Starting in 1.9 we are improving mining mechanics to add variation in mining ability and thus allow the player to optimize their ship for mining.

We add the following core concepts:

  • The player improves their skills by mining; improving skills gives them a bonus to mining yield and also gives them rank at mining colonies and IMU stations.
  • Different mining weapons are optimized for different asteroid types, allowing the player to either specialize in a particular type or to acquire more mining weapons.
  • Higher level ores need more advanced damage types; this is required to make mining interesting/viable at higher levels (e.g., in Vault of the Galaxy).

Mining Mechanics

The core mining mechanic is simple: Shoot a rock with a mining weapon and sometimes ore comes out. Pick up the ore and sell for a profit.

There are a few complexities.

Chance of Success

A mining weapon has a mining level from 1 to 7. In addition, asteroids have a difficulty level from 0 to 100. The chance that a given shot will extract ore depends on those two quantities:

LEVEL   0   10  20  30  40  50  60  70  80  90 100
 1      8    2   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
 2     20   10   6   4   4   2   2   2   2   2   0
 3     40   26	20  16  12  10  10   8   8   6   6
 4     68   52	42  36  30  26  24  22  20  18  16
 5    100   86	74  64  58  52  48  44  40  38  34
 6    100  100 100 100  96  88  80  76  70  66  62
 7    100  100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

In practice, mining weapons have a mining level of at least 3, which means they will always be able to extract ore. The trade-off is that it might take longer, which means more fuel consumption (or more mining charge consumption).

Asteroid Type & Mining Method

There are five different types of asteroids: icy, metallic, primordial, rocky, and volcanic. In addition, there are four major mining methods:

  • Ablation: Cloud weapons, like plasma torch.
  • blasting: Single-point explosive weapons.
  • drilling: Focused beams, as with mining lasers.
  • shockwave: Area of effect weapons, such as excavation pods.

Each method is appropriate for a different kind of asteroid as follows:

                                ASTEROID TYPE
Ablation    x2 success   -            x.5 success  -            -
            +25% yield   +50% yield   -50% yield   -            -

Blasting    -            x.5 success  -            -            x2 success
            -            -50% yield   +25% yield   -            +25% yield

Drilling    -            -            x2 success   -            x.5 success
            +50% yield   -            +25% yield   -            -50% yield

Shockwave   x.5 success  x2 success   -            -            -
            -50% yield   +25% yield   -            -            +50% yield

Damage Type Requirement

Another consideration is damage type. Higher level ore (i.e., more valuable ore) requires higher level damage types. For each damage type, this is the maximum level ore that can be extracted:

laser              4
kinetic            4
particle           7
blast              7
ion                10
thermo             10
positron           13
plasma             13
antimatter         16
nano               16
graviton           19
singularity        19
dark acid          22
dark steel         22
dark lightning     25
dark fire          25

Mining Progression

  • Gain XP by mining ore.
  • Rank reflects experience mining.
  • Show rank + mining stats at mining colonies and IMU.
RANK                XP   BENEFITS
1. Digger            -
2. Excavator       300   +5% yield
3. Wildcatter      600   +10% yield;
4. Prospector    1,200   +20% yield; IMU: Hire transports to sell ore
5. Miner         2,400   +35% yield; IMU: Recruit miners to attack common enemies
6. Expert Miner  4,800   +50% yield; IMU: Hire prospectors to mine ore
wolfy 5 Feb 2020:

You really need to change the mechanics on the asteroid side too because they create crippling limitations in the ability to mod in advanced NPC and world interactions.

it really shouldnt be that hard to replace the fixed quantity of ore that asteroids have with something like:
asteroid spawns with a 'richness' factor
Higher richness = higher yields upon successful extraction.
If yield becomes low enough, it becomes a chance to fail proportional to how low it is.
asteroid spawns with depletion = 0
as an asteroid is successfully mined, its depletion ticks up
every X number of ticks, the depletion level ticks down by 1 (virtually every weapon with mining 1 or greater should be able to deplete an asteroid faster than it regenerates).
when mining, the richness has depletion subtracted from it
This produces the following mechanics:
Its possible to have NPCs compete for ore without completely destroying the player's ability to mine (and encourages protection of ones claims, claim jumping mechanics for both player and npcs, etc)
There will still be good asteroids and garbage asteroids, and the spectrum inbetween
A highly depleted system will still encourage the player to move on to another system, because it will take time for it to regenerate

wolfy 5 Feb 2020:

Also constant low yields (for low-end mining-capable weapons) is better than rare high yields from a player-happiness perspective. You can in fact do something like 'mining points until next yield' and have some value based on its richness and depletion, and every shot from the weapon increases or decreases this, instead of rolling dice every time (you can do something like multiply it by a random value between 0.5 and 1.5 to generate 'randomness'). This way the player is always guaranteed to get ore after that period elapses, and that period shouldnt be hard to reach for actual mining weapons on an asteroid that isnt severely depleted. Its fine for non-mining weapons to inconsistently produce low yields, since they arent designed for it anyways, and it was likely just stray fire that generated an ore chunk.

wolfy 5 Feb 2020:

That yields vs. frequency bit is important, because with constant frequency, it gives players a reliable feedback mechanism and lets them always feel like they are making some sort of progress, rather than having to rely on sensor items or random luck, or exhaustive (and boring) searching.

