Saturday, May 28, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: How I made my ISK

I have been asked about how I made my ISK and, being of a naturally sunny disposition, I will now explain. My current position: 137,986m assets (Jita sell price) 22,000m liquid ISK 59,000m active sell orders (Jita sell price) 3,000m 10/20 BPOs (unresearched value) Total: 222B ISK. Depressingly, I am not even wealthy. Still, I have enough ISK to do whatever I wish (within reason) and that's almost good enough for me. I was asked whether I was an ‘old player’, having accumulated assets over time. The answer is somewhat subjective so I will simply state that Zappity was created in early 2013 and that my market activities began at about the same time. Region trading (the act of buying in one region and moving the goods to another location before selling) made me my first few billion. I moved faction ammunition between Jita and the other hubs, predominantly Amarr and Dodixie. This triggered my first foray into spreadsheets, using Google Sheets to pull volume data for the ammunition I was interested in, highlighting good buy opportunities when they were a certain percentage below the other hubs. The main limitation here was that I did not have the capital to do spread across buy orders and, instead, bought straight from sell orders. That cut into my profits and, more importantly, meant that I had to actively update sell orders because I needed to recoup much margin as possible. This 0.01 ISKing lasted about a fortnight before I burned out. I decided that I needed a better plan. I took my hard earned billions into invention and T2 production. I put up a medium tower a few jumps out of Jita and made Expanded Cargoholds, Nanofibers, Damage Controls, Inertial Stabs plus a few other things I can’t remember. I would check the market prices and commence runs on whatever would be most profitable that particular week. I bought all the minerals from Jita and freighted them out myself. It was quite profitable but also quite tedious. It earned me a few billion more ISK before I exited just prior to the Crius changes. At this point, I had about 6B ISK and roughly doubled it by cheating and buying an additional 6B worth of plex. This allowed me to establish a good array of low-price buy orders after training Margin Trading to V on my trading alt. I pulled sales volumes from and selected the 300 highest (in terms of ISK) T2 items being sold. At this point I transitioned from Google Sheets to my own PHP scripts plus MySQL database. My scripts reported the item list and altered me when either my buy orders or inventory were getting low. This allowed me to see at a glance whether anything required attention, especially buy orders that had been filled and needed replacing. There was a continual balance between trying to keep individual orders small enough that I could service the payouts but large enough that I didn't need to continually replace the orders. At this point I was turning over about 1-2B each day in Jita (more on the weekends, less mid-week) with roughly 10% profit. I managed a reasonable turnover because I bought at Jita plus a three jump range, relying on public courier contracts to move stuff back to base for me. Three jumps around Jita does not include any lowsec systems but does cover a lot of producers, some of which are happy to save the travel and sell directly to a buy order. I paid couriers about 0.1% reward with 150% collateral, meaning that I paid 20k reward to transport 20m goods back to Jita at a 30m collateral. I wrote a script to report the current worth of assets in The Forge, sorted by station value, along with the collateral and reward required for each station. This was easy. I added replacement market orders every day or two, I never updated sell orders, and I still made a reasonable profit. This continued until I had accrued about 50B. The next major breakthrough occurred when I went POS hunting. I made another 50B with about a month of intensive POS scanning and war declarations. But it was too tiring to maintain and I felt bad for the poor fools I was stripping bare. 100B ISK was a major milestone. At this point I decided that a change of tactics was required. It was becoming increasingly difficult to spend all my ISK on buy orders so I diversified my items and bought a jump freighter. I toyed with lowsec for a while but soon concluded that sov nullsec was the place to be. I began stocking an alliance staging system and was soon turning over about 2-3B per day with 20% profit. Much better! And that brings us up to the present day. Well, almost. It brings us up to the buyback program which is another story altogether.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: Buyback program magnificence

I started a corp buyback program. It is magnificent. And, fittingly, it is called ‘Zappity's Magnificent Buyback Program’. Now that I write it out, I must admit that the title isn't quite as imaginative as I imagined when I thought it up. Still, it gets the point across.

Why am I telling you about this? Well, I have been travelling a LOT lately for work. I can sadly report that the Pacific Ocean is of precisely the same immensity as it has previously been and I wish they would introduce a new and even faster Concorde with an Australia-US leg and also teleportation. Actually, just teleportation would be adequate.

Before I was distracted I was about to say that I have not been much in the mood for PvP. This isn't all bad because I do not like to pretend that PvP is the only thing that I find interesting in EVE. So here is an adventure about breaking into a new market activity.

It was not at all planned. I was messing about in Jita when a ping went out about a change to corporation policy. Apparently, the powers that be had decided to change the corp buyback rate from 90% of Jita buy via to 70%. This was purportedly to make room for independent marketeers to move into the space and take over but I think it is just because Gobbins is tight.

I looked at my trading corp wallet and saw lots of ISK and thought, “Hey, I could do that”. So I posted in the thread, “Gobbins is tight and is only paying out 70%. I'll do 90%.” And the contracts started rolling in. I didn't want anything too bulky so I initially excluded ore and minerals and PI (which scares me because I don't understand it) but after about a week I had paid out 10B.

Which was far too long in my opinion.

I took a careful look at the forums. There were buyback programs everywhere! This was just unacceptable. If I was going to bother with this thing then I was obviously going to have to crush them all.

