Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Meet the new boss

So, there's a new dev-blog out today, by a new EVE game designer, CCP Fozzie.  First, let me express my amusement that poor Fozzie got -- as his very first dev-blog! -- the third rail of EVE economics, technetium.  One imagines CCP Greyscale hiding inside an empty cardboard box on the loading dock somewhere when he heard that a dev-blog would have to be written about this topic.  Or maybe CCP Soundwave or CCP Unifex put all the devs in a line, asked the volunteer for this dev-blog to step forward, and Fozzie was the only person who didn't step back.  Twice.  ;-)

Anyway, I've of course written about "OTEC" before.  This troll-become-reality has entered the EVE lexicon with surprising speed.  I was also amused that OTEC has essentially been making fun of CCP right on EVE TV during the Alliance Tournament!  The "commercial" for "OTEC brand technetium" even uses my stat about what percentage of a Hulk is made from tech (70%).  gg OTEC; plus one internet from me.

So we -- and I include OTEC in that "we" -- have been waiting months for the other shoe to drop.  And now that it has dropped, it proves to be a ballet slipper: alchemy.  A strong response, this is not.  As a matter of fact, this is a remarkably weak response, so weak that I'm kind of surprised that CCP bothered.  When I read a statement like "So we are going to kick Technetium in the balls," I expect something much more sweeping.

This ain't it.

Now before I go on, let me say that I fully recognize that this is a first step.  There's a whole paragraph devoted to the fact that there will be "multiple releases" devoted to this problem.  Eventually, the entire T2 production chain will have to be reworked, and eventually the gathering of the raw materials for this production will be done through "group game play and risk taking."  That's all to the good.  But I assume "multiple releases" means we'll see expanded alchemy in winter 2012, the first steps toward resource gathering next summer, and a new production chain in winter 2013.

At the earliest.

Which means this dev-blog and the "pressure valve" that it describes is what we're stuck with for about the next :18 months:.(1)

For those not familiar with alchemy in EVE, there's a pretty decent guide to it that was published by Ten Ton Hammer a few years ago.  It covers the basics.  The short version: you need a low-sec, null-sec, or wormhole POS connecting silos containing the input products to an alchemy reactor that produces the "unrefined" product that you want.  You then haul the unrefined product to a station and use a blueprint to complete a manufacturing process, minus the appropriate taxes for use of station services.

Now CCP's idea here is that when the cost of this or that intermediate material -- such as platinum technite -- rises too high, people will set up these POSs and therefore put an upper limit on the costs of these materials.  In theory, there is nothing wrong with that idea.  In actual practice, there are two problems with it.

First, the profits from such an enterprise are obviously going to be extremely variable at best.  At worst, you'll lose money -- and a lot of it! -- attempting alchemy.  The risks involved for the casual player are pretty significant.  The average player does not set up a lot of low-sec POSs, for instance, because of the risk of losing them to a much bigger corp or alliance.  In the middle, you'll lose only a small amount of ISK as fluctuations in the market make this or that alchemy reaction less profitable.  This one is why the alchemy reactions that exist today aren't used that often, by the way: there are more consistent ways of making ISK with the same risk.  One of them is simply buying platinum and technetium and making platinum technite yourself using reactions.  If you have the means to buy the initial raw materials, the potential exists to make a large amount of ISK this way.

In short, only if things stay consistent on the market for a couple of months at a time are you going to make any ISK doing this, and only if you don't have any bad luck along the way.

