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Friday, August 30, 2013

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 007

Kathroman of WoW-GPS and The Consortium Forums returns to co-host an ad-lib show spanning an epic 80+ minutes as we touch on topics from developer interests in auctioneering, to TSM 2.0, to the advantages of inventory, the compounding psychology of risk, and finally ending at why we don't think the shuffle is boring.

To listen in, just use the Stitcher App in the sidebar!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ethics in Goldmaking

A fair warning - parts of this post will be explicit and /or upsetting for some of you.  I've been wrestling with trying to balance being entertaining with making a good blog post lately, and the result has been no gold posts in a few weeks.  And that's definitely not entertaining.

We've all some idea, in how we lives our real lives, of what is right and what is wrong.  For some, it's dictated by empathy; for others, religion; for others, justice.  We live by a set of rules called laws, which govern certain behaviors through fundamental restrictions on what we can and cannot do.  Some of these are inflexible.  Others are.  I can't punch folks for no reason.  I can probably get away with doing 40 tomorrow morning in the 35 speed zone on my way to work (I too like to live dangerously).

On top of that, there are rules and conventions that the law does not govern - like writing out thank you cards to the folks who send you wedding gifts.  Or calling your mom on Mother's Day.  We've a full gamut of these "rights" and "wrongs" in WoW, too.  A complete set of "shoulds" and "should nots".  You should not camp the AH.  You should not scam.  You should not buy items you think are duped.  You should not buy materials from botters.  You should not buy gold.

That cuts to it rather quick, doesn't it?  In WoW, as in the real world, there are a varying array of potential consequences to breaking different rules.  But it's a diverse game.  To be sure, uniform enforcement of many of these rules has been wanting.  If you've been around a few years, you'll remember that Blizzard laid off Customer Service reps in drovesnot too terribly long ago.  It was about the same times that we started seeing a lot of newer player reporting features in-game.

The result, though isn't justice.  A close goldmaking buddy of mine was permabanned about 20 months ago.  For dominating the auction house for several weeks following patch 4.3.  The guy was purely legit, and completely up and up.  But his competitor organized his guild and officers offline to file non-stop reports until he got the hammer.  It took weeks.  But it finally worked.  And 3-4 phone calls and a dozen or more appeals online didn't help.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease and those jackasses made my bud squeak something fierce.  He re-rolled, but it was never the same after that.  It was, at that point, when I stopped projecting my own ethos and morality from real life onto this game.  I had previously trusted Blizzard to enforce their rules with discretion, swiftness, ruthlessness, and justice.

How dare that jackass botter steal my node - report em - hope Blizzard nukes your account.  How dare this level 1 spam trade with haunting spirits?  Reported.  How dare they?  (You are what you dare)  But they can't do that!  (Yes, they can; they just did)  And playing by the rules - didn't make folks better.  Sometimes it just made them banned.

Let's be clear.  This is WoW.  This is a game.  It's fun.  I'm not advocating treating people like shit, but let's take a dispassionate look at a self-righteous ethos and see where it actually gets us in the game.  If you think it makes you a better person or that it somehow affects the ultimate outcome of your afterlife - fine - I'm not touching that with gloves on.  The world certainly has far crazier crap to sort through than the lens with which you apply ethics to video games, though I really doubt Jesus cares if you corpse-camp the opposing faction 30 minutes - or if you buy gold.

Dealing with botters and even dupers, in an logical sense, is pretty straightforward.  Either you buy their stuff, or one of your competitors likely will.  Now I've heard this one a lot, "But dupers sell gold and that damages the economy."  Well, listen up cupcake - your server generates millions of gold every single day.  It destroys some significant percentage of those millions every day.  The goldsellers on your realm sell half a million to a full million every few days, max.  None of them know you.  None of them have heard of you.  To think that you're going to make a socio-political statement or somehow save the game through a carebear stare of moral superiority - it's not just silly; it comes off fairly conceited, as well.

