Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy 2015 Gold Barons

I hope you're making gold hand over fist, I know I am.  What am I doing?  Well I'll tell you sometime later.

Reading today's notes for 2015 from Blizzard was boring, up until I got to the part about being able to trade those with soon to be implemented gametime tokens for gold.  Then I started reading official forums about this topic, and I found example after example of idiocy.

"Didn't you learn from RMAH!?"
"Pay to win!"
"Game's going free to play!"
"I'm a poor player, this is unfair!"

Outside of the people that are poor (and probably playing from their crappy run-down apartments, basements, or burned out double-wides) the others are morons.

In case you have NEVER heard of this system before, this is very much like Plex in Eve.  Never played Eve and WoW is your first video game?  Ok, it's simple.

Eve has a subscription system not unlike other MMOs, and hey you're playing one right now if you play WoW.  Long time players (Player A) are pretty well off in that game, and they have so much currency that they have nothing to really spend it on.  So they get to keep playing by trading their ISK (awarding Plex, thanks StupidGameTweet for factchecking) off to broke players (Player B) in exchange for gametime.  That gametime is paid from someone because CCP (Big Evil Corporate Capitalists) isn't about to take a loss, and all parties are happy.

Player A is happy because they get to keep playing.
Player B is happy because they get in-game currency.
Big Evil Corporate Capitalists are happy because they get cash from Player B

The business cycle works, Eve is one of the longest running MMOs in history and they cater to players just like Blizzard.  Except Blizzard's player base is generally filled with more entitled little assholes that can't tie their shoes without mommy's help, and elitist scumbags who cannot believe they are still playing.

Ok, so I fail to see any play to win here.  Or anything even remotely similar to the D3 RMAH.  Hell, it's hardly Free to Play for even the people trading the gold, because gold acquisition is hardly free - you invest your time in the chase of pixels.

If you're a broke player, I guess I could understand your plight.  You spend all your time at work, and then get home and want to raid and do other things in the game.  Rich or lucky assholes always price those items in the AH you want for far too much gold that you don't have.  Further, you have little to no understanding of how capitalism or free markets work because your head's been stuck in the classic works of Karl Marx.  Ok, so let's bridge the problem here.  You have a paying job, you want some quick game gold, then trade for something people with gold want - gametime.  Unless of course you're some stay at home loser who's still telling us you won't trade your pride in so you can't find a job anywhere, or you won't get a job because you play WoW all the time and you still haven't got any gold.  Fat, lazy, and broke is no way to go through WoW, son.  But if you have a job, welcome to the future of gaming.

Like Ebay is to Paypal, so is Goldselling to China

People have been doing this for ages in game.  They released RAF and Gametime cards, and guess what?  Gold sellers took advantage of the system.  For tens of thousands of gold, you could pickup gametime for almost any length of time.  People spam these services in game, and they spam them in the illegit forums everywhere.

Some of the sellers are incredibly reputable.  They hail from countries like China where they acquire things like Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, government secrets, and even gametime cards for pennies on the dollar.  Their only mission in life is to eat, so they do it by selling to cheap ass Westerners who have lots of gold and can't fork out $15 for a monthly subscription.  At last check, it took about 4 hours of work to get the gold they ask for a 60 day game card, but 2 hours at a minimum wage job to pay the sub outright.  But I digress.

The issue is, the Chinese really are getting bargains on both RAF and gametime subscriptions, so when they sell you something they are getting an incredible deal.  This was the loophole in Blizzard's entire free gametime system.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the people who are outright scamming players.  They spam trade looking for a buyer, and advertise too good to be true prices for 30 days of gametime.  The halfwits that buy from these people then find the code to be useless, and getting their gold back to be even more fruitless.  Or worse, they would buy "gifted" game time, getting screwed.  Blizzard won't help you here, and you're breaking the Terms of Service in all respects.  So both of you are bad people in need of a ban.

We've been down this road once before

Blizzard did once before implement an item in-game that could be traded, remember the guardian cub?  This was a fantastic idea, but unfortunately too many appeared and the item's value crashed.  Once a pet is learned, you don't need another, so it was an evaporating market from the outset.

Gametime doesn't have this issue.  Everyone playing right now needs it, and once a month everyone's time runs out.  In other words, the demand will never go away as long as the game remains Pay to Play.  So the argument that we're on our way to F2P is completely nullified.  If anything, they're exploring more ways to increase revenue streams, and I congratulate them on this.

There are only a few ways that this system will be tripped up, and I'll be brief.

1) Blizzard does not vigorously explore the potential loopholes, and they do not monitor the activities in game.

Gold sellers will always figure out how to convert gold into cash and vice versa.  Like I mentioned, the Chinese sellers exploited the hell out of the RAF loophole back in Cataclysm.  In this situation, they could easily buy cheap tokens and convert them into gold, and then sell that gold on the black market at a huge markup.  This would probably push down the value of these tokens, which Blizzard will need to watch.

Further, if they are tradeable, they should not be auctionable.  Resetting them sounds so tempting to me right now.

2) Duping the tokens becomes possible.  They have to absolutely make them unique and not stackable.  

You say duping does not exist?  Ok. Fine, put your head back in the sand.  Much like 99% of TCG Spectral Tiger mounts today, if they are able to make unlimited copies, then Blizzard will lose their asses on this one.  Because each token is backed with real cash, I don't think we'll have much to worry about.  

Unlike TCG items, which have zero cash value to Blizzard in-game or outside of licensing fees, you let the hackers come in and make 1000 copies of these things you just lost $15,000 bucks.  Do that across multiple servers and the stockholders will wonder why there was a dip in profits this last month.

How would Zerohour roll this out?


1) Make them unique items to the account.  One player cannot carry more than a certain number at a time.  They will have to use them or trade them off.  Be it one token at a crack or up to 3.  There's no reason for anyone to be able to carry 100 of these things on their person.

2) Make a clearinghouse to trade these.  Just like you saw with the RMAH, the pet store, etc.  It's available via the shop, and at a set price in gold.  If you let these go up on the AH, these same people who are terrible at making gold are also probably unfamiliar with how to use the AH UI.  How many customer service tickets will be filed saying they misposted at 1g?  If you do not fix the value, then the buyers will feel cheated when their tokens go for less gold than they expected.

This idea is brilliant because it reduces trade chat spam, errors at the AH, and utilizes a private system that's already in place.  A person opens the shop, clicks "Buy", validates the transaction, and a BOP item is sent to the account just like a mount or pet.  The person then uses the item.  Only tokens available for sale will appear, so if noone has bought gametime and gotten gold, then the token does not exist.  The seller does not receive their gold and the gametime is not charged until the transaction occurs, so a queue is in place for this commodity.  If the seller has cancelled payment or they hit insufficient funds at the time the transaction is made, the next person in line sells there item.  Neither party loses nor gains until a transaction is made.  Further, both parties are anonymous.  You won't have hacking goldsellers jumping in and selling a million gold worth of the things only to see them disappear in 24 hours.

This brings me to number 3, which is...

3) Do NOT let them be freely tradeable.  Tradeable items get exploited.  I've worked in big data before, and when you're talking millions of players and accounts, you cannot possibly monitor them all for illicit activity, especially short term exploiters using a throwaway account.  A person buying gametime with gold will either NEED the time at that point, or they're stockpiling them.  Stockpiling will be wrong and the WORST thing for this mechanic.

Example?  Let's say I have 5 million gold laying around.  I decide that all the tokens on the AH need to be raised in price, much like a TCG mount.  You probably see where this is going.  The tokens become atrociously priced and then the idea behind the concept is killed and then nobody wins.  I know people out there who love to boost and reset are waiting to get their jollies off on this, but hopefully they smarten up with it's release.

Thanks for stopping in!

Zerohour has leveled more alts this expansion than any other, and each with garrisons.  World domination will occur in the new year.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Achievement Unlocked: Raiding with Credit Cards

There's an issue right now that I don't get with Blizzard's MMO, World of Warcraft.  It's sort of a big deal, maybe you've heard of the game.  It's been out 10 years and promotes Massively Multi-player Online game play, while separating people among servers.  The issue is, as the decade has progressed, people have moved on, they've transferred servers, and servers have even been merged over time because the MMO has gone more and more the Single Player Online (SPO) route while still trying to be MMO, even though some tools are in place to promote MMO, it's still mostly SPO.

They've initiated lots of changes trying to get more people to be able to play.  They went to cross realm battlegrounds first, then crossrealm dungeons, then cross realm raids in looking for raid, crossrealm Arena and RBG teams, then merges and Normal/Heroic raiding crossrealm.  Amazing stuff.  Where does it end?  Well, ask any Mythic level raider.  20 people enter, all must be from the same server.

Why would they not allow people from all servers to perform Mythic raids together?  I would guess it's one of several reasons, some even stated by them.  Like most things that are spewed forth from the maker, I believe there are underlying reasons that are politically challenging and are not wanting to be addressed.

