Monday, 4 August 2014

Day 780: Abandoning the Margins

Crius was released, and with it the great Hoover Dam level EVE block I've had. The waxing and waning of interest in EVE is something that initially worried me but that since I've come to view as something natural. Not just for myself, I see it in others. While I've had other reasons for a ebb in EVE interest I'm probably just as much affected by the summer of the northern hemisphere as the rest of us are. There is something about EVE that lends itself to play during the dark.

All I did to break this block was log back in to evaluate the changes to the industry and the effect it would have on my profit margins. When I do industry (it's been a while) I cook up small scale T2 module production for things common to all PVP fits with a side order of frigate guns and a smidgen of riggery.

The UI was an instant joy. Gone are the boring lists and constant menu clicking. The entire process of T2 production was previously an RSI inducing nightmare of clickage against a dull background. Now the process is more "get picture, press buttan, circle appear, pretty, press buttan, receive shiny". That's about it, the UI serves as a both a pretty visualisation, a guide and a useful approximation of the process and costs. I've my quibbles with the UI outside of the bugs. The bugs I've seen are generally to do with it not updating fast enough or claiming I can't build due to lack of components when I can. I can live with them as long as I press the button and it works, which it generally has. Other problems are slightly more irritating

  •  Missing price per unit in the cost approximations for materials. As a small scale producer the total cost of the batch of say Quantum Microprocessors is just annoying. I want the price per unit. Because I'm lazy. Yes - I can do the mental arithmetic but I don't want to. The approximations job is to do that, the market displays in PPU, why not the estimate based on the market? 

  • Missing value in the System Cost index. The single bar isn't enough. Where is the actual percentage? I'm not losing any sleep over it mind, I actually don't care that much about it. It is annoying. Maybe I've missed it, certainly the values are available via the CREST API

  • The Invention calculation cost summary factors the decryptor in every time when in fact the decryptor isn't used up so it's cost is really amortised over every Invention job you do with it. Having it there just makes the approximation useful if you're only ever going to do one Invention run and then throw the decryptor away.

By and large though I love it, it's graphical yet concise, informative yet clean.

Possibly the greatest thing about Crius is the removal of the queue system for available task slots in stations. Queues were one of the main reasons I first ran a POS. The entrance barriers to a new player wanting to perform research on a BPO and get into industry were dictated by queues of older players hogging the system of limited slots. Now a new player can buy a BPO and get started straight away. Sure there is a cost associated with it but there is no absolute block as there was before. If I have the BPO and the ISK and the station has the facilities then I just press the button. While previously manufacturing slots were generally available somewhere within reach there were still queuing occasions.  Now a new player can just hit the button, and go do something while the result cooks up. It's a fantastic removal of frustration and a fantastic addition of fulfillment. It also led to my idea for Project Appleseed, as did build times.

The times taken for various tasks have all been revamped. Copying takes forever though the new system of Invention taking just one run from a BPC rather than the whole thing makes this even out for me. Invention times are scarily longer and are a possible bottleneck for me. Manufacturing time seems to be massively down across the board. Again this is very handy for new players. It's probably the speed of manufacture that makes me so wary of the Invention times - I'm going to consume T2 blueprints faster than I can produce them if I'm not careful.

Much has been written about the added costs of industry. Even POS owners are being charged a tax on their industry tasks. POS now mirror the sure things in life. Death and Taxes. I looked into the station charges with some trepidation only to find out that the impact on low volume, high margin trade goods isn't going to be that bad. Even building in a station where I have bad standings. I did some quick mental calculations, dangerously eschewing my usual "resort to spreadsheet" solution. Erring on the side of utter disaster there was a chance I'd take a 5% cut in profits. 5%. Five. Even now I'm sure I got something wrong. A day after I caved in and did this in a spreadsheet (because the phrase "spreadsheets in space" doesn't just come from the Overview). That spreadsheet claimed my entire station charges averaged down for a single run (don't ever actually run singles off 10 run T2 BPCs, EVER. Make all 10 at once, or at least enough so that low ME percentages are applied effectively) added 10,000 ISK raw profit drain to the item in question. It was an extreme case but that was about a single percent of the margin. Even so, it did make me glad I wasn't in the business of T1 production where it's generally high volume, low margin. I should note here that the system I'm in seems to have a fairly low cost index.

