Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Saving Judgement: SISI Streaming Schedule

Did a big hardware upgrade at home this week, and I'm looking for an opportunity to do some more streaming.  With the industry changes being so complicated and causing so much melodrama, I figure this is an excellent chance to kill two birds with one stone.

For at least two weeks, I expect to try out an ambitious streaming schedule.  Once the changes hit SISI, I want to walk through all the changes for myself and give my reactions/feedback/whatever.  Might as well take a page out of Johnny Pew's book and stream those for everyone interested.

Monday: 0100-0300 UTC
Wednesday: 0100-0300 UTC
Friday: 0200-0300 UTC

After the initial streams, I will probably need to shift to one weekday and some weekend streaming, but let's worry about that when we get there.

EDIT: Helping Hands

Didn't handle this correctly when I posted.  So let me get this appropriately updated.

To help, I need people who will help with the POS redeploys that will need to be done when the test server is refreshed.  This is expected to happen nearly-daily, so I would be extremely grateful to have a few assistants on hand, pre stream, to make sure POS towers are deployed and online before the party starts.

Want to join?  Great!  Put an application in for 4th Circle Investment Bank on the main server.  Before fanfest concludes, I will be granting POS/research rights in this corp.  The hope here is to beat the ~monthly~ server mirror and avoid the need to do corp shuffling on sisi.  Also, park that character (or a jump-clone) in Tash-Murkon Prime.  This will give easy access to Providence so we can test the whole gamut of industrial tools without having to have to muddle with access rights.

Also, feel free to continue commenting on the blog here, so I can keep straight who is who!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New Math: Breaking Down Industry Changes - Part 1

The announced industry changes have been a whirlwind of drama across every media.  I wanted to save this post for when ALL the blogs were released... but most of my peers have jumped the gun.  There is a lot to cover, so I will be breaking up my response as well.  Let's focus on the first two devblogs for now.

Other Blogs: as of Industry UI devblog release
Before I start working things through, let me highlight something for the non-industrialists.  There are two inescapable limits to production: Hours per week, and weight of freight.   

Everything You Knew Is Wrong

To analyze these changes, we really need to throw out all our classical assumptions around production.  Most of the shortcuts and tricks are going away, and we're going to be faced with a new paradigm.  Those who are barking most (lowsec capital producers) really are missing the entire scope of how the environment is changing.  And the demise of highsec industry is greatly exaggerated.  

The biggest cries are coming from lowsec capital producers.  In an effort to address the loudest dissenters, I want to walk through the changes from their perspective step for step.

I've highlighted the widely used flow chart most independent capital producers use.  The point in this flow is that it's extremely linear.  For the uninitiated, the primary bottleneck for capital production looks like freight.  For the capital producing professional, T1 compression moves that bottleneck to BPO count.  Compression makes the freight step nearly trivial, compressing a supercarrier into two JF trips.

The announced reprocessing changes break the compression link in this chain.  Without compression, freight becomes an enormous bottleneck.  With a large library of BPOs, builders are scrambling to figure out how they will meet the same throughput.  The short answer for the vast majority of these producers is: they won't be able to produce the same number of capitals they are used to... without some serious logistical horsepower.

Then The Fire Nation Attacked

Without compression, large-scale/solo capital producers are left in a lurch. This really changes up the build cycle for these producers.

full res: imgur

To keep heavy capital production running, ore compression is the only reasonable tool left for the builder.  This will completely change up the cost scheme for production.  Rather than basing final costs off raw minerals, like they are today, savvy capital builders will be required to balance compression with added costs of compressed ore.  Very simply: compressed ore will not cost the same as the sum of its parts, if it has a favorable compression ratio.

Next, we get to why low sec capital producers are so annoyed.  With reprocessing changes, it will take different amounts of those compressed ores to get the raw materials required.  Somewhere around 5% more ore will be required to build a capital, using compression, in lowsec.  Also, low sec producers will be forced to use POS to get the best refining rates, which will add another cost to the chain.

Lastly, there are the changes to production costs.  With the removal of slots, station-builders will be forced to pay up to 14% surcharge on their jobs.  CCP has hinted that outpost owners will not be able to zero this cost out, meaning those lowsec producers have an opportunity to make back that 5% loss they had to spend on their POS.  There will still be a considerably heavy freight step to get capital parts out of a POS, which could prove to either be too much effort to justify the ISK/hr, or too much risk to even start the process.

It's also worth noting that with copying becoming far more viable, that these low sec factory POS start to look half way worth it.  Even if that adds another step to the chain, most capital producers will have spare research time available on their toons, and copy mules are reasonably cheap.

It's Different, I Hate It

Before writing your farewell post and giving away all your assets, let's think through the whole chain.  Though null gets an obvious boost from this change, putting teams of miners to work in rental corps across the frontier, it's not simply a nerf-lowsec/boost-nullsec change.  There are a lot of steps being added to the chain.  The more steps in a process, the more opportunities for added value:
  • Miners will be compressing their materials rather than refining them
    • This incurs POS/fuel costs to the raw minerals
  • Compressed freight is worthless until it gets in the hands of a producer
    • Refining low-ends for shipping will be discouraged in null
    • High-end supply to hubs should remain mostly flat
    • Trit/Pyre will come mostly from inefficient high sec
  • Demand for efficient compressed ores (ABC) will drive added value for ores
  • POS required for most miners and producers, for best reprocessing yield
  • Production line fees could kill profits.  POS required for mitigating cost, at additional risk
The point: there are a lot more permutations in production than before.  As such, there should be a much wider margin on complicated products for the mid term.  I think valuations will settle near the production costs of lowsec, meaning anyone still in the game will need to be very diligent to keep their profits.  But, also note that now with the difficulty curve increased, many capital builders have given up the market.  This is a great opportunity to get your hands on researched BPOs, and if you have a diligent plan, could still stand to profit.  May require some help though.

