Monday, November 23, 2009

A Kingdom for an Oracle

There are several things that currently tick me off with regards to VtES, not the game itself, but the proper support by White Wolf/CCP in general:
  • Lack of Information by White Wolf
  • Missing Comprehensive Information on Rulings
  • Erroneous Rating Website

Lack of Information by White Wolf

The lack of information on VtES on the White Wolf website is appalling. The official VtES website is updated very infrequently, and information on a number of topics is scarce. There is little to no information about new expansions, whether it is the actual release date or contents of the expansion. And I doubt that there will be a preview page before the release date of "Heirs to the Blood". Information on major VtES events on continental championships is also fragmentary at best. Sometimes there are announcements of these tournaments, sometimes there's no information, and the same applies to the results of these major tournaments.

On the other hand, I don't mind the delay of "Heirs to the Blood". Problems with a card manufacturer can happen (and by Murphy's Law will happen at the worst possible moment), and I like a delay more than a lack of quality, as happened with the 3rd Edition expansion. Only White Wolf then needs to inform both the customers and resellers earlier about these kind of delays.

Missing Comprehensive Information on Rulings

The next thing that is really annoying me is the lack of comprehensive on rulings (whether card related or not). Currently LSJ (as current VtES designer and Net*Rep) answers all of the relevant questions in the Usenet Newsgroup "" which are then archived in Google Groups. From time to time (yearly at best) a selected number of rulings is then compiled into the official rulings webpage, which only contains a rather small selection of all rulings. So in the end Google Groups/Search is the current means to find relevant rulings.

But depending on the actual Google search behavior (I call it "Google's search mood") you may find the actual information or not. What makes matters worse is that you may not find the latest ruling. And if you switch the sort order in Google search from "By Relevance" to "By Date" the number of search results may change. So I am always wondering when using the Google search, did I find all relevant rulings, did I find the latest ones? Not a really state of mind.

There is a reason the french players have compiled a huge list of rulings on all VtES cards. Unfortunately they have translated the rulings to french, so it's not commonly usable for the VtES community.

So what's an alternative? Magic the Gathering has a card database called "The Gatherer" (formerly "The Oracle") which not only contains the relevant information for a given card, but also the rulings for this card. I don't need the fancy graphics or an attached discussion thread, but the combination of card information and rulings is more than desirable. The only problem with this is, that for VtES you would need to start such a card database with rulings from scratch for 1300+ crypt and 2000+ library cards. That's would be a huge amount of work, most likely not doable by White Wolf itself, and even a fan-based project would really have a tough job pulling this off.

Erroneous Rating Website

The last major annoyance is the rating system website. Since the change to the new website a couple of years ago, the website and the underlying software/database is in shambles. So deeply flawed that the country and city rankings had to be disabled this year. And the list of additional complaints is long:
  • Large tournaments cannot be entered properly
  • Entering new players is cumbersome.
  • Entering tournaments can easily end in mishaps.
  • Players attributed to wrong countries.
  • ..
As Johannes proposed today in the VtES Usenet Newsgroup, a joint fan-effort for creating a new database and piece of software would really help here. Entering (by the Princes) and managing the ratings (by Robyn) is already 99% based on fan efforts, so taking over the rating system/database itself is not huge step itself anymore.


Weirdling Library said...

I can sign under this with my both hands.

Nico said...

What about the non existing support for Princes and Organizers ?

For instance in Magic or WoW tournaments the judges get a free booster box...

extrala said...

Since I am not Prince and (co-)organize tournaments very rarely, I cannot say anything (good or bad) about their support.