Archive for the “Cashey Money” Category
Today we learned that The Undermine Journal is closing shop. at the end of July. The first thing you should know is this.
Yes, The Undermine Journal plus its excellent site-specific addon are excellent tools when used with addons such as, say, TradeskillMaster. And thus, yes, if you rely on this combination to drive your pricing needs, you’re totally screwed.
But maybe not. There are alternatives.
You can just call it quits. Frankly, Clan Grimmtooth is close to 2 Mil gold at this point, and I can’t see that we’ll go wanting ever again, even if I closed my final auction and vendor’d over 600 glyphs tomorrow. But maybe you’re not that fortunate. Maybe you had a more aggressive, less successful sales strategy than myself. Maybe you’re still hungry.
Alternative: Manual Scans
You know, it takes me around an hour every day to clear my current auctions and repost them, collect de moniez, and send work orders to Illume for glyphs. I really don’t need to spend another hour idling on the AH using Auctioneer or Auctionator or whatever to scan the auction house for an hour. I really don’t need that. But maybe you have the kind of job where you can log in via VPN and do so. Lucky you.
The rest of us are less fortunate. However, using these tools to do an AH scan once a day is at least SOMETHING. I rarely update my TUJ-realm data more than once a day, for example. So, while onerous, using one of the classic AH addons to do the scanning is at least effective, if not pleasant.
WoWuction.com is similar to TUJ but does not offer the convenience of the realm-specific addon for pricing information. What it DOES offer is a dataset that can be imported by TradeSkillMaster directly. You will need to install the TSM Desktop app, have a TSM account (and a TSM app key derived thereof), but otherwise it’s not a lot different than what I already do with updating the TUJ realm-specific addon once a day before logging in.
There is the small matter of having to adjust your TSM auction settings to work with the new dataset, but that’s a one-time thing and after that, it’s back to making fat staxx.
Hope for the Best
As you may have read on TUJ, their fate is not entirely set in stone. They may find new hosting. They may be bought out and continue under new management. They may find some way to keep going. The announcement is full of little trap doors that form escape clauses “just in case”.
I am not so much into this philosophy. I’d rather have a backup plan in place, ready to go, or maybe relegate TUJ to backup status and go full pelt into the unknown.
We have a couple of weeks, at least, to figure this out.
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I’ve been watching other servers
merge get linked and I’ve been kind of curious as to how the linking affects their economy. Starting this Thursday, Alleria, a high-pop server (my home) is linking to Khadgar, a low-pop server.
Some of the comments I’ve seen from low-pop servers (and one medium-pop) indicate that there are lot of "makers" but very few "takers", keeping prices low and sales flat. Here on Alleria, even common commodities like herbs can sell out, prices can get a bit up there, and things generally do move. Even at that, our prices on Alleria have been historically below the average for all realms.
My own business has been brisk. I generally can’t keep the shelves fully stocked, I’m always playing catch-up. On average I pull in 25,000 GP a week. The glyph business has, surprisingly, remained a decent source of income, especially since Blizzcon.
So what happens when Khadgar’s population gets to taste these waters? That … is the great unknown. Will they inundate us with an oversupply of all things? Will they be starved for goods? Will my counterpart on Khadgar be a total jerk, intent on driving me out of business?
It’s all, at this point, rather exciting, from a glyph market geek point of view. My *hopes* are that it will be positive. I might even get to bring some glyphs out of retirement if prices pick up. But even if it goes the other way, I could take at least 25-50% market depression and still get along fine.
In a few days I’ll follow up, allowing things to stabilize – probably after the weekend.
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So, as posted on the EU community website, Cosmetic helms are now for sale in the cash shop Blizzard Store. And if you’re into gaudy, they’re not bad.
First of all: 15 US dollars is not a microtransaction. I don’t care what your favorite omnibus WoW website says, I don’t care what your favorite MMO forum site says. The cost of a month’s game time is not a microtransaction. So don’t call it that, and we’ll get along fine.
