Here's a brief aside while I figure out what the heck I'm going to waffle on about for part 3 of the economy balancing screed.
Dust 514 is coming, and we know CCP wants to finance it using micro transactions. How will micro transactions work for Dust 514? People who have been playing EVE for a significant period of time already know that EVE has micro transactions already. Unlike Turbine games which have "Turbine Points" which behave independently of "gold", EVE has ISK† which is bought through trading game time. You pay your money, (stuff happens), you get your ISK.
How do Dust Bunnies buy new shinies? How do they receive their shinies? How do you supply a mercenary unit operating in null sec? How do you deploy a mercenary unit? Read on for my idle thoughts on these questions.
How do Dust Bunnies buy new shinies? It's insane to expect that a Dust Bunny will be able to open up the MT store and buy extra weapons mid-battle. What if goods for Dust Bunnies could take part in the existing economy as equals to goods for capsuleers? We already have contracts and market orders to take care of supply/demand, so that's really a non-issue. Where do infantry weapons come from? I would suggest PI as an example: if a Dust Bunny wants a Fusion Gun Man Portable Mk3, it's got to come from a planet with the appropriate infrastructure in place to manufacture those devices. The heavy battle armour would come from another facility, perhaps across the other side of the universe. Just because Dust is going to be MT-based, doesn't mean the EVE economy has to change (the commodities manufactured and traded might change, not the economic model).
How do Dust Bunnies get their stuff? We already have courier contracts, so there is one option for a Dust corporation to ensure that their materiel logistics are attended to without having to run EVE accounts at the same time. The commander simply needs to ensure that the MCC is stocked with goods before entering the battleground. I wonder if it might be possible to fly a delivery ship onto the battlefield to restock the MCC mid-fight?
How do you supply a mercenary unit operating in hostile null sec? If it was possible to deliver goods to the planet surface, I imagine you would achieve this using a very active network of black ops battleships, and blockade runners and cloaky frigates (covops and stealth bombers at this stage).
How do you deploy a mercenary unit to the planet surface? If the MCC is small enough to fit inside a blockade runner, this operation becomes relatively simple. You just need the MCC in the hold stocked with a supply of spare clones (possibly PI goods manufactured from biomass) and equipment as chosen by the mercenary unit. With MCCs distributed around the place, and enough blackops, covops and blockade runner pilots, a Dust corporation should be able to provide instant-on Dust 514 action to their members who just log in for an hour or two a day and want to hit the ground shooting.
The existing economy combined with war contracts issued by capsuleers to dust bunnies means that any Dust corporation could raise funds through grinding war contracts (play to pay model), or invest in a few PLEX to sell for ISK and procure their equipment and consumables through the existing in game channels. I expect the demand for PLEX-to-ISK MT in Dust 514 to be driven mainly by the materiel logistics required to supply instant-on action.
No doubt some of these questions will be answered in the coming Templar One novel. As for the remaining issues, I would love to be a fly on the wall at CCP — some of these game design issues are incredibly exciting from an engineering and process design point of view.
† I'll leave the discussion of Aurum for a different post.