Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Isk! Isk! Isk!

I have previously written about how I've amassed a bankroll with my station trading alt in Jita.  That's still going well and I have a comfortable amount of isk if I need it and a lifetime supply of rifters and appropriate T2 modules (along with rigs and implants).  But I've also been trying some other profit-making ideas...

I would advise anyone interested in the business side of Eve to listen to the podcasts by Tehg Rhind (available on iTunes here and titled, appropriately, ISK).  He presents some ideas for generating isk and explains some topics that I had heard about but never quite understood.  He's given me some ideas that have worked out and some that haven't.

Let's look at what I've tried and what I think of the isk-generating ideas...
  1. In episode 2 of the ISK podcast Tehg talks about "2 simple ways to make ISK in Eve ... that every player should take advantage of."  One of them is R&D agents.

    This involves training skills to allow the agent to do research for me.  The skills are Science V and the relevant science skill in the area that you choose to research.  In Jack Dancer's case, I found an agent in Hadozeko that will do Mechanical Engineering research for me - so I needed level 1 in the science skill Mechanical Engineering (which has a prerequisite of Mechanic V).  Since I already have Science V and Mechanic V as part of Jack's previous training, it just meant buying the 10 million isk skillbook for mechanical engineering and training it for a few minutes.

    I then set the level one R&D agent in Hadozeko to work researching mechanical engineering for me and I can convert his research into mechanical engineering datacores.  These datacores sell for about $250k and he takes about 5 days to research enough for me to convert the research into a single datacore.  It's not much isk, but it requires zero participation once it gets started.  I'm going to set up all three of my alts to do this.  With higher skills and better faction standing the agents (there are level 1 thorough 4 agents just like regular mission agents) produce the research faster and it results in more isk (my mission/hauler/explorer alt is working with a level two R&D agent and research is twice as fast).

    This ISK producing idea seems like a winner.
  2. The second "simple way to make ISK" that Tehg suggests in the podcast is to copy blueprints.  I'm not as convinced about this one.

    The basic premise is that you buy a BPO (Blue Print Original) on the market and then set up a copy job and create a maximum number of maximum run BPCs ("Blue Print Copies).  These BPCs can then be sold to people doing T2 research because they need them as part of the invention process.  You want to choose something that is going to be a popular T2 item eventually (like 150mm autocannons from a rifter pilot's point of view).

    I tried it.  I bought a BPO for 280k for a Large Shield Extender I and found a relatively nearby system that could run the copy job after a 4 day wait in the queue.

    In the meantime I checked the contracts for large shield extenders and didn't find a very robust market for basic BPCs (BPCs can only be sold by contract - not on the open market).  And when I listened to an Eve University class on T2 production the instructor didn't seem to think there's much of a market for these T1 BPCs because they are so easy to make that T2 producers wouldn't buy them off the market - they'd just make their own.

    After a few days the 20 basic Large Shield Extender I BPCs were ready and I put the 20 of them up as a contract in Jita for 1 million isk (almost quadrupling my original investment).  They sold in a day.  Not sure if my price was too cheap and next time I'll set the price a bit higher (like 4 million isk...) just to see what happens.

    In another test case I purchased a Large Armor Repairer I BPO for 720,000 isk.  I made 20 BPCs with it (again requiring a trip to an out of the way system where the wait was only a few days to start the job) and after about a week in process I put the 20 BPCs up on contract for 5,000,000 isk.  I sold them in just a couple days.  So that was relatively good – but again, I don’t know if that’s a price that I can rely on or if it might have been a one time thing (especially since I have 4 other contracts available for 5 of these exact same BPCs available for just 750,000 each – a total of 3 million isk for the same 20 BPCs  – and no one has picked up those blueprint contracts).  5 million isk is about the cost of a cheaply equipped rifter, so if 5 million is a price that gets accepted quickly I could pay for a rifter a week with that one BPO.

    I also have some contracts out for Hobgoblin I BPCs that haven’t been picked up yet.

    So in a sense it was profitable, but it was also a bit of an involved process.  I need to buy a BPO (from a NPC producer - look for an "expires in" date on the market of 364 days).  Finding a station that can do the copies in a reasonable amount of time is difficult.  Then hauling the BPO over several jumps to that station.  Then a wait of several days for the job to start and then for a few more days for it to finally finish.  And then the trip back to the station to pick up the 20 BPCs.  And starting the whole process over by finding a station with a short queue to start up another copy job (probably not the station used for the first job depending on availability of copy slots).  If I had a POS then this could be much simpler.  But that'll have to wait...

    This is not a real hands-off isk generator and I'm not sold on the idea.  Plus I’m not convinced that the market is a steady one where I can be confident of finding a buyer for my BPCs.
  3. BPO research.  So I decided to try another idea - BPO research.  With this you make a BPO more efficient with either materials or time of producing the final product.  Then you print up a bunch of BPCs and sell them to people that intend to produce the end product (not to T2 inventors like the previous idea).  Or you mark up the price of the BPO and sell it.  Or both.

    Sounds good.

    I found a location that would do the BPO research, but it has a 10 day queue (this type of activity is very popular) and then set up the job to run for a month (which is the longest limit) so that I would research the BPO as much as possible.  A month plus 10 days.  This isn't a fast process and I'm not sure about the profits when it's done.  We'll see, but with the 40 days to wait for results I'm not optimistic about it...
  4. Region wide purchasing.  When station trading you are buying and selling at a single station (Jita, Hek, Dodixie, etc.).  When putting in a purchase request there's also an option to buy the items in a larger area - up to region-wide.  I tried this.

    Rifters were selling for 250k in a trade hub where I had one of my alts and people had placed purchase orders to buy rifters for 180k.  So I placed a 60k region-wide purchase order for 30 rifters just to see what would happen.  What this means is that anywhere in the region (high sec or low sec), if someone wants to sell a rifter, I will pay them 60k for it.  They don't have to haul it anywhere special in the region - I'll buy it at whatever station they are in.  Very convenient for them.  Very cheap for me (but certainly not convenient).

    In the first week I've picked up 15 rifters at this rockbottom price of 60k each.  Of course, they are all in different stations (except for 2 in one station and 4 in another). 

    Now what to do?  My alt could offer them up for sale in their various locations for something like 200k but that will take a dozen of my 40 order slots and I might not find a buyer for a while - probably not a profitable use of these valuable trade slots.  Or I can contract them to Jack Dancer and let him deal with the problem - that'll add 10k in contracting fees to the price of each rifter - still a good price at 70k.  But then Jack will somehow have to pick them all up from 10 different stations far from his base in Auner.  Or my hauler alt could start picking them up and hauling them over to Jack's neighborhood.  Again, a time consuming option since they are scattered around 10 stations and my hauler can only carry 7 at a time in his Iteron.

    So in the end, what seemed like a good way to pick up cheap rifters turns out to be not a practical way to convert them into isk or into burning wrecks.
So, of all these new ISK makers, the only one I would really recommend is the R&D agent - and then only if you already have Science at V and some of the other necessary skills trained up so that it's not too onerous to get started.  For me, it's back to station trading for my ISK.

Good luck!

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