Resource Shakeup in Odyssey: Just don’t call it a Cataclysm

By CCP Fozzie
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Just don't call it a cataclysm.

Speculators, start your engines.

 

Hello once again brave spacecaptains. My name is CCP Fozzie and I’m here to bring you our next Dev Blog covering EVE Online’s 19th free expansion, Odyssey. For the expansion that arrives so close to our game’s tenth anniversary, we are turning our attention to the original promise of EVE; a universe of wonder is waiting for you and your friends to explore and exploit. As part of our focus on the adventure of exploring the many star systems of New Eden, we are planning to revamp some of the rewards that the universe itself provides to enterprising capsuleers who are willing to reach out and seize them.

We want to ensure that people in all areas of space can find themselves rewarded appropriately for undocking into their next adventure. When we decided to start down this road, we were faced with a number of tough choices about what aspects of EVE's resource landscape to focus on first.

Would we bring changes to ore mining, one of the most iconic activities in EVE's long history?

Would we revamp ice harvesting, a game mechanic that has long suffered from slow collection and nearly limitless supply?

Would we shake up the world of moon mining and tech two manufacturing to provide new spoils of war?

Would we overhaul the industrial capabilities of player-made outposts to ensure that miners and industrialists can engage in empire building as equal partners with those of a more militaristic persuasion?

Would we tweak nullsec anomaly balance to provide incentives to those willing to conquer the most valuable real estate?

When we looked at this daunting question, we knew there was only one correct answer:

 

Yes,

Yes,

Yes,

Yes

and Yes.

 

As those of you who watched today's Fanfest keynote will already know, we are going to be touching all of these areas in Odyssey. The rest of Team Five 0 and I have been working very hard on this package of changes and we are very excited to unveil it to you today.

I am going to go over each area of our high level plan in this Dev Blog, and will also be publishing another blog simultaneously which will include specific details on the areas such as T2 production and ore composition that would otherwise overflow this blog with numbers.

Without further ado, let's dig right in!

Numbers Blog

Tech Two Production and Moon Mining

Ore Mining

Ice Harvesting

Outposts

Nullsec Anomalies

 

Tech Two Production and Moon Mining

Phase Two.

If I didn't start with this you'd all skip here anyways.

Last summer we published my first Dev Blog at CCP, covering Alchemy changes we implemented in Inferno 1.2. I told you all in that blog that the extension of Alchemy was simply the first phase in our long term plans for moon mining and tech two production. I claimed then that we were going to take the time to do the job right, and we stand by that decision. Each step in the plan is designed to improve the gameplay surrounding this feature as well as pave the way for the design and implementation of subsequent phases. By those measurements the Alchemy changes from Inferno 1.2 were an unqualified success, both significantly improving the market situation over the past nine months and laying the groundwork for these next iterations. I’m happy to tell you today that we are ready for implementation of Phase Two.

The key goals of Phase Two are:

  • Shifting of a significant portion of the value in the moon mining system away from the relatively common (and regionally concentrated) Technetium and back to the rarest mineral types (R64s)
  • Spreading that value more evenly among those four rarest minerals
  • Providing the EVE market another avenue through which to respond to price fluctuations more gracefully.

We will be achieving those goals primarily through a rework of the Tech Two production chain, adding two new intermediate materials, four new composites, and adjusting the composition of the Microprocessors, Capacitor Units, and Reactors that are built into many Tech Two items. The details of these changes have been split off into the companion blog, but the short version is that each R64 mineral will be more strongly associated with a particular empire’s Tech Two ships both to ensure that all of the minerals are used, but also to allow the market prices for each empire's ships to fluctuate somewhat along with their bottleneck minerals and relieve the pressure through shifting demand.

Since this change will be bringing the usage of the four R64 minerals into much closer balance, we will also be adding new supplies of certain R64 minerals to existing moons all over New Eden, to even out the supply levels. To remove bias from the process, these new mineral locations will be selected programmatically and randomly. We will be sourcing the random seed for this script directly from you the players, at the Fanfest 2013 Resource Rebalance roundtable tomorrow. Make sure to attend for your once in a lifetime chance to put your personal touch on the EVE universe. To ensure the integrity of this process the generation of these mineral locations will be overseen by the CCP Internal Affairs Department.

At the same time as we seed these new minerals into moons, we will also be somewhat reducing the time required to complete a moon scan, to ensure that players can find the new minerals in a reasonable time period.

Phase Two is not the end of our plans for Tech Two industry and mineral collection. We are not entirely satisfied with the mechanics of moon mining itself and would like to make changes in the future to provide more opportunities for active gameplay that can be disrupted by small groups of pilots. However we are confident that Phase Two will both improve the health of the game as a whole and lay a stronger foundation for the future iterations.