Second, you're opening yourself up to tremendous market griefing opportunities.  Running a POS can be expensive and if you don't have all the raw materials you need for your reactions right when you need them, you could be stuck pouring fuel into a POS that isn't producing anything.  One of the two materials needed for the platinum technite alchemy is cobalt, what was until yesterday an extremely cheap material.  Needless to say, the price for every scrap of cobalt in the game has now inflated hugely, going from an average price of 600 ISK per unit to 6500 ISK per unit or so.(2)

Think the richest organizations in the game are going to casually let you cut in on their livelihoods?  Or do you think they'll simply have you paying for your tech in a new way?  Let's go to the forums:
We'll be backstroking through our 9 trillion isk that we've made off our moons while you all try to figure out whats the next best thing to do (that we'll already be well on our way to controlling).
Well.  That answers that question, then.  ;-)  Seriously, to buy every scrap of cobalt currently on the market in Jita would cost about 40 billion ISK... about the cost of one well-fit super-carrier.  On the scale of the ISK being made on tech, this is a rounding error.  The CFC can grief every alchemist in the game comfortably every few weeks or so, completely disrupting the alchemy supply.  That will leave anyone who tries to get into this market with either no raw materials to put into their alchemy or hugely expensive raw materials.

Perhaps you have an idea to stake a claim on your own cobalt moon.  That's fair.  It's only a Rarity 8 material, so moons should be pretty common.  And sure, there's cobalt moons scattered hither and yon around the galaxy.  But guess where the highest concentration of known cobalt moons is.  Go ahead.  Guess.  No, guess again.  Yeah, now you got it.  The southwest corner of the galaxy.  Places like Aridia, Khanid, Provi, Catch, Querious, and Period Basis are lousy with known cobalt moons.  Delve probably has lots of them too, but there's never been an attempt to publicly document what's available in Delve.  But I know the Goons maintain a monthly budget for moon scanning.

Oh, and the other platinum technite alchemy material, platinum?  Someone bought about 20 million units of that today and then relisted it on the market for twice the price it was yesterday.  Hope those of you doing platinum technite reactions today have a reserve stocked up.

In the "Bottleneck" post I wrote a couple of months ago, I listed the exact materials needed to build one Hulk in terms of raw materials.  That's where that 70% number that OTEC used in their commercial came from.  But I didn't explicitly list the materials for the complex reactions.  In point of fact, it takes 1174 units of platinum technite to make one Hulk.  Moon goo from tech moons go into reactions.  The current platinum technite reaction is a simple reaction generating 200 units per one hour cycle.  Therefore, 1174 units is six hours from one platinum technite reactor, meaning that one such reactor can produce the materials for four Hulks per day.

Unless I'm missing something, to generate the raw materials for the same amount of platinum technite from alchemy will require that single reactor to run for nearly five days straight at ten units per hour.  That's for one Hulk.  During the same amount of time, the traditional means of production will be producing the materials for twenty Hulks.  I dearly hope I'm missing something.  I must be missing something.

Because otherwise, OTEC is shaking in their boots, I'm sure.

As I said, this first response from CCP to the tech problem is pretty freakin' weak and I hope we'll see something stronger before the winter expansion.

(1) See what I did there?  I'll have more to say about this eventually.
(2) "If you dump all your isk into speculation around this blog and lose it all because we changed something again, you have only yourself to blame," says the dev-blog about this.  One hopes they'll change the magic mineral to chromium or something before release.


  1. As much as I don't want to, I must agree with you Ripard, pretty weak response.
    I have the feeling that CCP is the loser of the class, being pushed around by the bullies, in the face of the big alliances led by the Goons.

    I've been producing T2 Gallente ships for a while and guess where that cobalt price hits. :)

  2. One does not simply waka waka the Technetium bottle-neck...

    Poor CCP Fozzie.

  3. Your timescale is a little off- the first line of the blog says the Alchemy changes will be in Inferno 1.2, IE before the winter expansion goes live. I think you're reading too much into your assumption that this would be in Winter and everything else would trail behind it; the late-Inferno patch seems more like an emergency measure - "We can't solve the problem completely now, but we can make it a little better, then work on fixing it more later on". I still wouldn't expect moon mining in Winter, but I'm hopeful for Summer 2013, so probably more like :10months: than 18.

