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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Two Weeks into the AH: Flipping Amulets (and other goods)

A large warehouse of gems and other components ready to craft and sell.

Another week goes by in the AH and I've at least doubled my asset values (at around 75M). It makes any gold farming in D3 seem rather trivial at the rate which gold is gained from flipping items. (I had to split up my time between D3, programming, and other FB apps, as well as checking the newsfeed manually, since the undocumented RSS feed that gave me daily digests of friends' status messages over the last two years was taken offline.)

In addition to gem selling, I've resorted to flipping amulets this week because of several traits that make it unique. First, the caps for attributes go much higher than usual, and second, they can also be fitted onto followers and have no class restrictions. The first reason makes them valuable as key attributes approach their max values on ilvl63. There are occasions where some valuable amulets are auctioned off for under 100k, and sold for much more.

Note on image above: It doesn't look like I have made a lot compared to last week, but keep in mind: I do have 220+ more Perfect Square gems ready to craft or sell (in case a high point rises in the market) and filled all my slots with valuable gems and TOS, which values to at least 15M+ here. There's also five Star and Flawless Star gems being put on auction in the RMAH as well as a 160+ STR and VIT Depth Diggers.

What to go for in the GAH (Amulets): Anything with two of the following attributes:

  • Gold Find > 30%
  • Crit Chance > 7%
  • Crit Damage > 66%
  • Attack Speed > 6%
  • Any Main Attribute > 303
  • Magic Find > 40%
  • Resist All > 60

Note on Flipping (in detail): Best to research the lowest cost of an item with those attributes before starting to make your bids/buyouts. You may want to keep track of how much you paid, and how much you listed the item as, so you can decrease its if it fails to sell, as long as you break even.

If you want to flip Legendaries, keep in mind some items are slightly more profitable to sell on the RMAH. Stormshields with good stats (at least 200 STR and 100 VIT) tended to sell well at 1-2 bucks profit a piece - and they were bought at 1mil or less. Block percent was irrelevant. You could try this for gems for a nice profit (as high as 70% ROI at the time of writing), but they sell a lot slower, and you need more of them before you can put them on the market.

Friday, December 28, 2012

McDonalds Grilled Onion Cheddar

Drawn in from the sale being a 'Grilled Onion Cheese Sandwich' for a dollar, I decided to get one today instead of the usual McChicken. I wasn't impressed with the sandwich - it was a bit small, but tasted good.

Not a grilled cheese sandwich, it's "grilled onion" with white cheddar (a new thing) as well as a beef patty. Guess I missed the time when they had the Cheddar Bacon Onion Sandwich with chicken, which would've been more than decent.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Snow Village at Lincoln Center

Introduced to the Snow Village at the Lincoln Center - one of the more nicer finds in Stockton. It's quite the display and took a while to look at, better than driving around and looking around for Christmas light displays. There's also a scavenger hunt checklist while you're looking around.

Where and When? Look around the Lincoln Center in Stockton - the display occupies an entire store front display and the lights are on between 5:30pm and 10pm., up until January 6, so you still got some time. Full brochure here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas: Loads of Presents and Bags

In years past it used to be mostly presents...

Following the family get-together is Christmas... and opening presents. Most of the time, it's what I requested on my wishlist (I could request for one or more gifts totaling up to $50, but had to gift another family member's wishlist) but there's always a few surprises.

It seems like this year there's less presents and more bags... guess wrapping them was too much work. Also noted this Christmas: There were fewer games (I didn't see any console games out this year).

Loot Received includes:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Everything's Better with Brie

At the yearly family Christmas get-together, this is what I always have on my plate. Crisp bread with sweet almonds filled with brie cheese in the center.

The introduction to this a couple of years ago is what eventually got me to trying various cheeses from Costco - I simply didn't like the limitation of either Cheddar, Provolone, Pepper Jack, or Swiss at the UC, and I wanted something new. They're a bit expensive (some upwards of $10 per pound), but it's worth it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

One Week into the AH: Diablo 3 Auction House Tips

This gem commodity looks like a good sell - better produce them before the selling price goes down. (Today's deal: Perfect Square Rubies - between 5-7PM PST producing 28k gold per gem produced)

I've heard from one of my friends that he was able to sell off $600 worth of gear after quitting. Wanting to try the same, I got my copy in December. I realized a lot has changed in seven months since the AH was first available - gold is a lot less and you can't profit from gems. Still, I manage to find ways to profit from this economy, despite the fact that making good money here is nonexistent at this time (at least until PvP comes out). Within two weeks (one was spent building up my character to 60), I have approximately 36 million gold in assets. Most of it was not from gold farming.

