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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Monday, September 10, 2012

Offshoring

So, one more post on the subject of nerfing high-sec manufacturing, then I'll move on to other things.  The last question that always comes up on this topic is "What would happen if the number of manufacturing slots in low- and null-sec was greatly increased, at the expense of high-sec manufacturing slots?"

The biggest problem with null-sec industry right now, and with null-sec in general, is the lack of stations.  Yeah, the lack of them.  And yes, I'm aware that it used to be a lot worse.  I'm also aware that stations have been popping up all over null-sec as the relative cost of them comes down and the relative budgets of null-sec alliances go up.  Eleven null-sec outposts were built in August alone.  Let's talk about the null-sec outposts first.  Then I'll get to the NPC null-sec stations and the low-sec stations.

There are two big issues with null-sec outposts.  One is CCP's fault.  The other is the fault of EVE players that live there.  The issue that's CCP's fault is easy to fix: there are not enough manufacturing slots in any null-sec outpost to do anything useful with.  I've recently gotten into a little bit of T2 ammunition manufacturing.  Ironically -- I'm used to being able to produce tons of T1 ammo quickly and cheaply -- I've decided that T2 ammo manufacturing is the worst manufacturing there is.  It takes a stupidly long time to do.  Producing 50000 rounds of Barrage L ammo takes about two weeks.  I suspect the Goons or their allies can go through that much ammunition in an hour or less on a busy day.

There was an apocryphal story last year about how there weren't enough manufacturing slots in Goon space to produce just the ammunition that they fire.  Forget ships, forget mods, forget anything else they need: there aren't enough slots just for the ammo.  And while I accepted that on an intellectual level, I never really got it.

I get it now.

Still, this one is an easy problem to fix.  It mostly comes from the fact that the database apparently only supports one player-constructed outpost per system.  That creates a lot of issues for players that live in sov null-sec and this is just one of them.  But as part of a broad set of industry changes, CCP could easily greatly expand the number of manufacturing slots in null-sec.  Hell, they might even get a little crazy and speed up null-sec manufacturing, too.  That would be a nice little buff and might encourage more null-sec manufacturing.  Sure, people can manufacture small stuff in POSes, and many people actually do.  But do they want to?  I doubt it.(1)

The more difficult problem to fix is that null-sec alliances don't like or even want people who primarily do manufacturing.  Oh sure, there are a few mutant alliances out there that appreciate industrialists -- most of you guys in the northeast come to mind.  But this story from a couple of months back is more typical.  By and large, null-sec alliances try not to admit "care-bears" and try to limit or reduce the number they have when they're discovered.  Industrialists are seen as a drain on the "real" members of the alliance.  That's a EVE player attitude that would have to change if the majority of manufacturing slots were moved to null-sec.  There's nothing CCP can do about that.

It's probably a good bet that this is going to be a major topic of EVE's expansions next year.  With moon goo being potentially dropped in favor of planetary asteroid belts for those materials, null-sec mining greatly expanding, the T2 manufacturing chains being reworked, and CCP's stated intent to make null-sec "99% self-sufficient (by volume)" for manufacturing, there's going to have to be a sea-change in how null-sec alliances see their membership.(2)

This would have a massive impact on game logistics, too.  Today, the vast bulk of raw materials needed to build many items in the game has to be gathered in null-sec.  Those raw materials are then hauled to high-sec (usually to Jita) where they are purchased by industrialists, and hauled to stations around high-sec New Eden.  The resulting finished items are then hauled back to Jita, sold, and they are then often hauled back to null-sec.  Shifting this production and manufacturing to null-sec might have the unintended consequence of putting a lot of you high-sec hauler- and freighter-gankers out of business.

Today, while the high volume items are probably produced in null-sec -- the Maelstroms of a Goon fleet themselves, say -- the mods, the rigs, and the ammo is almost certainly produced in high-sec.  The little stuff would be produced in the five or ten or twenty stations surrounding a null-sec alliance's home system and then brought there via jump bridge network for final assembly.  Instead of Uedama and Niarja, logistics of large amounts of gankable stuff would move out to null-sec pipes.  That at least is consistent with CCP Greyscale's vision of logistics becoming a weaker spot for larger null-sec alliances.  These logistics would become a valid target and you'd probably see more roaming gangs (particularly cloaky gangs) trying to take advantage.

