Monday, December 3, 2007

Item pricing rolls on...

My World of Warcraft item pricing database, which I've discussed previously, continues to grow in terms of features, visitors and data. One important new feature, and the most widely requested one, was a histogram that accompanies every graph. This histogram shows how many data points went into generating a given day's data and gives you a good sense of how reliable a price might be. This is especially important when looking at prices that are for a specific realm and faction, where the data might be very thin.

I've also added packaged reports on the most and least volatile items. Volatility is a metric used in the financial world to measure the standard deviation of a set of prices relative to their mean. This tells you how "stable" or "volatile" a price is at any given time in a way that can be compared across multiple stocks, bonds, currencies or (in my case) WoW items. If you look at the most volatile report right now, you'll find that it's dominated by items which have no inherent value and are priced arbitrarily by those putting them up to see if they can get some cash for them. On the other hand, stable items tend to be those which are crafted as the seller knows how much it cost to make the item and most sellers will want to make some profit on their items.

For the future, I'll be working on a conversion to a template library for the source code. This will make it easier to make other changes down the line. I'm also going to be adding new reports that look at how much items are changing in price over time and which items prices have gone up or down the most recently (probably on a week-over-week basis).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World of Warcraft item pricing database

I've been frustrated with the state of online information about the in-game prices of World of Warcraft items for a long time. Sites like wowecon tend to have spotty data and present the data in ways that I find difficult to use.

My solution:, my World of Warcraft pricing search engine.

Right now, I monitor three servers: Argent Dawn, Thorium Brotherhood and Dentarg. Because Dentarg is a PvP server, I only monitor the Horde side there, but on Argent Dawn and Thorium Brotherhood, I monitor both the Horde and Alliance auction houses. Right now, there are technical limitations that make scanning with Auctioneer on more than three servers difficult at best, but once I figure those out (possibly just keeping separate configs for each server), I'll be monitoring all servers on a rotation basis.

The really interesting feature, in my opinion, is the way the data is presented. If you look at the image to the left, you'll see a sample graph for Silk Cloth. Notice that there are three lines and many cyan dots. The lines are the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles for a rolling, one week period. The cyan dots are a scatter-plot of the daily averages. By looking at this, you can quickly get a sense for where the market was. Between the top and bottom line, the middle 50% of all auctions appeared, and the line in the middle is where the middle-of-the-road price for that week was. When you see something like the end of that graph where lines start to converge, what that tells you is that the prices became more narrow, with fewer extremely high or low prices relative to the overall number of auctions. When the opposite happens (the lines move apart), the market for that item has become more volatile with more prices falling farther from the median.

This site is a labor of love, and I'll continue to keep it growing and updating as long as the WoW economy is strong.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gaming gallery needs votes

My gaming gallery of screenshots from World of Warcraft and EverQuest now has voting capabilities. What would really help out a lot is if users who read this blog could vote on the quality of those images. Vote however you like. The results will affect how the auto-generated gallery of top-rated images for all of AJS.COM is put together. Any image that has an average number of stars over 3.5 will show up on the ratings gallery.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Comet 17P Holmes in the city sky

It's not about gaming, but I thought I'd share my enjoyment of the recently super-bright comet 17P Holmes, which appeared near the constellation of Perseus. In my photo gallery, I uploaded a set of pictures of the comet which were taken from within the city of Somerville, Massachusetts with a moon obscuring many stars, and with just a simple Canon SD 1000 camera. Even still, the image of the comet was clearly visible and in excellent focus (given that it's a blur in the sky to begin with). Hope you get the chance to get out and see it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

World of Warcraft 2.3 and Lich King

I've been writing two articles about World of Warcraft changes recently. One is 2.3 and You, and focuses on the changes that can be seen currently on the Player Test Realm (PTR) servers. The other is a collection of information about the upcoming expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, called Wrath of the Lich King and You.

2.3 is a huge patch, and tracking the changes it will bring to World of Warcraft hasn't been easy. It will involve dozens of class-specific changes, tradeskill changes, PVP and PVE changes as well as an entire new raid dungeon for 10 players.

