A porn spam bot was the icing on the cake during a Magic: The Gathering Arena tournament this weekend, in an event whose technical problems reminded us all that the digital card game’s client desperately needs a spectator mode.
“Hi, I’m looking for sex with a stranger,” a fake DM from a no doubt very single local read during the Mythic Invicational 2020 tournament over the weekend. That’s because the tournament was relying on direct feeds from players’ computers in order to stream the event online.
Normally, online competitive games allow people to watch matches directly using separate feeds. Join your friends late in Overwatch? Want to see a Dota 2 tournament without the noisy shoutcasters? No problem: both games and a lot of others have a spectator mode just for that purpose. But not Magic: The Gathering Arena.
Instead, the organisers of this year’s Mythic Invitational had to rely on recording each player’s screen individually. The tournament livestream was supposed to wrap up with play among the top eight remaining competitors on Sunday at noon, but was delayed by half an hour, then several hours, and finally postponed altogether due to technical issues. The players continued, however, due to time zone differences, with the plan being to make the recording of those matches available later on.
It was hardly ideal, especially for one of MTG’s most anticipated events of the year. An Invitational was originally slated to take place in the spring but was cancelled due to covid-19. Complications from the ongoing pandemic also threw the rest of the game’s competitive year into disarray. A spectator mode would give fans a way to watch the game directly, whatever difficulties the livestream is experiencing. It would also save players from having to worry about what malware virus is going to get broadcast live.
In this case, it didn’t stop MTG pro Seth Manfield from getting to the finals after a run up through the losers bracket and winning the whole quarter-mil prize pool tournament. On his birthday no less.