WoW Roundup: Gold, books, economies, dailies, poop and more

It’s been a busy weekend for WoW blogging, and we’ve got a bumper crop of great posts – so if you want to know about the future of the economy, the verdict on the August Celestials, or the logistics of virtual poo, dive right in:

  • Eric at The Golden Crusade explains why gold’s more important to your WoW experience than may immediately be obvious“Don’t want to grind for gear? Buy some. Don’t want to go to the city to reforge your new gear? If you have the Expedition Yak you just have to get to a place where you can mount up. Want that cool mount that’s tied to a raid achievement? Pay a guild to take you through the raid.”
  • Bravetank’s got a book! Yes, all her WoW humour writings are now available on Kindle
  • The Godmother argues that it may not be possible for Blizzard tofix the economy of low-population servers“Having done some research, I realise that my initial considerations are fairly naive. There are some pretty fundamental game mechanics at play here.”
  • Anne Stickney reviews her experience of the August Celestial reputation grind“Now some may say that I shouldn’t feel entitled to a final payoff, but the problem with that assessment is that given every other reputation grind I had been through so far, it seemed obvious that there would be a payoff.”
  • Crawford posts a fake but very entertaining interview with Herman Brown, Blizzard lead poop designer“World of Warcraft is an incredibly complex game with many intricate game systems and a tremendous amount of background lore. I am in charge of all the poop-related aspects of that.”
  • Matthew Rossi shares the results of his experimentation with a novel Warrior setup – a non-tank spec tank” The real reason for doing this was, it’s crazy fun to tank as arms or fury. Frankly, one of the biggest problems I have tanking is, it doesn’t feel like playing the rest of the game. “
  • And Typhoon Andrew gives his verdict on the whole daily quest thing“Perhaps one day many expansions from now my character can return to Pandaria and visit farmer Yoon, and we’ll laugh as how much of his work I did for him.”

How was your WoW experience this weekend? Were you even playing WoW?

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Brawler’s Guild Invitation Controversy: Blogger Reaction Roundup

The “Brawler’s Guild” feature in WoW Patch 5.1 sounds great, everyone agrees – with just one major drawback. Invitations to the Guild will be a matter of being the richest player – as they’re being sold on the Black Market Auction House.

A lot of bloggers are reacting to this news – some of them think it’s an awful idea, whilst others believe everything will be OK…

  • Blizzard themselves have responded to the building controversy, and Olivia Grace gives us commentary on their response” It felt so wrong that an achievement like that should be associated with gold. But their explanation of the lack of instancing just doesn’t seem to fly.”
  • Big Bear Butt has an alternative suggestion for how Brawler’s Guild invitations might be limited – and frankly, it sounds much better“Humanoid NPCs that may be out in the world. If they were invited to come to the brawlers Guild but hadn’t traveled there yet, wouldn’t that make them challenging, powerful, deadly opponents in possession of an invitation when looted?”
  • The Godmother lays out her concerns with the invitation system, and just why she believes tying the invites to gold is a disasterous idea“I hate to break it to you, but there are people with enough money and clout on servers to make exactly what you’re saying a reality. I’m also betting these people won’t simply capitalise on this, they’ll exploit it to the absolute max. “
  • 15 Minutes of WoW goes against the general tide of discussion, saying that the invitation system will only be a problem very briefly” It is unlikely that anyone who cares about gaining access will have to wait more than a week or two, if that long. With this rapid accessibility, the cost of the actual purchased access will plummet in mere days”
  • And The Grumpy Elf loves the idea of the Brawler’s Guild, but is even more grumpy than usual about its implementation” In a mmo you should never have something that you need to form a line to do. It is not in the spirit of multi player games.”

From the point of view of a skilled Auction House player, I’m STILL not very convinced by this plan. Big Bear Butt’s idea of giving the invitations to challenging NPCs seems like a much better way to limit invitations whilst keeping the feel of the Guild consistent.

What do you think? Storm in a teacup or disaster waiting to happen?

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Weekend Roundup: Guild Wars 2

It’s been a very busy weekend in the MMOsphere, and so today we’re rounding up the must-read posts by category rather than anything fancier – there’s a lot of really good stuff to read this weekend!

