Monopolism: Little Changes - Great Effect

Sometimes little changes in WoW go unnoticed until they hit the crowds. There is no uproar or even bad comments about this small little change: disenchanting items of a certain level now need a certain skill level to do so. So you need skill 225 to disenchant epics.

Whats the deal? First many players had disenchant twinks. They sent all their greens and blues they don't need and aren't soulbound to him to be disenchanted, selling the essences. You only need skill one to do so, in fact you can skill all the way up to 75 by simply disenchanting stuff.

Many power gamers with tons of epic armor sets in their bank are sometimes reskilling an easy to learn skill like herbalism or mining for disenchanting. They clean up their bank, sell the nexus or essences, and reskill to the original. Expensive? Worth it.

Now thats history with the new patch coming in.

What does it mean for gameplay: you need a good enchanter with you on raids, otherwise you loose considerable money for BOP items you don't need. For big raids never a problem, but for random raids? You trust ONE enchanter to keep all the essences and distribute them afterwards? Not me. I can see some bad stories coming up here.

The major point however is this one: the enchanter now controls a monopole. Let me explain: Blacksmiths need ore. So they skill mining and supply themselves, or can buy the supplies from another miner or the auction house, easy.

An Alchemist need herbalism to find the herbs he needs for potions, or someone else does it.

What about Enchanters. They have both in ONE skill. They are the ONLY ones who can make their raw material with the same skill they do the echantments.

This means basically that essences will get VERY expensive as they are the only ones to create them, and control who gets them.

The price will skyrocket. Most essences in the auction house are from disenchant twinks or random raids who sell their essences from their runs. This will be reduced considerably as not all random runs have Enchanters with them. In fact not very many do enchantment anymore as the skill doesn't earn enough money as herbalism or alchemy does. So essences will get rare, prices will skyrocket.

The current price drop in nexus crystals for example is temporary. Its fueled by the Burning Crusade expansion as new enchants are intoduced who no longer need nexus crystals. But see this: when those are being used and supply are short level 60's will need nexus again, and prices will stablize, but at a much higher price than before.

All this could be prevented or made "fair". Let the Enchanter disenchant in the trade window. Of course BLizard never implemented this as it will be abused to its extreme. Thats the primary reason Blizard doesn't allow it. Let me give Blizard a suggestion, free, I won't charge for it :)

Let enchanters create power orbs which have x charges. They can sell those to other players. Orbs have the power to disenchant one item per charge. Orbs can be made with various levels for the item levels in question.

Simple. Effectice, prevents the abuse Blizard fears. But destroys the market value of enchanters.

I made my choice. I am skilling my enchanter now. I want to be part of the monopole. Lets make money with the system ^^


My T1 Item XYZ doesn't drop!

(replace XYZ with any item you are waiting for)

Sereral MC or BWL runs moan about drop rates of certain items. Many classes wait for their T2 legs to drop at Ragnaros or the Priests for their epic quests, or the hunters for theirs. It depends on raid and is totally different for each which items or set items they are waiting for.

Common in these raids are the fixed raidleaders and loot masters, ie. they are usually the same person.

I will leave theory behind this on the side because it would be too technical and boring, but fact is that changing the raidleader and lootmaster BEFORE ANYONE enters the instance will change the loot composition. It has been tested and proven by some guilds. You can't predict loot this way, thats not possible, but you can increase the random factor.

So if you are in one of those raids where certain items never drop simply do this:
Load the person you want to be the loot list initiator (lets call him LLi) first, give him lead and he should give himself the loot master. Give the raidleader an (a) to allow him loading the rest of the raid.

Stay with the loot master until the first boss kill. After that he can give back the lead and loot master to the real raidleader.

Change this person as often as possible. Remember which person seems to drop the best loots and retest. Let him be that LLi for three runs and see if thats consistent.

You don't believe this? Let me give you some examples.

We only have seen the hunter epic quest item (the leaf) in Major Domus chest for a long time. Priests were pretty demoralized by this. So we changed the LLi and the priest epic quest got back to its normal 50/50 chance and all our priests now got their nice epic staff now.

