Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just DO It

I think I've found my obnoxious buzzword mantra for the year.  "Shut up and DO IT!".  I will try to keep this brief, since my usual posts are wall-o-text.  I will also try to keep this EVE-centric, but the general theme extends out pretty far.

Every day, I see people complaining about the way things are.  And though we all know there are things we have no control over, there still remains a wealth of opportunities to exist and affect inside the system.  I'd like to touch on a few of the more egregious misnomers.

CCP Should Fix...

Insert your pet project.  Personally, mine is POS and S&I UI.  Many are calling lately for all the different fixes.  FIX SOV!  FIX POS!  FIX NULL!  MOAR CREST!  Though it's useful to have a dialogue with CCP to help guide the game forward; if you're relying on CCP to fix the game before you play, you're gonna have a bad time.

The first step in change is action.  Not whining, not complaining, not theory crafting, not forum threads... Action.  Once your activity is brushing against game mechanics to prevent you from using them, then it's a good chance to step up and request a change to improve the sandbox.  It should be our job as players to highlight legitimate "bullshit" that puts EVE in the way of players... not to expect CCP to submit to each and every player's "Grand Vision" of what they believe is best.  CCP writes the vision of their IP, we the players participate in that narrative.

In the end, it boils down to a motherly adage: "You can only change yourself".  If your play style isn't fun, it's your problem to fix it, not CCP.  If there is a thing you want to do, then go do it!  Don't whine about the mechanics; instead embrace them.  

The Data Gap

This is one complaint I've seen over and over again.  Ever since @CCP_Diagoras left CCP, the general public has been without high quality graph porn for nearly a year.  Though a few devs (@erlendur and @CCP_Punkturis) have mentioned that they now have some skills in SQL, and the trickle of graph porn has started thanks to the devs finally getting back into their data.

But still, the cry goes out: How can the players know?  We NEED data!

The thing is, we can know.  It's not as easy as people would like, but many contributors are generating pieces of the puzzle, and you too can contribute.  There are several data sources that can be merged together to get what you want.  EVE-Central and zKillboard both provide APIs.  EVE-id gives guides in your favorite language.  I will grant that it isn't easy or fast, but the only way it will get better is if people stand up and DO WORK instead of waiting on CCP.

Again, I don't disagree that more data is more power, but stop whining and participate!

Building Sandcastles

As two my favorite articles pointed out, the majority of player suggestions are 100% self serving and most arguments about "for the betterment of EVE" are a fallacy.  Your strategic vision is not that unique, and odds are most likely that your change would cause more exodus than never updating the game again.

If you have a grand vision for the future of EVE, write that future with your actions.  If you think Sov Null is slowly killing PVP, then go liberate some and make a new-Syndicate.  If you think factories need to be brought to the front lines, pack up a POS and some blueprints, and do so.  There are infinite possiblities for new and exciting playstyles... and it's not CCP's fault you lack the charisma to sell it to your friends nor the patience to execute your plan.

Put Up or Shut Up

I am the first to admit there are a lot of broken corners on the game.  There are tons of places CCP can apply fixes to foster the grander goals of player conflict and enrich the science fiction universe we enjoy.  But it's too easily forgotten that EVE is a sandbox among a sea of themeparks.  It is up to us, the players, to contribute content, and CCP to foster the environment, not the other way around.

The last point I'd like to make is this human excuse of "if only I had X, I could create...".  Go to any author/artist/startup talk and one question that always comes up is something like "what pen do you use?" or "when do you work?" or something else trivial and mundane.  We expect there to be some singular secret to success that will unlock the path to greatness.  But we already know the secret, and we just want a shortcut.  The only secret is work... and luck... both in generous portions.  The best path to success is to start working.    It may not be pretty, or glamerous, or particularly successful, but the only way you can ever hope to achieve goals is to work at them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


What would Spreadsheets and Spaceships (EVE Online) be without metrics.  Every play style tracks them.  Pirates track their ISK efficiency and battleclinic rank, PVE carebears watch their ISK/hour, miners track their ore yields.  Industry is no different, but there are a LOT of different metrics, both normal and unique.  I will try to boil down the scary :math: to keep it simple.  Been working on this one a little bit at a time for a couple weeks now.  Prepare for wall of text!

The Traditional Metrics

A lot of these are metrics used by everyone in EVE.  They're a good starting point but, as I will explain, they are some of the weaker metrics available for industrialists.  BOLD titles are for calculated metrics covered here, UNDERLINE is for other metrics like Cost or Sale Price.  I will try to boil down the scary :math: to keep it simple.  Prepare for wall of text!


By far the most popular metric.  I like to refer to this also as ISK Efficiency.  High margin products provide big bang for the buck, but the most outrageous figures usually have a lot of asterisks attached.  Usually, a high percentage margin has significant limits on it.  The primary pitfalls of these products are Market Volume and Kit Cost.  Put another way, either it will be very tough to sell large volumes or the buy-in is so trivial that 3x returns are still small potatoes. 

There are two camps for calculating profits.  First is the simple calculation (profit/cost), and the other is closer to %difference pictured below:
I like to use %Profit as an initial filter when finding products worth producing.  After filtering by %Profit I tend to ignore the figure all together.  I also find %Profit a more useful metric in T2 ship production, since there are a lot of limiting factors to consider.  This metric can be extremely useful to the beginning industrialist because the first hurdle in successful industry is ISK.  For the established industrialist, %Profit becomes a secondary metric as trends like ISK/Hour become a priority.


This metric is much closer to my heart.  In a galaxy of spacerich tycoons, revenue is king.  Also, this is an excellent metric for group efforts, since the final returns are the goal.  Revenue ties much more directly to ISK/Hour.  Unfortunately there are a pair of pitfalls.  First, like %Profit it only takes the production side of the equation into account, so some of the highest margins will be distorted by products with very low volume.  Second, it becomes easy to let the bills run away from you chasing this metric.  Though the return might be 500M ISK profit, the cost to generate that isk may be 1.5B or more.

