I have been playing EVE Online since about 2009 and one would assume that I would have experienced pretty much all content that a computer game can give during those 7 years. I should by now be a bitter vet, been there, done that, spend my time on /r/eve and generally be a complete waste to the EVE community. But instead I go where I have not been before.
Let me reach back here for a second and explain why I downloaded EVE in the first place. As both avid readers of this blog remember, I was a WoW player, raiding, my Dwarf Hunter gave this blog its name. Sometime at the end of “Wrath”, I got bored and looked around for things to do, wished there was value in exploration and crafting, something other to do that beating the exact same monster week on week. In those days, industry and trade were entirely useless, except a couple of consumables, nothing that players crafted affected the gameplay enough to grind the skill up and gold was free and literally useless. In this mindset, I listened to “The Instance” where Randy at the time was co-host and discussed briefly the amazing depth of industry in this weird spaceship game called “EVE Online”. The host – Scott Johnson – dismissed EVE swiftly, he was and is a proud Blizzard fanboy but I was intrigued, the next day I downloaded the client and rolled my first character.
So, I really came to EVE because of the industry and even my main can mine. But I have literally not produced anything but maybe 1000 rounds of ammunition of the same reason that a toddler sticks a button up her nose – to see what happens. I have made no money, produced no T2, had no invention and wouldn’t know a BPO from a BPC if it hit me in the face. I did spent quite a bit of time mining in the past, simply to make money while AFK and working on other things but the depth of true industry eluded me.
And that brings us to present day. After the Christmas break, my calendar fills again with work-related travel and the laptop I can bring allows only rudimentary functionality in EVE lest it catches fire, burns down the local Marriott (ok, not Marriott, Courtyard Inn) and gets me fired and arrested. I have done PI on that machine, it kind of works but Empire Planets are soul-destroyingly bad if you just once have experienced the sweet ISK that a WH planet can provide. Mining is out, for anything reasonably serious, one has to run 3 accounts minimum (2 miners, one hauler) or its not worth doing. Manufacture and Invention on the other hand promise to allow some gameplay (maybe even profit) with interaction that can be done from within a station and hence became of interest.
Now, there is a problem with industry, it has to do with relativity. See, I can be a relative good PvP-er with with 1 kill / 100 deaths. Its better than someone with 0/100, right? The outcome in PvP can only measured based on others. There is no absolute standard by which one is “good” or one is “bad”.
This is – curiously – different in industry. Here, the market provides a very objective way of ranking one’s skill. If my input materials are worth more than what I can gain on the output, my wallet level will go down, not up. If I spend 100 million on some Datacores and minerals and my product sells for 80 million, I am objectively “bad” at EVE without any comparison or excuse.
The fudge-factor here is “time”. If I mine for 2 hours and make 20mil ISK, I could discount these hours (and hence the market value of the minerals) to zero and deduct this from my calculation. Real industrialists will scowl, this is a tremendously inaccurate way to run a business, time is money after all. But its the only fudge factor we “bads” have to compete. If we played on a level field with decades old industrial characters who have every skill to V, every implant and are entirely vertically integrated, we should not enter Industry at all because we will lose money faster than we can make it.
In addition, these hard-core industrialists have spent literally years honing their spreadsheets, watching their margins and forming allegiances with haulers and miners – none of this is at my disposal. They – unlike PvPers – can not be beaten by anyone who even remotely plays the game casually.
The fact that competing in industry is futile for anyone with a real life, job and no OCD kept me from ever going deep into it. But its been nagging me, I am pretty good at math and spreadsheets and I should be able to find a niche where I can eek out a little profit with my alts which my main character promptly wastes in PvP.
And so I embarked on a quest to learn Industry from the ground up. I have an alt corporation with seat in Aridia somewhere that can mine (when I am on boring conference calls). They use crystals, T2 Veldspar for example which somehow burn out quicker than I thought. Rumor (no hard evidence anywhere in the tooltips) says that the re-starting of the lasers induces the damage, not the total use. Ah. While I love non-documented features and the thrill of finding them, I am in High Sec, where the rocks are plentiful but puny. Restarting my lasers happens a lot and hence I burn crystals like they are made from cotton. What better goal to start my industrial empire than to make my own crystals?
See, my High Sec area is separated from civilization by a significant number of low and nullsec systems. So, getting stuff in/out ain’t easy. Its a backwater where I am and with little or no market itself, I can’t purchase anything locally. Its a bit like a Mars mission, expect to run out of duct tape, hence bring enough fabric and raw glue to make more. So, yes, I want to be able to make T2 Mining crystals locally.
And now it starts. What do I need to do? I start fudzing around with T1 Blue Prints and try to invent them into T2s. That doesn’t work. You need to make T1 Blue Print Copies to invent a T2 Blue Print one. Apparently, all T2 BP Originals (those with unlimited runs) were given years ago by CCP to the goons, so we normal players have to live with what we can make. The problem is that the parameters that determine an outcome are staggeringly complex and – as discussed above – must be maximized to have the starting of a chance to be able to compete. Character skills, standing with the local station, BPC runs versus Material and Time Efficiency (ME and TE) and the use of optional “Decryptors” all influence the cost or the time of a successful invention.
Complexity doesn’t scare me but what does is total lack of documentation and clarity. So, if I make a BPC with Max runs on max TE and ME, does this influence the quality of the invented T2 BPC? Or its number of runs? No information is given. It literally means, I need to get out of the client, find websites I trust and try to understand the teachings of the wise industrialists. Or pay ISK for a spreadsheet that calculates everything and makes me a slave / hauler without input or say. Oh, Damage Controls II are 0.0001 ISK more, lets make those!
Cricky, its a rough game and yet, somehow fascinating. In the end, industry is what I came to EVE for and while it will never be my main occupation, I expect myself to find a little niche somewhere and eek our some small margin. That I promptly blow up, of course.
Kill of the week. Overkill is entirely underrated. Never not drop 11 Ishtars onto a boosting Tengu without weapons or tank. We are Mercenaries and get paid to win fights.