Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Bugwalkers



  • Wizards of the Coast recently launched one of their computer games, Duels of the Planeswalkers on the PC. It's a game based on the trading card game Magic the Gathering. For those of you who don't know it, I'll briefly explain it. It's a trading card game with many, many different cards. Players must construct a deck with about 60 of those cards and then play against eachother. Basically you "summon" creatures and "cast" spells. The goal is to bring the other player's life points down from 20 to 0. Duels of the Planeswalkers is full of WTF's, it's really incredible how much they screwed it up.

    The game was released on the Xbox before and the PC version is an almost direct port, which is clearly visible in some parts of the game. From time to time the game displays which buttons to press to perform certain actions and it shows Xbox gamepad keys rather than the PC keys.

    You can customize the keys in the options, but for some reason when I change the keys the old keys also keep working. For example, by default "continue" is bound to Tab, and I changed it to Spacebar. I can still continue with the Tab key. This is especially troublesome since the game is on Steam, and to open the Steam overlay (to chat with people, for example) you need to press Shift+Tab. So now whenever I open the Steam overlay, I also "continue" in the game.

    The game features a campaign in which you have to beat several opponents. Once you defeat one opponent, the next one unlocks and you can play against it. But sometimes when you win a game, the next one does not get unlocked. This happened to me a few times, and after winning several times (a seemingly random amount) the next one did get unlocked.
    There was on particular interesting situation, though. I defeated the "last" opponent for a given part of the game and I got the achievement that I defeated them. However in the game it still lists as not completed. Also to "unlock 100%" of the game, I have to defeat that opponent (and thus have it marked as completed). I have played (and won) against that opponent about 10 times now.

    The game features "leaderboards" where you can see your score (which you can get by playing online) and compare it to other's. Whenever I press the leaderboards button the game crashes.

    From time to time the game becomes horribly slow. It's not a very graphically impressive game at all (it only features a 3D "arena" in which cards are played, and some really simple graphical effects) but sometimes it drops to about 5 to 10 frames per second, for no apparent reason.

    There are several fundamental flaws with the gameplay itself. I won't go into too much detail because you won't get it if you don't play the game yourself. But for example you can't choose yourself which resources to use for a certain spell, the game does that for you (let's say of you have 6 of X and 1 of Y, and you need 1 of X and 5 random for one spell and 1 of Y for another spell, the game could automatically use 5X and 1Y for the first spell so you can't use the other spell anymore).

    And the biggest WTF is with the AI. The game relies on a certain random factor for its gameplay: the deck of cards that you play with has to be shuffled before you play. Every turn you draw a card from the deck, so it's random which card you will get next. That is one of the most fundamental aspects of the game, in my eyes, because you will have to work with the cards that you get and make good decisions on how to use them well, and anticipating on your opponent's actions.
    The game breaks this horribly, because instead of shuffling (or randomizing) your deck of cards, it actually sorts them to make the game easier or harder.
    When you set the game to the lowest difficulty the opponent always has the worst possible cards and very low "resources" (so even if he has good cards which require high resources, he can't use them). Also on the lowest difficulty your own deck gets sorted in a way that you always have plenty of resources and the very best cards.
    When you set it to the highest difficulty, the opposite happens: the opponent always has a lot of resources and very good cards. Also your own deck gets sorted in a way to make it more difficult. You don't get as few resources as your opponent gets in a lower difficulty, but you don't get as much as you would get in the lowest difficulty. Also the cards that you get are considerably less powerful.
    Please note that all of this is with the exact same deck of cards.

    PS. I know that "random is random" but I started off with the highest difficulty and noticed that the opponent never had too few resources, even after 10s of matches. I already suspected the deck sorting then, so I played a lot of matches in the lowest difficulty and notices the opponent always had too few resources.



  • For the steam/tab/button problem, complain on the steam support forum for the game. I had another game with problems on steam, and they fixed it within a week.