Real-money trading in WoW dwarfs the economies of several countries in the world (yes, the real one).  It has been in the game since vanilla, and it hasn't gone anywhere.  Nor will it.  In fact, Blizzard loves it.  Because without RMT, there would be no cash shop.  RMT proved the model of suckers with fat pockets long before the sparkle pony was ever a twinkle in Bashiok's eye.  With all that cheese spreading around, why wouldn't you want the developers getting a slice?

Now, I'm not saying - go buy gold.  I'm not saying go sell gold.  I'm saying let's not pretend that RMT is the bane and doom of the game.  The economy hasn't crashed.  WoW hasn't been killed.  Oh yeah - except that one time back in 4.0 - when the popular bot du jour Pirox was broadcasting archaeology digsite coordinates over in-game channels in some silly attempt at crowdsourcing / networking and every last man was banned into the ground.  Who here was shuffling in March / February of 2011?  Which of you remembers the spike in ore prices and the scarcity of supply?

Did legits dust off their mining picks and get back to work?  No.  Because, like picking tomatoes, those are jobs that Americans just don't want to do.  I'd wager that gatherbots have become so ingrained in our current economy that they've formed a symbiotic bond with goldmakers on a lot of servers.  And have they crashed the economy?  Killed the game?  No.  Do they return like cockroaches every time they're banned?  Yes.

There is no right; no wrong.  There is only risk and profit.

Do I think you should go buy a bot and start botting?  To be honest, I don't really care - that's the point of this post.  I'm not telling you what to do.  I'm telling you just to think of these things not in terms of right and wrong, but in terms of risk and profit - because there is no right and wrong in this game - only risk and profit.

Dupers - I still report em sometimes - more as a calculated business decision to keep em from crashing my markets if I choose not to deal with them rather than some sense of duty to protect the game from folks like that.  Because, let's face it - the game had protection, but they were all laid off.  Folks livelihoods were destroyed so Blizzard could crowdsource their job by appealing to my sense of duty - yeah, screw that, I think I'll buy and report whoever I feel like.

I'm not so sure I'd go as far as scamming someone or orchestrating a hit on someone to report em til they're banned when I know they're legit.  That's getting pretty personal and directly ruining someone's day.  But the idea that shelling out $50 for some pocket gold or botting nodes somehow ruins the game is a hypothesis that frankly, has been tried, tested, and found to be about as reliable as American foreign policy in the 21st century.  Now, battlegrounds - I almost don't run em because the team with the least bots generally wins.  So I'm not saying bots have zero negative effect on the game.  And duping, I accept is gonna happen and it won't get ubiquitous, because that's just how duping works - dupes are held tightly by the folks that find them so that they don't draw attention and get fixed too quickly.

But all that may be just too polarizing.  Yeah, I might have just gone off the deep end.  Maybe it'd be more relatable if I told you CKS was developed before anyone knew whether it violated the ToS.  Or that Blizzard still has given no explicit confirmation that many->1 keystroke duplication is A-ok.  Or that the arguments used to get tacit agreement from GMs were based on multiboxing - I mean, lol - come on, which of you multibox WoW whenever you use CKS?

Are you feeling complicit yet?  Have you ever tried realtime scans?  One click buyouts?  There's also the  kind of gray area where folks farm nearly instant respawn lowbie mobs for expensive transmog gear mashing a button like a monkey every 5 seconds while watching Youtube.  Or maybe even wiggling their mouse while CKS does it - neverminding the fact that G19 keyboards had been doing it since BC.  See - it's not just black and white, but several shades of gray we walk through - some of us in our happily rationalized, but not entirely pure, daily routine.

Now don't misunderstand.  Telling you to consider these seedy, but well-known aspects of the WoW economy in terms of risk and profit rather than right and wrong - it's not an invitation to get started on a TOS-abusing syndicate of goldmaking.  It's hopefully removing some of the more subtle barriers in your mind.  It's reminding you that there is risk, even in legit goldmaking.  The old saying, pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered holds true.  The temptation within some of these less savory methods often gets the better of folks, and they end up banned - trying min-max under the intangible and temperamental nature of Blizzard's enforcement.

