Life in a Wormhole: What’s your favorite flavor of PI? #eveonline

It seems like everyone in the EvE blogoverse is talking about Planetary Interaction right now, and since I’m wrestling with setting up something like forty PI colonies right now, I figured I’d share the tiny little bit of information I’ve learned on the process.

Planetary What-now?

Planetary Interaction is a very terrible, Civ-like mini-game in EvE that lets you exploit the resources of all those balls of dirt floating out there in your nice clean Void. The basic idea is:

  • Pretty much everything in the game is made by some other player.
  • All those things are created from other, smaller things.
  • Players have to make all those smaller things too.

A lot of the stuff you make in the game is created via EvE’s own particular brand of crafting (a subject I’ve already written about),  but a fairly sizeable chunk of stuff gets created via factories that players set up planetside all around New Eden and Anoikis to extract raw materials and turn them into useful things like Mechanical Parts, Enriched Uranium, Polytextiles, and Livestock.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll fiddle with this once, retrieve your crappy low-end product one time, sell it for pennies, wonder why you bothered, and never go back and mess with your colony ever again.

If you do know what you’re doing, a single character with about twelve days worth of skill training can produce over 20 million isk worth of materials per day, via a passive income source that (once you get it all set up) takes about five minutes of tweaking every few days.

Now, as it happens, the quality of a planet in terms of the amount of raw materials it produces is determined by the security level of the space it’s in. Wormhole space is the lowest of null-security space, therefore, planetary interaction colonies in wormhole space can be quite profitable, if you happen to have set up shop in a system with a good selection of planets. Even if you haven’t, it’s possible to use PI to create most of the materials you need to make fuel blocks for your tower, and maybe even sell off the excess.

Let me give you an example, using a common PI product: Coolant.

(Non-EvE players: I won’t be hurt at all if you stopped reading here.)

Coolant is (relatively) easy to set up, and it’s pretty easy to find planets on which you can make it, since it can be produced on virtually any gas planet, which are very common in EvE.

As an added bonus, Coolant is quite profitable if all you want to do is make it and sell it. The obvious reason (and the one everyone thinks of) is because it is one of the ingredients in the fuel blocks used by every kind of player-owned tower in the game.

However, it’s worth noting that Coolant also (eventually) finds its way into a few other products in the game, such as the Infrastructure Hub, Territorial Claim Unit, Sovereignty Blockade Unit, Biochemical Silo, Catalyst Silo, Coupling Array, General Storage, Hazardous Chemical Silo, Hybrid Polymer Silo, Advanced Large Ship Assembly Array, Capital Ship Maintenance Array, Advanced Medium Ship Assembly Array, Ship Maintenance Array, Advanced Small Ship Assembly Array, Capital Ship Assembly Array, Explosion Dampening Array, Component Assembly Array, Heat Dissipation Array, Photon Scattering Array, Drug Lab, Equipment Assembly Array, Intensive Refining Array, Large Ship Assembly Array, Medium Intensive Refining Array, Medium Ship Assembly Array, Refining Array, Rapid Equipment Assembly Array, Small Ship Assembly Array, Subsystem Assembly Array, X-Large Ship Assembly Array, Amarr Control Tower, Amarr Control Tower Medium, Amarr Control Tower Small, Caldari Control Tower, Caldari Control Tower Medium, Caldari Control Tower Small, Gallente Control Tower, Gallente Control Tower Medium, Gallente Control Tower Small, Minmatar Control Tower, Minmatar Control Tower Medium, Minmatar Control Tower Small, Corporate Hangar Array, Cynosural Generator Array, Cynosural System Jammer, Biochemical Reactor Array, Complex Reactor Array, Energy Neutralizing Battery, Jump Bridge, Large Blaster Battery, Large Railgun Battery, Large Artillery Battery, Large AutoCannon Battery, Experimental Laboratory, Mobile Laboratory…

*deep breath*

… Citadel Torpedo Battery, Large Pulse Laser Battery, Large Beam Laser Battery, Customs Office Gantry, Station Construction Parts, Station Hangar Array, Station Storage Bay, Station Laboratory, Station Factory, Station Repair Facility, Station Reprocessing Plant, Station Docking Bay, Station Market Network, Station Medical Center, Station Office Center, Station Mission Network, Advanced Mobile Laboratory, Capital Neutron Saturation Injector I, Capital Murky Shield Screen Transmitter I, ‘Limos’ Citadel Cruise Launcher I, Shock ‘Limos’ Citadel Torpedo Bay I, Quad 3500mm Gallium Cannon, 6x2500mm Heavy Gallium Repeating Cannon, Warp Disruption Battery, Warp Scrambling Battery, Stasis Webification Battery, Sensor Dampening Battery, Ion Field Projection Battery, Phase Inversion Battery, Spatial Destabilization Battery, and White Noise Generation Battery.

So, you know. Coolant.

It gets used in stuff.

It’s not one of the “20 million isk/day” products, but it’s pretty decent, and not too horrifying to set up.

So this is your basic Coolant PI set up on a Gas Planet, assuming you have the Command Center Upgrades skill trained to 4 (which you should absolutely do).

… and here’s how I put it together.

