Oct 7, 2011

Posted by in Blasters, Beggars & Credits | 11 Comments

Blasters, Beggars & Credits: Heart of Darkness, Or Why I’m Playing WoW (For Now)

Some players do it for glory. Some do it for infamy. Some like to accumulate the most points, or explore the far reaches of the worlds they inhabit. This, however, is not a column for those people. This is a column for those people who, quietly or not, enjoy making money so that their digital avatar can sleep on large piles of cash.

So, this article is totally about Star Wars: The Old Republic. I promise. But first…

Let me preface this by saying that I know not everyone reading this cares to read or otherwise have contact with “the other MMO.” I’ll give you this chance to politely decline to read because it will contain extensive allusions to “the other MMO.” We know some people are allergic and break out in hives at even a mention of it, and we are greatly concerned for your health, so please, hit the back button now. You have been warned.

I’m back playing World of Warcraft, for two reasons. First, because my girlfriend missed her dragon. Second, it’s because I wanted to practice auction housing again so I wasn’t totally out of shape.

On my first day back I didn’t resume using all of my add-ons. One of those I left off was Auctioneer (a fine mod, to be sure). And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to. Trust me. That thing basically makes you a gold printing machine.

The server I’m on is (as many realms, these days) seeing a population contraction. That means less people buying, and we’re also nearly at the end of a gear cycle (though the Firelands nerf might mean an uptick, for a time), so it’s going to be hard selling the day-to-day raiding items that people rely on. Plus, the auction sharks are already there, cancelling and undercutting by a copper, fighting to get sales (which, for the record, have ridiculous profit margins over what some raw materials sell for that you would be silly not to bulk buy and prospect). The auto-cancel part is especially hard to deal with as it essentially forces you into the no-win scenario of trying to snipe sales on popular items, leaving you entirely at the mercy of the market.

I love the smell of credits in the morning.

I Get Weaker

In short, the WoW economy on my server is a mess. Which makes it the best sort of proving ground one could hope for!

Remember that TOR will almost certainly not have add-on support at release. This means everyone is back to the same level of use. Which means manually buying, selling, adding, subtracting. No more modifications doing it for you. No more add-ons telling you what is worth selling, what you need to hold onto, what you should make and what you should destroy.

If you are in WoW now, you titans of industry, I highly recommend trying to make money on a low pop server. Because your skills will be weak. Mine were.

It’s sort of like the start of Apocalypse Now. “In this room, I get weaker; and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.” If you’re like me, and planning to drop WoW for TOR, every second you let a mod do your thinking for you, every second you allow an add-on to calculate, is a second you could be doing the parts you will need to be doing – the comparisons, the searches, the views on strong and weak markets, the commodities that are going and then ones that aren’t.

No, I’m not telling you to drop your advantage totally in WoW – you built yourself up, and you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your goblin labors. And I’m not bitter about my challenges – after all, I challenged myself. I am happy to say that, after some expenditures, I’ve started profiting again, without a major blunder. So much so, in fact, that I’m gearing my alts out again in fancy things. But, it took a bit of time to get there.

I wanted a mission, and for my sins they gave me one

A lot of things in the WoW economy are based off the metals. You have three professions that draw from them, and then those tend to filter out to everyone else. The big one, of course, are the gems – both because everyone needs them for gear, and because they are used in specific Jewelcrafting daily quests and to make cheap disenchantable items. Getting a flow of them, it all tends to start with the metals.

So, imagine my surprise of surfing through one day and seeing obsidium ore selling at nearly 60 gold a stack, and elementium, the higher level, selling at 21g a stack. Floored. One red gem can buy me 4.5 or 5 stacks of elementium.

Terminate...with extreme prejudice.

Of course, the gem market is also the one many people flock to, so it’s no surprise that the competition is fierce – and doing it without mods tends to hurt. The auto-cancel and re-post portions of mods are what hurts the most, and I feel that is the area many people are going to struggle with. I think I might deploy some different strategies in the next week, but I am happy to say that on non-raid nights for me (5 days of the week) I can almost keep up with the hardiest of sellers now.

