Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
 
Guild Wars 2 crafting and auction house

In the real world a pair of shoes costs more than the leather needed to produce it, because the shoemaker needs to make a living. In virtual worlds making a pair of shoes demands very little effort and rewards the crafter with a skill point. Thus very often the crafter is willing to sell the finished product for less than the cost of the raw materials. Yesterday the auction house of Guild Wars 2 was working more or less okay for the first time, and most crafted items could be bought for less than the cost of materials. Many low-level items were sold at 1 copper more than what a vendor would buy it for, due to an idiot-proof algorithm that prevents people from auctioning off goods for less than that.

A character in Guild Wars 2 can have two active craft skills out of 8 possible. He learn all 8 by switching, but every switch back to a skill you already leveled up costs money, up to 40 silver for 400 skill. Thus as the bank and crafting materials deposit is shared between your characters anyway, it is better to have crafting alts than to learn everything with one character. So I made my first alt, a sylvari hunter, and started making leather armor for use with my engineer. For the reasons mentioned above, there isn't much profit in that. I thought one could make money by crafting bags, but it turns out that everything but the most basic bags need vendor-bought "holding runes", and the bags sell for little more than the price of that rune.

For armor-crafting the discovery system is a sad joke. You always combine two crafted parts (like soles and boots upper part) with one insignia to craft something. "Discovery" consists of combining the two items for every possible slot with every possible insignias. No surprises there, if you want REAL discovery you need to learn cooking.

Thus my alt made it to character level 6, skill level 160, just by permuting those discoveries. Apparently many other players had given up before that, so the masterwork items level 30 I could make then actually sold for more than the cost of the materials, at least for now. Prices were all over the place, so in some cases I could buy up stuff for cheap and sell it for more, but I assume that state of affair won't last long. It was somewhat sad when I decided to deck out that hunter in level 5 crafted armor, and buying it from the AH was cheaper than making it myself as a leatherworker.

Unlike World of Warcraft, where many crafted items are not part of a set, in Guild Wars 2 the armor you can craft from trained or discovered recipes is always part of a set. If you can buy or make "strong outlaw boots", you know that "strong outlaw" equipment is also available for every other slot. Sets exist only for every 5 levels, but that might actually be an advantage, so you don't need to get new gear every level. In the end that causes the same problem as in Diablo 3, there is really no good reason to collect gear from looting, you can always get the ideal gear from the auction house, at least for fine and masterwork quality. Fortunately Guild Wars 2 isn't so much about loot gathering as Diablo is.

While I like the Guild Wars 2 crafting system and the auction house more than I like the World of Warcraft equivalents, I still don't consider them the best possible. I preferred crafting in Star Wars Galaxies, where raw materials had a quality score, and only by harvesting the best raw materials could you make the best armor and weapons. Good crafters had their own shops and were sought after. In WoW and GW2 crafted items are much more fungible, and there are often hundreds of the same piece listed on the auction house. Somebody who isn't naturally interested in crafting is better off buying the stuff from the AH than trying to make it himself.

Comments:
Many low-level items were sold at 1 copper more than what a vendor would buy it for, due to an idiot-proof algorithm that prevents people from auctioning off goods for less than that.

I noticed that too. I haven't posted auctions yet- but doesn't the auctionhouse also take a cut? Thus posting something at 1 copper above the vendor price still make a loss?
 
Thus posting something at 1 copper above the vendor price still make a loss?

Yes, if the vendor price of the item is high enough to drive the AH fee to more than 1 copper, you can make a loss by selling for 1 copper over vendor price. As we tend to say about idiot-proof algorithms, they never work, because there is always a bigger idiot.
 
Lest there be any concerns that the trading post was working too efficiently, it is, once again, down for maintenance. Had a pretty good run there, though of, almost 24 hours!
 
I prefer SWG crafting too and thought it had the best crafting system out of any MMO I've ever played. But I don't see a system that complex coming back, not when every MMO now revolves around combat and not much else. GW2 crafting to me is pretty much WOW crafting, except they hide half the recipes.
 
"Somebody who isn't naturally interested in crafting is better off buying the stuff from the AH than trying to make it himself."

Surely that's a truism?
 
The SWG crafting system was the best I have seen in a main stream MMO -- the resource spawning system was great, the resources changed quality every 1-7 days (depending on the type of resource), so diligent crafters would accumulate the top resources that had ever spawned on the server and use them to create the best quality finished products on the server.

I believe SoE in their infinite wisdom killed the original crafting system in one of their "game upgrades" unfortunately.

It's a shame none of the MMOs since then has borrowed any of the ideas from SWG.
 
Counterpoint:

SWG had one of the worst crafting systems I've ever seen.

A) If you're not able, or willing, to devote 40 or more hours per week to seeking out and obtaining the best quality materials **ALL THE TIME**, then you were screwed.

B) If you were a solo player who had no desire to join a huge zerg guild that would feed you the best possible materials that they spent hundreds of hours per week collecting, you were equally screwed.

http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2004/05/swg_economic_da.html

"In a contemporary economy, we're upset that 50 percent of the income is held by the richest 20 percent of the people. In SWG, you've got 95 percent owned by the richest 6 percent!"

The SWG system benefits an exceptionally small number of players. It's why I quit the game.
 
That idiot-proof algorithm kills fun and destroys the AH. With it, you get huge supply of items at Vendor+1c. Hardly anything sells, no one gets pleasure from the AH. Remove the minimum price and you'll please everyone. Idiots are happy because they have sold their items. Goblins are happy that they have instant zero-risk profit. Everyone else is happy because the reduced surplus lets prices rise and makes items worth while for selling.
 
You did not need 40 hours/wk to make a profit in SWG. I rolled one of the first architects on Bria, did not join a guild and ran a 1 man operation. Mass crafting in that game was automated - harvesters pull resources while you're offline, factory makes everything for you while you're offline, NPC sells stuff for you while you're offline, I don't know what a crafter would be doing logged on for 40 hours a week. Only thing they'd have to do proactively is find resource nodes when they cycled, and if you couldn't, you could buy them off other players. And even if you didn't have the highest quality items, people would buy your stuff anyway. I know this because most of the time I was too lazy to leave the planet I was on and I still made money.

Maybe you'd need 40 hours/wk and a guild to totally dominate your server and be the #1 guy in your crafting profession. But not being that guy never meant you were screwed.

Far as the SWG economy, that wasn't wrecked by the crafting system. It was wrecked by credit dupers and guys like this: http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/2012/03/06/how-i-helped-destroy-star-wars-galaxies/
 
"In a contemporary economy, we're upset that 50 percent of the income is held by the richest 20 percent of the people. In SWG, you've got 95 percent owned by the richest 6 percent!"

How is this different from WoW? Most WoW players have enough money so they can play the game casually. Then we have a few AH barons (or nolifers, goblins, whatever) who are in contrast gold capped (or half gold capped).

The latter are the people who buy our HC title/mount boosts. But the former are also the people who do that by using gold they bought.

Either way isn't it fair effort results in gain (e.g. profit, achievement, loot, money)?
 
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