  • @Daid said:

    For the steam/tab/button problem, complain on the steam support forum for the game. I had another game with problems on steam, and they fixed it within a week.

    Well yes I plan to make a similar post on the Steam forums and hope they will read it and fix some of the bugs. However it almost seems as though they didn't test the game at all, because some of the bugs are so very obvious (like the leaderboards crash and the Tab "problem"). Out of all keys on the keyboard, why would they choose the Tab key when integrating with Steam. XD



  • Q: How can you tell that someone has never played a M:tG video game before?

    A: They're playing the latest M:tG video game.

    Q: How can you tell that someone has played a M:tG video game before?

    A: They're laughing at the idiots tripping over all the bugs in the latest M:tG video game.



  • I've got Orions: Legends of Wizards on my 10 year old Pocket PC - it runs better than M:tG and it plays better. It's actually fun, whereas playing M:tG isn't.

    What always got me is the seemingly random control scheme - anything that should be easy ends up being a Krypton Factor challenge involving holding several buttons and nudging both sticks with your eyelids whilst hanging upside down trying to avoid the razor sharp mouth of a menstrual crocodile.

    Of course this was on 360 - and now I have Red Dead Redemption and can shoot coyotes in the face...! Win.



  • @Charleh said:

    now I have Red Dead Redemption and can shoot coyotes in the face...! Win.
     

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.



  • @TehFreek said:

    Q: How can you tell that someone has never played a M:tG video game before?

    A: They're playing the latest M:tG video game.

    Q: How can you tell that someone has played a M:tG video game before?

    A: They're laughing at the idiots tripping over all the bugs in the latest M:tG video game.

     

    Thanks for calling me an idiot, but no, I played the old MicroProse Magic video game (which was a lot of fun and didn't actually have that may bugs, at least not big ones). Also tried Magic the Gathering Online which I didn't like so much (but I have not played it enough to spot any big bugs).

    Also your point is totally invalid because all those video games are made by different developers.

    The case with Duels of the Planeswalkers is just terrible. No product should contain that kind of bugs. As I said it almost seemed as though they didn't test it at all.



  • Good read, thanks. Both for the read and the heads-up.

    How do you keep up? Is it as bad on the Xbox as you suggest it is? Did you think of a refund? Or at the very least, retaliation?



  •  The sorting bit is a common shortcut taken by people who for some reason cannot write a proper AI. The right way to make the game easier or harder is to make the AI smarter or dumber. But if the smartest AI you can make is not particularly smart, you have to make difficulty levels some other way.



  • @dhromed said:

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

     

    Heh, isn't that kinda ZP's thing? 



  • Have been playing it as well. But I'm just a casual Mt:g player. (never got the point of spending money to get better cards and ante rules where banned at the local geek club)

    Haven't noticed any glitches or bugs yet, but haven't played all that much.  But I like the puzzles better then the actual campaign mode. What annoyed me most was how horrible the deck builder is. I can't seem to figure out how to remove/add cards to the deck, which, atleast to me, would be a quite basic function.



  • I got that game on the XBox, and the auto-land-tapping thing bugged me, too. Although most of the time it was actually decently smart about it, if I recall correctly.



  • @pbean said:

    (...)I played the old MicroProse Magic video game (which was a lot of fun and didn't actually have that may bugs, at least not big ones).(...)

    Loved that one, hated all the ones that came after it.

    I was considering not buying the latest M:tG game because that would drain what little social life I still have. Now thanks to the OP I have made a sure decision about never buying this game at all.



  • @dhromed said:

    @Charleh said:

    now I have Red Dead Redemption and can shoot coyotes in the face...! Win.
     

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

     

    Yahtzee isn't a reviewer, he's a critic. BIG difference.

    Zad



  • @EJ_ said:

    Heh, isn't that kinda ZP's thing? 
     

    I think he's plenty positive about good stuff.

    Actually, his review of RDR was favourable enough, but there were aspects of it that I deemded important that he deemed suck.

