Overdriven! 70

 

motor city madness smWe had us some Motor City Madness! GP Detroit! Woo hoo! Yes, that happened. It was one of the largest Modern format GPs to date, with all the biggest names in Magic showing up to strut their stuff Motown style. It certainly was a spectacle. GB/x represented rather heavily in the T8 in the form of Jund, Ajundi, and GB Midrange. There’s a devolution in process here. That’s not a typo. This devolution will be covered in loving detail in the next Overdriven!, which is scheduled for September 30. This conveniently coincides with the start of the last quarter of this year. Mwahahahaha!

Ahem.

Back to GP Detroit.

By now, a week after the event, the big guns have all done their analyses of the decks, and the players have all published their “my experience at GP Detroit” articles. You don’t need my own chaotic gibberish to add to that morass.

But I do want to talk about something else from GP Detroit.

Did you enjoy the event coverage? I know I did.

Rather than try and reconcile the mothership’s timewarped text coverage (it’s always 2-5 rounds behind) with the Twitterverse, I spent both days out in the sun having fun. I was riding my bike, people-watching, and picnicking on the canal bank. I would much rather have been cooped up indoors in a smoke-filled room staring at a tiny screen, watching it unfold. Sad, but true.

But, according to rumour, it wan’t in the budget. We only have so much a year to allot to video coverage, the decision was already made, blah blah blah.

Yeah, right. I call male bovine excrement.

I understand the need to prioritize, but prioritizing limited (IMO boring) over constructed (IMO exciting), covering odd hour Japanese* (I wonder how much travel expenses added to the budget) stuff when everyone on this side of the world (I’m guessing ~70% of your player base) is asleep, and not covering a major event in a new format you gave birth to and are trying to foster…

I understand budget concerns. I live with them all the time, and they pretty much define my life. I have a rough inkling of Magic‘s intake, and a rough inkling of what it costs to do live streaming coverage.

Even so, doing a rough slop-job imaginary budget with very little basis in reality, I come up with more than enough “petty cash” to farm out video coverage for an event or seven.

If you ask me, someone was asleep at the switch.

Again.

Let’s not forget the Jerry Lewis-style coverage – complete with collapsing chair – of GP Lyon last year. Another Modern format event where the coverage was “in the news,” so to speak. I, for one, appreciated the tongue-in-cheek homage.

*This is to be taken as discouraging video coverage of Eastern Asia/Australia events! Far from it, we need more, and better, video coverage from those parts of the world.

We need more video coverage, at a professional level, period!

Step up your game, or farm it out to the pros.

 

Speaking of stepping up your game, I don’t know what I was expecting when we got the 4-day notice that Wizards of the Coast was going to update and upgrade the Community Site. While we had been told a few weeks before that there were plans in the works, the 4 day notice was a bit disconcerting, to say the least.

I’m sure you’re all aware by now how I feel about the WotC Communications Policy, and this was par for the course. At least we had 4 days.

Then it arrived. I’ll be honest: for the first few minutes, I was happy with it. It was easy to navigate, and seemed to work reasonably well. Then reality started setting in.

I’m not going to bother rehashing all the other rants you may have read about this steaming pile of code: about the useless search, “lost” threads, lost functionality, and the scrambling for fixes and workarounds.

I’m not going to show you screenshots of this horrendously designed piece of [expletive deleted], because I don’t have any.

I have stopped using the Community Site, period, unless I absolutely have to. You can find my event threads at MTG Salvation these days.

I have better things to do with my time than bang my head against the table figuring workarounds for threads on a site that looks and performs like it was put together by a Primary School Internet Club. Perhaps I can learn to speak Norwegian.
Hunden min har ingen nese.
Hvordan gjør han lukter?
Forferdelig!

And then there’s the Wide Beta.

I’m sure that the folks in charge really did have a grand vision in mind when they started this rework of the Magic Online client. One that was bright and shiny and beautiful.

I really don’t know where to begin. The very first versions of the Closed Beta I used were so horribly bad. It did improve, some things quicker than others, but it did get better with each build. Then the Wide Beta happened. Again, the first builds were steaming piles on my system. Then, for a while, it looked like it was getting better. But each new build over the past month and a half has performed strictly worse for me. I may be the exception, rather than the rule, but it sure is frustrating. On the latest build (334), after 5 logon attempts, I’ve finally gotten to the point of being able to exit the client properly, so I could see if it actually logs me off or not! (It doesn’t.)

Internet Chat, something that has been around since ARPANET (I had an ARPANET address in the long long ago, in the time of the birthgivers), is apparently beyond the ken of today’s coders. As is:
on exit
{
logoff(playername)
}

I cannot play reliably on the Wide Beta, let alone run events.

I really don’t know what to think.

I have two huge, steaming horse apples sitting on a silver platter, presented as “Our Vision of The Future of Online Magic.” It really makes me wonder. Someone in charge thought these two products were good enough to present to the general public. I’m sorry, but were I “someone in charge,” neither of these would have left the office. I would be out the door before this kind of crap. Seriously. (Why do you think I’ve been freelancing, instead of 9-to-5ing, since 1993? I did my time as a corporate who… uhhh… yeah.)

The message I read, and the impression I get, from the Ivory Tower is “Screw you guys. We do what we want!”

Is this really corporate Erik Cartmanism on the part of WotC? Are they so caught up in their own fantasy reality, where these piles are actually wonderful things? Do they really think I, and hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands) like me, actually enjoy these products? Are they under the assumption this is just me “giving Wizzo’s the gears”? Hello?

