Thursday, 1 May 2014

Time for a new frontier

WoW's been getting a little old to me as of late, I went from late Vanilla till mid cataclysm with out taking a break, then a took a break mid MoP, now I've taken a bit of a hiatus.  I've always loved the game and they've made big improvements to mechanics and functionality over the year, but the game's showing it's wrinkles.  Though it's still a great game and still has everything that's lead me to have over 440 days played the problem is in the core mechanics.  After playing for 7 years there's not much that they can add without a complete overhaul of the game, voidzones, move to spot x, kill enemy y,  follow strategy z, as many permutations as there is possible for the fights very few new boss battles are exactly ground breaking.  Let's take Garrosh for example, listing a few abilities off Wowpedia:

P1
Desecrate - Altered Lich king desecration, permutation of void zone
Hellscream's Warsong - Same friendly aoe buff that's been around since vanilla
Adds - All have abilities we've seen before

All of intermission - kill adds to cause effect or remove buff

P2
Whirling Corruption - closer/farther damage aoe
.....Well I won't drag this on too long

My point being most mechanics are permutations of old abilities and if you want to make a boss fight you could just assign each fundamental mechanic a letter, throw darts at a dictionary and make the difficulty ramp dependent on the number of letters (with the occasional four letter word getting extra dps for a gear check).

Without changing the games core we're very close to the limit of what WoW can do.  As I said this isn't the end of the world, the game is still great, there's a reason you can sit down for a quick quest and suddenly 12 hours have passed and you're punching a dragon with your 5th completely new set of gear.  The common complaint I'm hearing from the most veteran players is that it's just getting to be a little too same 'ol same 'ol. Personally I've never had problems with any fights, reaching into elitist jerk territory, others have had issues with mechanics or been unable to perform properly, but I've always had little trouble filling any of the 3 positions for any mechanic responsibilities.  Not to say that I'm amazing at everything (I only claim that for tanking) but once I've seen a new fights mechanics 3 times tops I've got it down.  This made the game more about fun, friends, glory and performance rather than difficulty, and with the years the only thing that's remained is the friends.  Unfortunately when the only reason you come on is so that you can talk to all the people you've played with and had fun and adventures over the years with, the game becomes less relevant.

I hopped around on a few different MMO's lately.  EVE looked fun, especially from the economic side, but personally I sided with the "you pay for a second job" perspective of EVE, I can see how the very advanced game would be fun but at the same time it's a game that's both a massive void of a time sink, and something you don't really do much playing of.

Next I joined a Star Wars nut friend of mine, along with another buddy, and tried SWTOR and I must say I absolutely LOVED the leveling, it hit every nerdy nerve just right, but I couldn't help but constantly compare it to Warcraft, and it came up massively lacking.  Many of the games elements are just lacking, such as no addon support and - get this - the inability to reacquire most quests without a GM ticket, that's right, quest log too full but you want to go back and do the storyline later? Too damned bad unless it's a core character storyline critical quest, and even that can be spotty.  As I said the questing was fun but it seemed to me that even though it was still in development the developers didn't want to actually put much more effort into it besides the required updates / periodic expansions, instead just letting it be a cash cow.

Finally I tried ESO as the mere hint of a new Elder Scrolls game causes my wallet to shudder at the thought of how fast I'll tear in to it.  Let's just say I wasn't too impressed.  My summary would be Skyrim with multiplayer elements haphazardly shoehorned in.  Tons of bugs that have been known for months made it in to the final game, and the game plays just like a Scrolls game that reluctantly had the MMO necessities put in, and the mechanics they chose don't bode well for the advanced game.  AOE / personal only heals and more individual performance means end game boss encounters will have to be dumbed down, and the "choose an armor type and a roll and have at it" will either be bullshit (3/4 of the options unviable) or will be horribly hard to balance. Warcraft has 34 basic builds to balance broken into 4 tanks 7 healers and 23 dps specs, they do a pretty good job with the biggest MMO team in the world, as it stands ESO has more than half a hundred options.

