Look Mom, I’m On the Internet!

A friend sent this me last night, and I was just tickledūüėČ. You may notice a very familiar name in that wallets transaction journal…

Hey, one man’s exploration find is another woman’s very necessary decryptor purchase; thanks for finding those!

More soon, I’ve been quite busy with expanding operations and finding and ironing out wrinkles in production cycles. I was also overjoyed to see a new post from Eve Scientist (Lorna?)! Brief, but hopefully a sign that the RL health issues are behind her/him, and I’m so happy for that. Looking forward to more posts from that blog, and¬†you can look forward to more exciting posts right here from this one!

Adventures in T2: Trends, Tips, and Spreadsheet-Fu

Before anything, I need to give a humungous thank you shout-out to Locke Fox (@HLIBIndistry ) for being my own personal Obi-Wan Kenobi. I have been hard at work training my Jedi spreadsheets-fu, and he’s has been an absolute rock-star in helping me with the process; answering stupid noobish questions, always teaching instead of telling, and always willing to sit down and show me where I did bad and where to improve. You, my friend, are amazing.

me: ok just sent it
John: lol… I hate your sheet
me: LOL
you mean cause its SO AWESOME???
John: *head pat* yes dear
John: let me see if I can get my sheet to look like yours… for troubleshooting
me: for science, of course
John: I need to make a series of youtubes on spreadsheets… don’t I?
me: yes….yes you do

ūüėČ

As my master “take over the world” spreadsheet-monster comes to life, I’ve started to be able to pick out certain trends and patterns that emerge in the T2 game, especially where it comes to components. The savvy T2 ship builder knows that the way to mitigate costs is to build your own components from T2 materials. This isn’t always the case, but some basic spreadsheet wizardry to give you a breakdown of cost-to-buy vs cost-to-build will give you a rough idea of whats better to build yourself rather than to buy on the market (spoiler alert: 85% of the time it’s a cost saving to build it).

However, you also need to take into consideration time and effort; as Blake is so fond of saying over at k162Space, time¬†is money. So, the next step is to look at your ship build spreadsheet and basically look for “where am I spending the most to build what”. For instance, in the case of T2 cruisers, the bulk of your investment is being spent on armor plates. Luckily, its across-the-board cheaper to build rather than buy Armor Plate T2 components. Even with the small margin of difference, the sheer volume needed in really any T2 ship class will expand that savings in a major way. So, “yes” to Armor Plates.

Another big isk-sink for T2 builds are Microprocessors. Here, unfortunately, is where you are as they say, shit out of luck. It is, as of writing this, absurdly more expensive to build microprocessors than to buy them; almost double the price. I can really only attribute this to the high cost of the Nanotransistors needed to build them. So in this case, there’s no dodging cost really. (Edit: Fuzzy Steve from Fuzzworks is a¬†lifesaver. Thank you for pointing out my woopsie…my spreadsheet was counting the cell for price of nanotransistors¬†twice, literally throwing my entire sheet off. Fixed, and wow do my calculations look betters!ūüėČ Thanks Steve!)

As you go down the line of big needs however (Sensor Clusters, Capacitor Units, Shield Emitters, etc), you need to start prioritizing what simply isn’t worth it to build, time-wise, for what you’ll be producing. One way to do this is to have two master build sheets for each race: one gives you the basic build cost breakdowns with buying the components; for the no-fuss, “just build it” type. The second will give you the same data, the same breakdown, and the same build/sell cost benefit, though with all components being build; its certainly an eye opener to see how it changes the numbers, I can promise you.

As my monster spreadsheet v 2.0 took shape, and I started to see real cost/loss ratios for different ship classes and decryptor variations, I went a little buy-crazy and bought up multiples of each of the component blueprints I would need to build the T2 Amarr and Minmatar ships I’m currently producing.¬†However, again, time is money. Some of the components¬†do¬†save you money by being built over bought, but the difference is so inconsequential that its really isn’t worth it, at least in my opinion, to bother with buying, researching, hauling materials, and building those components; not to mention tying up research/build slots on those characters. So at least for me, the focus is on plugging the big holes in that isk-flow over the smaller cracks. For my builds right now, that means Armor Plates, Shield Emitters, Capacitor Units, Microprocessors, and Sensor Clusters.

