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The Economy Bailout

October 14, 2008

You may have noticed that there are a few (okay, more than a few) aspects of Warhammer Online I’ve barely touched on here at WAAAGH! That’s due in part to not having any fixed plan and talking about whatever strikes me fancy that day, but another reason is because I’ve yet to really delve into those areas of the game. Like mods. Addons. Haven’t done a one. I’m a little wary of slapping in addons into a product that’s only a month off the shelf and patching like crazy, but sooner or later I know I will.

Today I wanted to talk about crafting, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really wanted to talk about Warhammer Online’s economy, of which crafting is one link in that chain.  I think we can all agree that there are some parts of WAR that have been done extremely well, offer deep play, and are on their way to greatness — and then there are some parts that, while they sound good in concept, are more like that second grade kid who the teacher marks “Has Good Potential But Needs To Work Hard” on their report card.  Take trophies, for instance.  Trophies, great idea, but buggy and vague in practice.  I have three trophies on Syp and I can only make one show up, and it’s not in the right spot (and yes, I know all about the little arrows, thank you).

Or crafting and the economy.  Good potential, but needs to work hard.  I would describe the economy in WAR as somewhat below stagnant; I know people use the auction house, but there seems to be a fog of malaise drifting over this game’s economy, where people enter into it and emerge shrugging and going “meh.”  I’m starting to wonder if WAR really wasn’t designed to have a strong economy at all — I recall Mark saying way back when that they were working hard to make this game very difficult for gold farmers to operate, and one way to do that is to put more of an emphasis on bind gear (PQs, quests, etc.), make crafting a fun “hobby” but not a productive industry, and to de-emphasize the role of the auction house as much as possible.  Whatever it is, WAR is suffering from a strong economy, from goods that players really want to sell and buy, and it needs a bailout to get it back on track.

Going down the links of the economy chain:

  • Crafting – Good idea, needs work.  Talisman making is just plain awful and tedious, and I admire anyone who’s stuck with it past where I pooped out at.  The end product of this crafting skill is less-than-thrilling: just minor-to-middling stat boosts.  Apothecary is a little better, and melds well with cultivating, but the very lack of in-game recipes are forcing players to go to out-of-game sources, which kind of defeats the purpose.  I can see dyes as being a much sought-after item, especially when folks have their rank 40 gear they want to pretty up, but other than that Apothecary is all about temporary potions.  Gathering skills also seem a bit lost for purpose… do we really need four gathering skills for two crafts?  Crafting also suffers from a little too much of everything — there’s too many seeds, too many types of same-tier potions, too much clutter in your bags for the dedicated crafter.  I know this is all randomly spewed out here, but I hope that illustrates that crafting/gathering isn’t seen as important, is seen as counter-intuitive at points, and doesn’t really fill a serious niche in the game other than coloring armor, providing stat boosts and producing potions.  Potential fix: talisman making and apothecary need to be retuned and made more useful, and once that’s done, we need at least one or two more crafts in the game.
  • Gear: There’s a lot of non-binding blue and purple gear out there people have been raking in, and a lot of it either ends up in a guild vault or on the auction house.  The problem is, because good gear is relatively easy to come by in PvE (PQs particularly), the AH isn’t really needed.  Perhaps for strictly RvR types who want better gear than what little drops in scenarios and what renown vendors can sell them, but even that is a bit off.  Because nobody crafts gear, the AH sees less use, period.  Potential fix: I dunno… Mythic isn’t going to implement gear crafting, and unless we could start selling formerly-bound gear sets, the AH won’t be the “go to” place to gear up.
  • Non-Gear: This is where I feel Mythic’s “no fluff” approach hurts them — other than gear and crafting components/products, there are no other fields of tradable goods.  You can’t make or sell trophies.  You can’t make or sell temporary abilities, friendship bracelets, titles, non-combat pets, player housing components, gear housing components, or even those quirky little pocket items.  People don’t need ammo, there aren’t any extra siege components they can’t buy at a warcamp vendor, and players can’t market any services through the AH.
  • Auction House: Surprisingly, this functions very well and quickly, and although I wish I could see price histories or whatnot, it’s a very robust tool.  However, it’s linked to…
  • The Mailbox From Hell: Whether it’s lag or a bug or the demonic seed of Beelzebub spawning deep within its depths, the mailbox is one of the most horrid features in this game right now.  Want to see what’s in your mailbox?  Click and wait 30 seconds.  Want to open a piece of mail?  Click and wait 30 seconds.  Want to take an item out of that piece of mail?  Click and wait 30 seconds.  Want to delete that piece of mail?  Click and… you get the picture.  It’s so slow that I’m starting to strap notes on the backs of turtles to get post to their destination faster.  Strangely enough, sending mail seems to go faster, but it’s still too slow to be useful — and without a fast, reliable mail system, wave bye-bye to the economy.  Possible fix: mail needs to be opened quickly, sent quickly, and we should have the ability to send multiple items at once.  Oh, and auction house sales should just go straight into my pocket, as I don’t see a need for having to click to open a note and take my money from there.

