Saturday, August 6, 2011

Boosters Part 2 - An Interview with Uppers N Downers

I personally do use the odd combat booster during combat in Eve Online. For those of you who don't know, boosters are consumables that improve your ability to pilot your spaceship and it's systems. For example I use blue pills which gives an additional extra to shield boost amount for 30 minutes. The Synth variety give a 3% bonus. There are stronger varieties giving a better boost but these come with the potential for a side-effect, a chance of a negative buff on your ship or your ability to use its systems. There are skills you can train to negate these side-effects or reduce their severity such as "neurotoxin recovery" and "nanite control". The stronger varieties are also illegal in high-sec and if caught by the NPC customs officials that you see orbiting stargates you'll get them confiscated, fined and you'll take a standings hit too you naughty smuggler you! They cannot be included in contracts as they are contraband so the only way to buy/sell them is on the market (for the time being, more on that soon) or by direct trade in station.

The last CSM minutes gave some hints to some interesting possible changes to boosters in up coming expansions/patches. In fact there appears to be the possibility of new Eve Online "careers" of DEA style officers and contraband smugglers.

To be honest, I'm not much up on the booster scene. I just pay and pop, but I thought this was a hell of an intersting topic especially with the proposed changes. So I thought I'd ask some "proffesionals" to give us the low down on the shady underworld of combat booster production. So I head down the bar and see a shady person sitting in a dark corner......

Hi Wivers. Can you give us a quick introduction to your character history.

I have been playing Eve for just over 2 years, I got talked into it by a real life mate. I kind have learnt eve backwards, I spent my first few months living in a class 5 worm hole (in my mates corp) which was interesting to say the least.  I then tried alliance life in 0.0 both player owned and NPC, I am now living in low sec, in a corp with a few of the guys I started my Eve life with.

How did you get into booster production?

Through a character called Xenos Giger, he was the CEO of my first corp in WH space, even though we were focused on T3 production, he had been going on about making boosters. To cut a long story short, after about 18 months (not all of it solely dedicated to research) he had finally worked out what was needed to do it and bought all of the equipment and resources he set up a POS  and started making synth boosters, and it expanded from there.

How did Uppers and Downers start?

Basically a few of the guys from mine and Xen's corp/alliance that had been involved in the booster production decided we wanted to set up on our own, as all the booster production equipment and resources had all been funded by Xeno's personal wallet.  After a couple of months from the idea first being discussed we decided that, it was time to go off on our own and Uppers N Downers was born.

What's the most popular booster you sell?

For synth's X-Instinct is the most popular, for the stronger types blue pills and exile are the most frequently requested.

The Synths are weak but have no side effects, do you do a good trade in the more potent varieties or is demand mostly for the synths?

The main bulk of our business is the sale of synth's as they are easier to trade in.  The stronger types are becoming more popular and when we first started up we mainly did the stronger varieties too order.  However now we are starting to build up stock levels of all types of booster, to improve customer service :)

What's the biggest ball-ache with booster production?

Well there is one source of a big ball ache, and that is the Myko and Cyto gas which is somewhat essential for boosters.  The first being that the various types of gases all naturally occur in certain areas, which means getting gas hauled from where it naturally occurs to where we produce the boosters.  Sourcing the gas and transporting the gas to where it needs to be can be a bit of a nightmare.

Nope, not a lot of that stuff out here either!

Is there a booster not available that you'd like to see implemented in-game? One that's been suggested for a long time is a booster with a longer duration that buffs attributes and therefore improves skill learning times.

Maybe a booster that improves scanning would be good but other than that I can't think of one, however, should newer boosters be introduced we will be adding them to our range of products.  As for the booster for skill attributes, I am not sure how viable that would be, as the manufacturing process would mean that ccp would have to introduce a new type of naturally occurring gas, or use a combination of existing gases to make the final product.  but I am sure if they were brought out people would be more than happy to use them.  But whether they could be made so that they have a duration that lasts long enough to actually make a real difference to training times is questionable.  I would say they longest time period a booster could last is 12 hours.

One idea I had is for invention in boosters. Mix and matching recipe's so a unique booster is produced. For example a Blue X-Synth Pill? May be even 3 or 4 effects? The actual strength is also randomised with regard to the skills of the player creating the booster, the ingredients etc. A lucky strike could produce a booster that everyone wanted but there was only that one run of it.

Invention for boosters would good if it meant it was easier to make more exotic boosters.  I am not sure the randomising the strength of the booster based on skills would be beneficial.  People like to know what they are getting and I am sure they would be reluctant to spend money on a booster that doesn't give them the required kick.

The last Council of Stella Management (CSM) meeting minutes hinted at some very interesting changes to booster supply. Firstly that NPC Customs Officials may become a thing of the past and players may be tasked with scanning down and intercepting smugglers in hi-sec. However the CSM pointed out the bribery and corruption must be allowed! What's your view on all that?

Well anything that makes it easier to transport the products is good for us.  Personally I think it would be a good change.

Do you think this major change will effect supply/demand for boosters or even the price?

I can't see the changes you mentioned in your previous question effecting the supply and demand for the boosters or even the price.  The fluctuating costs of the resources needed [gases] will effect the price more.  The ability to obtain the the natural gas affects supply and costs more than anything.

Would you like to see specific smuggler ship mods? Rather than an expanded cargo hold module, you could fit a smuggler hold in a low slot. It would have a specific cargo capacity which reduces the other players chance of successfully scanning the boosters in it? Or maybe even a specific smuggler ship? There has been talk of changes to the pirate faction frigs such as the Dramiel (nerf, nerf, nerf it well!). Should they have bonus' for smuggling?

While smuggler mods would be cool, and would be help in certain situations, I don't think they are really needed.  As long as you can fly a cloaky hauler and are quick to activate the cloak its all good.  I dedicated gas harvesting ship would be more welcome than a smuggler ship or smuggler mods.

Players may need to become more creative to smuggle boosters in the future

The other big change that's been rumoured is that boosters will be taken off the market and direct trades stopped (they are already banned under contracts as illegal). The only way to trade boosters will be in Incarna in station bars face-to-face. May be a "market" behind the bar in pirate stations like a vending machine. What are your views on this? Will this make it easier or harder to get boosters.

I like this idea, as I like the idea of being sat in a bar all day selling boosters.  I don't see it making it any harder to get hold of your fix as for the harder stuff is done via player trading anyway all it means is that its done in a bar rather than through the trade window.  If they were to take synths off the market though that would have a negative impact on sales.

As a booster trader, you're likely to spending a lot of time in the bars when Incara finally deploys fully. How would you like the bars to look? Is there any particular sci-fi movie bars you would like CCP to looking at for inspiration? Should they be vastly different depending on faction?

I'd like to see something Bladerunner-esque and I do think there needs to be a difference in style between the races, but it would be good for there to be differences between the factions. CCP has a wealth of sc-fi movies to choose from and take elements from a whole collection of them.

The bar in Serenity would look right at home in Eve, especially in Minmatar space!

What changes would you like to see in the booster mechanics side of the game?

To be perfectly honest I don't think mechanics need changing.  It seems to work the way it is!!

Thanks for your time and on a personal note I'll be in touch soon for some more blue pills.

For everyone else join channel "Upchat" to speak to a dealer!

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