Greedy Goblin

Monday, February 27, 2012

Running missions for profit and fun

Missions in EVE are similar to daily quests in WoW. They are boring, sometimes outright annoying and pay pocket change. Yet they are hard to avoid for any businessman because they provide not only starter ISK but standing (reputation) with the various corporations and your state and you'll need these to decrease broker fees, refinery and manufacturing costs. The formula for broker fees is BrokerFee% = (1 – 0.05*BrokerRelationsLevel)/ exp(0.1 *FactionStanding + 0.04*CorporationStanding). Running missions is something that you can do as a low-skill new player, so doing them now is much better than later when you have the skills for doing something more profitable.

There are several kind of missions, provided by agents. Security department agents send you to kill NPCs, bleh. Mining divison agents want you to travel to some spot and mine quest ore for them. If you want to be a miner, go for them (though mining is grindy with low ISK/hour and miners are favorite targets of griefers). However our favorite agents will be the distibution agents.

Their jobs are similar, though the quest texts are worth reading, some of them are really charming (my favorite is when you must transport homeless people to other station since they couldn't find an excuse to just throw them out of the airlock). They give you an item and tell you were to bring it. Or they give you a location where you must go, pick up the item and bring it back to them. For level 1 agents the range is 0-2 jumps (0 meaning another station in the same system), level 2 agents send you 0-3, level 3 ones send you to 0-5 and level 4 agents has the nasty habit to send you to the end of the world or worse: low sec systems. To make it worse, you can't just decline what you don't like. You have 1 decline chance every 4 hours, if you decline again, you lose standings with the agent and the organization which that would give standing upon completion.

So are we condemned to do 4-6 jumps for a single low-paying mission that will give you some lousy 0.01-0.03 standing (and you need 5+)? Absolutely not. Here is what you shall do: open the agent finder and check out where the highest available level of distribution agents of your target corporation sit. One by one set your destination to them, but don't fly. Open the starmap and you see a bright line from your current location to the home of the agent, showing exactly where he is. If he is in a system which connect to several ones, check the next agent. What you seek is a linear chain of systems like this:
There are many dead-end systems like this. Rings and maximum 1-star "hairs" are OK too. The point is that an agent on this line can't really send you anywhere else but to the other stars on the line. Draw the map to a piece of paper, making sure that it doesn't contain more than 6-7 stars.

Now go to the end of the line and open the agent finder and configure it to find all available distribution agents in the region. They are sorted by distance so the first page always have the agents in the current system. Watch out for the rank slider on the top. The higher you set it, the higher the rewards will be, but the less agents you can access. Their accessiblity depends on existing faction and corporation standing. It's sometimes better to do lot of lvl 2 missions than a few 3 or 4. Always stick to one level, don't mix them.

Pick the first agent, dock on his stations and pick up his missions and cargo. If he would send you out of your interest zone, decline and ask again. If he sends you out again (both are unlikely), press "delay" and leave him be. Repeat it with all agents in the system unless your cargohold is full.

Some of the missions send you to the same system, complete them, grab new. After these, jump to the next system, complete all the missions that sent you to this system and pick up the ones from the agents living here. If you have empty cargo space, dock at the agents first, maybe they send you somewhere in-system, with some luck to a station where you already have something to drop. Continue this to the end of the line and start moving backwards. Never turn back for a mission, always run the pre-set route. This way you can run several missions in the same time:

Keeping the agents locations organized, planning which mission to dock first to be within the time bonus window, who are on the 4 hour cooldown, and who don't can can be declined to get a new mission (or new cooldown), who to skip when the cargohold is full (will be full, even if you have your Badger II or equivalent, fitted with cargohold expander IIs as it should) needs attention, organization skills and attention divided to several directions, making the activity challenging = fun.

And what about profit?
That's 1.2M in about half an hour, and I made it as a 5 days old newbie.

