Sunday, April 7, 2013

PI Challenge - Final Results (Edited to Respond to Mabrick)

Edit:  Mabrick responded to this post, and I want to share/respond to some of his thoughts, as I may have not been clear about some things. 

  • I made isk, 134m isk specifically.  I did not lose any money on this.  HS PI will MAKE YOU ISK!
  • In Mabrick's initial post, he gives a specific skill set.  I DID NOT use this skill set.  I tried to note this below, and in the previous posts, giving my skills, and revised estimates for how much might be earnable.
  • Even given the above, based on my experience, Kao's results, and Mabrick's own writing, I stand by my claim: Mabrick's original and revised amounts per month, and my own revised amount per month, are false given the current state of PI in High Sec.
  • I did wholeheartedly try to make as much as possible, and was in no way trying to sabotage Mabrick's claims.  I only wanted to test them.
  • I am in no way opposed to the "passive" playstyle.  I have an alt that only does industry, and did this challenge.  It is my opinion that for a brand new player, however, spending the first 2 months of the game training skills that are entirely passive is not the best use of time, nor the best way to make isk.  Each player will have their own take on that, I only tried to explain why I thought other uses of your first 2 months might be better for a new bro.
I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Mabrick for being the impetus of this project, and for engaging in conversation on both ends of the project.  Go read his blog, but more importantly, go buy his stuff in game!

I began the 30 day PI challenge on 3/8/2013, Eve time.  I just sold off all the excess product I had as of 02:09, 4/8/2013 Eve time.  That's just over 1 month of in-game production time.  I had 2 days where mis-clicks in the interface stopped production on a planet, but I also ran R0>P1 production starting on 3/5/2013, so I will call it a wash.  Here are the final results of my efforts:

The net profit after 30 days was 134.7m isk.  In his original challenge, Mabrick claimed that a new player, trained to the skills listed below could make 500m isk in 30 days, in High Sec:
  • Planetology to Level IV
  • Command Center Upgrades to Level V
  • Interplanetary Consolidation to Level V
  • Advanced Planetology to Level III
I modified the challenge to shoot for 50%-75%, or 250m to 375m isk, with the following skills:

  • Planetology to Level IV
  • Command Center Upgrades to Level IV
  • Interplanetary Consolidation to Level IV
  • Advanced Planetology to Level III
At this time, unless there is information I am missing, or there is something I did fundamentally wrong, I am going to say Mabrick was considerably overestimating how much High Sec PI can produce in both cases.  Even ignoring the costs of setup, which would not be present in subsequent months after starting a high sec PI setup, profit would still only reach roughly 175m.  I derive that by subtracting the Planetary Construction costs from the Total Revenues.  Taxes would still have to be paid.

Mabrick's Original and Modified Hypotheses: False, by a long shot.

It is important to note that I did make 134m isk.  Based on the claims, I was just hoping for better!


Commentary and opinion time.

Let's look at a different metric, return on investment, or the ROI.  Simply put, ROI is your profit over your costs.  In my case this is about 208m in revenue over 74m in costs.  That gives an ROI of 2.82.  I made 2.82 times what I spent over the course of this project.  Let's compare that to my 30 day market challenge.  I invested 5m isk, and ended up making 1461.8m isk.  That's an ROI of 292.36.  For a little more effort each day.

Let's look at another option.  My skill-set takes about 13 days to train, and made 134m isk in one month.  In two months, the training time for Mabrick's skill queue, you could roughly train a given race's Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, and Battelcruiser, and the racial medium weapon system and support skills to 4, along with Drones 5.  I strongly doubt that extra planet and level of CCUs in Mabrick's plan will add ~370m to the total.  If we look at my setup and add 1 planet at the same rates, we are talking ~30m more isk.  Given synergies of upgrading product, lets round up the monthly profit to 200m.  How does this compare to missioning one level 4 a day?

Throw in another 3.5 days, and you can have Salvaging 4.  In two months you would be able to grind up to level 4 missions, and salvage them, getting 10-25m isk per mission, along with LP. 5-10 missions would get you the same net profit as my month of PI.  In a Drake, a level 4 takes about 45 minutes per mission. Do one mission per day, with salvage, and I would wager you will make at least twice what my PI efforts made, and possibly more if you are lucky and smart about selling the salvage.  Buy some basic rig BPOs that require no research, and you would do even better.  Of course, that would entail extra industrial training, but not 2 months worth.  More like a week to get to a decent point to make small rigs.