Of course, there are plenty of other markets: enchanting scrolls perhaps being the most exciting. Flasks have taken something of a hit, but herbs still seem to sell well enough, and I have not really fired up the scribe yet, which can be a source as well (albeit erratic).

In SW:TOR, right now we know that most of the professions are, in addition to the items, going to be able to make the modifications for those items. This means that there isn’t necessarily any one gathering profession that will be superior. I think they all will be equally good, when a real economy gets going after launch. Bioanalysis might be hit or miss, but the other ones are all going to directly contribute to the modifications for armor and weapons, which (frankly) are more than likely going to be the bulk of the sales.

Like I said in my RP server analysis, as people gain levels, they might have a look they want to keep; or they might be hardcore guys who find a better piece and need to put in the modifications. Either way, the crafters should make a lot of money aside from their gathering professions, and it won’t be dependent on whether or not they have a specific gathering profession to start.

The hard part is anticipating demand, but at this point we know Force users will be insanely popular, which means Artifice, Synthweaving, and Archaeology will have a large customer base. Of course, it will also have a large competition base – so choose wisely.

The horror, the horror

Of course, not everything has gone to plan. If I put up a bunch of single auctions, I might be selling 1/5 or less of them – before, and especially at the start of Cataclysm, it was more like one-third or half. This means, in a setting where I’m taking long to place auctions, I’m also doing it longer – and it’s taking a toll on my actual real life duties. All that time spent is time well-spent, but I’m actually missing out on some things I’d like to be doing instead (like sleeping) because manual auctioning is a longer process.

Never get out of the boat. Absolutely right. Unless you were goin' all the way. Kurtz got off the boat.

Don’t let my whine fool you, though – I am having fun. A lot of it. A guilty pleasure, if you will.

And frankly, I think it’s a larger play for me: the beginning of TOR is going to be tough. Right now, most people have WoW more or less figured out – what people buy, what you need to make items, what their prices are and so forth. In TOR, everything will change.

Beggar’s Tip: In WoW, “gold” is the highest standard of money. 1 gold piece represents 100 silver pieces; in turn, 1 silver piece equals 100 coppers. Therefore, it takes 10,000 copper to make 1 gold. In TOR, everything is measured in credits. Which have no “higher” or “lower” standard, just credits. My plan is to use that sliding scale to value things in TOR. 10,000 credits = 1 gold; 1,000,000 credits = 100 gold. While I have no idea what the “credit cap” is, I would imagine it would seem unreasonably high, but it probably won’t even touch WoW’s “equivalent” cap, unless it gets numbers like the US National Debt.

This week’s tip is simply to value stuff accordingly. Sure, 1 credit is 1 credit, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be talking about things costing in the millions. “Cheap” things on the auction house will still be a couple thousand credits. Everyone needs to learn the value of their money, but make sure you do so intelligently and not by using something in the hundreds of credits.

  1. You mentioned that because force users will be most popular that certain crew skills will be more popular. I think there is a natural balance though. Since you can only have one production skill per character, that means that you will have to make 3 characters that are force users to utilize all production skills associated: Synthweaving, Artifice, and Armormech. Not to mention the possibility of Biochem for (enchanting), assuming that’s correct. All I am saying is I don’t see any one or two production skills being overwhelming in terms of economy.

    I am just going to start with crew skills that seem the most beneficial to my Sith Inquisitor.

    • Except Synthweaving from what I understood was force users armor.

      That would mean 2 (synth and artifice) tradeskills for force users and 3 (armormech, weaponmech, cybertech) for non force users. If I am incorrect and sythweaving is something else, please correct me.

      Biochem is definately going to be a big hit, it is across both “sides” of the spectrum. Both force users and mundanes have to get their consumeables and implants from them.

      • From my understanding Amortech would cover Bounty Hunter, Warrior, Knight and Trooper. Where as Synthweaving would cover Smuggler, Consular, Inquisitor and Imperial Agent. It may just be my interpretation of what little details there are of the profession skills, since there is very limited information.

        Also this separation in my opinion would be equal throughout the board. If I were designing the game this is the way I would design it. Otherwise you come to the economy problem that was mentioned in the post.

