Sep 8 2014

One playstyle down the drain

build_t2_drone_damage_amplifierFor the past six months or so, Loreena has been working to get back into industry. To support these efforts, I built a custom industry tool tailored to the size of her operation, which consisted mainly of inventing and building T2 modules and drones. Once she had the logistics and know-how mastered, it started being fun and for the first time in her EVE career, her industry undertaking actually gave a benefit. Nothing transcendental, but enough to keep her motivated.

With the industry overhaul, my biggest fear was that her casual highsec manufacturing venture would not be able to compete with low/null manufacturing. At first though, prices stayed relatively stable and she went on building happily. Then the industry community at large really caught on to the new system.

As it stands, many of the modules Loreena used to build are for sale on market for prices way below those she can offer, for some up to 300k ISK per item. Even buying materials at below market value, she cannot compete with the current prices. In practice, as my casual playstyle does not allow for a life in lowsec (I tried several times, it’s just not fun for me), it means one playstyle less in Loreena’s book.

It’s a shame really, since the new UI works really well and made industry noticeably more fun. I can understand CCP’s desire to attract more people to low and nullsec, but I think that industry is not where it should be applied. So far, any additions to the game designed to make pilots flock to lowsec never really conflicted with my casual playstyle: At worst, I am missing out on some juicy or exciting content, but I can live with that. These new changes however break the pattern, and create a disparity that you can only respond to by moving to lowsec.

I know Loreena and Aeon are only small fish, and perhaps my playstyle is not the norm – but I wonder where CCP being this hell bent on forcing people to low/null will lead us. Loreena and Aeon both still have enough material to have fun, but for a game as friendly to casual gamers as EVE I see this as a bad choice indeed. Especially since they did such a terrific job with the new UI.

Feb 22 2013

Invention BPC runs

Pretty, ain't it? Yes, but still a pain to get to!I stated previously that the amount of runs on a blueprint copy you use for invention has no effect, but I learned that’s not true.

As explained in the EVELopedia, the amount of runs of the T1 blueprint copy has a small effect on the resulting runs of the T2 blueprint copy. What I wanted to know was if the additional time investment to create maximum run blueprint copies was actually worth the time. To do this, I calculated the amount of blueprint copies I would need to get 100 runs of a Heat Sink II module – taking a 48% chance of invention into account. Then I compared the time required to create all the required copies as well as the actual invention time.

My gut feeling was that single run copies would be more efficient, but that’s not the case. 100 T2 runs for a Heat Sink II would require either:

Using Max-run T1 copies (=10 runs per T2 BPC)

  • A total of 20 max-run copies (statistically we would lose over 9 in invention)
  • A total of 65 hours copying time
  • A total of 24 hours invention time

Using 1-run T1 copies (=1 run per T2 BPC)

  • A total of 194 1-run copies
  • A total of 3 hours copying time
  • A total of 239 hours invention time

As you can see, while copying the required blueprints is a lot faster with 1-run copies, the invention time is what gets you – big time.

EDIT: as the saying goes, sometimes you lose sight of the forest because of all the trees. There is not only the issue of time, but also of the datacores you use up… Inventing from a 10-run T2 module BPC costs as many datacores as from a 1-run BPC. That was a facepalm, “you noob!” moment there. One of the beauties of EVE – even when you think you know it all, it comes back to bite you in your pride.

Also worth noting is that if you are using a decryptor that modifies the amount of runs, it is definitely recommended to use a max run T1 blueprint copy.

The EVELopedia links to the EVE Online Market Guide Invention calculator, and I had a look at it – I cannot say how accurate it is in practice, but it is well made and at the very least can tell you exactly what you need for a specific BPC.

Jan 30 2013

Day 2298: Research POS

Invention and production POSAs part of my personal campaign to try out all the features that EVE offers, I have started my second attempt at maintaining a POS and actually doing something with it. I put up my first POS about two years ago, and it did help me research some vanilla BPOs I had bought, but I never did anything with them. I ended up selling them, and the POS was destroyed when it went offline after I forgot to refuel it. I did not mourn that loss very much, because it had managed to sedentarize Aeon – which is entirely out of character for him. This time, Loreena embraced the project. It’s just as well I think, because she is a lot better with numbers – and there are zounds of numbers to crunch if you ever try to venture into invention.

As is customary in all my projects, I asked around what I needed for a highsec POS and did exactly the opposite. The recommendation was to go for one med or large tower (preferably large), and to put a very complex combination of hardeners, guns and electronic warfare turrets on it to protect the labs and assembly arrays I would need. I went for a small POS instead with absolutely no guns or ewar turrets of any kind. Why? Let me sum that up:

  • If someone wardecs the corp, I just take it down before the fighting starts.
  • It limits the amount of assets that can get lost in a worst case scenario.
  • It’s a lot less hassle to set up.
  • It’s inconspicuous if someone warps by in search of juicy targets.

