Thursday, 19 February 2015

PLEX Business Progress

Just a quick screenshot to show the PLEX business is going good.


I'm slowly increasing my volume and making better than expected profits. Slowly grinding those broker fees down on more characters too. So far I'm finding as those fees go down both volume and profits per PLEX go up. I don't expect that to last long though. Once I have the fees down on all my traders I'll push even more aggressively for volume. At that point the competition is likely to get fierce and profits per PLEX will go down.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

UT4 - Spam Online

I've been playing quite a lot of UT4 (Unreal Tournament 4 pre-Alpha) lately. While the game is still early in development the core gameplay mechanics are coming along and starting to give us a pretty good idea of what we can expect in the end.

I'm not sure I'm going to like the final result. The thing I liked most about the original UT is it was what I consider an inbetween game, a well balanced game that didn't favour one playstyle over another.

It wasn't just another twitch reaction game with absurd movement like Quake, nor was it a too realistic slow paced camper game like CoD.

It was in between those extremes, a game you could be successful at playing either way.

It wasn't all about long range instant hit weapons like the rifle, nor was it all about close ranged in your face fighting with rockets and flak.

In fact the best strategy was often playing to an opponent's weaknesses. If your opponent preferred close combat, fight him at medium or long range with sniper and shock. If he preferred long range combat, take the fight to him at close range with rockets and flak.

Then you had the mini, a terrific midrange weapon, very good at short range and as a finishing weapon but not so good at point blank range and weak at long range. And of course the extremely versatile shock which has always been UT's signature weapon and a favourite of better / more experienced players in almost any situation at almost any range.

Ever since UT2k3 the game has moved towards a Quake-like twitch game where the one thing that matters above all else is reaction time. Most of the time ping, hardware and configuration settings make more of a difference than actual skill. The guy with the lower ping and the least video/input lag wins.

In the original game you could compensate for that with various different strategy and tactics. And the guy with the ping/hardware advantage couldn't just fly across the entire map grabbing all the powerups in under 5 seconds either.

Now you can cross the entire map much more quickly. Strategy is pretty much just "whore the armor and spawn rape". If you control the powerups nothing else really matters much. And tactics have devolved to the platform jumper level of just moving quickly and unpredictably while spamming the fire button.

The shock is insane right now. High damage, high rate of fire and extremely spammable. It's the only weapon that's good at any range and in virtually all situations. In fact about the only situation where shock isn't clearly best / tied with the best is at point blank range where flak beats it... But that'll likely change soon since all the shock whores are crying to nerf the flak.

Just about every match on every map is one giant spamfest with the better, more experienced players spamming shock (or maybe Flak) and everyone else spamming whatever they can get their hands on and get a few shots off with before dying again.

Online player numbers were at their highest with the original game and have been dropping ever since. Since the original game had the highest player counts why do they continue taking the game in a direction that reduces player numbers rather than going back to it's more successful roots?

I don't care for the direction the game seems to be taking. It's turning into a 3d platform jumper with guns.

How about putting some of the skill back into it?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The PLEX Experiment - Week Two

Last week I started ramping up the volume of my business in the PLEX market. Last weekend I bought over 200 PLEX on Friday and Saturday with another 50 plus on Sunday. I bought a lot more than I sold that weekend and I still had some from before too. The following Monday I still had over 200 left with about half in inventory and half posted in sell orders.

So the big question going into this week was if I could sell enough of them (at a profit of course) throughout the week without becoming a no-lifer and camping or if I was going to be stuck with a pile that would take a while to sell.

Though I wasn't able to sell even half of them during the week, I did sell the rest this weekend and prices went up a bit too so I made more than I would have if I'd just dumped them earlier. I picked up a bunch more at good prices to resell over the next week too so the experiment is going well so far.

Here's a quick example of my most recent PLEX transactions.


While these transactions were mostly on Monday with a few on Tuesday, transactions this weekend were similar with more sales than buys. Buy prices this weekend were a little higher than last weekend, but so were sell prices.

Also during the last week I managed to get broker fees on 4 more characters down to 0.50% or less. The majority of my traders are at 0.50% or less now and the rest should all be there in a couple weeks too. Then I can start working on getting them all down to 0.35% or less.

