Why is mining boring?
Pods are terrible - too expensive, too awkward to use, and misses frequently at hitting asteroids despite shockwave image clearly passing through the asteroids. Also, even if a shockwave hits an asteroid and extracts ore, the amount extracted is disappointingly low (for the cost). While I have not thought of a way to fix pods yet (if they can be fixed), I will say that I simply ignore the pods and shoot asteroids if I want to mine.
That leaves shooting at asteroids, which is tedious too. Why? Using terms from Mining.xml, EFFICIENCY and VOLUME are too low. Meaning player needs to fire many shots just to check if an asteroid has ore and to extract the ore, if possible. When I mine, I turn on auto-pilot while firing at an asteroid many times just to be sure and/or extracting every last ton of ore out of the asteroid.
Mining laser has mining:3, which only has about 20 percent chance to mine per hit at best (EFFORT). However, most asteroids have some DIFFICULTY (often from 30 to 100) to lower the EFFICIENCY chance. With (A * A) / (A + D), fire at a rock with 50 difficulty, and we get 400/70, or 5.714% per hit. With five hits from the whole mining laser burst, the chance to get ore once from the 50's rock is slightly over 25%.
Plasma torch is a bit better with mining:5 for 52 percent, but it is a cloud weapon, which makes it hard to apply the full damage of 30 to overcome damage thresholds (in later systems) set in the volume table to extract ore in the full place.
According to the VOLUME table, damage required to extract a single ton of ore is 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 from system levels 1 to 10. Mining laser damage ranges from 2 to 5, and plasma torch does up to 30 damage if the whole cloud hits (and probably not at the same time). Very frequently, I...we often get one ton, maybe two or three tons, every time a mined ore object spawns. In early systems, asteroids do not have much ore and extracting few tons from rocks one ton at a time is not a big deal. In later systems, asteroids frequently hold double-digit tonnage, but the ore still usually pops out one or two tons at a time.
My experience with plasma torch in Heretic...
Due to being a cloud weapon, which fires a bunch of particles, the whole burst needs to cleanly hit an asteroid to pile up enough damage to have a chance to extract ore. Even if ore can be extracted, it tends to extract only one ton at a time, and asteroids in Heretic tend to have ten or more tons of ore each. That means ten or more ore objects, all need to be docked individually. That is a lot of presses on the [D] key, and even more presses on the [L] key to loot the ore, then another key to leave the dockscreen! Nevermind all of the time and fuel burnt firing at asteroids while autopilot is on.
- If an attack passes the efficiency check to extract ore but fails the volume check because damage was too low, then reveal the ore count on the asteroid instead of merely removing unexplored. At least if the weapon level is high enough or ore level is low enough. It hurts that an ore-bearing asteroid is missed because player rolled low on damage and failed the volume check after passing the efficiency check, and unexplored disappears as if the asteroid had no ore to mine. As a result, I keep shooting the asteroid at least three times as long to make sure I was not fooled by a low damage roll.
- Amount should be more than one ton (or krel) if asteroid has lots of ore, so that player does not need to dock several dozen times to collect all of the ore. Say... a minimum of half of the asteroid's total ore (which gets smaller at successive attempts, sort of like half-life) if it is higher than the amount normally given.
- Consider a device that automatically collects ore. Pressing [D] to dock dozens of times on all of the ore on the screen is tedious, let alone more keys to loot and go.