Gaming SOMER Blink

Tl;dr – I turned 500m of SOMER Blink credit into 594m of isk in my wallet. Use the promo code ‘Disclosed Blink’ to get 2.5m free credit signing up to SOMER Blink.

As a continuation from my last post where I got sponsored by SOMER Blink, I decided to investigate their system to see if I could pull positive expected value from it. If you’re unfamiliar with Blink, it is a microlottery scheme where people purchase tickets for some Eve related item, such as ships, faction modules or PLEX. Typically they’re high value items, as noone wants to win a Badger MkII. A fairly typical blink looks like this:

You put credit into the system, and click the ‘Blink!’ button, and you get a ticket in that lottery. The astute reader will notice where Blink make their money, 8 tickets @ 2.5m is 20m, yet their prize is worth 13.5m isk. As always, lotteries as a tax on people who are bad at math. Normally I would look at that point and disregard it, but SOMER have a few promotions that make playing worthwhile.

1. If you buy GTCs to turn into plex via Shattered Crystal, you get 100m isk per GTC, and a further 100m bonus for every 4 GTC you buy at once.

I pay for Eve, rather than buying plex with isk, so this option works perfectly for me. I purchased 4 GTC to stock up on game time for my accounts, and was rewarded with 500m SOMER isk credit and 500 bonus tokens to use in their bonus blinks.

2. When you get credit via donating, you get bonus tokens.

These bonus tokens can be used to play in the bonus promo blinks which pop up on the site every 20 minutes or so, and in the large celebration blinks when SOMER holds them for whatever reason. As you can see below, the prizes for the promos are very nice:

These are nice perks, but how does this help you get +ev?

Initially, I wanted to cash out the simple way. When you win an item in Blink, you can either get the item itself, the buyout price directly in your wallet, or the buyout price +5% back in Blink credit. By identifying a Blink which you have the isk in your Blink wallet to dominate, you can buy nearly all of the tickets quickly and stand a very high chance of winning the item. You can then request the isk in your wallet, and get it sent to you immediately. I started doing this and won three Tornadoes in short order. This is the simplest way of getting credit out of Blink, but it is -ev because you’re essentially paying SOMER’s ‘tax’ on each item. For instance, on the Tornadoes if I purchased each ticket I’d be buying 8 tickets at 11.5m each for a total of 92m, to ‘win’ 73.14m, a 20.5% loss in isk.

An action shot of someone attempting an isk cashout

This isn’t bad to get your bonus credit out of the system, but it’s not worthwhile if you’re depositing isk.

For my second attempt, I looked into the achievement system of Blink. On my new account I managed to pick up 118m isk worth of achievement rewards from my 500m isk deposit bonus, a 23.6% increase in value. This puts me over the expected value of cashing out directly, but it is dependant on quite a bit of luck. The most notable ones I picked up are the following:

You can target these two blinks with enough capital, quick fingers and a spot of luck. I started blinks for items that I had selected, and filled them as quickly as possible, snapping up these and another 10 achievements in fairly short order.

All in all, this is how my 500m of initial credit went:

So how did I do? Well, I took 314.64m out directly in isk, and 279.7m isk worth of ships, totalling 594.34m isk. That is in isk value in Eve, not in SOMER Blink value, which reports my winnings at 812m. Not bad for bonus isk.

I purchased 125 tickets over 28 blinks with a win rate of 67.86% where the expected win rate would be around 55% for that amount of tickets, so I was quite lucky, if my math is right. It probably isn’t, I’ve always been terrible at probability. Don’t tell me the odds.

I chose to go for the covop frigates as their sell price is significantly higher in Rens than it is in Jita, so I can ship them here in my next shipping contract and make additional profit. I could calculate the profit on these, but it is relatively meaningless as I could just buy them at Jita and freight them anyway. It’s a nice bonus, but not a true one in any sense of the word.

Lastly, I now have 500 bonus tokens sitting in my account waiting to be used. It’ll take a while to use them all up, but I expect to win at least something off them. This will increase the +ev further of using this method.

If you do sign up for an account, use the promo code ‘Disclosed Blink’, which gives you 2.5m free isk and makes me some money to boot.

Spreadsheet Saturday: Basic Eve Api usage

Ok, to start with I’m aware its not Saturday anywhere right now.

I sat down and tried to figure out a new name for a spreadsheet topic, but I came up with nothing. So, lets just pretend its Saturday in Rens.

In my last post I didn’t cover what XML is very well. XML is short for EXtensible Markup Language, and it was designed to be a reasonably simple language that can be read without much difficulty by humans and computers.  For an example, check out my character sheet in XML format.

For more, click the link to see it. Go on, I’ll wait.

Ok, so CCP fails pretty hard at the human readable part of it. In particular, your skills and certificates. Still, given our list of typeIDs referenced in the last Spreadsheet Saturday post, we can figure things out without too much difficulty.

Now, the XML is all well and good to read with eyeballs, but we want to read it with spreadsheets. So, we use the importxml() function of Google Spreadsheets.