But to be sure, there is gray.  Like driving 40 in a 35 zone to work.  Like AHK'ing a load of ore.  Risk is a scale, to be measured, adjusted, and balanced - according to your needs.  Will you let your competition snag those rare crafting mats?  Will you form a COD deal with a bot farmer?  Will you join a fellow competitor who bot-camps the AH in a whitelist agreement?  Will you really mill all those ten thousand stacks of herbs at the end of an expansion to stockpile for the next one via even CKS?

Those are personal decisions I leave to you.  Because I don't think a lot of it is my business.  I just think you ought to know the risks and plan appropriately.  This is WoW - a game we pay a large corporation to enjoy, and I still believe that FSM / the greater deity of your choosing doesn't care about your video games.  So be smart, enjoy it, and don't take risks if you can't live with the outcomes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 006

Lead Developer for the standard in goldmaking addons, Sapu94, guests on tonight's show as we talk about glyph, enchants, and the evolution of the Tradeskill Master addon, application, and project. You can catch Sapu94 at the Tradeskill Master website, The Consortium Forums or on Quakenet.org IRC at #tradeskillmaster.


Use the Player above or download the MP3 here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Show Reminder - Sapu to Guest

Hi folks! I messed up big this week and didn't get a regular blog post out, but we're still on track to do a show tonight at 11:59pm Eastern US time. I'm excited to have Sapu, Lead Developer of Tradeskill Master on the show to talk about the new version of the addon and how he sees goldmaking in the World of Warcraft. I hope you'll come join us in Quakenet IRC in the #LNWS channel (Link towards the top of the page), and catch the live show as we record on Youtube (Links at the top of the page - and to be posted in IRC / Twitter). If you can't make it, no sweat - you can always get the recordings on iTunes - just search for "Late Nite With Stede". Hope to see you at showtime!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 005

GoblinRaset guests on tonight's show as we talk about making gold with a single max level toon, TSM 2.0, and goldmaking pet peeves.  You can catch GoblinRaset on his blog where he hosts The Happy Hour Roundtable Podcast and posts about making gold with co-host PhatLewts at TheDrunkenMogul.


Use the Player above or download the MP3 here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dealing With Changes

Much to my own surprise, TSM 2.0 went live at the end of last week.  I hadn't expected it to happen so soon.  I mean - I knew that it had been in beta awhile, but I supposed I was counting on Sapu & company to drag ass for a little while longer.

When it comes to goldmaking, I'm a creature of habit.  I set a framework, and I tweak it until it's a finely tuned operation that requires minimal effort.  It's just how I work.  Different folks work - differently.  We all encounter changes, and we all deal with them differently.  With the launch of TSM 2.0, we also are seeing the sunset of TSM 1.X and future legacy support. 

That's right, ladies and gents, the next add-on breaking patch will turn the lights off on the TSM 1.X you've grown to love, permanently.  I've been struggling with it over the weekend - or what little part of the weekend I wasn't working overtime or trying to build a computer from bad parts (personal stars, sorry - bare with me).  And I say "struggling" because it is, in many ways, radically different from TSM 1.X.

And I could sit here and I could hate.  I could gush.  I could rollback.  I could drink the kool-aid and counter-hate on the haters in irc and the forums.  I could.  I had TSM 1.X running great, with only a couple complaints.  But that's not how I am, I guess.

The mind of a proper goblin just doesn't think of things as 'right' or 'wrong'.  There isn't hate.  There isn't love.  There is risk and there is profit.  And the risk involved in updating is negligible to the profit I'll gain from doing so. 

This rule doesn't stop at crotchety old goldmakers and add-ons though.  It extends to how you deal with competition, how you forge trade alliances, and how you pay farmers.  That's a topic I could devote another entire post to (in the works), though, so let's stick with changes - in the game design, in the greater wow economy, and in our own markets.

It's as easy to resist change as it is to embrace it, believe it or not.  It's been said that in history, revolutions often started as the situation was starting to change for the better.  Often enough, our response to change is simply a reflection of our satisfaction with the status quo.  And to be sure, there's enough depth in many server's economies to keep us busy with our current set of add-ons, with our current competitors, and with our current set of available crafts.

Whatever our reaction, it's natural to have one.  But it's difficult to make unbiased decisions and respond to these changes in a positive way, if we can't check those initial reactions.  I'll win no hearts today by saying there's things I like about TSM2.0 and things I don't like about TSM2.0.  Straddling a fence isn't something that folks seem to hold in high esteem.

