and only pawns is not a good setup. When I ran a clan, there were a handful of people I trusted bring in new recruits – they should have to wait for me to be online to invite them. Or boot other people. That sort of tiered relationship should exist within clans.

Clans need to also have clan events. Events that you can setup within your clan – skip two down if you want to read what I'm talking about there.

4. PEs A trifecta of problems.

I wrote a very long piece about how PEs should have a sliding pay structure some time ago on pureMTGO, and it goes into heavy detail on how and why this should work. The meat of it is, that PEs should have scaling prizes (like DEs do), and that MTGO is capping their own tournament's participation numbers on PEs by forcing payout curve to lower with every person added. I won't go into any further detail here.

I will discuss how annoying the schedule for Premier Events is. It's is annoying because, really, there is no schedule. It changes from week to week on an evenly distributed but otherwise totally random basis for practically all formats and events (the weekend Challenges only take place on the weekends). This is a terrible method to use, because it means that from week to week, the average player has no idea when he can expect to play. I don't know about everyone, but I'm sure a very large portion of the player base likes to know when they might be busy for 6-10 hours, and giving them 3 days notice really isn't enough. Does your local game shop only tell you 3 days in advance when they are having tournaments? Of course not – they give you ample notice so you can make time. In fact, I'm willing to bet if you are a participant in caveman magic, your local store even has a schedule where events are expected to fall on certain days of the week.

The WoTC team needs to jump on scheduling here. This isn't a fault of the client or the system – it's one of the places where the WoTC team you talk to from time to time on message forums is dropping the ball. In my opinion, familiarity breeds comfort, and when people are comfortable with something they tend to do it more often, and that will result in more people both being aware of PEs and increase participation in them.

Finally, having 2 rooms – one for Daily Events and one for Premier Events seems crazy. You essentially have to go to two rooms to do the exact same thing. While they are fundamentally different tournaments in terms of their structure, user-wise everyone really views them in the same way. Splitting them into two rooms only causes people to forget to check the times in one or the other in their favoured format. It would be better to have the Regular Event room and the Release Event Room.

3. PRE (Player-run Event) Support – read: almost none

Do you know what a PRE is? Of course you do – as a loyal and avid reader of PureMTGO and perhaps the WoTC forums, you are perfectly aware that there are hard working members of the community, and generous sponsors as well, all looking to fill in the small gaps that sanctioned tournament play online can't fill.

In the grand scheme of things, though, that amounts to a hill of beans. As wonderful as this site is (and as terrible as the MTGO forums are), I'd be willing to put a large wager that less than 10% of the MTGO playing population has any idea they exist or even visit them. As such, PREs simply don't get the exposure they should.

The immediate reaction for many people is to yell and scream about how they should be allowed to advertise their PRE in the MTGO rooms (casual, tournament practice, etc..), but much like the embargo on trade requests in those areas, it serves a purpose – the room would probably be spammed with PRE start times and requests. But unlike trade requests, there is no place to put a PRE request. This is easy to solve.

Make a freaking PRE room.

In fact, if you think adding a room will cause consternation, no problem. How about we just rename the Anything Goes room the PRE room? I apologize to the 6 of you who actually use the anything goes room to avoid the cries of "that's not casual" (see point above), but you are, in fact, outnumbered by the people using the room for PRE tournaments. And if the room was named PRE, it would give more exposure to the PRE scene than basically anything ever done for this forlorn group by factor of 1000. The number of times someone would wander in there simply wondering what a PRE is would increase the membership of PREs to an unforetold level – and believe it or not WoTC – this is a gateway drug to paying for real events.

Now, I'm not going to stop at simply giving PREs a room. No no. That would be too little a restitution. The other thing that would really help would to be to allow Player-run-events to actually not be quite so player run. I would say they should become player-initiated events. What should happen is in this room, you should be able to start your own tournament. Swiss, single elimination, by format – whatever. There should be only these restrictions – no pay, 0K (meaning it doesn't affect your rating) and no prizes. Version 2 of MTGO used to let you set up your own drafts – I don't see this as being much different. The reason this is so very important to the equation is the problems of matching and pairing members online is so incredibly painful in a chat room; - even after you've become a pro at it, that removing that pain will vastly increase the effectiveness at preparing a newbie for a real, sanctioned tournament.

