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Building Blocks and No Instructions

"You can literally make more ISK doing anything other than mining."
-Said almost everyone everywhere

When someone inquires about mining the responders will often throw their hands in the air and tell the person that mining is a waste of their time. They will unroll vast spreadsheets of staticail equations in which they explain the economically unsound choice of mining as a career path. It is very clear that mining is not an optimal income. It is a poor choice and one smugly pointed out to the new. Yet, miners continue to rush the Asteroid belts each day and clean them out despite the obvious ISK making options out there.

I am often puzzled by those carefully explaining to the miners why they should not mine. It is sad to watch the clumps of hair that wind up in their fists as they miners continue to mine. Nothing they say stops them. The miners continue to mine. They refuse to buy the minerals from someone else. They keep insisting that they are happy mining.

It is a communication issue. Not one of words but one of taste. I often see terms such as farming ones own minerals and 'the minerals I mine are free'. I think that the underlying problem with a lot of this is that the two sides are comparing two different facets of mining.

The economic game of Eve is very important. The player may casually engage in it or they may make it the basic structure of their game. No matter what they do they engage upon it. A side effect is that many players become focused on the economic ripples. Because of loss everything has a price. Because of loss replacement and the replacements after that become a focus. The economic sense makes sense. We have to be able to replace what we lose. We have to be able to afford what we need. The concept of money and maximizing profit becomes an important part of success.

I'll not refute any of that. I do not feel that I need to. I do not believe that most miners who mine consistently are unaware of the economics of the  situation. They, after all, sell or reprocess their ore. They grind standings for refining bonuses. They seek out buyers or place sell orders. They are far from ignorant of the economics of Eve or of the product that they place on the market. They fit for yield and train up Orca boosters to increase their haul. They work very hard to mine as well as they possibly can.

And when the economists come with their numbers they receive answers like, "It costs me less to mine it myself," or some such vague answer which causes spreadsheets to burst into flames and rage to bubble up. "Are you stupid?" they rant. "You can do anything else and make more ISK!" The miner offers some other defense that really doesn't work against the economics of the situation and a stalemate is accomplished when they tack fun into the equation to derail the argument.

"How can you have fun mining?" It is go to the asteroid, target it, press button, receive ore until the hold is full. Drop it off. Wash. Rinse. Repete. How is mining fun? It can't be. And more interactive mining suggestions are made to improve it and turn it into a 'fun' activity.

The core problem of trying to fix mining is that mining is not broken. It is not broken to the people who actually engage in the activity and prefer it over others. And there are two types that fall into this category. One type is the classic AFK miner who is doing something else and using other accounts to do something productive with their time. These are the more vocal voices. The second type is the person that enjoys mining and plays a very casual game of Eve online. I exclude botters from my discussion.

The key is resource gathering. I am a resource gatherer. Resource gathering is an incredible motivator for many people. I don't compare it to resource farming where you go and harvest twenty leaves of the brilliant blossom to reach an experience point. I mean that some people, many people, simply enjoy going out and pulling stuff out of the world. In Eve, it is ore and the minerals that come from it. It is also salvaging and looting missions.

As someone who is very much in these two categories it makes sense to me. I don't blitz missions because I enjoy looting missions. I mine because I like getting the ore and doing things with it. It may be selling it. It may be refining it into my personal needs. None of it makes technical economic sense. It does not need to. The satisfaction gained from the activity happens before the economics of the activity come into play.

Resource gathering and world building games are tightly linked. Often in God games such as Black and White there is an option after the objective has been achieved to continue to build and work on the world. Games like Sim City (I have not played the newest version) are World Building games that hinge on resources. In Sim City you build a city with a general goal to be successful. That's it. It is enthralled and satisfying even though most people fail and never have a city that is successful past a certain point.

The nature of Eve allows people to decide for themselves into what they like to do. And to not do. High Sec is full of people who want to fly spaceships around to mine asteroids to build more spaceships. High sec is also full of space truckers who move people's things from point A to point B for a paycheck. Eve is also full of these people but the highest concentrations are in high security space. These are people who play Eve for the world building and resource gathering parts of Eve. They may eventually try other things but that is what they like and enjoy as much as a PvP pilot enjoys explosions.