        • Tsandezar says:

          no, synthweaving is for force user armor and armortech is for non force user armor. plain and simple. the annoyance comes that there are exactly 2 crafting skills for force users and 3 for non force users.

          • Please direct me to were it says that all force users were Synthweaving. It says “light armors”, which we know that the Inquisitor, Consular, Smuggler and Imperial Agent are the light armored classes. SO please show me where it specifically states all force users are going to wear Synthweaving.

            They would not create an imbalance on purpose.

  2. I think I’d much rather have a stanglehold on credits being handed out from trash mobs and quest rewards much the way that Vanilla WoW was. When they started dishing out gold via dailies and increased the drop rate of money on mobs to “combat” gold farmers it was a step in the wrong direction. Saying that 10k credits would be equal to 1 gold is a fairly inflated number and I’d much rather see it on a 10:1 basis than 1000 times that.

    I could see the undercutting by one credit take an entire play session as you dwindle down from a million credits just to sell that one item that would be entirely hit or miss at launch since a greater majority of the population won’t be at end game content for a few months (here’s to hoping world/server first isn’t 3 days after launch).

    If indeed the main storyline quests are 200 hours for each class even treating the game like a second job and playing optimally for a straight 8 hrs it should still take around a month (25 days) to complete.

    If you start off devaluing the credit at the beginning the economy has no hope of sustainable growth.

  3. I don’t think that things will have to cost in the millions. Just incredibly high costing gear. The really good stuff. And that’s a maybe.

    Bioware would want to make numbers like that as simple as possible. And making them in the millions wouldn’t do that. And the ratio for money doesn’t have to be the same. Say 50 copper = 1 credit. It may even up numbers more. That way it’s only in the high thousands, only skimming millions…

  4. The idea that Force-users will be much more popular that non-Force classes is profoundly wrong. According to a poll Bioware did on their beta testing forums, each advanced class will have about the same amount of players, with a gap between the most popular and the least popular being about 7%.

    So traders, rest easily.

  5. Darthloath says:

    If any of the mount prices in game that ive heard or read are representative of what bioware thinks will a reasonable investment, a million credits will be plently rich even if its on the low side of the “rich” spectrum.

  6. I like to play the game and use professions to support me all the way. I have played WoW and saw things really strange in the AH, here is an example: 1 item costs 10 silver at any NPC right, and believe me, there were people selling it by 8 silver at the AH.

    /facepalm

    I cant take AH seriously… the “competition” between little boys that are 13 years old and dont understand anything about economy doesnt make sense to me.

    =P

  7. I believe that too many of you are getting way to caught up in “comparing” the TOR credit system to the WoW gold system. I played the AH extensively with, and without auctioneer. I used all of my alts, I worked the “demand” items like nobody’s business. I made thousands upon thousands of gold. In fact, I have well over 37,000g sittin in my currently deactivated account. Anyway, to my point… You all have to look at the credit system from the TOR perspective ONLY. You can’t go and put a comparative gold/silver/copper value on the credits. You need to emphasize the product value to the credits. For instance, if you some dirt farmer on Tatooine going to market to buy bread, do you think you’re going to go back home and tell Martha that you bought three loaves of bread for 10 silver (which comes to something like 100 credits according to the 10k to 1 valuation). No, that won’t work at all. Joe the dirt farmer will come home and tell Martha that he bought three loaves of bread for 7-10 credits from the local market, “which is going to cut into the 170 creds we have to save up to get a new power coupling for the evaporator.” Or maybe Joe might say something like, “Blast it Martha! I should have become a bounty hunter making 1 million creds for blasting some diplomat off his high Tan-tan! At least then I wouldn’t have to listen to you complain about spending to much on bread at the market!!” Come on ya’ll. Put it into context of Star Wars and not WoW. This isn’t, nor will it ever be WoW…it will be better by leap years. I foresee prices listed for items on the Galactic Trade House having several zeros behind them. And, it will make for a VERY competitive market. Besides, we can banter all we want about this, but, the fact is that the first twenty quests are going to establish the currency trade anyway. So, lets just wait and see. May da Schwartz be wit ya.

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