Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: When Worlds Collide

This weeks Blog Azeroth shared topic is:

Have you ever tried to introduce real life friends to WoW? If yes, how did it go? If you never have, why not?

Sometimes even talking to real life friends about WoW seems impossible, even if they are into video games in general.  There seems like a huge barrier of information and jargon that is impossible to explain efficiently enough to support the anecdote you want to inject into an otherwise non-WoW related conversation.

I’ve actually introduced real life friends to WoW twice.  The first time was back just before The Burning Crusade was launched.  This first friend jumped right in and got hooked on the game.  He eventually was the person who introduced me to raiding and gold earning.  He’s not playing anymore but I’d have to say that introduction went extremely successfully.

Then just recently another friend got a trial account.  The difference is striking — my second friend has played one character of every race, alliance and horde, to level 20 and then stopped.  So, he played a lot, but hasn’t so far decided to take the plunge to a full account.  There are three factors that seem like impediments to him.  First, his account was hacked and that was an unpleasant experience.  Second, he is afraid it might become too time consuming.  And last but not least, there is just so much to learn now — the game has stretched out so far compared to vanilla.  It must feel impossible to a truly new player that they can ever catch up.  Basics that veteran players take for granted are hard to explain, like addons, duel-specs, glyphs, mail, the auction house, etc etc etc…  The trial account restrictions didn’t help much either.

I suppose many factors influence whether a new player ends up playing in the long term, but my general feeling is it’s harder now than it used to be.

 

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: One Realm to Rule Them All

This week’s Blog Azeroth shared topic was suggested by me:

If it were possible, would you want Blizzard to put all characters in a single realm/game world by realm type — PvP vs PvE vs RP? Why or why not?

The short answer for me is yes, but.  Yes, but if that were to happen a lot of other things would have to change.  If Blizzard left the world largely as it is and combined us all onto one realm by rule set, the world would break quickly.  Chaos would ensue.  Apocalypse!  (ooooh, possible expansion title?)

Tokyo Subway

Just imagine your capital city, physically the same as it is now, with 100 times or more people in it.  Even at the lowest usage times, this would be unworkable.  It would be like the Tokyo subway at rush hour, or worse.

One solution of course would be to leave the zones as they are and make multiple copies of them, sort of instances.  I think other games that do this give you ways to switch your automatic assignment to one of these instances in case you need to interact with someone in another instance.  This just seems clunky to me, and counter to the whole point of one game world.

If it had been possible to have a single realm design in the beginning of WoW, the whole geography of the game would just be bigger.  Like in the real world, there would be more cities, and there would be no single city where you had to be ever.  No “single city bottle necks” to capacity.  It’s funny that now, Blizzard purposely makes some services only available in capital cities so that they don’t become ghost towns.  A single realm design would flip that script.  Also like in the real world, expansion of the game world would be required as population grew.

So however much a single realm seems good in theory, it’s not only difficult technically but impractical to do retrospectively.  However that doesn’t mean Blizzard could not consider more changes in that general direction.  Remember the world before battlegroups, or cross-realm lfd?  I think more features like these, including the a possible cross-realm auction house, can and should be considered.

 

Reward of the Week: Hit the Blizzard Store

I’ve been on lots of weight loss diets.  There are some things they all have in common.  One thing they all advise is that when you reach a goal you should reward yourself, but not with a chocolate cake.  In other words, don’t undo all the good work you’ve just done, and more important, don’t reinforce bad habits by equating food with all things good.

The next time you reach a gold goal, big or small, consider treating yourself with a trip to the Blizzard Store.

Blizzard Store

If you are anything like me you avoid overspending real life money on WoW.  It feels a little like cheating to buy all those mounts and pets with real money instead of farming them in-game.  But the advantage of buying something in the store as opposed to splurging on the auction house is that you don’t deplete your hard earned gold doing it.  And linking the purchase to reaching a gold goal does tie the purchase to the hard work you’ve put in inside the game.