Right now about half my traders are at 0.50%, several are around 0.35% and some are even lower than that.  For the most part I need 12-14 million markup to make a profit and I'm doing quite a bit better than that... Better than expected, though I did have to be patient and sit on quite a bit of stock for a few days.

A character with perfect skills (Accounting and Broker Relations both at V) and neutral (0) standings pays 0.75% broker fee on every order posted (both buy and sell) and pays 0.75% tax on sales. With PLEX at 800 million each his total cost to buy and sell 1 PLEX is 800 x 2.25% = 18 million.

Perfect standings of 10/10 with corporation/faction brings broker fees down to just 0.1875% per order cutting the total cost in half. Cost is then (2 x 0.1875) + 0.75 = 1.125% or just 9 million.

0.50% fees put costs around 14 mil and 0.35% a bit under 12 mil.

I've come to realize I was thinking too small before. Way too small. I was just hoping I could buy around 50 PLEX a day or 1000 a month and make 10 million profit on each for a total monthly profit of 10 or 15 billion. That's just not very feasible, the no-lifers and bots won't let anyone sell that many PLEX at that big a profit unless they turn into a no-lifer or bot too. To sell that many without camping I'd have to cut margins and markups to the point where most of the no-lifers and bots can't compete anymore.

I should be setting my goals much higher. 1000 a day at 1 million profit each would be 1 billion a day or 30 billion a month. Of course to do that kind of volume I'd have to do a lot more high volume / low margin business on Jita and that means I'll probably need to get cost under 10 million per PLEX.

A few of my traders (including the Jita trader) are already well under 12 million cost. It'll take a while yet to get even just the Jita trader under 10 million but I will get at least Jita there eventually. In the meantime I'll just continue working on increasing my share of the PLEX market and putting as much pressure as possible on the no-lifers and bots.

Friday, 6 February 2015

WTB Eve Character with Caldari State Standings

I'm looking to purchase an Eve Online character that has high standings with Caldari State faction. At least 8 and preferably 9 or 10.

Trading skills and Caldari Navy corporation standing would be nice too but aren't absolutely necessary. Nothing else matters, I don't care what other skills it may or may not have trained, the only thing that really matters is high Caldari State faction standings.

I'm almost afraid to ask just how much someone would want for such a character but I might as well find out.

If you don't have such a character for sale but know of one that is for sale, I'll pay a substantial finders fee to the first person to direct me towards any character I do wind up buying.

If prices aren't too ridiculous, I might be interested in characters with high SoE, Amarr, Minmatar and Gallente faction standings too.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The PLEX Experiment - Ramping Up Volume

This is an update on how The PLEX Experiment - Buying and Selling PLEX for Profit is coming along.

I've been slowly increasing my presence in the PLEX market, testing theories and trying different things to see how the market and the competition reacts.

This weekend I got extremely aggressive in the PLEX market, increasing both the prices I was paying and how many I was buying in each of 22 different regions. I wanted to buy and sell a lot more PLEX than I usually do and see what kind of effect greatly increasing my sales volume would have on profits.

It worked very well on the buying side. On Friday I bought 63 PLEX, on Saturday I bought another 108 for a total of 171 in 48 hours. It looks like I probably can buy 100 a day, at least on the weekends.

Unfortunately sales weren't nearly as good, I only sold 17 on Friday and 18 on Saturday for 35 in total. Once I started selling more than 1 or 2 PLEX at a time anywhere the no-lifers and bots quickly came out of the woodwork and began undercutting me constantly.

It didn't take long before sell prices were down into the low 800 millions in most places and even under 800 million in some places (Jita for one).

Of course if I can't resell PLEX at a profit quickly enough, I won't be able to buy 100 a day for very long before I'm out of cash and sitting on stacks of PLEX. Many competitors will happily sell PLEX for 12 million markup and some even less. It looks like the key to doing any real volume (selling more than a few PLEX a day in any one region) is going to be grinding faction and corporation standing even more to lower broker fees even further.

Unless of course those competitors are bluffing and can't keep up the undercutting game for much longer. In that case I should be able to sell all or most of my PLEX during the next week and buy more the following weekend.