Basically, when you call the importxml() function from your spreadsheet, it runs off and downloads the file and then scans it for whatever you tell it to scan. It uses the following syntax:

=importxml(xml url, xpath query)

XPath is a query language, which you use to tell the spreadsheet how to navigate the XML document. The syntax is pretty straightforward, though getting your head around it to start with can be tricky. You can find a full tutorial on how to use it here.

Now, building your own functions from scratch with no experience can quickly turn into a clusterfuck, so we’re going to break it down a bit by putting the individual elements into a table and then concatenating the together in the final function.

First, lets take what we know and put them in a spreadsheet:

Replace my API key details with yours of course.

I’ve cut the url up into two sections, “http://api.eveonline.com” and “/account/Characters.xml.aspx?” for simplicity and for indirection’s sake. Now, we’ll build functions to put these bits all together. The function in question we use to combine strings is concatenate(). It takes as many strings as you want to give it, and sticks the together. The base syntax of concatenate is as follows:

=concatenate(string1, string2, string3, ...) 
e.g. =concatenate("In Rust", " ", "We Trust")
Would result in the string "In Rust We Trust"

We can use this with the elements above to build our XML url:

=concatenate("http://api.eveonline.com", B7, "keyID=", A3,"&vCode=",B3)

Results in:

http://api.eveonline.com/account/Characters.xml.aspx?keyID=711880&vCode=Pm5yBWlW5bYPwZwSW8gDmxbHIoCyLCmaYn5R2qNeB8621nCYm1HRHoqLrPLttGdq

We can then use this URL to go fishing for data with an XPath, using the importxml() function, like so:

=importXML(B11,C7)

And we get something lovely that looks like this:

So, we’ve put together a bunch of simple bits of data and pulled some stuff out of the Eve API. Lets take the character ID we retrieved, and use it to get stuff from my character sheet.

Extrapolating that out, you can derive skill levels as well using the following formula:

=importxml("https://api.eveonline.com/char/CharacterSheet.xml.aspx?keyID=711880&vCode=Pm5yBWlW5bYPwZwSW8gDmxbHIoCyLCmaYn5R2qNeB8621nCYm1HRHoqLrPLttGdq&characterID=91758676, "//row[@typeid='16622']/attribute::level")

The 16622 in the formula above is the typeid of the Accounting skill. This will spit out 0-5, representing your skill level. These techniques can be used to further extrapolate other pertinent trade information, like the following:

With these skills, and the market price lookups covered in the last Spreadsheet Saturday post you can do the vast majority of tasks that are needed from a marketeers spreadsheet, such as tracking the profitability of station trading an item, manufacturing a specific good, or comparing prices between trade hubs. There is a reference on the Eve Development Network wiki upon which you can find almost anything you need. Go forth and do amazing things with it.

V

Issues with Eve Nexus

Things have been a bit quiet lately, Evewise. This is due to two main reasons:

  1. RL stuff all weekend
  2. Diablo 3 open beta

I’m working on new posts now though, so things should be back to normal shortly.

—–

Eve Nexus is rapidly losing its appeal to me. Its pretty, but it has some major flaws.

There is a bug where profits are not counted properly. This occurs about 90% of the day for me, so I have to watch it like a hawk to find the right time to screenshot it. For instance:

It is safe to say I have profited on more than 10 sales in the past two weeks.

Further, more and more of my time is going into industry now. I’m making Covetors and Moa primarily, and their sales are not being accounted for by Eve Nexus. This is skewing the projections poorly, and it is lowering the importance I place on Eve Nexus. I’ll be looking for a replacement soon, though I suspect that replacement will need to be a spreadsheet. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.

V

Datamining Diagoras’ tweets, and an update

Poetic Stanziel posted a list of CCP_Diagoras‘ tweets, which is a goldmine for leads on things to trade. A canny trader can sift a lot of value from those tweets.

At a glance, I gain the following potential leads from this:

  • The highest traded items, datacores and various minerals are worth investigating for station trading opportunities.
  • The t2 items who are mainly made from t2 BPOs are probably not worth inventing for.
  • The t2 items with high invention percentages are likely worth inventing, but there will be considerable competition.
  • Zainou ‘Gnome’ Shield Operation SP-903 is the most traded implant. Maybe there are reasonable volume opportunity in skill hardwiring implants. Worth investigating.
  • There are lots of destroyers, industrials and tornadoes blowing up. Duh. Maybe make some.

Anyway. I’m either finally getting some traction in station trading, or my diversification into some retail is skewing my stats:

I’m not happy with it at all. Station trading takes so much bloody time. I’d rather rake my balls over hot coals than sit there all day adjusting market orders by 0.02 isk. Still, it is becoming less frustrating. That, or I’m growing calluses.

IO commented just now on the last post, with some tips I’m going to put into action. Spreadsheeting would be good, especially if I can have it scan a great amount of items at once, such as all meta 4 items, or all t2.

I’ve begun to move into t2 ship retailing as well. I tried out using Push Industries non-rush option, which was completed in 4 hours or so which is well within my comfort zone. 9m for a freighter full of ships from Jita to Rens is pretty good, I reckon.