Next item: will it affect the game at all? I can’t really see how, other than consuming precious frame rate. Seriously, what would a 25-man raid look like with these on everyone? Will a new Alliance battleground strat involve wearing these and lagging the Horde out? Considering that it’s gotten zero beta time, these are actually kinda relevant questions. But I’m SURE they’ve gotten EXTENSIVE testing in-house.
Item the third: when will this hit the US? Days? Hours? Before this post goes up? Update: I found out at 2 PM (two hours after publish) that they’re now available in the US.
Item the fourth: what next? Will we see matching robes, shoulders, cloaks? And sidebar: will the WoW punditry also insist on calling those other items "microtransactions" if they cost 15 bucks?
The big one: how long until we see pay-to-win items? And does this indeed signal the final death rattle of WoW?
Oops, sorry, accidentally plugged in to a forum.
The personal one: I’d almost buy the Firelord helm for Flora if she was into gaudy baubles. But in general none of this stuff speaks to my nature. I seriously doubt that they’ll ever introduce a mog set that says "I work for a living" rather than "I’d like to think that I raid stuff you can’t even imagine."
The thoughtful one: It’s not just this stuff. So much WoW raiding tier and its predecessor gear looks so hideous to me. It’s covered with horns, and glitter, and flanges, and glitter, and orbs, and glitter, and ropey things, and glitter, and then they add glitter. SOME of the old vanilla tier stuff is okay but for the most part, Blizz is in love with its art department, and its art department all apparently majored in "Ming the Merciless’ Court Trappings".
But the thing is, they wouldn’t keep getting more ridiculous with every tier if it weren’t for the users wanting, or at least encouraging it. Those of us that want a more functional approach to awesomeness are not as vocal or as profitable.
I am very much of the opinion that awesomeness is not a function of frills and special effects. The most iconic weapons are often very much, shall we say, to the point.
Rather than …
Maybe Ming wasn’t at fault after all.
If you can’t please everyone, the best you can do is give them choices, and that’s where mogging came in in the first place. You may recall my own mogging preferences are somewhat more functional than what my armor actually looks like. And there are others that go the other way – well, I can certainly see the attraction of some Ulduar and Icecrown gear.
The Cheap One: What I would love to see with this sort of throwaway mog fodder is for it to (also) be sold for in-game currency of some sort, especially near the end of an expansion when people have piles of tokens and nothing to blow them on. It would be a great JP dump, or Greater Tokens, or Halfhill Tokens, or what have you.
An even better approach would be to (a) make the items purchasable for a new special token type, (b) make it so you could buy that token in the cash shop (e.g.Neverwinter Zen), and (3) then also make that token purchasable for varying amounts of other in-game tokens, such as JP, Darkmoon tokens, etc. That way, if one particular faction grind was "your thang", then you could, oh, I dunno, enjoy yourself while playing a game.
Because here’s the bottom line for me: they could make the perfect Hunter garb of all time available, and I’d not buy it for cash, not ever. I’m paying that much a month already. I’m not even sure I’d pay for it if it was F2P. Virtual items are pretty much gone as soon as you stop playing the game. Game time, for all its ephemeral nature, gives you a month’s worth of enjoyment, whereas a hat isn’t even usable unless you pay more money.
But I might grind for it.
The Final One: The Godmother over at Alt:ernative had an interesting thought (or a dozen) about the cash shop, one which was the sale of armor dyes. I do want armor dyes. I especially want one like the one in Diablo III that makes your shoulder pieces go away. But I categorically do not want them to be part of the cash shop. Special colors? Possible. In general? Not. It might be close to a deal-breaker for me, a last sign of cynical money-grubbing from a company that swore up and down that Activision wouldn’t do that to it. I can only swallow so much hypocrisy, and that would probably mark the high water line.