After deciding that Loreena would set up the POS, I had to start at the very beginning: standings. I wanted to anchor the tower in Amarr highsec, so Loreena’s corp needed faction standings of at least 5 to be able to anchor it in a 0.5 system (6 for 0.6, 7 for 0.7, etc.). As chance would have it, she had been helping Aeon out missioning for the Ammatar Mandate. Incidentally this had already put her Amarr standings right where I needed them. From there, I chose an Amarr Control Tower small, more for its looks than anything else. There is no restriction on which type of tower you can anchor, so you can put up a minmatar tower in Amarr space if you like. Usually you choose the tower according to what you want to anchor. POS structures are like ship modules in that they need CPU and power, and the towers are like ships in that they provide more or less of each. Here’s an overview of the small control towers:

  • Amarr: PG 1.250.000 MW, CPU: 1.375
  • Caldari: PG 687.000 MW, CPU: 1875
  • Gallente: PG 937.500 MW, CPU: 1688
  • Minmatar: PG 1.093.750 MW, CPU: 1500

If you want to anchor more research labs, favor the Caldari or Gallente variants. The Amarr and Minmatar variants are more all-rounders and allow you to anchor a mix of large power-hungry structures with few CPU hungry ones mixed in. In my case, I wanted to be able to research my BPOs, invent from them and build the resulting T2 BPCs. To do that, Loreena had to set up a tower with the following things:

  • An Advanced Mobile Laboratory: Copying / ME / Invention slots
  • A Mobile Laboratory: Copying / ME / PE / Invention
  • An Equipment Assembly Array: to manufacture modules
  • 7000 Amarr Fuel Blocks (or matching your tower’s race) for ~28 days autonomy
  • 4166 Strontium Clathrates
  • As many Amarr Empire Starbase Charters as you like (or matching your system’s sovereign empire). Tip: use your loyalty points!

Hint: one character can at most handle 10 concurrent research and 10 concurrent manufacturing jobs. If only one character will be using the POS, anchoring more than two labs would be overkill.

As you can see, there is no need to put up a medium or large tower for that setup, it fits snugly even into the small Amarr tower’s CPU. After a little shopping tour, Loreena had all the required items in the Orca, from the tower to all structures. Packaged they only weighed 24250 m3 all together, so even a rigged T1 hauler can carry it all in one trip. Still, the Orca was a good choice because she also had to carry the Fuel Blocks, Strontium Clathrates and Starbase Charters, which weigh a little over 35.000 m3 together.

Anchoring the tower is a little convoluted, but easier than you’d expect:

  • Find an unoccupied moon (just fly to them to check).
  • Right-click the tower in your ship’s cargo hold (it won’t work out of a fleet hangar) and select “Launch for corporation”.
  • The tower will then appear in space with the mention “Unanchored”. Right-click it again, and select “Anchor structure”. The tower will be firmly anchored in the moon’s orbit, which takes 15 minutes.
  • When it’s finished anchoring, open the tower’s fuel bay, and put the fuel blocks and starbase charters in it.
  • Right-click the tower and select “Put online”. This takes 15 minutes again.
  • While you wait, you can also fill the Strontium Clathrates bay.
  • Once the tower is online, right-click it again and select “Manage”.
  • Enter a password for the forcefield and click “Apply”. The shield will now pop up, and your POS is ready to roll.

Anchoring the structures you want to use is easy and tricky at the same time. Use the same steps than for the tower to start anchoring a lab, for example. When you right-click to anchor the structure in space, you will see a green box with arrows that you can use to select the exact position where you want the structure. Structures snap to an invisible grid, and placing them is the difficult part: You want to be able to access everything from one location without moving around in your ship. You have to make sure to have a spot you can move your ship and from where everything is under 2500 Metres away, including the tower itself.

A few pointers for this: structures have to be spaced by one grid unit in order not to hinder each other. Some structures need more space than others, like the Equipment Assembly Array, which is quite gigantic. I suggest to just fiddle around with this until you’re happy with the result. You can unanchor things and move them around again at will, and luckily for you this does not take tens of minutes each time like it used to a while back, but seconds. Once you’re ok with the layout, online everything and you can start working 🙂

Starting the invention

Since Aeon had sold his entire blueprint collection, Loreena had to buy a few new ones. Nothing fancy to start with, just a bunch of module blueprints that looked like they could be sold without making a total loss, and which would be easy and fast to work with. For example, she bought a Heat Sink I module blueprint, so she started with doing some ME and PE research on it. The best way to find out how far you want to research a BPO is by using the BPOCalc website. Just type the name of your blueprint, and it tells you how much ME/PE you need. In the case of the Heat Sink I BPO, I went for 40 ME which seemed like a good compromise. Besides, you can always go back to it later and optimize further.

