Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finally, ESXi Part III

Last time I gave a breakdown of the server that I am using ESXi on:
1 physical CPU being split into 2 virtual CPUs
3.5 Gigs of memory
An 80 Gig hard drive. 

I put two (2) bots on this machine and some time has passed.  How does it perform and more importantly, what resources are required to run each individual virtual machine?

Fortunately for us, ESXi has a plethora of tools available which can give you more information than is required.



As you can see from the above graph, this bot is consuming about half of the CPU resources.  This is not surprising as there is one physical core being split into two (2) virtual processors.  It also indicates that we need approximately 1.6 Ghz for a virtual machine.  My best guess was that 1.5 Ghz would be sufficient to run a bot.



The above graph shows disk usage.  As you would expect, there is not a lot disk read/writes during idle time and even during a trade event, there is not a sufficient drain on resources.  I should throw in a caveat here.  The hard drive in this machine is an older 5400 RPM drive with an 80 Gig capacity.  It is enough for a two (2) bot setup.  If one is desiring to run an eight (8) bot chain, there is going to be more disk activity as you would expect.  There is going to come to a point where simultaneous trade events will start to over-lap and start to degrade the smoothness of the trade, possibly damaging potential sales.

One could mitigate this by using an SSD drive ot a Hybrid drive and putting MTGO files in a folder and then networking that folder thereby minimizing disk access drive.  This procedure has been detailed in previous entries.  Next time, we’ll continue our exploration of ESXi.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (Setup 1) Part 8

Putting together the pieces:

This article will go through some things to keep in mind and some basic instructions on setting up your botting server. I can't go too in-depth as things like installation of hardware and operative system will vary a lot depending on what you have purchased.
I'll assume you've decided what hardware to buy and now it's time to set it all up and get it ready for botting. I will also write this focused on helping you install Windows 7 as this is the operative system I would recommend for someone with basic to no experience. You can find more information on available operative systems in my previous article.

Installing your hardware: 

First of all you obviously need to put your hardware together and get the computer running. You don't need any special tools other than a normal screwdriver.
Your hardware should come with instruction manuals that I would recommend you to read.
I would also recommend searching Google and Youtube for articles and videos on how to set up each part.
When it comes to building a computer, as long as you have purchased parts that are compatible with each other it's very straight forward and you can't really do it wrong as most(if not all) cables only fit in one slot, it's almost as easy as building a jig-saw puzzle. Just make sure to read the instruction manuals before you start building.

When building a computer a good idea is to wear an antistatic wrist strap that you attach to something grounded like a sink or a radiator.
This is a safety measure that prevents you from discharging static electricity built up in your body into sensitive computer parts, which could potentially break them.

These straps can be purchased cheaply at shops that sell computer hardware.

If you're hesitant to build your computer yourself there are plenty of computer shops that offer to build it for you, but these often charge quite a lot. You could always ask a friend or acquaintance that have more experience to build it for you. I would however say that anyone that can read and follow simple instructions can build a PC.

Installing your operative system: 

Remember to install your OS on your SSD if you decided to purchase one for your bot.
There are two ways I would recommend when installing your OS.

First one is the most basic, simply install it using a DVD that will be included if you purchased a physical Windows License. If you purchased a digital version simply download the .iso file from your digital distributor and burn it onto a DVD.

If you do not have access to a DVD burner or don't have a DVD reader for your server you can use Win7 USB/DVD Download Tool and follow the simple instructions on the site to turn a USB drive into a bootable Windows installation. There are similar softwares available for other operative systems you might prefer but I won't name them all here.

To install simply insert your DVD into the DVD reader and follow the installation instructions on the screen.
When installing using an USB drive you might have to choose it as your bootable drive do this by going into the BIOS. You can see which button takes you there on the screen when starting your computer (this can vary depending on your motherboard) then choose USB as your bootable drive. You can easily find instructions for this if you search Google using the name of your motherboard and something along the lines of "change bootable drive".


This is as I said earlier, very basic. I would recommend slimming down your operative system before installation using RT Se7en Lite for Win 7 or nLite for Win XP. This could potentially save you tons of computer resources to dedicate for the bots instead of running unnecessary services and other stuff that comes with your OS that you don't need. This will however take some time and can be a bit tricky so I would recommend looking for guides online on how to do it. I will not go through how you should do it mainly because everyone use different components of their OS and also completely different operative systems so this is pretty much up to you how you want it. But there are great guides that will help you slim down your own custom Windows installation that suits your needs.

This was some very, very basic information about setting up your hardware and operative system.
If you have any questions I will gladly answer them in the comment section bellow.

Next time I'll go through setting up some softwares you need and getting your computer ready for botting.
Ta-ta!

-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5




Sunday, July 28, 2013

Farewell Extended format.

As the popularity of Modern has continued to rise, Wizards of the Coast has made the decision to retire the Extended format. Too many formats can fracture a player base - says WotC.

Tournament organizers will be able to sanction Extended events up to August 7, 2013, but after that there will be no more sanctioning of events for Extended. Events sanctioned before August 7, 2013, will be able to be run until October 8, 2013.


Magic Online will be removing Extended as a supported format after their downtime on August 7, 2013.  

Old extended  holds quite a bit of nostalgia for me. It was much better than Modern format these days. Farewell Extended..


Friday, July 26, 2013

MTGO Library Bot 5.85 released


ML Bot 5.85 has just been released, supporting the new core set Magic 2014 (M14). 

As usual, the new pricelist is available for download from the Online Control Panel and for free during the update process. The users of the LITE ML Bot should update their pricelists too because the procelist is still used as a reference for the names of the cards.

