Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Amarr Station Trader #4: An update, and a silly mistake

It has been a little bit under a month since I began doing business in Amarr, and it has been almost three weeks since the last update I gave my readers. I apologize to everybody who has been keeping up with this project of mine for the silence; these past few weeks have been busy while I have been on vacation as well as beginning another semester of college. Thus, not only have my blog updates suffered, but my station trading as well - on average, I have been creating new orders and updating existing ones every two or three days. Previously, my wealth was equivalent to 27,623,066 ISK; now, my wealth has grown to 90,359,827 ISK, which is an increase of 227.12%.

For the most part, I have stuck to margin trading commonly-used skillbooks, which have remained fairly profitable throughout the entirety of this project. I have also made small investments into the salvage market (both normal and sleeper salvage) as well as the planetary materials market. So far, I have noticed that the salvage market is very active: lots of people are selling salvage to my buy orders in small amounts, and lots of people are buying salvage from my sell orders in bulk (although the bulk sell orders take longer to fulfill than the buy orders, the profits remain the same nonetheless.) My journey into the planetary materials market is much more recent, and so far, it seems that this particular market is not nearly as quick-moving as the salvage and skillbook market is, but hopefully my sell orders will be fulfilled before long.

About two weeks ago, I discovered a critical mistake I have been making that has been holding back the entirety of my business - almost to the point where I am surprised that I have been making any money at all. The first time I set up a sell order, I set the order duration to the maximum amount of time - three months - and enabled the checkbox that remembers my settings. As I learned a few weeks ago, those settings do not transfer to new buy orders - only to sell orders. Therefore, during the entirety of my business, my buy orders have been set to the default duration of one day. As one can imagine, most of the time, they expire, and considering I have been consistently creating and updating market orders once every two or three days, that means I have spent one or two days of time without a buy order, much less an updated one. Now that I have discovered and rectified this mistake, I expect that my profits will gain a considerable amount of momentum.

As of right now, I have finished training both the Trade and Retail skills to 5. I do not yet have the disposable income to set up a buy order for the Wholesale skill, much less purchase one from available sell orders. Therefore, the biggest limiting factor that I face at the moment is the maximum number of open orders that I have at my disposal - as we speak, I have a number of items that I could place on sell orders, but am unable to due to the fact that I have reached my maximum number of open orders. Within the next few days, I anticipate collecting enough money in my wallet to outright purchase a Wholesale skillbook and increase the number of maximum open orders at my disposal. Although this purchase will cut considerably into my total wealth, I also anticipate that I will be able to quickly regain the money that I have spent, as the ability to diversify the items that I invest in will greatly increase the amount of money that flows through my wallet.

Current Wealth: 90,359,827 ISK

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Amarr Station Trader #3: Profits continue to soar

It has officially been a week since I began station trading in Amarr. Since then, I have made remarkable leaps and bounds, as I have increased both my wealth and drastically increased the number of open orders I have at my disposal. Previously, my wealth totaled up to 2,371,037 ISK; currently, I have calculated my wealth to be 27,623,066 ISK, which is an increase of 1065.02%.

Through the profits that I have made by buying skill books for low prices and reselling them at a much higher price, I was easily able to afford not only the Trade skill book, but the Retail skill book as well. Trade has been trained to level 4, and as of right now, Retail has been trained to level 1, as I only recently decided to purchase it. At the time of this writing, I have a maximum of 29 open orders; this number will increase to 53 within the next three days, as Retail will then be trained to level 4. Afterwards, I plan on continuing its training to level 5, which will allow me to inject and train the Wholesale skill book. Having the Wholesale skill trained will increase my maximum open orders by 16 per level, which will drastically increase the variety of products that I will be able to trade at a single time.

As of right now, the two greatest factors that are limiting the growth of my entrepreneurship is a low maximum open order ceiling, and a lack of ISK to invest. With the recent holiday season, I have not been able to constantly attend to my market orders like I normally would have been able to; regardless, it seems that my market orders seem to stay on top anyway, as I often come back from family functions to an empty market orders window and a full item hangar. With more ISK, I would be able to invest in larger buy orders, which would allow me to turn around a larger quantity of products and increase my profits. Furthermore, with a higher maximum open order limit, I would be allowed to diversify the items and skill books that I invest my ISK into. I am looking forward to getting the Retail skill trained and increase this limit; once I can diversify my investments, the profits will truly start rolling in.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a happy new year, as well as thank them for taking the time to read my writing!

