Aug 20 2014

Circumventing Customs Offices

Customs OfficeOne of the drawbacks of player owned customs offices is that they often change hands, or that the current owners try to milk everyone for everything they are worth. I had a case like that lately, where the tax was at 20% despite having the Customs Code Expertise skill at V.

I am fine with reasonable taxes, after all maintaining (defending) a customs office is worth something. In this case however, I began looking for alternatives. Dialogue with the customs office owner lead nowhere, as they were a highsec griefer corp who had simply found another way to, well, grief anyone willing to fall into their trap.

I was not going to pay those prices, but I needed an alternative until their spot could be vacated and replaced with someone more reasonable. I did not want to move planets because of them either. I knew that you can use the command center to make launches, so I had a look at that again.

To use the command center you have to link it to your storage, and make an expedited transfer of the things you want to launch. The good news is that you only pay the NPC launch tax then. The bad news is that the command center has only 500 m3 cargo capacity, so launching your products will take a few launches.

Let’s take my planet making Enriched Uranium as example: it produces around 1600 units per week, and the command center can hold 333 units. That’s 5 launches, which isn’t too bad! However, the expedited transfer to the command center had a really high cooldown, with over 20 minutes. That’s almost 2 hours to launch everything, so not really a good solution.

A few searches later, I learned that you have to upgrade the link to the command center to reduce the cooldown (explanation). I was able to reduce the cooldown to 5 minutes, which makes this a viable solution. If you do your launches while restarting the extraction on your colony, it will not be that much of a bother.

While it is far from ideal and does not work for all use cases, it is a great way to circumvent high taxes. For high-end products it may even be a better solution than the launchpad, where the volumes are much smaller to begin with.


Aug 8 2014

Working with PI on Gas planets

The most troublesome planetary colonies that Aeon has had to manage so far have always been on gas planets. And for good reason: these planets are a lot bigger than their solid matter based counterparts. This means that distances when placing structures are not what they seem: that extractor one centimetre away from your main base in the planetary user interface is actually thousands of kilometres away, much farther than that same centimetre represents on, say, a barren planet. This is due to the fact that the user interface does not convey the dimensions of the planets at all.

Technical blurb aside, fact is that links to extractors far away from your main base are just way too expensive on gas planets. The solution is simply to make do without linking your extractors. To illustrate how this works, I have created an explanation sheet:

PI on Gas Planets

So to sum this up:

  1. Build your main consisting of only the spaceport and the advanced industry facilities.
  2. For each material you wish to extract, create independent secondary bases.
  3. Each secondary base has an extractor, a storage unit and basic factories to process the materials.
  4. When the extractors finish their cycle, decommission the secondary bases except for the storage.
  5. Create links from the spaceport to the storage units (made possible by the power and CPU freed up).
  6. Transfer the processed materials to the spaceport, so the advanced industry can start.
  7. Decommission the leftover storage units.
  8. Rinse and repeat: rebuild the secondary bases in new material hotspots.

Obviously this works best if you use longer extraction cycles, so you do not have to do a wild clickfest every few hours to rebuild the secondary bases.


Jan 19 2011

Producing POS fuels with PI

As I have to rebuild all of my 18 planets with the new changes to PI, I took the time to sit down and make some calculations for once before I start fiddling around aimlessly again. The aim is to make POS fuel commodities, so I inspected in detail what I need for them.

The idea was that I needed not only to find out which raw materials were needed, but to determine precisely how much of each I would consume, taking into account that some are used in more than just one commodity. For example, Noble Metals are used for Enriched Uranium, Mechanical Parts, and indirectly in Robotics.

Warning: I take no responsibility for any neuronal damage that may result from reading the rest of this post.

It took me a while to figure out the best way to do this, but I managed to put it together in the end. So, to build exactly one run of each commodity:

5 Coolant
5 Enriched Uranium
5 Mechanical Parts
20 Oxygen
3 Robotics

you need exactly this amount of each raw resource (with the number of cycles a basic industry facility has to run to process the raw materials):

6000 Aqueus Liquids (=2 cycles)
6000 Ionic Solutions (=2 cycles)
24000 Noble Metals (=8 cycles)
18000 Heavy Metals (=6 cycles)
18000 Base Metals (=6 cycles)
12000 Non-CS Crystals (=4 cycles)
3000 Noble Gas (=1 cycle)

This takes into account that you need to make enough Mechanical Parts to keep some as commodity and use the rest to make Robotics. So you effectively produce this:

5 Coolant
5 Enriched Unranium
15 Mechanical Parts
10 Consumer Electronics
20 Oxygen
3 Robotics (Using 10 Mechanical Parts and 10 Consumer Electronics)

Processing Infrastructure

Now to the tricky part: the amount of cycles I listed above represent how often a basic industry facility has to complete a full cycle to process the materials required by the rest of the production chain. If you want to have seamless production of all commodities, those cycles would ideally be concurrent.

