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.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In flux

EVE players are not game designers.  I've said this often enough, and it's something that I really believe.  Often, when EVE players make a suggestion to change an aspect of the game's design, they overlook something obvious that makes their suggestion bad ideas.  As a result, while I've always been a big fan of pointing out things I perceive as problems with the game, I often stop there.  I don't often advocate a solution, even a temporary solution, because not only are EVE players poor game designers, but CCP has flat-out stated on a number of occasions that they prefer this.  They'd much rather have players point out the parts of the game that are a problem and let them come up with the solution.

Still, from time to time, my ability to resist making suggestions overwhelms me.  ;-)

Everyone knows my annoyance with the current technetium situation.  But I've been asked three times in the last week "Is there something that you could suggest to 'fix' technetium temporarily that wouldn't be a major development effort?"  CCP has said they're going to work on a long-term solution, but have also said that long-term solution will take "several release cycles" or some-such.  That says to me that we can't expect a fix to technetium for at least a year.(1)  So over the weekend, I thought it over.  Why not me?  I've got a good understanding of the technetium production cycle and what it's used in, and I have a very good understanding of tech2 research and manufacturing.  Is there something I could suggest?  And after thinking it over and running some numbers, yes, I have a suggestion.

My suggestion has the following benefits:
  • it would be very quick to implement requiring very little developer time;
  • it would shake up the current technetium monopoly that OTEC enjoys without destroying their finances or investment;
  • it would create several important new conflict drivers; and,
  • it would at least partially remove technetium as a T2 production bottle-neck; but,
  • it wouldn't completely disrupt the economy or the current production chain.

To explain my suggestion, I'll have to give a bit of background.  T2 items are built from a combination of minerals, a small amount of morphite, a couple of items that I collectively think of as "tools" (but which EVE calls "Robotic Assembly Modules", or R.A.M.s), and one or two specialty items built from moon-goo.  These specialty items are ultimately built from "advanced materials", of which there are 11.  Six of the 11 are materials that I think of as "armor alloys" and they can be ignored for the purposes of this discussion since so relatively little of them are used and their use is specialized.  That leaves five much more commonly-used advanced materials: ferrogel, fullerides, hypersynaptic fibers, nanotransistors, and fermionic condensates.  Technetium is currently a bottle-neck because it is a major component in the creation of two of these five items, nanotransistors and fullerides.

Of the two, nanotransistors are the key one.  The number of things nanotransistors go into is truly staggering, mostly because nanotransistors go into the fundamental "CPU" items for all four races, the "sensor clusters" for all four races, and the "battery" for all four races.  I'm not exaggerating when I say those twelve "specialty items" go into virtually every T2 ship, module, and piece of ammunition.

This was bad planning on CCP's part, and the long-term fix to the tech2 production chain is going to have to focus on this more than anything else.  Those raw materials needed for those twelve items should be spread out among a variety of moon minerals and other materials, but that's a big change and that's the part that's going to take a lot of time.  That's why we're not going to see a long-term fix to the production chain before late 2013.

Fullerides, by contrast, primarily go into tech2 ammunition, weapons, and ship hulls.  It's probably the second most important advanced material.  But fullerides don't go into the awesome spread of modules that nanotransistors do.

What's my suggestion?

Today, the reactions that create both fullerides and nanotransistors use (among other things) 100 units of platinum technite, the intermediate material made from platinum and technetium, or now produced through alchemy.  My suggestion involves one database change: change those required 100 units of platinum technite for either fullerides or nanotransistors to 100 units of fluxed condensates instead.

What's a fluxed condensate?  It's another intermediate material, made from two completely different moon-goos: neodymium and thulium.(2)  Both are pretty much ignored right now: there's only a couple million units of each for sale in Jita.  Where are the neo and thul moons?  Haven't a clue.  EVE players would have to go out and find them.  But amusingly enough, both are R64 moons like promethium and dysprosium, the previous tech2 bottle-neck materials.  So presumably there aren't all that many of them out there.  So they'd definitely very quickly become major conflict drivers.  In the meantime, there's already a fluxed condensate alchemy reaction in the game, too.  That'd keep the T2 production chains working while the war over neo and thul sorted itself out.

Technetium would still be extremely valuable because it would retain its position in one of the two key tech2 production chains.  But the two new moon-goos would take over the other.  CCP could choose the advanced material to change based on how big a change they wanted to make to the market.  Changing platnium technite to fluxed condensates for nanotransistors would be a major change affecting most T2 ships and modules.  Changing it for fullerides would be a more moderate change affecting a far smaller (and more PvP-focused) selection of T2 ships and modules.