My Tips for Profiting and getting the most out of the D3AH (updated Jan 2013):

  • Find cheap legendary items with good stats (under 1M) and sell them back on the RMAH. You should research the average price on both the RMAH and the Gold AH beforehand. For anything less than 1M, selling for two dollars is sufficient enough to cover the costs (this equates to > 3M gold at the time of writing). They don't sell often, but when they do they pay well.

  • Upgrading your gear: Typically the three most important attributes that you want will give you cheaper costs than you expect. The highest stats are typically (but not always) the most expensive. Something like 20% less stats could be much cheaper. It took under 5M in gold total to upgrade my Barb to 96k dps, while still being able to survive Inferno, only one item bought was 1M.

  • Basic Stuff on Auctions: The auction runs on a proxy bidding system - only the second highest bid is displayed. If you place a bid, and it doesn't beat the other person's max bid, it will show your bid, since the system automatically bids for them in 5% increments (up to their max bet). If you win the auction, the cost is what the second highest bidder put down (the difference between your max bet and the actual price is given back to you via a refund).

  • Pinning Auctions: When you place a bid, whether you win or not, it will be pinned in the 'active auctions' category (even if you don't win) so you have a chance to bid again closer to the auction end time.

  • Bid Sniping: Place a large bid (up to what you want to spend) seconds before the auction ends). You'll want a watch with a second hand to do this. A well timed snipe almost guarantees an instant win. If not, you at least raised the cost of the item for the person who won. Tip: Copy your max bid to the clipboard and paste it in to bid faster. There is a few second delay before your bid is actually placed. (Note: The time before auction ends doesn't refresh on your bids until you scroll down, and in results until you search again or flip through pages)

  • Mass Bidding: If you see a lot of extremely cheap items with a few hours left to go and are not planning to be on the auction house at the time it ends (like 2AM-7AM) don't be afraid to put a larger bid on those items. (ex. if the item is worth 1M and the cost is below 500k, place 500k bids on all cheap items that end during that time). If they don't win, you'll get your gold back.

  • How Selling Works: If you want to list an item, for equipment the suggested bid cost is the sell price of the item, with the buyout left blank. For commodities, it is the value of the Last 10 Trades (this can be manipulated - see below) and is your sell price. They last for 36 hours either way, and the item is returned to you (or for commodities, what you didn't sell, as well as gold for what sold).

  • Bid or Buyout? You have two options for selling items: You can either set a decent buyout price, or have the people build up the price for you via bids (it is recommended you start your bid at the price you originally paid for it, plus 20%). This avoids the 'too high, didn't sell' situation.

  • Flipping Items: It is very possible to flip items for a substantial profit, especially when it comes to amulets (and rings). Anything with a 45% gold find should sell for at least 500k, and even more with a good crit chance/dmg. However, you can only have ten auctions active at one time, so you'll need to do a tradeoff between high profits and faster selling. My strat would be to keep two items selling above 1M, seven in the 300k-1M range, and one for something else (like gems or TOS). There was one instance where I bought a 3M amulet with a good crit chance / dmg for 3M and proceeded to sell it for 5M.

