Thursday, 21 February 2013

Day 250 : T2 : Lack of Judgement Day

This post has been hanging around uncompleted for ages. It was hard enough to contemplate writing in the first place and then Jester beat me to it with an article that's probably better for you unless you are a complete Noob like me. Go have a read of The whole thing caused bad writers block which caused a slight retreat from constant posting to become a total rout. So, I'm writing it. It may be boring. It may be wrong. It may be out of my head and into yours. EVE is a PVP game!

In the end this post may be deadly dull and since I'm not a sadist, this is your final warning about proceeding. Here is an alternative entertaining post with a potential, slightly mocking, lore reason for the new the duelling system. We all know that the hot pools of Iceland are refilled by CCP with the tears of super hardass vets whenever CCP changes things, but for this one time Nosygamer allows us to dream that a change in EVE isn't powering the tear-based Icelandic tourist industry.

Still here?

When I was but a young noob buying my first few BPOs I was already aware of T2 modules and their purpose. T2 blueprints were a shiny mythic thing that I had to wait to get my mits on. They would solve everything from my cashflow problems, to my inherent bad piloting and eventually cause World Peace. This is why, against better judgement, I decided to attempt some basic T2 production. Really I should have been out flying combat, learning those skills instead. However, despite a desire to go and explode or have myself exploded, something about the apparent complexity of Invention and the shiny nature of T2 blueprint copy items drew me in. In part thinking about the logistics of manufacture gives me something to occupy my brain on the way to work when I'm tired. It's like I'm jump starting my sleep addled brain by thinking about SPACE FACTORIES. When any of my previous pathetic attempts at carebear justification fail I play my ace in the hole - entirely fitting PVP frigates with T2 mods is going to speed up my return to combat. Yes. That excuse is pathetic. I am aware of this.

Whatever the reasons, I thought I'd do a quick entry guide to Invention. This guide is for total noobs. Read elsewhere for more advanced (and more correct) information.

"Invention" is the process by which you create blueprints for T2 modules. From the outside it looks complex, but actually it's not that bad.

What you absolutely need:

Science Skills: It depends on what you want to invent but you'll need some of the more esoteric sounding skills under the Science tree. I'll list these later but you'll invest anything from 20 to 200 million ISK in skill books.

Blueprints. You need a Blueprint Original of the item you want to invent if you want to do the process from scratch. I'm covering basic stuff here, not permutations based on sourcing your BPCs from Contracts. Grab an ammo BPO, or one for a commonly used small module. If you think the sub million price is expensive please stop now and come back in a few months.

Datacores. These items are consumed by Invention. There are a couple of sources of these but for now just look to the market and look into sourcing your own through LP or Research Agents later. Type "Datacore" into the Market Browse and look at the list.

Data Interfaces. A set of items that just sit in your hangar and are not consumed by the process.

There are more components that are handy for the process, not least your own POS with a Laboratory module but I'll deal with these as we go along. While vital for making reasonable income I'm dealing with the basic process here.

Spreadsheets. Technically these aren't vital but if you are thinking of moving on from owning a single T2 blueprint to making enough to make a business out of it then you'll probably end up spreadsheeting some stuff. If you can't stand spreadsheets then a) GTFO now before it's too late and b) WTF are you doing playing EVE?

Patience. You'll be doing some logistical runs to and from market. If flying a freighter, or market hubs in general, is your idea of hell then see what I told the people who hate spreadsheets. You'll also be doing a lot of clicking on multiple windows. You'll be managing copy jobs that take hours or days to complete. If you hate this or are prone to RSI then please see what I told the people who hate spreadsheets.

Seed cash. You'll need around 50 million for skill books, materials and BPO's to get properly started. It can be done for 20-30 million but no less.

The Basic Process

  • Copying. An original blueprint, "BPO", is used to make multiple copies, aka "BPC"s. 
  • Invention. An Invention process is run on one of the BPCs.
  • There is a chance that a BPC for the T2 version of the relevant item will be the result.

That's all, make a copy, invent on it, pick up T2 BPC. Nothing to it really. Shake And Bake Shinys. As if.

The Process In Detail

You run into the big bottleneck of T2 invention straight away. It's not the Invention process itself. For basic items like ammo, drones, and commonly used small ship mods, the Invention process is rapid. It takes just a couple of hours for ship mods, just over an hour for ammo even without a POS. It takes a lot longer for ships but lets stick to simple stuff for now.

