Crius Economic Chaos

With the patch notes for Crius released, basically everyone who isn’t living under a rock knows the general nature of the patch (as an aside apparently a lot of people live under a rock, because the comments thread is full of brand new complaining, by which I mean the same old complaints being remade). “We changed all the Industry” is a fairly easy concept to wrap ones head around. So what moves, where, and why?

Manufactured Goods

tl;dr: Expect a base price rise of 3-4% or more.

If players build it, expect it to rise by at least 3-4% on average for Tech I and anywhere from half again more to double that for Tech II. Why? All the shiny new fees, of course! There’s ample room even in highsec for people to spread out (see this post for details; an astonishing amount of highsec sees no Industry use at all and with generally shorter research times post-patch there’ll be plenty of space to spread out there too) and plenty of people will no doubt chase the lowest possible production costs as possible.

However (contrary to what some of the aforementioned complainers believe) the system is not intended to force anyone to move. It is merely intended to create choices about when and if and where to move that are deeper and more meaningful than “as close to Jita as possible with empty build slots.” Simply not moving, however, is a valid choice, so much so that if it proves to not be favorable enough, CCP has a system in the wings called “Legacy” (see the bottom of the teams devblog for a brief explanation) to help bolster the option.

If “not moving” is an option, then a sizable number of players will exercise that option, spreading out some but then for the most part staying put. Those players either through numerical quantity or average size of their operation or both, will account for a large fraction if not outright majority of manufactured goods. If margins render them unprofitable, they don’t build, and the item(s) in question run out of stock, rising in price until it’s profitable again.  Smaller producers or those more willing to move will realize higher returns, while the lazier types will skate along at some level of modestly profitable. And if this system sounds implausible, it’s mechanically very similar to both moongoo & alchemy, and the existing interplay between Invention and Tech II BPOs. So, what scant few people who very vocally threatened to quit over the changes may or may not come back (but they won’t embarrass themselves by admitting they were wrong), most of them didn’t actually follow through to begin with, and life will go on.

Tech II Markets

tl;dr: Chaos?

I’ll revisit this again a little later in this post, but the times involved for Invention are getting messed with pretty considerably. Invention will now only require one copy of a BPC regardless and then copy times are considerably lower on top of that, which marginalizes that aspect of the process. Invention times have also changed, though there’s more variety there, and build times have as well, again, more variety. The net effect is that some things have a longer overall time to market (copy time + invention time + build time) and some things have a shorter one. It’s actually very much up in the air how this will affect prices, though. In theory shorter overall time to market would increase supply, and the opposite would be true for a longer time to market. But in practice, players already have dead time between jobs – the time between a job finishing and the player waking up, or getting home from work, for example. I’m not sure how big of an effect this will really have as a result.

Capital Ships

tl;dr: TANSTAAFL

These are worth touching on specifically.If Highsec was easymode for regular industry, than Lowsec was easymode for Capital industry. Much like building in nullsec, a lowsec capital builder has to import their minerals in compressed form, but unlike the nullsec builder, they can do it to a station with both a refinery and production slots, eliminating a lot of the pain in the ass hauling from Minmatar to Amarr outpost. When the first wave of industry changes were announced – refining changes in particular, and later the 5% ME bonus for an Amarr Outpost – there were suddenly quite a lot of complaints. The 20% improved refine yield alone would have given nullsec builders an effectively indomitable edge over those in lowsec, and that 5% ME bonus would apply twice (components, then the capitals themselves) to seal the deal. Recognizing both these specific complaints and that Lowsec was a bit left out in the industry department (almost all the inconvenience but none of the perks of nullsec with almost none of the convenience of highsec), CCP went ahead and implemented the Thukker Component Array. Combine its 10% reduction in materials with a high end refining array for a 54% base refine, and some – but not all – of the gap is closed.

Of course, it’s a POS module, which means running and maintaining a POS, which can be attacked and destroyed, plus the other extra hassle. No more jumping to a station and building right there. CCP addressed the complaints, but in a very TANSTAAFL way, and I suppose it remains to be seen how many lowsec builders will bother to continue. If a lot of the current crop quit, then expect shortages and rising prices.