Author's Note: This post was written before the the Research changes were officially announced.  More to come soon(tm)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Everything Is Changing

Looks like the summer expansion is gearing up to be a big shake-up for industry.  First, big reprocessing changes, and now big manufacturing changes.

Most of the major points are easy to understand.

  • Damage Per Job is going away for R.A.M. and R.Db items
  • Extra Materials are being removed, all materials will be affected by reprocessing/production efficiency the same
  • Market groups are being reorganized to make a little more sense
  • Industry slots are going away, replaced with a demand charge
  • POS standings requirements are being removed
  • Remote BP access will not be shared between POS and NPC station.
    • Copy speed is being reduced to make it easier to distribute copies.
The unifying theme to watch in these devblogs is nothing will be free in industry any more.  Refining will have variable yields depending on space/equipment, but never be 100%.  NPC manufacturing will have meaningful costs to production above-and-beyond raw materials.  There are no more free lunches.

Before I get into my review, I want to start with a TL;DR: The proposed changes are bad for cooperative industry and strongly incentivize solo industry as-is.  Though the changes aren't a catastrophe for corp-level/frontier industry, a lot of the changes will make many of the tools people use difficult.  I will cover my complaints in depth at the end of this post, but changes as they exist in the dev blog have me worried.

Death to Slots

Slots, as we know/hate them, are going away.  They will be replaced with a "cost scaling system".  TL;DR: you will be able to install a job anywhere that has science/industry services today, but will have to pay varying fees as a % of base cost.  What hasn't been explained yet is how this will affect POS.  More info will come out soon(tm) I am sure about the POS design.

Personally, I'm a fan of this for the most part.  Outside a few corner cases (newbie systems, outposts), I think the change is good.  NPC slot scarcity has been an unnecessary bottleneck on production.  It has pushed a lot of casual players out of the market, and left a "POS or GTFO" attitude.   Also, with a raw ISK cost, it should be obvious to producers what is impacting their bottom line.  This should stomp down some of the "time is free" attitudes out there.  I'd still like to see a time efficiency mechanic in station lines... as the lines get more crowded, overall productivity drops, but I can take what is given here.

Death to Standings

In a one-two-punch, not only are in-station industry resources going to become less constrained, POS ownership is going to become much easier.  All limits to anchoring a POS are being removed.  This means a tower can be dropped by a corp in any security (except special systems, same as POCO restriction), with no standings requirement.
I am a pretty big fan of this change.  It means we should see a dramatic decrease in moon-holding POS.  It will be much easier to get a moon, and use it or lose it.  There will still be a war requirement to clear towers, and regions with hubs will still be prime real estate, but those willing to compromise should be able to get POS a lot easier.

The unintended consequence here is when you remove slots, what will that do to industry POS?  POS layout has been a game of getting the slots you need and paying with CPU... if equipment needs are being decreased, will there be more dickstars?  Less POS?  More info about POS changes are promised in a later devblog, so we'll see.

BPO Risk

This is the crux of my unease with the proposed changes.  BPs in stations will not be accessible in POS.  Though this increases the risk to loss in a war (net good change), it makes corp theft a MUCH LARGER problem.  With how little control corp roles give you at a POS, if something needs to be moved between labs for work (Copy-->Manufacture, Invention-->Manufacture, Research-->Manufacture) then people need take rights.  And either you're stuck with a wild-west "anyone with POS access can take" rights scheme, or "only ultra-trusted members can move crap around for people".

With copy bandwidth/availability going up substantially, it's easy to say "just risk copies", but there are a bunch of unintended consequences with those changes.  Imagine my T2 component library: 10x of each component BPO.  That library took a long time to research.  Should I be spending money/time on copies or put the library at risk in a POS?  If I go with copies, I could very easily blow past the 1500 items/hangar limits, leaving me with more logistical headaches than security.  If I am spending my time copying all these BPOs, when will there be time to invent the T2 stuff?  My choice is to bring in help for copy bandwidth, or lock out people for BPO security.

If you put your BPO in the POS, you could be out those originals.  If you put a pile of copies there instead, you could have that time stolen from you.  There is no good way to keep a modicum of security at a POS without a lot of overhead for managers.  Couple this headache with the very low bar to owning a new POS, it stands to be much easier to give yourself a solo corp where those BPOs can't be stolen than cooperate with internet strangers at the risk of a library that could have years of research in it.

What Should Be Changed

Let me boil it down again: I should not be afraid of my corp members.  A properly configured corporation should be able to secure its assets to view/take at appropriate levels.  What made this work up to now is that anything super-valuable could be secured using the Lockdown mechanic.  This meant the BPO was still usable from station for research/mfg, but it couldn't be moved without a corporate vote.  As CEO, I can volunteer my pricey BPOs, but sleep well at night knowing that only I can unlock them for moving. 

With this change, I can risk my BPO at POS to wardec, but the much greater risk is the team that needs access to them.  If I can get to a sufficient level of pseudo lockdown (pw protected, or no need to move prints around the POS) to keep my members from taking those BPOs, then I'm more than happy to share.  If I am stuck with a mountain of copies as my only recourse, then I will opt not to share, instead locking my friends out of my POS with the tools at hand.  

Also, time will tell, but I am not super enthusiastic about the new UI spoiler... unless batch install is part of the feature.