2. Queues can't take multiple inputs

I don't think people understand what a deal breaker this for MTGO in its current incarnation. It is especially poignant for trying to fire all the out-of-print draft queues WoTC has taken to running. Let's use as an example, the latest Mirage Visions Weatherlight queue that was recently brought back into the system. Now, none of those packs have been available in the store for some time. While there are still packs floating around out there, WoTC is fully aware that for the vast majority of people, there are no packs. So they make what is called a nix-pax (no packs) queue. What you pay instead is 12 tickets (it is 15 in other cases) and you join the queue, and wait for 7 more people to join. What you win is some amount of MVW packs. With those, you can go in the other queue - a nix-tix queue that requires no event tickets and one of each pack. And wait for 7 more people to do the same. Notice the problem? If there aren't any packs to buy, and the nix-pax queue only pays out 4/4/3 or 3/4/4 of the packs required, you have a massive inefficiency.

But suppose (and I know this is crazy thinking here) that in order to enter a MVW queue, you could use either one of each pack or 12 tickets? I know, I know… I want to run down the streets naked too, it's such an epiphany. The queues would fire much faster, as instead of essentially needing 16 people before both fire, they'd simply fire the one more often. Last time I looked, people hated waiting. Sadly, the MTGO back end is unable to handle such a queue at the present.

I do want to add, that if such a queue existed, it would have been very easy to avoid all the complaining with the Alara block queues accepting only block packs in one queue and the old ARB entry on the other. It might have been perfectly acceptable on both ends to make a queue that accepted a block pack as a replacement for any or all of the ARB packs as entry, until the supply of ARB packs had dried up.

1. Chat & The Dock

Ah the dock. The dock is representative of pretty much everything that is wrong with the MTGO client – it's built poorly an embedded deeply into the system. Let's forget, for the moment, everything else that is wrong with MTGO – I would bet my user experience on the client would be 200% better if only the chat boxes I'm typing in would simply flash or otherwise have some indicator that somebody had typed something new into a chat window to me. It's like the people who designed the chat interface figured nobody would ever need to be able to hold multiple conversations at the same time. Give me back my blinking green name tabs!

The dock itself is so ill-conceived that it ought to be in textbooks on what never to do. The inability to control pretty much any facet of it – from the ordering of the tabs at the bottom or the terrible size controls, right down to the fact it often will cut off one-line text displays – owww, it hurts so much just thinking about all the problems, much less trying to write it out, that instead I think I will take an Advil and go bang my head against a wall for a while. 

Despite all its problems though, MTGO still works – an amazing feat on its own, really. But I think that several years after its release, its time to start looking for a rapid pace of improvements.

Get on it, WoTC :)

80 Comments

yes , it me again.. by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 02:36
Anonymous's picture

I have a few more (that are not Leagues)

1. why can't i open the draft room and the seald room ? , i want to check both of them AT THE SAME FRIKKIN TIME>......... but no... its way to complex to implant (really what the problem opening multiple rooms )

2. Why when i save a draft deck and edit it on the deck editor i can't do it on the 2nd draft without getting a weird error , now i have to log out , log in and load the deck - thats just lame , very lame

3. why i can't my drafted deck right away and i get kicked from trade when i do it, i have to log out and log in to be able to do it.

The "scenes" by dangerlinto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 09:58
dangerlinto's picture

Yes, the "scenes" concept is dumb. It's actually a part of the dock interface, but then I think it probably merits it's own number. I would like to have the TP and the events rooms opened too.

I believe the 2nd thing you listed is a bug with the deck editor and for sure the 3rd thing you listed is a bug with the collection server.

Clicklag. do you want to play by xhokehold (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 03:15
xhokehold's picture

Clicklag.

do you want to play first? YES
do you want to play first? YEEEESSSS
do you want to play first? YEEEESSSSS
..mulligans to 6
..mulligans to 5

:=0(

Done that been there by Paul Leicht at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 03:47
Paul Leicht's picture

Done that been there lol...Though USUALLY it doesn't mull for me unless I get too impatient. And it seems to not be lag but an actual interface error.

haha, soo very true! I don't by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 05:17
Anonymous's picture

haha, soo very true! I don't know how many time's I've done that. You have to be SO careful not to mulligan unintentionally.

