Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The fundamental flaw of leveling economy

I already wrote how low level professions are hit by the various nerfs, however the problem runs much deeper. I believe the whole lowbie economy is flawed and should be fixed unless Blizzard aims his game only to educated people (which we can surely say they don't).

In the economy the "money" is a medium of exchange. Theoretically we could return to bartering, it would be just inconvenient, but not impossible. This function is more or less fulfilled in the top level WoW economy: you gain flasks either by farming herbs and find a crafter yourself, or you create something else and barter it for flasks. This barter step is streamlined by money-based trading, you pay gold for the flask on the AH, the alchemist uses this gold to buy services he needs (some of them provided by you) and materials.

However for lowbies, vast majority of the services needed are provided by NPCs (spell training costs, skills, mounts). These are monopolized by NPCs, there is absolutely no way to farm them yourself or to pay someone to farm them for you. You can only pay them by gold. This gives both a fixed value for gold (instead of one defined by supply and demand) and also changes gold from "medium of exchange" to material goods. You need 4.2G to train arcane missiles VIII. You don't need a flask that currently costs 30G. You need the gold itself.

It's not a tragedy (salt was used as currency in history many places, also gold was both money and jewelry material). The problem is that with the current pace of leveling a lowbie cannot farm enough gold. Gold can be gained as quest reward, dropped by monsters or vendoring monster loot or quest reward. You simply don't get enough of this while leveling. I've seen several people in the ganking guild to walk on foot in Outland. It's generally a bad idea on a PvP realm, especially if you run under the 1 death = 20 kill penalty. Yet they couldn't farm enough gold to buy flying skill.

Obviously, since it's a systemic problem, the average lowbies cannot solve it by trading among themselves, no matter how effective their economy is. The practical solution of the problem - that allowed it to stay under the carpet - is trading with top level players. On top level you access both daily quests, and monsters that drop vendortrash in the 20s-1G range. A top level player has gold and provides it to the lowbies, either in the form of "twinking an alt" or "helping out a friend" or "buying lowbie mats for leveling tradeskill".

However this trade - despite considered obvious - depends on factors out of the control of the lowbie: the existence of a main, a high level friend or an effective market where enough lvl80-es are present to buy his stuff. The ganking project purposefully takes place on a "dead" side, with 20-30 lvl 80-es online in prime time. Exactly because the side is dead, these lvl80-es often have their own stockpiles and crafting lines, and don't buy from lowbies. My own trick to trade with the horde is so profitable because I arbitrage between a more-or-less functioning side and the dead one. In the absence of the neutral AH, I'd be in trouble.

Why the current system is broken?
  • Because a completely empty, new server would be a disaster, with no means for the average lowbie to finance his training. He could buy only the spells of his selected spec, could get riding later than the level requirements and couldn't even thinking of buying some greens to increase his performance. This of course would need frugal planning from lvl1, and a misstep (for example buying firebolt IV for a frost mage) would push him into poverty.
  • Because a lowbie without connections (friend or main) would be seriously weaker than a lowbie with connections. This would not only be cosmetic difference (like having dual spec or epic mount) but inability to do his job properly in group, therefore excluded simply for being newbie.
  • Because even in the existence of top level demand for low level materials, the only choice for a lowbie would be dual-gatherer and this only choice for him is not expressed anywhere in the game, counter intuitive (why would I need lot of raw materials?) and directly advanced against, by Blizzard saying herbalism is only auxiliary skill for alchemy. This scheme also makes using the AH mandatory, what is not a problem on its own, but nowhere told to the newbie.
Considering how big effort Blizzard does to make WoW newbie friendly (have you noticed that every monsters in the starter zone are yellow?), they have such a messed up lowbie economy. Blizzard should accept one of the systems below and elaborate it:
  • The self-sufficient newbie: During normal questing the newbie gets enough money rewards to buy all the spells and riding skills at the levels they become available. It can be achieved by giving enough quest reward, monster loot, or elevating the vendor price of gathered materials and crafted items. A crafted item should be sold to vendor by 2x more than its materials, so dual gathering to vendor would provide equal benefit to gatherer-crafter.
  • The newbie must suck: while hardly a "casual friendly" idea, it's still better to accept openly than allowing him to suck without knowing why. The NPCs should warn the newbie that buying offspec spells are not recommended until top level, and also that riding is something that he can live without and can achieve later.
  • The newbie must trade: the newbie must be informed that largest part of his income will come from selling items on the AH. Must be sent to the AH by a questgiver and told that dual-gathering is the way until top level.
I'm obviously a preacher of the last method, especially since it can be more or less implemented by players. The whole blog came from the experience that I have much more gold than the people who started with me, that I had 100+ with my very first char at lvl 20 and so on.


