Pooka’s Poké-Thoughts #2: Pokémon TCG Online

If you’ve been paying attention to anything I’ve done in the past few years, you know that I love Pokémon TCG Online and want it to succeed more than anything. While the program has made some advancements over the past few months, it has a history of disappointment and frustration for its fans. Of course, I’ve been there for all of it. From the lengthy maintenance to the ridiculous glitches, I’ve stuck with it. Two years later, we’re still sitting in the open beta with a new downloadable client… Call me crazy, but I’m still optimistic about the future of PTCGO. Moving forward, here are my thoughts on the problems with the program and how they need to be addressed.

The program is not user friendly.

As much as I love PTCGO, sometimes it feels like the designers are trying to make it difficult for us to use their program. Whenever I log into the program, I see the chat lobby filled with basic questions on how the program works.

“How do I get more cards?”
“How do I add friends?”
“What are the tokens for?”
“Why can’t I trade these cards?”
“Why can’t I get Plasma Storm cards???”

For experienced users who pay close attention to the game’s updates, these may not be troubling questions. But for a casual user, it might be the difference between having a new player and having someone give up and try something else. Without a doubt, some of the design choices on PTCGO are downright confusing, and many of them aren’t explained anywhere besides the official forums. For someone just logging in, there’s no way to know what is going on. From what I’ve seen, the average user doesn’t understand how everyone has Plasma Storm cards. After all, the packs aren’t in the shop. Thankfully they have started adding patch notes to every update to explain what’s going on; this is a step in the right direction.

To be frank, there are a few things that irritate and confuse even me, an experienced user. For example, I am welcomed by this screen when I start my client.

Rewards are awesome! But...

Rewards are awesome! But…

I want to start out by saying that the reward system is great. Without a doubt, this is a great thing that will attract tons of new players. Bravo to the design team for implementing this! Unfortunately, most of the time I can’t get past this screen. No matter how many times I click “OK,” it won’t budge. To get around it, I have to click to another section so that it disappears. Talk about annoying. If this happens to a new user, he might just get frustrated, quit, and never play again. Little things like these add up!

Next up, the whole friends list system is pretty confusing. Let’s take a look at it.

The three tabs of the friends list.

The three tabs of the friends list.

In the first tab, we have the pending friend requests that people send to you. Honestly it’s pretty straightforward. Just click “Accept” to add the person or “Decline” if you don’t want to. But for me, the buttons don’t work! I can click “Accept” until I get carpal tunnel, but it will not add that person to my friends list. Also most of the time I can’t scroll down to see all of my requests. Frustrating! Then we have the “Public” tab, which shows you everyone in your current chat lobby. Honestly this is a very useful feature that allows you to add people. I don’t have anything to complain about here beyond the fact that it’s limited to people only in your current lobby.

But then you get to the last tab, which shows your friends. Now unless the person you want to add is in your chat lobby, you must type that user’s name into your search box and hit Enter in order to send a request. For most people, this is not an intuitive thing, so it leaves them wondering how to add friends; this is not good. Anything that isn’t obvious to a new user probably needs to be fixed. How come there isn’t an easier way to add people? Perhaps a better search function or a way to click on someone’s name in the chat would provide easier options. We’re in the year 2013 where even the smallest applications have ways to integrate with Facebook and Twitter. Sadly, I could never see this happening in PTCGO.

Finally, we have the deck manager.

Okay, let me edit this...

Okay, let me edit this…

For the most part, I don’t have any problems with the deck manager. However, every single time I start the program, I get the same annoying problem. When I get to the deck section, it won’t let me select any of them! Most of the time, all I can do is click “New Deck.” Why can’t I select anything? I still have no idea, but it happens to me every time. Again, this is something frustrating that makes the experience less enjoyable for the user. As with most of the problems, I have found a way around it (but I shouldn’t have to). Once I click “New Deck” and quit out of it, everything functions properly. You might be thinking, “Pooka, this is a very small problem. Why are you talking about this?” Well, that’s my point; little things add up. I have encountered this small problem so many times that it has made my experience worse. Having to go through that process every time I want to edit my decks is arduous. Hopefully things like these get fixed quickly.

Some in-game mechanics are flawed.

For the most part, Pokémon TCG Online is a visually stunning program that does a great job of portraying the actual card game. Unfortunately, there are some flaws with the way they decided to design the gameplay. Probably the best way to explain this is through some pictures. First let’s take a look at the view of the field.

How much damage is on that Landorus...?

How much damage is on that Landorus…?