MTGO Library: The Magic Online Bot

We host the first of a series of articles from our friends blog http://www.mtgeconomist.com , a blog dealing with mtg and mtgo economics.

You can read the original article here: 




As I said in the previous chapter, the following chapters of this series will be focused on one of the most famous and important Magic Online bots: MTGO Library. Although management of this software is not difficult, you need some experience to obtain all its performance. Therefore, I will create a sub-series of chapters to learn this essential tool so you may obtain the maximum profit from your Magic Online collection.

What is a Magic Online bot?

A bot is a software that performs tasks on your operating system automatically. If you know what a macro is, the previous definition has no difference with macros. However, the bot, unlike the macro, performs the actions as if it was the user who executes them. For example, you could write a simple macro to run the Notepad application with a single command, whereas the bot would use the mouse or a key combination to obtain the same result.

Therefore, a Magic Online bot is a tool that acts as if the user with a single purpose: to obtain cards for your collection. Why use an application like this to automate a shop in Magic Online? There are two main reasons:

Wizards does not provide an official application to create your own store. The Magic Online client is a closed software, so the only way to interact with your collection is by using that UI like a human does.

General description of MTGO Library

In the absence of official tools to trade cards without staying in front of your computer, MTGO Library was born as a Magic Online bot to meet that necessity. The cover image of this post (obtained from the MTGO Library official site) sums up the main feature of this software: add cards to your collection.

Both the application and its manual can be downloaded directly from the official website. However, you must create an account on MTGO Library if you want to activate and use the software, which is completely free of charge. Once the MTGO Library account is created, you must associate your Magic Online account you want to use as a store to buy/sell cards automatically.

MTGO Library features

This Magic Online bot has many advantages to create a store for buying/selling digital cards. Personally, the most important for me are the following:
  • It is “FREE”, you don’t have to pay a cent of real money. 
  • Customizable ads from the bot tool itself or on your profile at MTGO Library site. Y
  • ou may own several bots and share the credits of a user among them. 
  • Own pricelist which can be automatically upgraded (for an additional fee). 
  • Complete customization with your own prices. 
  • Ready to work with the future version 4 of the Magic Online client.

The point that probably gets your attention is that the bot costs you nothing since the beginning. But how is that possible? Well, you really do have to pay a commission of 2.5% of the value of each transaction you make, but with tickets instead of real money. The bot has a record of each transaction and their corresponding commissions. When the amount exceeds the value of 1 ticket, a special account from MTGO Library collects the fee from your bot. As it is supposed that you get a higher percentage with those transactions, you still receive a benefit. And, as I previously said, you never are forced to pay with real money.

The main problem to use a bot of Magic Online is that you must keep a computer switched on 24 hours/day, which is a considerably expense on electricity. Besides, as the bot uses the mouse it prevents you from running personal applications. Luckily, there is a technique to avoid this problem that will be discussed in future chapters of this series.


Security at MTGO Library


One of the most critical topics of MTGO Library, from the safety point of view, is that you must provide the password of your Magic Online account so the bot can automatically log on without your intervention. For years there has been controversy with this topic. I have read forum threads (correct me if I’m wrong) opened by competitors to create distrust in this popular application, and others opened by some affected users that lost their accounts/cards, but afterwards it seemed that they were poorly grounded. There were also attempts to steal accounts via password hack. After that, MTGO Library changed the password policy and now you cannot a password shorter than 8 chars.


Let me be clear with this topic. I have no evidence to confirm or deny these claims. What I can say for sure is that, in my personal experience with MTGO Library for more than three years, I have never had problems with theft of cards, account passwords or whatever. The only problem I’ve had is that rarely the bot can make a mistake in a buy/sell transaction due to an error with reading the price, but this is very rare and any lost for that transaction is quickly compensated by the overall benefits. Be clear that the robot always act as yourself at Magic Online, so their actions on the digital platform are as if you had done it.

So, in conclusion, what do you recommend?

MTGO Library is a highly tested Magic Online bot over the years and nowadays it works perfectly. For this reason and my personal experience, I recommend you give it a try and follow the advices I will publish in this series. The first one: use strong passwords (capital/small letters alternating numbers).

If you want to see how is the current stock of my Magic Online bot, you can check out the store shop_ruby to get an idea of ​​how it works from the point of view of the customer. This way, you will also have a preview of how your collection of digital cards can grow when using MTGO Library (I started with an investment of 50 tickets). I am convinced that when you try it you won’t want to leave.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finally, ESXi Part II


Last time I wrote about finally being able to install ESXi and displayed its normal screen, which is an old DOS-type screen.  I asked how do you install a bot, start a bot and do bot maintenance.  We’ll address those issues today.

The first thing you need to do is note the IP address which is noted on the ESXi screen.  Then, on another networked machine, typically your normal Windows machine, you navigate to that addreess.  You will then be presented with a screen similar to the picture to the left..

You must then download the vSphere client.  As you would expect, vSphere installs like any other Windows program.  This is how you manage virtual machines and looks similar to Vmplayer and other VM interfaces

For those who have utilized VMware before; this should be familiar; you can either create a new virtual machine or import one from a backup.  (You DO have backups of your bots, right?)  You can then start your bots as normal and take a gander at all the cool tools available with ESXi.

But before we start using those tools, let me describe the hardware I am using for this test.  Actually, it is better if I show you; also below


As you can see, this is not the latest and greatest of hardware:

1 physical CPU being split into 2 virtual CPUs
3.5 Gigs of memory
A lowly 80 Gig hard drive.  That’s right, they actually did make them that small.

