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...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

IQ test

Let's spend a few days talking about EVE Online in-game money topics.

We're all EVE players.  So I'm not telling any secrets when I say that EVE PvE sucks pretty hard.  Most of it is frightfully dull and not any fun, which is bad enough.  But most of it is also extremely low-value, relatively speaking.  Put another way: if PvP is what's fun for you, you don't buy a lot of fun with the time you spend in EVE PvE.  Purchasing and equipping a single moderately expensive PvP ship -- a Zealot, say -- costs upwards of 225 to 250 million ISK as I write this.  But low-value, low-risk PvE in EVE -- mining or L4 missioning -- will only make you about 25 million ISK/hour.  Moderate-value, moderate-risk PvE -- mining high-ends, typical null-sec ratting -- usually doubles that.  And high-value, usually high-risk PvE -- wormholes, for instance -- usually doubles that again.

Which means that EVE players are left with the situation that it takes between 2.5 and ten hours of PvE to pay for a single moderately expensive PvP ship, which can of course die within minutes after undocking.(1)

Most players don't want to spend that kind of time, and I don't blame them.  The oldest richest PvP players generally don't have to worry about this too much.  All of their expensive purchases are generally behind them and they can concentrate on saving for their third Titan.  But for the rest of the EVE's PvP players, this is a major issue, probably the single most important thing we're thinking about at any given moment.  Many of us are already paying a monthly subscription fee, and we play games to have fun, so there are not a few players that just buy the PvP ships that they need by purchasing PLEXes and calling it done.  But this is probably a relatively small part of New Eden's population.  The rest of us have the constant nag of the need for more ISK.  Where is the next ISK coming from?

When you see players gravitating toward the largest alliances in the game, this is often a motivating factor.  Those large alliances have safe ratting space or frequent wormhole ops, reimbursement policies, and many of them simply give ships and fittings away because they're pulling in so much ISK and need pilots more than they need money.  One day, CCP might do something about that, but that day is far from today.

For the rest of us, every once in a while, CCP makes a PvE game design decision so gloriously irrational that not to take advantage of it is an obvious error.  I hate to put it this bluntly, but it's like an IQ test.  If you don't take advantage when CCP makes this sort of decision, you're dumb.

A good example were pre-nerf high-sec incursions.  You might think this ISK faucet was a good idea.  You might think it was a bad idea.  I felt (and still feel) that overall, incursions are good for the game.  I'd rather see more PvE like incursions than less.  At least it isn't boring, and it's nicely social.  I've obviously written about this before.  But regardless of how you feel about incursions: while this was rolling, if you:
  • needed ISK; and,
  • were capable of getting involved; but,
  • weren't taking advantage of this massive flow of ISK while it was out there...
you are dumb.  The same thing applies to wormholes once the Sleeper sites were well-understood.  If you didn't at least attempt to get involved in that gold rush, then that was a bad decision on your part.  When seemingly every null-sec system in EVE had an unending flow of sanctums and havens for ratting, if you weren't taking advantage of that... bad call.

Because at this point, something like this is always going on in New Eden.  At this point, CCP is just designing the game assuming you were doing it.  Players always have more ISK than you think they do, right?  At this point, even the CSM has bought into this and is telling CCP this.  More on that can of worms in the next post on this topic.

That said, every time CCP makes a decision like this, sooner or later they come to the realization that they've been gloriously irrational.  Even more amusing, once they realize it, their first action is to blame the players for taking advantage.  Here, witness CCP Sreegs stating that EVE players not wanting to be around the keyboard for EVE PvE is unacceptable.

Back in June, I wrote this little post gently hinting about another gloriously irrational decision on CCP's part.  I didn't make a big deal of it then because I knew a lot of people who were taking advantage of this and I didn't want to grief them.  Hell, I wanted to get involved in it myself.  As I keep saying, if you weren't doing it, you're dumb.  Paul Clavet at My Loot, Your Tears has written a very extensive guide to this bit of glorious irrationality, but I'll summarize.