The hunters never ever saw their T1 helmet drop, only ONCE in over 20 MC runs. We changed to another LLi and we got lucky: he pulled out the hunter T1 helmet from Garr. Everytime this one person is the LLi we get a high chance for hunter items (and some other classes, but the rareness of the hunter items was obvious).

We have one mage as LLi. Everytime he is raidlead and loot master we get a much higher percentage on random T1 drops than any run before. We usually found none, one or two. When he is the LLi we find 5-8 on every run. Our guild bank is pretty rich now because it allows us to sell those excess items as most classes now got their non bound T1 items full.

Before you dish this article as "can't be true" please try it yourself. As I said its IMPORTANT that the LLi is loaded first and enters, if possible, the instance first. If you are interested in details why this is happening let me know and I can post an article about the theory behind this.


Burning Crusade - Bad Design?

As mentioned earlier I play Burning Crusade (BC), the expansion of World of Warcraft, since alpha. I play it with mixed feelings, not only because I have to do it all over again when it launches (all my data will be erased), but because I feel it has design flaws.

An expansion should expand the universe it needs to tie into the existing world. It needs to expand on concepts which where successful in the first one. Currently when I play BC I have the feeling of playing 2 games in one, separated, not even joined.

It starts with the fact that you have to enter BC through a Dark Portal. You are being teleported to it. It continues on the world map: while the two contents where visible on the map and a click apart the new one appears as a separate entitiy outside of the old continents.

And my feeling of separation continues with the details. Let me give one example. If you need resources for your skill (enchanting as an example) you need resources found by disenchanting stuff of the level of the enchantment. No biggy here. In BC you do the same, but if you skill over 300 the "old" reagents you needed are forgotten. You expect you might use the high reagents like nexus crystals for at least some enchantments, but you don't. Its like a cut. Over the skill of 300 you need new ones ONLY found in BC.

What about the guilds who saved their valuable nexus for their enchantments they desparately need to beat the instances? They are now placed like in the middle of nowhere. The effects are already being felt in the old world: nexus prices dropped from like 25g+ down to 15g in the past 2 weeks. They won't be needed anymore as the new enchants are of course better.

Lets take a look at mining. You mine ore and smelt them to metal bars. Many skills need those rare metals to build fantastic weapons and armor. So I expected that the most sought after bars "Elementium bar" will be used for some high end items in BC.

But no. You don't need them at all. You only need rare metals found - you guessed it - in BC exclusively. In case you don't know: to smelt elementium bars you have to gather 10 arkane crystals (another item whic BC doesn't need at all) and smelt the elementium ore -which you can only find as an epic drop inside the Black Wing Lair. On top of that you only learn to smelt elementium by mind controlling a gnome inside BWL. My raid guild collected a lot of these to prepare to build the super powerful weapons.

The whole design of the dependencies was awesome in WoW. If you wear such a sword of power you are a hero. You worked for it, a raid guild worked very hard for it.

When BC comes the awesome weapon becomes a worthless toothpick. Your elementium ore becomes worthless, already dropping in price form 500g down to 120g, and no one wants it.

Why did Blizzard do this? Why at least could some rare materials not being used for BC items? Elementium Ore/Bars, nexus and arcane crystals, all worthless soon? The wealth we worked for so hard is now beaten to death by BC. Is that fair? No it isn't.

Of course there are exceptions, and VERY bad ones too. Dreamfoil is the most expensive herb you can find. It is needed by raid guilds for all sorts of potions they need to beat MC, BWL, AQ40 and Naxx. Replacing it by a new one would make sense right?

No, they did break their rule. Some of the high end potions need dreamfoil still, like the Super Healing Potion. Why did they do this just to dreamfoil and not to the other materials I mentioned?

Ask the designers. I don't know, but somehow they want to create a two class community: the ones with BC and the ones without. The separation will be so intense that people might be forced to buy BC just because otherwise WoW wouldn't be a complete game.

