Wide Beta Update

Posted in Feature on March 10, 2014

By Chris Kiritz

Hey all you Magic Online players. It's time for another update on the Wide Beta and our other ongoing feature work. It's been a couple months since my holiday article, so I want to share where we are.

Rapid Release

As we mentioned before, we're working with an external team to update the basic infrastructure of the Wide Beta client and make it lighter on memory usage and faster overall. We've been deploying the results of this collaboration to the Wide Beta since January 22. Overall, we've released over half-a-dozen updates to the Wide Beta, and have at least four more updates planned over the next month to get our stability and performance where we think they need to be.

Along with the crash fixes and performance updates we've released, we've also upgraded the tools we use to find and identify crashes that happen on the system. We have the ability to be much more granular in our tracking than we've ever been, which has increased to the speed at which we find and fix issues. As we get more data from players using Magic Online, our ability to root out crashes and other major bugs improves.

While our error logging system is much improved, we still want to hear from you. If you do encounter an issue in the Wide Beta, make sure you let us know. Filing a bug on the Wizards Customer Service site is the best way to help. Just use the Email Us tab to submit a Bug Report, and make sure you include your Magic Online user name, the fact that you were using the Wide Beta, and the problem you encountered.

You can also hop on the MTGO forums and let us know what happened in the Wide Beta Feedback thread, or provide feedback directly in our aptly named Feedback Form.

Feature Presentation

Once we're at the stability and performance levels we want, you'll start seeing feature updates in the client. The results from the Wide Beta Survey we ran several weeks ago are encouraging and show we are making progress, but also showed where we need to do more work.

We'll be targeting the areas that have the highest impact first, so you won't be seeing major changes to the Home scene or the Store, which could use some small tweaks, but are generally better than the current version of Magic Online. In general, our primary targets will be those areas that players use most.

Ryan Spain and the rest of the Digital R&D team have already updated or revised their designs for how temporary windows work in the Duel Scene (where the games happen), what settings the client will remember, and how we deal with targeting and associations. These will likely be some of the first areas that see improvement. Also high on our list of design refinement priorities is Chat and card management in Collection, especially around building and editing decks.

When we can, we'll also fit in outstanding bugs that have been on the back burner, but don't necessarily require a lot of design change. These will be targets of opportunity that come up as we go through the process, or that are outstanding issues we just haven't had a chance to get to yet. If everything goes to plan, we'll start delivering these changes this spring.

League of Your Own

As many of you know, Leagues is our other major project this year, and I'm happy to report we're trucking along right on schedule towards our planned delivery in 2014. For those who didn't read my holiday article on Daily MTG (shame on you), a League is like a tournament that lets you play matches on your own schedule as long as the League is active.

We know many of our players struggle to find three or four hours in a given week to play Magic Online, let alone in a single sitting for a tournament. Leagues let players with limited time compete in matches whenever they want, while still providing an opportunity for prizes. What's great about the new leagues design, however, is that they also let players who want to play MORE do that as well.

The new leagues design is all about letting you play at your own pace, regardless of what that pace is. For instance, it may take Danny Daddy six weeks to play all of his Theros Block League matches, whereas a Speedy McGee might join and finish all of his matches in two days. In either case, we'll have the same chance to earn prizes. In addition, if the league is still active, Speedy McGee can rejoin and do it all again!

We'll have more to share about leagues later this year, but we're very excited about how the Leagues project is shaping up and can't wait to let players start joining.

The Best of the Rest

We also have a couple internal projects either in flight or taking off. Most of these are to support upcoming projects, or to improve our existing processes or tools that won't necessarily have a direct customer facing impact. Behind the scenes, however, they will set the foundation for even bigger and better things in Magic Online's future.

I'm super excited about where we're heading and what we have planned for this year. As always, let me know what you think. I can be found as WotC_K in MTGO or on the forums, as @ckiritz on Twitter, or you can send me an email using the link below.

Have fun and happy gaming,
Chris Kiritz
Digital Business Manager
Magic: The Gathering

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