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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Jul 20 2007 9:55am
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Gamer Radio Zero Podcast Dissection with Worth Wollpert: Brand Manager for Magic Online and Magic Digital Initiatives.

First of all, who is Worth Wollpert and why should we care about what he has to say?  Worth is probably the single most important person to MTGO.  He has the final say in V3 development, MTGO projects, and pretty much anything and everything to do with MTGO’s long-term success.  So getting any tidbit of information from him is a great thing.  Fortunately, we got a lot more than a few tidbits from this podcast. 

The July 19th podcast can be found on Gamer Radio Zero’s podcast page: here

Worth covers a great many things in this podcast, namely:

  • The “Jurassic” set for Magic Online only
  • V3 Foibles
  • V3 Status
  • MTGO Web Site
  • Miscellaneous extra information

So without further ado, let's get on with tearing this podcast apart!

Secret Project named “Jurassic” (MTGO Only Set):

 “Well I hope people are expecting a lot because this is really exciting.  I was super jazzed by the entire thought of it.  I don’t want to give too much away.  I’ll say a couple things.  It was a joint idea between myself, R&D, a couple of the other folks in brand.  To do something along the lines, something special that only exists for Magic Online players.  It’s, I know that a lot of times the folks online kind of feel like just by the nature of the later releases feel like second class citizens. [removed beta discussion] The code name for this whole thing is Jurassic.  It should be landing in early September, September 10th.  That’s what we’re shooting for.  It will be really exciting and it is for Magic Online players only.  I’m not going to say a whole lot more than that right now… I will say also that the beta for this is going to start, which is a clue in itself, around August 20th. [gencon] By that time this whole set will have been spoiled.  So you guys can expect some teasers, some in depth teasers, more than what I’ve been giving you in the last couple of weeks to start in earnest to start in late July or early August.  [banter] A lot of the details are coming as I mentioned in my blog with the new redesigned Magic Online website as well.  Sorely in need of a facelift, the old one, and it got it!  And we have a whole bunch of interesting features coming out like the return of the server status button, there will be a whole bunch of new clues as far as what’s coming on Jurassic when the website rolls out.”  -Worth (13:20 in the podcast)

This is a pretty big confirmation of the community speculation about a potential MTGO only set.  Hmm... I wonder if I could vague that up a little bit more.  It maybe, might, kinda almost be a potential Online set, allegedly.  With the confirmation of the online only set, what will be in this set is now the speculation of the MTGO community.  Based on the code name of “Jurassic” it is believed that old (maybe even really old) cards will be unearthed for the Online market.

Look for more information soon about this interesting project.  But will it live up to the hype?

V3 Foibles (i.e. why has it taken so long?):

“... in the beginning we bit off a little bit more than we could chew… we thought to take [version 2.5] to the next level we had to do it ourselves.  And I think we kind of got into thinking it was going to be a little easier, it was our first really big swing at being a digital company”  -Worth (20:14 in the podcast)

There have been questions from the community as to why V3 has been in development for nearly 4 years now.  By all accounts software in development for 4 years that isn’t launching someone to the moon is generally a sign of Vaporware.  Even after the initial V3 Beta there are some who felt that V3 would never be released and that it is just a carrot being dangled in front of the hungry MO masses.  Worth’s candid, sincere reply shows that at least someone at WotC acknowledges the concerns that have been brought up, and confirms that they are aware of the issue.  Why is that important?  Because admitting the problem is the first step to recovery.  I feel that this is a large stride in the path towards healing the wounds of past failures.

In addition, the process behind the scenes has changed.  They now use much quicker cycles (called ‘sprints’ in the Agile Methodology) to develop the program compared to their previous methodology where larger sections would be developed before being shown to the stakeholders in the project.  The end result is that when a piece goes wrong it’s identified faster and can be reworked earlier in the process instead of being done wrong and not being caught until it's unveiled... *tadahhhhhhhcrap*

V3 Beta:

V3 was previously in semi-open beta available only through FilePlanet downloads, but the next round will be open and free to download and login for all. Beta has been down for about five weeks now, but will be up on a Monday, either Monday July 23rd, or Monday July 30th.   It will not be distributed by FilePlanet and instead will be available from the Magic Online web page (possibly the new version).

Things that will have to be ready for V3 for the players:

Must haves: Casual Play, drafts
Like to have: PE's Leagues
Would like: Multiplayer

 

 

 

 

“Honestly I think it’s more likely than not that the leagues and the PE’s make it into the final release, but I certainly can’t promise.  One or the other is almost certainly about to, but I can’t promise one way or the other at this point.” –Worth (32:04 in the podcast)

So, one of the items in the second section is very likely to be ready when V3 is ready to go ‘live’.  Multiplayer seems like it may be an unfortunate victim of the switch.  However, I expect it to be rushed to the ICU and treated urgently once V3 is up and running.

