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.