Why did they decide to do it this way? Sure, it gives you the feeling like you’re actually sitting down at a table and playing in real life. But in real life, I can lean over and look at what’s going on with ease. How come the cards are so far away? Personally I feel like an overhead shot would be much better. To make things worse, it’s fairly difficult to know what actually is attached to your opponent’s Pokémon. After you attach more than three Energy to a Pokémon, they just stack on top of each other, hiding how many are actually there. Unlike the old version of PTCGO, you cannot hover over a Pokémon and see how much Energy is attached. The only way to find out is to zoom in and use the arrows to count how many are there, which is very inconvenient. With the latest update, Tools also blend in with Energy, so you don’t know if there’s one attached to a Benched Pokémon. That brings me to my next point, Energy and Tools.

How do I discard his Tool?!

How do I discard his Tool?!

In the picture above, I am trying to use Tool Scrapper to remove an Eviolite from a benched Tornadus EX that has a Double Colorless attached. But I am unable to because the Energy is blocking the Tool! How does that make any sense? No matter how many times you click, you can’t select it. Several people have voiced the same complaint and told me that they have forfeited games because of it. In the past, the problem was that the Tool blocked the Energy from being accessed in these situations. So, if you tried to use Crushing Hammer to discard one or Hydreigon’s Dark Trance to move one, the Tool would block you from doing so. Clearly they tried to patch that problem by moving the Energy to the front… But now Tool Scrapper is faced with the same problem. Why not just move the Tool to the side of the Pokémon, like it is for Active Pokémon? Problem solved. Please implement this soon. For those wondering, you can get around this bug with a lengthy solution. If you right click on the Energy to zoom in, you can use the arrows to get to the Tool, and then click on it to discard it. Again, not very user friendly.

On top of these things, there are a few other little problems that are irritating to competitive players. First of all, you should always be able to check both players’ discard piles. In PTCGO you are unable to check discard piles during deck searches, while promoting a new Pokémon, and other situations. In fact, sometimes you just cannot click on a player’s discard pile at all, hiding that information from you for the entire game! On rare occasions, I am unable to click on most of my cards for the entirety of the game. What causes these problems? Nobody knows. Another problem is that the program doesn’t tell you how many cards your opponent has in hand, which becomes troublesome when hand sizes get big. Also, why are you able to undo some actions (attaching an Energy) but not others (using Deluge to attach)? Misclicks are a problem as well, but there’s probably no easy solution for that. Fortunately most of these small problems can be fixed, but they are annoying to deal with for the time being.

Lag, heap sections, etc. are painful.

For whatever reason, Pokémon TCG Online is plagued by a constant problem: lag. If you played on the original Flash browser based game, you’ll remember how unbearable the lag was. The longer you played, the worse it got; everything slowed down. Eventually the program would give out and give you a white screen with an exclamation point, and you’d have to restart everything. If anything frustrated people with the first version of PTCGO (besides the fact that bugs never got fixed), it was this. In general, people have very little patience. If we have to wait too long, eventually we will become irritated and do something else. Well, that’s exactly what happened. The lag never got fixed, and people stopped using PTCGO.

I fear that the same thing will happen to the new version of Pokémon TCG Online. Don’t get me wrong! Compared to the old one, it’s far better. But everyone I’ve talked to has had a similar complaint: lag. Whenever you do something, the program starts to run a little slower. Switching between the home screen and the deck builder? The program takes forever to load the new screen, and everything gets noticeably slower. Want to get to the trade section? Expect your program to slow down even more. For some reason, everything you do takes up more and more memory on your computer. Have you ever looked at how much it actually takes up as you play? Let’s just say PTCGO uses more RAM than Starcraft 2 does. For those who aren’t computer literate, it’s like if a toaster uses more electricity than a television; something is wrong. Eventually it becomes overloaded, and this happens…

Instant rage.

Instant rage.

Ah yes, the dreaded “Too many heap sections” error message. If you’ve never encountered this pest, consider yourself lucky. For those who watch my streams, you know that I encounter the heaps at least two or three times a night. Basically this is the program’s way of telling you, “Hey, we ran out of memory. See ya.” Just like that, PTCGO crashes! You are forced to shut it down and restart it, and whatever you were doing is lost. If you were in the middle of a game, too bad; you lose. If you were building a deck, tough luck! You have to make it again. Hands down, this is the worst part about the program. How can a card game take up so much memory that it crashes? Clearly this is a problem that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. As much as I love PTCGO, I find myself losing patience with the game crashing so often. Sometimes I’ll just leave the program on when I leave the room, and I’ll come back 15 minutes later to see it crashed without me doing anything! In fact, it just happened to me while I was writing this! I know for a fact that people have stopped playing PTCGO because of this. It makes using the game exhausting and extremely time consuming.

Speaking of time consuming, let’s talk about the trading system. Overall, it’s adequate. If I want to put out an offer for a card, I can do it. Trading exists, and it works. But let’s look at how you have to do it.

Trading is a lengthy process.

Trading is a lengthy process.

