EVE Online - "my first colony" Planetary Interaction guide

Planetary Interaction. There are a lot of guides written on this topic, I know - I've been reading them. So why one more? This is intended to be an absolute beginners' guide to setting up a simple high-sec colony which harvests a single resource and processes it. Minimum cost (less than half a million ISK if you already have an Industrial ship), minimum skill training requirements (less than 10 minutes!), minimum complexity - and you can even do it on a trial account. I'm not even going to talk about complexities beyond what is needed for this simple colony - just a thorough step-by-step guide to getting it done.

This colony won't make you rich - it's tiny, and it's in high-sec where resources are much less impressive than low-sec, nullsec or wormholes. But it will get you started and hopefully help you decide whether or not you want to pursue Planetary Interaction further, training up skills and setting up multiple large colonies.

You will need

  • Remote Sensing skill at level 1 (the book is 250,000 ISK, it's only a 1x training multiplier skill, so should take less than 10 minutes to train)
  • 201,000 ISK to cover building expenses
  • A ship capable of transporting a 1000 m3 Command Center.

The last of those three will be the biggest problem for a trial account, since you can't train for an Industrial ship. You may need to look into buying a Primae, which has no skill requirements, and a special 2000 m3 Command Center Hold. However these are currently selling for approximately 4,000,000 ISK. If you have the money, you could buy one, and resell it when you upgrade your trial account and train Industrials. A possible alternative is an Amarr Magnate frigate, with 3 Expanded Cargohold II mods and 3 Small Cargohold Optimization I rigs - this will just crack 1000 m3 cargo.

Deciding what to manufacture

This simple colony is going to extract a single Raw Material and process it into a Processed Material. So, let's start by looking at the market to find a Processed Good which has good demand and a high price in our region.

Browse the market under "Manufacture & Research" / "Materials" / "Planetary Materials" / "Processed  Materials." There are 15 of them - pick one that has large high price buy orders near to where you are based. I chose Industrial Fibers as my target, since there was a large (more than 100,000 units) buy order a couple of jumps from me for 595 ISK per unit, more than any other Processed Material.

Have a look at EVE University's "Planetary Commodities" wiki page - it has a list of Raw Materials required for Processed Materials, and which type of planet you can find them on. Industrial Fibers require Autotrophs, which are only found on Temperate planets.

Since I'm intending to set up on a Temperate planet, I need to buy a Temperate Command Center. These are sold by NPC buy orders in lots of stations, at a base price of 81,000 ISK.

Picking your planet

System with Temperate planetsSo, how do you find a Temperate planet? Look at the info on a system, go to the "Orbital Bodies" tab, and it will list all the planets with their types. First place I'm going to look is the Malkalen system, which has two Temperate planets, Malkalen IV and Malkalen V.

I warp to Malkalen IV and when I arrive, right-click the planet and select "View in Planet Mode". This shows a close-up of the planet. Switch from "Build" to "Scan" in the top left and you'll see a bar chart of this planet's resources. In this case, Autotrophs is quite low - plenty of Carbon Compounds and Microorganisms, though! I move on to Malkalen V, and that's also pretty poor.

I go through a few more systems and everything is much the same, so I decide Autotrophs are just rare, and settle for Tsuguwa II.

Malkalen IV, lacking in Autotrophs
Malkalen IV, lacking in Autotrophs
Tsuguwa II will have to do
Tsuguwa II will have to do

Scanning and placing your Command Center

Scanning Autotroph hotspotClick on "Autotrophs" on the bar chart, and a heatmap display will overlay the planet, showing where they are plentiful and where they are not. Sliding the little rainbow bar above the bar chart left and right will twiddle the scanner - slide it until it shows some tight points of white surrounded by red dropping off. These are the best spots on the planet.

Zoom in a bit with your mousewheel, switch from "Scan" to "Build", and select "Command Centers" then "Temperate Command Center". Now if you point at the planet, you'll see it's ready to place your Command Center. We want everything tight together, so drop it down on the edge of the white zone.

You'll see an "Edits Pending" window appear - hit "Submit", and there's our Command Center. If you like, you can now go and dock, you don't need to be physically at the planet any more now that there's a Command Center down. From your "Science & Industry" window, select "Planets" and you'll see your colony - right-click and select "View in Planet Mode" to continue working on it.

Command Center placed
Command Center placed
Science & Industry planet list
Science & Industry planet list


Now we need to place an Extractor Control Unit and set up its Extractor Heads. Select "Extractor Control Units" then "Temperate Extractor Control Unit", and place it in the middle of the white zone, and hit "Submit". This will cost you 45,000 ISK, so don't slip and put it in the wrong place.

Select your placed Extractor Control Unit and click on the leftmost icon in its window, "Survey for Deposits". The heatmap will disappear. In the top right of that window, you need to select the resource you're interested in, in my case "Autotrophs". The heatmap reappears.

Ready to install programNext we need to select "Extraction area size", the slider on the bottom left. What this determines is how long the extractor will run before we need to reset it. If you want to try it out quickly, leave it at the far left for a one hour process. It can be up to 14 days, though. Once you're up and running you might make it 12 or 24 hours and check in on your colony once or twice a day.

Now, the powergrid of our colony is going to allow us four Extractor Head Units. Click the first four blue circles in the Extractor Head Units section on the left, and four blue circles appear on the planet's surface. It will also display a numeric output quality next to each of the units. On the planet's surface, drag the Heads into the white zone - as you move them, you'll see the output quality change. You want the numbers as high as possible, without the Units overlapping each other (you'll see a percentage penalty in red as they overlap). Note that the longer the program duration, the larger the Units extraction zones will be, and thus the further apart they'll need to be not to overlap.

