Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Passive income, active income

Jester wrote a good post about passive vs active income. In short: you receive passive income without active effort, for some effort you invested once. For example if you learned the skills and got the standings to start research with an R&D agent, the agent will generate datacores for you as long as you have your account running.

On the other hand to get active income you have to perform an activity now and be rewarded for it, for example running a mission.

Every game economy must be balanced to prevent inflation or "everyone has everything, nothing matters". Passive income sources are usually low in comparison to active, for example my highsec planets earn me about 0.3B/month. I've yet to see someone getting rich over them, they are rather little rewards for long-term continued playing.

Active income seems not really balanced. Highsec missioning can earn 30-40M/hour, so you can earn 21-28B/month by running missions. The reason why there is no runaway inflation in EVE is that the active income sources are limited by the time spent playing. To earn 21-28B/month via highsec missioning, you have run missions 24/7. While there are some "no-lifers", the vast majority of players don't overuse these sources simply because their gaming time is limited, and also within their gaming time they want to do other things besides grinding missions. In the theoretical case where everyone is a "no-lifer" the active income based economy cannot be sustained and must be changed to a scarce resource based one, where you can't just spawn rats by talking to an agent. For example in WoW you can run the same raid once a week, the normal quests once in the lifetime of the character and the daily quests once a day.

Enters the botter and the AFK-farmer and the practical limit of "no lifer farming" disappears. With a bot you can run missions 24/7 with several characters. AFK-ing a Dominix in a newbie complex or a Mackinaw by a chunk of ice let you farm 8-12 hours a day without effort, practically turning the active income source into passive. Just as your planets collect resources while you are away, you bot/AFK ship collects bounties/ore. Except 100x more in ISK.

Theoretically CCP can stop botting by catching botters and banning them. Practically they can't but let's be nice here. However AFK-leeching isn't against the EULA, so the resource acquisition must be redesigned to prevent AFK leeching.

I already mentioned the artificial limits of WoW: you can run the same daily quest once a day, and even if you do them all, you are done in 2 hours and you can't farm more. Similar arbitrary limits could be introduced, like "you can run 5 missions a day" or "you can rat for only 2 hours a day, after that no more loot or bounty" or "maximum 2 hours of mining". They are both immersion-breaking, anti-sandboxy and outright harmful to players in need: imagine that you lost your ships in the first timer of your station and you have 2 days to get back. You are motivated and ready put some extra time in, but the mission and ratting limit practically says "150M/day max no matter how hard you try" and two days later you're facing the most important battle of your EVE carrier without a replacement ship. This would be bad.

I would rather use a more subtle limiting that also rewards good playing, therefore might even promote group-PVE: while in space and not logged off, your ship constantly degrades due to usage and from time to time needs repairs. (For ISK in a station or nanite paste in the space.) The repair costs would be around 10M/hour for a battleship, strat cruiser or mining barge, obviously less for cruisers and frigates, more for capitals. This cost would disproportionately hit those who have low income. If you made 100M/hour, your income decreased by 10%. If you made 20M/hour, the costs halved it. If you leave your Mack by the ice when you go to work, you can easily end up with negative income. This way active playing isn't penalized (if everyone is penalized, then no one is, or the yield/bounty can be rebalanced to give 10M/hour more for active play), but AFK-leeching and horrible performance take a hit.

Until something like that is implemented, there is one solution for AFK-leeching that threatens to remove consequences from the game: gank them!


Anonymous said...

I thought botters use automated scripts that keep their ships active (and profitable) all the time.
I guess despite all the ganking efforts etc only CCP can really destroy the botting business and that is by using all available information sources to detect and ban the botters.

Hivemind said...

@ Gevlon

"AFK-ing a Dominix in a newbie complex or a Mackinaw by a chunk of ice let you farm 8-12 hours a day without effort"

No. How many times do you need people to explain this to you? AFK mining still requires the miner to check back in every so often in order to not just get a single hold full of ore/ice and nothing more for the remaining however-many hours. AFK mining also requires just as much input from the player as "active mining" would in the same ship/setup and offers the exact same reward.

