Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why just the Obelisk?

One of the programs run by the Logistics Department is our freighter program (See wiki for details).  We will build someone a freighter for either a discount from normal price, or mineral cost+small fee. One question I get frequently asked is why the University only builds Obelisks.  The answer is both simple, and somewhat complex.
The simplest answer is: because Morning Maniac loaned us the blueprints for an obelisk.  Here is the more complex answer.
A freighter is a capital ship, and as such, is not manufactured directly from minerals.  Instead, it is manufactured from Capital Components.  In the case of the Obelisk, Cargo bays, armor plates, propulsion, and construction parts.  Each of these items is manufactured from the normal t1 mineral supply.  While the freighter blueprint itself is almost 2b, the component blueprints are also each almost 1b. 
Building a freighter takes almost 2 weeks (a little under), but this is only part of the equation. For the obelisk, the capital cargo bay print is in production almost the same amount of time to produce the needed components, and the capital construction parts is in production over half that time.  Propulsion and armor are only a few days.  This means that some minerals started production 20+ days before the ship comes out.
Now, we could just spend the 2b (rounded) to buy a new freighter print, and just use our existing blueprints for the components.  However, this leads us to a situation where we can produce only one freighter at a time. The other blueprint would be sitting idle during this time. This is a waste of almost 2b in capital (economic, not ship definition). 
In order to simultaneously produce both ships, we would have to buy an extra copy of some of the components.  At the minimum, we would need an additional cargo blueprint, since that is almost entirely utilized supplying the production chain for a single freighter.  Each freighter uses a different mixture of quantities. If we didn’t purchase an additional construction parts bpo, several of the other freighters would require such a quantity of parts that it would take longer to produce the partsthen the ships.  This would result in the ship blueprints being idle for a couple of days each run (Parts+2 ships start at same time, ships finish, parts finish a bit later to start the next run of ships, etc..). Fully supplying the chains for both models of freighter would require an additional construction part blueprint (another 1b). This is not entirely necessary, depending on the combination of ships and requirements.
Any new prints we bought (component or ship) would be unresearched, and would need to be researched before we could even start production.  Freighters take a long time to research, and would mean that a purchase of the prints today wouldn’t exit research for 2 months, and wouldn’t produce its first ship (remember, mins-> components->ship) for a while after that.
Another factor we have to consider is the capital tied up in minerals.  Right now, an obelisk costs roughly 750m.  However, in our production run, we always have the equivalent of 3 obelisk’s worth of costs tied up in various stages of production.  1 set of minerals waiting to be made into cap components on the next run, 1 set of minerals actively being made into capital components, and 1 set of capital components being made into the ship itself (this is ignoring the day or two between the obelisk coming out of production and selling).  That is roughly 3x the cost of the ship itself tied up in materials in the supply chain.
Expanding production to just one other race would be a significant capital expenditure, not only for the blueprints, but also the isk that would be tied up in minerals/components in the supply chain itself.  This is a substantial cost when you compare it to the benefit to the Uni- one student every 2 weeks gets a single ship at a discount. Keep in mind that it is a specialized ship that is not accessible to new players, and has a high enough price tag to be a significant barrier to entry for most of our members. Additionally, we would have the difficulty of picking which race to produce.  There are people wanting every different freighter, with reasons ranging from “it looks cool” to “I only fly Caldari.”  Expanding to do all 4 would require a huge cost, that I feel isn’t justified.
Hopefully this explains the concepts behind why we only offer Obelisks, and the type of thinking that the Logistics Department puts into the decisions it makes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Individual and the Group

One frequent consideration we have in the Uni is the idea of how much weight should be given to individual needs vs needs of the group.  Our mission involves educating pilots in Eve, and we want every one of our students to suceed.  However, at times we must make decisions that work for the good of the entire group, or of the majority, and may have adverse effects on some individuals.

