Landscape Architecture

Landscape architects use their technical and artistic talents to plan and design the built environment. They are, in essence, "architects of the land." They ... govern the allocation, arrangement and construction of ... resources.

American Society of Landscape Architects

I'll bet you didn't know that CCP Games was in the landscaping business. That is how CCP SoniClover starts the last of six dev blogs describing the coming changes to industry and research in the summer expansion of EVE Online: "Landscape means the interstellar topography of what is being built where."

Now we know all of what CCP Games is planning for industry in the upcoming summer expansion of EVE Online.

Now we know all of what CCP Games is planning for industry in the upcoming summer expansion of EVE Online.

After the first two dev blogs, I was hopeful about making industry the featured theme for the summer expansion. Now we can begin to understand the full scope of the coming industry changes, as a whole, and what they may mean to capsuleers looking to earn ISK through making things for sale to other pilots. The most significant theme is that industry in New Eden will differ, not only in how things are made and in what they will cost, but more importantly, by where they will be made and why.

The Macro Effects of Cost Scaling

First, as a general rule, items made in busy industrial systems will be more expensive to make than in systems with few industrialists. CCP Greyscale's dev blog on job cost scaling provides the general parameters of that new dynamic. The full formula for pricing industrial jobs is now:

full_pricing_formula_550.png

The net effect of this formula is that costs for running industrial jobs are going to be substantively higher, overall. The precise amounts to which costs are going to increase is subject to considerable speculation, as shown in the comments thread in the forums. With a change of this scope, all of the details are not yet fully known. Until we see the new formula implemented on the test server, and the experts can spreadsheet the effects to the ninth decimal place, all that is truly known for certain is that there is no more practically "free lunch" for running industry and research jobs. Industrialists are going to have to pay closer attention to production costs, if they want to remain profitable.

In fact, changes to jump drive consumption of isotopes, announced by CCP Fozzie, may have even more significant effect on the costs of production in regions that depend on jump freighters - specifically, null sec and low sec.

At a macro level, the effect of industrial job cost scaling is that there will be a natural incentive to spread research and manufacturing across a wider number of systems in New Eden, as manufacturers search for more cost-effective locations for their operations. This is a good thing, as it means a wider diversity of systems used, and more choices for savvy industrialists looking for incremental advantages over their rivals in the market. More choices equates almost always to better gameplay.

The Macro Effects of Teams

CCP SoniClover's dev blog is even more significant because it introduces a new game mechanic - the concept of teams. Essentially, these are dedicated workforces that can enhance the efficiency or effectiveness of industrial jobs.

Teams basically operate somewhat like decryptors do in invention jobs, enhancing the output of whatever jobs to which they are applied. Teams can enhance material or time efficiency, allowing cheaper production of items or faster throughput times. They can be narrowly specialized for higher bonuses, or broadly generalized for lower but more flexible bonus application.

Once engaged, a team provides persistent bonuses to facilities in a given system for 28 days. Teams will be seeded into the game and available at auction. A group of industrialists can bid for the services of a given team, pooling their bids for a specific system, and thus improve overall efficiency for a month in their station, starbase or outpost operations in that system.

At a macro level, the effect of teams will be to counter-balance against the diversifying incentives of job cost scaling. Teams deployed in a particular system will encourage specialization of industrial work there, encouraging concentrations of efforts. The tug-of-war between the effects of job cost scaling and of teams will be interesting to watch, once both dynamics are incorporated into EVE Online's industry design.

Welcome to EVE Online, people of New Eden!

I am delighted to see the team concept added to EVE Online. I argued for the introduction of population as a valued resource into the game last fall, and I'm thrilled to see it incorporated into gameplay decisions.

As CCP SoniClover describes in his dev blog, the potential for expanding the concept of teams beyond industry application opens a whole new array of interesting gameplay enhancements to EVE Online. Development of teams by players through planetary interaction, specialization of teams by different regions and racial backgrounds, and tweaking of the bonuses and length of persistence - all open new ways to link what capsuleers do to the native populations of New Eden. In so doing, CCP Games has created a new lever to affect gameplay dynamics, and provide more interesting choices to engage players.

It did not take long for EVE Online players to take note of the future potential of the teams idea, as shown in this Tweet:

I am a proponent of incorporating ship crews into EVE Online. Teams might provide a very interesting way to make those possible, someday.

Simplifying Industry

The dev blogs on the industry user interface (UI) and changes to research processes basically make the entire system of building things easier to understand, and more accessible to players looking to get into this aspect of the game. Both of these are good things, in general, though some past industry specialists will cringe a bit as they see these changes implemented.

The revised industry UI looks complex at first, but I think it is gorgeous. It provides everything an industrialist needs to know, at a glance, and can control aspects of the industrial process with a fewer clicks. I was hoping for simultaneous batch initiation of manufacturing and research jobs, which would make it easier to start multiple workstreams with fewer clicks, but even so, the new interface will be much easier to work with, so I am happy.

Even better, the new interface shows all the parameters and effects of possible jobs, even for blueprints that are not yet owned by a player. This makes the UI a wonderful introduction to industry for new players, and it provides for "what if" scenario experimentation without having to invest in blueprints or other resources. The new UI is going to be a great teaching mechanism for helping players understand industry better and faster.

The new UI makes everything available to an industrialist in one graphical view.

The new UI makes everything available to an industrialist in one graphical view.

The simplification of research into ten levels is both good and disappointing. It certainly makes material and time efficiency research easier to understand, but it also means that players who have invested in raising efficiency levels beyond 10 have basically wasted much of their time. I have a large inventory of module blueprints all researched to level 100 or better for both time and material efficiency. I don't lose anything under the new system, but I now feel rather foolish for investing that much in each blueprint.

Who wins?

There is a lot of conflicting speculation about who the winners and losers of the coming industry changes shall be. I was worried that the casual high-sec industrialist would cease to be a viable way to earn a decent income stream, and that null sec industrialists would become grossly overpaid for their efforts.

It now appears to me that, in general, high sec industry is going to be nerfed a bit, but probably still viable, while null sec industry gets a buff (offset somewhat by the jump drive fuel cost increase). Wormhole space industry also now appears to be significantly buffed, and made more viable.

Low-sec, however, gets the double whammy of having more exposure to risk from BPO's potential loss in attacked starbases, and from the higher costs from jump drive fuel increases. So far, they seem to be the biggest loser from the industry changes. Capital ship builders in low-sec, in particular, look like they will get badly hurt.

I'm very keen to learn more here at Fanfest over the next few days about all the details. But once again, I find myself somewhat hopeful that the changes will be pretty good, overall. Once we have more exact figures on job cost scaling, we can spreadsheet warrior all the effects and be able to provide more precise estimates of the full effects of industry changes. Stepping back from the numbers, and looking at the overall intent of the industry design, I have to give tentative kudos to the CCP Games devs and to whomever provided input from the CSM - if for nothing else than for giving us EVE Online players something new to play with. It should be fun.

Fly safe! o7