This is about the tools we use as goblins. Our add-ons are the picks and shovels that Miners use or the flasks that Alchemists use. Our add-ons keep our lives nice and neat--and give us information that we need as goblins.
I want to throw a shout out to Sterling over at The Consortium for the Feb. 3 article Pliaksi's Goblin Crafter Spreadsheet and to Altolycus at ALTO's Gold"ish" Advice: The Worst WoW Blog Ever! for his Feb. 1 article Alto vs. OreCrusher: The Death Match. I highly suggest you read both articles and especially the comments as background before you read this.
But if you choose not to do the background reading let me just say that both Sterling and Alto produced great feature articles on these new tools to help goblins earn gold. One is a spreadsheet (Pilaksi's) and the other is an in-game add-on (OreCrusher). Each author did an overview of features, a guide to get you started and a simple analysis of what he liked. And asked for comments.
I commented on both (to be fair, I also commented on OreCrusher's comment page at Curse.com where the author of the add-on asked for feedback). The author of each tool very promptly and politely answered my questions and gave feedback about what their respective programs were designed to do, how they might be used and what was being considered for future roll-outs.
Which leads me to today's article.
I Loves Me Some Add-ons
I am a big fan of add-ons. Some are cosmetic (like Titan Panel and Tidy Plates) but most that I use are utilities. They help me heal (Healbot), monitor: damage (Recount & Dr. Damage), boss powers & loot (DBM & Atlas Loot), other players and quests (Carbonite & Lightheaded) and make life easier (OpenAll, Bagnon, etc.). But they also help me earn and manage gold.
Auctioneer is my basic add-on for this but I also use EquipCompare, Skillet, and My Sales. And Altoholic is fantastic for gold--shows you which alt has what mats and where.
I use ScrollMaster too even though it is not supported anymore--the author has moved on to Trade Skill Master, featured by (among others) Zoxy's recent posts from Trading With Zoxy, first here and most recently at Ele-Mental Gold here. And it was really TSM that started my thought process on these new add-ons. And I like what TSM is trying to do. I just don't think they are quite there yet as I wrote on Bank of Wukam.
It seems like spreadsheets are the new hot thing. Every week or so there is another one that gets passed around the blog-o-sphere. Hell, they may not be 'new'; perhaps I'm late to the spreadsheet party. Either way, the plethora of new spreadsheets (and to some extent new add-ons like TSM) all exist to solve the same issue: taking some of the complexity out of being a goblin.
But none of these are THE answer. In fact, they can make life more difficult.
TSM, OreCrusher and Pliaksi's Spreadsheet
TSM for example tries to take the successful features from Auction Profit Master and Scroll Master and extend them to all crafting skills. But the pricing seems buggy--the values seem to be off a bit when it suggests what to craft. Also, the biggest gripe I had against APM is just magnified 100 fold--having to manage all the various pricing changes within my post and fallback pricing is just that much more difficult when applied to all the various crafting skills. Let me manage my own auctions for the time being.
OreCrusher is useful to project what I will get from prospecting various stacks of Cataclysm ore. It then attempts to compare the amount spent on the ore to the expected gold earned from selling raw gems, cut and vendored gems, Shadowspirit gems, and crafted and DE'ed rings and necklaces. The problem is that the pricing it pulls from the AH is only the lowest priced listing. And there is no current feature (or any plan by the author to implement a feature) that allows the user to manipulate the AH pricing.
Why is that important? Well, if you always list your AH goods at the lowest price I guess it really isn't a big deal. But if you like to maximize profit it can be. Say Greater Celestials are low-balled at 40g but the average is 49g. Since this is a high demand item you can perhaps expect to sell at the average price. So the projected revenue OreCrusher gives you of 40g x 20 GCEs, or 800g, could be off by as much as 20%. At 49g each you are leaving 200g on the table. Having that 20% built in to the pricing model can make the difference in whether you decide to spend the gold on buying the ore in the first place.
OreCrusher's reply to my query about making this change was basically "there are other resources, like spreadsheets, that do that for you".
Oh. So let's discuss spreadsheets.
To Spread or Not To Spread.....
I don't find spreadsheets particularly useful for WoW. I don't dual box and I can't run in Windows mode or have Excel in the background while WoW is running. I may be in the minority but my system is slow enough without adding to its memory demands. Spreadsheets become an "outside the game" function for me.
