Planetary Interaction (more commonly known as PI) allows players to interact with planets to produce materials. These materials are then further processed and used in the manufacturing of various other things such as Player Owned Structures (and the fuel that runs them) and Sovereignty Structures among other things.
PI can get very complicated, but from a top down perspective, it's very simple. For an alternative to this guide, here's a short visual guide in a little different format. The information between there and here may be duplicated, so feel free to skip the visual guide or just take a glance if you're going to read the wiki here.
There are 8 planet types:
Each planet has different materials you can extract and process.
There are 5 levels of PI materials: *
I strongly suggest keeping your PI all in the same system. you don't want to be jumping your hauler around with your paycheck sitting in it right?
We're keeping this simple so using a single planet P2 production chain is the best way to go. You'll generally want to use something very similar to either the Standard Setup or the Navi Setup as listed below in Planet Setup Types. If you're doing something other than the P0→P2 setup, you should have a reason other than just money. Generally the only exceptions to this are Microfiber Shielding, Polyaramids, and Silicate glass for P2s, and production planets for P3s and P4s, which have alternate setups listed in those Planet Setup Types. The number of storage facilities can generally be adjusted to preference.
Make sure we own the POCOs you're going to use. You never know when another alliance will decide to change their taxes on neutrals to 99%. Also, you can't tell if they'll let you use their pocos until *after* you've already put a command center on the planet.
Also be sure that the planet you're going to use isn't horribly overcrowded (say, > 15 people). You can tell this by viewing the planet in planet mode, right click, and select “Show other Command Centers” or something similar. Look around the planet to make sure there aren't 50 pre-existing installations competing for your resources. Generally it's only extremely common systems, such as staging, that have this issue.
Here's a list of current TEST owned pocos.* * May not be current.
When choosing planets try and stay away from planets with a large diameter, linking up your installations will use up a lot of Powergrid and CPU.
Gas planets suck… they normally have a large diameter and the resources deplete fairly quickly.
Let's look at the Standard Setup for this step by step.
Always route to or from a storage facility or launchpad. Never route directly between ECUs and processors or between two processors. Doing this allows any overflow to be stored for later use. Not doing this is very likely to get your most advanced and expensive products dumped into the ground.
More storage means more hands free and passive, but less efficient than if you maintain it daily. I prefer more storage because if I'm going to spend more time on PI, I would just use more characters and more planets instead of micromanaging individual planets more than I need to.
Theoretically, you can run everything from just the launchpad with no storage facilities. However, I find that things fill very easily with P0, meaning that while the facility is full, anything that is produced from anywhere else is thrown in the trash. Having your two P0s sharing a facility is viable, but even then I've found that it can get congested with your abundant P0 and leave your weaker P0 without space and end up throwing production of your weaker P0 in the trash. I generally recommend at least a dedicated storage facility for each P0, and a launchpad for your P1s and P2s. You can optionally add a dedicated storage for your P1s, or have your P0s share a facility.
Don't be afraid to just make and sell P2s. But if you want to go farther, this is how. This is going to require multiple characters (4-6) or buying P2s off the market to make it work. Don't forget you can always spend a week or two training a second character on your main's account or buy multiple character training to spend 2 weeks each training your blank character slots on your main account.
I find it convenient to produce up to P2s on each planet when possible. Wetware mainframes take a lot more P2s to make (9), but you can make each of the P2s on one planet. Self-Harmonizing Power Cores and Broadcast nodes take less P2s (6), but half the P2s needed require two planets to make. I've done Organic Mortar Applicators on one character before, but you really either want two characters for that or you'll need to buy P2s to really make it worthwhile.
Generally with these setups you're going to have a bunch of harvesting planets (making P2s whenever possible for convenience), and you're going to have a major factory planet that doesn't extract much, if anything. The tax rate on your factory planet is extremely important. Here you'll be both importing (paying half the rate) and exporting, paying the full rate of the finished P4, and this is after you've already been taxed exporting those P2s once. The tax rate on P2 harvesting planets is less important.
It's not a bad idea to have notepad open and take notes while you're figuring this stuff out.
See this P4 guide for further information and what kind of planets you'll need for each setup.
If your setup doesn't fall into one of these categories, it's probably not optimal.
The most common type of setup in all of PI. There are a several variations on this.