Sunday, March 29, 2015

Oh Great Industrialists of Spreadsheets and Blueprints, Educate Me

There are many things about Eve that puzzle me. It is a game that is created with the goal of players working together. There are circles within circles. We can break down what is and what is not working together but directly or indirectly we do. I often wonder what made the next decision of forcing everyone who worked together to share. Was it the goal of a single shard where loss mattered? Was it an attempt are realism in the early structure? After all, if I take a contract from someone and my friend comes to help me the original contractor is not going to give both of us the reward that they agreed to give me just because I brought a friend.

It lead to a question. It was the type of question that crops up in a broader conversation and derails thought. The question was simple enough and I discovered I had no answer for that wish I wanted to ponder. 

Can Eve, in its current state, actually support a system where most groups create, build, and defend for themselves alone? Does Eve work on that level or does it only work on the level of many supplying the few?

This started as a discussion about removing the reliance of groups on places like Jita and creating an Eve where PvPers and Industrialists worked in harmony. One supported the other in symbiosis. The PvPer, cut off from Jita would need the Industrialist to gather and create. The Industrialist would need the PvPer not only to consume but protect. It sounds great. It seems as if that was how things were supposed to be. And then players and twelve years happened.

As I spin back up my own industrial machine to feed the relentlessness destructive maw of low sec, I wondered how feasible having fewer independents and more groups would be. Currently, there are thousands upon thousands of players that build things for whatever reason they happen to have and place those things on the market. The consumers who consume in a rather complete sense of the word gather from all of these smaller sources at a communal watering hole, and go and consume them. To change this, the consumer would need enough producers to produce.

But that means the producers reason to produce would change. Currently, people produce for many reasons. From the beautifully mapped out intricate sheets of profit tot he casual foray into creation, people produce. And at the core of that production is blueprints. If a group were to depend only on internal supplies for the bulk of what they need instead of the convince of Jita, where would they get it all?

Where would they get the industrialists to build and gather the supplies? And then the blueprints to build them all? I've been working on my own blueprint library since the summer. I'm through frigates and my haulers are almost done. I've started on ammo and modules. Now, I have cruisers to look at and that means not just the cost of the blueprints which near a hundred million ISK, but the months of research time for them.

In the current market I could go for copies. But to assume I am in the ends of space and reliant upon my land to feed me, I'd need to research my own. Or have my own researched. Then I'd need to make copies. Then I'd need the materials to build them. Followed by the time. I never thought much of the time it takes to build until I started trying to produce small stacks of frigates for TCS and learned that a small stack of frigates will still take half a day to produce. They could be consumed in minutes of use. 

I have my own sample to work from. I'm not a high volume producer so it may be a smaller task then it seems to me. Yet, I wonder if Eve now is able to fulfill that vision of Eve then. If the memories of the past are still possibilities of today or if the tint is to thick on those rose colored glasses. 

End goals are pretty things. They sparkle on the horizon like an Oasis in the desert. But there is a path to cross to get there. With the way production currently works in Eve, what it was molded off of and what is needed in it, will it thrive in a fragmented and insular community? Are there enough people to go around? Will they even want to be gone around with?

I haven't even touched on proft. This is straight up working for the team just to. Adding profit or some type of compensation into adds complexity. Nor am I pondering how much interdependence there should be in space be it sectors of space or even just regions. I do believe that should also continue. Even a hundred man corp takes a lot of energy to keep fueled. How much for a thousand? Or fourty?

25 comments:

  1. Hi-Sec trade Hubs are not going away. They provide the security, visibility, stability and all important minimum quorum of customers and merchants required to flourish. No other locations can provide all four. No mechanics changes I’m aware of change that. Hopefully, new mechanics (whatever they may be) will generate more local markets supported by more local manufacturing (because that would be delightful fun for those involved) but the Hubs will remain.

