Building better Worlds

By CCP Ytterbium
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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.

The big plan

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:

  1. Any industry feature must have an actual gameplay attached to it in order to exist
  2. Any industry feature must be balanced around our risk versus reward philosophy
  3. Any industry feature must be easily understandable and visible to our player base

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.

  • The first blog of this series tackled reprocessing, where we explained the overhaul to the reprocessing formula, skills, starbase reprocessing array and compression in general.
  • This blog is going to focus on manufacturing system changes. It is mainly about damage per job, extra materials, slot removal and some starbase improvements.
  • In a third blog, CCP Arrow will go into details on how the overhaul Industry UI is going to work and what that implies for the average user.
  • In a fourth blog, CCP Greyscale will talk about the revamp of the research ME, PE and improvements to copy jobs.
  • In a fifth blog, CCP Greyscale will discuss changes to job installation prices from a fixed tax to a fluctuating variable based on activity and explain slot changes in more details.
  • In a last blog, CCP Soniclover will introduce the concept of teams, which are the workforce used for industry jobs in the new system.

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.

Cleaning Market groups

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:

  • Faction Materials: all items coming from Cosmos and Storyline sites
  • Gas Cloud Materials: gas materials used in either boosters or Tech III production
  • Planetary Materials: self-explanatory
  • Raw materials: unrefined materials, like ores, ices
  • Reaction materials: items used in Starbase reactions. Includes moon, polymer and booster reactions
  • Salvage materials: self-explanatory, also includes Tech III salvage
  • Ice products: refined output from ice ores
  • Minerals: refined output from ores

Components: any kind of industrial material that is a transformed product from materials above

  • Advanced Capital Components: Tech II capital components, sorted by race
  • Advanced Components: Tech II sub-capital components, sorted by race
  • Outpost Components: includes all platforms and station components
  • Fuel Blocks: products used Starbase fuel
  • Hybrid Components: products used in Tech III manufacturing
  • R.A.M.: tools used in Tech II and III manufacturing
  • Standard Capital Ship Components: self-explanatory

Research equipment: items used for science jobs

  • Decryptors: used to modify output of Invention / Reverse Engineering jobs
  • Ancient Relics: required to start Reverse Engineering jobs
  • Data Interfaces: items determining race of Tech II invention jobs
  • Datacores: sink used in Invention and Reverse Engineering jobs
  • R.db: tools used in research

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:

Stopping the damage

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 we will:

  • Multiply number of R.AM. and R.Db. given for each run of their respective blueprint by 100.
  • Multiply all R.A.M. and R.Db. job requirements by 100, then further multiply that number by the old damage per run percentage.

Looks complicated? Let’s take an example:

  • An Adaptive Invulnerability Field II blueprint currently requires 1 unit of R.A.M.- Shield Tech per manufacturing job, with a damage per run of 60%.
  • After the change, the Adaptive Invulnerability Field II blueprint will now require 1x100x0.6 =60 R.A.M.- Shield Tech. R.A.M.-Shield Tech Blueprint will also produce 100 units of R.A.M.- Shield Tech instead of one.
  • All of this is applicable to R.Dbs as well.

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.

Extra Materials, the fifth wheel

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.

Removing station traffic jams, one slot at a time

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.

Back into the structure, part deux

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:

  • Allow Starbases to be anchored anywhere in high-security space and without standing requirements (minus some protected solar systems, like Jita or new player starting systems of course).
  • Remove the ability for players to use stations to safely store their blueprints without putting them at risk in Starbase structures. Players will still be able to start their jobs remotely (via the use of Supply Chain Management and Scientific Networking skills), but will now have to move their blueprints directly into the starbase structures that require it, like other materials.
  • Improve Mobile Laboratories and Assembly Arrays to compensate for such risk – we’ll give you final numbers as soon as we have them.
  • Reduce copy time on all blueprints to be less time consuming than manufacturing something out of it. This gives the option to use blueprint copies to build items at Starbases without risking the original.

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.

This is not even my final form!

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.

And they lived happily ever after

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.