When you want to add a card to a trade, you have to go through this screen every time. Sure, everything works. You search for the card you want to trade, select it, and then click “OK.” But you have to do that for each individual card! If I want to add four cards to a trade, I have to go through this entire process four times – even if it’s the exact same card! How annoying is that? In the original version of PTCGO, you could drag the cards you wanted into the trade and keep moving along. Surprisingly enough, they got it right the first time and made it worse this time around. For me, this has made trading a complete drag. It takes forever to put up trades with this system. One time I was putting together a big trade with a bunch of cards, and I got “Too many heap sections” before I could send the offer. The game crashed. I didn’t open PTCGO again for a while.

The public trade system also needs some work. Unfortunately, this is the default tab for the trade section, which means all of the public trades need to load every time you head over here. Why not start off in something that doesn’t slow the game down immensely, like creating a new offer? Beyond that, the section shows you only a fraction of what public trades are out there. In the old system, there was a button that allowed you to see beyond the initial screen so you could see more offers. No such feature exists now. If you want to find more, you’ll have to search.

For the most part, the search feature is okay, but it has its flaws. For example, it doesn’t allow searching for things with spaces, so you can’t specify whether you’re looking for Victini or Victini EX. The worst case for this is Kyurem. Which one do you want? Black Kyurem, Black Kyurem EX, White Kyurem, White Kyurem EX, Kyurem, or Kyurem EX? There is no good way to search for the specific one you want, and that is a problem. If you search for something with too many results, the program will freeze up. Try searching for “booster” one time and watch how quickly PTCGO locks up. For a lot of people, trading is the best part of the game. Until things get fixed, it’s not really fun for anyone.

My game froze after searching "booster."

My game froze after searching “booster.”

Honestly the worst part about PTCGO is that everything seems to be more work than necessary. If you’ve ever redeemed a bunch of codes, you know exactly what I mean. After inputting all of them, you’re relieved to be done. It’s time to open some packs! But wait, first you have to claim all of them. So, after you check all of the boxes and click the button to claim all of them, it’s time to open those packs finally! Sure, but first you have to click “OK” for every single pack you just got. If you redeemed 100 packs, you now have to click that button one hundred times. Why? It’s just lazy programming honestly. There’s no reason I should ever have to click something that many times. But this small feature leads to large frustrations from anyone using the game.

Some cards are not accessible.

Anyone who has been playing recently knows that Tropical Beach has been an important card in a lot of decks, mainly Blastoise/Keldeo. You know what card you can’t access on Pokémon TCG Online? Tropical Beach! Since it wasn’t released in an actual set, there is no way to get it online. How can the official game for playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game not have all of the cards for the current Modified format available? Just based on this, it makes using the program for actual testing impossible. Surely it can’t be that difficult to program an extra few cards into the game, especially ones that make such a difference. You know what the most aggravating thing is, though? Look at this.

You can trade for this!

You can trade for this!

Some of the cards are programmed into the game already! As you can see, Tropical Tidal Wave exists in PTCGO… You just can’t get it. Why not? Nobody knows. Eventually we may be able to access these cards, but it sure is frustrating to know that we can’t get them now. Until we can play with every legal card on this program, it cannot be taken seriously as a legitimate testing grounds for the Pokémon TCG. Isn’t it sad that most people don’t use the official program for playing the game? Most of the competitive players opt to use PlayTCG instead because it has all of the cards.

Up to this point, I have been very critical of Pokémon TCG Online. Some of it may seem harsh. But unless the community speaks up and makes the problems known, they probably won’t change. And after all of these complaints, I am optimistic about the future of the program. Why? Well, all of these problems are small things that can be fixed over time. In fact, a lot of improvements have been made lately. It’s only fair to give credit where credit is due. Let’s look at some things that are going right!

Communication is improving.

Anyone who played the original PTCGO remembers how many glitches there were. Eviolite didn’t work, Victini allowed your opponent to choose whether you could reflip or not, etc. When you’re implementing new cards and mechanics in a game, some bugs are to be expected. Once your users report the bugs, you can fix them; this happens with every game. The problem for PTCGO was that nobody ever listened. Instead of fixing the glitches, they stayed the same forever! From the beginning of the closed beta until its death more than a year later, Defender never was patched to reduce self damage in the original version. How ridiculous is that? For players, this is extremely upsetting. It caused even the most dedicated players to give up on the program once and for all. Why would you keep playing if nothing got fixed?

Thankfully things have changed. With a new staff in place, our complaints are being heard – and they are being addressed. Now that Mike Liesik is the PTCGO Community Manager, we have a good line of communication between the players and the developers. Here is the difference. In the old version, glitches never got fixed. New sets were implemented before old cards were even fixed, and, of course, the new cards also had glitches. When PTCGO 2.0 began, people were afraid that the same thing was happening. A Pokémon with Rescue Scarf didn’t give up a prize, Garchomp was discarding Special Energy attached to Benched Pokémon, and more. So we complained and let the developers know about the problems. Most people expected nothing to happen, and everyone chalked it up as another part of the PTCGO fiasco.

