Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 11, 2009
Semi-afk in patch 3.3

We have been discussing recently that for some activities in World of Warcraft, like scanning the auction house, posting hundreds of glyphs, or emptying your mailbox, you don't need to watch your screen. You can do it semi-afk. You can wander off and do something else, read a book, watch TV. Or you could alt-tab into a web browser. Not any more. I noticed yesterday that patch 3.3 had changed the way addons like Postal or Auctioneer work: They now stop working if you alt-tab out of WoW.

You can still go semi-afk and leave WoW on top of your screen. But if you want to anything else with your computer, and get another application into the foreground, your semi-afk business will grind to a halt. Makes me think that Blizzard wasn't all that happy about semi-afk gameplay.

I would have proposed a better solution: Limit the number of auctions a character can have to 100. That is large enough to not hinder any normal playing activity, but would put a stop to the "posting 2,000 glyphs" businesses. That is, if these changes were actually meant to stop the mass-production business. Maybe they were aimed at other activities, like botting? I don't know. But not being able to alt-tab out while scanning the AH is a bit annoying.
Does it just stop running certain addons or does the entire UI halt when you alt-tab out? Try running WoW in a window and check whether the screen is updated or the sounds are played when the WoW window is not active.

If it's the latter, it's probably just an unintended consequence of an unrelated optimization. Some developer just thought that there would be no point in wasting power in updating the UI if the user can't see the UI in the first place.
When are we supposed to read blogs and forums?
Limiting the number of auctions per character will drastically decrease AH supply which will only result in higher prices. Why would you want to stop mass-production anyway? Cheap stuff for everyone, what else do you want?
Playing a game semi-afk is basically the same as botting, so that's probably the reason why they did it though.
I rather think that they are trying to limit the amount of automated queries that is hitting their database.

I mean, compare the amount of data an Auctioneer-enabled person pulls down compared to someone manually searching the AH.

I think Blizzard doesn't want to eliminate Auctioneer style addons, but they do want to make people use them a bit less. And so they make them more inconvenient to use.
Use 2 monitors and Windows mode, and forget about alt+tab (WoW is 2 monitors friendly)
You can still use 2 screens and Windows mode. (WoW is 2 screens frinedly)
.. Blizzard should be (and in my opinion is) happy about the glyph posters. These people make sure that everybody has access to glyphs at 'reasonable' prices.

In my opinion they should automate it completely. The bank-twinks and extra addons you need right now to supply a server with glyphs at a low price are rediculous.
I was posting glyphs yesterday and didn't notice anything. I run WoW in wondowed mode so that might be it.
I actually only had problems with alt tabbing for these addons on patch day and the day after. Today, after everything had wound down a bit, I could alt tab and leave auctioneer running no problem. It took about 5 times longer than normal, but I was using the outdated version.

I don't think it's done that way to purposely stop botters or anything, but I think it is done so that server resources aren't strained as much when there are a large number of people on.
Such activities scream to be botted.

Clicking a "mill button" once every 1.5 seconds? It will take you around 5 minutes to program a script that clicks ever 1.5 seconds. Or well, random between 1.5 a 1.7 seconds so they can't see you're scripting.

I'll put in my two cents with Hirvox idea. They probably just pause the GUI thread when the application is not active. Makes your other programs faster when you alt tab.

As for auctioneer straining their databases? The proper solution is to provide everyone with the information through their interface. Instead of having to scan record per records deliver it to us in one table.
My normal approach has been to run a second computer (a lower-powered laptop) behind me whilst doing something else. It's a quick fix.
I fear you would have to limit it to the account, not just one character.
I just tested by having Auctioneer do a full scan with Firefox in the background. Worked fine.
I can assure you from first hand experience last night that auctioneer does not stop posting if you tab out. I'm running a dual-monitor setup with WoW in Windowed (Maximized) mode and alt-tabbed over to the browser and did whatever while it posted 300+ auctions.
Limit to 100, while there areover 250 different glyphs available (not sure of actual amount, but enough to fill over 8 inscription bags and then some, if all were crafted)? Bah, humbug!

Artificial controls = artificially high prices. It's almost a corollary.
I find that it isn't too hard to hit over 100 auctions even if not conducting glyph spam, YMMV of course. I don't really see why playing the AH should be limited in such a way in any case. I don't think anybody is passionately watching their crafting bar go left to right when they are doing it. Crafting is simply an AFK activity by design.
"You can still go semi-afk and leave WoW on top of your screen. But if you want to anything else with your computer, and get another application into the foreground, your semi-afk business will grind to a halt."
Only if you have quite limited RAM. With 3+ GB, it's no real problem to do that.
I haven't noticed any problems... but I run in windowed mode (not maximized)
Maybe it only stops scripts when WoW has been minimized?
I play windowed and haven't had a problem with automatic functions via Auctioneer (scanning and using appraiser to batch post things). I wish I could offer something a bit more useful in the way of suggestions, though.
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