One of EVE's strongest selling points always has been its player-centered industry; it creates lots of interesting gameplay around resource collection, distribution and transformation. This concept fuels not only the economy, but conflict as a whole. Since most assets can be lost, they acquire value, which takes time and effort to replace.
While we have been adding more professions over the years, the core idea of building stuff remains one of the most popular activities available in our game. You can see below that more than 50,000 characters use manufacturing and invention on a daily basis. Other industry activities, like research ME, PE, copying and reverse engineering only are a fraction of that number.
That is the main reason why, for EVE's summer release, we are going to focus our efforts on industry as a whole.
While beginning our investigation task in fall 2013, it quickly became apparent industry was in dire need of some shoe polish. Problem was, the shoe in question had the height of the Eiffel Tower, and we only had a toothbrush to work with.
We thus needed a strong direction on how to proceed and, as such, we came up with the following set of principles:
This encouraged us to look at industry from a new angle and plan its extensive overhaul.
However, the amount of changes we are aiming for is too large for a single blog, which is why we are going to split this up into smaller increments.
Please note that blog order may change depending on time schedule.
Some smart people may have noticed we have not mentioned invention or reverse engineering. That is because we could not schedule them for summer and as such are pushed to be done next in line, mainly for fall and/or winter.
So let’s start with some manufacturing changes shall we?
The first place where most people go to acquire various industrial goods is from the Market. However the various items under the “Manufacture & Research” market category follow no logical order or predictable pattern, making it very difficult to actually find something. So we are clearing that up and reorganizing all materials, items and components to be properly sorted, which means shuffling the groups quite a bit.
Materials: raw items and resources obtained through harvesting or as loot. Split into:
Components: any kind of industrial material that is a transformed product from materials above
Research equipment: items used for science jobs
Please note that reactions have been moved out of the “Manufacture & Research” market category and are now available on their own.
To make things clearer, we also added icons to all market groups, below are comparison shots:
There is a specific mechanic in place for Robotic Assembly Modules (R.A.M.) and Research Database (R.Db) which is called “damage per run”. Every time a job is run with one of those items, there is a chance damage will occur, causing R.A.M. or R.Db to be lost.
While the gameplay behind it is quite valuable (loss of item during production), it’s a bit confusing for everyone involved – how is damage applied? Is the whole R.A.M. stack affected or just one? Can I repair it? How is this visualized?
On top of all this, this kind of mechanic is almost already covered by regular materials consumption: if you require 5 R.A.M. to start a job, but may lose 2 during the process, why not just require 2 to start with that always are consumed?
To cut the story short, damage per job gameplay is not worth the hassle and that is why we are removing it from industry jobs. To be clear, it doesn’t mean we are removing damage from module overheat or ship repairs however.
After summer, R.A.M. and R.db will instead behave like any other material in the game. However, to keep loss ratios similar l we will:
Looks complicated? Let’s take an example:
With this mechanic gone, we can remove the “Dmg/job” column on the Manufacturing Quote without losing gameplay, which is a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
Something else we found as part of industry design redundency is what we call “Extra Materials”. This concept was added back in the days to show materials we wanted to be consumed during manufacturing, or research, but not given back when reprocessing. Usually, we put those on advanced jobs, like Tech II manufacturing or Tech II BPO research to indicate materials that can never be recovered.
However, Extra Materials are a bit like cod oil: incredibly messy. Unlike regular materials, they are not affected by skill or blueprint Material Efficiency levels. Not only this is confusing to visualize, but it also misdirects building quotas and prices, while reducing the value of player skill training and blueprint research.
As time passed, we started adding them all over the place for various reasons. One of them was tied to the ship Tiericide initiative, as we adjusted prices on revamped hulls and needed to make sure players wouldn’t gain free minerals when reprocessing them.
However we now have another option: reducing reprocessing efficiency on all items allows us to remove the cod oil from the dining table. Take that you barbaric Icelandic cuisine! Since the maximum reprocessing rate on all items and ships is going to get capped at 55%, we can remove Extra Materials without fear of player abuse. As such, all materials currently listed as Extra Materials will become regular materials instead. This includes all materials in jobs like Science as well. Yes, they’re all going the way of the dinosaur, never to be seen again, except maybe in a movie featuring Sam Neill.
As an indirect consequence, it also means that affected blueprints will now be slightly more expensive to manufacture if you don’t have them researched and / or don’t have good science skills.
Alright, what we listed so far was sweet, but a bit short on meat, like those little chicken wings you get as appetizers in fancy restaurants. Stop beating around the bush and give me the 500gr triple-layered-mutant-hamburger with so much fat it’s going to reduce my life expectancy by 25%!
Alright, here it is; for summer we are removing all industry slots. We can hear you from here: “Wait wait, you silly Frenchman, what do you mean removing all industry slots?”
Well it’s simple, at the moment, to use a blueprint at a station or starbase, you need to install it into a particular slot type. Usually, stations come with a limited amount of those, so once they are all filled up you have to wait quite a bit.
This creates some bottleneck gameplay, encouraging players to move around, use Starbases or just wait. We aren’t very satisfied with that, especially when we couple it with the ridiculously low NPC prices for installing jobs (that haven’t been changed since 2003).
So, what we are doing is removing slots altogether and replacing them with a cost scaling system. So now, if you all want to congregate in the same solar system to build things, you can, but the ISK cost required to install the jobs will increase dramatically, removing any hope of profit margin in the first place.
Please note we are not removing installation types however – a station that could not handle manufacturing or research will not suddenly be capable of doing so.
As mentioned above however, exact details on job cost scaling will be announced by CCP Greyscale in another blog, so stay tuned for details on that one. In the meantime, rest assured that profit margins are still going to be possible as long as you don’t all flock to over-saturated solar systems. Expect costs ranging from 0% to 14% of the base item being produced for the most extreme case.
Slot removal does have another interesting consequence for Starbases; at the moment, most of the Starbases in high-security space use Mobile Laboratories to compensate for the lack of Material Efficiency Research slots in Empire space.
The Blueprints in question can be researched remotely, by installing them at a station while using a Starbase Mobile Laboratory in the same solar system. With the removal of slots this use case is no longer that important, as we expect research slots to be widely more available.
In turn, this allows us to change several points:
So player corporations will now have the choice between the safety of NPC stations or the efficiency of Starbases to operate. The core goal is to motivate player entities to actually defend their Starbases if attacked or be reactive enough to take the blueprints out before they go into reinforced mode.
We are aware of the significance of this change and do not expect very expensive blueprints (Battleship and above) to be risked in such a manner, but we do feel it to be a good trade-off for smaller blueprints.
Here is a glimpse on what’s coming on the Industry UI blog. We don’t want to spoil the details here, but let’s just say you’ll be able to get all the information you need from a single window, without excessive mouse clicks, while making job creation, blueprint browsing or installation search actually a pleasing experience.
We now have to put an end to this blog before it becomes a full novel. We’ll see you again on the next blog in line, in the meantime, may the little construction blocks be with you, always.
– CCP Ytterbium