From experience of other expansions of MMOG's (like the original Everquest) Blizzard doesn't need to worry about selling the expansion to their customer base: over 80% will buy it anyway, thats the number each MMOG showed when launching expansions. Hell, there is Guildwars, a game only based around making money with expansions as they don't even charge a monthly fee.

What does this mean for us? Throw out your valuable stuff, sell now. Empty your raid guild bank and sell that crap, it will be worthless 3 month after BC shipped. Who needs a +15 resist enchant (needing 2-3 nexus crystals) anyways if there is a better one someone from BC can do to your item?

Of course there might be another behaviour coming in: as the high end material becomes cheap more players can actually afford those enchants or weapons, armor whatever. We will see.

I personally don't like the separation they put into those new skills. In case you want to check your skill and what material it needs check http://www.thottbot.com, click beta and look up your trade skill on the left. Not all recipes has been found yet, but the glimpse you get will tell you what items will loose value, and which don't.

I wished Blizzard would have tied in everything we worked for so hard into BC in a much better way. Why not leaving Elementium (as an example) in there? For a level 70 guild its easy to beat BWL, so farming it there would be easy and fun. My bet is that BWL will be an empty haunted place soon. Bliz can turn off the BWL servers and no one would notice.

Now they simply cut the world in half. Forget what you needed in WoW, you need all new stuff and we will live in the new Outlands for a long time, as only there you will find what you need to enchant, tailor, cook or whatever you do while waiting for the PvP to tick in.

I can't Wii

I can't wait to hold my Wii in my hands. Yes I admit it, I am a Nintendo fanboy. I own all Nintendo consoles since they exist and love each of them. Some people in the world are luckier than us europeans though. I even drool over the images other people post unpacking the beauty.


Update on my downloads

I just made a quick translation of my talk I held in 2001 about the 5 year cycle of the gaming industry. Just use the quicklink to your right to find it.


Publishers are stupid (in Germany at least)

I just don't get it. The marketing people of German distributors are just stupid, plain stupid. I am talking about covermounts. In case you don't know: in Germany most major magazines have one or more full games on their DvD. Thats right, a full game for the price of a magazine. You also have to be aware that German magazines sell far more than any other counterpart worldwide (ok, lets talk western world, I don't know about Asia). The largest magazine has a circulation of well beyond 500.000 sold copies ... each month. And yes, they have a FULL game on top of every DvD.

When this started a couple of years ago (PC Player invented that here I think 1995?) usually older games where on the CD/DvD. That was during a time when a one year old game really looked a year old. The graphic advancement in technology was much faster back then. Today the visual quality doesn't jump tremendously like it did in the past. A game which was high end last year also looks pretty good this year. Even some games 2 or more years old still look decent.

Of course there is money behind it, magazines pay a lot of money per covermount. However it is the publishers decision WHEN the covermount is being released.

What happened this month? Neverwinter Nights 2 is being reviewed and the launch hype is there with widespread advertising (6 page ads? Wtf!). And PC Games has Neverwinter Nights 1 on their covermount while their sister magazine has the Add On on theirs. Do marketing people REALLY believe this helps sales for NWN2? Do they actually PLAY their games?

Someone who doesn't know NWN (yep there are some out there) and actually starts to play NWN won't play another RPG for weeks, if not months. Its that big, its huge, and a very good RPG on top. And he gets it for $5. And he gets a magazine on top. Or is it vice versa? Who knows.

Publishers, listen. Dont covermount your primary IP when your sequel is going to hit the shelf. It hurts. Believe me. Ask your gamers. Ask your audience. Thats a stupid decision you made, and its not the first time you did so. Every year you loose customers, destroy the value of high end games in the mind of your customer.


My Industry Talks Online

I added another link on the sidebar which leads to a simple website with downloads of my talks as PDF files. I am pretty active in the development community in germany and talk on most conventions as eithe rkey note speaker or roundtable moderator. I also talk in front of other industries to give them more insight what crazy stuff we do and to remove the many prejustices they have.

Just follow the link http://www.teut.net or use the one on the sidebar if you're interested.