The current faction warfare static sites in each low-sec system are activated when a faction member warps to them.  Each site is full of rats of the opposite faction.  However, your goal in these sites is to "capture" the central hub of each system, not to shoot the rats.  In fact, you do not need to shoot any of the rats in these sites if you don't want to.  Simply orbiting the capture point at a close enough range is sufficient.  Here's the first fun bit: thanks to the recent buff applied to the Gallente Incursus frigate, you can fit an Incursus with a dual rep and sufficient cap recharge and speed to allow a two million skill-point character to farm these sites.  Again: no guns needed.  They're superfluous -- just speed-tank, run your armor reppers, profit.  And with a few million more skill points, the Incursus became quite capable of farming the toughest FW static sites in the game.  For each site you capture, you earn faction LP.

To put the potential profit of this in perspective, as part of Sturmgrenadier, I ran high-sec L4 missions for about a year.  In that time, I built up about two million loyalty points, LP which I'm still slowly consuming two years later for various faction mods.  One more time: that took a year.

Running static faction warfare sites, I built up a half-million LP in three days.

"Jester, you idiot," someone out there is saying, "loyalty points are an ISK sink, not a faucet," and sure that's true.  But in the most glorious bit of irrationality of all, CCP has set up faction warfare so that you can use those very same LP you're earning to massively reduce the ISK cost of the items that you can buy from the LP store.  One more time: you can quickly and easily build up several million LP in only a couple of weeks, then you (and others) can spend that LP to make faction warfare items incredibly inexpensive.

How inexpensive?  The least profitable item I scored was a Tempest Fleet Issue for 62 million ISK.  As I write this, those are selling for 255 million ISK in Jita.  Again, that was the least profitable item that I scored.  I just wanted one.  It took me about 40 minutes to build up the LP to afford it, which means in that 40 minutes I was effectively making 300 million ISK/hour.  Or triple the amount of ISK/hour I could make from "high-risk" PvE.

If you weren't doing this, you're dumb.  It's an IQ test.

And it's still not fixed today.  The only reason I'm writing about it is because all four factions are currently at "tier 1" where these massive profits are (currently) unavailable.  But Nulli Secunda has joined the Amarr FW side, and I assure you they did not do this for the greater glory of the Empire.  All you need is two million SP, an Incursus with no guns, and enough brains to realize that you'd better be doing this.  Because CCP assumes that you have too much ISK and they're designing the game with that thought in mind.

But this post has been going on too long already, so let's talk about that problem in the next post.

(1) Yes, there are many cheaper PvP ships, but there are also many more expensive ones as well.  So I chose a HAC to split the difference.


  1. The problem is that CCP does not so much "design the game" as design bits of the games without thinking about the whole of the game (the points you've made throughout your post are proofs of that).
    Reading the dev blogs or the CSM minutes, I always get the impression that nobody in CCP is taking a look at the whole game to say this is how it all fits together.
    Yes CCP Unifex, I'm looking at you.

    1. ^^ This, this, plus this, times this, raised to the this degree.

      "Cause ---> Effect" seems like a totally lost science in CCP-land. Hell, to them it seems like "unintended consequences" aka "effect", is more like a serf from the Dark Ages looking into the modern world going, "Get thee BACK heathen witch!!!", complete with the symbolic burnings at the stake. ;-)

    2. And that's the comment of the week.

    3. Exactly, I was thinking the same thing when reading the minutes. But i think not just CCP is lost in the parts, but the CSM too...

  2. The bad thing is that even these activities that earn you tons of isk due to CCP's oversight are boring as hell, this later FW 'tactics' in particular. It was boring as hell to farm anomalies even when you had to shoot, here you are not required to even do that. Maybe incursions were more fun back in the day, but they are certainly not now.

    I figure there are a lot of people who would rather not login than waste their time on an activity that makes your eyes bleed to get rich in a game of internet spaceships.

  3. This is an extremely dangerous advice and not only because the last guys who "had IQ" in faction warfare got their ISK reversed.

    The main problem with LP is that it's NOT ISK. To change LP to ISK you must sell your items to someone with ISK. How many Tempest fleet issues can people buy? When the Minmatar hit T5 last time they were selling implants for half their normal price filling up all my buy orders.

