Saturday, 29 December 2012

Lost then Found

A long time ago, in a system far far away, I lost a Viator. 

No; Not blown up.  Not stolen, not even 'where did I put my keys' kinda lost; This is a 'the database gods are out to get you' kind of lost.

One moment I was alt-tabbed to another screen; a few jumps in on 30 jump route on autopilot, next moment the world froze and rebooted; and I woke up in my clone's station near my end point.  Some players would suggest this is a less than brilliant idea - I can accept that.

So, what are the first thing to do? 
  • Update your clone.  It was still updated i.e. plenty of skillpoints left in it.  
  • Buy new implants - still have a full set.  
  • What killed me?  No kill mail. 
  • Was I dreaming? - look at inventory for ship.  Not there.
  • I will get an insurance payment at least?  Nothing in my journal.
  • Whine on the forums; blog about it; raise a petition.
I am very confused.  It is Christmas so I don't expect a quick response.

I do get a Christmas day email:

Insurance Contract Expired
From: Secure Commerce Commission
Sent: 2012.12.25 22:29

Dear valued customer,

The insurance contract between yourself and SCC for the insurance of the ship XXXXXXX issued at Friday, September 7, 2012 00:39 has expired. Please purchase a new insurance as quickly as possible to protect your investment.

The Secure Commerce Commission,

So, my ship didn't blow up, mmm.  Still no response on my petition; this finally came on the 27th.

I am used to providing information for bug reports as part of my first life duties.  I provided clues about the time (between downtime and restart), my type of ship (Viator), that it was rigged and what I was carrying.

However,  I was asked to provide :
  • Location of last sighting or interaction (down to the moon if possible)
  • Name of the ship (I had forgotten this but the insurance mail reminded me)
  • Rough time of the event.  (Yes the GM could have worked it out; but he is busy and I am the one wanting ship + cargo back).
After providing the above to the best of my recollection (and a bit of re-reading of notes - such as they are); I was informed as to what system my ship was in.  After further (mailed) discussion; I am off to scan it down.

Now, I am a wormhole resident; you think that I can scan something down?  Mmm.  In a wormhole things don't move much.  In an active highsec system; they move a lot.

The trick to find a stationary ship amongst 20 moving ones:
  • Scan once, write down all ship signatures.
  • Wait a couple of minutes.
  • Leaving probes in exactly the same spot; scan again.
  • Any signatures that are the same are potentially static ships.
 Finally; after buying sister scanning equipment - that I didn't need as I found the sig earlier but didn't realise it.

It was an interesting easter egg hunt.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Module M: Optimizing Anshar- Production

This post is taken out of line from a larger series but I wanted to get it out early. It's an exploration of different principles when planning your production. Take it as a guideline to a specific approach, not a set in stone rule set. It's called Module M because it fits into a bigger picture.

Assume you want to build an Anshar Jump Freighter. This is no simple task to optimize, so let's just look at the "main" part: Actually building the thing. To make a good profit you need a set of researched blueprints as well as and Anshar BPC. Getting to this point will be covered elsewhere, let's just look at the BPs we need:

Anshar BPC
Obelisk BPO

Capital Propulsion Engine BPO
Capital Armor Plates BPO
Capital Cargo Bay BPO
Capital Construction Parts BPO
Capital Jump Drive BPO

Capital Crystalline Carbide Armor BPO
Capital Fusion Reactor BPO
Capital Ion Thruster BPO
Capital Magnetometric Sensor Cluster BPO
Capital Oscillator Capacitor Unit BPO
Capital Photon Microprocessor BPO
Capital Pulse Shield Emitter BPO

R.A.M. Starship Tech BPO

Disclaimer: Run your own numbers, they depend on your skills, the BPO research levels and other details.

That's a lot of BPOs and a lot of items to be manufactured. If I do them one by one, it'd take 100 days to build one. Luckily we can use more than one slot so those 100 days can be cut down by using these. Still that would not be efficient because we have downtimes of the BPOs and they'd sit idle. We could use multiple BPOs to offset this, but that will require more investment. It's an option, but maybe there is another way: Building manufacturing Packets, that consider when which items are required and which depend on each other. Look at this:

Packet 1: 23d, 8h, 7m
R.A.M. Starship Tech: 17h, 50m
Capital Pulse Shield Emitter: 3d, 1h, 30m
Capital Magnetometric Sensor Cluster: 3d, 0h, 32m
Capital Photon Microprocessor: 4d, 19h, 13m
Capital Oscillator Capacitor Unit: 4d, 19h, 13m
Capital Crystalline Carbide Armor: 6d, 21h, 39m