    If I may make a tangential observation. In my corner of space I can report anecdotal evidence that a shift is afoot. Rens appears to be shrinking while Hek appears to be growing. Why? Two Lvl 4 Sister’s of Eve agents providing loyalty points for the Sister's of Eve faction ships were introduced about 18 months back but two jumps from Hek. Still the shift has been slow. Though only six jumps apart, the two Hubs are in different regions making the two markets (sans effort) invisible to each other. If they were visible to each other, one or the other would win out.

    So . . . given mechanics/resource changes, individual hubs may shift about but the same stringent demands remain meaning such shifts unfold slowly and only truly flourish in suitable locations.

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    1. A problem I see with the hisec hubs is that they compete a lot with delocalization of production in peripheral regions because importation of goods is frequently an easier way to get a wide variety of goods. So they discourage production for local selling atm.

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    2. OMG1 Stop talking about Hek. It's nice and quiet now, If you tell everyone they'll show up and ruin it all. This is why we can't have nice things. :)

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  2. One thing that will always tie people to Jita (or someplace like it) is the need for a central exchange for moon mats. Without one, only very few can do large-scale T2 production. With it, you have a natural place for the T2 producers to bring their wares, and soon you have Jita when they are joined by all the sellers of rat loot and LP store gear.

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  3. And yet, on Serenity, you have many, smaller market hubs. Jita is still there, but null regions each have robust hubs.

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    1. Cleaned up your double post :)

      Do you think it is just culture? They have a different population density. Different EULA rules.

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    2. Culture - Providence would be a good example for tranquality.

      1 major market hub in region, but lots of smaller hubs scattered around the region - working out that we are within 4 - 8 jumps at worse from a market.

      Its not just the shear amount of stations in the area either, but also an effect of NRDS. Traders can come and go so long as they are don't have a hostile history. (its not a prefect system, but it does have its uses)

      I would be intersted in seeing what would happen market wise if more groups in null would set rules of don't shoot the traders/haulers min - Maybe an agreed ship type for scout and hauler combo.

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    3. In Serenity, players join a group and stick to it forever. So buying from *your* market hub being run by *your* people (and barely used by anybody else) makes sense.

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    4. My small nullsec alliance (Of Sound Mind) has the third biggest market in Catch because we want to, mostly selling to ourselves. However, most of it is imported. (We also have a great internal jump freight service.) I'd say the main reasons most of it is imported are lack of access to specialized materials (LP stores, T2 materials), blueprints taking a long time to pay off, and the sheer quantity of materials required for anything larger than a destroyer or cruiser.

      To be completely honest, you only need about one industrialist who builds per 10 clients, but you need the blueprints (which get expensive) and you need to mine the minerals (which don't pay as well as ratting).

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    5. Following up on what Angry Onions said, that would be a very cultural aspect. Chinese culture has very strong insider/outsider groups that have high level of loyalty. You succeed socially with your 'insider' group be they family friends, people you meet in college...

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  4. I hope once the new Sov changes happen it will create smaller pockets in null where small alliances and corps can produce and be semi-selfsustaining. It would be awesome to see open stations where people can PVP and ship up without having to fly 20+ jumps to reship.

    M-

    I think one of the core issues with industry and war in eve is that it isn't like the logistics and market in the real world. People don't kill stuff just too get things on their killboard. So the industrialist will generally be at odds with their customers. Imagine how much cheaper and more readily available things would be if the only industrialist were killed in wardec and not ganking.

    M-

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  5. Specialization beats generalization.

    Jita works because it is a specialyzed market hub. And the more specialyzed, the better.

    High sec used to be specialyzed in industry and PvE. Now both PvE and industry stand, but they've been hit by CCP's intent to turn the land specialyzed in massive PvP and meta drama into a industrial haven for "ideological" reasons..