  • Flipping Gems: This is faster than item flipping, but although profits are significantly lower per gem sold and makes up for quantity, you'll have to spend a lot of time clicking to craft each one (if you have a laptop, you can read some articles to pass the time while you're crafting away with your other hand). Input the prices of all grades of a gem color you're interested into a gem calculator of your choice and TOS costs (mine above was built from scratch). Buy gems and craft them up to the level where the most percent profit can be made. If there's any higher grade gem with a -17% or lower profit and a higher level gem has over 4% profit, buy that grade instead as it saves the time used to craft that gem, (if the estimated price is below -15% profit, buy as many as the AH will allow, but read the footnote below)

  • Commodity Supply and Demand: The supply and demand system works a bit differently for commodities at the AH. The 'Price per Unit' is the maximum amount of gold you will pay for a single item. The reason why the supply of trades goes up is because if gems are bought faster than they are listed, eventually the buying price will be higher as supply runs out, based on what people list their gems as. (Some testing with buyout values indicate most of the time less than 3000 perfect square gems of a single color are in the market at one time, and less than 1k gems with a grade of Star or higher are being sold.) The only reason why prices goes down is that people want get their gems sold first, and they try to price competitively. When two or more people are in a price war, the selling price for a gem can go down quite a bit (for a Perfect Star Ruby, 6.8 mil -> 6.5 mil)

    (The 'price wars' are more prevalent when it comes to plans in the RMAH, as there is a huge price difference between the GAH and RMAH when you do the conversion, typically in the millions for a single plan. The most I've gotten out of one trade was 22 million gold profit from selling a Demon's Skin Plan for 15 bucks... after buying it for 32 mil.)

    • Example: 100 P Square Ruby gems are selling for 40k. 50 others list for 45k, 20 for 50k, and 10 for 60k. The avg last trades are 40k.
    • Without doing any additional research, people will usually craft P Squares and list for 40k (at a 1k profit per gem made), although most guides indicate you can't make such a profit, with a large enough stockpile of gold you can on average make more gold per hour from crafting than you can with gold farming.
    • Suppose no new gems were listed and 100 people buy gems. Price per unit (PPU) is raised to 45k. Last 10 trades remain the same.
    • 5 more people buy it and the PPU is still 40k... but the avg last 10 trades is now up to 42.5k for future gems. People may sell for a higher price as a result.
    • 52 others buy and the price is raised to 50k (avg at 48k). At this point the profit margin is 30% for each gem made and now the market floods with gems from buyers hoping to get a profit.
    • The average sell price gradually drops as people are pricing their gems lower than the average in order to get theirs sold first. Others may pull out their original offer and price it down to below their average too, especially when selling large amounts. The average price goes down to 35k or so (at this point they are losing money from these sales)
    • Some people buy these gems seeing the costs are lower than usual)
    • The cycle repeats.

  • How price manipulation works: In the above example, if they are selling on average at 75k, and a few people plop them down at 30k, and two are sold, then the average becomes 66k. Unsuspecting sellers who didn't do the research may sell at the new price, bringing the price down faster than usual. In markets where people are accustomed to buying in bulk (like Tome of Secrets). more may be required to bring down prices, and the lower average price needs to be kept down constantly or the commodity price will go back up to normal prices. Conversely, others can be tricked into buying bulk at regular price thinking it was a good buy), which can raise the price up, at which point sellers can profit.

    Price manipulation has been typically seen on Tome of Secrets and Flawless Square gems (by setting a extremely cheap price (such as 100 or less than 50% of the current trade price) to reduce the average trade price - this can be seen when you query the price for buying a gem/TOS and it has a large price variance between the average cost and the estimated cost. They are rarely seen in Perfect and Radiant Square gems and almost never seen in grades higher than that due to the fact that they are much more expensive (they are crafted by players for a substantial cost and do not drop in the game) and are resistant to dropping below the production cost of the gem (cost to buy flawless squares + TOS + crafting fee + 20%) for obvious reasons.

  • Quantity or Quality? When crafting gems, analyze your percent profits, and sell the gem quality that clearly has a higher margin of profit. If the difference is small, it would be better to sell off the highest grade gem you can afford. However, the selling rate for gems drop off dramatically (it takes around 2-3 minutes on average to sell a Flawless Star Gem, 10-15 mins for a Perfect Star Gem, and around 2 hours for a Radiant Star Gem) so you'll need to find a balance between the two.