Jewelcrafting - Moneymaker for everyone?

I am in the beta. I admit it. I enjoy discovering new things although I have to repeat that experience again when BC officially ships.

Jewelcrafting is the big hype on the beta servers as everyone wants to try out the new ability. I won't reskill simply because enough of my raid will do so and can provide me with the wonderful things Jewelcrafting is going to do for us. Jewelcrafters will make good money offering their services.

One misunderstanding which doesn't quite have been cleared: you can socked your items YOURSELF as long as you have access to the jewels. Resocket them will destroy the jewel and you need a new one. In the beta there is a NPC which sells basic jewels but my guess is that he will disappear for the BC launch. He is there simply to test out the socketable items.

As jewelcrafters need a lot of basic resources the prices of these items will skyrocket for a while. Imagine: 12.000 accounts average per server will create demand for at least 1000 jewelcrafters out there. So if you need 100+ copper bars to skill the first few points thats 100.000 bars right there per server. They need a lot more basic resources to skill even further. Funny things like gems and perls, even Troll flasks will be needed.

I am buying my auction house empty of those things if the price is right and stockpile them. I am not ashamed that I will make considerable money with my knowledge I gained through participation in the beta. You can do so as well. Simply browse the recipes posted on the many sites like http://thottbot.com or http://bcspy.bc.funpic.de. Browsing http://wowinsider.com also helps.

So login and buy those things even if you consider NOT skilling jewelcrafting.

Metal bars will be in hot demand for a long time. Not only for jewelcrafting. Armor Smiths or Weaponsmiths can create items now which are far superior to the old ones. And they need tons of stuff for those. Good news for miners.

In other words: its good to read all those sites with news about the beta to anticipate the demands of the new recipes and make business with them. All perfectly legel to finance your new flying mount you are going to need at level 70.


Gaming Theory

or why computer games like we know them die

Gaming theory is old, pretty old. Older than Pong. It discusses reasons why we play, and how we play. What use do games have for us anyways? If you go back in time games where educational to teach kids the tools for survival in the real world.

If you watch small cats play they actually train fighting for the life when they have grown up. The same gameplay existed for human kind when we still lived in caves or huts.
Of course games evolved since then, but the basic principle never changed: two or more humans play with or against each other under certain rules.
Since humankind existed those rules never changed ... until recently (counting the timespawn I call it recently): the computer games arrived.

Lets talk about pong: two players sat together, threw in a quarter (0.25 Dollars for you foreigners) and played against each other in front of one machine. That machine had one screen and two sticks to steer a paddle in order to hit the ball into the other players area. This game didn't violate the game theory rules.

It changed when games came along where you could play alone. Space Invaders for example let you shoot aliens out of the sky and you alone sat in front of the machine and had fun ... sort of.
They became big, very big. Some arcade machines tried to squeeze 4 or more people in front of one screen (remember Gauntlet?) with good success. Larger arcades later could network four to eight of those machines together and fit up to 16 people into one game.

The computer games however never could do this. It has only one keyboard and one mouse if you forget the "old" times where you could connect 2 joysticks on one PC. They became never popular however.

So the PC became big in single player games. For years. Forgotten was the fun how much more a human being can add to a game. Until ... the internet arrived.

The internet connected each PC of the world to one huge network. Multiplayer games appeared and became popular. First and foremost shooters (so called FPS, for First Person Shooter) like Counterstrike, Doom, Quake and the recent Battlefield series.
But shooters usually are the first genre to go into new territories as they are the most simple game mechanic you can put into a game (destroy everything).

Then MMOG's arrived with Ultima Online (see www.owo.com) being one of the first successful ones. But was it the first? Actually no. But thats a point for a later topic. Ultima online had over 250.000 people playing at its peak of success.
Everquest came and doubled the number, being the first (western) MMOG to beat the 500.000 mark of active players. Lineage from Korea beat it hands down with over 2 Million online players. Two million, thats 2.000.000. Thats nothing compared to the success of World of Warcraft (or WoW): over 7 (seven!) million people playing it.

