Next-Gen Manufacturing and Research Facilities

As some of you may have noticed, in the "In Development" section, Next-Gen Manufacturing and Research Facilities is ... in development. I thought that since this was such a massive change to the system, I'd start spreading some of the love well before it will hit Tranquility.

Tank CEO > Why are we doing this?

The reason for us doing Next-Gen Manufacturing and Research Facilities, which consists of a full rewrite of the system is mainly twofold.

First, the system today is costing a lot of server and database resources due to its continuous processing nature. This is where you can install a job, run multiple runs and then constantly shove in new minerals and when one run is done, it shovels out a ship. Rinse and repeat.

Now this may not seem like an awful lot, but imagine something like ammunition. Each run only takes seconds and for each run we're doing an extensive and costly server procedure. Multiply this with the thousands of factory slots and we're talking about a ballpark of 3-5% usage on all application servers.

SirMolle > Cool! Less lag for me!

Well, yes, that is the intention and the main reason. Second reason for doing this is that we've wanted for a long time to do Starbase Research and Manufacturing facilities in addition to somehow make Outpost and Conquerable Station facilites better, encouraging usage of these facilities instead of the public facilities.

To be able to do these new facilites, we also required a rewrite of the system, so we had two good reasons for doing the rewrite. Use less resources and be able to create Cool Stuff(TM).

Viceroy > YAY! It's all good then?

Not quite. As with everything it has some drawbacks, for some of you they may even be quite severe. To achieve the first goal of pure optmization, we have to move from the continuous processing to batch processing. The main changes as a result of this to your current work environment is twofold.

Dianabolic > There are no longer slots to rent?

What? Yes. Instead of renting a slot to put in as many jobs you want over a period of time, the optimization and batch processing means all public facilities are now rented pr. job, which can of course then consist of multiple runs.

This means that you can put in a battleship job consisting of 10 runs, you then see when the job will enter manufacturing. Since all jobs are now scheduled based on when there is a empty job_slot, you get in the minute the last job is finished. A facility can run a number of _jobs at the same time - roughly the equivalent of all the slots currently available in your current station.

There are of course a number of safety measures in addition to this, such as installation fee for a job and some other costs depending on how much and for how long the job is using the facility. This essentially replaces rent.

Public facilities will also have a limiting factor of how long a job can be. As an example, a public facility would only allow a job to be a maximum of one week, but if a single run in the job is more than one week, it allows that single run.

Kurenin > Everything is paid in full up front?

You might also like to know that as a result of this change, you will never be in a situation where rent hasn't been paid and therefore ejects your job simply because everything is paid up front.

The same applies if a job hasn't got enough minerals to finish its run and simply stops, since you have to have all the minerals at installation of the job. So no more shoveling in more minerals for the last runs at a later date.

DigitalCommunist > There's one more big thing?

When this new system comes in, we will have to stop all manufacturing, close the old system and open the new one. This procedure includes the following steps:

  • Preventing new jobs being installed
  • Forcefully completing all runs currently being processed
  • Full rent is repaid to owners

This is very important. You will no longer own slots in public facilities and they will therefore cease to be a tradeable commodity. However, notification of when this switch to the new system happens will remain a secret.

ArachV0id > Baah! This doesn't sound so good afterall!

Quite right, those are big drawbacks so perhaps it's time to touch on the positive aspects of this, the evolutionary part, the next in the next-gen.

One thing to remember here is that private facilities, the research and manufacturing in Starbases, Outposts and Conquerable Stations are all controlled by their owner and therefore, that is the location where you can own the facility and don't have to worry about going into the queue.

You can even ration it so that some of the facility is only available to your corp, some to your Alliance and a tiny little bit to those that pass by at some insane cost (if you want). All the ISK of course going to the owner.

moocifer > But are they better than public facilities?

A public facility (the facilities usually found at Stations owned by NPC's), will remain at the same efficiency as they are today. However, with the new system we are able do some serious changes to all private facilties.