One other market these things will touch, though, are Jump Freighters. The array allows the building of advanced capital components as well. And those things are tiny compared to regular capital components. Using a jump freighter to get in and out wouldn’t be hard at all, short runs would minimize risk if it were attacked, and a 10% ME bonus is a pretty damn huge deal. Combine with access to an upgraded Amarr outpost for the ME bonus there and the benefit of a good team and, well… it’s a lot of work, but anyone doing it would have a huge price advantage, at least.

About those Tech II BPOs…

tl;dr: Get owned.

I wrote about this some time ago, while the changes were all still in development. As explained then, the biggest deal here is rebasing Invention to produce positive ME blueprints. That annihilates a huge majority of the advantage BPOs have over invented BPCs. Instead of being perfect or near-perfect while the BPCs require anywhere from 120% to 150% of perfect material requirements, the gap can now be as low as 6-8%. Of course, that edge plus no need to spend money on invention means that BPOs will remain profitable…just 70-90% less profitable than they are currently, turning the already ridiculous 5-15 year ROIs often demanded for them into utterly outlandish multi-decade ROIs. It’s no wonder BPOs are proving so hard to sell all of the sudden. While this may lead to a severe price adjustment, that’d also require current holders to take one hell of a haircut on their stocks. We’ll see what happens but it seems probable that whoever holds them now will be the last “greater fool”.

Probably doesn’t help that the natural time to do even more to Tech II BPOs is alongside the Invention changes, which CCP will be starting on next…

Speaking of Moongoo…

tl;dr: Moongoo consumption is going to rise by several percent at a minimum.

Crius is actually a pretty damn big deal for moongoo consumption and prices, but since it’s not in a big splashy obvious way like Odyssey was, I haven’t seen it discussed much.

First thing’s first, the easy one to grasp. From the patch notes, “Most Tech I materials have been removed from Tech II blueprints.” Innocuous enough on its own; we need to delve into this post from CCP Ytterbium to clarify it. Long story short, those same materials are being replaced with Tech II materials of roughly equal value. Note, the Tech I being removed is just “extra” Tech I, such as the raw mineral content found in most Tech II ammos. The base item requirement remains, however. I don’t think the Crius SDE with these changes is out yet, so I can’t quantify the scope in detail… but here’s a short list of some of the things that have Tech I materials being replaced.

Actually, here’s a short list of things that don’t have extra Tech I materials. That’s easier.

  • Tech II Launchers
  • Some Tech II ships, but not all. For example, the Ishtar, Zealot, Cerberus and Vagabond have one mineral or another, but the Deimos, Sacrilege, Eagle and Muninn do not.
  • Tech II Drones

And… that’s it. It’s hardly an exhaustive search, and I’m not actually certain if everything that has extra materials to remove is also having them replaced. On an item to item basis it’s a relatively small change, with the replaced materials topping out around 10-15% of build value for Tech II ammo, and closer to 3-5% for various affected modules. But the sheer scope of items it touches makes the overall effect fairly significant.

On top of THAT are the aforementioned changes relating to Invention rebasing. Simply changing all Invention to produce positive ME blueprints would have resulted in a catastrophic drop in moongoo usage, so CCP adjusted the base material requirements upwards by 50%. What’s that do?

Current ME % of Current Perfect Crius ME % of Current Perfect
-4 150% 2 147.0%
-3 140% 3 145.5%
-2 130% 4 144.0%
-1 120% 5 142.5%
PERFECT 100% PERFECT 135%

Given that choices with respect to decryptors will be shaking up a bit as a result of the patch we can’t really definitively say “What’s most commonly built at ME-1 will be ME5 post-patch”. But regardless, almost no matter how you cut it, the net result of this change is that Tech II items will get a bit more expensive to build…especially those built from Tech II BPOs, as illustrated by the “PERFECT” row, which highlights the whole “get owned T2 BPO owners” thing.

