This thread is for discussion of the feature article "Text Me Maybe", which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I was confused for a minuted when I read that bit about echo, I though I had missed a rules change. You always have to pay echo costs when you use a Control Magic effect on a creature with echo. From the comp. rules:
702.29a Echo is a triggered ability. “Echo (cost)” means “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this permanent came under your control since the beginning of your last upkeep, sacrifice it unless you pay (cost).”
So whether or not an echo cost needs to be paid doesn't really need to be communicated. The effect will trigger at the begining of the controler's upkeep which shouldd be a sufficient reminder. All an in-game, visual reminder would do is give players a mostly irrelevant note that might distract them from gameplay or encourage misplays.(Kind of like the mulligan language on the old client.)
Jon, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on card's legibility. My eyesight's good but I'm in my 40s and I generally play on a 14" laptop with 1366x768 screen, and I find that some of the numbers on the card are not always easy to read. In particular, colourless mana costs (which generally is a nuisance rather than a problem) and power/toughness stats (which is a much bigger problem), When there's a complex board state and the cards have shrunk a little to give everything room, the power/toughness box shrinks with them to leave important information as teeny tiny numbers. And the problem can be excacerbated by the colour of the background, particularly for gold and black cards. It's a bit worse in a set like Theros where the power/toughness of the creature can change so much during the game - otherwise you could internalize what all of their values are.
FWIW, I'd love the game to support a truly digital mode where rather than trying to present the cards as depictions of their cardboard selves it embraces just presenting the mechanics, the nature, of th cards in a digital medium. Duels of the planeswalkers takes a couple of steps in that direction, but it's clearly still trying to represent decks of paper cards on a table. I guess this is the danger for a digital version of a successful physical game - to what extent are they existing in their own right rather than as an adjunct to or advert for the paper cards? It's Magic's version of the innovator's dilemma; other similar games that don't have that baggage get to move quickly on choices that work in the digital medium.
I love this kind of attention to detail and usability. I thoroughly support all the blue text proposals here. In an ideal world, MTGO should provide all the information on the game state - it should never be up to the players to remember which of these three permanents was, say, originally owned by an opponent, or entered the battlefield this turn, or suchlike.
On the topic of blue text changes: When I last tried to assemble my Magic Turing Machine in MTGO, there was one big problem: Artificial Evolution's changes don't always show up. In particular, they don't show up if the modified creature type appeared in plural on the original card. So double-hacking 40 copies of Dralnu's Crusade is something of an exercise in frustration because I can't see which ones I've already edited! It'd be great if you could fix this up while you're paying attention to this kind of thing. (A simple lookup table from singular to plural shouldn't be too tricky to implement. You will need some kind of lookup though because some creature types pluralise in nonstandard ways ("Elf"->"Elves") and others don't pluralise at all ("Merfolk"->"Merfolk").)
Creator of the Multiverse database for custom sets, the Magic Turing machine (proving Magic Turing-complete) and the random Magic card generator.