Current Wealth: 27,623,066 ISK

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Amarr Station Trader #2: Skill books are the original ISK doubler

It has been about two and a half days since I created Amarr Station Trader and began trading. In that short period of time, I have increased my total wealth from a meager 5,000 ISK to 2,371,037 ISK - an increase of 47,320.74% in wealth. I owe the vast majority of that increase to a discovery I made while in a desperate situation.

In the first 12 hours of trading, I quickly discovered that 5,000 ISK is a very small amount of money to begin station trading with. I initially invested into ammunition, since smaller ammunition tends to have a relatively high movement and can have decent margins, but quickly discovered that the ammunition market in Amarr is also very busy; I was having a lot of difficulty keeping my buy and sell orders on top. An issue I quickly ran into was the broker's fee for updating sell orders: every time you update a sell order, you are charged 100 ISK for updating that order. For most players in Eve, 100 ISK is negligible, but I soon found myself unable to update my sell orders at all because I did not have the funds to do so.

My financial issues changed while I was perusing the market for skillbooks. I noticed that the Repair Systems skillbook (and, ironically, the Trade skillbook) had an incredibly huge margin between them; The highest buy order for the Repair Systems skillbook is about 500 ISK, while the lowest sell order is about 33,500 ISK. Not only that, but the number of books that move on a daily basis is also relatively high - this is easily attributable to the Christmas deals that CCP has been running on new accounts, as well as CCP's Christmas gift of allowing all players to train a second character on active accounts with 20 days of free skill queue time.

Needless to say, I sold off all my investments in the ammunition market and quickly moved to the skillbook market. My speculations turned out to be correct, and now I am significantly richer than I was previously. I will no longer run into any financial issues while attempting to update my sell orders!

One thing that I am going to start doing at the end of each of my posts is keeping track of my overall wealth. There are a multitude of ways to calculate a person's wealth, but I have settled on the formula below:
Wealth = Escrow + Wallet + (Sell Order Total * 0.8)

This formula is inspired by Croda, as it is the method he used to calculate his wealth when he initially started his blog. It is fair and accurate, as it takes a 20% provision to the total ISK invested in sell orders. This is necessary because items that I am selling are not ISK, but are valued in ISK; this value is determined by the market. However, most of the items that I am selling have a margin of 20%, which means that the items can easily be translated back to ISK by selling them to buy orders. This allows me to accurately track the accumulation of my wealth over time and prevents me from cheating the system (for example, by purchasing a 500 ISK Repair Systems skillbook and putting it on a sell order for 1 billion ISK to artificially increase my wealth.)

Current Wealth: 2,371,037 ISK

*EDIT: I discovered a miscalculation with my percent wealth increase and have corrected it.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Amarr Station Trader #1 - The Beginning

I recently purchased the Collector's Edition from Amazon for a good price, and one of the rewards of the Collector's Edition is a code for 60 days of game time. One project that I have been considering for a long time is an isolated station-trading character based in Amarr. This character would be completely independent from the rest of my characters; he would not receive any funding from any of my other characters, and his starting capital would be the 5,000 ISK that every new character receives. This project is inspired by Croda's marketsforisk blog, where he started a new character and built his initial wealth primarily from inter-regional trading from Jita to Dodixie.

The new character's name is, befittingly enough, Amarr Station Trader. Thus far, I have created the character and relocated him to Amarr, where I have invested about 3,500 ISK into small buy orders of ammunition. My biggest goal for these first few days is amassing enough wealth to purchase the Trade skillbook, which costs about 85,000 ISK; this skillbook will give me 4 additional open orders to work with per level. Until then, I am training the Science skill so that my skill queue isn't completely empty, although the only foreseeable use for training that skill in the future would be if I decided to move this character into manufacturing. Still, it's better than an empty skill queue.