Next up, a bit more of an abstract change. Blueprints in general underwent fairly sweeping changes to a variety of stats – most relevantly to this subject copy, invention and Tech II build times. If you feel like digging through a couple dozen pages, the thread on the topic can be found here. The short version, though, is that the overall time to market (copy + invent + build time) is up for some items, down for others. “Down” is the direction of choice for most if not all modules as well as several classes of ships. This has the most nebulous effect on moongoo usage, though, because it only means that there is potential, for the given existing population of builders, to make more stuff in a given amount of time.

And finally, the completely unquantifiable (for now) – how many people quit industry? How many people try it out, and how many of those stick with it? All factors that could affect usage.

Sticking to the quantifiables, though, my own estimates run anywhere from a 3% to 20% increase in moongoo consumption, varying from goo to goo and by what variables you pick.

Oh yeah, and those newly mineable lowsec moons? Not very relevant. There are about 170,000 moons ingame that can be mined currently. Roughly 11,200 moons in 0.4 will become mineable. That’s a 6% increase. However, lowsec regions tend to have about a third as many moons as an analagous nullsec region (that is, Aridia and Delve are the two most R64 rich lowsec and nullsec regions, respectively, and Aridia has about a third as many as Delve), so it’s reasonable to assume a 2% increase, instead.

Minerals

tl;dr: Probably down, mostly.

Minerals are in kind of an odd place right now. Go back as far as Tiericide and as that initiative progressed, demand for minerals got higher and higher as ships were built en masse by the thousands ahead of time… and then as each class was completed, they were removed from global mineral demand due to the glut of now underpriced ships. Mineral prices plummeted, but for the most part leveled out back around last October… and then, varying by mineral, either promptly spiked again or did not, as demand picked back up, but also as the new global mineral ratios took hold. Odyssey brought with it massive buffs to nullsec ore composition that left Mexallon undersupplied compared to other minerals. As things moved into the winter we hit the normal and expected peak mineral prices… and now back around May or June, they started falling, some quite hard. While a summer slump is a normal part of what used to be the regular mineral price cycle, I’m honestly not sure if that’s what’s going on here or if something else is at play.

Either way, though, two expectations.

  • Overall, minerals continue to fall and settle lower than they otherwise would have. If they’re back in the normal summer/winter cycle then they’ll rise again later in the year,  but not as high as they would have, either. The assumption is that POS and outpost refinery facilities see extensive use, increasing the gamewide mineral supply.
  • One or more minerals will set its own trend. As I mentioned before, Mexallon had a nice rise due to Odyssey, but Crius is adding Mexallon, Pyerite and Nocxium to Arkonor, Bistot and Crokite, respectively. If I had the cash to speculate I’d probably look at Isogen as a buy, but it’s hard to say. Long time players will remember how drone alloys suppressed mineral prices across the table, after all, and it’s possible (though admittedly unlikely) that supply increases enough to outstrip demand due to superior refines.

Ice

tl;dr: Man who even knows.

Couple of factors for the ice markets, really. On one hand we’ve got the increased jump fuel consumption for jump drives, undeniably an increase in consumption. There’s also the removal of standings requirements to anchor a POS in highsec, opening up of previously restricted space in highsec, and some portion of those 11000 moons in 0.4 that might be worth mining. On the other hand, one of the primary driving factors behind highsec POS use was research slot congestion – copying, material and time. Slots are going away, though, so POS use is down to the strength of the bonuses, and… whether that’s enough or not is a crapshoot. My thinking would lean towards “no” with Invention being the exception, but regardless, we’ll see some kind of drop in overall POS usage. Determining what that actually means for overall ice consumption is beyond me, though, as I just don’t have the information needed to make that kind of estimate.

One other interesting twist here is that the build time for fuel blocks is tripling. While I’ve no doubt that long term the market will settle out and more production capacity will move in to continue to meet demand, in the short term it’s very liable to cause supply issues. Markets will just run out, prices will spike, people will rush to build blocks for quick profit, spiking ice products as a result, the block market floods, etc. I’d expect a couple cycles of that before stability.

Miscellanea

There are various other smaller markets likely to see upheaval as a result of Crius. Decryptors come to mind – changing Invention to yield positive ME will generally put far more emphasis on decryptors that improve TE and/or BPC runs, though if you’re looking to speculate that train long since left the station. Anything else I’ve forgotten, well, probably doesn’t matter.