Let me not forget the metrics of success. For the miner is successful at his action. The salvager is successful at their action. They do not fail in what they do. They in in fact, quite productive. The question and point being made is that they can be more  productive. That will not always appeal to each party involved. To say, "You are shit and not making any ISK," only has them say, "But I have made ISK." The counter argument is, "but you could make more ISK by..." An argument is destroyed and created. The two people are having different discussions at the same time.

And you can tell them that Eve's world building is terrible. You can tell them that they won't make good ISK out of it. Sim City was released in 2003 and I still play it. Because I enjoy it. At some point the economics of the situation are out of the door for some people and instead they are focused on the simple fact that they like one thing over another. The pure clarity of numbers will not educate them. They are not ignorant. In this game of choice some people select the choices that will make them happy and give them personal pleasure. Maximizing their activities may not give them pleasure. Instead, this search for enjoyment may mean mining, not PvPing, not doing Faction Warfare, building their own ships, and in general playing Eve wrong while living in High Sec their entire career and loving the game.


  1. I remember a time long ago when Everquest was the king of the then-new MMO heap. A friend who played talked about how he liked fishing. I never played EQ so I asked about it. Put fishing tackle in water, watch for the bob, pull out fish (if you're lucky). He found it very relaxing. People love real-life fishing for much the same reasons. You could make more money IRL doing anything other than fishing. But as you point out that's not really the point, is it?

    One of the podcast commentators mentioned a friend who liked to undock in his mining barge, set the lasers, and sip at his bourbon. He found it relaxing.

    It's my lunchtime right now. Maybe people around me have flocked to the cafeteria to hang out and socialize as they eat. I have my lunch at my desk and read Eve blogs. I'm sure they don't understand why I wouldn't want to chit-chat about politics, or the office, or someone's kid's football game. But that's not my thing.

    So yeah, let the miners enjoy what they enjoy and stop stressing about someone else's choices.

  2. Great post. Simple observation but not often made so clearly: " I mean that some people, many people, simply enjoy going out and pulling stuff out of the world. "

    The one more analytical point that I would add is this: the REASON that mining is so unprofitable is because people enjoy it/can do it afk. If people didn't enjoy doing it, no one but afk'ers would do it, and the price would go up substantially, until it reached an equilibrium point. Basically, the people who hate mining and tell others not to do it (and generally also want to remove the ability for mining to be afk'd), are saying "I hate mining and you like mining, so you should stop mining so that the reward from mining will go up enough for people who hate mining to do it anyway." or more simply "I hate mining, so stop mining for me so that I will have to do it"--which is obviously insane.

  3. I hate mining but I don't hate miners. Miners are good for the economy, especially real live miners (not bots that is). If there weren't lots of miners keeping ore prices down prices would be a lot higher on everything else too.

  4. I personally find scanning relaxing. I can only do it for a few hours before I need a different stimulus, but nevertheless I do enjoy it.

    I will pore myself a glass of Jameson's Irish Whiskey, about 4 fingers worth, decide that I plan to spend 2 hours scanning, sip on my whiskey, chat with people on teamspeak, and just keep scanning.

    I think some of us get lost in Eve frequently. I wonder sometimes "If this was my spaceship, and I was really flying around a galaxy, what would I be doing with my spare time?" And for me, that's exploring and finding new things to interact with. I wish there were 100 times more types of sites out there for explorers to find.

  5. The spreadsheets aren't broken, they are simply incomplete. People who are driven by profit per hour just want to stare at big piles of isk, or the results of piles of isk (ships kills etc) The Goon line member who has SRP coming wants to watch things blow up. sure he could make more isk doing things differently, but then it is work. For the people who enjoy mining (I count myself in the pour drink mine category, though Gentleman's Jack, or Single Barrel Jack) The activity itself is part of the profit.

    Their spreadsheet needs only to include the hourly wage the miner would require to find a different activity worthwhile (past the profit from the activity) to show if the miner is "doing it right". A different way to put it is that their entertainment dollar is going into this game, if their are satisfied with their ROI per entertainment dollar then its all good for them.

