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Published November 14, 2012

In my last article, I mentioned that a large amount of combat that could take place in 0.0 is missing due to the lack of significant industry. In this article, I’m going to briefly lay out why industry is broken and how the POS revamp should be structured to fix it.

One of the best raiding opportunities in 0.0 these days is the destruction of CSAAs. Building a supercap isn’t possible anywhere but in space in 0.0: to build a titan you must venture deep out into space, throw up a tower, spend hours filling it with 60b worth of minerals, and defend it for around two months. Should anyone destroy the POS before the titan emerges, every bit of that money and effort is wasted.  Unlike every other ship in the game, it can’t be built in the safety of a station: it must be built in space, and it can be destroyed in space. As a result, alliances will throw everything they have into attacking and defending these towers: from throwing fifty suicide dreads at a CSAA deep in enemy territory in 2007 (which would have been a much better idea had the CSAA actually been building anything at the time) right up to the present day, where Goonfleet fleet commander DaBigRedBoat savagely butchered IRC twice to abort a baby erebus. Lotka Volterra, one of the first alliances sent to the dustbin of history by Goonswarm, died after losing a savage fight over a CSAA in JV-1V.

Industrial POS largely don’t exist in 0.0, aside from CSAAs. This is for two reasons. First is that industrial POS are pretty worthless. Second, is that industry in 0.0 is broken in general. These two problems are best solved jointly: make 0.0 industrial POS useful and relevant, and you solve 0.0’s industry problem.  I’m going to go through the problems with 0.0 industry first, then explain what a POS revamp should do to make industrial POS worth using, worth fighting over, and make industry worth doing in 0.0.

How Manufacturing is broken in 0.0

The core problem with manufacturing in 0.0 is that in every case it makes more sense to import than to build locally.  In some cases, that’s just unavoidable. Modules are so small and margins are so low in jita it’s always going to make more sense to load up a blockade runner or fill in gaps on a jump freighter and bring them in. Ammo is a little more annoying to import but the margins are so low, and the build time so high, that there’s no real reason to do it in 0.0. It’s not a big deal that these aren’t built in 0.0. However, in other cases, it’s because the industry infrastructure in 0.0 is so bad that even enormous import costs are better than trying to build locally, or because the advantages empire offers are simply too great to pass up.

Tech 1 battleships and capital ships should be built en masse in 0.0.  They’re huge, hard to transport in volume, and form the backbone of fleet combat in 0.0. In reality, though, that doesn't happen. Battleships are imported from Jita at great cost, while capital ships are built in lowsec and jumped into 0.0.  The inability to locally supply low-ends is part of the problem, but the big obstacle is 0.0's terrible "usable" infrastructure. The sole obstacle to production in highsec is logistics, dealing with the tedious but straightforward task of moving minerals to any of the hundreds of 50-slot stations with attached refineries. Capital production in lowsec is a little more difficult and requires some extra caution. A builer may elect to compress his minerals first, so as to save trips, but that is no obstacle. Like the highsec builder, each and every station he could use comes with dozens of slots and a refinery. In 0.0, that isn't the case. Compressed minerals are a certainty, mandating a refinery. Unlike empire, however, high slot counts and refineries are rare. For example, in Tribute, there are fewer production slots with an attached refinery in the entire region than there are in any single station in Empire. As a result, meaningful production means a lot of trips between refining and production stations, and no matter how "safe" people think nullsec might be, no one wants to make dozens of trips back and forth in a freighter. Back in the day, these obstacles were very grudgingly accepted. The time saved by using an amarr factory would allow you to build more dreads with less bpos, a great tradeoff when people were considerably more isk-poor (and capital ships in more demand) than they are today. These days, capital builders have plenty of isk, but need to manage burnout. As a result, they invest in a few more bpos and save the freightering. 0.0 battleship producers just give up, as the incredible tedium of ferrying around trit and finished battleships burns them out, and just begin paying exorbitant markups to import from empire. At the end of the day the effort and risk is just not worth it for producers.

As long as 0.0 lacks effective combined refinery/factory stations, it will not have serious capship or battleship production. The tritanium problem (the lack of any reasonable supply of tritanium and other low ends in 0.0) is largely solved through the use of large T1 gun compression. This does, however, create the irritating side effect that highends mined in 0.0 are shipped to empire, where they are then compressed into large guns to be reimported to 0.0.

Tech 2 ship production could be done in 0.0, but there’s largely no reason to.  All commonly used Tech 2 ships are battlecruisers or below (and most are cruiser sized or smaller). To build Tech 2 ships, you need every kind of moon mineral, reacted in a massive reaction farm. However, several moon minerals are regional and not available everywhere. These minerals, along with fuel, would have to be imported. Seeing as importation is required already, the extra hassle of running reaction farms and production lines is skipped in favor of simply shipping in finished product.

