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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Apr 18 2008 10:48am
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What time is it?!?  It's V3 time! We finally got some time to get to know V3 better... and I'm confused.  I expected anger, and I got it.  I expected venting, ranting and wailing... and I got that too.  I also expected people to run away from the game in droves.  And it hasn't happened... at least not yet.  When I look at the Casual play room, I see about 1100+ people playing.  About the same for every non release night, and that's without any drafting what so ever. 

This new State of the Program is evolving.  I'm getting back to my roots with topic discussion links and more gibbering on about what I see happening around the world of MTGO.  There's plenty to look at, now that V3 is unleashed, so let's get to it.

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*

Important V3 links for this week:

V3 hate thread
V3 love thread
V3 FAQ
V3 Technical FAQ
Top 10 user complaints
Communications from WotC #2
Communictations from WotC #3

Our worlds are often driven by our assumptions.  We largely assume that people won't break the law.  We assume that our government will honor our money.  We assume that when we pick up the phone we'll have a dial tone.  Personally, I assume that people want their experiences to be the best that they can be.  Whether that experience is going out to dinner, watching a movie, living in a home or whatever.  You wouldn't walk by a wall with a hole in it and think: "Hey look, a hole.  I'd tell someone to fix that, but it's not worth my time.  Sure, my friend may not see it and fall out the wall, but, meh...".  Usually, if you're paying for something you want it to the best that it can be.  However, I often see this attitude with bug reporting on MTGO.  Some people seem to have taken a very lasse faire attitude about bugs, letting them go to impact others or possibly even themselves later.  I've seen quite a few posts say something along the lines of "I'm paying for this service so why should I have to do the bug work?", or "Someone else will do it later.", or "Why doesn't Wizards have a department that just finds bugs?".  I'd like to address a few of these issues and explain why it's actually quite important to do your part in reporting bugs you find.

"I'm paying for this service so why should I have to do the bug work?"

This is perhaps the most confusing reason I've seen when someone complains about the bug reporting process.  If you're paying for a service (and paying a good price at that), I would assume that you'd want to see it live up to your expectations.  And if it so happened to not live up to that expectation, you'd be quite upset about it and want it rectified.  I see lots of the former and not as much of the latter though, at least on the message boards.  I often see someone throw in a random comment about a bug that cost them a game or that nullifies their deck.  Which, when asked if they've reported it they give the above response.  It seems that they're content to let it go and either hit them again, or possibly hurt someone else down the line. 

"Nothing happens when I report them anyway"

This is largely due to the lack of visibility in the bug software and is a frequent complaint.  We don't know what bugs are being worked on, which bugs have priority, etc.  And up until recently, we didn't really even know when bugs were being fixed.  There was more than one occasion where a card just 'started working' and there was no communication about it.  Lately this aspect has gotten much better.  Our CM Solice, as well as the developers seem to have found a rhythm for reporting changes and bug fixes and I have to hope that it continues into V3's release and onward.  That doesn't change the fact that we don't really know what they're working on or even if they're aware of certain issues.  This lack of transparency certainly puts a damper on the passion of many would be reporters.  I have no answer to this except to hope that at some time we can get a developer's blog about what's going on and what their current progress is on certain bigger issues that they're tackling. 

"Someone else will do it later."

And they're possibly right.  The problem becomes when too many people expect the next to handle it and then no one does it.  It seems silly, but it happens a lot with groups in a 'comfort zone' and they begin to rely on others.  When that starts to happen important things get missed.  It's entirely possible that the person who will submit it completely sucks at documenting bugs.  Maybe there's something you saw in play that the next player may not.  Or maybe it's something that the two reports combined will help resolve. 

"Why doesn't Wizards have a department that just finds bugs?"

They do, but before I go into that lets play pretend.  Pretend that you, yes just you, had to test the interaction of every card on MTGO with every other card in MTGO, combinatoric style.  As of last count there were 6383 disctinct card names on MTGO.  Do you think one person could check every interaction between those cards (plus the new set, plus the old sets) every three months?  How about two people?  Five?  Ten?  I don't know, but I'd imagine that fifty people working eight hours a days would probably be about right.  Even at minimun wage of $7.63 an hour you're looking at $198,380 per quarter just to test card interactions.  So back to the question about a bug department... WotC does have a Quality Assurance team and a team of Developers that do testing as well.  However, the sheer number and complexity of cards makes it very hard to have a team dedicated to just doing that without some help from the thousands of people playing thousands of cards... aka... US.  We test more cards and interactions than they can and we can then point them towards the places that they need to look to see a bug that's impacting us.