But the real reward is not money. There are "storyline agents", who contact you via notification when you did 16 missions for the same faction. They are balanced for normal gameplay, to appear once a day maybe. Since the above screenshot shows about 25 completed missions / hour, they appear very frequently for you. Keep your mission count well recorded (you can use the wallet too to count agent mission reward fields). Complete 15 missions, not 16. Actually you should complete just 14 to be sure not to trigger early. Then open the agent finder and select the corporation you want standing with, for example Caldari Navy, the owners of Jita 4-4. Set the agent type to "storyline" and the level to 1 (don't worry, the mission level won't be 1). Now go to the system where this agent is and change the agent finder settings back. Find an agent in the system or one of the neighboring systems who is on the same level as your previous 15 missions. Pick up and complete his mission (two missions if you did 14). Soon after completion your storyline agent will contact you via notification and offer his mission. This mission will give lot of corporation and faction standing. Sometimes they are mean and give you a combat quest, then hire someone to do it for you, they worth their price.

Standings explained: By default a corporation doesn't know you and you have 0 standing. By completing missions to them, you gain standings, up to 10. To use their station services you have to pay them, for example to refine veldspar into tritanium, you'd have to give them 5% of the yielded tritanium if your standing is zero. With 6.6 standing they take nothing.

The standing increase depend on the current standing. You can never reach 10.00, as the mission reward is multiplied by (1-current_standing/10). So a mission that gives 1 standing at 0 will give you 0.5 when you are 5 and 0.11 when 9.

There are two skills affecting standing: one is "social" that simply increases mission reward by 5% per rank. With Social rank 4 you get 20% bonus to missions. The other is "connections" that give a boost in a weird way: 0.04/rank/missing standing. So if your standing is 0.001 (doesn't work with 0.0), you get 0.4 standing/rank, as you have 10 points missing from the maximum. If your standing is 5, you'll get 0.2/rank. It is a huge boost at the start, allowing better deals with corporations you barely know and faster reaching the higher level agents, but the benefit diminishes as you gain standing.

You can access level 2 agents if your standing is 1 or more, level 3 at 3+, level 4 at 5+. The level 1 agents are always available. However there is a trick here: the agents don't only belong to a corporation but also to a state. So if you have high standing with your state (which is easy if you did your starter missions in all 3 hubs and did storyline missions via the mass missioning technique listed above), you can access rank 3 agents to companies where your standing is just 0.01.

By running missions you also get loyalty points that you can spend in the loyalty store (uniform guy icon in the station). The really good items (like unique ships) cost lot of points, much more than anyone shall spend doing missions. The mass missioning technique provide lot of LP, but to different corporations and they can't be combined.

There are some more skills to be considered:
  • Negotiation: increases the ISK reward of missions by 5% per rank
  • Diplomacy: increases the relation with hostile agents. You can get hostile if you do missions to a state that they hate. 
  • Distribution connections: increases LP gain by 10% per rank for distribution agents
Please note that skillbooks are not free and learning skills takes time, so calculate if learning these skills worth the price.

One more thing you should know:  states and organizations have standing to each other. If it's positive, whenever you get standing with one, you get some with another. If it's negative, you lose standing with the other. For example the Gallente Federation has -5 standing with the Caldari state. If I gain 1 standing with Caldari, I lose 0.5 with Gallente. At -5 their ships start attacking me. You can prevent it using the Diplomacy skill or by doing missions for them (which will decrease your Caldari standing).


Mika Hirvonen said...

Some of the NPC factions are mutually exclusive. If you do lots of storyline missions for the Caldari State, don't expect the Gallente Federation to like you. At -2 standings their agents will refuse to talk to you, and at -5 their border patrol NPCs around stations and stargates will start shooting at you. Doing combat missions against a specific faction will also lower your standings.

Gevlon said...

@Mika: added to text

Bobbins said...

The loyalty points you gain can be traded in the corporations lp store for items (which may be traded).

