Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trade Chat: What it is, What it Was and What it Could be

            Trade Chat; what an awesome idea. A single channel that spans all of the major cities of a faction, designated specifically to facilitate trade and spur the growth of the in-game economy. This week I look at the much maligned Trade Chat channel and attempt to put into words What it Is, What it was, and What it Could Be. How this ties in with being a banker is elaborated on in the later section of this post.

What it Is: Ugly (you may want to skip this part)

            Trade Chat is used to harass other players. This abuse is often in the form of an intolerant and bigoted rant or series of comments directed out into the world without having a single target. Sexual / Religious / Political / Philosophical / Racial epithets, derogatory statements, polarizing and inflammatory comments are that most common of all Trade Chat entries. This is the same type of stuff that the “Looking for Group” channel suffered from before the Looking For Group interface was developed.

            Trade Chat is used to play games like the “Murloc” game and the “Link Anal” game. If you are not familiar with them, I applaud your server’s ability to prevent them.

            Trade Chat is used as ground zero for flame wars between multiple boisterous and prolific individuals intent on disrupting the channel as a whole. They claim it is “funny”.

            Lastly Trade Chat is used as a platform for players that are unhappy with the game. They will spend countless hours whining and sniveling about Gear, PVP, Lack of Roleplay, you name it they will complain about it in Trade Chat.

            This is not a rant, this is an observation of multiple realms and their Trade Chat.   

            Most players turn off Trade chat just to avoid this behavior. By turning of Trade Chat these players have eliminated the best method of you, a banker, getting your pitch to them. The other frequently used option is for an individual to /Ignore the offending poster. This once again eliminates a banker’s ability to target their customer base.   

 What it Was: The good old days

Long ago during the expansion-less time known as “Vanilla WoW”, each city had its own auction house they were not interlinked as they are today. Trade Chat was used most often to inform players in other cities of what had been posted for sale. When a nuisance poster, (one that posted any of the previous heading’s contents) would begin spewing their vitriol, many of the users of Trade Chat would instruct the user to leave Trade and take it to General Chat. This was surprisingly effective. Many of the individuals that used trade were relatively friendly as a group, but would harass an offending player off the channel. Trade Chat denizens helped keep the peace on the channel.  

What it Could Be: A pipe Dream

           Trade Chat has the potential to be much more than the sewer it has become. If Blizzard would install a cross cities general, they have the old Looking for Group channel to work with, then Trade Chat could once again become a useful part of the in-game economy. By allowing the Trade Chat population to police the channel by instructing disruptive individuals to go to an appropriate channel, such as a cross cities General Chat, Trade Chat would become once again a center of commerce for the realm rather than the catch all sewer it is currently.

Trade Chat Etiquette: The language of Business

If you have read this far then you may be interested knowing what you as a banker can do to help the situation on your server.
 Uses for Trade
           Link Items for sale. Do this consistently while you are actually banking. It is amazing how often you will get someone that is interested in what you are selling at the time you are selling it.
           Answer questions in reference to the market. When a player wants to know the price of an item fell free to comment. Give them a price. Or if you feel like it discuss the pos and cons of similar items from an economic perspective.
           Advertise your goods and services. If you have a manufacturing skill develop a witty or clever ad that you can macro and announce it every 10 minutes or so, more frequent than that will irritate people and drive off your customer base.
           Transact business deals in the channel. I recently bought 2 Vials of the Sands in Trade Chat. This went over very well and the individual that sold them to me developed more business because of it. A Win - Win situation.
Respectable Trade Behaviors
           Flippant comments are never really appreciated by anybody but the speaker and the cruel hearted. It can rankle a banker to keep their tongue when dealing with a disruptive individual in Trade. Just remember that by handling a negative situation with finesse shows potential customers that you are a level headed and reasonable person.    
           Avoid participating in the The Murloc “Game” or any game for that matter that is not part of the economy. Try to interrupt said games with advertisements, attempts to initiate trade discussions, and requests to the player to take it else where.
           Obnoxious individuals require attention. When they begin filling your Trade Chat with garbage, ask them to leave. If they do not the /Ignore Command is your best choice. Never “attack” such a person in trade, it only empowers them more to be irritating because they know that they are irritating and it makes the happy to know that. When other folks attack them in trade suggest that they also use the /ignore command. Do it in trade so that everyone on the channel realizes that they do not “have” to deal with the disruption. Overtime it will become second nature and the disruptive people will learn that they are not welcome in your Trade Chat.

