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Wide Beta Update: Winds of Change

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The letter G!reetings Magic Online players.

With several major projects scheduled for delivery in 2014, including the Magic Online Wide Beta rollout and Leagues, as well as Vintage Masters and our normal card-set release schedule, we're excited about what the year has in store.

One of our main areas of focus is the new client for Magic Online, and it's moving forward nicely. I want to share our basic release plan, including when we'll remove the Wide Beta tag and retire the current version of Magic Online many of you know as V3. Cutting to the chase, if everything goes as expected, we plan on switching from the current version of Magic Online to the new version this July, prior to Magic Online's Magic 2015 Core Set release.

If you've been following our ongoing development, you know we want to provide players with many opportunities to try out and familiarize themselves with the new client and to give us feedback on their experiences before disabling the current client. That philosophy is still in place, so let's a closer look at what that plan looks like between now and July.

Spotlighting

Our second Wide Beta Spotlight, with early access to the Journey into Nyx Prerelease events , begins after today's (Wednesday) downtime. If you're not a Wide Beta convert, this is a perfect time to download the Wide Beta and run it through its paces, either for the first time or to compare it to previous releases. We've made big improvements to performance and the overall experience, so take some time to check it out. If you're unfamiliar with the Wide Beta, these tutorials can help you get up to speed with the basic features.

Our goal is to get as many players on the new version as possible, so please log in during the Spotlight and help us out. Don't forget, all Journey into Nyx Prerelease events that start during the Spotlight include Eidolon of Blossoms promo cards as part of their prizes.


As I mentioned in my last article, we reached a big Wide Beta stability milestone on April 9 and have continued to meet our targets moving forward. Last week, we successfully delivered a Wide Beta update that prioritized feature work without disrupting that stability, and we have another update scheduled for next week. Our external partners are consistently delivering excellent work and we'll continue working with them very closely over the upcoming months, leading up to the transition to the new client and beyond.

Sharing is Caring

Not only do we want you all to take the Wide Beta out for a spin and earn an Eidolon of Blossoms, we want your feedback as well, so we've given you several ways to share.

First, take this survey and let us know how the current version of the Wide Beta compares to the current version of Magic Online. Not only can you rate the client as a whole, you can rate the individual features as well. This helps us understand and prioritize our upcoming feature work to better meet the needs of the players.

Second, while the survey is designed to compare the Wide Beta to the current version, you'll find a link to our feedback form at the end of it (or you can click the link I just gave you!). The feedback form lets you provide in-depth feedback for all major feature areas in the Wide Beta. Each area has "Like" and "Dislike" fields and you can choose to provide feedback in any or all of the categories. This form is always available, and the Magic Online team reads every response, so you can come back as you discover things you'd like to share feedback about and just go directly to the section or sections you want to leave feedback on.

Finally, you can always visit our forums to share comments and discuss the Wide Beta with other players. We've opened a new discussion thread to focus conversation on the latest changes. I and other Magic Online team members review these forum threads several times a week to see what you're all talking about.

Again, your feedback is a crucial part of the process, so please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us. Several of the most recent changes in our upcoming feature rollout plan were made due to direct feedback received through these channels from customers just like you.

The Week that Was

With the update on April 30, we delivered the first stage of two major feature improvements, both of which have been consistent in the feedback we've received. The recent stability work has given us a foundation from which we can start addressing some of the core design and feature issues that were put on hold last year. So, what did we deliver last week?

If you haven't heard the term yet, "sticky settings" is our internal short hand for Magic Online remembering your changes between game sessions. While we added some of these sticky settings last year, April 30 started addressing the remaining issues. While some changes are just fixing functionality that wasn't working correctly, many changes represent a design-philosophy shift. In these cases, we're generally giving players more flexibility in how they want their client set up. The previous release addressed these settings in two main areas, Play Lobby and Duel Scene.

In the Play Lobby, all your filter selections will be remembered the next time you log in, so you can just set your preferred options once and you're done. This includes game type, format, game settings, and even your deck selection. It also includes columns you've shown or hidden in the results area.


 Did you know...  

You can set the columns you want displayed in your results area? Just click the


button and set your display options. You can also change the order of the columns by dragging and dropping.

In the Duel Scene, again we've given you more control about how your battlefield looks. If you adjust the size of your hand or game zones, Magic Online will remember those changes the next time you start a new game, even if that game is several days later. This "stickiness" also carries over to the tournament drafting, deck building, and sideboarding areas, so you can set up Magic Online in the way that best fits your needs.

In addition to sticky settings, the first wave of targeting and association work for the battlefield was also delivered last week. This includes updating card-border highlights; adding additional, clearer targeting visuals; and adjusting targeting relationships. This is just the start of the targeting changes we have in mind and we'll be making additional updates and tweaks in this area throughout the upcoming releases.


Before


Mouse over cards and effects on the stack to dim the battlefield and highlight targets.


Mouse over attacking creatures to see the target of the attack.

Coming Attractions

Speaking of upcoming releases, we plan to deliver new feature updates every two weeks, leading up to our official launch this summer. As I've mentioned, our update for next week features additional sticky settings work and more targeting and associations work. We'll also be looking at our foil card treatment and tackling a few bugs in the collection scene.

Ahead of the switchover in July, we will be exploring trade changes to address some of the most common feedback, such as viewing collection amounts while in a trade, being able to view classified posts while in a trade, and other basic usability issues. We also have more work to do in collection, updates for event details, and a complete overhaul of the help content.

All in all, there is still a lot to get done, but we're all very excited to start delivering tangible player-facing features and improvements on a regular deployment schedule. We'll provide more information as we get closer to those updates, so keep your eye on the News and Updates page and the Weekly Announcements in the Magic Online Group for Wide Beta news.

Finally, I want to thank all of our players for staying with us on this journey, especially as we reach the home stretch. We have the best fans around and your patience is appreciated.

Thanks and have fun.

Chris Kiritz
Digital Business Manager
Magic: The Gathering




 
Chris Kiritz
Chris Kiritz
@ckiritz
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Chris Kiritz has been part of the Magic Online team since 2008 and the business manager since 2010. A long-time gamer, he's played Magic since 1994 and loves turning creatures sideways.

 
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