V

Mineral speculation, industry and hulkageddon

I was looking at Cerlestes.de’s mineral trends today, off the back of thinking about how I should invest isk to best profit off the current and upcoming market turbulence I’m anticipating. Looking over the various markets, all of the minerals seem more or less stable or declining now except for tritanium and pyerite.

What is notable about this is that these minerals weren’t heavily speculated as far as I can tell, and now they’re the only ones on an upward trajectory. Interesting. Further, their primary ores are mined in highsec, which is where Hulkageddon is going to blow up a bunch of miners soon. Their supply is going to be cut and well, industrialists… gotta… industry? Yeah. Demand for those minerals will be steady, perhaps even going up to replace all the stuff blown up by the ‘Jita Will Burn’ event and Hulkageddon.

So, I’m moving away from investing in Nocxium, Zydrine and Morphite now and moving into Tritanium and Pyerite. I think the last pre-patch isk has been squeezed from the higher end minerals, and I’d like to diversify to reduce my overall risk and increase my chances at phat profit.

This speculation is further strengthened by this post from last year, from Tentonhammer. I may have missed the boat on some of it though. Check out the hulk price history in Rens.

This is the problem with still being a lot of a noob when it comes to the market; I should have seen this coming a long time ago, as soon as the rumbles about Hulkageddon started.

Covetor’s are a component of Hulk manufacture, and their price history tells a similar story. :

However, maybe this is an opportunity. Lets consult Eve Isk Per Hour and have a looksee.

12% profit? With my frankly terrible industry skills? Count me in.

Also, note that this is a calculation with ME0 PE0, as if I bought the BP directly off the market. I can buy a BPO for 2.2b and get right to it, which is a bit steep. Still, lets have a look to see what I can find better on the contracts market.

I find this in Jita:

Lets contrast this with a 0ME0PE BPO:

Seems like the 9.87m on this BPC is money well spent. I think it’s time to finally get into industry.

V

Alts and you

Meet Vincent’s hot Gallentean cousin.

This is my new alt, Ariel Trevane. Ariel is going to sit in Jita for me and act as an agent for Vince, doing things in the region that I’d like to do but don’t want to travel 27 jumps to achieve.

These things are:

  • Gathering market intel; checking orders, history etc to confirm opportunities
  • Buying items for freighting to Rens; As the seller pays the costs, a new alt can buy from sell orders exactly the same as a high skilled character
  • Any other business that requires a physical presence in another region

Ariel resides on another account to Vincent so they can be both logged in at the same time, but there is no reason why they can’t be on the same account. If they are, you’ll lose some time logging in and out but that pales into comparison to all the jumps I’d do on a round trip.

I’m going to commit some of my liquid capital to retailing again. Station trading is stepping up a little, but I’d like to diversify to increase my profits and limit my frustration from being 100% devoted to the new market. Vincent will be sending isk to Ariel, who will buy items then contract them to Vincent, who will then contract them to Push Industries to ship to Rens.

This move is all about opportunity cost. I don’t want to fly to Jita anymore unless it is extremely necessary. Its time consuming, risky and boring, all three risks which need justification to make them worthwhile. At the heart of it, this is a labour saving device. It frees up some percentage of my time which I can devote to more important tasks, such as checking orders or writing this blog. If you can identify where you can save time by making small changes, your effectiveness will skyrocket.

V

A comedy of errors

When you charge in blind, you’re bound to make a ton of mistakes and lose money. I think this is what they call a ‘learning experience’. Oh well.

My state of orders today as 72 buy orders and 40 sell orders, with 13 free. I’m not quite sure how I thought that would be sustainable, given that everything that comes in from the buy orders has to actually be sold. Duh. So, I endeavoured to go on an order cull.

I found tons of nice meta4 items that had profits of less than 500k isk on a flip, some even less. This is unacceptable for lower volume items. If I’m going to tie up an order, the market has to be (pick two):

  • Have over 500k profit for a single item
  • High volume
  • Low competition

Now, its hard to find such idyllic markets, but one needs to know what one is looking for if one is to find it.

384m assets + 596m escrow + 1186m sell orders + 941mwallet = 3107m isk.. From those figures, I seem to be backsliding. I think jEveAssets is counting the assets that I have at Jita prices however, and I’ve purchased them specifically to be profitable in Rens. I’ll investigate further and see if I can figure out whats what.

I’m rapidly losing patience with station trading. I’m working WAY harder than I was retailing and making half the profits. It is probably the markets that I’ve chosen to take part in, but so far I am very unimpressed with station trading. I’ll shift to other markets soon to see how they fare, and if they are duds I’ll probably go back to retailing and then move into industry.

Note that this may be a reflection of my personality. I’m not prepared to sit there all day updating my orders. The opportunity cost for the isk I’m making is then way too low, considering. I’m not enjoying it, so its more of a drain and when I’m not getting results it is even more frustrating. I think I get more enjoyment out of mining, and that is saying something.

V