This leads to us to the conclusion: "trading" is a needed common skill (as opposed to WoW-skill) and just as necessary as "being able to read", or "being able to cooperate with others" for success. The newbie, before killing his first plainstrider should already know that:
  • he will get items somehow
  • he will need gold for several things
  • his gold will come from selling the items to players who has gold
  • therefore if he can choose what items he'll get, his choice must be governed by the market demand for these items
They are obvious skills, right? Well, go to Hellfire Peninsula and count the lvl60+ people on land mount and think again.


Note: I'm not saying it's impossible to level without proper 80 support. The whole ganking guild is doing it on a nearly dead side. But it's hard and definitely not recommended for real newbies (we are re-rollers with lot of game knowledge). Not unrelated to this is the fact that goldseller spam is rampart on this server/side, including whispers. It seems that the goldsellers noticed that despite low population, they can make more sales since the newbies here (who are usually dragged to such servers by the green "low" on the server select screen) have no other way to gain gold now than buying it. (I'm obviously talking about the average newbie, who is just as dumb as the average player + he is unexperienced).

46 comments:

Gusztav said...

I can't agree here wholeheartedly.
It's hard to imagine that a real newbie doesn't have any sort of acquaintance to tell him he should be gatherer-gatherer, or to get at least 1-2 useful or semi-useful tips when he's asking on trade chat where Thrall's room is.
I don't think he will miss _that_ much money for his skills, even offspec, while leveling.
When he's getting his mail to go train riding skill, and he happens to miss alot, he goes either to specifically farm grey items, or goes back to his leveling hub, at the end of the day he will have his 4 gold pieces (or so, lowered by blizz to help newbies) to buy his very first mount, which will be such an achievement for him he probably will always remember, and to quote myself from a yesterday comment, no ilvl200+ overfarmed, boring, casual friendly instance can give him such a feeling.
Also, since he's a newbie, still exploring, he will either notice that there's a trade chat, an auction house, and eventually he'll get his stuff, maybe not NOW which must be frustrating for the socials (but we're not talking about them here), but some time later.

IF there are newbies who fail miserably and achieve these things alot later, that's their failure and I can't be concerned about them.

Pasky said...

Blizzard is implementing the first paradigm in your list the self-sufficient newbie .

They've stated that in Cataclysm the spells will no longer have ranks and will instead improve with player level, so players will only have to train "frostbolt" once and never worry about it again.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why my first character was a Paladin, the first mount was trained at level 40 and you got the riding skill "for free" with that.
Too bad that at 60 you had to get a group for Stratholme, which at that time (and I believe now still) is a dead instance nobody bothers to run (Blood Elf Paladin).
I could've done Alterac Valley enough times to buy the Howler, but the quests gave decent XP. It took me to level 61 to get a decent group to get my mount ... it was totaly worth the effort and it was fun.

Anonymous said...

costst you a few hours yes, but not too much to ask for to pick up mining, farm a few nodes and sell the copperore for quite an amount. you can easily get 100 copperore in no time. a stack goes for about 10g at least on my server. drop mining thereafter if you wish.

yes it ist work, but you can get it done in no time. not too much a price for your mount and to be financially independent for the rest of the levelingphase. the green stuff goes in the ah pretty well too. do not see any issue here actually if you are willing to do the mining tour for one stupid day instead of levelling.

hell, take fishing if you wish and go for deviate for 1-2 hours.

Michael said...

I agree with your basic point that just by leveling and doing normal questing and mob killing you don't have enough gold to buy skills/mounts. Having to grind/farm for gold at low levels is sub-optimal. Being able to make cash on the AH still requires someone else to be injecting gold into the economy by farming mobs/dailies.

This will have been made much much worse by the leveling speed up that occurred in various patches post expansion. When this happened I don't remember if low lvl mobs started dropping more cash or if skills, etc.. got cheaper.

An economy that is based on lvl 80s producing massive gold surplus' via dailies and high lvl mob vendor trash is flawed.

Kro said...

You seem to think that a monopoly of services by NPCs is a bad thing. I don't, for a couple of reasons. First, because capitalism (player services, in this case) has a lot to do with ripping off those lowbies who are clueless about the real price they should be paying. Second, because going to meet those NPCs creates an anchoring into the game, storyline, geography, etc. which is the "interesting" part for a real lowbie (they're not raiding, nor taking part in a guild's life, i presume).

Also you say that lowbies can't possibly gather enough gold to pay for what they need. Well... i have a different view on this. First, they should know what they need, which is not always the case. Second, a lowbie's leveling is slower than a reroll's leveling, giving them more opportunity to grind gold. Thirdly (and last) the instances provide fantastic gear while the XP gain is not so high.