The exact numbers involved in these changes can be found in the companion dev blog, and we welcome the community's feedback and analysis of our approach this feature.

 

Ore Mining

We were asteroid mining before it was cool

Mining is perhaps the most iconic economic activity in EVE. It symbolizes the ideal of our perpetual machine principle of game design, that destruction should always provide opportunities for creation, and creation opportunities for destruction.

The focus of our Ore Mining changes in Odyssey is on ensuring that there are viable and valuable mining opportunities for players in all areas of New Eden. We want mining in low security space to be an activity worthy of the risks taken, and for Nullsec empires to rely on miners and industrialists, welcoming them into their ranks. Creating a new home for these miners also provides opportunities for pilots interested in PVP, as mining is an activity that can be both disrupted and protected by small gangs of ships.

There are several issues with the current state of mining in low and null security. The value of certain ores that populate these regions, most notably Gneiss and Spodumain, is so low (both of these ores are worth less than half the value of Scordite by volume at the time of writing) that they drag down the entire profession. The lack of profitable sources of certain common minerals such as Tritanium and Pyerite conspires with the lack of reasonable manufacturing facilities to cripple the prospects of Nullsec industry, robbing miners of a local market for their minerals, and manufacturers of a place to ply their trade in player-owned space. The incentives to use higher quality space for mining operations are currently not strong enough, leaving the best mining organizations with few available paths to improve their operations.

The cornerstone of our package of Ore Mining changes in Odyssey is the adjustment of the mineral composition of several types of ore. We will be adding more of the bulk minerals (primarily Tritanium and Pyerite) to the ores primarily found in lower security space. These changes affect Arkanor, Bistot, Crokite, Dark Ochre, Gneiss and Spodumain, with the latter two receiving the largest improvement to their mineral yields. The exact numbers can be found in our companion blog.

We believe these changes will help the game in two significant ways.

Firstly, the added minerals represent an increase in value of these ores that helps make the reward worth the risk of mining them in dangerous space. The improvements to Gneiss and Spodumain are especially significant as these minerals currently have very little value (at this time they are the two least valuable ore types in the entire game), and since you must mine all of the Gneiss and Spodumain from a sovereignty upgrade hidden belt to respawn the site, they serve as an anchor that depresses the value of the entire operation. Bringing them up to reasonable levels of value should be a very important improvement to the life of miners in nullsec.

Secondly, the influx of low-end minerals from these existing ores will help reduce the reliance of nullsec industry on imported minerals and goods. Alongside the changes to outposts later in this blog these iterations should significantly improve the prospects for true industry in player empires.

In order to encourage competition for the best mining systems and to bring adequate rewards to fully upgrading the Ore Prospecting Array, we will also be adding new variations of the Extra Large and Giant Asteroid Clusters that will only be found in locations with excellent system quality (truesec). These belts will contain improved (+5% and +10%) variations of the ore that can be found in their standard versions.

We will also be making a significant change to the way hidden asteroid belts will be found by players. We are phasing out the Gravimetric signature category, and instead pilots will be able to find all Ore Sites using their ship’s built-in anomaly scanning equipment. This change will make finding hidden belts much less difficult for both miners and for those who would prey on them, so pilots are always advised to practice vigilance.

Combined these measures are designed to increase the options for the stalwart miners of New Eden, providing them with lucrative paths to follow no matter what area of space they call home. We intend for mining to become a major plank of many financially successful nullsec empires, and we encourage those empires to begin planning how they can best integrate miners into their plans for universal domination.

 

Ice Harvesting

All right stop.

Next we turn our attention to mining of a cooler kind. Ice mining provides the materials used to fuel New Eden’s thousands of Starbases, and the movements of massive capital fleets across the stars. These materials play a crucial role in EVE’s economy, but the mechanics around ice harvesting have not created a dynamic or interesting feature until now. New Eden currently enjoys a massive oversupply of ice, which stifles competition and emergent gameplay with the notable exception of a few specific organized ice interdictions performed by some very ambitious players. At current levels of ice product usage, all of the ice needed for the entire game could be provided by only four ice belts (one of each ice type). We at CCP want ice harvesting to be a lucrative activity that encourages players to relocate and compete for a piece of the pie. However we also must be careful not to cause the price of isotopes to rise beyond the means of most Starbase operators. We put a lot of thought into how we would walk this tightrope, and we believe we have found a strong solution.