I then allocated about half to each bot.  I then looked at the performance and the logs and we can finally settle, once and for all, what resources really are needed to run a bot on a virtual machine.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The future of ML Bot - ML Bot for v4 online now

Hello to everyone,

I am glad to announce that we are finally there, we have a public ML Bot running on MTGO v4. The account is named "The_Kate_Bot", and it's available for trade now!

The account is not a real "business" one because the collection is poor and we stop it frequently for debugging reasons.  Still you can trade with it and see how the development is going.  Any feedback is highly appreciated and encouraged!

Please spread the voice and trade a lot! Try for example to purchase cards...... try to sell some, or try to trick the bot doing "strange things" :-) ....  spend 5 minutes and write us when done!

UPDATE***: thanks to all, we had many trades today! The_Kate_Bot will be online again on Monday!



Thank you!
Albert
staff@mtgolibrary.com


Monday, July 22, 2013

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (Softwares) Part 7

Softwares:

Now we've come to the time to start looking at what applications to use and which licenses to purchase.
I'll recommend what I think you should use and I'll also try to give you at least one alternative that doesn't require you to purchase a license. I will not give you definite prices or links to where to purchase required licenses as these will vary depending on your location, etc.


First of all you'll have to decide which operative system to use: 

While I think Windows XP is the best alternative at the moment I would still recommend getting Windows 7 even though it consumes more resources, simply because the v4 version of MTGO that should be released shortly will (most likely) not run properly on Windows XP. This will probably force you to upgrade to Win 7 when v4 is released which seems unnecessary.
Now this is not something we're completely sure of, it might very well work on Windows XP but from what we've heard it won't, due to some rendering issues.

Windows 7 costs quite a lot and you will need one license per virtual machine plus one for the host PC.
A virtual machine is considered by Microsoft as being a separate computer and will therefore need a separate license. There are however plenty of ways to get these licenses cheaper than normal retail price.
Consider checking if you can get a student's discount or maybe the family pack of 3 licenses, which is way cheaper than buying separate licenses. You could also try it out before you purchase by using their trial period, this gives you some time to think about which OS you want to use.
The same applies if you decide to go with Win XP, you'll still need separate licenses that you have to pay for so I would say it's better to future proof by using Windows 7.

You might want to use Windows 8 and it should work fine. There are guides elsewhere on the blog that will help you with this but it's nothing I have any experience with.

If you're on a really tight budget and can't afford paying for licenses you could always give ESXi a shot.
ESXi is developed by VMware and was made freely available a few years ago. It only requires 32 MB RAM and uses almost no resources at all. It is however not as easy to use as the Windows operative systems and will most likely require you to follow a guide to get to work. User Thrillski on this blog is writing an article series about ESXi and I would recommend checking out his articles for more information. I myself have no experience with ESXi and can't really help you with this.

Other softwares you might want to check out: 

Virtual Machine:
I would recommend using VMWare Player or Workstation to set up your virtual machines.
The reason you have to run bots on virtual machines is simply because MTGO won't run more than one copy at a time on the same computer and the bot uses the mouse to navigate.
Therefore we install separate, virtual installations of your operative system of choice on the same computer.
VMWare Player is free to use and works well for botting purposes. Workstation however requires you to purchase a license and have a lot more settings that you can use but it's not necessary.

Backup software:
I've been trying out a lot of free backup softwares and ended up using SyncBack Free by 2BrighSparks as I find it to be the most suitable and lightweight of all the backup softwares I could find.

It's always a good idea to back up your virtual machines and/or MLBot settings so SyncBack is a good sollution that won't drain your recourses too much.

I would also recommend running Dropbox if you want to keep files synchronized between your virtual machines and bots. For example you could use SyncBack Free to backup files such as CardsForAdverticement.txt and the like into your shared Dropbox folder where the other bots can use it to update their own files using SyncBack. Sure Dropbox is not the most resource friendly software but it's a breeze to use so I think it's worth it.

Other than these you'll of course need to install .net Framework 4.0 and DirectX9 to properly run Magic The Gathering Online. And then there's the bot and the game to install.

I'll be back with another article next week, and in the meantime feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comment section.


Cheers!
-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How to draft m14?

The M14 set features 249 cards. Prerelease are about to start. New set brings new cards and new loves. With m14 there is no different. Basing on acronym B.R.E.A.D which is very useful way to grade cards in limited I have selected the best cards in m14. Every letter from this acronym symbolize one group of cards. Therefore, B is for Bombs, R is for Removal, E is for Evasion, A is for Aggro, D is for Dregs. Good picks are..
  • White: Charging Griffin, Master of Diversion, Pacifism, Banisher Priest, Serra Angel, Bonescythe Sliver, Fiendslayer Paladin, Imposing Sovereign, Seraph of the Sword, Ajani Caller of the Pride, Archangel of Thune.
  • Blue: Claustrophobia, Messenger Drake, Nephalia Seakite, Air Servant, Illusionary Armor, Oppurtunity, Warden of Evos Isle, Water Servant, Clone, Colossal Whale, Domestication, Jace's Mindseeker, Jace, Memory Adept, Windreader Sphinx,
  • Black: Liturgy of Blood, Quag Sickness, Doom Blade, Sengir Vampire, Lifebane Zombie, Liliana's Reaver, Xathird Necromancer, Liliana of Dark Realms, Shadowborn Demon.
  • Red: Chandra's Outrage, Marauding Maulhorn, Shock, Dragon Egg, Flames of the Firebrand, Shiv's Embrace, Volcanic Geyser, Young Pyromancer, Awaken of the Ancient, Chandra's Phoenix, Goblin Diplomats, Ogre Battledriver, Shivan Dragon, Mindsparker, Chandra's Pyromaster, Scourage of Valkas.
  • Green: Deadly Recluse, Elvish Mystic, Giant Spider, Rootwalla, Rumbling Baloth, Briarpack Alpha, Enlarge, Kalonian Tusker, Garruk's Horde, Megantic Sliver, Scavenging Ooze, Vastwood Hydra, Witchstalker, Garruk, Caller of the Beast, Kalonian Hydra.
  • Artifact: Fireshrieker, Haunted Plate Mail, Ratchet Bomb, Trading Post.
  • Land: Mutavault
Good luck!