What I've set my sights on is Wildstar, I've been in the beta for a while and so far I like what I see, the game still needs polish but is already well refined, has a good tone and lots of mechanics that I like to see / have wanted to see in MMO's.  Other than myself over half a dozen friends have pre-ordered the game for it's June release and if they play their cards right the game has the most potential I've seen yet to replace Warcraft on the MMO throne.  If years of MMO's has taught me anything it's that "GTFO the fire" doesn't click with many people, so Wildstar's telegraphed attack system may be off putting to the majority of..."not the best" players who like to run in plant their feet and hammer em' some buttons.  This would indicate a dumbing down of endgame mechanics but so far only 20 and 40 man instances are planned, and the developers say they intend for the end game to be difficult enough to be something you have to fight tooth and nail to get your new shiny trinket out of.  The game has a lot of potential, and my highest hopes are that they meet that potential.

So for the next while any gold making posts will be from the study of my rocket ship house or slightly singed from the mortars that rain around me while I write from a foxhole in my guild's warplot.  This is something exciting from me for a gold making perspective as it's new items, new markets and a new economy for me to conquer.

Not to step on anyone's toes but Warcraft gold making discussion is another area of stagnation. Gold making isn't something overtly hard, just something that takes time to learn and requires lots of effort and research.
Three to four months in if you're serious about gold making and putting lots of effort in, learned all the addons, got all of your supply chains and common practices set up, you've already learned 80-90% of what there is to gold making, effort, efficiency and scope are ordinarily the only things that will make a big difference beyond that point.

Gold making will always be a thrill to those that are drawn to it, (aka anyone that's never asked "how do I make money quick" but instead "how do I make this sale and eventually take over the world?") but writing about it breaks down to going over methods, professions and tips and tricks, something I'm guilty of myself. Few gold makers will do a tell all of their trade secrets besides the occasional tidbits (at least without making it a guide, opportunity cost people) and there's only so often you can talk about the fine points of alchemy. This means most gold blogs are daily experiences and tricks that we can share without giving away enough information to threat our empires, because when it comes to what you can tell people that they don't need to get through personal experience, the list of original material is almost non existant.  The only ground breaking posts are the discovery of obscure methods or tricks that no one's found before (trade secret problem again) or those brought by new expansions.

On an ending note unless WoD brings a lot more than they're showing so far I think WoW's become to me a favorite food that I've eaten almost every day for the better part of a decade.  I still like it, and long for the days when every bite was delicious and vibrant, but I've grown desensitized to it.  And for anyone preparing to tear into me over any of the game / gold making comments, I say this only as the perspective of someone who's been at it for most of their life.  My first electronic game was at age 3, my first MMO was at when I was 8 (Runescape), hopped on Warcraft at 13 (admittedly I was occasionally one of those little bastards every hates to get in group) and I've been with it into my early 20's.  I've always been a forefront player, and though I've only been a serious about gold making for just over a year, I've always had a not unsubstantial role in the economy and culture of the games I've played.  If this is a farewell to WoW it's not without a second thought, but with melancholy.


-Thairus
(A cookie to anyone who valiantly fought through that wall of text)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I live!

Well for the majority of you that are unaware of the fact, I'm not dead...so far as I know anyway. Questions of purgatory and a ground-hog day like effect aside, I'm back on WoW!.

This post is mainly just to say hey I'm back and let anyone that reads the blog know that I won't be fully returning to the gold scene until later in Pandaria.  I want to get my infrastructure set up again before WoD comes out but I'm too busy with college to devote enough time to gold making for it to be worthwhile. Seeing as I'm still sitting at around 1.2 million gold I'm not in a dire need to build up capital for the next expansion.

Currently my only plans for the auction house are to sell off all my mid to high level crafting materials before they become worthless, all the low level materials I'm going to transfer to one of my storage guild banks for safe keeping so that I can trickle them back onto the auction house when prices come back up a few months into WoD.

Now when I say build up infrastructure for the next expansion I mean it in a big way.  Recently my server was merged with (incomprehensible mumbling) and my grand scheme is to make 8-10 bank alts on the other server, each with their own guild, including as many level 25 guilds as I can purchase for a reasonable price.
Additionally to that I'm going to restructure the professions on my current characters for more efficient crafting / distribution of professions (I still have 3 herbalists....*shudder*) Hopefully ending up with

5 x Alchemist
1 x Blacksmith, Jewelcrafter, Enchanter, Inscriptionist, Leatherworker, Engineer, Tailor

This leaves me with 10 free slots to fill as more information about crafting, gear and the economic state in general of WoD is revealed.

