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A Practical Stim Chip Economy

Neural Laboratory

Hot on the heels of Asura’s recent article Considering Making A Stim Chip Mill?, Rylar has investigated in more detail setting up a Stim Chip economy.

This article details the building setup and resource usage whilst maintaining details on profit. The conclusions are surprising!

Introduction

The lowest reasonable price for Neural Tissue, assuming a low trader income and a 2000/cr/tick owner income, is 145 cr/ton. The boost for low crime means each chip is about 158 credits cheaper to produce. Nice to have, but nothing exciting.

A Stim Chip Mill needs a large capacity to be effective, much like a Nebula Plant. So, we’re going to assume ideal conditions. The Stim Chip Mills are level 10, the Neural Labs are level 8 and everything is located near to an NPC starbase on the FWE route.

Proximity to a well stocked NPC starbase is important because only they can produce enough Animal Embryos to be considered effective. Even a Player owned starbase will be hard-pressed to make 3 Neural Labs tick.

A Self Sustaining Chain

In a low crime cluster, a single level 10 Stim Chip Mill requires 2.6 level 8 Neural Labs. Realistically, Stim Chip Mills are harder to stock, so 2.5 Neural Labs per Stim Chip Mill is a good goal.

In our set up with 5 Neural Labs and 2 mills, we’ll need the following buildings:

  • 5× Neural Labs (level 8)
  • 2× Stim Chip Mills (level 10)
  • 1× Medical Laboratory (level 9)
  • 1× Electronics Facility (level 6)
  • 1× Smelting Facility (level 6)
  • 1× Plastics Facility (level 6)
  • 1× Chemical Laboratory (level 6)

Here are the resource requirements for a single tick of all those buildings:

  • 98t Food
  • 78t Energy
  • 98t Water
  • 230t Animal Embryos
  • 40t Medicine
  • 38t Nebula Gas
  • 18t Electronics
  • 18t Exotic Matter
  • 6t Heavy Plastic
  • 9t Metal
  • 12t Ore
  • 9t Chemicals

This chain requires an NPC starbase approaching 180,000 population to produce enough embryos. Note that this base will consume 470 tons of food every 4 hours.

Profit

With an ideal chain, low crime rate, low building income and low trade income, you can expect to sell chips for 3,800 credits each. Each Stim Chip gives about, 1/3rd the action points that drugs can provide (which sell for around 12,000 credits each). So, you can realistically expect 17,600 cr/day on Stim Chip sales.

This does not include the build cost (or defense module cost) for each of the buildings in the chain – certainly for the high level buildings (which require large capacity) this will require a significant supply of Metal and Ore.

Conclusion

Clearly the Pardus programmers are bad at math. You should not pursue Stim Chip for profit. Even Space Farms and Nebula Plants will serve you better than Stim Chips.

On the plus side, Stim Chips allow you to run a crime free cluster – which is priceless for Military Outpost quality.

Stim Chip Mill

Anyone with at least 10,000 experience points can build a Stim Chip Mill. What does it take to keep one running successfully? How does one select a practical location? What are the most difficult hurdles to overcome?

Rylar wrote about Stim Chips when they were first introduced to Pardus, and now Asura has contributed more details on actually planning (and implementing) a Stim Chip chain.

Where To Build?

The bottleneck for a good location is Neural Matter. Yes, you need Exotic Matter (you will need to be within trade range of an Exotic Matter source) but a smaller trade ship (like a Babel or a T-Bird) can carry enough Exotic Matter to keep your Stim Chip Mill supplied for many production cycles. The same is true for Electronics – you need a supply, but not necessarily a high-volume supply.

To keep a Level 2 Stim Chip Mill in production, you need 50/56/62 tons of Neural Matter per cycle (varying by the crime level of the cluster). If you have a slightly lower supply available in the sector, then you’ll occasionally spend a cycle without producing – but if you’re producing chips on, say, 9 out of 10 cycles, then that’s reasonably efficient.

So you will need a Neural Lab somewhere very close to your Stim Chip Mill, close enough that you can haul Neural Matter from the Neural Lab to the Stim Chip Mill at sustainable AP cost. Note that a level 5 Neural Lab produces 48 tons per cycle; a level 6 Neural Lab produces 56 tons per cycle.

A level 5 Neural Lab requires 31 tons of Animal Embryos per cycle whilst a level 6 Neural Lab requires 36 tons. Therefore, the Neural Lab should be close to an active Starbase, a Type G Planet, a Type I Planet, and/or a type R planet. An ideal location might include more than one Animal Embryo source – and consider the needs of any Space Farms also supported by that source (you don’t want to break an economy that is already in balance).

A Neural Lab also needs Food, Water, Energy and Medicine – so you will need to source Medicines from somewhere as well.

