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.

 

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!

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: The Nicest Thing Another Player Has Done For Me

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?

This was another of my topic ideas and unlike last week’s topic I had something in mind before I suggested it.

I played WoW for a long time as a solo player.  I had three characters capped at 60 when Burning Crusade came out, but I’d never even ran an instance, much less done a raid.  Famously, I had no idea my first character, a human paladin, had a “bubble” — the spell seemed useless to me because it only lasted a few seconds.  It was a real life friend that I’d introduced to the game who actually told me what I needed to do if I wanted to experience more.

I re-rolled and prepared a new character (the shadow priest who remains my main today) for raiding.  During that process, I just luckily joined a very large social guild and actually made friends.  I met people I would have never ran across in real life from all over the globe.  And we raided Karazhan — I thought I was a real player then.

One of the people we raided with was a prot warrior with a gruff exterior.  Turns out he had a heart of gold.  As the expansion progressed I went back to my older characters to level them to 70, and decided to try tanking on my warrior.  My prot warrior guild friend crafted me gear, got into vent to help me set my UI and rotation, quite literally held my clueless hand through the process of what to do.

Turns out I’m not cut out to tank, not by a mile.  And honestly, I can’t explain why the kindness of this guild-mate struck me so, but it did.  After playing solo for so long he opened my eyes to the fact that we can do more together than alone.  And that insight has far outlasted anytime I spent tanking.

 

Reminder: Go to the Darkmoon Faire

Please excuse my tardiness.  It’s my first month blogging, and it didn’t occur to me right away to remind everyone that the Darkmoon Faire is in town this week.  This month the faire ends on Saturday, June 9th at 11:59 pm server time, and does not return again until Sunday July 1st at 12:00 am server time.

In case you’ve never tried the faire before, WoW Insider offers this wonderful guide that explains it all.

Besides being a good change of pace at this time when many players are experiencing an end of the expansion lack of enthusiasm, the faire is of special interest to anyone who has characters with professions below max level.  Faire vendors offer a special quest for each profession that you can complete once per month to receive prize tickets, tokens, gold/XP, reputation, and +5 skill points in the related profession.

  1. You need a minimum profession skill of 75 to obtain these quests.  So do that!
  2. Make sure you have trained sufficiently to receive the +5 skill.  For example, if you are 149/150 in cooking, visit the cooking trainer to raise your cap to 225 before you do the quest.
  3. Some of the quests require materials that you can’t obtain on  Darkmoon Island.  Here’s a list of what to take with you if you have these professions. (The other quests have no outside material requirements)
  4. Make sure you take the items you need to perform your professions if you don’t normally have them in your bags.  For example, grab that fishing pole!  (I’m not sure if you need the items for all other professions, but better safe than sorry.)
  5. Just like a daily quest, when you complete these quests you should make sure to remember to turn them in before the faire ends.  If you are holding a completed quest when the faire ends you lose a chance to complete it for the month.  You’ll be able to turn it when the faire comes back, but that will count as your completion for next month.

Profession quests (primary)

Profession quests (secondary)

 

Cash Flow Positive Leveling

This is my first post created for Cold’s Gold Blogging Carnival.  The June topic is:

“What Are Some Things You Recommend Players Look Out For While Leveling A New Character In WoW?”

This is very relevant to me personally at the moment because like a lot of players I’m trying to level two more characters to level cap before Mists goes live.  Some aspects of leveling a new character are very different when it’s your first character versus your tenth.  But I firmly believe that in either case, one thing is always true: Leveling (even fast) does not have to cost you gold — you can make money while you level.

In fact, some ways to make gold are just plain less painful to do when you can multi-task and earn XP or profession skill at the same time.  Here are my key recommendations:

  1. Whatever you do in WoW, always have fun.
  2. If this isn’t your very first character (and for most I’m sure it’s not), send yourself a small gold stake to start.  You don’t need a lot, just enough to be able to train and repair whenever you want without thinking about gold.  1000g is plenty.  And send yourself or buy a few bags, of course.
  3. Use a simple addon like Auditor to track your incoming and outgoing gold.
  4. Use an addon like Informant from the Auctioneer Suite to display vendor sell values in tooltips, and choose quest rewards accordingly.
  5. Don’t spend gold on gear.
  6. Choose primary professions to level with and don’t be afraid to change them later.  Many of the best professions to have at level cap are not the best ones to level with.  On top of that, power leveling most non-gathering professions when you are at level cap is pretty easy.
  7. Level secondary professions as you level.  The profession dailies in Shattrath, Dalaran, and the Cataclysm ones give good XP, gold, and the Cataclysm ones even give skill points for fishing and cooking.
  8. Exception to #5 — ignore Archeology until you have a flying mount.
  9. Go to the Faire! The Darkmoon Faire profession quests give good XP, gold, and +5 skill points each week the faire is open for each primary and secondary professions.
  10. Watch out for skills falling behind your level.  Now that the XP required to level has been reduced, it’s easy to get behind and find your skinner unable to skin your kills as you quest at level.  Don’t let that happen to you.
  11. Take time to gather and sell low level materials.  This goes for herbs, ore, and leather if you have those professions, and dropped items like cloth. Use these items in your main gold making business if you can.

There are no absolutely right or wrong choices for class, race, professions, or leveling method.  The first point above applies here, choose something you find fun.  What has worked for me lately is to take herbalism on all my levelers, because I’m a scribe.  I funnel those materials into my main business.  For a second profession I either choose another gathering profession (mining or skinning) or a profession with a profitable cooldown like alchemy, which just happens to go well with herbalism.  (Alchemy is trivial to power level, but the materials required aren’t always available on every auction house.)

Another choice would be to level a profession that has some kind of timed gates to getting recipes, like jewel crafting or inscription.  These profession force you to do quests or research once per day to get all the “stuff”, so it makes them harder to level later, but still not impossible.

“But wait” you say, “I just want to power level to cap then I’ll worry about gold.”  It may be true the absolutely fastest way to level is to ignore gold, and if you really want and need to do that, ok.  But most people just don’t level as fast as possible, even if they say they will.  You can level just as fast or faster than most and still make money easily.  In addition, if you ignore gold while you level you are missing the opportunity forever.  So look out for losing gold while you level — you don’t have to.