Sunday, January 18, 2015

The 100 Billion Project

I play EVE solo.  My play style is high-sec care bear: mostly industry with a bit of mission running every now and then.  This wasn't always the case.  I was in a small corp once, but time zones and the demands of the real world didn't allow much time to participate.  I'd probably be a useful industry player to one or more corps, but it's never really worked out that way.  The craziest I get is to use one of my alts for faction warfare every now and then.  It's been this way for about five years now.

Many players would ask why I continue to play.  In a game where much of the content relies on banding together with other players, what's left for the solo player beyond PVP or photo tourism (neither of which I do...yet)?  For me, the answer is the solo business enterprise.  That is, the challenge of building a large and profitable business all by myself.  When you go solo, you can't rely on corp mates to help you mine, or produce products for the market.  You'll have to do those things yourself.  And if you resort to mining for the rest of your life, you'll be old and grey before your business ever gets anywhere.  If you want your business to be a serious contender, you'll have to do things a little differently.

I enjoy this type of play because it highlights my favorite features of EVE as well as my favorite past times.  Everyone knows that EVE has complex game mechanics, hence the nickname "spreadsheets in space".  Any serious space tycoon, especially a solo tycoon, will need to use many out of game tools to get ahead.  As it happens, I'm a developer by trade and I enjoy personal coding projects.  There is no shortage of such projects for the serious EVE player, especially the solo space tycoon.  What's more, CCP actively embraces the third party developer community, providing data and APIs to support out of game tools.

In the end, it's the drive of the solo space tycoon that keeps me going.  Can I, through a combination of wit and hard work, and probably lots of coding, build my own space empire?  I guess that depends on the goal...

The 100 Billion Project

My goal is to accumulate 100 Billion ISK as a solo EVE player.  This is really a proxy for building a successful EVE empire, I just don't know what that empire will look like yet, so I use the net worth as the goal instead.  This is my third such goal.  The other two were: accumulate 1 Billion ISK solo (pretty easy), and accumulate 10 Billion ISK solo (a little harder but achievable over a period of months with regular, but not obsessive, play).  I'm starting this project on the heels of the 10 Billion ISK project, so I already have a little over 10 Billion ISK and a few accounts with well trained characters.  I also have the small corporation I used to achieve these goals.  The only members of this corporation are characters from my own accounts.

Obviously, I could get there pretty quickly by dumping real money into PLEXs and cashing out.  That would be silly and expensive.  Here are the ground rules for what I mean by "going it alone":
  • ONE HUMAN: I can open as many accounts as I want, but I'm the only one allowed to play them.  I can't ask friends or other humans to play for me.  If I can manage to train my cats to play for me, then that's fair game.
  • NO BOTS: Duh.  As a developer, I'd love the challenge of writing a market bot, but all of this is against CCP rules.  Note to self: ask CCP if they've ever thought of opening a server where bots were allowed.
  • ACCOUNTS = LIABILITIES: To balance the books, and keep myself honest, I'll deduct the cost of each of my accounts monthly from my net worth using the current best offer price for PLEX.  I may pay for accounts with real money or PLEX, but this will always show up as a PLEX liability in the books.  Also, I won't open any trial accounts for this project.
  • INCORPORATION: I'll create my own corporation for the purpose of project tracking.  I don't have to enroll all participating accounts in the corporation, but this is where I'll track all assets (cash or otherwise).  I won't join any external corporation (other than NPC) with any of my accounts which aren't a member of the project corporation.  However, I can sell services to other corporations.  The project corporation won't accept applications from any other accounts except my own.
  • ACCEPTABLE SOURCES OF INCOME: I'll build my wealth in one or more of the following ways:
    • PVE or PVP income such as bounties, theft, mission rewards, loot, mining, etc.  I'm not excluded from joining fleets with other players, e.g. for incursion running.
    • Market income through speculation, selling of manufactured goods, etc.
    • In-game payment for services I provide, such as website income, etc.
  • NON-ACCEPTABLE SOURCES OF INCOME: I won't take income from any of these sources.  If I get such income, I'll either return it or otherwise remove it from the books.
    • Donations or gifts from other players.
    • PLEX purchased with real money for any purpose other than to pay for game time.
    • Scams.  I won't make money this way, but this doesn't exclude things like stealing cans or loot from mission runners.  I'm not against scams, I just don't have the skills or interest to make money that way.  More's the pity some might say.
I think it's safe to say that other solo players have already achieved this goal.  I don't know how they did it, but I'll be scouring the web to look for clues and ideas for how I should go about it myself.  I'm already aware of a few famous stories as to how this has been done.  I'll report on the interesting ones as I find them and as they become relevant to my own project.

Tracking Progress and Reporting

I'll start out with reporting progress on a regular basis (at least monthly) in two forms:
  • Balance Sheet: I'll provide a balance sheet which shows the distribution of assets and liabilities.  The assets are just the cash and assets of the project corporation and all its members.  The main liabilities will be PLEX to pay for any accounts, and corporation equity.
  • Income Statement: I'll provide an income statement for each reporting period.  The income statement only covers cash flow.  Any increase in net worth due to acquired assets will show up in the balance sheet instead (but any cash used to acquire assets will be deducted in the income statement).
While cash flow is relatively straightforward to track, valuing assets is a tricky process.  The next blog post for this project will discuss the initial approach for valuing assets.  I'll likely refine this over time if there are huge discrepancies in actual versus reported value.

What's Next?

Since I'm on the hook to produce a balance sheet and income statement on a regular basis, the first thing I plan on doing is writing tools to automate those reports.  The next project blog post will discuss those tools and provide more details about the starting point of the project (e.g. the initial balance sheet).

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