1) We don't want Realm First achievements being stolen by non-realm raids.
2) Mythic raiding should be exciting and only with friends, who are such good friends they are on your exact server.  If not, too bad.
3) High end raiders have a severe problem with guild bouncing.  Because of this, they are a steady flow of cash for Blizzard.  They should transfer (pay) for their trial periods, and then transfer (pay) again when they get benched, cut or leave.
4) An arbitrary reason is in place, which will one day be walked back on and reasons will be given that make complete sense making everyone wonder why the reason was in place to begin with.
5) The highest quality PvE items could be potentially available for cold, hard cash from the most unscrupulous people in the world - item sellers.  Top players could simply group up with anyone in the region and collect good money selling drops.  Not like this has ever happened with other things that don't matter, like Gladiator/Rank 1 titles and high arena ratings, because we've long established eSports isn't important.

Let's tackle this one by one.

I Want My Realm First, Remember AQ Opening Events!?

Realm Firsts matter... to servers of course.  Nobody else cares if you are Realm First on Backwater US-Horde.  What if a guild like Blood Legion or Method felt like blowing your future legacy achievement chances just to help some friends?  Midwinter comes and helps your server second or tenth guild score the achievement and upends the 'balance of power'.  Or someone could bribe enough people and a guild appears to assist.

Easily solved here... can you think of a way around this?  I sure can.

Simply prevent realm firsts from being awarded to any guilds that have another member in the raid from another server.  After all, a cutting edge world guild would obviously require transfers in this situation, so no change to business as usual.  The same for server leading guilds.  They cannot port to another server with a guild just to score the achievement.  The balance of power is preserved, dogs still chase cats, everyone stays happy.

This reason goes down really easily.  Programming, how does it work?

Friends are Gone with the Wind

Over 10 years, people move away.  I don't think I have the same neighbors in my neighborhood as I did 10 years ago.  People I got along with great and who parked in their driveways and not the street, who always dragged their trash bins from the street after pickup, and who didn't mow their laws at 6am on Saturday mornings have all moved on to other things.  In fact, the dude that never cuts his lawn is still here, that creepy neighbor who never waves at you when you drive by, and the guy who's house has needed a paint job since 1989 are still there.  Basically, the good people moved to greener pastures while the baddies stuck around.

Just like WoW.  I was on a smaller server from Classic up until the close of Wrath, but I saw property values decreasing and decided to GTFO of the town and move to the big city.  I left behind friends who decided to stick it out, only to see their servers become ghost towns since.  Old friends today are scattered across servers, and if we want to play with them again, or they're short a DPS or healer or tank in Mythic, tough luck, Chuck.  Pickup someone from your own server, because friends of yours aren't allowed.  After all, those people on your own server are your new friends, play nice with others.  Yeah, right.  Not buying it.

RealID and Battletags have made the game more social.  Prior to these, my friend list was pretty much limited to a few people I ran dungeons with when we had to actually find people to run with rather than push a button.  Or I used it to track friends in other guilds.  My guild however was always my primary friend list.  Today, I have about 30 active people on my RealID list.  Hmm, 30.  That's 10 more than needed for Mythic.  Hell I have a raid group of friends with a bench spread all over.  But I shouldn't be allowed to do the hardest content with them, because that's not allowed.

If a social scientist looked at Warcraft and how the player population has developed, I'm fairly certain they would also say that this system is flawed.

Recruiting, Insert Credit Card Here

Let's be honest.  This isn't Cataclysm or Mists.  Mythic is not the "New Heroic".  Given the difference in gear drops and boss difficulty between normal and Mythic, the place looks like it's going to be a slaughter for the vast majority of guilds even hoping to get there.  I've been in raids with people who compete for world firsts, and they are flat out not on the same planet as you and I.  Simcraft doesn't even register these people on the charts because their characters are putting up the top 0.01% in DPS, heals, and tanks are timing CDs and taunts like they're on rails.  Mythic is tuned for these player types, especially early on.  You raided SoO Mythic, grats. This is going to be a little different story and require more preparation and decision making.

If you've ever raided hardcore, been in a server first guild, or even worse been in a world progression guild (done all three, you see where I am today) you know that the roster changes frequently.  The shit sinks and cream rises very quickly in these guilds.  You dismiss the people who aren't cutting the mustard, you are always trying out new applicants, and people are either quitting or better dealing you right about the time you're about to hit the boss you brought them in for in the first place or they just looted the item that never drops that 3 other classes need.  People are also porting alts to assist with gearing runs in heavy progression guilds.

Check Wowprogress and look at the major guilds.  They actually track who's coming and going, and I assure you many are ports from other servers.  During progression, these timestamps are damned near epidemic. 

These issues are a cash cow for Blizz.  They didn't go from their old rule of "You cannot transfer servers" to "Transfer whenever you want" in a few years because they were being gracious.  The public demanded it.  Your standard transfer will have about two characters to transfer when they migrate, and in the larger scheme of things, they're buying the equivalent of over 2 months of game time with each transfer.  If there's something I know about Actiblizz, it's that they're pretty good about standing their ground when it comes to these fees, they aren't going away and nobody gets in the way of these things.

If Mythic was allowed cross-server, then a hardcore raider no longer needs to transfer to perform a tryout, it would become the norm that they tryout via proxy, and then only transfer if there's a slot for them.

But these types of raiders comprise of less than 0.5% of the player population, and they aren't doing it weekly, so is this a valid reason?  In the grand scheme of things, maybe not.

I think that if world raiders need to increase the span of their net, then they should have that freedom within reason. If this was a reason to hold back the other 98% of potential Mythic raiders, then it's a crappy reason at best.

Insert Your Favorite Dictator (here) 

I hate arbitrary rules.  It's this way because we say so, and here's our flimsy reason to back it up, and then a very vocal minority of fans back them up and will spit on you through the internet if you decide to challenge it.  I'm an American, dammit.  I question authority and rules because I have that right.

Rules were made to be broken.  One rule that comes to mind is that we aren't allowed to openly talk to the opposing faction.  Even on PvE servers, where PvP is usually by mistake, you can't send tells to someone complimenting them on their choice of transmog.  Meanwhile, you can go to the server's official forums and start an outright carpetbombing flamewar with the opposing faction.  You can even log into your alt of the opposing faction and go nuts today.

Along those lines, the holy rule of "PvE players will never be allowed to port to PvP servers" was broken some time ago.  And then one-server/one faction.  I do suspect they found #3's reason to be very compelling for opening up the floodgates.

Can anyone tell me a good reason for any of this stuff without quoting talking points?  While I can buy the RPer's claims of immersion, I don't buy it otherwise for non-RP servers.  After all, if a person borders on the point of harassing in tells, they put their accounts at risk of closure.  Timeless Isle was an example of what happens when you CAN talk to the opposing faction when they are your OWN faction.  PvP on a PvP server happened.  Wrath's opening event even allowed you to freely talk to the opposing faction while in zombie form.  Gamers are bullies online, so what?  They can be downright insulting and disgusting.  This is part of the online experience.  We're at a point now where this crap doesn't even matter anymore because all the previous rules have been broken.

So, no raiding Mythic cross-server because we say so.  Ok, mom, I'm grown up, I'm eating that cookie before dinner (Seinfeld).  You're in charge, we get it, so when I grow up can I raid with my friends cross-server in Mythic?  I see this as a foolish reason to gate friends from playing with one another.  Sort of like a mother who won't let her child play with the opposite sex until they reach the age of 25.  Thanks for playing social dictator, Blizz.

There's no good reason for arbitrary rules against cross-server Mythic while allowing cross-server everything else.

Paypal, Ebay, and

Item sales are a fact of life in online games.  Whether it be for gold or real money trades (RMT), you're not going to close this down anytime soon.  RMT has been around since they invented credit card payments online.

At issue is that the most valuable items in the tier for PvE players are going to be Mythic level items.  If a casual player wanted, they could Mastercard their way into a guild looking strictly for a particular item level recruit.  Is this fair?  Not really and it really doesn't matter.

High end loot is really only needed to be able to tackle the current tier of progression.  You don't need it otherwise, unless you purely want to show off in LFR/LFD how awesome or pathetic you are at the class.  It's sort of like PvP, where you can get all the highest tier PvP items offered and still suck because you can't counter your counter class, or you need it to gank people in questing greens.  Item level, in the grand scheme of things, means jack and shit with regards to your ability.  I've geared out complete mouth-breathing, window-licking, chromosome-mutated players in hopes they would put the gear to use, when I should have just disenchanted the loot because it would have achieved the same result.  But these are people who also spend money on items in hopes they can balance out their trash DPS with harder hitting abilities.

