Monday, March 24, 2014

A Look At The Nerf For Ore Refining In EVE Online's NPC Stations

"Any highsec miner whines that CCP is netting you, I'm siccing Miniluv on you.Evil"
Google shows that mynnna corrected the post to read "nerfing", not "netting" before the ISD has removed the threat (and all other references to it) from the forum thread discussing the dev blog about the upcoming changes to refining in EVE Online, but Chribba's EVE Search website never forgets.  So with that in mind, I will write about the upcoming changes to refining of ore in NPC stations anyway.1  Hopefully my status as a low sec miner will grant me some protection.2

First, we have to acknowledge that the processing of ore in stations in NPC-controlled space3 received a significant nerf.  But I need to explain the nerf, as I think a lot of people don't understand the true effect of the changes.  The nerf isn't to the amount of minerals a miner will receive per hour of mining.  CCP is increasing the amount of minerals in each ore type by 38.4% to account for the decrease in maximum refining efficiency in NPC stations from 100% down to 72.4%.  That means that the amount of minerals a miner can gather in an hour is not going down as long as the pilot refining the ore has maximum refining skills and the +4 implant.  The nerf is that pilots wishing to achieve that level of output need to have maximum skills and the +4 implant.

Currently, those turning high sec ore into minerals only need to have the minimum skills trained without needing an implant: Refining 5, Refining Efficiency 4, and the ore processing skill trained to 1.  For low sec5 and NPC null space systems, the only change is increasing the level of Refining Efficiency from 4 to 5 due to the higher requirements of learning the ore processing skills for the higher end ores.  Of course, most dedicated miners will train the ore processing skills to 4 in order to use tech 2 mining crystals.  So the main question is: how much more time will CCP require after the change to obtain the maximum refining yields compared to today.

The above chart shows the current and proposed training times to obtain maximum ore refining yield in NPC-controlled stations.  Under ore types, each area represents all the ore types found in belts and ore sites in the various regions of space. The assumption is that a pilot who never leaves high sec would not need to learn the skills.6  Also, the times assume that the pilot does a neural remap to memory/intelligence and uses +5 learning implants for both those attributes.  For those using lesser quality implants, the times are greater.

The T1 and T2 columns represent the types of crystals the pilot can use in a strip miner for all the ores present in a category of space.  Currently, while the ore processing skill required for perfect refining is only 1, most serious miners train the skills up to level 4 in order to use the more efficient tech 2 crystals.  Most miners, at least in Empire space, don't bother training up the skills any higher as there previously was no benefit in doing so.  With the proposed changes to refining, that is about to change.  The final column shows how long a pilot will need to train to get the maximum output from an NPC station for refining all of that category's ores once the changes are introduced in the summer expansion.

The nerf is a bit staggering in terms of time.  The time required to train the skills required for perfect refining for ore found in high security space increases from 5.8 days to 60.7 days, a difference of just under 8 weeks.  Low sec sees a rather larger increase, from 18.1 days to 124.2 days, a difference of slightly over 15 weeks.  But the region getting hit the hardest is NPC null.  In Rubicon, the difference between getting perfect refine between low sec and NPC null sec was under two hours.  Now, the difference is over 49 days.  The training time required to get the maximum yield for all ore in EVE jumps from 18.1 days to 173.5 days, or over 22 weeks.

For some, the nerf doesn't just mean that training for maximum refining yield becomes a huge time sink.  Many players will have a mining alt along with a combat main on an account.  The mining alt probably has the minimum skills required to get the job done as before Odyssey character training was limited to one pilot per account.  Since then, dual training requires the payment of an additional PLEX per month.  So anyone wishing to upgrade just the high sec processing will need to pay 1.36 billion ISK (2 PLEX).  In low sec, the price goes up to 2.71 billion ISK (4 PLEX), and anyone looking to maximize their refining yield for all ore in an NPC station in New Eden will need to pay as much as 4.07 billion ISK (6 PLEX).  Needless to say, I don't expect very many players to spend the ISK to do so as the other changes in the dev blog will lead players to use ore compression instead of mineral compression to move materials great distances.7

The nerf leads to the obvious question: why?  If a company is going to make a change that affects so many players, it needs to have very good reasons.  And from my point of view, making a cash grab is not one of them.  But I do think that CCP has three good design reasons for making the changes to ore refining in NPC stations.

The first is that players should have to train all of their skills to 5 to get maximum and use the best implants to get the best results.  For example, take hauling cargo.  In order to carry the most cargo and have the quickest align times, fastest warp speeds and farthest warp distances, then players have to train the relevant skills to 5.  Players also need to use the best implants, except for improving align times.  But the align time speed is limited by server technology, not the game design.  The same is true for those flying DPS, electronic warfare, logistics ships, and even mining.  NPC ore refining did not follow this design principle.