So, why now?  In a term:  V3.  There are going to be bugs.  Despite the best efforts of previous beta testers, WotC QA and the Developers, there are going to be bugs.  When you see one I urge you to not shrug it off.  Check to see if it's known, and if not, submit it with as much information as possible.  Not just for yourself, but for the others who will come after you.  For the new players who see MTGO for the first time and determine what to tell their friends about it.  For all of the current players who need fresh blood to keep MTGO going... please, report the bugs you find.

Important links for this week:

Bug reporting/Compensation Link
Official Bug Checklist

Oh soooo many items to discuss this week!  Even things not surrounded by V3 have really added up this week.  Some very good things about which to banter back and forth with other posters.

1x Every MTGO Foil?
Someone is selling 1x of every MTGO foil online for about $10,000.  This brought up the topic of collecting versus acquiring.  Some say the thrill of collecting comes from  tracking down the items that you want (aka The Hereo's Quest), others say it's the destination that matters.  What do you think?

DCI Sanctioning for MTGO?
This topic comes up from time to time and usually winds up somewhere in the realm of account security and validation.  Apparently this time is no different... some good points are discussed if you haven't discussed the topic before or for a while.

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 on Linux
There's been a call to arms to vote for MTGO V3 compatiability on Linux.  Anything that can help get MTGO to more users can't be bad, so show your support for MTGO by following the easy directions in the link above!

AI vs. Player: MTGO
I imagine we've all wondered how an MTGO AI would do at some point or another.  Some good discussion about past games and AI endeavors has popped up in the thread.  Good stuff!

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.

I'm going to be starting up a bit 'fresh' from this week.  I'll grab the old game bugs as we go and can verify that they are indeed still open.  I know that there were some bugs that were said to be already fixed in V3, so for the benefit of the doubt we'll walk through them one by one.  Also, if you see any bugs please report them using the bug report link in the V3 section as well as let us all know about them.  Remember, we're all in this together!

Bugs: Client

4-18-08 Can't /join rooms Open

I've heard from several other players as well as myself that they are unable to join rooms.  Which makes me very, very sad.  Hopefully this will be fixed soon.

Bugs: Cards

Jeepers!  The end of the week snuck up on me really quickly.  I guess that happens when the first three days are spent in anticipation for something.  I plan to get the pricing guide back in place once trading is actually feasible, since right now, it's pretty much a mess.  Also, if you have any topics about V3 you want to see me try to get more information on, please let me know in the comments!  As more and more pieces of V3 get ironed out and I get to see the fix pack changes next week, I'll keep you all in the loop!

Hopefully you like the SotP and I can keep providing up to date discussion and news items for you all, as we go forward I'll be bringing back pieces of the article that are crucial, like server status, card price changes, and so on.  Also, I'm hoping to get an interview back from Worth pretty soon, so look forward to that!

-hamtastic

16 Comments

by hamtastic at Sun, 04/20/2008 - 13:51
hamtastic's picture

Thank you for the kind words, they're appreciated!

As for the playability!  Worth (the Brand Manager) has made a few psots mentioning some soon to be seen performance improvements for machines that are a bit further away from the recommended specs, which probably includes machines like yours.  So please, wait and see what SP1 has for you.  Your experience may improve 'shortly'.  :)

test by Anonymous (Unregistered) 72.89.104.205 (not verified) at Sun, 04/20/2008 - 08:58
Anonymous (Unregistered) 72.89.104.205's picture

test

Functionality of V.3 by Ragingbill (Unregistered) 72.89.104.205 (not verified) at Sun, 04/20/2008 - 10:44
Ragingbill (Unregistered) 72.89.104.205's picture

My mistake.... you can alter the window for deck searching... A)The lag associated with said search threw me off. I realized after playing more that I can increase the window size. B)Fat lot of good that did. Still takes forever for the window to load up and to fetch something. 4 out of 5 opponents concede regardless... increasing the window size takes a bit to even pull off. Guess the majority of my games will be played against buds. They are the only ones with enough patience to stick around.... Thanks again MTGO...

