In a way, the start of Eve doesn't prepare you for the ISK needs. You start with 5k ISK. You get a rookie ship that can take care of business. As you do the tutorials you are tossed ships and ISK and skill books left and right. Even as you learn about the market and look for ships the rookie ships cost 250-500k. That is obtainable money at the level that you start at. Then, the training missions stop and suddenly you are thrust into the real world and start the long painful climb for the first cruiser. That first cruiser used to sit around 7 million ISK and now it is up around 10-14 million.
The first ten million liquid ISK is often a goal people set for themselves. Then they reach it and they feel good. Very good. Rich. Ten million is a big number. It tastes like success and accomplishment. Things will go easier. They have to. Then a bit of market browser happens and the reality of how expensive things are in Eve starts to set in.
The quest for ISK is eternal. Some people can retire off of what they have made but the vast majority will always need some type of influx to fuel their playing. There is always a need always something more to do. ISK is easier to burn then it is to make. When I finished Medium T2 Hybrids l ran off and went, "Yay time to fit Thorax!" and I busily threw a match in my wallet and threw ISK around like I was angry at it. I'd need armor thorax and shield thorax and spare throax and next thing I know a few hundred million has been spent.
Quite often missions happen. Mining happens. Income starts to flow in. It isn't enough. It is never enough. The quest for other sources of income start. For me, I turned to Industry. I am a terrible industrialist. However, I am an enthusiastic if terrible industrialist. This evens everything out. Why I am a terrible industrialist? It is because I wing it. Winging industry is not the way to make the best profits. Sometimes I’m a little embarrassed in market and industry chats. People have graphs and charts and spreadsheets. I have a somewhat used napkin with scratch marks on it.
I was in a conversation with our (now) newest member about his application. He asked if I had time. I was like, “yeah I’m just running some numbers.” I was doing a rare mineral buy vs what I need for my production line. It’s easier then setting up and moving just to mine that particular mineral. I was sitting, adding numbers and making notes and having a lot of fun doing it. What kind of ridiculous game is this? “Yes, you see I was working through my Isogen calculations for my blueprints. So much fun, you will love this game!” Yet, I mean it. It may not seem fun but add it into the entirety of what I was doing and I was having a blast doing (bad)math.
One of the reasons I like Industry is that for me it is a trickle income that I can do on my short days. On the days I work I have a flourish hour window of time before I go to bed for my next workday. This window has to fill of my Eve needs. I also squeeze silly IRL things in there like feeding and taking care of my pets and making dinner and bathing. One of the problems with exploration is that it is a massive, massive time sink. For all of the times that you drop probes and receive 5/10 complex there is a sum multiple of much moreness where you will drop probes and receive wormhole signature x3 and nothing else.
It stops me from hitting walls in the game as well. If I hit a ship wall, or an ability wall, or there is a dry spell for PvP or life is busy I have something that I can work on in small pieces of time. I can switch out a job and know that something is being done. I can log in and delivery jobs and know that things happened. I can sell those things later, when I have more time. I can try another product work on something different and keep it interesting.
What I build and what everyone else builds is going to be different. I build a few things. One of those is the blueprints that I receive from my radar sites. These blueprints create pieces needed for invention. Because I have so many I just build them in my spare time. They have a production time of around fifteen hours. I toss them into the station and let them cook. Every few days I remember to change them out and put other things in.
By the time I am ready to run to the market I’ve acquired a nice little pile of things to sell from materials I gathered as part of my normal exploration attempts. I also make the blueprint copies for other things out of the salvage that I reprocess from exploration sites. I make sure to sort the salvage and sell the high end modules as well. It is not glamorous but it is steady and it is easy way to stay productive with small chunks of time. It also stops the sites from feeling as if they gave you nothing. As someone who has made their iskies in more small pieces then large I like this type of process.
I’ve also taken the time to research some blueprints. I am now churning out a few high demand frigates. I pull the core minerals t make half a dozen of them every ore hold that I dump at the station. I could sell the minerals for more, perhaps. But I find the building of the ships and selling of the ships more engaging. I mine, I build, I fill the Orca with little ships and I take to the market.
Then there are my boosters. They are again a sub-sub income. As a specialty item they sell in spurts. However, it is a lot of fun and another productive way to spend my time. I have the POS to manage and the reactions to manage and the boosters to produce. It is a multistep process from acquisition of the minerals to tucking the booster into my hangers. When I am tired it sometimes takes a few attempts to do the proper changeovers due to fatigue. I can't remember what I was building. I muddle through it eventually.
Nothing is optimal. I cheerfully put things into the cooker that come out during the middle of my work day. I look at it as a simple pleasure. I don't stress about it. If I stressed I could see myself burning out on it. If it was my main game that would be one thing but it's not. It is something that I dabble in. I don't want to overload and burn out. It is easy to do and easy to pressure oneself into.
While dabbling may annoy the more serious players because I dilute some areas of their market, dabbling is important. I'm the Mom and Pop shop... wait no I'm the Lemonadestand on the corner in the summer. The dabbling does create appreciation for what industry is and what I can do for myself as a player. While the market traders may wish for the non industry focused to stumble blindly and buy, buy, buy, a bit of time invested creates somewhat deeper understanding for the delicate sub textures of Eve's options.
People are encouraged to specialize. Don't waste your skill points. Think before you train. I'm all for that but a point is reached where some type of personal exploration has to happen. It is too easy to get caught in a small box. That box leaves to boredom and boredom leads to bleeding off of players. There are ways to dabble in a light weight way to see if it is or is not for you or just see another option.
Then you may find out that the strangest moments math can be fun.