For your own build sheets, I recommend finding the percent difference between the buy and build prices, and then find a good balance somewhere between the percent savings and the volume number you’ll need for a typical build cycle. For instance, to build 10 Vagabond runs from a ME-2 PE1 (Advanced Theories Decryptor; will yield 2 Vagas per run, so 20 total), you will need 97,500 Fernite Carbide Composite Armor Plates. There’s “only” a 9.4% savings in building vs buying these, but since you’re building so freaking much of them, that turns into roughly a¬†70mil isk savings.

After deciding which components you will be buying and which you’ll be building, I recommend creating a third racial spreadsheet with all of your actual build-vs-buy choices entered in, in order to keep accurate profit results. The reason to have a third separate sheet? The T2 market is fickle, and so having the ability to change your build/buy priorities in a master spreadsheet will absolutely come in handy.

Remember that though: the T2 market is fickle and fluctuates a lot. The trick to staying on top of profit is being able to spot those trends before they blow up and capitalize on them. One thing I’ve begun to do is think in terms of ¬†“I’m not the only one with a spreadsheet”. In fact, most T2 inventors do have one, and we’re all watching to see when one ship/dycrptor combination pops up as a lot more profitable than the rest. Being ready to jump on that trend as fast as you can is key, because as more people catch on to its profitability, demand will increase component costs and build costs, and eventually drop profit back down.

For now, my next trick is to flesh-out racial build sheets for Gallente and Caldari, as well as work on a smoother version of a “shopping list” spreadsheet.¬†In-game work-wise, I’m still on T2 Cruisers for now, but am on path to transition into Marauders (and possibly Black-Ops), which will allow me to put less time into updating invention slots, hauling materials, and building¬†for roughly the same profit; we’ll see.

 

Edit: Again, thanks so much to FuzzySteve for questioning my math and making me see that somewhat huge error!

POS Threat Levels and Defense

I thought the following guide might be helpful to those who find themselves war-decced while running a POS. By no means is this “the” definitive guide to POS defense or threat assessment; the information below is of course my¬†opinion. But, this guide is based off of my own experience, a pretty hefty amount of research, as well as amazing input from other industrialists and members of the Eve community. This guide pertains to POSs in¬†high security space only; low-sec, null, and WH POS threat assessment and defense is another story entirely, and food for a different guide altogether.

 

Threat Level Yellow:

Less of an issue, but I’m putting it here to act as a contrast to the other two far more serious threat levels.

Yellow threats could include a small corp joining your larger alliance with an active war dec from a small griefer corp. This is not a “tip of the iceberg” scenario, but truly just a small greifer corp looking for an easy target who will most likely fade away once their weak, small number targets turn into a much more prepared, armed, and larger target base. Just the same, you should always have hardeners and defenses anchored though offline if you have to, just to be safe.

A yellow threat is also a tingling spider-sense, a hunch, or an inkling of storm clouds on the horizon. Yellow is seeing that same individual scoping out your POS multiple times in the span of a few days, sometimes cloaking quickly when they realize you’re active. Its unsolicited applications to your one-person corp from a stranger, or questions from anyone in the game you don’t actually know in real life that seem slightly prying. Actually come to think of it, lets just go ahead and say that any time you start onlining a tower anywhere in EvE, you are officially and automatically at threat level yellow.¬†¬†In the real world or pretty much any other game ever, we would call this “delusional paranoia”; in EvE, we call this playing smart.

Threat Level Orange:

The most common level. Threat level orange is an imminent threat to your POS itself. Its time to stop all industry jobs, empty and break down all labs and facilities, and put up the defenses.

Examples:

* One-person corp decs: Though the threat-level on a one person corp wardecing you looks minimal, and indeed it could just be someone camping the Jita undock looking for easy targets, its most likely a trap. Personal as well as researched experience point to the fact that that one person almost certainly knows you have a POS, and its most likely the target. 99% of the time, that 1 person is going to to turn into 5 or 6 or more when the war goes live. The tactic is used when trying to trick the target corp into a false sense of security, thereby not guarding themselves accordingly to what the threat actually is.