Making Good Use Of Your Building Slots

Since it requires you have at least 10,000 XP to build a Stim Chip Mill, you will already have at least three building slots. One for the Stim Chip Mill and one for a Neural Lab would be an ideal start.

You might use your third slot to establish your own supply of Medicine or Electronics. If not, then perhaps you could build a Trade Outpost and sell your Stim Chips from there (whilst also using the Trade Outpost to store extra resources you need to support your other buildings). Other options might include a Military Outpost to help defend the location which includes your buildings. Perhaps before you build the Neural Lab and the Stim Chip Mill you might build an Asteroid Mine or Smelting Facility to generate the building materials you will use. I’m curious to learn about other third-slot synergies (please feed back to Asura or Sparkle in Artemis on this)!

What Makes a Good Building Location?

The upkeep requirements for a Stim Chip Mill vary based on the Crime Level of the cluster it is built in – so check the Crime Rate first (click the Statistics menu and then the Other tab).

Narrow down a few sectors where there is currently an Animal Embryo supply that is currently going to waste; or where the Animal Embryo supply could (and would) increase if you become a local consumer.

Consider faction and Alliance politics as well. Are there people who would actively interfere, by indirect means (such as buying up the materials you’ll need), or more direct means (such as attacking your ship and/or raiding your buildings)? Are there Military Outposts between you and your upkeep sources (and will you have permission to pass those Military Outposts)? Are there Military Outposts which would protect you from raiders? Are there supporters who would come to your defense if needed? Will your buildings affect which Alliance has sector dominance? Is the location often disrupted by Alliance conflicts or full-fledged Faction wars?

Check for NPC spawn locations. If you are near Asteroids or Nebula Gas, would you mind running into cloaked NPCs when trading your buildings? The Stim Chip Mill can be built on an energy field – are there Pirate NPC spawn locations nearby?

Finally, send Asura in Artemis any feedback on what worked for you (and what didn’t), so that this article can be updated and become more useful!

Xbl Cod Champ presents some very well written advice on how Traders can maximise their profits while managing a sector with others…

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

This is a classic game theory example that I think applies pretty well to some of the issues our traders have mentioned to me. Some of it has nothing to do with our alliance – but occasionally it does and I would just like to mention it for reference.

In the prisoner’s dilemma you have two people both accused of a crime in which they were accomplices (two traders working the same area). There is not enough proof to convict them without a confession from one or both. If the first one gives up information on the other guy, and the second keeps his mouth shut the first one gets to go free while completely screwing his friend (if you trade mass amounts of high ends to a planet – you get a really nice temporary gain while screwing over everyone else). If both of the prisoners offer information on the other they get to split the total jail time (marginal profits for both people – basically breaking even). But if both prisoners keep quiet the police cannot give them more than a minor sentence and they both get out in no time at all (if you only stock the planet with exactly what it uses each tick – and no more everyone wins).

For pardus the total profit we get to make from the planets and NPC starbases we are around is much higher if we only give it exactly what it wants and nothing more of the high ends. It means at that exact moment you do not get the most profit possible – but it is not that much less really and means you do not screw over your fellow traders.

Let’s be the kind of traders (prisoners) who work together and ensure everyone wins. This is surely a better practice than being known as a group of people looking only for the maximum benefit to themselves. It admittedly makes it easier for outsiders to come in and screw up our profits – and this will happen occasionally. But that does not mean we should do the same and ensure the others in our alliance besides the offender get consistently screwed out on profits from selling to the planet.

Thanks for reading through this and I hope it makes sense what I am attempting to say!

Xbl Cod Champ

Pardus has seen quite a few minor updates since the recent introduction of “turnover”, “credit hacks” and TSS “trophies”.

A lot of pilots continue to be worried about losing credits through being credit hacked (and rightly so – the losses can be significant for the humble trader).

Obviously the less credits you are carrying, the less you stand to lose! With this in mind many pilots were utilising their Alliance Funds – making regular deposits to hold their cash reserves.

A recent minor update has now made the ability to use Alliance Funds just that little bit more difficult. Now, you can make a deposit to Alliance Funds only once every 7 days.

This has quite an impact for those who would normally use Alliance Funds on a frequent basis – and will force pilots to think twice before they make a deposit. 

The ability for the Treasurer to transfer money from Alliance Funds directly to individual pilots remains unaltered at this stage.

The forums in-game are awash with opinion on this (and other) update.

Calculating Profit

Big bag of money being held in a fistThere are several ways to calculate profits. Because we often use the different terms interchangeably, there can be some confusion. This post is intended to shed some light on this topic and stimulate thought.

Profit happens every time something is sold for more than it cost. Some times we say profit and we mean increase in cash. Other times we mean moving cash from 1 location to another, typically from outside a system to inside the system. Other times we mean value added.
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