This logic as a stopgap falls apart however, because a person willing to cough up $500 or $1000 for a set of gear is also the same person who would gladly transfer servers for $25 just to do it.  That's merely a minor inconvenience.  Therefore, RMT can still go on if you transfer servers in Mythic so preventing cross-realm for this reason is not a reason. Sure it's hard to prove and prevent, but in reality so is duping, which doesn't exist per the blues - except in TCG items, which won't be removed even though almost everyone dealing in them knows they're dupes because if they were real, they'd go for FAR more value than they do now.

The only argument I can buy is that people get ripped off when they do these transactions.  You know what?  Chicken butt and so what.  Anyone who buys anything online takes that risk, and since it's against the TOS and they barely enforce it against the people who do the buying, then the argument is flaccid.  Buck up and do some banning of gold buyers and maybe I'll sympathize with this argument and realize that the sheriff is back in town.

The opposite side is also true.  I myself love a solid GDKP run where I can run the tables.  But there is still a system in place to prevent me from using my gold to bid on gear on other servers - I cannot trade it to others from other servers.  Therefore, this mechanic as a reason for not allowing cross-realm Mythic groups also falls apart.


Phew.  I've said my peace on this issue.  Right now it does affect me because I and another Illidan friend are raiding with a fellow Wind Trader's guild over on another server.  We're going to go through Heroic, but once they hit Mythic our ass is on the pine and we're going to have to take another direction.  It's a real shame because they can use the assistance of good people cross realm while they progress through the most challenging content.  My friend and I are both very experienced raiders who don't stand in fire, play our classes optimally, actually understand mechanics and contribute to top of the dps chart so we're an asset.  But my friend is more than that.

A little advertisement.  My friend could easily raid with world leading guilds, but he took a Cata/MoP break.  This is a guy who has a steam library that would put anyone to shame and is probably one of the best actual gamers I've ever met and have known for years.  When you look up gamer, he's the definition.  He's that needle in the haystack every guild wants, but has to be given the chance to demonstrate that he can kick everyone's ass in the first place.  We're hoping his Heroic time will make it easier to locate someone on Illy who is looking for a resident badass in Mythic.  He's the guy who takes the class that's regarded as underpowered and makes it look like it needs nerfed asap.  If you are a true Mythic guild leader/officer/raider over here and reading this, I have someone you should meet.  Track me down here, on Twitter, or in game.  Battletags and character names in comments will be passed along and not posted.

Doesn't it suck that we're only good enough to run through Heroic with friends?  Blizzard: encouraging fantastic cross-realm friendships and then tearing them apart by their own decisions.  Maybe someday I'll get interested again in posting gold making results.

Thanks for stopping in!

Zerohour has spent nearly the entire expansion playing Garrison-ville and has forgotten what the outside world looks like.  If you would like to water his herb garden, applications are being taken within.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Designing and Updating on a Whim

By now I'm positive everyone that's serious about Garrisoncraft has at least 6-8 level 100's and probably working on the last characters which are deep into the 90's.  The game's been out for nearly three weeks, so if you aren't, what have you been doing with your life?

Myself, that's not me, I have only one level 100, and 9 characters have opened their garrison with professions and work orders are queued daily.  I balance my real life with the game.  Thus far, this is a lot of work.  The only way to reduce the workload is to get those characters to Level 3 profession slots, and load them up.  This requires material buying on a near massive scale, and today's post is about forecasting and prognosticating.  Also the rantings and ravings of your neighborhood lunatic King of the World... of auction houses.

I bring your attention to this fine post by Rygarius, the patch notes compiler for Blizzard who usually does a decent job.  But this post annoyed the ever living piss out of me:

Original thread here

As a personal anecdote, my character's Enchanter's Study is experiencing a similar issue with a lack of work orders submitted when the other buildings are humming along with a constant stream of work orders. We feel that Enchanting Dust can be a bit too scarce to come by and are looking at ways to ease those supply concerns.

Later, a hotfix was made to cause rare items, which have historically ALWAYS produced shards, to produce dust instead.  It's been my experience that you have about an 80% chance of producing 8-12 dust, with a 20% chance to produce one shard.  Shards are used daily to produce Temporal Crystals, which are worth far more than stupid dust.  I could be wrong, I haven't been DEing many heroic items, but if the numbers skew differently for higher ilvl blues then I'm in the wrong.  But in the meantime...

I personally hate the crap out of this, mostly because it changed the rules to the game in a less than elegant way with a person who is closely aligned to the game's development agreeing with the masses without looking for a flipping alternative to player whims.

Look, the vast majority of people and players are clueless about how things get done.  As my childhood superhero Gordon Gekko said,

"We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it." 

The 'everybody' in this statement are the people who are incapable of looking around them and innovating a better mousetrap.  These are the everyman, the guy who comes home, logs in, and has trouble putting together 5k so they can raid.  In this case, it's people like the game's developers and personalities making rules to fit them and a vocal minority, and that's awful scary.

What's next?  Ore!?  Yes, miners didn't appreciate that mines produced so much ore, so it's nerfed.  A hotfix removed the credit you receive for work orders to only a few sources, after allowing others to hit their 250 very quickly via all sources.  Those trailing behind because of queues, well sorry for your loss.  This had less impact than the changes to how things are produced, and maybe you aren't seeing where I'm going with this, and if you don't then please go back to your regularly scheduled lives.

One does not open a game of Monopoly, begin rolling the dice, and then decide to change the value of rents because their friend landed on Boardwalk with 4 houses and that might take them out of the running.  By doing so, you screw everyone else playing whether they are winning or losing.  Rules are made to the game to be followed.

In Blizzard's case, they had time to test this out in the beta, and months and months to develop it and think about scenarios.  We all knew dust was going to be a limited supply item, thankfully so, and we were going to have to be more creative.  Let me play the creative part since they had someone who received a paycheck for being dedicated to professions and garrison mechanics, and all of them are obviously not designing with a full deck.  (As an aside, I felt things were phoned in this release, I could tell it was going to go really well when we all saw Mumper at Blizzcon show up wearing no Blizzard apparel while the rest of his coworkers were in logo shirts; guess it was a late night of partying for him or he just turned in his last Give-A-Shit card and is headed out.)

Perfectly viable options to using a sledge hammer when you only needed a scalpel:

1) The Auction House.  Go part with some gold and buy the materials you need.  If you cannot afford them, then there is a solution to that that's been around forever - it's called grinding mobs and dailies.  If you are totally lost here, see my earlier post on casual gold making's future.  Obviously, others took the time to come up with an overage in supply and they are willing to sell it to you so you can do whatever you need to do with your professions.  Why not contribute to the economy rather than being a slack basement dweller on the internet?

2) Actually play your character.  Grind mobs, complete quests, open treasures that have greens.  Handynotes tells you where all of them are for crying out loud, get off your lazy ass and go do it.  Disenchant everything and go forward.  The days of sitting on your ass and making 1000's of dust with a keybinding were over, but we're bringing them back because there's a shortage don't ya know.  Yeah, a shortage of people with a brain and no fear of work.

3) Collect greens on an alt while questing, and here's a noble idea - MAKE A FRIEND WITH AN ENCHANTING PLOT.  Join their garrison and DE everything.  How hard was this to come up with?  I must be a damned genius, I can't believe this was never brought up in the discussion as an alternative, but then again they don't send me meeting requests down at Irvine.

4) Change the requirement of the work order to 1-2 fewer dusts.  Because of #2, you would have access to lots of them.  Not the most elegant idea, but still better to tune the mechanic than change it.

5) Defer the change to a later patch.  We've always had material abundance issues, and this was resolved in a patch.  Wrath required lots of mats to make things, but they reduced the requirement in a hotfix which was well announced.  Not the same thing though, because one is production of a resource and the other is production of an end product.

6) Trade for the item within your garrison - they made a Trading Post for a reason.  Just wait for the trader to open up 20 GR dusts, trade for 5 at a time.  The idea behind these RTS style systems is to trade off limited supply resources for other limited supply resources, rewarding good choices and punishing poor choices.  GR is actually very plentiful provided you take the right turns.

You made a system where greens are no longer manufactured, and then whine about it openly to the playing public.  Just awesome.  It's like not being able to score 1600 on your SAT, and then changing the test so you can get to it or at least closer to it.  Participation trophies for all, because it doesn't feel good to actually have to do something in a game.  I guess I don't get the current gamer generation and their mindset.

Further, they didn't give fair warning that this massive economic change was coming.  Just that it was under review and then magically dust is falling in price and those shards are now producing dust.  If it was me, I would have waited until the first content patch to fix it, but in the meantime, please deal with it.  Then everyone could see patch notes that spell out to those that stockpiled: You are about to lose your ass in the dust market, you should consider changing your modus operandi.