    The FW LP store items are mostly niche items that don't have high volume. Most of the implants sell a few dozen in Jita a day. If thousands of players try to sell dozens, the price will tank.

    Also, T5 is hard to earn since there is another faction present. EVE is being EVE, lot of people are out there for tears and killmails, and FW lowsec seems to be the easiest place to find PvE players without concord protection or even gateguns and sec status loss.

    1. The ISK/LP reversal was for something completely different, though. In that case, players were artificially inflating the value of FW kills to gain LP, which was clearly an exploit. This is currently working as designed.

  4. According to thefreedictionary.com, this is the definition of a game: an activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime.

    So I disagree with you. Just because someone didn't (ab)use incursions and such while they could, dosen't mean they are unintelligent. I never did incursions because I don't enjoy grinding and this is just a game that is supposed to entertain me.

    It (sadly) seems like a lot of MMO developers forget this as they force players to do unfun grinding to progress.

  5. Actually you can do this with way less SP - it takes about 18 hours worth of training before you can farm Major plexes (the "hardest" ones which offer more LP than the rest) and about 48 hours before you can do Mediums, with the Minors amusingly enough being the hardest to run, despite offering the least amount of LP per hour.

  6. Did you get all your Faction Warfare LP flying speed tanking frigates solo in FW sites? One 40-minute period of pouring ISK into your wallet doesn't mean that all FW plexing is pouring ISK into your wallet.

    It's probably nitpicking on the level of pointing and laughing at someone using “your” instead of “you're”, but low ends like Scordite are about as profitable as Bistot and Crokite right now, mostly because null sec is so safe and ore so abundant that mining there is pointless. It's more dangerous to mine in hisec these days. Which is why Scordite is so valuable (well, the ganking and the sheer volume of Scordite required).

    1. As I said, that was a single item and the LEAST valuable item that I picked up. All in all, I've made several billion ISK doing this so far and I've heard about people who've made several tens of billions.

      The average, as Paul Clavet points out, is somewhere between 200 and 500 million ISK/hour depending on how efficient you are and what tier your faction is in as you build up and spend LP.

  7. In general I agree with you that PvP is more fun than PvE. But there are great differences in what people define as fun.

    It seems that some people take so much fun out of shooting simple cynofrigs that they show up with 3 to 4 characters just to kill one frigate. I don't know what you think about that but I would say that even fighting red crosses is more entertaining than shooting one frigate every half hour or so.

    And yes the CSM tried to tell ccp that players have more money but CCP has told them that player age and player wealth do not correlate. (I think that was mention somewhere in the first 30 Pages or so) Even if our all too wealthy CSMlers don't know it, CCP knows about it. (A point where I'm pretty disapointed about the CSM to state such nonsense)

    Sure there needs to be some balancing in the income and ccp doesn't do that right all the time. Maybe they will some day who knows. But I don't think you will ever be able to only pvp without arrangements with other play styles. Eve is PvP focused but would it work if everyone would just go out and do pvp without the need of "working" for it if he loses some?
    If you think so (and I don't think you do that) ... welcome to WoW where you just walk to your corps or get a respawn (and no consequenzes about a fight you shouldn't have taken).

    1. It was Dr EyjoG that had to remind the CSM that player age and wealth do not correlate, and it was on the very last session of (I believe) the very last day of the Summit.

      I'll have more to say about this in a day or two.

  8. It is an IQ test and the real metric of earning money in EVE is not - and should not - be the risk/reward ratio. It's time_invested/reward modified by whatever risk is involved.

    I was floored by the story last week that Fatal Ascension was robbed of 250 Billion ISK and Zagdul wrote the loss off as "no big deal". Inconsequential. An alliance with 1100 mains and 1100 alts (rule of thumb approximation) has managed to accumulate enough assets in 3.5 years that they can blow off 250 billion isk and think nothing of it?

    Yeah, that's some risk/reward ratio at work there. I never, ever want to hear again that someone running highsec incursions making 2 billion a week is making too much isk for their level of "risk vs reward".