As a last note, i thank you for your blog which inspired my greed in the game. I couldn't have reached 350 gold on a level 27 reroll. (~1 week) without your recommendations.

TyphoonAndrew said...

The fact that characters are present in Outland without a mount is not an indication that the system is poor. It is an indication that those players have not purchased the equipment and skills needed.

There are a lot of reasons why, but to name the obvious few: (a) they're poor because of other choices (b) they have no clue about trade and money in the game, (c) they are less than stellar players.

Nice post though, and you make a good argument.

Chewy said...

"This scheme also makes using the AH mandatory, what is not a problem on its own, but nowhere told to the newbie."

I can see your point but can't help but wonder how far Blizzard should go to walk the completely new player through the game ? If they go too far they take away any challenge, not far enough and it becomes too difficult, hence losing it's appeal for the largest possible audience. Let's not forget that whilst you might despise the M&S, they are paying customers too and that is what Blizzard need to sustain their business.

Zazkadin said...

My guess is that Blizzard intended the newbies to suck.

When leveling my first character, I did not struggle much with gold (mind you I was a warlock so I did not have mount expenses at level 40). I had enough money, because I was not playing the game efficiently: I did not combine quests in the same area, just because I did not know yet these quests existed or happened in the same area. I killed more mobs than absolutely required, giving me more loot money and vendor drops. I only discovered the AH as a souce of income at level 40. The game does a great job of setting players in the right direction, but it fails to do that for the auction house.

With my alts money was always tighter, because leveling was done much more efficiently, making less kills per level, and thus making less gold.

In the expansions gold is never an issue; you end up richer at the end of the leveling than you started.

So I think that the original game was designed around inexperienced (noob if you wish) players, whereas the expansions are designed for experienced players.

Pazi said...

I don't agree.
I'm leveling my third paladin right now (again as prot, but this time on horde-side, which has a much lesser population on my server) with mining/skinning. But every ore/leather I farm goes to my bank-alt while the income on my paladin comes purely from grinding/questing (but mostly doing dungeons). I only "farmed" ore for the skillpoints. When I entered outland at level 60 I could buy my flying mount (no gold-transfer from the bank-alt) and at level 61 I made up for the "loss" just from the quest-rewards and selling greys. My bank-alt has 4.3k while my paladin (now 67) has 1.2k right now.

Sten Düring said...

I can only agree.

It seems most of the posters here assumes that a lowlevel player starts playing after having all the knowledge associated with a raiding player.

On my first char I winged every experience. It was also my first experience with an MMORG since running a MUD during the early 90:s, so it never occured to me that I shold browse the web for data that ought to have been present in-game.
Thus I was for all effective purposes playing on an 'empty' server, selling everything I didn't need to vendors, including green drops, ore I couldn't use for levelling blacksmithing and every gem I found.

I gave that warrior up at lvl 33. He was mostly geared in low-20:s greens and whites, a few crafted items, and obviously zero enchants as I didn't have that trade-skill. He also had the massive amount of almost three gold...

Finding the AH and trade-chat requires that you hang around in a capital city. I was out doing quests and trying to level up the character instead.

Now, however, you COULD reroll on an empty server and do (almost) fine. This is because you can create a DK who could do the gathering and who is able to knock down mobs for vendor-trash worth a LOT more than what is needed for your lvl 1 "main" character.

Inquisitor said...

Where are the goldsellers getting their gold? They pretty much *have* to be farming it up, given what you've said about the tiny and dead economy, and lack of players to hack?

Got any meaningful anecdotal data as to whether they charge the same on this server as others? That would give you a real, albeit distatseful, data point as to the value of gold here.

Gevlon said...

@Inquisitor: yes, they are farming, some farmable materials are dirt cheap. (Tiger lily for 2G/stack for example)

I guess they grind vendortrash and herb/mine in between.

I have no idea about their prices, and not going to ask them. If you run around goldcap on your main and 10-15K on a dead server, the last thing you want is a chatlog that connect you to a goldseller.

Inquisitor said...

@gevlon

The trade spam on my home server (Darkmoon Faire, EU, Horde - which is a server with nontrivial population imbalance, but we still win WG 40% of the time, and have viable raiding guilds) will frequently feature prices.

In the spirit of enquiry, I dug prices out of one of the ones that advertises there, for 10k:

DMF-EU-H: GBP 28.21
DMF-EU-A: GBP 24.96
Mag-EU-H: GBP 23.33
Mag-EU-A: GBP 23.33

Interesting. They *do* vary by faction, but not on Mag. Perhaps they're moving it across the neutral AH.

(I do not condone gold buying, have never bought gold, and have never previously visited one of their websites. They *are*, however, a potential source of information on the state of a server's economy, and thus maybe vaguely interesting.)