First up, Guild Wars 2, where it would appear much of the discussion has centered around the game’s economy, which may be Less Broken Than It Previously Appeared… But there’s more, too:

  • MMO Gamer Chick has entered Guild Wars 2’s first dungeon, and writes an extensive and very interesting look at the gameplay and the different mindset of a GW2 instance run” I thought I was going to hate this aspect of GW2′s dungeon fights, but in the end I found myself strangely fine with it. As one of my guildies said, “EMBRACE THE ZERG!” That became my mantra.”
  • Syl looks at the gold-gems exchange rate, and finds its economic premise unconvincing and potentially flawed“What will keep the balance from shifting further in favor of gold farmers or “gem hoarders/speculators” (buying cheaper gems now, waiting for demand to raise)? “
  • Tobold has been experimenting with the GW2 Auction House, and appears to be finding little niches of profit, even within the massive global Auction House“With everybody on the same auction house, there aren’t many opportunities for quick money without much effort or thinking. But with a careful study there is money to be made, even in the deflationary market of Guild Wars 2.”
  • Stubborn applauds GW2’s approach to levelling and non-linearity, calling it the first non-linear leveling experience for some time“This hearkens back to old school WoW, where even though you needed an exhausting amount of experience, you didn’t have to do every zone. “
  • And Ravious looks at GW2’s economy as a whole, from gold sinks to gem sales, and is ever-more impressed with its design“So far I am very impressed with the economy in Guild Wars 2. It is clear that time has been taken to interweave a lot of big moving parts in something on the order of the Eternal Alchemy.”

How’s your GW2 experience so far? Are you managing to make gold? Are you enjoying it?

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Diversity, Patronage, Small Skyrim, And Giving It All Away

From Skyrim for Kids to a very good point on the diversity of game developers, we’ve got it all today:

  • Entombed at Divinity’s Reach makes a very telling points about the diversity of most game developers compared with other industries“Next time you watch a “Tour of the Company’s Headquarters” or “Meet the Developers” take a look at the diversity.  And I don’t just mean race, I mean gender, religion, sexual orientation, geographical background, and you start to notice something striking. “
  • The Brainy Gamer has a really fascinating piece – particularly for parents – on the ways in which playing Skyrim with your child can be a really positive experience for them“I spared Zoe the Fellglow Keep gore, but let her face The Caller boss at the end of the quest for a reason. We were given the choice of fighting her or negotiating with her, but we found a third option we liked better. We cast an Invisibility spell, grabbed the stolen books, picked her pocket for the exit key, and escaped the dungeon. “We were smarter than her, Daddy!” You bet we were.”
  • The Gold Queen’s covering an interesting topic for a gold blog – how and why to give all your gold away – “I’d consider giving my gold to the best character of my class on my server, class leader in the top raiding guild.  He or she will have been an inspiration to you, and a moving target at which you can aim.”
  • And finally, Zubon at Kill Ten Rats gives us a fascinating look at an oldschool alternative to guilds – Asheron’s Call and its patronage system” Experience is similarly passed upwards to your patron’s patron, all the way to the top person who has no patron, the “monarch.” As far as game mechanics go, that’s it; the rest of the system comes from secondary and social effects.”

On the first topic – one of the things that really struck me in the many Guild Wars 2 developer videos was the unusually high number of female developers there. Has that changed the game design? Who knows? But it’s clear that both the developer is more diverse than normal and the game’s doing a lot of things differently…

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

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It Came From The Weekend

And finally – as always, the weekend saw some really interesting blogging of all kinds, so here’s our summary of Other Cool Stuff…

  • The Mighty Viking Hamster made a really interesting point – wouldn’t it be great if non-active subscribers could still communicate with Battle.net and other MMOs through an IM interface?“First and foremost players will benefit. It would allow them to keep in touch with the community even though they are not subscribed to the game. This would foster a stronger sense of community since buying a particular MMO would not only mean getting involved in the game, but also having easy and unlimited access to a social network of like minded people.”
  • Fannon at Dwarven Battle Medic writes a lament for the soon-to-be-fallen Theramore“What will become of the small stories? Who’s going to take the time to cleanse Jarl of his demonic possession in the middle of a battlefield? Is someone going to walk “Stinky” Ignatz home with Horde siege engines laying waste to the landscape? “
  • Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered is a one-man Modest Proposal factory of late – today he’s proposing making WoW gold completely non-tradeable. Including on the Auction House“As for the auction house, allow players to create trade offers. Initially this would be chaotic, with a billion linen being asked for a truegold bar. But eventually, players would settle on some new medium to use.”
  • And Ironyca has a new project – cataloguing WoW’s myths and urban legends“This inspired me to go look for more myths and urban legends in WoW, and there are many of varying themes from how to acquire certain items, to misunderstandings on how fx resting and healing works.”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

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Zen in MMOs, Staff Fail, and an (In)Decent proposal?