Like the too-quiet (limited) chat system, some people might well hail the minimized economy in WAR as a good thing — taking the power away from potential gold farmers, keeping us in the battle more, etc.  But to me, things like the economy are part of the whole world experience, and when it’s restricted, I feel restricted in the game.

If nothing else, Mythic, give me the ability to blow up the mailbox.  Once a day, please?

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19 comments

  1. I have not been able to keep up with crafting, too much fighting to do.


  2. Todays patch changed the mail-system ..at least for me (and i guess for all other EU players there).

    Got no “do you realy want to delete the mail?”, “You haven’t read the mail!” messages when deleting a message from an alt or just the money refund from the auction house. Response time was ok.

    Auction houses need more tweaking. Search options were bugged yesterday. It’s a pain to find something and search refining doesn’t work properly.

    Oh..and before i forget it. I want the “redo”-button at the talisman-window. It’s really a pain to put the ingredients back in, when you want to produce the same talisman more than just once at a time.

    I like the idea of making trophies or siege equipment (maybe just siege equipment buffs .. as the weapons can be bought quiet easily).


  3. Is there governmental laws against tampering with the mail in the Warhammer Mythos?

    I agree about the lackluster economy. I think it will get better over time as more people decide to use the AH to sell leftover/unusable gear. And I will say that making the game less dependant for players to grind/raid for gear is fantastic. But without a larger supply of craftable/usable/worthwhile items….the economy is pretty much doomed by design.

    One idea: Make EVERY main gear item (gloves,boots,head,torso) have talisman slots, this would increase the desire for talisman making, and get some flow of talismans on the AH. (as well as items scavanged.

    Make it so Butchering and Scavanging get the rare chance to find…TROPHIES!!!! (and add the ability make Trophies a crafting choice under talisman making, AND the ability to sell them) The only kicker with this has to be that trophies from tome unlocks (ESPECIALLY RvR trophies) need to look significantly cooler and have more WOW factor.


  4. I think they have missed a trick here on crafting. Which would also address the AH issue. One of the big selling points is the RvR and seiges, and the game allows you to buy all the equipment – cannons, bows, oil, rams etc. To me this seems like the perfect resource/crafting avenue. Sure, keep in very basic seige equipment, but have the ability to craft stronger, bigger etc seige weapons which can only be player made and require basic reasources, tied to the gathering skills.

    It doesnt need to be overly complicated, similiar to how the existing systems are implimented but only accessable at higher levels.


  5. I really like the economy/crafting in WAR because it’s low impact and optional while still serving a role if someone chooses to invest time in it. I play MMO’s to level, fight, and have fun, not work on an Economics minor.

    I really hated nights in WoW where it seemed I would spend more time in the auction house than actually playing, and not because I liked it but because it was essential if I wanted to have decent level appropriate gear, buy new spells, and not be dead broke. I mean I met people who literally spent 95% or more of their time in game playing the auction house like a MMO stock market, usually at the cost of making items/materials much more expensive for everyone.