I pondered my options. I pondered that I had a reasonably-sized 12-digit war chest, having liquidated a fair chunk of my trading items prior to the release of citadels and the price crash as a consequence of the inevitable liquidity squeeze. I pondered that I could probably manage for a while paying even 100% of the Jita buy price, admittedly with a sadly diminished profit margin. And I pondered that it was easier to retain customers than it was to get new ones.

So I posted that I was now accepting 100% of Jita buyback in Fade. Even more contracts started rolling in! Ha! After a week or so, I dropped the price back to 92%, confident that the general magnificence of the program, the higher payout, and the relatively rapid turnaround that I was managing would encourage people to hang around. I decided to ignore the Querious stations because they were just too far away. And because I was lazy.

Next, however, news went out that Pandemic Horde was moving into Fade properly and, subsequently, abandoning Querious. The corp program was paying 80% on everything. Hmm.

I added Querious to my program at 92% and bought another jump freighter in Amarr. I was still excluding really bulky cheap stuff (PI, ice etc) and was soon unfortunately forced to add non-faction T1 ships to the list. I thought a lot about ‘ISK density’, the curse of jump freighter pilots everywhere. But even excluding these items, I had soon paid out over 150B in Querious and needed to move some of it to Amarr.

I don't like jump fatigue for jump freighters. CCP supposedly likes to support ‘gameplay enablers’. I don't feel particularly supported to be honest. Jump fatigue is awful and frustrating. I understand the point of it - I even understand the need for it - but I don't like the way it feels, especially for a non-combat ship.

Things eventually calmed down in Querious and I was able to turn my attention back to Fade. My main competitor was now offering 93%! Disgraceful! Just the sort of shabby trick you'd expect them to play while I was busy. You just can't trust some people.

In addition to having a troublesome competitor, I had decided expand into ore and minerals. (I have a lot of blueprints, some admittedly more nefariously acquired that others, so I might as well do something useful with them.)

I faced a decision. Should I accept the presence of my feeble, so called competitors? Or should I CRUSH THEM!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: A capital idea

Capital ship changes had come to EVE. The fact that there were changes would have undoubtedly been more relevant had I actually flown capital ships beforehand. But nevertheless, the changes incited me to action and I decided to investigate.

I had been quietly preparing for a move into capital ships for some time. I had already trained up Jump Drive Calibration (the one that increases the range at which you can jump to a cyno) to V along with a pack of support skills and was ready to choose which ship to fly. Of course, I couldn't decide (or, more accurately, I sequentially decided upon most of them) and ended up injecting a whole bunch of skill books. I'm sure they'll come in useful some time.

I was initially most interested in dreadnoughts, imagining that I could fit a Moros (the Gallente one) like a gigantic Incursus and go roaming, swatting my feeble enemies out of the sky like mere flies. To be honest, a solo dreadnought roam is practically inevitable and you will no doubt have a good chuckle at my quite literal expense before long.

But before these dreams of magnificence could be realised, a ping went out to the Pandemic Horde capitals channel (yes, there is such a thing) for carrier practice on Singularity. I logged in.

A fit of dubious quality was linked and I soon found myself undocking a shiny new Nidhoggur. To be honest I didn't really care about the fit - I just wanted to see what the new fighter mechanics were like. But I did notice an interesting new high slot module called the “Networked Sensor Array” which, when activated, greatly increased the carrier’s lock speed.

However, the ability to quickly lock something is not tremendously useful if you do not know how to kill it. I looked intently at my Fighter Bay window, a new variant of the old Drone Bay which looks very fancy. Having successfully remembered to buy some fighters before I undocked, I figured that the first thing I needed to do was drag a bunch of them into the launch tubes. This was pretty straightforward and I was soon dragging stacks of fighters into the appropriate part of the window. They loaded. Success!

Fighters, however, are of limited value while stuck in the launch tube. I figured that the next step was to send them forth to do my evil bidding. There were some nice, big arrows on the launch tubes and, sure enough, my fighters were soon circling my ship. Now, go kill something!

“Stupid fighters”, I thought. “Obviously bugged.” For there is was, hitting ‘F’ as hard as any seasoned drone warrior could hit it, all to no avail. My fighters were stubbornly orbiting my ship instead of going forth to conquer. I examined the interface more closely, just on the slim chance that I was doing something wrong. Ah, the fighter squadrons each had their own little module buttons!

I selected my target, then clicked the fairly obvious ‘go kill it’ button on the first squadron. It went! The squadron also had a ‘go fast’ button which activated a MWD and a particularly interesting ‘kill it faster’ button which unleashed one of a limited salvo of rockets, greatly increasing the damage.

As it transpired, there were three main fighter categories. First, the standard ‘light’ damage fighters have an MWD, a normal damage module, and a limited number of ‘alpha strike’ charges. These worked tremendously well against sub-capitals and, in quantity, against other capitals. Next, there was an anti-fighter class which was designed almost solely to kill other fighters, having an enormous damage buff for this purpose. These ones also had a tackle button to slow down enemy squadrons. Finally, there was a utility class which, depending upon race, would web, jam, point or neut enemy ships.

After playing around for an hour I was marginally less terrible at operating my fighters and decided that the only logical thing to do was to take a carrier on a solo roam of Providence! Unfortunately, the patch had only just dropped and the marketeers were asking the most exorbitant prices imaginable. Disgraceful. And there weren't even any Networked Sensor Arrays available. I was disappointed. But my time will come!