Thursday, March 18, 2010

Things CCP Could Do To Help The Mineral Markets And Keep Miners Happy

CCP Devs have confirmed that the changes to the insurance rates are indeed intentional and a Dev Blog will be forthcoming explaining this. Now most players aren't freaking out yet, even with all the forecasts of doom regarding the inevitable collapse of the mineral market, there's a definite feeling that the system is being heavily exploited and that the miners generating the oversupply of minerals are largely unaware of how much they're supported by insurance fraud.
Insurance isn't the only thing that's messing up the mineral market, and it isn't the only thing that could stand fixing. The people that are fuelling the epic mineralpocalypse threadnought are largely in agreement that the expected insurance changes would be a good thing if they were combined with some other changes to the system. Some even secretly hope that CCP have some of these changes planned for Tyrannis so that there's something to sustain those players who make mining their primary business.
So here's a short list of 'great ideas' that the devs could roll in with the next release.

Loot Refining Nerfs
Mission and ratting loot make up 40% of the mineral supply, the crappy modules get reprocessed and the minerals sold instead. This leads to an oversupply of mid range minerals which means that there's no ore in low-sec which is more profitable that the base ores in hi-sec.
  • Reduce Station refine rates for non-industrial NPC corporations: All those caldari Navy plants now only get 35% refine rate leading to a reduction in mineral output. Players can move loot to other stations for re-processing, but then they need high standings or they get hit with the 5% mineral tax. Besides most players are lazy and will just take the hit. Feasbility: Easy No real code changes, just a bunch of database entries.
  • Remove all T1 Loot: Plain Tech 1 items frequently refine into more minerals than the meta version, so only dropping meta 1-4 items would reduce the amount of minerals coming from missions. Feasability: Moderately Easy, Update all the loot tables.
  • Replace Meta Loot With Broken Items: to make a broken named item work you combine it with the Tech 1 item and blueprint. The broken items can't really be reprocessed into anything meaningful, so they're no longer a source of minerals, and manufacturing the named items generates more demand from the mineral market. Feasability: Complicated, needs new production paths for all tech 1 blueprints, and new items in the database corresponding to every meta item, and all the loot tables need updated.
  • Remove Perfect Refine Rates From Module Reprocessing: with good skills and a god station you can get every mineral out of a module that was put into making it. This could be adjusted so that it's no longer possible to recover everything, alternatively there could be different return rates for different components so that it's harder to recover high end minerals from modules. Feasability: Moderate, needs code changes and database updates to differentiate which items can be refined perfectly.
Anti Macro Measures
There's always a perception that there are a whole bunch of macro mining bots out there ruining the market for the honest players, ergo, any anti macro measure is particularly good for miners. (note that there are clearly plenty of isk farmers running courier bots in magnates around hi-sec, or macro-ratters in 0.0, mining isn't the only thing that easy to automate).
  • Fake Ores In Belts: We've seen Barren Asteroids and Fools Crokite in missions so extend these to belts and make them mineable for worthless ore. Have one false asteroid type for each real ore asteroid and they'll get mixed up on the overview. Unless the bot is smart enough to read the overview it will end up mining worthless ore, many bots simply repeat the same set of mouse actions in a loop. Alternatively, don't remove asteroids when they become 'barren' simply leave them there and let bots try and fail to mine these rocks. Feasability: Moderate, Need new objects for the worthless asteroids and ores, the existing asteroid models can still be used. Belts need to be re-seeded to include the fake rocks.
  • Nerf Respawn In Static Belts, Move More Mining Into Exploration Sites: Because the perception is that people running macros are too lazy to scan down sites, so the miners who work at it will be rewarded with bigger rocks. As an alternative to exploration, you could make asteroid locations available by talking to agents for mining corporations. You can't kill off static belts completely since they're used as locations for spawning npc pirates. Feasability: easyish, revert the respawn rate changes, add more exploration sites.
  • Even More Unholy Raging: ban them alll! Feasability: it's been done before, just keep doing it.
Give Miners Other Things To Do
  • Better Mining Missions: Mining missions tend to be interspersed with lots of courier and combat missions, and they tend to take as long as the equivalent level of combat missions but can't pay nearly as well because the loot and bounties aren't there. So, work on those mining missions a bit so that a mining character can essentially be an independent contractor to those dedicated mining corporations. Feasability: easy enough, but I imagine content creators don't dream about creating mining missions.
New Things to Build With The Minerals
All of these NPC manufactured items are cash sinks right now (well we're speculating about the new planetary interaction stuff),
  • POS Components: We get blueprints to transform those into the faction variants, how about seeding BPO's for building regular variants to give me something to do with those minerals. This is an established environment, so moving to player generated production wouldn't have to deal with any demand spike due to them being 'teh new hotness'.
  • Sov Structures: There's a lot of reasons that IHubs and similar were seeded on the market, there was going to be a huge demand on day one and no chance to ramp up production, plus there was the epic voyage of freighter convoys moving deep into 0.0 only to get hotdropped by Titan pilots playing with their new toys. Seeding blueprints for these would soak up excess minerals, but maybe with the restriction that they still need a special production facility that is only found in NPC stations so that we can still have those freighter convoys.
  • Planetary Interaction Widgets: they'll probably be seeded on the market on day one, simply because there'll be a huge demand, but, I can dream about building these things from blueprints so that the insurance floor dropping out doesn't mean dropping the whole mineral market with it. Since they're new there's an argument that this would be the most logical way to generate new mineral demand.
I sincerely doubt we'll see any of this in Tyrannis, everything we've seen on the test server points to a re-pricing of the mineral basket and nothing more. The biggest questions are still whether this is a static or dynamic re-pricing, and of course, whether prices will change rapidly enough to open a window for market speculators to make a real killing.


  1. Great Ideas. Are you giving any thoughts to running for the next CSM? You've got my vote if you do.

    I've been enjoying your posts. Very well written and entertaining reads. Keep up the good work!

  2. Well thanks for the vote of confidence :)
    The official devblog on the subject is now here and I'm glad to hear there's some rebalancing going on with minerals. Adjustment of yields from ores and drone alloys, and a modification to loot tables to reduce the amount of minerals coming from rat loot.