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[Jester's Trek] IQ test

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 05:59 AM

Let's spend a few days talking about EVE Online in-game money topics.

We're all EVE players.  So I'm not telling any secrets when I say that EVE PvE sucks pretty hard.  Most of it is frightfully dull and not any fun, which is bad enough.  But most of it is also extremely low-value, relatively speaking.  Put another way: if PvP is what's fun for you, you don't buy a lot of fun with the time you spend in EVE PvE.  Purchasing and equipping a single moderately expensive PvP ship -- a Zealot, say -- costs upwards of 225 to 250 million ISK as I write this.  But low-value, low-risk PvE in EVE -- mining or L4 missioning -- will only make you about 25 million ISK/hour.  Moderate-value, moderate-risk PvE -- mining high-ends, typical null-sec ratting -- usually doubles that.  And high-value, usually high-risk PvE -- wormholes, for instance -- usually doubles that again.

Which means that EVE players are left with the situation that it takes between 2.5 and ten hours of PvE to pay for a single moderately expensive PvP ship, which can of course die within minutes after undocking.(1)

Most players don't want to spend that kind of time, and I don't blame them.  The oldest richest PvP players generally don't have to worry about this too much.  All of their expensive purchases are generally behind them and they can concentrate on saving for their third Titan.  But for the rest of the EVE's PvP players, this is a major issue, probably the single most important thing we're thinking about at any given moment.  Many of us are already paying a monthly subscription fee, and we play games to have fun, so there are not a few players that just buy the PvP ships that they need by purchasing PLEXes and calling it done.  But this is probably a relatively small part of New Eden's population.  The rest of us have the constant nag of the need for more ISK.  Where is the next ISK coming from?

When you see players gravitating toward the largest alliances in the game, this is often a motivating factor.  Those large alliances have safe ratting space or frequent wormhole ops, reimbursement policies, and many of them simply give ships and fittings away because they're pulling in so much ISK and need pilots more than they need money.  One day, CCP might do something about that, but that day is far from today.

For the rest of us, every once in a while, CCP makes a PvE game design decision so gloriously irrational that not to take advantage of it is an obvious error.  I hate to put it this bluntly, but it's like an IQ test.  If you don't take advantage when CCP makes this sort of decision, you're dumb.

A good example were pre-nerf high-sec incursions.  You might think this ISK faucet was a good idea.  You might think it was a bad idea.  I felt (and still feel) that overall, incursions are good for the game.  I'd rather see more PvE like incursions than less.  At least it isn't boring, and it's nicely social.  I've obviously written about this before.  But regardless of how you feel about incursions: while this was rolling, if you:
needed ISK; and,were capable of getting involved; but,weren't taking advantage of this massive flow of ISK while it was out there...you are dumb.  The same thing applies to wormholes once the Sleeper sites were well-understood.  If you didn't at least attempt to get involved in that gold rush, then that was a bad decision on your part.  When seemingly every null-sec system in EVE had an unending flow of sanctums and havens for ratting, if you weren't taking advantage of that... bad call.

Because at this point, something like this is always going on in New Eden.  At this point, CCP is just designing the game assuming you were doing it.  Players always have more ISK than you think they do, right?  At this point, even the CSM has bought into this and is telling CCP this.  More on that can of worms in the next post on this topic.

That said, every time CCP makes a decision like this, sooner or later they come to the realization that they've been gloriously irrational.  Even more amusing, once they realize it, their first action is to blame the players for taking advantage.  Here, witness CCP Sreegs stating that EVE players not wanting to be around the keyboard for EVE PvE is unacceptable.

Back in June, I wrote this little post gently hinting about another gloriously irrational decision on CCP's part.  I didn't make a big deal of it then because I knew a lot of people who were taking advantage of this and I didn't want to grief them.  Hell, I wanted to get involved in it myself.  As I keep saying, if you weren't doing it, you're dumb.  Paul Clavet at My Loot, Your Tears has written a very extensive guide to this bit of glorious irrationality, but I'll summarize.

The current faction warfare static sites in each low-sec system are activated when a faction member warps to them.  Each site is full of rats of the opposite faction.  However, your goal in these sites is to "capture" the central hub of each system, not to shoot the rats.  In fact, you do not need to shoot any of the rats in these sites if you don't want to.  Simply orbiting the capture point at a close enough range is sufficient.  Here's the first fun bit: thanks to the recent buff applied to the Gallente Incursus frigate, you can fit an Incursus with a dual rep and sufficient cap recharge and speed to allow a two million skill-point character to farm these sites.  Again: no guns needed.  They're superfluous -- just speed-tank, run your armor reppers, profit.  And with a few million more skill points, the Incursus became quite capable of farming the toughest FW static sites in the game.  For each site you capture, you earn faction LP.

To put the potential profit of this in perspective, as part of Sturmgrenadier, I ran high-sec L4 missions for about a year.  In that time, I built up about two million loyalty points, LP which I'm still slowly consuming two years later for various faction mods.  One more time: that took a year.

Running static faction warfare sites, I built up a half-million LP in three days.

"Jester, you idiot," someone out there is saying, "loyalty points are an ISK sink, not a faucet," and sure that's true.  But in the most glorious bit of irrationality of all, CCP has set up faction warfare so that you can use those very same LP you're earning to massively reduce the ISK cost of the items that you can buy from the LP store.  One more time: you can quickly and easily build up several million LP in only a couple of weeks, then you (and others) can spend that LP to make faction warfare items incredibly inexpensive.

How inexpensive?  The least profitable item I scored was a Tempest Fleet Issue for 62 million ISK.  As I write this, those are selling for 255 million ISK in Jita.  Again, that was the least profitable item that I scored.  I just wanted one.  It took me about 40 minutes to build up the LP to afford it, which means in that 40 minutes I was effectively making 300 million ISK/hour.  Or triple the amount of ISK/hour I could make from "high-risk" PvE.

If you weren't doing this, you're dumb.  It's an IQ test.

And it's still not fixed today.  The only reason I'm writing about it is because all four factions are currently at "tier 1" where these massive profits are (currently) unavailable.  But Nulli Secunda has joined the Amarr FW side, and I assure you they did not do this for the greater glory of the Empire.  All you need is two million SP, an Incursus with no guns, and enough brains to realize that you'd better be doing this.  Because CCP assumes that you have too much ISK and they're designing the game with that thought in mind.

But this post has been going on too long already, so let's talk about that problem in the next post.

(1) Yes, there are many cheaper PvP ships, but there are also many more expensive ones as well.  So I chose a HAC to split the difference.


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