    He's just one voice, obviously, so that's why I'm trying to instigate dialogue here.

    @Zadkiel said:

    Yahtzee isn't a reviewer, he's a critic. BIG
    difference.
     

    This is not a distinction that is of any
    consequence to me whatsoever.

     



  • @stratos said:

    Have been playing it as well. But I'm just a casual Mt:g player. (never got the point of spending money to get better cards and ante rules where banned at the local geek club)

    Haven't noticed any glitches or bugs yet, but haven't played all that much.  But I like the puzzles better then the actual campaign mode. What annoyed me most was how horrible the deck builder is. I can't seem to figure out how to remove/add cards to the deck, which, atleast to me, would be a quite basic function.

     

    Well the stupid thing is that you're not supposed to edit your deck like you normally would. You can only switch the unlocked cards in and out of the deck. I really hate that as wel, because it leaves me with some bad cards in my deck which I will have to play at some point.

    After playing a while I got the feeling that Duels of the Planeswalkers is more of a marketing campaign to get gamers to play the card game rather than an actual computer game.

    [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]@pbean said:

    (...)I played the
    old MicroProse Magic video game (which was a lot of fun and didn't
    actually have that may bugs, at least not big ones).(...)

    Loved that one, hated all the ones that came after it.

    I was considering not buying the latest M:tG game because that would drain what little social life I still have. Now thanks to the OP I have made a sure decision about never buying this game at all.

    [/quote] 

    I hadn't played Magic (with cards) for a long before starting again a few months ago, and in the gap (about 10 years) I only played the MicroProse game because I thought it was fun enough. I don't really know what other games were released since then, except for Online and Duels of the Planeswalkers.

    Duels of the Planeswalkers is fun enough for its price (about 10 euro I think) because it still has a few hours of gameplay. The campaign and puzzles are fun to complete and a few extra duels are fun too. I especially like the Two Headed Giant mode where you can play a campaign together with someone else on the same computer. But once you've played with a couple of decks a few times and unlocked one or two decks it gets really boring, because you can't edit the decks.



  • @dhromed said:

    @Charleh said:

    now I have Red Dead Redemption and can shoot coyotes in the face...! Win.
     

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

    I happen to love RDR.  The multiplayer is more coop based as opposed to kill everybody.  So its a nice compliment to mw2.  Its GTA5 basically. so if you liked that you'll like this.

     By the way, send me your gamertags in pm.  Would be fun to play a few rounds with you folks. And since I don't care who has mine, its bacfeg.



  • Ah yeah the old microprose gam, I liked that. buggy as hell though, but the walking around collecting cards was fun.

    The deck editor was awesome in that game. I remember either via the deck editor or by just editing the deck file/save game (dunno anymore) created a deck consisting only of land cards and plague rats. (power and thougness equal to the number of plague rats in the game).  The game didn't mind that at all ;) did get borring after a while though.



  •  @stratos said:

    Ah yeah the old microprose gam, I liked that. buggy as hell though, but the walking around collecting cards was fun.

    The deck editor was awesome in that game. I remember either via the deck editor or by just editing the deck file/save game (dunno anymore) created a deck consisting only of land cards and plague rats. (power and thougness equal to the number of plague rats in the game).  The game didn't mind that at all ;) did get borring after a while though.

    That was a good back-in-the-day game.  I can still get it to work on Windows XP (no DOSBox required!) so I wouldn't call that too buggy -- it crashed less often than Dragon Age does, at least.  I loved working with the early sets and expansions from 1994, and actually getting to toss an Ancestral Recall and a Lotus or two into a deck.  Their "dungeo" mechanics and permanent enchantments made for some interesting playing, too.  

     

    /nostalgia



  • @North Bus said:

     @stratos said:

    Ah yeah the old microprose gam, I liked that. buggy as hell though, but the walking around collecting cards was fun.