But guess what? They listened. They fixed the bugs. In the beginning of the downloadable client era, I compiled a list of about 100 glitches that were found with the game. Recently I went back, and nearly every one had been fixed! (Unfortunately, the heap sections problem is one of the few still remaining.) If anything, this shows that the new staff is dedicated to cleaning up the game and making sure it works. Having tested with Plasma Storm a lot, I can say that there are very few bugs with the cards, which is incredible given how many new mechanics are involved. Sure, there are a few problems here and there, but I’m sure they will be addressed soon.

Screenshot from the official forums.

Screenshot from the official forums.

As you can see there, the developers are working diligently to improve the program. I dream of a world where one day I can play Pokémon TCG Online without the game crashing… With this staff in charge, I am confident my dream will become a reality in the near future. As the players in the community, we must do our part to help improve PTCGO. If this succeeds, the Pokémon TCG as a whole gets a huge boost. Even though it’s frustrating to deal with glitches, if we don’t find them and report the problems, things won’t get better. Think of how awesome it will be to have a fully functional game one day.

Changes are coming.

Heck, some of the changes are here already. One of the first changes is the rewards system. I’m sure pretty much all of us can agree that this is a good thing. For those of us who log in every day, now there’s a payoff! Most of the days you just get tokens (which we’ll discuss later), but every few days you get a free booster pack! This is great for a few reasons. First of all, it makes people want to play more, and it rewards loyal players for continuing to come back. Beyond that, though, it gives new players opportunities to get more cards without spending money. Sure, it may be just a few packs, but that’s all it can take to reel in someone new. If you give people some extra cards to edit their starter decks, they may become interested enough to invest some money into the game and start playing more seriously. Also, the packs (and the cards inside them) are untradable, meaning there is no way to abuse the free card system. Sure, it may be annoying that you can’t get rid of them, but it’s for the best. Overall, the rewards system is the best thing that has happened to PTCGO in a long time.

Looking ahead, there are some big changes on the horizon. For starters, it was announced that tokens will be useful soon! Up until now, tokens were some meaningless reward you got for playing a game. But now you’ll be able to redeem those for cards! No further information has been released yet, but you will be able to obtain cards in exchange for your tokens. Along with this, gems will be available soon, which are the in-game currency for PTCGO. As weird as it sounds, finally you’ll be able to… give them your money. It’s a wonder that gems haven’t been implemented sooner, but it sounds like finally we’re getting there.

Trust me, I am well aware of all of the flaws with Pokémon TCG Online. Arguably nobody else has put more time into the program than I have. But I implore you to stick with it. Don’t give up on PTCGO; it is necessary for the growth of the game. Right now it looks like a distant future, but one day the program will be fixed completely. We will have online tournaments. We will be able to play games smoothly. We will have a fun platform to play the game we love on. Until then, I will endure my heap sections and inexplicable bugs. And it will be worth it.

-Pooka

49 responses to “Pooka’s Poké-Thoughts #2: Pokémon TCG Online”

  1. Aaron Wang

    Ugh, the dreaded heap sections finally happened to me the other day while trying to open packs

  2. Jason K

    Not to mention the code card redemption process implemented for PS and future sets…

  3. zachary shoen

    I have a Chromebook and feel left out that it isn’t available as a flash game like it was originally. why did they choose to loose this option?

  4. name

    when you want to discard a tool or an energy u cant reach just right click the pokemon and then use the arrow to move in between the cards then just select the card you want to discard

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      Yes, I mentioned that, but thanks. The point is that you shouldn’t have to do that…

  5. David Barbier

    About damages & effects on benched Pokémons, a right-click does the trick. Or a simple mouse-over for that matter.

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      Yes, a right click will show the damage on the Pokémon. But it won’t show how many Energy are attached unless you scroll through all of them. Then it gets confusing because you can’t tell how many Energy are there if they’re the same type. I’ve never been able to hover over the Pokémon to get information.

  6. xniglle

    can someone please help me. when i buy packs online it doesnt show the image, it shows some random nunbers and letter.I it also happens when i open packs and try to search throught out my deck. What causes this? Is it my computer?(sorry if bad english)

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      I’m not sure what causes this. Have you emailed customer service about it? Maybe they can help you.

  7. Bullados

    I’m going to chicken and egg you right now, Pooka. The best way to improve the performance of PTCGO from the client side? Get rid of those notifications. That means you’ll have to go through and accept or decline all 230+ of those friend requests.

    The problem? Well, according to what you just said, you can’t do that on your current computer.