Anonymous said...

I agree that in a situation where everyone started at lvl 1, lvled at the exact same pace - and used the same rationale (as in: everyone put a higher value on gold then vanitystuff), this hybrid economy would be impossible.

So far it hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen.

That you find yourself in a fairly unique situation (a very low populated server with a huge influx of low lvl members) doesn't change that. You are the exception, not the rule - and the problem you set up doesn't really exist for the majority of players.

Also: cookie to Pazi for pointing out that by simply questing and taking care of your moneydrops (how people did it in early vanilla) - you can afford all the expenses the game set up (such as training and mounts).

Gevlon said...

@Last anonymous: what I described does not affect 99% of the servers/sides, that's true.

However not all players considers it obvious to trade with other players, so while the AH is there they don't know about it. If they click on the NPC, it throws them a big scary window.

This is obviously not a problem for someone with MMO experience or dragged into the game by a playing friend. However it is a problem if Blizzard wants to reach a larger audience.

Kiltarion said...

Checking my wealth, I've not wasted any money and at 59 I have 600g, 540g from auctions.

Leveling crafting skills is another big issue. As my first LW, I'm finding it to be very grindy - even when seeking out skinnable mobs to quest on and grinding dozens of scales, I couldn't hit 300 by lvl 58. That's why there's so many 80s with low-level crafting skills.

Having a tutorial tip for professions "Skinning, Mining or Herbalism is recommended for new players" as well as a quest to go to the AH would be helpful, I think.

Dan said...

As a player who started this game on a whim, not knowing anyone, not having any previous MMO experience, I have to disagree that the low level economy is 'fundamentally flawed.' My first character struggled for gold until Outland, true. But, I bought my first riding skill & mount within a level or so of when I was eligible and I bought every new talent at (almost) every level. I skipped a couple non-critical talent upgrades at a couple of levels, but always bought them (out of a stubborn sense of "completeness") within the next level or so. I didn't run around in top gear, because I couldn't afford to buy it, but I made do with the loot drops I found.

I probably discovered the AH around level 20-30 and sold my excess ores (mining/bs) for some extra cash, but I wasn't truly farming so this wasn't a large amount. When I got to 1g, or 100g, or 1000g, it was an actual achievement for me. After reading your blog and fine tuning my AH skills (nowhere near goblin skill level, but finally focused and purposeful), I've recently been able to buy my fast flying skill for my main, which also feels like I accomplished something.

The thing this game does extremely well (and a big reason it is successful with new players) is the learning curve. It gives you capability/complexity at a very measured pace. Right when I've figured out how to time my first ability to use the rage I'm generating, it gives me a second. When I've got combat pretty well in line, it introduces trade skills. The AH and economy were becoming apparent to me when I was fully comfortable with questing and leveling and really starting to think about money. If all of that information was given to new players right at the beginning, it could easily turn off a lot of potential long term subscribers before they have a chance to learn how "fun" the game is. (I know you hate that word).

So, in my opinion, although the economy of an experienced player (goblin or otherwise) struggles (at best) in the absence of other top level players, that is not the economy of the new player. It is not a fundamental design flaw and does not limit Blizzard's reach.

Klepsacovic said...

We level faster so we need gold for training faster, but leveling isn't giving gold any faster. Giving more gold for low-level trash, coin drops, and quests would close this gap, but might also give incentive for high level characters to go back and start grinding lowbie stuff mindlessly. Instead I think Blizzard should see the average increase in leveling speed, meaning the average increase in level training cost/time, and reduce costs proportionally. I'd prefer to not touch riding costs, but instead spell training costs, so those would be changed by a lot, nearly to the point of nothing. The same would go for tradeskill training costs.

Levels should be self-sufficient in the sense that a level 10 shouldn't need level 80s to exist to be able to have gold, only other level 10s. After all, the level 80 needed to train level 10. If he'd started in the current system he'd be level 20 with level 14 skills.

Tonus said...

I think that learning about the game's economy and how to properly manage in-game finances is part of the learning experience for the new player. My first character got to level 33 and was horribly geared, his talent spec was a mess, and he would have been at least 10 gold short of a riding mount when he got to level 40. I don't even think I had any professions at all.

My next character (re-rolled on a different server with friends) had plenty of cash by level 40 to buy his mount, had much better gear and a talent spec that made sense. He had two primary professions and was working on all three secondary ones, and occasionally even made a sale on the AH.

It's part of the process, IMO. Your first character should always be your most imperfect character. It is the one that you will learn with, and make newbie mistakes with. The game does make it easy enough to fix any mistakes so that even if you never replace that character, your early missteps won't affect you in the long term.