Packet 2: 12d, 10h, 52m
Capital Jump Drive: 2d, 20h, 58m
Capital Propulsion Engine: 1d, 19h, 6m
Capital Armor Plates: 1d, 16h, 14m
Capital Construction Parts: 6d, 2h, 34m

Packet 3: 10d, 2h, 30m
Capital Pulse Shield Emitter: 3d, 1h, 30m
Capital Fusion Reactor: 7d, 1h, 0m

Packet 4: 12d, 16h, 40m
Capital Ion Thruster: 2d, 21h, 0m
Capital Cargo Bay: 9d, 19h, 40m

Packet 5: 10d, 16h, 0m
Obelisk: 10d, 16h, 0m

Packet 6: 24d, 21h, 20m
Anshar BPC: 24d, 21h, 20m

Some notes: Packet 6 is the biggest and will be our production "frame", meaning all manufacturing will be synched to this timespan. Packet 5 can only be built after 2 and 4 complete. Packet 6 only after 1, 3 and 5 are complete. Looking at the build times you will see that 1 and 6 are roughly the same, as well as 2+3 and 4+5 combined. With this information we can set up a 2 Slot production line like this:

Slot 1: Build Packets 1 to 3
Slot 2: Build Packets 4 to 6

That wouldn't be really smart because we'd have idle time between the Packets waiting for others. But if we shift things a bit, this will change:

Slot 1: Build Pakets 1 to 3
Slot 2: Wait until Packet 1 finishes, then build 4 to 6.

Why wait until Packet 1 finishes you might ask: That's because we don't just want to build one Anshar, we want to build them continuously. If we repeat the manufacturing, the following will happen:

Slot 1: 1,2,3, 1,2,3 1,2,3, ...

Slot 2: X,4,5,6,4,5,6,4,5,6, ...

As you can see, Packets 1 and 6 will sync up being built at the same time, meaning while we build the Anshar itself we already are building the parts for the next one. It almost synchs up because 2+3 and 4+5 take roughly as long as Packet 1 and 6. Let's just put make sure it really syncs, introducing a bit of idle time, but lining it up a bit for convenience. This way, after wasting one slot for almost 25 days, we get an Anshar roughly every 49.5 days:

It's also what we would expect from using two slots, so where is the advantage? We will come to that soon. Right now our BPOs still have a lot of downtime, so let's fix this:

Simply by repeating this process we can now produce one Anshar every 25 days with one set of BPOs, reducing our BPO downtime to the idle time lost when synching up to the Packet lengths. Hint: You can reduce the initial wait time by splitting the first Packet 1 into two and using the slots initially to further cut down initial idle time.

Now, could we have done this another way? Sure. But this way has quite some advantages:

- You are aware of what Resources you require to start a Package at any point in time.
- You can easily identify your Packages and for which run it is in your  spreadsheets.
- The idle times give you a bit of room to queue up your Manufacturing slots because of your time zone requirements.
- It minimizes Investment costs in BPOs and their Research, since you need only one set.
- It scales both ways: Add another set of BPOs in the same manner and double your production on one character or shelf off parts of the Packets to other characters, the time frames then become "deadlines" for players.
- Minimized "at the keyboard" time because you can queue your production only needing minimal time to set up manufacturing.
- The time frame is synced to the production runs of an Anshar BPC, and also syncs with time frames from the Invention and Hauling Modules not published yet.

Depending on the complexity of your production chains it is worth the time to calculate a similar chain for capitals or other more complex production chains.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Self Sustaining Low Sec POS? Sure, why not!

WARNING: LowSec is a dangerous place to leave Assets hanging in space. This is not intended for a beginner in EVE Online, as you can and will lose your stuff in LowSec if you are not prepared. Take all necessary precautions when attempting to do the following!

Running a POS in LowSec takes some preparation and planning, but it can be done by a careful player and is very rewarding.