The point of my comparisons is this:  PI in high sec will make you some money, this is absolutely true.  It is also boring, tedious, and less profitable than almost any other active play style.  For a brand new character, taking 2 months to train PI skills is an utter waste of time.  A smaller, modified schedule might do some good, and strike a balance between passive income and active income.  If you are a new player and have access to nullsec or WH space, this may differ.  But you need a lot of specialized equipment to survive in WH space.  And the two months of PI training is time you won't spend getting the skills for those ships.

I would recommend any new player to train their ship, fitting, and turret/missile skills before embarking on a long PI train.  At the end of the day, Eve is about internet spaceships, and having fun in those.  Most of the rewarding parts of the game were built around being in space and doing things.  If and when you feel that you can take a break from the "core" skills, invest some time in PI.  It will make you a bit on the side.  But unless you are in the situation where you have access to extremely rich planets (read: not HS), 2 months of PI training is not going to get you as much as almost any other training program you could follow.


  1. How much time per day did you spend on maintaining your PI planets once you got into the groove?

    1. When the hotspots were good, maybe 15-20 minutes to go to each Customs Office, transfer goods, and reset the ECUs. I was also keeping a very detailed spreadsheet to record each transaction for the purposes of this whole write up. On a bad day I spent time scanning the planets, moving ECUs, and balancing PI goods to make sure I wasn't importing more than needed.

      After a few days, I got into the habit of double checking everything, because the PI interface likes to blank out ECUs, and then you lose a day of production. It's really infuriating.

      You also need to add hauling time to sell. I was selling in Jita, as it had the best prices closest to my planets, so that tacks on time. You can save time by storing finished goods until you are at a full load. As I often make Jita runs for other stuff, I ended up doing this roughly every 2 days. That takes a while too.

      For initial setup, I would book at least an hour, probably two. You need to do all the routes, and double check it. The interface is utter crap, and has no routing logic, it is all manual. The first few days will cost you probably 30-40 million isk, as you have to sink the costs of the initial build and the initial rounds of import and export.

      Oh, you also need a hauler. So you need to train your racial industrial to something. I recommend at least 6000m^3 for the hauler, or you might be making multiple trips in-system. If you can get to 10k m^3, you should be golden in HS.

  2. Only thing I have a problem with your view on PI is Command Center Upgrades to Level V is key to making money. Huge difference from 4 to 5. CCU 5 is the most important of all PI skills to get to 5. You are fine with 4 in lowsec but in highsec 5 is a must.

    1. If I can ever convince myself to train that skill to V, I'll probably re-run this whole endeavor. I just keep finding other things to train on my Indy account. You get an extra 2000 PG and 4100 CPU. That will get an extra ECU and some heads, which is undeniably better. My main concern is even with that, you could get rate limited by the number of processing facilities.

      Mabrick hinted that his setups use single planets to create the P2s. I was creating out to P1 then shipping. I think this is where the missing link is? The more I think about this today, the more I wonder about finally biting the bullet on CCU V. 134m/month wasn't bad, and I have the ability to do that on quite a few characters. It just comes down to the time and process of updating every day to do this.

      My wishlist for PI: An option to do automated in-system goods transfer between planets.

    2. Automated in system goods transfer would probably be fine in High sec, but in Low, Null, and Wormhole space, haulers get popped doing PI runs.

    3. I know this quite well :). I think there would need to be a cost. I would envision such a system consisting of a new structure, or an upgrade to the launch pad. There would also need to be a cost, such as isk or fuel or a chunk of the materials. It would eliminate inter-CO attacks, but it would not remove the ability to attack when taking out the final products. I don't really mind making the attackers job a little harder, but that is a whole other topic.

      Also, I would imagine the easier PI is made, the less profitable in will become, as more people would get involved...

  3. As much as I would like to see an automatic transfer of goods between planets, it would become too much of a passive income then.

  4. Despite my ramblings in the post, I'm not sure I would call PI passive at this point, given how much micromanaging it takes to make it work well. But that's something I will be touching on in a later post :).