Another reason is to put the value of the various refining skills in line with those in other areas.  What CCP likes to do is make the basic skill give the biggest performance boost followed by advanced skills providing smaller skill increases, but at rising skills.  That is pretty much the design philosophy where around ships and modules as well.  For example, tech 2 ships may cost twice as much, but only give a 25% increase in capabilities as compared to a tech 1 ship.  That's not a bug, that's a feature.  But that is not true in ore refining today.  Currently each level of Refining gives a 2% reduction in refinery waste, while Refinery Efficiency gives a 4% reduction in waste and the even more advanced ore processing skills give a 5% reduction.  That is completely reversed from CCP's current design philosophy for EVE.  In the summer expansion, the revamp will change the skills to a 3% per level boost for Refining and 2% per level for Refinery Efficiency and all of the ore processing skills.  Making all skill lines work the same way makes the game more intuitive and easier to understand.

The final reason for the nerf is probably the most important of all.  CCP Ytterbium wrote in the dev blog:
"It prevents us from giving low and null-security facilities some advantage: Player-built stations in null security space can only be, at their very best, equivalent with NPC stations that are spread all across New Eden."
I know that some will argue that high sec is the most civilized area and should remain the most technologically advanced as well.  But that is not how CCP is developing the back story of  EVE.  Capsuleer alliances outside of Empire space are becoming more powerful and the empires are beginning to lose control.  Does anyone remember Angry CONCORD Guy8 and the threats he issued trying to keep capsuleers from gaining advanced technology?

Up until now, the only reason that capsuleer ships were superior to those of the Empire navies and pirate factions was due to the skill and capsule technology of the pod pilots.  For the first 10 years of EVE's existence capsuleer alliances and coalitions could only hope to achieve equality with the technology and power of the empires.  But with EVE's 20th expansion, CCP crossed the Rubicon and began to give pilots a taste of technology in the form of capsuleer produced implants obtained from ghost sites that potentially could surpass that produced by the empires.  In the 21st expansion this summer, capsuleers will begin building structures that in some ways surpass those built by the empires.  But this only makes sense.  At Fanfest 2013, EVE Online's Senior Producer Andie Nordgren indicated that in the future players would have the capacity to build their own jump gates to places unknown.  Is it any wonder that we now see signs of capsuleers having capabilities that surpass the empires?

The way that CCP plans on implementing the change does keep to a wish that players have expressed to CCP: don't nerf high sec to attract players to null sec, buff null sec.  Setting the new maximum NPC station refine down from 100% to 72.4% in high sec means that CCP can buff the maximum refining rate in player-built null sec stations up to 86.8% with room for additional technological improvements in later expansions.  And by adding 38.1% to the mineral content of ice means that high sec miners do not receive fewer minerals for their efforts as long as they are willing to undergo the additional training time and purchase a 100 million ISK implant.  But as we've seen, the nerf is not specific to high sec, so the player base's wishes were respected in that regard.

The changes to refining in NPC stations is just one part of the first of many dev blogs due to come out over the next several weeks ahead of the summer expansion.  We really won't know the winners and losers until we get a chance to get into the game after the expansion launches.  After all, EVE players don't always react as the devs think.  But as of right now, the changes to ore refining in NPC stations looks like a nerf, although one that is probably justified.


1.  I realize that the changes affect other areas including, but not limited to, scrap metal processing and the change from mineral to ore compression for transporting materials used in industrial processes, but if I included all the issues the post becomes way too long.

2.  Some may say that mynnna was joking, but when dealing with the GSF, a wise person takes any in-game threat seriously.

3.  NPC-controlled space consists of all systems in high security space (0.5-1.0), low security space (0.1-0.4), and NPC-controlled null security space.

4.  High sec ores for the purposes of this post are those found in either a high sec belt or an ore site that spawns in high sec.  Those ores are Hemorphite, Jaspet, Kernite, Omber, Plagioclase, Pyroxeres, Scordite, and Veldspar.

5.  Low sec ores for the purposes of this post are those found in either a low sec belt or an ore site that spawns in high sec.  Those are all ores except for Arkonor, Bistot, and Mercoxit.

6.  This also assumes that a miner leaving his/her home system/region would want to reprocess the ore locally to make shipping the ore/minerals around easier.

7.  The number of PLEX required was calculated based on a player having the minimum level of skills currently required for perfect refining.  The price of PLEX was the average price of PLEX sold in The Forge on 23 March 2014.

