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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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Volume discount

As I said the other day and as I've inferred a time or two, T2 and some light T1 manufacturing are my current main income source in EVE.  I don't claim to be anywhere near the level of Blake over at K162space.  As far as I've been able to tell, he's probably EVE blogging's most prolific industrialist.  Still, I'm able to pay for my PvP ships this way plus buy myself a couple of PLEXes and something nice every month or two.  I'm never going to get rich this way -- to do that, I can tell I'd have to pump a lot more of my EVE time into it.  But it meets my goals and I have a really good understanding of the industrialist play style in EVE because of it.

So let's talk about the rest of CCP Ytterbium's post the other day.  In particular, I was asked if I think CCP should change the refining rate for ores in high-sec.

The answer is simple enough: doing either of these things would only serve to increase the prices players pay for items in Jita.  It wouldn't alter the fundamental nature of how industry happens in EVE at all.  I'll explain.  Again, to get to a point here I'm going to have to delve quite a lot into EVE economics so I apologize in advance.

As I said, I'm not anything close to a tycoon industrialist.  In particular, I don't produce ships at all.  I produce modules, anchorable warp disruption bubbles, ammunition, and rigs.  For the most part, I stick to T2 production, though in a few of these things I also produce the T1 variants.  I also mostly stick to specialized modules since I don't own any T2 BPOs and for a lot of modules it's folly to try to compete with players that do own a T2 BPO.(1)

At any given time, I have about 300 stacks of items for sale in various markets scattered around New Eden.  Those 300 stacks of items, between them, comprise about 300,000 cubic meters volume of items.  My average turn-over for the stacks that I sell is 30 days or so.  As a matter of fact, that's part of my "business strategy": I try to set the size of a stack for a given market such that it will sell out in about 30 days.  Some things sell faster than others, of course, and to simplify I use common numbers of items for like stacks, but in general that's the rule I follow and it works rather well.

Think this through logically and you'll quickly realize that I'm moving about 300,000m3 volume of items to market every single month.  And again, I'm not building or moving ships.  Ships are huge.  If I built ships, I could easily easily see a need to move ten times this volume.  And since I don't mine, I also have to buy and move raw materials.  I go through large quantities of minerals, moon goo, and datacores every month that roughly come down to another 200,000m3 of material every month.  So, I'm moving a freighter load of stuff every month and I of course own a freighter to assist with this process though I also use Orcas to move stuff to smaller markets.

And again, I'm a small fry in the EVE economy.  Just one more little cog in the machine.  In the run-up to Burn Jita, out of curiosity I spent several hours watching freighter and jump freighter traffic into and out of Jita.  The purpose of my surveillance was to get a feel for how many potential targets the Goons could go after.  But it was interesting data in its own right, too.  The answer is that hundreds of freighters and jump freighters move in and out of Jita every day.  A hundred freighters an hour in Jita is very, very common.

That's 72000 freighters in and out of Jita every month, of which I am exactly one, maybe two if I have a busy month.

Hopefully at this point, you're starting to realize the enormous volume of materials that are flowing in and out of EVE's biggest trade hub.  A quick conservative Fermi estimate convinces me that 100 billion cubic meters enters and leaves Jita every month inside freighters alone.(2)  And sure the other trade hubs are smaller, but there are enormous volumes moving in and out of them too.

Now CCP Greyscale might think that realistic logistics is fun, but I assure you that those of us that do it think otherwise.  We don't want to move that stuff even one more jump than is absolutely necessary.  Jita could vanish from the map tomorrow and it would be replaced by another trade hub.  That trade hub would be in high-sec somewhere reasonably centrally located.  What it wouldn't be very close to is a lot of low-sec and null-sec refinining and manufacturing locations, nor is Jita very close to these things today.  Sure, if you know where to look, there's a low-sec system four jumps from Jita but today it's mostly used to get jump freighters close before their run to market.

What you're definitely not going to see are freighters en masse jumping into those low-sec systems just to refine a few minerals.  ;-)  A few, sure.  Hundreds per day?  No, no, and no again.

This is a very long way of answering the question, I'll admit, but now you'll understand my answer.  CCP can raise the price of refining minerals in high-sec all they want, or reduce the percentage of minerals gained from refining ore in high-sec all they want.  Result?  Players will keep refining ore in high-sec.  Prices in Jita will go up.  And that's pretty much all that will happen.  Oh sure, a few brave souls will slip freighters and jump-freighters full of stuff into low- or null-sec to eke out a few more percent profit from refining there.  But there's no way -- in Hell -- that such players will be able to meet the required volumes of material to keep Jita running.

So, what if CCP reduces the number of manufacturing slots in high-sec and moves them to low- or null?  This post is long enough, so let's talk about that tomorrow.

(1) This goes double for drones, so I don't produce those either.
(2) Put into perspective, there's a good size hill, about 300 meters high, visible outside my window as I type this.  I calculate its volume at 4 billion cubic meters.  To equal 100 billion cubic meters, you'd need a mountain with a base of 14000 square meters (8.7 miles), 1600 meters (one mile) high.  It's a lot of stuff.  ;-)


  1. Yup, pretty much.

    What they could do instead is introduce a new material that is widely needed, where the exclusive source is low sec. Kind of like sleeper loot is exclusive to worm hole space. It would have to be used to manufacture high demand items, however, else it will get ignored. T3 module materials maybe.

