"Any highsec miner whines that CCP is netting you, I'm siccing Miniluv on you."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.