Agreed, this turns into an by h_b_k_02 (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:42
h_b_k_02's picture

Agreed, this turns into an auto refund every time, but this would really piss me off if it happened in T8 of a big event.

funny thing about this: I by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:00
Anonymous's picture

funny thing about this: I have complained about this multiple times, to different orcs, and to customer service through email. Each time i am told the same thing. Any lag is on my end, and there is no clicklag for the go first button ever.
So after they fix the clicklag (not that they ever will), it would also be nice to see a public apoligy to all the people whom they lied to about the cause.

Never happened to me like by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 03/03/2010 - 10:12
Anonymous's picture

Never happened to me like that, but I usualy have to click yes or no twice. I click once and then wait a few sec. If it doesn't work after a few sec I click again. I never had to click more then twice. Hope this helps.

It shouldn't work like that by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 03/04/2010 - 14:18
Anonymous's picture

It shouldn't work like that however. There was a 3 day sweet spot when they finally fixed that bug, then new content was released and now it's back to the same old tripe. IF WotC wants MTGO to succeed (massively, not marginally), these kinds of bugs and the fixed Dangerlinto is suggesting is the key.

LOL!! by Anonymous (not verified) at Wed, 03/03/2010 - 15:08
Anonymous's picture

LOL!!

About fucking time, well done by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 03:42
Anonymous's picture

About fucking time, well done indeed. -svg

Love this article... by MechtaK at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 03:44
MechtaK's picture
5

As to #2, I have always wondered why, if you have a store online, and you want to play an event for which you don't have cards/tickets (aside from the fact that you can get stuff cheaper from internet stores), you have to go to the store, buy the items, then return to the event. Wait. They're all on the same system! Why can't I just click to join an event, and it gives me the option to buy the said items if I don't have them by loading them into my cart? There are a ton of things on MTGO like this that really bug me. Put all the functions onto the same platform, then don't allow them to interact in a smart way. Instead, it's kind of a stupid system platform, where one hand doesn't know what the other is doing, when a smart system would link all these functional systems together. Honestly, I have no idea why it was necessary to put the WotC Store online when the only thing you can do with it is exactly what we did with in in 2.0, go online, buy the items, wait for them to arrive, and THEN join the event.

Oh yeah, and leagues. I need leagues. But let's face it, leagues aren't as profitable and therefore will be knocked to the back burner time and again. I've already consigned it to Vaporware.

Leagues are great when you by mullaccm (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 05:11
mullaccm's picture

Leagues are great when you don't have five+ hours to sit and play a sealed tourney. So now WotC gets almost zero money from me for limited play. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who spends less on sealed type events. There are a lot of people out there who want a sealed event without the huge time constraint.

Agreed by dangerlinto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:01
dangerlinto's picture

The "you need this" interface should allow you to buy right then and there. The separation of the store from the rest of the program, in terms of GUI (you notice you can't be in the store and go to ANYTHING else without closing the store - though it remembers your cart, thankfully) is a rather poor GUI decision.

FireBall...X Spells by Cheetoe (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 04:13
Cheetoe's picture

I would like to spend...1 clicks, 2 clicks, 3 clicks, 4 clicks, ... 20 clicks for X. Holy mommy its a pain to spend all that mana if you have more then 10 mana to spend. Heck you would think you could at least just have a modifier to SPEND it ALL. My poor mice are costing me more then my cards at this point.

X spells by aahz77 (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 08:42
aahz77's picture

There's a solution for that one. Simply click on the X spell (to cast it) BEFORE you float the mana. In that case, the client will ask you to pay {R} + {X} (+ {1} for each additional target in the case of a Fireball). The first mana (red) will be used for the "R" portion, any additional mana you draw from lands will be directly used for the "X" portion.

By the way, it's always more useful to click any spell before tapping for mana, as you can always click "CANCEL" - the lands you already tapped will automatically untapped (and even unsacrificed, e.g. Barbarian Ring / Lotus Petal &c, because the previous game state is restored in that case). The spell will be cast when you fulfill the complete mana cost.

This actually doesn't always by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:07
Anonymous's picture

This actually doesn't always work. Crypt of Agadeem is a relevant example, and sometimes, for reasons unknown to me, I have to click for just generic, normal mana, especially in Commander games even when nothing is in play that would modify mana in way.

ok, how does one open the by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 04:19
Anonymous's picture

ok, how does one open the client twice on the same computer?