We have traditionally limited our students posting in CAOD, for example.  This is designed almost entirely to protect the University, as most of the time consequences would not directly come to the individual student (also CAOD is/was a cess-pool).  Another example was our policies on who you can fleet with.  We limited individual students from PVPing with their friends in other corps in order to prevent diplomatic issues coming to bear on the University.

Yet another example was our WSOP.  We made a set of rules and procedures to minimize the length of wars and insure maximum safety for our newest members.  We knew that we have some pilots that are capable of surviving during wartime, but also many that would feed into the desires of some of our WTs.  Thus, we tried to minimize losses and wartime for the Uni as a whole, even though it might not have been best for individual pilots.

When joining, the students give up certain courses of action in order to be part of our community, and create a shared structure in which we can all benefit.  Any particular rule might not be best for you, but it is supposed to have a benefit to the group that outweighs the inconvenience to you. Now, after our month of no-wsop, we are reevaluating where those lines might be drawn, and what is the best balance of group vs individual needs.  Bear with us as we work to try to continue our policy of doing what is best for our students and the University as a whole.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New War Dec Changes

CCP has decided to change the rules to war-decs, or more simply, just decide to remove alot of the extra rules added over the years. Now, anything possible within game mechanics will be allowed.

On one hand, it allows us to adapt our procedures to make it much more expensive (not impossible) to declare war on us.  We still have a multitude of PVP options available, like w-space, low-sec, 0.0, or declaring war on a fun group to fight.  So, on one hand, it is great for us.

However, it reveals the large problems with the war declaration mechanic.  Hopefully, it will mean CCP is taking a hard look at revising the mechanic and creating a much richer and entertaining game experience.  What are everyone else's thought on what a new wardec mechanic should look like?

I've always liked the idea of a counter-bribe idea.  In my idea, the defender would have the option of placing a counter-bribe with concorde (any amount they want).  The aggressor would be notified that a counter-bribe was placed, but not the amount.  They could then place another bribe (any amount they want). Concord would look at the two bids (placed blind of one another), and whoever has the highest bid wins.  If the defender wins, the war is immediately canceled and the aggressor cannot redeclare war for some period of time.  If the aggressor wins, the war continues and the defender cannot try to bribe again for another week.  It would add another economic variable into the idea. The blind nature of the bids would lead to some interesting meta-gaming.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How do we decide what to do?

Recently, we had some people asking why we only reimburse frigates, destroyers, and cruisers in the Uni, and not battlecruisers or battleships.

In reality, there are quite a few reasons we don't, which I'd like to briefly explain:

1. Cost:  During the first two weeks of no-wsop month, we lost 74 BC and 32 BS.  If we assume a average hull price of 40m for BC (almost all are tier 2, rounding to make math easier) than the BCs alone would cost a bit under 3b isk.  If we assume a 100m pricetag for BS (mostly tier 2 and 3, rounded to make math easier), it comes in at another 3b isk.  That is 6b isk for just 2 weeks of operations.  Simply put, this would be larger than any other expenditure in the University (rent, skillbooks, etc..).  This isn't doable with our current revenue stream, and would require substantial changes to bring in that amount of additional revenue.

2. Moral Hazard: Simply put, we would be insulating players from the risk of flying these ships, and their behavior would change.  We would have people flying them that lack the skills, confidence, or experience, and it could result in substantially higher losses than what we currently have. When you factor in insurance costs, poorly fit BS losses could actually be free, or make the person isk.  This would lead to much riskier flying, which doesn't benefit the Uni as a whole.

3. Preparation: People need to be able to support their PVP habit.  Everyone pays for their PVP ships somehow.  Some use alts, different corp structures, etc.., but there is no such thing as a free ship. People need to learn self-sufficiency at some level.  This is a good way to encourage it. By the time people can really fly a battlecruiser or battleship well, they will probably be thinking of moving on anyway.

4. Resource Allocation:  I believe that 1 BS reimbursement serves a lot less educational value than 400 rifters.  I would rather allocate the Uni's limited resources towards the widest number of people possible. The existing system does this.