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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
May 15 2008 11:00pm
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Table of Contents
Editorial Section
MTGO Discussion Items
Card Prices

V3's First Month can be found here.  I'm going to cover the progress week to week, then break them into months so as to keep this section somewhat manageable.

Friday, May 9th 2008 through Monday May 12th -
And the SPaghett1 has hit the fan, so to speak. It was announced on Friday that SP1 was not going to be released during the week of May 12th.  Instead, they were going to start breaking down the patches into smaller weekly fixes.  There has been a lot of concern posted about this on the boards.  In an effort to keep this section as factual as possible, I've added my concerns to the Editorial Section.  After this announcement we haven't heard anything more about what fixes will be in the first week's patch.

Tuesday May 13th 2008-
Late in the evening we hear about what we will see in the first week of downtime, or what has been termed SP0.1.  To recap:

  • Upgrade to the communication layer between the servers and the database
  • Users won't have to log out after completing a trade to be sure of their collection and tradable quantities.

So, in theory, if all goes well we'll see nothing different but trading wont completely suck.  /me crosses his fingers...

Wednesday May 14th 2008-
Today we got the DB upgrade and client side tradeable quantitiy fix... and they missed.  It seems that either Gordon was mistaken with what was being patched today, or they were unable to see that trading tickets still doesn't work.  I'm not sure which one, and quite frankly I don't really care anymore.  The sad facts are that they continue to be unable to tell us what they're going to do and then do what they've told us.  Even a simple communication->execution like the two points above was unsuccessful...  I'm running out of words for these disappointments.


Drafts per hour


Here we have some data that shows the hourly averaged based upon a sort of random selection of data points between Friday and Monday.  This weekend, there was a peak early Sunday evening, Central Time.  I'll keep tracking these sporadic hourly numbers, as well as start to average longer timeframes all at once. 

Players per room



These numbers should be pretty easy to interpret.    Essentially it's in the same format as the chart above except instead of showing the drafts per hour it's showing the user numbers per room and in total.  It doesn't account for bots or players who idle at the home screen for some reason.  Again, these numbers feel a bit lower than V2 numbers... but I can't say for sure from here.  We'll want to watch these for a while to see where things go.

Active casual games


This chart is the number of active casual games running in the Casual Play/Casual Decks room.  It follows a similar curve as the previous two: low in the AM and peaks in the PM.  If I don't see any anomalies I may retire this chart soon.  It shouldn't take a chart to show that more players in the room means more casual games running.  I am looking at potential ways of parsing out how many of certain format games are running at a certain time.  Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a delimiter when you copy the data out of the program, so I'll have to keep digging and see if I can make that happen.


So, anything interesting to show thus far?  Actually, yes and no and they're both the same thing: there's virtually no change in drafting habits from V2 to V3!  V2's drafts were about 20/hour over the life of the program.  V3's stats: 22.76/hour so far.  So, despite the lack of redemption, and the trade hassles and the other issues that are aggrivating the WotC boards... things have remained the same with V3 as they were in V2.  Which is interesting, to say the least.

Fare thee well Service Pack 1, we hardly knew ye!

Well, to be technical, we have never known thee.  We heard rumors, whispered mumblings about your existence.  But like a ninja-robot of doom, you kill us (or more aptly, our spirits) with such skill and precision that you must be a robot-ninja...

For those who haven't heard yet, Service Pack 1 (or SP1) is being chopped into bite size morsels of patch-fixing goodness.  Allegedly.  As of Tuesday we haven't heard anything about what WILL be fixed now that SP1 has been drawn and quartered.  If I sound bitter about it, I might be.  But there's a time and a place for everything, and this is neither.  I will say though that breaking 167 fixes into smaller chunks seems like a better way to go, and technically, it should have been started earlier.  There are so many questions now that have yet to be answered.  Things like: will leagues be pushed even further back?  Will the Multiplayer fixes get pushed further back?  What happens to non-critical releases (things like Tempest and MED2)?  We don't know, and no one is saying, which leaves the results up to the imagination of the players.  And that is not a good thing to do after you released a product that isn't finished and your first 'fix' broke things worse than the first issue.  This is a time to be very precise and stick to the statements that you do make.  Instead, we get a change right before the go live of a major revision and then hear nothing for days afterwards.  This does not inspire confidence.  This does not help the word of mouth of your players and posters.  This does not bode well. 