I plan on updating this blog with my progress at least once every few days, although I will likely be updating much more often than that during the beginning of the project.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The NEATest Station Trading Tool: NEAT

After months of staying out of station trading, I recently resubscribed and reinvested my station trading character, and for a week or two, I have been in search of a better station trading utility than what I have had at my disposal. Specifically, I was searching for a tool that accurately tracked and analyzed the performance of the items that I chose to trade in addition to the amount of tangible profit that I make. There are a number of tools floating around that can track your overall balance relatively well (such as EveNexus) as well as track individual market orders to see if they have been outbid (such as EveMentat), but in my opinion, the way that the information you need to see is displayed in a way that is more complicated than it needs to be.

A player by the name of Kolimara sought out to change that by creating NEAT. NEAT is a simple, free web-based application that uses your API to pull information on your current and past market orders, then analyzes them and gives you heaps of information about the performance of each item that you are trading. For example, on each individual item that I am trading, I am able to see the gross and net profits of that item, the total quantity of that item that I have sold, the average amount of time that each item spends on the market, and the percentage profit margin. Using just that information, I am able to determine which items are the most profitable and how long it will take for me to receive a return on my investment in those items.

Furthermore, NEAT also gives me overall statistics over a specified time period, allowing me to see how much real profit I've made per day.

If you're serious about maximizing the profit from your station trading, I highly recommend checking out and signing up for NEAT. If you'd like to give thanks to Kolimara for his efforts in developing this tool, you can find out how to donate to him here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nullsec PVE Dominix - Running Anoms in your Space Potato(es)

Droneboats are used throughout nullsec for PVE activities due to their versatility between shield and armor, their reliably high DPS output, and the fact that you do not need to micromanage your drones by assigning them to kill every single target. Furthermore, entry-level droneboats require very little SP to make nullsec PVE as simple as warping to a site and deploying drones, so even newbros can participate in the ISK printing.

There's a variety of droneboats that are viable for PVE activities in nullsec. The most universally popular droneboats include the Vexor, the Vexor Navy Issue, the Ishtar, the Gila, and the Dominix. This particular thread will focus on fitting the Dominix for running anomalies in nullsec. The Dominix is a very nice ship for newbros who lack core skills but still want to rat, as its plethora of mid and low slots means that it can be easily shield tanked or armor tanked regardless of how good (or bad) your skills are. For reference, all of the fits that I will be posting are geared towards tanking Sansha rats, which are arguably some of the hardest rats to resist against; resistance modules can easily be switched out for any faction, and the fit will work just fine regardless.


Fit 1: Solo Dominix with a single account

The first fit(s) we'll take a look at uses a local armor repairer to tank rats in anomalies. My primary goals when putting together this fit was to attain a fit that 1) could tank around 375-400 DPS when matched up against the Sansha damage profile, 2) used at least 3 Drone Damage Amplifier modules to squeeze an optimal amount of damage out of your drones, and 3) was cap stable. All of these conditions were assuming that you have your core skills trained up to a decent level (usually around 3 or 4). The first fit uses heavy drones (specifically, Praetors) as your primary source of damage, while the second fit utilizes sentry drones instead. Both of these fits allow you to be semi-AFK while ratting, but you still want to be relatively alert in case a neutral appears in local (or, worse still, the rats start shooting your drones.)

[Dominix, Sansha Ratting - Local Reps]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Armor EM Hardener II
Large Armor Repairer II
Armor EM Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Drone Navigation Computer I
Drone Navigation Computer I
Cap Recharger II

Drone Link Augmentor I
Drone Link Augmentor I
Civilian Gatling Pulse Laser
[Empty High slot]
[Empty High slot]
[Empty High slot]

Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

Praetor II x5
Acolyte II x5
_______________________________________________________

[Dominix, Sansha Ratting - Local Reps]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Armor EM Hardener II
Large Armor Repairer II
Armor EM Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Extron
Cap Recharger II

Drone Link Augmentor I
Drone Link Augmentor I
[Empty High slot]
[Empty High slot]
[Empty High slot]
[Empty High slot]

Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I
Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

Curator II x5
Acolyte II x5

Fit 2: Multiboxing Remote-Repair Domini

The next fit is the one that I personally use, which utilizes multiple accounts and multiple Domini to repair each other in order to tank rats. Essentially, you warp each "slave" Dominix to the anomaly that you wish to complete, set up your cap chain and remote reps, and assist each flight of drones to a single "master" Dominix. The only difference between this master Dominix and the slave Domini is that the master Dominix has three Omnidirectional Tracking Links and a target painter instead of four Omnidirectional Tracking Links. This is primarily to accommodate for drone assist mechanics, as the only way to order assisted drones to fire on a target is to use an offensive module of some kind against that target. Based on the theorycrafting that I've done so far, sentry drones are the best to use when you have multiple accounts because while your paper and applied DPS is a little bit lower than heavy drones, you're still able to kill rats a little bit faster because sentry drones do not need to travel to their target; the only delay you have between ordering them to fire and when they apply their damage is the second or two it takes for each sentry drone to lock up your target.

