Monday, July 15, 2013

Odyssey And My Life In Low Sec

When I was at Fanfest there was some complaining and gnashing of teeth over some of the proposed changes in Odyssey.  I'll admit I was one of those people, especially those changes that potentially affected my ability to mine in low sec.  At one point I even wondered if the changes would drive me back into high sec.  But I don't want to just go off spouting how things are terrible and the world is going to end either.  So I came up with a plan to look at my activities in low sec in the 5 weeks before Odyssey launched on 4 June and the 5 weeks after.  I think those are long enough periods of time to give the changes a fair review.

As part of the review I made a few rules.  I could travel outside of low sec, but all agents I interacted with had to reside in low sec.  I could only mine outside of low sec in wormholes accessed from low sec.   All refining, manufacturing and sales had to occur in low sec stations.  Artificial limitations?  Of course!  But I needed a rule set I could use so I wasn't comparing apples to oranges.  Or, in the case of EVE, low sec to high sec. 

For purposes of this exercise, I divided up my activities into three main areas: exploration, mining/manufacturing, and missions.  I won't address activities like invention and planetary interaction because I did not start doing those until after Odyssey launched.  In each of the sections I'll give a brief description of the activity, the methodology and the amounts of ISK made both pre- and post-launch.

I do have to add that I did notice that I changed the way I played in the weeks prior to the launch of the expansion due to this project.  However, the changes post-expansion launch were in reaction to the game's changes.

Exploration - For purposes of this post, I consider exploration activity any content I have to probe down in order to find.  That means cosmic signatures only.  In Retribution that meant complexes, radar (data) and magnetometric (relic) sites.  In Odyssey I did not run any complexes.

Total Value - Retribution: 495.4 million ISK, Odyssey: 301.7 million ISK.

For Retribution, this total breaks down to 435.2 million ISK in drops and salvage and 60.2 million ISK in bounties.  In Odyssey the entire total of 301.7 million ISK is what was collected from data and relic sites.  The totals for all salvage, loot, and hacked items was determined from the information displayed in the cargo hold's UI.

Radar/Data Sites - In Retribution, I ran 12 radar sites in the final 5 weeks, gaining 158.7 million ISK in drops/salvage and 3.8 million ISK in bounties for an average of 13.5 million ISK per site.  In the first 5 weeks of Odyssey I ran 16 data sites snatching 167.5 million ISK in items from the exploding packs of mini-cans.  That comes out to an average of 10.5 million ISK per site.  These figures do not take into account any blueprints that dropped.

Magnetometric/Relic Sites - In Retribution, I ran 3 magnetometric sites in the expansion's final 5 weeks, netting 48.3 million ISK in drops/salvage and 400 thousand ISK in bounties for an average of 16.2 million ISK per site.  I found relic sites more plentiful in Odyssey, running 13 of the sites and picking up 134.2 million ISK in items.  That's an average of 10.3 million ISK per site.  Once again, these figures do not include blueprints.

Blueprints - One of the reasons I started looking at manufacturing was the number and quality of blueprint copies that I started to acquire.  Here is a listing of what I found:

Cryptic Data Interface - 1 run
Cryptic Tuner Interface - 2 runs
Large Ancillary Armor Repairer - 10 runs
Large Micro Jump Drive - 30 runs
Small Ancillary Shield Booster - 10 runs
Target Spectrum Breaker - 10 runs

Cryptic Data Interface - 10 runs
Cryptic Tuner Interface - 3 runs
Large Ancillary Armor Repairer - 10 runs
Large Micro Jump Drive - 6 runs
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster - 25 runs
Reactive Armor Hardener - 10 runs
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer - 6 runs
Target Spectrum Breaker - 80 runs
X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster - 5 runs

I really should ask if anyone uses the Target Spectrum Breakers.  The difference is also probably in the fact I ran so many more sites.  With the Odyssey system in which the number of sites available to probe down is flashing in front of my face, I always know which systems to stop in or which ones to ignore.  For finding blueprints that's good.

Plexes - Here's a big difference.  In the 5 weeks before Odyssey I ran 3 plexes.  Not a lot, but I gained 284.2 million ISK, divided between 228.2 million ISK in salvage/drops and 56 million ISK in bounties.  In Odyssey?  I didn't run a single plex.  Not that I didn't find any.  But those plex feel a lot more exposed than the pre-Odyssey combat sites did.  Probably because now all someone who is roaming has to do is point the directional scanner at each of the sites that pop up when you enter a system, do a quick scan, and if the roamer finds a juicy target (like someone running a plex) out come the probes.  With any luck the rats don't have you tackled and you can get away.  If not?  Bye-bye mission ship.  Maybe when the traffic dies down, but for right now my region of low sec is just a bit too active to engage in running plexes.

Mining/Manufacturing - I'm not going to try to separate out the asteroid mining from the manufacturing because the way I do things the two are intertwined.  The numbers also don't fully compare because I only did manufacturing and selling items on the market for the last 17 days of Retribution and I did it the first five weeks of Odyssey.  Also, the figures from exploration are not included in any of the figures below.  With that in mind, here's the comparison.

Total sales profits - Retribution: 142.3 million ISK.  Odyssey: 420.5 million ISK.  For Retribution this figure only includes the sale of ammunition.  For Odyssey, the figure includes not only ammunition sales but also the sale of ice products and sec status tags.  I include the sale of sec status tags in mining because the only time I find the tags is in the wrecks of ships that try to kill my Procurer.