Doing so would also eliminate one of the potential fun elements in-game: making of dyes. I personally think this would be a great product for Scribes to make since they already have all sorts of dyes in the bank. I think it would be great if they managed to exploit ALL of the herbs from Peacebloom to Golden Lotus to make different armor dyes. They could just keep adding different shades of dye as new herbs came into being. Heck, Ghost Mushrooms would be perfect for making armor invisible!
I kind of doubt that will happen, though. I could be wrong, but they seem to be pushing down hard on the crafting game, and it’s starting to look like there is either a paradigm shift about to happen, or they’re starting to dismantle crafting as an mainstream part of the game. Certainly, it has problems.
It’ll be interesting to see where this goes. At least the potential cash mounts will give us more people to admire as they preen on the bank steps and RP walk around Stormwind.
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As treasurer for the clan on the Alleria server, it is my job to disburse and otherwise account for all gold made by the team. Our goal early on was to ensure a comfortable living wage for all alts in the clan, ensure nobody ever wanted for an enchant, mount, or training session when needed, and to someday reach the lofty goal of one million gold sovereigns.
So, yeah, that’s a thing.
The addon that shows all the alts’ monies for us is, by the way, Broker_Currency, an LDB addon that manages a few things about currencies, such as showing them on the LDB display bar (ChocolateBar in this case), making a drop-down showing all of a particular currency type for all alts on the server, showing certain currencies when you have bags open, and so forth. This isn’t just money, it’s also things like cooking awards, faction tokens, and so forth. Basically, if Blizz calls it a currency, you can display it in a number of ways for convenience.
We’re all very sad that the original Grimmtooth can’t be here to appreciate the moment. He started the project in WotLK, and would have appreciated its completion. He’d also appreciate having access to a million gold since there is a sweeeeet gun that pops up on the BMAH, and he could really use it right now. Unfortunately, no way to transfer money between here and Azuremyst, so he’s going to have to work his dwarven butt off to get it.
There are many ways to 1000000 gold. Our approach was to run a glyph shop. I did the gathering, when needed. Illume did the crafting. Jasra handled sales of glyphs and all other items that we found, made, or otherwise acquired. We went for slow and steady, and it has worked quite well. Nobody in the group wants for anything. And we still exceeded the goal, though not as quickly as expected.
I’m not sure what we’ll do now. The Glyph Store thing has become its own little mini-game. Illume’s number-crunching on prices, availability, and sales patterns are absolutely fascinating. Things like, WHO IS KILLING THE MARKET? Answer: look who wasn’t here when prices improved. That sort of thing. Nothing that will help in a raid, but when somebody in guild chat says GEE MY LUCK ON MISTY PIGMENT SUCKS, it’s nice to be able to say, “Well, based on a sample of thousands of mills, all herbs except XXX have a less than 1-per-stack for that pigment. So focus on milling XXX.”
We’ve been looking at the Enchanting market. It’s a lot more volatile than glyphs. But some of the enchants appear to bring some sweet rewards on the AH.
Tedious and boring details will be published when appropriate. Fairly warned be ye, say I.
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Since I posted my Dead Glyphs post, I’ve been busy selling off the soon to be dead. And that in itself should convey everything that’s wrong with this picture.
Namely, that I’m able to actually sell them.
With less than eight weeks before the expansion hits, people are still buying glyphs that have no future! I can’t chalk this up to people putting in a last push on raiding, because those people are typically way past the point of needing to stock up on glyphs (they already have, to say).
In many cases, it’s taken deep discounting – but hey, I’ll take nine gold over five silver any day of the week.
But in others, I’ve seen obsolete glyphs go for several hundred gold. I’m not complaining. I’m glad for the cash. But I am extremely puzzled.
It is very, very tempting to keep the well-selling glyphs in stock. But I’m so far not giving in, and retiring any glyphs which I have managed to sell out of (soon to be discontinued ones that is).
The one thing that helps me keep my resolve is the knowledge that, when the market crashed into its pre-Panda slump, there was virtually no warning. One day, things were fine. The next – buyers woke up, and most everything ceased selling, or required deep discounts to move.
