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Low Sec Update II


Please let me apologize in advance for not having much content to update with over the past couple days. For one thing, I don’t have any time to write on weekends, so there will never be Saturday or Sunday posts.

Regardless, lots of playing means less blogging naturally. On that front, I spent most of my weekend trying the PVP elements of the game. I did a pretty long roam on Saturday that ended up being incredibly instructive in terms of learning the fundamentals of traveling as a fleet, fleet combat, and intel.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed myself, keeping safe in low-sec as a fleet is serious business. I wish I could write more and be more specific, but frankly it is one of the first things in EVE that I have experienced where the only thing to really write is “you’ll just have to try it and see for yourself.” A big part of being successful in this game in recognizing that it is very much conflict driven, and the best way to tip conflicts in one’s favor is to travel in a flock.

Now all of that sounds nice, but it brings me to a point about why people who have genuinely bad gaming skills fail at EVE. Your average “casual social” gamer will parrot back to you cliche statements about how “community” is really the important part of MMORPGs. The statement itself may be true, to an extent. But I am convinced that the average person who says it is not right in saying it.

The truth is that I did well in my first low-sec roam. I did well enough that there will definitely be others. More importantly though, it gave me some exposure to fleets, which are really the backbone of that community I talked about. Most games with PVE eventually funnel players into the “community” content: the stuff you can only do in a coordinated team. In EVE, the game is designed so that every activity that occurs outside a spacestation can be improved upon in some way by joining up with others.

To that effect, every time you undock in EVE you are potentially participating in community content–which is kind of a scary thought for the player who is used to mostly soloing. The truth though is that even travelling from point A to point B can be pretty unsafe in hi-sec. Just being connected to other players through voice communication software is enough to drastically reduce those dangers.

The real point of this rather longwinded yarn was to bring up the subject of following directions. The truth about everything I said above is that it is the liberally sugar-coated version of what community participation really is, and why it really isn’t for everyone. The truth is that seasoned MMO players don’t want to play with players who don’t follow instructions well. Actually, the truth is not only that they don’t want to, but they’ll put up a stone wall to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Now there is this void between players who can take and give instructions, and then there is whatever is leftover after that. I am realizing for the first time that the people who are left over are these game companys’ literal wet dream. Ostracized for poor performance and listening skills, the latter really being the most basic skill required for success in anything, these players have little to know recourse within the gaming community itself.

I always thought that these “buy a gold key to unlock the chest of fortuity” games were marketed to people who wanted to save time or “skip to the end.” I’m afraid I can’t agree with that any longer. If anything, it really sounds like a little white lie these folks ginned up. You know why?

Because people who can follow directions, cooperate with others, and demonstrate skillful play are almost universally already in some niche that affords some level of satisfaction. Sure, the definition of that niche may morph from time to time as trends change, but for the most part, there is no need for them to buy something they have already earned. There is nothing in EVE you can buy that can’t somehow be earned. There are, however, many things you can earn that can never be bought.

So while it is tempting to think that all bad players are in a rush, the heart of the matter is really displacement. The bad player isn’t just bad at the game mechanically, he is in the bad niche. He has been castigated from fruitful play, and has available to him only the option to buy illusiory success. This “fake success” is the illusion that makes gold key games so profitable–the notion that currency can correct what is fundamentally a personality deficiency.

Having parsed this all out over the past few paragraphs, I suppose I would sum it all up by saying although nothing particularly exciting happened for me in EVE over the past few days, it was a nice feeling to participate in an activity where success could not be bought. Communication, mutual respect, patience for teaching the new, and a whole lot of careful listening were what won the day.

It’s no wonder so many of these gold key games are now defunct. Losers also lack tenacity.


Resetting My Extractors

This weekend I hauled my biggest payload out of low-sec yet.


With the proceeds I trained Advanced Planetology on both of my alts (This skill costs 7.5M ISK per skillbook).

One difficulty I find that I am having is the poor accuracy of my alt’s scans. I actually make a lot more yield by moving the extractor heads a few times until I see that I have saturated the route between extractor and launchpad fully.

I have nothing but negative things to say about that process. I am going to make getting to 100% accurate scans a goal. It seems like a bad system to me that I can get better results by simply ignoring the info the game is sending me. I’d actually prefer the skills impacted your yield, and it was only possible to extract what you had skill for.

This haul marks the first moment in time where my ISK investment into PI has finally paid for itself. I finally have the liquid isk available to expand my operation. That means putting down 4 more planets total, 2 on each of my alts.

I did some preliminary scouting last night, but I ran into problems with the remaining planets I had to choose from. The planets were either too far away, the POCOs had tax rates that were not aligned with what I’m currently paying, or they met the previous two factors but lacked richness of resources.

Judging from what I’ve seen on the market, the information in the link I’m about to post, and the prevalance of gas planets, I am considering this P1.5 planet setup posted on Greedy Goblin:

It is well thought out on a variety of levels. Primarily though, it produces two valuable end products. One is an excess of a P1 material that is traded in high volume at a desirable price, and the second is a P2 that cannot be generated on a single planet.