The faster leveling makes it so that you've got a different learning experience as a newbie now, but it's still the same idea-- you will stumble and screw up with that first character, then you'll figure things out and become more efficient (assuming you're not a total M&S).

Mark said...

I think the gold is tuned pretty well -- for Blizzard's intentions. Walking around Hellfire Peninsula may not be safe, but Blizzard clearly wanted players to experience the content on foot for their FIRST character.

My own experience: I was a complete imbecile through level 60, with no idea what the AH was for -- I may have gone there once for an Ashenvale quest. I took only the quests I was interested in, leveled my alchemy solely for my own use, spent unwisely on spells, and still came within 1G of buying my proper mount at 40 (I would've had the exact amount, but I spent the spare cash on training a water-breathing elixir before going to the riding trainer. That's how dumb I was).

And even at that level of dumb, my wealth pretty much kept pace with my needs through 60.

That said, I'm surprised there's not some more instruction about the auction house. Dan mentioned Blizzard's learning curve, and I agree it's normally great, but it seems lacking as far as the AH goes.

It'd be easy to fix -- having a vendor give you some random tips on White goods could help steer a newbie to the AH and greater wealth. "This is good wool, [class]. I can only afford to pay you a silver or two for the lot, but you could probably find more buyers at the markets in Orgrimmar, if you don't mind making the trip."

Fricassee said...

If it really is that bad, that you can't sell any materials on the AH, you can still sell green quality weapons to vendors for decent cash at your level.

Green weapons with a required level of 50 usually sell for 3-4 gold each. Selling quest rewards that you're not using can easily get you the cash required for most everything - it certainly isn't as bad as "I can't buy all my skills", unless you're grinding instead of questing.

JimmyKane said...

I would like to know how exactly your guildies are leveling. I would assume for the project that they are trying to level as quickly as possible?

Blizzard has a way for new players to get some serious cash, you just have to look for them. I started my first character in vanilla WoW, never had that much gold. Even at 60 my gold rarely exceeded 250 ish. I quit right before TBC came out, and rejoined for WotLK and noticed that getting gold mainly out of questing is insanely easy.

From my experience as long as you stay in the quest hubs and try to finish all of the quests then you wouldn't have a problem getting gold. Also all of the used to be elite quests aren't anymore, but the rewards remain the same. The Jin'tha Alor(I believe that's the name) quests in Hinterlands give more than their fair share of rewards and a lot of gold and now it's completely soloable. I remember when it used to take a group of 5.

When I came back for WotLK and leveled up a hunter I started outlands with around 512g, no auctions. Just vendor and quest. I knew nothing of a hunter and just bought tge skills I deemed usefull, and never spent money on anything but skills and repairs. And riding of course.

Anti said...

there are already several quests that send you to the AH. or at the very least send you to seek other player crafters to trade directly.

weak trolls blood potion
mithril tube
frost oil

i didnt look these up so might be wrong but these are some i can think of off the top of my head.

in vanilla gold was hard to come by. now that people level more quickly but low level drops were not increased i can agree it would be even more significant. we are lucky the game is dying and there is unlikely to be any new servers made.

sonickat said...

I can't agree with a good portion of this post. Having recenely leveled not one, not two, but three characters from level 1 to mid 70s with a refer a friend bonus (making it faster than even normal) neither my wife nor I had any problems affording our spells or anything else we 'needed' for that matter.

The big problem when a player can't afford these things is usually that they aren't auctioning items they should instead of vendoring them. They haven't bothered upgrading their bags to make sure trash doesn't go waisted, or they are simply waistful with their money.

Yaggle said...

I generally do not agree since I do not think you need a flying mount when you are level 60. However the silver and gold that are paid by quests do not have a steady curve upwards through the levels. The rewards are very small in old-world, are much larger in outland, and hardly go up at all in Northrend.
However, I think the game is more interesting that it isn't totally fair this way and that players who can't get 10 or more gold for a stack or briarthorn are out of luck. It is more interesting that some people have to struggle and suffer, and make their way without enough money. I would like to see mobs drop more currency in general so the whole economy doesn't depend so much on gold that originated from Northrend dailies. Of course that might encourage some more farming but you know what, I'd rather see some more people farming mobs for coins and less people doing the same dailies every single day, even if some of them are gold sellers. Maybe less lower-level people would not buy gold though if they could go out and kill bandits in Tanaris to make the money they needed. So that's my solution to this problem: increase the coins that mobs drop, especially in old-world. If gold farmers are monopolizing the pirate cove, gank them.

My pals call me SK said...

Gevlon, I prefer the First option rather than the third, let me tell you why:

Blizz's goal (which I totally agree with) is that leveling shouldn't be an activity that forces you to group or interact with other players if you don't want to.