What this means is that you should have one industry facility for each cycle so they can run at the same time. To produce one run of the commodities I listed above, you would need the following amount of Basic Industry Facilities with the according Schematics to process the materials:

2 x Water Schematic (Aqueus Liquids)
2 x Electrolytes Schematic (Ionic Solutions)
8 x Precious Metals Schematic (Noble Metals)
6 x Toxic Metals Schematic (Heavy Metals)
6 x Reactive Metals Schematic (Base Metals)
4 x Chiral Structures Schematic (Non-CS Crystals)
1 x Oxygen Schematic (Noble Gas)

Of course this would be distributed accross your network of planets, and it assumes that your extractors can keep up with the demand from the industry facilities. However, if you can manage to whip this together you will be able to almost seamlessly produce POS fuels. Almost, because I glossed over the whole logistics issue transporting stuff around 🙂

Base raw material requirements

For all intents and purposes here is the base list of raw materials needed for one production run of each commodity.

5 Coolant
> 6000 Aqueus Liquids
> 6000 Ionic Solutions

5 Enriched Unranium
> 6000 Noble Metals
> 6000 Heavy Metals

5 Mechanical Parts
> 6000 Noble Metals
> 6000 Base Metals

5 Consumer Electronics
> 6000 Heavy Metals
> 6000 Non-CS Crystals

20 Oxygen
> 3000 Noble Gas

3 Robotics
> 12000 Heavy Metals
> 12000 Non-CS Crystals
> 12000 Noble Metals
> 12000 Base Metals

Choosing the right planets

As for which types of planets you will need for all this, it depends on what you have available and where you do it – nullsec is definitely the place to be for PI (be it in regular nullsec or wormhole nullsec), as the extractor yields are extremely better than highsec. But highsec can work as well, you will just end up with a lot more colonies to do the same thing.

The planets distribution for the materials we need is this:

POS fuel PI Materials Planet Chart

If you look at this chart, you will see that it is possible to have all you need even if you do not have access to Oceanic, Ice, Storm and Plasma planets (but you need Lava planets, which are fortunately more widespread). Beyond this chart, even if some materials can be found on several planet types does not mean they area all equal in terms of yield. For example, Aqueus Liquids are logically not as abundant on a Barren planet than on an Oceanic one. You will have to find the right balance for your selection of planets.

Now looking back at the list of raw materials we need, the topmost materials are Noble Metals, Heavy Metals, Base Metals and Non-CS Crystals. For these, you will have to build colonies primarily on Lava / Plasma / Barren planets. In highsec, this list will be reduced to Lava and Barren planets.

When choosing your planets, scan every one of them for the material you need (like Base Metals), and compare the yield bars between planets to find the one with the better deposits. If you want to be really precise about it, you can take screenshots of each planet and compare them by measuring the width of the bars in a graphics editor or overlaying them. To illustrate:

PI Planet Yield Comparison

Planet B clearly has a better supply of Base Metals. However, this does NOT mean that a detailed scan will not reveal that planet A has spots with higher concentrations than Planet B: the bars just mean there is more or less of a material planetwide. Single deposits can vary a lot. So what’s the optimal way of finding the best planet for a material? My favorite technique is running a detailed scan of each planet without changing the resource limit slider.

Here’s how you do it: find the planet that has the biggest deposits of the material you seek. I’ll stick to the Base Metals in my case. When you have found the best planet, run a detailed scan for Base Metals and adjust the slider so that the biggest deposit you can find on the planet surface is shown with a white area, like this:

Biggest Deposit On A Planet

The single white area there is the biggest deposit on that planet. Logically if we run a detailed scan of the other planets, we should not get a single white area anywhere. However in practice, that is not always so. To illustrate, run a detailed scan of all the other planets. Chances are that one of them even has a bigger deposit somewhere on its surface. That’s where you should set up – even if the planet on the whole has less of that material, your extractors will have more to work with. In my case, I found this:

Even Better

Now that’s a lot better than my initial scan.

Conclusion: do not judge a planet by its deposit bars! The best is to always use the detailed scans to compare them.