You seem to have deliberately brought up the complex-farming exploit while missing why it is determined to be an exploit by CCP while AFK mining is not. The complex farming only required players to set up dominixes, launch drones and activate reps on them, then they could earn even while they slept with no further input. AFK mining is not an exploit because it still requires regular player input equal to that of a player who never goes AFK and it stops providing a reward if that input isn't supplied.

"However AFK-leeching isn't against the EULA, so the resource acquisition must be redesigned to prevent AFK leeching."

Firstly, you're once again using the term "leeching" inappropriately - the AFK miner isn't benefitting from other players efforts and their lack of effort doesn't harm other players (competing to supply minerals comes from the effort they make, not its absence).

Second, you've said yourself AFK mining isn't against the EULA, so why does resource acquisition need to be redesigned to prevent it? I know you've said that you think the ease of AFK mining trivializes losses but to me that seems to ignore the low ISK/rl-hour for any activity that can be done with minimal effort; someone who needs to replace a 100mil ISK ship will take about 10 hours or so with AFK mining to do so. They may not have to work hard over those 10 hours, they might spend most of it doing something they really enjoy, but it's still 10 hours in which they cannot do whatever they need the ship for in EVE - personally I don't consider that trivial.

"If you leave your Mack by the ice when you go to work, you can easily end up with negative income."

I'm surprised that you came up with that, because you're normally better at economics. Do you really think that the result of raising the production costs for an item will be to reduce the number of producers while the price for the item stays the same? Bear in mind the changes you're suggesting would apply equally to all producers for that item - the ISK/hr isn't better for an active miner in a Mackinaw than an AFK one.

Tacking on an arbitrary cost to the producers will only result in an across-the-board rise in price for the goods they produce, nothing else. The value of ore/ice products will rise to the point that the existing producers make about 10mil/hr more than they already did, which will then go on repair bills. There might be a brief reduction in AFK miners until existing stockpiles deplete and the price rises accordingly, but then the increased price from reduced supply will bring them back.

Gevlon said...

@Hivemind: you seem to consider "waiting" a zero-cost action. The AFK-er doesn't have to wait as he is doing something else. For example I could bribe the IT of my workplace to allow an EVE client to run. Then I could alt-tab every hour and do a dock-redock. My EVE playing would be only dock-redock, in my version of EVE the mining cycle is instant.

You seem to not understand my suggestion. The repair cost wouldn't be on mining/ratting, but simply on being in space. If you are in space for an hour, you pay 10M. If you mission 100M during that hour, your net income is decreased by 10% to 90M. If you mine 40M during that hour, your income is decreased by 25% to 30M. If you left your Mack by the ice and it filled hours ago, you mined nothing the last hour and you get -10M.

Hivemind said...

@ Gevlon

"you seem to consider "waiting" a zero-cost action."

No, I really don't - that's why I said I don't consider very low-effort but very low-income means of earning ISK like AFK mining to be trivialising losses. The waiting to make ISK necessitated by any income source as low as AFK mining is the cost it places on losses.

"The AFK-er doesn't have to wait as he is doing something else."

Presumably the AFKer would rather be doing something in EVE other than AFK mining, or else what are they AFK mining to make ISK for? They'd also presumably rather be doing their non-AFK-mining EVE thing rather than whatever they do while AFK, or else why play EVE at all?

Relying on AFK mining as an income source rather than a more active and more profitable income stream is an opportunity cost; you have to either limit your losses to the very low amounts that AFK mining is capable of sustaining (low SP pilots in frigates, pretty much) or take significant breaks in your preferred activity while you wait for the AFK mining to build up ISK to resume it.

"in my version of EVE the mining cycle is instant"

I don't think I understand this - I haven't seen anything about it in any of your suggestions.