If you’ve never used the Blizzard Store, don’t be afraid, it’s really well implemented and easy to use.  You can buy mounts for around $25 US and pets for $10 US.  There are plenty of other items and accessories as well as Diablo and Starcraft items if you are interested in those.  Have a budget going in, stick to it, and then enjoy your success having fun with your new item.  You’ve earned it!

 

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic Links: Starstruck!

The Blog Azeroth shared topic for July 9 – July 15 was suggested by Dragonray from Azerothian Life:

Are you starstruck by anyone? Does someone in the community respond to a post or a tweet and get you all speechless because they actually responded? Is there anyone you are waiting to have respond directly to you? Is there someone that you would like to chat to, but are too chicken? Am I the only one who puts other bloggers on a pedestal?

I posted mine here on Monday — since then many many more excellent submissions (14!!) rolled in.  Please take a moment to enjoy each of them.

 

Sunday Blog Post Roundup Vol. 5

What a week — the blog-o-sphere is on fire with good stuff to read.  Hang with me to the very end of this list, they are all excellent.

The Gold Queen posted a tip on how to “shuffle” leather.  It’s actually a type of currency arbitrage, and a good, easy tip.  Check the prices on your server before you jump in.

Croda at marketsforgold had two really good posts — one on how to get a guild bank (which actually points out there are some downsides to it) and one that shows exactly how they evaluate items for flipping potential, step by step.

Jim Younkin from Power Word: Gold posted a list of exactly what money making professions he’d recommend you have depending on how many characters you have to work with.

Mommar from Just My Two Copper didn’t use the words “business process” in his post, but that’s exactly what he was talking about when he posted about keeping a list of daily activities.

Faid from clockworkriot wrote two great inscription related posts.  The first was on preparation for MoP, and the second was on tactics for dealing with competition in the glyph market.

Staying on the topic of dealing with competition for a moment, on Phat Lewt’s Gold Blog, Mr. Lewt’s wrote a simple post about the basic ways gold earners track the activity of other sellers.

On ALT:ernative, The Godmother posted an excellent take on Blizzard’s new guild mentoring program.  I, however, took something else away from the post — her list of questions used when interviewing potential guild members.  I always say when I’m looking for people to work with, the only two really important qualifications are that they are cool and smart — most of the rest you can teach.

Focushot from Hunter Mastery shared a list of 10 gold making tips.  They are specific ideas for products you might not have considered.

Finally last but certainly NOT least, Cold from Cold’s Gold Factory gave his opinion on why the old gold earning cliche “buy low, sell normal” is a joke.  Also make sure to check out all the great posts that were entered into Cold’s Gold Blogging Carnival for July.

 

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Acuzod Sat Next to Me!

The Blog Azeroth shared topic for July 9 – July 15 was suggested by Dragonray from Azerothian Life:

Are you starstruck by anyone? Does someone in the community respond to a post or a tweet and get you all speechless because they actually responded? Is there anyone you are waiting to have respond directly to you? Is there someone that you would like to chat to, but are too chicken? Am I the only one who puts other bloggers on a pedestal?

There are many people in the WoW community that impress me with their wit, ingenuity and friendly nature.  I’ve had virtual brushes with a few — Matticus from World of Matticus responded to one of my tweets, Robin Torres from WoW Insider acutally linked to my blog, and very early on one of my true heroes, El from El’s Extreme Anglin’, followed me on twitter.  When El followed me I remember thinking “gotta make my tweets good now.”

But however flattering it is to have a virtual brush with fame, nothing beats an in person brush.

Acuzod, founder of Overly Dramatic News, totally sat right next to me for like 5 minutes at Nerdtacular 2012!

I really was excited.  This was my first year attending Nerdtacular, or for that matter, my first time at any in person, WoW-related gathering.  For those who don’t know, Nerdtacular is a gathering of Frogpants community folks, who include listeners of Frogpants studios podcasts like The Instance and members of the large AIE guild on Earthen Ring.  Here’s the one blurry picture I took on my phone to prove I was there.