* Your alliance gets war-decced by a large-ish mercenary and/or “war-dec” alliance. You haven’t been explicitly told or seen obvious tips that the goal of the dec is the destruction of your tower, and¬†most likely, you are one of many, MANY targets. The opposition may or may not know about your tower, but some simple preventative measures may ease some of the threat. Make sure no one in your corp is anywhere near your POS system when, or even a little before, the war goes live. Locators work on logged-out players, and if the enemy keeps running locators on your corp and seeing you all in one system, suspicion will lead to exploration.

Defense:

Small tower: Good luck. without too much commitment, your enemy is probably going to bring this down. You don’t have the fitting space with any type of small tower to actually mount much of a defense at all, either by turtling-up with hardeners or trying to actively defend it. You¬†could put up ECM but they’ll hardly be a hinderance to even a mid-sized fleet. Likewise with guns; even with a dedicated POS gunner, an opposing fleet will quickly dispatch your guns at range.

Medium tower: Theres a divide in thinking on this one amongst most people. Some say ECM-defense, especially on a Caldari tower, and some say hardeners. I happen to agree with the latter and opt for a straight turtling method. The reasons are, people sometimes confuse the bonuses between large and medium Caldari control towers. While the large does get a huge 75% bonus to ECM cycling speed, the medium’s bonus is actually towards e-war, i.e. neuts, webs, disruptors, etc. So while an ECM-based defense is certainly¬†possible on a medium, the bigger time-waster for an enemy will be as many hardeners as possible.

Large tower: You’ve got the power grid and CPU to mount a seriously formidable defense. With enough ECM, hardeners, and even offensive weapons should you choose, taking down a large tower in highsec (i.e. without Dreads) is a nightmare. I’ve seen and been a part of a 45-person BS fleet going up against a large tower with a SINGLE defender who just kept online ECM modules, and it took the better part of 7 hours to put it into reinforced. I also think the only reason we finally did was that the defender ran out of ECM batteries. Again, with enough planning, isk, and dedication, a large tower isn’t going anywhere without a serious fight.

Threat Level Red:

You have been explicitly told that a large and capable group is very specifically after your POS; there isn’t a lot of grey area here.

Examples:

Again, not a lot of grey area. Someone is after you, and they want to hurt you where it counts.

Defense:

Small and Medium towers: Shut it down. You are not going to win this fight and you¬†are going to lose a tower if it stays up. If you don’t have the standings to put up a new one later, start looking around for a corp standings boost service that can help; it will take a week anyways to boost your corp standings.

Large tower: as with Orange, you can attempt a defense here. With a few people, some deep pockets and some planning, you can probably hold off even a dedicated and large fleet for some time. Additionally, depending on the cost of your infrastructure involved and how badly you want to keep that tower up, it may be worth it to start looking into hiring a reputable mercenary group to defend your POS.

Again, anytime you log into EvE, you’re at a certain threat level already. The common saying in this game is “don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose”, and the very same logic applies to POSs: “don’t anchor and then sit around in anything you can’t afford to lose”. Remember, being smart, being prepared, and staying calm are the best possibly defense you can have. Input and opinions on the above are welcomed.

Zen and the Art of POS Maintenance

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.‚ÄĚ

-Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

 

Owning a POS at times feels like a bit of a stepping stone towards what I can imagine it feels like being a Supercapital pilot. Despite its emphasis on loss and risk, EVE is a game where you can fairly easily sequester your valuables away in some in-accessible vault of a station where they are effectively off-limits to any other player. So its a little bit of a culture shock when you realize you have spent a somewhat large amount of money on an asset that you will forever leave sitting out in space, out of the safety of your locked hanger.

You become¬†compulsively linked with this asset. You refuel it, your bring in extra materials and bits and pieces to keep the invention/assembly lines going, you tinker with the perfect configuration to get the most out of your monthly investment, you worry about defense, and soon enough, that “Player Owned Structure” begins to own you if you aren’t careful to remember that this is a game, not a job.

