In this short opinion piece, I give my first impressions of planetary interaction and the Tyrannis expansion.
One thing CCP has done a great job of with planetary interaction is keeping the barrier to entry extremely low. Even without training any skills, players can set up one basic command centre costing just under 82,000 ISK and try their hand at excavating. Each module added to your planet incurs an additional cost, from 45,000 ISK for a material extractor all the way up to 250,000 ISK for storage silos and 900,000 ISK per launch pad.
With just a few days of skill training, you can scan planets for material deposits and set up three or four improved command centres. Even the best "elite" command centres cost barely 6.4 million ISK and the cheaper "advanced" versions at 3.4 million seem adequate for most purposes. The total price I paid to set up advanced industrial complexes pumping out useful starbase fuel parts was around the five to six million ISK mark.
I've even found the user interface for setting up an industrial network to be quite good, though it takes a while to get used to the idea of manually routing materials to and from structures.
Unfortunately, I feel like planetary industry falls short of the mark in several areas. Perhaps most irritating for me was the lack of effort that seemed to go into some parts of the feature. When I first tried a test-build of Tyrannis on the test server, I assumed that the omniscient "view in planet mode" option on planets was a placeholder. At the very least, I thought, they'd make us launch a probe to the planet's surface or conduct the scan from orbit. That would have added to the immersion of it all and open up development of new scanning modules and specialised ships with bonuses to planet surveying.
When the expansion came out, the magic, omniscient-style system from the test server became the actual mechanic we use to scan planets. A "Remote Sensing" skill determines the distance at which planets can be scanned remotely, allegedly using satellites that are already in orbit over even hidden planets in wormhole space. Similarly, parts of the overly complex production chain have left me scratching my head. Why am I harvesting complex organisms, breaking them down into proteins and then... building cows out of them?
So far, I've found planetary interaction to be an interesting diversion from normal gameplay. Like many others, I have yet to make a profit from it but am having great fun figuring it all out. Planet industry is another way for players to make a little ISK with very little play time, and it's definitely a fun feature as it is now. When I watch the epic Tyrannis trailer with fleets battling over planets, however, I can't shake the feeling that planetary interaction isn't what we were sold prior to the expansion's release. Instead of ruling a planet's populace as a tyrannical overlord, we're building little graphs that pump out robotics, synthetic oil and livestock. CCP has promised to continue development on planetary interaction in the coming months and it will be interesting to see what they have in store for it.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at massively.com. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column post or guide or just want to message him, send an e-mail to brendan AT massively DOT com