According to Gordon Culp, the orginal crew of MTGO was not aware of the task, and they have now gained that comptenecy.  Which would be great if they hadn't already used that line about a year ago. In fact, I'd recommend re-reading that article to see just how repetitive this journey has become.  I won't quote it, as I think it speaks for itself quite well.  Also, the link in that article is broken and I can't find the mp3 on their site anymore.  I have a copy of it still, and it's about 53 Megs, so I don't know how I'd post it.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, the dissection of SP1.  The impact of this change hasn't been fully felt yet, the long reaching ramifications haven't fully been explored... but I'd prepare yourself for a lot more setbacks regarding important items if the handling of SP1 is any indication.




Last up for this week is an intersting post on the WotC boards.  I'm giving this its own Editorial chunk instead of a discussion item because, frankly, it's awesome.  A player put together an OpenGL version of an MTGO in 4 months.  Yep, that's months, not years.  Now, that's not to say that it's on par with MTGO in anything more than a game play sense.  Looking at what MTGO offers there's a lot of space between the two.  Things like thousands of players talking, trading, chating and finding one another, not to mention the administrative functions that the adepts have and whatnot, and the DB issues that come along with having owned Digital Objects.  However, what this does show is the speed that a new client could be produced by one person who could focus on it.  It certainly makes one wonder what was being done that created such a delay between the Sci Fi UI and the current one.  Especially considering that the core features (like the dock) were carried over.


V3 UI Design Contests:
I've written about client modifications 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 $1,000 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 palatable to myself and others with only a few hours of work, and I'm a scrubbly amateur when it comes to UI stuff.  I look forward to what some people with real talent for it can accomplish.

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!

Speaking of foils and the UI, I finalized a version of the static foil that I like far better than the default static foil.  It's located here, and here are the instructions to install it.

  • Right click on the link and select "Save Link as..." (or "Save Target as, if you're on IE).
  • When prompted where to save it, browse to "C:Program FilesWizards of the CoastMagic Online IIIGraphicsModels" and save it, overwriting the old file (if you have an issue you can always repair your installation later).
  • Make sure that you have your foils set to "Disable Foil animation" in your Menu->Settings->Game Play scene.

League Discussion -
Leagues, and the lack thereof.  Also, format fixes as well as discussion of shortcomings of the previous league system.  Unfortunately, there's been no official WotC communication about what is in store for V3 leagues as of yet.

Redemption Concerns -
Another general concern thread created for discussion of some of the top issues in V3.

General Magic III Concerns -
Another general concern thread created for discussion of some of the top issues in V3.

Communication from WotC -
A great thread maintained by Algona.  This thread has a compilation of the statements that various WotC staff have made for the past few weeks.  A must read for anyone interested in what WotC has been up to arouind the boards.

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.  -Bumping since it seems to have come up again, 05-16-08-

Infobot returns -
If you like to trade, or just want to know how much a certain card would cost you, then this is the service for you.  Infobot was a frequently used bot in V2 for getting quick price checks, and seeing what different dealers were charging for the card.  I look forward to seeing it in action on V3, but for now, it's a web service.

 Go back to V2?
A topic that's been brought up a couple of times has been going back to Version 2 of MTGO (Along with the crashes, the lag..)

Redemption Concerns
What are your concerns about the redemption setup for MTGO.  What would you like to see done with it?

Top 5 Magic Online Concerns
Use this thread to vote for your top five concerns.

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.


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.


Bugs: Client

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

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!)


Card prices are back, baby!! Woo!  I'd like to thank mtgotraders.com for the prices.  As always, they provide a great piece of data for the column and it's always interesting to watch the changes.  Especially since we don't have Constructed PE's firing..

Card name: Amount Changed Percentage Changed Final Price
Abeyance 3.84 32.00% 15.84
Glittering Wish 3.51 305.22% 4.66
Ancestral Vision 1.14 25.33% 5.64
Horizon Canopy 1.12 20.36% 6.62
Lord of Atlantis 0.93 33.82% 3.68
Sower of Temptation 0.93 33.82% 3.68
Manabarbs 0.91 26.00% 4.41
Lion's Eye Diamond 0.82 10.25% 17.82
River of Tears 0.82 4.82% 8.82
Cloudthresher 0.79 68.70% 1.94
Coat of Arms 0.69 30.67% 2.94
Coat of Arms 0.67 33.50% 2.67
Vendilion Clique 0.67 33.50% 2.67
Wanderwine Hub 0.66 17.60% 4.41
Wrath of God 0.65 6.67% 10.4