    I think the real conflict driver here comes from the fact that there are people who like to plex their accounts and feel that they are not doing it right if they cant. for them 30mil isk an hour...a decent average for mining means they are going to be paying themselves essentially 50 to 75 cents an hour (at current/recent jita prices) to mine. what they really enjoy may be blowing up spaceship pixels, but they need the ISK income to support their gaming habit, so they have to earn more because for them its a job that they need to be "paid for"

  6. Sim City is a lot older than 2003.

    I was playing in 1987

    1. I was referencing Sim City 4 and did a quick search for it. I may not have made that clear.

  7. Where's a "like" button when you need it. Well said. One of the tricks for having a long EVE career is playing it the way that is most fun for you.

  8. Absolutely true. They find it fun and doesn't care to other aspects. The resource gathering itself is self-rewarding. The ore you mine has more emotional value than the ore you bought from missioning income. You can't convince a miner with logic and reason.

    To reach them, you have to reach out to their emotions. Bob, the God of EVE has seen this, therefore given us Void S.

  9. I think what a lot of people tend to forget is that mining is often only part of an activity. I split my time between my null and high sec guys. Null sec wise I mainly do ops and PvP, with a bit of trading on the side.

    When I'm on my high sec guys, I run a manufacturing and trading corp. Now if you've done any manufacturing and trading, you should know that it involves a lot of waiting, so to fill that void I mine.

    Sure, I could mission instead, but I run 8 accounts. I can't mission on 8 accounts. I can however mine on 7 and haul/boost on the 8th. This means mining ice ore I'm actually making 175m/hour, all in a few set locations. If I'm mining ice, I'm selling it and buying minerals, using up 3 market slots. If I'm mining ore, I'm simply throwing that in the production queue.

    For me, that's far easier and more productive than any other isk making activity, and it can be done easily alongside my manufacturing and trade (I can update my market orders, deliver and change jobs from space).

    Solo miners I don't understand :p

  10. It's like sport. Most sports should not be played. There are a few sports that have optimal payout. Golf is pretty good. Soccer is good.

    Most sports have a terrible $/hour.

  11. Doing anything in-game purely for the ISK/hr so that you can plex your account seems like an activity in absurdity to me. Given that if i do almost anything for RL Money outside of the game and earn enough to plex the acount within a couple of hours tops.. The same argument also applies to earning ISK for other things. So I assume everyones doing the stuff in game that they enjoy... if that means theyre a bit weird around the edges or enjoy stuff i cant comprehend, then good for them, I personally embrace the diversity within eve.

  12. Excellent post. I tried World of Warcraft, generally thought, meh, and eventually settled on the one thing that I actually enjoyed doing, which was finding new places to fish. I wasn't particularly good at it, and I wasn't especially high level, but there my character would be, succubus at her side, fishing while surrounded by monsters that could kill her, but for some reason would never set foot on the dock. It's peaceful, and occasionally funny.

    I enjoy a spot of solo mining now and again for roughly the same reason. There are more lucrative things that I could do. There are more exciting things that I could do. But sometimes it's nice to just kick back, turn on the lasers (or gas harvesters), and chat with people.

  13. Ah Sim City. In my childhood I played the version for the SNES. Somehow I got good enough to get something absurd like 930k+ people in my city.

    I got a Mario statue at some point, which I proudly placed into the middle of a huge donut block of skyscrapers. (Well place was sparse.)

  14. I have been a miner/manufacturer for a very long time. I have always liked mining, I like seeing products that come off of my manufacturing lines knowing that I had a hand in it from the ground up. The satisfaction is not the profit at the end of the tunnel its now how much IPH I made it is knowing that I made a product from scratch and hopefully whomever buys it will enjoy it and have a better day because I took the time to build it.
    Another reason I do enjoy mining (and no this does not describe how I mine ALL the time in fact its probably 50% or less of the time) is that I can take 5 mins and go put clothes in the laundry or get a bowl of cereal or feed the dogs or any of those other 100 details that it takes to make life go round. I do not think that a single PVP battle would "pause" for me to go take care of any of those little 5 minute chores that life requires, we can all understand this if not necessarily agree with it.


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