In Space You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Well Tanked

Blog Banter #49, wherein Kirith Kodachi asks, “What is ‘rich’ in EVE?”


I remember being in 8th grade and the class being assigned a project about careers.  It was a standard assignment and the library had all sorts of government produced information about various careers, what education you needed to get into the right path, and how much they paid.

As 13 year old boys are wont to do, we tended to fixate on what seemed cool and what paid well.  Plenty of potential astronauts were recruited in that project.  I recall my own plan being to go to the Air Force Academy, then to flight school.  I’d fly something cool.  I liked the idea of the newly-in-service A-10 at the time.  Then I would retire from the Air Force and become an airline pilot and live the good life, well paid and respected.

Not an impossible dream.  A friend up the street did pretty much exactly that.  But a few weeks after that report was turned in, we got to go to the brand new lab that Apple, just down the street, donated to the school.  It consisted of maybe half a dozen straight-up Apple II computers complete with monitor and cassette tape storage.  I had no idea how much a career in computers would pay, but I was on that path from there forward.

Still, I remember wondering what life would be like if I made as much money as some of the careers I read about.  Certainly if you had told 13 year old me how much money I would make as an adult in Silicon Valley, I would have assumed I would be living in a mansion, with an expansive car or two in the driveway, rich beyond cares.

Continued after the cut.

Such was the innocence of youth.  Decades have passed since then.

My daughter asked me if we were rich one day.

I was sitting at my desk looking at the bills, the mortgage looming large before me, thinking about how I needed new tires on my car (crap, I still do) and how my wife wanted to go on vacation (didn’t we just have one of those last year?) and trying to reconcile all of that and more with what was in the checking account while wondering how I was going to ever be able to retire short of winning the lottery.

So at that very moment, my immediate response was “no.”  I did not feel rich at all.

And then I paused and qualified my answer.  I told my daughter that rich was a relative term and that, compared to most of the world, we were pretty well off.  There are plenty of people out there who would happily step into my shoes, people who would see me as rich.  Rich is a state of mind as much as anything.

And as it goes in real life, so it is with EVE Online.

I have, by turns, felt rich and poor in New Eden.

In the early days, when I was running level 1 or 2 missions and was starting off on the mining trade, having 100 million ISK in my wallet made me feel good.  As my mining skills increased, and as I progressed into level 3 missions, the cost of the ships I was flying went up.  100 million ISK became chump change.  But I managed to find a sweet spot in my mining niche and broke the 1 billion ISK mark.

That was a happy day.  I felt really rich.

At least for a short bit.  I was peaking in mining around then, I had settled into a profitable manufacturing niches, and I was looking for new goals.  I was looking at getting a freighter to improve my abilities to haul things to market.  That jump would pretty much drain my savings.  I went from space rich to feeling poor again.  Back to work!

I mined some more, and started playing the market game, moving things around and making money via arbitrage.  My wallet, after taking a hit, began to rise again.  Soon I had two billion ISK and I felt rich yet again.


That made me rich enough to buy the freighter.  And while I felt poor for a bit, the purchase having sunk me back to a mere billion ISK, the freighter, in turn, enabled more money making opportunities.  Soon doubled my money again, though by that point a billion here or there ceased to be post worthy.

And then there was a plateau.  I had no expensive goals and more ISK than I needed in my wallet.  I bought PLEX to pay for my account, and a couple extra for contest rewards, and started to coast.  My fortune diminished, but I had more than I needed.  Eventually my wallet drained down to about the 1 billion ISK mark, the point at which I once felt rich.

But now I felt poor.

I cancelled my account and stopped playing EVE Online for a while.  I came back for a short stint during the Incarna disaster, cancelled again almost immediately, then returned for Crucible to see if CCP had gotten back on track.  During that time I made the move to null sec, at which point I felt very poor indeed.

Sure, when you go on fleet ops your ship losses are reimbursed.  But you have to buy the ships first.  And it helps to have a few on hand.  Drakes were cheap, Scimitars less so, and when Tengu fleet was a thing I felt really poor indeed.

So I spent a lot of my early time in null sec ratting to help build up my cash reserves.  I also sold my freighter in high sec along with some other assets that had just been sitting around for years.  Fortunately a lot of it had appreciated over time.  I got involved with an alt corp doing manufacturing.  And so I watched my wallet build up yet again until I reached that point of comfort.  I wasn’t rich, but I did not feel poor.  I could do what I wanted to do and not worry about making ISK every day.

I coasted there for about a year doing fleet ops and deployments and such.  It was a happy time.  I never flew the most expensive ship in any fleet.  I never aspired to command ship or booster ship status.  But I rarely had to fly in the cheap seats either.  I bought a Celestis because I needed a little more training for the Baltech Megathron fit, but never ended up flying it because I was already capable of flying armor logistics.