Advertising in Trade Chat
             Make your advertisement standout through humor or shock. A clever advertisement will be commented on every time if it is not used too much. These comments are free advertisement for you and can easily generate sales.
            Keep your advertisements short. By this I mean use the full complement of a single macro window, 255 characters. That sounds like a lot but trust me is it not. An advertisement for a service with clickable links eats up that limit quickly.
            Be clear about what you are selling / buying / trading. Miscommunications can lead to unhappy people and unhappy people lead to a tarnished reputation as they speak poorly of you to their friends and acquaintances.
            Be respectful and polite to perspective customers, which in Trade Chat is everybody. Individuals that can not be reasoned with are best /ignored. They will not buy from you in person and you do not need to be exposed constantly to their hassles.

When is too much advertising actually spamming
            Advertising once every minute is too much. You will alienate your customer base and lose out on sales.
            Every 5 minutes is also too much. Consider that it takes almost 3 minutes to run through any single city in the game. A few take quite a bit longer than that. People that have trade turned on will have already read your advertisement and are either not interested in it or not interested in it right now.    
            Once every 10 minutes is good, if you are selling a high demand item. This gives enough time for a few new people to wander into the cities and for people that were in the city to have left.  
            Once every 30 minutes I find to be the best. 30 minutes provides enough time for the population in the cities to change by a large percent and some of the new individuals in the cities will comment on your advertisement, garnering extra attention with out having to constantly spam.

Good rules of thumb
            Be polite to the prospective customers, this would be everybody in Trade Chat 
            Avoid using l33t speak, excessive use of abbreviations, and vulgarity as much as possible. This provides you with an air of stability and perceived strength.
            Avoid instigating or participating in arguments with obnoxious individuals.
            Sarcastic “funny” is best reserved for General Chat because it fails to translate well in the text of trade chat.

Vendor Supplied Items

Let us address the Vendor Supplied Items. These items are generally useful to purchase from a vendor and re-sell on the auction house. When we consider the vendors in game maintain items that are for sale, it provides an additional source of products to list on the auction house.

What to buy
What items would be good to purchase from a vendor to place on the auction house? Here is a list of 10 types to start with.

1) Limited Vendor Supplied Items
2) Herbs
3) Ores
4) Pets
5) Cloth
6) Scrolls
7) Patterns
8) Schematics
9) Recipes
10) Leather

See the reoccurring theme here? Practically all the items on that list are required for crafting professions, and each one is most likely going to be available in a limited quantity. As each of the professions needs raw materials to grind up, all of these items are good for that, with one exception, pets. More on pets in a later post.

What not to buy

Now you are wondering. “Well what should I not buy off a vendor to sell on the auction house?” Conveniently enough here is a list of 10 items to not buy.

a) Unlimited Vendor Supplied Items
b) Reagents
c) Engineering Ink
d) Vellum
e) Wood
f) Thread
g) Vials
h) Common Spices
i) Armor
j) Weapons

I hear you now “But if the Armor and Weapons are a limited item shouldn’t I buy them?” The answer is, “No”. The listing fee, plus your purchase fee, will be far greater than you can actually expect to receive when auctioning the items. With the exception of Armor and Weapons the items in the list are unlimited in quantity and have very limited uses. Not to mention that all of them are available in every city and most towns in the world.