    If you have access to a faster computer, like a solid desktop or current midrange gaming laptop, you should be able to clear all of that stuff out, and the program will run faster.

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      Thank you for the response, but I have a few problems with what you’re saying. First of all, friend requests are slowing down my program? Why? Right there, something is wrong. How can something that minuscule be causing such a large problem? I’ve never played a game or used a program where that was possible. Sounds like poor programming honestly.

      As for using a faster computer, that’s a bit ridiculous. My laptop is powerful enough to run Starcraft 2 and stream it at the same time. I can run any modern video game at high settings. Why do I need some high-end gaming computer to get rid of friend requests on a card game client? If that’s the case, then they’re limiting their player base just on computer requirements alone. It doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Micah Tate

        I think he just wanted you to accept his friend request =P

        1. Bullados

          Pooka knows who I am, and I already know he’d reject me out of hand.

      2. Bullados

        I’m not saying it’s great. I’m saying that’s what it is. And it does need to be improved.

        What I am saying is that I don’t have any of the performance problems that you seem to be having. And I’m only using a mid-level gaming computer that cost about $800. i7, GeForce GT 650M, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM hard drive (I’m going to upgrade that in the future). And I’ve only ever had one error of any kind. One time, I had the Heap Sections error. And that was b/c I tried to open 108 booster packs at roughly the same time. The program’s been fairly well-behaved otherwise. The big difference? I have zero requests of any kind. There’s also reports out there about how clearing out your Messages and Friends lists will make the program run faster.

        I think the way the program works is that it updates EVERYTHING every time you click into a new area. And not just update. I mean RE-LOAD. That is awful programming, and I’ve never seen such a thing coded in my life.

        The work-around to the problem is to clear out every list possible. But I don’t know how you can do that if the program stalls every time you try and do anything.

        That’s also not to say that I’m happy with the program. It’s taking up over 450MB of RAM most of the time, if not more. Honestly, I haven’t really paid that close attention to the stats, cuz it really hasn’t been that bad for me. But if you’re telling me that Starcraft 2 uses fewer system resources than TCGO, that AC3 uses fewer system resources than TCGO; then I’m really, really upset, cuz that should never happen for something this (honestly) simple of a program.

        1. Kyle Sucevich

          My laptop has roughly the same specs as your computer, just 2 GB less RAM. I am positive that the program reloads everything any time you enter a new section of the game. Any time I switch to a new section, the program sees a drastic drop in performance. As someone else said, PTCGO can use 5 GB of memory if you keep playing; it never does any garbage collecting. It is confirmed to have a memory leak. The programming is at fault here, not the user. I understand all of the problems and why they occur, but I’m saying they shouldn’t happen. The solution shouldn’t be “go buy a really expensive gaming computer” to play a card game.

          As for not being able to clear out my friends list, I literally cannot click the buttons. The menu pops up, but it isn’t functional. My guess is that it takes too many resources to load, so the program gives up. It’s a known problem that having too many cards in your hand will cause the heap sections error, too. Basically if you do anything too much, the program will crash. You would think this would be one of the first things they test… It can all be fixed, but you have to wonder if the programmers are just in over their heads.

          1. gravybeast

            Heap Crash is a big issue for me and I am going to rant a bit on it. By no means is this meant to tarnish the programmers, because I love programmers, this is just an education piece for anyone interested. It’s nothing a Prof or Trainer can fix but this is 100% the problem and a way to fix it if anyone is interested in just knowing what’s going on behind the code. I hope this clears up a bit for anyone wondering how garbage collection should work in theory. If you don’t want to read then just know there are bits and pieces of everything you do and look at in the client that is stored into temporary memory. Most of this is not needed and should be regularly wiped (garbage collection) or else the program will run out of mono memory to use and crash. They do know this and are working to fix it.

            I was formerly a C# (Unity accepted language) programmer for the Department of Environmental Quality for a few years just so you don’t think I’m crazy. I will admit, I have never touched the Unity Engine but, although it has been a few years, I do have an understanding of a language it utilizes. I have top notch i7 computer with 12 GB ram, ssd, the works. I religiously image my computer back to a clean image. I love a fresh install. I’m just letting you know this because with the exception of Chrome, I have the minimal amount of programs running in the background at any given time.

            http://cdn.bulbagarden.net/upload/thumb/0/0f/Nightlygarbagerun2.jpg/180px-Nightlygarbagerun2.jpg

            More like “After Everything You Do Garbage Run!”