I define Revenue as (Sale Price - Cost) * Throughput where Throughput = Products Per Cycle.  Since it's tied to Products Per Cycle, it's easy to convert to ISK/Hour, just by figuring out the time required to produce the products in question.  Also, I really like this metric because in my operation I am limited far more by time than by ISK, so I can afford to commit extra ISK for pocketing more isk in the end.

Helpful Chart:

Though this isn't the very best example, it illustrates why I prefer Revenue over %Profit.  Though Shield Extenders have nearly 3x the %Profit, the revenue after 1 week of work is 60% less.  


The metric to rule them all, ISK/Hour is the be-all end-all metric for nearly every activity in EVE.  Industry is no different.  Unfortunately, camps tend to be divided on how exactly to measure this when pertaining to industry.  The reason is industry has 4 sources of "time utilized", all of which can be completely parallel:
  • Research Slots
  • Manufacturing Slots
  • Logistics and Trade
  • Keyboard Time
Personally, I like to boil down to track only Manufacturing ISK/Hour, since with T2 the utilization on research is <50% and the other metrics are much softer to track.  I don't keep a stopwatch to track my /played time and audit versus that effort, though I probably should.  

This is why I started using Throughput as a metric.  By analyzing each product and the reasonable maximum I could produce in one cycle of work, I had a means to standardize products to be able to compare them side by side.  Using Throughput, I can easily say "1 week of industry earns this much profit" and therefore keep an eye on ISK/Hour through a top-level metric.  Also, by optimizing against bottleneck (manufacturing for T2 modules, invention/copying for T2 ships), it's easy to get fancier with ISK/Hour metrics using API data straight from the IndustryJobs sheets.  


This is my other key metric that helps me track what to produce.  I define Throughput as the reasonable maximum of any single product that can be built in a single production cycle by a single character.  The key word here is reasonable maximum.  Many products do not fit into human schedules.  Therefore it takes some effort to figure out how to round up or down to fit into a play schedule.  It's completely unreasonable to expect to have 100% manufacturing utilization unless you're unemployed.  If instead you boil down the work to what you know you can complete, you can get Throughput on any product.  

I like Throughput for a lot of reasons.  First, it makes the :math: for ISK/Hour and Revenue way easier to track.  Second, for T2 manufacturing, it gives an estimate for how much work is required on the invention step.  Third, it gives a general "how often will I have to manage this" estimate at-a-glance.  Combining all these together, it becomes the keystone metric for most of my industrial decisions.  

The major downside is it's not a metric tracked in any database.  I populated my Throughput numbers by painstakingly checking against EVEHQ's Prism tool.  It can be calculated if you do some case-fu to pick rounding points and do the math more dynamically, but I haven't yet.  Also, it's custom crafted against my personal playstyle, your mileage may vary.  My advice is to center your calculations around how many you can produce each day, then extend that estimate out to whatever your cycle time might be.

Kit Costs

So, you've found a product that should make you a ton of ISK.  What good is that if you don't have the up-front capital required to build it?  The oft forgotten metric of Kit Costs can really bring an industrial plan crashing down if not handled correctly.  The calculation is incredibly simple:

Kit Cost = Throughput * Build Cost

Handled correctly in combination with the other primary metrics, Kit Costs can be used to effectively map out a growth strategy or even just keep projects reigned in to solidify returns.  Profits can change daily, but once you buy your materials, Kit Cost is locked in.

Hybrid Metrics

Single-factor-optimization is a mistake when attempting to maximize industrial returns.  By only chasing one metric, you will become blind to other factors that will affect your final results.  Primarily, by only analyzing production-side metrics, you will miss out on the realities of turning products into cash.

Multi-factor-optimization can look difficult, and can be tough to program against, but is not actually that tough.  If you're using spreadsheets though, you will want to make some "hybrid metrics" that combine separate data into one cell so you have a few metrics in one view to work against.  These methods are shortcuts for multi-factor-optimization, to help you better drive with your guts.


%Throughput = Throughput/Daily Sales Volume * 100

This is my #1 metric for my personal project.  %Throughput represents a "how fast can I sell it" metric.  By using the weekly-maximum from Throughput it is possible to gleam a few different things about that particular product:
  • How many people are participating in the market
  • How popular that product actually is
  • How fast should I be able to sell what I produce
Therefore, when I am picking my products, I will maximize Revenue and minimize %Throughput.  The thinking being "most isk for the least effort".  Also, %Throughput will make glaringly obvious which products are completely dead ends.  

I understand that people would want to just use Daily Sales Volume as the tracking metric and save the :math: but volume alone tells you nothing about the realities of that market.  Without combining with your weekly output, you have no reference frame as to what that Daily Sales Volume number actually means.  Also, I optimize against the weekly Throughput rather than any shorter time scale because that's the rate at which I need the ISK.  Again, feel free to tune as your case demands.

Revenue vs Kit-Cost

Though I don't have a one-number equation for this, it's the other half of how I pick products.  It's not enough to pick THE BEST %Profit or even optimize only by %Throughput v. Revenue.  For those of us without a Technetium moon, there still is a maximum industrial budget.  By using Revenue v. Kit Cost, you can stack together multiple contributing characters against the ISK you have on-hand to invest.  This was the impetus to make my Industrial Accounting Spreadsheet.  By using this optimization, you should be able to reign in costs to actually extract money out of your program by setting a ceiling and sticking to a Kit Cost plan.


EVE-Fail tracks his work in a couple of different ways, and I'd like to review them and when/why you might want to use them.  First is ISK/Effort, which is a incredibly boiled down metric for ISK/Hour.  By only tracking real game time spent on industry, rather than the idle time jobs are running, ISK/Effort really nails down the real ISK/Hour like any mission runner or miner.  But, it's a soft metric that requires more tracking of time than I feel comfortable knowing, and can't be tracked automatically by a computer.  

I think it's an excellent way of thinking about the game time invested, and a great metric to optimize if you're willing to keep logs to manage it.  I'm desperately afraid of my numbers though.


Optimization centers around bottlenecks.  If you are cashpoor, then %Profit is king; if you are doing T2 modules, Revenue is where I look; if you are doing capitals, EVE-Fail uses ISK/Slot.  