Gauging Salability  

Four criteria are to be considered when listing these items in the auction house.
a) Availability
Is the item already up on the auction house for less than you want to charge for it? If the answer is yes, don’t list the item.
b) Base Cost of the item
Is the price to purchase and list the item more than you expect to make in profit? If the answer is yes, don’t list the item better yet don’t buy that item.
c) Level to use the item
Is level of the item consistent with the amount you expect to charge?
If the answer is no, reduce the price or do not list the item.
d) Frequency
How often will the item you are selling appear on the auction house?
If your answer is, “it’s there everyday” don’t list the item.

So at this point you have determined that you have items that are going to sell. What should you charge for them? How will you know you are making the most of your investment? Simple, if you make 100% of the cost of the item pulse the listing fee you have made a profit. So if the item costs you 25 silver and you sell it for 50 silver you make a profit of 25 silver. It is conceivable that you can charge more for an item, for price suggestions there are several sites with dedicated data bases for the game. I recommend wowhead.com .

Ramifications of Selling Vendor supplied Items
A segment of the gaming population disagrees with the selling of vendor items. There is nothing you can do about that. You are servicing the people that are not interested in making the trip out to the vendors you farm. They are the ones that are going to buy your products. The funny part is that these are some of the same people that will give you grief for selling the vendor items.

Here are some good results that come from selling the vendor items. More availability of the items in a larger section of the population leads to more demand for resources. Better distribution of the items in the general population. And of course you will make your profit and that’s why you play a banker.

Several unpleasant behaviors develop from this practice as well. Vendors with items that are in relatively high demand are camped, sometimes by bots. This makes it hard for non-bankers to get the same products. These bots can snatch the items you are trying to buy while you are trying to buy them, it has happened to me on more than one occasion.

Then of course there is the dumping of vendor items on the auction house in an effort to destroy the market. Some times this has a side effect of making the items cheaper to buy off the auction house than from the original vendor... Yes there are stupid bankers.

Banker Race, Class & Professions... Why?

I have found that many players never consider the ramifications of their selection of Race, Class, and Professions when creating a Banker.Let’s spend a little time to familiarize ourselves with some of the benefits of the traits needed for a banker. Remember “Time is Money Friend” and speed is a consideration for any banker.

Your race has a few influences on your banker. Your start location is only a factor as to how far you will have to run. The racial abilities are what are important here. The selections are as follows, Humans and Draenei for the alliance, Blood Elves, Tauren, and Goblins for horde. Yes I have completely excluded the rest of the races as they have no influence on a banker’s requirements.

Humans are the first choice for the alliance because of their bonus to faction ability. Their ability to grind up faction quickly reduces the fees that humans pay to the auction house.

Draenei receive a bonus to their jewelcrafting skill, and that is a very nice thing to have except it at the high end all jewelcraftes can end up making the same things.

Blood Elves’ racial ability of a bonus to enchanting is the single best racial for the horde, where a banker is concerned, although just as with the Draenei, it suffers at the high end. 

Tauren bankers have two advantages. One is that they have the bonus to herbalism, the second is that the Auction House and mail box are both outside and within eyesight of each other. This allows a mounted banker to travel rapidly between both locations.

Cataclysm introduced the Goblins, a race that has the advantages of faction pricing. This race gets the best prices from vendors. When selling vendor acquired commodities this is the race to be when you buy it. 

The class of your banker opens you up to a world of possibilities... if you choose the right class. Four of the classes are to be considered for the role of banker; Mage, Shaman, Rogue, and Hunter. Each of these has a useful skill set that can benefit a banker. Can each of the other classes be a banker? Yes, but their effectiveness is hindered in that they do not have the advantages that support the role of a banker.

In my not so humble opinion the Mage is the single best class suited to being a banker. The reason for this is simple; as you play your banker in the game the mage class gains the Teleport and Portal abilities. What better way to get to your customers than by porting to them to take their money or being paid to send them somewhere else.

Shaman bankers are severely limited in their teleporting ability to their hearth city though this can be a slight advantage if that city is Shattrath or Dalaran. This is useful though more limited than the teleport used by the mage.