Moreover, there are people who will tell me to deal with it, they always make changes to make things more fun.  Sure, they've reduced mat requirements and things in the past, like I mentioned above, but there was an actual cost to doing it.  You had to break up crystals, and not shards.  You had to break up essence with a strict penalty.  Illusion Dust was ALWAYS rare to come by, and there were limited ways to come by it in the game.  But a deeper issue is that many of you are ambivalent about these changes.  I prefer they leave rules in place and let the market work them out.  Not everyone needs to have 7-26 work orders going at a time.  Maybe enchanting isn't for you?  Let the people who know what they're doing handle it, you can always buy from us.  As Stede calls it, you're a customer.

Sooner or later, they're going to get to something you do care about.

On the flip side, at least the value of Temporal Crystals may be preserved somewhat, time will tell.

Thanks for stopping by!

Zerohour is a confirmed nutcase, who is happier believing he's Warren Buffet than being his manservant.  No developers or peons were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thoughts on the $40 pet sale weekend

Alternate Title: I Liked It Better When It Was Called ...  (Props to Maddox) ... Team Fortress 2.

Since we're all in the habit now of not innovating anything and just borrowing from everything else and amplifying it, the title seems fitting.  Hollywood does it.  Hey, we do it in gold making, so why not?

I sat through most of Blizzcon on Saturday, and caught up on the Friday stream, because you know, well, I work for a living.  I've got to be critical of this Blizzcon, even though I don't really want to be because I always like Blizzcon.  This year however was different, and outside of the damned Grommloc pet, I think the price did not deliver the value I was looking for.  So in total, I got about 3-4 hours of entertainment that I was looking for and a pet. 

If I went to the movies, that would be $20 for the four hours, and a souvenir worth $20.  I'm not complaining, but the money I used to buy this stream was earned during a bad day at the office, so now I'm bitter.  This is also an awful comparison because movies tend to cost about $50 million to make and I get to see them for $10.  Blizzcon is not a $50 million feature movie, and this year was a pet sale because Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft were really brushed aside.

Maybe if I read a schedule.  Yeah, that's it.  Wrong answer.  I've always been guaranteed several things out of Blizzcon, so I don't need to read.  For about 6 years you got content on Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft.  This time the content was reduced by a truckload because of Heroes and this new title they're producing - Overwatch.  I know all of you care deeply about these new titles because you have long associations with them and their development, and long hours have been laid awake in bed wondering, nay hoping, that they will be everything you hope them to be.

But in reality, Team Fortress 3 is just that.  Same concept, except with a talking monkey.  In glasses.  Who seems to get really pissed off and break everything in the room.  I take it back, talking monkeys are awesome, where do I insert my $50, $95 for collectors edition which will probably come with a hat because TF2?

Actually, no.  Team Fortress 2 from Valve was a microtransaction beast with dozens/hundreds of items available for amounts that made the D3 RMAH look reasonable.  Here's how this development came to be:  "People love our company, and no matter what we do we have about seven million loyalists who insert quarters faithfully.  People also buy anything we put in our store.  People love transmog, they like to be special unique snowflakes.  We've done RTS, ARPG, MMO, and card games, but the one missing piece to the puzzle is FPS with lots of opportunity for story, transmog, and microtransactions, because we are still part of Activision after all."  Genius.

If you like it, great, go forth and have fun.  I'm saving my money for Diablo 3's next expansion... which is not coming, may be coming, will be handled through patches, is not coming soon....  depending upon which of the two panels you watched and if the guys answering it were pronouncing Arreat correctly and their title.  It's Air-E-Ought.  Not Arreat like in "area rug".  The cinematic settled this business nearly 14 years ago, and they even played it as a reference to the new game zone. 

Warcraft - what can we say?  I liked the itemization panels, and how the new loot system was really going to kill GDKP and loot distribution for guilds when it came to tier pieces.  If there's one thing Diablo 3 proved at release, it's that people like RNG on their gear and never getting the right piece that they want.  It causes them to play over and over and over again forever, with no complaints.  I wonder how this is going to work out when guilds are rolling around in all Mythic pieces and Warforged just never seems to come up?  Who will be the lucky people to get to try each week in every guild?  I predict 6.1 will eliminate this idea and will come with a Warforged Token piece and our long national nightmare will be over.

A 30 minute discussion was held about the movie... which talked at some extent about watching the trailer they had at Blizzcon.  And then the trailer was not offered on the stream.  You know, for a die hard fan, this would have been worth the price of the whole stream and my post would end right there.  For me it would have been worth a few bucks of the price, seeing as how I'm not big on movies about video games.  Resident Evil being the lone exception but hey - Milla Jovovich.  I thought this was cheesy.  I know we're not guaranteed much with the stream, but for crying out loud why do that to the fans?  #blizzcongate  It's about being faithful to your fans.

Then there was a general Warcraft Q&A with J. Allen Brack and his team of yes-men.  Mr. Brack has the distinction of answering questions with the smugness and smarminess that would enrage even your average soup nazi.  And yours truly was no exception.  Anytime this guy even speaks I start yelling at the screen to stfu.  Last year he answered the question regarding legacy servers like people think they want something that they really don't.  I'm too lazy today to look that up on Youtube, but you can find it.

While you're looking for that, a quick google of "Vanilla WoW Private Servers" and you will find thousands of people playing on them.  The real answer on this one is of course overhead and upkeep.  So what if they lose fans to these F2P servers that they cannot touch with a court order, they would lose hundreds of thousands just setting it up, contracting the work to server maintenance companies, and then hearing the lines of bullshit from people asking them to fix problems that were around back then, even if they agreed upon entry to stfu and sit down?  I get where he's coming from.  But answer like a decent human being that wants to be liked, and not regarded as the Old Man in Charge.  These guys answer everything from a budget standpoint, not a fan's wishlist standpoint.  But this is a fan-show, at least act like you like the people that make your paychecks possible.  If I was there, security would have been called.

For some reason a lore panel, PvP panel, Raid Q&A panel, Garrison panel, and general information for those that weren't in the freaking beta panel were not provided.  The live raid gave a half-assed look at the first tier of content, but there was more celebrating Method's achievement than there was Q&A about raid comp and what did you do to prepare for the basic "Heroic" tier of content.  I died a little inside because I felt unloved, unwanted, and my money underappreciated.

"But Zerohour, they have the release this next week, people were busy putting that together so there was no time!"  Hogwash, you plan to win or plan to fail.  Cataclysm and Wrath Blizzcons were both scheduled around the time of their release, with Wrath's being the exact same day of the year as this upcoming expansion.  Of course it takes time to develop a presentation, that's why you hire Production Assistants by the hour and give them the work to put into PowerPoint format.

"But Zerohour, fansites have covered all of this in detail!"  Yes, yes they have.  And the final word on things come from who?  Further, one of the mantras they have had in recent Blizzcons is that they feel that their customers having to go to 3rd party sites is not part of the fun.  Wowhead, MMOC, blogs, forums, all great ideas, but in the end it should fall on this company to produce the information for their fans or stfu about 3rd party sites not being fun.  Truth be told, they used to never publish anything on their games outside of a manual, 3rd party sites handled everything else; be they nefarious or legitimate.  If they're going to tell me the new mantra, then live up to it.  Don't phone things in because that's just not fair.

I always liked sitting through their presentations.  I'm a busy guy, I don't like having to comb through datamined information and having to make heads or tails of it.  I set aside time to watch a stream for $40 everytime it's offered, which gives me what I need to know.  I've been to fansites, and the guides are usually decent, but a layman's guide is what Blizz always produces.  Grade of F this year, gang.

I missed Jay Mohr, although Chris Hardwick is a decent fellow and most people know him because of Talking Dead.  The big difference between them however, Mohr is/was a player, and Hardwick played Warcraft 1, I never did hear him say if he was a WoW player however.  Mohr was also extremely good at making fun of but not offending the fans.

Anyone that knows me and talks with me knows I was looking forward to the cosplay/costume contest.  That thing is just an institution.  My vote went to the non-professional cosplayers, because I like the ones that look like something I would create in my spare time, or on the way to Irvine in the car.  My vote went to John as Jaina, because it got the biggest laugh and was the most unexpected.  It was the first one and I felt the most creative.  You also had people that put a mountain of effort into looking their best for this; I heard one person lost several dozen pounds to fit in the outfit, and I think that's great. 

Props to all the people with the guts to get up there and express themselves.  I know if I was attending, I'd definitely get dressed up.

I don't care if you think it's non-manly, everyone needs to have their silly side and not take themselves so serious.  Sort of like writing a blog about Warcraft and gold making adventures, you gotta be ready to hear no applause and in some cases nasty critiques.  Just put yourself out there and hope for approval!

Followup Edit: One thing that makes me a little perturbed is that everything we just saw this weekend?  Everything relevant is completely available on Youtube, MMOC, Wowhead and other fansites for free.  QED: This was a pet sale.  Oh, Grommloc, you better kick major ass in PvP.