    For a lot of players an extensive crafting system/economy is just a dull time-sink that they only participate in because they realize not doing so will/could put them at a major disadvantage to others. Thus to institute one in a PvP/RvR centric game could be a bad move and I’m glad mythic didn’t go that route.

    The only revamps to the crafting system I would like to see made are a LOT less clutter, some better streamlining for making lots of the same pots/dyes/talismans, and a buff to talismans(whoever thought talismans that last a few hours to a few days was a good idea needs their head examined). I would call the crafting system perfect if those slight tweaks were made.

    I have no glaring issues with the mail so far, 1-2 second delays at most, I think the trick is to click multiple times (not sure if some clicks aren’t registering or you just need to send multiple requests to the mail server for it to go though). Think of it like a website that is overloaded with traffic and you need to spam F4 to get through 😛


  6. “WAR is suffering from a strong economy, from goods that players really want to sell and buy”

    How is this suffering? Isn’t a strong economy what everyone strives for?

    On my server, Ostermark, the economy from my perspective has been wonderful. The AH shows a constant turnover of goods. People are selling, people are buying and they are doing so at reasonable prices. How is this a bad thing?

    Does crafting need work? Yes. Does the mailbox? Hell yes. But the economy is thriving. A strong economy is a good economy.


  7. I forgot to add that I don’t really like the idea of crafted trophies much since I like the idea that they are cool extra rewards for in game accomplishments that show what your character has achieved. If any player could just buy decent looking ones off the AH, it would really cheapen the trophies that other players worked hard to earn.


  8. @ Risset – D’oh, I meant to type “is suffering from a lack of a strong economy”. Good to hear your server is up and jumping in that department, but it isn’t my experience.


  9. The Auction House is needed. The green gear you can replace every two levels is, in most cases, superior to what you can get from the renown merchant, questing or PQs – bags or influence. The stats tend to be more focused, and the two resists are better than you can get with the single talisman slot the renown gear has.

    The biggest problem is that the Auction House interface is garbage. And I mean that most sincerely. If I set filters to, say, crafting supplies, and get 278 returns, I should be seeing all the crafting supplies in the AH, right? Max returns on a search is 500. Yet, if I narrow the filter down with a keyword, say ‘seed’, I’ll get hits that aren’t included in that 278. This means people can’t reliably expect to meaningful results out. If your ‘Search-Fu’ isn’t strong, you’ll end up thinking there isn’t anything worth buying on the AH. And because of this, auctions will time out, leaving people thinking there isn’t much point to trying to sell on the AH, so they will just vendor the phat lewt.

    The other problem with the AH is the WoW color conditioning. Itemization is screwed, a ‘blue’ item will often be no better than a green, and occasionally worse. But people are trained by WoW to think ‘BLUE!’ ‘PURPLE!’ PHAT LEWT, MUST SELL FOR STUPID PRICES… then wonder why no one buys it. Try comparing it to equal level green items, or at worst green items just +2 levels.

    So, three core problems for the economy: Messed up AH interface, messed up itemization, and pavlovian responses based on item color. Mythic can and must fix the first two. The last one? Time alone can fix that, in those that can learn to overcome it. Most won’t.

    That said, the economy varies from server to server. Averlorn (O) has a decent economy. Ostermark (D) has a horrible one, High prices on the low quantity of items in the AH. Phoenix Throne (O) had a decent enough economy, haven’t been back there in a week or more, so that may not be true anymore.

    The trick with the mailbox is to hit it on off hours. Prime time on a High/High server? Ick. Same server, wee hours of the morning? Workable. Mythic fix plz?


  10. So what’s a good economy look like?

    I made a new rogue in WAR last week. He’s lvl 8. I went into the AH and the cheapest knife was 5 gold for a lvl 8 and below knife. Yeah, if you have a lvl 70 main it’s pocket change but for anyone new to the game that’s a week of doing nothing but saving up for a lvl 8 knife. Not fun.