    People don't typically buy gems higher than Flawless Square in bulk because there is no profit from crafting at that point, so people usually buy one to socket it with their character. As a result, it would generally be better to sell a Flawless Star Gem at 8% profit rather than 9 Radiant Square Gems at 10% profit. After that point (like Perfect Stars), players are a lot less willing to pay the extra 6 million for a marginal increase in stats (+4 of a main stat) and instead go buy some better gear with this (I, in my opinion, would rather get a IK Eternal Reign for 10M than a Radiant Star.) However, with the future introduction of the next tier Marquise Gems (with a base crafting cost of 85 million, minimum, if you bought all the materials to craft one at current market prices after the 1.0.7 preview post), gem stats might increase dramatically.

    If you don't have a large stockpile of cash, resort to the JIT (just in time) strategy by buying gems as you finish up your order, unless you know the price of a crafting material will increase greatly. Else you might end up with a huge stockpile of gems you can't sell (I had 200 Perfect Square Topaz gems ready to sell, and then the market dropped to the point where I was going to lose money if I sold it at that price...), and had to do a bit of gold farming to get more gold for other ventures and to craft them into higher grade gems.

Good luck in the markets, and remember it might take a bit of time to build up a huge fortune, but you'll get there.


  • Price Per Unit (PPU) refers to the upper bound that you will pay for each unit when you click the search button.
  • Buying commodities in bulk warning: When you buy a commodity, you will buy out the lowest priced commodity currently on the market. If the estimated cost is higher than what you will buy it for, then the transaction will fail. Note that the support site / game does not cover 'in between cases', so if you buy enough of a particular item so that at least a few items bought go over the estimated cost, you will buyout as many commodities that were below the estimated cost, the remaining gold will be refunded to you, and you will be disconnected in most cases.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Board

It's been two years since I first started posting about this game. Although I am obligated to create weekly tips, the number of people even looking at the tips page for each board have tapered significantly (at most 50 viewers/week) and I'm busy playing D3 nowadays, so there won't be much this week.

I'm releasing a DIY set your own frogatar to something other than the three provided, this should help you out a bit. It should be on the very bottom. (Note: Fixed as of 12/19. Watch your coin counts - you will be unable to participate in the Top 50 boards if you run out.)

Strategy: Fruit is easy to get, provided you know where to leave gaps at. The right side is guaranteed to have fruit there if the curves are short. No double gaps here, so either try to gap on both sides, or attempt lots of curve clears. Your choice.

Spirit Turtle has been released, making your curve clears slightly easier at the expense of points for fruit / gaps. I got the extra time up to 5 minutes at one point.

Recommended Powers: Curly Fries, Epic Fruit, Sun Frog, Timelord, Spirit Eagle.

Pink Frog: The frogatar was released almost two months later on February 14 as the Froget-Me-Not and is unlocked using this link. Asked on the Facebook page on December 13 for opinions on whether or not people want a new frogatar. So far no new frogatars have been released, but up to eight will appear on the selection screen and extended stats were added, so they're getting somewhere.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hungry Hungry H... wait, what?

Went shopping at Target to buy gifts (for relatives) this Christmas and stumbled upon this, really Zynga? You're selling Hungry Hungry Hippos with the 'Farmville' brand? It's not based off the original game, it's exactly the same game, save a few color and head changes.

There's two other games I noticed, a Monopoly game based off of Cityville, and Words with Friends. But they are original in a way in both the layout and rule changes. But Farmville... this is completely unrelated. Except for the Farm Cash.

Speaking of that, isn't the sequel being played more nowadays?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

D3: Three days in the AH

3 days in and getting some profits from the the D3 Auction House... one thing of note today was buying and reselling Encrusted Hooves... back to a merchant. I noticed that the cost of buying that commodity was less than the price of selling to the merchant, so I decided to take advantage of this and bought as many as I could afford (and as many as they had left). Instant 30k profit within a minute. (For people who put it on the AH and were expecting to make more money off selling this commodity at that rate... I have no words for you.)

I similarly take advantage of the fluctuating prices of gems which varies from 160 to 300ish for Amethyst. Again profiting at 112 per gem (or more).

3 days, that's approx 1.2m in profits so far. Got three more weeks before results are tallied up. (to compare, I can get around 100k gold in one 20-30 minute run.)

Reef Madness

This post is a day late from its original release, but my excuse is that I currently have finals this week. As well as taking advantages of gem prices in D3 that I'll go in more detail on another post.

