EVE and I – Part 04 – The dark of the night

Last night’s plan was to post the previous blog entry and go to bed. Both of which I did. Unfortunately a tag team of caffeine overconsumption and a storm blowing outside conspired to help sleep elude me. After giving up on sleeping for a bit I figured I’d just log-in to EVE to do one or two things. Which lead to me getting to sleep the wrong side of six, which is what sees me in work with slightly over an hours sleep. Thankfully it’s basically all exam supervision this morning so I should be able to survive until I can get a taxi home and garner some proper rest (well a quick nap actually as I’ve stuff to do this afternoon). I’m unsure of the wisdom of playing in the wee hours in the morning. Well that’s not entirely true, depending on what you do you should be fine, more or less as long as you don’t do what I did.

That may have been rather alarmist, I didn’t do anything particularly terrible, well apart from spend all the money I’d accumulated. But at least I didn’t let those filthy pirates blow me up! As the opening paragraph suggests I was interested in sleep and as such really did plan to only login for a little bit and do something, not quite boring, but fairly sedate. In this case that was some mining. Unfortunately I’d logged out somewhere a bit out of the way which meant I’d a few jumps to make before I got to the system I decided to mine in (I wasn’t quite ready for the terrifying yellow coloured security level of 0.5 so went with the more relaxing light green security level of 0.6). In EVE there’s two ways to travel, manually or automatically (via autopilot). Manual travel is quicker; you warp right to the jump gates and bam you’re in the next system. With autopilot you warp to near the jump gate, use normal thrust to get closer, and then jump. This always adds extra time, a significant amount if your ship is a slow piece of shit. So I usually prefer to use manual, though of course it also involves some warp time, so I usually alt tab, which often means I don’t notice when I’ve reached a gate, which adds extra time to the thing. But I still try to avoid autopilot, because it’s slow.

2012.12.19.02.26.12Anyhow, I eventually reached the system I wanted and was all set to mine. Picking which asteroid field to try is always a bit of a gamble. Ideally you want to get one which has no other players (especially not hi-sec macrominer’s – players (or groups) in massive mining barges who strip mine entire asteroid belts) and the best (i.e. most expensive) ore you can get. So I end up playing a little game with myself trying to figure out which asteroid field players are likely to go to. I generally avoid the ones furthest (too obvious) and closest (too lazy) to the jump gate. So somewhere in the middle basically. I’m not sure if it was my “system” or the fact that is was past 3AM in the morning that aided my good fortune but I ended up in an asteroid belt with no-one else in sight and a nice supply of Fiery Kernite i.e. the best ore I could find. Actually while it is the best ore by default I realise now I probably should have checked the market to see how other ores were selling. Oh well.

 

At this point some students had the audacity to show up for their repeat exam. Forcing me to do my job and denying me an early finishing time. The dastards! After that I corrected their exams at light speed, grabbed a taxi home and then fell asleep for a few hours. So it’s now eight or so hours later and well into the evening o’clock

So yeah I was mining, mining, mining, keeping them doggies mining. Unsurprisingly pirates appeared. But this time I’d dispersed my drones and I was ready to fight, wasn’t going to shit the bed this time! And I didn’t. It actually worked out pretty well. The game tutorials never really cover how to use drones, not sure if that’s because of the race I choose (though Amarr do seem to use a lot of drones later) or just a gap in the games tutorial system. As such I’m not sure if I’m using the drones properly, at the moment I launch them and they do their thing automatically. Which is nice. So I mined for about an hour and then it was time to sell. I’d about 15K m3 of ore. The question now was how was I going to sell it?