Card name: Amount Changed Percentage Changed Final Price
Force of Will -$5.37 -12.79% $36.63
Pernicious Deed -$4.40 -10.00% $39.60
Tarmogoyf -$3.32 -9.49% $31.68
Arcbound Ravager -$2.89 -17.25% $13.86
Grim Lavamancer -$2.44 -20.33% $9.56
Orim's Chant -$2.42 -5.50% $41.58
Destructive Flow -$2.22 -9.25% $21.78
Ichorid -$2.10 -17.50% $9.90
Countryside Crusher -$2.08 -34.67% $3.92
Vedalken Shackles -$1.94 -9.46% $18.56
Blinkmoth Nexus -$1.90 -20.00% $7.60
Ohran Viper -$1.86 -14.59% $10.89
Chrome Mox -$1.64 -10.25% $14.36
Bitterblossom -$1.63 -11.24% $12.87
Garruk Wildspeaker -$1.60 -24.62% $4.90

Taking a quick look, a lot of big ticket constructed cards dropped, which I think makes sense since well, there's not much demand for constructed cards at the moment with no PE's.  I think that since there's no one format that took the hit that it's more of a general dropping than Extended jitters, or lack of faith in Classic.  More like a general depression of constructed card values across the board.

The gainers appear to be more speculation buys than anything right now, with Glittering Wish going up in value based on the huge increase in multi-colored cards with Shadowmoor.  Abeyance is kind of odd to see increasing like that as there's not a lot of prison decks in Classic right now, unless I've missed something big.

Wow, what a week.  And not in a good way, really.  I'm less worried about MTGO getting shut off after watching the draft numbers for a week, though.  I'm still worried about the progress we've seen though.  I want to go back to the happy go luck, support-o-rama that I used to be.  I expect that I will someday get there again.  In the mean time, I'll keep helping people with tech support and keeping threads on topic around the WotC boards.  :)



UI skins by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 05/18/2008 - 18:26
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Sorry, the link doesn't work for the new UI skins. Could you please post it here, or edit the article? Thanks.

opengl mtgo by 420gabriel (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 05/16/2008 - 19:43
420gabriel (Unregistered)'s picture

I find it highly interesting that a user was able to create a functioning mtgo in 4 months, that not only looks amazing better than v3, but also appears to have better pretty much everything. Obv it isnt 100% finished, but either is v3.

 A comment on the chat filter in v3 also: This is just one more thing in a long line of things that wotc has done that promotes people violating the coc.  People are having their accounts suspended for swearing when the only people who can see the swears are the people who opt in to see it. That is completely ridiculous. 

 I am personally in the process of selling my collection and quitting mtgo. I know alot of others are too (6 of 21 people in my clan are trying to sell out, another 10 of them havnt even logged in to v3, they just quit). Wotc needs to get their act together fast if they want to keep the remaining user base.  From what I am seeing online, and reading on the message boards, the majority of people are very unhappy about things the way they are.  If you judge wotc by the actions they have taken, this is a program that is going to be dead very soon.  There may be enough "hardcore users" that it remains a viable business, but I considered myself a hardcore user up until recently. And I know a lot of people that feel the same.

V3 lack of comms/lack of resource commitment by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 05/17/2008 - 04:05
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

I think its about time we start calling for resignations in WOTC. Either the people they have assigned to develop the product is woefully underskilled/unsuitable or someone in a management position has a startegic vision not lligned with what we want. One way or another, head should roll, either in the design/development team or in top management!

The directory for the .png by hamtastic at Fri, 05/16/2008 - 09:04
hamtastic's picture

Should be: "C:Program FilesWizards of the CoastMagic Online IIIGraphicsModels".  But the article editor often pulls out the '''s it seems.  :(

by hamtastic at Fri, 05/16/2008 - 09:01
hamtastic's picture

A good point on Abeyance.  I didn't even think of hoarding, but it certainly fits!  That should be interesting to see how that shakes out.  :)

Abeyance Jump by Under_the_Hammer (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 05/16/2008 - 08:50
Under_the_Hammer (Unregistered)'s picture

I suspect the jump in Abeyance is due to a Hoarder.  This is a good target for the hoarders as there are limited copy number in MTGO.  Abeyance was very recently proposed as a card in the Painter/Grindstone combo, although current build have moved away from this, it is possible that this speculative decklist triggered a hoarder to make a move.  Also Dragon can run abeyance in the board and intuition will be a big shot in the arm for this deck in classic play.  I suspect this is a speculative hoard based on the knowledge that tempest promises to increase this cards playability if it finds a deck either MD or SB it is easy to imagine the price will move to the high teens low twenties, a nice profit from its previous price of 10