With a new pair of Dev Blogs, EVE Online studio CCP has revealed it’s initial plans for replacing the last of the functions accomplished by the current iteration of Starbase Structures. It’s been nearly one year since the release of Citadels into New Eden, and the Refineries are finally on the way. Originally, CCP referred to these new structures as Drilling Platforms, they have now clarified their design goals around these Refineries. The plans are still in the early stages, and thus are open to player input.
CCP have also included some great statistics on the proliferation and use of Citadels. With the Engineering Complexes taking over the roles of research and manufacturing, including Super Capital construction, the new Drilling Platforms will continue the trend of diversifying gameplay prospects in EVE Online.
The bet we decided to take was that if EVE players were provided better tools for creating their own shared infrastructure they would take that ball and run with it, eventually shifting even more of the EVE universe into the control of players. We’re happy to be able to say that you folks didn’t disappoint.
Over 7800 different player corporations have at least one Upwell Structure in space right now.
Four player alliances have active home citadels with more traffic and trade volume than any NPC stations except for the big four trade hubs and the newbie systems. The busiest of them has also surpassed Rens in trade volume.
The top 100 most active industry facilities in EVE (measured by industry job output value) so far in 2017 consist of 13 NPC stations, one Outpost, one Starbase array, one Citadel and 84 Engineering Complexes.
Watching what you built with these new tools over the last year has been an amazing experience.
Between these groundbreaking new structures and all the other features released during the year, YC 118 (2016) was a year of major feature growth in EVE.
While these new stats are interesting, the real focus here should be the looming introduction of Drilling Platforms. The primary focus of these Platforms will be centered around revamps of the process of Moon Mining. The extraction of these minerals is vital to the production of Tech 2 materials, so these changes are bound to have some huge impacts.
Moon mining is an area of gameplay that will be receiving very significant changes with the release of Refineries. The old moon mining system in starbases has been untouched since the early years of EVE and we believe that there’s a lot of room to make a system that provides more engaging gameplay for many groups of players.
The key goals of the new moon mining system are to create a new form of active group gameplay that organized corps and alliances can aspire towards and compete for. The new system must support gameplay for many different types of players, involve strategic choices, and reward players who can cooperate well.
Those of you who have been following the community discussions around moon mining over the last several years probably won’t be surprised by the key parts of this design, as we are building on a foundation of ideas that have been brought up and discussed many times from many sources.
Here’s a walkthrough of the process currently planned for the new moon mining system:
- A refinery that is deployed close enough to a moon can fit a special moon drilling service module. Fitting of this module will only be an option if no other drills are fit to other Refineries around the same moon, so only one structure can mine each moon at a time. This service module gives the owners the ability to designate how large of a fracking operation they wish to begin, with larger chunks taking longer time to prepare.
- The moon drilling module begins blasting a chunk of the moon away from its surface and dragging it towards the structure. This process takes between one and several weeks depending on the choices made by the structure owner. Observers can watch the chunk move through space as a way of estimating when it will reach the Refinery.
- Once the chunk of moon rock has completed its journey into space, the Refinery can use its drill module to detonate the chunk into a minable asteroid field. The exact time of the detonation is controlled by the owners of the Refinery within limits. If the chunk is left unattended long enough it will disintegrate into the asteroid field on its own.
- The new asteroid field that appears with the explosion of the chunk will contain new types of valuable ores that will yield moon minerals when reprocessed. The composition of the field will depend on the composition of moon materials available in the moon. The field will generally remain far enough away from the Refinery structure that you won’t be able to effectively mine it from docking range but close enough for a pilot controlling the Refinery to be able to cover the friendly miners and/or attack uninvited guests.
- Once the chunk has exploded, the drilling module can begin fracturing a new part of the moon to start the process again.
The time scale for this whole cycle will be controllable by the owners of the Refinery, within constraints. Longer cycle times will mean more ore generated in each explosion.
To be clear: Refinery structures themselves will be deployable anywhere that other Upwell structures can be deployed. However only Refineries deployed near minable moons will be able to fit a moon drill service module. The deployment UI for Refineries will clearly show whether the structure is in a location suitable for moon mining before deployment is confirmed.
We’re still in the process of determining how much or little we may need to adjust distribution of moon minerals, and announcements in that area will come later once we’re a little closer to release. However, for this first release we are not currently planning on expanding moon mining to areas of space where it is not available today (highsec and wormholes). Although this gameplay has the potential to be interesting and fun in any area of space we want to be careful not to dilute the regional value of tech two resource collection too much.
Since the time between events will be fairly long, we are expecting this group mining event to be a special high-value occasional event where your corp’s usual miners can turn their attention away from their normal belts and clusters for a few hours and players who only mine once in a while can pull out their barges and join in. In many ways these events will be like mining incursions that are partly controllable by the structure owner. The income from mining these asteroids will of course vary based on market forces and demand for different moon materials, but we expect mining the fields generated by good moons to be very valuable with higher isk/m3 than the high-end ABC (Arkonor, Bistot, Crokite) ores.
Reprocessing will be the simplest and most universal of the initial Refinery roles. Refineries will receive bonuses when using the existing Standup Reprocessing Facility service module, and the existing reprocessing rigs will be rebalanced to go along with these new bonuses. On patch day we will automatically unfit existing reprocessing rigs that are fit to Citadels and Engineering Complexes so that structure owners can have the option of either fitting their rigs right back on to the same structure or moving those rigs to a Refinery if they wish.
Contrary to Citadels and Engineering Complexes, there will not be an XL version of these structures. CCP will be rebalancing the Reprocessing Rigs as a result of this decision.
CCP will also introduce an additional layer of control with the Mining Ledger attached to these Platforms. The Mining Ledger will show structure owners a full list of all the resources available in the Moon belts, as well as anyone who has mined anything from the currently existing belt. This will allow a new level of organization and access control for larger alliances. Hopefully, it sees something more interesting than another layer of rental or resource sharing agreements.
All in all, these changes are set to massively shift the focus and impact of T2 industry in EVE Online. The fallout from these changes may cause some chaos, but that’s where EVE shines. So it’s all good here.