As examples, a certain facility, say a Starbase Shipyard, will be the only one able to manufacture Titans, since we can now limit what each facility is able to process. Since it is a specialized ship manufacturing facility, it also gets some other benefits, like its more efficient so it requires less minerals to manufacture and its faster to complete the job.

Now if it's then a Caldari Starbase Shipyard, it could be even better at manufacturing Caldari ships at the cost of not being able to manufacture other races ships. Lets go even further, Caldari Frigate Starbase Shipyard. You know where this is going, highly specialized reasearch and manufacturing facilities for Starbases, Outposts and Conquerable Stations. Imagine what you can shave off in Tech II manufacturing.

We also thought, how can we enable Starbase owners to manufacture high-end stuff in Starbases without having to put a 10 billion ISK BPO there, because they wouldn't if they physically had to put it inside the Starbase. Well, we're enabling Starbases up to a certain range from a station, to use a BPO which is inside the station.

Sure, some of you might think "we want to attack a Starbase and steal the blueprint". Well, if we don't enable the owners to use a station-based BPO, they won't use the Starbase at all. With this approach, we'll have more Starbases, all containing more precious loot than they would otherwise.

Trigger > Is that all?

No, we're also adding this nifty little thing called "Mass Manufacturing". Economies of scale will now be possible in private facilities that have this ability. You'll get some skills to futher utilize it but this should provide further specialization opportunities in addition to the already specialized facilities coming. Note, this requires you to do a job which gets more efficient the more runs you do in that job. It also requires all of the ingredients to be there when you install the job.

Joshua Calvert > There's more?

To be able to put manufacturing and research facilities into Starbases, we had to abstract the whole process to the point that we can put a facility in anything from a module to inside a characters head.

Ok, I realize this might sound crazy, why would you want to put a factory inside a guys head? Well, don't think of it as a factory, instead, think of it like putting an implant in which extracts adrenaline.

We've no plans of utilizing the functionality yet for heads, but we will be doing modules and ships, something like a research ship, which requires you to be close to a sun to research ancient technology found through Archeology.

It also enables us to create new types of facilites really easily for mini-professions, such as an Archeology Lab or more more sinister like Biochemical Labs.

A very pleasant side effect is a much better overview of everything you have in all facilities, sort of like a calendar view when things finish, what the jobs are and when they finish. Did I mention you can't fail on paying rent anymore? :)

t20 > That's it for now!

It's a big change, but it's necessary to evolve the whole facility system further, enabling us to create new facilites, make them more specialized, enable new functionality like Mass Manufacturing and of course free up server and database resources which in itself is always a good thing and the real reason for the rewrite.

Additional points for clarification, which I answered below but nobody seems to read :D

  • I stress, this is an optimization and fixing process which enables us to do more things at the same time. Has nobody encountered their job being spewed out of the slot prematurely due to some bug or another or lost one due to no rent bill coming?
  • This will not require Tech II manufacturing to go into 0.0, but it offers incentives to get a bigger margin at a higher risk
  • Starbases are getting additional roles to handle the increased valuables which will be present there.
  • This change is a prerequisite to change the R&D system, which involves more interaction in the field to achieve tech breakthroughs and provide more ways to advance your blueprint
  • The R&D agent system is not being changed with this change. Your RP's are intact. Any Next-Gen Research (Not to be confused with this, the facilities part) would of course include one way or another to utilize your accumulated RP's.
  • Logistics. Build your Starbase close to a Station or Outpost, this enables you to utilize Freighters for Logistics.
  • Empire manufacturing. This does not nerf it, it only provide the possibility of further specialization and increasing in margins at the cost of more complex logistics. Benefits and drawbacks, risk vs. rewards.
  • New facilities will most likely be remotely manageable
  • Possibilities for specialization within empire. Yes, we are considering allowing limited Starbases in Empire where you lease a moon from a NPC Sovereignty and based on standing.
  • This system ensures everyone will be able to manufacture or research something in private facilities, because it is queue based and batch processed. The factor that comes instead is when your job is processed. There is no need to move anywhere :)
  • This was not an actual interview ;)