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Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans

A post on the Wizards of the Coast Corporate website indicates that a proper digital version of Magic: The Gathering is in the cards (thanks Polygon via PCGamesN). Company president Chris Cocks says, "The biggest move involves adjustments to and increased investments in our digital teams that will give us the capability and flexibility necessary to fully realize the enormous potential of our games." Here's what he says to expect from this initiative:

We are reimagining digital versions of Magic and other Wizards games. We recently created the Digital Games Studio, a group of all-stars led by industry veteran Jeffrey Steefel. Jeffrey's team includes experienced Wizards game designers and industry talent from Dire Wolf Digital, Valve Corporation, Cryptic Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Activision, BioWare, and many others. The Magic Online team is now included in this group, as well as digital art and game design. They're all thinking about how players might tap mana and prepare spells in the future, and I can't wait for you to see what they're working on.

We will bring our characters and worlds to other games and experiences. What would it be like to throw fireballs as a Planeswalker in an MMO, or quest for treasure with your friends in a D&D augmented-reality game? We want to play games like this too, so we hired David Schwartz, an industry veteran with 25 years of experience leading projects at Microsoft, Electronic Arts, THQ, LeapFrog Enterprises, and Midway Games. He is building a publishing team to explore partnerships and collaborations that will bring Magic and D&D to unexpected settings, genres, and platforms.

We will make your Wizards experiences more efficient, connected, and convenient. From getting matched in a big tournament to tracking your achievements to simply getting friends together for game night, there's a lot that goes into a good experience with a game outside of the game itself. A revamped technology team led by longtime Wizard Arron Goolsbey will be focused on connecting these kinds of in-store and online interactions so you will have cohesive and connected experiences with our games.

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22. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 15, 2017, 12:48 HorrorScope
 
Well they are relying on outside help now, they've tried both over time, but outside it probably the best bet, it all depends on who they go with and what they want to do:

We hired David Schwartz, an industry veteran with 25 years of experience leading projects at Microsoft, Electronic Arts, THQ, LeapFrog Enterprises, and Midway Games. He is building a publishing team to explore partnerships and collaborations that will bring Magic and D&D to unexpected settings, genres, and platforms.
 
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21. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 15, 2017, 08:00 VaranDragon
 
Tragic: The Garnering.  
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20. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 15, 2017, 03:22 Total-Khaos
 
Slick wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 23:31:
Anyone remember THIS MTG game from the '90s?

That was 20 years ago. 20 years of sitting on their asses and never taking a real stab at what could have been with digitizing this game. Never a second thought given to a true MTG online experience. And no, half-assed poorly executed attempts don't count. The best MTG games were the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, except you could only fuck with pre-made decks with a fraction of the total cards in the universe. Not to mention they were more focused on a "call of duty" strategy where they can re-sell the same product every year, instead of building THE definitive online experience with all the collecting and dueling in one place like Hearthstone.

20 fucking years.

I'm honestly amazed that it took Blizzard so long to beat them at their own game, or that no one else did earlier. Mojang's "Scrolls" was a better game IMO than either Hearthstone or MTG, but Microsoft killed that. Paid +$2 Billion for 2 games, decided to focus on one, and just ignore the other. "New game from the creator of Minecraft!" - advertisement no one ever produced.

Yes...unfortunately.
 
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19. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 15, 2017, 03:21 Slick
 
|RaptoR| wrote on Jan 15, 2017, 00:13:
Slick wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 23:31:
Anyone remember THIS MTG game from the '90s?

That was 20 years ago. 20 years of sitting on their asses and never taking a real stab at what could have been with digitizing this game. Never a second thought given to a true MTG online experience. And no, half-assed poorly executed attempts don't count. The best MTG games were the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, except you could only fuck with pre-made decks with a fraction of the total cards in the universe. Not to mention they were more focused on a "call of duty" strategy where they can re-sell the same product every year, instead of building THE definitive online experience with all the collecting and dueling in one place like Hearthstone.

20 fucking years.

I'm honestly amazed that it took Blizzard so long to beat them at their own game, or that no one else did earlier. Mojang's "Scrolls" was a better game IMO than either Hearthstone or MTG, but Microsoft killed that. Paid +$2 Billion for 2 games, decided to focus on one, and just ignore the other. "New game from the creator of Minecraft!" - advertisement no one ever produced.

Ironically enough, everyone within the company knew that MTGO wasn't what it should be and that it needs a complete rework to be able to live up to the potential. When I left Wizards last year, the teams working on it were down to content producers and a few rules engine folks to keep up with maintenance.

I worked in IT as a senior network engineer. The datacenters and technology that power the WotC infrastructure stand up to anyone else in the industry. We took the blame for many MTGO outages, but the reality is that the application was designed to be monolithic and not fault tolerant in the slightest. There are MANY talented folks at WotC, but the leadership was not what it needed to be and I think that the company suffered from a top down lack of understanding on digital gaming in general.

The under-the-curtains architecture of MTGO was incredibly fragile. Anyone who has played the game can attest to how often it's down and how many serious championships (which, despite twitter and other social media claims, were all hands on deck for the IT Operations folks) were impacted by its instability. We did our very best to solve that through infrastructure, but in the end -- a massive application with a significant amount of single points of failure can only be assisted by resilient infrastructure so much.