  11. I keep my Renown maxed out, I choose what PQ’s to do based on the gear rewards, and I try to do as many quests as I can in between these quick scenario queues. That is how I get my gear. Oh wait this is about crafting…. I think I have heard of it…


  12. I thought I’d try and break you down on your mod embargo. I, like you found the mail system to be the bane of my inability to vender anything that isn’t literally vender trash. Two mail mods, still in their infancy – zMailMod and QuickMailTool – have made things almost tolerable. zMailMod is a mass mailer & QuickMailTool is an autolooter/deleter for your inbox and auction mail.
    These mods don’t exactly speed the mail server up any, but at least you can go brew a nice cup of coffee knowing your mailbox is getting werk done!


  13. >> Auction House: Surprisingly, this functions very well and quickly, and although I wish I could see price histories or whatnot, it’s a very robust tool. However, it’s linked to… <<

    If you think the AH functions well and quickly, you must be very, very easily pleased 🙂

    As LtWarhound above says, the AH interface is pretty terrible.

    It looks like there are all sorts of drop down lists to filter by various categories. But look closely at the categories and you’ll see obvious choices missing and choices that don’t make logical sense grouped together.

    Then actually try to find things. You’ll find your category selections are sometimes ignored, sometimes you’ll get no returns even when you know there are matching items. And then there’s a hard limit to the number of matches the AH will do (which, combined with a failure to accurately filter creating larger results than you really want, can mean that some items simply never get displayed via the AH interface).

    Looted gear and crafting mats are enough to drive a lively AH, but the terrible AH interface makes all but the simplest searches downright painful.

    Don’t let the AH slip by with a passing grade, it really needs an overhaul.


  14. For what I’ve used the AH for, it’s worked pretty well. Searches fast, posts fast, etc. But I’ll take a harder look into it, because I haven’t used it except to post crafting components for sale and check them against what’s already posted.


  15. I agree that the crafting system needs a ton of work. They need to add a lot more. Cooking would be a perfect start, making butchering more popular, and food could give a buff, like that other game.

    Armor and weapons, definitely. But don’t make it a smelting/mining like WoW, but go with those games that used the breakdown system, where items you find can be broken down into parts, better items give better parts, those parts can then be used to make new armor and weapons.

    Trophy making would be absolutely awesome. Find a rare item out in the world, and you can use other items to fashion trophy’s out of them.

    I think there is so much more they can do with crafting, and I think it really is very important fluff part that a lot of players enjoy and occupy their time with. Without it, the game feels empty and the economy will never flourish.

    So hopefully along with the other capital cities, the missing classes, all the bug fixes, performance fixes, mail system fix, they are working hard at more crafting skills.

    Cooking should be the first one we see in game next, if I was to guess.


  16. Unfortuanly i have to admit that i have been playing the old AH Game that i left from WoW. I have been selling potions that i make and talismans an alt makes and i maybe get 1 – 2 sales of 1 – 2 silver a day.

    The ecomonamy on my server (ironclaw) from what i can see (and i am no expert) is starting to get better but is very slow and this is mainly from the AH being broke most nights so that you cant search or buy or sell and the mail box being broke. I have spent a whole 5 mins waiting for my mail to be displayed.

    Apart from that the crafting is ok would be nice to acutally know what you are going to make in a potion before you make it. Also would be nice to have a higher length from talismans…

    Just my 2c


  17. maybe if there was a tome unlock for crafting potions and talismans created that way we’d know waht we created and how to repeat it. or is there one already?


  18. Regarding your trophies: I’ve found certain shoulder armor can be buggy displaying the trophies. What worked for me was trying on a generic piece of armor that could show all my trophies, and then swapping the armor with whatever you would normally use. Buggy yes, but thats probly your best shot 🙂 Had this issue with my Stalker shoulders so that’s my point of reference.



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