Each capital takes several slots over several days to build.  If you have a well running operation, you will have several copies of each capital component BPO and center the work around how many ships you can produce per 10-12d cycle.  By defining each ship in terms of Manufacturing Slots Required, you can easily pick-and-choose which products will best utilize the time required.  I wouldn't suggest this to those just starting in capitals, but for those that are established, I can see why this would be a valuable metric.  


There are a myriad of ways to pick the "best way to industry".  Above are all the ones I use.  Feel free to comment with your own.

The big take away here I'd like to underline is the power of multi-factor-optimization.  We already do it instinctively, but tend to forget it when spreadsheets get involved.  By using the hybrid metrics above, I hope to help at least someone to step up their industry game and really start raking in that carebear ISK.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Everything You Never Wanted to Know: Making an Industrial Alt

The first question every EVE player asks is "How do I make the most ISK?"  And one reply to that chorus is :Industry!  But there are a few problems that most players run in to.

First, making enough ISK with only one character is tough.  You can make 2 PLEX/mo with T2 manufacturing on one character, but it can be more labor intensive than most people have patience for.  Also, if you're trying to sustain a PVP habit, every minute you play hauler on your main is time that could have been spent slinging furious pain into fellow players (ie: having fun).  Second, T2 industry provides great economies of scale with extra characters, going solo is only mediocre.  Third, if you're going to run a POS anyway, better to put as many characters on it as possible to really put that fuel bill to use.

This guide is still valid for existing accounts, but it is strongly suggested to instead invest some real cash in an extra account (or "mule account").  Not only do you not derail valuable time from your main account, but you also can get the work done significantly faster with a Cerebral Accelerator.  

Remember, we are making T2 industrial alts.  So they will be laser focused to do one thing, and have nearly no other utility.  Also, they stop significantly short of being able to do T2 ships, but should make a decent swath of modules/ammo available with minimal effort.  Lastly, these alts are "utility characters" so more is better.  They are designed to compliment a main account.

New Account Options

When starting an alt account, there are several options.  EVE-Uni's wiki has an excellent breakdown of the options and how to use them to maximum effect.  I will briefly hash over the options here as TL;DR.  Also note, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  All options require real money or PLEX to execute.

--Buddy Account--

This is usually the best path for grinding a utility alt.  This is how people make cyno and basic hauler alts.  The "free" time tops out at 51 days, so too short to effectively max out any profession, but enough to make a serious dent in getting there.  This is the defacto way to generate an alt account, since it does not require any special offers.

--Power of 2--

These are special offers with limited availability.  Offered usually twice per year as a way to bolster account numbers before expansion release.  Power of 2 is personally my favorite method because it's basically half-price for 6 months of game time.  With that I can nearly make 2 characters for what I do.  Very set it and forget it.

--Other Special Offers--

As of this posting, CCP is running a "Start a Sidekick" campaign.  3 months for $25 USD.  Though I think at this time a Buddy Account is slightly better in dollars/time sense.  I did not run the numbers specifically.

Also, there is the Commissioned Officer Edition as a way to start a new account.  Though the game time is less than the buddy account option, it comes with the Cerebral Accelerator included.  So you save approximately 1/2 PLEX by going this route.  

Costs to Consider

You're ready to whip out that credit card and buy your way to industrial tycoon.  Before you make a derpy character portrait, consider the following extra costs:

--Set up costs--

--Finishing costs--

  • Science research skills: 10M/each (4-8 suggested)
  • Character transfer: $20USD or 2 PLEX
  • First-week industry kit: 500M - 1B
  • Final Clone: Theta 

Skill Plan

You've picked an account option, rolled a character, and are ready to begin.  Below is the skill plan:
Remaps: Intelligence/Perception/Charisma/Willpower/Memory

REMAP: 27/17/17/17/21 + plug in Cerebral Accelerator (+3 to all)

  • Science 3 - free
  • Cybernetics 4 (Plug in +4 Implants 34/20/20/20/28) - 2d 5h
  • Science 5 - 3d 14h
  • Scientific Networking 2 - 1.5h
  • Laboratory Operation 5 - 3d 16h
  • Advanced Laboratory Operation 4 - 5d 5h

REMAP: 21/17/17/17/27 (MEM/INT)

  • Production Efficiency 5 - 11d 3h
  • Industry 5 - 3d 17h
  • Mass Production 5 - 7d 10h
  • Advanced Mass Production 4 - 5d 6h

Cerebral Accelerator Expires.  REMAP  27/17/17/17/21

  • Mechanic 5 - 4d 1h
  • Engineering 5 - 3d 23h
  • Electronics 5 - 3d 23h
  • Electronics Upgrades 3 - 6h 7m
  • Hacking 2 - 1.5h
  • Amarr Encryption Methods 3+ - 15h 20min
  • Caldari Encryption Methods 3+ - 15h 20min
  • Gallente Encryption Methods 3+ - 15h 20min
  • Minmatar Encryption Methods 3+ - 15h 20min
  • Science research skills 4 x4 - 3d 15hr x4 = 14d 11h
Total projected time: 75d

Optional Skills

  • Research 4+ : for time efficiency (PE) research.  5 required for t2 component research
  • Metallurgy 4+ : for material efficiency (ME) research.  5 required for t2 component research
  • Research Project Management 4 : for using R&D agents

Picking Your Science Skills

It would be easy to say TRAIN ALL THE SCIENCE SKILLS to 4, but that would waste your valuable account time.  Instead, it usually behooves you to pick a few skills to take to 4 and neglect the rest.  Several of the science skills are nearly useless when it comes to actually making money, so here is the mix I use in order of importance:
  • Mechanical Engineering 4
  • Electronic Engineering 4
  • Plasma Physics 4
  • Laser Physics 4
  • Electromagnetic Physics 3+
  • High Energy Physics 3+
  • Nuclear Physics 3+
  • Molecular Engineering 3
  • Graviton Physics 3
  • Hydromagnetic Physics 3+
  • Nanite Engineering 3
Training the science research skills to 3 allows you to build any T2 component.  Check your intended product before picking science research skills.  If your goal is to end-cap your character and never train again, it's best to get as many of the research skills to 3 or higher.  