    Pre-nerf there was a lot of speculation that those crying "no risk/reward! no risk/reward!" about incursions were mouthpieces for nullsec alliances that, as you so aptly describe it, need pilots more than they need money. I used to think those speculations were tinfoil hattery. I have become convinced that they are exactly the people who screamed long and hard for the incursion nerf.

  9. I think one can defend that charge Jester, providing one was having fun at the time and does not regret missing the rush. Fun, after all, is the point of EVE. Everything else is of small import next to that.

  10. Additionally tiericide is resulting in previously lower tiered ships becoming more expensive. At some point this is going to hit the BSes.

  11. It's not an IQ test, it's a test of integrity or sense of fairness. This is exploitation of a misdesigned game mechanic.

    1. Couldnt have put it better myself. FW is destroying the game, but no one realises it.

      Comment more on this once you've actually spent more than a month in FW, jester. or else you wont be able to dully analyse and understand its overall problem

  12. If people would rather AFK than play your game, then you have a boring game. Declaring it Wrong Bad Fun isn't going to change that fact.

  13. While 2.5 to 10 hours is the time needed to "earn" a HAC in direct PvE, EvE has many passive forms of income too.... PI, Moon Operations, R&D, Manufacturing, etc.... These aren't completely passive, but they do bring in enough wealth to offset many PvP costs.

    1. Soundwave has firmly and publicly stated that he intends to eradicate all passive income sources from the game.

    2. In the risk/reward paradigm, effort and an empty container is worth the empty container. To put it in another way, if the game ever reaches a perfect risk/reward balance then people will prefer income generation activities with the lowest effort (one-week-old alts farming plexes) because more of it adds nothing to the result (training all those science skill and grinding all those R&D standings).

  14. last year I was farming on w-space for months.
    after I got tired, and had enough experience about "nullsec" type environnement, I joined a nullsec alliance to pvp.

    I didn't farmed since i joined them, nullsec is not profitable enough when you done it on WH, and with reimbursement policies I don't use much ISK.

    I'm still using the money I earned on WH more than one year ago to pay for my accounts PLEXes

    but the funy thing is that it's been so long since I last farmed than I'm feeling more and more about doing some PvE, wich is good as after all this time my wallet is becoming a bit empty :P

  15. Shh. Jester

    Currently sitting on quite a bit of Amarr lp waiting to make bank.

    1. Word around the camp-fire is that Nulli will be pushing Amarr to tier 5 this weekend sometime.

  16. I think that all of the game PVE is very boring, so this seems like a lot of work, not fun, especially if you just want to PVP.

    Our corp gives us ISK to play. We are asked to buy and contribute a single PLEX when we join, but that is completely repaid after the first week with the corp. Afterwards, we are given enough ISK per month to purchase a PLEX to pay for our subscriptions, as well as buy whatever ships and fittings we need. More than enough, since everyone has excess ISK in our wallets, even if we lose several ships per day.

    Some people ask can we join your corp, and how does your corp afford to do this.

    The answer to the first question is no. Our corp is invitation-only, and restricted to people we know in real life. This is to avoid corp spying and theft from players we do not know or trust. There is too much of this problem in the game, according to our older members.

    The answer to the second question is not a secret. We have a small group of players who invest the corp funds into financial activities in the game. They mostly do market investments. These players are graduate students in economics, and use the Eve Online game market to run simple experiments for their studies. It saves them time since they do not need to build their own computer models and simulations. These experiments generate a lot of ISK, so we can all play for free and have fun with it.

    So, I do not see why it cannot be the same for most corps, especially for the larger ones.

  17. Jester, this is indeed a MASSIVE problem that us FW people have been complaining to CCP about pretty much since Inferno was released. It not only cheapens the profits of us organized FW players, but it also effects our PvP experience. Because Vulnerable Systems still give rewards, Plex Farmers are plexing these systems practically non stop throughout the day. This means that us ACTUAL FW players can't defensive plex anymore because we have no idea how deep the plexing is. Its gotten so bad, people are setting up their own alt corps in opposing militias to bust the bunkers, because its easier (and more profitable) to just replex the system and bust the bunker than it is to actively defend the system.

