After being told that the time/cost/profit ratios were very beneficial towards mission salvaging, even if you have to drop a bookmark or two and run back for a dedicated ship to do it, I've finally gotten around to buying a Catalyst (my first Gallente ship) and outfitting it as a salvager. 4 tractor beams, 4 small salvagers, an AB and 3 extended cargoholds. The CSF Rake is ready to go!
As I was looking into the mechanics of salvaging among the series of tubes, I ran across a fragment - a ghost really - of info regarding salvaging drones. As some point during the not-too-distant past, there was a skill called "Salvaging Drone Operation". I can't find any record of those drones ever existing, and the skill only existed for a few days before it was removed, but it got me thinking.
Not everyone uses drones, but everyone would like to salvage given the opportunity. Every ship has a drone bay, so why not give another option of how to utilize it? It also frees up high-slots and cap from the demanding tractor/salvager setup. What capsuleer would not want to have the ability to take salvage materials from a ship he just popped?
There are some arguments against it though. Allow me to play devil's advocate.
1) It would allow ships like the Domi to be salvaging monsters.
Domis are already super-popular, so I doubt this will change things much. We have ships not built to mine mining, even when we have ships like barges, exhumers, the Orca or Rorqual, people have still use industrials, Apocs and carriers to mine (I even see some people using destroyers and BCs for it). My CSF Rake could probably salvage almost as efficiently as a Domi could with salvaging drones. Salvaging doesn't need a dedicated ship type, but a dedicated drone would be an interesting and useful option.
2) It's not a job drones should be able to do. What if your drone has more salvage than you can accommodate?
Have you ever heard of a mining drone? Fact is all drones have cargo space, but most don't use it. If your mining drone has more ore than you can take on, it disappears because you're AFK or maybe just careless. Hell, mining lasers do the same thing. Why should a salvaging drone be any different?
3) The tractor/salvager setup is more efficient.
That could very well be the case, but unless we had a salvaging drone in TQ to compare it to, there's no way to be sure. Some people just don't want to have to run back for a different ship every mission. What if you're in a roaming gang or a pirate? low and null are not exactly places to be flying around with a ship with no weapons and no tank, and many don't want to waste one or two high slots on a skip that should be dedicated to combat. There's also the issue with T3 and wormholes where you also have to take into account mass transfer. Even if the drone option is slower, in many situations it could be the only feasible option.
4) If CCP took the skill away, there was probably a reason.
Titans were on the drawing board since '05. The fact that the skill existed at all means someone at CCP had to make it, and I doubt it was something they did on their spare time. My guess is that it was something that was in the works that made it into an expansion or patch by mistake. It's probably still on the drawing board, being balanced. If we insist on it as a group, we'll get it.
5) It would make salvaging too easy.
You still need to pop a ship before you can salvage the wreck. It's not like flying up to a roid and slapping it around with lasers. The spoils are not so great that it would cause a problem. Now, from an RP POV, think about what a drone manufacturer (CreoDron, for example) would want to do to supply capsuleer demand for salvaging equipment.
6) It would cause prices on salvaged materials to crash.
Again, we're not talking about a HUGE amount of materials that are just being left out in space to vanish. Smart missioners are already using a salvaging-specific ship. I really doubt there would be more than a 5% increase in supply on the entire market.
I think I've made my point. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.