  1. Scan the planet for the two types of materials you need (Aqueous liquids and Ionic Solutions). Find a place equidistant between the two sources (they won’t be close together) where no one else is set up (right-click on the planet and ‘show other installations’), and plant your Command Center (CC) near there. Save Changes.
  2. Set up your spaceport (SP) pretty much smack-dab in the middle of where you want everything to happen.
    • Realize you forgot to upgrade your command center, so you can’t build a space port. Go back and upgrade your command center as far as it will go, THEN build the space port. Save Changes.
  3. There’s room immediately around your spaceport to arrange in six structures, so plant 4 basic processors (BP) and 2 advanced processors (AP).  Save Changes. I usually go BP, BP, AP, BP, BP, AP. Note: this picture is neither to scale nor arranged as I’ve just described, because I need more space for the ARTISTIC ARROWS.
  4. In two of your Basic Processors, load the program to turn Aqueous Liquids into Water. In the other two, load the program to turn Ionic Solutions into ElectrolytesSave Changes.
  5. In both of the Advanced Processors, load the program that will take Water and Electrolytes and make CoolantSave Changes.
  6. Set up two Extractors (Ext), each right up against that ring of processors. One extractor will be set to harvest  Aqueous liquids and the other, Ionic SolutionsSave Changes.
  7. Create links between all the structures and the Starport (SP). Save Changes.
  8. Start putting down extractor heads for the extractors.
    • Your “perfect” goal with a gas-planet coolant farm is to pull about 12000 units of stuff into the extractor, total, per hour, for a roughly one- to two-day cycle.
    • Your second (equally important) goal is to pull the same amount of stuff IN TOTAL as the other type of extractor, so you don’t end up with a lot of extra Ionic Solution or whatever.
    • Accept that you will end up with too much Ionic Solution anyway.
    • With CC Upgrades at 4, you can drop 7 extractor heads, I think. Probably you’ll need the odd one for Aqueous Liquids.
  9. Once you have your heads set, Run Program. You’ll have to set one of the extractors up, run the program, then work to get the other one to match the first’s numbers. Save Changes.
  10. Once the program is running, click on Products (not Routes) for each extractor and route the product back to the Starport. Save Changes.
  11. Back at the Starport, create Routes (not Products) for the incoming extracted stuff. Two routes for  Aqueous liquids: one to each Water BPs; two routes for Ionic Solutions to the two Electrolytes BPs. Save Changes.
  12. At the BPs, click on Products (not Routes) for each processor and route the product (Water or Electrolytes) back to the Starport.  Save Changes.
  13. Back at the Starport, create Routes (not Products) for the incoming  Water or Electrolytes and route them to each of the two Advanced Processors (AP).  Save Changes.
  14. At the APs, click on Products (not Routes) for each advanced processor and route the final product (Coolant) back to the Starport.  Save Changes.
  15. Exit. Remind yourself that once everything is set up, all you have to do to keep it running is massage the Extractor heads to keep your numbers even, and that you’re one-fifth closer to being done with PI for this character.

When your starport starts to look full of nothing but coolant or the m3 of coolant is getting close to your single-trip hauling capacity, send it up to the POCO, fly out, and pick it up.

The only difference between this and doing some other tier-2 product like, say, Mechanical parts on a Barren world, is that with mechanical parts, you aim to pull 18000 units of basic junk out of the ground each hour, and you use more processors (6 BPs and 3 APs). You can do this because most planets are smaller than Gas planets and require less infrastructure to run, so you can build more Processors on smaller worlds. It’s otherwise the same.

And that’s PI, which I’m spending an inordinate amount of time doing right now, so I can fuel the tower and (hopefully)  even enjoy some profit in the future.


  1. I can’t claim to understand it fully but it reminds me of the puzzle game SpaceChem.

  2. So… there is this little trick you can do. It can be a balancing act sometimes, but it works pretty well. You mention your 12000 units/hour goal. It can sometimes be hard to reach, especially in high sec. One thing you can do is only have 1 resource extractor at a time, and drop 10 heads on it with the excess PG you’d waste on that second extractor. This makes it pretty easy to hit well over 24000 units/hour. So, if you juggle between your two resources every day, you should never run out of either, keeping all your basic processors supplied. The downside of this strategy is you have to spend 45k isk every day dropping a new extractor… but it’s a pretty trivial cost compared to what you make, especially if you own the customs office. And one upside is you can chase particularly bright hot spots and you don’t really have to worry about hitting ones far from your launch pad.

  3. This looks somewhat more complicated than I thought. Would you recommend training PI skills, as I have them at a basic level but never managed to do anything useful. How much income is possible for someone who is somewhat lazy about keeping everything perfectly optimized?

    1. It depends, I think, on where you set up your colonies. If you’re setting up stuff on worlds in highsec, the combination of the NPC tax rate and the generally poorer resource levels in highsec may mean it’s not worth it, unless you set up quite a few colonies. That said, training the needed skills (the ones you wouldn’t have been training already), takes maybe about 9 to 10 days, so it’s not a huge investment.

      Lots of highsec folks will set up stuff in ‘shallow’ lowsec, and just pick up their products with a cloaky transport, and this can be worth it if you know what you’re doing.

      If you’re in Nullsec or Wormhole space, I’d highly recommend it, especially if you’ve taken down the NPC customs offices and replaced them with POCOs with more reasonable tax rates. Setting up 5 planets with basic coolant set ups, even if you set up something like a less-optimal 5-day production cycle, should net you about 30 to 40 million isk worth of coolant a week for about five to ten minutes of effort a week (resetting extractors and flying out to pick up the coolant), and if you set it up for a more efficient 2 days cycle (where you need to reset the extractors every two days, but still only need to pick up coolant once every week or two), you’re looking at something like 10 million a day, 70 million a week, 300 million a month. And that’s just with one guy.

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