Strangely enough, one place were my PLEX sales did do very well this weekend (much better than usual) was Genesis. For some reason the Malma bot backed off on PLEX this weekend, but not on other things.

I've noticed several patterns in PLEX sales, some seem to be natural and others manipulative. The main thing is there's a weekly cycle (often hidden by manipulation) where prices go down on the weekend and back up during the week.

Though I can't prove it, I'm quite sure this is due to more PLEX being purchased for real money on the weekends and sold quickly for ISK which tends to bring prices down. Then during the week, fewer new PLEX enter the market, prices tend to go back up and many of the PLEX purchased on the weekend are resold for profit.

It's also interesting how shortly after I ramped up my business and grabbed more market share prices dropped significantly. That's not the first time that's happened either. It happens every time I try to sell more than 1 or 2 PLEX in the same region, prices go down and undercuts become far more frequent. To me that's a strong indication bots are very active in the PLEX market.

Then again, considering how much prices have dropped over the last 2 days and how the blocking orders have disappeared again, it's possible the market might be starting to crash. In that case I picked a very bad time to increase my volume and could wind up losing some billions or even 10s of billions.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Unreal Tournament 4 (UT4) Framerate Optimization

My computer is getting old. When I built it, it only cost 500 dollars (CDN) but it was a pretty good gaming rig for the money back then. That was a few years ago though, it's certainly not a very good gaming machine now, especially not for playing a fast paced new shooter like Unreal Tournament 4 pre-Alpha.

My computer specs:

ASUS M4N68T-M motherboard
AMD Athlon II X3 440 CPU
8G RAM 2x4 DDR3 1600
Radeon 5670 512M DDR5
Samsung Evo 840 120G SSD
150G WD Caviar HD

The original machine only had 4G of RAM and no SSD, those are recent upgrades. I also upgraded the OS from XP to 8.1 (UT4 does not work on XP).

Initially I found UT4 to be practically unplayable. It almost seemed ok with nothing going on but stuttered badly whenever any fighting was going on. My FPS would start bouncing all over the place. I was having big trouble hitting anything and just about every time I died was a WTF moment. Even just playing bots in a local game was extremely frustrating and attempting to play online was much worse.

So I went looking for config tweaks to improve FPS stability, reduce stuttering and input lag and make the game playable. I soon found a thread on Epic's UT4 forums suggesting a console command that turns off ambient lighting.

r.SimpleDynamicLighting 1

It helped a lot, practically doubled my dps, but the maps were very dark, some so dark I really couldn't see much of anything.  So I went looking for a console command to brighten the maps up and found this.

r.ExposureOffset 3

Some maps are very bright with r.ExposureOffset 3 but a few were still too dark in places with it only set to 2. I'd rather have a few maps a bit too bright than any too dark so I went with 3.

These can also be set in Engine.ini by adding the following lines under [SystemSettings]

r.SimpleDynamicLighting=1
r.ExposureOffset=3

These settings do make it harder to nail shock combos at range because without dynamic lighting you don't get the reflected glow along walls and floor that helps you gauge exactly where the moving core is.

Source https://forums.unrealtournament.com/archive/index.php/t-12691.html

Further down in the same forum thread a user named furiio posted his ini settings. I tried his settings later with  r.SimpleDynamicLight=1 and a few minor changes that seemed better for my hardware. That improved FPS and input lag a little more. They didn't increase my FPS but helped with FPS stability. My framerate didn't drop quite as low, nor nearly as often as before. Then after playing with that for a couple days I tried turning dynamic lighting back on tonight (r.SimpleDynamicLighting=0) and played a few local games.

The game feels smooth enough in local games, it looks better and it's easier to judge distances for shock combos with dynamic lighting on. But there wasn't anyone online to test it against so I'll have to wait till tomorrow to see if it's smooth enough for online play. I sure hope so, it'd be nice to be able to gauge distance on combos better.

Nope no luck with that, I had to turn dynamic lighting back off. The game just wasn't smooth enough for online play with it on.