 Neither is the bottleneck Material Research on the original blueprint. While it is hard to find free slots for Material Efficiency research in NPC empire stations you don't really care at this point since the ME/PE of the BPO, or its BPCs, has no bearing on the Invention process. That's right. No waiting for those endlessly backed up queues for empire material research slots. Instead you get to wait for the endlessly backed up queues for empire copying slots. It can be hard to find them and this is the main reason why a POS is needed to make any reasonable business out of T2 invention and subsequent production. You'll not be able to supply enough BPCs for the Invention process to have enough to supply a constant manufacturing unless you have in built scheduling algorithms that make it seem as if you have a small personal time machine. That and easy access to some of the worst places in low sec.

1. Copying
a). Where and How?

 Where? Well as I said before copying is the bottleneck. I checked when writing and actually saw a free empire slot in Low Sec. If you can handle that then go for it. It's not too dangerous in a fast small ship as long as you know how to use Dscan. Speedy is the key I think. Warp stabbed and shield tanked cruisers (or frigates if you think you can run the undock gauntlet without being alpha'd). If you want to make copies in Hi Sec then forget making decent amounts of cash. The queues generally run from 10 to 15 days at minimum.

 The other thing to bear in mind is that you'll need a Corporation office at the station you want to make the copy. As far as I know this will work for NPC corps but I've never tried it. It's another driver to get players into corporations. There are those out there that will rent slots on POS labs to you. Presumably you just join their holding corp and get busy copying or researching. Check the forums and ask around but be aware that your BPO and any other hangar contents are then under the control of whoever governs that corporation. 

b). Number of Copies

 It looks like 20 is the maximum in my experience. I usually just stick 20 in here but occasionally I'll time it so that it finishes to coincide with the next morning or the evening so that I can run jobs of lots of different BPOs. When you hit OK you'll see the time estimate. Work out how many copies will best fit into cycling your copying around your normal playing hours.

c). Licenced Runs

 There is a formula to the number of runs. The number of Licenced runs affects how many runs are on any resulting T2 blueprint. My formula : 1 for ships, the maximum for anything else. You can find the maximum under Show Info on the BPO/BPC as "Max Runs Per Blueprint Copy". For more information see the discussion on the following link. Ignore any mention of decryptors for now.

4. Delivery

Once the job is finished and you deliver it, the BPCs, if any, will appear in the location of the Invention slot. If you've done this remotely then you'll need to go pick them up.

2. Invention
a). How and Where.

    If in doubt, right click the BPO/BPC, select Show Info, select the Materials tab and then select the Invention tab. All the information you need should be there.

    Right. You are going to need some stuff. You need to stash this in a hangar in the station (or POS module) you are going to run the job on. The BPC doesn't have to be where the Invention process runs but skills and hangar rules govern how far away the BPC, and you, can be from the Invention job. When early experimenting go there in person.

    The first thing to get are the Data Interfaces. There are 3 variants of these for each of the four player racial backgrounds. You might as well go ahead and buy all but the Ship ones. Leave those four until you get around to inventing T2 ship blueprints. Inventing small T2 ships isn't particularly difficult, just more time consuming and the data interface might cost a lot. Wait until you've made some cash. Don't worry too much about the cost as Data Interfaces are not consumed by the invention process.

  You'll need at lease two Datacores. The ones you need you can find under Show Info on the BPC. For more complex items you might need 2 or more of the two types. I've not used a BPC that needed three different types yet but I presume there are some. Datacores you can buy off the market. Shop around, prices fluctuate a lot. Buy Orders can save you a lot of money if you are prepared to wait. Generally this proves useful only once you've got a lot of planned jobs to run. You don't want to be waiting around for a  Buy Order to fill just so you can run an Invention job. Datacores are associated with one of the more esoteric Science tree skills such as Quantum Physics or Mechanical Engineering.

 You'll need some level of the science skill relevant to each Datacore. To get these skills you'll need Science to V and then buy the 10 million skillbook for each of the science skills. Learn them to at least level 2. Higher if you can. Some BPCs require three or more in that skill to invent it or to manufacture the result. In any case these skills affect the chance of success so anything over level 2 is a bonus.

 You'll need a racial encryption skill, for example Amarr Encryption Methods, that is relevant to the type of racial Data Interface needed for the job. Learn these to at least II to begin with. Again they affect the chance of Invention success so learn them higher if you are not already crying about all the things you had to learn.