            The garbage collecting is spot on. I’m not sure who said the program can utilize up to 5 GB of memory. I don’t agree with that. This may not be relevant, just an observation, but I’m fairly certain TCGO is built under 32bit compiling for higher compatibility. Not that it would be hard to patch the program to utilize more than 3.5 GB, I’m just not seeing this happen. For me, the program always heap crashes around 1.5 GB usage, give or take 100 MB. It’s a huge problem for me because I do quite a bit of trading. My collection is large. I am certain Gotaway is the only person who even comes close to the amount of cards I have. I can only get a dozen searches or so done in the trade lobby before the program starts to lag. Baring people asking for cards like Tropical Beach etc, there is not much I can’t accept so loading all the results without garbage collecting between searches just kills the program. “I am positive that the program reloads everything any time you enter a new section of the game”. I understand exactly what you mean. Currently, if I were to click the collection icon, wait a while for it to load, and then click it again, it would take a bit longer the second time around and compound even longer each time afterwards. In practice, storing small things such as borders and logos in memory should speed things up when you access them the second time around vs. the first time you access them. This isn’t the case though or else you wouldn’t be gaining large amount of memory resources by simply clicking the same button. With that being said, there is plenty room for garbage collection. Why not flush memory after everything you do? What we are seeing is nothing like that. The collection icon is just one example but with other areas such as trading, it is so much worse. Trading is exponentially dynamic when you factor in users posting new trades every few seconds. Caching any results, be it card images or text, in memory and not flushing said results immediately after making the next search doesn’t help anything. There are plenty of other aspects about the site such as matches that are dynamic as well. That being said, why should any previous game, trade search or anything else you do effect what you do next? Put a new Glad ForceFlex in the can and toss out that used memory space ftw!

            I’ve thought for a few moments about this before and had a brief moment of sickness that they might be far too past the point where they can integrate something like this into the programming without drastically changing what they have done already but, like I said, it was brief. It really wouldn’t be that hard to allocate the important things to a space of memory on loading the program and add a flush function after everything else you do. I have confidence they can fix this. As I stated above, there is a ton of room for garbage collection, so catch it all programmers.

            Pooka,

            I think your efforts and ideas are great. As you know, the TCGO forums have a “suggestions” section. I have posted several suggestions to said forums and I’ve seen a few of yours. Sometimes you find great ideas there, but for the most part as you’ve seen it’s more, “i thnk this wud be kewl tee hee!”. Although I doubt they would ever consider this, I would love for the site to form a committee around a few trusted members who have been with the site/game for a while and have a good feel for the community and have great understanding of what is a good improvement for the site and not just “this wud be soooo kewl!”.

      3. gravybeast

        There is a problem with notifications for sure slowing down the initial loading of the client. I’m not sure about friend requests being the issue as I decline a good 20 a day before it gets too large. Trading notifications 100% cause some sort of slowdown when the client load. I’m really not sure why. I already responded to your thread on TCGO about it. It seems to only effect the time it takes to get past the Rewards screen.

  8. Mike

    A lot of the small bugs you mention are issues that I don’t have. When was the last time you uninstalled and reinstalled the program?

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      The fact that uninstalling and reinstalling the entire program is a potential solution should be pretty horrifying. I imagine most of my problems come from the fact that I have a lot of cards in my collection.

      1. Bullados

        Ummm… That’s a potential solution for virtually every piece of software that’s ever been written. It’s up there with “restart your computer” as the first things that customer service will look at when they try and help you out.

        What shouldn’t be a solution is the whole uninstall, then ccleaner or manual removal, then reinstall. When you uninstall something from your computer, then the computer should have no trace of that program remaining.

        1. Kyle Sucevich

          True, guess I went overboard there. I just can’t remember the last time I’ve had to do that to fix a program. The point about having to manually clean the program off your computer definitely is horrifying, though. Also, a lot of people complain that the patches don’t ever finish the game updates. Instead, they are forced to uninstall and reinstall.

    2. Kyle Sucevich

      I uninstalled and reinstalled today to see if it would fix anything. It didn’t.

  9. ninjadeathstrike

    Let’s not forget implementing the new code system without a way for people in other countries to get said codes. This is the one that made me quit. I understand why they decided to change it, but I don’t understand why they rushed it out like this before there had alternative ways to get cards and boosters.

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      True, I forgot to mention this. I don’t feel like changing the system in itself is a bad idea, but you’re right; the way it was done was wrong. I feel like such a change shouldn’t have happened until gems were made available to allow anyone to buy the packs through the client.

  10. Showsni

    A few of these seem to be specific to you, and seem frankly bizarre; on my install, for instance, I can click past the reward screen with no problems, I can Edit Decks from the builder straight away, I can hover over any in play Pokémon to see what energy is attached, and so on. No idea why this would vary from person to person, unless it is your large collection or number or friend requests messing things up, which as you say shouldn’t be an issue.

    I also have your problems with the heap sections, not being able to search discard piles (other than the top card…) whilst resolving some effects, and occasionally the programme will refuse to tell me how many cards are left in my library (leaving me having to count up everything in play/discard/hand and work it out the long way.) I’ve seen other people sometimes have the “active Pokémon appears to be in hand” problem – a few times in battles where I can’t see anything wrong from my end.

