Monday, July 23, 2012

First Step: Alchemy. Second Step?

So, I've had the weekend to ponder over the dev blog from last week (don't worry Ripard, you're still in my crosshairs once you've recovered from your alliance tournament run) and I've had some thoughts beyond the "alchemy is a nice overture but woefully inadequate for the Technetium problems.

First let's look at what CCP Fozzie said:
There are more problems with our current system of moon mining and tech two production than just the price of Technetium, which is why we now have a comprehensive plan to address these issues over multiple releases. The end goal is for the materials for tech two production to come from player activities that require group gameplay and risk taking, and that provide appropriate rewards. This will eventually involve changes to both resource collection and the build requirements for construction of tech two materials and items. A responsible first step in this plan is to ensure that as much as possible the tech two components market is shielded from unnecessary price shocks.
Those of you who have been playing for a while may remember that there was a system introduced in 2008 for this exact purpose called Alchemy. It allows players to replace one moon mineral type with another in a reaction; simulating the innovation that occurs in the real world when supply of a resource is tight (the fuel conservation innovation that resulted from the 1970s oil crisis springs to mind). The details of the system are available at CCP Greyscale’s original alchemy devblog for those who are interested.
Our first step in fixing the moon mineral and tech two production economies is to expand alchemy to every applicable reaction. You will soon be able to create Platinum Technite without using Technetium if you so desire.
(Emphasis mine.)

What's the next logical step? In order to accurately answer this we would need to know what CCP actually thinks the problems are from an official standpoint rather than a personal individual dev standpoint which can vary from dev to dev. We at least have a statement in that dev blog about where they want to go: "[t]he end goal is for the materials for tech two production to come from player activities that require group gameplay and risk taking, and that provide appropriate rewards". From this statement we can draw two conclusions about what they think the issues with moon mining in general is (and highlighted in stark contrast by Technetium). Materials for tech two production:
1) do not come from player activities that require group gameplay;
2) do have appropriate levels of risk involved; and
3) have disproportionate rewards.

The Alchemy solution in this blog addresses neither points one nor two but does provide a bit of a relief value on moon goo prices so that helps address point 3. The other two points essentially stem from the same source reason: moon mining is done automatically by harvesters anchored on Player Owned Starbases, requiring minimal human effort (compared to say, mining or ratting for example) and no serious group activity until defense of said POS is called for.

Therefore its safe to say that moon mining will either be augmented or replaced by a new mechanic that requires more player interaction, more players in general, and is probably not tied to a POS since its a bugbear of terrible legacy code according to reports from the dev trenches. Assuming this is very true and developers choose to circumnavigate the POS code for now, some new mechanic is going to be introduced to provide a new source for moon materials.

Enter planetary ring mining. This has been brought up before and now seems like a good time to work on it. Scannable locations near planets with rings that have special asteroids (or ice blocks) that can be mined by new modules (based on new ships or existing ORE ships) and produce moon materials. The types of moon materials that can be mined can be controlled by true security status just like asteroid ores and rat quality. The volume that can be mined per player would be significantly lower than a moon harvester per hours, but you can have as many miners as you want as opposed to a single harvester per moon goo (IIRC). This addresses problem points 1 and 2 by encouraging groups of players to venture out in vulnerable fleets that can be found and attacked by small groups of enemies without the defensive capabilities of a POS.

Then once ring mining is firmly entrenched and contributing to moon material volumes, CCP can start scaling back and eliminating moon mining. As long as CCP does not do something foolish like regionalize the available moon materials to a few select regions (again), the cartels of the few will be broken and material prices will start to reflect the benefits of wider competition.


  1. "As long as CCP does not do something foolish like regionalize the available moon materials to a few select regions (again)"

    I wish I shared your optimism. CCP seems to want to hang on to the idea that valuable resources should not be even distributed and that the possession of these fountains of ISK are prime drivers in conflict.


    Planetary ring mining, utilizing the POCO infrastructure already in place, would be ideal in this case. For many reasons, one being that under current POCO usage, the materials belong to the player, not the corp, not the alliance.

    However, if CCP eschews the POCO and sets up ring mining like exploration grav sites, then its almost as good.

    My greatest hope is that corp (and alliance) income is derived from individual player action NOT mechanics that pump it into corps almost directly. Use the corp tax system. Implement alliance tax system for corps. Use POCOs (please !) for planetary ring mining.

  2. Anonymous7:19 pm

    Currently, alliances like PL can own moon in territories don't live in and corp living in LS can't own their valuable moons. It's ridiculous.

    If it was more like T3 production (and please not like PI), people would have to live there to make T2 modules and ships. It would be perfect if they were gas to harvest; it would far easier to train and would bring more people to it - leave the miner to Tritanium and Pyerite mining please, they can hardly keep up ;)

  3. yes, but what do they mean when they say "planetary ring mining"? it could mean something akin to PI? could it be something one uses a barge for? will it be like ice mining where cycle times are long and volume of output high? will the rarity depend on activity level of said miner or system security level?
    personally, i think the high sec people are going to be screwed, since this looks like a null sec oriented activity.

    ooops...Knug Lidi beat me to it. lol.

    i'm not really buying the exploration side of it since planetary rings aren't exactly "hard" to find. I suppose one could rationalize this mechanic by saying the planetary rings are vast and need gravimetric scans to pinpoint areas of value?
    except, how would that work to scan down? a different category of signature grouping? perhaps even a different scan probe ammo entirely?
    But, we're getting ahead of ourselves...the best developer tactic is to take the easiest route possible: and i believe that would be utilizing the current PI model.

    personally, i suspect they are interested in eliminating belt mining altogether and going with scannable planetary rings, and just happen to tack on "what if" statements regarding moon goo....and they'll ACTUALLY just turn around and make moons just like planets for "M.I." instead of "P.I."