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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
May 02 2008 11:31am
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Table of Contents
Editorial Section
MTGO Discussion Items
Card Prices

Week #1
Week #2
Week #3

Week #1

The biggest topic in the MTGO world right now is V3.  There is a LOT to talk about in regards to V3, so I'm going to give it its own section for a while.  This section will compile the guides, FAQ's, How to's, technical help, and discussion items that have been covered so far.

I write this article throughout the week, which means that it's possible that I'll grab something that is either obsoleted or changed by the time this goes to print.  So I'll make this into a travel log so you can see how things progress throughout this week and hopefully provide a frame of reference for when information was added.  Feel free to bookmark this article for a synopsis of the first week of V3's life. 

Prior to Monday April 13th 2008-
The servers went down Wednesday morning at about 3 minutes after the hour.  Guler got the last word in the /join BBS room which was quite appropriate: "{y}".  The Cas/Cas room was complete chaos and had to be muted by a WotC.  And now we wait...

In regards to the boards... things have been quieter than I expected.  There was a bit of backlash from the seemingly lack of warning of the servers being shut down.  Although, once you started to enumerate the ways that it was attempted to be communicated it didn't seem so bad.  It's possible that a mass email in addition to the in game announcement, the login announcement and the Adepts warning people may not have been a bad idea at all.  Once that was covered things died down with only a few reports of installation issues.   So far we've had a few complete attacks on WotC, other members but they subsided quite quickly. 

Monday, April 14th 2008 -
There seems to be some issue with the .Net installer or version being installed for some people.  One of the most frequent fixes for the players has been to upgrade their .Net framework.  Section 3.7 of this post describes how to do so.  I'm not sure what's the deal with these errors.  If they're a problem with the installer or possibly something on people's machines, or likely a combination.  It's certainly strange though.  On the plus side though this will mean that everyone will have .Net and will be able to run the League Exporter without any excess installation requirements.  So that's good.

Tuesday, April 15th 2008 -
Another update by Worth and an update compilation thread.  Updates have been compiled here.  It seems as if some unexpected troubles popped up but were handled by the development team.  Latest update says that the earliest it will be up is late Wednesday night but more likely Thursday some time.  Emotions are running high and it sure seems like patience is wearing thing on both sides.  More and more snapping seems to be happening from both sides of every discussion.  The MTGO boards also got a couple more VCL's to help during the expected rush of complaints once V3 is actually live.  bubba0077 and SkullOnAStick have been named VCL's for the time being, and I certainly welcome the help and experience these two bring to the table... even if one is just a skull on a stick and doesn't know about such things.

Wednesday, April 16th 2008 -
The earliest that V3 could be up is later tonight, with a much more likely possibility of tomorrow.  There's more activity on the MTGO boards than I've ever seen, and not just in the V3 threads but everywhere and in every discussion.  I'm very happy for that.  I've seen some pretty interesting debates lately because of this influx of posters and I hope that some of them stay. 

Well, the servers went up early today.  About 11:45am PDT actually.  The servers were up and there were a lot of questions from the players in the rooms.  Where are my decks?  What's with the font?  etc, etc, etc... things that many of us have been trying to prepare people for for quite some time.  Seems like it didn't help a lot, but then again, maybe it'd be worse if we didn't do anything.  Hard to say, but whatever, V3 is up!  Well, it WAS up until about an hour ago now... looks like a bug kicked some users and WotC kicked the rest, just to even things up or something.  But they're pushing a new 'quick' release candidate.  I'm not optimistic about it staying up either, honestly.  But maybe I'm wrong.  I hope so.  I'm done requesting forum locks, merges and stuff for a little while and things seem to be slowing down again on the boards.  Here's hoping V3.0.7.2 fares better than its predecessor. 

And, my hopes have been dashed as this newest version is kicking people out randomly.  Time to head to bed.

Thursday, April 17th 2008 -
And we are still down from last night, and the boards are finally doing what I expected, which in a word: a'splodin'.  Anger, frustration, complaints and attacks are flying around like spaghetti in a food-fight.  WotC really, really, REALLY needed the release to go somewhat smoothly to hope to save some face and start to build up some credibility with software deployement.  Sadly, that hasn't happened yet.  They correctly kept the launch yesterday as a low key event, and even still, that has caused a lot of backlash against the program and the company.  I think this was a good thing for them to do, but even this stuttered start has hurt them a bit.  V3 is scheduled to be back up later today, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for WotC.  They really need to start racking up wins.