    And, let’s not forget the censor in the chat! It’s ridiculously finicky, to the point where you couldn’t mention words like “Crystal,” “Pokéballs” or “Ho-oh”. It’s got a little better – I believe Ho-oh is no longer listed as a swear word – but you can still generally forget about trying to say any longish sentence with a comma in it.

    The lobby system is the chat also bugs me a little – it’s impossible to close down the randomly assigned lobby you start in, and it always appears on the far left of the rooms you’re in. The others seem to cycle as you go through them; except sometimes when they don’t.

    And trades need some work. I couldn’t find any way of searching for items other than individual cards in Public Trade, apart from the aforementioned “booster” search – which causes the memory to spiral wildy out of control and locks up the programme for up to five minutes before it completes. There’s also no way to search for cards from the other side of the trade – say you have an excess Celebi EX and want to see what people are offering for it, there’s no way to search that. And some cards are pretty much unsearchable anyway – N, for instance, and Ho-oh would only work if you ticked the “trades I can accept box”.

    I do love the programme, and hopefully the updates this year will help it out more!

    Oh, and tokens aren’t completely useless at the moment – you can spend them on avatar items at the main Pokémon site. You can also win them in minigames there.

  11. Daniel 'Doryon' Fermo

    I still believe they didn’t implement a reliable way to “clear the trash” out of the program (garbage collector for the ones who understand what it is). Personally I have never found any of the clicking bugs, neither have I suffered a heap sections crash. Then again, I have around 3-4 friends, 0 requests and only opened around 10 booster packs in my account, so that might be why my game runs so smoothly.

  12. megamanxgp

    I had the same problem with not seeing information when I hovered over a pokemon. The way I fixed it was by going to options and turning on tooltip hints. Now I can just point to a pokemon and see the energies it has and how much damage it has, just like in the old version. Hopefully this can fix your problem

    1. Kyle Sucevich

      Thanks! I’ll have to try that out.

  13. Aaron Minjoot

    A brilliant blog post in my book. My personal problem is the fact that my client doesn’t have any sound, as weird as it sounds. I tried whatever I could but to no avail, but I’m not too worried as I feel the bugs are a more important fix. I also hope that tokens can be spent on format-legal promos, so it really gives encouragement to players to play the game more to maybe earn their own Tropical Beach etc. Pack redemption is the long-standing issue, and I share sentiment that it takes too much of a hassle to do such a supposingly simple action.

    Hopefully things turn for the better soon.

  14. Matt91_

    While I’ve never faced problems like getting stuck in some screens, I agree with most design issues you’ve appointed. A top-down view could be added, presumably without too much work, and dragging cards to trade is certainly missed.

    Btw, if you need to search for cards with spaces, just take them out. “blackkyuremex” works for me.

  15. ian

    I made a pokemon card with jwittz on it

  16. JayblazrxX

    A few of the problems I face: The game crashes quiet quickly when you have a massive hand size, sometimes cards are inactive when you click them, I have a the game at points uses close to 5gb of ram, which I think is just crazy! There are too many times where the game just stops and you auto lose a game. And one of the most painful part of the game is the censor in the chat, I don’t know what they try to censor but I always end up replying with a :) for the craziest reasons. I do believe the censors should be in place, but it’s just silly some of the words they censor.

  17. Jason Klaczynski

    Great article, Kyle. You’ve certainly pinpointed the most-needed changes for PTCGO. Hopefully TPCi is listening.

  18. gravybeast

    “One time I was putting together a big trade with a bunch of cards, and I got “Too many heap sections” before I could send the offer. The game crashed. I didn’t open PTCGO again for a while.”

    Imagine trying to break up a 330 pack order for well over 100 cards a few weeks ago. Took me over an hour to make 4 separate trades to the guy, the whole time dreading a heap crash any second and praying he didn’t do the math and take the juicy one and not the rest. Unnecessarily scary situation.

    I also like how there’s a cap on the amount of cards or packs you can send to or request from someone, like it’s actually possible for the average person to quickly send anymore than that before a heap crash.

  19. Andrew Wester

    Another problem I have with the trading system is sometimes I have something valuable for trade and I want to see what people are offering for it, but the search function generally only shows what people are offering. Also, reverse-holo/holo is annoying. Several times I’ve traded for specific pokemon so I could do another trade, only to find out they were looking for the other holo version, which look exactly alike anyway. Frustrating.

  20. Apple57485

    This is a really Awesome Post!

  21. RamTurmoil

    I’d like to add my voice to say Pooka is exactly right with all the main points about what needs to be improved. And very clearly written too.

    I’m completely new to Pokemon – I only got involved because my son is getting really interested. So I’ve been playing PTCGO for a month or so and I love the game. Since it’s beta I started compiling a list of things to suggest. Well, my list is the same as Pooka’s.

