Portfolio of PVEJakob Anedalle
PVE has gotten a renewed interest in the meta of Eve, including an upcoming PVE townhall being organized by the CSM. This is a good time to take a step back and look at the many ways to make your ISK with PVE in Eve, and consider it as a portfolio of opportunities. I argue that CCP would be wise to make sure that this diverse portfolio is maintained, and any arguments about the relative strength of PVE activities should take into consideration the many ways in which players seek PVE in Eve.
having a diverse portfolio of activity helps keep players engaged
This is not about the infamous measures of ISK/hr or risk/reward. It is rare to see agreement on what these values are because there are so many variables involved. Game designers do need to bring these into consideration, and CCP has access to the data here that we players do not. Instead, I suggest we look at this portfolio divided by the nature of the activity needed on the level of the player. I’ve tried quite a number of these, though I am a master of none, I’ll share at a level that may help some of the newer players in choosing what they can do in game. I think that having a diverse portfolio of activity helps keep players engaged with the game.
Out of Client
Stretching the definition to include the ultimate in AFK ISK making, Eve’s extensive meta means that there is plenty of room for making ISK without even logging in. Creative types make artwork for alliance logos, write articles for Eve media, or even write fiction in player-run contests. The year that I won a second place in the Pod and Planet fiction the prize (8 PLEX I believe) was probably my single greatest source of income for the year. Technically savvy players create killboards and other infrastructure to meet the needs and desires of their fellow players. This year of course we can’t go without mentioning how setting up an out-of-client gambling side can apparently be rather lucrative. Perhaps the most straight-forward out of client ISK source is to have a blog on the CCP list, worth a PLEX a month as long as you keep blogging. I wouldn’t have started a second account without that income flow.
There will always be concerns about RMT when real-world activity crosses over into in-game activity, but CCP’s actions (and inactions) have made clear that the examples above are acceptable or even considered a vital part of Eve’s reality. For those concerned about this cross-over, you should read Nosy Gamer’s blog.
Intermittently Intense Activity
Moving into the client, there are several options in which you’ll have a short period of activity followed by a much longer period of passive effect. Station and regional trading both allow the player to set up market orders and then login for 5-10 minutes once a day to update all of your bid/sell positions. Planetary Interaction can have a long period where you puzzle out what you can make profitably in a particular system, then a long clickfest while you set up your colonies while sitting cloaked at a safe. Then you can come along at regular intervals and move your materials around as needed to get to your final products that go to market. The vast majority of the time your colonies are sitting there, making ISK for you, while you’re not even logged in. Industry also can fit this mold for many products where much of the work is done in planning what you want to do, then you log into the client from time to time to flip your jobs and move materials around.
This can be a great compliment to your Eve playtime
This can be a great compliment to your Eve playtime. You may not have the time to join a fleet or head off on a solo roam, but you can log in and make some quick updates. Consider if the time interval is one you can control or not – PI is wonderful for being highly selectable in extractor runtimes, whereas industry jobs may be hard to finagle to match your real-life schedule. For a while I manufactured HACs not necessarily because they were the most profitable option in ISK/hr, but because the runtimes were long enough that checking in on them at night was quite sufficient. By contrast, making T2 small guns or armor modules might be more profitable on paper, but the manufacturing jobs would need to be flipped every 2-3 hours. That’s not going to be a good match for someone with a family and a 9-5 job.
What if you have a stretch of time, but you know you can’t put headphones on and completely devote your attention to Eve? There are a number of activities you can still do, using a variety of in-game skills. Mining is perhaps the most famous of these low-attention activities, with a history stretching back to the beginning of Eve. Depending on what part of Eve you live in, you may have to pay more attention to local or your intel channels, and may have to move your mining beams around from asteroid to asteroid. Between the asteroids being depleted or your hold being filled up there is little you need to pay attention to, so go ahead and pay those bills or catch up on your emails. The other day I even did a light workout, changing the asteroid targets on the rest period. Getting fit and making ISK seems like a good combination.
Having an alt in Factional Warfare provides another option
Having an alt in Factional Warfare provides another option with a more infamous reputation. Defensive plexing requires warping to a beacon and orbiting it, preferably with a ship without enough stabs and minimal tank to warp away when you see someone drop in on you. As a solo roamer it is frustrating to land on what you may think is going to be a fight, slap down your scram, and then watch the target just warp away. However, I don’t think there are too many FW pilots who don’t have a deplex alt for rounding up those LP. I broke down and started one up a few months ago. I recommend that you offer a friendly gf to the inevitable people who do manage to kill your alt, secure in the knowledge that the price of your frigate is covered by the next novice plex at even marginally contested systems.
AFKtars became a thing for nullsec pilots for their ability to unleash drones and then happily orbit a combat site without any action needed from the player. Even when jumped by enemy players, the pre-nerf Ishtar’s drones could take out an attacker without their owner even returning to the keyboard. Whether you’re using an Ishtar, Gila, or other ship there is a site to match your capabilities that you can do without paying it much attention. Because of the risk of an opposing player showing up, this is only advisable in highsec and safe pockets of null. If CCP has a mission to reduce any of such activities, this would appear to be it as we can see with recent changes such as the lack of fighter auto-aggression in the new carrier mechanics. I personally have never really gotten this to work, probably because I live in lowsec and only visit null temporarily though WHs.
Where the ISK can really roll in is with the classic PVE activities, and I think these are the best understood in our community. Whether it is running incursions, level 4/5 missions, Sleeper sites, or hacking a relic site all of these require your attention to be fully with the client. There are certainly exceptions, such as already discussed with AFKtars above, but it’s a general categorization.
Unfortunately, that efficiency comes at the price of boredom
With most of these the efficiency comes from knowing the PVE activity inside and out. Which ships trigger the next wave? What space in the sleeper cache do you have to fly around? What level 4 factional warfare missions can do you with what fit of ship? Unfortunately, that efficiency comes at the price of boredom from the lack of variability in doing such a familiar activity. Unlike the previous categories you can’t quite let your attention slip away too much to something more entertaining.
Fortunately, many of these can be done in a group, which at least makes the interpersonal interaction more diverting than the game content itself. This is something that CCP has been clearly experimenting with more: in normal PVE a fleet would share rewards and thus lower efficiency, but in the recent Shadow of the Serpent many sites would pay in full to all on grid.
For all of these activities there is an important caution: don’t let it dominate your Eve life and suck the enjoyment out of it. Depending on your real-life situation, just buying a PLEX from time to time may provide you with plenty of spending ISK without the grind. As many people have commented, an hour of work in the Eve client is a poor comparison to an hour of paid work at even minimum wage in the developed world.
Short of avoiding PVE entirely, trying a variety of activities can help you find new areas of Eve (and new fellow players) that can keep you engaged. Find the right activity for the level of attention and time you can give it. CCP has a portfolio of PVE out there for you to choose from.