Thursday, June 5, 2014

Trade Runs

Sugar has been hosting a series of posts on the old old patch notes. We always tend to look at the past through rose colored glasses, but I’ve often said that the period from EVE launch in 2003 through late 2004 was my personal golden era of gaming.

EVE felt big, mysterious, and limitless. We had built a great Corp full of motivated (and funny!) individuals and were dabbling in alliances, building things, and enjoying the game. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the foundations that we built then are things I rely on today in nearly every session.

This week, I saw a link (indirectly via Sugar) to EVE-Uni’s guide on trading/hauling. A quick scan brought back a huge wave of nostalgia and the thought of “oh wow, people still DO that?” (I realize that freighter pilots make a living somehow, but I always assumed it was all through contracts, not market hauling).

I might screw this up through flawed memory or my own misunderstanding at the time, but here’s the jist on trading, circa 2003:

In the beginning, the market wasn’t entirely player driven. There were trade goods that were seeded at npc stations, and npc demand appeared elsewhere on market to consume the goods. (Most ore we mined got sold to npcs at the original “power of two” default prices of 1, 4, 16, 64,etc isk/unit. The original market didn’t allow decimals in prices [integer values only], so if you wanted to sell trit at 1.25 each you had to conduct it as a station trade with the player outside the market. Also consider that at launch, few had invested in BPOs in the opening weeks, so allllll modules/ships/whatever were provided to the public by npc seeding for the first several months. But I digress…)

Anyway, items like Robotics, Antibiotics, Tobacco, and such were in the game entirely to be trade commodities; their current uses in PI were still almost a decade away. They were intended only for folks like me to buy from an npc, move from point A to point B, and sell again to an npc.

I earned the isk for my first battleship from running Robotics across the Forge and Genesis in my trusty Bestower. In those early days, prior to isk faucets like Incursions, lvl4 Missions, and billion isk drops from faction rats, the ~110M isk for an Apoc was a huge sum of money representing weeks of time investment. Each trade run was 10-20 jumps. There was no warp to zero, so each gate had to be approached slowboat style. But on the plus side, you could cycle ABs and MWDs in warp and exit warp at your top speed.

I wasn’t the only player that had figured trading out; my competition would often beat me to the punch. The npc seedings were reset at each downtime, so EU TZ had an advantage. Tools like EVE-Central were still a pipe dream, but we made do with an alt or two scattered around the map to get market status in other regions.

In time, more folks entered the trade profession and it became harder and harder to find decent runs. Once my Apoc was bought, I moved on to other things in game, eventually landing in null for awhile.

Being a space trucker wasn't an exciting life, but it was satisfying and the returns (for that era) were excellent. As the corp CEO, it did leave me plenty of time between jumps to manage a growing corporation, chat up potential allies in other corps, plot, and scheme.

While I don’t think I’ll be dusting off the Bestower any time soon, I’m glad to see that some things don’t change in EVE.

What I'm Training: HACs 5. Thought I had it already, found that I didn't.

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