Finding exploration sites in known space (k-space) is one of the most frustrating parts of being an explorer in EVE. Individual exploration sites (cosmic signatures other than wormholes) often pay extremely well, but the time spent between sites drives down the isk earned per hour. Since exploration as a profession must be compared to mining, mission running, and grinding anomalies in terms of payout and risk, finding too few sites can make it not worth doing.
While there are numerous guides on how to probe, how to beat the hacking mini-game, plenty of information on how to beat the combat sites, and even some pretty decent guides to how to find sites in general there are no actual explanations of the underlying mechanics of site spawning to help players decide where to explore.
Site spawning is driven by the following mechanics:
- Sites spawn randomly within regions. Please note this is an assumption, but it holds up under the all testing that I have been able to perform since I started exploring in late 2009.
- After spawning a site persists until run or a timer expires. Hacking and archeology sites appear to persist indefinitely and this can be inferred to be correct from comments made on page 14 of the this summer’s CSM minutes. Combat sites may follow different rules, or different sites may even have their own individual timers. Lower end sites in null have been observed to last several days, but the high end sites never seem to go past 24 hours. Of course this may be because they are being run. Regardless, any given site appears to spend at least 24 hours and often longer in the system where it spawns unless a player completes it.
A site is run somewhere, it spawns somewhere else, sits until it is run, and the cycle repeats. After many iterations these rules mean that sites will “pool” wherever they aren’t being found and completed. While that is simple in theory, in practice that means site location is driven by player behavior. Therefore a savvy explorer must understand not just the mechanics of exploration but also the behavior of the residents of the area he is exploring. Five general rules will apply almost anywhere:
- Difficult to access space will on average pay better. Players are lazy and gate jumps are dangerous. Even in heavily populated regions a system that is a couple gates off the jump bridge network can be packed with sites while most of the region is picked clean. This is as true of highsec as deep null; highsec pockets are specifically mentioned in the CSM notes as having site pools.
- Time zones matter. If an area has a heavy population in only one time zone it will accumulate sites during the periods of low activity even if it is bare during busy hours.
- If you are brave enough, reds in local are your friend. Nothing scares off PvE like a red in local, and that includes many explorers. A system with a 23/7 cloaky camper can be a gold mine, unless that camper happens to murder you.
- Disputed space is often packed with sites. Wars are dangerous, and the bigger the war the scarier it is. When major blocs start fighting you can bet that whatever pre-existing PvE population an area had is gone, so jump into the gap! Remember, if you make enough Isk losing ships once in a while can still be worth it.
- Making other explorers unwelcome in an area can pay off. Although this is not an option open to many exploring in blue space, hunting down other explorers to discourage them from running sites on your turf can greatly increase payout. You get more sites, and your victims will often be packed to the gills with loot from sites they already ran.
Players who are willing to endure some danger can run deadspace sites like others run anomalies, and even for the newest of players a single system with a half dozen hacking or archeology sites pooled will likely pay out tens to hundreds of millions of Isk for less than an hour of effort. Smart scouting, understanding the inhabitants of an area, and some carefully calculated aggression all play a role in maximizing earnings. Exploration in Eve is one of the professions where risk taking is most closely correlated with reward.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by FearlessLittleToaster.