[Dominix, Sansha Ratting - Remote Reps Sentries]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Armor EM Hardener II
Armor EM Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Tracking Speed Script
Cap Recharger II

Large Remote Armor Repairer II
Large Remote Armor Repairer II
Large Remote Capacitor Transmitter II
Large Remote Capacitor Transmitter II
Drone Link Augmentor I
Drone Link Augmentor I

Large Remote Repair Augmentor I
Large Egress Port Maximizer I
Large Egress Port Maximizer I

Praetor II x5
Curator II x5
Acolyte II x5

It's always a good idea to carry a flight of heavy and light drones in addition to your sentries. This is just in case any frigate rats happen to fly over your sentries' tracking speed before you can lock them up and destroy them.

Ratting in Sansha space: A step-by-step guide*

*Most of this information will only be useful to you if you're ratting in Sansha space. Feel free to read it anyway

Throughout the past few weeks, I've done my best to optimize the RR Domi fit so as to achieve the best ISK/hour ratio. So far, when I'm completely attentive while ratting, I've been able to achieve an 11m tick per character. I use three characters, so that makes for a total of 33m per tick in bounties alone. This value does not seem to change based on the type of anomaly I run - I've tested these values by running exclusively Forsaken Rally Points for a few ticks, then exclusively Forsaken Hubs, then exclusively Forlorn Hubs, and the ticks only seem to change based on how attentive I am (for example, if I leave the computer for a moment, my assisted drones aren't firing at anything, so 2/3 of my DPS is not being utilized.) I have been gathering data as to how much loot each anomaly provides, but as of right now, I don't have enough data to hypothesize which site will give the most ISK. If you only have two Domini, then I would recommend sticking to Forsaken Rally Points and Forsaken Hubs, as Forlorn Hubs have a lot of incoming DPS during some waves that will end up breaking your tank.

Once you've chosen your site, warp all three Domini to within 50km of the site. As soon as you land, set up your cap and repair chain by targeting a Dominix and putting both cap transfer modules and both remote repair modules on them. You have plenty of time to do this, as it takes the rats a while to target you and begin dealing a significant amount of damage to you, so if you screw up the chain for whatever reason, you shouldn't need to warp off to fix it. Once the chain is set up, deploy all of your sentry drones and assist your slave Dominix drones to the master Dominix character (remember, the master Dominix character should be the one with a target painter equipped.) Once all of your drones are assisted, deploy and bookmark your Mobile Tractor Unit. Then, you can begin targeting and destroying the rats. For best results, you should be ordering your drones to attack in addition to using the target painter to designate targets for assisted drones, as sometimes the master Dominix's drones will not follow the target painter's designated target - I believe the default key for ordering drones to attack is "F".

It is a good idea to destroy smaller targets before taking on battleships, as the smaller targets have a much higher chance of getting under your sentries' tracking speed and ruining your ISK/hour. Therefore, target frigates first, then cruisers, then battleships. Frigates normally take under 30 seconds to successfully target, so it's a good idea to order your drones to attack a battleship while you're waiting for your ship to finish targeting the frigates. Since you're 50km away from your targets, you should have plenty of time to lock and destroy all frigates and cruisers before they come close to you.

If you are running three or more Domini, then you will not that during some of the more difficult sites, such as Forlorn Hubs and Havens, you may reach a point where your tank is slowly breaking under normal circumstances. I've found that if you are attentive enough, you should be able to destroy enough of the battleship rats to lower incoming DPS to acceptable levels without worrying about needing to switch reps around. However, if your tank is breaking and you aren't killing the battleship rats fast enough, you can pull remote reps off of a Dominix that is not being targeted by rats and place them on the primaried Dominix. With three or four remote reps being applied to a Dominix, you can easily tank the entire site without any issues. This same tactic can also be applied if you happen to be attacked by a solo interceptor, as you can easily tank the incoming DPS while you deploy light drones to destroy your attacker.