When Odyssey is released, the current static (and massive) ice belts spread throughout space will be removed from the game, and replaced by a series of Ore Anomalies that will spawn and respawn only in systems that previously contained the aforementioned static ice belts. These belts will respawn in exactly the same system four hours after they are completed, to ensure that players from all time zones will be able to partake in ice harvesting and enjoy the spoils. The amount of ice found in these sites will be tuned to ensure that most, but not all, of the ice needs of the New Eden cluster can be provided by high security belts. At our current numbers, the maximum supply of ice from highsec (assuming that each belt is mined out completely five times a day) would provide approximately 80% of the game's ice needs, ensuring that at least some of the ice mining must be undertaken in lower security space. For context, this means that highsec will still be a large exporter of ice products, being able to generate eight times the volume of isotopes used by highsec control towers.

To counterbalance this reduction in ice supply and to provide a slightly more rapid gratification from the activity of ice harvesting, we will also be reducing the cycle time of all ice harvesters by 50%, which will result in a doubling of ice yield over time.

With the exception of some systems in the territories of the Amarr Empire, Khanid Kingdom, and Ammatar Mandate, all systems that currently contain ice belts will have at least one instance of these new Ice Anomalies. Some systems, mostly those that currently contain two or three ice belts, will contain multiple instances of the Ice Anomalies. A full list of Amarrian highsec systems that will contain these new anomalies can be found in our companion blog, so that players can determine if their home will still have ice after the patch.

Combined, these changes are designed to make ice harvesting a valuable activity that players will engage in both cooperative and competitive gameplay to benefit from. We will be watching the results of these changes on the EVE market and on player activity very closely following release, and we may make tweaks to the respawn rate or ice composition of the new sites as needed in order to ensure a balanced feature that provides for the ice product needs of the game.

 

Outposts

Home is where the office is

These things are basically just really big spaceships right?.......

Outposts may seem like an unusual addition to a resource shakeup devblog, but in reality the fates of resource harvesting and industrial gameplay are too intertwined for us to improve one without improving the other.

Outposts represent the ultimate empire building gameplay available in EVE Online. For many players the moments when their organizations came together and constructed their first outpost stands out as one of their most significant EVE memories. However outposts suffer from very limited facilities compared to NPC and conquerable stations, and organizations that wish to engage in significant industrial activities in their territory are often forced to build station after station just to get enough manufacturing lines. The upgrades that are available to outposts are of very limited help, as their cost is so high and return on investment so low that refinery upgrades are the only outpost customizations most organizations can justify constructing.

For Odyssey we are planning to take a very significant first step forward for Outposts, by increasing the number of installations available at each type of outpost, as well as the number of lines that each upgrade adds. These changes will significantly increase the number of manufacturing, booster manufacturing, blueprint copying, material research, production research, invention, and reverse engineering lines available at Outposts, as well as increasing the number of offices available.

The exact numbers involved in these changes can be found in our companion blog.

EVE Online: Odyssey will not be the last expansion to iterate on Outposts, as there are many other changes we expect to make before we’re done. However the installations added in Odyssey will be a very important improvement for nullsec industry and Outpost value.

 

Nullsec Anomalies

The Rat Pack

Last but certainly not least, we come to the currently dominant income source for average nullsec residents. We are fairly happy with the Pirate Detection Array in general, but as part of our work for Odyssey we are taking the chance to make some small tweaks to the layout of the anomalies it generates.

Firstly, we are adding warp disrupting pirates into all of the high level anomalies that currently lack them. This small change will help keep the risk involved with this activity where it should be.

We are also making some small tweaks to the NPC composition of Hubs and Sanctums. Switching a few of the NPCs in Hubs to the tougher Elite Frigates and Cruisers, and switching a few of the Elites in Sanctums out for battlecruisers. The changes are still being tweaked and tuned, but the intended result is a better balance between the different anomalies, giving Sanctums the advantage in isk per hour over the easier to find Hubs.

 

For those of you currently in Reykjavik for Fanfest 2013, remember that tomorrow (Saturday April 27th) at 13:00 GMT we will be hosting a round-table and Q&A session to discuss all of these changes with you. Due to expected high turnout we are moving the roundtable from the Roundtable Room 3 as listed on the schedule, to the Singularity presentation hall.

Remember that you can find all the numbers and details of these changes in our companion numbers blog , so head over there if you are looking to check our math for yourself.

All of these changes are scheduled to arrive in our June 4th EVE Online: Odyssey expansion. We want to thank all the players who have helped us with their expertise and ideas on the forums and elsewhere, and especially thank all the members of CSM7 who have been providing us feedback on these plans at each stage of the process. We here at team Five 0 have been working very hard to get these improvements ready for you all, and we can’t wait to hear your feedback and to see what great schemes you all create to benefit from the new resource landscape.