An asteroid with medium or greater richness and none to medium depletion should always produce at least 1 unit of ore no greater than 2 seconds apart when being constantly fired upon by a weapon of at least mining 3 (2 seconds is the boundary between 'this is working' and the player questioning if something is working right. If the asteroid is highly depleted, was always garbage, or their weapon is wrong, you want them to question that)

megas 5 Feb 2020:

Unless there is auto-pickup, I would not want a bunch of low-yield ore objects. Docking every last one or two ton rocks from an asteroid in a high-level system that coughed up several dozen ore objects is not fun, and that is just one asteroid out of many.

However, higher frequency of low-yield ore ejecting is good to let player know there is ore in the asteroids. (For my custom mining weapons, if it shoots an asteroid with ore, it lights up regardless if ore popped out because firing at every rock is tedious enough.)

megas 5 Feb 2020:

Question: IMU is locked behind Corporate Command. If player does not include Corporate Command, how will he access the "advanced" IMU-exclusive stuff required to mine high-level systems? (So far, I used Tinker recipes as a way to access such stuff for games without IMU.)

wolfy 5 Feb 2020:

autopickup should definitly be a thing
sitting around shooting at rocks wondering if youre just unlucky or its empty really absolutely completely sucks and is a terrible game mechanic, and is something ive seen many a new player attempt and then give up on mining entirely

wolfy 5 Feb 2020:

Further update on autopickup idea:
Two ways of implementing this:
docking with one ore shows the contents of all ore nearby. This should be pretty easy to do. This one should be in regardless, since it doesnt require an extra item to use.
auto-suction ore vacuum would be a neat item, but should have filter options so you dont pick up garbage ores you dont want (ex, you can filter out titanium)

george moromisato 6 Feb 2020:

@wolfy: I do like the idea of more feedback and more predictability for the player. Let me think about it.

The only reason I didn't do regenerating ore is because I'm afraid it will unbalance the game. It will either make mining a required activity to progress (because it is so lucrative) or (worse) it will force players to grind (wait to replenish and mine again) because it is the easiest way to earn money.

But if you want to do NPC economic, I would add a layer that replenishes asteroids. Maybe a script that runs on a timer and replenishes based on some criteria. In combination with some automated way of NPCs extracting ore (Ferians or whatever) this might work.

george moromisato 6 Feb 2020:

@megas: Plasma torch is in core, and it can mine ore up to level 13. Plus I've added other items to core. In Vault of the Galaxy we'll have to create mining weapons (though that's locked behind a paywall too, obviously).

If you want to create other "advanced" weapons, that's OK too. Some ideas:

  • Tinker recipes make sense to me.
  • Items gained via quest (maybe Ringer/Ferian missions)?
  • Consumable items (like mining pods).
derakon 6 Feb 2020:

As someone who's never been interested in mining (except insofar as I'll "mine" hostile mining ships/stations and sell their ore if it's valuable enough), I feel like this is a lot of simulationist guidelines, but not a lot of gamist guidelines. Like, what are the decisions the player is making, what are the challenges and tradeoffs?

If this is just meant to be "you can trade some time for more-or-less guaranteed income", that's not _necessarily_ a bad thing; there are people that enjoy grinding. But consider these possible tweaks:

* Asteroids as a form of combat training. They don't fight back of course, but they get knocked around when you shoot them, so you have to constantly adjust your aim. I think this would make combat in asteroid fields more interesting as well.

* Instead of docking with ore to loot it, when you blast ore off of asteroids, it comes in the form of smaller chunks of rock that you can fly over to suck them into your hold if you have appropriate devices. You have a limited amount of time to do this before the rock fragments into unsalvageable pieces.

Basically, instead of rolling up to an asteroid, coming to a halt, leisurely aiming at it, blasting until the ore all comes off, then picking up the pieces, you have to be in more constant motion, adjusting aim, grabbing ore before it disappears, and chasing the asteroid down.

megas 6 Feb 2020:

How effective would generic-type weapons be? Totally ineffective? Mine anything like tier 8 damage types?

george moromisato 6 Feb 2020:

@megas: I'm glad you brought that up.

Right now, I hacked it: generic damage type is treated as explore but don't mine. That is, if successful, it reveals whether an asteroid has ore (and what level ore) but it doesn't extract anything.

I use this for the scanning pods.

But this is a total hack and if this interferes with one of your weapons, then I can change it to introduce a new special damage (e.g., miningScan:xxx).

megas 7 Feb 2020:

No problem. I have not made any mining weapons that cause generic damage, nor plan to.