Opening the client twice by Amar at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 04:57
Amar's picture

Go into the folder that launches MTGO. There's kicker.exe which you normally run, and then there's another executable. Kicker is the updater, which gets the latest version of the client and then launches the actual program. Built into kicker is code to watch for a version already running. But the program itself doesn't actually check.

So run the other program and it will bypass the updater and let you open a second. But only do that for the second program. If you do it every time you'll never update and it won't work.

(Apologies for not naming the actual file right now, I'm on the wrong computer and going off the top of my head.)

The file name is by dangerlinto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:01
dangerlinto's picture

MTGO_NET.exe

Thanks so much guys, I had an by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 14:24
Anonymous's picture

Thanks so much guys, I had an old account I never used which I knew had some tix on it, so I transferred them along with the M10 booster they give to new accounts over my main account. Then I figured, what the hey I'll crack the M10 pack....low and behold Baneslayer!!

Makes me glad by dangerlinto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 14:30
dangerlinto's picture

That if that's the only good thing that comes out of this article, ever - I'll still think it was worth it.

The other thing I'd ban... by Longshot356 at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 06:03
Longshot356's picture

If we're going to ban the great casual debate because its both pointless and tedious then I would ban MOANING ABOUT MTGO on the same grounds.

Sure its not perfect; you know it, I know it, WOTC knows it. But it allows me to play magic if I don't feel like schlepping all the way to some fragrance-challenged card store.

To be honest I'm amazed its works so well considering the almost infinite card interactions but then maybe I'm just a glass half full kind of guy.

There will be a new version soon. It will (probably) be better but you can bet your bottom tix that people will carry on moaning about it, just as soon as they've finished their first argument over whether its fair to play Maelstrom Pulse in the Casual Room.

Hey. You can play magic on your laptop. Wow!

Ted

I totally understand this, I by JustSin at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:19
JustSin's picture

I totally understand this, I think while its so obvious to everyone whats wrong with the game we rarely acknowledge what's right with it.. the fact that it can use those thousands of cards and keep rules straight and interactions correct (in most cases, I know there are sometimes exceptions) is pretty awesome

I really wish I could sort by GainsBanding (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 06:22
GainsBanding's picture

I really wish I could sort the collection to just show me all my cards that aren't being used in any of my decks. That way I'd know it was safe to trade away old random extras. But I guess the collection hand has no idea what the decks hand is doing.

about draft queue's by Morkje (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 07:12
Morkje's picture

An option I would like to have is joining multiple drafts, and only playing the one that starts first.

Sometimes there ar 5/6 people in both the 4-3-2-2 en swiss queue.
I wouldnt mind playing either one, but have to choose.
I could enter both if I have the packs, but then i'd risk playing both at the same time if the second fills up while I am truying to leave the queue.

Just let us join, and automaticly leave the other queue we are in.

Spoilers by urzassedatives (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 09:04
urzassedatives's picture

Clarification on your comment about spoilers - Gatherer releases all the cards in new sets on the Friday before every prerelease. WoTC isn't hiding spoilers from anyones eyes after that point.

The thing about a beta test starting on the weekend of the prerelease is:
-Clashes with the prerelease
-Something like that starting on a weekend?

I do think that starting it the Monday after a prerelease is fine though.
When did WWK beta start anyway?

dangerlinto's picture

So cut that back to Friday, and cut out the 4 days that normally occur before the final build (which goes into production the Wednesday before prerelease), put a special build up on Friday morning and presto - one week saved.

PRE's by jamuraa at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:24
jamuraa's picture
4
As someone who runs a PRE practically every week, I have to disagree with your assessment that having a player-initiated PRE system will work. There are so many things that go into a PRE that you can't do with the current system, like being able to late enroll a player if they show up late, and having to disqualify a player based on not showing up for their match on time, or maybe just having them lose a round, or having them have to change their deck because they didn't understand the construction rules. There are lots of extenuating circumstances which make PREs a lot more like a real-life tournament than a MTGO tournament simply because it is run by a real person. Also, the restriction that there should be no prizes makes a PRE a lot less fun - I give prizes every week (including a door prize for people who play the whole way through for fun) and I think that there would be less participation if there were no prizes at all. (Full disclosure - PureMTGO sponsors a bunch of tournaments as well, and I could be construed as associated with this site) Pairing players and announcing matches is not hard at all if you have a copy of DCI-R, and there are some programs to help out. I actually have a bot that I use myself and will be releasing in the next week which posts results, pairings, and does registration all through a chat room.
as jam stated, as long as you by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:35
Anonymous's picture

as jam stated, as long as you have a copy of DCI-R to run on your computer then the hosting parts as far Pairings, results, and standings are simple. Not to mention you can alternate between Single elim and swiss for each tournament.