    1. CCP Soundwave last month announced in the forums that ring mining would be pushed back to Soon(TM) here: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1480841
      You are looking at 18 months at least of waiting

    2. This might just be overly optimistic of me, but I'm not seeing 18 months from that thread either; my reading between the lines puts it as "We were going to do Ring Mining for winter, instead we're doing POS and the RM guys are working on that instead, we'll hopefully move to Ring Mining after that"

      So Winter expansion will be POS revamp and we could still see ring mining coming in summer 2013, possibly with preceding iterations on T2 production throughout the winter patch cycle.

  4. 'But I assume "multiple releases" means we'll see expanded alchemy in winter 2012'

    Actually the devblog said that the alchemy is coming in Inferno 1.2 - which presumably is being prepped for release soon. That makes a lot of sense, as adding the items to the game is trivial, the only hard part is getting the design right. Hopefully they'll tune the numbers in 1.3 etc...

    As far as the other timings - well we really need to see those CSM minutes (or some devblogs) to say what's in development for Winter. It's possible that the T2 production lines could be revamped for Winter, that's a game design/number crunching issue - rather than a development issue. But yes I feel that ring-mining or whatever is going to replace moon-mining is a long way off.

  5. your whine about, induviduals not being able to make money frm alchemy is inconclusive to me. Alchemy should be in the hands of 0.0 alliances not empire individuals.

    i say its harmfull to the game, if you strip off all passive income sources from the alliances. If all money came from the grunt, then we would only have small scale ganks to haress them. Thats tactically fun but strategically boaring as hell.

    So we need the R64 R32 etc. moongoo stuff to fuel reasons for strategical war campaigns.

    There has to be a balance between passive and active income. I am not saying OTEC was beneficial for the game. Actually i think Mittens did not think this, either. And forming OTEC was his way to force CCP changing the Tc fuckup. I am saying an evenly balanced moon distribution would be benefical and should not be replaced by ring mining or other active play activities.

    1. Don't kid yourself. OTEC was created to grief high-sec players, particularly miners. "Forcing" CCP to do anything wasn't even on the radar.

    2. FYI on one of the Inferno 1.2 pages in addition to moon mineral & attack ( not assault?) frig changes some mining barge changes are announced too ( no speciafics on any of the above 3 )

  6. While it might not have much real impact, there's a psychological impact in the kind of price-spiralling OTEC was intended to produce is now harder to achieve. In other words, if OTEC tries to push Tech above 200k again they instantly create a lot of competition for themselves.

    As to how many people will do this, remember POSes are getting re-done this winter. It's possible that it may be much more feasible to run reactions after this revamp.

    We may also see ring mining (which I envisage as some sort of fleet-based mining) provide another source of tech.

    It's not a terrible start. I don't think they wanted to come right out and destroy tech's value, introducing an Alchemy source of tech as part of a program of introducing alternate sources of tech is hardly a ridiculous way to go forward.

    Regarding the numbers it's about 1/20th the profit of a tech moon, if I'm reading your blog post right. That's still pretty decent, tech moons are stupid good.

  7. Spot on, Jester. It IS a ballet slipper. Last time I looked, ballet slippers don't do a whole lot of ball kicking.

    Just another half-baked pirouette from CCP.

    1. As someone who has been kicked in the balls with a ballet slipper - it DOES hurt.

      Just not as much as a soccer cleat.

    2. Not to mention Pointe shoes. Those shanks can bust a nut.

  8. So glad you're doing the math for all of us. Good grief, I would not have started doubting this step were so terribly weak.

  9. 1.2 expanded alchemy lands late August

  10. Alchemy isn't intended to make anyone money, it's just intended to be a price cap for the most in demand moongoo. The introduction of these new alchemy reactions won't crash tech, but it will drive the price down (as long as POS fuel doesn't increase in price even more). And guess what, that's exactly what it's meant to do.