MTGO Tool New Release

Hello!

Long time since I've been posting here now.
Anyways, I've heard from Jimmi (b1nary0mega) that people has been irritated because the MTGO Tool hasn't been working properly.
So, I remade the installer so currently the version handling started again from 0. So current release can be downloaded at http://mtgotool.dlinkddns.com/publish.htm (This URL will probably change, but I will make you aware then.)
Also, this new installer contains an autoupdater for the program that will run every time you start the program. I didn't really test out the installer 100% so I'm not sure how this will work. But please try and if you find any problems don't hesitate to mail me at mtgoswebot

Changes for the new version:
-New features
-Regions for sv-SE and en-US. default set to en-US if not sv-SE. fixes punctuation between different culture settings
-Changes
-Added message box to inform user that test is occuring to see if program is still active
i. folks were saying program was unresponsive as they didn't know there was background process trying to reach server
-Updated server information for beta test
-Added message box to inform user if beta has expired when
-Updated sets up include everything up to Moder Masters (MMA, DGM, DDK, DDJ)
-Cleaned up interface a bit by shrinking boxes, realigning boxes, etc.

Regards,
Sebastian

Thursday, July 18, 2013

RAMDisk the next step in performance (Part2)

A few weeks ago I started testing the performance of a VM stored in a RAMDisk agaisnt a VM stored in a SSD.

I must now say that it was a bit of a disappointment, as what I've found is that, although in a RAMDisk the data can be read about 10 times faster than a SSD, the reality is that from clicking launch on the MTGO Library bot, all the way to the bot entering the classifieds room the difference was under 5%.

MultiCPU servers are the best answer for you,
 if you're running a very big chain
The reason for this is because the biggest performance factor on MTGO Library bot loading times will be your CPU. The only factor where the RamDisk made a "noticeable" difference was in MTGO Loading time (reading files) which will only reduce it from 10 seconds to 6 or so.

In a few days I will explain you what the term "bottleneck" means and why we need to be aware of it when it comes to making a new machine.



mtgolibrary.com has a new server!

Yesterday we moved mtgolibrary.com to a new server, doubling the computational power. This means a faster website and a faster Online Control Panel.

If you take  a look at the "slow pages" (such as the "Trade Log" or the "Card Log") you should be able to appreciate the speedup :-)


Happy botting to everyone!

Albert
staff@mtgolibrary.com

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Finally, ESXi

Way back in Oct 2011, I wrote a series about building a bot machine and I wrote that one did not need Windows or even Linux to be the host operating system; as a friend and me were looking at VMware’s offering of ESXi.  I said that I would do a followup once everything was up and running.  That has never happened.

http://mtgolibrary.blogspot.com/2011/10/building-bot-server-part-6-of-7.html

Why?

We discovered that ESXi is particularly picky around the hardware it runs on and in our case, ESXi did not like the network card we were planning on using.  So, we shelved the project in favor of other projects.

Fast forward about 15 months and we managed to obtain several real ESXi machines from a business which was upgrading its servers.  So we had obtained three (3) of these machines and each of us got one.  It was fairly obvious what the purpose of the one I obtained was going to be…  This machine is going to run two (2) of my bots while giving all of us some much needed real world experience in working with this vital part of business infrastructure today.

We decided that it would be best to do a clean installation, so we booted off a CD and installed ESXi like any other operating system.  Did a few tweaks to increase optimization and then boot.

ESXi has an interesting screen when it is done booting… It just shows a black screen with an IP address.  There is an option to go inside and tweak a few settings but that is it.  How do I install the bot?  How do I start the bot?  How do I even know if they are running as there is no “real” video card inside this ESXi machine?  These and other questions will be answered next time.


A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (Hardware 3) Part 6


More on hardware 2/2:


Yesterday we started off this post with some basic things to keep in mind when buying hardware for your botting computer. The post got a bit long so here is the second part, continuing with some recommendations and a bit more in depth information on what hardware you might actually need to buy.

Individual Parts: 

When it comes to botting MTGO CPU and RAM is the most important parts so you'll want to focus your budget on these.

CPU (Processor): 

You'll need a CPU around these lines. (These are just quick estimates and not necessarily completely correct)

    •   1-5 bots - Intel i3 Quad Core / AMD 2 - 4 Core
    •   6-9 bots - Intel i5 Quad Core / AMD 6 Core
    •   10-14 bots - Intel i7 Quad Core / AMD 8 Core

I for one decided to buy an AMD CPU mainly because they're cheaper, my main computer runs an Intel i7 and I didn't feel like spending a lot on another one. The slight advantage an Intel CPU will bring is usually not worth the extra cash in my opinion. Just make sure to compare benchmarks you'll find online, don't listen blindly to what each brand tells you.

Ram (Memory):

Running Windows XP you'll need around 1.5 GB RAM down to 1.1 GB per bot if you have an extra HDD to put the pagefile on (I highly recommend this and will be talking more about this in future posts)  and 2 GB+ for Win 7.

The speed of the RAM Isn't really important, any 1333 MHz + will do just fine.