Anti said...

storyline missions are given when you complete 16 normal missions for a faction.

so if you do 10 missions for amarr corp, then 10 missions for gallente corp, then 6 missions for amarr corp you will get an amarr storyline. you then only need to do 6 more normal missions for gallente to get the next storyline.

you can get almost all the 5.0 faction standing to do lvl 4s by grinding career tutorial agents for one pair of factions. either amarr / caldari or minmatar / gallente. 2 factions x 3 locations x 5 agents x 10 missions. this will put the opposite pair to -2 or so before skills.

i was grinding courier lvl 4s very early in my career. i was lucky to get some courier storylines early that gave implants which i was able to sell for high profit. but more often they will be security storylines which were impossible for me with my low combat skills.

one jump into lowsec is almost a guaranteed death and mission failure. the campers favor the border zones from high - low or high - null. it much safer once you are deep in low / null. (though still dangerous)

IO said...

Gevlon: You get storyline missions every 16 regular missions for same FACTION (not corp). You can edit your text to reflect that.

More here:

David said...

one jump into lowsec is almost a guaranteed death and mission failure.

That's some high-grade carebear bullshit right there. The MWD/Cloak trick works just fine. Someone who has decided to make trading and hauling his career of choice needs to learn how to navigate New Eden safely, rather than believe the fearmongering of highsec dwellers. Learn by doing.

Gevlon said...

@David: don't be stupid. It's a newbies guide, the target audience did not learn the skills to run a blockade runner.

Anonymous said...

Its also worth noting that alot of the money made from mission running isnt from the mission itself. Alot of the money is made from salavaging/looting.

For instance i recently did a chain of 5 missions (Enemies Abound) and out of the 170M i made, only around 9M of that from from the mission rewards itself.

Anonymous said...

entry level combat missions are easy to complete and reward 150k-200k with time bonus plus you get loot and salvage goodies from mobs.
With few skils trained and entry level shield tanking in a frigate, you 3 shoot most mobs whyle barely taking any damage.
I found them much more entertaining than running distribution missions.
You have also the option to warp out if you are about to go ka-boom or if you get overwhelmed by mobs.

Boxington said...

@Gevlon and @David, the trick David is referencing (MWD + non-covert-ops cloak) is used with standard instustrials like the Badger, not with the blockade runner. The skill requirement to train the MWD + prototype cloaking device is less than a day.

That said, this brings up perhaps the most interesting thing in EVE Economics: Risk Management. The concept of risk is hardly present in other mmos, because it's quite impossible to have your loot and capital blown up. In EVE, though, the ability to actually lose things, coupled with location-specific nature of the market, means that there are very large risk premiums available to the savvy trader who can manage the bust through gate camps.

Based on very loose numbers, you can expect about 10% return on capital for arbitraging goods in high-sec, but if you're willing to break through the low-sec border, you can easily expect 50% return on the same investment. Going into null gets more complicated (involves politics and docking rights), but if you can do it well, you can easily find 100% to 500% returns on capital. So, high-sec trading works, but it is the grindy sort of work compared to the proper management of risky endeavors.

David said...

@Gevlon: Calling someone stupid because you did not bother to understand their advice is typical M&S behavior. Where do you see the words "blockade runner" in my earlier comment?

Skills needed to perform the MWD/Cloak trick in a Badger Mark II:

Caldari Frigate III
Caldari Industrial I
Caldari Industrial II
Caldari Industrial III
Electronics IV
Cloaking I
Cloaking II
Cloaking III
Afterburner I
Afterburner II
Afterburner III
High Speed Maneuvering I
Energy Grid Upgrades I
Energy Grid Upgrades II
Mechanics III
Jury Rigging I
Engineering IV

Total training time for a newly created Caldari character without remapping: 4d 7h 48m.

Total time required to google "EVE MWD cloak trick" and find a link to EVE-Uni wiki: 20 seconds.

Ardent Defender said...

There is definetly a method to increasing Standing with NPC Corporation, any specific NPC Corporation as well as Empire standing. A bit of knowledge makes a vast amount of difference which affects "Time", "Standing" as well as "ISK". Allot of EVE is having specific knowledge of things or know how to use it to ones advantage.