Update #1
The boards are mellowing a little bit, still a lot of complaints though, and many of them are completely legit.  Of course.. some are not so legit... like wanting to charge WotC for smashing their mouse in anger.  Not so much.  We're still down, but that's to be expected I guess since the earliest we were looking at the servers being brought up was 'after lunch' in WotC land.

Update #2

So now we've been up for a few hours.  No crash, no lag (for me) lots of complaints about the text and UI, etc in the game itself.. yet 1100+ people in the casual room and a lot of games being played despite the complaints.  If this build works out maybe we can start to look at getting some fixes in with these fix packs.  I still have the issue of not being able to join /join bbs or /join puremtgo though, and from what I've seen, I'm not alone.  I'll do one more update Friday morning before this article goes live, hopefully V3 will stay up all night and I'll have good things to report!  I would classify this as a 'win'.  A good recovery from yesterdays 'not a crash' that kicked the users out.

Friday, April 18th 2008 -We've been up for over 12 hours, no crashes and no actual lag.  I just read that they're going to do a 'draft lottery' today to test the drafts before they think about turning them on for real.  This will certainly be interesting.  I also read that the fix to the font size will very likely be done this next week.  Something nice that I didn't notice up front but is now evident: they removed the idle timeout disconnect.  I've been in V3, doing nothing for 12 hours straight.  Just like I used to do long long ago...   Also, there's good news for you multiplayer folks.  According to Dhuse, there will be a lot of improvements in the first service pack that address the Multiplayer issues.  Maybe you can bribe a beta tester to let you know what they look like if they are shown to the beta testers next week.  *grin*

Week #2

Saturday & April, 19th & 20th 2008 -
A new change is pushed through on Saturday to fix the settings not remembering what you've changed.  There servers are down for a couple of hours for this change but seem to be brought back up on time and without issues.  So far, there have been no crashes at all.  Sure, we're only a few days into V3, but I think it's safe to say that many people expected V3 to crash and burn once it was turned on to real users.  Thankfully that has yet to happen.  It's perhaps one of the most encouraging signs of the whole V3 launch that the servers have indeed remained solid and lag free since Thursday morning when they turned them on.

Monday, April 21st 2008 -
S. o. l. i. d.  What's that spell?  V3!  (well, so far anyway).  Seriously though, we're still moving along well as far as the servers are concerned.  Worth has posted some updates on what to expect in the very near future and two of the biggest items are coming up quickly.  First, the text being too small.  That's being fixed this week.  Wednesday should show us the results of this change.  The second is optimization that should help people with machines closer to the minimum requirements.  Beta should also be starting this week, which will also have more information about what tweaks we can expect to see in the near future.

Tuesday, April 22nd 2008 -
This is more like it.  I like having a day when there's nothing really important to report.  A few more like that and I can bring this section back to a regular column again!

Wednesday, April 23rd 2008 -
Downtime today, and it went a little longer than expected.  However, we did get the chat font size fix (yay!) and with it a lot easier to read text than before.  Especially if you've modified your client to have a white background. I've already detailed how to do this here.  However, I'll add some more recent updates in the editorial section.  Anyway, back to what happened in the V3 world today...  The Shadowmoor beta invites went out and boy is that a fun set.  I'm happy to see that it's pretty far along already with very few card bugs to be seen.  There are a few, which alway happens in the first few weeks of beta, but overall, things are progressing well.

Thursday, April 24th 2008 -
V3 Beta is still going and more people are figuring out how to get into the new beta boards.  It makes sense that it's now under the Gleemax umbrella, as it's a Gleemax service and all.  So far so good.  The WotC boards are down today to fix an issue with threads opening 'blank'.  Weird.  Still no real crash to report on, which has left quite a few people stunned.  Including me.  I had fully expected a big crash where something was overlooked or some item was not thought of... and yet, I've been disappointed.  But in a good way.  I'm happy that my fears were wrong, since that would have incited anarchy on the boards... for sure.

Week #3

Friday, April 25th 2008 -
We had some free PE's, which made people angry for various reasons (some legit, some... not so much).  The PayPal not working for some random folks seems to have carried over from V2.  And they're working on it, still, I guess.  The PE's seemed to be bugged quite a bit with playing and cutting to the top 8.  Poor Emo PE's.  Cutting doesn't solve everything...

Saturday/Sunday, April 26th and 27th 2008 -
We get some more information about the PE issues as well as build notes for build which was slated to fix:

  • Fix for the Prize Eligibility reset issue.
  • An initial fix for the tradable quantity corruption issue.
  • More database performance enhancements.
  • More fixes for null reference client crashes.
  • Fix for the trade related memory leak.