    The deck editor was awesome in that game. I remember either via the deck editor or by just editing the deck file/save game (dunno anymore) created a deck consisting only of land cards and plague rats. (power and thougness equal to the number of plague rats in the game).  The game didn't mind that at all ;) did get borring after a while though.

    That was a good back-in-the-day game.  I can still get it to work on Windows XP (no DOSBox required!) so I wouldn't call that too buggy -- it crashed less often than Dragon Age does, at least.  I loved working with the early sets and expansions from 1994, and actually getting to toss an Ancestral Recall and a Lotus or two into a deck.  Their "dungeo" mechanics and permanent enchantments made for some interesting playing, too.  

     

    /nostalgia

    Yeah, system wise it wasn't very buggy, but it was sometimes frustrating when you were about to deal a last blow to one of the great wizards and they entered an infinite loop while deciding what to do next.

    Also, the game tended to get a little crazy if you got too many hit points. And the AI could be better, too: sometimes it insisted in attacking me with creatures that could cause no damage at all, as long as I didn't have anything to block said attackers.



  • @North Bus said:

     [quote
    user="stratos"]

    Ah yeah the old microprose gam, I liked that.
    buggy as hell though, but the walking around collecting cards was fun.

    The
    deck editor was awesome in that game. I remember either via the deck
    editor or by just editing the deck file/save game (dunno anymore)
    created a deck consisting only of land cards and plague rats. (power and
    thougness equal to the number of plague rats in the game).  The game
    didn't mind that at all ;) did get borring after a while though.

    That
    was a good back-in-the-day game.  I can still get it to work on Windows
    XP (no DOSBox required!) so I wouldn't call that too buggy -- it
    crashed less often than Dragon Age does, at least.  I loved working with
    the early sets and expansions from 1994, and actually getting to toss
    an Ancestral Recall and a Lotus or two into a deck.  Their "dungeo"
    mechanics and permanent enchantments made for some interesting playing,
    too.  

     

    /nostalgia

    [/quote]

    Haha now I'm getting nostalgic as well, I want to install it again! I actually tried to install it a while back on Windows 7, but that didn't work. But when I started to play Magic (a few months ago) I installed it on my laptop running Windows XP and that worked like a charm. The card game had a few bugs (like Renan pointed out) but normally you wouldn't run into them. :P

    The RPG on the other hand (I think it was called Shandalar) was very buggy. It used to be a lot of fun to play on a "slow" computer but if you run it on any kind of modern computer it bugs the hell out (regardless of what operating system you use).

      [quote user="Renan "C#" Sousa"]Yeah, system wise it wasn't very buggy, but it was sometimes frustrating when you were about to deal a last blow to one of the great wizards and they entered an infinite loop while deciding what to do next.

    Also, the game tended to get a little crazy if you got too many hit points. And the AI could be better, too: sometimes it insisted in attacking me with creatures that could cause no damage at all, as long as I didn't have anything to block said attackers.[/quote] 

    In Duels of the Planeswalkers these kind of bugs also return, I forgot to mention them. :P Sometimes they cast a creature and literally never do anything with them, neither attack nor block (and interestingly it's always the same cards).



  • @Zadkiel said:

    @dhromed said:
    @Charleh said:
    now I have Red Dead Redemption and can shoot coyotes in the face...! Win.

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

    Yahtzee isn't a reviewer, he's a critic. BIG difference.

    Zad

    In this case the criticism is valid though: the game really [b]is[/b] buggy as all hell -- atleast the PS3 version is.

    There are the purely cosmetic bugs like animations 'freezing', which can cause any animated asset to suddenly slide across the screen like a static chess piece.

    There are the annoying bugs, like models and textures glitching in and out of existance, sometimes resorting in you being slowly picked off by that bandit you can't quite get into your crosshairs because the game doesn't render his model. (This results in you painting the landscape with your shotgun until he gets hit or decides to relocate and suddenly the game decides it might want to load that graphics asset and actually display him after all.) Or your horse becoming stuck inside a rock wall (or randomly dissappearing and never coming back, or randomly dropping dead at your feet, or randomly falling through the ground, etc...)