Rogues as bankers benefit from their lock-pick abilities. Vast sums of money can be acquired using your lock-picking. Now that there is no longer a need to raise it incrementally this has become a much better source of income. Because you are a banker you will spend a lot of your time in a major city, people always need somebody to open those boxes, for the right tip ofcourse.

The last class to be considered for a banker is the hunter. This is simply because the hunter has the ability to farm items and resources rapidly with the use of their pet. Hunters are the best farmers for resources like ore, herbs, and leather. Their pet can be off killing something while the hunter is skinning, digging, or picking weeds.

The concept of “it takes money to make money” is true for professions, though it takes comparatively little money to make large amounts of money in game. A banker in the mood to make money will have two of the following professions.

Enchanting / Disenchanting ---> Perhaps the single most useful skill set, as a banker with this skill set you can make money enchanting or breaking enchanted items. If you have items that you cannot sell on the auction house you can disenchant them and sell the dusts, essences and shards.

Jewel Crafting / Prospecting---> Prospect ore for gems to place on the auction house or to prospect ores supplied by customers and charge a fee. Create items and sell them of course. When paired with Enchanting this skill set makes a banker extremely versatile. Create items that can be sold, or by destroy those items and sell the results.

Mining / Smelting---> Mining is the most useful gatherer skill set. The ability to mine and smelt the ore provides some of the most used resources in the game and therefore the highest priced resources in the game. Gems are gathered while mining. Gems, ore, stone, and the bars from smelting all sell very well on the auction house.

Skinning & Herbalism ---> as gather professions these two are a guaranteed method of generating gold on the auction house.

All the rest of the professions in the game consume the resources generated by the previously mentioned professions. This makes the rest of the professions less viable to making a profit and therefore not good selections for a banker.

So when you decide to make your Banker take into account the Race, Class and Professions, just as you would when playing a Meat Shield, Glass Cannon or Healbot.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Me, Myself, & I, the story of a Banker

     Let me introduce myself. My name is Derbanker. I began life as many bankers do, as an “Alt” to support other characters and our guild. The guild to which I belonged was “Orgrimmar Irregulars”. We were a small guild and the idea of a Guild banker was decidedly off putting to some. The guild banks did not exist yet and some folks were fairly paranoid of a guild banker.

     At the time of my creation on Kirin Tor, the realm was new, and I was fresh and new to World of Warcraft. I resided on Kirin-Tor for a long while. I found that being a bank alt, especially one that I played more than my “
Main”, was fun and the making of in game currency simple and easy. I leveled up in my spare time and by the release of Burning Crusade I was a whopping level 50, yes I was not in a hurry to level to 60. This prevented me from moving in to the outlands directly but money has a way of making things happen and I found myself firmly ensconced in Shattrath, and finally in Dalaran with the release of “Wrath of the Lich King”. In the years I have been playing World of Warcraft I have moved from Kirin-Tor, to Farstriders and this is my current base of operations. As of the current time I support 16 characters on both sides of the conflict. If you happen to be on Farstriders at any point drop me a line and say hello.

     You might be asking, “So why should I bother to listen to the ramblings of a bank alt?” The answer is simple it’s free, its game related and you might find a nugget of something useful. Perhaps you will feel the need to correct me on a subject and in the process I learn something. Over all it wastes nothing but time, and if you enjoy it, can it really be called a waste?

     Why would I be doing this for free when there are sites that do the same thing for a fee? Think of it as my method of playing the markets. If the information on how to make in game currency is available for free, the content of the auction houses will hopefully be more versatile and perhaps the environment of play will be better.

     For the record, I am not a “Gold Farmer”, in the sense that I make gold and sell it to other people. I play the game and part of that game play is the accruing of in game currency. I certainly do not sell in game currency and in no way will I condone such action.

     Should you feel the need to contact me my e-mail address is derbanker@rocketmail.com
  Feel free to send me an in game tell, mail or send me an E-mail. I am always open to speaking with people about most subjects, assuming of course I have some thing to say about them.

Back in October of 2009 I started a blog about being a World of Warcraft Banker, 3 entries into it things fell apart. This is an attempt to restart that blog.