"The repair cost wouldn't be on mining/ratting, but simply on being in space."

Yes, but you need to be in space to actually produce anything so what you've done is raised the production costs for all raw materials and mission goods. You talk about it reducing people's income but what it's more likely to do is raise the cost of those raw materials as the players producing them simply charge more to make up for the loss. AFK mining remains as profitable as ever.

"If you left your Mack by the ice and it filled hours ago, you mined nothing the last hour and you get -10M."

Why is this a problem that needs fixing? I don't think "Start mining cycles, leave ship for hours, come back to single full ore hold" is a major playstyle for anyone, nor is it having much effect on the economy.

Gevlon said...

@Hivemind: your presumption of the opportunity costs of AFK-mining is only true for the no-lifer, who have to choose between various EVE activities only.

For a normal person, there is 1-3 hour/day EVE play time. The rest of the 21-23 hours have no opportunity cost on any EVE activity since he can't/don't want to play EVE during these hours. AFK mining allows him to earn money during these hours if he plays just 1 minute/hour EVE (which he relocates from his EVE time). So assuming he wants to earn ISK only half an hour a day, he can choose to run 1-2 missions during that half an hour, earning about 20M ISK.

Alternatively he can run 30 redock cycles using 3 characters if he spends 10 hours near the computer (which is true for most office workers or students) earning 170M from AFK ice mining.

Hivemind said...

@ Gevlon

Your point seems to be that some people can benefit from AFK mining more than others, or more than they could from other ISK sources. I'm not going to disagree with this, but I do have to ask why it's an issue, or why it's only an issue when this applies to AFK miners?

You talk about a hypothetical "no life" player who spends all day playing EVE, but why isn't he a problem equal to or greater than AFK miners? Why do you think that someone who can interact with EVE every half hour or every hour for 10 hours is a problem, but someone who can interact with EVE constantly for 10 hours is not?

There's no difference between a player AFK mining in a Mack over the course of 10 hours and a player at their keyboard mining in a Mack over the course of 10 hours either in terms of interaction with the game or in terms of the reward they receive, except that you insist the AFK mining player is a terrible thing that must be purged from the game while you apparently shrug at the at keyboard player and just declare them a "no lifer". Why is that?

Finally "if he spends 10 hours near the computer (which is true for most office workers or students)" ignores that most students and office workers will not be able to access EVE from the computers they're at for most of those 10 hours. You said yourself you would need to bribe your IT department to get on EVE from work, which doesn't sound like an option for most workers and definitely won't be for students on school/college/university networks.

Sure, there are a few people who can AFK mine for 10+ hours who couldn't if they couldn't be AFK and probably more who can AFK mine for a couple of hours longer than they could non-AFK, but again why is it only unfair or wrong when they leverage their personal circumstances to increase their ISK, but not when someone who just has more free time to play EVE does the same?

Gevlon said...

@Hivemind: No lifers are theoretically an equal (or bigger problem) and there is a reason why they got their bad name. But practically they are irrelevant due to their tiny number. Two dozen losers living in mom's basement farming 10 hours a day for a titan won't turn the game economy upside down. Thousands of AFK miners can.

Mining Pyroxeres isn't harder or need more skillpoints than mining ice. Yet pyroxeres mining provides 20-24M/hour while ice mining 6-8 (solo mack). Why? Because ice mining is easier AFK. The amount of AFK miners decreased ice cost to 1/3 of the normal.

Hivemind said...

"Thousands of AFK miners can."

Do you have any proof that there are thousands of EVE players who:
a) Could AFK mine for a large amount of time per day
b) Could not engage in other forms of gameplay for the same amount of time per day
c) Are doing so

"Yet pyroxeres mining provides 20-24M/hour while ice mining 6-8 (solo mack). Why? Because ice mining is easier AFK."