 Right click the BPC and select Invention

The resulting form looks a bit forbidding but don't worry about it. TL; DR : ignore everything apart from Pick Installation

Hit the "Pick Installation" button and chose where you are doing the job. Once the location is selected a lot of the other details will be filled in. 95% of the time I pick the location and then click OK. Why?

i). I'm not using "Base Items". These effect the chance of invention success. They are meta level items of the same type as the thing you are inventing. Meta 0 items have no effect. The rest are too much of a pain in the arse to get hold of so I don't yet bother. When I get round to producing larger items that consume more time and money to invent I might take a look at this again.

ii). I'm not using a "Decryptor". There are various types of these and they can effect the chance of invention as well as the stats of any resulting T2 BPC. They are expensive. I don't yet produce anything that justifies their use and neither will you at the start. Ignore this box for now and later see the notes on Chances of Success below.

iii). Input/Output : Use the default. These are hangars, input will be set by your choice of BPC and output will default to that too. I generally just leave them at the default but you might be able to organise a piss up in a brewery whereas my organisational skills do not extend that far. I have no real hangar organisation theme.

iv). Output Type : This will be filled in once you select an Installation. Double check it to see if there is a choice but generally there won't be, I've only seen this have a choice when I attempted to make some t2 frigate BPCs.

2. Delivery and Chances of Success

 When you deliver an invention job you have less that 100% chance of success. You may get nothing. You'll get nothing more than you get something. The chance that you'll get something is a base percentage further improved by your skills unless you are using a Decryptor (which I don't).

  The base chance is 40% for stuff that isn't a ship. That's enough to make a profit with the right item. A lot of the profit in manufactured T2 items is sourced in the willingness of the inventor/manufacturer to click a lot of things, wait for jobs to finish, ship product to market, source Datacores. Basically the markup on T2 items is ,at least in part, the effective cost of renting the boredom threshold of the inventor.

 TL;DR With base skills expect an average of 2 BPCs for every 5 Invention jobs. 

Tinfoil Hat Crazy Conspiracy Noob says: You will get zero successes when you most want to get more than average.
Don't think like this. Ignore success rates for less than 100 Invention jobs, maybe more. It'll average out in the end.

3. Manufacturing

In short form, since it could be it's own post and we were supposed to be talking about getting that shiny T2 BPC.

You can easily do this in NPC Empire stations. Don't worry about it.
You will need crazy materials. See the TIPS section at the end and learn to use the market. One of the crazy materials are R.A.M. tech. See below.
You can save a lot of money with Production Efficiency V, especially since T2 ship mods will often have a T1 version as a build material. Plan to get there.
At some point time becomes a factor and then the entire thing will turn into an ISK/hour calculation. Don't neglect Time Efficiency research when making T1 components for T2 manufacture.
Don't neglect T1 industry as an income source. There are still profits to be made.

A short polite note on those fucking R.A.M. Modules

Robotic Assembly Modules are components in building T2 items. They will be partly damaged by the process. You will need 1 of these per item made even if the damage won't wholly destroy 1 R.A.M.

So - say I'm building 10 drones, each of which needs 1 R.A.M. Robotics Tech and causes 10% damage to it. You think : I need 1 of them and it will totally be destroyed in the process (10 times 10% damage). NO. You will need 10 of them to submit the job. After the job has finished you'll have 9 left. So even though you need the numbers to submit the job, only one of them is used. Did I dream this? Possibly. Please, someone tell me I did. It makes no sense to me. What are the other 9 for if only 1 is damaged?  That's all I'm going to say on the matter since I've already included too many swear words in this post.

As ever you'll be told a lot of things about minimum skills. I recall the amount of times I was told not to make stuff till I had Production Efficiency V. That's bollocks my friends. Lower skills mean smaller profit margins. They don't mean no profits and they certainly mean higher profits that sitting around with your thumb up your arse waiting for the skill queue to sandpaper its way across your sleep patterns. Manufacturing with Production Efficiency of one would likely result in cheaper modules than those bought from the market for your own use. Later I'll tell you to learn it to level V just like everyone else.

Science V -  I don't think you can learn the required skills without this.

Lab Operation III - should give you the ability to run 4 jobs. Technically you don't need it at all but even I balk at running one job at a time. Build this up over time. Getting to V means Advanced Lab Operation and another exponential jump in the amount of jobs you can do, but it does take time. Start small with fast invention jobs. Look at the T2 ammo market. Try buying the ammo BPCs off people in the noob starting areas maybe. They get some in their initial missions.

Racial Encryption Methods I - Learn all four of them to II since it takes no time. You might need to run to III or higher for more complex items.