I love Magic. I will continue to play Magic until the day I die. But MTGO is not the end-all and be-all of Magic. These days I have the client closed more often than I have it open. When the Beta goes full time, I’m gone. I have zero confidence in WotC’s ability to program and deliver a client I can use. I have zero confidence in their ability to code and manage a community website. I’m pretty much there only to run events for you players (I love you guys!) nowadays. That’s how disenfranchised I’m feeling over the whole online mess. I’m perfectly happy playing paper Magic at the kitchen table with my friends. I have one foot out the online door already, and it probably wouldn’t take too much more for me to say, “Screw you guys. I’m going home.”

Forward, Into The Past!

 

Overdrive! is the original Modern format Player-Run Event! In fact, it’s even older than Modern, having started out as an event in the Overextended format. Overdrive! is free to enter, and happens every Monday evening at 8:30PM Eastern time. Eurodrive!, a Euro-time friendly Overdrive! clone, happens every Saturday at noon UTC.


Overdrive! #109 Champion: sanchez42 / UWR Control
Overdrive! #110 Champion: brettmemphis1989 / Merfolk
Eurodrive! #88, 89, & 90 Champion:
olioolli / Merlira Pod – Hat Trick!
Eurodrive! #91 Champion: FistAlpha / GRuul Zoo
Decks from all Overdrive! events can be found here.
Decks from all Eurodrive! events can be found here.

 

 

Where Angels Fear To Tread is a limited-seating Modern format Player-Run Event that follows the same structure as the MTGO Daily Scheduled Events: 4 rounds of Swiss pairings, with prizes going to all 4-0 and 3-1 players. As with all of my events, it is absolutely free to enter! WAFTT happens every Sunday at 1800UTC (2PM Eastern, 11AM Pacific).

Where Angels Fear To Tread #70
Players: 19
4-0: pk23 ~ 3-1: justcanceled, Farfishere, Procrastination, jbl, shuffleorboogie, rickster_
Where Angels Fear To Tread #71
Players: 15
4-0: pk23 ~ 3-1: NecrOmniPotenz, _Kumagoro_, wolftree, Silar
Decks from all WAFTT events can be found here.

 

 

 
  1. I agree that mtgo sucks. And with the money that wotc rakes in full time, you’d think they’d pay real programmers to make something to be proud of. Instead, they release one pile of hog feces after another. And the second pile of hog feces has some nicer features (when it works), but it could and SHOULD be a whole lot better. Look at Hearthstone-

    http://www.twitch.tv/directory/game/Hearthstone%3A%20Heroes%20of%20Warcraft

    The game is still in beta, but looks and runs 1000% better than any version of mtgo thus far. I know they’re not the same game, but WOTC could learn a lot from those guys at that little known company – BLIZZARD. It’s kind of sad really, since mtgo has had more than a decade to perfect their product…

    I also hate how much it costs to play with cards that don’t exist!! I can see the value in paper cards since THERE IS REAL VALUE IN PAPER CARDS. But if I try to liquidate my stock online, what am I left with? tickets….. not the same as cash unless you have the (infinite) time and know how to nickel and dime your way to profit. Believe it or not, you actually stand to make more money over time when cost of entry and maintenance (constantly buying new cards) is lower. Look at World of Tanks, and League of Legends. Free to play, get hooked, then pay if you want better and faster ______.

    Just sayin. Nice article. Sorry for the rant.

  2. I understand that you have issues with the way WOTC has been running some things, but take it up with them. I enjoy your take on my favorite format and there is a dearth of writing on Modern online. . . and this is what I get for this week? I think your choice was inappropriate.

    What drives me most nuts about the Magic community is the widespread bitching with no thought to being constructive. I work my ass off full-time, I’m a father, and when I get some small amount of time to myself I want to enjoy my favorite hobby, not have more stress shoved into my life. This is one of the major reasons why Limited Resources is the biggest and best podcast in Magic; they love the game and they leave their gripes at home.

    If you want to stop using MTGO that’s your prerogative, just like not reading this column mine.

  3. ^ A decade worth of development. A DECADE.

    WOTC has heard the complaints and chooses to ignore them.

  4. :But if I try to liquidate my stock online, what am I left with? tickets…

    Um, you do know there are multiple vendors that will buy your tickets with cash via paypal at a rate just under 1$ a ticket, right? MTGO cards are mostly very liquid and easily converted to cash if desired, with less work involved in doing so than selling paper cards.

  5. Riggggghhhhttt. Maybe I should be more specific. In order to turn your cards into tickets and get a decent amount of tickets from said cards, you have to spend all your free time trying to hunt down someone who will buy your collection piece by piece (for the best return), or in bulk (obviously a much worse option). And then to get <$1 for each ticket is another kick in the digital nads.

  6. You are totally right about everything. i’ve been in a long term pause on mtgo because it really sucks, both visually and in terms of tournament structures. 4 hours in a row to play a daily? c’mon wizards!! Put something like leagues on the client!! Maybe somebody with a voice on the community should start an online petition to ask wizards to deliver the client to blizzard, sega, EA o any good developer. I played mtgo basically for time concerns and competitive environment, but the client just keeps telling me to search somebody to play in the kitchen!. Man, even DOP is better. I’m signing that petition !

  7. re: notplayin

    And that’s different from paper how? Each of your complaints applies equally to selling paper cards. If anything, it’s more work to move paper cards, and the gas and or shipping will eat up more of each dollar made than the conversion of tickets to dollars.

  8. Online cards are much more liquid. Yes, you need to discount your tickets 3 to 6 percent to convert them to dollars, but the bid ask spreads of the online bots is a fraction of that of the physical stores.

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