8.  Angry CONCORD Guy is the nickname some have given the authority figure in the video.  Both he and the female capsuleer who died in the video have made multiple appearances in CCP trailers.  He's always angry looking and she always manages to die.


  1. After the change at a 50% high sec station I will refine at 65,7% and end up with 90,7% of the old yield. (96% with perfect skills and 100% with a 4% implant?)

    After the change at a 60% null sec station I would refine at 78,9% and end up with 108,9% of the old yield. (115% with perfect skills?)

    So it is a (slight) high sec nerf and a decent nullsec boost.

    1. no. It is not a nerf. It is a training incentive. A true nerf cannot be overcome (if the 4% implant only ever got you to 96% original output, or even lower) This just means that your skills that gave perfect refine weren't perfect, and will need to be increased. It does buff null, and actually anyone with a POS, as from what I have read the pos refining modules will refine at rates above NPC stations even without perfect skills (nominally to give players who dont have perfect skills an alternative, but probably mostly because """POSCODE""""tm and no one wants to touch it

    2. @Anonymous - Interesting. So you're saying that if CCP were to make Medium Projectile Turrets a level 5 skill (up from level 3) to learn, and Medium Autocannon Specialization a level 8 skill up from level 5) to learn, and reduced the bonus of Medium Projectile Turrets from 5% per level down to 4% per level, you wouldn't consider that a nerf as long as an implant exists that would make up for the lost DPS. Something tells me a lot of players would disagree.

    3. A better way to put it would be to imagine if using Tech II medium Autocannons only required Level 3 Medium Projectile Turret and training MPT to beyond 3 or training Medium Auto Spec beyond 1 didn't actually do anything, unless you were in nullsec in which case you'd train MPT to 5 and MAS to 3. Meanwhile missiles still require you to train your skills to maximum to get the fullest benefit. But then when CCP brings medium projectile skill requirements in line with missiles, they also give you the means to slave your weapons to someone who does have higher skills than you and deal damage as though you've got those skills.

      Yeah okay so it started to break down a bit at the end there. While bringing the medium projectiles in line with missiles in that case would certainly quality as a "nerf" in the strictest of terms, as our anonymous poster notes it would be something you could overcome.

      Now, generalize the point to "man 180 days of training skills just to do something you could already do is brutal, especially when you only have approximately 90 days to train them" or perhaps even more generally "why does each individual ore have its own skill anyway" and I'm on board with that and have told CCP as much. Perhaps CCP should remove the skills and replace them with Novice, Intermediate and Advanced Mineral Processing instead, ranks two, four, and eight (for example), which do not require one another as prerequisites and combine the respective high, low, and nullsec ore processing skills.

  2. After the change the optimal strategy for the miner will be to sell ore to the nullsec industrialist. No refining skills needed at all! Imagine that!

    1. I hope this does turn out to be the case; but I am uncertain as to how many miners will realize that the pricing may be better on raw ore for those of us who will need to compress.

      My current region nets me 110 million units of veld / week. If I want to move all minerals to raw ore, I would need 10x that amount. Unless the populous changes, I don't see that happening... and I am only a moderate sized capital producer.

    2. Do you know what type of PITA that potentially will be for miners? Of course, it probably will mean more AFK autopiloted industrial ships. Just don't know if gankers will be interested in ships filled with veldspar.

    3. If the Veldspar has over a certain value they will be.

    4. Conveniently CCP realized this and added the value of inputs & outputs to the refining screen. While estimated values are anything but dead on perfect it may at least provide the prompt for someone to realize the ore is worth selling instead.

  3. It doesnt really effect mining nearly as much as actual industry. This a huge buff to locally sourced minerals in null. That buffed yield will increase abc minerals quite a bit while also making veldspar yields high enough to be worth mining especially for modules and non-cap ships. Time to mine the minerals is reduced in null a lot. At the same time the compression/reprocessing changes make the compression work harder and imports to null will be more valuable as ore rather than minerals.

  4. You mix mining and refining. Mining is the act of turning an asteroid into ore in your hold. Refining is the act of turning ore into minerals. It is an act on its own, just like T1 manufacturing (turning minerals into T1 items).

    With the old system, refining on its own wasn't an act, merely an auxiliary of mining: every Tom, Dick and Harriette could perfectly refine. Now they won't, exactly because of the new skill demands. Miners will sell their ore to specialized refiners.

    1. Looks like I'm going to have to make another post about how the refining change affects miners. And as someone who mines in low sec for my manufacturing needs, I can tell you that if I had to start hauling ore around instead of the refined minerals, I would stop mining in low.