Note: You don’t have to do ME/PE research on a BPO to invent from it, but usually you will use the BPO to build the T1 item required to build the T2 variant from it, so it’s good practice to research it so you don’t waste materials needlessly.

Now that Loreena had everything she needed, the mayhem truly began. To invent a T2 blueprint copy from a T1 blueprint, you have to make copies of the T1 BPO first. You can only use blueprint copies for invention, and make sure you use max-run copies (more on that later). For testing purposes I invented some 1-run copies, which is very fast – after 10 minutes Loreena had 10 copies to work with. Beyond the thankfully light skill requirements for invention, all she needed was some datacores and a matching data interface. This is the same for any invention job: a set of datacores, and one data interface. The data interface is expensive, but it is not used up, so it can be used endlessly. Datacores have to be bought from market, but having one or more research agents can help with that supply.

Once you have all you need to run an invention job, the last hurdle is clicking through the invention window. If you have read this far I trust you will be able to select the installation in which to run your invention job. You will have a window that looks like this:

Invention window

Important to note for beginners is that for meta 1 items you do not need the base item, and decryptors are only worth investing in for bigger, more expensive items. It will not change the odds of inventing a T2 BPC if you use a base item, so don’t bother. Prepare for disappointment though, because you will often invent less than half of the invention jobs you put up. Training the science skills on which a blueprint is based up to at least 4 helps a lot, but as you will soon discover that is a time intensive undertaking.

Mixing in some decryption

If you start working with bigger items like ships (cruiser-sized and above), adding some decryptors into the mix can be beneficial. Decryptors modify the chance of invention as well as the quality and amount of runs of the T2 BPC. Of course higher quality decryptors can be quite expensive, so it is always a gamble to use one. They are unique for each race, but regardless of race there are always 5 types with the following modifiers:

  • Tier 1 (Like Circular Logic):
    Probability: 60%
    Max run: +9
    ME: -2
    PE: +1

  • Tier 2 (Like Sacred Manifesto):
    Probability: 100%
    Max run: +2
    ME: +1
    PE: +4

  • Tier 3 (Like Formation Layout):
    Probability: 110%
    Max run: –
    ME: +3
    PE: +5

  • Tier 4 (Like Classic Doctrine):
    Probability: 120%
    Max run: +1
    ME: +2
    PE: +5

  • Tier 5 (Like War Strategon):
    Probability: 180%
    Max run: +4
    ME: -1
    PE: +2

As you can see, a tier 5 decryptor increases chances of success significantly, but expect those to come at a hefty price (last time I checked around 30-50 mil a piece), since they are quite rare. My recommendation: buy them in Jita, the prices are usually more competitive there. Personally I have used some I had collected a while ago when I was running cosmos complexes with some pretty good results – but for simple modules it is really not worth wasting them.

Beyond invention: building T2 items

I realize I have no spoken much of numbers so far – if you just want to testdrive invention, there’s no need to concern yourself too much with numbers. If on the other hand you want to do more, then an industry tool or a self-cooked spreadsheet are the next step, especially if you want to take on the full chain of production as well. When I finally had some T2 BPCs and had a look at the manufacturing requirements, I sobered up just a little.

Turns out that T2 items require not only basic materials like tritanium, but also Components, like Nanoelectrical Microprocessors. My first instinct was to buy these off the market, until I found out that there are blueprints for all 30 components… Why buy them if you can eliminate one more middle man? I knew it was quite a bit crazy, but I sent Loreena to buy a BPO for all 30 components and after a few days I had finished the ME and PE on them.

And this is where you may start to see why a spreadsheet or tool is important: say you have a small collection of BPOs that can be invented to T2. Say also, that you want to know exactly what materials you will need from the invention to building the final product, for 10 of that module, 20 of that and 4 ships. Madness! Still, I built myself a spreadsheet that does just that. Nearly drove me crazy, but now Loreena can set how many of a module she wants to invent/build, and it tells me exactly what I need – from the datacores and minerals to the moon materials needed to build the required T2 components. I used to wonder at people who develop Excel macros, now I see the attraction 🙂

At least it gave me a whole new perspective on the complexity of the EVE market – just look at the whole chain from a T1 BPO to the final product. Knowing that one character can at most have 10 science and 10 industry jobs running at the same time (with level 5 skills everyhere), that T2 modules supply on the market is the result of a LOT of very busy people. I think we should all pat ourselves on the back for a job well done and hope that those PvPers never run out targets to keep the prices high (no, I am not a valid target :))!

On the traditional sidenote, I now have a headache and my keyboard is sending smoke SOS signals. I need cookies!