The EVE Diaries, Part Four: Playing the Market

EVE Online

By on April 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Click here for the previous installment in this series.

The news was good. Two detailed EVE-mails, one from the CEO of my corp, the other from one of the alliance board, both revelling in the success of the month long operation. We had taken over the station, and subsequently, the system. Even though the enemy still had a defense presence in the form of two POS towers, which they used to both taunt and harass us for the next few weeks until we were offered opportunities to blow them up, we began shipping in our stuff and setting up our own infrastructure.

The problem was that — being so far away from everything — outside of the equipment we shipped in from highsec, we had very little available in order to start setting up industry and fitting our growing fleet of available PVP ships.

Lucky for those of us without the ability to organise large scale logistics, a few members of the alliance owned jump freighters — ships that were able to jump large distances without the need for stargates. They also featured an enormous cargo hold, enough not only for all sorts of parts, equipment and skills, but also entire ship hulls. So under the guidance (and funding) of the alliance leader corporations, these pilots began buying up big from highsec and loading up their freighters. In order to cover the quite large costs of fuel (avoiding danger comes at a cost, of course), there was a charge for those wanting personal equipment brought into null, or for any other specific orders. Once it was brought in, a host of sell orders (standing contracts for items to be sold, similar to putting something up on the auction house in WoW) were put onto the local station market. In most cases, as close to cost price as possible.

This practice is called “seeding the market” — it provides the ability for war to be appropriately waged via easily accessible replacement parts, plus the ability to jump start industry by bringing in business from other systems once other players notice there are bargains to be had. As players start manufacturing, based on the minerals they mine locally and the blueprints brought from HS, the prices start levelling out and hey presto! You have a local market hub that not only facilitates the needs of the alliance owning the station, but also acts as a trade hub for the area.

As previously mentioned, everything outside of a new items (namely skills, rookie items and some mining equipment) is created by a player, so most market items in highsec tend to command a much higher premium. Every now and again, a new player will sit in chat and complain incessantly about the price of this or that, before their bleating is quickly shutdown by a vet.

Eventually we got into the swing of things and starting running more roams and CTAs in our new playground, while I felt my industry roots aching. I was a miner/manufacturer at heart for many years, and while a lot of this full-scale PVP got the blood rushing, I always felt like I was a “carebear” at heart. I decided to get back into manufacturing and mining, but I was a little under resourced in this current location. Searching through the local set of contracts, I made a list of the things I would need, namely a Mackinaw ship, and most of the guts that went with it. EVE‘s contract system is matched by none other in any other MMO — effectively, it allows players to create “offers”, such as a bundle of items for sale, or the opportunity to traffic/pickup an item from somewhere else, for a fee. The beauty of this system lies in the multitude of parameters that are provided; How long does the person have? Do they have to provide collateral? Where is the item to be picked up or dropped off to?

In a world where trust in strangers is a limited commodity, the relative security and purity of a contract is unmatched. Not only that, but contracts can be completed and processed while a player is offline, so you can effectively borrow entire ships or gear off other players, then return them without that player needing to be on the server.

After 10 minutes or so of trawling through various contracts I managed to find one about 10 jumps away that satisfied my needs. The problem was that it involved going through a system gracefully described as a “deathzone” by one of my colleagues. He was right – there had been 15 deaths in the last few days, primarily due to the fact that this particular area had only two points of entry. A fellow corporation member volunteered to scout me through to pickup my purchase, so I accepted the contract, watching the 80 million ISK drain out of my wallet in the meantime. I quietly hoped I didn’t just flush that hard earned cash down the virtual drain.

The trip to the station and back was reasonably uneventful, outside of a gate camper or two. My stealthy teammate alerted me to the bubbles around the gates, so we took countermeasures to avoid then. Thankfully, my cargo hauler (a bulked up Iteron V), managed to jump quicker than it could be targeted, so we narrowly missed any carnage. My pre-fitted Mack was out stripping ‘roids with the best of them within minutes, and after a few days I had enough minerals to start manufacturing again. But what to make? We had just started deploying to another system to help our larger coalition partner to take over (and simultaneously defend) some space, and our corp needed some basic ships. I had the necessary skills to help, but the CEO told me not to bother – he could do it himself. But I decided to see if I could remember anyway, so I decided to cook up a couple for myself with the minerals I’d stockpiled (plus a few purchased from the market).

Manufacturing equipment, once the skills have been learned, is remarkably easy. Each item in the game has a “blueprint” (or BPO), which is effectively a master copy for item duplication. Most BPOs for lower level, or Tech 1, items can be bought from almost anywhere in highsec, but Tech 2 BPOs are notoriously rare. Many of them are owned by veteran players, shuttered away in places where they can’t be stolen or scammed. As a result, most items are created from copies of those BPOs, effectively an unlimited money spinner for those lucky players who hold them. A copy only has a limited run of uses before it is depleted, so it’s imperative that players looking to profile from manufacturing take this into account. My CEO made me a few copies of his original and I flew off to to start cooking.

I was outfitted with a manufacturing station with a number of slots available, so I put together the BPO with the required minerals. The time remaining was about 22 hours, so I left them alone and went back to mining. I spent the next 3 hours chipping at rocks, watching movies on my second monitor and shooting the breeze in alliance chat. But something just didn’t feel right. I had been playing EVE within this alliance for over 5 months by this point, almost daily, and… I was starting to feel the burn.

As much as I like to gush about the amazing EVE, and how it truly is the best MMO that exists today, the intense feeling of pressure to succeed and the number of tasks to complete takes its toll on you. I had been eating meals at my PC, putting off time with my wife, and avoiding other work, when I realized that the lifestyle I wanted for myself could never exist alongside this game.

To quote my fellow journo buddy and avid EVE fan Nathan Cocks, EVE is “the best game I can never play”. You can play EVE casually, but like most things I dedicate my self to in life, it’s do or die, and something had to give.

Click here for the final entry in this series.

2 comments (Leave your own)

I have never played EVE myself, but I recognise in this article my experience playing an MMO at a relatively advanced level. All my time was consumed in raids, GvG, levelling, guild events, consumables farming, crafting, etc.

It was pretty much a second full time job and in the end burnt me out. The problem is that it’s hard to play it casually. You always have the itch of just creating a guild “for fun” then start recruiting, then it all goes down hill again :(

 

Same happened to me in EVE, had to choose between EVE and RL >.<

 
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