Although the bare minimum required for an invention attempt is the Tech 1 blueprint copy, data interface and datacores, there are two optional extras that are often worth using. A base item can be added to improve the success chance of the research job. Adding a standard Tech 1 item won't have any effect but adding a named version will increase success chance depending on how good the named version is. The worst named version of an item is meta level 1 and adds only a few percent to the success chance, while the typically more expensive meta level 4 item can improve success chance by up to 66%. Since ships and rigs only have Tech 1 versions, adding a base item to those jobs would just be a waste of ISK. Adding cheap named items to your module inventions, however, is a smart move that will improve your profit margins a little.
The final optional extra you can add is a decryptor. These modify the success chance of your job and also change the attributes of the final Tech 2 blueprint. For example, the Amarr decryptor "Circular Logic" adds 9 runs to the output blueprint and improves PE by 1 but it also reduces ME by 2 and decreases success chance to 60% of its previous value. Decryptors can cost several million ISK each, up to 40 million depending on which one it is. Using them on ammo or module invention would be a waste of ISK but they can be useful in ship and rig invention. Rigs benefit from higher ME to reduce the number of expensive components required in their construction while ships benefit greatly from increased numbers of runs and also higher ME. If the numbers involved are confusing, there are websites and tools available to help calculate the percentage success chance of your invention jobs.
The recommended minimum skills for invention are Science V, Engineering V, Mechanic V, Electronics V and Hacking II. Having these meets the prerequisites for all the invention-specific skills. To begin with, each race has an encryption skill e.g. "Caldari Encryption Methods" which is required to invent Tech 2 ships of that race and Tech 2 modules assigned to them. The Amarr skill is required for capacitor modules, energy weapons, crystals and armour modules. The Caldari skill is required for missile launchers, missile upgrades, shield modules and railguns. The Gallente skill is required for drones, ECM, blasters and mining lasers. Finally, the Minmatar skill is needed for propulsion modules, hull upgrades, tracking disruptors, projectile weapons, stasis webs and warp disruptors. The appropriate encryption skill is required to begin an invention job and each level of the skill improves the job's success chance.
Each invention job requires two additional science or engineering skills. For example, to invent a "Cap Recharger II" blueprint requires the science skills "Quantum Physics" and "High Energy Physics". These requirements correspond to the two types of datacore used in the invention process and can be seen in the invention tab of your chosen blueprint's info pane. You can invent with these two skills at only level 1 but higher levels will improve your success chance. The effect of skills isn't that huge and the decreased success chance will effectively just mean the cost per run of the final output blueprint is a little higher. The simple rule here is to train the encryption skills and the appropriate science skills all to at least level 3 before inventing and aim to get them to 4 or 5 as time permits.
Although originals are licensed for infinite runs and can be researched to reduce build time and material wastage, dilligent inventors typically make many times the profit that an original blueprint owner does with much less ISK investment. A smart inventor can work out the most profitable items to invent and switch products rapidly, while an original blueprint owner is stuck with his product. More importantly, an inventor can produce Tech 2 items in far greater numbers than an original blueprint owner. The invention system gives every player the ability to make Tech 2 items and as such has created a hyper-competitive player-driven market for them. In next week's third instalment of this guide, I'll talk about Tech 3 and Reverse Engineering as I look at how the new "Strategic Cruisers" and their subsystems are made.
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 want to message him, send him an e-mail at brendan.drain AT weblogsinc DOT com.