Also, encryption skills are strongly suggested to 4.  If all 3 invention skills are at 4, then the probability of success is nearly 50% (48.5%).  I have not had good luck under-skilling since I end up paying for it in invention yield.  Your results may vary.

Then What?

My personal goal in making industry alts is to maximize my ISK/account.  Therefore, my end goal is an account that looks like:
  • Main Character: Ship inventor, miner, other high-SP endeavors.  Most logged in time
  • Alt1: Module inventor: all-4 science research skills.  Invents and builds.  Once-per-day
  • Alt2: Ammo builder: once-per-week tasks like copying and long term building.  Only minimum science research skills
This plan easily pays for the monthly PLEX and a lot more.  Also, this setup is fairly balanced in time requirements and means I am making the most money for the least work. Trying to switch between characters on the same account is a pain, and the less I have to interact with the lower-level alts.  Of course, skill and plan for your intended activity level.

Also, never forget it takes money to make money.  Without a plan for how to use this new alt, you're going to end up with a dormant character that wasn't worth the money you paid to make it.  Your first kit may cost anywhere from 200M to 1B depending on the product you've picked.  Once the character is useful, expect up to 3 weeks before you can start counting them as "income".

In an effort for full disclosure again, this is ONLY an industry alt.  It is a very good idea to have an INDUSTRY MAIN with this character to manage the hauling and trading.  Or you can lump this plan into a more general market-pvp character.

Heavy Metal Queen

With Nomad production so close it makes me itchy to think about, I am facing a battle against nostalgia.  Now with (several) pilots able to fly a Fenrir, my focus on nomad construction, and best-in-class agility, I'm severely tempted to add a Fenrir to my personal fleet.  Unfortunately, I already own 2 freighters (Charon and Obelisk) and an Orca... and I can't think of a reason to own 3 freighters.

It's time to say good bye to the Heavy Metal Queen
I would usually hock a hull like this without remorse, but the Heavy Metal Queen has very special connotation.  This obelisk has been in my possession for over 5 years.  It has weathered low-sec, wars, heavy industry, and been passed between all my characters more times than I care to count.  It also ducked my derp of a freighter loss back in April.

The Story

Way way back, I flew in a locals-only corp, Lionsgate Ionic Dispersion.  We all lived in the Denver-metro area, and were a reasonably standard highsec do-all-the-things corp.  This eventually grew into a do-all-the-things alliance (Darkmatter Initiative).  This freighter was a corp investment where we all pooled together to make our footprint on EVE just a little larger.

Such a huge leap forward required a title!  Pool nerds together to try and pay homage to their favorite works of fiction, and the argument may take a while.  Though I can't at all remember the other suggestions, the name that ended up sticking was "Heavy Metal Queen".  The story goes: since it's a space truck, and we were all Cowboy Bebop fans, we needed to name it in that universe.  Unfortunately, no one could agree on how to spell "Tepscure", and HMQ just stuck.

Though all but one member, +Grant Matheny, have long since left EVE, this freighter has remained in my possession.  It has weathered wars, the rise and fall of several alliances, forays into capital production, and moves all over the EVE galaxy.  Unfortunately, I don't want to hang onto another hangar ornament... so it is time to send the Heavy Metal Queen into the ether.

If you're a sentimental sod and want to inherit the legacy, drop me a line.  Though I am looking to sell the beast, I'd like to know it went to a good home and could continue acquiring stories.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everything You Never Wanted To Know: Industry POS

Came across a reddit thread on r/eve about high sec player owned stations (POS), and thought it might be a good chance to do another tutorial.  This is only a HS Industry POS tutorial.  Many of the subjects carry over to POS in general, but the focus here is to help budding industrialists get into their first tower.

Why Get A POS

A POS allows for completely private industry resources.  Never again will you be stuck waiting in a queue for material or time efficiency research, copying, inventing, or manufacturing space.  In addition to that, most POS arrays give a time bonus to the work done.  Not only are you skipping the wait for starting work, your work completes faster than normal.

The system is designed to be a corporate tool, so the more the merrier.  POS really shine when shared for high-parallelism.  They can be easily configured to secure assets, and many industrial contributors can be brought in to share the work and resources.

But know that getting a POS is an investment.  There really needs to be a goal to achieve, or you will be stuck with a liability and an isk sink.  Effectively tasking your POS is hard work, but incredibly rewarding if done right.

Getting started

Specifics will be covered a little later, but the general step-by-step in getting a high sec tower set up is as follows:
  1. Figure out how you will get standings
    1. use a standings service (recommended)
    2. grind up member standing to a raw average high enough
  2. Pick your tower(s) size
    1. small = 1-2 characters
    2. medium = 2-4 characters
    3. large = 3-8 characters
  3. Pick up the required industrial modules
  4. Find moons to anchor at
  5. Acquire fuel (suggested 28d worth) and appropriate charters
  6. Stock "dickstar" fit
This general checklist will get your tower set up and deployed with the least pain.  Specifics will be broken down by step

1) Standings

As for the mechanic specifics, there are plenty of articles out there with the specific :math:[warning, dated].  The gist is:
  • Corp needs raw-average faction standing to be above a certain threshold
    • 5.0 to deploy in 0.5
    • 6.0 to deploy in 0.6
    • 7.0 to deploy in 0.7
    • system security as displayed on the map, not "true-sec"
  • Zero-standings do not count toward the average
  • Any new member won't count toward corp averages for 7 days
  • Standings are recalculated at downtime
Getting a corp of carebears to all have high unified standing is a royal pain.  You will need to kick members and have them re-apply to get their poor standings out of your average.  A possible (but expensive) activity is to use Data Center agents, directly raising faction standings without to 16:1 grind of normal PVE missions.