But it does allow me to have productive conversations with the developers about future improvements to the add-on.  It grants a clarity that helps me look past frustrations for solutions and enjoy the small triumphs that come with the new featureset.  Not all changes we deal with are such a nicely mixed bag though - some of them can just suck.

If you're a top goblin on a smaller server, then the idea of connected realms may repulse you.  You may not see any silver lining about it.  And that's fine.  Goldmaking isn't gonna be all flowers and sausages all the time.  But each change brings with it an opportunity.  Moving to connected realms could open up transmog, flipping, targetted posting, and many other opportunities.  And rest assured that all folks have some aversion to change - to a varying degree.  Being more flexible can turn out to be a great quality when they throw in the towel and let you seize a greater market share.

But seeing that requires a lucidity that's able to override those initial feelings of elation or frustration.  Sometimes that takes time.  For me, I think I'll adjust to everything over the next few days.  I may even take a break and do other things.  You're different; so you may handle it differently.  So long as we're both thinking of "how can I make gold from this" though, we'll both be fine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 004

PhatLewts is our guest on tonight's show as we talk about shuffling, flipping guilds & TCG mounts, TSM 2.0, and Patch 5.4.  You can always catch PhatLewts on his blog at www.phatlewtsgold.net!


Use the Player above or download the MP3 here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back on Schedule!

Hey Everybody! I just wanted to give you all a quick reminder that the Late Nite With Stede podcast is back on schedule Thursday nights at 11:59 pm Eastern US time - that's just over 25 hours away, now!  Hope you'll drop in and watch us live on Youtube (see link at the top of the homepage) and hang with us in our IRC channel (again, link at the top of the page).

This week, we have special guest PhatLewts of PhatLewtsGold, The Happy Hour Roundtable Podcast, and The Consortium Forums.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hindsight & Foresight: A Look Back at Blood Spirits

This is a topic that I recently brought up in IRC with some of my fellow Wind Trader from The Consortium forums.  A few of those guys have blogs listed on my blogroll, so if you're interested, you should be able to check em out either place.

At any rate, I've been a bit concerned lately about recommending making 522 gear to folks who ask me for goldmaking tips.  And part of the reason is that I remember what happened with Blood Spirits.  In case you forgot, let's have a look at the data provided by The Undermine Journal - for all realms in both the US and EU:


As you can see above, it took awhile for Blood spirits to drop to prices accessible by mere mortals.  But, by January of this year, they stabilized around 2500g.  What happens next is subtle, partially because of the scale of the graph above.  Fortunately, TUJ allows us some flexibility as far as zooming in goes:



Again, as you can see above, Blood Spirits fell in price - and believe it or not, they fell rather sharply.  While they had been approaching a steady stat of ~2,000g, they've now approached a steady state of ~200g.  That's a ten-fold decrease. 

This wasn't caused by a sharp decline in demand, though.  Rather, it was caused by a jump in supply.  You'll notice the big drop started in March at the same time that patch 5.2 launched.  That's no coincidence.  Patch 5.2 began adding Blood Spirits to the "Fail Bags" in LFR.  In addition, I believe this is when they were also added on to the Valor Vendors.

If Blizzard is anything, they are, at least within expansions, a creature of habit.  At 200g a shot, it's pretty straightforward to mass produce 496 gear.  And to be certain, there is a definite market on a lot of servers for a couple reasons: first, they're not the best you can make (even though the 496 craftables are on different equipment slots from the 522 craftables), and second, because folks don't like to touch markets they think are in decline or crashing.  The crash in the month that followed the introduction of patch 5.2 in the price of Blood Spirits surely screwed anyone who had stockpiled them prior to the patch and was not able to offload them quickly.  In fact - it probably dissuaded those folks who did lose their shirt from staying in the market.

