Mining 2019

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PM
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:30 am

During the last Twitch session, George showed off new 3D effects with asteroids, then some of the problems with mining.

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.

Suggestions
  • 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.
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NMS
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:35 am

If you have enough space, you can hold Enter to loot all the ore and undock, like when looting a wreck. But I agree mining is just not worth the tedium unless you're really desperate.

PM
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:23 pm

NMS wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:35 am
If you have enough space, you can hold Enter to loot all the ore and undock, like when looting a wreck. But I agree mining is just not worth the tedium unless you're really desperate.
That does not help since many mined ore have only one or two ore types. Player still needs to dock, take ore, undock, and repeat several dozen more times for all of the ore in a high level system.

From an purely mechanical standpoint (and forgetting about human boredom for a moment), tedium is bad because it burns fuel, and unless player can get cheap refueling, player is burning money and fuel. Player needs to make a lot of money, or at least not spend money on fuel, to make mining worth it. In most early systems, player will just burn fuel without earning enough unless he finds ore despoits. By system level 3 or 4, systems can have enough ore without deposits to make strip-mining the whole system useful.

Heretic is a near ideal place to mine if player has plasma torch. No random encounters, burnt out pteravore lairs to dump overflow items, stations that can install endgame items, a Sisters to get cheap fuel (donate 750 credits worth of fuel to get a free refuel), and the ore is high level (9 or 10) stuff that can yield about 40k rin before Ringers there do not want anymore. If I see a jumpdrive for sale at Thor's during Ungoverned Territories, I am buying it and then warp to Heretic and strip mine the system for easy money, even if it is a royal pain to mine the asteroids.
Download and Play in 1.9 alpha...
Drake Technologies (Alpha): More hardware for combat in parts 1 and 2!

Other playable mods from 1.8 and 1.7, waiting to be updated...
Godmode v3 (WIP): Dev/cheat tool compatible with D&O parts 1 or 2.
Star Castle Arcade: Relive classic arcade gaming in a new Transcendence adventure!
Playership Drones (WIP): Acquire more wingmen from Ship Broker. Unfinished, but updated to 1.8 beta.
Drake Technologies (Alpha) for 1.8: If you do not have 1.9 alpha 1...

Tiber
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:29 pm

Yes i recognise this boring stuff that comes whit mining.
Maybe Ranx mining drone who mine and haul, while u do the guard duty for your drones? Maybe even assign drones or wingmen to this guard duty?
The current pirate Borers can come in different flavours.
Mining stations could give missions to extract ore from a asteroid ( who happens to be near more rich asteroids )
Ranx Ferians and or others depending on what lvl system ur mining in can send bigger fleets ( whit an notification) that u need to stop, or your mining operation can be disrupted / destroyed)

ect ect,
Plenty of options to make mining an undertaking that is fun and profitable.

PM
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:58 pm

What really makes mining tedious is the cursed volume table that was added in 1.5. Before then, multi-hit weapons like the mining laser and plasma torch were fine and could extract chunks of ore without too much trouble. Now, they have difficulty extracting ore, and when they do, it is usually one or two tons at a time. Pods were added in 1.5 too, but they stink at their job (and too easy to cause collateral damage). They are decent as huge AoE missiles against early-game gunships, though. While it would be nice to make pods much cheaper, doing that would mean player can buy and use them as weapons while in the New Beyond instead.

The recent addition of the mining computer was a step in the right direction (and I throw it on nearly all of my mod mining items for free). So far, the weapons need to extract ore more easily, and collecting ore should not be such a grind.

Adding missions without addressing what makes current mining an unpleasant experience will not make them more fun. It will just make those missions a drag, especially if volume or damage thresholds are not communicated to the player. Player could wonder why his mining laser is not working when the asteroids are magically resisting the damage in one system while they were not in other systems.

Idea: Instead of scanning pods, add ROMs or cubes that scan nearby asteroids for ore, much like map ROMs do for stations in the system. In other words, use (sysFindObject …) instead of a shockwave that cannot hit asteroids to save its life.
Download and Play in 1.9 alpha...
Drake Technologies (Alpha): More hardware for combat in parts 1 and 2!

Other playable mods from 1.8 and 1.7, waiting to be updated...
Godmode v3 (WIP): Dev/cheat tool compatible with D&O parts 1 or 2.
Star Castle Arcade: Relive classic arcade gaming in a new Transcendence adventure!
Playership Drones (WIP): Acquire more wingmen from Ship Broker. Unfinished, but updated to 1.8 beta.
Drake Technologies (Alpha) for 1.8: If you do not have 1.9 alpha 1...

Kourtious
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:29 pm

Can finding regions of high value ore be through a device, let's say a Mining Scanner, and have that device automatically detect nearby ore? The perk of turning on such a device is that any ore you find will have a good chance of being picked up by a stalking illegal miner. Any ore that is detected by a mining scanner would be easier to mine because your mining laser and other mining equipment would be calibrated by the data gathered. This would not only force a possible conflict for the player to make it interesting for the player but also reward the player with easier to mine ore. I suggest this because I am not a fan of spending hours across a single game looking for ore. I think that is very dull and boring.

PM
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:47 pm

Currently, the game can spawn ore deposits, where there is a greater than normal concentration of ore than normal. In early-game systems, finding one will spawn outlaw miners. In systems with Ferian colonies, more miners are spawned. Ferian miners do slowly drain ore from asteroids as they crawl around like bugs. As for outlaw miners spawned from finding a deposit, it is often more profitable to not mine the rest of the deposit and farm the never-ending stream of Borers and steal their loot. Not unlike farming reinforcements for a station.