I am credited on the Duels of the Planeswalker games. While I'm no longer in the gaming industry, I do hold that as a pride point. However, the majority of actual development work was outsourced to Stainless Games. WotC managed the infrastructure (which is where I came in) and provided design guidance and project management, and obviously the art assets... but Stainless maintains the code base.

I am heartbroken to hear of my colleagues who were impacted by this. The companies direction over the past few years (including the mind boggling comments on Hearthstone by one of the executives mentioned by name in this announcement), and its focus on cloud technologies without a real and honest view on how to consume them are troubling. I loved my time at Wizards, and I am eternally grateful for the experiences shared there, but I cannot say that I am surprised.


In all honesty you should talk to the press. Keep your anonymity but this is a story that should get out. At worst it would confirm fan's thoughts about MTG over the years, and perhaps put some pressure on WotC to get their act together. They still have an enormous well of goodwill towards the MTG franchise, and everyone would come out of the woodwork if they did something proper.

And on a personal note, thanks for sharing your experiences with us, it's great to have the inside scoop.
 
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18. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 15, 2017, 00:13 |RaptoR|
 
Slick wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 23:31:
Anyone remember THIS MTG game from the '90s?

That was 20 years ago. 20 years of sitting on their asses and never taking a real stab at what could have been with digitizing this game. Never a second thought given to a true MTG online experience. And no, half-assed poorly executed attempts don't count. The best MTG games were the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, except you could only fuck with pre-made decks with a fraction of the total cards in the universe. Not to mention they were more focused on a "call of duty" strategy where they can re-sell the same product every year, instead of building THE definitive online experience with all the collecting and dueling in one place like Hearthstone.

20 fucking years.

I'm honestly amazed that it took Blizzard so long to beat them at their own game, or that no one else did earlier. Mojang's "Scrolls" was a better game IMO than either Hearthstone or MTG, but Microsoft killed that. Paid +$2 Billion for 2 games, decided to focus on one, and just ignore the other. "New game from the creator of Minecraft!" - advertisement no one ever produced.

Ironically enough, everyone within the company knew that MTGO wasn't what it should be and that it needs a complete rework to be able to live up to the potential. When I left Wizards last year, the teams working on it were down to content producers and a few rules engine folks to keep up with maintenance.

I worked in IT as a senior network engineer. The datacenters and technology that power the WotC infrastructure stand up to anyone else in the industry. We took the blame for many MTGO outages, but the reality is that the application was designed to be monolithic and not fault tolerant in the slightest. There are MANY talented folks at WotC, but the leadership was not what it needed to be and I think that the company suffered from a top down lack of understanding on digital gaming in general.

The under-the-curtains architecture of MTGO was incredibly fragile. Anyone who has played the game can attest to how often it's down and how many serious championships (which, despite twitter and other social media claims, were all hands on deck for the IT Operations folks) were impacted by its instability. We did our very best to solve that through infrastructure, but in the end -- a massive application with a significant amount of single points of failure can only be assisted by resilient infrastructure so much.

I am credited on the Duels of the Planeswalker games. While I'm no longer in the gaming industry, I do hold that as a pride point. However, the majority of actual development work was outsourced to Stainless Games. WotC managed the infrastructure (which is where I came in) and provided design guidance and project management, and obviously the art assets... but Stainless maintains the code base.

I am heartbroken to hear of my colleagues who were impacted by this. The companies direction over the past few years (including the mind boggling comments on Hearthstone by one of the executives mentioned by name in this announcement), and its focus on cloud technologies without a real and honest view on how to consume them are troubling. I loved my time at Wizards, and I am eternally grateful for the experiences shared there, but I cannot say that I am surprised.

 
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17. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 15, 2017, 00:13 eRe4s3r
 
Slick wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 22:11:
|RaptoR| wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 21:17:
What this doesn't tell you is that this re-imaging included laying off 30+ folks, many in IT and infrastructure, while keeping the game designers (whose poor judgement resulted in MTGO) and decision makers in place. Including leadership, who when asked during an internal town hall meeting what WotC was going to do in response Hearthstone, responded: "they aren't competing with us and we don't feel that we need to do anything"


Wow.

Staggering levels of incompetence. Can't say I'm surprised, but jesus, it's disheartening to hear some of the inside story about how bad they are.

Disheartening yes, but surprising.. well yeah, not really I guess ,) After HS what was their answer? Oh right... more of the same... well... after Duelyst? After Scrolls? Oh yea, more of the same. (same looking, same playing, but constantly newly released) games even.

It's staggering how incompetent they really are.
 
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16. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 23:34 nin
 
Taliseian wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 21:33:
The best M:tG implementation to me was the old MicroProse RPG game based in Shandalar.

Still play it occasionally even now.

If they could do something more akin to that, I'd pay for it.


What was that one called? Is it on gog, by chance?

 
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15. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 23:31 Slick
 
Anyone remember THIS MTG game from the '90s?

