Thoughts On MODO 2.0

When some alien race, say thirty or forty thousand years down the road, happens upon the charred cinder in space that used to be Earth – I think they might find an epitaph that tells a similar tale. A nearly blank tombstone standing in the middle of what used to be New York, or Mexico City, or Delhi. Just one line engraved in an otherwise featureless marble column.
“Just an upgrade.”

My house is a shambles. It isn’t a home invasion or a poltergeist visiting this state of cacophonic disorder on me – nothing so sinister. It’s just an upgrade. By my house, of course, I mean Magic Online. When some alien race, say thirty or forty thousand years down the road, happens upon the charred cinder in space that used to be Earth – I think they might find an epitaph that tells a similar tale. A nearly blank tombstone standing in the middle of what used to be New York, or Mexico City, or Delhi. Just one line engraved in an otherwise featureless marble column.

“Just an upgrade.”

Does anything screw up the works worse? If so, I’d love to know what it is.

I loaded up MODO one afternoon and the first thing I saw was a fat elf. This is disturbing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he’s also an albino. But never mind his Jacko-esque lack of skin pigmentation for the time being, let’s focus on his very un-Elflike countenance, starting with the most obvious point – he has no cheekbones. He is not”lithe.” If this is an Elvish Champion, the Llanowar forest has to call Jenny Craig. He’s…

…oh, hold on. My Guerrilla Tactics just triggered. I think someone a couple of miles away might have discarded while playing Two-Headed Giant. I can’t be sure; Guerrilla Tactics pretty much triggers whenever it feels like it. Yesterday, I was in the can and it triggered every time I flushed the john.

Anyhow, what was I saying? Oh yes – the Elvish mascot that’s half-Uncle Fester and half-Rodney Dangerfield. When I log on to draft or what-have-you, I’d prefer not to be assailed by the grotesque representation of a vitiligo-afflicted, lizard-faced cellulite bucket. Please bring back whatever was on the splash screen before. I don’t know what it was, but I do know that it didn’t look anything like Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s”IT.” I bet little children run from that elf screaming.

Putting that unpleasantness behind me for the moment, what about the downtime we’ve been experiencing? I could get more reliable connections by running packets of data over to Washington myself in the backseat of my Astrovan. The last time I saw so many brown bars, I was loading trucks for Hershey. The MODO server is down so much, it doesn’t need an administrator – it needs a psychiatrist. Prozac. Triptophan. Zanax. MODO beats the last party I went to for unsuccessful connection attempts and fat, ugly albinos.

Also, the…

Hold on. Guerrilla Tactics is triggering again. I think someone discarded a card somewhere in the Baltic Sea. I can’t verify that. The card really has a mind of its own. Now, what was I saying?

Oh yes – now I remember. Let’s talk about the 1800 room. I don’t want to hit a sore spot here, but perhaps it might have been a good idea to verify that the much vaunted”9-5″ queues were actually paying out 9-5 in prizes before allowing people to join them. It’s only been fixed just now, a good week after the update. Of course, a couple of days after the update went live,”Hall of Champions” icons were still floating around seemingly at random throughout the Casual Play area, and a successful connection to the server required an unholy pact with Yogg-Soggoth the Star-Eater, Goat With A Thousand Young. Maybe I was unrealistic in hoping for things like”queues that work,” considering the 2.0 patch team was spending the first few days shirking blame and trying to prevent rampant”Clan” icons from obscuring the whole Sanctioned Events room.

Oh, and my settings! I love the fact that I can’t actually see which buttons I’m pressing now without changing my resolution, switching to windowed mode, and minimizing my taskbar. Thanks, guys. It gives me a special feeling inside – sorta like a hangover but without the drunken sex the night before to make it worthwhile. Of course, blind-button pressing is an improvement on what the settings were like when the update first went live, since during that fun little stretch, MODO decided that it didn’t feel like saving them. Yield to all combat damage? YES SIR!

You know what other change I really love? The fact that every card I draft now becomes instantly tradable! I know that the first thing I want to do in real life when I draft a Secluded Steppe is put it right in my trade binder beside my Beta Hypnotic Spectres. What an improvement! I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had resetting my trade binder after every draft since the patch went live. Great work, guys. Keep it up! Hey, in MODO 3.0, how about you just send a car over to my place, knock on my door, and shoot me in the groin with a pellet gun? It’s a feature!