Also because only half the hisec regions in EVE have Pyroxeres in the belts and each belt in those regions will only have enough Pyroxeres to support a single miner for maybe 15-20 minutes. Mining any single ore type involves a lot more time moving between asteroids and belts, which will also reduce ISK/hr below the theoretical maximum.

Ice is easy to AFK because it's more convenient to mine - players never need to move between bookmarks or restart their lasers when asteroids pop, they can make a single convenient bookmark and use it forever and they never get to the belt to find it's already been stripped bare by other players. At the same time, that convenience also makes it attractive in its own right to players who want to focus on things like chatting with friends or updating market orders as well as mid- to large-scale multibox operations.

"The amount of AFK miners decreased ice cost to 1/3 of the normal."

That assumes that the values for these should be the same, which ignores that there is only a finite amount of pyroxeres that can be produced per day in hisec and the knock-on effects from this limited supply such as higher demand (especially since the refined products of Pyroxeres are far more widely used than ice products) as well as the increased attraction of ice mining for those favouring easier ISK over fast ISK and those multiboxing.

DSJ said...

I fail to see why being the most efficient at mining a resource is somehow to blame for the economic misery of others.

This fallacy is clearly refuted in modern economics. The benefits of the reduced prices for finished goods far outweigh the losses to the few producers not able to maximize their output.

You are arguing for miners to deliberately operate at less than their optimal outputs. Economically this makes zero sense to those whose attitudes you seek to change. In addition, even a planned operation that eliminates AFK miners through ganks and so forth can never ultimately defeat the market forces at work. As resource prices rise new entrants to the market will quickly discover the optimal AFK method and adopt it. At best you will force them to consider systems you either can't reach or don't monitor, which end up being a minor problem in the long run.

I regularly setup my 2 mining ships to mine AFK while I roam and explore on other accounts. I am neither fully active or completely AFK. To me the efficiency or lack thereof is measured by my ability to engage in tasks I enjoy while making as much ISK/hr as possible. You won't change my behavior through ganks or bumping --- the only incentive I would respond to is the reduction of profitability below plex prices on my available time. You have a long way to go to get there --- good luck.

Von Keigai said...

Hivemind and DSG have already touched on it, but let me make it more explicit. EVE has the ultimate balancing force already built it: the market. A free market price incorporates all the relevant information. If a particular activity is uniquely AFKable, as ice mining is, then the price of the product will drop down to the limiting factor.

Or to take another example, datacores are made via research agents completely passively, and "legally". As such anyone can access them, requiring only a month or two of skilling and some standings grinding. So many people did (and still do) this, that the price of datacores is now very low. This was not initially the case; datacores had much higher value. You can still find articles online advising players on how to get research set up under the assumption of relatively high prices. For example this tentonhammer article was written less than 3 years ago and quotes Mech Eng datacores as worth "380,000 ISK per unit". Current prices (Jan 2013) are around 100,000 ISK per, a loss of almost 3/4. And those prices are not inflation adjusted; if we convert them into PLEX as a way of inflation-adjusting, the collapse of prices is much more stark. The article quotes then-current prices of 550m for two months, about half the current price of PLEX.

You propose using more costs to limit production, which is fine as far as it goes. But there is already a limiting factor in EVE: PLEX, which is a capitation tax. Your proposed "ship in space" tax is a progressive tax, by comparison. (Amusing to see Gevlon Gecko going all proggy on us.) A PLEX as an investment is 7200 hours in which to earn. PLEX are already doing what you want, namely, limiting grinding. Of course one can always want more. Nothing wrong with that, but before you start thinking that your proposal would solve the problem of grinding you ought to consider that PLEX should too. And yet, they don't -- Hivemind is exactly right that costs will tend to be passed on. For the most part, your "ship in space" tax is not paid by AFKers but by PVPers.

Anonymous said...

AFK mining allows him to earn money during these hours if he plays just 1 minute/hour EVE (which he relocates from his EVE time)

He is then, by all reasonable definitions, NOT afking for 12 hours. He is doing so for 1 hour at a time.