The process of grinding up average standing is awful.  Instead, I usually opt to pay someone for the service (I'm a fan of Corporations4u).  This process usually requires a 1-man alt corp to start.  Then you leech off the standings.
  1. Start one-man corp (with zero faction standings)
  2. Pay for standings service
  3. Hire designated alt
  4. Wait 7d for the new character standings to apply to corp
  5. Anchor towers
It's really that simple.  Pay some isk (100-500M) and wait one week.  It's usually best to wait until all your affairs are in order before using a service.  

2) Picking a POS Tower

Each race has a tower with something it's specifically good at.  If you're really interested in the specifics, read more.  Simply put, CPU is the limiting factor for industry, therefore Caldari is the racial class of choice.  With the most CPU (and most shield HP) of any POS, Caldari Control Towers are the tool of choice.  Also, Caldari have the best statistics for "dickstars", but that will be covered a little later.

Now that the 12 choices have been whittled down to 3, the next choice is size.  The choices break down by how many characters will be working with the tower.
  • 1-2 characters = Small
  • 2-4 characters = Medium
  • 4-8 characters = Large
Since standings limit when you can anchor new towers, it's usually prudent to over-spec space.  Though it can be expensive to maintain several half-utilized large towers, it might be worth it to have a mix of medium/small towers anchored near-by so expansion is not limited by hardware.  For my own corp, I mix large/medium.  I use the mediums as half-steps if I can't fill a large.

Faction Towers

Faction towers do nothing to the overall industry picture other than reduce fuel costs.  At the time of posting, these towers are incredibly expensive (2-5B for dread guristas large), and the fuel savings pay off can take years.  Personally, I have found them to be more of a bulls-eye than asset, but your mileage may vary.

3) Industrial Modules

Usually when POS come into the conversation, it's for ME/PE research.  But that's a very small segment of what a POS can be used for.  A POS can be used to do just about every industry job you could want to do.


Mobile laboratories are needed for any type of research.  Also, these are the most CPU intensive modules at a POS, severely limiting the maximum quantity of any specific type of research.  Personally, being invention oriented, copy space is my major limiting factor, but your goals may be different.


Manufacturing is done at manufacturing arrays, and is a bit more convoluted.  For manufacturing, each type of module is limited in the type of product it can produce.  So you will need several different types of assembly arrays for different build jobs.  Thankfully, the CPU required for these modules is very low, so anchoring extra modules is not as big an issue.  The types break down as such:
  • Ammunition
  • Component (R.A.M, T2 components, rigs)
  • Drone
  • Equipment (modules)
  • Ships
    • Small (frigs)
    • Medium (cruisers)
    • Large (battleships, capitals)
    • X-Large (battleships, capitals, lowsec only)
    • Capital (capital, super capital, sov null-sec only)
  • Subsystem (T3)
T2 (exept ships) can be built in the appropriate arrays.  T3 requires the subsystem assembly module.  T2 ships can be built in Advanced Ship Assembly arrays, but have an added waste factor and no time bonus.

Special mods

There are a few special mods you won't see very often.  They either require some special use case, or have a waste factor that makes them unusable:
  • Rapid/Advanced assembly arrays
    • Have a 20% additional waste factor.  This usually wipes out any added benefit
  • X-Large Ship Assembly Array
    • <0.4 only.  Can build freighters/orcas in large ship assembly arrays
  • Capital Ship Assembly Array
    • Sov null-sec only.  Can build super capitals
  • Hyasyoda Mobile Laboratory

4) Finding a Moon

This is more like "finding a system".  Since the choices are 0.7-0.4 systems, the work becomes finding a home you like with spare moon space.  Personally, I start at dotlan and look for a system with a high number of moons and NPC build/research space.  This gives the widest array of options on how to deploy your tower and what resources you actually want to pay for.

Now, that isn't to say that your hunt will be easy.  The obvious places to deploy will be difficult.  Don't even try finding a free moon in Forge or Sinq.  There are free moons out there (though rare), but the hunt will be significant.  I don't have a witty way beyond warping to each possible moon.  Go get a high-warp speed interceptor.  Bookmark both ideal candidates and backups.  It may take up to 2 weeks to get standings and you never know who else is out there.

I have never bought an occupied moon.  There is also the option to hire mercenaries if there is a dead corp you'd like to clear out.  Personally, using force will only show your hand after you anchor your tower.  Just know what hornet's nest you are kicking.

Again, this is why I like anchoring extra towers.  When you have the opportunity, take all you can.  You may have to restart the whole search if you want to expand later, and it's just so much easier to plant unused flags in moons than try and go back and fix it later.  Become part of the problem!

5) Stock up on Fuel

This bullet should be easy enough to explain.  Most towers fit 28d of fuel pretty easily, fuel blocks are easy to manage, and POS refuling goes on your calendar.  There are a few pro-tips I'd like to share though:

  • Mining your own fuel
    • Just know that a large tower takes a little over 1,000 blocks of ice to fuel
    • Burn your time at your own risk.  Ice is cheap today
  • Build it or Buy it?
    • The margins are very thin between buying and building.  I'm lazy, I buy.  <5% margin usually isn't worth putting the couple day's effort into
  • Strontium
    • Fill the strontium bay.  Just do it at setup and forget about it
  • Starbase Charters
    • Has to do with the faction the tower is anchored in, not the race of the tower
    • Cheap to get from LP rewards
Stockpile to taste.  Currently, the monthly costs of a tower in fuel are approximately:
  • Large: 350M
  • Medium: 175M
  • Small: 85M
Just note if you're going to use a POS, you need to have a revenue stream that justifies the fuel cost.  Running several towers will get expensive, and you don't want to be losing ISK on the business of running the factory.  

6) Defending Your Investment

As Sophia Vagabond learned the hard way, someone will eventually want to kick down your sand castle.  It's not a matter of "if" it's a matter of "when".  The best thing is to be prepared for the worst and fight smart. POS warfare done wrong is a horrendously painful affair.

The temptation will be to use a POS as a battlestation, or "deathstar".  Though this is technically possible, it is nearly useless without an army of people with Anchoring 5 and Starbase Defense Management to man the guns.  Also, being a passive structure, your enemy will be able to play timezone games with you.  Add onto that the POS AI is incredibly dumb, randomly cycling each module without any preference or focused fire.  If you try to use an attack oriented scheme, you're gonna have a bad time.