There would still be pretty substantial high-sec and low-sec markets (more on them in a second), and Jita would easily survive.  It would remain a very important trade hub, I suspect.  But it wouldn't be the undisputed master trade hub that it is today.  I think it would shrink to about the size of the game's other large trade hubs (Amarr, Rens, Dodixie) as there was less need for null-sec residents to go there to get what they need.  That equates to less demand.

That equates to higher prices.

With fewer players bringing material in and out of Jita and with the size of the market being smaller and less competitive, there would be less downward pressure on prices.  As prices rose, I think the industrialists and traders that moved to null would continue to set their prices based on a "Jita price index."  As the prices in Jita rise, prices everywhere else rise too.  Net result: moving a large block of manufacturing to null-sec would more than likely cause the price of everything to go up, for everyone.

That doesn't mean it's a bad move.  As a matter of fact, out of all the choices CCP has on this topic, moving a large block of manufacturing slots to null is probably the best move they have.  But it would be a very high-impact change that would affect everyone in New Eden.

As I said, the Jita market wouldn't disappear.  While large null-sec alliances would be able to supply their own needs and operate from just a few capital systems, those living in NPC 0.0 and low-sec are usually somewhat more mobile.  Such alliances also sometimes struggle with finding players to fill logistical roles.  Therefore, these players would continue to be Jita's biggest customers.  It's just that the supply source would change from high-sec manufacturing hubs to sov-space null-sec manufacturing hubs.  Instead of the logistics chain I mentioned earlier, such logistics would only flow in one direction: raw materials turned into finished materials in null then transported to high-sec markets.

Final note: what about players like myself that use manufacturing as their one of their primary income sources?  Well, not much would change for us.  In my experience, most players that play the game as I do live in null-sec already; it's just our manufacturing alts that live in high-sec.  As Hardcore Casual wryly put it, the high-sec player does not exist... which I would amend to read "the hard-core manufacturing high-sec player does not exist."  Still, if the attitude of null-sec alliances toward industrialists changed, we might see a little bit of a shuffle of experienced industry players if they suddenly found themselves in demand by these null-sec alliances.  Kinda fun to think about.

Whew!  Long post.  To summarize, I think moving a large number of manufacturing and other industry slots out of high-sec and into null-sec is the best move that CCP can make in this area.  Still, it will have to be done carefully because as an unintended consequence, such a move will cause prices in high-sec to rise which will have a negative impact on newer players and those that play EVE more casually.


(1) My recurring nightmare on this topic, though, is that CCP moves most or all manufacturing to POSes as part of a broad POS buff.  Can you imagine a bigger nerf against brand new EVE players that might want to get into industry?  I sure can't.
(2) Though to be fair to CCP, it might be interesting to ask CCP if this dev-blog is still their plan for null-sec.  It hit at quite an awkward time and there have been a lot of personnel changes since then.

11 comments:

  1. The hard-core manufactoring high-sec player does exit, i am one. I have 40 slots running 24/7, next 30 in training ... I dont do anything with the isk then generate more isk and manipulate the markets for my products. But i am a rare species, easily mistaken for a trader, because only my market main interacts with other players.

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    1. I would say that you are maybe not that rare. I too would consider myself a fairly hard-core industrialist. My weekly materials order in Jita runs about 3-4 billion and a profit of somewhere around a billion a week. This seems like fairly serious industry to me. I don't live in nullsec because I can't afford the time-commitement most nullsec alliances want from their members. I can run my industry in small time chunks at regular but unpredictable intervals, popping on for 20min here and there to rotate the jobs. I can't commit to large 3-4 hour blocks of time to do fleet ops cause I have a job, a wife, and kids. So I do hard-core industry to pay the bills and spend my money buying ships for my RvB alt to destroy. My impression has been that nullsec entities usually ask more of their members than the completely open-door policy of and RvB, and I completely understand that. Mine is certainly not a unique story. I'd say that those claiming this play style doesn't exist probably don't actually have the empirical facts to back that up. If Jester does all his industry in null, when exactly is he likely to notice that people like me exist?

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  2. The net result of such a move would be negative.

    Null being self sufficient manufacuring wise is an enormously bad idea. They won't go to Jita much anymore and no-one from outside can sell to them, if you are in Goons or Test you make all your stuff and use it. I live in a wormhole and so the net effect is negative for us too, less people to sell to as we won't be able to sell to the self sufficient nullsec alliances anymore. Is it fun for null? Probably not, the large alliance will already be suffering from no territory left to conquer and now they can make all their own stuff too at home without venturing out. Exactly what have they got to do now?