And then, as these things go in New Eden, I started off on a new goal.  There was a call for people to get trained up in capital ships.  So I dropped a billion ISK on skills alone and started down that path.  And while I am now at the “makes me nervous” end of my supply of ISK, the moment I actually buy a capital ship, I will feel very poor indeed.

So it is time again to start building up some ISK, time to get back to work in New Eden.

And so the cycle continues.  One day I feel rich, the next I worry about how little ISK I have, while my wallet balance remained the same.

I think that is one of the strengths of EVE Online, that the feeling of wealth can ebb and flow depending upon your goals and situation.  I have felt rich with less than 100 million ISK and I have felt poor with a couple billion.

Rich, in EVE Online, is entirely a state of mind.

Other participants in Blog Banter #49:

Through Newb Eyes: Defining Rich
Evoganda: Money is the Root of All Ebil
The Callan Chronicle: “Rich” Means Not Having To Worry
Sand, Cider, And Spaceships: Am I Space Rich
Prosper: An EVE Online Tool Development Blog: Interview Follow-up: Wealth
Roc’s Ramblings: Rich
Zedrik Cayne’s EVE Blog: Rich
A noob’s tale in eve: What exactly does space rich mean
Sniper’s EVE: “Must be nice… to be rich”
Jester’s Trek: Oh, that’s rich
Morphisat’s Blog: Ballad Of A Rich Man
Mabrick’s Mumblings: In new Eden, You’re as Rich as You Allow Yourself to Be
Chocolate Heaven: The Currencies of EVE
Low Sec Lifestyle: Millions and Billions
Faction Fit Pod: A Rich Perspection
Aggressive Logistics: I Midas Well Be
Fedo Fancy: Sharp Dressed Man
Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah: The Opposite of Rich
Extra-Vehicular: As Croesus
World Wide Webifier: Who Is The 1%?
Warp Drive Active: Silver Spoon
Random Posts from Auga: For Richer or Poorer

4 thoughts on “In Space You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Well Tanked

  1. bhagpuss

    By a strange co-incidence I just tabbed out of FFXIV and read this after a conversation there about game economies. Apart from the short period at the start of every new MMO when no-one has enough money, I struggle to think of the last time I was genuinely concerned about, or even interested in, how much money I had in an MMO.

    After my first character gets there or thereabouts to the level cap, which seldom takes more than a month or so these days, normal gameplay pretty much pays all the in-game bills both for the high-level and all the up-and-comers. Beyond that money just accumulates. There just doesn’t seem to be very much that I ever want to spend it on.

    I think the last time I really made a real effort to make money because there was something expensive that I really wanted was in Vanguard, first for my boat and then for my house. That was six years ago. In FFXIV so far I have bought almost nothing, sold literally nothing and still have about 98% of all the money I’ve made so far, the 2% having gone on travel costs.

    I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Certainly keeping myself funded was a major part of my daily play back in Everquest and I enjoyed it a lot, at least until I didn’t. By the end I was pretty happy to stop watching commodity prices day in, day out and I don;t really think I’d want to go back to that. Still, the pendulum may, as usual, have swung too far the other way.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Indeed, this topic came up elsewhere for me as well.

    When we started out again in WoW on a fresh server, one of the early worries was money. I made my first character with only gathering skills, set up an auction house scanning addon, and worked on drumming up some cash.

    Within a couple of days I had hit the point of excess for my situation. I don’t have any equipment or materials that I need to buy, I have enough to cover all riding skill updates through WotLK, and since you share mounts across all characters on your account, I have an excess of choices in that department. Need for gold was gone for the moment.

    Then my daughter and I rode around on my mechano hog, the motorcycle contraption that you can build in game, which I did on my main ages ago. Fun was had. And then she wanted to know how she could get one. That runs 12K gold, or maybe a little less if you can build it yourself. So now she is asking how we (note the plural) are going to make that much gold. Suddenly feeling poor again.

    And I haven’t even started paying for college yet.


  3. Random Poster

    I never did get serious in to Eve (mostly due to not knowing ANYONE who played it lol) but it always struck me that ISK was almost like levels for that game. Where a level gates every other MMO, in EVE it’s the amount of funds on hand and how quickly you can get them back that gates you more than skills.

    I pretty much played Eve off and on, got skilled for BS, saved the money for one, and when I bought it I pretty much quit playing because getting that ISK back + the combo of the aforementioned lack of friends in game was too much to take. Think I flew the BS for maaaaybe a week and quit the game


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Random Poster – Certainly the combo of ISK and skills represent gating factors in the game. However, unlike levels, the direction you progress towards is not a single fixed path. Of course, the lack of such a fixed path is also a problem. I have reached goals in the past only to lose interest and drift until I come up with something else to do.

    And, yes, EVE without friends can be a miserable situation.


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