But that's old news, isn't it?  Well, we really want to apply some of this hindsight to what might happen with haunting spirit and the craftable 522 gear.  Let's have a look at these:






Of course, these weren't added to the game until 5.2 went live in March.  It's hard to see exactly where they've settled over the last couple months unless we zoom in:


Which is still a bit hard to read unless you've it in front of you in your browser.  The short of it is that we're at about 4k per haunting spirit.  That seems to leave a lot of potential for a ten-fold crash in price over a month after the introduction of patch 5.4, if Blizzard decided to treat Haunting Spirits similar to how they treated Blood Spirits.

Of course, that might not happen - Blizzard may do something entirely different.  They've a history of being a bit coo-coo with these sorts of things, and their 'design intent' is about as ephemeral as the ghost of Blackbeard himself.  But given the current information we have, it doesn't seem like the best idea to stock up on 4k gold Haunting Spirits (or even 2k gold ones, for that matter), in anticipation of the patch.

A better idea would be to wait til these start to crash, and get in on them in sort of a "just-in-time manufacturing" sort of basis.  Even with prices in free-fall, you can offload a small inventory a lot easier than you can offload a stockpile.  And the guys who did stockpile will be dumping, but you can bet that once they clear out their stock, they're cashing their chips out and going home - leaving the market all to you.

So keep an eye on it.  Markets aren't 'good' or 'bad' - they're only stable or changing.  And so long as you know which is which and use your brain, you can make gold off either one.  What markets do you think will change in the coming patch?  Have you looked at the data to try to validate your ideas?


Friday, August 2, 2013

We're Now on iTunes!

Hey folks - just a quick update; as of today, episodes of the podcast are now available on iTunes by searching for "Late Nite with Stede" in the iTunes client or by following this link to the iTunes Store online.

Catch up on our three episodes so far and make sure to catch our next one live at 11:59pm Eastern US time on Youtube.  If you can't make it - no worries - hit iTunes (see above) and subscribe and you can listen at your leisure.  Don't forget to leave a review!

A Real Podcast

Hi folks!  I know I said I was taking a break this week, but I've been busy.  In fact, I was so busy that I didn't even have time to do a show!  But I've been working on some improvements around the house here.

In addition to some minor layout improvements, I'm now hooked up on FeedBurner.  I've also managed to secure some good file hosting for the MP3 versions of the podcast, which I have reposted for your listening pleasure - and also so that my RSS feed can pick them up - because tonight I also submitted the podcast to iTunes!

Of course, we all have to wait for our chums at Apple to review the podcast and deem it acceptable for mass consumption, but I'm hoping they'll see I'm a nice guy and not give me any trouble.  Next week, we'll be back to our Monday blog post schedule and on Thursday, at 11:59pm, Eastern US time, I'll welcome special guest PhatLewts of PhatLewtsGold and Co-Host of The Happy Hour Roundtable Podcast with GoblinRaset.  

In addition, I want to mention that I'm always looking for guests for the show with some modicum of goldmaking battlescars to tell stories about.  If you're interested - give me a shout on Twitter @StedeWoW or email me here at LateNiteWithStede@gmail.com

I also want to say thanks again to Medvayne, Zerohour, and Kathroman, for being my guinea pigs on the first few episodes of the show.  And a big thanks to all my early supporters and listeners and (re-)tweeters - I hope you guys will join us in IRC while we record and hang out and ask questions (promise I'll do a better job of working these into the show).  Last I want to thank Synthparadox for putting up with all my nublet questions on podcasting.  Synth is a huge part of the Call to Auction podcast that I did over the last 12 months or so with Euripides and Namssob.  I'm only just now realizing how much work he does behind the scenes.

See you soon, folks!

Late Nite with Stede Podcast - Episode 003 (MP3)

Here's The latest Episode 3 in MP3 format.  That gets us all caught up!


Use the Player above or download the MP3 here.

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 002 (MP3)

Here's Episode 2 in MP3 format.  One more old show to post, and then we're all caught up!


Use the Player above or download the MP3 here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Late Nite With Stede Podcast - Episode 001 (MP3)

Hi Folks!  I'm in the process of finding a paid hosting service so that I can publish mp3 files on the blog and to iTunes - here's hoping it goes off without a hitch!  I've added a link widget to the new RSS feed in the sidebar.


Use the Player above or download the MP3 here.