    Why is this such an obsession at the moment anyway? it's not an interesting change to the game and it's a negative one, isolating more people in the game from interacting by selling and buying to each other. Seriously why would people buy and sell if they are a large enough alliance to just make it all themselves then.

    Is the new goal to make the game more boring and less interactive? Let everyone stay in their corner? If so moving the bulk of manufacturing to nullsec is a great idea

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    1. I also don't think making Null 99% self sufficient is a good idea.

      What I always thought was a better idea was a fundamental rework of industry so you can section off areas of space to be better at building different things. Right now no matter where the hopper is when you dump a particular blueprint into it, it's all done at the same rate with with the same bonuses. I'd much rather industry be moved into fiefdoms, where different areas of space give a bonus towards certain goods because that area of space is tooled to build it faster and better.

      Example, why doesn't Amarr build Amarr ships and modules faster than Minmatar space? They hate each other, why would they possibly tool their industry lines to build Minmatar ships? You can toss FW into it too, as control of a system goes up in FW the bonus toward them building.. say.. that faction's Faction stuff gets better in that system.

      Lots and lots of stuff that can be done under such a system if you start dividing up the map to make each area unique economically but also keep any one area from dominating the market.

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    2. "Is the new goal to make the game more boring and less interactive?"

      No, the thinking was to provide more high-value logistics targets in null sec, in order to make null sec warfare more interesting. Certain devs envisioned thousands of ships attacking an outpost, itself defended by thousands of ships.

      Ofc, they didn't listen to the folks who told them that they wouldn't build a big static target in 0.0, just for manufacturing - at least, not while it possible to do the same manufacturing in high sec, risk-free. You'd need to have a fleet of players on call 24/7 to defend it, and it would be a logistical nightmare to try to relocate, if the front line gets too close. A manufacturing POS is already bad enough.

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  3. If POS lines are allowed to be rented to them lic as part of the new Starbase system, the movement of manufacturing/research/invention lines to POSes will be awesome.

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  4. Unfortunately, CCP Greyscale's track record on big picture issues isn't good, so I won't put much faith in this one either.

    As long as high sec manufacturing remains as close to 100% safe as it is now, that's where anyone with any sense is going to manufacture the vast majority of their stuff. Period.

    Why would you expose your logistics to unnecessary risk? Why would I build a super-pinata out in null sec? To have a Goon supercap fleet come in and pop a few trillion ISK worth of manufacturing? Is this more convenient or cost effective?

    No way, Jose. Give me an indestructible, Concord/Empire-protected, high-sec NPC station anytime.

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  5. In general a good idea and it might work to move slots to low/0.0 space. But not in current state. This move is depending on the changes to 0.0 and resource management. so we won't see it until resource distribution is is done right and not depending on certain regions to get one specific stuff needed in every item.

    The biggest problem still is player attitude. An industrialist is not a care bear by definition. He may or may not be one. But as long as there are those wise guys out there buying there stuff from the alliance fed markets and still complaining about those pussies who don't fight for sov this problem will continue.
    Were does the power for your PC come from? From the power socket! Yes and it gets there out of thin air.

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  6. correct me if i'm wrong regarding sov mechanics but if you allow more that 1 station in sov system would you need to flip all the stations there to claim sov? more grinding / more timer/ more blobs

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  7. Jester,

    When you say "In my experience, most players that play the game as I do live in null-sec already" you esentially rule out all the low-sec, fw and high-sec players.

    There are ALOT of highsec poses making stuff. There's also alot of manafacturing going on in low-sec due to an abundence of slots (read low-occupancy).

    I've played eve since launch and have 2 dedicated industrial alts making my isk much the same way as you (I make caps too) but i don't live in null. I live ion low-sec and i'm not heading back to null as i've "been there done that" for 6 years.

    Wholesale moving of industrial activited to null-sec would impact alot of people (what of T2 produces if onyl 10% of days Tech levels ever makes it as far as Jita? or makes Platinum Technite from alcamy uncompetative?)

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  8. And the big question in all of this is "how does anyone get started in industry"?

    I got started by manufacturing Scourge (heavy missiles) in Lonetrek. I ran a couple of BPOs to quiet R&D sites, researched them up, copied them, and then started building. Could make a decent 30% profit. I saved some extra cash by buying Pyroxeres and refining it, giving all the Nox and Trit I needed, and skimming the other minerals as profit.

    This worked because I was (1) in a small market and (2) my fixed costs were comparable with the big operations. If using a POS was mandatory, there's no way I could have got started on my budget (less than 100mil).

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