Knowing that, I figure that there will be a similar crash for expiring glyphs. And I intend to have as little in the bag I’m left holding as possible.
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I was cycling my mailbox, minding my own business. I had just reposted all of the Inferno Inks I had made for the day (there’s virtually no money in making cards now, but leveling scriveners in a hurry still buy ink) and was pleased to see that they sold almost immediately.
I use TSM to automate posting of auctions based on a few simple rules. For ink, one of the rules is that if nobody else is selling, post at 75g per ink. Someone will surely undercut, but there will be some decent profits on the race for the bottom. Apparently, that’s what happened this day.
WIM popped a private tell up, some guy I never heard of before.
Noisy: 75 g per ink? Are you serious???
Hm. Rarely does somebody complain about pricing.
Me: I sell at market rates. Did you just buy all my Inferno Inks?
Noisy: Yeah, that was me.
Me: Were you wanting a refund?
Noisy: No …. I used them already.
Me: We’re done here.
Seriously, if you’re stupid enough to pay that much, don’t expect sympathy. That’s why my buying is all done by hand. I recommend that for anyone that buys and sells mass quantities.
In this case, the guy just ate 5000g worth of Inferno Ink to make, I dunno, origami eggplants or something. That’s gotta hurt. But I bet he’s more careful in the future.
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For the past year or more I’ve provided a steady and significant income to ten toons doing nothing more than selling Glyphs and Glyph-related Accessories. I have done this without spending an excessive amount of time at it, and I have done so without being a cosmic jerk to everyone else on the market. The gains are modest by comparison to the "goblins" among us but they are gains despite the presence of such creatures.
There is no complex formula to memorize or fiddly process to follow. It’s all a matter of good old common sense and old-timey business practices.
Without trying to force my precise methods on anyone, let me put down what the general principles are. You can follow through in whatever fashion you want.
First Principle: I am a shopkeeper
When a buyer approaches the auction house, it is often with trepidation that the item they wish to find won’t be there. My job is to ensure that when someone comes to buy a glyph, one of mine is there to be bought. I may have been undercut, but with 430ish glyph types out there, the odds are pretty good that I’ll have something they want at the price they’re willing to pay.
This is all about opportunity. A customer provides an opportunity to fulfill a need. Your job as a shopkeeper is to ensure that you can fulfill that need.
Practically every specialty shop I have been in sticks to a specific type of product and/or service, but within that narrow confine, covers all the bases. Big*Mart may carry camping tents, but only Camping Equipment World carries tents in fifteen different sizes, from fifty makers, all the time. My job is to be the Camping Equipment World of glyphs.
This means inventory
A shopkeeper doesn’t generally have five items in the front window and make everything else to spec. They maintain an inventory of items to sell.
This means a couple of things to me and you. First it means that you need to know what the possibilities are – what kind of glyphs exist in the first place? And secondly – and more importantly – it means you need to keep track of what you have on hand at any given time.
The main reason for the latter is that you don’t want to tie up assets in stuff that won’t sell – but you also want to make sure that stuff that DOES sell is always available to your customer.
I’m afraid some effort is required at this point.
How you go about this is up to you. I have a spreadsheet on Google Docs that I use to track average sale price, inventory levels, item status (available, stocked, warehoused), and so forth. There are many other tools available for this, but this was the weapon I chose. There may even be in-game tools for this. Or you might choose an old fashioned bound ledger. Up to the individual.
At any rate, when an item sells, you decrease inventory. As you create replacements, they get noted, too. All you need to do now is figure out what the right levels are.
This is a difficult subject. Different servers have different demands, and things tend to move in cycles. I’ve seen glyphs that didn’t sell for months suddenly fly off the shelves, then cool off just as quickly.
My own personal practice is to keep two of every glyph in stock at all times. For items that sell faster, three may be more appropriate, but you have GOT to know the market before you run the risk of overstocking, and since I check things once a day there is very little down time even if I sell out on an item.
