26/11/2021

Life after the Transfer Apocalypse

If various third party sites are to be believed, the free transfers took a big chunk out of my server's population, but not as big a percentage of players as it feels like. As I said to commenter Blairos in response to my last post, Hydraxian Waterlords was a small town before all of this happened... now it feels more like a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you're startled if you run into another person at all.

Nature's had a chance to reclaim the world to an extent - in the last few days alone, I've seen so many new mining and herb nodes that I didn't even know existed because they'd always been harvested already by the time I would've run past them.

The auction house is not dead yet, but it feels like it's dying, as the way it's designed kind of requires a critical mass of players to sustain itself. I've never played one of those MMORPGs, but I've heard that there are games out there where auctions/trades don't expire or at least not for a very long time, so when you put something up for sale it stays there until you either cancel the listing or someone buys it. Since WoW's auction house only allows listings to remain active for a maximum of 48 hours and charges a hefty deposit fee for most items, listing anything that doesn't sell within that time frame is just a money sink, and the fewer potential customers there are around, the more limited the number of items that are likely to sell in time.

It's also been a stark reminder of how much of the economy is driven by raiders/high-end players. Sure, some of it is simply self-reinforcing - raiders make and sell flasks to other raiders, but not many other people are likely to need them so it's not much of a loss to more casual players if that part of the market disappears. But as another example, cut gems have completely gone from the Hydraxian Waterlords auction house as well... and plenty of levelling gear has gem sockets, which must now remain empty unless you're gonna fill them with one of three crappy and overpriced vendor gems. I'm guessing this is because there wasn't much incentive for anyone but high-end players to level Jewelcrafting as a new profession from scratch and to hunt down rare recipes for it. They felt compelled by a desire to outfit their raid force with blue quality gems, and sold some of their cheaper wares to the wider server population as a way to recoup costs. That's something that's just gone now.

Like in any good post-apocalyptic video game wasteland, there are nonetheless some survivors. The out-of-guild friend I mentioned here stayed behind with his guild and raid force for example - I think they may have literally been the only ones. It's kind of funny because while many guilds were struggling to recruit for progression before all this happened, based on the stories he told me, his raid group was probably worse off than any others, trying to drastically underman content and not getting much done. But now that there's nowhere else to go, all the lone remaining raiders are flocking towards them, and for the first time in ages they are not just raiding at full strength but even have a bench. Kind of makes me wonder how the Forks could have done for themselves if they'd stayed.

Anyway, I asked my friend for an invite to his Discord, introduced myself, and everyone was very lovely, though there was also a certain Fin de Si├Ęcle mood in the air - just after I made my introductory post for example, another person posted about how they were just going to stop playing because of all these transfer shenanigans.

There was also an LFG channel on the Discord, and people expressed interest in running a heroic. I hadn't done one in a few days and had seen that the daily was Underbog, a heroic I hadn't actually done yet in Classic. Great opportunity to see something new and get to know some people in this community! We had a tank and two other dps interested, so all we needed was a healer.

Later, me and a shaman were sitting next to the Coilfang summoning stone, while the group leader was asking for a healer in the server LFG channel every so often. Meanwhile I poked some people on Discord, and did a /who 70 (which yielded less than 50 results) in order to whisper every single person of  a heal-capable class to ask whether they were the right spec and if so, whether they were interested in healing the daily heroic. Most of the replies I got were very friendly, but nobody was able and willing to come.

There was a brief suggestion of someone switching to an alt to heal, but this was quickly shot down as impeding people's fun and unacceptable. To me this was slightly strange as with my Fork friends I'd got quite used to switching roles on the fly to facilitate group formation, unless someone needed the dungeon on a particular character for a very specific reason. We sat there looking for a healer for about forty minutes, until we eventually gave up as I had literally run out of people to whisper.

Having to give up on a dungeon run because you can't find the right people isn't something new to me and I'm quite used to it being something that just happens sometimes... but seeing that there literally wasn't another person online on the entire server that we could even ask certainly added a new level of finality to this particular endeavour.

We talked about maybe giving it another try after they'd had their evening raid, but that didn't happen. I admittedly got distracted by something else, but I didn't see or hear anyone else bring up the heroic again either.

To be continued...

6 comments:

  1. Much of this sounds like the player base on the Classic Era servers after BC Classic launched. Maybe a few hundred items on the AH, few people in the capital cities or out in the world. At least with the CE servers you could lore it away by rightfully saying you stayed back while everyone else went through the Dark Portal! ^_^

    I do hope everyone who stayed gels together peacefully and that all of you have a fun time together.

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  2. The AH problem is the same on retail for non-current materials. When I tried to build a Jeeves during MoP I had to farm everything myself.

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  3. My experience of player-to-player sales interfaces is the direct opposite of yours. Having spent over five years using the Broker system in EQ and EQII, with fixed prices and sales that never expire, when I encountered my first "Auction House" with variable pricing and expiry dates in LotRO I was dumbfounded. It seemed like one of the stupidest ideas I'd yet seen in the genre and I absolutely hated it. I haven't moderated that opinion all that much since, either.

    I can't see what the benefit is supposed to be. I'd love to know how many people actually place bids and wait, let alone keep coming back to make new offers. I'd bet the huge majority of people just press "Buy Now" and pay the default price. If you want something in a game, you usually want it now, not tomorrow or next week.

    It also adds a ton of busy work to placing items for sale that just makes me not want to use the system at all. I vastly prefer to be able to throw everything on the Broker or Trading Post (GW2) and then forget about it. It might sell today or tomorrow or in five years from now. I don't care, I just want it out of my bags.

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    1. Since I never knew anything else, I've mostly been pretty uncritical of the auction system... until I found myself in a situation like this, where it obviously causes problems.

      My guess is that the main idea behind it was to preserve database space. I can't imagine that a trading post with no expiration dates is good for a game in terms of data storage required.

      Then again, around the time WoW was made, ebay was big and Amazon hadn't yet broken out of the book business. Maybe the devs at the time just thought that everything being auctions with an instant buy-out option was going to be the future of trade.

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  4. I used to be on horde side of HW. I transferred to my guild last night (on Nethergard Keep). Before I left I checked the auction house. My way of evaluating.a population. There were 178 auctions up.

    I think they should have opened transfers to HW and not away from it!

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  5. FWIW, I'd do the same thing you're doing, Shintar. Having read the previous post and this one, yeah, Hydraxian Waterlords got screwed over big time.

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