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  6. You want to be educated by an industrialist?!? Hmmm.... Tired of warriors and politicians you mean? You are right. Indies are the best when it's about... oh whatever...!
    :-))

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  7. Each region's group of players will have different balances of supply and demand. If any of these balances ever swing far enough from average, it'll be profitable to import or export from another group. A market like Jita is unavoidable with these conditions because everyone acting in their own best interest to make some money for ships or their plex will contribute to the existence of a central market.

    Like many other awesome and convenient market phenomenons, this isn't planned :)

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    1. Unavoidable is a bit harsh if you remember that this is a game universe where CCP can change basic rules.
      One could for example split the markets in an open market available for all and an in corp/alliance market only accessible for corpmembers.
      After that you limit the open market orders per system to an arbitrary (low) number.

      I'm not saying it's a good idea, but it is far from impossible. Though it would be interesting to see the players react to such an immense change in the ecosystem.

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    2. "Unavoidable with these conditions" is still true.

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  8. I am (mostly) a highsec Industrialist my style of play would simply not be feasible with out Jita.

    To be competitive I have specialized in a small portfolio of products, I produce them quite efficiently and I produce huge piles of those products.
    However, due to that specialization, my output could not support a group of PvPers. Many Items needed are not present in my portfolio and those that are would need a huge group to consume.
    I would have to change from a specialist to a generalist producer to make this work. This in turn would hurt my efficiency and make resource acquisition even harder (more diverse resources and no centralized market to get them from). To make matters worse to keep my production lines running I would have to log in in very quick intervalls because the batch sizes would be smaller and the production times more diverse.

    Only in huge highly organized groups would producers be able to specialize to a reasonable degree, giving their industrialists an advantage over others.
    In the end taking action against the selforganisation of the highsec markets would make specialisation very hard and lead to an even greater dominance of big, highly organized groups.

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    1. I've gone the other way, avoiding Jita as much as possible and buying/selling locally. As you noted, that means less specialisation, smaller batches and more work for me -- but that is compensated for by increased per-unit profits and more personal involvement and satisfaction in an agile and ever-changing manufacturing portfolio rather than just churning out the same few lines day after day.

      Both ways work in the current markets, IMO it is more of a personal choice. And long may it remain that way.

      Could Industrialists team up to make "all the things" for a group, and only the group? Certainly -- but why? It's very difficult to come up with a scenario where both sides, producer and consumer, benefit to the extent where the extra work involved is worthwhile. Far better, IMO, to make for the market, using that as a buffer and selling some at "mates' rates" to the group as and when they need things.

      It would be different if there were significant retail costs at market, along with transport costs. But the piddly taxes, brokers' fees and haulage prices (including "free" if you move your own stuff) mean that there is little incentive to cut private deals on day-to-day goods.

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  9. A small group of industrialists (and here I include miners and producers) could probably supply a small-to-medium group without using a trade hub if they were in null or w-space as long as they didn't have to worry about making T2 items. The problem is, they wouldn't make money doing it. Even the purest of PvPers makes money when not PvPing.

    Add in a market hub, and there's no real problem. It would face 2 huge hurdles: 1) getting indy types to work together as a real group with assigned projects, etc (easier in smaller groups where everyone knows each other) and 2) they'd be making less money supporting the cause than they would if they just every man for himself'd.

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    1. Heretic's second point cannot be overstated. In the past my industrial alt has offered to help out corpies via cut rate prices on the items she produced but it proved troublesome. She not only couldn't build everything, she also couldn't provide immediate delivery.

      Accordingly, we soon switched around to corpies investing capital in her industrial business and she paying out monthly dividends. She could hunker down and specialize, they could utilize their passive profit dividends sans limitations. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

      Efficiency nearly always wins.

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  10. Can industrialists and pvpers work together? I've rarely seen this work well unless the pvpers are the industrialists too. It also depends on the space the group occupies...

