Saturday, July 14, 2012

Global Warming is a [chat]

It's really fucking hot.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Newsroom: Media Elite

It's the world want.

Diablo 3: Random Numbers are Random

Let me start by saying that I don't mean for this to come across as me being butthurt.  It may have started as me being butthurt, but I've tried to do something constructive with that feeling.

The other day my RL friend got this:

I'm not sure how to explain those numbers to someone who doesn't play Diablo 3.  So, I'll let the image he posted on a forum explain the situation for me:

He sold the bow for 467,500,000 gold, after Blizzard's 15% cut.  That is an absurd amount of gold.  When you consider that, right now, the price of gold is around $1.35 for 1 million, it gets even more absurd.

More absurd than that, though, is what happens when you compare our numbers.

Hours played:  400
Magic Find %:  257

Hours Played:  130
Magic Find %:  140ish

I'm at around 35.5 million gold, and $304.30 in profits from the RMAH.  With that one item, my friend has surpassed me.  I did everything I was supposed to do to succeed, and my friend passed me via pure dumb luck.

I'm not sure what to make of that.

It's not about being jealous of his wealth, or the ease with which he obtained it.  I realized that loot generation is random, and everyone who farms Inferno has access to the same pool of item drops.  You could kill a random normal mob and get the best item in the game.

What may have happened is that my ideas of strategy and success were shattered when he got that item.  When I previously said that loot was random, I did so with the mental qualifier of, "Yeah, but I have 252 Magic Find, so I'm in a better position."  I didn't think Diablo was pure dumb luck; I thought the system was gameable.

But it doesn't seem to be.

Diablo isn't a poker game, or a Blackjack table.  It's a slot machine.  I mean, granted, you only put money in at the beginning...but you literally just pull that handle and hope for luck.  The only effect of Magic Find, in a very stretched metaphor, is to pull the handle slightly more efficiently.

We can qualify this with sample sizes and probability.  We can stifle my worries by resting in an idea that "in the long run" I may end up making more than him if we maintain our current playstyles.  His drop was a fluke.

Except that doesn't seem to be true to reality since every drop is a fluke.  It really, honestly, is nothing more than random number generation.  And you hope that if you generate more random numbers then yours will be higher than the other guy's.

You can stack Magic Find armor.  You can read farming guides.  You can maximize your efficiency and farm for countless hours.  But in the end it's all just dumb fucking luck.

Because random numbers are random.

I'm not going to ragequit or anything.  I don't feel as if I've been slighted by the RNG Gods.  It's just very strange to have thought one's self successful, and then be presented with evidence to the contrary.  It's strange to think of yourself as doing X, and then discover that, in reality, you're doing Y.  I haven't actually done anything meaningful or commendable.  I just generated some random numbers, and my random numbers happened to have presented me with items that sold for my present gold and $ amounts.

The only thing I can really take any pride in is the few dollars I made flipping crafting patterns the other day.  Everything else was just dumb fucking luck.

And that's not a nice thought.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Penny Arcade Sells Out

Penny Arcade has a kickstarter.

If they reach $525k, they will remove all advertising from their homepage.

If you give them $15, Gabe will think about you during sex.

Can you really think of a better use for $15?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Diablo 3 Crafting: Inefficient and Stupid

When Blizzard calls something a "gold sink", that's code for "don't fucking do this, ever."

Diablo 3 offers players the opportunity to craft items.  One may salvage useless magical and rare items into crafting materials that are then recombined to form new items.

I initially declared crafting to be inefficient just by looking at the numbers.  Some other players, however, maintained that crafting is a sensible investment that can pay off over the long run.  They would post pictures of the spectacular items they had crafted and the astronomical amounts of gold they made doing so.  Yet when I asked how much of that was profit, and how much of that covered their expenses, they were speechless and incapable of discerning the meaning of the question asked.

So, I decided to toss a few million gold down the sink in order to compile the data required to:

1)  Show people how to fucking play Diablo 3.
2)  Declare crafting to be inefficient and stupid.

Here's the spreadsheet:

On the left is a list of my total expenses.  I recorded the gold I spent leveling Blacksmithing, the gold I spent on a pattern, and the gold I spent crafting items.

The middle column under "glove construction" is used to discern the cost of every pair of gloves.  I input the daily Auction House list price of essences, tears, and tomes, and the spreadsheet calculates the cost of one pair of gloves.  Below that (not pictured) is a cell where I input the number of gloves I made, and below that is a cell that displays the amount of gold I spent.

Moving to the right we see the Gloves Sold column.  I record the name of every item, and if you mouse over the cell an image of the item pops up (so I know exactly what the item is).  Then we have the price each glove sold for.

Finally, we see the total profits and losses.

Let's look at the numbers.

Total Expenses:  4,025,503
These expenses include:

- Leveling the Blacksmith:  You have to factor in the gold you spend to be able to craft in the fist place.
- Pattern price:  Since I had previously sold all the crafting patterns I obtained, I had to buy a +5 affix glove pattern.
- Crafting 38 gloves.

Overall, I spent 4,025,503 on crafting.  If we remove the cost of the BS leveling and the pattern, I spent 3,023,248 just on crafting gloves.  Those are the expenses, let's now look at the sales:

Sales:  1,912,500

My total "profit" from selling 5 pairs of gloves is 1,912,500.  Only one pair sold for over 1M, so the rest are 100K - 300K sales.

Now, if you look at just those sales, crafting seems to be profitable.  After all, I made 1,912,500 gold from selling gloves.  Not bad, right?  Woo crafting!

As with any other business, though, you have to compare your expenses with your sales.  So, let's do that.

Total expenses:  4,025,503
Total Sales:  1,912,500
Total Profit:  -2,113,003

My total profit is a loss of 2.1 million gold.

Just to rub some salt in the wound, let's look at some more numbers.  Suppose that I had never leveled my BS or bought that pattern.  Suppose I had never crafted those gloves.  Finally, suppose that I had just sold the crafting mats on the Auction House, rather than use them to make shitty gloves.  How much would I have made in that world?

To figure that out, we take the number of each crafting material and multiply it by its sell value.

Essences: 760 * 1600 = 1,216,000
Tears:  152 * 170 = 25,840
Tomes:  228 * 1100 = 250,800

If I had just sold the crafting mats, I would have made 1,492,640 gold.

Granted, that 1,492,640 is less than the 1,912,500 I made by selling gloves.  However, once we factor in the crafting expenses, we discern that selling the crafting mats is a far safer investment that always pays off.

So, TL;DR:
Total Expenses:  4,025,503
Glove Crafting Expenses:  3,023,248
Total Sales:  1,912,500
Total Profit:  -2,113,003
Crafting Mat Sell Value:  1,492,640

I've heard tell that persons who stumble upon +6 affix crafting patterns and craft hundreds if not thousands of items can eventually turn a profit.  You craft 100 +6 hats, and maybe generate one that sells for 20M+.  If you do that enough, you can start to make some money.

However, most people do not have the venture capital required to make that initial crafting investment.  Moreover, the market is constantly changing with a wide disparity between the price of ideal items and the price of shitty items.  The vast majority of your crafted items will list for 5,000 gold, and no one will buy them.

If you got into the crafting market during the first weeks of the game, then you could have made some money.  If you're sitting on a pile of hundreds of millions of gold, and want to take the risk, you might be able to turn a profit after you grind out a thousand or so items.

But for most players, if you actually look at the math, crafting is completely inefficient and stupid.