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CSM9 Update Week 10

Another week passes! The summer summit attendees have been announced, or rather we’ve been told we can talk about it. It’ll be the 17th through the 19th of September, with Sion, Ali, myself, Sugar Kyle, Mike Azariah, Corbexx and Steve Ronuken going. “Summer” is a bit misnamed at this point given the actual timing, but over the years they’ve drifted a bit… though as Sugar pointed out, the last day of Summer is the 21st so it’s still technically true.

One other note in this otherwise short (blah blah Crius soon, the usual excuses…) update is the concept of “Little Things” as Sugar Kyle touched on in her post. One “Heretic Caldari” had taken exception to the naming, seeing it as asking players to self-censor and possibly losing out on things, because we of course do not know what is or is not “little” from CCP’s perspective. But that actually deviates rather significantly from the way I (and I think CCP as well) think of them. The idea of “little things” is not “things that take minimal developer effort”, but rather things that are little to the players. If they take minimal developer time that’s certainly going to make it more likely to be implemented, but you absolutely shouldn’t be thinking about it when making you’re suggestions. What you want to think about are minor gripes and annoyances and quality of life flaws, things that don’t necessarily break gameplay in a huge way but just annoy you a little when you’re trying to do something.

Examples? Well how about the little things in Crius? Among others…

  • Separating corp & personally insured ships.
  • A default “No Label” label for contacts, and a label on the online/offline indicator for your contacts.
  • No skills required to fit a ship.

And from Kronos?

  • Reloading indicators
  • Highlighting in Assets
  • Cleaner info windows.

And so on and so forth. The Rubicon 1.1 devblog actually has all the “little things” devblogs since CCP Karkur’s first one back in early 2012, and the trend is repeated throughout: Little things are little to you.

Borrowing an example from Sugar Kyle’s PvE little things, “The entire mission system is boring and awful” isn’t little. There’s nothing little about it, you’re talking about an entire gameplay system there. Something along the lines of “an overlay that shows me where I have to go and a summary of my objectives without having to open my journal and check each mission individually” though, that’s little (and it already exists to boot.) Or, with my own little anomaly oriented project, “Anomalies are awful and bad, replace them with a dynamic PvE system with high-functioning player-like AI that spawns and reacts based on the number of players present and what they’re flying” isn’t little. But, “Hidden Rally Points are supposedly the lowest difficulty type of Rally Point, but widely separated spawns slow down completion time considerably and an incredible number of elite cruisers per wave makes them a lot harder than you’d expect; grouping the spawn points into a couple of clusters and replacing some of the cruisers with battlecruisers or battleships would help balance the site” would be.

And one last non-PvE example, one of my own favorite pet peeves, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to create multiple stacks of a given size at once?”

 

As of now, one week to Crius! Once it launches we’ll get more activity, likely a good split between tweaks and adjustments to Crius and short & long term future work.

This is late because I was going to combo-post about the NPE, but welp, post still isn’t done…

Lunchtime Post: Mining Revamp

It’s actually approaching 2AM as I write this, but the concept of a lunchtime post is something short and fast enough that I can hammer it out in the hour I have for lunch at work, while I eat, using my iPad’s on-screen keyboard.

Mining is boring. Mining offers no particularly meaningful way to reward being active or paying attention – you can pick a ship that mines faster and requires you to empty your cargo bay more often, that’s about it, and (despite still being low-effort at a few actions every two minutes) the roughly seven-fold increase in activity required clearly isn’t worth it for the ~25% higher yield. There’s even less gameplay involved than ratting or other solo PvE and that’s saying a lot by EVE’s standards. That said, there is value in low effort and even “passive” (man do I hate that word) income, so doing away with that mode of mining shouldn’t necessarily be a design goal, either – properly incentivizing and rewarding a more active style should be.