Nerdtacular 2012

I really like Frogpants founder Scott Johnson and I’ve been a long time listener to The Instance.  I have an alt in AIE, but I’m extremely inactive there, so I knew no one at this event, and I went alone.  I’m not shy — anyone who knows me will tell you that, trust me.  But despite Scott Johnson’s and Turpster’s and Dill’s statements that everyone should just “walk up and say hi” I found it difficult to do so.  They are running the event and signing autographs, and I just really didn’t know what to say.  I wanted to introduce Warcraft Street to that community, but I felt weird advertising.  So mostly I just sat and enjoyed the panels and laughed and had a good time.

When I saw his nametag and he sat next to me, I had to say something to Acuzod.  I introduced myself and when he responded I said “the famous Acuzod!”.  He replied, “Infamous maybe.”  That was it.  Brush over.

Acuzod is the founder of Overly Dramatic News. Here’s how they describe it on their site:

Overly Dramatic News is collection of parody news stories made to reflect how World of Warcraft characters would affect or be affected by Real Life. It’s World of Warcraft meets The Onion Radio News. Originally the brainchild of Acuzod, the network anchor seat was passed on to HuntsTheWind in early 2012.

Even before I totally became friends with Acuzod (sarcasm) I greatly admired the creativity it required to come up with the idea for ODN.  In addition I admire the professionalism with which it is acted and engineered.  It’s just plain good, so if you haven’t heard it, you should check it out.

 

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic Links: Nice Things

The Blog Azeroth shared topic for July 2 – July 8 is:

What is the nicest thing another player has ever done for you in-game

I posted my response Monday.  Here are links to the other responses — they will make you smile.

 

 

Sunday Blog Post Roundup Vol. 4

Lots of interesting stuff this week.

WoW Insider featured two interesting posts about gold sinks.  In a WoW Archivist post, Scott Andrews wrote about the history of gold sinks in WoW, and Olivia Grace followed with a post on gold sinks and entitlement.  I like to call them rewards for gold earning, but that’s just me.

Hunter Mastery is not “just a hunter blog”.  Focushot is a serious gold earner and his post this week sharing his TSM shopping list for 77-80 green items got me to try my had at that market on my own server.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hunter Mastery was in my google reader list but it didn’t hit my radar until I heard Focushot on the latest episode of the Power Word: Gold Podcast.  Jim Younkin turned a live stream conversation with Focushot and Farli from The Overcut into a very informative podcast.  Best of all, Jim is not afraid to tell you when markets or gold earning tactics he tried didn’t work for him.  It’s a great listen.

Vile over at Vile’s Golden Auctions writes a great post about protecting your WoW account.  You can never be too careful about Frinka’s Rule #0.  One thing I’d add that he didn’t mention (I don’t think…..) is you should avoid logging into WoW or battle.net from a public or shared computer.

A newer blog for me is Portal Market.  This week DerBanker posts part 5 of 5 of a great series on pricing and your realm’s population.  Go back and read them all it’s great fundamental information.

Croda at marketsforgold had two posts that caught my eye.  First one on how they determine a minimum amount of gold they want to make per hour.  This fits nicely into a process oriented view of gold earning — you can evaluate the value of each activity by a method like this.  They also write about the real life value of in game gold.

Tastes Like Battle Chicken July Blogging Challenge

I admit it.  I copped out.  I had planned to write for Ambermist’s June Challenge but I just could not think of a story that was worthy to tell.  It completely stumped me.  You may know Ambermist and not realize it — she’s the blogger who wrote about her astonishingly poor customer service experience when she was unjustly banned from SWTOR.

Her proposed topic for July is one I simply can’t cop out on:

It’s nice to sometimes get a glimpse into the writer behind the blog, the person behind the character. So here’s your challenge: give me a detail about  yourself. Obviously, not everyone’s comfortable being super personal online or on a gaming-related blog, so the way you go with this is completely at your discretion.

A few possible things of interest come to mind.  The first is that I’m a bit older than most “gamers”.  I’m nearly 48.  And I’m a woman.  The name Frinka comes from my college days — I lived in an on campus house that had a mythical founding family with the surname Frink.  The ‘a’ on the end was added by me in an attempt to make the name feminine.