You're not understaning... by dangerlinto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 14:05
dangerlinto's picture

Jamuraa - I too have run MANY PREs. In fact I wrote the first article on them here a couple of year ago.

What PREs need is to get away from manual pairing via some guy in a chat room with DCI-R. And no- it's not hard for YOU, but it's a major impediment to getting enw players to participate in them - the constant questions, the repeated mistakes ("oops I forgot to make it a match, what do we do now", "Oh I didn't know it was supposed to be a timed game"). Even the constant "what are the standings? - Ok if I beat player x and he loses in 3 games to play Y, will I make top 8?"

A very simple PRE system will go a long way to making PREs work far better than they do now.

As for prizes - you can feel free to give away prizes for whatever you want - it is only the SYSTEM that won't give away prizes (you know, like a sanctioned event does). For example, if you want to have a PRE where the winner gets a Foil that's great - but the system won't pay that out - you will. Just like PREs today.

PREs are crazy underreprsented on MTGO. I hope you haven't become comfortable with the status quo.

The Money isn't talking by ArchGenius at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:02
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5

Does WotC really need to listen to the complaints of us die-hard fans? Anybody who reads or writes a decent amount of Magic Online articles is probably not going to quit because of lousy service in several areas of Magic Online.

In my mind this is especially true when you are talking about several fairly expensive software fixes. Sure we'd all like WotC to change these things and I'm sure WotC are working on several of these areas, but most of us are not going to significantly change our spending habits because we're grumbling and complaining about all of the things that Magic Online does poorly.

Magic Online is not a great program and I think few of us play it because of its ease of use and user interface. Most of us play it because we love the game and love the convenience of it, even if we're grumbling and complaining all the way to the Magic Online store.

In the end, I think changing these things would help grow the community and make Magic Online more attractive to new players, but I don't think any of us have any way of quantifying potential new player growth in a reasonably way that would make WotC think about changing their budget from what they are currently doing.

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Happy customers are paying customers. And the whole point of the article was to bring to light changes that are all both doable and either barriers to more dollars or gateway to more dollars from MTGO.

Are they really doable? by ArchGenius at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 15:56
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"10. Three weeks late – prereleases are postreleases"
I'm sure this could be done, but WotC is very worried about leaks and anything that jeopardizes that will be heavily scrutinized.

"9. Classifieds – or should I say _____.CLASSIFIEDS._____"
Months ago I remember someone from WotC say that it might be possible to implement a feature with the classifieds where they would bring people on your buddy list to the top of the listings. They have so far been unable to make even this small improvement. What makes you think they are capable of doing all of the stuff you would like them to do with the classifieds?

"8. Buddies and Block list – the world is not as black and white as enemies and allies"
I can see this requiring a bit of programming and with the current system it would clog up the interface quite a bit until the user interface redesign is implemented.

"7. The collection binder – putting all your eggs in one basket"
Once again, I think this would require a significant effort in the programming department, and it's still much much much easier to construct a deck online and manage your cards online than it is with real paper cards.

"6. The "Casual" Room – what is Casual?"
This is the easiest fix in your list. However I don't think anything can stop people from complaining about who they are matched up against. You can't make everyone happy with this issue no matter how you slice it.

"5. Clans – needs more Scottish symbols and caber-tossing"
It would require a lot of programming and testing to improve clans in any significant way. Why bother when hardly anyone uses clans to begin with. It is not directly related to the money making events that WotC provides. (Yes, I'm playing devil's advocate here)

"4. PEs A trifecta of problems."
WotC is already working on redesigning the user interface. I think we're just going to have to wait for it.

"3. PRE (Player-run Event) Support – read: almost none"
If PREs become more popular, wouldn't they start to pull people away from sanctioned tournaments? After all most of us have limits to the ammount of time we have to spend playing Magic Online.