Getting stocked up
Developing an inventory in the first place will more than likely be a drain on the coffers, if you buy your materials. Most dealers will need to take time to develop inventory slowly. But choosing the wrong items will likely result in bankruptcy. So, choosing your initial stock is important.
There are many tools out there to help out with this – such as The Undermine Journal – but be aware of what they represent. Most, if not all, of these tools use the WoW Armory Auction House feed to access AH information periodically. That feed, however, does not offer real sales data, last I looked. It offers data on what was posted, and what was no longer posted, but it does not indicate if an item disappeared because it was bought, because it expired, or because it was cancelled. Without that information, the best these tools can offer is a guess, which some of them do attempt.
A fair approximation can be gained from the average post price of an item over two weeks’ period. Such an item with a lot of activity and a fairly flat price curve is probably a reliable seller. An item with a steep sawtooth sales curve (starts out high, drops off rapidly) is probably moving nowhere and all the activity is due to constant undercutting. Items that sell quickly rarely see a lot of undercutting.
You can use tools like this to glean, say, the top 20 items and then work your way down. This way you get some income to fund your subsequent stocking operation.
Yes, there is risk here in that a price is inflated due to artificial manipulation, but since you’re going to make at least one of everything anyway, just view that as an advance copy and move on.
The Supply Chain
Where you get your glyphs is largely up to you. In my case, I actually make the glyphs, but I purchase my raw materials. But, if you have the time, gathering your own mats and milling them is a lot more profitable, by many orders of magnitude.
However, a lively glyph market will support a vendor that buys supplies off the auction house. You just have to know what to buy and when. On my server, for example, Whiptail is generally as cheap as Cinderbloom and Stormvine, with a significantly higher yield per stack.
A really lively market will pretty much require you to at least supplement your supply chain with bought materials. On my server, I generally go through twelve to twenty-four stacks of Whiptail per day, usually in excess of twenty. Unless you give up a significant amount of your time to gathering, there’s no way you can keep up with that sort of demand on your own.
If you choose to buy your glyphs straight up for resale, then your margins are going to be even thinner, and you will need to account for supply costs in a lot more detail. That will also require a LOT more of your time.
Keep the good stuff up front
With over 430 types of glyph to sell, just moving and posting them can eat a significant chunk of time. This is why I have a three-tier inventory. Tier 1 is the stuff that sells. Tier 2 is the stuff that usually sells but isn’t right now. And Tier 3 is for the stuff that rarely, if ever, sells.
Tier 1 I always keep in stock, two items at a time.
Tier 2 generally gets rotated out of stock for a week, then gets brought back in. The price levels have probably reset so it’ll probably move back into Tier 1.
Tier 3 items go into a virtual warehouse, where they sit for a few weeks before being popped into circulation again. I almost always break these out during special events, such as holidays or content patches when a lot of people show up needing a lot of things that normally don’t move.
Now, what you call "selling" is up for debate. Currently, I determine that any glyph that doesn’t sell for at least 25g needs to go to Tier 2 for a week, and if it doesn’t sell for ten weeks in a row, it goes into a warehouse.
Due to undercutting, the "average" price an item brings in is highly questionable, since it varies depending on which part of the sawtooth you’re on. Therefore it is better to establish a minimum, below which you aren’t going to waste time on it.
Don’t sweat the goblins
I read, every week, posts by people that appear almost fixated on undercutting. Gotta be the lowest price for an item or it’s the end of the world, or something to that effect.
There’s always a "goblin" – real or wannabee, doesn’t matter – out there undercutting something. Can’t get away from it. You can either engage in a long, wasteful, elaborate "war" with this individual (or – horrors! – a bot), or you can ignore him or her and work to alleviate the impact of such activities.
With 430ish glyphs on the market, you buy assurance through quantity. You will get undercut somewhere, but you won’t get undercut EVERYWHERE at ALL THE TIMES.