All other plans are trade secrets for now, thanks for reading the quick rant.

-Thairus

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Seven digits!

Gold Cap



Gold Cap baby!  It took just under 3 months since I started seriously making cash, and I've finally broke the milestone!  Now theres only one thing to do - see how much of it I can spend before next week rolls around.  I'd like to give thanks to everyone from the gold making IRC channel that motivated me at the beginning and got me to set up the blog (which has helped keep me on track more than you'd think), and also thanks to all my friends that I exploited for cheap materials.  Now to buy myself a well deserved present and walk around popping up a trade window with people on an alt and putting 750k up before running off giggling.

A final thanks to anyone whose followed me since I was a gold making neophyte, I hope to keep continue entertaining you with my ramblings for a long time to come.

-Thairus

Friday, 5 July 2013

Weekly Gold Report 05/07/2013

Well not much new or interesting this week, been able to actually get on and post auctions but I've been distracting myself with other things on the side, anyway on to the totals.

Current Balances:
Bank Balance - 890,000g
Altoholic total gold - 27,225g
Incoming AH Gold - 1244g

Grand Total: 918,469g


Only 82.5k to go and I hit goldcap for the first time, woot!  Relaunched my kits this week and immediately sold the an alchemy and jc kit, I've had surprising interest in the unfinished inscription kit, and it being fairly easy to produce I bet it could be a fairly good gold maker once I get a good stockpile ready.  I had a surprising amount of uber blues sell this week, almost two dozen since I started posting this week after building up half a bank tab of them (I purchased them and kept tossing them in the tab, never got around to posting them), I haven't made a twink character since early Cata so I'm not sure if there was any particular reasons to it, but the increase in sales was noticeable.  Not much else to say in the way of WoW, still just stockpiling resources in preparation for 5.4 and trying to get a few people to farm for me.  My side project this week has been teaching myself Java programming, can't tell if I'm any good at it or not seeing as I'm just using tutorials / wikis and hoping I don't accidentally create Skynet.  Anyways heres hoping you'll be seeing the big "woo-hoo I hit gold cap!" post out sometime in the next week, have a good weekend all.

-Thairus

Friday, 28 June 2013

Weekly Gold Report 28/06/2013

Phew back after missing a week, been inundated with work in real life so haven't had much time for gold making, anyway more on that after the totals.

Current Balances:
Bank Balance - 800,000g
Altoholic total gold - 33,025g
Incoming AH gold - 805g

Grand Total: 833,830g


Well not much of an increase for a week, much less two.  I do a lot of landscaping work and for the last week I've only been able to get on and post auctions once in the morning and once in the evening, additionally I temporarily shut down by profession kit services to rework them a bit.  I modified a few of the crafts to lower the amount of rarer materials I had to accumulate and added Blacksmithing and Inscription kits to my line up (BS takes a horrifying amount of metal).  Anyhow I've finally got some free time again so hopefully with the addition of the new kits I can reach goldcap within the next week or two, and no promises but I may see if I can scrounge up a little giveaway in celebration when I finally make it.  Anyway not much else to say for now and tomorrow will be the first day I can sleep in, have a good weekend as always and I'll see about getting something out to read tomorrow that isn't me complaining.

-Thairus

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Big Unveil

Drumroll Please!
Well my secret project that I've been teasing about for the last few weeks is......Profession Kits!

Okay I never said it was an exciting project.

Anyway while browsing through The Consortium I came across an old post outlining the concept and a good few of the intricacies behind making, marketing and selling profession kits.  The post immediately intrigued me as I'd toyed with a similar idea beforehand considering I always hear people wanting to change professions, or finish levelling an alt characters professions, but don't want to put the time and effort in to farm the materials or keep an eye on the auction house for days at a time to find rarer materials.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a profession kit is essentially a bulk package of all the materials needed to level from 1-600 in a profession, or any other level range if you want to tailor it to the individual customer.  When I decided I'd try my hand at it I noticed something; in my extensive (5 minutes on Google) research into the kits the most recent post with more than a passing comment on the topic was either almost a year old or had only been modified for MoP.  Now that is in no way taking a shot at the great post on The Consortium or any of the other posts, most of them are great and have wonderful amounts of detail, however after setting it up myself I feel I could add a few more notes and techniques, as well as outline how I set up my kits.  Let's take it from the top in a 5 step process:

Step 1: Storage
This is by no means a small undertaking.  I have 3 bank guilds at my disposal, all 11 of my alts have a minimum of four 20 slot bags, and 2 of my bank characters have full 28 slot Royal Satchels (which is a great investment for any selling character that requires lots of bag space), of those three banks 2 of them are designated towards my profession kits.  The level 25 guild I bought a few weeks back was entirely intended for this project and consists of 6 tabs dedicated to Jewelcrafting, Alchemy, Enchanting, Tailoring, Blacksmithing and Inscription kits, with the seventh tab used as overflow for kits that exceed 84 stacks of items (my enchanting kit takes 97 slots).  The second guild I use in the kits stores backup stock of all the materials needed, as I like to be able to restock within a day if need be.

Step 2: The Horrifying Logistics
I spent over two weeks gathering enough materials to start selling my Enchanting, Alchemy and Jewelcrafting kits in anticipation that they would have the highest demand, and I'm still gathering materials to complete the other three kits.  As a simple example most people can recognize the difficulty of, each enchanting kit requires 325 hypnotic dust, not the easiest thing to gather a stock of almost a thousand of.  The tailoring kit requires 1200+ Frostweave and almost 1000 Embersilk, thus be prepared to get your hands dirty and go out to farm materials.  Now here comes the most appealing part of selling the kits:  When you go out to farm scarce materials you can farm tons at once;  Purple Lotus shows up only a few at a time on my auction house, rarely more than 10 at a time and usually only every week or two.  The lotus only spawns in 4 spots in Felwood and only a stack is used in levelling any individual profession.  This means that the only influx of the herb is from those that want to make peanuts farming and selling it (hint: these people are far and few between) and those that go gather the bare minimum amount they need to get through levelling their professions before tossing the few extra on the AH.
I spent 20 minutes making 3 loops around Felwood and gathered almost 6 stacks of Lotus, enough for 5 alchemy / enchanting kits while at at the same time gathering almost 2 stacks of Gromsblood, another uncommon herb that I use in my alchemy kit.

Step 3: Only 5000 crafting recipes to choose from? Let's go with....um....
I'm a patient man, but I'd rather use a ghost pepper as a suppository than spend the time going through WoWHead looking at all the different crafting recipes, their materials, and what level those recipes go yellow/green/grey.  Thus I skipped over to WoW-Professions to get a rough outline of what to use.  A massive thank you to those that put the time into those lists, but I'll give the same advice about them that I give to people who defer to Noxxic, Icy Veins and AskMrRobot - DO NOT take the information at face value, what works in theory is not always right for you.  My strategy for preparing my shopping list of materials I'd need was to open up a word document and type along the lines of the following:

"2-70: Enchant Bracer - Minor Health   68 strange dust"

I then did this for the entirety of the guide, however as I said, what works in the guide was not necessarily the path of least resistance for myself.  In producing the bulk materials needed for a kit you may find yourself with large amount of materials that are ordinarily considered too expensive or rare to use for levelling, thus my next step was to modify my list.  The kits are meant to get you from 1-600, with little input on my end besides handing them instructions and all the materials needed, this means the less volatility in the process the better, which doesn't bode well when you have 20 levels where the item is cheapest to make overall, but only has around a 50% chance to give you a level.  To amend the problem of volatility I went down the list and picked out each area where I noticed 10 levels - 13 crafts, I then searched the materials relevant to the profession / level and sorted the "Reagent for" tab by level, if the item had a suitable replacement I substituted that, if not I added an extra stack of materials to help get past RNG.  It took me a good few hours to put together all my lists, so be prepared to do your research.

Step 4: Infrastructure
Now that you have your kits prepared what next? Walk up to random people and offer to get them quickly from 1-600 in a profession?  Well a dozen instances of being misidentified as a gold seller or shady dealer later and you'll decide maybe it's time to make it so people know your product.  Personally I've set up 8 different macros for selling my kits:

Sales pitch macro: All I say is that they will get 1-600 in 15 minutes (a blatant lie I admit, it takes more than 15 minutes just to craft everything, but catches interest), that instructions are included, and to whisper me for pricing / info.