2012.12.19.03.02.05The first choice is whether to sell it as raw ore or refine the ore into minerals and sell those. The ore itself was selling at -4.5% below the Regional Average, ultimately selling for around 900K, or I could process it and sell the refined minerals for ~970K. But that would mean I’d need to make a few jumps to local systems to get the best price for the minerals. Not really worth it for 70K. Though that did remind me that sales prices aren’t a static thing. It seems that you can fulfil specific buy orders put in place by players. One of which was significantly more lucrative than the price I was getting at the station I was at. It worked out that selling the ore would net me about 1.3M, more than selling it by itself or selling the refined minerals. It was five or six jumps away. But that time was probably worth the extra 400K. Unfortunately I had ~15Km3 of ore but could only carry 5Km3. Three trips did not appeal in the least.

 

As I mentioned before, I’d been prevaricating about setting up an alt account to create either a mining or hauling alt. But what I needed was the ability to move big loads (hehe) more or less immediately. Luckily the Amarr Industrial ships are extremely quick to train. So I decided to sell my current stockpile of ore at a lower price (~900K) in order to finance the purchase of the best Amarr industrial ship, the Bestower, and the skill book to learn how to fly it. In my search for maximum ore profits I came across EVE-Central which is a site that aggregates market data for the entire EVE universe. This is handy because in game you can only look at buy and sell orders for your current Region. So you could easily miss out on a deal that was only a jump or two away. It’s also a good way to get a feel for the average price of an item.

 

2012.12.19.04.25.57Anyhow, I used it to source a Bestower and the skill book. Six or seven jumps away from where I intended to do my mining for the next while. The plan was to go buy the Bestower and leave it docked in the station nearest to my mining area, so once I’d a big haul of ore I could use my Bestower to freight it to somewhere more profitable for sale. It did mean that I’d be setting up a second “home base” which meant I was going to end up jumping a lot when I wanted to switch roles. I figured it would be best to pick up a fast “courier” ship to use for jumping between homebases. So off to the forums I went and it seemed that in for a minimal outlay (in terms of both cash and skill training time) the Minmatar Vigil was about the fastest I was going to get. Luckily there was one available at a station along my route to purchase my Bestower. Even better when I got to the station in question it turned out there was a Bestower for sale there as well, a tad more expensive but worth it to save on travel. So I had my Bestower, all I needed to do was repackage my Venture and my newly purchased Vigil (ships in EVE can be collapsed down to save on space, you then reassemble them when you want to use them). Oh wait, I forgot to train the skill to fly the Betower. Fuck.

 

2012.12.19.04.34.28Oh well it wasn’t going to take that long to learn the first level. So to pass the time I put together a plan for a year’s worth of skill training in EVEmon. This is where EVEmon really shines; with larger plans you can save some significant amount of training time by optimising your stats (~30 Days in my case). You can remap your stats once a year so it really pays to throw in everything you might do over the year and optimise for that. I figured my primary focus would be combat so the majority of skills are focused on training myself up to fly and fight in battleships (you start in a Frigate and from there it roughly goes Frigate->Destroyer->Cruiser->Battlecruiser->Battleship). I looked around for suggestions and ended up pulling my skill list from EVEmon (selecting the ships and adding the basic skills required to fly it) and various skill guides on UniWiki (specifically the Amarr basic ship and skill guide,Basic skills, Support Skills and Gallente Ships and Fitting for PVE). With all those added in I also added in skills for other stuff that I was considering, such as Mining and Planetary Interaction. It actually took a while to get it up to around 365 days. But once it was there it only took one or two clicks to work out what way I should map my stats. Even so it was still nerve wracking to confirm that stat remap.

 

Unfortunately it didn’t take quite as long as I’d hoped and I was still unable to use my Bestower by the time I was done. I also couldn’t fly my newly purchased Mimnatar ship either. Balls. I’d been planning to try out the Gallente ships, I’d cross-trained in their frigate skill in the first day or two of play and I was interested in seeing how railguns would differ from beam lasers. Railguns having more or less the best range in the game. Apparently even in space I’m unable to shake my preference for long range DPS. So looking through the Gallente frigates it seemed like the Incursus was the ship for me. Returning to EVE-Central it seemed there was a good deal on one only a few jumps away. But I was in my fuck going to use my pod to get there. So I bought a shuttle, which is a cheap speedy little vessel that’s used for running between stations. Each race has their own distinct one, I picked up an Amarr Shuttle which I really like the look off.