So, to present an idea that isn’t really exactly new, throw out the notion of asteroids as big chunks of specific ore and instead imagine them as huge blobs of undifferentiated ore, or to keep the thinking simple, blobs of all kinds of ore mixed together. What’s actually in the asteroid would still be based on where you are, of course, so lots of ABCs in nullsec whereas these highsec blobs would be Veldspar and Scordite and Plagioclase, with Omber & Kernite and so forth about as you’d expect to find it now.

One option a miner would have would be something about like what you do now. Point your mining lasers at the rock and just let them run. You get… whatever you get. You might randomly get lucky and hit a node or vein of higher value ore, you might not, but there’s no more effort involved than there is today. Where the income from this low-effort mode should be balanced, well… that’s honestly another debate unto itself. Could leave it where it is and just put the active mode higher, could nerf it, could do both.

The active mode, by contrast, would involve some kind of minigame. Plenty of obvious (and less than obvious) options for that out there, really, but by doing it and doing it well you’d be able to not only target specific ore but greatly increase your actual mining rate, because reasons. Because you’re optimizing the frequency of your laser for the ore you’re after or whatever technobabble you want to go with.

The important thing here is that regardless of the mode you mine in, if you point a bunch of miners at one of these rocks for long enough, it’ll yield the same amount of minerals by the time it’s exhausted whether you’re active or not – the active option just does it much more quickly and so far more profitably. Or hell, you could raise the stakes a bit and present special bonus nodes or “things” in the minigame that let you get some extra minerals (or something else) impossible to get at in the passive mode.

In context here skills probably would just continue to affect mining much the same way they do now, improving your volume intake. Skill and success at the minigame would be a new factor though, and it’d be absolutely possible for an active miner with much lower character skills to nevertheless out-mine someone with high character skills. This would be a good thing and I dare you to convincingly argue otherwise; in the meantime, I’m going to sleep.

CSM9 Update: Week 9

At least I think it’s week nine, but I may have lost track seeing as I opted out last week…

*ahem*

Short one this week too, though, even if I’m writing it in the first place. A handful of devs are on vacation and I expect others to follow in the coming weeks, especially after Crius launches – expect whatever comes after immediately after Crius to be one of the small releases. On the CSM front, Xander Phoena and Sugar Kyle have both documented various going-ons, so I don’t really feel the need to repeat most of them. One minor quibble with something Sugar said, though.

The CSM is still an oversight committee still but that has expanded over the years. The incorrect term ‘junior game designer’ is often used. Focus and Feedback would be a bit better.

Don’t agree with this actually, not entirely. Yes, the CSM is here to give feedback. Part of that, from my perspective, is sometimes going not just “Well I don’t like X” but “I don’t like X, because Y, and here’s Z which I think is a better implementation.” And that Z – that’s something designed. Might be based on something else, but nevertheless. Or sometimes instead, it’ll be an unprompted suggestion of W.

WXYZ. Half a dozen or so other people are giggling right now, those around them have no idea why, and everyone else doesn’t know there’s a reason why they would be.

Anyway, just a personal philosophical point.

It seems fully half the CSM right now has their own little ‘little thing’ project going on and while I’ve not posted it (at least not on the EVE forums) I do have one of my own. I’ve been taking in information about anomalies in nullsec – in short, what’s good, what’s bad, and why, because their general design is frankly pretty messed up these days. I’ve gotten quite a bit of information about Guristas space, with special note to one intrepid pilot who went and found one of every single anomaly out there to catalog why they suck, or don’t, in high and very useful detail. Seriously, it’s great – looks like this.

Unfortunately not every rat in EVE is created equal and while one race’s anomaly is very similar to the analogous version of another race (everyone’s got the same set of anomalies after all, except for Drones) damage types, weapon types, and electronic warfare can drive things to be very different. So now I’m looking for info from other parts of EVE. What I’m after is the following:

  • Anomaly Type & Race
  • Ship used and skill level (Ship & DPS related skills only, I don’t really care so much about tank skills so long as you can tank it)
  • Approximate time of completion and value of the site
  • Where the initial spawn is relative to the warpin, and where respawns appear (relative to warp-in, last spawn, or both). A screenshot of each spawn would be perfect.
  • Makeup of each spawn, in gross terms (this many cruisers, this many battlecruisers, etc) as well as if & how many ‘elite’ rats there were. The elites are “Dire Guristas” or “Elder” or “Dark” Corpii, etc.
  • Which spawns contain tacklers or other electronic warfare and what type.
  • What rat is the ‘trigger’ in each spawn.

