I had hoped that by now things would have settled enough to write a definitive guide to making ISK with planetary colonies, newly introduced in the Tyrannis expansion to EVE Online. Though the command centers are seeded and most planets can be colonized, the underlying economics of the situation have not been set in stone, and NPC buy and sell orders are still on the market. This guide explains how to make ISK via planets as the mechanics currently exist, with the understanding that as soon as CCP removes these NPC orders, this guide will become obsolete. In the meantime, this guide will make you piles of ISK. Best hurry!
How Planets Work
style="font-style: italic;">Your colony's structures need to be carefully chosen to ensure optimal profits.
The basic mechanic of planetary interaction as it stands is that you drop a command center onto a planet, and surround it with interlinked structures. These structures extract natural materials from the planet, refine them into usable products. Those materials may then be combined with other refined planetary commodities in order to make still advanced materials. The final products of these production chains can then be used to manufacture parts for stations and starbases, while the intermediate materials have various uses in tech two production.
Why Hasn't The Dust Settled?
Under the current state of affairs, it is not especially profitable to do many of the industrial steps available on planets. This is because many of the goods are available more cheaply from NPC sell orders, and because the end-products of planetary interaction remain available via the market. Until these are removed, everything involved with planetary Interaction is going to be wonky.
CCP is probably just giving people time to get their production colonies set up and producing, before they pull the rug out from under the market by removing the remaining NPC sell and buy orders.
How Can This Make Me Rich?
Because there are still NPC buy orders up, unlimited amounts of certain goods can be sold at solidly decent prices. One of those items in particular, Robotics, can be manufactured cheaply and in a single step, with two other goods that may be purchased from NPC sell orders. The robotics can then be sold to the NPC buy orders, for a quick profit.
The resulting profits won't make anybody rich as sin, but they will keep a cash-strapped newer player rolling in enough ISK for whatever else he wants to try, with fairly low human involvement.
Prep Work: What You Need
In order to make effective use of this business plan, you need to be capable of flying an industrial. Any industrial will do, though larger is (as usual) better. Moving large amounts of ingredients is essential for this, and anybody not capable of flying and industrial will quickly become miserable.
Skills needed include training Command Center Upgrades to III. Higher will do you all right, but III doesn't take long and is enough for you to use an 'improved' command center of an appropriate type. This is important so that you can run a good amount of Advanced Processors simultaneously. Less advanced command centers will work, but will be less efficient, requiring more time to process goods before you can reload them.
You will probably also want to train Interplanetary Consolidation, so that you will be able to repeat this production model on several different planets. The more the better, assuming you don't mind periodic hauling binges.
Because this plan does not rely on harvesting anything from the planets, you do not need any of the other planet-related skills.
Making It Happen: Setting Up On A Planet
For the sake of argument, let's assume you decide to set up on a barren planet. It really doesn't matter what kind you're building on, but barren planets are in great abundance so we're going with that. The system you choose to do this in should be close to an NPC sell order for either Consumer Electronics or Mechanical Parts. There may even be a system out there that has both of these commodities for sale, somewhere. You can tell if an item is seeded by NPCs at a glance by noting if there are large amounts of sell orders with a similar amount.
For example, if there are a dozen sell orders for Consumer Electronics with exactly 22,571 units for sale, they are all likely NPC orders. They will not run out, no matter how many you buy. Though their price might inflate slightly as you buy out the orders, it will eventually reach a maximum selling price cap.
Anyway, you should plop down your command center onto the planet, drop two launch pads nearby, and surround each with nine Advanced Processors. Each should processor should be as close to the launch pad as possible. Create planetary links from the launch pads to each adjacent processor, and make sure that there is a link between each the two clusters of processors, somewhere. See my illustration here to get an idea of what you should be trying to build. The central blue icons are launch pads, and the orange icons surrounding them are processors.