And it fixed four out of five.  Unfortunately, fixing something in there caused a lot of other DB issues.  Or, even if it didn't cause them, it brought them to light... but more on that later!

Monday, April 28th 2008 -
We get Client version today and it fixes a few things, which was awesome.  Until the new bugs showed up.  New bugs like only being able to do one trade and then having to log out.  Bugs like showing the wrong number of items due to a client->server refresh issue.  But this is only the beginning of the DB->Client fun... Also, the Prize Eligibility fix, didn't so much 'fix'.

Tuesday, April 29th 2008 -
The next build should have the fix for the Prize Eligibility.  Really really this time, no foolins.  There are problems with trading still, and it's really starting to impact the availability of cards.  Although, some are still able to get around this and buy/sell and play.

Wednesday, April 30th 2008 -
And here is where the dooky hits the fan, so to speak.  A number of users suddenly can't see ANY of their cards.  As in, all gone!  This causes enough of a stir that they bring the servers down to fix the issue.  On restart, they run into troubles.  What kind of troubles?  DB Cleanup troubles.  So they wave off the restart until it's done and they start the servers back up.  Stable again, but still with the trade issues before.  The cards and collections were still on the servers, just invisible to the owners.  Still, a huge problem.  The good news from today is that the Client will no longer download all the store catalog by default now (making the initial login a bit faster for broadband and a lot faster for dialup users!)

Thursday, May 1st 2008 -
So the build that was supposed to go out today has been postponed until they can roll in some fixes for the new trading bugs that were introduced with the fix to the trading memory leak.  Confused yet?  Good!  There's been no ETA on the next patch.  The silver lining to this is that due to the server setup the only time they should ever need to bring the system down is for updates, which should also mean less downtime every week, once things get stable, that is.


Project Management 101 (kinda)

Someone was wondering about how close MTGO V3 is to MTGO V2 when it was shut off, in terms of feature to feature comparisons. Mostly under the assertion that V2 would be just as stable with the current functionality as V3 is right now.  And that got me thinking.  I don't know how much is different now... but it's pretty easy to find out!

So, based on where V2 was left at the time of the change over we're about 62% back, feature wise.  Note that that isn't weighted for the amount missing of each piece.  Meaning that PE's are marked as 'no' even though they're almost done and Leagues are marked as no even though they're months away.  It's just a count of what features we had and what isn't working right now.  Also, if it exists it's listed.  So trading would be 'yes' to both, but that's a bit disenguous, as trading is borderline unusable right now.

So, I gave trading its own chart, and it's disturbing to say the least.

We're less than 50% back to where we were in regards to trading.  Ouch.  This is the reason that there's going to be a lot of anger around the Shadowmoor events if things don't get sorted out soon.

(Repeating this from last week)

I've also seen a lot (LOT) of complaints about V3.  Shock!  There are a lot of real concerns and things that need to be fixed.  However, there are still people who seem to have missed a lot of the ways to make things look 'better'.  Soooooo, I wanted to take a moment and compile meta list of guides, how to's, feature items, and what not. 

Make MTGO Look Better -
This guide provides step by step instructions for setting up MTGO to get the best graphical experience for your display type.  A great resource for those confused about why things look so blurry.

Troubleshooting FAQ -
Have a problem?  Check this first!  Many of the common problems you see with MTGO can be solved by following the instructions listed here.

MTGO FAQ: V3 Edition -
Essentially, a  list of the most frequent questions regarding V3 and MTGO in general.

V3 Feature List -
Before you create a thread to lament a lost feature, check this list!  There's a lot of good things that V3 CAN do, if you know to do them.

Show High Quality Art -
If your card can handle it, the 'quality' settings are a good thing to change.

Chat Codes -
We all know you're interested in typing in purple on the right side of the window, so there's no use denying it... check out this link for all the whacky ways to irritate your clanmates!


Foils, foils everywhere, but not a pack to crack...
I started a poll here: V3 FOIL POLL to get some feedback on something that I seem to be confused about.  When V3 was being beta tested, one of the most welcomed changes was the new foil effect.  Since the release of V3 however, there have been more and more complaints about the foils not remaining the same.  I thought that people generally liked the foils, but now I'm not so sure.  So I wanted to get some yes/no/maybe-so feedback in the form of a poll to see if there really is a majority on one side or the other.  All feedback in the thread is welcome of course, and I'll thank everyone in advance for voting!