The proof is in the pudding. On a well-populated server with an active AH ecosystem, products sell every day, easily. Maybe I miss a few opportunities by not obsessing over The Other Guy, but then, he’s not my customer. My customer pays the bills, not that goblin dude.
Tools for the times
I will be first to say it: without tools, this process would be impossible. I’d be doing nothing but getting glyphs made and posting them, every day. Call that a game if you want, but I call it a job. A boring, soul-destroying job.
So, having the right tools for the job is important!
I am going to take off my hipster glasses and gladly join the throng of people that recommend Trade Skill Master (TSM). I use two of its modules primarily to get things done, and a third for non-related activities. The Posting tool moves items from your bag to the AH quickly; the destroy tool takes a lot of pain out of milling herbs.
Advanced Trade Skill Window or Skillet can be used to set up queues for making glyphs (the former has a better feature set but the latter seems more reliable). This, also, is a massive time saver.
Gathering tools like Gathermate 2 and Routes help organize your foraging expeditions.
Postal will help you process mail en masse, moving glyphs to your bags and cash to your bank. There’s also a TSM module for the mailbox, but I haven’t used it.
Google Docs will provide you with free tools to organize your data and find holes to fill and bumps to sand off.
Do be cautious of the more automated tools, though. Understand your market and train the tool to work properly within it. For example, I posted all my auctions by hand for weeks before letting TSM take over the job, by which time I was aware of the peculiarities of my market and either didn’t care, or developed a process to deal with it.
The most important tool is between your ears
And that brings me to the point that, regardless of what process you develop, what tools you use, or how you deal with adverse situations, the most important things you bring to the table are your heart and mind. If you engage in practices that are a little seedy, expect others to follow suit. If you play the game honestly and fairly, however – you’ll get by just fine.
Above all, keep your eyes open. For opportunities, trends, potential issues. Gather what data you need to make it possible. Don’t rely on tools to drive the whole thing. Keep your hand on the wheel at all times.
Room for improvement
The whole "working as a storefront" process is not without failings. Some are inherent, some can be improved.
I’m bothered by having to put items in warehouse, for example. That makes it impossible to make all things available at all times. Unfortunately, the AH doesn’t facilitate the customer doing the equivalent of walking up to the counter and inquiring about a rare glyph that isn’t out front. And NOT warehousing things just eats up too much time and bag space.
The other thing that doesn’t get captured well is sales frequency per item, in my current process. I don’t record when I sold an item; I don’t even have a database, and that’s what you’d need. I wanted to do this earlier in the process but eventually arrived at the conclusion that if I have everything up at all times, who cares about when it sells the best? I’ll be there anyway. But that does run the risk that the item is currently warehoused.
My current process is also very dependent on me personally catching all the details for sales, etc. Sometimes I forget to record a sale and my inventory gets skewed badly because of it. I live in fear of NOT documenting a sale twice in a row, meaning I’d have no items for sale, and no reason to make more when I looked at my inventory. My next step in that regard is to make a tool that will record each for me into a text file or something, but that’s for another time.
A while back I read on WoW Insider the advice of their goblin advisor regarding the selling of Darkmoon card decks. and the like. At the time it was very good advice, as many of the Darkmoon cards were BiS for several classes. But a week or so later, a new content patch dropped, and they were immediately trumped by the next tier’s trinkets, for the most part.
The upshot is this: Darkmoon cards – and the entry-level relics we can make – really aren’t as profitable as they used to be, not with so many good endgame items available through LFD and LFR. So, don’t build your business around them. It won’t work out all that well.
While there is still a very minute market for the very patient, don’t expect to see them flying off the shelves.
In fact, after close analysis, you may find that selling Embers or Ink will be more profitable than selling the cards they create.
And that’s pretty much all I’m going to say on this part of the market.
Does this work for other markets?
In a few weeks we’re going to move into the Enchanting market once again. Jas was doing that for a while, and it was tedious and dreary. Now that I’ve got a new system, though, She’ll be trying her hand at that and see how it works out.
