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It seems to me that Eve Online has two real means of profit: safe or exciting, with middle grounds to cater to anyone’s preference in terms of safety or shooty fun. On the extremely safe end,you have manufacturing. Obtain some BPs, get some mats, haul them to a POS anchored in .7, wait a week, haul it to Jita, sell, buy more mats, repeat. On the shooty fun end, you have combat, specifically piracy. Not being a pirate myself but having heard several of them quote ransom figures and loot sales, I’d reason that profit is to be had, just sporadically at best. Fun as some people say watching their wallets fatten by selling blocks of ice is, I’d wager that piracy is much, much more fun to most of the player base.

Less safe than manufacturing, you have mining, ice mining in particular. Assuming no-one hulkageddons you, you can comfortably sit and watch a movie or something while you garner a steady income, boring though it is, ice is the most consistent income there is, with manufacturing based on whether or not someone needs the item you wish to sell. Everyone in a medium to large corp need POS fuel, although Dominion may lower prices.

Farther down the spectrum for safe, you have high sec mining, fairly safe but slight risk of flippers and other annoyances, still lucrative, but not as simple as ice by an albeit small margin. Low sec mining is much riskier, by that becoming less safe, but here is where your profits have a noticeable increase over high sec or ice mining.

Arguable safer than low sec mining is null sec mining in space which you, your corp, or your alliance has laid a claim to. In here, assuming you can tank/obliterate the rats, there is the best ore you can find and by watching local, you are almost certain to have advanced warning enough to run yourself back to the POS.

The riskiest form of mining, and in my opinion the stupidest/silliest, is mining in null sec you have no claim to. if anyone that does have a claim to that space sees you, they will make it a point to crush you and get you out of their space, less they appear weak to the surrounding null sec owners and partially because it’s their space they fought tooth n nail for, what the hell are you doing in it?

Hopping to the other end of the spectrum, in combat. Piracy is one of the most staggered paying professions you can pursue, but running missions gives you a much more stable income but is more dull, but not dull enough for you to watch a movie. Correct me if I’m wrong, but warping the tank in, waiting for aggro, then warping the Oneiros or whatever in for repping, looting/salvaging, next room, repeat. Unless you get attacked by gankers or an unexpected wave of pirates that target the logistics, you should be fine. It’s still much more profitable than piracy tho. Ratting and plexing fall here as well, but having never run a plex before I’m forced to assume that its basically the same concept but with bigger numbers, damage, reps, and lewtz.

Somewhere between shooty fun and mining is blockade running, or taking courier contracts. To me, this seems riskier than most paths but has the potential to be boring, conparing running through ten hostile nullsecs with 100m3 of exotic dancers to hauling 80k m3 worth of minerals to one highsec station. It’s as risky or as safe as you want it, but doesn’t seem to have much profit in it, especially seeing as you can only make 10% of what you invest with the payment up front.

From normal space ratting to sleeper ratting. Sleepers possessing a much better AI are indeed challenging, forcing you at higher levels to make sure that every ship has a high tank less you be obliterated. Much more time consuming and riskier than mission running, but salvage sells well and it’s more exciting, even if it takes 15 minutes to scan out the next spawn, less if you chain spawn. This is the second most risky niche in my opinion, because there is no local chat. To the slim number who have never been in W-space or don’t know the implications of lacking a local chat, it basically means that there could be a ship cloaked 2001 meters away from you and you will never, ever know. Even if you do get jumped by 6 battleships that you swear weren’t there a second ago, you still have a chance at fighting back tho.

The niche in eve that has the best profit for the riskiest situation is wormhole space mining. It’s all the fear and eyes in the dark mentality of sleeper killing, but you have no offensive capabilities and anyone with a tech 1 auto cannon and a warp scrambler can kill you with a cough. And the best part is, people actively seek you out with intent to surprise you, because if you manage to see them before they scram you, you survive to mine another day and they don’t get a kill notification. For those of you who haven’t been in WH space, the only way to find out if someone is in the system with you is if the ship you’re looking for is uncloaked, within 2 million kilometers of you, and you happen to press the scan button on your directional at the right time. Keep in mind that most c5s, the places with the best ore to be had, are larger than 2 million kilometers, so there could be a fleet just outside looking for you.

Needless to say, it’s moderately scary. But the problem is, you don’t get ganked very often. Sure, when a wolf kills you and manages to pod you back to empire, once you get some ore sold and manage to get a new hulk back in the WH and start mining again, you’ll be clicking that scan button like a woodpecker. But after a few hours, you’ll slow down.

And after a few more hours, you’ll slow down to scanning maybe every cycle, because you’ll just be sitting there, with nothing happening. And a few hours after that is when, according to Murphy’s law, a fleet of titans will somehow appear and roflpwn you before you can say “WH size restrictions”.

Each unique play style seems balanced with risk vs profit, and each one has its own degree of interaction and fun you can derive. If you want to make money without fun, you make a thousand tractor beams and sell them in Jita. If you want to beat some poor soul within an inch of his life and demand his lunch money or his life, you can do that too. If you want to subject yourself to hours of sitting at your computer, clicking the scan button in fear, you can do that too. It’s all a beautifully balanced game that somehow is appealing to anyone and everyone who can see the fun in living in a world where someone could kill you at any second almost anywhere you care to name.