At low levels, getting groups for quests, dungeons or using the AH should be entirely optional.
In other words: leveling is a single-player game, the MMO part of the game starts at level cap.

Why? Because you should be self-sufficient for leveling, that is casual friendly, and intuitive.

boatorious said...

I don’t think ‘newbie on a new server’ is much of an issue. A nascent economy is way better than no economy, and well, a new player is new to everything. Someone who zips from 1-20 in two hours is not going to be mystified when it comes to coughing up 4g for a mount. Likewise, if it takes you two days /played to get to twenty you’ll have plenty of time for the economy to mature.

A deserted server is another matter entirely. Imagine you call an electrician because your electrical wiring is sparking, and he drops off a fire extinguisher and leaves.

It’s hard to imagine any developer being interested in fixing the economy for a deserted faction. A deserted faction with a healthy economy is just slightly less broken than a deserted faction with an unhealthy one.

Anonymous said...

I am playing since the servers opened in Europe and at that time we all were newbies with no mature economy to buy lowbie stuff.

The first dudes with mounts were heroes to be watched in Ironforge. I even remember the very first mounted char I saw: a lvl40 gnome rogue in Stormgarde Keep.

To come up with the 100 gold at 40 I had to farm thick leather from 36-40 and in these times getting 60 silver per stack was actually a good deal. There simply was noone around with enough gold to pay more.

Prices were greatly lowered, but I think that on a new and empty server only the most goblinish players, i.e. NOT real newbies, will be able to buy a flying mount when they hit Outland.

Anonymous said...

I can see where an empty server would be a problem. Obviously a new toon on a populated faction has no problems making gold with a gathering profession.

What could change is items posted on the neutral AH show on both alliance and horde main AH, still with the higher cut. The other thing players would need is lower-level access to the neutral AH. Put one in Ratchet, and make an alliance-side goblin city. (WoW needs more goblins anyway.)

Then lowbies could list their gathered mats and make server imbalances a little easier on leveling players.

And yes, there should be an AH quest. They show you the boats and flight points, why not the AH?

Anonymous said...

you are making the flawed assumption that Blizzard wants new players to have flying in outland. Flying used to start at level 70. Blizzard changed it mainly to encourage veterans to keep rolling alts (thus avoiding boredom and continuing to pay their monthly fee).

If new players aren't able to afford it then Blizzard is probably perfectly happy with that. There is no flying until level 77 in Northrend for a new player either. They have made it clear that they want new players to see the content the way it was intended: from the ground.

Mark said...

Anti said...

there are already several quests that send you to the AH. or at the very least send you to seek other player crafters to trade directly.

Right, go to the AH for BUYING. I hated those quests, b/c the AH was so expensive, to newbie eyes. It seemed like just a big tax.

What's needed is a way to get newbies to the AH for SELLING. The loading screen occasionally gives some advice on this, but there's little stuff in-game.

It'd be simple to do a quest chain that walks somebody through the basics of auctioning white goods. Carry some wool from Razor Hill to the AH for some injured merchant, and bring him back the gold. (A lot of people would probably just take the gold, but they'd still get the idea). I must've vendored hundreds or thousands of GP worth of cloth before I figured out there was an actual market for this stuff.

Anonymous said...

@Michael: "An economy that is based on lvl 80s producing massive gold surplus' via dailies and high lvl mob vendor trash is flawed." How else do you propose currency should be introduced into the system? Would you prefer a closed system where every character can earn a capped amount of gold from nonrepeatable quests? A game such as that would require leveling alts just to create currency, harvesting the currency, then deleting and beginning anew. I cannot believe you are suggesting such a system, because it is still yields the same result as having level 80s doing dailies, it would simply involve a greater time sink.

Responding to the original post: A completely empty server would not be a disaster. Because demand for greens and vanity items would be low, price would also be low. People who prefer these goods would purchase them at the lower price, while others would focus on skill development. It does not make sense to compare a player with connections to one without in the "empty server" context.
I cannot understand how having Blizzard suggest to players how to make money will make leveling any easier. If every new player on a server is a dual-gatherer, then prices of raw materials will plummet. New players could still be unable to purchase new skills as they become available.
I like to think of purchasing skills as kin to paying a licensing fee or luxury tax. The way to remedy a person's inability to pay a flat fee is either: 1) reduce the amount of the fee, 2) increase income. Blizzard already controls a significant portion of a new player's income. Rather than have Blizz augment that income, do we really want the company involving itself anymore in the tradining market?

Wilson said...

@Anti-

Quite right. Other quest items which you need to get from other players include Deadly Blunderbuss and Gyrochronotom. Think there's one for bronze tubing or some such in Darkshire as well. So saying that newbie's aren't directed to the AH is absurd.

