02/02/2011 Feature: "Magic: The Gathering Toolbox"

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This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Looks interesting. Does anyone else find the pricing scheme a little silly? I'm curious to know what prompted them to do it that way.
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Android please.
I refuse to own anything Apple on mulitple different principles. 
Stop using "IMO" in sentences that aren't opinion. If you don't think a deck will ever be tier 1, that's great - but it's not an opinion. It's a prediction of the future. I identify as neither male nor female. You may refer to me with either gender pronoun or the singular they, whichever suits you best. ^_^ Re: Dismember
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Everybody knows that having your awesome creatures killed before they can do anything is frustrating, but the Red mage in me doesn't seem to understand why it's so bad when his creatures spontaneously combust into Flame Javelins and make his opponent discard something at the same time.
Currently Working On: Self-Mill (Standard)

The app looks great but I have some questions and concerns. First I think you should make the ability to save a personal profile picture not just the defaults. Can you back up deck lists to SD cards like previous apps? Because that is a very handy feature.

Now my concerns are while the app is great looking I want to know why WOTC has been attacking other individual app developers and shutting them down with legal action. They have been up for a long time but when you guys decide to make your own app you attack the competition? Why?
My only request: Please develop and release the app on the Windows Phone platform please!

I'd download it on my wife's iPad when available, but I'd much rather have it on my phone so I could easily and quickly use it anywhere.

EDIT: Also, one of the most sought after features for those with smartphones at the store where I play is a price guide for individual cards. Perhaps if the user could select which site he'd like to connect to for card values, and then be able to look it up in the app?

That would be my most requested feature, but I can also understand why Wizards wouldn't want to include such a feature in their own app...  
Suprised there's no pricing plan for "I always want the updates and don't want to pay $.99 every time the fall set rolls around."  Unless that's what the $.99 upgrade does.  It wasn't really clear, even with their examples if you pay once, once a year, or once every time you want the newest content and a core set hasn't come out.
Geez. This app is awesome. 
IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/blitzschnell/0a90721d221e50e5755af156c179fe51.jpg?v=90000) Check out Ars Arcanum, my stat based series on Magic Limited, over at PureMTGO. Here is a link to the archive: http://goo.gl/Zvh6Q

Now my concerns are while the app is great looking I want to know why WOTC has been attacking other individual app developers and shutting them down with legal action. They have been up for a long time but when you guys decide to make your own app you attack the competition? Why?

That sucks.

Also, why only on mobile platforms? :D

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Now my concerns are while the app is great looking I want to know why WOTC has been attacking other individual app developers and shutting them down with legal action. They have been up for a long time but when you guys decide to make your own app you attack the competition? Why?



Citation Needed?  There are still a plethora of life counter apps and deck building apps on the app store, AFAICT, and several searches looking for apps that were shut down comes up with nothing that I can see except for a draft simulator site that was shut down roughly two years ago, and for IMHO eminently understandable reasons (apparently they were using card images, although that's a bit fuzzy).  Give us specific examples and I might be more concerned, but I can't find any evidence that this is anything more than rumor mongering.
As for the app itself, I still have a number of issues with the deck builder (which I've already sent mail about) and with various small bugs scattered through the app - but the germ of a great app is there, and it has the potential to be an absolutely indispensible tool.  I'm not sure I'll use it much as it currently is, but I can't wait to see what it becomes!
Why are you now shutting down third-party deck building apps (like Decked Builder)?

I was very interested in the Toolbox, but if you're shutting down existing popular apps for this, I'm refusing to use the Toolbox.
About the shutting down of the apps, the requested citations

forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t...

www.plattysoft.com/2012/01/30/why-there-... 
About the shutting down of the apps, the requested citations

forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t...

www.plattysoft.com/2012/01/30/why-there-... 

...Wait, what?