I’d also like to know which anomalies can escalate, what they can escalate to and (most importantly, since honestly those two things I can easily look up) what kind of loot comes from the escalations. Or to put it another way, are they worthwhile? And hell, so long as we’re on that track, let’s just round it out with regular exploration, the DED complexes.

If you want to pitch in, you can send the info to me by evemail (don’t forget the third N) or use my feedback form.

Eve VR

No, I’m not talking about what became Valkyrie – a different sort of VR. What if there was a training simulation available in EVE? This actually spawned out of the question “Wouldn’t it be great if newbies could fit and try out ships in a max skill environment?”

Well, wouldn’t it? Combine with some way of imbuing at least basic fitting expertise ingame (more on that another time, perhaps) and it becomes a potential learning tool, a way to touch on some of the issues Namamai put forward about a week ago in a blog banter (by the way, if you’re not already following his blog, do so.) For more experienced players, it could be a proving ground, a live fire version of EFT, if you will. Regardless of skill level, spawn in flying what you prefer, fit as you wish, with skills set however you like. Engage static targets, take triggered fire of known quantity and type to test out tanks, whatever. If you want to go a step further with that, maybe even the on-demand option to spawn PvE encounters (simulated ones without bounties or loot of course, this is all VR!) that are perhaps close but not quite identical to the real thing. Or not – there are obvious downsides to letting someone learn how a given piece of PvE ‘content’ works without risk.

Like so many ideas, this one experienced a bit of feature creep. How else could we use this? What if other players could be involved? There are players whose existence in EVE, the sole reason they play at this point, is to fight on SiSi, to duel others, to romp around in the PvP zones and treating them like the arenas that, to be fair, they really are. Most of them take it entirely too seriously and are very proud of their killboards and stats which are completely disconnected from any actual loss, and almost no one who isn’t part of this little sub-culture actually gets it.

But that’s okay, this really isn’t aimed at them anyway. What the existence of those folks suggests, though, is that there may just be some latent appeal to having some “get in and go” PvP. And for a slightly different twist, I certainly know I’ve heard requests for better tools for players to run their own tournaments too. But as so many people this is EVE, where loss is supposed to matter. That’s why the idea of the Alliance Tournament being held on SiSi is met with so much derision, right? We’ll leave aside for now the discussion as to whether it’d actually improve the tournament scene.

So let’s split this VR training thing into two scenarios. The first is above – a completely virtual simulation where you can fight static targets and simulated rats and so on and so forth. The lore chronicle would say something about how this is all well and good and the simulations were close enough when being played out in such a scenario, but attempts to simulate a real engagement between two or more capsuleers, not really so much. Something, some vital aspect was missing that meant such simulated encounters were never quite up to the exacting standards demanded by the eggers testing the system out. Whoever put the system together (a few possibilities there but this isn’t really meant as a lore post, so I’ll gloss over it) never did figure out what was missing, but they did figure out how to capture the full experience – use a real ship. Take the right kind of radical new booster, use the right kind of cybernetic interface, and stay within an area ringed by transmitters and all manner of specialized equipment and even a rookie pilot can board and interface with a ship as though he’s the most experienced pilot in the universe.

Yada yada. A bunch of lore words to basically say “In this area you could fly a ship at any skill level you like, but you do have to provide the ship, fittings, ammo, etc.” It’d be great for unstructured arenas and so forth, and it’d provide the first thing needed for player-run events – a place to do them. Turning it into a true tool for players to run events like that would need more work, more new features, but it’d be a start.

Good idea, bad idea, I dunno. The VR practice area would certainly have its uses, the rest of it well… I can already hear the shrieks of “go back to WoW” and “arena has no place in EVE it’s a sandbox”. And to them I say, what is a sandbox but a pile of sand and tools to shape them? Consider this to be a tool to shape player driven events and maybe you’ll look at it a little differently.