It looks like a 90 degree flip of an older board (Splish Splash) but the curves are longer so the balls won't move as fast by the time you can gap, and the configuration was changed slightly so that you can consistently do a gap (or double gap).

Strategy: Fruit is easy to get, gaps are a bit harder, but if you doble gap right, you're in for some good points.

Recommended Powers: Gapple Sauce, Epic Fruit, x3, Timelord, Spirit Eagle. You could also use Baco Bouquet - it has been tested to give huge amount of bonus time (2:32 for a eagle) but you're relying on your luck that enough time balls will pop up.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Diablo 3: 60 and Climbing

Defeating Diablo might mean beating the game to some, and even more to people who hit 60, but it's far from over.

3 Week Gold Challenge: Raise as much money as possible (by this, meaning actual cash as well as gold) via equipment and commodity sales as well as loot drops in three weeks. 1 dollar will covert to 3.4 million gold based on current conversion rates.

There was almost no way to do something like this after one playthrough, so the last week was spent bringing up a character to lvl 60.


  • The campaign can by any means be called 'short' - it takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete at MP-2 if you're just completing the main objectives. (Note: There are achievements for completing each Act in less than 1 hour.)
  • Leveling up here is quite quick (approximating 30 minutes with the proper skills, up to lvl 50, at which point you need to be on Hell difficulty to level up effectively)
  • MP-2 is quite manageable with normal gear, after that point you should overgear via auction house.
  • Was xp farming at the rate of 740k EXP / hour on Nightmare difficulty. and approx 2.75M xp/hr peak at Hell.

Current Strat I'm Using:

Note: It might not be the most effective, but works for me.

  • Start game in normal mode (no MP), go up to lvl 10 or something.
  • Accumulate enough gold to overgear via auction house (using Flawless Square gems for sockets)
  • Play at MP-5, adjusting as necessary to get though the game by Lvl 30 or so. (If I'm doing a lot of overkill on enemies, MP is raised). Reduced to Normal after hitting 50 before Hell dif, and back up to MP-2 onwards.
  • Accumulate as many subtle essence via blacksmith (by breaking it down) and sell via auction house (this sells for around 700 each at time of writing, far more than selling inferior magic items alone. If it's rare and has good stats, sell via AH.)
  • My Barbarian Build for XP: here (Prior to inferno)
    • 1. Frenzy + Sidearm to build up rage quickly (and has high dps, with Sidearm more so)
    • 2. Rend + Ravage - used to take out standard mobs quickly. Note its total damage is 700% weapon dmg over 5 seconds, and MP level as well and dps was prioritized so it can take out common mobs on its own.
    • 3. Sprint + Marathon - to get from one enemy to the next faster.
    • 4. Revenge + Vengeance - to build up fury + regen health faster between mobs
    • 5. Battle Rage + Maurader's Rage for the dmg bonus. (Latter swapped with War Cry in Inferno)
    • 6. Ignore Pain + Ignorance is Bliss, since damage taken is quite high in some places.
    • Passives to increase atk, def, and regens rage.


The challenge concluded on January 6, 2013, raising over 110 million gold in the process, and not killing a single creature in the last week, relying entirely on gem and item flipping. The most successful sale was Depth Diggers (bought at 12M, sold at 36M - 9.99 USD before fees and converted.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

(Sea) Turtles Board

Silly Eagle, you're not a spirit turtle. (Placeholder image, waiting for Spirit Turtle to arrive)

Can someone tell me how it matches up? (notices turtles) Oh, right, the release of the Spirit sea turtle (also appears in several places on the board). Wonder what it does...

Strategy: This is hard to gap effectively since there's little room to gap on top, and they roll slower towards the bottom, making it less effective. Even more so to curve clear since the second curve will almost always get in the way. Use a Spirit Eagle and focus on the fruit.

I had a very hard time getting a 10m here, relying on a lucky 2:08 et for the eagle. Let's see how well the turtle performs - hopefully it releases this week.

Recommended Powers: Gapple Sauce, Epic Fruit, x3, Timelord, Spirit Eagle. Use Combo Corn if you have it, it helps a lot when it comes to gaps.