Wrath of the Lich King, on the other hand is hard to nail down. Developers and CMs on the World of Warcraft message boards sometimes leak a tidbit, but it's not always clear when they're talking about 2.3 and when they're talking about Lich King. For example, the reduction or elimination of the so-called "deadzone" would be a major change for the hunter class, but it's looking increasingly likely that that change is being aimed at the expansion, where everyone assumed at first that it was destined for 2.3.

I'll keep trying to stay on top of these changes, and my articles will be updated as real work and homelife permit.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Roleplaying tools: name and treasure generator

Probably the most fun I've had in a long time writing code was the creation of my random name generator and random d20 treasure generator. These tools were not only fun to write, but they've obviously given many others tons of enjoyment (based on how often they're hit).

The d20 treasure generator is a fairly simple program that rolls up random treasure hordes according to the rules in the d20 SRD 3.5 (the system on which Dungeons & Dragons is based). However, it handles everything from the simple treasure tables all the way to the intelligence and special materials rules. It even smooths out a few bugs in the system. For example, the "minor" magic item "robe of useful things" could, as written, be generated with 16,000 gp worth of gems in it, and yet be worth only 7000 gp! In this case, we take any item in the robe with a listed value and add its value to the base value of the robe, but no extra value is added for the other mundane items that are often found on such robes (it is assumed that these items are included in the base price).

The random name generator is aimed at creating random strings of letters that, when pronounced, sound like a name. To do this, the program works off of a dozen or so different name lists, and for each list, it can generate names that sound like the ones on that list. It has male and female names for multiple periods in French history; the 1990 U.S. Census; science fiction and fantasy characters; Norse names from the various chronicles; and even Aztec mythology. I've looked at a lot of name generators, and while mine tends to be slower than many of them, it's also much better at generating a name that sounds like it's from a particular culture.

I hope everyone enjoys both of these tools. Feel free to provide feedback on the discussion pages for their Wiki entries: random name generator wiki page; d20 random treasure generator wiki page.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

World of Warcraft Screenshot Gallery

My World of Warcraft (WoW) screenshot gallery has been chronicling my WoW gaming experiences for about a year now. I've done a lot of PvP, raiding and soloing on the Horde side, and I've even started a few Alliance toons recently. I play on the Argent Dawn server, so if you play there, be sure to check and see if I caught you in one of my shots!

Images like the one to the left I use to share my UI setup with others. I'll be writing an article soon about how to choose mods and stay up-to-date on what new mods to use for Warcraft, because I'm constantly running into people who don't know how to customize their UI or did once, but don't know what mods work these days.

I've also got images of some of the most intense raid events that I've been through, 5-man dungeons and so on. Check it out, comment and share (yes, all of these images are intended for others to share as they wish... please credit the source when you do so, though).

Welcome to my Gaming Blog

For those who come here without knowing who I am, I'm the administrator of, an avid gamer and author of dozens of articles about video games, board games, role playing games and even card games. Gaming is a huge part of my life, and I try to share what I learn with others. I also try to make what I write accessible to others to contribute as they see fit. My site is a Wiki, so everyone who creates an account can edit it (I use the same technology as Wikipedia; a server called MediaWiki). I also publish almost all of my site under the Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike license, which means that as long as you mention where you got it and allow others the same rights, you can copy the text from my site and use it on your own.

So, what is it that I write about? I'll get into specifics in later posts, but I write about World of Warcraft on my Raiding the Metagame site; I review games like Munchkin on my AJS Reviews site; I discuss Dungeons & Dragons games that I've run and even the ethics of the game for those who might have gotten the wrong idea. I also write tools like my d20 treasure generator for Dungeons & Dragons treasure and my random name generator that can generate names in 15th century French, 1990 U.S., Aztec and lots of other themes.

I'll get into all of this more a bit later, but for now I just wanted to say hi, and get this blog rolling. See you all later!