Sunday, 27 October 2013

Heating up Ice Mining

With the Odyssey expansion came the resource rebalancing.  This was a shake up of mining in general making some parts easier, some parts harder and generally spreading it out to give a better balance between the high end and low end.  Notably, gravimetric sites which previously required scanning can now be warped to without scanning, null sec space generates higher levels of ore the lower the sec status of the system goes, and high sec ice mining was overhauled.
This post is about the high sec ice mining.

How it was pre-Odyssey
Prior to Odyssey, ice mining was simple.  You travelled to one of the ice belts local to you, easily located on dotlan, and you started to chew though the near-infinite ice asteroids.  These would take thousands of man hours to empty, and they respawned daily.  I've never heard of one being cleared.
Due to the sheer size of the rocks, and the fact that ice is the only source of fuel for a POS, mining ice fields in large numbers for hours on end was quite a profitable venture for an activity that could be performed near AFK.  You could dump a bunch of miners and a hauler in a belt and mine ice all day long while playing a console game or getting on with some work.

The Odyssey shake up
With Odyssey, CCP decided that they wanted to reduce the amount of ice available in high sec to around 80% of the ice that is needed by players, enforcing a requirement for players to seek out ice outside of high sec.  They also wanted to speed up ice mining, reducing cycle times to make a little more bearable for the active player.
To do this they replaced all ice belts with anomalies accessible from the probe scanner without probes, like the new style gravimetric sites in null.  To balance out the regions, they also removed ice belts from a few systems.  The new sites are considerably smaller, offering only a couple of thousand ice blocks.  These can be mined out in a few hours by a relatively small group (or as recently shown, destroyed in under 20 minutes by a 100 man multiboxed mining fleet).  Once completely empty, they trigger a timer and are respawned exactly 4 hours later, in the same system but in a different location.

The problem
Now don't get me wrong, ice mining is an absolute dream compared to what it was, and the changes made are a vast improvement over the old system.  But there is a new problem, and that is competition.  Prior to Odyssey there was no competition as there was no limit to ice.  If 100 people turned up and started to mine ice alongside you, you would still never run out of ice to mine, and that was bad!  Competition is a good thing!  It allows for healthy fluctuations in pricing, and allows some people to profit and others to lose out.  Competition is good for EVE and it's economy.
So with the new system competition has been added, and that's good, but what behaviour is that competition rewarding?  Due to the way the ice belts respawn, in the same system, exactly 4 hours after completion, the people that are most rewarded are the people that can be there when the belt is cleared, then alarm clock for 4 hours later (or bots, who can watch the system and instantly warp to the site when it appears).
Now is this really the type of miner that should be rewarded?  Surely the miners that should be rewarded are the ones willing to put the work in to mining, not just the time, but that are willing to make mining their EVE career.

The solution
And that's where the idea for a solution comes in.  And it's fairly simple.  Randomise the respawn locations.  Rather than making ice sites appear in set systems, allow them to respawn in any 0.5-0.7 system in the region of space the ice is linked to.  So you mine out a Caldari ice site and 4 hours later, the belt respawns in a random system in Caldari space.  This simple change would mean miners would be rewarded not for sitting in a single system munching through ice, but instead for hunting it down.  It's great to make a whole heap of isk from an opportunity handed to you on a silver platter, and I write this post while mining ice in a fresh site, but it really is way too easy to be seriously competitive.
Note that other changes could also be implemented alongside this.  With belts being random, the volume and quality of ice could be varied based on security status, with 0.7s receiving fewer asteroids while 0.5s receive a couple of rare ice asteroids.  This would not only produce more benefits for mining in the riskier space but it would naturally form variations in supply, where some days sites in may not appear in a 0.5 at all, while on other days they may only appear there.


  1. Kinda like the anomalies shift around a constellation in WH space? Not a bad idea at all!

  2. Interesting idea. (I have suggested randomizing the 4 hour respawn time.)

    Your link to my blog is pointing at an older post. Blogger bug?

    1. Very possibly. Your blog kept coming up on my blogger list as not retrieving the feed. I've removed and re-added it and it's updated for now and I'll keep an eye on it.