Inventing an industrialist
Background: A few months ago I made a career move in the real-world that chewed up all of my will to socialize — I was meeting new people at work and integrating myself into the new environment. That move sapped my desire to play games socially, so I took a partial break from EVE. It was a partial break in the sense that I still logged on occasionally and made some effort to earn isk and increase my in-game status; though sadly, it was a complete break from the small-gang PvP that I’ve grown to love.
I took this self-imposed retreat as an opportunity to pursue a new in-game career as an inventor and industrialist. Tech 2 modules don’t build themselves; I figured that if I’m going to be blowing these up on a regular basis, I should also know what goes into creating them and I hoped that would net me some capital as well. What I found didn’t surprise me … much.
As I embarked into a new career, the first step was to train some science skills. There were a few obvious choices such as Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Graviton Physics (which I already had as a Heavy Interdictor pilot). I broadened the skill selection to allow me to invent and build Tech 2 Gallente frigates (Ares, Taranis and Ishkur), a handful of the modules that I commonly use on these ships (Warp Disruptor II, Stasis Webifier II and Warp Scrambler II) and ultimately some ammunition. I ended up with Electromagnetic Physics, Electronic Engineering, Gallentean Starship Engineering, Graviton Physics, Mechanical Engineering and Quantum Physics — these skills are 10 million isk each and represent a fairly significant investment for those without wealthy benefactors.
Then I went a little overboard and invested in a smaller set of skills that would position me to produce Minmatar T2 frigates and a subset of the modules I commonly use on them. I added Minmatar Starship Engineering, Nuclear Physics and Rocket Science to my growing scientific repertoire.
Because I’d been training the science skills, I figured I ought to put some effort into the skills that would allow me to accrue datacores from R&D agents as well. Research Project Management (weighing in at a whopping 40 million isk) was the only new essential here.
And finally I needed to add the proper Encryption Methods skills: Gallente Encryption Methods and Minmatar Encryption Methods. These skills aren’t available from your local educational institution — instead, they are found at Radar exploration sites. They are commonly found on the market, but prices vary widely by skill and region.
With the skills downloaded safely into my head, I set about discovering the process. There are many tutorials available on the internet, but the EVE online wiki article offers a very good base. One of the best sites for reference is http://games.chruker.dk/eve_online/ where you can find some useful tools and reference documents for many aspects of EVE.
After sifting through that information, it was obvious that I needed to do some recon to find the facilities I needed: a station with empty copy laboratory slots, a station with empty invention laboratory slots, and a station with empty manufacturing slots.
Finding a station in high-security or low-security space without a long queue for copy slots is very difficult. Most players who are serious about invention set up a player owned station with laboratories. I’m not that committed. Lucky for me, I have a good background in small-gang PvP and experience attempting to intercept pilots navigating their way through null-security space; that gave me something to draw on and tempered my fear of the lawless space where copy slots are more readily available. So, I prepared a small stash of blueprint originals deep in NPC-controlled null-security space.
Invention slots are fairly clogged in high-security space, but there is a lot of room in low-security space for those not afraid to travel there. So I set up a station in low-security space with the requisite Data Interfaces and Datacores for the type of invention I wanted to do.
Manufacturing slots are very easy to find even in high-security space. So I picked a station I’d spent a lot of time in as a younger character (which happened to have a lot of my old junk lying around anyway). The station happens to be in a secondary trade hub not terribly far from Jita (and with slightly higher prices for most items) which works out well both for acquiring materials necessary for manufacturing and for selling the finished modules.
While I’d jumped into the skill pool head-first, I figured I’d start a little lighter on the blueprint front. My chosen blueprint copying headquarters contained original blueprints for Stasis Webifier I, Warp Scrambler I, and Warp Disruptor I modules. As soon as the blueprints were in place, I started copying them. A set of 20 blueprints with maximum runs (300) takes a little over 2 days to copy from the original. Within a few weeks of off-and-on work I had a healthy stockpile of Tech 1 blueprint copies.
A short flight later and I had gathered these copies from my secret base in null-security space and deposited them in low-security at my invention headquarters. Splitting my available laboratory jobs between making more copies and inventing with the on-hand copies, I churned out a steady stream of Stasis Webifier II, Warp Scrambler II and Warp Disruptor II blueprint copies; without using special decryptors, these copies have a production level and material level of -4 and 10 runs.
With 52 successful invention attempts, I had a random collection of Tech 2 blueprints I could now use to manufacture modules. I shuttled the blueprints to my high-security manufacturing hub and purchased the right materials to begin assembly.
The materials for invention and production cost roughly 60% of the finished product’s market value. I still have to make enough profit to justify the millions spent on the “infrastructure”: skills, data interfaces and blueprints. This is further tempered by the rate at which these items sell if not spread through multiple market hubs — at the current rate, it will take a couple of months to sell all the modules which took me a couple of months to invent and manufacture. Overall, I think I will just about break even with this first batch. Subsequent batches should offer real revenue.
All told, this wasn’t nearly as interesting or exciting as I’d hoped. It felt a bit like pulling the lever on a slot machine; you put in some money, you pull the lever and you hope you get a successful invention. I’m not certain that the profits are enough to entice me to continue production of modules as anything other than a part-time, half-hearted effort.
But, seeing the process of invention from start to finish was worth the effort; now I know what it takes to produce that Warp Disruptor II I used to buy at market price to fit onto my Ares to hold enemy combatant ships in place while my comrades pelt them with a multitude of weapon systems.
The next step will be producing interceptors, weapon systems and ammunition of my own. For now I’m just working to earn the necessary isk to get paritybit back into the game so I can start shooting things again.