What do you get from a LowSec POS? Most people will point out the private research slots and the bonuses to research and production which are a huge advantage for the research of "big stuff" or copying blueprints. But there is more: LowSec POSes additionally give you the opportunity to get moon minerals and react them as well as booster production, which is similar. Here is a POS setup that allows a large variety of operations in space < 0.4:

Gallente Control Tower, Large:
1 x  Assembly Array - Component
1 x  Corporate Hangar Array
2 x  EW - Stasis Webification Battery
2 x  EW - Warp Disruption Battery
2 x  Mobile Laboratory
1 x  Moon Harvesting Array
1 x  Reactor Array - Simple
2 x  Shield Hardener - Explosion Dampening
2 x  Shield Hardener - Heat Dissipation
2 x  Shield Hardener - Photon Scattering
3 x  Silo
3 x  Turret - Hybrid - Railgun, Large
4 x  Turret - Hybrid - Railgun, Medium
1 x  Turret - Hybrid - Railgun, Small

These are only the modules that are Online, with additional offline modules you can switch out production types or lower/raise defenses as you think it's needed.

Your numbers will vary from here on, so please run your own math and note that I'm assuming 30 day cycles (a "month"). I'm also only using thumb figures, really: Run your own math and you'll see that I'm using rather conservative figures.

A setup like this costs around 900M including Ammo and Strontium for timing in case of an attack. It also requires 28,800 Fuel Blocks every 30 days for fueling which comes to around 450M/month.

It gives you access to 6 ME / 6 PE / 2 Copy Slots / 10 Invention Slots,  produces 72.000 Units of Moon Mineral and can use a simple reaction yielding 144.000 Units of reacted materials.

Assuming a low grade moon mineral at 5000 ISK per Unit generates 360M ISK and requires you hauling stuff only a couple of times a month. Let's also assume the reaction we can do is for Prometium, which requires Cadmium and Promethium. This will cost 504M for one month and yield Prometium worth 835M giving a plus of 331M. It requires action  4 times a month to haul input/outputs from station to POS. Effectively, this tower, simply by running the reaction and the moon harvesting, brings in 241M a month so it has paid for itself within 4 months. Add to that production profits and research makes it well worth having something like this.

But there is a problem: Logistics. It's no good to set up something like this without getting your stuff there and back to a trade hub. Cloaky haulers can work but require more effort, and not everyone has a Jump Freighter. Enter: The Hauling Services of New Eden. Assuming you contract stuff in and out only once a month from a nearby system you can get your stuff from HiSec to the LowSec station of your choice for around 120M per round trip. Even then you would be up 121M and still had access to all the other features of the POS.

Of course this all assumes you didn't disturb any locals that consider the system you live in "theirs". That's why I'd recommend getting to know the system and its residents. There are many LowSec system to set up a POS, just find a quiet system with a station and production facilities if your plan requires them and keep a low profile. People will blow up your assets because they consider you an invader to their home.

You can also run two simple reactions on a POS which is a bit more risky because you need to offline defenses, but with smart selection of the reactions you are running you can easily make a PLEX worth of profit from a POS like this.

Summary: A LowSec POS can be a valuable asset for any player, can be set up to be cost neutral, and brings a lot of variety of play styles onto the grid.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Research slots

If I have read it right; Gevlon has decided that we don't need our own research modules in a POS.  He admits that there is a shortage of Material efficiency slots; but so what; just train up another alt (it's quick) and wait around.

TL;DR: If your primary 'play' is research; then a POS is nearly mandatory.  If you merely tinker; then use a NPC station and suck up the wait time; or simply buy a researched BPO/BPC from a contract.

Gevlon claims that the amount of research is number_of_alt*10*/research_time.

I believe that the amount of research is more complicated : number_of_alt*10*lab_efficiency*player_efficiency*access%/research_time

Lab Efficiency: Doing research research as a POS research lab (either mobile or advanced) only takes 3/4's of the time.  That is :
  • 3 alts * 10 in an NPC station = 30 research 'points' or 
  • 4/3 * 3 alts * 10 in a POS = 40 research 'points'.
Player efficiency :  Players can get implants providing 1/3/5% bonus from a beancounter implant.

Access %: Getting access to a research slot won't take long?  Surely not in this region?  The shortest queue was 1 month; 4 days.

Your access % is research time / (research time + waiting time).  If you are trying to crank out research that takes 15 days and have to wait 30; you only have access 33% of the time.  Oh, and one of your toon's research slot is consumed by waiting.  For the purposes of this post; I did crank out another toon, gave him a few points in research; and loaded up the assembly line as far as I could.
This is with a few jobs waiting; but no jobs running.

Other things to consider:
  • BPO's tied up in a waiting queue are ISK sitting idle.
  • To get 10 research slots per toon; you are dedicating 2 lots of level 5 skills (1 easy; 1 less so)

I have a dirty confession to make;  I am not using all of the research slots I already have access to.  Research is not PI; and I seem to be mildly OCD about PI at the moment.