GPU (Graphics Card):

MTGO have a GPU system recommendation of 128 MB video RAM (not to be confused with normal RAM) and support for DirectX9, which is not
hing.

The GPU must also support 1080x1024 resolution which also isn't much.

Most motherboards with integrated GPU will be powerful enough for MTGO so you might not need to buy a separate GPU at all.

PSU (Power Supply):

When it comes to PSU it only have to support wattage of as much(or more) as the rest of the parts consume.

You can easily calculate how high wattage you'll need using: eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite
Just input your other computer parts and click calculate.

When it comes to PSU you're better off buying a quality one with 80+ certificate than a budget one as it will consume much less power.
It'll also last you much longer, which is important for a machine that will be running 24/7.

Motherboard:

The motherboard only has to support the other parts and isn't going to cost you much.
Just make sure it's compatible with the rest and have enough slots for your RAM.

You might want to buy one with an integrated GPU so you don't have to buy one separately.
Hard Drive/SSD:


I would recommend running your bot and Operative System on an SSD.
It's not necessary but will greatly increase the speed of your bots if you're running multiple.

I would also recommend getting a regular HDD to backup your bots on and run the pagefiles on.
Each bot needs around 5-10 GB space.


Unless you're planning on overclocking you won't have to spend on extra, fancy cooling (unless you want your computer to be quiet) the case fans and stock cooling will likely be enough to begin with.

When it comes to brands I would recommend not to buy the cheapest, generic crap.
This computer will run 24/7 so you'll want to spend a little bit extra on getting parts from brands such as Corsair, Samsung, Kingston, ASUS and the like.

The dvd-writer, case and a backup HDD doesn't matter much though, any brand will most likely do.

My dedicated botting computer runs the following hardware: 

    •    16 GB (2x8) 1600 MHz Corsair RAM

    •   AMD FX-8320 8 core 3.5GHz CPU

    •   Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Motherboard

    •   Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze PSU

    •   Samsung 840-Series 120GB SSD

    •   500GB Samsung 7200rpm HDD



On this computer I run 5 bots with lots of room for expanding 
and upgrading to MTGO v4.
When picking your parts I would suggest using: PC Part Picker to make sure your parts are compatible with each other.

Just remember that these estimates are based on performance of MTGO v3 and Win XP, things will change a lot when v4 is released but we can't know for sure until it's time. I'll get back to this in a new article when v4 is released.

More next week and feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

Cheers!
-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Your store on Magic Online





We host the first of a series of articles from our friends blog http://www.mtgeconomist.com , a top blog dealing with mtg and mtgo economics.
You can read the original article here: 
http://www.mtgeconomist.com/en/tu-tienda-en-magic-online-parte-5/



In the previous chapter I showed the three main profiles for the Magic Online users: the drafters, constructed players and collectors. Besides, I finished saying that all profiles had a common goal: trading cards for a profit without effort. This process can be achieved by creating a Magic Online store, which can be managed personally or by a bot, a tireless worker which makes trades at any time of the day.

What is a Magic Online store?

A Magic Online store can be as simple as a user which offers buying and selling cards. Unlike the official store, you may open a store at Magic Online to trade your own cards and get your profit. Any user can create a store but it should have at least the following elements:
  • A Magic Online account
  • A card stock and/or sealed product
  • An ad on the classifieds section
  • Time and a dedicated computer

The first requirement has no discussion. The second one is essential if you want to attract customers interested in your cards. The third one is needed if you want visibility and let people know that you offer cards for buy/sell. Finally, the computer seems obvious but in following chapters of this seres you’ll notice that this element requires an special attention.


The main advantage of having a store at Magic Online is that you can make a profit from every transaction. Each time you buy a card to the purchase price and then sell it to its selling you get a profit percentage. If you repeat this process you can go on infinite profit. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

You may ask yourself why people would sell you a card at a cheaper price that you could sell it. The main reason is because you are offering a service: to be continuously present at Magic Online and accumulate a stock that you offer to the public.

However, there is another even more important reason. Drafters open boosters with cards that they usually don’t want because they prefer to play another draft, so they try to sell them as soon as possible. You, as a store at Magic Online, buy them those cards at a lower price because you know they have the urge to sell. On the other hand, constructed players search cards for their decks, so you can sell them at a slightly higher rate than you bought because you are saving them time to search those cards.

This way, the loop of buy/sell a card is closed and now you know where the profit comes from. However, there are still some problems we have to solve. Let’s see how.

The problem of payments

The first problem that appears when you open a store at Magic Online is how to charge your customers. As I said in a previous article, the currency of the game is the Event Ticket. However, this coin is indivisible, so you could not buy a card with a value, for example, of 0.4 tickets. Therefore it is necessary to track the credit of each client. Thus, if you sell a card of 0.4 tickets to a customer, he would give you 1 ticket and you should record him 0.6 credits for future trades.

The second big problem relies on the necessity to be in front of your computer at all times if you want to get customers. As you can imagine, this would be a huge amount of work for only one person who owns a store at Magic Online. This way, it is not strange that your store is not directly managed by you, but by a bot.

What is a bot?

A bot is a sophisticated special software that manages all purchases and sales of your store at Magic Online. You may think of it as a tireless shopkeeper which replaces you when doing all the tasks required by your store, works 2
4 hours a day and asks you nothing in return. To give you an idea, I introduce you a list of tasks managed by a bot:


  • Continuous update of your inventory status, after each buy/sell or whenever you personally change your inventory.
  • Track credit of each customer.
  • Check the status of the Magic Online client.
  • Automatic update of your ad with latest prices, state of the bot (open/busy)
  • Notify customers the prices of the cards selected by them for purchase.
  • Refresh the price list of all cards on your store inventory.