Instead, it's usually best to use a more defensive method, the "dickstar".  This is famous from most operating bases in low/null sec.  Make the target so difficult to siege that no one will want to take the man-hours to take it down.  This involves ECM modules and Shield Hardening Arrays.  But this being high-sec, I skip the ECM modules since they can cause weird aggression mechanics and end up making your tower an easier target.  Instead, raise the omni-resist of your POS shield as high as possible and make each tower take as much time as possible to kill.  

Again, this is where extra POS become very useful.  By having several dickstar towers online and ready to assault, you will wear down the patience of your enemy.  This does cost extra fuel stocks and some setup time, but the rewards are very high.  As long as the labs are stripped down before a war goes active, the loser in this equation is the aggressor, not the defender.  Let them tire of kicking your castle and move on to the next.  Also, needing to be engaged in very long structure shoots will cause fatigue, giving you ample opportunity to stage counter attacks on your schedule, not theirs.

Using Your Tower

Once towers and modules are anchored, you'll want to actually do work at the tower.  The mechanics for use can be a little convoluted, but should be simple enough to explain here.

Blueprints can be installed remotely.  This allows you to have BPO/BPCs stored in an NPC station, protected by all the normal corp tools that surround those assets.  Personally, I like keeping BPCs at the POS, since I wrestle with thousands of them.  

If a process consumes materials, those consumables must be in the lab where the job is installed.  Datacores for invention, minerals for building; if there is a material need for the process, those materials must be in the module where the job is to be installed.  Also, it's a benefit to train Scientific Networking and Supply Chain Management to 2, to be able to install/deliver jobs anywhere in the system.  Otherwise there will be some conflicts if you're in NPC station or not.

Next, you'll want to configure access to those arrays.  Tower Control Pannel -> Access and every module will have a "view" and "take" access, some having a "use" right.  This can be set to 4 levels: 2 are corp internal, corp general, or alliance general.  This is an additional lock on top of corp rights.  That is to say, if someone has full access to take from hangar 1, but the module has the added restriction of "fuel technician" that the character lacks, the character will not be able to use that hangar.  

For a 3rd layer of security, a password can be set.  Though you need an initial password to put up the tower shields, you can toggle access restriction on that password.  That can be useful if you want to give access to one tower but not a second.  Use the POS passwords as a second layer of security.  

The art of role management is a topic for another post.  I will cover these topics in much greater detail in a later tutorial.

Pro-Tips and Pitfalls

POS are a strange and fickle beast.  I've only covered the basics without really getting into specific mechanics.  And it's more likely than not you will run against some sort of weird mechanic pitfall that will make your life difficult.  Here are some of the more obscure gems that should save the largest headaches:

  • Anchoring Limits: entities can only anchor so many towers per system per day
    • Corp: 1 tower per system per day
    • Alliance: 5 towers per system per day
    • No limits for anchoring modules, only towers
  • Don't worry about exact PG/CPU tracking
    • PG/CPU do not have their own fuel source any more.
    • Just put in fuel blocks and online what you need
  • Share Lab Space
    • The temptation: do all the things whenever.  Lots of unused lab space
    • A better solution: actively schedule tasks so there is minimal waiting.  More efficient lab usage
  • Anchor modules with care
    • Remember, you need to move materials in and out of the POS.  Make it freighter friendly
  • Assets in a tower are only viewable by going to the individual modules
    • Corp asset tracking cannot see what is actually in space beyond there is a tower in a system
    • EVE API can view inside modules, but I have not seen a good tool for accurately tracking exactly where each item is
  • Offline modules are okay
    • It's okay to overload your tower with extra mods and online tools as they are needed
    • Anchor shield hardeners and activate them when a war comes in
  • "Only Use What You Are Willing to Lose"
    • Write off the costs of POS setup at the beginning
    • Know that towers can be attacked and be prepared for the worst
    • The tower is in space 24/7.  Fight times will be dictated by aggressors

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The road to the 10B kit

I'm an engineer, not an accountant.  So my strength is in processing the numbers and running the system, as I said before in Lessons in Accounting.  But now with a solid plan, a healthy revenue stream, and a transparent view on other expenditures, I've been able to get the next benchmark in my sights: jump freighter production.

To explain my personal organizational structure, I use "work weeks" to keep control of my manufacturing lines.  It gives a simple factory cycle that can be repeated week over week.
  1. Buy materials
  2. Build intermediates (components, T1)
  3. Build Products
  4. Sell Products
By establishing a regular clock, it's easy to account for inputs and outputs.  Keeping all workers synchronized also simplifies the logistical load immensely.

So, starting with the first cycle after Christmas, I started a planning spreadsheet.  Not the prettiest, or extremely accurate, but enough to keep tabs on the important metrics until something more eloquent can be devised.

Why kit-costs are important

As I said before, it's my personal habit to always build bigger and better things, reinvesting ALL profits into the next thing.  The core metric I've been focusing on hasn't been profits, but kit costs instead.  By keeping week-over-week investments flat, I am able to bank the profits.  

Also, by monitoring kit costs, I am able to more intelligently pick products.  Instead of betting big on higher risks, I can reign in outputs into safer mainstays.  This also prevents the other unintended consequence of big kit costs, long payouts.  Since the short term goals require a lot of liquid isk available quickly, it makes more sense to take lower risks to avoid getting stuck with product.

Why 10B?

I have a friendly rivalry going back and forth with my friend in Aideron Technologies, TheAhmosis.  One metric I've been living in the shadow of since leaving Aideron Robotics is 50B net sales/month.  We managed to achieve this peak for two months before industry was spun out and Aideron Robotics joined FW.  After leaving, I focused on really maximizing the profit per contributor; shifting from a broad-base focus to an agile profit-chasing focus.

I've been steadily growing my production base from an initial 2B buy-in all the way to 10B in less than 6 months.  As the buy-in grows, the options for higher margin products grow.  It will be easier to pounce on ships and heavier investments.