How the POS Revamp Should Fix Industrial POS

There are three main things the POS revamp should do for industrial POS. This will both help revitalize the long-dead 0.0 economy, and provide great targets for intermediate sized economic warfare that reduces the hostile alliance’s capability to wage war.

Allow the creation of local shipyards

0.0 needs shipyards. It needs to create Tech 1 and Tech 2 ships in volumes that can sustain the levels of warfare 0.0 needs. Every maelstrom imported from Jita is a lost chance to build up local industry, industry that in turn provides a target for hostile forces. Imagine a headshot, aimed not at an enemy’s “capital” but at their shipyards. Warfare of attrition through breaking down the enemy’s resources (rather than the style practiced now, which is simply breaking their will to fight) would become possible.

This means fixing the problems with 0.0 that prevent production of Tech 1 and Tech 2 ships in 0.0.

Incentivizing Tech 2 production in 0.0 is trivially achieved by allowing an industrial POS to  produce them more cost-effectively than in empire. This can be safely done because Tech 2 ships have extremely large amounts of waste when produced through invention, so their build cost can be significantly reduced in 0.0 (and only 0.0: giving the same bonus to industrial POS elsewhere defeats the purpose) without the risk of creating minerals out of thin air through reprocessing. 

To produce T1 ships, the minimum requirement is that a POS must be a one-stop-shop, capable of refining compressed minerals at 100% efficiency and providing a usefully larger number of production slots. Extra incentives such as build time reduction could exist but are not a requirement. While there may be various limitations placed on this refinery, they would have to be less draconian than those in place now. Existing POS refineries only achieve 75% yield, and worse yet are unimaginably slow - they can be outstripped by the production of a single mining Hulk. However, regardless of limitations, it must be able to refine scrapmetal, and must be able to be brought to 100% - even if only with exceedingly high skills. This is necessary even if the tritanium problem is solved in 0.0. Otherwise, it’s still a massive amount of risky mineral movement for little reward. If these requirements aren’t met, it’s unlikely there winds up being much of a demand for these pos.

Those fixes mean industrialists can and will begin building ships locally - and raiders can fall from the sky and put their shipyards to the torch.

Encourage Investment

The POS Revamp needs to allow for the creation of expensive, valuable POS that provide an incentive for builders to spend vast sums of money creating structures in space. Sums of money that were significant when POS were originally conceived are commongly regarded as rounding errors today. A POS simply is not much of an investment. A tower is a middling amount of money, and the modules are a pittance. These do not provide tempting targets for destruction: the ratio of damage inflicted to suffering endured as you chew through millions of EHP is...not favorable.  Shooting a POS hurts the attacker more than the defender.

By encouraging investment, allowing the player to spend large amounts of money to improve his POS, you can encourage people to create large, expensive structures that they care about. If they care about them, they will defend them, and if they do not the attacker will enjoy taking it from them. Case in point: it is far more hilarious to suicide gank a hulk than a retriever, due to the vastly increased suffering it causes.

Many 0.0 residents in EVE today are wealthy to a degree that was unthinkable half a decade ago. Titans, once expensive enough to bankrupt entire alliances, are now privately owned in large numbers. As a result, they need to be incentivized to part with that money. In addition, this means that the POS must be structured so if the POS is attacked, you will lose significant amounts of money if you don’t save it. This can be done by upping the cost of the modules. More valuable than isk is time, so it can also be done by requiring you to “grow” your POS: requiring a POS be in operation a certain length of time doing a specific task before it can be expanded farther. In this way, if your shipyards are attacked, you can’t just rebuild once they’re gone: you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage with new sapling POS that haven’t yet grown into their full potential.

Reward its destruction

Once we’ve created these useful POS, and created an incentive to spend a great deal of money on them, it’s time to reward people for burning them to the ground. Currently, unless the POS has a CSAA or is sitting on a moon you'd like for yourself, there's little incentive to destroy it. Destroying a POS must drop loot of some kind, giving the attacker some portion of the value he has destroyed to reward his efforts. A POS wreck dropping salvage, a factory dropping portions of the materials of ships in build, and the like should be part of the design. EVE has, unfortunately, lost most of the financial rewards for combat that were present in the early days of the game (since only modules drop while the ship itself blows up and drops token amounts of salvage, meaning the vast majority of the value of a ship cannot be looted). For ships, you at least get the pleasure of blowing someone up while they struggle and watch. For blowing up a structure, you’re left only with the hollow sense that, by not showing up and letting you waste irreplaceable hours of your life shooting a box while costing them an insignificant amount of isk, the defender has won again.

While it is not and should not be treated as a magic bullet for all of 0.0's problems, the POS revamp is a great idea. It’s my hope that by putting in the effort to revitalize industrial POS we can create a revitalized 0.0 economy. And with that revitalized economy, there are far more people to kill, things to plunder, and ways to make your enemies suffer.

 

Weaselior
I am too lazy to make a Bio. Punch me in the dick.