It’s been a pretty heavy day today, and our remaining weekend picks aren’t all light either – but there’s some fun in here, some serious-but-not-heavy discussion, and some Serious Stuff too:

  • Tzufit at Tree Heals Go Whoosh has been looking into the choice of caster weapons in the Mists of Pandaria beta, and she thinks they’re making Cataclysm mistakes again“An additional 165 Intellect on an off-hand is huge. It’s so huge, in fact, that there is no way any of the secondary stats on that staff could be more desirable to any class or spec than the Intellect increase on the 1-hand combination. It’s the beginning of Cataclysm all over again.”
  • I Like Pancakes asks whether it’s legitimate or reasonable to carry a rogue to their legendaries in exchange for 1 million gold“Let’s consider the person making an offer. Obviously I don’t know anything about him other than the terms of the proposal. What sort of person would make such a proposal in the first place?”
  • Bravetank goes all Zen as she applies Zen koans to World of Warcraft“”Do not speak – unless it improves on silence” – That’s Trade chat closed forever then.”
  • And the Game Delver reflects back on their first ever MMO experience, back in an Ultima Online server sponsored by AOL“I had adventurers and stories with all of these characters. The first time I summoned a blade spirit and ended a guild meeting prematurely. My first experience being murdered by a person named Dead President.”

How’s your weekend been?

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MAKE $$$ PLAYING VIDEO GAMES ONLINE NOW $$$

Don’t worry, we’ve not been hacked. (You can tell because I’m not repeating all my keywords again and again in this article.) But today, money, money, money – it is indeed a rich man’s virtual world.

With the Diablo 3 Auction House looming over us like an over-long sales letter, and the associated tide of Diablo 3 gold guides starting to break, everyone’s talking virtual finance. And with the Pathfinder MMORPG developers trying to get gamers to finance their tech demo, Hell ain’t the only place where it’s starting to look like greed is good.

Whether you want to know what the latest is on the virtual stock ticker, want to discuss just how ethical it is to ask fans to finance an internal demo, or just want some good old fashioned gold tips, the blogosphere’s got it for you today:

  • Ferrel at Epic Slant discusses Kickstarter, and specifically Pathfinder, in a post explaining why he’s not pitching in to fund his perfect MMO“In every way I am the person they are trying to entice. I was not enticed to donate. Why? It didn’t make sense to me. I realize some people will support the project just because it is Pathfinder but for me there are some issues with their strategy.”
  • Tobold’s extremely cynical about Diablo III gold guides, and in response has written a free Diablo 3 gold guide of his own – “Scammers will gladly promise you the secrets of making $25 per hour, if only you buy their Diablo 3 secret gold guide for $19.95. Only after you paid that will they tell you that they meant you’ll make $25 per week, of which you spend 1 hour on the auction house, not 40 times $25 for $1,000 per week. And all the tips in the gold guide will be so common sense, that I can tell you those secrets for free in this post.”
  • And Heartbourne at the Lorehound discusses the economics of Diablo 3 too, in an extremely interesting and figure-filled analysis of how its fee structures will play out“If there is some average level, like our 100g to the dollar example, I would prefer to trade in gold for cheaper transactions: I would rather receive 127.5 gold than $0.50 Battle.net. On the flip side, I would rather get paid in a Battle.net balance than gold on the auction house above $2.60: even if I want gold, I can use the higher levels of Battle.net money to buy more gold.”

Are you optimistic about Diablo 3 gold, or Kickstarter dollars? Or do you think one or the other is a scam?

P.S. Dear Google Penguin – we’re not actually trying to rank for these terms, please don’t peck us to death.

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In which WoW gets cross-realm raiding, Markco gets banned, and Johnnie gets drunk with power

That’s right, people, there’s a new sheriff in town!