P.S. This is a well written post btw. I have nothing against the author nor the majority of the individuals that work for Wizards of the Coast. I have an issue though with whoever made this game unplayable for me... Curse that person to the firey pits of hell.

-Bill

Functionality of V.3 by Ragingbill (Unregistered) 72.89.104.205 (not verified) at Sun, 04/20/2008 - 08:57
Ragingbill (Unregistered) 72.89.104.205's picture

I'm not even sure if this is the correct place to be spaking about such things, but V.3 is driving me batty. The tiny text (which I am aware they are fixing soon) was the first thing I noticed when logging in the first time. I had to literally plaster my face to my monitor (which isn't large to begin with) to read anything. Since they are fixing that, alrighty, no prob. Then I finally got around to playing a game, and wow, I thought 2.5 had its slow moments, but searching my library for anything is absolutely insane. I play deck sizes of 600-1300 cards, and although searching in 2.5 required me to expand the search box to find things, it was at least in the "acceptable" range for the time it took to find the card I was looking for. With V.3, the search box takes a year and a day to appear, then it is pure lag even attempting to scroll up/down to find anything. Being able to expand the search box at least would alleviate the issue of having the same "Scroll up/down" box to worry about the next time I searched for something. My computer more than fits the minimum requirements for V.3 (Win XP, 2.4 Ghz processor, 376 megs of ram, and 64 megs of video ram), but it seems as if my computer doesn't even come close to being able to play the game in a speedy manner. I was more than happy with 2.5. It wasn't out to "dazzle" people with this that and the other, but was for playing the game. Of course it had issues (memory leakage, game crashing, etc..), but if they had just fixed those problems, I'm sure the majority of people playing the game would have been happy with it. I was dreading the release of V.3, and now that it is out, I can see I wasn't mistaken. I don't like the fact I *had* to change my display settings to play the game (I actually LIKE 800x600), but I figured "At least I will be able to play the game..." I have checked many posts attempting to see if there is a way for me to at least get the game running "at a good clip", but so far, no luck. I have no idea what I am going to do, but all I can do is shake my fist in the general direction of Wizards of the Coast. I don't need all the pomp. I would just like a smooth running game that doesn't require that I have a super fast system with an expensive video card jam packed with as much ram as possible, and doesn't leave my opponents extremely annoyed at the fact it takes me 5 min. to search for basic land.... I guess the conclusion to my statement is I'm quite aggrivated. Please turn 2.5 back on.... Thanks.

 -Bill

by urzishra (Unregistered) 74.213.196.41 (not verified) at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 16:11
urzishra (Unregistered) 74.213.196.41's picture

I was thinking about this today while I was reading your article.. why don't you add the "report a bug" link in the bug section.

by Hollow0n3 at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 17:30
Hollow0n3's picture

Good state, but a large, and mostly reasonable worded thread over at the boards talking about the draftfiasco just got erreased, No warnings, no PM's.

Worth said a few things in there.. well. Poop. 

by Hollow0n3 at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 17:41
Hollow0n3's picture

Mysteriously it reappeared after I posted that comment..

well I asked someone to deliver a message too, maybe that did the trick, maybe someone realized that its a bad idea to axe an angry but reassonably outspoken and thinking thread. 

by Hollow0n3 at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 17:46
Hollow0n3's picture

The thread talking about the vanishing of the draft-thread vanished.

Yay for irony. 

by JMason (Unregistered) 87.114.70.90 (not verified) at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 19:48
JMason (Unregistered) 87.114.70.90's picture

Well I've not been unhappy with v3  during the beta, but now I'm using it for real there are some very annoying things I never noticed before. The redeeming feature is that actual gameplay is OK, if a bit slower than before. It responds to f9 but not f10! Clicking on cardname in the chat log doesn't preview the card any more. The file select dialogue is just awful, why couldn't it just be the standard windows file selector? It won't copy a local deck name over to your net decks, you must retype the name! I really hope they address some of these little usability issues in a big hurry, because the overall effect is to slow down everything I try to do.