What's up with all the Mythic recruiting going around?

If you're like me, you sometimes peek in on your own server's forums.  We have more 10 man guilds recruiting for Mythic raiding than you can shake a stick at.  How's that going to work?

Geniuses, let me clue you in here.  There WILL NOT BE 10 MAN MYTHIC GUILDS, and you will have to merge with other guilds to become a Mythic guild.  Or at least have a cooperative effort going if you're going to farm 10 man content first, and in that case you should still merge because deciding who's going to be the tanks and healers in Mythic is going to be fun when a merge happens.  Two 10 mans merging means you end up with 4 tanks and 6-8 healers.  Someone's going to have to sit or get gear for the roles.  Further, officers and leadership has to take a seat in some cases.  Non-20+ man guilds can tell you all day long about officers, class leads, guild quartermasters, etc.  The structure is totally different from a 10.

Why recruit with a Mythic content perception or understanding, when eventually the guild is going to implode when you finish the Normal/Heroic content and people want more and you have to find others to do it?  It's setting bogus expectations other than performance requirements.  Just recruit for 20-mans straight away.  The loot's better in large raids and you have far less drama waiting for you in the end.

Alternatively, you may never even see Mythic, because SoO Mythic was reached by so many last patch guilds who had a whole year to get it done, and this is new content.  ICC was out for a year, everyone and his dog farmed the place.  Dragon Soul was the same story.  In all cases, the first tier results were the same.  Remember when Tier 11 blew up world guilds?  Tier 14 caused similar issues.

Get ready for people to get really upset when they can't down bosses with ease anymore because there's gearing requirements and no catchup pieces that will be overpowered.  As my buddy Stede said, "Link me your at content level Lei Shen Heroic achievement".  That will tell you who's in it for the long haul and which guilds are worth joining to become the almighty Mythic guilds.  This happens every expansion, and I always like to locate the drama going on because guilds go nuclear.  This is bad for my business, because guild inventories suddenly appear on my auction house, and that's just one more thing you have to watch out for and why I even bother writing about this.

For me, I'm just going to supply the war effort, and if GDKP does become a possibility I'll be running those.  My Mythic guild of one, just the way I like it.

Thanks for stopping in!

Zerohour makes more gold in a day than most people make all expansion.  He will be appearing at Blizzcon 2015 with Stede - at a vendor booth selling deodorant, razors, and manuals on the finer points of personal hygiene for the hygiene impaired.  Look for our new book "Being Less Creepy at Cons" on Amazon.  Autographs and sales will begin the night before the event for your smelling-good pleasure.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Zerohour's Last Minute 10-Day Timer to Expac

I figured I'd help my fellow man this holiday season, since we're officially in it now, with a Countdown to Expansion post for the helpless and needy.  I know everyone's up in arms that there's flat out nothing to do until release, so like always, let's see if you have everything really in place before you say that.  So while you read and I write this with Christmas music going in the background, let's get started.

A few groundrules:
* I assume you are actually interested in doing something interesting
* I assume you aren't too busy
* I assume you have several alts

Before the race to 100 happens, and I like others have to raise my 25x90s on Illidan (and the other 90s I have spread all over hell's half acre), I'm busying myself.  I have 5 primary characters I enjoy playing, specifically my Paladin (main), Warrior, Rogue, Monk and Warlock.  I tend to enjoy playing them all so I grind stuff out with them.  I also don't mess with frog farming unless it's for a friend.

1) Before Darkmoon leaves town for the last time before release, go get the WINGS

It's a toy.  You want it.  They're cool.  They're sharp looking and somewhat prove you aren't a keyboard turner.  Just head to the isle and fly through 50 rings of fire.  You start by getting bumped in the air with a 10 second buff that gets reset to 10 everytime you fly through a ring.  If it hits zero, you float to the ground and have to start over.  Just like the Alysrazor fight.  All you have to do is figure out the route that works best for you.

It took me about 4 tries to realize where the rings were spawning, and then create some sort of half-assed route to fly around.  Once you get the wings, you can be the cool kid in LFD who will be whispered every run by the nubs who didn't do it and resubbed 2 hours before, "Where u get those wings?!!1!1"  Totally worth it and you only need to do it one time.

2) Go do Throne of Four Winds across all your 90s

There's a mount in there, and this place takes about 5 minutes per character (including travel time) to do it with an appropriately geared character.  Go counter clockwise for the first bosses, and take out Al'Akir.  About 100g for your trouble in gold and drops if you don't get a mount.

3) Malygos in 25 man is Stupid Easy

He also drops a mount.  Try the Azerothian slot machine by killing him with all your characters.  You can't take him below 1 hitpoint in phase 1, but you certainly can keep yourself healed while DPSing on the old vehicle.  Cool mechanics destroyed by casual players.  Go prove you're one of the best at vehicles and get the mount.  It's not easy to get out there, but still worth it for a few minutes of fun.

4) Get the BOAs from Garrosh Before They Go Away

These are gone forever come release.  For my money, and even though my main and alts are all rolling weapons that won't be replaced until about 95, these are worth it.  Get into a PUG kill, pay a guild to bring you along, go get on Openraid and get into a group before it goes away.  I pity the fool who doesn't have RealID friends who can help!

5) If you don't know what profession to level on that boosted character...

Level skinning.  In fact, level skinning on everyone who has a non-armor profession.  It will be THE most overlooked gathering profession by the masses.  This is easily done on the Timeless Isle since 1) You can skin anything from level 1 proficiency and 2) if your server is populated there will be dead beasts everywhere.  You also get bonus coins for #6 below.  I recommend hanging around the tigers most.

6) Speaking of Timeless Isle, Go Get Rid of ALL Those Extra Timeless Coins

Unless you need the 100,000 coins for the Heavenly Golden mount (more on this later), go gamble the rest of the coins away and get a good version of Bonkers, preferably Destruction or Ninja.  Get a pet addon to see the breeds.  Don't learn him unless he's one of these or he's your first one, he's worth 25g to the vendor unlearned.

If you have the enchanters lined up to DE the gear from the isle, gamble for the different epics.  DE those pieces and sell off Jade or Dancing Steel enchants.  They should be really hot on your server with the amount of people getting Garrosh BOAs.  Either way, don't get stuck holding onto coins which are useless to you in less than 10 days.  And this isn't a bad quick gold score.

7) Do the Lame Opening Event Across All 90s

I did it.  It sucked.  But I also have Iron Starlettes out the ying-yang.  These are no longer retained after November 13th, and there will be a market for them.  Remember the Haunted Memento?  I collected a bunch of those in Wrath, they dropped all the time, everyone had one.  They were so common back then we were actually throwing them into people's bags to annoy them (they had the mechanic like the leather balls at one time if you recall).  I remember using Track Undead when Wrath launched and all of Dalaran lit up because everyone had one in their bags.  Today I see them being sold for thousands and thousands of gold because so many people have left from back then.  Additionally, people are waiting to come back on release day, and many aren't bothering but will want one later.  Tuck a few in some bank for later, people will be looking for them.

8) Make Sure Your Characters Are All Gemmed, Enchanted, etc For Release

Sure you may be in 520 gear today, and quest greens may replace them, but I always like being prepared.  There's nothing wrong with having a bit of power going into a new questing zone, the mobs aren't MoP quality 90s, they're going to probably be a little stronger and you'll thank me later.  Enchanting and gemming older gear makes the gear last a little longer, and often times is better quality than what you pick up in the first few zones.  LFR Dragon Soul gear when enhanced was perfectly viable until you got to Kun Lai Summit, when you actually found gear that was more exceptional.  Same school of thought applies here.

9) Make Some Flasks for Your Characters, and Maybe Some Potions

Leveling is serious business, but doing it with consumables is even more serious business.  I like having a stack of buff food, a stack of flasks, and a stack of burst pots on me.  It also would pay to have some health potions, too.  Invisibility potions are great in a pinch, too, for running out of caves so you don't have to kill your way out again.  It's little things that make it easier.

10) Farm Emperor Shaohao Rep

This grind will probably be easier at 100, but if you need a time killer go do it now while you can find a group.  Mindless grinding and you get the mount at Exalted.  The toughest NPCs to kill have also been rather nerfed in my opinion, although Kilnmasters still one-shot with kilns up.  I finished this thing pre-patch, and I felt it was a bit easier today.  But this thing will keep you busy for a week if you haven't started.

11) Do Those Annoying Minor Achievements or FINISH the Metas

You know the ones I'm talking about...  the ones that you always look at and say "Oh, easy, I can get that in 10 minutes" and then you sit on it for 10 months.  Yeah, those.  Go do it now.  No time like down time.

12) Start a Legendary Item Line

You have choices here.  The content is soloable.  ICC, Ulduar, Firelands, Dragon Soul; all offer a nice weapon that you can start on and maybe finish at 100.  Something for everyone here, except hunters, because screw hunters they have Sunwell.