While Wizards doesn't have the best track record for being on what I believe is the right side of IP issues, it's still a disappointment when they misstep like this. Shutting down fan-created apps with takedown notices and legal warnings generates nothing but negative PR and harms their player base. And the timing in this particular case tells fans "We love it when you do cool things to make Magic better! ...Until we decide to try it ourselves. Then we won't like you any more." Which is an absolutely terrible message to send to people.

It's true that these apps are technically in competition with Wizards' app, but trying to shut them down is shortsighted. Their existence creates a win-win situation for the company: no matter which apps users ultimately decide to use, it still boosts Wizards' bottom line because all of them push people towards playing Magic. And the more different apps are out there, the more likely any given person is going to find one that they like using--if the only app out there is the official one, then if a player doesn't like it Wizards has failed to capture them, whereas if there were more they'd still have a chance because one of the other apps might appeal more to that person. Competition among app makers would benefit Wizards even if they didn't win the competition themselves.

There are so many better paths Wizards could have taken here--they could have offered a cheap (or even free) license to fan-based app makers the same way they have a license for fan-based website makers. They could have reached out to the developers of these existing apps and brought them or their code in-house to improve the official app. Even just sending out polite emails first rather than legal notices and takedowns would have been a far preferable move to sending in the lawyers right away as seems to have been done.

Lawyers should be your last resort, not your first.

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Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I like the app. Just been reading the citations of Wizards taking down the other 3rd party apps. I can understand why wizards want to protect their IP especially when the app they have released is actually a really nicely designed app.

From the MTG salvation forum there's people talking about apps they've made that have extra functionality not included in the MTG toolbox app. I would be surprised if these things don't become available with updates.
The app feels really nice. Although, I'm very disappointed that the event calendar doesn't include PTQ's. I realize that would be a lot of region-specific data, but it would be incredibly helpful to a grinder like me.

I wasn't aware of the mass takedown. That makes me not want to support this app any longer. I had never downloaded a single magic related app for my phone, so the takedown didn't affect me whatsoever. But, just the fact that they would do that, rather than compete by offering a superior product (I mean, seriously, they would be the only ones able to access the Wizards database, giving them an enormous leg up on the competition in functionality anyway.) really bothers me. I won't be spending any money on this app. I'll gladly leech the free features, though! Thanks Wizards!

Edit: After reading the thread about the takedown, I've decided to also rate down the app with a 1-star. From what I've read, many of the apps taken down offered superior functionality in a number of ways. Sad.
I like the app. Just been reading the citations of Wizards taking down the other 3rd party apps. I can understand why wizards want to protect their IP especially when the app they have released is actually a really nicely designed app.

From the MTG salvation forum there's people talking about apps they've made that have extra functionality not included in the MTG toolbox app. I would be surprised if these things don't become available with updates.


Some may, some may not. If there is no need to innovate to stay on top (aka no competition allowed), I don't see why they should add extra features. I mean from the business point of view.

Pricing of cards is something you are most likely to not have, it is not their service.
Some feedback:





  • The card image looks blurry in the iPhone 4 and doesn't fit the whole screen. Example. C'mon, the most important part of your game are the cards and they look ugly on your app. This is a major issue, IMO.




  • The format menu is sorted alphabetically, which means to get a Standard filter you have to scroll past stuff like "Ice Age Block Constructed". Just make it Standard, Modern and then sort the rest. Or better yet, Block Constructed should open a submenu with all the blocks.




  • No iPad version yet. They had screenshots of it, so it's probably coming.




  • Card search is clunky. I shouldn't have to go back to the search results so I can see the next card. I should be able to just swipe to the next one (both in card info and card picture view). Also, resetting the search terms is currently very laggy.




  • No "Visual Spoiler" like arrangement of cards. Again, the cards are the most important part of the game. Search should be a "quick and dirty" way to look at a specific card, but there should be a "Sets" option in the main menu which lets me select a specific set and I could browse all of its cards in a grid Visual Spoiler like interface (or coverflow like). Again, looking at the cards should be easier are more fun.