One of the reasons Pliaksi's spreadsheet (PS for short) seemed attractive was because it imports the .lua file from Auctioneer. This populates the item values for materials and crafted items that a player might want to make and list on the AH. So even though it is outside WoW it still could be updated daily with the current .lua file. Seemed like it had potential.
The first challenge was that I didn't have Excel 2007 on my PC. I know, so last century right? OK, so I got Office 2010 (ouch) and began using PS. The flexibility is great. I can tell PS what crafting skills my toons have. I can even eliminate the recipes they do not have so a list of target crafted goods doesn't contain something I can't make.
Shortly thereafter the limitations became clear. Yes, PS did a great job with the AH data. And the minor inconveniences of some vague instructions were easy enough to get past. And I'm sorta stupid with spreadsheets so I'm slower than most. But, there is no way for PS to tell what I have in my characters' bags or banks--so the only option is to buy mats from the AH. Also, there isn't a way to generate an in-game list of items to buy or craft. /sigh. Back to pen and paper.
"The Best Add-on Ever" Is What I Want
I want an add-on (or suite) that will do the following:
- Let me scan the AH for current information;
- Review my alts' various skills and known recipes;
- Review the materials my alts' have in their bags (and banks and, optional, guild banks);
- Suggest items I can craft and sell based on known recipes and projected profit;
- Let me check off the ones I want to craft, eliminate the ones I don't;
- Create and maintain a materials list--what do I already have;
- What should I buy, and for how much:
- Adjust projected profit based on what I have already vs. what I need to purchase.
- Maintain that craft list and materials list across all my characters as I log them on;
- Update the craft and materials list as I acquire and create the suggested items;
- Maintain overall sales data that tracks profit and loss for everything.
Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it my fellow goblins? How would your gold earning be altered if you could log on and do an AH scan, run an add-on that tells you what to craft for max profit and what mats to buy (vs those on hand with an alt)? For me at least that would save a huge amount of time.
But That's Not Possible--It Is A Pipe-Dream
I submit that the various components are already out there. Let me demonstrate:
- Let me scan the AH for current information; (Auctioneer)
- Review my alts' various skills and known recipes; (Altoholic, Skillet, TSM, Gnomeworks)
- Review the materials my alts' have in their bags (and banks and, optional, guild banks); (Altoholic, Skillet, Gnomeworks)
- Suggest items each alt can craft and sell based on known recipes and projected profit; (Plikski's Spreadsheet--Skillet, Gnomeworks, TSM based on only alt logged)
- Let me check off the ones I want to craft, eliminate the ones I don't; (Skillet, Gnomeworks, TSM)
- Create and maintain a materials list--what do I already have; (Skillet, Gnomeworks, TSM)
- Suggest what should I buy, and for how much: (Pliaksi's Spreadsheet, Skillet (but not for how much)
- Adjust projected profit based on what I have already vs. what I need to purchase; (Pliaksi's Spreadsheet, Skillet, Gnomeworks, TSM: all 3 do some of this but not all)
- Maintain the craft list and materials list across all my characters as I log them on; (Skillet, Altoholic)
- Update the craft and materials list as I acquire and create the suggested items; (Skillet, Gnomeworks, TSM)
- Maintain overall sales data that tracks profit and loss for everything. (My Sales)
Can We Have It All?
As far as I can tell the issue at hand is that no one add-on does all. There is some duplication between the various add-ons but there are gaps too. I see PS and TSM as a bridge between all these features. I prefer the interface that Skillet and Gnomeworks offer but could get used to TSM's if I had to. Having one add-on that would offer all the various features above--tracking suggested craftables based on current AH pricing and materials, tracking materials in alts' bags & banks, offering the ability to change prices or margins if needed, maintaining one list as alts log on and craft, and tracking sales--would be awesome.
I am not a programmer and don't know how difficult it would be to create something like I suggested. I suspect it would be a challenge. But if all the various features are there now, maybe the designers of each project could work together to create this add-on? And yes, I know (ala Carbonite among others) that Blizz has banned the subscription and fees that were associated with some add-ons. So this is not an IRL money maker for anyone.
But as a goblin, I have to dream don't I? What are your thoughts fellow gold chasers?
PS--and before someone mentions it, yes, I understand that the easier we make earning gold the more competition will become involved. Which drives our profits down. I know--as long as it is complicated then fewer players will take the time to learn how to do it. Maybe that is reason enough to not create Frankenstein.
PSS--all add-ons I mentioned can be downloaded at Curse except Carbonite and Lightheaded.