Although you can add more tasks, the previous list summarizes the most relevant ones. For many of them, the robot needs to move the mouse, send clicks and keyboard commands. For this reason, an operating system that uses a robot should not be used for any other task and must be only running your store at Magic Online. Fortunately, this problem has a solution that will be discuss in a future article of this series.

Which bot should I use?

Although there are some bots for Magic Online over the net, undoubtedly the most famous is MTGO Library. This software has the advantage of allowing you to customize almost any behavior you want for your store at Magic Online. Therefore, I would suggest you this software as the best choice to start with your first store. In the next chapter I will explain how this application works and what chances you have to create your store on Magic Online.

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (Hardware 2) Part 5

More on hardware 1/2:

Last week we talked some basic hardware for the new botter.
This week we'll go a little more in depth into choosing hardware, this is going to be an article mainly for the aspiring botter who doesn't have a suitable computer lying around to run his first bots on, but also the botter who's looking to upgrade from his old attic computer. I'm not going to tell you what to get, since that is totally dependent on your budget, plans and so on and so forth but I will give you some tips and stuff to keep in mind when buying hardware.

Tips and thoughts: 

Always when buying a new computer it's best to buy each individual part and build it yourself, or to have a friend build it rather than buying a complete package. These packages will almost always include stuff you don't need, and they will also charge a lot extra for setting it up for you.

When it comes to computer hardware it's the absolute latest parts and the oldest parts that are going to be the most expensive ones, so you're better off buying new but not the absolute latest parts to make sure you're not spending too much.

I would say the only reason to just buy a computer that only can run one or two bots would be if it only cost a few bucks second hand. If you're going to buy brand new you're better off at least leaving some room for expanding later on, or you'll end up wasting a lot of money.

What lies ahead: 

You also have to take into account that Wizards Of The Coast is going to release their new MTGO v4 client (which is now in Beta) soon, which will require more computer power and won't run on Win XP.

Windows 7 requires more resources than XP even slimmed down so a computer that at the moment runs 5 bots might only run 2 or 3 in a few months when v4 is released.
I'm all for future proofing and find it silly to spend significant amounts of money on something you'll have to upgrade in a few months, so I would recommend spending some extra on a computer with room for expanding and room for the v4 client.


Part 2 of  'More on Hardware' tomorrow and feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

Cheers!
-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5






Sunday, July 14, 2013

7 ways to make your travel a memorable experience, part 2

4. Put aside the guide. Rent a bike, scooter, car, or go for a long walk and explore new places. Take your time and enjoy. Choose places spontaneously and discover the joy of the ordinary, but typical to a country or a city you visit, life

5 Try local specialties. If you do not select a location spoiled by mass tourism, you have a good chance to meet unique regional dishes. Use every opportunity to taste the richness of flavors, which in many cases will not be available anywhere else. For some, this may not be easy due to financial issues, but still sometimes useful to turn a blind eye to these few pennies more and give yourself the opportunity to experience this great pleasure.

6 Meet people. If your destination is not large and it is not a tourist town, people are likely to derive great pleasure from short chat. Use every opportunity to get know the local people.

7 Stop for a moment. Travels require a lot of effort from us. Many places to "check" can effectively take away the pleasure of staying. If you want to feel the atmosphere and spirit of another culture, give yourself the time. Slow down. Choose one place that you particularly like and spend several hours there. The new environment stimulates thinking in unconventional way. We have the opportunity to look from a different perspective  into matters which are most important to us. Let your thoughts flow around critical issues and challenges, about the goals and plans for the future. Focus on appreciating what you have in life and on what you want to have more. Probably you will come up with proposals and ideas, which would never came if you were sitting in your office or your flat.

And above all, have fun as best you can. Think that you may never return to this place again.

Paused for a night...

Paused..

Yet again I have left my main bot paused while I slept (for the third time in just over 2 years).
This wouldn't be much of a problem if I lived in the US, but being in UK means that, while I'm sleeping its the end of afternoon/evening in USA, which are usually the busiest business times.

Such thing can affect the trust from your regular customers and cause loss of business on the short and long run. Downtime should always be avoided at all costs.

Has such thing ever happened to you? How do you avoid it?  (maybe using CTRL S for 60 seconds pause only?)

Let me know in the comment section!.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Force of Will - not the card one!


I would love to say that I am a navigated businessman who found the secret of growing a company :-) Of course this is not true, but yet I find a common pattern on the successful companies and how their CEOs manage them.

in two words: "Force of Will" (not the card!)

You have to be smart, brilliant, passionate.. but if you lack the capacity to "stay at it", to hold on, to work hard in the tough periods... you won't succeed. Running a business is not a sprint, 
it's a marathon. 


Albert
staff@mtgolibrary.com

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Celebrate!

When was the last time you actually enjoyed Magic?

It’s not a factious question.  We’ve had plenty of heavy and deep subjects with topics of VMware, hardware configuration, how to maximize your bots business and even how to maintain your bots while on vacation.  There are times I wonder if all of time and effort placed into botting is worth it.  After all, we are humans.  Yes, botting is our business but most of us got into botting because we first started playing Magic.

So, I ask again, when was the last time you actually enjoyed Magic?

If it has been too long, let me make a suggestion: the folks over at Wizards of the Coast, in celebration of 14 years of Magic the Gathering, is giving everyone a free tournament on September 7th.

In short, you go to your local brick-and-mortar store and register.  In return, you will get a 2014 booster pack.  You open that up and choose a color.  You will then get a core pack that relates to that color.  You then make a deck.  You then play your tournament and once you’ve completed that, you will receive another 2014 booster pack, just for participating!

