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, April 15, 2011

Yahtzee: "Massive waste of time"

So.  A new day, a new attack on PI.  I wouldn't be messing with this Skinner Box at all, except that my corp asked everyone to help.  So, I'm helping.

I decide on a new approach.  Instead of making the corp-requested items, I'm going to practice first by spending a month or so making POS fuel for a medium faction tower that one of my alts has in high-sec.  There seem to be a fair number of guides that at least attempt to be devoted to POS fuel, which should save me at least some pain.  Doing this in high-sec will allow me to concentrate on the process rather than having to do it while looking over my shoulder.  And I know that the system where the POS is, plus the system next door, between them have every planet type available.  Up to this point, I've been quite content buying POS fuel, but the temporary production of it will be a much easier metric of success, and a lower bar, logistics-wise.  After I get the hang of the basics, I can try something more complicated.

I've been pointed at the EVE University video guides for POS fuel several times.  Here's Part 1 and Part 2.  I've found these to be very useful on the back end, but useless for actually learning the ins and outs of the actual user interface.  The basic idea of PI seems very simple: quite literally, 1+1=2 over and over again.  That part couldn't be simpler.  Hell, in real life, making an arrow is one shaft, one arrowhead, and four feathers.  ;-)  But EVE's implementation of this simplistic idea probably couldn't be more complex.  Once again, when it comes to a UI, CCP fails utterly.  Thus, the splitting headaches that I was getting last night.

I decide to do this as simply as possible.  The EVE University guide says it's possible to produce POS fuel using only three planets, but doesn't bother explaining how.  But I know from listening to corp-mates that Mechanical Parts will be the bottle-neck.  That makes me a bit nervous, so I decide to start with something easier.  I know I can make both Oxygen and Coolant on a storm planet and that Oxygen will be very easy, so I start there.  I've got a few good storm planets to choose from.  From my attempts last night, I know there's a large Noble Gas pocket on one of them, next to an equally large Ionic Solutions deposit.  Will I get lucky and find an Aqueous Liquids deposit in the same area?  Turns out I will, and do.

Meanwhile, I'm bitching on our corp forums and Teamspeak, asking for advice.  One of my alliance-mates chines in: "the first few set-ups are horrible."  Someone else says "you can spend all the time you want doing this today, but tomorrow you'll realize you did it wrong."  This isn't comforting.  Someone else confirms it: "Doesn't matter what I tell you to do.  You'll still do it wrong the first few times and have to start over."  A couple of others chime in that they didn't bother re-doing it; they realized their first set-ups were fail but couldn't be bothered to redo them.  I'm getting the distinct impression that PI is not beloved.  Except by one guy, who calls us all names and says he's making 600 million ISK a month with two toons.  Teamspeak lights up: "How?"  "What are you making?"  "What kinds of set-ups?"  He shuts up and doesn't say anything else.  Oh yeah, very helpful advice, what?  ;-)

I do get bits and pieces of good advice, though, such as linking everything to the space port, forgetting about storage units for basic set-ups, and keeping the links as short as possible.  All of this has been confirmed in the various guides and tutorials I've read or watched, so that's good.  The storm planet set-up goes swimmingly.  I only need five or so of each type of extractor to get the quantities I want, and I wedge everything around the spaceport with no problems.  I'm thrown when two of the initial links give me error messages.  The links are congested, the game tells me, without condescending to let me know how to fix this.  "Upgrade your links," says Google, without condescending to explain how.  My headache is back.  I try clicking on the links, but because of the advice I was given about set-up, the links are very short.  I keep clicking the spaceport or the extraction control unit when I'm trying to click the link.  My headache gets worse: I'm being simultaneously rewarded and punished for keeping the links short.  This is so very, very EVE.  I finally figure out that I can double-click the links inside the interface for either item that connects them.

Weirdly, for the Coolant production chain, when I set the extractor times and kick off the job, I'm told I'll get about 12000 units/hour of the P0 materials.  But when I click on the actual Extraction Control Units, it shows half this, and then it shows half again when their 15-minute cycles actually start.  Weird.  Still, unlike last night, the ECUs seem to be doing their jobs.  I realize one of my mistakes last night was not clicking the little "Submit" button when I want things to happen.  I'd been treating it like ship fitting: once it's on the interface, it's installed, right?  That definitely is not the case with PI.  Nice consistency there, CCP.  I click Submit after each major step is done this time.  I keep having to transfer ISK to my alt.  This stuff doesn't seem expensive at first, but the numbers add up fast.

Link all three ECUs to the space port, then take more mouse clicks than is needed to launch a space shuttle to actually get things routed.  Then dozens more mouse clicks, in exactly the right order, to get the four Basic Industry Facilities and one Advanced Facility in place.  Make one mistake and you have to start that step over.  This apparently qualifies as "fewer mouse clicks" in the updated version of PI.  I hate to think about what it was like before.  One of the guides on my corp's forums says to daisy chain either pairs or quads of Basic Industry Facilities in a line leading away from the space port.  I can't for the life of me figure out how to do this.  Game keeps giving me an error message when I try.  Post a question on the forums asking how.  For now, just pairs of BIFs handling Water and Electrolytes fit around the space port.

Still, it's soon up and running.  A little rough, a little ugly, but apparently doing what it's supposed to be doing.  I've pushed the lever hard enough, and after a few minutes, food pellets start obligingly appearing in the space port.

Basic (and ultimately fail) Mech Parts production planet.

