Some people are born entrepreneurs. They see opportunities to make money and build business where others don’t. They will spend their money, sometimes down to the last nickel, in the belief that they will make it all back, plus a tidy fortune on top of it all.
I’m not one of them.
In real life, risking what little extra money I have for the chance to make more feels like some people’s description of skydiving: “Why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” I’m more of a salaried kind of guy. Give me predictability. Stability. The sure thing.
Ah, but wait. Isn’t being able to relax and live a little what games are all about? Sure, I might lose some money in EVE Online, but it’s just a game, isn’t it? My kids won’t go hungry. My wife probably won’t even notice. Nobody will die.
On forums I heard about salvaging. People said it was making them a lot more money than mining was making me — at least at the level I was working at. Checking into the skills I would need revealed it would cost me roughly a week’s worth of mining to start salvaging. After pricing equipment to go with the skills, I had an idea of the total cost. The numbers looked large, but it seemed a worthy investment with a reasonable risk. I resolved to stop upgrading this and that until I had the cash together and settle into the workaday world of EVE for a while.
So, what is salvaging in EVE Online?
When a ship, whether NPC or player, is destroyed, a wreck is left floating in space. That wreck is fair game for any salvager. Simply lock target on the wreck, press the button on your handy salvager module, sit back and see what turns up. Items salvaged from the wreck appear in your ship’s cargo hold.
Note that the status of the cargo in the wreck is different from the status of the wreck itself. The wreck is not owned by anyone, but the cargo belongs to whoever destroyed the ship. While mining, I had killed my share of rats — the colloquial term for NPC pirates, not some low-level RPG enemy — and being as poor as I was, I was quite diligent about collecting the cargo they dropped. I was puzzled when I noticed a lot wrecks left floating around, so I took some of the cargo when it seemed clear that no one was interested. That tripped a 15-minute aggression timer, during which time the owner has right to attack the thief. In this case, yours truly. Fortunately no one did, and I reasoned that since I had already stooped to petty theft, it couldn’t be too bad picking up other people’s trash.
The money really started to stack up. It was a comically small amount compared to the figures regularly discussed on the forums, but it was my nest egg and all I had besides my ship.
Days later, the moment arrived when I had enough to purchase a salvager and skills. I set them to training level one. When the lovely voice of the announcer informed me of completion, I undocked and went looking for wrecks. A minute later I found a couple, but didn’t get anything. I found a couple more. Nothing again. Hmmm… Next asteroid belt. No wrecks. What had I just done with all that money? Had I just jumped out of the airplane? Without a chute?
At the next asteroid belt I saw several wrecks floating free. I flew over, locked on, pressed the button and waited. Presto! A couple of items appeared in my hold. I made the tour of four or five belts, hauling in items with silly names like “Burned Logic Circuit.” Still feeling dubious, I docked and started looking at the market.
I was grinning like an idiot 10 minutes later, when I had paid for the skills and salvager and still had half that amount left over. My hourly pay was more than 10 times what it had been! My mind swirled thinking about my newfound financial capabilities. I was in a new income bracket. For this fiscally conservative writer, EVE Online’s risk/reward character had come into focus. Suddenly, spending money to make money made a little more sense. New possibilities existed.
And those crazy entrepreneurs didn’t seem quite so crazy. After all, I had now become one.
— Will Collum
Read Additional EVE Online Diaries:
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8