Now comes the annoying part: click on a processor. In the configuration window, click on the 'Schematics' button. Select 'Robotics' from the popup. Great, now the processor knows what it is making. Next click on the "Products' button, click on the robotics line that is shown, click on the 'Create Route' button, then click on the nearest launch pad, and click 'Create Route' again. Now the processor knows where to send any robotics that it produces. Repeat this for every processor. Be sure to click the 'Submit' button after any changes you make, so the game knows that you are happy with your changes -- otherwise it will not save them.
style="font-style: italic;">Moving goods between your colony and your ship in orbit is a snap.
Next, you need to exit planet mode, and fetch your industrial ship. Fill your industrial ship's cargo hold with equal amounts of Consumer Electronics and Mechanical parts. Find the customs office for your planet by right-clicking in space, selecting planet, selecting your planet, and looking under the customs office tab. Warp to the customs office for your planet, right click on it when you are within 2500 meters, and select 'Open Hangar'. Drag your consumer electronics and mechanical parts in. Don't worry about anybody else taking them, since only you can access them.
Right click on the customs office again, but this time select 'Access Customs Office'. You will see a fairly self-explanatory popup window that allows you to send goods to the planet's surface. Note that you may send goods to either of your launch pads via the popup menu in the upper right. Send all of your mechanical parts to one launch pad, and all of your consumer electronics to the other.
Now, enter planet view mode again, and click on one of your launch pads. Click on the 'Storage' button, and select the item that you have stored there (either the mechanical parts or consumer electronics). Click on the 'Create Route' button, and select one of the processors, then click 'Create Route' again. Do this for each of your processors, so that each of them knows where to get that particular ingredient. Repeat the process for the second launch pad. You will find yourself getting error messages about too much traffic along particular planetary links. Just click on any overloaded links and upgrade them a level with the 'Upgrade' button, so that they can handle more traffic.
Okay, that may have been a pain in the ass, but it's worth it. Here's why: you are taking some cheap NPC goods and, through the magic of planetary interaction, they are being converted into more expensive NPC goods. Those more expensive NPC goods may be sold to NPC buy orders, or players, for a tidy profit. For upkeep, all you need to do is pick up the robotics from the planet (just select 'Export' in the customs office window and you'll see how it is done), and drop more consumer electronics and mechanical parts off at the customs office to send to the planet below.
Each processor on your production network goes through 10 of each ingredient, per hour, and produces 3 robotics. The inputs cost a rough total of 9,280 ISK, per hour, including the taxes on sending goods down to the planet and assuming an NPC buy order as the source. The 3 robotics produced sell for a total of 17,355 ISK, including the cost of rocketing them into orbit. That means that each processor is making you a net profit of 8,075 ISK per hour, or 193,800 ISK per hour. Assuming you have 18 processors operating more or less full-time, that means the planet is producing you 3.48mil ISK a day. Assuming you train Interplanetary Consolidation to IV, you can have five of these colonies running, earning you around 17.44mil ISK every day, or around 523mil ISK per month. Assuming CCP doesn't fix things within a month, anyway.
The setup investment of the planetary infrastructure is 6.5mil ISK, per planet, so only takes two days to pay for itself. Not bad at all, for an ISK generation method that other players can't destroy, and that has infinite supply and demand. The NPC trade goods run out after around 37 hours, assuming 18 processors, so you can just visit and drop off materials every day or two. Even if you miss days, you are still making tons of ISK.
You may be able to significantly boost your profits by selling your robotics to players that need them, for higher than the NPC buy order price. Just don't hold onto them too long. When the next patch happens, the buy orders will go away, and there will likely be a huge glut of robotics on the market. The price will crash and stay crashed for years. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Apologies if this was a bit dense, but it will earn you a ton of ISK for as long as it lasts. When CCP fixes their market to close this little loophole (and to make the rest of planetary interaction actually worth doing), we will revisit planetary production schemes with another guide. Adios and good luck!
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