One thing to keep in mind when talking about EvE and how the players relate to the game and its environment is the balance and differences between “limiting” and “hinderance”; I’ll give an example of both to illustrate.

“Limiting” are things like long industry queues at highsec NPC stations, carghold sizes, the inability to cyno into highsec systems, etc. The are purposeful bottlenecks and speed-bumps that, although sometimes annoying, are completely necessary in order to give industry and general game-play at least a tiny bit of friction. If these weren’t there, large-scale industry would be a cinch, and either the markets would crumble, or people would get intensely bored with the easy and over-simplified mechanics, or most probable, both.

“Hinderances”, however, are bad UI programing and game mechanics that actually inhibit the player in negative ways. They do, by proxy, end up acting as Limiting mechanics, but those are only a by-product of how terrible they are; by the same logic, one might refer to a brick wall as part of a car’s braking mechanism. In EvE, Hinderances are things like your freighter getting caught humping invisible station vectors while attempting to get into warp, the lack of basic minerals in null-sec necessitating huge-scale mineral compression, or not being able to transport rigged/unpackaged ships in a freighter (even a shuttle?) unless you get your alt to courier contract it first. POSs fall under a bit of both, but their interface and basic usability right now are fairly firmly in the Hinderance category.

The ideas put forward at fanfest and on the forums for modular structures look amazing, but cosmetic change isn’t necessarily what we need first. In the words of John Cussak, in the possibly the greatest line about high-school groping and getting from second to third base ever written: “It was like trying to borrow a dollar, getting turned down, and asking for 50 grand instead.” It almost feels like CCP asked for suggestions, and you all suggested the moon (pun very much intended).

Of course, I too would like a pretty modular system, with re-arrangeable configurations for different scenarios, and a jump-drive for moving, and a re-vamped defense system that isn’t based on arcane pre-dominion sov-mechanics, and while we’re at it, a pony. However, none of that looks to be happening anytime soon.

So instead of the grand-scale, what if we looked at the small? The real headache behind POSs isn’t the inability to ¬†jump them to a new system, reconfigure them to look like genitals, or¬†the exposed piping. Its the very basic core UI, which has been decidedly left behind while the rest of the interfaces of EvE got pretty face-lifts.

The core of the problem is the giant click-fest that the industrial/science profession is. Pre-fix faction warfare pilots can probably relate, but those cash-out click-fests were once in a while, not every other day. Sure, if I’m building myself one batch of ammunition or a few frigates, its manageable, but once you start getting into invention and scaling into much bigger industrial projects, it becomes torturous.

For instance, to invent¬†one¬†Sacrilege BPC at a POS, I need to click the mouse¬†eleven times over eleven different buttons; thats per invention attempt, every time. So with Adv Laboratory Operation 4 ( you aren’t running and paying for your own invention POS without at least level 4 are you?) scale that by 10; 111 times for one invention run, and thats with ONE character. Like I said, once you get into large-scale projects with say, 3-4 characters inventing away, its a nightmare.

Here’s a few suggestions I’ve been rolling around in my head:

* Let us batch invent if we have all the materials. If they arent all there, or you’re missing a skill, or don’t have enough open slots, you’d of course get the notice and the job would fail to start.

* Right now, the mechanics for accessing mobile labs at a POS are seemingly based around cargo container mechanics; you have to be within 2,500m to open, move, or take from them. Seeing as I can sit in my POS over 4.48793612 √ó 1012¬†meters from a blueprint sitting in a corporate hanger in a station and access that, this seems silly, just from a lore/tech-canon-of-EvE perspective. When you’ve got 6+ labs, multiple factories, and a CHA up, figuring out that sweet spot of where to park your ship so as to access them all is a headache. I’m not asking for universal access, but maybe expand it to be within the forcefield?

* The click-fest: if we aren’t able to batch invent, or say we’re inventing multiple kinds of items/ships, lets have saved settings like we have for market orders. A tick-box that denotes, “yes, I want these to automatically default to Sacrilege BPCs, not Devoter BPCs” for instance, would be amazing.

