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.