    Nullsec: The 'ease' of getting a couple people to just jump freighter in stuff bought in Jita nearly completely eliminates the need for having local builders. A few might mine, but it's generally just for fuel blocks which is one of the successful products out there. Phoebe has eased this up a little at least when it comes to basic t1 stuff, but tech 2 and 3 pretty much have to be sourced from empire (which is where the specialized builders of these commodities lives). If people had the option to build meta modules instead of having to get them from the rats all the time, maybe some of this could shift out there.

    Lowsec: I live close to a lowsec chain and the people there tend to buy from the closest hubs and use alts to bring things in and out. Here, you may as well have your builders live in highsec doing the tech 2/3 stuff and remote installing capital building jobs brought in by first/third parties (Red Frog/PushX/Your own JF's)

    WH: Blue salvage/sleeper loot is entirely market driven, so they probably get everything this way.

    If they eliminated moon goo from the equation and had everything built out of the 8 materials you can mine, I think we'd see an improvement. But as long as the things needed to build even a t2 module are on the opposite ends of nullsec, t2 manufacturers are probably going to be stuck in highsec near the moon goo hubs. More T2 bpos might also help. (Not too common, but not too rare either)...

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  11. The ease of visiting Jita prevents local manufacture. Economies of scale and the old t2 BPO's are significant advantages which push out competition. If the markets were broken up there would be room for more players and I believe local sources would appear.

    Evidence of that is that faction modules/ships are no cheaper where they originate than in jita. If shipment were more expensive this would not be so and a regional flavor might emerge.

    Over the years I have seen various enthusiastic corpies decide that they would manufacture this or that, after a month or so they give up because for the most part nobody needs the service because "Jita."

    - Kynric

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  12. Sugar what is your plan for when JF finally receive full Fatigue?

    If you are asking would I as an industrialist accept "employment" with a null-power. The answer is a flat no. The concept of "farms and fields" disgusts me in the same level as apartheid. I choose never to stoop.

    I will assume that null will treat this the same as everything else, just throw more pilots at the problem. The grace period for full fatigue would have allowed for training or character purchase of surplus JF pilots because "the spice must flow". I personally see no evidence of alliance cultural shift to accept Industry as a valid contribution - and key component would be harvesting. Ah yes the pitiful miner, that scourge of eve. One wag recently attempted to convenience me that barges were added into Eve for the express purpose of kill-farming.

    I will be curious to see if the null-lobby can over-turn the fozzie-sov mandate that mining actually contributes to the defence index. Previous changes to minerals/ores has not been a success. (if so where are the charts of this triumph?) And so yet another buff to ores. And I predict that null will continue to stigmatize mining as evidenced by various comments in the fozzie-soz dev post. (those which are more concerned that manufacture count for indexes instead). Which is a pity - since I had the absurd notion of "mining mercs" - hired to raise the index.

    As for de-regulation of Jita? Nothing short of removing JF from access will achieve that. If we apply the same mechanic to industry into trading, then NPC taxes can be raised based on population and usage. Then perhaps more enterprising trader will de-centralise.

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    1. Even if you stop JF's from being able to dock in Jita, regular freighters or industrials will just pick the stuff up and take it to them...

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  13. "I haven't even touched on proft. This is straight up working for the team just to."

    Part of the problem is that it's a lot of work to make 'working for the team' actually benefit said team - and generally, the non-industrialists in the team aren't interested in trying to help get things running. I've watched it happen personally, while trying to get an in-corp market going in an old corp - everyone agreed that it was a good idea... and then went and bought stuff from the local market hub. There was more interest in buying ready-to-fly kits for doctrine ships, but at that point I'm putting in three or four times the effort it would take to build for the general market and still only providing a small convenience to the corp.

    If you get further out into deep space, away from easy access to the highsec trade hubs, having a local market becomes much more valuable, but local industry is still not particularly useful. The people buying stuff don't care how the goods got there, just as long as they're available, and shipping things in by jump-freighter gets you the same results with less effort.

    TL;DR: if you want ISK, it's more profitable to sell in Jita, and if you want to help out your friends you buy a jump freighter. The only reason to do local production is because you really, really want to.

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