My sales in Odyssey break down is:

Sec Status Tags - 197 million ISK
Ammunition - 153.9 million ISK
Ice Products - 69.6 million ISK

As my ammunition sales slowed down as more people get into the system I had to find other products.  Odyssey's introduction of the Tags4Sec feature plus changes to ice mining have more than filled in the gap, but I believe I'll need to diversify even more.

Ore mined - Retribution: 581,765 m3.  Odyssey: 409,512 m3.  One of the things I was afraid of was an inability to mine as easily as before and in part that fear played out.  The traffic of those looking for security status tags forced more caution into my mining routine, although I solved this by 1) moving around the local systems and 2) bluing up an alliance that moved into my home system.  The other reason for the lower amount of mining done is that business slowed down and I didn't need to mine as much.

Also, where I mined was different as well.  In the run-up to Odyssey I mined 372,245 m3 of ore from asteroid belts and 209,520 m3 from grav sites.  After Odyssey, I mined 192,000 m3 from asteroid belts, 207,000 m3 from ice ore sites, and 10,512 m3 from wormholes.  I avoided the ore sites that contained null sec ore because they were either too picked over by other miners or too many people were around so the threat level was too high.

Because people are interested in how much time I take to do things (i.e. ISK/hr), I fill up my Procurer an average of 5 times an hour when I do long mining stints.  That means I spent approximately 9.7 hours mining before Odyssey launched and 6.8 hours in the 5 weeks after the expansion.

I should add one other change in Odyssey that made ice mining even more dangerous.  The ice belts are shorter now.  Before Odyssey the belts were over 200 km long and one could try to run the length of a belt by staying aligned and switching targets.  Not anymore.  I tried that tactic and ran out of ice.  That means if a miner wishes to go back to the station with a full ore bay he must make at least one change of direction to align to a new celestial.  Each time a miner has to do that a chance for a cloaky ship to tackle the miner occurs.  Fortunately I haven't run into anyone in a cloaky who wants to snag a Procurer.  Well, not since May anyway.

NPC combat - One of the things I do to pass the time mining is kill rats.  In the last 5 weeks of Retribution I picked up 40.3 million ISK in drops/salvage and 10.7 million in bounties.  I did a lot better in Odyssey.  In addition to the 197 million in ISK made from selling sec status tags, I pulled in another 2.3 million ISK in drops/salvage and 6.4 million in bounties.

Missions - Retribution: 94 missions totaling 143.8 million ISK.  Odyssey: 88 missions for 90 million ISK.  Not much of a difference in the number of missions.  The big difference was that I wound up doing a lot of level 3 courier missions trying to get by Boundless Creations standings up on Rosewalker.  Not a lot to say since Odyssey didn't alter the mission system.  But as missions were the third major element of my game play I needed to include it.

For those interested in time, I kind of take my time doing distribution missions, which is mostly the only missions I run.  I average 7 missions an hour.  I really should work on getting faster.  Pre-Odyssey I ran 84 distribution missions and in the first five weeks of Odyssey I ran 83.  So that comes out to 12 hours of missions in the periods both pre- and post-launch.  Pretty consistent.

Conclusion - Low sec did not become an unlivable wasteland with the coming of Odyssey, although some would argue it had reached that state long ago.  At first glance the new exploration site system is a nerf in economic terms, but one could argue that is because I have failed to adapt to the system properly.  I need to look at the way I play and how I can take advantage of the system.  I began that examination in June but I still have a lot of work to do.

For those willing to scout out the activities of the locals and make friends with those who won't see creating a NAP as a sign of weakness, mining is not dead in low sec.  In fact, with the addition of Tags4Sec and the ice distribution changes, I found mining a more profitable activity.  If I had relaxed my rules about where I could sell my ice products, I would have made a lot more ISK.  While liquid oxygen is profitable in low, no one seems to want heavy water.

I still have some issues with some of the changes.  The two biggest are exposing all the cosmic anomalies to pilots as they jump into a system and the length of the ice belts.  Forget the added danger (real or perceived) in the ore sites.  While convenient for making the quick trip into a wormhole for ninja mining, the feature takes away some of the exploration experience.  Part of exploration is discovering what is "out there".  The system in Odyssey is now more like going to stores to check out the sales.  And the length of ice belts means that, for practical purposes, staying aligned is a lot harder.  Gone are the days of just lining up for a run along the length of the ice belt.  Either warp off with a partially empty ore hold or take the risk and align to another celestial. 

I know, I know, HTFU.  If I buy insurance, I can recoup the price of my Procurer with less than an hour's worth of ice mining.  Given the amount I made in the first five weeks of Odyssey I can afford to lose a Procurer or five.  So I don't plan on moving out of low sec any time soon.  I may shift some activities to high sec because I'm still skittish about running security missions in low sec, but that's not the fault of the changes in Odyssey.  And I do need to start selling in the Minmatar trade hubs of Rens and Hek.  I worked hard enough to get the standings with the NPC corps and need to take advantage of that.

So, as a final thought, the changes in Odyssey made me change my game play and partake of another area of game play.  Something tells me that was CCP's intention all along.

1 comment:

  1. You forgot to add that you can do the data/relic sites with way less SP now. You just need a T1 scan frig.

    Also DED sites are still worth while, even in FW lowsec. Shot the frigs first so you don't get pointet. Don't warp out even if you see probes, but prepare. Sometime Tengus or bombers warp in .. and cloak up. Don't ask me way. Just be a man for once and finish the plex.