Given that an 'active' miner can do nothing else to improve his mining output during the same period of time, the active miner is putting in the same effort as the AFK one. The fact that one choses to read the news while the other choses to watch pretty space lasers drill into equally pretty space ice is inconsequential.

Therefore, as myself and many others have pointed out countless times, you cannot reasonably detect the difference between AFK ice mining and active ice mining because the behavior is identical.

Of course you could alter the meaning of AFK to fit your argument..but that would be very disappointing

Jim L said...

Gevlon, your argument seems to have devolved into it being unfair that some people can access a computer semi regularly to mine ice when other players do not have that ability. Do you also think that it is unfair that some players have semi-regular access to a computer (through work or school) to update their market positions many times a day when other players cannot do so? So those players who can check markets more often are more able to take advantage of temporary sbortages/oversupply to make more ISK than a player who can only logon once a day or even once every couple of days.

Why not just restrict people to only being able to be logged in to the EVE client for a certain number of hours per week so that way it will be fair to everyone? It is a silly idea but that is the direction your argument is heading.

Azuriel said...

Why all these convoluted nonsense suggestions? In WoW, if you want to fish, you have to recast the line every 22 seconds, the bobber can trigger randomly at three different intervals, and the bobber itself is randomly distributed in the water. The EVE version is clicking the fishing button and then getting a bag full of fish 30 minutes later. If you want "active" miners (who can still be watching TV in the background, those leechers!), suggest to CCP that mining require more inputs. Spaceship decay is just a tax on playing the game.

By the way, how are you handling the cognitive dissonance that is running multiple accounts simultaneously while criticizing AFK (or more accurately: multitasking!) mining? Are your Titan pilots not just AFK skill-pointing for profit? You should only be getting skill points for playing! You could petition CCP to implement skill point decay for skills you aren't actively using.

Anonymous said...

Better idea: Increase risk for every hour played. The more missions you do per time, the more enemies spawn, and the tougher they get. Think of it as your "notoriety" drawing enemies in. That way, short bursts of play and good play are rewarded, while long grinds become dangerous and if you play badly, also lossy.

The same could be done with ratting and mining: Have rats spawn when ice is mined. The more mining happens, the more rats spawn, trying to kill the miners. NPC-controlled New Order, so to speak. Sure, you can kill them (and might even have a reason to team up), and when you kill them, they drop items that give you a short boost to mining speed in the sector they died in. The better you play, the more you earn, until the rats overwhelm you and you have to run for your life.

That sounds like a great game now.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon Can i see the source of this data showing that
"Because ice mining is easier AFK. The amount of AFK miners decreased ice cost to 1/3 of the normal."

Also a NO told me more bots were in highsec than null/lowsec and was unable to put up any numbers. Clearify please?

Also the whole honorable leader who would never do dishonorable things has done dishonorable things in the past. Proof is a confessional written by himself

I feel that this a grand scam as it shares some elements of his currin scam with a simple website, a list of investers, stock/shares that hold no value, and all money being put into a corporation of James 315. I ask to see the list of names who paid, and it seems that a google spreadsheet exists yet only James have mod rights to it, and knights can view it or have to do something to check people names to see fi they really paid.

Also, been hearing stories of knights not keeping their words. WHich brings an interesting question, how does one control these agents as the structure seems to be very weak as no central corp exists for them to be removed and they could go around claiming to be knnights, get money then still gank.

My questions to you, Can this be an exhortion scheme hidden under false promises? How does one control rogue knights? How do you know James is spending isk recieved into this? As stated, he made 48 billion in shares alone not counting the miners who paid but how do we know he put the money back into it cause you have been stating that you have been doing alot of market work there, not him. WHy cant the public see the list?

TL;DR you are making one man rich

Please write more interesting posts, they have been slacking greatly since the NO.

Resources - Passive Income said...

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