UI:

“I won’t say we went back to the drawing board, because the graphics on the screen aren’t a whole lot different.  But the customizability of the entire experience is much more enriched by some of the changes in the last month, month and a half”. –Worth (35:00 in the podcast)

I am encouraged by this statement.  As anyone who has been following the V3 beta UI discussion this is good news.  The complaints of the UI were many, ranging from the color, the use of space, the lack of options, the lack scalability in the original client, difficult to read text, and difficult to read cards.  While the proof has yet to be experienced by the community, we will know soon enough what all has been accomplished once the beta begins again in the next few weeks.

“Well the biggest issue was legibility and being able to read the cards, both on the screen and in your hand.  And in text views all throughout the client.  [Mike jokes about eyesight]  Some of the backgrounds were not meshing well with the fonts that we picked or some of the sizes of the fonts were off” –Worth (38:20 in the podcast)

From the two above statements I feel hopeful that the client may allow better customization in the clients chat and UI text.  Time will tell though. 

Specific info about the beta:

"Oh sorry no, make a new account.  Everyone will be asked to make a new account". -Worth (40:32 in the podcast)

Also something new from the podcast is that accounts won't carry over from live during this round of the beta, but instead we'll all have to create new accounts for the testing of the account creation pieces of the software as well.

New MTGO Page:

Worth mentioned that a lot of the information for Jurassic will be coming from the new MTGO page will be debuted at the end of July or the beginning of August.  Not much is known about this site as of yet.  For example, we don't know if it will be a content delivery vehicle like www.PureMTGO.com, or just a marketing tool, or who will be providing content for it if there is content to be had.  Although based on Worth's statement of announcing 'Jurassic' information from the page there will at least be some content updates and I look forward to seeing what the get accomplished.

Additional miscellaneous information:

Marketing:

WotC/Hasbro haven’t marketed Magic Online in about a year.  A lot of that is due to version 2.5 not being able to handle the growth.  And that’s why V3 was started, to be a modular, flexible platform to support the growth that they are looking to get from marketing.

User increase hopes:

According to Worth, they are trying to triple the amount of people on MTGO.  This would allow for more people in niche formats, so that there are enough people to maintain critical mass in smaller formats while still allowing for the main formats to continue unharmed.

Summary:

There's a ton of good information in the podcast, and I think I nabbed a lot of the pertinent information regarding MTGO.  There's quite a bit more background information on Worth Wollpert and how he made it to where he is today.  The podcast is good enough that if you are interested in MTGO it is worth (heh, pun semi-intended) the time to listen.  Also, my appologies if this article is kind of 'dry', as time is of the essence I felt that speed to release was of greater importance than flashy images, let me know if you'd prefer speed to style, or vice versa!

-Erik

[Insert witty catch phrase here]

0 Comments

Update by hamtastic at Mon, 07/23/2007 - 14:28
hamtastic's picture

So far we've seen the 'secret project' as Masters Edition, we're still waiting on V3 beta, and the new website.

Also, Masters Edition leaves them open to reprint cards from post Mirage, as well as cards not included in the first Masters Edition if they should deem them necessary. 

Agreed by Yakk372 (Unregistered) 58.109.57.37 (not verified) at Tue, 07/24/2007 - 07:40
Yakk372 (Unregistered) 58.109.57.37's picture

They are going to print FORCE OF WILL.

 

 OMG.

 

Really. 

Master's by mtgotraders at Fri, 07/20/2007 - 13:43
mtgotraders's picture

"Planned for an on-sale date of September 10th, 2007, Masters Edition is a 195 card, Magic Online only set of some of the greatest cards from Magic's past. All cards in the set have appeared in pre-Mirage Magic sets and will appear with their original artwork and old-style frames."

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=magic/magiconline/article072007a

Holy crap this is insane!

Very excited to hear this.... by EveryNameTaken (Unregistered) 75.81.16.231 (not verified) at Fri, 07/20/2007 - 17:10
EveryNameTaken (Unregistered) 75.81.16.231's picture

Just some speculation- if the Master's set is going to feature cards from pre-Mirage, does that mean that may release more "Master's Sets" featuring cards from after Mirage?

Very excited to hear about this, and can't wait to play these cards in a Limited enviorment.

Edited by hamtastic at Fri, 07/20/2007 - 10:53
hamtastic's picture

I was informed that it's not the gleemax podcast, but is actually the Gamer Radio Zero podcast.  I have changed the areas where I referenced it as gleemax podcast.  My apologies to Gamer Zer0!