    If I were to rank the “problems” in order of urgency/importance:

    1. Communication/Information.

    As a complete novice I had to learn everything about the game thru the online interface. I spent a long time searching the internet/forums/online chat to find answers to just the basic questions that Pooka wrote about. If I hadn’t been doing it for the benefit of my kid I probably would have quit right at the start.

    Surely they could put a little explanation when you hover over something. Like “Tokens – You’ll be able to use them to buy cards but we haven’t started the system yet – check the forums for news”

    2. Trading search system

    I guess it’s designed to be easy for youngsters but (as Pooka detailed) you often can’t search for what you want. How about a “Basic Search / Advanced Search” option?

    3. Heap Sections!!!!!

    Aaarrrgh. I especially seem to get them after a long browse of the Trading section. These days I always shut down the client before starting a game to avoid mid-game crashes.

    4. Click. Click, Click, Click
    There are so many places where you have to click toooo much: the code redemptions and the setting up of trades especially.

    I’m just a casual beginner player. But, when top players AND beginners share the same feelings about the online experience, the developers should really pay close attention.

    I’d like to link to this blog in the PTCGO suggestions section. Would that be appropriate???

    Keep up the great articles/videos Kyle. They are interesting/informative for young and old alike!

    Cheers – RamTurmoil

  22. Erin Drake

    The “Too many heap sections” is still occurring constantly. In addition, I think they should rename the error to say “memory expired” or something more understandable. I mean who’s ever hear of heap sections before? Customers might quit because that seems really weird and serious. I noticed that some people have certain glitches other people do not and I don’t know why or how those can be fixed. I wanted to point out some other irritating problems. I hate when I am trying to scroll up to see what someone wrote in the lobby and every time a person posts it takes over control of the lobby and scrolls me back down to the bottom. Also why is it when I want to pick a new lobby I have to still have the other lobby open. If I clock to close it it doesn’t ever close.

    Retreating a pokemon is difficult because the discard system for energy is horrible you click on the cards but they start expanding and moving and you can’t figure out which one you clicked on or not and I just end up clicking insistently on the pokemon until it works. The scroll bars and arrows are way too small and difficult to move, using the scroll keys is basically useless.

    The tokens are still useless in the game. They have had “Coming Soon” on the gems, avatar items etc, for as long as I have been playing it and it’s April now. I’m tired of people in the forums asking what they are for and me having to say they are basically useless.
    I had upload decks with play-mats and even though there is an option for choosing a different play-mat in the deck builder, I can’t select a different one. I know I should have more than one coin to choose from but one of them just didn’t appear from one of my decks. I also had figures from my Kyurem set which the game said I redeemed but they exist no-where.

    Another glitch I noticed is that whenever I edit a deck all the settings for the card sleeves and coin reset to default and then it won’t let you select your coin anymore. You click it but it stays stuck on the default coin anyways but it will let you change the sleeve again.

    One of the most irritating visual complaints I have is that the full art holo cards are sooooooooo bright and cluttered with light effects they are almost blinding and unreadable. Frankly they look horrible!

  23. gagehall101

    I can’t access any public thing (eg public trade and friends) the Icon/button is still there it’s just blacked out on trade it starts me out on offers to me and when I leave that it turns black too I’ve seen your how to trade please help pooka I REALLY want to trade please email me if you have an answer my email is gagehall369@yahoo.com no chain emails/ smile dog crap only email me if you serious about helping me pooka/random guy/girl who is willing to help me

  24. gagehall101

    will kill if you spam/troll/chain email me (not applying to pooka)

  25. len

    i cant get past the loading screen

    1. len

      can someone help with this problem

  26. dylan

    My trading just doesn’t work. The tabs for everything but my private trades an trade history are gray and unable to go to. I have absolutely no way to trade but I really want to. Can somebody help me with this problem?

  27. dylan

    Also I cannot click on friends or chat because they are blacked out. Can somebody please help me or e-mail me at dylanjay323@hotmail.com Help would be very appreciated

  28. Ernest E

    i just downloaded it and it shows this in a window: Pokemon Trading Card Game Online.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

    what do I do???

    1. Ernest E

      my email is sraxone@gmail please help me and thanks in advance

  29. Lewis sidious

    Im having trouble adding friends or seeing any online people at all, its like a ghost town.

    Im playing on mac, and trying to add a friend on pc, is it cross compatible?

    The faq on the official site is terrible!!!

  30. RedLionX

    Hey guys do any of you have any codes for pokemon tcg online you would willing to give

  31. LunaRyne

    I can’t choose the girl option for trainer I am trying to make create my trainer but I’m a girl and want to be a girl in game it shows female option but it won’t let me click it please help :( LunaRyne