But is it the largest MMOG of the world? No. Financially yes, maybe, but let me tell you: in China there is a MMOG with 25 million subscribers. Woah. Thats more than the population of small countries. But hey, it only runs on mobile phones. No joke, and it costs only $1 per month. Still it boasts the largest number of subscribers.

Will this be the end of success? The CEO of Blizzard thinks so, he said the market is saturated, no room for more MMOG's. Boy how wrong he will be. In 5 years time we will have the first MMOG to beat the 50 million mark. I bet. And it wont be the only one. We are still in the stone age to discover what to do right and wrong with MMOG's. There will be far more exciting possibilities in the future what we can do in those virtual worlds.

What does MMOG mean for the game theory? Well the old style of games is back. Play with and against each other. The ultimate form of games what we do since the stone age.
If you consider the length of time where games came from the single player games are just a blimp on the time line. And they will stay a blimb, nothing more. In fact from my point of view (and many others in the industry) single player games like we know them will be a niche market in five to ten years.

Why? Well first and foremost all electronic devices in 10 years time will be online. Your PC is already, otherwise you can't read this. Your mobile phone certainly is. Your TV will be soon, your next gen Video Game will be (Xbox 360, Wii, PS3). In 10 years all devices will be online as soon as you turn them on.

So when games appear they can by default connect to a huge community out there ... and connect you. It is the deep game "lust" we have when playing with humans.
IF you play World of Warcraft you will see that the players actually are the reason you continue playing, not necessarily the game itself. Thats why so many very old MMOG's are still alive. With old graphics, game content everyone knows and old game mechanics those games still survive, some with 200.000 players online. They survive because of the human beings playing in those worlds.

It is key to understand that we want to play with people. Its so much more than a computer with Artificial Intelligence can give. In fact its so much more than people who play online games for a longer time stop playing offline games. Very rarely they buy a high end hit game and play it ... for a couple of hours until they miss the human factor and go back online.
Good bye single player games. We grew up with you, we will miss you, but we will have so much more in the future.


Burning Crusade BETA

Heute kam die email das ich in die Beta kann. Und ich darf drüber schreiben, da kein NDA mehr notwendig ist. Da die Beta startet zerschlägt dies die Gerüchte das BC gar nicht mehr kommt dieses Jahr - ergo ist der 27. November wahrscheinlicher geworden.

Ich werde vor allem über Jäger schreiben und meine Erfahrungen mit den neuen Talenten. Falls Ihr spezifische Fragen habt einfach kommentieren und ich suche nach Antworten :)

2 GB download ist recht heftig, vor allem muss man WoW installiert haben um das zum Laufen zu bringen. Nur habe ich mein Rechner gewechselt und einfach das WoW Verzeichnis rüberkopiert. Also das ist schlecht wenn das so bleibt in der Endversion, da wohl viele - statt sich den Patch Marathon anzutun - die WoW Version einfach archiviert haben.

Man kann zwar das Original installieren, und dann die gepatchte drüber kopieren - das geht auch, aber eine Lösung stellt das wohl nicht dar für die Kunden.

Mehr zur Beta in Kürze.


The Lost Music of WoW

Many players who start WoW turn off the music at some point. The reasons are manyfold. The music disturbs the audio feedback you need for failed spells, parry etc. and if you quest in one area for a long time the music simply gets repetitive.

However even when you reach level 60 you never turn it back on ... and miss a lot of good music and athmosphere. I turned it back on and visited areas where I have been without music and to my astonishment it is pretty good. In fact when I fly the music actually makes sightseeing even more exciting as it changes for every area I fly over. I pretty much prefer the music over the orc or horde areas which are pretty different from the tunes you hear when flying over alliance territories.

The music also adapts to combat and instances. Fighting a Boss is thrilling with the added tunes, believe me.

Try it out and let me know what you think of the lost art of WoW music.


