Two of the best features of Guild Wars 2 seems to be also one of the least discussed following the beta weekend event. They are the bank and the trading post. MMO veterans will be right at home, but there are small little ArenaNet-style twists added to each. I had a blast fiddling around with both of them, and when the game launches players are going to be much appreciative of the small things that add up really quickly for the two features.
The bank starts out like one would expect. In the cities there is a bank structure where a handful of Banker NPCs stand around waiting for players to make deposits or withdrawals. The main features are most similar to the original Guild Wars style as the bank is an account vault accessible by all characters on the same account. There is also a tab for common crafting items so that precious unrestricted bank space is left free of crafting materials. Good start so far…
Then ArenaNet added a few more areas in the account vault for cooking materials and the first set of miniatures. Yes, cooking is such an intense crafting profession that it needs its own area. The miniatures section is a really nice way to make sure that miniature collectors have complete collections. By the way, there are about 60 miniatures in the first “alpha” set; the name hints that it might still be subject to change. So miniatures and some amount of crafting ingredients can be stored for free.
The best part is that patented asuran technology allows players a one-way transfer for some of their goods from anywhere in the world. Becoming overloaded in a dungeon? Salvage the junk, right-click on the junk, and send it straight to the common crafting items. The same goes for cooking ingredients and miniatures. I don’t know whether my first character will be a chef (leaning towards armor / jewelry), but it is nice knowing that I can create an incredible stockpile for future apprentices in an easy manner. This makes it too easy for packrats, and I think a lot of people are going to be sitting on stockpiles instead of selling it at the…
Yay, ArenaNet has an auction house… but, no. It’s not. There are no auctions. An auction implies that people can bid up items. There is no bidding at the trading post. ArenaNet has created something more like a commodities market (see broker services in many other MMOs). Remember in the good ol’ days in Guild Wars where a player needing that last ruby for an armor set could hit up a friendly trader for the gem? The trader bought and sold rubies (and other basic items) for gold based on a limited inventory dependent on how many players sold rubies to the trader. The trader was a horribly, greedy-gus because his middle-man fee was really steep. Usually a buyer could save a lot of gold by finding a better middle-ground price on the open market. They of course gave up convenience (i.e., time) to get a better price.
In the trading post, ArenaNet took out this Machiavellian middle-man and made it a completely player-run market that traverses across all servers. Instead of some market-controlled price running on some supply/demand formula, players choose the price at which they will buy and sell goods. The catch is that, of course, someone has to be selling at that price. Here’s how it works:
Birgid wants to sell copper ore, which was the most heavily demanded item over the beta weekend. Copper ore was selling over a magnitude above it’s merchant price (the price the computer will pay players for mulching it back in to the system). She has two options.
First, there are players that have buy orders telling sellers how much they are willing to pay for the copper ore. If Birgid just wants the gold now, she can automatically sell to the highest offered buy order. However, the buy order price will continually lower as players fill the highest offered buy orders. Birgid might feel that the available buy orders are way too low for her tastes. (It wasn’t working during the beta weekend, but it seems there will be a market chart showing some statistics of the good’s “market price”.)
Her second option is to place the copper ore up for sale at the price she feels is worth it. Then she has to wait along for a buyer to come and see that her copper ore is the lowest offered sale order to pick it up. Buyers, as it were, have mirrored options to Birgid. They can either buy what’s available right now, or they can place a buy order for the price they feel comfortable buying the item for. Time vs. price runs both ways.
Wily readers might have noticed that I did not mention a physical location yet. There is a trading post NPC located in the cities and a few other critical locations. However, every action I mentioned can be completed anywhere with the exception that gold and items can only be picked up at the trading post NPC. Players with a lot of gold or excess items can play the markets all day without needing to pick up their profits. Just found an epic sword as an engineer? Right click the item, sell it at the trading post. Now you have one more inventory slot.
I will note that it appears every tradable item can be found, regardless of available stock, in the trading post. Suppose at level 50 a player wants to treat himself to a new set of armor. Instead of only checking available items that have been put up for sale, the player can search all the items and place buy orders on items he is interested in even if there is no sell order stock. It’s a handy way to see what options even exist. There’s also Curse’s Guild Wars 2 database site for those that want to do it out of game.
Gold in the Hills
I’ve already suggested that players gather everything that crosses their path for experience points. Another reason is simply profit. Players that had no interest in crafting or copper ore during beta were passing up nearly a whole silver for each copper node they ignored. Silly salvageable items could triple in value when salvaged instead of being merchant mulched. It is definitely worth a player’s time to watch what is passing through their inventories before selling everything to the NPC merchant. All it takes is a simple right click, sell it at the trading post to see what buy orders might instantly net a larger adventuring profit.
During the beta weekend I spent a small amount of time playing the market for jute scraps, which are the base level item for at least the tailoring profession. At first, I took tailoring on my mesmer so that I would have easy access to bags, and if I wanted I could tailor some armor. I carefully saved all my jute scraps and salvaged what I could to make more. I sent a bunch of bags to guildies, but I was left with a few extra.
Right click, sell at the trading post. There was a buy order on 8-slot jute bags for 54 copper, and the average market price of jute scraps hung around 10 copper each. It took 20 jute scraps to make an 8-slot bag. Yeah, right I thought… instead I put up a sale price of the bag at just over a silver (100 copper), which beat the lowest sale price by a wide margin. It sold instantly, and only then did my math skills kick in to make me realize that I just had sold the 8-slot bag at a virtual loss. The raw material cost alone was about 2 silver! (I say virtual loss because I gained the jute scraps through adventuring, so they were “free”.)
That was incredibly dumb, Ravious. Time to make my money back. I had 4 silver to my name. First I started monitoring jute scrap prices. It appeared that the buy orders were flat-lining about 5-6 copper each. Jute scrap sells to the merchant for 2 or 3 copper each, for what it’s worth. I found that if I placed a buy order on jute scrap at 7 copper, my orders were being filled in less than a minute… in beta. I could not believe that so many people were actually buying and filling jute scrap when we would all be wiped come Sunday night anyway!
Okay, so I could buy 20 jute scrap for about 1.4 silver. I bought as much as I could. Turned them in to 8-slot bags, and then I watched a much slower 8-slot bag market. There was still that dumb buy order at 54 copper, and it seemed the lowest seller was about 2.5 silver. I placed my bags for 2.2 silver, which would net me 80 copper per bag. In less than a minute they were all sold! In less than five minutes my level 10 character had just made over 2 silver.
I did it again. 7 copper jute scraps turned in to 2.2 silver bags. Mere minutes of turnaround. Seriously I think the biggest time sink was my run from the trading post (as I needed the profit to buy more scrap) to the crafting station. I did this a couple times, and turned my 4 silver in to 20 silver before heading off to do Shaman’s Rookery (norn jumping puzzle) with a friend.
I expect a much tighter profit margin during live when there will be greater market efficiency, but it is apparent that the trading post will easily create a game unto itself. I honestly could have spent the rest of beta just standing around finding inefficiencies and flipping items for people that devalued their time. I envy the developers at ArenaNet who can see all the backend data. I bet it is a gold mine of information. I would kill [a moa] for some statistics on this from beta.
The gist of this is that ArenaNet has put serious thought and love in to these two simple features. They’ve made both very convenient with regard MMO conventions, and they’ve added just enough extra to keep it comfortably amazing. Don’t overlook these features during play.