But even with that; I purchased a few new destroyer blueprints and sent them madly off to get my very crude guess as to what saleable blueprints might need.  I was not sure about what the value of the new ships will be, with this being the first release of BPO's I have seen in Eve; but I have played that other MMO enough to have a gut feel that new BPO's are likely to be better than old BPO's, and it seems that well researched ones should sell well; either that or every industrialist will jump on the same gravy train; and spread it a little thin.

Remembering the formula of number_of_alt  * 10 * lab_efficiency * player_efficiency * access% / research_time.  If your primary 'job' is research based; then you have two options:
  • 3 alts * 10 slots  * 100% * 100% * 33% station access = 10 research 'points'
  • 3 alts * 10 slots  * 4/3 * 1.05% * 100% = 42 research 'points'

If you have 3 alts per account all with maxed research skills; all cranking out 24/7 then a POS research slot makes sense.

If you do not have a POS with spare capacity already, and are only looking at playing with the odd BPO; then NPC station researching would be preferable.

For all else; it is a judgement call;

Some are very worried about the security of owning a POS.  I have personal experience in a WH; and observed behaviour in low and high; very little of null.

A defensive POS is a pain to knock over anywhere;

The thought of trying to kill a powered POS in a C1-C4 wormhole is daunting; especially if you only have battleships to do it.  I have a hard enough time with customs offices.

It is very unusual for High sec POS to be knocked over assuming they are correctly fuelled.  I am sure it happens.  However in Highsec; placing blueprints into NPC stations leaves you safe.  Off lining research structures and have defensive modules anchored and ready to online works.

I have seen 're-arrangement of furniture' - including POS in low.  But even there; the 'goodies' can be kept in very cheap NPC stations. For that matter; it is unusual for even POCO's to be knocked over in lowsec, and POCO's are much more fragile than a large POS.

If you are in a huge fleet in null, then maybe you can steam-roll one;   I don't know; haven't been in either a huge fleet or null enough.

PS.  I have just seen a theoretical 'lets bash highsec pos for fun and profit' post from The mittani website.  The comments already lodged against that post cover most of the issues;  that is; you had better bring a very large party to bash a Highsec POS without capital ship support.

PPS.  In his favour; Gevlon produces a daily post, where it takes me a lot longer to think about and mull over items.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Lost my first Viator

I collect kill logs; well to be precise; Killed logs.  They are learning opportunities.  Sometimes I learn not to be so stupid.  Other times I learn not to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

Well last night just after downtime (I live in eastern Australia);
  • I was flying my viator.  Meh; players fly ships all of the time.  
  • I had a load of liquid ozone; not the type of thing you normally haul long distance in a cloaky hauler; but my ship needed to be moved and I may as well haul something.
  • I was alt tabbed. Stupid players fly gankable ships alt tabbed.  A Viator can no longer be scanned, so might just be ganked opportunistically.
  • Eve was *incredibly* laggy; I was doing PI and it was taking 30 seconds for a response from the server.
  • I alt tabbed back and woke up in my clone's home station. Mmm.  I was sure I didn't hear combat sounds.
  • There is no kill log?  Huh; how did I die?  Where did I die?
  • I have an up to date clone; I didn't die?
  • I have a full set of implants.  How did I get here?
  • Eve then goes down because of database issues. Mmm.
 I literally lost my first Viator; it is not on my personal assets; I can't look in the system that I lost it in (about 25 jumps away).  Not even an insurance payment; but I do get a nice shiny Velator.

Mmm.  I don't even have the benefit of a kill log to teach me the errors of my way. 
I have lodged a petition; but otherwise will have to 'pretend' I was killed by another ship; but was fortunate in keeping implants.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Single Planet PI - Not a fan

I have some comments from players that like single planet P2 PI.  I instinctively don't like it.  Instinctively doesn't cut as a reason.  I have written a couple of posts; that while they may or may not be good; totally missed the point.

Single planet P2 production has it's advantages;
  • Anywhere there is even a moderate tax, 
  • any time you are away from home; 
then the logistics of single planet PI are easier.

There are two ways to do single planet P2 (or even P3) PI:
  • Two extraction control units; being very easy and hands off; but very wasteful of CPU and Powergrid; or
  • Single extraction control unit swapping between two resources.  Better on CPU and Powergrid; but requires so much more clicks to move extraction heads (and probably factories) between resource types and requires additional storage.

Single planet PI has it's costs; the biggest is flexibility of what to make.