Berühmt sein in WoW

Irgendwie musss man schon was Besonderes oder Verrücktes machen um berühmt zu werden in WoW. Hauptsächlich passiert das durch das Internet. Irgendwer postet was auf seine Webseite oder sogar in YouTube und bahm, alle wissen davon. Beispiele gibts ja genug wie den Imbadin, ein Paladin der soviel Damage raushaut das man es ihm bis heute nicht glaubt.

Heute stolperte ich über jemand neues. Dem war WoW langweilig und er brauchte eine Herausforderung. Seine Idee: Nackt spielen. Nicht wirklich, also im Spiel meine ich: Ohne Rüstung. Wie weit er kam? Er ist level 60 geworden .... aber lest selbst (englisch): http://ntproject.blogspot.com/

Why in english?

Gute Frage. Warum soll ich in Englishc schreiben wenns in Deutsch auch geht, ich weiß es nicht. Ich bins gewöhnt von der Arbeit her da wir international arbeiten. Nur ein Blog über WoW auf einem Deutschen Server in englisch halte ich nicht für sinnvoll. Also her damit.

Und die Rechtschreibfehler einfach behalten. Ich schreibe in Englisch leider besser als in Deutsch. Aber was solls :)

Ich habe Kontakt mit einer Redakteurin von 3Sat die selbst WoW spielt. Zudem hat sie noch ein Blog, einfach mal reinschauen in die Welt einer Spieleredakteurin:


So, auf an die Arbeit.


Quick words

Before I start boring you with my background I wanted to link some websites I visit daily about my favourite hobby: World of Warcraft. Lets start with some blogs or news style pages which nicely informs me about news of WoW from all over the world:

WoW Insider: http://www.wowinsider.com/

Although a little bit too much advertising for my taste their site links to news from the internet and also have nice summaries about important postings of GM's in the forums. I easily miss many of these as I found Blizards forum software pretty slow and bad. They also come up with interesting topics and the user comments on these give me new insights on those. Its always fresh to read other peoples opinions to compare with yours. Often I find their comments inspiring and see my opinion in a new light.

The other site worth mentioning is from a german fellow (but blogs in english) who has an excellent blog about WoW: Tobolds blog.

You can find his blog here: http://tobolds.blogspot.com/

His english is excellent and his articles about WoW always interesting and inspiring. His blog was the reason why I started my own. I hope I can keep up with news and interesting things for you to read.

And of course the DKP site from my raid guild. If you dont know what DKP is (originally from eqdkp, see http://eqdkp.com/): it is a website and database driven system to coordinate your raids and points you give to your members. With these points they bid on loot from the instances. Its a pretty fair system but has its odds and ends, but thats a topic for another discussion.

You can find the Holy Warriors dkp here: http://www.kreative-machart.de/kundenprojekte/eqdkp/viewnews.php?s=

Sorry for the odd link, it will soon be changed to dkp.holy-warriors.de

In case you are wondering: I play a level 60 hunter on Proudmoore (EU), a PvE server. I play with my girlfriend every evening and she has a level 60 rogue and a level 60 warlock. And yes, she plays far more often than I do.

I am one of the raidleaders and pull our raid through MC, BWL, Zul Gurub and AQ20. While the MC and BWL raid was build up by the core members I personally pulled and trained the raid for Zul Gurub until we reach farm status there. My investment into the raid was the key reason why the raid leaders appointed me to that position now. But again, I will post some news about our raid here soon. In case you don't know what all those abreviations are: I will post some interesting tidbits form a talk I made in Berlin soon what these are and what influence they have on the real life of millions-


Well, inspired from all sorts of Blogs I finally started and created my own blog site. I have choosen this one simply because my mail account is on gmail and another well done blog is on this one as well (Tobolds WoW blog: see http://tobolds.blogspot.com/).

As I am part of the game industry and I am addicted to MMOG's since I joined the Ultima Online beta in 1996 (see http://www.owo.com/) expect to see most posts about those two topics, the center of my life since ever I typed my first words on my Pet 2001 in 1981.

I will shortly post my bio and add some content about my game industry past.

Cheers until then.

Teut Weidemann