  5. And how about adding sov null sec to your tables? How much of a gift in overall yield was just gifted to the cartels? And BTW, this a HUGE nerf to high sec, as anyone who loots stuff just got wiped out.

    I can only cringe at the next set of dev blogs and the further assaults on high sec by this CSM and the null sec cartel lackey dev's.

    1. WH space has no refinable loot.
      Low/null people tend ignore loot anyway and go for speed.
      Have to agree that the nerf to reprocessing loot hits high sec the most.

    2. "anyone who loots stuff just got wiped out. "
      What's that got to do with high sec? It's a nerf to looting across all sec, except wspace.

    3. Please take some of the lead lined hat you wear and use it to cover the keys on your keyboard. Nerf everything but wormhole loot "huge nerf to highsec" Stop drinking the koolaid its obviously laced with something bad man. It is kind of amusing that in a way they are nerfing the mobile tractor they put out a couple months ago, by reducing the value of most of the stuff it loots, but that is across the board. but they are also giving highsec access to better than NPC refining (through the POS mods) and access to ore compression... NEW THINGS FOR HIGHSEC YAY.... This also buffs highsec mining, though not reprocessing because the raw ore (or even better compressed ore) will be even more valuable to anyone with the right station in Null.

    4. "anyone who loots stuff" .... was doing it wrong, esp when missioning in hisec (with a very few exceptions)

    5. @Dinsdale - Did you read the part of the post where I explicitly stated that this post was only referring to ore reprocessing in NPC stations? So, did you want me to put in an additional column for sov null sec NPC stations filled with "N/A"? Because unless something changed, those stations do not exist.

      Also, I did not mention the reprocessing change because it also affects POS and player-built stations, so it isn't just a change to NPC stations. It is its own separate subject.

  6. "Low/null people tend ignore loot anyway and go for speed. "
    And there I thought HS people ignore the loot while NS people put their newbies into a Dessie/Noctis to loot.

  7. Man, what about the important stuff like: "how will this effect botters"? :p

    I don't know for sure, but I imagine that botters probably want to refine their own stuff, especially given the overlap with 'mining it it the first place' skills. With this, they either need to train longer, accept lower yields, or just plain old-fashioned give up some margin to a middleman.

    Also, at least for the forseeable future, POS refining will be a) better than NPC empire stations b) only need one standing grind (the empire standing to hang it, if t's in hisec!) and c) treat you as having maximum skills/implants. I imagine that might make a difference.

    1. botters won't care ... selling the ore will replace selling the minerals. In fact since they'll be selling ore they can completely skip any training of refining skills at all.

    2. I haven't figured that out yet. I'm waiting for CCP to release the rest of the information. At this point though, I think it's a wash as most botters are probably just selling the ore anyway.

  8. What remains to be seen is how many producers head to null sec for better yields...AND take the time to ship things back to empire space versus selling them back in null.

    My gut reaction is that industrialists generally find their production streams interrupted by PVP as a headache (as in, not fun), and would rather stay in high sec where they can produce in relative peace. As such, even if Null Sov has better yields, I think high-sec production costs will continue to drive prices in Empire space.

    Could be wrong, though.

    ...that 4% implant needed to get perfect refine really bothers me, though. I always looked at implants to either push things beyond what is possible or to shore up a deficiency in skill. I guess I can accept that CCP intends to make perfect refine "beyond what is possible," and if I signed up for the game later this year, I wouldn't know the difference, soooo... vOv

    1. Oh , while your gut reaction is correct about high sec industrialists hating null sec, the sociopaths like mynnna have an answer to that. If you think that manufacturing slots in high sec will somehow miss his tender mercies, you are mistaken.

  9. The change to processing will IMO create a rather large imbalance in the ratio of those who mine to those who refine having the effect of increasing the price of refined ores & decreasing the price of the now overabundant compressed ore on the market.Am I wrong ?

  10. A couple of things to consider:

    The changes are really dependent on adding meaningful ore compression to the game, to consider one aspect of them without looking at that misses most of the point of the changes.

    Most importantly:
    If you need to move the basic manufacturing materials any distance you're going to do it by moving compressed ore. With the changes to reprocessing of manufactured goods the old "mineral compression" is dead as it will be less-space efficient and also uneconomic than transporting compressed ore.

    This means that there should open up a market for compressed ore. In fact given that there is basically no advantage to using uncompressed ore (the compression process itself has no waste), it is likely that it'll be the primary ore market. Whether or not it also takes over most of the volume from the mineral market depends on how much of that market is "local". If I'm buying minerals for local manufacturing then I'll probably still do so. If I'm buying them for mineral compression to transport them elsewhere then I'll switch to buying compressed ore.