    There are the aggrevating ones, like having to restart an escort mission, because the NPC you're accompanying suddenly suffers from an AI 'freeze' at which point he/she will just stand there out in the open as every hostile in the vicinity opens fire on him/her.

    And if you're unlucky enough, there are the hair-pulling ones like the game ending a 2 hr mission in a hard lockup before the auto-save completes. At that point you can either redo those two hours, or redo the entire game, because the lockup flat-out corrupted the game's installed data and save games. If you're [b]particularly[/b] unlucky, like the one or two players on older PS3 systems that have already having reported it, such a lockup might even corrupt the data of anything or everything installed on the console.

    Lastly, there are bugs in the [i]'Who cares if it works! Ship it!'[/i]-category, like the special pre-order bonus for the game not being obtainable, because one can easily put the game into a state where a key NPC relating to the bonus quest never spawns.

    And just to add insult to injury: what does Rockstar decide to do with their first patch? The one they promised to release quickly to fix all the above issues? They nerf the multiplayer experience gains to artificially lengthen the game time! (Grind moar!!!) Luckily, besides being occupied with prematurely re-balancing the game, they also found the time to fix 'numerous random crashes' and 'improve the multiplayer experience'. A number of players already report to the contrary, suffering from increased number of crashes after the (mandatory) patch and a greater number of multiplayer network disconnects.

    Fallout 3 was Oblivion with guns? Think again...

    PS: It's not [b]all[/b] bad though. To their credit, Rockstar [i]did[/i] fix the pre-order bonus as promised. So yeah; hooray for the early adopters! Whoop-tee-effing-doo! -_-



  • @pbean said:

    The game was released on the Xbox before and the PC version is an almost direct port, which is clearly visible in some parts of the game. From time to time the game displays which buttons to press to perform certain actions and it shows Xbox gamepad keys rather than the PC keys.

    Devil's Advocate: did you have an Xbox controller plugged-in to your PC at the time? That could be normal.

    And as others have posted, has there ever been a *good* Magic: The Gathering game in the history of gaming? Nope. It's one of those properties like Superman-- if you see it in a game store, run quickly the other direction.



  • @EJ_ said:

    @dhromed said:

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

     

    Heh, isn't that kinda ZP's thing? 

    ZP = Zero Punctuation?

    In that case, he hates everything. Hell, most of the time he doesn't even get around to reviewing the game he's ostensibly supposed to be reviewing, he's just ranting on unrelated things he hates. Frankly, I don't give a crap what Yahtzee thinks.



  •  The old Microprose game has been updated by the userbase.

    Working installer http://www.slightlymagic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2349

     



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @EJ_ said:

    @dhromed said:

    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

     

    Heh, isn't that kinda ZP's thing? 

    ZP = Zero Punctuation?

    In that case, he hates everything. Hell, most of the time he doesn't even get around to reviewing the game he's ostensibly supposed to be reviewing, he's just ranting on unrelated things he hates. Frankly, I don't give a crap what Yahtzee thinks.

     

    Except Portal.



  • @powerlord said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    In that case, he hates everything. Hell, most of the time he doesn't even get around to reviewing the game he's ostensibly supposed to be reviewing, he's just ranting on unrelated things he hates. Frankly, I don't give a crap what Yahtzee thinks.

     

    Except Portal.

     

    And Fallout 3.

    Portal
    is the best PC game EVAR, Portal 2 comes out next year too

    I think HL2:EP3 may be coming out before Portal 2



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Frankly, I don't give a crap what Yahtzee thinks.
     

    Well, who gives a shit what you think, I love his reviews content.