Physics and Engineering skills I - Each job will require two or more of the Engineering and Physics skills under the Science folder in the skill browser. Your BPO/BPC will tell you which you need and to what level. Start with getting them to II since that takes no time. Higher skills mean higher chances but don't go beyond III at the start unless a) The BPO requires it or b) manufacturing the item requires it or c) you like wasting skill queue time.

When manufacturing you might need skills such as Mechanics or Engineering or some skill associated with the use of the item. Generally they will be quickly learned or you've learned them already as core base skills. You do have V in Engineering, Mechanics and Electronics, right? Get them first. Just get them, get them now.

As you move through the process you'll find that other skills become handy. You don't need them for your first experiments but you'll end up getting them if you go any further. Don't worry about them at the start, you'll know the ones I mean when you start patching the fist shaped hole in your desk.


Stock. If your experiments are successful and you decide to make a long term go of things then invest in stock, both for Invention (Datacores) and manufacturing (all kinds of crap) and continue to invest when profits start rolling in. When you start to make profit then forget about using it for something other than reinvesting in the process for at least a month. After that start using Buy Orders to get in raw materials. It might not look like you are saving much per item but it will add up in bulk and the time saved running around collecting things. Have stock ready for Invention well before you need it.

Markets. Markets fluctuate. Watch them carefully. I can't stand Trading which is a shame considering one of the inspirations for this EVE trip was the cash generating mechanic of trading in Elite. Traders understand market fluctuations better than industrialists do. They can deal with slimmer margins. Pay attention to what they say. Pay attention to demand and sell into places that aren't trade hubs if you can. Be careful of supply - are you outstripping demand yourself, or is someone else also supplying the same market?

Diversify. Protect yourself with diversification - reinvest some of your profit in new BPO's for different things. If you must specialise then specialise in an area rather than an item - for example all T2 hybrid ammo rather than Scorch. Ideally consider everything as a possibility and try it out. I've had several cases where I had to experiment with a new item just to prove my spreadsheet wasn't faulty. I was making that much of a profit margin.

Optimise - find a good base with everything you need either to hand or within easy jump distances. This includes your eventual markets. Cut down on flying time or get ready to build an infuriating network of contracted shipping and sales alts.

Plan ahead, fly less, watch the market.

Clicky : It's clicky. Click all the things! Many, many times!

Management : it's a management, logistics, timing and trade game. Consider it a gym membership for the brain, it's dull hard work but you'll feel better for doing it in the end.

Skill intensive : If you include the optimal manufacturing skills then it is fairly skill intensive for the noob. Producing T2 BPCs for different things is going to involve a one time bump of skill book cost and training in all the Physics and Engineering skills under Science. Start putting aside 10 million ISK increments.

POS : to get the most out of it get a POS. POS cause people to wail and gnash their teeth to the extent that CCP saying they wouldn't do much about their current state recently caused a massive backlash on the forums. The only reason it didn't cause another Burn Jita event is that POS managers have too much to do attempting to manage and use POS's. Imagine:

  • "I'd have blown Jita to fuck if only I hadn't had to hang around to Deliver some jobs in this Region"
  • "I'd have blown Jita to fuck if I could have flown Fuel Blocks out at the same time"
  • "I'd have blown Jita to fuck if I hadn't given myself a brain hemorrhage trying to work out optimal POS role organisation"
  • "I'd have blown Jita to fuck if I wasn't sat in my space house enjoying the fact that I finally got the fucker in place". 

POS role management would be a post all on it's own if it wasn't for the fact that I try to avoid thinking about or having to use it.

Profit and chance
Handy for the shops


Late Night - Foals (just because it's good and air guitar delayed this post even more)


1 comment:

  1. "Ignore success rates for less than 100 Invention jobs, maybe more. It'll average out in the end." -- this is true. I've recorded successes on over 500 invention jobs on one product. Theoretical success should be 31.50%. So far I'm at 30.20%. Be patient.

    "So even though you need the numbers to submit the job, only one of them is used. Did I dream this? Possibly. Please, someone tell me I did." -- You did not dream this. It's true (and even more extreme on bigger invention jobs). I deal with it by just having a stack of 1000 of them in the hangar at my manufacturing station.
    "I recall the amount of times I was told not to make stuff till I had Production Efficiency V. That's bollocks my friends. Lower skills mean smaller profit margins." -- Thank you for saying this! It applies to all of the science skills too (level V is best, but you can often make a profit at level I). If you're low-skilled, I recommend Hobgoblin IIs. You won't make the highest profit but you'll be hard-pressed to lose money. I think a lot of inventors exaggerate the needed skills in an attempt to keep competition out of the market.