I repeat the process in the same way for Mechanical Parts on a barren planet, then frown.  The math doesn't seem to be working on the barren planet, but I can't put my finger on why.  I set that problem aside for the moment.  I only have one plasma planet.  Should I make EU on it, or devote it to Robotics?  The various guides I've been reading don't give me any clues.  Can I devote the plasma planet to EU, make Consumer Electronics on a lava planet, and then ship Mechanical Parts there to build the Robotics?  This seems to have possibilities, and I rush ahead in that direction.  EU production on the Plasma planet is soon up, as is Consumer Electronics production on the Lava planet.

Those of you who have way more experience than me in this who are already saying "UR DOIN IT WRONG" can shut up now, thanks.  :-P

I have some spare grid and CPU head-room on the lava planet, so I set up the Advanced facility to make the Robotics there.  And happily, I already have some Consumer Electronics and Mechanical Parts, so I can "prime the pump" and get the lava planet making Robotics right away.  I have Consumer Electronics because it's a component in several T2 invention processes.  Guess the researchers watch TV while they invent things.  ;-)  I haul 500 of each to the lava planet and export them down to the space port, feeling fairly clever.  The Advanced facility sucks in the Consumer Electronics right away, but won't take the Mechanical Parts.  Using the Routing interface on the space port to get them there doesn't work.  I start to swear, then eventually figure out that I can use the Storage interface to do it instead.

Good, check the math.  It's going to eat 10 units of both Consumer Electronics and Mechanical Parts per hour, so 500 of each is more than two days supply... and then I realize.

I need 10 units of Mechanical Parts per hour just to feed the Robotics production chain, much less feed the POS, which wants three per hour.  13 total.  Am I making that much on my one barren planet?  Quickly pull it back up in the Planet Management interface.  Nope, not even close.  I've only got one Advanced facility on the barren planet making Mechanical parts.  That's five per hour.  Can I double this planet's output?  The extractors can manage it.  But try as I might, I can't fit four more BIFs.  I certainly can't fit six more.  I've got Command Center Upgrades IV, and I'll be damned if I'm spending 18 days training it to V.  You already have 770,000 SP and you're lucky to get that, PI.

Then, it strikes me, and I'm horrified.  I can probably MINE enough raw materials for the needed Mechanical Parts on one barren planet if I devote it to that, but I'm going to have to concentrate on mining it there, then manually move the Noble and Base metals to a second planet to actually PRODUCE the Mech Parts somewhere else, like the lava planet or perhaps a second barren.  This is what the EU guide meant, but didn't explain.

A new, stronger, and entirely unpleasant headache hits me and starts to pound.

I'm going to have to tear down most of what I just spent the past three hours building and start again with a completely different strategy.  To make this work and be efficient at it, I need to concentrate on mining on my barren and plasma planet, then manually haul stuff from both of them to a third planet to do the actual production chains.  Most of the time and ISK I've devoted to this so far has been wasted.

My corp- and alliance-mates were right, damn them.

The title of this blog post is a reference to the Zero Punctuation review of EVE Online, which is a must-see for any EVE player, and a perfect description of trying to learn PI.


  1. Sounds about right. Pi is a bitch. But worth it eventually

  2. PI is definitely for people who like to optimize multi-variable systems (preferably using spreadsheets - it is one of the few things I practiced on Sisi first before doing it for real. But once set up, it can give you decent ISK/effort income source.

  3. Making nothing but POS fuels is perhaps the easiest way that guy makes 600 mil a month with PI. If he's making that much with 3 toons though, he's either drastically undercutting the market, being lazy about production, or has lower skills than you do on PI.

    Thankfully, the biggest cost with setting up PI is upgrading the command center. True, you'll waste a little money setting up, but if you take a short amount of time to scan the resources of the planet, and decide what it is exactly you'll make, you'll save yourself a big headache.

    For instance, I only make enriched uranium, with 2 barrens for precious metals, 2 others for heavy metals, and a barren to make the uranium. It pulls 90 units an hour at 6k a unit. That's half a million an hour if I did the math right. While it's probably less money-saving than making everything myself, it's a damn sight faster, and I could use that faster income to buy the other pos fuels and still turn a good profit.

    It's something to consider. Take a day to look over your plan for it before dropping launchpads and ECUs everywhere.

    Also, a nice trick in case you hadn't thought of it. You can drop launchpads at far off hotspots, drop ECUs with them, and use the launchpads to shuttle extracted resources around via the import/export system.

  4. Without a doubt. You need a 4:1 ratio

    4 hours of Planning for 1 hour of setting up your PI chains.

    By planning. I mean spreadsheets calculating exactly how much of each PI resource you'll be getting, how often you want to move them to your production planets, etc...

    I mentioned this on another of your blog posts, but with 5 planets doing every PI Pos Fuel, I'm able to make about 400m isk/month (though most of it actually goes to fueling pos and stockpiling the left overs)

    With 10 planets I actually expect that efficiency to go up to about 1B/month (once I plug the bottlenecks in materials)

    With 25 Planets the time efficiency ratio will finally start to decrease, but still be insanely profitable.

    Planetary Interaction is THE place to be making isk right now. Not Moon Goo. Not Ratting. Not Mining. Spending 1 hour/day re-adjusting your Extractors, moving PI resources to production planets, and making sure there are no holes in the chain. Get REAL good at managing your chains and you need to only spend 2 hours/week doing this.

    PI is retardedly profitable and I would not be surprised at ALL if this is the next thing to be nerfed by CCP.


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