    I vote for the smuggling of illegal material myself. Smuggler's hold rigs that give you a hiding place store illegal goods, that gives you a small radius of immunity to navy custom's ship scans. Hell, make it so that player activated cargo scans can catch you too. If caught with illegal goods, you get a permanent suspect flag while carrying the goods. Only way to get rid of it is to jettison your illegal cargo and hide while the timer runs out, or die in a fire to an NPC navy ship or to a trigger happy player.

    Make up some RP reason so that the illegal goods disrupts cloaking and fast warping, so that it doesn't trivialize it and off we go. We'll have a couple thousand wannabe Millennium Falcons making the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, and lots of Dirty Harry's trying to make your day.

  2. you've got to realize that extremely high skill level and implants will push refining percentage high enough, already...i doubt they'll nerf it so badly as to make it worse than the 30% stations they currently have.

    i wonder if they'll make all high sec refining stations 30% and low 50%?

  3. I have never figured out how to do T2 production without going insane. Do you have any advice, or would those be considered trade secrets? =P

  4. There are other options besides reducing the efficiency of NPC facilities as they currently stand: adding a refining delay, placing volume limits on refining (so you can't go smooshing a thousand battleships at once), and improving the effectiveness of POS refineries for starters.

    there is no way you would enjoy logistics, sure. There are plenty of people who would pick up the slack when logistics becomes essential though: just like truckies in real life who make their livings hauling stuff back and forth.

    As for things getting more expensive? Don't you see the improved mining barges pushing the prices of ores down further?

    1. Even if you assume that some magical logistics fairy picked up the slack, they wouldn't do it for free. Net result remains that prices in Jita would be more expensive.

      And yeah, I see the prices of trit and pye coming down from their currently levels, and probably iso too. Everything else, though? I think we're about at the bottom, price-wise. Null-sec mining has apparently gone completely through the roof since the mining buffs. Prices of high-ends are less than 50% of what they were at peak.

    2. Null sec mining is cheaper, safer and more productive now, due to Procurer and Skiff buffs. These ships can easily outmine the old BS mining fits, while simultaneously fitting ridiculous tanks, as well.

      The Procurer, though, is the main culprit. There are literally tens of thousands of them available now, with tens of thousands rolling out soon, all manufactured at the old 2M ISK price.

      So, who cares if gets blown up? You can lose a hundred of them before getting close to the cost of losing a single Hulk.

  5. The purpose of those changes isn't to get people to jump their freighters into lowsec and null. The point is to make these areas more self sufficient in comparison to hisec. Ore mined in nullsec should be reprocessed in nullsec, and manufactured into ships and mods in nullsec. Nullsec dwellers also need to get their jump frieghters and jump bridges nerfed for their own good. CCP will never get the "small warring fiefdoms" vision realized with the game in its current state.

    1. That's a big part of what I'll cover tomorrow.

    2. I feel like this 'small warring factions' and 'self sufficient null sec' are sort of mutually exclusive goals.

    3. Processed moon goo is not available everywhere and takes up a lot of space, so you're trading t2 mods being hauled to null with raw materials instead. It still wouldn't be self sufficient unless you only fly t1 ships and fit t1 mods...

  6. Assuming CCP did nerf refining rates/time in highsec, and it plays out as you predict (only a few change behavior), won’t that be a win? Isn’t the goal here to get SOME people out of highsec and get low/null more active in non-PvP areas because it’s worth the risk?
    The increase is prices only matters if you don’t adapt. For the miner, the increase would be a good thing. For the mission runner or PLEX-converter, maybe not. Maybe I’m missing something, and if so, care to explain it? It sounds to me like you believe higher prices are always bad, and I’m not seeing why that’s the absolute case.

    1. Not a win, because CCP has limited dev resources these days and spending them on bad ideas is not smart.

      Higher prices are bad for many reasons. Here are a few:

      1) Creates a barrier for new players. More expensive ships, modules and ammo make it for difficult for noobs to replace the inevitable losses, when just starting out. I know many trial players who quit, after losing their first "expensive" ship, which they could not afford to replace without weeks of ISK grinding. Keep in mind, too, that the NPC bounties for L1/L2 missions (as well as for NPCs in high sec belt ratting) have not increased over the years - and, with the loss of T1 module drops, NPC loot value has taken a big hit. Noob PVP doesn't earn ISK, and mining in a mining frig is about as painful as PVE can get in the game.

      2) Forces players to spend more in-game time grinding ISK. As you raise prices, each ship loss equivalates to more time required to make ISK to replace the ship and less time spent in PVP. A good way to turn everyone into mission running carebears.

  7. One thing I think you forgot to mention is that, while it increases the price at the pump (so to speak), reducing the refining yield in HS would reduce the impulse for Nullsec miners to compress their ore and ship it to HS to refine, allowing Alliances to be better able to derive income from their members rather than their moons (something CCP's mentioned they want).

    At the same time, there's already something of an oversupply of Nullsec minerals, and reducing the mineral output of HS would compound that. Of course, a lot of that may be the remaining stockpiles of Drone Poo minerals being bled out.


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