So, you’ll get 2 boosters and some core cards in the 2014 base set.  Not a bad little heist for an afternoon of playing the game we all love anyway?  What’s not to like?

Official announcement: 
http://www.wizards.com/magic/tcg/events.aspx?x=mtg/event/mcelebration-facts

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Magic Online Profiles






We host the first of a series of articles from our friends blog http://www.mtgeconomist.com , a top blog dealing with mtg and mtgo economics.
You can read the original article here: 
http://www.mtgeconomist.com/en/perfiles-en-magic-online-parte-4



Magic is a game that allows you to have different experiences depending on the priorities of each player. Some people like to make their decks from a random card pool whereas others prefer to select the cards in his deck. There are also casual players whose main goal is collecting. In this chapter of the series I will introduce the importance of the profiles on Magic Online to have a strategy that will minimize your expenses in cards.

Firstly I will discuss what these profiles on Magic Online are about. Then I will advance how you can get benefits regardless of what sort of Magic player you are.

Limited Players

These players are often specialized in drafts so they are so-called drafters. Magic Online launches 8-player drafts queues constantly of the latest sets. Occasionally, older expansions are also added to the drafts queues. There are three main different queues, which differ in the prizes you get and the number of matches you can play:


  • Swiss: You play three games by Swiss system, always against opponents with the same victories as you. You win a booster for each win at the end of the draft.
  • 4-3-2-2: Elimination system where you leave the draft if you lose a match. The first qualified wins 4 boosters, the second 3 and both third-fourth win 2 boosters each.
  • 8-4: Like 4-3-2-2 except for prizes. The winner wins 8 boosters and the second 4 boosters.


Normally, the boosters won are from sets of the draft you play. A draft usually costs 2 tickets plus product (the boosters you open in the draft), or 14 tickets. In the prereleases the price usually raises up to 20 tickets (it is not possible to buy product in this mode). Although you can buy directly from the store of Magic Online, it is usually better to exchange them for tickets on the secondary market because they are cheaper.

A drafter wants to fund their drafts with prizes of previous drafts so they are for free (infinite mode). To do this, the best method is 8-4 which gives you three boosters and another one for the tickets required to play another draft. Of course, you should have to always reach the finals, to be a very good player, to perfectly know the sets and have much luck drawing.

If you like the draft, my suggestion is to start with Swiss for better knowing the cards and play some matches (low risk). When you feel you have learnt the set it is time to change to 4-3-2-2 (medium risk), and if you see you win consistently and have became a master of that draft sets, then move to the 8-4 (high risk). Note that the top players are 8-4 so winning matches here will be quite harder.

Also, you have to consider that you keep the cards you use to create your deck. Thus, you can sell them after the draft and get some extra tickets that makes easier for you to play on infinite mode. Unless it is a very expensive card, I recommend you draw cards to improve your deck before a card with a value of 1 ticket or so that you will not be able to use on your matches (it is better to win a match rather than a ticket, isn’t it?).

Magic Online has recently added the Phantom sealed queues (you build a deck with the cards opened from 6 boosters). The difference with the normal mode is that you do not keep with the cards. The price is much more affordable (4 tickets) and prizes are not bad: winner (3 matches) gets 3 boosters and if you win 2 matches you keep one booster. However, as you do not keep the cards you play this extra value of drafts are lost.

Drafter strategy: use the rewards to keep playing and as profit. Sell ​​drafted cards to exchange for tickets and/or boosters.

Constructed Player

Constructed player prefers to create a deck built with legal cards of a particular format (Standard, Modern, Legacy …). For this purpose, firstly it is required to make an initial investment in order to buy the cards of the deck. Then, this deck can be used on different tournaments as long as you like. The only extra payment for joining tournaments is the registration tickets. There are two main possible constructed tournaments:


  • Constructed Queues: For 2 and 8 players, they are 2 and 6 tickets respectively. The first one prize is a booster for the winner. In the second one prizes are distributed as 5-3-2-2.
  • Scheduled Events: Usually for 16-256 players with a cost of 6 tickets. It consists of four rounds on Swiss mode, and prizes are 11 boosters if you win 4 games and 6 boosters if you win 3 games.

Constructed player usually play on scheduled events rather than queued events because prizes are quite better for the same entry option. You can firstly play on the Tournament Practice section of Magic Online for training against other players.

Constructed strategy: buy the cards for the deck at the best price possible. Earn as much as possible to amortize the deck or as profit. When changing the deck, sell old cards to the maximum value to minimize losses.

Collectors

There is also a third type of casual player who does not devote much time to the game. However, he likes to have all the cards in order to get any deck or simply because he wants to keep. The goal of this player is to get all the cards of the desired collections and redeem them if he prefers to have them physically.

Collectors are probably those who invest more money in the game. Thus, they need more than anyone to find a way to get the letters with the lowest price. Magic Online offers a fast way to make trading, buying and selling the cards on your collection. The market usually puts a buy price of a card around 10-15% lower than its sell price for highest rarities, and up to 50% difference in the most common ones.

A collector can be a real merchant and go make profit from each transaction. For this purpose he needs two things: a lot of time in front of the computer and an initial investment to start making trades.

Collectors Strategy: get the cards at their buying price and sell quickly to their selling price, gaining profit. Buy the cards in your collection with this benefit.


How to trade cards and get profit without loosing time and with no effort

 All the three profiles of players at Magic Online have this common goal. Drafters want to sell their cards quickly and keep playing. Constructed players want to buy or sell their cards at a good price. Collectors do not want to be waiting in front of their computer waiting for the bid of another player.

