If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.
For those of my readers not in the United States (Judging from my blog stats about 50%) let me first say that we've had some pretty big snowstorms this week. Why am I telling you this? Because I've had four days off in a row and nothing better to do than play EVE and read EVE related Blogs. Having been spending all my time playing EVE in lowsec having a grand ol' time and a significant portion of my time reading blogs about how lowsec is broken, or doesn't matter, or whatever, I'm ready to strangle the next person who says it. Since I've already ranted a bit about what I think lowsec's place in New Eden is, I won't be going back to that. Instead, I'll be discussing some ways that you can already turn a profit there, even if PvP is the furthest thing from your mind. Warning: WALL OF TEXT AHEAD
Wait a second, is the FNG really a closet Carebear? Well, not exactly. What I am is someone who's not yet as successful in Piracy as I'd like to be. While my ultimate goal would be to make a fortune ransoming targets or selling their loot, I'm simply not there yet. So, I've turned to alternative methods for making ISK. While I could certainly do this on an alt in Highsec, I prefer the ease of having my characters close to one another and so I make my ISK in lowsec. For some ideas on how you can too, I now present, A Lazy Man's Guide To:
Part 1. Intro:
My preferred method of making isk in lowsec is PI. While initially the system was somewhat confusing, as many things in EVE are, once I was over the learning curve it's the easiest isk I make. There's almost no risk (nothing in EVE being risk free) and almost no effort.
Part 2. ETA:
While I wish I could give you exact numbers, I'm running an outdated version of EVEMon that still thinks new characters get double learning speeds. While I could update it right now for the sake of this post...I'm lazy. And since this is for your benefit, why don't you go check out EVEMon for the exact numbers. Suffice it to say that with less than a day of training you can have your first planet up and running. For a truly dedicated PI character I would say a month to two months is all you should need to get 5 planets going at maximum efficiency.
Part 3. Skills:
Not of the character sheet variety, but the player knowledge necessary to set your planets up. A good place to start would be this excellent article at the E-Uni Wiki. While the recent PI changes of Incursion have changed how extractors work, they've really only made PI easier to use. If you can figure out how it used to work from that article, figuring out how it works now should be a piece of cake. Since extraction heads can now be moved around, you're not punished as much for mistakes as you used to be, which means there's no reason not to just start messing around with it and puzzling things out for yourself.
Part 4. Profit:
Now we're getting into the meat of this post. You're of course wondering just how much money there stands to be made from PI. I'm going to share some numbers with you now. They're a bit outdated (a month or two I believe) and come from when I first started looking into this PI thing. What I wanted to know at the time was how stable the markets were for specific level 2 Commodities that could be sold from lowsec. That last bit is important, as I was doing this on my main character with less than a day of training, I couldn't easily access highsec. What I was looking for were products I could easily sell to Region wide market orders from stations within the same system I was extracting them in. What I got was the following.
Biocells: 530,000 Construction Blocks: 6,718,047 Consumer Electronics: 21,237,685
Coolant: 74,450,580 Enriched Uranium: 220,000,000 Fertilizer: 0
Genetically Enhanced Livestock: 10,000,000 Livestock: 2,678,526 Mechanical Parts: 88,471,000
Microfiber Shielding: 0 Miniature Electronics: 1,721,655 Nanites: 22,924,830
Oxides: 1,059,086 Polyamarids: 0 Polytextiles: 0
Rocket Fuel: 75,575,700 Silicate Glass: 22,907,400 Supercomputers: 1,728,009
Supertensile Plastics: 2,524,575 Synthetic Oil: 0 Test Cultures: 1,263,500
Transmitter: 0 Viral Agent: 9,646,755 Water-Cooled CPU: 5,057,575
Poor formatting aside, that's still 480,112,394 worth of products that you can sell from within lowsec. Worth noting that the profit is significantly higher if you set up your own sell orders instead of fulfilling other's buy orders, but at the time I wanted to make sure the immediate demand was going to be there. Of course, you can make even more selling in Highsec, so why bother going into Lowsec in the first place? Simply put, the planets are much more lucrative there. You should have no problem setting up planets with anywhere from 2 to 6 day cycles that will continuously run. I now haul everything to a highsec market hub to sell, and have generally stopped worrying much about how much isk it makes me. What I do know is that I've got a hangar full of ships and my wallet balance continues to rise faster than I can spend it.
Part 5. Supervise:
Once you get everything set-up, it's extremely convenient that you can modify any of your planets from anywhere in the game. You simply open up the Science and Industry screen to restart your extraction cycles, from anywhere. This process takes less than a minute per planet now, and depending on your cycles, needs to be done anywhere from once every 2-6 days. This is one of the big reasons that PI appeals to me. I can spend five minutes on it when I log in, and then go about my normal routines of lowsec Piracy without having to worry about it again.
Part 6. Hauling:
Not to be overlooked is the process for how you're going to get all these products out to sell. Thankfully, you won't have to worry about it for a while as a well designed planet can usually hold several weeks of extraction before you'll need to pick it up. For this task, I can't recommend enough getting into a transport ship. You know, the kind with the fancy Covert Ops Cloaks. It will make your job much easier once you start hauling things up from lowsec, and should take less than a month to train into.
That concludes my discussion of PI. BUT! We're not done yet folks. For those of you who actually enjoy PvE as a full-time job, I have another option. Don't worry, this one doesn't take nearly as long to explain...
Part 1. The Only Part.
I know what you're thinking, "But FNG, Pirates make mission running in lowsec totally not profitable." While it is somewhat true that even diligent mission runners will lose a lot of time to simply dodging Pirates with Combat Scanner Probes, there are those out there that are not concerned by such things. These are the pilots of unprobable Tech III ships.
I don't actually do this myself, which makes everything I'm about to tell you hearsay at best, (the lies of a dirty pirate just trying to trick you at worst) but I do know others who run missions in a Tech III on an alt. The general concept here is to boost your sensor strength to a level about equal with your signature radius. Specifically, to boost it to a level where your Signature Radius divided by your Sensor Strength is less than 1.08. Doing so prevents combat probes from attaining a 100% lock on you and means you can run your missions in peace. For extra fun, be sure to name your ship something like "Can't Probe This", or "I'm Unprobable", or my personal favorite that I've actually seen, "Get Better Probes."
While it's possible to pull the unprobable trick with ships other than a Tech III, it's difficult to design a PvE fit that can run missions at the same time. Since I don't fly them myself, I'm not sure on a timeline to fly one successfully, but EVEMon is telling me about 56 days for the ship, so I'm inclined to believe you could do it in about two months.
That brings to an end my lessons on Lowsec money making. While I'm sure there are some other methods out there, I don't have a good knowledge base to discuss them at the moment. I do see people mining in Lowsec, usually in some out of the way systems piloting a Mackinaw. They also tend to be the pilots that when I do manage to land a point on them I'm left screaming STAAAAAAAAaaaaaaabssss!!!!! So I continue to believe that they're turning a profit at this, but Ice Mining isn't really my thing.
So there you have it. Now please, for the sake of my sanity, stop telling me how awful lowsec is. I'm tired of it. Sure, the Ghetto may be awful, but you don't actually tell that to the people living there. Most of the posts I've been seeing of late include an opening statement to the effect of "I hear a lot of Pirates complaining about how much lowsec sucks..." and they then proceed to tell us how it should be changed to make Piracy more difficult so that more people will go there. Oddly enough, I never see any Pirates actually saying these things, only other people telling me they are. Very odd really. But hopefully this post has clued at least someone in on how they can make money in lowsec right now. The way it is. Without "fixing" anything.