So there you go: one small, easy-to-implement change that would totally shake up the technetium bottle-neck for the next year while CCP implements a more permanent solution.  In the meantime, there would be massive new capital and super-capital ship battles to take control of these two valuable resources and the T2 production chain and market-place would get a good hard shake.

Or am I missing something obvious that would make this a bad idea?

(1) And again, alchemy is not a fix.  All alchemy does is reset the price clock to April 2011.  All of the underlying issues associated with tech aren't addressed in the slightest by alchemy.  It's not a fix.  It's not even a band-aid.  It's a temporary change that will lower the price of tech, and that's all.
(2) For the record, fluxed condensates are currently one of four intermediate materials going into fermionic condensates, one of the six advanced materials I collectively think of as "armor alloys."  Currently, other than a few very minor T2 mods, fermionic condensates (and therefore fluxed condensates) are only used for T2 ship production.


  1. Tribute is on fire with warfare, and has been for the past month. And they are fighting over tech moons. People fight over very valuable resources, lets keep them around.

    Having said that, I think we should wait another 2 weeks to see what tech does once the full force of alchemy kicks in.

    Creating Platinum Technite is a 4 week process with Alchemy. A lot of it is going to be rolling out of POS's in the coming weeks.

    Why not put some of this in Planetary Interaction ? In fact, why dont we put all moon-mining in in the PI family ?

    1. Rumors are circulating that past drone region Russians have got many Cobalt moons & have been feveredly settingup alchemy.

  2. You know, Jester, I've been quite critical of your repeated assertions that alchemy won't fix Tech prices. So much so that I finally did the math. My calculations show that, holding everything else constant, the break-even Platinum Technite price is about 47,000. The current price is about 61,000. Nobody will bother to run an unprofitable reaction. So while it's fair to say that the price might go down a bit more as the market shakes out, it won't be much.

    Caveat: Everything else will _not_ stay constant. I predict that as the price of Cobalt remains high, folks will seek out and exploit more cobalt moons. They're quite profitable right now (370M/month with a small tower) and haven't been on the radar in the past so I think they're still being scanned down. If the cobalt price drops, the platinum technite price will follow suit.

    1. The main problem with tech is not the price. Nor is the main problem with tech the sources. The main problem with tech is that it's in freakin' *everything*.

      Addressing anything else about tech is addressing symptoms, not root causes.

    2. i'm with jester on that. so many things are in "everything" that it's hard to balance tweaking what the end user does since it really doesn't affect the root cause.

      haha i said "root cause"

    3. Jester - lots of stuff is in everything. Morphite, for example.

    4. Yes, but minerals are easily accessible for all players regardless of skill level, corp, or alliance. Moon materials, not so much. Therefore, anything based on moon minerals should not be in everything. Some things, fine. All the things? No.

      And even if for some reason you think that tech should be in everything, there should definitely NOT be more tech in something than every other ingredient COMBINED.

  3. Nanotransitors already use neodymium to produce. Thus the only real solutions would be fullerides.

    However given the use of these items in the production chain it would have some but limited impact on the production chaimn.

    Nice idea that merits investigation however probably not the materials in question (nanos yes, neodymium no!).

  4. Also:

    Platinum Technite as alcamey requires 2.5 large towers to produrce 100 PT which is approx. 2.7mil/hour in fuel. 100 PT is worth approx 6.7mil.

    Cobalt prices will simply rise until the price of cobalt is 1/5th of tech (or the combined price of plat/cobalt is 1/5th of tech). At which point we reach equilibrium. Equilibrium is somwhere in the reagion of 50K/unit of cobalt or platinum or combined.

    Alchamey isn't the answer - not because its crap but because the market will adjust to the price of PT not Tech (because both plat & cobalt are worth significantly less and are in reasonably higher availability).

    If you factor the cost of running 2.5 large towers into the cost of 1 fullerides or nanotransistor reaction then you quickly see that tech won't drop below a sensible price until alchamey can do 40/hour instead of 20.

  5. Neo's pretty good already, although Thulium isn't.

    For reference, Neo is concentrated in the Southwest - TEST space mostly, but also a bit in the surrounding regions.

  6. Again and again and again I ask... what heppens in RL when something like this happens? People get CREATIVE... new products enter the market EVERYEFFINDAY... many, most, fail... some do OK and some REPLACE other items/assets/stuff...

