(Author’s note: Initially this was intended as a single guide. After churning out a wall of text, however, I decided to break it down into multiple parts. Part one discussed what planetary interaction actually is and how to prepare a character for it. Part two will detail actually setting up your initial PI planet. Part three will cover transferring PI materials to other planets for further refinement, and other final and miscellaneous details. This is part two.)
In a previous article, I already detailed the types of training and homework involved to start making money through planetary interaction (PI). This article will show you how to properly set up a planet in order to create PI commodities.
The Ingredients List
The basic summary of extracting materials from a planet is actually rather simple. A single command center is placed on single planet. This command center outputs a set amount of power and CPU, which determines the number of structures you can have on that planet to extract and process planetary commodities. Upgrading the level of the command center increases the amount of CPU and power that is output on a given planet, thereby allowing for more structures to be placed on said planet.
The other structures for planets are:
- Extractor Control Unit: this is the building that pulls resources out of the planet.
- Storage Facility: stores resources, remarkably uncomplicated..
- Launchpad: sends resources to a planet’s Player-Owned Customs Office (POCO).
- Basic, Advanced, and High-Tech Processors: these buildings turn lesser tier materials into higher tier materials.
- Planetary Links: these connect structures together and allow for the transfer of resources between them.
These structures are what ultimately get you resources from planets. Working in concert they will extract, process, and launch PI materials for you to sell for fun and profit.
Setting the Stage and Building Your Colony
Since you followed my earlier guide and have done a good deal of homework, you already have a system in mind with the appropriate planets you need. The following steps will walk you through setting up your first planet and extracting your first materials, setting the stage to set up the rest of of your PI empire.
Step 1: Go to the nearest market hub and purchase the appropriate command centers. This step is fairly self explanatory. If you wanted to extract heavy metals from a lava planet, for example, you will need a Lava Command Center. For the purposes of this guide, properly completing a single P2 chain will require three command centers total: two for planets that will extract a P0 material and process it into a PI material, and one that will process those PI materials into P2 materials.
An example configuration for consumer electronics could include one Lava Command Center (for non-CS crystals), one Ice Command Center (for heavy metals), and one Temperate Command Center (for P2 processing). For my own setup, I typically have systems with four planets extracting P0 materials, processing them into P1 materials, and then a fifth planet that turns everything into P2 materials.
Step 2: Bring your command centers to the selected system and place them on the appropriate planets. Command centers are 1000 m3 per pop, so you’ll need an industrial or something beefy to haul them around.
There is one final criterion I did not mention before for selecting an appropriate PI system that I should mention immediately: your system should probably have a station in it. If your system does not have a station, do not panic; it’ll just make transporting PI materials a little bit more cumbersome if you’re in low-sec or null-sec.
Once in system, I select an overview tab or setting that allows you to view planets, sorting all the items by type. Select the planet you want to place a command center on, and in your selected item window the third button from the left should read “View in Planet Mode.” Go ahead and click on that. Your screen should change to something that looks a little like this:
A lava planet with PI commands in the upper left.
Using the "Build" tab, select command centers. A little round button will appear as your mouse cursor. Go ahead and dump the command center anywhere on the planet (it doesn’t matter where). Confirm the dialog box with the "submit" button, and you now have a command center on your first planet.
Close the window. Repeat this for any applicable planet, and go dock up into a station. The rest of PI setup does not require you to be floating around as a vulnerable target in space.
Step 3: Upgrade your command center. On your Neocom, click on the “Science and Industry” button or use the default shortcut key of Alt-S. Select the “Planets” tab, and this will display a list of all planets you have a command center placed on. Double click the planet on which you wish to build structures.
This will bring up the default planet mode again. Find the command center you previously placed on the planet and click on it. Click on the "upgrade" button, and move the slider to upgrade the level of the command center as high as your skills allow. This will likely be on the order of several million ISK.
Click "Upgrade", and click "submit" to confirm the change. You now have successfully upgraded the command center to level 5.
An example of an upgraded Command Center already in use.