So often in MMOs you see people complaining that they have no money to buy anything. Usually it’s the new players who just haven’t figured everything out yet, but often it’s the experienced players that struggle. EVE, it seems, is no different. However, with a little research I was able to figure out how to get myself set up with a reasonable buffer of cash in a fairly short space of time.

To date, I’ve identified five ways of making ISK, each with varying levels of complexity, time requirement, return and repeatability…

Career Agent Missions:
After you’ve completed Aura’s introduction quests (go pick up your rookie ship, shoot a couple of bad guys etc) you are directed to the rookie system where you will have five agents available to you. These are the Career Agents offering a series of around 10 missions each. There’s no commitment for doing these mini-arcs, you won’t be tied to a given career path so there’s basically no reason not to do them. Each agent will introduce you to an aspect of EVE; Mining, Industry, Exploration, Trading and Combat. You can work through the agents in any order you like but do them all. (Top tip; for the Exploration agent, when you are tasked with collecting a “Proof of Discovery” item, grab three. You’ll see why in a minute.) As you progress through the mission arcs you will be rewarded with ships, equipment and skill books in addition to essential experience on how the game works. Don’t sell anything just yet, we’ll come back to this in a minute.

Once you’ve completed all five arcs have a look here and you’ll see that there are three rookie systems for each race. Open your Neocom and set your destination to one of these. For exampe; If you’re an Amarr and started out in Conoban, head to Pasha. Load up your best ship (this should be a destroyer) with those extra Proof of Discovery items you collected earlier (and anything else that might be useful) and off you go. Once you arrive do the career agent missions there and then a third time for the final rookie system (eg; Deepari).

If you’re completely new to EVE, doing all three rookie systems will probably take you a while as you learn the basics, though the last system will naturally be the fastest. By the time you’re done you should have (as a minimum) 2-3million ISK , 3 destroyers, 6 industrials, around 15 frigates, a load of spare/duplicate skill books and a pile of equipment scattered across your three rookie systems. What to do with these?

Basic Trading:
Assuming that you’ve trained your <Racial> Industrial skill to at least level 1 assemble one of your industrial ships and do a quick tour of your rookie systems to gather everything up. The ships won’t all fit in the industrial so we’ll sell these where they are. Undercutting is as simple as WoW and you’ll have plenty of people undercutting by 0.01ISK, I tend to ignore those and round down to the nearest ISK for most things. Take the time to check both buy and sell orders; in a lot of cases you can get several times the price by setting up a sell order as you can by simply selling to someone else’s buy order. From all three rookie systems, I would expect to gain in the region of 6-8million ISK from selling the ships you were given. The only catch is that in EVE you can only have a limited number of orders active at any time. You can increase the number of active orders you can have by training Trade & Retail (and eventually Wholesale & Tycoon.)

Once you’re done you should be left with one destroyer and the industrial you’re flying loaded with all the crap you’ve gathered from the rookie systems. Next, head for your nearest trade hub: Dodixie for Gallente, Amarr for Amarr, Jita for Caldari and Rens for Minmatar. (You can head to Jita regardless if you want as this is the main trading hub for the galaxy, but you’re looking at over 20 jumps for some races so you’re better to stay local. Work your way through all the crap in your hold and you should be able to net yourself another 5-10million ISK.

Advanced Trading:
By now you should, realistically, be sitting on a good 20million ISK (more if you’ve been savvy). You’ve got a few choices as to what you do next. One option is to continue trading. While you were selling off your rookie crap, you hopefully noticed how valuable skill books are. This can be a good market to get in to as a new player; set up buy orders in the rookie systems and then transport the books you receive to a trade hub. You’d be surprised at the number of people who will blindly sell you a 1,000,000ISK book for 25,000 ISK. Set up your buy orders for 10 books at a time and tour the systems once a day, collect your books and then sell them to other people to lazy to go and collect them.

Once you have a comfortable buffer you can start looking in to other opportunities. For example, I found that I could make good money by buying Tech 2 ammo in Jita, hauling it to Rens and reselling it. Doing this I very quickly built my 20 million up to 100million. When doing this be aware of two key things: 1) Don’t haul more than you can afford to loose. If you do and you get attacked by pirates you stand to loose everything. 2) Prices can be very volatile so make sure that what you’re hauling doesn’t crash in price between when you purchased it and when you sell it (eg; don’t buy a pile of stuff and log out for the night planning to sell it tomorrow as 12 hours from now it might not be profitable any more.) EVE-Central is a really useful site for working out what sells where and it’s worth taking some time to figure this out before getting too heavily in to hauling for profit.

Missions:
If you decide that hauling stuff across the galaxy isn’t for you then you could choose to run missions for agents. Level 2 missions pay out 250-500k ISK, including the time bonus, plus Loyalty Points which can be traded to NPCs for high value items. On top of this, combat missions will reward you bounties for killing pirates which can easily add another 500k ISK. Lastly, if it’s a combat mission, there’s loot to be had. This can add obscene amounts of ISK if you get lucky with drops (for example, one level 2 mission I ran recently dropped two Amarr navy tags worth ~1.5 million ISK each).

Salvage:
The last method I’ve tried is Salvage. I already salvage my own missions, though if there are less than 4-5 wrecks I just loot and then abandon them.

You’re introduced to salvage during the career agent tutorials and given the skill book as part of that mission. Before starting salvaging you’ll need to go out and pick yourself up some Salvager I modules, how many depends on the ship you’ll be flying. Currently, I have a destroyer (Catalyst) set up with the following:

  • 4x Salvager I
  • 3x Beta Reactor Control I
  • 1x Cap Recharger I
  • 1x 1MN MicroWarpdrive I

With this setup, I can run all 4 salvagers and the MWD indefinitely. If I add 2x Small Capacitor Control Circuit I, I could also run 4x Small Tractor Beam I.

So yes, I can salvage my own missions, but why stop there? In addition to the Catalyst, I also have am Imicus loaded with Combat Scanner Probes. I park both ships in a system with a few level 4 mission agents, use the Imicus to scan down other players running missions then switch to the Catalyst and salvage their wrecks. This is not without risk, but can net you significant piles of cash for minimal effort. There’s a great guide on how to do this here (thought I’m using different ships). It’s important to note a couple of things before you start doing this:

Icons:

  • Empty inverted pyramid: Wreck does not contain any loot
  • Filled inverted pyramid: Wreck contains loot. Salvaging a wreck that contains loot transfers all the loot in to a cargo container in the same location
  • Diamond: Cargo container. Contains loot and (usually) implode when emptied.

Colours:

  • White: Your wrecks. You can loot, salvage and tractor these without any risk
  • Blue: Someone else’s wrecks that they have intentionally abandoned. For all intents and purposes, you can consider these the same as white wrecks.
  • Yellow: Someone else’s wrecks that they have not abandoned. You can not tractor yellow wrecks, however you can still salvage them without risk. If a yellow wreck (or container) contains loot you may open it and view the contents, however be warned; removing anything (other than salvage) will be flag you with a 15 minute aggression timer during which the owner, and their entire corporation, may attack you without Concord responding.

With practice and patience you can make this an exceptionally profitable venture. I like to scan down several people at once, bookmark their positions and then come back a little later. This gives them a chance to finish up and reduces the odds of them still being there when you take your salvage boat out to clean up their wrecks (it also means that any structures and leftover NPCs will have despawned) leaving you free to scoop up everything they’ve left behind. How profitable are we talking? Salvage items can sell for anything up to 200k ISK each (there’s only a couple that go for this much in fairness) and you can chuck extra zeros on the end of that if they’ve left loot on the ships, especially when you start looting battleship wrecks.