@Gevlon-

I fail to see how people in Hellfire Peninsula without flying mounts is a crisis of such monumental proportions as to require drastic action by Blizzard. After all, my first three times there not only did I not have a flying mount, I didn't even have the epic ground mount until I was halfway to Zangarmarsh. And neither did the folks on PvP servers. Yes, it would be convenient if everyone was able to fly at 60, but I thought the whole point of this was to prove that inconveniences can be overcome.

Your only "evidence" that you can't make 300g through questing is that you've seen people on the ground. Since I've seen people who didn't play the AH or have sugar daddies get their flight training at 60, I'm very dubious. My guess is, your guildies spent more than they earned at the AH. Which places it under of the heading "their own fault."

Bristal said...

@anonymous #6 your information is flawed as well. I got cold weather flying @lvl 68 in Northrend. Your main can now buy a book to learn the skill and send it to your alt.

Doesn't it sound like Gevlon is talking about welfare here? He's noticed that having nothing (or very little) in a land where most have lots can make the struggle for your own lots a little tougher?

I leveled my main on a medium full server with apparently just enough lowbies that I was able to sell every piece of leatherworking and green on the AH (until Outland where greens are worthless). I was able to purchase all skills and riding at the appropriate times. Took maybe a month to get the money for flying at 70.

But it took SEVEN MONTHS.

Leveling an alt quickly takes resources, period. Doing it yourself takes time. More time if there is no market for your goods.

That could be fixed by tying the price of fixed goods, training, etc. to the population of toons at that level currently. Lowering the price of basic needs might save an alt a hundred gold pieces over the course of leveling, but could save a new lowbie a lot of time grinding for cash. They could also increase the vendor value of low level crafting supplies.

I would never level an alt on a new server for that reason.

tobbelobb said...

1.
The way I see it "The self-sufficient newbie" is already working just about right. I have recently leveled two characters, and gold was never a problem to me. Without sending a copper from my main I could easily afford all my spells, and my mounts at the level they became available. Only exception was my normal flyer, had to sponsor that a bit. However, the content is tuned around flying mounts not being available before level 70, so a walking player in Hellfire is in my opinion not a very good argument against "The self-sufficient newbie".

2.
As a side note we may all agree that i have the experience the newbie lacks, but I level my characters the noob way; no professions, no planning, no AH. I just pick up all the yellow exclamation signs I see, and grind the mobs I get told to grind.

3.
The only thing that separates me from the broke noob is the fact that I only buy things that I need. I buy my spells, and I buy my mounts. I do not buy any greens I will switch for my next quest reward, or any random stuff like vanity pets or whatever.

4.
If I may say so, I have invaluable inside information on the life of always broke players, seeing as many of my RL friends are such sad beings. Their biggest problem seems to be that they always have their bags filled to the brim with rubbish. If they could only learn to sell trash when they see a vendor, instead of deleting it when they need space for quest items, I honestly believe their economy would rarely be in trouble ever again.

Anonymous said...

Advising people on a low population server to go gatherer, gatherer is poor advice and doomed to failure due to lack of demand as a market isn't growing rapidly enough, at 80 demand will then far oustrip supply creating further problems.

Even when a small minority has the knowledge to turn this to their advantage through cross faction trading it doesn't help gold distribution for the rest. NPCs take the vast majority of gold.

For a leveling guild crafting is not just a wise investment it is a no brainer. Hoping to power level in the future is putting all the eggs in one basket and again the auction savvy will be there to reap the rewards while overall most suffer.

With any server the economy needs to grow. Without crafting most of the supply/demand required is gone. It's only when more and more hit level 80 and don't have immediate access to gems, enchants and gear does the problem get worse and the auction houses takes a lot of profit through overinflated sales.

A solution for this guild would be assigning craft leaders to skill up. This begins the increase in demand for leveling mats, on any server with a low population it will only increase, it doesn't address gold levels though.

Even encouraging secondary skills, every guild should have a chef, nurse and smelly old sea dog will be of benefit, but gold is still an issue.

Cross faction auctions is what should be encouraged most, whilst the goblin cut is steep selling high value items is the best way to gain gold for the alliance economy.

At some point in time crafting will be required to level the playing field, those with crafts will invariably make a killing but from their own side with the goblins being the only winners.

Crafting also helps the economy balance, providing useful items and soaking up the materials. By keeping items relative in value and not 'wowhead' prices then the economy will begin to thrive and prosper.

Probably time to suck it up and apply some altruism, I hear engineering's profitable!

Samus said...

Gevlon, you are forgetting that they have drastically sped up leveling. You used to have to play more for each level, looting more corpses and completing more quests. The game was balanced fine at that time, you could easily afford everything you needed even without using the AH.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was awesome to create a lively economy was the DK idea. It had to be an alt that entered the world at a higher level.
Rich mains buying tons of low mats to grind the new professions: everyone benefited.