Storyline missions are not Random! What is or may be random in relation to this is just from where and which NPC Corp issues the Storyline Mission. Having said that Storyline Missions specifically occurs at Every 16th Mission completion for the "same" level of mission completed for the same Empire NPC Corporation irregardless of the mission type. So Every 16th lvl 1 complete triggers a Storyline Mission. Every 16th Mission complete for a lvl 3 triggers a Storyline Mission which is also in line with that same level missions.

Again Storyline Missions are "NOT" Random! They also offers massive boost to Empire Standing as well Massive boost to a Corporation Standing. You can surely do as well have many Storyline Missions a Day!

How to use that knowledge to ones effectiveness is very much key as it relates to raising Standing and that includes doing so to lower Market Broker Fees as well Taxes. As a Trader myself I know this specifically and have done so specifically to raise standing with X Corp to lower Market Fees as well R&D standing for X Corp in rapid succession.

It's is definitely much much faster to attempt to raise standing with a specific NPC Corp that to attempt to raise standing across the board for a bunch of NPC Corps you will not care to labor or work for in the same Empire. Even if you are in the Trade business. There is a reason to this. You will surely boost standing very rapidly if you have a NPC Corp in mind to do most your business transactions at. Often a Large Empire Comglomerate Corp.

Do agent missions for specific Corp raises Standing very fast with that Corp which also rapidly allows you to soon access lvl 2,3,4 eventually which will not take too long. It's better than trying to do missions for 10 random corps and raising 10 random standing. As well this is where Storyline Missions comes into the mix especially if the Corp Agents your working for also have Storyline Agents who indeed only issue Storyline Missions. You above all want to often and usually get Storyline Missions from the NPC Corp that does matter to you. Thus doing 16 missions for say Caldari Navy and in the right location "CAN" indeed trigger a Caldari Navy Storyline Mission which will all together massively boost your standing and eventually to the next level.

If your doing this the standing boost is rapid! Storyline missions from same Corp your working for is a Huge Boost! The trick now become how fast can you now trigger the same Storyline Agent to issue you a mission or the correct one in the right place to say issue you a mission for same Corp. There is definitely nothing random about from whom you get a Storyline Mission. The trick is making sure you know how to get the right one in the right place. Knowledge is a Asset is EVE!

Huge Tip: Storyline Agent Mission is triggered based on your proximity to the closest NPC Storyline Agent when you indeed complete that very 16th Mission. Figure out how to use that to one advantage.

As well initially training skills like Diplomacy, Connections, Social etc to even initially say lvl 3 which dosent take long will help in long run to boosting Standing gain with NPC Corp. As that all factor into standing gains on every mission completed.

As well the value in missions more usually Security in not in completing the mission specifically. It's in the Salvage loot like someone already mentioned above, which can be worth many Millions to salvage. And if your a businessman it's also stuff to possibly sell or other.

DSJ said...

@mika hirvonen ... it is no longer possible to entirely lose access to agents from a faction that dislikes you. You will always have access to a level 1 agent for grinding back up, that change was an overlooked change put in with incarna. It is especially relevant for gaining access to the pirate factions in low sec and 0.0

Mika Hirvonen said...

@DSJ: I know. I don't think it was ever possible to irredeemably lock yourself out from a faction, but grinding storyline missions for related factions (or against enemy factions) takes an impractical amount of time even in Eve standards. Having at least one agent per faction that'll talk to you no matter what is a much better way to stop people from painting themselves into a proverbial corner with standings.

Scott Marks said...

@Ardent Defender - It's not a bad idea doing missions for muliple corps within the same faction. Its the storyline missions that make the differnce to your stading, but more importantly Faction Standing. Every storyline mission for that faction increases Faction standing which will then give you effective stadning for every corp in that faction. So its a much faster grinding your Factiion Stadning than individual corps stadnings.

And regarding missions that take you into lowsec. Its not worth bothering to do them. You don't get any better ISK or LP so just decline and move on.