Not only are POS owners being charged tax but they must now store the blueprints in the POS modules themselves rather than at a local station, increasing the risk substantially. Now, on the surface, Crius is a POS popularising release. You no longer need standings to anchor a POS and you can anchor in higher security systems. There are plenty more locations for POS now. Given the calculations above it didn't seem worth it to throw up a POS for me. I'd guess maybe for refining and maybe for T1 work but not for me. I'd be saving a ton on fuel blocks too, eating into the profit impact of station charges.

So, my old business looked interesting again. I didn't investigate Teams because the process and interface feel like the spectre of the old industry UI for some reason. That and the fact that they aren't useful at my volume of production. The only problems facing me if I were to take up my old business again were:

  •  Invention was going to take some more planning due to the time taken. The previous hour long runs made it possible to submit two sets in the mornings on my inventor, and even more in the evenings.

  • POS are actually more annoying in Crius than before, despite being easier to put up. It's as if CCP would rather us not use them. I'll leave speculation about that to others for now but there is a big fat question mark hanging over POS use.

  • My home station only had manufacturing capabilities.

So I came up with a plan and like that I was back in EVE. In addition to this, the ease of starting industry for new players (mainly the removal of the time barriers) made me come up with Project Appleseed. Things to do! Returned to the fold by Crius! Who can say that?

The Plan :

 1. Move to a station with the capability to perform all the necessary science jobs. Don't put up a POS. Given that the station I'm in has been home to one or more characters for pretty much my entire career this meant a lot of moving. Thankfully my main alt can fly Orcas, Freighters and now Transport ships. I bought a Transport ship to speed things up. I tried not to apply the cost of this to my thoughts on profit margins but strangely the worst bit of the entire thing (apart from the one point I got bored and jumped several billions worth of stuff in an unscouted and unfit Freighter) was

 2. Revitalise the industry character and the two support alts, making sure they all have 10 science and manufacturing jobs each. Easily said. I spent 1.5 billion on PLEX to activate the training queues. I definitely tried not to apply this to my notions of profit impact. This is the longest step and should be complete by the end of the month. I might squeeze in Frigate Construction V on one of them too though theoretically it's getting to around the time that I need to think about getting Cyno' IV on them all.

 3. Bulk submit jobs or whatever, whenever, rather than for optimal reasons. There will be some plan but essentially industry will be less demanding. The same timing will apply to market sales. I'll let them roll on their own for longer and restock at longer intervals.

 4. Reactivate my PI farm but put it on slow mode, basically as a minor source of income and materials that I activate once every few days or more rather than the 24 hour cycles I had going previously. Coolant and Uranium were being produced for fuel which means I'm now carrying something to Jita when I go for materials I can't produce (or reasonably source locally).

5. Produce stuff once a month for Project Appleseed.

6. Produce ships and modules for my main character, who now also has new plans that will be focused around having a little more relaxing fun than normal.

Basically I decided to abandon my fear of the margins after what I discovered. No small business min/maxing. I'm taking my cue from the industry UI and making the entire thing easy fun rather than a cerebral exercise (fun, of a sort, though that may be). Sure, it won't support as much but the ease of industry now makes it a hobby rather than a full time EVE pursuit. I applied this to PI to and found myself deluged by the result anyway. More than enough for some useful spending cash which comes in handy when you start thinking about 10000 ISK increments and then suddenly spend 1.7 billion. This too had it's advantages. I always felt before that ISK was an anchor, that it was important and that I had to have a certain amount of it rather than spending it. Logically I knew that liquid ISK was just losing value all the time but I was wedded to that bank balance for weird and paranoid reasons (as natural as they are in EVE). Now I've decided I'll just spend some stuff. As ever I went too far and, after a drink or three, I woke one morning to find that the outlay described above had a fully fitted Naga added to it. Not only that but it was named the "Sulaco" and the hold contained ten Marines and three Tourists. I guess even drunk I wasn't prepared to use a Slave or a Janitor to represent Bishop.

I'm thinking I should have called this post "How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Spend My ISK" or maybe "Stop Criusing Your Heart Out"

EVE Track of the Day

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free - Nina Simone

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