The BIG question mark in all this is Mists of Panderia. With an overhaul to both abilities and talents, how will glyphs be handled? You can bet that I’m watching that like a hawk!
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As I go along, a lot of times I end up leaving some loose ends and unresolved questions behind. Time to catch up a little.
Somebody woke up …
When last we looked, Jasra was playing the undercut game on the Auction House and doing pretty well. Since then, some of the local goblins have gotten a little more aggressive. She vows that she will destroy a glyph’s market to shake them, however, and that has had interesting ramifications. We’ve developed whole new mechanisms to end a price war and get back into the good price levels. The income has been smaller, but still steady enough so that all 9 toons on her server are sitting at 13K or more, apiece.
My own glyphing experiences are less entertaining, but mostly I’m staying afloat as I learn the final glyphs (two a day from research). Not much to say here, yet.
We get letters!
The HUD comparison got someone’s attention, at least. I got some good feedback from the author of DHUD4 regarding the difference between it and its sibling, as well as some good pointers on measurement techniques, which I will take forward with me. He also clarified what the DogTags library was used for, so I went back and updated the charts.
I also found a fellow CircleHUD fan. As I commented back, I’ve actually been using CircleHUD since after the review. Even with the minor shortcomings, it’s good at what it does and I’ve found it to be very handy.
The Squeaky Wheel gets the Herb?
In my article on software regression, I commented that part of my evaluation of Blizzard’s ongoing commitment to quality would take place when 4.1 came out. I felt that if we saw a decrease in phased nodes, and no new ones added, then it would indicate some moderately good news for us as customers, namely, that they know of the issues, and are working to clear them up, rather than ignorant or indifferent.
The next big test is when 4.2 comes out. This patch will alter the landscape in Hyjal, and probably phase a lot of it, too. Will they manage this without adding the same bugs back in that they fixed in 4.1? This will provide some insight into their test process.
Now, to be fair, the phased nodes in Hyjal are still a problem – only Twilight Highlands seems to have gotten a lot of love in this regard. They may simply be thinking, "why fix this now when we have a big revamp in 4.2?" I can’t argue too vigorously against that, if resources are tight.
What a Coincidence!
Shortly after posting the archives for Hammer of Grammar, the author of said series was located in a most unusual way. I’m happy to say that Meghan O’hara, the author, has graciously given permission to continue to host the series.
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Being the clan’s auction bish on Alleria, my primary role is to pretty much not move anywhere but the AH, bank, and mailbox, with occasional forays out of the area to gain experience. But, mostly the AH and bank thing.
So far I’ve been following a fairly basic system that has kept food on the table and beer in the fridge. Right now, everyone left on Alleria has 10K gold, after Grimm cleaned us out on he way to Azuremyst.
A lovely new tool
Now, in the past few months, The Undermine Journal has returned to life, and, being a dutiful auction bish, I decided to check it out. Raw data is a beautiful thing, so when he added an XML feed of his regular data, I jumped at the chance to do some research. Using a little Python code here and there, Illume was able to automate the collection and extraction of Glyph data, which she and I pored over.
Let me back up just a little bit. A big problem with the AH prices has always been the so-called "goblins" posting glyphs for ridiculous amounts. Lovely tools like TUJ can’t really extract much in the way of at-a-glance data as to what glyphs are currently the best to post. Furthermore, they tend to do silly things like undercutting to stay at the ‘top’ of the listings when one is browsing for glyphs to buy. Behavior like this tends to skew market prices to significantly meaningless levels unless you know how to filter.
I don’t know how to filter. Well, I do, but I can’t.
The simplest way to filter is to watch what prices that items are actually selling for. Unfortunately, TUJ does not have that data in the XML feed, and you can’t get that from Blizz, either.
The next best way is to use statistics. I like to take the standard deviation of the average of a price over a given time, and then add 2 times the standard deviation above and below that. Any prices outside of the band thus established should be considered an error and not trusted.