Ore deposits are useful in early systems that otherwise do not spawn enough ore to bother mining. Later on, systems spawn enough spare ore naturally that deposits do not matter much. Mining starts to be useful after Rigel. Before that, it is not worth bothering unless ore deposits can be confirmed or one of the level 2 systems is nothing but asteroid belts.
Download and Play in 1.9 alpha...
Drake Technologies (Alpha): More hardware for combat in parts 1 and 2!

Other playable mods from 1.8 and 1.7, waiting to be updated...
Godmode v3 (WIP): Dev/cheat tool compatible with D&O parts 1 or 2.
Star Castle Arcade: Relive classic arcade gaming in a new Transcendence adventure!
Playership Drones (WIP): Acquire more wingmen from Ship Broker. Unfinished, but updated to 1.8 beta.
Drake Technologies (Alpha) for 1.8: If you do not have 1.9 alpha 1...

Tiber
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:41 pm

PM wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:58 pm


Adding missions without addressing what makes current mining an unpleasant experience will not make them more fun. It will just make those missions a drag, especially if volume or damage thresholds are not communicated to the player. Player could wonder why his mining laser is not working when the asteroids are magically resisting the damage in one system while they were not in other systems.
U described the unfunny part in good detail i thought. The boring part of mining is: mining.
I say bypass it by drones or other means, while the player tryst's to fend of thief's borers pirates and whatever comes his way. (aka the player does not do the actual mining part whit an laser)
PM wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:58 pm
Idea: Instead of scanning pods, add ROMs or cubes that scan nearby asteroids for ore, much like map ROMs do for stations in the system. In other words, use (sysFindObject …) instead of a shockwave that cannot hit asteroids to save its life.
Would that just spawn a whole lot of borers?

PM
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Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:51 pm

Finding a deposit alerts outlaw miners and/or ferians regardless how it was found. Finding a random asteroid that has ore but not part of a larger deposit does not alert anyone.
Download and Play in 1.9 alpha...
Drake Technologies (Alpha): More hardware for combat in parts 1 and 2!

Other playable mods from 1.8 and 1.7, waiting to be updated...
Godmode v3 (WIP): Dev/cheat tool compatible with D&O parts 1 or 2.
Star Castle Arcade: Relive classic arcade gaming in a new Transcendence adventure!
Playership Drones (WIP): Acquire more wingmen from Ship Broker. Unfinished, but updated to 1.8 beta.
Drake Technologies (Alpha) for 1.8: If you do not have 1.9 alpha 1...

giantcabbage
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Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:57 pm

Ideas for finding ore
I’m not too keen on the current implementation of the mining computer. When installed it can make asteroid fields look too cluttered with all the unexplored flags. It also turns the process of finding ore into a somewhat boring process of just click on each of these flags in turn

Mining laser
Hitting an asteroid with the mining laser should quickly (i.e. one hit) reveal if the asteroid contains ore or not - this could be with different hit effects or some kind of overlay. In addition to just a binary ore / no ore there should be a bit of information about the concentration e.g.
  • none
  • trace - no ore in this asteroid but there is some nearby (maybe distance < 8 ls)
  • present - asteroid contains ore
Maybe a mining computer upgrade could also display further information such as the type of ore, or splitting present into low/medium/high depending on how much ore is present in the asteroid

Particle detector
Mining device that behaves like a Geiger counter so a high signal indicates the player is close to nuclear, antimatter, or zero-point ores. Range should be around 40 ls.

Maybe the device is also sensitive to ship engines so the player may get a false signal if there are NPCs in the area. Eventually this could be a dual-use fuction - i.e. detecting stealth/hidden ships

MRAD style probes
Should works similarly to the MRAD - player will deploy a series of probes which can triangulate location of ore. Will need some reworking to deal with more than one asteroid. e.g. each probe could return a signal which is based on a weighted function of all ore within ~100 ls
  • A possible computer upgrade option would be to display an overlay over triangulated ore deposits.
  • Probes can be collected for reuse, but can also be destroyed.
  • For a non mining use the probes may also detect ship wrecks.
Scanner Pod
I like the concept of the scanner pods (not excavation ones). Admittedly, I haven’t bothered mining in the recent versions of the game, but I did implement a very similar item EM Thumper as part of the (very) old mission framework which I found was effective for finding ore.
Maybe without the computer upgrade a scanner pod will just highlight or add hit effects to asteroids containing ore. With the upgrade it can show approximate concentration and/or ore type.

The EM thumper was also intended for non mining use:
  • The primary blast was the same as an XM900 so it could be used to bomb stations (could also have a blackmarket option to turn it into a more convenient, but illegal weapon)
  • The shockwave did weak ion / EMP damage - intended to be able to stun weak enemies (raiders, corsair-I)
Mining
Option 1
The mining process could be converted to a type of mini-game, for instance a reverse lander style game (like neurohack) where the single control is “thrust” - shooting the asteroid.
In order to successfully mine the asteroid you have to raise the “height” enough and have a low “velocity”. If “velocity” is too high then it starts producing asteroid ejecta which damages the ship / ore is destroyed. The mining weapon should be something like a low-range relativistic continuous beam so the player can easily control how long it fires. Display of “velocity” could be with venting / fire effects etc.

I did try implementing this in tlisp a couple of years ago and it almost worked. Unfortunately the frequency of tlisp events was too low to get smooth control so it would be hard to prototype or test properly.

Option 2
Tweak the volume / efficiency tables so mining is quicker (closer to old version), and rely on finding ore to be interesting.

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