Last night I stayed up late and finished my latest standings grind with Carthum Conglomerate on an alt. I'm making another industrial alt and so far I have her up to flying a blockade runner, flying mining barges and exhumers, best refining of high sec ore out of some Caldari stations, and some production skills up to level 5. But I had a hole in my datacore farming that I chose this alt to fill. Namely, my main characters don't get along with the Caldari or Amarr very well, so I needed to get access to level 4 R&D agents for those two factions. I finished that up last night. Now all I need to do is complete her training.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of datacore farming, EVE University has a class on its wiki on the subject, which as far as I can tell only needs updating with the changes that were introduced in Incarna. For those not involved in factional warfare, datacores are obtained from research agents found within four main NPC factions and the minor factions of the Ammatar Mandate, Khanid Kingdom, and Thukker Tribe. After the initial training and standings grinding, CCP considers datacore farming (except when done through factional warfare) a passive activity, although players can double the output of the agents by running daily missions. I did that on my alt when she could only use a level 2 agent and after a couple of months she raised the amount of research points earned with the agent up to 50/day, which is half the amount needed for a datacore.
Why the need for a level 4 Amarr research agent? Tech 2 mining crystals. I may not wind up selling them, but I do use them. I plan to make a Prospect, equip it with Modulated Deep Core Miner IIs, and go exploring. Also, since low sec activity has died down a bit, I might take my Procurer traveling around looking for the small null sec ore sites I've seen spawn. Crystals for those null sec ores, even the tech 1 versions, are kind of rare in my area of space. Having a secure supply would help. What's more secure than making my own?
I now have access to level 4 agents for all the major factions except Gallente, which I only have access to level 3. Due to the way that access to R&D agents works, both Wandering Rose and Rosewalker, who both have great standings with the Gallente, don't have access to the level 4 agents. I actually need to get my personal standings with each of the three Gallente R&D corporations up to 3.0 in order to do so. That's not a high bar to clear, since I've got all the relevant social skills up to 5 and doing one mission for a corp gets my standings over 2. Compared to a lot of the standings grinds I've done, including the one I just finished, those grinds will go quickly when I do them.
I consider myself a casual type of player, but looking back, the grinding I've done so far doesn't look that casual. Then again, I have worked on my corporation and faction standings off and on for almost 5 years, working on one project or another. A lot of serious industrialists involved with invention will probably say I've wasted my time and I should just buy the datacores off the market and include the price in the finished goods. Fair enough. But having a good datacore farm gives me something to do in EVE.
As much as I like flying around in EVE, going out and collecting datacores every 2-4 weeks gives me a chance to see some areas of EVE I usually don't frequent. So if you see me flying around apparently doing nothing, I'm not wasting time. I'm working. Honest!