The solution? Using a robot software (so-called bot) to work for you day and night getting the benefits of buying and selling cards on Magic Online. In the next chapter of the series I will explain what this wonderful software is about, how it changes the strategy of each player profile and will give you some details on the application that I will use for this purpose.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A comprehensive guide for the aspiring botter (Hardware) Part 4


Basic hardware:


Last week we talked about naming your bots, this week, as promised will be about basic hardware to start with for your first few bots.

MTGO Library Bot is not very resource demanding, you could actually run at least a bot or two on most computers.
I started running my first two bots without problems using only a really old Core 2 duo CPU and 1.1 GB ram each. These were parts I had lying in the attic and worked well as a first dedicated computer/server to run two bots.

Per bot you will need at least: 
       •  1.5 GB RAM (Memory) down to 1.1gb if you're ready to do some work and have an extra HDD                  (harddrive) lying around.
       •   5-10 GB HDD space.
       •   1.5 GHz CPU (Processor), preferably better
       •   1280x1024+ Screen Resolution

Then of course you need a motherboard that can run all these components together, a PSU(power supply) with high enough wattage and a GPU(graphics card) with at least 128 MB video ram(memory) and support for DirectX 9.
These are highly dependent on what other parts you choose so I can't give you any definite answer exactly what you'll need without knowing your other parts.


Using something along the line of these minimum requirements will let you run a bot or two and is a good way of starting out in the beginning.
I would however not recommend you to buy hardware that is this shitty unless you can get them for a few bucks second hand.
If you do not have a computer around that meets these requirements I would recommend getting something a bit more powerful to make room for expanding later on.

My first botting computer ran the following hardware: 

       •   4gb DDR2 RAM                                      
       •   Intel Core 2 Duo CPU at 2.8 GHz
       •   128GB SSD
       •   512 GB HDD
       •   Nvidia GTX260 GPU
       •   GA-73PVM-S2H motherboard
       •   500W PSU

All these parts except the SSD were all crap I had lying around but enough to easily run my first two bots.
I would recommend starting with something similar.
The GPU is however unnecessarily powerful, MTG doesn't require a GPU nearly as strong as this one.
The SSD is also unnecessary and you're better off spending your money on other parts that will drastically increase your performance. And the PSU only needs to be as powerful as the other parts require.

Another thing to keep in mind is that old hardware doesn't necessarily mean that it's cheap.
You can probably find a computer similar to these requirements second hand for almost nothing.
But when you buy old parts in stores they are usually hugely overpriced, since they want you to buy a new computer package with all hardware and software they'll try to trick you to get instead of repairing your old one. They also know that most people who buys the old stuff don't have much choice since the newer parts won't fit their old computer and hope that you'll decide to get a new one instead.

For example a quick check shows that the cheapest 8gb (2x4gb) DDR2 memory cost $165, while the cheapest 8gb (2x4gb) DDR3 which is twice as fast cost $53. So you could get at least twice, maybe thrice as much memory that is also at least twice as fast for the same price if you buy new components and not the old inferior ones.
So make sure to check prices, you might be better off buying all new parts instead of replacing that one old part you need for your old setup to work.

More on hardware next time and as always I'll gladly answer any questions you might have in the comment section.

Cheers!
-Tom (Sitrec)
Archbot MTGO Store: ArchBot, ArchBot2, ArchBot3, ArchBot4 & ArchBot5



Monday, July 8, 2013

Bot efficiency- Get the most out of your bot.

Hello fellow botters,

This past week I have visited a lot of mtgolibrary  bots, some new, some small, and some that are very successful, to get a better idea on the economics of botting. Today we are going to talk about efficiency, I am sure we all know was this means but here is a definition anyways:

ef·fi·cien·cy

  [ih-fish-uhn-see]  Show IPA
noun, plural ef·fi·cien·cies.
1.
the state or quality of being efficientcompetency in performance.
2.
accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort: Theassembly line increased industry's efficiency.
3.
the ratio of the work done or energy developed by a machine, engine, etc., to the energy supplied toit, usually expressed as a percentage.

When I visited the bots this week I noticed 3 things that could be more efficient, speed, ad space, and capital.


Speed - Some bots took up to 3 minutes to fully load, that is simply not good business. 20 seconds or less is fast but 20-40 seconds is acceptable. Don't run more bots than your hardware can handle, You could ruin your hard ware and this creates slow bots. I suggest with our current client allocate 1.2 gb of ram and to allocate 1 processor to your Virtual machine. Ideal conditions would be 2gb of ram per Virtual machine. If your bots are taking a long time to load I can assure you that you are losing customers, sometimes less is more.  


Ad space - I noticed people were using the basic messages when their bot loaded up, such as "welcome to my bot" and "thank you, have a great day". When you bot loads up you have 5 total lines of ad space, USE IT. You can list your other bots there, advertise your website, list your email, offer special promotions, and much much more. Example of one of my bots: Draftshredder1. My ending message is "Please add us to your buddy list and have a shredtastic day" Yes corny I know, but it kinda makes you laugh. People remember stuff like that. Basic message here - Utilize your space!

Capital - I saw numerous bots advertising buying expensive cards and then when I open trade with them that had 4 tickets on their bot. You will never make any money on your bots if you can't buy cards. This deters people from ever coming back to your bot as well. 

If you make your bot more efficient in these 3 categories, You will make more money!

Have any questions? 
Please email me: Jason@mtgolibrary.com
In game message me: Teamstoge
Or skype message: Mtgolibrary.support

- Teamstoge
- www.mtgotickets.com Buying and selling Magic Online event tickets - Were always in stock