One of the benefits of using a remote-rep droneboat fit is that you can't go AFK. Therefore, since you're attentive at all times, you can easily see when a neutral enters system, and since you're using sentry drones, you shouldn't lose any of your drones just because somebody is trying to gank you. Most people lose their droneboat ratting ships when they decide to go AFK - this fit forces you to be at the computer in order to get optimal ticks, so you shouldn't be losing a Dominix to anybody that isn't blue.

Overall, I've been extremely pleased with the performance of this fit. I am able to get carrier-quality ticks at almost half the cost, and without worrying about needing an exit cyno to compensate for my decreased mobility. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be acquiring more data regarding how much loot each anomaly gives, therefore giving a better idea of which site is truly the most optimal site to run. Hopefully somebody finds these useful!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Twitch Integration in Eve: Is Eve Online Streamable?

It's 8 in the evening in the United States, and the night is young for streamers and viewers alike on Twitch. League of Legends professionals showcase their skills in solo queue, Hearthstone players display their latest experimental deck build in an arena match, and personalities like Destiny and Kripparian are busy streaming to their fans. Thousands of gamers are streaming their gameplay and commentary to millions of potential viewers, all in the hopes that some might find their content entertaining.

Yet on the highway of games that regularly see traffic, such as World of Warcraft, Dota 2, and Minecraft, Eve Online is but a cul-de-sac in a subdivision. After monitoring Eve's directory for a few hours, I never noticed more than a handful of streamers broadcasting to a few hundred viewers, with Mad_Ani's 24/7 stream of staging systems holding the majority of viewers. The occasional solo roamer would stream for an hour or two alongside the highsec miner and mission runner, then vanish like dust in the wind. In fact, the most common streamer is the stereotypical new player - most of which stop streaming when they realize that nobody is watching them.

Of course, given the malicious nature of Eve Online's community, it's no wonder Eve's representation on Twitch is low. The risk of being hunted because of the information your stream freely gives is simply too great to outweigh the possibility of entertaining a dozen people. Even by covering the majority of your screen, simply right-clicking in space can reveal your location and put you at serious risk, regardless of what you're flying or doing. The wormhole corporation I'm a part of, Jester's Hole, regularly suicide ganks streamers for our own personal, albeit morbid, entertainment; it's not about improving our killboard's ISK efficiency or showing off how terrible we are at PVP, it's about seeing the streamer's reaction as his ship explodes in a ball of fire.

Most viewers regularly watch a streamer for two reasons: 1) the streamer is entertaining to his or her viewers, and 2) the streamer is exceptionally good at the video game that he or she is playing. In Eve, it's difficult to define how "good" a player is because of its sandbox nature, so most Eve streamers must rely on their ability to entertain. The simple fact of the matter is that the majority of Eve's gameplay is characterized by hours, days, or weeks of buildup for a few minutes of intense PVP action; it's an extremely boring game to watch somebody else play. Like a good actor in a terrible movie, even the most entertaining streamer won't attract viewers if the game they're playing isn't entertaining to watch.

So, why would the average Eve player want to stream? Where's the motivation?

In my opinion, there isn't. The upcoming Twitch integration will be wildly popular for a week or two, and then be completely forgotten after the influx of new streamers realize what a bad idea it is. The integration doesn't allow the streamer to block sensitive information, and streamers can't delay their stream unless they're a partner with Twitch. Without the proper tools to protect themselves, potential streamers simply won't stream. The only conceivably useful purpose the integration could serve is streaming as a scout for a nullsec alliance or teaching your friends how to scan with probes, although neither of these streams can be privately viewed because Twitch removed their Access Code feature.

As much as I would like to see Eve become a streamable video game, its very nature makes it a formidable task. For now, it seems that the best way to make a name for yourself in New Eden like The Mittani and Ripard Teg isn't through streaming, but through newsreels, tutorial videos, or starting wars.

Or by writing a terrible blog.

You can read CCP's devblog on the Twitch integration here.