Manufacturing Tech 2 ships and equipment is one of the most complicated things you can do in this game. It took me a good amount of time to train up the skills needed, and even then, I either found myself never making a profit or at worse, drowning in data I couldn’t process. After several failed attempts, I can finally say with confidence that I am making a profit and it is very manageable. Today I will be going over my setup, my general strategies towards the mechanics of invention, and managing expectations. For the purpose of this discussion, my setup is quite literally a single character in a corporation. All the activities related to production are carried out by this one character. I want to make the context very clear to give a comparable sense of scale. If I can do this on one toon, a corporation or alliance should be able to do the same activity to the appropriate scale.
The Skill Training Trap
Once you finish training the skills needed to invent and produce T2 items, this will not automatically give you the ability to actually profit from this activity. The skills are simply a prerequisite. In order to profit, a number of conditions must be met:
1. Identify all costs involved in the production of the item you intend to sell. Include items such as the cost of the player-owned starbase (POS) you use to build the item, the fuel needed for the POS, and cost of the successful and failed invention attempts. This may sound simple, but you will be surprised to realize how often builders actually neglect to factor in some costs, giving them the illusion that items simply can’t be sold at a profit, rather than finding ways to make the items more cheaply.
2. In the very likely scenario that you can’t extract all the raw materials you will need, you will need to be well-versed in playing the market to obtain the building blocks for your assembly line. I do not have access to moons for mining in nullsec, nor do I own any Tech 2 blueprint originals (these are rare and stupidly expensive). I place buy orders for all the items I will need. Don’t imagine that you can’t be efficient if you don’t have a hand in the entire assembly line; do the math. If it appears that there will be no profit in the end, then do something else. There’s no need to force the issue, especially if you don’t have any realistic means to affect it.
3. Be prepared to haul your goods to and from the market. Otherwise, prepare to pay a premium in ISK and in waiting times by having others do it for you instead.
4. Production for the purpose of sustainable profit requires a sizable investment of ISK and time. It is very easy to argue that one can make more money doing PvE content rather than through industry. This is true at first, but production scales very well as a source of income. For example, I have a hard limit of 5 production slots on my character. In order to ensure I scale my production operation well, I must build as much as I can with every production slot that is available to me. I may only have invested enough ISK to build one battleship hull at a time, but in the future I might be building 10 battleship hulls at a time per slot. By doing that, I have essentially scaled one production slot to be 10 times more efficient.
Stations, Outposts and Player-Owned Starbases
The most fundamental difference between building in an NPC Station, a Nullsec Outpost or a POS lies on the cost associated with each one. Production jobs that are done in Stations or Outposts will incur a tax (in NPC stations this is 10%), which will be charged on top of the system cost index for that particular station. Building in a POS allows you to avoid this tax, but of course you will face fuel costs instead.
Time and material efficiency is another quality that separates the two. Building in an assembly array in a POS will grant you a 25% reduction in the time it takes to complete the job and a 2% saving on the materials needed to install the job in the first place.
Now you might say this should automatically sway you into building in a POS. It should, if you can afford to consistently fuel the arrays. As long as your production margins are greater than the cost of fuel, then you are on the right track. But if not, you need to consider why this is so. Are you not building enough? Are you building truly unprofitable items? Are they difficult to sell in the market you targeted? Address these questions before continuing your POS operation, or risk building at a loss.
This is the act of taking a blueprint copy (BPC) for a Tech 1 item, combining it with datacores and decryptors, and praying that RNGesus favors you this day and grants you a Tech 2 blueprint copy.
I do my invention in a POS. For the most part, I acquire the BPCs I need for the job from the contract market; I do not need a BPO to do Invention, just the copies. I exclusively use the Optimized Attainment Decryptor due to the 90% probability modifier, but of course, this is a personal choice, so feel free to choose the decryptor that is right for your job. Regardless of which decryptor you use, make note of the failed invention attempts that occur; don’t forget to factor them in with your production cost.
In the “required materials” tab of a Tech 2 BPC, you will notice that in order to complete the job you will need a number of different Tech 2 components. These items are technically Tech 1 builds. The most cost-effective way to do Tech 2 production is generally to build the components yourself. They sometimes happen to be undervalued by the market, in which case it’s better just to place buy orders for them – but this rarely happens. That being said, it takes a lot longer to complete T2 production jobs this way, due to the long list of required materials. This is where the 25% speed bonus to production in a POS becomes a great boon.
Once your products are built, you just need to haul them to market. Make sure you have a hauling ship large enough to deliver the goods. It wouldn’t make much sense to focus on building Tech 2 battleship hulls if your best hauler is a Tech 1 industrial; they just won’t fit.
Besides the more popular faction trade hubs, consider the viability of selling in border systems as well. See if there is a demand for your products from lowsec staging systems. These areas are often used as market hubs by faction warfare players, and as a general re-supply point for logisticians on their way back to their nullsec home.
This is the most important aspect of my operation; I am incredibly vulnerable to a wardec. If that were to happen, I simply do not have the means to intelligently protect myself, short of packing everything up and stowing it in a station. That is the main reason my Tech 2 production is done in a one-man corp – anonymity.
Industry is a very rewarding activity in EVE – not only in terms of profit (if you get it right), but also in terms of the sense of satisfaction it brings. I can make a profit with a solo character, but industry scales very well to larger groups because more characters means you can better benefit from an endless list of advantages such as more jobs, larger volumes, economies of scale, better timezone coverage, more backup options for fuelling and keeping the operation running, as well as having a wider range of defensive options if your installations come under attack.
Don’t be afraid to start Tech 2 production on an organizational level; it can give a sense of shared purpose and accomplishment, along with having the potential to fund a modest but useful Ship Replacement Program for combat operations. With so many moving parts, a Tech 2 production programme can offer a role for every member of your corporation – newbies included!
So get building! Market victory awaits you too!