Lets look at the top 5 P2 PI mats; based on average of buy prices across Jita; Dodixie, Amarr, Rens (easy to do from my PI spreadsheet sourced from eve central). I could chose another method; but this is a reasonable minimum price.

What Price Planets
Enriched Uranium 9820 Plasma
Microfiber Shielding 9278 Needs 2
Coolant 8950 Gas or Storm
Mechanical Parts 8458 Barren or Plasma
Miniature Electronics 7127 Lava

Enriched Uranium is the highest priced P2 item.  None of the systems that I have done PI in had a plasma planet; ruling out this.  However I can one planet pulling 10 extraction heads of Noble Metal and another planet pulling 10 extraction heads of Heavy Metal; and fill the plants up with basic and a couple of advanced factories.

Microfiber Shielding simply can't be done on one planet.

Coolant can be done on Gas; Mechanical parts can be done on Barren.  There are at least an abundance of those planet types.

But even with this, the input P1 mats are not made equal; with one of the input mats almost always having a different price to the other.  You could instead concentrate on extracting the high value input mat and importing the low value input on your 'pickup' runs to collect your P2 item.

Despite the above; one of my "known space" toons (currently grinding some standing for clones) is doing single planet PI; He simply does not have to be home as often.

I would not personally be keen to do multiple planet P2 PI across unscouted lowsec jump gates. 

I am very keen to do multiple planet P2 PI with alts left in their 'home' system.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Keeping safe(r) doing lowsec PI

If you want 100% safe; stay docked in an NPC station in highsec.  The tips below are discovered by a trying to stop a very one sided kill log from getting longer. 

Like wormhole systems, low sec has people 'at home' doing PI, ratting, mining etc.  Also like WH systems, there are hunters wanting to become acquainted with the inside of your ship; though not everyone here will automatically try to find the insides of your pod (only about 3/4's of them)

Low sec systems however have regular hunters, and neighbours you can get to know and like.

Most of the tips from my WH PI safety page still apply.  I am not duplicating them here.  These are some of the differences I can think of for low sec.

If you have a Blockade runner (cloaky hauler), this means you are mostly safe; but check local.  Extra points for being paranoid and warping cloaked to 10k off the customs office and slowboating the rest of the way.

Use a scout. On a single account; with a fast frig, fly in, warp somewhere, warp back to gate; checking local.  Bonus points if you have access to a second account and can leave your scout in there while you bring in your hauler.

If you have not done so already; make a fast aligning bookmark.  Some recommend a huge number of bookmarks for lots of things.  I am sure they are useful; but I have a minimal set.  I use the following bookmarks for safety.
  • Aligned bookmarks inside jump gates.  Ideally a covert ops ship; or a cheap quick ship.  If choosing the cheap/quick option:
    • Afterburner; Microwarp drive or cloak useful
    • At a quiet time (preferably no one in local)
    • Jump through the warp gate; check no-one is in range to shoot you.
    • Consider a cloak;  While cloaked you are immune to to being seen via dscan or on the overview.  It will however take longer (much longer if you use a prototype cloak); and you are not immune to someone sitting cloaked on the line you are taking.
    • Activate MWD/afterburner or cloak.  
    • Fly straight.  Minimum of 150km.  The longer the better (some pirates sit 150km from gate). Keep checking that no-one is in range to shoot you.  
    • Bookmark it. (People & Places; Places; add location)
    • Whenever you jump into system using that jump gate; use your bookmark. 
    • Bonus points if you later use your first bookmark to then make a second (or third) aligned bookmark further away from the gate.
  • Unaligned safe spots.  From your instawarp bookmark:
    • Warp to (100K from) an outer planet;  Part way there drop a bookmark (you can do so mid warp).  Warp back to this point.
    • Warp to another outer planet (again to 100k);  Part way there drop another bookmark. Warp back to this point. If you sit here with a cloak on; you are near impossible to find.
    • Bonus points if you rotate between several safe spots.

Learn how to instawarp. There are two parts two this; cloak  + microwarp drive; (or covert ops cloak) and pre-aligned bookmarks as above.

Chat to the locals.  This is a risk; but most (not all) pilots prefer to shoot anonymous ships rather than people they know.  Keep it polite; and be an 'attentive listener' rather than an 'active talker'.

Look at pilot's security rating.  It is not foolproof; but I have never been shot at by someone with a 3+ security standing.  Players with a standing of -2 or better are unlikely to pod you in low.  Anyone sitting on a gate is either a pirate; allied to a pirate or stupid.

Keep your friends close; but your enemies closer;  Add anyone who kills you to your watch list.