Never before has it been so easy to kill old content, and you should take advantage of it since you won't have time for about 2 months.  Maybe a lot longer.

So there you go, 12 things to do for the next NINE days.  That's a helluva lot of interesting stuff other than killing frogs, right?  Have a nice release and see you in Molten Core LFR at 100, where I'll be the one raging in the corner ... and at Christmas time.

Thanks for stopping in!

Zerohour is a top-shelf gold maker who only drinks the finest of aged tears.  He's currently looking forward to the expansion when every noob resubscribes and starts tagging his quest mobs without his express written permission, or at least rejects a party invite.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Serious Daily Business Incoming in WOD

I remember back in The Burning Crusade when they introduced dailies.  10 dailies allowed per day, and you would gain rep and a bunch of gold for your trouble.  It gave people a reason to log in and play everyday, as if raiding at the time wasn't a full time sport and sucked up a ton of your time in TK, BT, MH or Sunwell.  Then you had dailies AND raiding to do everyday.  But casual players needed content as well, otherwise those casuals would become unsubscribed casuals.

This was the gold that everyone who had no idea how to work the Auction House reaped, and they were damned happy.  So happy, they put more of them into Wrath and Cataclysm, and by the time MoP rolled around they really got out of control.  Today, you can do every single daily in the game and not have any cap on how many you can do.  As of the expansion patch, however, the gold rewards were basically cut by 45%.

The big complaint about dailies was always that they felt grindy, and that the content lost it's luster over time.  Usually the first week they were introduced, everyone was doing them.  By about week three you weren't competing for mobs or resources as heavily.  And by month two only the holdouts were still doing them.  Go do MoP dailies today, I'll bet dollars to donuts the only ones doing them are fresh 90s who were probably boosted, or bot assisted.  TL;DR - This is low attention span content for gold.  But many, many players relied on them for their gold income.

Do you know what's waiting for casual players in Warlords?  Give you a hint - Warlords of Garrison-ville.  As if Tillers farming wasn't boring enough, we now have that on steroids and almost complete removal of dailies.  I know I went over the new method of casual gold making via legacy raids in my last post, call this a follow-up.  Dailies are going away, being substituted by point and click Garrison missions that will become as exciting as Tillers ever was, which was never.

Years ago, my mother was convinced to hear an Amway presentation through some former friends.  So one night, the rep shows up to the house and talks with my mom and dad about all the money they could be making.  All they had to do was recruit more people and have them recruit more people for them.  Everyone makes millions!  But my mom, obviously demonstrating the critical thinking power she passed along to me via the genetic lottery, asked the most important question over and over, and the rep brushed it off....

Who sells the soap?

In any pyramid scheme, the name of the game is not to be the sucker holding the bag and selling the soap.  Your mission is to get more people to buy in, and buy the product for their own use that nobody will ever sell.  The ones at the top make all the money.

This is Garrison-ville.  Casuals will earn gold from garrison missions, but someone is going to have to sell the items those things make, and someone is going to have to buy.  Log in, talk to followers, spend money on massive Tier 3 upgrades, and then hope like hell someone out there buys the product that will come with the joy of random mods so you can eventually break even.  Rinse and repeat this across all your toons and you too will be a fucking millionaire!

Who is going to make the soap?  It costs about 16k per Tier 3 upgrade and these are character specific, not account wide.  Blizzard released data not too long ago showing that the average account has 2 max level characters, and thanks to the boost they now have 3.  So let's say you have the standard average 3 characters who will qualify for Garrisons, that's going to be a shitload of gold just to be able to go into massive production.  The average player, per Blizzard's own statements, barely has 50,000 gold.  These people could barely be relied upon to complete dailies because they were so boring but were some of the first to scream that dailies were mandatory content so they ... weren't... worth ... even... attempting.  Basically, the game is made up of 99% poor people who have dreams of being rich, but aren't willing to do what it takes to get rich.  Of that 99%, I would venture to guess 20% of them will try for a little while.  Right now they're looking at Garrisons as the answer, but the answer is they simply won't have enough characters or gold to compete with psychos like myself, so they'll be run off to Grinding-land in between major content patches when Garrisons will be upgraded for "new" content.

Even if these people were to grind legacy raids every single week, which per character offers a few thousand per week across all instances, it would take them about a year to put together about 100,000g assuming about 2k in vendorables and gold drops.  They'll never be rich, unless they themselves sell the soap. In a world where some of us throw down nearly half a million on a GDKP drop, these people don't stand a chance when it comes to market domination.  If they aren't somewhat wealthy going into this expansion, they're going to be really behind, and that's not fun.

The old adage of "it takes money to make money" aptly applies here.

If you're some average broke stiff playing this game, you're going to do your Garrisons, spend the outlay to upgrade them, and then find that the gear being offered is really directed at other casual players.  The raid gear immediately drops better than or equal to the crap you're making in comparison to crafted quality, and people can only equip three pieces of crafted gear.  Remember in MoP that this was also the case.  To add fuel to the fire, the undercutting is going to be fierce because this is nearly forced Auction House play.  Everytime cooldowns hit their peak, you'll see 2 dozen of each item pop up on the Auction House.  The average person is not going to know how to compete, because they never learned how.  And then the sharks in the water like myself will eat them alive.  Remember this:  The gear being offered at release is targeted at casual players, not cutting edge progression minded raiders.

Surely, the other casuals with gold to spend will buy the gear, but they will have a very hard time replacing their gold unless they themselves participate in either Garrison-craft or gold drop grinds.  Gold sellers are going to have a field day with this, because if there's one thing I've learned in all my years of gaming, people are happy to Mastercard their way through it.  People are busy, they can't be asked to log in and do this crap day in and day out.  Even if you can queue things ahead, there are working professionals that play this game who have real responsibilities, and those responsibilities are not playing nanny to a bunch of followers in some fantasy kingdom. 

"But Zerohour, you're fecking nuts, eh.  People will just do old dailies for gold.  Get a grip, yo!"  Will they?  The rewards for doing them isn't as hot as they used to be.  11g40s for a turn-in in Pandaria, down from 19g80s, and this was changed at the patch.  That's an enormous drop.  The amount you make from leveling will be more than a month of dailies at this point, and I guess I should explain myself further.

Someone not only has to sell and make the soap, someone has to buy the soap.  These buyers are people that are NOT in the AH gold game.  These are the people who use the AH to buy your goods and have little desire to do anything to acquire it outside of passive gold farming.  Thanks to inflation from dailies and quest rewards in each expansion, we've seen the gold get spread around to more of these players.  That perk of inflation is now gone.  There is no WoW welfare office that sends a check subsidizing your purchasing power, unless I missed that in the patch notes.  These people, more so than any other, determine the end price of your overpriced epics because their loose change is what goes into your pockets.  They are the buyers, the customers, the deadheads.  Today it takes 173 dailies to give you the same rewards as what 100 used to give you.  And dailies in the Garrison will offer sizable rewards, but they will also cost gold to be able to complete.  I doubt these people will be able to stomach doing Garrisons for their gold for very long.

To top it off, there IS NO MANUAL FOR GARRISONS.  I and my fellow like minded players over in the Stormspire at The Consortium have been wracking our brains about this new game changer, and we're absolutely at a loss for words.  While Wowhead and MMOC have been faithful in trying to explain it and many guides have been produced...

Do you think the average player is going to stick with it very long if some of the best minds at this crap are having trouble making simple heads or tails as to the best routes to go, I'd say the big world is in a bit of trouble.

Of course, many will have trouble seeing the forest for the truck lights headed their way:

"Fuck garrisons, I'm just going to make glyphs and gems and enchants," you say.  "This gold game is easy, there's no reason to bust my ass in Garrisons when I have always made extreme gold through leet ninja skills with TSM's post/cancel and camping."  If you haven't heard, this is going to be a painful expansion for you.

Why I have no faith in the system as it is being issued

Mumper, aka Cory Stockton, designed this system.  Not that he's a bad designer, I just think he's been tweeting too many beer drinking achievements since patch during the week and not enough about why this feature isn't going to feel like a repetitive grind and why his baby is going to be a game changing piece of win.  He's always been the most vague designer on board, generally at Blizzcon he's been the least vocal among them.  We can't get any answers either way of what's hard and fast, and reports from beta have been wanting at best.  How many hotfixes have we seen since patch?  We got a mini-patch?  When was the last time that happened?  Like never?  To clue you in, this has been the most unpolished patch release of all time.  Cataclysm changed the world and it didn't have near the trouble of this thing.

Flash forward to actual release.  Since the game was already patched with dungeons being broken as hell, experience rewards being imbalanced like they threw darts at a board, and classes have been wonky at best, we have yet to really stress test the Garrisons.  What problems are we going to encounter with this thing?  Sure there are people in the beta, but they drew those names out of a hat.  Case in point?  A friend of mine who asks me questions like she's a new player, but she's played for 10 years.  You have people that got into beta who didn't even level 1-90 and try it out, but the errors made their way into live.  Good system there.  I think I liked the pay to play idea last time better.