    The Jita market for Cobalt is irrelevant as buying Cobalt off the market and reacting it will be unprofitable anyway. Same thing for the Cobalt moons in the south, there's more than enough Cobalt moons elsewhere to force the price of tech down and there are way too many moons for it to be worth the effort to try to control them all. If OTEC will do anything it will be to drive the price of POS fuel up.

    1. for the casual pos owner it DOES "make money"...everyone's forgetting about the ridiculously small volume output per hour. that's 40 units per hour at refining station in high sec where you have high standings and good refining skills, etc.

      course, all you need each week is a transport ship which can supply the needed fuel blocks and input ingredient. If you have a cadmium moon that means you've currently got 3 alchemy reactions (although it's almost used up fully in the process) you can produce quite easily.

      It's not a bad way to make a small profit. although at the moment it's operating at a loss because you'd make more money selling the fuel blocks you need for the medium tower straight to market buy orders.

      that is if you've got a nice sweet relaxing bunch of colonies on barren and plasma planets in high sec. It's pretty laid back and if you enjoy ice mining like i do the synergy is pretty darned good.

      leaves me time to spend time commenting to blogs instead of humping around trying to do complex reactions or mindboggling intense incursion or wormhole stuff.

    2. 'The cobalt I mine is free'

      The cobalt market is entirely relevant because if you could make more selling the raw cobalt than running stupidly huge alchemy schemes then you'll not only be richer but you might not through your pc through the window in frustration at POS management.

    3. check my math: you'd get 100 cobalt an hour mining in low sec using a small pos (let's say gallente) and the pos uses up 10 fuel blocks per hour.

      so that means at what? it's running at around 2,000 isk jita buy orders right now. so you'd make about 200k isk/hr.
      10 fuel blocks @ 19,000 isk per unit (jita sell orders)
      so, yeah. THAT sucks doesn't it?

      course, if you wanted to the new system for alchemy would mean what? well, under CCP FozzieTheMoron's equation you'll get 10 units of platinum technite per hour, on paper. That's not bad, right? currently prices are about 51,000 isk per unit buy orders (assuming the gentle reader isn't some .01 isk trader maniac)
      so that's 510,000 isk/hr profit (assuming one takes into account the small loss of platinum you invested in to start the reaction)
      Except there's one teeny problem. that price is going to plummet, as will the price of cobalt (since the only reason it's high is because of the speculative market atm) until you get stuck with a shit moon giving you total effing crap.


      currently i'm running a neo mercurite alchemy reaction. it sucks up 20 fuel blocks an hour. that's 380,000 cost per hour. i get 39 neo mercurite out of that, plus a small loss of mercury. how much is neo mercurite on jita market? it's about 13,700 isk per unit, atm. that's just over 530,000 isk per hour. So i'm really only making 150,000 isk per hour net profit, minus a small amount of mercury needing to be topped up.

      i can guarantee you this much: there's going to be alot of griefed small pos owners sitting on cobalt moons in low sec.

  11. I don't know enough/not involved in alliance level moon mining/reacting operations to fully understand what's going on, but as a middle man, small time T2 manufacturer, I'm not looking forward to updating my manufacturing spreadsheets if it comes to that.

  12. personally, i think CCP Fozzie only read the original dev blog that greyscale wrote way back in 2008 (for the Quantum Rise expansion) and kinda missed reading CCP Chronotis blog in 2009 (for the Dominion expansion) here:

    CCP Fozzie is also a mentally challenged midget porn star for not keeping the working model of Alchemy mechanics consistent. I posted a comment about that over on mabrick's blog here:

    Furthermore, upon discovering he'd been played the fool he put foot in mouth very quickly with this gem: "We have a lot of data about what happens when you release 20/1 alchemy, so we started there."

    Which is of course, the most completely idiotic and foolish statement i've heard from an employee from that company. ever. So...let me get this straight: you had ALOT of data from Quantum Rise through Apocrypha into Dominion and figured you'd be best to repeat the entire learning process?

    please tell me we've invented the wheel.