I feel that these are some very basic fixes that would remove some of the more annoying hinderances to POS ownership, without dumbing down the game or process. Again, limiting factors are totally necessary for this game and how it works, as well as how we find it interesting and keep coming back for more, but some basic changes to how we go about things would take away the headache factor.

Either way, CCP has made it clear that devoting resources for a POS re-vamp isn’t really in the time/budget allotment for what would affect a small percent of the playerbase. But again, while I do think a beautiful new modular POS system would be amazing (and oh do I!), there are some really quick and relatively easy coding patches to fix some basic UI stuff that would erase of the hinderances around POS use.

Revenge: Best Served By Others – A “Being Terrible” Follow-Up

There was a time, not so very long ago, when I was terrible and lost a tower to a cheap gang of war-dec scammers. All-in-all, it was a learning experience, and really it only cost me a 750mil POS setup (I declined the offer of “ransom”) to learn it.

Yet here we are a few weeks later, and I got to thinking “Gee,¬†where are they now?” Me being the first war declaration from my old tower-wrecking friends, I felt slightly special. And so, like the first-girlfriend-with-a-black-eye who years later facebooks the now-in-prison-for-armed-robbery-ex, I began wondering what they’d gotten into since our brief but torrid affair. Had they risen through the ranks of grieferdom to the very top? Were they highly sought-after and richly paid guns for hire to the top alliance in the game? CEOs? Tycoons?

tee-hee…

…nope.

Instead, it looks like their next grief-dec against a tower-holding corp got them a big heaping serving of comeuppance, served with healthy side of “karma is a bitch, bitches” by losing 2.4 billion isk to zero kills against the defending corp. Needless to say, I giggled heartily.

Revenge: a dish best served by other, much more capable peopleūüėČ. Thanks Mirage Knights!

 

P.S. Oh yes, and Jita Suppression Corp has since disbanded; over-all net losses aren’t exactly good for the grief-for-profit biz you know…

Station Trading Update: Jita .01isk Undercutters

Someone’s got a case of the Mondays…

 

Real post on the wayūüėČ.

Call Me Gordon Gekko

I’d first like to put a HUGE THANK YOU out there to everyone who contacted me after the sack of Rome¬†Castle de Sophia Winterfell my POS. It’s been quite humbling to have so many offers of refuge as well as monetary assistance (especially one¬†extremely generous person, you know who you are!), and all I can say is, ya’ll are the greatest.

Through a former corpmate, it looks like I have found a new home with Eve Engineering, which I will be joining as my own sovereign corp. On the one side of things, its going to be a change of pace being back in an active alliance as I’m used to flying solo (figuratively, literally), but its a bit exciting to look forward to some more in-game interaction. Plus I get to stay queen of my own little kingdom. EE has built itself on a “you get what you give” mentality and I think it’s going to be a great fit for me. They even dropped a holding tower in my old spot until the standings boosting service I use can allow me to put up a new one! And so, like a beautiful, slightly New-Years-Eve-hungover Phoenix, I will rise (shakily, demanding advil) from the ashes to claim what is mine.

In the meantime I’ve started dabbling in my side project of Jita station-trading. I’ve done some retail trading (buying-moving-reselling) before, but ¬†lost interest due to all the back-and-forth freighting. However, after being inspired by re-reading Blake’s trading guides over at k162Space, I decided to jump right into the snake-pit and try to muscle in on station-trading at Jita 4-4. The .01 isk game is an obnoxious headache at first, but there is I’m sure a certain amount of finesse and market knowledge that I’ll hopefully pick up along the way; that or a drinking problem.

As I’ve read more and more about station trading and the various fees involved, its also come to my attention that my abysmal Caldari standings ¬†(thanks for nothing Gallente grinding) may be effecting more than my ability to put up a POS. And seeing as I conduct most of my business in Caldari space, those -2 faction standings are going to start cutting into my profits. So I’ve been mulling over the idea of using “The Plan” to repair some of my terrible standings while simultaneously trying to balance not hurting my good ones.

…Jinkies, is it happy hour yet?

Thanks again to Eve Engineering for taking me in, and I’m looking forward to getting Tower 2.o up and cranking. Updates soon.