  • There's a DailyMTG reader which is very nice, but it's just a wrapper for WebKit, which is understandable. The thing is, it's still hard to browse WotC site with iOS, because sometimes you touch the card and instead of getting the mouseover thing, it goes to the gatherer page.




  • The "home" button on the top is nice, but it's against the standard iOS placement. I kept tapping the upper left button, only to find out it did something other than taking me back to where I was.




  • No access to comprehensive rules, card clarifications or quick rule guide. Hopefully this is planned.




  • While the Deck Builder is nice, a "Collection" feature should be equally easy to make and also pretty nice. Again, this is probably planned.




 The app so far is really cool and should be very useful!
Android?
Why order people to take down the stuff they've made? I'm sure WotC has a right to do so but I'm not sure they have a reason, really. I understand that using card images is using copyrighted material, and I understand that if it's not a free app that means using those images to make money... but the thing is, the app makers aren't claiming to own Magic, they're creating reference material that uses the images in an index and the like.

And why take the Android stuff down, even assuming you've got a reason to in the first place, when your app doesn't even have an Android version yet?

If someone above your heads in Corporate didn't order you to do this, WotC, I'm very disappointed.
At first, I was disappointed that it wasn't a universal app. I'm not going to bother running anything 2x on an iPad, guys. But whatever, I thought. I still have these really great third party apps.

But now that I find out that they're also going after the 3rd party apps, I'm outraged. Screw you, Wizards. Screw you and the horse you rode in on.
I too was planning on downloading the app until I found out about the crackdown on 3rd party apps.   While I'm sure they have the legal right to do so and I understand WotC is a business, this can only have a negative impact (albeit small) on the community.  I'm also forgoing my usual booster box purchase for DKA, and instead will be giving my money to card stores by just buying the singles I need instead.  I agree with a lot of WotC's decisions but this one just has a greedy, corporate feel about it IMO.  Hopefully they'll change their stance, as I was looking forward to the app and would still like to download it.
No multiplayer support...
Commander damage doesn't subtract life from life total.   It doesn't even show how much commander damage has been done, unless you go into the sub-screen.

Otherwise it isn't terrible, but it isn't as good as some other apps. 
Android.
Looks interesting. Does anyone else find the pricing scheme a little silly? I'm curious to know what prompted them to do it that way.


I think the pricing scheme is brilliant.  Players who always want the new set immediately can pay $.99 for each set.  Players who don't want to spend money can simply wait to get the sets free with the next core set release.  Players who skip a set can catch up for a single payment of $.99 at any time.  I think it should provide a reasonable revenue stream for Wizards while satisfying the vast majority of players.
I was really looking forward to this app due to the original article that said it would be availble for the iPad as well as the iPhone.  Having to go 2x on the iPad isn't what I expected and I hope they have another version in the works. 

That said, the app works well enough on the iPhone, but I would like to see a rules database.
1) Don't shut down 3rd party apps, out do them. If I lose functionality in the forced transition to your app, it will negatively effect my desire to purchase products from WotC. I understand if you want your app to be THE app, but trying to mandate it does not make it happen. Making your app the only app on the appstore does not make your app the best. Make your app the best, and it won't matter how many other apps there are, you will be the winner.

2) Give us a price we can pay to get access to the full builder forever. I understand that $3 a year isn't a lot, but the act of needing to fork over the money 3 times builds a steady stream of ill will. Let me pay $9.99 or whatever it needs to be and get it over with forever.

3) The app needs to have its card sets updated the same day as the full visual spoiler comes up for a new set. If we have to wait 2 weeks afterwards, you are going to miss the prime brewing period for that set, and your deckbuilder will be much less useful.

4) The Event finder is a great feature. Please list PTQs in the event finder.

5) There should be an icon to see all the rulings related to a card. You have the advantage that you actually have the authority to make your rulings official. No other app or website can do that. They can try, but any game group will always have that guy that says "but how do we know we can trust X to make a ruling". You are immune from that, and you can play it up.