I still can't play in the smaller, tighter maps with more than 4 or 5 players (including myself). It turns into a massive spamfest which kills my FPS and induces enough input lag that everything gets sort of wobbly. It feels like I'm dragging the screen around behind me and it doesn't want to follow me. I can't move very well and I can't hit the broad side of a barn unless it's not moving. But some of the larger maps are playable even with 8 or 10 players, I can move ok, I can hit other players and I say WTF a whole lot less.

My favourite maps so far are DM-Canon, DM-SidCastle and DM-DeckTest.


The following are furiio's settings.

\UnrealTournament\Saved\Config\WindowsNoEditor\Engine.ini:

[/Script/UnrealTournament.UTGameEngine]
bFirstRun=False
FrameRateCap=118
FrameRateMinimum=118

[SystemSettings]
r.HZBOcclusion=0
r.AmbientOcclusionLevels=0
r.BloomQuality=0
r.DepthOfFieldQuality=0
r.SSR.Quality=0
r.DetailMode=0
r.LensFlareQuality=0
r.MaxAnisotropy=0
r.oneframethreadlag=1
r.simpledynamiclighting=1
r.LightShaftQuality=0
r.RefractionQuality=0
r.ExposureOffset=0.3
r.ReflectionEnvironment=0
r.EarlyZPass=0
r.Atmosphere=0
r.Shadow.MaxResolution=2
r.Shadow.MinResolution=2
ShowFlag.DepthOfField=0
ShowFlag.AntiAliasing=0
ShowFlag.LensFlares=0
ShowFlag.Bloom=0
ShowFlag.AmbientOcclusion=0
ShowFlag.TemporalAA=0
ShowFlag.DynamicShadows=0
ShowFlag.MotionBlur=0
ShowFlag.fog=0
ShowFlag.Tessellation=0
ShowFlag.LightComplexity=0
TEXTUREGROUP_World=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_WorldNormalMap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_WorldSpecular=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Character=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=4,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_CharacterNormalMap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=4,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_CharacterSpecular=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=4,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Weapon=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=64,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_WeaponNormalMap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=64,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_WeaponSpecular=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=64,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Vehicle=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=256,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_VehicleNormalMap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=256,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_VehicleSpecular=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=256,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Cinematic=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=128,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Effects=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=128,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=linear,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_EffectsNotFiltered=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=128,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Skybox=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=256,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_UI=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=256,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Lightmap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=8,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Shadowmap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point,NumStreamedMips=3)
TEXTUREGROUP_RenderTarget=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=128,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_MobileFlattened=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Terrain_Heightmap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)
TEXTUREGROUP_Terrain_Weightmap=(MinLODSize=1,MaxLODSize=2,LODBias=0,MinMagFilter=aniso,MipFilter=point)

[/Script/Engine.Engine]
DisplayGamma=4
MinDesiredFrameRate=999

[TextureStreaming]
UseDynamicStreaming=false


\UnrealTournament\Saved\Config\WindowsNoEditor\GameUserSettings.ini:

[ScalabilityGroups]
sg.ResolutionQuality=100
sg.ViewDistanceQuality=0
sg.AntiAliasingQuality=0
sg.ShadowQuality=0
sg.PostProcessQuality=0
sg.TextureQuality=0
sg.EffectsQuality=0

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

PLEX Price Trends

It's too early to say for sure but it looks like the recent PLEX price trend may be changing. The price rose somewhat quite recently and has been holding fairly steady since at around 820 million each.


Of particular interest is that for the first time in over a month the 5 day average is above the 20 day average. This is an indication prices are rising (or have risen recently).

Normally I'd consider that a strong indicator the trend is about to reverse and prices start going up again but right now things are still very much up in the air regarding the multi-boxing policy changes.

The next week or so should give us a better idea if the downward trend is going to continue (possibly at a lower rate), if prices will drop even further, begin to stabilize, or start rising again.

Really what happens next is heavily dependent on how well (or conversely how poorly) and how strictly CCP enforces the new policy. And it's probably going to be a while longer before we know for sure about that.

If you think CCP will not be effective at enforcing the new policy, then it's time to start buying now. If you think they'll be banning cheaters left and right, then it might be a good idea to sell before the price starts going back down again.