Everything has felt arbitrary.  We have no freaking idea the problems in store for us, and nobody can tell me otherwise because everything reported in beta was probably shelved for a future release by Blizz.  QA on this game has lacked hardcore, and I'm just hoping they didn't make these suggestions and they didn't bother addressing them, but then again I've worked for big companies before and these communication issues commonly arise.

I think a new class of working poor is on the horizon.  I however, believe I have found an answer to stay rich, and it's there if you look hard enough.

The Question I Would Ask At Blizzcon

If I could be at Blizzcon and be in line for the panels, I'd be the guy who probably gets security called on him.  I have little respect for what Blizz did to Warcraft, which basically drove off all my friends who I played with for years.  I spent 2 hours talking to an old friend who came to see the game after getting 7 days free.  Bugs everywhere, he couldn't believe they issued the sampler pass when the expansion patch was still unfinished.  We reminisced about how we're getting too old for today's games, because in our world rewards weren't given to those who didn't know how to push buttons correctly.  He couldn't understand why I still sub not on one but two accounts.  Zerohour, don't you demand better of things?

He logged out and never logged back in again. 

So my question for the panels which comes in two parts:

* Why the hell do I still play this game?  Is it some form of psychosis?  Am I lost forever?

Have fun at your "con".

Thanks for stopping in!

Zerohour is a leading gold maker, having made and pissed away millions of gold. If you don't like him, don't worry, he doesn't like you either. Everyone is probably smarter than him, anyhow.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The future of casual goldmaking

Before I begin, I can't believe nearly 65,000 people have filled their time reading this blog.  A small percentage have also filled their time writing me hate mail.  Both are appreciated!

With all this talk of garrisons, expansions, easy-bake materials (thanks Stede), cataclysmic changes to professions, and the end of the world as we know it for shuffling, it's been forgotten just how anyone can make gold in the future while actually playing the game!

I'm a big grinder, I love visiting old content, bosses, trash packs, and killing them for old time's sake. When I swapped mains in Wrath to my paladin, I actually went back and redid the 40+ reputations to exalted just because.  Today I'm approaching 80 reps at exalted and look forward to hitting them in WoD.  There's very few things in Warcraft that I really enjoy:

  • Leveling battle pets
  • Grinding reputations
  • Collecting gold
  • Getting achievements without even trying and having people get jelly about my score
  • Collecting mounts
  • Collecting toys - this is now a recent addiction, er addition
  • Quick GDKP runs with awesome raiders
  • Wondering why certain people completely redirect their lives for this game
  • Complaining about changes
  • Complaining about Blizzard's decisions
  • Complaining
  • Doing public BGs so I can join in the melee of bitching about bads in boost gear
  • Pissing people off who are poor and just don't get it
  • ...This list is getting pretty long, looks like I enjoy more than a few things
But what I love to do is find where things drop in the best quantity and build the better mousetrap.  I often visited Naxx for Frostweave, or Scarlet Cathedral for silk.  I'm currently found in Sunwell and BT just messing around looking for my monk and death knight tier.  I used to kill the trolls in The Hinterlands back in Classic for their prizes.  Every now and again I run over to AQ10 even though I don't need anything. 

I think this is sort of my comfort food.  Since I've been around the game and can officially call myself one of the last men standing from Classic, these things bring back great memories and feelings of nostalgia.  Like warlocks not being able to banish when told, when the casual we used to carry on Archimonde would wipe us, and making people cry over gear (literally, I have that feather in my cap).  I really like old content, so it's with great happiness that the majority of old raids are now completely soloable.  Too bad I already have the 200k Mind on your Money.

Since they're essentially removing dailies, there's going to be a limited number of ways people will be able to get any gold to buy our overpriced items in the auction house.  And really, garrisons are a nice idea, but check back with all the players in about a month.  I assure you, just like Tillers, I will be another of the last men standing.  Why?  Because I have a high tolerance for boring and painful bad content (what one of my old Classic/TBC friends used to say about me).

Raid content I've now been able to solo with ease:

Cataclysm - Dragon Solo is soloable up to Spine.  You need 2-3 more to really get Spine to work right, unless you're a DDR champion and can do more than one thing at a time.  Firelands is a joke in Heroic and Normal.  Tier 11 has lots of painful memories, like the elevator boss and people getting lost on the way back to Cho'gall, but offers some really fast coin and trash.  25M Heroic is just not in the cards but for the average person, 10M Normal or Heroic will be the way to go for these.

Wrath of the Lich King - Naxx and Ulduar were already soloable, but now you can easily pound out No Lights.  I liked it so much I saved an alt for future farming of him.  Lich King, too!  I've scored several kills on 25M Heroic LK, which is kinda sad when you recall people worked for months on him.  I spent about 5 pulls trying to remember the mechanics, and no Invincible yet.  It's amazing that you forget a boss or ten after several years when you used to spend entire evenings doing pulls for nothing.

The average run through Heroic Cataclysm content is going to score you about 150-200g per boss kill, and about 25g in Normal and take about 20-30 minutes depending on you and how fast you can click the RP NPCs.  You can expect to see 2-3 pieces drop per boss, with a value that's all over the map.  Tokens go for nothing, so it's worth exchanging them for the piece when they pop for your class.  Everything should be vendored.

ICC 25 man is going to net you about 500g for the run.  Ulduar will be about the same amount.  And this is at 90.  Best to keep moving because these are going to take a while to get through.

So the future of casual goldmaking?  Old raids, mount farming, and vendoring everything.  I sorta think that this is justice.

Thanks for stopping in!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Patch 6.0.2 - Three Shards and a Sha

This isn't about gold, this is just me being the cynical old guy I've come to be... and be loved for.

When you reach that point in life when you expect things to be phoned in, you know you're reaching mediocrity.

No, I don't hate the game, nor the changes, but I do still hate the players.  I do dislike being robbed again of a lead-in and some immersion.

Anyone that's done the expansion pre-release "event" knows that we're dealing with 2nd tier in the world of build ups and hype.  2nd may just be a little generous, this was a bit half-assed.  And I know I'll get some hate comments and STFU Zero comments for this, but seriously, I've been playing their games now for 15 years and one thing Blizz usually never does is phone things in.  They troll the shit out of their customers (Diablo 3, Lich King event), they charge the shit out of them (Every expansion with bonus subscription, "Free 90", Blizzard Shop button in the damned game), they put us on all the time (Reward for Shen'dralar rep besides achievement, PvP will be put into Diablo 3, we have more people working on WoW than ever before but magically things are still broken/overlooked), but one thing they usually don't do is do something not very exciting.

Enter... Warlords of Draenor Patch 6.0.2.  If I didn't follow the lore and the game developments, I would have been utterly confused as to why the portal turned red.  Additionally, how did Garrosh escape?  Who's to blame for this?  Which faction was actually holding him prisoner and which Panda's ass do we kick for falling down on the job?  How did he get from Pandaria all the way back to Draenor 35 years ago?  What's with the green shit that one green orc asked the red long haired orc to drink, and who the hell are they?  If you can answer these questions, then you seriously followed it closely, and more closely than me and I actually follow the lore story unlike most people.

And say what you like about Garrosh.  The guy made the slip and we didn't hear squat about it.  If I'm ever locked up, I want to be cell mates with this guy.  No reporters were assigned to the story, no interviews with guards and how they were underpaid and overworked and it was the fault of the unions, no "uh-oh, Garrosh is loose again, round up the posse" story leading up to the cinematic.  Just a "here you go" beautifully done cinematic.  Sort of like watching a movie for the first time and selecting Chapter 6 on the DVD without watching 1-5.  I felt like I usually do on a movie date when I go to get popcorn refilled sometime in the middle and I come back and need a primer on WTF happened the 30 minutes I was gone and a primer on the 5 minutes I wasn't paying attention while hearing about the previous 30 minutes during the primer.  My life is one big jumble.

I write that through the eyes of a casual player, of course I recognized the homage to WC3 and the major players and didn't confuse Manno for Magtheridon, because pit lords.  But what about everyone else who can barely push the right buttons off cooldown?  And us lore nerds who were actually thirsty for more?  Kudos to anyone who gets in line at the lore panel and throws that shit down on Metzen at BC14.  How about the lead-in for that?

What I learned from Three Shards and a Sha (my personal name for the 'event' because that's what my main got from it) was that there's a bunch of Red Orcs running through the portal and they must be bad because the color is now red.  Thrall was out there telling me to kill things.  I looked through a telescope and assumed they were bads because they were on flying mounts bought from the Blizzard store.  There was a mini-boss at the end that Thrall had no problem tanking, and I had to tell our new Warchief that shit was going down, and he was so happy he gave me a purple trinket and a little iron ball.  Sort of reminded me of that movie about The Madness of King George. 