6) Have secondary market sites like SCG, etc apy you to be available as "Buy my deck from " options in your app. Get them to set up some kind of API so you can get deck prices. I know that people buying from these sites does not directly benefit you, but it does benefit those sites, and they will pay for the priviledge to be listed as options in the official app. You can't stop people going to those sites to buy their cards, but you can get a piece of the action if you make it seemless to the user.
Hm.  I payed $6 dollars for Decked HD.  It is my most used app on my iPad.  Can I have $6 in credit because you shut it down?  I love that app and I use it everytime I build a deck to do test draws.

Also, why not just have a set price that covers everything between the core sets?  If the way I understand their pricing scheme is correct:
Buy first expansion = $1, Buy second expansion = $1, Buy third expansion = $1   GRAND TOTAL: $3
Wait till third expansion to buy all three = $1  GRAND TOTAL: $1
Wait till next core = FREE????

This has WOTC corporate greed written all over it.  I would gladly pay $10 to just unlock every set for the rest of my life.  Not only am I losing my favorite deck building app, I have to spend more money to keep the utility that app gave me.

Whats humorous is, the iPhone has been out since 2007 and the iPad since 2010.  Why has it taken this long for Wizards to make something?  It's a reaction to the fact that other apps exist, not an attempt to supply something to the community.  For a game that has such a great community, Wizards sure doesn't treat it with any respect.  

I'd rather use a spindown counter than keep life totals on this thing.  It's the principle of it all. 
Too bad only a third of your user base can use it right now because you've failed to release it for Android. Nice feature article LOL
You Android complainers need to a) read the other articles that said they are coming out with an Android version and b) realize that Android programming, due to the open-source, multiple versions, makes it a lot more difficult to design and stress test.  If they released a version for the Android that didn't work on your particular device, you would complain also, so why not wait until they have time to release something that works across all of the versions instead of complaining they didn't release one yet.

Commander damage doesn't subtract life from life total.   It doesn't even show how much commander damage has been done, unless you go into the sub-screen.



It is possible to take Commander damage without your life total changing (For example someone's Commander is Skithiryx or you have Platinum Empirion out) so I think it not subtracting from your life total is intentional.

Any chance we will ever see a feature to buy and sell our online cards in the app? Wow has an mobile version of thier auction house and that would be incredible for magic online.



It might be wishful thinking, the team behind this probably doesn't have anything to do with Magic online.

About the shutting down of the apps, the requested citations

forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t...

www.plattysoft.com/2012/01/30/why-there-... 



Thank you - I appreciate the citations.  Admittedly, having read through the MTG Salvation thread, at this point my reaction is that I'm surprised it took them this long - it looks as though the apps targeted were primarily deckbuilding apps (and in at least one case a game simulator) using card images.  I agree that Wizards issuing takedowns now feels a little sketchy, but it seems clear that the great bulk of the apps targeted were the ones specifically making money off of Wizards' property - I haven't seen anything about life tracker apps, for instance, being aimed at at all. While it feels like Wizards is being a little overzealous about it, the root effort really feels well within their rights both legally (obviously) but also morally.

About the shutting down of the apps, the requested citations

forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t...

www.plattysoft.com/2012/01/30/why-there-... 

...Wait, what? Ugh.

Once again I'm unpleasantly surprised by Wizards harming their player base in the name of useless, overzealous IP enforcement. Though really, at this point I'm even more surprised that I'm dumb enough to still be surprised at new examples of a consistent pattern. I should start being surprised when they do things right when it comes to IP enforcement.

...Which hasn't actually happened yet that I can recall. Oh wait, no, I forgot--they're not sending out DMCA takedowns to third-party forums or discussion sites, so at least they have that one right. For now.


