At the start of my career I began with mining, and focused on skills that would maximise profits, with spreadsheets I would update daily with refining yields and returns from the various asteroids. That kept me amused for quite a while – but back then the prices were much better. (Even now I still have a soft spot for Ospreys.)
Then I moved into running missions – following the natural progression of Drake, to Raven, to CNR, to Command Ships, dabbled with Marauders, and most recently started using Strategic Cruisers . They earned more than mining, but I can’t say they were particularly enjoyable. I know I could look at zerging missions – where everything is designed to be as quick and efficient as possible, to maximise returns. You can’t immerse yourself in the game doing that however, which is part of what I look for when playing an MMO.
Datacores were next – for the relatively passive income available from Research Agents. The horrible grind required to get standings sapped almost all my enthusiasm for missions, and since then I tend to only handle one or two missions at a time, with long gaps between them. At the start I was earning 300M a month from my datacores, but the last time I bothered looking at them the returns were down to 75M, and still falling.
Low sec exploration was next – which kept me amused for a while, and included the odd foray into Wormholes. After a while however the content became repetitive, I ran less sites, and the cost of maintaining a low sec POS became harder to justify.
In amongst that I have made efforts around trade, PI and manufacturing (I have over 700 researched BPO’s for example), but to make good money requires a level of effort that stops being fun. It is also a bizarre area to be within, having to compete against obvious bots (which change their prices every five minutes on the dot under cutting you by .01 ISK, and a whole lot of really stupid players that are willing to make huge losses just to make sales.)
I’ve also done variations of the above plus ratting in 0.0, but again, to make serious money it has to become a job. I already have one of those.
At various times my wife has been less than impressed when I say I can’t watch the kids right now, I just need to clear this stage, or that I will be 5 minutes late for lunch because I am hauling valuable cargo, or that I am jumping between safe spots with an agro timer after just escaping that pirate – so can’t log out. Her solution was to buy me a PLEX or two at birthdays or Christmas, so I could sell them for ISK and not need to grind so much time in game. Economically that makes the most sense – since my in game ISK earning capacity per hour is a tiny fraction of what I earn in real life. However, part of why I play EVE is because it gives me a distraction and some downtime from life. Grinding ISK is part of that.
At the moment I dabble in making ISK, I will log on and run a mission or two, or I will notice a trade opportunity and run with it for a short while, or I will go to buy some common rig and find none on the market, so will make them for myself and run off some extra to sell. Every couple of months I will remember the datacores, and do a run to collect them / sell them off. I find this relaxed, dibs and dabs type approach just slowly keeps the ISK turning over without it becoming a chore, and the bank balance continues to creep higher.
I am finding the solo content in EVE to be somewhat limited after all this time. You run the same missions and exploration sites over and over again. I noticed they released 40 new storyline quests with the last update – but given you only run these every 12, 14, 16 (I can’t remember) normal missions, surely it would have been more logical to put some of that effort into the normal missions. Maybe make some of them dynamic, so that they change each time you warp in. Smarter AI in some missions or classes of missions would be good too.
I am – obviously, a more casual carebear type player.