Where to Next?

I see sustained kit costs topping out near 15B without investing in capitals.  My character and personal time resources really get strained at that point.  There is the ability to grow near 20B without capitals, but the time required to keep up with the invention steps would become prohibitive   I would like to move my PVP-main character to capitals, since that would be easier to manage with his lowsec lifestyle, but that would add another 6B to the kit costs, and really mark the maximum my characters can do with the current skill set.

The hope is by the time I reach this maximum, ISK can be poured into expanding to a real corp venture, and leaving the "solo"-industrialist lifestyle behind.  There is an absolute ceiling in view from here and continued growth will require new friends and partnerships.  As it stands, I have not come anywhere close to maximizing ISK extraction from the market.  I will hit an effort ceiling long before hitting a market volume ceiling.

Also, I would like to migrate to a non-synchronous work style.  This would open up more flexibility in producing products, without getting locked into production cycles that are longer than market cycles.  Currently I am hovering around a 10d cycle, because of my ammo production, and this ties in nicely with EVE's build time cycles.  By going asynchronous, modules and ships could be done in smaller batches.  Smaller batches means less ticks between market bubbles, which in turn means less slouching on the way out of products.  This will require new code and accounting structure though.  So I will stick to the synchronous work-week scheme I'm using now.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Confessions of an Industrialist: I don't want to sell to you

Allow me a brief confession.  I don't want to sell you discounted product at any volume.  In nearly every product I produce, the current Jita market volume cashes me out plenty fast at the profits I've projected.  I don't care if we are friends, or if we are participating in different markets, the simple truth is I have no reason to take the hit and allow you to profit more.

Now, if you're looking for direct sales at Jita prices in volumes Jita just cannot support (Mobile Large Warp Disruptors I/II, T2 frigs in volumes of 20x or 50x), then we can talk.  You have a desire to pay at (or slightly above) Jita prices, and I have a means to process a lot of product.  Otherwise, there is zero incentive for me to lose while you win.

Personally, I've picked my products to be quickly liquidated and high margin, so I've done everything in my power to avoid direct sales.  Other industrialists might have different priorities, so let me outline how to find a good deal.

Where Are the Chokepoints?

If you want to nail down a direct deal, and make it worth doing business, you need to eliminate a chokepoint for me.  There are several places that direct sales make sense, but it has to be a win for both parties to be considered a prudent deal.  Instead of focusing directly on price, think about where Jita fails.

Volume Mismatch

There are products that are worth having in high volume, but there is some restriction getting in the way.  Capitals, bubbles, T2 frigates, T2 ammo, these all have a need that greatly outstrips what any one independent producer can provide.  As such, the volumes on the market tend to be anemic, and it can be very difficult to get very large volumes at a decent price.  Though us producers sure thank you when you reset the price trying.

0.01 ISK Game

Many producers may not want to play the 0.01 ISK game.  There are plenty of products that may take more time to monetize on than a producer cares to deal with.  Again, this ties back to volume.  A good example here is interdiction modules (webs, scrams, disruptors).  Sales volume is obviously high, and production volume is suitably capped, but there are a lot of people participating in that market.  It may be a lot of trouble to move larger volumes.  

Long Term Supply

Agreeing to a contract week over week for a product at a decent price significantly simplifies an industrialist's work load.  Though the price might not be agreeable to selling in Jita, getting a guarenteed supply to ship to secondary hubs is a win-win for both parties.  The buyer doesn't have to wrestle with buy contracts, the seller doesn't have to deal with sell contracts (or fees).  

High Fee Items

When orders get expensive, more ISK goes into fees like taxes and broker fees.  This is very commonly a killer in capital production.  There may be room to bargain on items that cost billions because the cost of business is just unacceptable.  By giving a quick cash out, and eliminating broker fees by direct bargaining, there can be considerable deals to be made.

Striking a Deal

There was an excellent post on this subject on, Crash Course: Effective Negotiation.  I would suggest reading that before pursuing my advice.

The best deals are ones where everyone gets what they want.  As soon as someone in the deal feels screwed, the relationship is doomed.  And the market is a venue for partnerships and enemies as much as any battlefield.  The best bargains will take elements from all the above and find a happy medium where everyone profits.  

Some quick hints that will help make bargaining easier:
  • Don't expect to beat Jita
    • If you really want the best price, work at buy orders.  Jita is the gold standard and though some isk can be made getting a margin priced supply, don't expect to get items cheaper than Jita-buy
  • Don't screw your suppliers
    • It's pretty awful to expect to sell a supplier's product against the same supplier.  Work with your partners to avoid overlap
  • Volume is king
    • Manufacturers can often outstrip demand (often by accident).  If you know where to sink that volume, or have the patience to see an investment through, this can be where deals can be made
  • Push Button Receive Bacon
    • Many industrialists just want their ISK and they want it now.  Providing an outlet for their products that quickly turns around their efforts week over week can be a beneficial partnership
Of course, I'm supply-side oriented, so take my advice with a grain of salt.  Personally, there are very few products I would consider for direct sales only because it's an extra step to make less money.  I am also a total pain to negotiate with because I, like many Americans, completely  lack the skills or tolerance to barter.  

Though, if you have a need for 50 Mobile Large Warp Disruptors at any regular interval, drop me a line.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

AWOXing Poetic

I had a hilarious encounter last night: an AWOXer applied to my private industrial corp.  Usually, this is a simple procedure handled by swiftly denying the application (or ignoring it entirely), and moving on.  What made this application funny was that very shortly after denying his app, I was convoed about it.

I know the proper response is supposed to be a polite email about "not fitting our needs" or at least helping random public applications understand more about you and your corp.  But at this time, I have no need for new members, I have not published a single piece of recruitment literature, so ANY application is malicious.  I just found it hilarious that it wasn't enough to have a mark not fall for the scam, but to put in a second try on top of that.

This inspired me.  I've been reading and talking a lot about corp-level tools for the last week, so I thought I'd share a little wisdom for those who might want it.


Named for a player, Awox, AWOXing refers to a particular scam.  For the entire backstory, get the TL;DR at Jester's Trek, Agua, or even Urban Dictionary.

