Dipping With Gumdrops, The WoW Economy & TradeSkillMaster
Gumdrops, thank you for joining me on this 6 part interview. How is it going?
It’s going great, thanks for having me!
Good to hear that. How did you come with the name Gumdrops?
It’s just the name of a very ginger dwarf rogue that I made in Vanilla and is my main to this day! I thought a goofy name for a drunken and angry dwarf would be funny. He’s a Human now though, and Gumdrops is more me than the character I suppose!
Why did you change the Dwarf into a Human?
With the character and model redesigns in Warlord’s of Draenor I preferred the animations of Humans, so I swapped over.
Yeah, that makes sense. So you started in Vanilla, how did you find out about World of Warcraft?
I was 15 and playing in a Soldier of Fortune II clan. One of my friends had got into the WoW EU Beta test and shared an invite with me, I remember making a gnome warlock and thinking the game was absolutely enormous before I’d even got to Ironforge! On launch, we rolled on Shadowsong EU which is where Samadan plays to this day, although I don’t remember seeing him on the auction house back in the early days!
That’s really early game. Yeah, Samadan is still active and uses your old guild Trader Joes, right? What was the reason you gave him your guild?
I had moved to Ravencrest a little before to join a raiding guild and I had some leftover reagents and crafted gear in the guild bank that was going to waste. I noticed on one of Samadan’s early streams that he was struggling for storage space, so I handed it over, I’m sure it’s continued to be useful since.
Great, you could help him out. What do you like so much about World of Warcraft?
For most of my game time, it was all about PvE and “high end” raiding, server firsts in vanilla up to top 100 in Legion. I really enjoyed that group play, at least while I had the time! It wasn’t until Mists of Pandaria that I started thinking about gold making and that became one of my main activities to enjoy in the game. I think the economy is a significant size, at least compared to other games, and while it might not be as complex as some (like EVE) I think it’s still very satisfying to develop, test, and execute strategies that result in gold arriving in your mailbox!
In Mist of Pandaria, you started gold making. What made you want to do gold making and how did you make your first gold?
I don’t recall that there was a specific thing that made me want to start making gold. I think I had installed Auctioneer and was just generally searching for some tips on how to use it like when to scan to get market information. For a few days I was scanning religiously but not really doing anything about it – when I found a YouTube series from Silenthunder covering TradeSkillMaster 2, so I immediately set up a group of transmog and started flipping it. My first I remember sale was a Knight’s Crest shield, back when I would manually inspect the appearance of things to see if I thought it would be worth selling!
Was flipping the first thing you did as in gold making?
Transmog specifically and exclusively, yes! It made me my first million but it took a long time. That’s why I never recommended new gold makers start with that.
What would you recommend to new starting gold makers?
That’s always a challenging question to answer since for the most part those that are asking it are looking for a silver bullet or a secret that they think everyone else knows about. Which is absurd! What I always try to recommend, and how I approached this topic on my stream, is to think of the feedback loop. Trying something and finding quickly you have made yourself gold, regardless of what it is, closes the positive feedback loop and encourages you to try again or do more. I suppose you could call it “failing fast” which is a common strategy in various business environments and it can apply quite nicely to starting with gold making.
It’s impossible to learn everything before starting, which is a common trap, and it’s impossible to know if something is the “right” thing to do unless you try it in the context of your server and your play style. To start the feedback loop for the first time I usually suggest buying an item you’re familiar with, you might have bought it regularly before like a flask or a reagent – how much did you pay, how much would you pay, how much is it on the AH now. It’s usually very quick to buy and sell something like that and you can learn a lot of closing the loop that one time.
Has the gold making and everything around it changed when you started?
The fundamentals haven’t changed, for sure. But I think it’s definitely a more prevalent thing to do in the game with the introduction of the WoW Tokens and the community is massive these days, both in terms of content creators like yourself and viewers/readers/participants.
Do you think the Burtosaur has contributed to that as well? What are your thoughts on how Blizzard introduced and now moves it to the black market auction house?
Perhaps a bit, I think there’d be more people that were already making gold setting that as their goal than there are people that weren’t participating in the community or considered themselves a gold maker that decided to strive for it. I think it’s a cool idea and hopefully, we’ll see more things that gold makers can strive for but I don’t have any strong feelings about it being removed, lots of things get shuffled out at the end of each expansion – if I missed something then it’s not a big deal for me.
Have you checked some (gold making) stuff that comes in Shadowlands and are you going to try out Shadowlands, maybe a bit of gold making?
Actually not really, I’ve been reading the discussions on the /r/woweconomy Subreddit but the new profession stuff doesn’t look fascinating to me. Neither does the game in general, to be honest looking at all the new systems and mechanics like covenants, soulbinds, and conduits I just can’t bring myself to care about it or get excited to jump back on the “treadmill” of grinding. So my motivation to play the game is sadly lacking at the moment, unfortunately!
