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.”

-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 × 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.

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2 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of POS Maintenance

  1. Brilliant lead quote from the most terrifying book I ever read.

    Every time I get annoyed with the invention process it occurs to me that the number of clicks is designed in. I end up wondering if this is some kind of time input that’s required to regulate getting cash out of invention. Having said that I’m still down at the low end of invention and hourly runs keep me logging in and clicking so it may just be the repetitive strain injury talking.

    PS – Advanced Lab Operation III. Welcome to Noobsville.

  2. Splatus over at “A Journey Through the Mind” said it best when he said that way back when CCP needed something Big. And one person said they could maybe do something interesting. So they coded and came up with a thing called a POS, as well made it all work. CCP was happy they had something new and shiny to show to players and players was also now happy.

    Years passed, the guy who made the POS work is no longer at CCP. He walked out the door leaving CCP knowing full well that he had CCP by the balls but they didn’t quite know it. As POS and their functionality are some of the now oldest legacy code in EVE, yet to be updated to modern times.

    So Splatus seems right when he said that CCP knows fully well they don’t want to touch POS with a hundred foot pole as barely any of that code is known by anyone else and the mess it would be to touch it and break all sorts of stuff all over EVE. They are afraid to even mess with it, which is why they know they will have to completely rewrite it from scratch.

    And so the guy who wrote the POS code long ago, long gone as well, still smiles every day drinking away at some Iceland Pub. Knowing he still got CCP by the Balls with that POS things because only he himself really knows the code.

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