2012.12.19.04.54.23

With shuttle in hand it didn’t take long at all to reach my point of sale and pick myself up an Incursus. While I was devastated to discover that the giant cannon on the side doesn’t appear to fire I still really like how it looks. I suppose the only small niggle is that I’d prefer if it were a slightly darker shade of blue. Supposedly CCP are bringing in ship customisation at some point so I’m looking forward to that (so I can pilot my Hello Kitty customised Apocalypse battleship).

2012.12.19.05.11.40

With Incursus in hand I sold off my shuttle, recouping about 60% of its minimal (~15K) cost. As my sole reason for buying the Incursus had been to use Railguns I of course needed to go and buy some. Should probably mention “Meta level” at this point, Meta level is basically a measure of quality when it comes to items in the game, it ranges from 1-10, with 4 being the highest for Tech 1 gear. Tech 2 gear starts at Meta Level 5 but to reach that level takes a fair amount of training time in its pre-requisite skills. The ML4 railguns available to me in the region I bought my Incursus cost ~480K. Off to EVE-Central I went to discover that six or seven jumps away I could pick up the lasers for about 250K each. As I needed two of them the travel time seemed justified. So I plotted out my course and threw it on autopilot so I could rock some alt-tab action.

2012.12.19.05.16.36

It was only when I got to the station and bought a rake of skill books (for my yearlong skill training plan) and two railgun that I realised the ship fitted three not two railguns. It seemed silly not to buy the other one when I was there. But unfortunately that left me rather destitute. So very poor of pocket I finally headed back to where I’d left my Bestower, now that I was finally able to fly it. So I got back to my Bestower, I repackaged my Incursus, Vigil and Venture and along with some bits and bobs threw them all into the Bestower’s voluminous hold. The plan now was to drop of the Venture at my mining homebase, the Incursus at my normal homebase and then leave the Bestower at the mining homebase and use the Vigil to flit between the two. In order to fit all three ships into the Bestower’s hold I had to use Cargohold Expanders, which increase the size of your hold at the expense of speed. I had four of them on the Bestower, which is not a fast ship to start with. So I undocked.

 

2012.12.19.05.28.59Holy shit was it unbelievably slow, it moved about a fifth or a quarter at best of the speed of the ships I’d been flying up till now and took easily two or three times as long to get into warp. I did like the way it looked though, it’s hard to tell from screenshots but it’s absolutely fucking massive, about eight or nine times the size of the frigates listed here. Unfortunately to get from where I bought it to where I had my initial homebase I had to go through some mid-sec systems. I just couldn’t trust that to autopilot (especially as I was so poor at this point I couldn’t afford to insure my Bestower) which means I had to manually fly it all the way there. Which was tedious as fuck. Once back to my homebase I decided to try out the Sigil, which is the “Tier 1” Amarr industrial ship. It looked a bit better in action than I thought it did, but ultimately the Bestower surpasses it in nearly every category. As I had two Sigils I sold off one for ~650K which put me in a much better financial situation (I had in fact been down to 4000 ISK). I dropped off my Incursus and figured I might as well move my Crucifier out to my mining homebase in case I needed to do a small bit of fighting.