Actually, there’s only a temporary stand-in sheriff, and your original favourite sheriff will be back in a few days. Hugh is taking a well-deserved break and spending a few days in Paris, the lucky so-and-so. That means the Pot is in the temporarily-empowered hands of yer uncle Johnnie.

So. Let’s see what’s happening out there in MMO-land … oh, look! A patch!

WoW Patch 4.3.2 is live, and has brought with it the possibility of (admittedly limited) cross-realm raiding, and the blogosphere has stepped up to the plate to provide a couple of really great tools to help with organising cross-realm raids. First up is LFRaid.com, a brand new site from Reliq of Azeroth Observer. Signing up to the site will allow you to create a profile, find a raid, or recruit additional players for your own raid. It’s early days yet (the site is still very firmly in Beta) but Reliq tells us that new features are planned for the very near future, including advice on sharing RealID and the ability to manage teams and send out your own invites. This looks like it could become a great tool for finding an LFR raid that doesn’t make you want to get a PhD in Advanced Theoretical Computing so that you can find a way to entirely digitize yourself, then transfer yourself to an electronic medium so that you can fly down your ethernet cable right into the homes of every one of those twenty-four idiots and beat them about the head until they learn to stop using the phrase “ffs tnak sux”.

Ahem. Apologies. I may be projecting there, every so slightly.

Along similar lines to LFRaid.com, a few prominent WoW twitterers have set up Twitterland, a dedicated portal for WoW-playing Twitter users to come together and organise raids. They’re using the Enjin guild website portal, which Rebecca reviewed in early 2011 and it looks like it’s perfectly suited to the task. They’re a friendly group, so pop by and say hi.

The Diablo 3 Beta team, it seems, are distinctly less friendly. Markco (a well-known and sometimes controversial WoW gold blogger, who Hugh interviewed last year) has now moved onto the Diablo 3 Beta, and is blogging gold-making strategies over at the Diablo 3 Gold Guide. Of course, Diablo 3 will feature real-world money trading, which makes Markco’s skills potentially very profitable. Perhaps too profitable: Markco was banned from the D3 beta test , seemingly for the crime of just being too darned good at what he does.

Today I received confirmation that my use of the tools Blizzard provides every player were considered exploitative of the Diablo 3 Beta economy. I have been asked to tell customer support about my ideas for making gold or real money BEFORE trying them in the retail version of the game.

Blizzard, and this goes for whoever makes the policy over there for banning accounts, are you kidding me? Because I used my brain and got materials from salvaging vendor items and gimped my character’s survivability with 145% gold find gear I should be banned?

This is distressing stuff, because it could potentially lead to accounts being banned in retail simply because they are better at the economic game than 99% of the player-base. Now I will have to be careful not to make “too much” gold while playing.

It’s perhaps inevitable that Blizzard would need to iron out some wrinkles from the trading and gold-making aspects of Diablo 3 – that’s what a Beta is for, after all – but if Markco has indeed been banned for simply making too much gold too quickly, it’s a bit disappointing. Blizzard knew what a can of worms they were opening in allowing real-world money to enter the D3 economy. They must have known, also, that it would attract a lot of skilled WoW auctioneers looking to turn their skills into a real-life income stream. Imposing an arbitrary limit on the amount of money that can be made goes against the spirit of that intent.

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MMOs: the Pink Paper Financial Times Edition

Ok, today I’m channeling my inner banker.

…I said “banker”.

Yes, it’s all gone a bit financial in the MMO world. With WoW Patch 4.3, amongst other things, spelling financial apocalypse for Jewelcrafters, whilst Guild Wars 2 is starting to leak out news of the microtransactions that will drive it, everyone’s talking money, money, money. And some of the things they’re saying are quite surprising:

  • Gold-making columnist Fox Van Allen over at WoW Insider issues an urgent call for Blizzard to start costing him more gold“Surrendering the war on inflation will have terrible consequences, mostly for the most casual of players.”
  • Power Word Gold are taking a lengthy and interesting look at the “Patch 4.3”: Epic Gem announcements and how gold-making jewelcrafters might be able to recover“While I’d love to be wrong (as it would give me much more opportunity for profits) I think Cataclysm epic gems will be perceived by players as something that “raiders in Cata worked for but were unobtainable by anyone who didn’t raid in patch 4.3”. This certainly gives them the most prestige.”
  • Tish Tosh Tesh is striking out against the subscription model, saying that people who defend it blindly are suffering from Stockholm Subscription Syndrome“When you pay for time to play, you’ve already acquiesced to the premise that you’re paying for access, not content… Businesscritters naturally exploit this tendency, though they tend to be careful not to draw too much attention to the persistent blood loss, lest they draw too much attention and trigger a response.”
  • And Tobold is channeling Thomas Aquinas in his search for a Just Price for MMOs“Ultimately which business model is better for the player depends on what kind of player he is… Conflict arises from the fact that the group who is subsidizing the other players in each of these models would be better off playing a game of the other business model. “

Are you thinking financial thoughts today? Are you running scared from the Jewelopocalypse? Wondering how you’re going to afford 250g for a glyph? Or fighting not to Microtransact too much? Tell us below!

All quotes taken from their respective blog posts.

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Popular Cataclysm Enchants – and how they can make you lazy and rich

If you’re an enchanter, you may well have dipped your toe into the waters of selling enchants on the AH. It’s entirely possible that your toe subsequently got nipped by the Pirahnas of This Is Way More Complicated Than It Looks, too.

Fear not! There are rather easier ways to aquire cash in profusion using your enchanting. So, pick up your Runed Elementium Rod from where you threw it at the ground in despair, and let’s get to the money-making.

The principle

There are basically two approaches to selling enchants on the Auction House. The first is to sell everything you can, often using an addon like Trade Skill Master. By listing literally every enchant you can, you’ll sell the maximum number, but the cost in time and effort is high. Nonetheless, if you’re going for gold cap, this is the way to go.

However, if you’re a fair bit lazier, there’s an easier way. Rather than blanketing the AH with everything, simply target a few popular enchants, and keep them rolling out to keep the money rolling in. This is an application of the well-known “8020” rule – 80% of your profits on Enchanting will come from 20% of the items you list. You just need to know which ones.

This is absolutely not the best way to make maximum cash in WoW, by the way. If you regard the AH as a substantial part of the enjoyment of the game, or if you urgently need to make as much gold as possible, you’ll want to use the thorough route. However, it’s easily possible to make 100k or so using a less-thorough technique, and rather than spending an hour a day at it, you’ll spend 5 minutes.

The Enchants

So what are you looking for?

In short, we want enchants that do three things:

  • Sell regularly. This is vital. At the end of the day, what you’re almost certainly interested in is how much gold you make per week. An enchant that sells for 2k but only sells once a month will make you less money than one which sells for 99g, every day.
  • Have a high profit margin. Again, the amount an enchant sells for is not the important bit – what’s important is how much profit you make. It’s very easy to forget to track the cost of the materials, and end up busily selling something for 700g, then paying 750g for the materials to make another. (I have done this!)
  • Aren’t too competitive. Most of the really high-end enchants – Landslide, Windwalk, etc – are actually a bad bet to sell. They have very high prices, and so attract a lot of competition – and as a casual seller, you don’t want to be fighting intense competition.

Now, exactly which enchants fit those criteria will vary from server to server. YMMV, and it’s always worth researching through the Undermine Journal and selling on the AH yourself. However, all things being equal, we’d recommend starting with the following:

  • Enchant Bracer: SpeedNOT Greater Speed. Sells for 40-ish gold on many servers, for 2 Hypnotic Dust and one Lesser Celestial Essence.
  • Enchant Boots: Earthen Vitality – for only 2 Hypnotic Dust, this must-have enchant can sell very, very well. On many servers the price has crashed, but on some you can sell it for 30g or more.
  • Enchant Gloves: Greater Mastery – A go-to enchant for many classes, it’s fairly expensive to produce (2 Maelstrom Crystal, 12 Hypnotic Dust, 5 Greater Celestial), but sells for upward of 500g, and fast.
  • Enchant Cloak: Greater Intellect – Another must-have for all cloth classes, essentially. Not a “high-glamour” enchant, but with a good profit margin in many places – 350g or more for 9 Hypnotic Dust and 4 Greater Celestials.

Good luck!

Know any other must-have enchants to sell? Let us know below!

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