Transaction:  Outline the details of how the transaction works.

Technical 1/2: Detail all of the finer points of how to use the package and offer them to mail the instructions in game or e-mail it to them if they consent to give me their address.

Assurances 1/2: I tell them that I 100% cover any issues with the kit free of charge, assure them that all their character names and email are confidential, and tell them that I only take payments up front in full.

Tidbits: I outline that I buy back any excess materials included and many of the items they craft in the process if they wish to resell them to me, and mention that I'd appreciate if they'd consent to me using them as a reference if they're pleased with the results.

Bags: I offer to include four 16 slot bags free of charge, four 20 slot bags at 1/2 of market price and four 28 slot bags at 2/3 of market price.

Step 5: Customer Server
Now that they've agreed to the sale make sure that you take good care of them.  I offer my battletag and tell them to let me know if there's any problems and that I'll take care of them ASAP.  If they want to immediately use the kit I will go and take care of my other sales while I wait for any questions / problems they may have and check in with them once in a while to make sure everything's going okay. If they happen to accidentally make the wrong item I assure them it's no problem and give them the materials they need to get back on track.  This is the important part where you build reputation,  it's a massive transaction by most peoples standards and you can't offer them anything in the way of assurance except for your good word, this is where you make your word count.


Pricing:
Now we get on to the details, we'll start off with pricing.  After I have my shopping list of all the materials that I need I price them at either market price or slightly under market price if I produce the materials for significantly cheaper.  When I have my total material cost I tack on a 50%+ markup for services.  If I come up with a price of say, 18k I'll take it down to 17.5k, it's a small amount and makes the price seem lower and less intimidating.  Remember that usually almost half of the sale price is your markup, so feel free to tack on extra materials, give people deals, or play with your profit margins.

The Sale:
For the sale I have them join my kit selling guild on an unguilded alt.  When they join the guild they are unable to view any of the tabs, and then are quickly promoted to an appropriate rank (labeled Alchemy, Enchanting, etc) that allows them to see the all the relevant tabs.  I insist on 100% of sales price deposited in the guild bank up front, which people may be wary of initially but will be more comfortable with as you build reputation and gather a list of references.  The second they've deposited the full amount I modify rank permissions to give them full access to all the relevant tabs and begin the customer service step of my process.

Sweeten the Deal
I took the advice of the original Consortium post and offer a 10% discount to repeat buyers and even larger discounts for package deals (though I haven't sold more than 2 kits at once yet),  as well as offering a 10% commission to anyone that brings me a paying customer.  When I think the buyer is seriously interested about purchasing I give them my bag macro offering to toss in 16 slots for free or larger bags for a good deal below market price.  I also offer to buy back many of the items produced through levelling:  JC items can be repurchased to disenchant for enchanting kit materials, alchemy potions can be purchased if they just want to get rid of all the items and then resold for 100% profit.
Most of your buyers will not be experience sellers, think of the position they're now in after hitting 600: They're happy that the kit worked out, pleased with the results, but also just dropped a large amount of money and find themselves with a large amount of materials that they're going to have to either vendor or sell over the course of days if not weeks.  It may sound a little shady but they're at a vulnerable point now, and if you offer to buy back everything (even if you're just going to vendor it yourself) they'll be happy to jump on the deal and make back some of their money.  Generally I offer 1/3-1/2 of the price I estimate that I can get for the useful pieces plus some to cover the vendor trash, and so far all my customers have readily accepted.

Closing Up
Ask people if they mind being used as a reference, I suggest telling them you'll tell people to only mail them and not to bug them with whispers, and keep your word.  Remind them of your deals and offerings, such as the discounts and commissions, you don't want to come across as "I've got your gold, now get out." so be friendly and reassuring until one of you has to run.

Control EVERYTHING
To take things a step further you can control the prices of all the items in your kits.  Buy up excess materials even if you're just going to toss them and fix prices at 50-100% above what you're getting the items for, though make sure to only resell on a different character.  This way if a wise customer takes time to look at the market prices your kit will seem all the more appealing, but make no mistake, this takes a lot of effort to keep on top of.