V3 UI Design Contests:
I've written about client modifcations before, and it seems like more people are getting into it now.  There was a player 'bragging rights' competition, and now there's a fully funded UI skin competition with about $600 going to the winner.  You can get more details here.  I've already dedicated a full section to this before, so I won't repeat it all here.  But I will say this: there is a lot of room for modifications to the client through just the images available.  I've made the client much more palettable to myself and others with only a few hours of work, and I'm a scrubbly amatuer when it comes to UI stuff.  I look forward to what some people with real talent for it can accomplish.

Free stuff?
What would YOU like to see WotC do for a 'phree' stuff event/gesture?

Spending habits, post V3?
Some interesting discussion about the spending habits of posters since V3 launched.

Which card describes V3?
A fun contest about what card summarizes V3.  Give it a whirl!

Card economy in V3
Worth posted a statement in this thread that I feel should be read from top to bottom.  Good information for those worried about MTGO right now.

New Trade bugs
This hurts a lot.  Not just the dealers and bot owners, but the casual trading as well.  And even more so, trading at the release event will be majorly impacted.  They're running out of time to get this functionality squared away.

Why a profanity filter?

Someone recently got in trouble for typing profanity in the Casual/Casual room.  Which started a rather long debate about what the Profanity filter really means, what it applies to and how it works with the Code of Conduct.  Essentially, it boils down the to Code of Conduct hasn't changed.  Typing vulgarity anywhere is still prohibited.  Which makes the ability to toggle the option for seeing it seem strange to have.  However, it exists, but it doesn't change the fact that you can still be reported for swearing.

Leagues not starting for a while...
There's good news and bad news about Leagues right now.  The bad news: they probably won't be ready for beta testing for at least three months.  The good news?  A (hopefully) better pairing system.  Not too many people like to play their five counting matches against camping sharks, like the one caught on camera below... so hopefully this new method will minimize that experience!

The Thrifty Djinn!
DonTheMage has started a blog that was inspired by his desire to play MTGO on a "World of Warcaft" budget (which for those not used to the game is $30.00 up front and $15.00 dollars a month.  His blog is linked from the thread I've linked and looks to be a fantastic endeavor.

V3 and Multiplayer, revisted
I'm not sure what else is to be said about this topic, but you're welcome to read the thread and add your voice as you feel is necessary.


Bugs: Client

04-20-08 Can't /join rooms Closed
05-02-08 Trades don't update Collections properly Open

Bugs: Card Related

A great thread has been started here that has a lot of bugs in V3 listed and validated.  If you've seen any card bugs in V3, I'd love to see them posted (after they're submitted via the http://wizards.custhelp.com web form, of course!)


One step forward, and a kick in the man jewels back.  Or something.  They fixed the leak, score!.  Unfortunately for the villagers the fix for the leak caused the dam to implode.  Another emergency crew has been dispatched to the scene, and we're waiting for their feedback...

There may not be much movement in MTGO card prices, but I'm not one to let that stop me!  Since prices during the release times are loosely based off of paper prices I thought I'd grab some prices from the www.MTGOTraders.com partner www.StrikeZoneOnline.com as well www.rancoredelf.com (one of the moderators from mtgsalvation.com's forums).  Below has the top card name, the price at SZO and the price at RE so we can base the movement and differences as we go forward.  I also added the rough ticket value of the cards based on the highest price.  I'm interested in seeing how this pans out over time and how close these numbers are to the release numbers.  I've never tried anything like this before, so I'll be very interested to see what happens with all of this.

Card Name SZO RE *.85
Fulminator Mage 16.45 14.00 14
Vexing Shusher 13.99 12.00 12
Reflecting Pool 10.30 9.00 9
Wooded Bastion 9.98 8.00


Fire-Lit Thicket 10.11 8.00


Mystic Gate 9.65 8.00 8
Sunken Ruins 9.77 8.00 8
Wilt-Leaf Liege 7.81 8.00 7
Swans of Bryn Argoll 8.04 7.00 7
Oversoul of Dusk 5.24 6.50 5.5
Twilight Shepherd 3.79 6.50 5
Demigod of Revenge 8.89 6.00 7.5
Runed Halo 5.35 5.75 5

It looks like I have a new project with the Project Status update where I can track fixes, changes and modifications until we get back the functionality we're missing so far.  If I've missed anything, please let me know and I'll add it to the list!

Also, a quick update on some SP1 related stuff.  The fix for downloading less stuff on login seems to be working so far.  I've noticed a definite improvement in my load time, and I'm on DSL.  I expect that slower network players would see even greater benefits.