EVE – The people down there look like ants!

As promised, my extremely noobish PI — Planetary Interaction — setup in EVE.

There are written and video tutorials in various places — here and here — that aren’t bad at getting you started, though nothing substitutes for a solid bit of in-game market research. You’re going to be producing stuff so it pays to decide what stuff, which depends on demand, ease of production, and whether you intend to refine (and do more with) your raws or whether you’re just going to sell the raw materials.

If you’re as much of a noob as me but interested in the basics, here they are. At base a planet installation needs:

  1. A command center. The name is fairly self-explanatory and without one you can’t do squat. They come in different planetary-type flavours (temperate, barren, ice, gaseous, etc) and also different goodness levels. A basic command center will set you back less than 100k, at least in my region, and that’s peanuts; on the downside the center’s powergrid and CPU values aren’t great, so you won’t be able to run a gigantic empire off one basic CC. Better CCs start to cost more, obviously. I stuck with the basic CC not only because that’s all I can use right now but also because it would keep my expenses in check. Better to spend only a small amount if I was about to discover I hate Planetary Interaction and want nothing to do with it.
  2. Extractors. These also come in various flavours depending on the resource you want to extract.
  3. Processing plants. Not strictly necessary if you don’t intend to process the base raw materials you’re extracting — but refining smushes stuff down in terms of volume, and volume is a big consideration in EVE when you have to haul everything around yourself in ships whose cargo holds are defined by the volume of goods they can carry.
  4. Storage units and other nice-but-non-essential-goodies.

So, you put down a CC, plop a few harvesters down, process or not, and grab your resources for sale at the other end. It’s a little more fiddly than that, but that’s the basic idea.

What you see above is as follows: Command Centre on the far left, leading to a storage unit (dark blue in middle). The Blue circles with arrows on them are extractors, of which there are 3. The orangey icon is the processing centre that turns my aqueous liquid into sellable water. (The aqueous liquid is sellable too, but in my estimate wasn’t as cost/benefit effective.)

It’s a rather messy setup because I wasn’t zoomed in far enough to begin with and so my various installations are further away from each other than they should really be — this is nibbling me in the ass (as opposed to biting) because time and distance are both money in this game. I also read halfway through that it was more efficient to route raws to a storehouse and then to a processing plant, but by then my buildings were plopped so I had to play a bit fast and loose with the routes. (You LINK buildings together for power and whatnot, and you ROUTE products from one linked place to another.) I’m also not sure why it’s more efficient, but it sort of makes sense so I’ll take the author’s word for it. I’m not sure it’s actually making a bit of difference in my low-volume, noobish setup, but it’s worth being aware of for later.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. To begin with, I decided to keep things really simple. I checked out first-step processed resources that are in reasonable demand for decent prices. There were a few decent candidates (among them water and toxic metals), and once I had those noted down I picked a relatively safe, relatively isolated (i.e. less people setting up PIs) system and went to check out its planets. I expected to have to check out several systems before I found something that fit the bill; I therefore didn’t shell out on a command centre until I had some idea what kind of planet I’d want to rape exploit use for resources.

Having found a temperate planet with pretty good concentrations of Aqueous Liquids, I got myself a CC and spent the next hour muddling about. Tutorials are all well and good but they can never replace the experience you get screwing up in practice. As it turns out my setup isn’t disastrously bad, and in any case it didn’t cost me all that much (~400k I think). Now I’m watching my little extractors suck up water — err, aqueous liquids, that I then turn into water. The water itself is slowly piling up in the command center, and when there’s enough of it I’ll shoot it up into orbit and go scoop up my goodies.

I can imagine that this will be fun, once I have the experience — and more importantly in-game skills — to run more than one of these / more complex / more powerful Planetary Installations. Of course, one can always extend one’s potential by using alts, too, but EVE is one game where I’m not at all sure I want to have any alts. I’ll no doubt end up with some, but I’m going to try and put that off for a while even if it makes me less competitive.

And that’s one of the problems I have with EVE. It’s an extremely competitive game where everyone is constantly measuring themselves against everyone else — in which I suppose it’s not that different from most MMOs. The difficulty for me is resisting the idea that I’m somehow sub-par by not wanting to buy in to the Achievers’ paradise. I just want to do my thing, have fun (which atm is actually debatable with respect to EVE), and maybe make a bit of money to fund whatever other fun stuff I want to do.

Another problem I have with EVE is that it’s definitely not a theme park type game. I like that — especially intellectually — but now I feel like many players do when they try something like EQ2: there are so many shiny interesting and ZOMFG QQ complicated things to do in EVE, I’m paralysed by my inability to choose. It’s the beauty and the curse of sandbox games: they can be hard to grasp and it can be extremely difficult to find your own bliss in them, so to speak.

RL encroachements may be impacting my mood, too — in fact they almost certainly are. I’ve written before that when I’m not having fun in a game, it’s not usually because of the game but because of the out-of-game baggage I’m carrying at that moment. Couple that with a MUNDUNGOUS and very, very complex game and you end up with confused, directionless, crabby me. YSH SMASH!

I’m pretty sure EVE is fun. I just need to find my bearings.

PS — I’m not looking for pats on the back or advice. I’m not overwhelmed to the extent that I have no idea what I’m doing (I have a small idea what I’m doing), I’m just overwhelmed by choices and possibilities. And crabby. More to the point, I like to do things my own way and in my own time, so if you want to tell me how and what to do, do so at your own risk. You Have Been Warned.

EDIT — for those of you who do play EVE and find it hard to see much of anything with that #)(*@)(*#)(* {many expletives deleted} font they use, which appears to be designed on purpose so that people with astigmatism can’t focus on it, try this. It might help. Note that I may be especially affected — I have one near-sighted and one far-sighted eye, which runs in the family, and the soft contact lens I (sometimes remember to) use doesn’t compensate very well for astigmatism.  All that option really does is expand the font, which can’t be changed, but it did help me quite a bit when I discovered this a few days ago. It’s still very eye-strainy especially at higher resolutions, but it’s not YSH SMASH LCD-SCREEN bad, unless I’m in a crabby mood like today.