"2. Queues can't take multiple inputs"
I want this more than anyone, but I think this is just beyond WotC's capabilities at the moment. I was told that even something as simple as switching 2-man queue prize payouts to even out the ammount of Zendikar and Worldwake packs from week to week would be something that would be difficult to implement. I would understand if a WotC employee told me it was something that may not want to do for various reasons, but they said it would be difficult to implement, meaning there is very very very little that WotC can do in this reguard. I think it's hard enough to get WotC to change tournament prizes to what they should be in the first place when a new set comes out. Multiple options for entrance fees is something that WotC would do if they were capable of doing it with their current resources.

"1. Chat & The Dock"
Hopefully the user interface redesign will fix this. Either way, it's something they are already working on, so why harp too loudly about it.

It's more complicated than "happy customers are paying customers" Economics plays a lot into it. Most brick and mortar card shops could make their paying customers a lot happier by adding Leather recliners, poker felt tables, and huge wide screen televisions to their shops. However that's probably not a real great investment for them.

On the contrary by Amar at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:59
Amar's picture

"If PREs become more popular, wouldn't they start to pull people away from sanctioned tournaments?" - ArchGenius

My (I suppose anecdotal) evidence from playing in and hosting PREs for a while now would actually suggest the opposite. Players who want more than a random casual game but are nervous about putting money on the line will venture into a PRE. Playing that a while gives them a sense of how good they are, lets them learn about adjusting to a metagame, enables risk-free practice of different ideas, and generally makes them more comfortable with the idea of competing.

The next move from there is to go enter sanctioned tournaments. I know numerous people who used to PRE regularly and now are occasional at best because they're busy with queues and dailies and such. The opposite, tournament junkies who decide to settle for the small-prize environment of PREs, is virtually unheard of.

Which is why I would go further than this and say Wizards should regularly host free tournaments. Remember the "apology" tournaments about a year ago? The Sealed was a disaster, which anyone who knows math was predicting, as anyone went up 6 packs by joining and dropping. But the day before, for a fraction of that cost, were 4 excellent Standard tournaments. The environment was friendly, many of the people were first-time tournament participants, and the prizes were nice enough to be appreciated but not sufficiently appealing to attract sharks. That experience was the best "encourage people to play tournaments" introduction that I could imagine.

Despite waiting some 9 months before anything even remotely similar (Momir) there was a similar appeal to that event. I think this is pretty strong evidence that they could have a Constructed tournament once a month which is free to enter and offers prizes that would be a rounding error on their promotional budget. And it would appeal to that low level of the Tournament Pyramid where players are curious about more but not ready to drop $30 on an 0-2 drop experience.

Surely Wizards should support PREs more. But this is within their power to do right now, would remain 100% under their control, and would be a powerful way to reach a segment of the audience that couldn't care less about PTQs.

Thank you Amar for your reply by ArchGenius at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 20:32
ArchGenius's picture

Thank you Amar for your reply to my comments. They have definitely brightened my mood. I have been very pessimistic about improvements to Magic Online lately.

Does wotc need to cater to us by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:05
Anonymous's picture

Does wotc need to cater to us die hard fans?
YES
We are the ones who bring new people in, we are the ones who write about mtgo all over the internet, we are the core of mtgo.

I thought I was a die hard... turns out I'm easy in the end ;) by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 19:37
Anonymous's picture

"Does WotC really need to listen to the complaints of us die-hard fans? Anybody who reads or writes a decent amount of Magic Online articles is probably not going to quit because of lousy service in several areas of Magic Online."

The poor state of MTGO actually got me to quit. I stuck around through V 2.0 and played all through the rocky start of 3.0. I wrote numerous posts on various message boards and took part in BETA testing set releases. Then one day I realized I was overpaying and they were underdelivering. There was not a critical event - it was a "It's been how long and this thing is still a POS - this will never change". This is my first visit back to a Magic website since I quit.

I have spent $0.00 on magic since the end of Alara Block - according to my february statement I had 3251 lifetime MOPR (so relative lightweight I guess).

In short MTGO converted me from paper to digital then dropped me at the curb. Was a fun ride but the smell of the mules pulling the cart (at the cost of renting a Ferrari) eventually drove me away.

I wish all of you the best with your hobby dollars. There are definitly companies that are more responsive and better prepared to maximize your dollars - but magic is fun....

RE #1 Wizards has been adding by iceage4life at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:10
iceage4life's picture

RE #10 Wizards has been adding new sets to gatherer on the Friday before the prerelease recently. I think starting it that weekend is a good idea but brings up another issue.