I’m not a real gamer in the sense most people mean the word, even though I’ve played games for a long time.  The first video games I remember playing a lot were on the Atari 2600.  I loved playing Breakout.  Eventually I got a Nintendo and I recall playing The Legend of Zelda a fair bit, but oddly I don’t remember much else about the NES.

What was a huge development in my gaming history was when the house I lived in at college got an IBM PC, one of the very very first ones.  There was only one and it was in our house’s “library” (ie, the room full of book shelves).  This was in 1983 I think.  There was a game on that computer called Rogue.  We were all so enthralled with that game that people would sit for hours just watching other people play it.  It was an adventure dungeon type game with a map created from ASCII text that you slowly uncovered as you roamed around killing monsters.  It had an exploit where if you wielded food you were invincible.  Does anyone else remember that?

Since then there is a short list of games I’ve actually had relationships with.  They include: Myst, Riven, the SimCity series, The Sims, Civ III, Civ IV, Rollercoaster Tycoon, EverQuest and WoW.  I have a soft spot for simulation games — can’t wait for the new SimCity!

There were attempts at trying other huge PC games like Elder Scrolls, Doom and Unreal.  But I just don’t get them — I never seem to get past the opening sequence basically.  They don’t click.  When I stepped into EverQuest something did click.

And that brings me here.  Thanks again Ambermist for your wonderful blog for this great blogging challenge.  Keep them coming and next time if I get stumped I’ll write about why I’m stumped.

Auction House Changes Comment Summary

A good while back Robin Torres at WoW Insider posted a breakfast topic that linked to a post of mine and posed the question to their readers “how would you change the auction house?“  I’ve been intending to summarize the comments for awhile, sorry it took so long.

Buy Orders

Simply stated everyone wants them.  Buy orders are the ability to post an offer to buy something at a certain price.  Pretty much the only detail hinted at in the comments is whether or not the system should allow orders to be partially filled.  This point is related to other comments below about how commodities are handled.  I’d say when I set up the buy order I should be able to specify if I want partial fulfillment allowed, but however it would be done it should be consistent with how commodity sell orders are handled.

Options for sorting and filtering auctions

Here’s a list of just some of the numerous sorting and filtering options people would like to see added to the standard UI.

  • Sort by unit price
  • Sort by buy out
  • Search multiple categories at a time like all ranged weapons
  • Exact match check box (ie “Lava Coral” would not return “Reckless Lava Coral”)
  • Filter by expansions (ie Cataclysm herbs… )
  • Cut and uncut gems in separate categories
  • Darkmoon faire artifacts in a category
  • View by stats (gems and gear)
  • View by socket color for gems (ie orange, red and purple for a red socket)
  • Trasmog features, eligible or not, models, colors
  • See more on one screen and summarize multiple listings (“auctionator style”)
  • Search within the filtered list

Make it like the Diablo III auction house, or not

A lot of people love the Diablo III auction house and suggest that WoW should either work exactly the same way or adopt many of its features.  On the other hand a fewer number of people specifically didn’t like aspects of D3.

The main plus seems to be that commodity items in Diablo III are treated more as “fungible” items — in other words if you have 1000 herbs to list you just list them, you don’t package or price them in stacks.  Further when you buy 1000 herbs you are simply presented with the lowest priced 1000 to buy.  I’m neutral about this idea, it would often be convenient but would also take away my ability to package and price items with discounts for volume buys.

Sales information

Most people agree that information is power and we need more!  Pluses sited for getting sales information include that it would help sellers price items, help buyers decide if prices are fair, and hurt those who attempt to take advantage by pricing things in manipulative or deceptive ways.  People suggested that average sales or posting prices should be easily viewable in the posting and buying UI.

Some commenters suggested people just use the undermine journal — I love the undermine journal, but it doesn’t have and can’t get actual sales information, it only know about posted prices.

