I showed up late to the game with Planetary Interaction in EVE Online. Really late, as in early last year. That is pretty late for a feature that came in back in 2010.
And even then it took me a while to figure out how to make things work.
I blame that on the classically bad EVE Online UI, which few tutorials spend much time explaining around. The typical intro to the topic say to do something while failing to mention the dozen motions and clicks that it really takes to, say, actually route a material from an extractor to a processor.
Not an uncommon occurrence in documentation, as once you know how to do something people often blur over the minutia in the brain. I run into it all the time in technical documentation, where any process of a given number of steps almost always leaves out as many unstated assumptions.
The fact that I was no longer interesting in manufacturing did not help. I wasn’t particularly driven to figure it out.
It wasn’t until we moved into Delve after the Casino War that I actually found a tutorial that finally broke through the UI barrier and finally made PI work for me. As with minerals and moon goo, there was a call to start producing PI items to support manufacturing in the region now that we were too far from Jita for cheap and easy shipping. Buy orders were up in our trade hub, I just had to figure out what to produce.
I tinkered around with various planets and things to produce. With PI, there are five layers of production. There are raw materials and then four levels of refined products. Raw materials are easy, as is the first level of refinement, as that is just turning the raw material into a product usable for further production. After that production requires combining materials to produce the next level of product.
At that point you end up having to combine the output from various planet types in order to continue, which means pulling stuff off of one planet and hauling it to another… and you can only do production beyond a certain point on barren and temperate planets. In other words, some work is involved.
One of the early things I discovered was that I could get as far as mechanical parts, a second level production, on just a barren planet. Furthermore, as a commodity, mechanical parts seemed to be in demand, as they are used in the production of fuel blocks and T2 construction.
After playing around with other options for a bit, I eventually dumped all but my barren planets, then found a few more locally, and concentrated on mechanical parts production exclusively.
All I have to is keep an eye on things ever couple of days, restart extractors after their cycle is over, move extractor heads occasionally, and just make sure things are moving along producing mechanical parts.
Then about every other week I roll out in the Epithal and fly off to each planet’s customs office to collect the output.
I go from planet to planet picking up the output, then head off the the market hub for Delve, which is just a gate and a jump bridge away from my last pickup.
There I just sell to the highest buy order. Occasionally somebody will have a more lucrative buy order in another system and I will travel there instead. But most times it is to the keepstar that is the center of the Imperium’s economic structure.
The output from PI nets me between 35 million and 50 million ISK per week. Not enough to make anybody rich or swear off super carrier ratting, but it is a nice little addition to the wallet. It covers my jump clone and ammo costs. And, of course, it helps feed the economic machine that is Delve.