I'm not sure they had an AH in vanilla wow; it was all trade chat I think. Either way, there are no real quests that introduce you to the AH as you are leveling. As a noob, that AH is a scary place.

That being said: in TBC, at my new level 40, I read some articles on how to make gold in WoW. Terrible vanilla advice: grind mats. But, that's what I did and I had the the gold I needed for mounts etc.

Today, just by playing the game; gold is there: easily at hand.

dragonassasin said...

I whole heartedly disagree, i know when i first started my account, i had 900g by time i hit 30, he was rolling on 4 frost weave bags and was more or less free of heavy expenses by time he hit outland he had ~2kg that he used to twink at 59 for shits and grins as my little brother tried to catch up.
I certainly didnt know how to play, and im not much of an economist. That said without the AH its impossible.

Holycrepe said...

I have been guiding a non-gamer through WoW and one of the things we noticed is that nothing leads you to the AH, in effect you either discover it by chance or learn about it from other players. This doesn't sit very well with those that don't see why they should have to teach other players.
If Blizzard want more people to get beyond the trial period stage then the game should teach you the basics as you level up.
The in-game help isn't very good, it seems to tell you things after you have already done them.

Anti said...

i'm not sure all of this is based upon a valid assumtion.
it is a hypothetical server with immature ecconomy and full of lowbies. on this server there is a newbie who cant make enough money to pay his bills.

1 - when was last time Blizzard created a new server? if anything we are headed towards server mergers.

2 - if a new server was created how long would the first 80 take to hit level cap? record is about 26 hours. right? from then on the inflation starts.

3 - unbalanced servers are the closest approximation to the hypothetical server. if there were no neutral AH then there might indeed be an issue. but there is in fact an neutral AH so the point is moot.

Anonymous said...

Outland was originally designed to be done by foot. You didn't get flying till 70. I didn't get my first epic mount until 62. Generally while leveling it's been live on quest rewards, and I've been able to make the milestones necessary to do reasonably.

It is easier with a main but it is entirely possible to level with a dead economy, you just can't expect to hit gold cap at 35. You're underestimating rewards from quests.

Bradius123 said...

I have always thought that top level items should still use low level mats as well as top level materials to craft.
for example a level 80 item would still use copper as well as titansteel.
This would help to to keep low level items worth farming plus give them more value.

I also like the idea of things like the belt buckle, crafted by lowbies however needed for every pair of trousers made in the game it kind of makes sense to me.

Is this a bad idea?

Gavin said...

I disagree with this post. Anyone starting on a fresh server will undoubtedly find that AH prices will yield less gold than older, wealthier servers but they should still be able to make cash decently enough. I rolled a BE rogue when TBC first came out (on one of the new RP-PVP servers) and I was approaching 500g by the time I hit 40. In older servers it's even easier to make money as low level goods are not always available but are always desired because high end players are rich AND it's easier to spend money to level up a new profession. Copper goes for 4-5g a stack on my older server, 10g for ores. Iron goes for 20g a stack, individual silver ores are 5g each. This is simply one profession, others are priced pretty similarly.

Stripes said...

Interesting. I recently leveled a pally from 1 to 80 on a server that I didn't have other toons on. I _did_ server transfer a toon with BOA gear (just the 2 that give XP bonus: chest & shoulders) and cash for duel spec. A friend on the server gave me bags and 20gold.

I set the gold and the duel spec cash aside (held it in my new auction toon). I _also_ kept the auction toon's "earnings" on the auction toon.

My leveling pally payed for his own training, and his own ground mount, and flying mount out of quest rewards (the only cash he got to keep, as any mats he happened across while leveling went off to the auction toon and the gold never came back).

I did NOT have him pay for cold weather flying (my server transfer guy carried a cold weather flying tome), and he hasn't made enough for fast flight.

I did NOT take a crafting profession (two gathering professions).

I did not buy gear while leveling. Even if I didn't have the 2 BOA items I would have stuck to that. I vendered plenty of decent chest/shoulders. I only put cheap gems in sockets (like the 2G outland vender gems).

The cold weather flying thing makes the results of my experiment somewhat suspect past level 70 or so. The "gift bags" makes the rest of the experiment a little suspect as well, but I think that part largely holds up -- if I didn't have the bigger bags I could still have sold as much stuff to venders, it just would have taken longer to run around collecting. Plus I effectively got zero income from the gathering professions, so you can discount the bag space taken by skins and herbs.

So I would argue that you can level (at least to 70) on a bare server without being cash starved. In fact except for bags there is relatively little to be gained from "outside cash" for the first 70 levels.

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