Anyway without making this into a book I'll sum it up here:  Customer service above all else.  Your main goal here is to build a reputation where people unquestionably get their monies worth, do that and be firm with your prices (if you give someone a lower price, make sure you express it as a special deal).
Good luck to anyone else that decides to undertake this project, so far I've sold at least one of every kit and have a waiting list for the enchanting kit.  It's a fun project to undertake but make sure you know what you're getting in to before you start buying out the auction house.


-Thairus

Friday, 14 June 2013

Weekly Gold Report 14/06/2013

Been a fun week for me so far, 2 days without power not withstanding, so here's the weekly totals:

Current Balances:
Bank Balance - 700,000g
Altoholic total gold - 53,400g
Incoming AH gold - 127g

Grand Total: 753,527g

Well I launched my secret project this week and got great reception on it, making around 20k profit on it so far which made up for the days I missed with the power outages (ah the WoWCrack withdrawl..).
Tomorrow I'll have a post out on that, but until then it still remains a secret.

Now on to the big topic for this week - the 5.4 patch notes.  I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with a good modus operandi for preparing for 5.4 but everything comes with a risk.  Generally I've been stockpiling windwool, ghost iron, trillium, magnificent hides, living steel, serpent's eyes and imperial silk.  According to the patch notes there will not only be new pvp crafted armor, but potentially crafted rings as well, and I'm sure anyone that's been around for a while remembers the crafted dreadful boom;  Additionally there will be new daily cd's for all the gear crafting professions including:

Balanced Trillium Ingot:  Costs 1 Trillium Bar
Hardened Magnificent Hide:  Costs 2 Magnificent Hide
Celestial Cloth: Costs 10 Bolts of Windwool

From what I can see crafted malevolent will be using the same materials as crafted dreadful, additionally there seems to be crafted malevolent rings, though no materials are listed, and crafted trinkets are listed along side them, which means it may be temporary / placeholder.  Don't take my advice as infallible but I'd start getting a nice heaping pile of raw materials and gems.

Next on the agenda is Virtual Realms, for those of you on high population servers this is a bit of a side note, but if you're on a med-low population server like I am..... well frankly it scares the crap out of me.   On the one hand I want to get a giant stock ready for 5.4, as I thought I was prepared for 5.3 which was the first content patch that I'd been doing anything but casually selling for, but I ended up almost running out of stock in the first 2 days and having to scramble to get materials to keep up with demand. On the other hand with Virtual Realms I could have purchased an item at 100g and find out that it's only worth 50g after the server merge.  Prices will likely be jumpy for a good week or two before things settle down after 5.4, with maybe a half dozen different servers all used to paying different prices, the high population server players will grab all the cheap items thinking they're getting a good deal, where as the people used to paying a low price will scoff at the low population server prices.

My advice is to watch any announcements from Blizzard related to Virtual Realms like a hawk and IMMEDIATELY start researching if/when they announce what realms will be merged.  Take a look on TUJ and see what the historical prices for the other servers items are.  If your server usually has 20 of an item up for 100g each and a server you're merging with has a average stock of 300 at 20g each, you'll find the value of your stock dropping threw the floor overnight.

Step 2 of watching the announcements: Go hog wild!  Once you know what servers your merging with and have a general idea if the impending price changes buy EVERYTHING you can get your hands on.  Big content patches will always see absolutely massive demand for the first few days, and with Virtual Realms even sleepy smaller sized servers will see a huge amount of sales.

My personal plans in preparation for 5.4 are to:
A. Gather lots of raw materials and magnificent hide to make crafted malevolent
B. Craft a ton of potions / flasks then turn all 5 of my alchemists to transmute mastery. I've set aside 2 stacks of every blue quality gem for if epic gems are announced (considering we've had epic gem transmutations for the last 2 expansions), and in the mean time I'll be pumping out a ton of living steel as I assume the new plate gear will still use it in addition to balanced trillium.
C. Cut a stack of every high demand gem, and keep at least 100 raw gems in reserve to restock as needed (sans blue gems).
D. Do the same as C with enchants.
E. Do as much research as possible ahead of time to take immediate advantage of any disparities in the merged realms.
F. Sit through 16 hours of extended server maintenance due to launch difficulties on Blizzards side.

Anyway I'll have more advice up as it comes along, and a post on my secret project up tomorrow, enjoy the weekend all.


-Thairus