Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: Buyback War!

You, astute reader, will have noticed that I did not comment on the progress of the Buyback War in the last post. It was something of a disappointment, mainly because I was just too victorious. Maybe that has something to do with the north.

It goes without saying that I decided to go with the ‘crush them’ option. I raised my payout back up to 100% under a “Welcome to Fade” introductory offer. This was very good timing because the die hard UVHO folk (the ratting and mining deadend system in Querious) had finally been dislodged from their abode and were making their way up to Fade with heavy hearts. My magnificent rates were there to greet them! Win-win!

I dropped a few mobile depot adverts around the stations I operated out of. People kept killing them but the timers are long enough that this doesn't really matter. I charitably assumed that the destruction of these belongings was performed by Goons camping our system rather than disgruntled competitors. I made sure to turn over the contracts fast, clearing them in the morning and evening. And, finally, I was polite and helpful to people who were having difficulties, even on the rare occasion that their difficulties were not caused by me buggering up.

Eventually, this buggering up became a bit of a problem. I was getting about a hundred contracts a day, and the manual processing was becoming too much and quite error-prone. I lost count of the times I had to beg people to return ISK I had mistakenly sent. I also occasionally messed up and sent people too little ISK, especially when they submitted multiple contracts at the same time.

The final straw came when I did a batch of contracts in which were significantly undervalued. There was a temporary problem with the site in which some modules incorrectly registered zero buy value. ( is a really great site and fantastic service for the community btw but I felt really bad in consequence.)

Now, please feel free to skip the next paragraph because I am go to explain how my scripts work. This is primarily because it took me ages to get them right and I am very proud of the outcome if not the execution. I program metabolic pathways instead of scripts for a job and am therefore bad at this sort of thing.

First, I pulled Zappity's contracts from the API, selected the ones which were assigned to her, rather than buy her, and flagged the ones which were evilly located at non-buyback locations, even though I often take them anyway. The script then pulled the items from each individual contract and built a list of items that hadn't had their prices updated in my local database in a while. The prices, once updated at the fantastic, were then used to calculate the value of the entire contract and report a breakdown of each item with Jita buy and sell prices, total buy and sell value, and adjusted price according to my current buyback rate. It also flagged whether there was a price already included in the contract (very infrequent) and, if so, whether it was reasonably appropriate in terms of magnitude.

This made things a lot easier. I now scrolled down the page which displayed the items in each contract with flags if an abnormal price appeared, pasted the adjusted amount into the Send Money box, accepted the contract and moved onto the next one. The only drawback is that I didn't have an link to paste into the description. But the values are very close and nobody has complained yet.

The success of my campaign did lead to a bit of a problem, however. I had started accepting ore and minerals and now had an enormous and very difficult to move stockpile!

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