Cernunnos Morrigu (cmorrigu) wrote,
Cernunnos Morrigu

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Patrick Buckland - Duels of the Planeswalkers: All about AI

Here's an email I just sent in response to the article on Wizards about the MTG DotP XBLA AI:

Dear Patrick Buckland,
Regarding your article "Duels of the Planeswalkers: All about AI":

The problem with the zen-state play you describe is that the included black discard deck has The Rack. So when the AI keeps drawing lands and playing them, it is saying that "right now, this has no consequence based on the state of the game." Which is true. however, what it should be saying is "no consequence, no other moves, but wait, there's The Rack, if I discard this card then next round I will have 1 less life than if I keep this card in hand since I have nothing else to play." That seems like a reasonable logic branch to take, and minimal in terms of additional time.

Speaking of time, and you said it yourself- after the first couple of creatures, blocking becomes very complex. So when there are 6+ creatures on the board, players (especially beginners) need more time to look at each card and ability and figure out how to block effectively. We had something like 8 creatures going, and my opponent ran out of time trying to decide blockers. That is not fun, seems like there should be a way to automatically give more time when there are more creatures involved or ask for more time, or something - especially in player matches.

Moving on to design decisions, I know there are a number of us who want to know about certain aspects of the game, why they are the way they are, and if they will be patched in the future.

There's no concede button, why is that? It is a basic part of the game, to our thought. If I know you're going to win, then I can concede. Maybe you're concerned about boosting, but that will happen regardless of this button. I could see giving it a couple turns before enabling it, just to be sure, but for player matches in particular, there's no reason not to have one that we could see.

Lack of online co-op and 2HG. All of us purchased the game understanding that we could play co-op and 2HG online. This requirement of a 2nd local controller does not meet that understanding at all. From our perspective, this is a huge miss that would add some variety to the game modes.

Small number of challenges. With the number of cards included, those are the only challenges the team could come up with? It seems very light, and the pacing is off for new players. It would be better to have more scenarios involving different abilities and less options to start with, so new players can see how to use them effectively to win in a tight situation. On the other end, having many esoteric multi-card combinations would give experienced players more to think about in terms of playing each deck. Which brings me to another point- It seems like 10-20 challenges per deck would be more reasonable, as it would help players understand the nuances of playing that particular deck and moving the sideboard cards in/out.

Quitting games in Ranked. This would be considered very unsportsmanlike in physical play, so why is it allowed unpenalized online?

Nonselectable Mentor. I am trying to get a friend into the game, they want me to help them through a game. This is what Mentor mode is for, right? Oh, wait, I can't select who I mentor? Who is this random person who just popped in? That's another mode where the understanding is far different from the reality.
Glitches. We've seen many glitches where we are stuck viewing cards, or are unable to select cards for discards, or select blockers, etc. These are very annoying, especially considering the timer keeps running.

Synchronous. Why is everything synchronous? If the UI is separate from the engine, then why do I have to wait when the 3rd player who is dead is watching the combat animations from the 2 players who still live? Why am I not free to look at any card on the board or in graveyard at any time? Many times, I just want to look around while others are playing, but I either pause the game to do so, or I get reset back to my hand.

Bugs/rules. These are all linked, in our minds. Things such as the double-regen for deathtouch are so counter-intuitive that many people think it is a bug. I understand, now, why it happens, but I didn't get the explanation in-game. New players need that explanation of the rules AS APPLIED, not just the rules text to try to puzzle out.

Game Summary. One thing I would really like to see relates to the above and comes in 2 parts. The first is that you mention an efficient way of stating changes to game state. Assuming that it is human-readable or decode-able, why not have an option to email that file to us at the end of a game? That way we would have a record of the game to post/share with others. The second part of that would be in-game replays of matches - particularly our own, our friends', or of top players, staff, leaderboards, etc. Could fast-forward, show from any player, etc. This would be a great way to learn more.

Are the rules going to be updated with the release of M10?

I don't expect a personal reply, but a post covering these and any other FAQs would be very nice.

Thank you.


The Wizards site email form kept erroring out on me, so I looked up a couple emails to send it to.
Tags: mtg
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