Polyaramids are great because the average person involved with PI is lazy, and doesn’t want to bother carting in P1 every few days to keep an operation running. Additionally, such an operation also requires favorable POCO rates, a luxury not everyone can afford.

I believe I have the right mix of planets and tax rates to afford this setup, so I guess I will give it a try first hand and see how it goes.


Affording Your First Battleship

First things first, it seems I got some attention from a post I wrote yesterday that was a little more philosophical in nature. Due to this, I don’t want to risk chasing anyone away who is interested in those kinds of posts. I am going to make it a goal to keep my actual game update posts short, to the point, frequent, and broken up by longer philosophical posts.

So let me start by saying that this post will be an update on my in game comings and goings. However, I will offer a sneak preview of my next “think piece”—a compare and contrast of Ultima Online and EVE Online. Following that, I plan on writing a post called “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees” about the metaphysical implications of items appearing out of thin air in games.

Today though, we pick up where we left off. Having just hit the 6 week mark playing EVE Online, I produced about 45 million ISK worth of goods in the past 3 days across 3 characters.

Keep in mind though I have colonized 8 planets currently. So I have quite a bit of bandwidth left to play with. When all is said and done I am planning for an income of 25 Million per day. That puts me squarely in “playing for free” territory.

Here is a screenshot of me turning over about half of that 40 million in goods hauled out of low-sec. All the sales happened over night, so when I swiped into my phone this morning to check Aura I had a pleasant surprise waiting:


My plan for this post was to summarize my current financial situation, and that’s what I have decided to commit to. Two weeks ago I had 160,000,000 ISK in my wallet. I felt that I was approaching the purchase of my first battleship. Four days ago I had 30,000,000. Let me tell you, it certainly felt like I had done something terribly wrong. So let me document those steps.

First, understand that as a gamer I do not believe in buying wealth in game with real life money. This has bit me in the ass 50 times in the past, and will probably bite me 50 more. Nevertheless, the one or two times I have done it have been hard enough lessons to never want to try again.

This means that by the time I hit 160M in my wallet, I had fought the hard way for every penny. Actually, around the 80M mark arbitrage and a little market luck took me the rest of the way. So what have I learned in the past two weeks? Luck in EVE is so very fickle. There is no substitute for a guaranteed bet.

So being so close to my goal of owning a battleship, you can imagine it was hard to invest heavily in a Level 3 mission running ship. But that is precisely what I chose to do. My reasoning was twofold. One, I was not ready to fly a battleship yet from a skills perspective, despite 100% of my training over the past two months going to fitting Large Turrets and a Tech II tank. Two, I figured I would make back the money invested in a level 3 runner within short order.

I invested 60,000,000 in a level 3 ship. As fate would have it, the next morning I was officially accepted into the E-UNI. The E-UNI that was currently at war. Doh!

Being terrified of losing over 1/3 of my wealth in a ball of fire, I decided I’d need a new strategy over the next week. I mothballed the mission running temporarily and stacked a bunch of exploration frigates up in Aldrat. The way I saw it at the time, it was dangerous enough travelling anywhere with the war-dec. So I might as well hop around in low-sec in a low cost frigate and try to make some cash.

I’ll be honest with you. Exploration is just not my cup of tea. I spent about 6 hours flying around low-sec. Although not fun, it was immensely helpful. I learned a lot about the mechanics of safe-ing, cloaking, and using the MWD trick. I also really enjoyed my time in less lawful space. The constant fear of aggression is not an entirely bad feeling for someone who is willing to prepare themselves with a steadfast defense.

So I had to figure out how I was going to make money in low-sec if it wasn’t going to be exploration. I got Remote Sensing and decided to start gauging the kind of yields low-sec planets would offer. Compared to high-sec, looking at individual resources, it was possible to find planets that were absolutely off the charts. Over the next 5 days I spent another 60M ISK on a pretty robust PI setup.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that I spent 2 PLEX as well. This was strictly for the multiple character training. There is only one thing all players HAVE to buy in this game, and that is skill training. It is simply unavoidable not to pay to train at least one character.

So my total outlay so far would be the time spent training thus far, plus the time spent gathering the initial capital for PI, plus two PLEX. I calculate that out to be 1.5 Billion ISK invested, essentially. I consider this important however because this investment was the magic number required in order for me to generate enough passive income to PLEX my account (theoretically). By theoretically I mean that you still have to log in every day to reset the extractors, and you still need to haul the goods.

Another way to look at it would be that I paid 2 PLEX for 2 characters that can each generate 150M of passive income each month. In other words, the investment pays for itself within 4 months. Every consecutive month beyond that is just pure profit.

The moral of this story is that my overall wealth in liquid ISK has finally returned to the 100M mark. It has been an exhausting 2 weeks of getting here, but it probably won’t be a tough week getting back to 160M by next Friday.

I’m  going to cross my fingers I don’t blow it again so badly next time.