    And CCP's supposed solution to this is that they are going to redesign the entire FW Plex Rat AI/System to "encourage" PvP fits on ships. Now not only will this discourage what FW Plex's are supposed to encourage, PvP, because nobodys going to warp into a plex when they know that Rats that can effect their PvP abilities are already inside.

    EXTREMELY simple solutions like making it so that the ship has to kill on the NPC's before they can run the timer, making it that once a System is vulnerable it no longer gives rewards for Offensive plexing. And many many more solutions proposed by Active FW players that not only solve the problem (which a change in the rats really won't), but are probably easy to implement code wise (which a fundamental change of all FW rats shouldn't).

    I am hoping that if CCP does go through with this change that they'll at least use it as a base for ALL PvE rats, to give a buff to the PvE Mission experience that has been stagnant for...well longer than I have been in game thats for sure.

    1. Want to know why older miltia are complaining about this? Because when the changes happen, LP will be harder to come by.

    2. so you've got a CSM member whose platform was FW. I'm sure he's brought this point up...right?

  18. Even though LP store is an ISK sink the 75% reduction of the ISK at Tier 5 may possibly be reducing the ~6 Trillion a month sink over the long run. The demand for these items isn't magically increasing ( even if their prices soon will be dropping drasically )
    I've heard some argue that since the ISK/LP ratio stays the same the that there'd be no change in the ISK sink but that'd be totally silly unless the demand was very elastic for FW items( I'd argue its fairly inelastic) .

    One thing CCP did though is create a brand new ISK sink: Datacores. Before they cost nothing except some trainning & mission grinding but now they are a 10k ISK NPC sell order for the old datacore farmers or at FW Tier 3 a 50k ISK sink.
    If/when CCP Diagoras ever returns to tweeting ( he's stopped over 2 months ago ) I'd love to see these stats for these items ( but they are probably only shared amonst DEVs & Goon Alliance buddies with large rollodexes ):
    Trouble is the numbers may be pretty tweaked with the 5 trillion Goon 'exploit' deletion.

  19. I thought your article was going to be about this:


    Which I'm sure you know about and are about to cover in your next post :)

  20. You are being misguidedly elitist when you call a player 'dumb' for not farming exploitable game mechanics. Not everyone plays this game to maximize the isk they have, or needs to fly a quarter-billion isk ship to enjoy pvp.

    Sure, you can call someone who wants to make isk via pve dumb for not doing it the most efficient way, but you are being uselessly snobby by calling the playerbase as a whole dumb for not doing that. Is a player dumb if they don't use multiple accounts to make isk, which is arguably a better way to do that? Is a player dumb if he enjoys pvping in a thrasher and hates grinding? Is a player dumb is he makes his isk trading?

    My point is that this is a sandbox game. You can be objectively good or bad at something specific, such as making isk, and if you are bad can as such be called 'dumb,' but to, without joking, call someone bad at the game in general is inherently flawed because this is a sandbox game, the point of which is to do whatever you want.

    1. I have hit something like 80k lp in a hour and a bit. I average maybe 50-60k. I can easily hit 10,000ISK/lp at T5. You're objectively stupid by not taking part in this when you need ISK to do most activities in EVE

    2. The problem is that CCP now approaches game design decisions just assuming that you're space-rich.

  21. A lot of dumb people are whining about being called dumb. Jester's analysis is applicable because it assumes a means-ends framework. People have an end they want to pursue, in this case is PVP. They need to fund this end and they have a choice amongst a variety of means. Of these means, the most lucrative is orbiting a button while perma-running your ab and small armor rep.

    If you intrinsically enjoying missions or busting rocks, Jester is not talking to you. Fairness has nothing to do with it because the game is what CCP makes it. Goons have done more towards making the game fair than any amount of self-righteous complaints.

  22. well, i'm sure if we ALL started farming then CCP would fix it tomorrow. So, yeah, i'm dumb for not jumping on the band wagon. Then again, i've never done FW, but i'm sure that guide he linked will allow me to pronto.
    Except, i'm happily ice mining after a stint in a null sec alliance. I wanna relax and do something i'm good at.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.