The scam preys on a combat mechanic: corpmates can shoot eachother without CONCORD intervention.  ANY corpmate can shoot ANY corpmate.  The game makes no attempt to gauge malicious intent vs messing with friends.

The scam goes as such:
  1. Spread applications to as many generalist corps as possible.  Missioning and mining corps are the best targets.
  2. Get into the corp and attend an op.  Preferably with a director or lead of some sort.
  3. Bring a PVP ship to the fleet, and kill the juiciest thing in range.
  4. Log out in space to prevent being kicked from the corp.
  5. Repeat
Nothing is stopping anyone from having more patience and AWOXing the biggest, blingiest, pimpest thing they can find.  This scam is related to similar bait style scams where the scammer lures a corpmate into a trap specifically to destroy something of high value like capitals.  This scam also preys on the (terrible terrible) corp management rules.  Specifically that you must be in a station to change corps (even to NPC).

Security Done Wrong

Having run an alliance of missioning bears for longer than I care to admit, I'd like to first cover the misconceptions that these AWOXers prey on.  Also, because I adored Sophia Jackson's POS Guide, that worked backwards, we're going to start at the end and work our way back.

We require API verification

The only API 90% of corps check is skills.  They load the key into EVEHQ or EVEMON and see what the recruit can fly.  The "paranoid" read mails and check standings.  These steps are less than worthless when it comes to security screening applicants.  Mails, once deleted, are removed from the mail API, standings are player set... and skills tell you nothing about the pilot behind the avatar.

The APIs that are valuable, can't easily be checked with a desktop tool.  That's wallet and kill log.  Wallet provides a way to "follow the money" to alts.  Kill log gives a report of the latest kills.  Neither of these APIs can be easily defrauded by stuffing or deleting data.  Processing both gives a much better picture of who is applying to your corp.


Seriously, "EVE online is a sandbox of sociopaths".  It is incredibly easy to put on a facade and tell your recruiters what they want to hear.  Similar to real-life resume-bot-beating by repeating the job requirements you tell them what they want to hear. If you got your parents to believe you were at a friend's house when you were actually causing trouble... then you can probably beat any normal interview.

If you're insistent on interviews being part of the process, put hurtles and time in the process.  The longer the lie has to stand and the more places the story goes, the easier it will be to pick out the flaws.  Much like police interrogate and push on answers to see if the story changes, use multiple interviews with different members and compare notes.  Also, by making the hurtles take more time than one sitting, the patience of the scammer will most likely be exhausted.  Spreading out the application process to a few days will weed out random scammers, but will do little about the targeted ones.


External references?  Are you kidding?  I will roll a character on another slot and write glowing reviews about myself.  I could even be in my own corp and spoof the numbers with trials.  Calling up unknown CEOs for their feedback is usually a fruitless endeavor too.

I would even be wary of internal references that don't have personal connections to applicants.  There's nothing wrong with flying with friends, but social engineering preys on our social niceties.  Just because you weren't sold doesn't mean a lower level grunt can't be.

Minimum SP requirements

This does stop the lowest level AWOXers, but it doesn't protect against bought characters.  I'll admit this is a smaller risk than the above behaviors, but it isn't actually a security procedure.  It puts up a wall that filters out the lowest SP alts, but spies and scammers are creative and can generate characters at almost any level required to do the job.  

Mandatory Titles.  24hr Revenge Period

Though this may have been a good idea pre apocrypha, it's generally not a great idea now.  It used to be you could restart the 24hr stasis timer indefinitely (and get banned for it).  That loophole has long since been closed.  Once rights are revoked, they cannot be reassigned until the member allows it again.  I don't know who would reasonably expect a scammer to log inside that escape timer and allow himself to be killed.

Real Security Measures

Avoiding AWOXers is actually quite easy.  It's the same sort of things that should be "well duh" but are overlooked because of stupid-human "gut feelings" or an over reliance on technology.


It's public, it's impossible to fake.  If your applicant has only ever been in corps for hours at a time, repeatedly, it's a glaring red warning klaxon.  Yes, the greenest noobs won't have corp history, and some people are flaky and may have short corp histories, or people might be weird and like NPC corps.  There's no reason to take EVE too seriously and put in hard and fast previous corp rules, but if the applicant has more than one corp on their history where they were members for less than 48hrs, you might want to ask harder questions.  If you don't at least LOOK at the corp history of an applicant, you deserve to be AWOX'd.

Google is your friend

Check the forums for the applicant, check eve-kill, zkillboard, and battle-clinic.  10 minutes of searching can yield a wealth of warning signs.  Odds are that 90% of your applicants will turn up mostly blank here, but again it's a simple and fast first line of defense.

You Don't Have to Be The Nice Guy

It's your corp, your members are trusting their security to you.  Bringing a wolf into the flock will do more harm to your organization as a whole than to any individual sheep.  If someone trips your gut, tell them "no".  Personally, I've always favored a panel approach where any one director could veto an application.  This would result in a more stringent search and 9 times out of 10, and protected the corp from a bad applicant.  This also helps cultivate a better internal atmosphere, since you have the right people for the org rather than a ship of random pubbies.

Social engineering relies on the assumed social norms and taboos we all subconsciously submit to.  Trusting authority figures, not wanting to look like the odd one out, the pain of disappointing people with "no".  But if you are going to be the captain of the ship, you have to make the tough choices for the good of the whole vessel.  

Don't Let Paranoia Win

"A system is 100% secure until users are introduced"
It's easy to let paranoia win in EVE.  There are so many stories about corp thefts, inside jobs, hacking and spies.  And paranoia will quickly lead to a stagnant organization, since no business can be done without trust.  There is a need to put a little risk forward to be able to socialize and build communities.

Just remember EVE's cardinal rule: "Don't fly what you aren't willing to lose".  The same concept can be applied to corp management.  The tools are there to protect valuables while opening up access to members at the same time.  Learn about the corp tools, understand the mechanics, be aware... and you have already gone 99% of the way to being safe and having fun.