Exploring the EVE-o-nomics

No screenshots today, and no GAX crosspost. Thank the heathen terminal that I’m using right now for being too slow and choppy to process the graphics, or to even consider surfing to what is ordinarily a slow site on my ubermachine at home.

Shamutanti over on GAX (where I’m also crossposting this blog) is another rookie with a very nice run of blog posts where he describes his impressions so far with EVE. They are worth checking out. I chatted a little bit with him online the other night – he seems to be hooked, which make me happy.

I did not get much time in myself yesterday – Sunday is my tabletop day and time to run real-life errands. But I did drop in briefly to check on some market orders. This is an area I did not really explore in EVE before; I was pretty much using the sell-and-forget method, even though I was well aware that I wasn’t getting the best prices. Clavius was designed with trading in mind, however, so I might as well start paying closer attention to this aspect of the game, even though there are some essential skills I need to really be good at it, and those tend to be expensive (Marketing and Accounting – neither of which I have – are both multi-million ISK skills.) And my understanding of the mechanics, and the economics, involved is still really sketchy (MMOs reward a deep understanding of the underlying rules, and this is nowhere more true than in EVE.) Even so, I have already made a couple of sweetheart deals on select items by placing lowball buy orders, saving myself several hundred thousand ISK. And I’ve increased my profit margin on a number of items by avoiding selling to lowball orders from other players.

EVE is kind of alone among MMOs in that the in-game economy is almost entirely player-driven. Players mine the resources and manufacture almost all of the goods; there are very few “money sinks” in the traditional sense (of existing primarily to flush money out of the economy, never to be seen again.) And there are relatively few NPC sources for products; almost everything you buy has been put up for sale by another player, and almost everything you sell goes to a plyer with an outstanding market order for that item. The amazing thing about this is that it works so well; common goods can indeed be found virtually everywhere, prices and supply fluctuate in a realistic way, and the system is self-correcting by the very laws of capitalism that it’s built on. It’s also astonishingly rich and detailed; there are angles to it that I probably won’t understand for months or years.

This means that one can play the market like a tramp trader, buying low over here and selling high over there, making a tidy profit over time. With the right skills, you can even do this at range, sitting safely in station and making deals remotely. Or you can play like a 19th-century robber baron, using your considerable resources to corner local or regional markets for goods and being able to set your own price for the stuff. It’s pure free-market capitalism largely unrestrained by modern ethics or laws, and as such it’s facinating and more than a little bit dirty.

Some of the famous stories to come out of EVE reflect this; the EVE Investment Bank scam comes to mind, wherein a player solicited investments and absconded with the money – to the tune of 700 Billion ISK. While this sort of thing is not encouraged by CCP, it’s not banned outright either, and there exist tremendous opportunities in the game for ambitious, greedy and totally unscrupulous capitalists. The news was so big that it made major news outlets. This kind of thing is not a bug or an exploit – it is awesome, and our own real-world economic history is filled with stories of men who walked the same kind of crooked path to wealth and power; Hearst, Vanderbilt, Kennedy, Morgan. Needless to say, there’s also plenty of room for paranoia.

Now, regarding Clavius’ plans; he’s busily training up Caldari Frigate IV, after which he’ll be moving on to Caldari Cruiser I and II, both of which ought to be done by Wednesday or so. At that point I’ll go pick up the Osprey and run some mining ops; a fully-kitted Osprey flown by a fully-skilled pilot can mine almost as much as a retriever, not that I’ll be quite that efficient anytime soon, what with my Mining II and all. But by the end of the week I should be mining pretty well, despite lacking a hauler. I will probably train some other things up before moving on to Industrial, though – I have lots of skills on the character that are still at zero, and even more skill books in my hangar that I can’t train yet due to lacking the appropriate prerequisites, including the specialized ore processing skills.

I do intend to keep participating in the regular mining ops, and I think I have a better idea of how to react to ore thieves (speaking of which, if you’re so “l33t,” why are you stealing Scordite from rookies in 0.8?) Although I’m given to understand that the haul this week was a bit light (and not because of the canflippers,) they represent a way to make a solid 5 million ISK a week, which will probably be about what I can make during the rest of the week with my shoddy mining skills and inability to run combat missions (which is something that’s going to get fixed over the next week or two.) Once I can get 30 million or so in the bank, I can start thinking about flying something really shiny. That balance is not all that far away, but I have a lot of skills to train in that time.

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