I probably should complain less about the drafts, since I’ve only been able to play a precious few drafts since the patch went live, what with the rampant crashes, queue outages, instabilities, downtimes, and patch team bathroom breaks. The 1800 room is so barren, the Adepts carry canteens. Not only have the queues been down half the time since 2.0 rolled out, but when they have been up, they haven’t been paying out correctly. Double threat! So in the rare event that I can draft, I have to do it at a 4-3-2-2 table.

The drafts take 33-50% longer because the players are slower and you have to play the third round, I learn less because the players are awful, and I win less because the prizes get spread around more. What a beating! I guess the…

Hold on, Guerrilla Tactics is triggering again. I think someone in another dimension may have actually contemplated discarding a card, and the Tactics decided to trigger, just to be safe.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the 4-3-2-2 queues. Thanks for turfing 8-4 for the masses! Now I get to play in drafts that make a reading of”The Vagina Monologues” look interesting by comparison. The players think unnecessarily for a ridiculously long time to make the incorrect plays with their sub-par creatures in the hope that they might advance to a third round that used to be nothing but superfluous to me. Usually, I could take it or leave it. Now I have to play it, which is a waste of my time. Much appreciated. I’ll tell you what, 2.0 team – next week, I’m going to head over to your place and waste forty-five minutes of your day, and we’ll see how you like it! It seems only fair!

Hold on – I have a stack of cards right by my computer. It’s from a draft I did last night in”real life.” I can tell it was in real life not only because I have the physical cards from it, but because there were no floating icons to blind me, no malfunctioning settings to inconvenience me, there was no sputtering server to stymie me, no payout bug to stiff me, no unplanned downtime to delay me, no unskilled, overmatched opponent to waste my time, and no harried patch team to cancel the draft while promising to reinstate sanctioned events at 11AM PST”in a few days.”

I’m going to draw seven cards from this stack. Then I’m going to discard one. Ready? Okay, discarding.

And…..Guerrilla Tactics just triggered. I’m not kidding. This is getting spooky. The card knows too much.

While we’re on the subject of great MODO 2.0″improvements,” I want to compliment the 2.0 team on their decision to make the”New Player View/Expert Player View Button” roughly the size of a Lincoln Mark IV, and their equally brilliant decision to leave it sitting on my upper taskbar, obscuring the”window switching tab” for any new windows I might decide to create in addition to the ones I normally have open. I’m sure glad that all-important button is there twenty-four hours/day, getting in the way of more important things, because God knows, as an experienced MODO player I’m ALWAYS switching back and forth from New Player View to Expert Player View!

Heck, sometimes when the performance issues they introduced are killing my play experience and the prize errors they introduced are killing the 1800 Room and there are icons floating around everywhere and a fat, albino elf is chasing me screaming through my subconscious, I amuse and distract myself by switching back and forth between the two different views! It’s a cornucopia of sinful pleasures! I mean hey, every other settings button that I never use is cloistered safely away off in a menu somewhere, but I’m glad they decided to”stick it to the man” and go against things like”sanity” and”sensible user interface design” by hanging this particular button, which I will also never use, on the main screen for all eternity.

Deep breath. (And yes, it triggered again.)

Here it is. MODO 2.0 is just now getting running as it should be, nearly an epoch after it was introduced. It will eventually be working fine. I’m going to be playing MODO just as much as I ever was, because I believe it to be, at the best of times, a tremendous product, a great source of fun and an excellent learning tool.

That said, the 2.0 rollout was a disaster. Some things, like the issue with settings being deleted, the prize bugs, and the massive lag and server instability, are mostly fixed now. Other things, like the force-fed 4-3-2-2’s, the ever-present NP/EP button and the auto-trade status on all newly-drafted cards, may never be fixed.

I’m a reasonable guy. I can forgive them for 2.0 and muster as much understanding as needed. You know me, though. No fading silently into the night for this boy. Chime in on the forums if you’re feeling it. This rant has been for everyone out there with a MODO 2.0 gripe.

Geordie Tait

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