Other feature and function ideas

  • Buy multiple stacks with one click
  • Buy or sell partial stacks
  • Listing commodities “stackless” like Diablo III
  • Check box to select lines and do something to them all
  • Make the neutral auction house cross server, or add a cross realm/battle group auction house
  • Combine alliance and horde auction houses on the same realm, go all neutral
  • Make it easier to post multiple items by just putting them in a special bag
  • Adjusting auction fees based on reputation or other factors
  • Functions to blacklist or whitelist sellers/buyers
  • Making the mail interface to the auction house better or removing it so that items you buy simply appear in your inventory if you have space, and sales proceeds appear in your gold total without opening mail.
  • Finally I had one new idea while writing this summary — make common vendor items (poisons, reagents, etc) available in the auction house, just as a convenience.

Pricing and selling restrictions

Well all that is already a lot of comments and ideas,  but by far and away the most discussion was had around people’s desire to regulate “bad” behavior via posting or buying restrictions.  These suggestions included:

  • Price caps based on level or numerous other criteria to prevent gouging
  • Limits on the number of auctions you can post at one time
  • Price minimums or restrictions on undercutting existing auctions
  • Limits on buying that would disallow you from buying all of an item in an effort to “corner the market”

I think it’s important to acknowledge the real concerns people have that give rise to these suggestions.  It’s valid to want the market to be useful to players of all experience levels.  It’s valid to want truly new players to be able to level their professions naturally as they level their characters.  And people feel frustrated competing with other players who seem to have vast resources — both gold and time.

That said, numerous commenters pointed out the flaws with these type of restrictions.  While low level characters suffer when low level materials sell for high prices, they also benefit from selling these materials at high prices as they naturally collect them playing in lower level zones.  Concerns about access to materials needed to level professions could be addressed by providing alternative methods to level professions or obtain materials (ie quests or special vendors).  Players who try to “corner the market” quickly discover that if you don’t control the supply, you can’t control the market — while you may not be challenged immediately, anyone can mine ore or make glyphs and disrupt your market at anytime.  More (sales) information and better ways to filter and sort auction listings would help eliminate a lot of the deceptive practices people employ.

Finally regarding undercutting, I’ll quote one of the best comments from rolua89.  (Sorry it’s long but it’s all good stuff — it could be it’s own blog post!)

Here’s the thing about undercutting by a copper: When someone undercuts by a copper, his competitors don’t lose hardly anything by undercutting him back, again by a copper. This means that the most sales will go to the person who has the most time to camp the AH.

Contrast this with undercutting by a large margin: Now, in order to undercut, that player’s competitors must make a non-trivial sacrifice of profit if they want to get ahead in sales. This means that the most sales will go to the player who is most willing to slash his profit margins. It also means that, out of two people equally aggressive with their undercutting, the most profit will go to the one who can produce the item at the lowest cost, since he can make that market unprofitable for his competitors.

If I would rather do something other than camp the AH for hours at a time, I am then motivated to undercut heavily. This immediately gives my competitors a choice: they can undercut me again, and cut their own profits, or they can wait it out and let my auctions get bought out, with theirs next in line. They have a choice between cutting profits or cutting sales volume. Either way they don’t make as much money. Which is exactly what’s supposed to happen when two suppliers compete in a market.

With all this in mind, remember that every sale that is made comes from a player wanting the item and being willing to pay the lowest price listed. If a market has tons of demand, then it doesn’t matter whether your competitors undercut heavily. They’ll get bought out extremely quickly, and then yours will be the lowest auctions up. But if there’s not enough demand to consume the volume being brought in by the suppliers, the price WILL drop, and you will make less money.

But what happens if no one undercuts by much, and the demand drops off? Then you still don’t make much money, because even with all that effort posting and reposting, no one is buying your auctions.

Either way, you still make less money with less demand. But if people undercut heavily, at least you’ll know the market is flooded, instead of posting again and again with no sales.

Heavy undercutting doesn’t ruin a market; low demand ruins a market.

Thanks again to Robin Torres, WoW Insider and all the wonderful commenters!