As for the issue of giving enough notice, it's my experience that most people walk around with their senses closed. There was always going to be a majority of unprepared players.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 64.34.193.98 (not verified) at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 20:52
Anonymous (Unregistered) 64.34.193.98's picture

retether is working so far (from my limited testing experience)

by hamtastic at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 21:11
hamtastic's picture

Yeah, I saw that post and was quite happy that it came back.  It'll be in next week's state of the program for sure..

 

by hamtastic at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 21:12
hamtastic's picture

I'm very happy that retether seems to be working now.  That is a great card to build around.  I'll have to bust out a few of my old retether decks now that it's back!

Madman 610's picture

I was reading through some of your prior posts...  I agree with the majority of your statements; but, I would like to provide my opinion if you don't mide...  Within your posts you indicated that Wizard's was unable to determine an effective notification method, and that quite possibly, the Adepts could have passed along notifications within the rooms.  I agree but, not only should they have provided messages, they should NOT have denied the upcoming shutdown!!!  A fellow clannie (a retired Captain) and real life buddy, had briefly mentioned the possiblily of a shutdown for "syncing" and an Adept jumped on him with a pm, telling him that if he continues to post "inaccurate statements" and continues to lie, he will be "banned".  That''s NOT the way this fine Adept should have approached the situation.  Why should another user be permitted to treat other users in such a manner?  I don't care if he is an Adept, HIS behavior was completly unacceptable!!!  The remarkable fact regarding this "incident"?  It occured approximately one week prior to the shutdown.  Hmmm, I wonder who was the individual spreading the "innacurate statements", aka LIES!!!  Unfortunatly, I do not recall the Adept's screenname, well atleast not at this moment; since, I gladly would have included it here.  After witnessing "Mr. Adept's" statements and behavior, I must admit that I am VERY happy that it was a cyber game!  Had it been a "real life" game, he would have had an interesting evening and I would have been "locked-up"... 

Oh, btw GREAT work here bro, and many thx!!!   

My two cents,  Madman 610

by hamtastic at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 12:05
hamtastic's picture

I agree that that response is extremely frustrating.  I've had similar experiences in the past where I submitted a bug only for it to not only go unfixed, but also be 'closed' and go uncommunicated to me.

So what did I do?  I made it public, and kept bringing it back into the light from time to time.  So, I'd probably recommend to you (and anyone else who has a bug that they feel isn't being seen) to post it on the WotC boards, and bump it from time to time.  Tell your opponents who see the bug to post in your thread.  Essentially, keep it visible, and let others know.  I know this has helped get focus on certain bugs in the past.  It's not ideal, at all, but it's seemed to work for me and other.  Hopefully as V3 gets ironed out they can fix up the bugs a bit better, but really, I think the crux of this concern is a lack of visibility into the bug process.

Thank you for taking the time to post though!  I appreciate it!

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 74.241.45.249 (not verified) at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 11:22
Anonymous (Unregistered) 74.241.45.249's picture

Great column -- thanks for your hard work

On bugs by Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5 (not verified) at Fri, 04/18/2008 - 11:52
Anonymous (Unregistered) 24.58.199.5's picture

"Nothing happens when I report them anyway"

I have to say, this, beyond anything else, is what has stopped me personally from reporting bugs.  It got to the point where I was only reporting bugs to ask for refunds.  Not by choice, but becuase it seemed like that was the only way to get issues fixed (or at least get paid to beta).

During Leaping Lizards era (early v2.0) I found a bug in Lobotomy in that it wasn't properly shuffling libraries after resolving (The Seer's Vision card didn't change).  I reported it, got a mail back from an LL dev tech, and it was fixed in a week.

Two weeks ago, I found Scapeshift/Vesuva/Cloudpost was bugged.  Vesuva was treated as a triggered ability as opposed to an 'as comes into play ability' allowing you to sacrifice all you lands, get one Cloudpost and 4 Vesuva, and end up with 5 Cloudpost.  This isn't how it works, and I included a snippet from the actual judge's list by L3 Gavin with the real ruling.   The first email exchange told me, I was wrong and it wasn't a bug.  The second said they'd let their supervisor know, but they were marking the issue closed.  It was never fixed, and likely is broken even now.  This is typical of how bug reporting issues are handled with MTGO.