If Spirit Turtle is available, use Curvy Fries, Timelord, Epic Fruit, and Inferno Frog. Five hot frog shots every ten seconds can take out a curve pretty quickly.

Sea Turtle: Coming out of the deep, it is rumored that it can instantly fire hot frog shots after consuming a fruit as well as doubling your speed bonus.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Near-Finals Week Treats

This is actually sweeter than it looks.

Who sets aside a box of treats (more specifically, cookies and pastries, one per person). My professor for my grad class does. He offers the box to everyone, and only one person comes up. Then slowly, another person gets up and grabs one, and another...

Sugar to keep awake during class, he says. In reality, I'll need this stuff to keep awake at night while studying before finals, that's more important.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Excel VBA Macros: Borders and Formatting

Borders seem very complicated when you record a macro for borders, do any kind of text of text formatting, etc., and look at it in Visual Basic. There are a few ways to simplify this.

Border Formatting Example

You record a macro, make a selection, and set borders. You immediately get something like this:
    Selection.Borders(xlDiagonalDown).LineStyle = xlNone
    Selection.Borders(xlDiagonalUp).LineStyle = xlNone
    With Selection.Borders(xlEdgeLeft)
        .LineStyle = xlContinuous
        .ColorIndex = 0
        .TintAndShade = 0
        .Weight = xlMedium
    End With
    With Selection.Borders(xlEdgeTop)
        .LineStyle = xlContinuous
        .ColorIndex = 0
        .TintAndShade = 0
        .Weight = xlMedium
    End With

Need a TL;DR? Essentially it is

  1. Removing any diagonal borders through the cell, and
  2. replacing each border with a medium size black line.

The details are:

  • .Borders(Direction) indicate which border you want changed.
    • xlDiagonalDown affects the line from the top-left to bottom-right of each cell selected.
    • xlDiagonalUp affects the line from the bottom-left to top-right of each cell selected.
    • xlEdgeLeft, xlEdgeRight, xlEdgeUp, and xlEdgeDown affects the left, right, top, and bottom borders of your selection. That means it treats your selection as a box, and the sides are what the code affects, see the above image for details.
    • xlInsideVertical and xlInsideHorizontal affects all the other vertical and horizontal lines (respectively) in your selection that the above didn't cover.
    • If you don't specify a direction, then all
  • The parameters you can set for borders are:
    • .LineStyle controls the line style. See the top for details.
    • .Weight controls how thick the line will be.
    • .Color controls the color of the line. You can use RGB format.
    • .TintAndShade controls tint and shade, but they can be ignored if you're using RGB values.

You don't have to stick to just the current selection, it can be modified so that you can change the borders for any cell without having to select it (and there are some good uses for this), so you could substitute Selection with stuff like:

    With Worksheets("Sheet1").Cells(6, 1)              ' This way you can use variables when accessing. 
       .Borders(xlEdgeBottom).LineStyle = xlContinous
    End With

- OR -

    With [D2].Borders(xlEdgeTop)
       .LineStyle = xlContinous
       .Color = RGB (255,0,0)
    End With

Text Formatting

The same can be done with Selection.Font (the parameters above work on this as well). I am listing only important values.

  • .Color controls the color of the test (use RGB)
  • .PatternColor controls the color of the background (use RGB)
  • .HorizontalAlignment controls text horizontal alignment (equal to xlLeft, xlRight, or xlCenter)
  • .HorizontalAlignment controls text horizontal alignment (equal to xlTop, xlCenter, or xlBottom)
  • .WrapText = (true to wrap)
  • .ShrinkToFit = (true to apply)
  • .Orientation = (what angle to rotate it by)
  • .AddIndent = (true to indent)
  • .IndentLevel to determine how far to indent (whole numbers only)
  • .MergeCells to merge or remove the merge on the affected cell(s). To not do anything with the cells structure, don't include it.
  • .Name = (font name, enclosed in quotes)
  • .Size = (font size)
  • .Strikethrough = (True to make it strikethrough)
  • .Superscript = (True to make it superscript)
  • .Subscript = (True to make it subscript)
  • .OutlineFont = (True to put an outline on text, but it apparently does nothing)
  • .Shadow = (True to put a shadow on text, but it apparently does nothing)