    Why is this not true in EVE a 'virtual' reality? All CCP has to do is brainstorm up some 'new' item (same as would happen in RL) and have a NPC corp offer (seed) the market with the items or BPO...?

  7. Potential problems arise if the locations for neodymium and thulium moons end up being all concentrated in Delve and old SoCo areas.

  8. "They'd much rather have players point out the parts of the game that are a problem and let them come up with the solution."

    i remember reading and watching Tom Clancy's "the sum of all fears" and that really cool quote that came up between the russian president and his advisor, "These days, better to appear guilty than impotent."

  9. First - I completely agree that a true economy would develop "work alike" materials to bypass these kinds of bottlenecks.

    That said, CCP obviously envisioned moons as focal points for conflict but that conflict only occurs when major organizations commit to huge wars. I propose a way of moving conflict to all levels of players.

    When PI was initially released in Tyrannis my initial thought was "this is what moon mining should have been from the beginning".

    1) clone the PI code to moons
    2) Turn moon harvesters into hangers for storing resources prior to processing.

    End result:
    1) Moon goo acquisition becomes more hands-on. Increased travel to tend the installations. (+PVP opportunity)
    2) Moon goo must be transported somewhere for processing. (+PVP)
    3) CCP can deplete moons and create new deposits on other moons. This disruption would create more traffic and activity throughout nullsec. (+PVP)
    3) Players can sneak in PI facilities and smuggle materials out. (+PVP, economic competition, massive use of DUST soldiers by null-sec alliances)


    1. yup. you could sneak in and use the command center launch ability to get a bookmark away from the (probably camped when you dirty ninja miner shows up) customs office.

      besides, is there an export tax on the command center launch?

    2. IIRC a direct launch to space was more expensive than a customs office transfer - but at the current price of tech it would be more than worth it.


  10. Seeing as this is clearly an invitation to post bad ideas (and I cannot help myself).

    I would make a second or even third set of t2 component BPOs. These would use PI or other types of moon goo in greater quantities.

    The idea of course to alleviate the bottleneck somewhat and provide more options to industrialists, adding choices.

  11. Scanning down moons is no fun and should be removed entirely from systems under player sov. The corresponding alliance members should immediately see the resources per moon. Then, notifications:

    „Depleted: Sorry, your harvester cannot scrape any Germanium anymore.“
    „Discovery: On XQS – Moon III the element Polonium has been discovered. Recalibrate your harvester, if there are any.“
    (Lowsec: „Your harvester doesn't find any Finlandium anymore. Rumors have it, that in system Arzieh a similar amount has been recently found.“)

    In other words, introduce a low probability P per moon. Every downtime, for every moon with resources, see if P is less than random.randint and if true, swap its resources with a moon without resources.

    That way everyone has to get out of his comfort zone eventually.

    The databases shouldn't face much load. Random number generation can be implemented in a decentral fashion using the current year, day-of-year, nonce, and a hash-function.

    1. That is brilliant, Tsu! Even if any bottlenecks remained in game, the free lunch (and monopolies) will be over.

      Drawbacks: CCP intentionally design mineral distribution uneven. The probability could be per-region instead of per-moon and be more probable for the rarer minerals.

      If prices rise CCP can still introduce more technetium moons without breaking things or remove some others. The point is, we will not have a static world in this regard anymore.

  12. huh. singularity doesn't have Fozzie's alchemy reactions, products or anything besides the old stuff. I assume someone had a wittle temper tantrum and decided not to deal with it.

  13. Jester, wether you move around some mid-level components or materials, nothing really changes, you create bottlenecks either way.

    What you need to solve the problem is a more distributed and dynamic way to solve demand...

    much in the way i propose here:


  14. Your suggestion looks like a valid fix for short term. Haven't checked the numbers for your altered reaction so it might work better with other stuff but the general idea to change the T2 Component blueprints is a good idea and should be not too hard to implement.
    But going this way will need a very close look to observe any changes and the great picture. It could get better, but it also might get worse.

    As you said, a short term solution. Hopefully the long term solution ccp is working on is less static. Currently you have a static number of moons... 300 Moons of type X. To support 10k Pilots it is way too much. To support 300k Pilots it's becoming a bottleneck. To support 600k Pilots or even more, it will never scale right to fit that need.
    Alchemy drives that bottleneck a bit further, your solution would work for some time too. Minerals are no problem because they are dynamic and reachable for everyone with decent effort.

    Short: your suggestion is a good quick fix but a dynamic solution for resources must be found.


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