Let me put my foot down here firmly in opposition to the apparent populist arguments against WotC policies.
Independant app makers are charging money for use of information that includes two things, Magic: The Gathering licensed names and its trademark. These profit on the use and sale of WotC property without WotC gaining a share (unlike game stores or markets, which purchase the product from WotC under agreement with how they use this product), which infringes on the corporate right to control access to trademarks that they own. There are many reasons to dislike corporations who engage in heavy-handed behavior against so-called competitors, but this is not one of them. I think keeping a fair mind about this would be to all of our benefit.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
I find it irksome that this is the second time they've "featured" this app - once well before it was released, and now, and yet it's still not an app I can use because I refuse to own any iDevices. They should have done a simultaneous iPhone / Android roll-out, especially if they're taking the time to feature on Daily. What are they going to do, feature it again when the Android version comes out? Just silly.

Something I didn't see in the description was a price-checker. Without being able to see card prices, this will never become a real replacement for other M:tG apps, but will run alongside them. E.g. I may use this app for most things but I'll keep my other app because it shows prices and this doesn't.
Why exactly did you feel the need to take up half the main page for this?
blah blah metal lyrics
Why exactly did you feel the need to take up half the main page for this?


Money making opportunity. They are selling a commodity.
"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
When you make something using someone else's IP, you have to understand that you are doing so at risk of getting shut down. Getting butthurt about what is pretty standard practice seems silly. And its extreeemely unlikely that anyone at Wizards was the decision maker on this process, these sorts of things are handled by the lawyers and upper management, not by the grunts on ground floor.

When you make something using someone else's IP, you have to understand that you are doing so at risk of getting shut down. Getting butthurt about what is pretty standard practice seems silly. And its extreeemely unlikely that anyone at Wizards was the decision maker on this process, these sorts of things are handled by the lawyers and upper management, not by the grunts on ground floor.




While that is the reality of it, yes, it is in our, the customer's, best interest to fight against these monopolistic practices. Wizards (Or Hasbro, as the case may be) is very deliberately removing competition. It is fully within their legal right to do so, but we also have a right to protest this action.

By eliminating all of the competition through legal means they are able to offer an incredibly inferior product and charge whatever price they want for it. This directly harms us. (For the record, I have no real problem with their current pricing scheme.)

If you are in protest of this, the absolute best way to respond is to downvote the app. If the app reaches 3 stars, the people responsible will most certainly take notice.
I was axcited for this app because I very much liked the look and feel that it had, but now that I've seen that I'll have to pay for sets to use them in the deckbuilder part of the app...no thank you.  I will stay with my free app that allows me to build decks for free.  It's things like this that make it hard for me to remain a fan of WoTC, make it cost 2 or 3 bucks to get and free afterwards sure..but a buck every set, I'm not going to pay that for something I can get for free.  Even if they shut down the free ones I will not.

What a let down.
Let me put my foot down here firmly in opposition to the apparent populist arguments against WotC policies.
Independant app makers are charging money for use of information that includes two things, Magic: The Gathering licensed names and its trademark. These profit on the use and sale of WotC property without WotC gaining a share (unlike game stores or markets, which purchase the product from WotC under agreement with how they use this product), which infringes on the corporate right to control access to trademarks that they own. There are many reasons to dislike corporations who engage in heavy-handed behavior against so-called competitors, but this is not one of them. I think keeping a fair mind about this would be to all of our benefit.

Whether or not WotC has the legal right to do this--they probably do--is irrelevant. The ability to do something doesn't make it a good idea to do it.

Are these apps infringing on WotC property? Perhaps. But the entire purpose of these third-party apps is to make it easier for players to play and enjoy Magic--Wizards of the Coast's product. If the third-party app makers are making money, they're doing so by providing services that make people more likely to spend money on Magic. They are increasing the value of Wizards of the Coast's primary product at no cost to WotC.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

While that is the reality of it, yes, it is in our, the customer's, best interest to fight against these monopolistic practices.



What is monopolistic about this practice?  Wizards isn't shutting down other deckbuilding games on the App Store; they're not even shutting down life tracker apps.  What they're shutting down is apps using their content.  Calling this 'monopolistic' is like calling calling CBS monopolistic because you can't watch 60 Minutes on Fox.