The bottom right of the window shows how many units of output will be produced per hour. 6000 units per hour will keep one factory fully busy. With the poor Autotroph supply on my planet, I needed all four Heads to achieve that, but with a more plentiful resource, you'll do it easily.

When you're happy, click "Install Program", then "Submit". Don't stress too much - you can reprogram this, you won't need to buy a new Extractor Control Unit or anything.

Sending the output to the Command Center

Click on the Extractor Control Unit and you'll see the progress of the current cycle and the whole program. Output will be produced every 15 minutes (less often for really long programs). Now, before that happens, we need to send the output somewhere!

Creating the LinkOn the Extractor Control Unit window, click the "Links" icon, then click "Create New". It will prompt you for a destination. Click on your Command Center, then click "Submit". The link appears.

Back on the Extractor Control Unit window, click the "Products" icon. You'll see your product has a red "Not routed" warning! Select it, hit "Create Route", and again click on your Command Center as the destination. Hit "Create Route" again and then "Submit", now your route is set up. All raw materials will now go to the Command Center automatically at the end of each extraction cycle. It can hold 500 m3 and Raw Materials are only 0.01 per unit, so that's 50,000 units of storage - plenty enough.

Building a factory

Factory placedNow we need something which can process those Raw Materials. From the Build menu select "Processors", then "Temperate Basic Industry Facility". Drop it down as close to the Command Center as possible (the CPU and Power requirement of links depends on their length, so the closer your buildings are together, the better - too far apart and you could run out of CPU or Power). This will cost you another 75,000 ISK, but after that, we're done spending money!

The factory needs to be told what to manufacture. Select it, click the first icon "Schematics", select the one you want (in my case Industrial Fibers) and hit "Install" then "Submit."

Installing SchematicsYou'll see the Products display with that red "Not routed" warning. So we need a link to the Command Center. Hit "Links", "Create New", click on the Command Center as the destination, and hit "Submit".

Now we can route our finished product by clicking the "Products" icon, selecting the product, hitting "Create Route", clicking on the Command Center as the destination, hitting "Create Route" again and then "Submit".

Just one problem. We've routed the raw materials from the Extractor to the Command Center. And we've routed the finished product from the Processor to the Command Center. But how do the raw materials get to the Processor? Select the Command Center, and click the "Routes" icon. You'll see the two incoming routes, one for the Raw Material and one for the Processed Material. Select the incoming Raw Material route and another "Create Route" button will appear. Hit it, and make the Processor the destination.

Now everything should be set up to run smoothly for the duration of your program. Raw Materials will flow from the Extractor to the Command Center. It will send 3000 units per half-hour along to the Processor, whilst storing the excess. And when the Processor finishes each half-hour batch, it will send the Processed Material back to the Command Center.

Routes all set up
Routes all set up

Getting the goods out of there

If you're generating 20 units of Processed Material per half-hour cycle, that's 7.6 m3. At 500 m3 of Command Center storage, you'll take a little over a day to fill up. So you'll want to ship out the goods daily.

From your Command Center, you can launch goods straight up into space, and then go and pick them up from a floating can. To do this:

  1. Go into Planet Mode and select the Command Center. Collecting from a Planetary Launch Container
  2. Click on the "Launch" button
  3. Select goods from the Storehouse window and click "Add". Note the launch cost: 75 ISK per unit for Processed Materials, which is sadly a fair bite out of your profit. If you ever need to launch Raw Materials, they cost 0.75 ISK per unit.
  4. Click "Go For Launch", and after a 3-2-1countdown, the launch occurs.
  5. Now, open your Journal and go to the "Planetary Launches" tab
  6. It will show the location of your launched canister, along with the time left before it is lost - you have 5 days.
  7. Simply warp to the location like any other bookmark, and you'll find a floating "Planetary Launch Container", which you approach, open and transfer cargo from, just like any cargo canister.


So there you go. I have a colony set up, which needs to be attended to once a day, and which should produce 960 Industrial Fibers a day, leading to an after-tax profit of over 400,000 ISK. Hardly a get-rich-quick scheme, but I do want to illustrate that the upfront expense of setting up the colony should be paid for within a day.

Want to learn more? I found the best guide was EVE University's Planetary Interaction wiki page. Read on to learn about Refined, Specialized and Advanced Commodities; Launchpads; running multiple colonies to supply wide ranges of resources, and so on.


  1. Perfect. This is exactly what I was looking for. Short and sweet. Thanks for the write-up. Alot of the YouTube videos on Planetary Interaction seemd a bit unfocused and didn't cover the basic (like the skill needed). I read your tutorial here and immediately understood how to get started.

  2. This was good, think I'll be sharing with my Corp and Alliance

  3. Pretty solid guide, helpful and well-written in addition to being easy to follow. 2 thumbs up!

  4. All of the above! This as made a facet of the game that's other-wise been an opaque white wall for years, suddenly transparent! Concise and easy to follow.

  5. As others have said, thank you for this guide. I literally just finished setting up my first planet with a P1 factory and it was so simple and easy when I followed this guide. (I feel like I'm writing a testimonial for an infomercial, but it's true).

    A couple small points - you can use any of the Industrial haulers you can get from career missions (not sure if you can fly them on a trial account but they're free), they have plenty of cargo space.

    I found a pretty nifty program called: EVE Planetary Planner (google for it). The "Find" tab is useful to help you find planets (hint: finding the planet is the "work" in this job, not the setup or collection). I limited my search from .7 to .5 High Sec and it really helped.