Me:  They're coming, Vol'jin!
Vol'Jin:  Thanks, have a toy and this choice of good trinket or shitty trinket.
Me:  You da man, Vol'jin!

And then he just stands there looking Vol'jin'ish. 

I hated this event so much I've only done it 8 times so far, still have another 14 to go because it's mandatory.

I rather liked the Mists of Pandaria event.  Hold the phone, there wasn't one.  Wait, they had that demonstration of a scenario where Garrosh bombed the shit out of Theramore and pissed off some people to where their hair turned white and passed it off as an event until people called them on it and they admitted there was no event.  But at least that was a full working scenario.  And this brings me to part two.

Upper Blackrock Spire.  My favorite memory of the place was at 60 when I snagged my Tier 0 mage robes from some jackass in the guild that nobody liked after crafting the epic robes.  Of course, he QQ'd his ass off.  And of course, he was a warlock wanting mage tier.  Caused so much drama, he Gquit that night and good times were had by all and I got lots of thank you tells.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.

I queued for this hot mess.  After putting up 75% of the dps through the place and tanking on my ret paladin because apparently AOE threat no longer exists for warrior tanks (it doesn't anymore, right, they removed it I came to understand), dying several times because when you don't know how to AOE tank the best thing you can do is pull half the room leading up to Nef's old spot while standing in slams, we got to what used to be the least liked place in the joint because people would invariably run into the cage way back when and cause the game to turn upside down and bug.  No problem, dead boss.

The back door to Awbee opens and I run in assuming the same map, and it's locked.  After 5-10 minutes of looking around for levers, jumping against walls and trying to get over those new jaws on the floor, we all decided to look it up on Wowhead.  And there it was, buried in one of the last comments about the place, it ends after that event and the rest is available after you hit 100.

I wanted to scream.

And I did!

At my monitor.

And it looked back at me laughing.  Seriously, it did.

And then I realized, this was phoned in and there's nothing else to do for a month.  Except maybe old raids for mounts, because holy crap have you seen your dps against those old bosses!?


I jest a bit here, because really what we need is to set circa-2008 expectations again.  Blizzard always wow'ed us with WoW.  There were always mementos and fond memories from the events, and those of us that were there probably consider the Wrath event the greatest event of all time, probably even better than most of the raids in the expansion except for Ulduar.  In Classic we walked away with a tabard that you can show your grandkids, but it was repeated in TBC dammit.  Cataclysm had 2 different storylines and an assload of new quests with the revision of the zones.  They also gave us a glimpse of Cho and the Twilight Hammer over a period of time.

I know people worked really hard on that quest series in Blasted Lands.  But didn't anyone ask "is that all there is?" in the meetings?  10-15 minutes of questing without a real backstory...  And I know there are those out there that have drank the Kool-Aid and it could be flavored poop and you'd still ask for more, but is this all?  Did this satisfy?

Unless they have some build-up story, I think a lot of people forked over $15 this month just to see less entertainment than you would see in 90 minutes at the movies.  And it probably explains why the lag on Illidan went away inside of a day.

Unfortunately, outside of a pet that I'll treasure (until I sell the other 21 of them) forever, and three shards and a sha, I didn't feel satisfied.  Anyone?  Anyone at all.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Goldmaking types

For some reason I thought of this while in traffic today.  What else would I think about?  (I wrote this a month or so ago, thanks to Stede I'm publishing it because fun posts are fun).

1)  The Grinder - If there's a "best" ore path, or top place to get skins, or a set of dailies rewarding the most gold you'll find this person.  They made their gold the old fashioned way, they mined/herbed/skinned/quested for it.  Friend of the Jeweler and Paper Pusher, you can count on them needing to move a truckload of something quick, but not for too low a price.

2) The Flipper - Dedicating their lives to full scan searches via Auctioneer/TUJ Sniper, these are the people looking for the bargains they can turn for more.  They are the ones screaming for auctionhouse apps for their phones so they can scan and scam in their cars.  Ranging from coppers to tens of thousands of gold to hundreds of thousands for the most exclusive items, they comb the realms looking for deals to pile it up.  Someone forgot to tell them to spend some on themselves, but one never knows when they'll need that 10/20/40 million to make a deal happen.

3) The Arms Dealer - Profession kings.  Who needs 9 Blacksmiths for the next patch?  They do, and extra accounts because 11 slots isn't enough to handle their little pixelated sweatshop.  Apple and Martha have nothing on these people for forced labor camps, with 3, 4, and 10 accounts just so they can make the gear to get you ahead - for the lowest cost and the best price because dammit you aren't paying more and you've forced it to this!

4) The Chemist/Crack Dealers - Somehow between TBC and Wrath these people got lost at a wrong turn at Albuquerque and still make their money slinging potions and flasks.  They're out there, waiting on those procs just so they can brag to their friends about the 5 proc on the strength flasks, so everyone will forget about the string of no-procs they threw down the past week.  Yes friends, it's worth it in the end.  If anyone hasn't made a profit in the game in the past 3 expansions, it's these guys.  They'll tell you they made a profit, they farmed the mats so they were free!

5) The Jeweler - Close relative of the Paper Pusher, these guys are adept at pushing a single button once every 4.26 seconds to bust up those rocks the rest of the server is too lazy to prospect.  They'll typically need guild banks and extra mail slots to hold all their ores and minerals, because one day they'll get around to handling the load.  Their entire focus is Tuesday.  Because on that day friends, they get to hock their wares and then return to the shadowy confines of some whisked away abode in who-knows-where while they prep for the next week.  Commonly complains about the price of ore; any ore, pick one.

6) The Gambler - Ever wonder who falls for those "presents in a box, 1 has a mount" spams in trade?  Or even the highest roll wins spam?  Do you know a guild where certain addons for trash pulls are required so you can roll for gold?  How about the people that religiously farm for MFCs, or those that even buy them?  You've met the gambler, these are the guys who won't work the auctionhouse or do a daily to save their bank account, but throw down 1000 gold for a 10% chance at doubling it?  They're in!   Probably the most close association to people you actually know in real life, we all have these types in the family.

7) The Paper Pusher - These guys are your scribes.  They need a new name, because scribe is going on 6 years old and this is really all they do.  Make glyphs, post, cancel, repost, recraft, repeat.  They push paper better than a government bureaucrat and thanks to addons with more efficiency.  That's all they do, too.  JC?  Nah.  Enchanting?  Too much cost.  Alchemy? Blacksmith? Tailor?  Who has the time!?  Commonly seen preparing for monthly Darkmoon trips.

8)  Prada/Coco - as in Chanel.  Making lots of custom bags and for every occasion, these people are cloth fiends.  They still make Mooncloth bags because they look better than Netherweave.  If you need a 28 slot enchanting bag, they'll hook you up.  Outdated since TBC?  They have it and are probably posting it.

What do you think?  Know any other types?  As we roll into the conclusion of mass goldmaking (WoD) I'm wondering if there's anyone I missed.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Battle Pets: Daily Tamer Experience

For those of you unaware, one of my favorite aspects of the game today aside from gold and GDKP raiding is pet battles.  I got into it last year and like most things I ended up documenting certain things.  Maybe this will be of use to you in case you're trying to figure out how the tamers work and why people do the quests everyday.

The reason is simple:  You get a lot of experience depending on the level of pet you are carrying.  I had a theory when I first started that the experience had some sort of diminishing return, so this led to me actually performing battles with every single variety and documenting the results.

As you can see from the chart below, the yellow highlight shows you the spot where you will earn the most experience, and it's a mirror.  This is why it is bad to use a level 3 against a 25, your best return will be a 10 or 11.

Note that the chart assumes you are wearing the safari hat.  If you aren't, then you net 10% off that amount.  If you are using the pet treats, obviously you'll account for the extra boost of 25%.  More or less I use this as a guide so I don't waste experience on pets that are too high or too low.  The difference between 25N and 25P here:  25P are Pandaria trainers, Ns are Northrend and Cata.

Additionally, I put together something for 1-25 Wild Pet battles, and since 1-19 is mostly boring for folks I'm only showing the returns you see when fighting level 20 to 25s.

Again, yellow shows the sweet spot and assumes the safari hat is worn.  Where I placed the "x" means I never got to those levels, but you get the idea.

I figure that since we're about 2.5 months out, I can share this little nugget with you in case you're looking for something to do.  I'm presently trying to get all the pets I have to 25 (or at least most of them) prior to the release.  I have 550ish pets, 170ish at 25, and the vast, vast majority are between 16 and 24 right now.  Only greens are 11-15.  I figure if I get this out of the way, I won't need to bother with my OCD for about another year.

Hope you have a great day and thanks for stopping in!