  13. I think it takes maybe 20 cobalt to equal 1 tech moon? Does CCP expect people to setup 20 POS temporarily whenever tech prices spike? HEH

  14. Has there been any mention of moving moon goo out into wormhole space? Since we must live out of POS-es, we have been hit quite hard by ice prices. And since we can't just jump into T1 frigs for pewpew, we have pretty costly ships to fit. A bit of moon goo for alchemy would help us offset that. Especially lower end WH become financially quite hard to manage.

    Also, this may have been answered on forums already, but why don't moons deplete after a while? And other moons come up with new resources? Doesn't have to be a quick degradation, say like 10% / month or so. Then the resources would slowly migrate to other centers and the alliances trying to protect their moons with them? More pew pew?

  15. The devblog is utterly laughable, and I'm surprised that CCP Dr.EyjoG - the so-called expert on economics - doesn't know any better.

    CFC, and the other OTEC members, already have so much excess ISK in wallet that they can easily continue to manipulate Tech prices for years, by blowing up competitors' POS's (or offering bounties for others to do so) or by simply pushing prices down until alchemy becomes unprofitable. After the competitors are out-of-business, they push prices back up again.

    These are pretty basic monopolistic tactics, which have been used for centuries in RL, and work rather well in Eve, due to its rather simplistic economic model and lack of any sort of government regulation.

    CCP just doesn't understand basic economics, as proved by their "buff" to T1 module manufacturing, via the removal of NPC drops of T1 modules. This "buff" pretty much destroyed the T1 module market - no one bothers manufacturing T1 modules now (except for use in building T2 modules) since the superior meta modules are so plentiful and available for cheaper prices. Fail. Utter fail.

    1. I'd have to agree.

      I remember when CCP was proposing to fix T2 salvage drops, in order to increase availability and bring down the price of T2 rigs. The moron dev pretty much ignored the suggestions in the forum thread (except a few written by equally clueless players) and released a ridiculously underwhelming "fix" which - as was predicted - effectively resulted in no change to the T2 rig market. T2 trimarks, for example, are still hideously expensive.

      It really is a waste of time to engage CCP in such discussions, however. The current devs don't have the necessary educational background to understand the issues and arguments involved in modeling an economic system. You'd have better luck trying to explain rugby to an American football fan.

    2. perhaps CCP needs to think about fixing the imbalance of reprocessing meta items ...meta items should reprocess to more than tech1 manufactured items.

      I know Jester mentioned this in the past...why were meta giving less minerals for recycling?

    3. Meta items were originally reprocessed into the same minerals as the Meta-0 items. They were reduced as part of the "loot nerf" of a long time ago (not the 2012 one; 2009? maybe?) when it was first noticed that you could mine more minerals/hour by running level 4 missions and looting the wrecks than by mining.

  16. Scarcity is a great mechanic, and only exists for T2.

    The only thing CCP needs to fix is POS mechanics. It's too easy for large alliances to protect themselves with a small fleet of supers.

    Both territorial defense and offense needs to accommodate possibilities of thousands of participants. That means progressively weaker layers of defense and scaled targets. It should be possible for a small band of frigates to something annoying but not devastating to a player empire. f.ex., maybe a scannable deadspace site in the vicinity of a moon with some destroyable objective that halves or eliminates moon mining production for some interval of time or until some event occurs. Silos should be outside of shields so marauding carriers can steal the contents. Even the price of common moon minerals can be boosted by making them into tactical assets, like fuel for shields or jump fuel. Maybe there could be second layer shields or extra infrastructure.

    1. Nice try. I do see the larger alliances trying to turn the discussion from tech to POS and there is a reason for that. One of the few places the larger alliances can't easily dominate is POS in a wormhole for example. Carelessly strip down POS defence and then large alliances can probably dominate that too. Topic is Tech monopoly, please stick to that, as much as no doubt the large alliance monopolies would like to change that topic.


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