That was 20 years ago. 20 years of sitting on their asses and never taking a real stab at what could have been with digitizing this game. Never a second thought given to a true MTG online experience. And no, half-assed poorly executed attempts don't count. The best MTG games were the Duels of the Planeswalkers series, except you could only fuck with pre-made decks with a fraction of the total cards in the universe. Not to mention they were more focused on a "call of duty" strategy where they can re-sell the same product every year, instead of building THE definitive online experience with all the collecting and dueling in one place like Hearthstone.

20 fucking years.

I'm honestly amazed that it took Blizzard so long to beat them at their own game, or that no one else did earlier. Mojang's "Scrolls" was a better game IMO than either Hearthstone or MTG, but Microsoft killed that. Paid +$2 Billion for 2 games, decided to focus on one, and just ignore the other. "New game from the creator of Minecraft!" - advertisement no one ever produced.
 
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(Regarding SW:Battlefront II) Frostshite is a horrible piece of shit engine that makes games look artificial as if you were playing on a movie set instead of the actual location. -CJ_Parker
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14. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 22:36 MrBone
 
|RaptoR| wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 21:17:
What this doesn't tell you is that this re-imaging included laying off 30+ folks, many in IT and infrastructure, while keeping the game designers (whose poor judgement resulted in MTGO) and decision makers in place. Including leadership, who when asked during an internal town hall meeting what WotC was going to do in response Hearthstone, responded: "they aren't competing with us and we don't feel that we need to do anything"


Haha. Oh man. I knew they were morons from past ventures, but to say that Hearthstone wasn't a competitor??
 
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13. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 22:11 Slick
 
|RaptoR| wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 21:17:
What this doesn't tell you is that this re-imaging included laying off 30+ folks, many in IT and infrastructure, while keeping the game designers (whose poor judgement resulted in MTGO) and decision makers in place. Including leadership, who when asked during an internal town hall meeting what WotC was going to do in response Hearthstone, responded: "they aren't competing with us and we don't feel that we need to do anything"


Wow.

Staggering levels of incompetence. Can't say I'm surprised, but jesus, it's disheartening to hear some of the inside story about how bad they are.
 
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(Regarding SW:Battlefront II) Frostshite is a horrible piece of shit engine that makes games look artificial as if you were playing on a movie set instead of the actual location. -CJ_Parker
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12. No subject Jan 14, 2017, 21:33 Taliseian
 
The best M:tG implementation to me was the old MicroProse RPG game based in Shandalar.

Still play it occasionally even now.

If they could do something more akin to that, I'd pay for it.
 
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11. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 21:17 |RaptoR|
 
What this doesn't tell you is that this re-imaging included laying off 30+ folks, many in IT and infrastructure, while keeping the game designers (whose poor judgement resulted in MTGO) and decision makers in place. Including leadership, who when asked during an internal town hall meeting what WotC was going to do in response Hearthstone, responded: "they aren't competing with us and we don't feel that we need to do anything"

 
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10. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 15:32 Creston
 
there's a lot that goes into a good experience with a game outside of the game itself

No. Not really.
 
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9. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 15:12 MacLeod
 
MoreLuckThanSkill wrote on Jan 14, 2017, 13:51:
"
I'd give 60 bucks for a solid, online version of M:tG with variable rules and ALL the cards, none of the current nonsense versions, and the ability to play 2+ person games.

Considering that (according to a 2007 article) Magic Online constitutes 30% to 50% of their Magic business, I doubt that they would remove the "collecting" aspect of the game.
 
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8. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 14:48 Slick
 
They've had a near 30 year head start thinking about this, and multiple failed attempts. But for some reason, ask any MTG fan, and they'll give you the same answer: No locked decks, I should be able to collect every card in real life. It's not rocket science. But they're continually hobbled this concept in fear that it would negatively affect their retail physical booster pack sales.

Fucking morons. If anything people would get attached to the digital ones, and then seek out the real-life card. Also draw in a wider audience. These fucking clowns deserve to get buried by Hearthstone. They've had too long, too many chances, and have always sided against their own customers to try and keep control.
 
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7. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 14:13 HorrorScope
 
Wizard's is sort of at the same point as MS doing a good job supporting PC gaming. Actions at this time are all you have left, words mean nothing. Yes you have completely dropped the ball for the past 15 years, your brands should have been right out front, you had the lead and lost it badly. Good day sir.  
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6. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 14:02 jdreyer
 
How will this project differ from the Planeswalker games?  
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Stay a while, and listen.
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5. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 13:51 MoreLuckThanSkill
 
"in the cards" ho ho ho!

I'd give 60 bucks for a solid, online version of M:tG with variable rules and ALL the cards, none of the current nonsense versions, and the ability to play 2+ person games.

Right now your only option to get all the cards and not have any other crap is to use Magic Workstation.

 
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4. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 12:33 loomy
 
considering how shitty hearthstone is I'm befuddled by the progenitor's failure to capitalize  
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3. Re: Magic: The Gathering Digital Plans Jan 14, 2017, 11:56 Cutter
 
Someone needs to buy D&D away from these clowns and do some good things with it.
 
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You've got to be cruel to be kind...in the right measure.
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