Wizards runs a 24/7 business but does not support it as such. Weekend support has always been sketchy which is frankly unacceptable and is why I don't see them starting a beta on the weekend. Wizards I'm pretty sure is making money hand over fist on this product and should spend some of that on weekend support when there are the most players and the least support.

I am on the same line as by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 12:01
Anonymous's picture

I am on the same line as longshot. You are on the client to play the game, and are you playing yes. Why sit and nitpick so may little things, when what you are on there for is to play. The client works fine.

As to the 3 week lag on by Calavera (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 12:26
Calavera's picture

As to the 3 week lag on releases... I'd like to add a couple thoughts..

First off I think that they should definitely start the beta same day as Prerelease (or that monday since no one wants to work saturdays)

Second, I'd like to see the "mtgo prerelease" start at most the weekend after the real release.

Third, Cards from the MTGO pre-release should not be playable in constructed tourneys till the actual release date. It is just silly, they don't do this in paper.

fourth, during pre-release the cards should also not be guaranteed bug free. i.e. no compensation requests for errors prior to the actual release. This could cut down on the beta time as they will get free testing from a much larger segement during pre-release.

A couple other things by Mathu (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:34
Mathu's picture

Great article, I agree there are a lot of good and bad things with the current system, and you'll never be able to solve everyones problems. A couple other things I would like to see changed would be:

Adding some extra game types, or another layer of drop down for game types. I play a lot of standard pauper in the casual rooms, and it is tough to get another standard pauper opponent (even though there are quite a few out there). You can either play a standard game and put in the game description "pauper" or play a pauper game description "standard". Either way, you will probably get the game you want less than 50% of the time, because no one reads game descriptions. Having a Format menu and a Set Legality menu (so you could select "pauper" and Standard" or "commander" and "extended") would make my life easier.

As far as the casual room goes, I think there should just be an extra room or two, so you could have "levels". Some people want to play their Vamp or Jund list in a single game or with a few suboptimal tweaks that they particularly like, others like to play budget or "theme" decks. I think everyone's enjoyment level would go up if they could more accurately select the level of deck they want to play against.

And bring back leagues. (even if that goes against the title of the article).

Bravo by enkogneto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:35
enkogneto's picture

Let's revolt!

I say fix the freaking lag by Raddman at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 14:15
Raddman's picture

I say fix the freaking lag first, then move onto bigger things.

While all those things suck, nothing pisses me off more than Lag!

That draft thing is so spot on, last night I joined a med123 draft with nix packs. I sat in the queue and watched as the nix tix draft fired. I guess I could of paid 16 tickets and bought the packs, but I think 15 tickets was enough (I scrubbed out, but luckily pulled Underground Sea!)

I also agree on the casual debate.......Can we rename the room to "I have nothing better to do with my free time other than whine about which cards you are playing."

Great Article Danger......let's see if anyone listens.

Show us what your doing please... by JL (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 16:07
JL's picture

I would love to know what they working on and how they are prioritizing. It wouldn't even have to be months/years off. Just show us what's coming up in the queue. Of course, they will bend towards money-making features, but it'd be nice to know that they may be listening to our issues and be planning for them.

Or am I sniffing too much glue again?

In talking with WoTC guys by dangerlinto at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 16:09
dangerlinto's picture

I can tell you that they told me the list of things WoTC would like to do is longer than any list we'd come up with. And I believe them.

Back in the day when we had by Doctor Anime at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 17:30
Doctor Anime's picture
5

Back in the day when we had 3D avatars I loved my Stalking Tiger portrait. Now my favorite avatar's calm and cool gaze has been replaced by another tiger's look of surprise, fear, and constipation. Where's the justice?!

one thing i wouldnt mind by Wizard not of the coast (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 17:54
Wizard not of the coast's picture

one thing i wouldnt mind seeing, though no-one has mentioned it, so maybe i am alone.... a way to delete or shred cards from my binder

stupid 850 snow swamps, maybe i drafted med2 too much

Agreed, though if they do by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:10
Anonymous's picture

Agreed, though if they do this i hope they put a few stops to make sure it doesnt happen accidently.

For the last 6 months or so, I have been marking my excess commons for trade and giving them away to new players (pretty easy to tell when someone is new). I have given away well over 1000 commons, made some new buddys this way too.

I'll take 20 of them from by Raddman at Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:29
Raddman's picture

I'll take 20 of them from you, see me in game if you are serious (ImpinAintEasy is my sn)