  • I like ZP as well. He's quite funny as long as you are not a fan of the game he is reviewing. (I don't particularly agree with him on final fantasy)

    He does have a rather obvious flaw though, as long as the game anything new(ish) he will review it more favorably. (portal, braid)

    As far as review vs. entertainment. I think you can use him as review material, you just have to keep in mind that he does the reverse of most mainstream game reviews. He highlights all the negative aspects and none of the good.
    But having said that, game reviews are mostly useless anyway. At least the opinion bits in it. Personally I just try to view a few gameplay video's when I am doubting about a game, for the most part they will show me everything I need to know.



  • @stratos said:

    Personally I just try to view a few gameplay video's when I am doubting about a game, for the most part they will show me everything I need to know.

    Aye, because ZP doesn't show any in-game footage, I tend to look up a game on 'tube after I've hit my quotum of hearty laffs.



  •  you are familiar with mtgo right?

     

     

     



  • @Ragnax said:

    @Zadkiel said:
    @dhromed said:
    @Charleh said:
    now I have Red Dead Redemption and can shoot coyotes in the face...! Win.
    I considered RDR, but ZP's review was fairly unfavourable.

    Yahtzee isn't a reviewer, he's a critic. BIG difference.

    Zad

    In this case the criticism is valid though: the game really is buggy as all hell -- atleast the PS3 version is.

     

    360 FTW



  • @TehFreek said:

    Q: How can you tell that someone has never played a M:tG video game before?

    A: They're playing the latest M:tG video game.

    Q: How can you tell that someone has played a M:tG video game before?

    A: They're laughing at the idiots tripping over all the bugs in the latest M:tG video game.

     Sorry. The problem is software from WotC. They have tried producing a lot of software over the past 10 years, and have failed miserably every time. Either their Magic the Gathering, or Dungeons and Dragons franchises.

     Some of the stuff released by third party developers is quite decent, but everything they have largely managed in house is buggy and poorly supported in my experience. The best examples are their various websites for playing their games online.



  • @badcaseofspace said:

    How do you keep up? Is it as bad on the Xbox as you suggest it is? Did you think of a refund? Or at the very least, retaliation?
    The Xbox 360 version has been almost trouble-free for me, without any controller issues (because you can't change the controls at all) or AI lockups (although it still has the "if the enemy is wide open, FULL SWING!!!" bug) or crashiness (now that one's a mystery to me).
    The only trouble I had was with the promo: if you got the game within 6 months of release, you'd enter a code on Wizards' site and they'd send you a promo card (foil alternate-art Garruk Wildspeaker) which happened to have the same value as the game itself, so the game was essentially free -- assuming you could get their site to work!

    The PC version has been just as skull-crushingly problematic as described, for me, but once again it's essentially free, so I don't mind.
    (Note to buyers of the PC version: The promo for you all is a foil alternate-art Nissa Revane, but Wizards isn't sending them out; you "Register game..." in Steam, and once you enter in your personal information, they give you a voucher to pick it up at your local hobby store.)

    @TehFreek said:
    Q: How can you tell that someone has played a M:tG video game before?
    A: They're laughing at the idiots tripping over all the bugs in the latest M:tG video game.
    At least this is better than M:tG: Battlegrounds for the original Xbox. That abomination's manual has 4 whole pages devoted to "How this game differs from the card version", including but not limited to having a Vanguard-style avatar you control pick up "mana crystals" from the battlefield completely replacing lands.



  • @TwelveBaud said:

    That abomination's manual has 4 whole pages devoted to "How this game differs from the card version", including but not limited to having a Vanguard-style avatar you control pick up "mana crystals" from the battlefield completely replacing lands.

    Heresy!



  • @blakeyrat said:

    And as others have posted, has there ever been a good Magic: The Gathering game in the history of gaming? Nope. It's one of those properties like Superman-- if you see it in a game store, run quickly the other direction.
    I rather liked Battlegrounds. It's decent, but lacks cards/creatures. I'm not overly critical because I got it for 10$. Haven't noticed any bug, and the single player is quite challenging (stuck on Blue).


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