With over 400 glyph recipes out there, this screams for automation. Unfortunately, I haven’t got access to the data I need to make those tools yet, so as of right now, statistical analysis of post prices is out of the question.
Back up and punt
So, if the main problem is that there are a number of unreliably high prices for glyphs cluttering up my lovely data feed, what can I do about it? I considered filtering based on an exception filter (as erroneous prices showed, add the glyph to a list of exceptions that will never get listed) but the permanence of that solution precluded some random glyph suddenly coming into favor.
How about turning the game on its ear?
I have a new experiment going on now, and after a couple of weeks the results are encouraging, at least with the local glyph goblins on Alleria.
Basically, I am accepting the TUJ feed at face value – with moderate sanity checking – but letting the practice of undercutting work for me.
I always undercut, as I have said in the past. So if a glyph is posted for 250g, I will generally post for 5 to ten percent lower. I’ve enhanced that a bit. Now, if they undercut me, I’ll cancel and repost at undercut prices.
There are two possible effects:
- Statistically, prices will get dragged down until they either sell, or bottom out. Regardless, this reduces the false positives.
- I sell some glyphs for some really good prices.
So far, it’s been mixed – that is to say, I am seeing both taking place. Some glyphs are dropping, leaving the good prices at the top, and some are actually selling for these ridiculous prices.
AuctionLite, you served me well
One thing I had to do was let go of AuctionLite. While it has served me well for quite some time, it lacks an easy way to (a) see which of your auctions are being undercut, (b) and let you cancel them right there. I had to flip back and forth between various tabs, very inefficient.
Fortunately, Auctionator had my back. This addon recently came to my attention as a potential replacement for AuctionLite, but since I didn’t need to replace it, I didn’t pay much attention. Once I started looking around for something to streamline the cancel cycle, though, it came back to mind.
And, honestly, I don’t even know if Auctioneer (AKA AUC-suite) does this as well as Auctionator does, but one thing is for sure – if it did, it would do so at the expense of a lot more memory.
The dawn of a new age
Thus tasked and thus armed, I set out a couple of weeks ago to try out my new strategy.
So far, it’s been very rewarding. False positives are decreasing, throughput is up, and profits are up. Glyphs that rarely sold before, sell quite frequently now, and for consistently higher prices. On the flip side, some glyphs that traditionally brought in more, are taking a hit because I am no longer posting and letting them sit – and thus, the final price is usually below what I would have otherwise gotten.
Still, the tradeoffs are well worth it. I would say I have doubled our income in this short period. It’s possible this is a fluke, or that the goblins will decide on some retribution, but I really doubt I figure on their radars.
The next part of this experiment will be when Grimm applies this body of work to Azuremyst. He has recently dropped Mining and picked up Inscription, and is in the process of skilling up. Once he tops out, we’ll see how well this process carries over.
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All due enthusiasm to Uncle Grimm’s exploits, but back at Casa de Grimmtooth, we’re working to keep the castle afloat – the financial castle, that is, in the sea of finance, that is. One such institution that goes with that is the time honored act of picking flowers and selling them to unsuspecting rubes. Herbalism, thy name is profit.
Illume is covering Hyjal (for now). I have Deepholme and Uldum, which may or may not be nerfed today, depending on what hotfix is deployed.
Anyway, in Deepholme there was a chance encounter.
Small world, but I’d hate to paint it.
In other news, I hear rumblings that I may be fetched to Grimm’s new server soon. They currently have no regular raiding warlocks, a niche I am all too happy to fill. While this robs Grimm of his slot, he’s not too worried over it. They have a couple of really uber raiding hunters over there, apparently.
The deciding factor is how well I can improve my own output with some studied respeccing. So we shall see.
The other advantage is that right now, I am poised to be a major income source. Profit margins for the Truegold transmute pathway are stupid huge. 100 gp of mats yielding 1200 gp sales is my definition of WIN.
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