Sigil

Luckily at this point I’d insured my Bestower and the trip to my mining homebase is primarily through hi-sec. So I threw on the autopilot and went to bed (for a whopping ninety minutes or so). My plan for today wasn’t to do anything major. I’m waiting for skills to train up and just doing a bit of mining in the background while I do other stuff on my computer. Ah yes, I totally fucking forgot. I mentioned above that I bought a Vigil because it was among the fastest T1 frigates. When I logged on today all ready to outfit it I was surprised to see that it had only two low slots as opposed to the advertised three and that it didn’t list the +10% Velocity/Mimnatar Frigate Skill it was supposed to have. That’s odd. I googled around and was confused why the stats in game didn’t match those on the various forums and websites I was looking at. Until I came across patch notes from a week ago that listed the changes to the ship. Something I’d entirely missed in my sleep deprived state earlier this morning. Now luckily with minimal tweaking the Vigil does beat out the oh so much cheaper shuttle in speed. But still, I was not amused.

Vigil

As I’ve been typing this up I’ve been mining away in the background. My twin Hobgoblin drones seem to be making quick work of any pirates that show up. But sadly still not quickly enough that I can safely AFK mine. Going to need to train my drone skills up a bit I think. Earlier on Patrick requested my help with a mission, for which I will need to use my destroyer, which I haven’t outfitted, which I need money for, hence the mining. Actually I need money for a number of things at the moment so Mining is probably going to feature quite often in my play for the next few days.

 

2012.12.19.21.25.57I spent about two and half hours mining this evening and gathered around 5.5M worth of raw ore. I could process it down to get around 6.2M or I could freight it five jumps over and sell the raw ore for ~7.2M. I’m currently in the process of doing the latter. Unfortunately I can’t currently afford to fully outfit my Bestower nor have I fully trained the Amarr Industrial piloting skill which also adds cargo space. Which means I’m going to need to make three round trips to sell all the ore. Just coming to the end of my first journey to the selling point, flying manually it’s taken about ten minutes…well fuck that. Apparently the buy order has been filled or EVE-Central was out of date. Either way another three jumps to sell this at a decent (actually a slightly better) price. This is clearly a problem, if it takes about 10 minutes one way it’s going to take me an hour to sell all this stuff. An hour when I could be mining. 7.2M is a decent enough starting profit for 2.5hours work. For 3.5 hours work? I’m not sure about that.

 

What do do? What to do? As I see it there’s a number of ways to deal with this.

i) I could abandon mining entirely and focus on working my way up to higher level missions. Level 2 missions should earn me a few million per hour and shouldn’t take that long to get too. This does appeal but while I enjoy combat I don’t want to have to do it all the time.

ii) I could expand the amount of cargo my Bestower can carry. I can do this by upgrading the ships modules, buying some Giant Secure Containers (they take up 3000m3 but can hold 3900m3). This means less (frankly tedious) haulage trips but requires a decent capital outlay (for me anyway) and some training time.

iii) I move on to a bigger carrier the Gallente Iteron Mark V is the best Tech 1 hauler in terms of cargo space. Unfortunately it’s expensive to buy, and would also require the modules and such from approach ii). Worst of all however is that it would take about twenty days of training time. Way more than I want to dedicate to hauling.

iv) Improve my mining yield, if I can mine more quickly and in higher volumes I can skip transporting the ore and make up the difference in bulk. This will require training time (so I can use better mining equipment) and cash (to purchase better equipment).

v) Adopt new mining methods. There’s a range of different approaches here, but all of them boil down to greater risk for greater reward. I could head into more dangerous (lower security) space in order to mine rarer and more lucrative ores. I could try Jet Can or GSC mining.

vi) Find a friend – I could team up with someone so one person mines while the other person hauls the load. I could do this with a real person or by creating an alt account and training them as a hauler or miner.

There are other options as well, most of them revolving around ditching mining entirely. But I don’t want to do that because even though it isn’t super exciting I still weirdly enjoy it. At this point I finally finished hauling that poxy ore. Including the time spent hauling I made around 2.2 Million ISK per hour. Which seems like loads but is most definitely going to need to improve. I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do, with the money or about the fact that I’m not earning as much as I want to be. I’m going to logout now and leave those problems for Tomorrow’s Michael.

2012.12.19.22.18.30

Vent your spleen

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