The WoW Economy Community
Gumdrops, you are one of the main figures of the wow economy community. Who and how did the wow economy community started?
I’m perhaps a little more behind-the-scenes these days! I certainly didn’t start the community but I think I shepherded it in too ‘modern times’ if that makes sense. Way before I ever thought about making gold there were plenty of content creators writing blogs like Lunchmoney Enterprises, Power Word: Gold, The Gold Queen, AH Addict – just check out this old archive. Plus there was a rather large forum over at Stormspire run by Sterling that was starting to wind down when I started – possibly a combination of the coveted Wind Traders that stopped playing and the inception of the /r/woweconomy subreddit.
I took over the subreddit about 3 years after it was made, it needed a bit of tidying up with some blog spam that had crept in. My approach to moderation was to try and emulate Stormspire, trying to prompt deeper discussions and theory crafting instead of seeing endless ‘how do I make gold’ or clickbait links. I was actually reluctant to launch the Discord server back in 2017 as I had incorrectly assumed it would be difficult to manage, but I’m glad I was wrong as we’re 56,000 members strong now with a great support team of moderators.
56,000+ members is insane. Ever thought it would become something this big?
Hard to say really. In some ways now because it’s a niche topic within a niche game, but I’ve always hoped that the community I foster is one that encourages new people to come back and stay. I think that’s always the goal for any community manager/leader.
Well, it seems you are doing a great job with the community. Any future plans or ideas for the community?
Nothing major in the short term besides some preparation for Shadowlands. However, I’d still like to implement some kind of system on the subreddit to recognize “good content” and democratize that process with the community. Upvotes and Reddit awards don’t really help the person that has “good content” when they continue to participate in the community, where there’s nothing to show that the community trusts them or highly rates their submissions and comments within it. It’s sort of an evolution of the Trusted Goblin concept, but a bit more accessible and widespread.
Ever thought of starting a website or a forum that can fit more in that description?
No, I’m not sure introducing another platform that serves the same purpose would make sense.
Can you explain to me what TradeSkillMaster can do for a gold maker?
One of our slogans is that TSM can “elevate your gold making” – and I think that’s the best way to describe it. It’s not something you download and print money with, you need to have a strategy or be doing something already to make gold – TSM can help you make that process significantly more efficient which lets you do more of it, or gives you the chance to deploy additional strategies just as efficiently.
It’s an entire suite of tools in-game that covers crafting, destroying, buying, selling, mailing, banking, and importantly pricing information – plus out of game things like historical server and personal data analysis and notifications about deals or shopping alerts.
We recently got the TSM 4.10 update (I can almost say a new TSM). Was it needed?
Yeah definitely, we are always looking to improve the addon and there is a never-ending list of things we want to do. Version 4.10 was where TSM4 maybe should have been at launch, and we discussed this a bit in our launch Q&A on Discord – but there weren’t any new major systems introduced, we just looked at everything the addon currently did, the workflows and processes that existed and improved them. We spent 25 minutes one time discussing the function and placement of a single button, so we really went deep on the details.
And it worked out well seeing all the great reactions. What do you like the most about TSM 4.10?
A couple of things spring to mind for that. The fact that accounting data is synced between accounts now is unbelievable, I never thought we’d see that but apparently, it wasn’t as complicated as I thought! Then the UI improvements like the appearances, but specifically the commodity Buy Outflow is very smooth, and the Crafting UI is much more robust like it used to be in TSM3.
I’m happy I can finally set the ‘material cost method’ on particular items back to default and the UI looks much better. Anything you can spoil that we can expect in TSM 4.11?
We’re looking at some popular requests after the launch of 4.10, but I can’t share anything specific yet. What we definitely are doing right now is making sure TSM is ready for Shadowlands.
Great to hear that, but you guys did recently release a new tool, called uhm…… I call it the ‘TSM Web Ledger’. How should we call it?
We just call it Ledger, part of the TSM suite of tools.
Okay the ‘Ledger’, but it’s an amazing tool. I do think there could be some visual improvements, but how are the reactions so far?
Very positive for those that dig data and understand how to get answers out of it – so I think that might highlight that there are some places we can improve the experience for those that might not know where to start or how to start with data analysis. It’s the first public version and there’s also a long list of things planned for Ledger too!
Can’t wait to see more great stuff coming from the TradeSkillMaster team.
Where can people find you?
Great! Anything you want to add to this interview or tell the readers?
Buy high, sell low.
Well said! O one more question Gumdrops…………. How do I make gold?
Gumdrops, I want to thank you for you’re time and effort for this great interview.