Mixing Ores in the collector produces Impure ores, makes mining a challenge

Quinc

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Aug 11, 2019
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#1
Mining is something that players will spend A LOT of time on. In fact I have a whole essay explaining why players SHOULD be forced to spend lots of time mining. As I explained in the other post it is important to prevent a player from being able to mine at incredible speed even if they equip an incredible number of mining lasers. An even more important factor is that if a player is going to be spending that much time on a particular activity then it should be good game-play, it should be as interesting, engaging, challenging as possible. My idea of this would be based on the concept of ore purity.
In the asteroid & mining video it is said that you can increase your pay by increasing the purity, that is by carefully separating the two different materials in the asteroid before turning them in. In the "mining job" players have found this to be the case. Completely crushing an asteroid with the blunt end gets you the maximum amount of money but it takes too long. You can also throw the asteroid into the processing area immediately but you get much less per asteroid. The ore collector pulls items floating in space towards itself and puts them into the ship's inventory network. The change would allow for another, detrimental change when different materials get mixed together.

Two new unchangeable (i.e. not changeable by the player) device fields would be added to ore collectors. The first would name that last material that was collected, "PrevMat". The second is a number called "Impurity". When the value is zero the ore collector works as it does currently. When the value is more than zero the ore collector would transform the material into an "impure" version, "Impure Bastium," "Impure Exorium," etc. When the ore collector collects a material that is different from what it last collected Impurity increases. When it collects the same material impurity decreases. Impurity also decreases over time.
An example with a Valkite and Bastium asteroid. "PrevMat" = "Onium" and Impurity = 0. Prev Three units of crushed Valkite and four crushed Bastium are pulled in and they reach the collector in an alternating pattern, B V B V B V B. "PrevMat" changes each time and "Impurity" increases by two each time up to 14. There is one unit of regular Bastium ore in the hold, since Impurity started at zero, there is also 3 Impure Bastium and 3 Impure Valkite. One second has passed so Impurity drops to 13. Over the next two seconds 15 units of Bastium are collected. "Impurity" loses 2 from time and 11 from Bastium matching "PrevMat". There are now 5 Bastium, 14 Impure Bastium, 3 Impure Valkite. Note these numbers could be changed for balance, depending on how punishing Impurity should be.


Of course Impure ores cannot be refined. They would require three new Station only structures, the "Asteroid Silo" the "Ore Purifier" and the "Asteroid Generator". The asteroid silo would silo asteroids but not technically. Each material would have a "Asteroid Silo" version that would only exist in the Asteroid Silo cannot be moved in or out normally. When attached to an asteroid Silo the "Ore Purifier" would convert impure ores into Asteroid Silo ores at an 0.95 ratio. The "Asteroid Generator" would then use the Asteroid Silo materials to generate a new asteroid. This asteroid can then be mined normally in the safety of the station. There would be some ways to control the Asteroid Generator, but the new asteroids would always be of a limited size and have two different materials, inner and outer.
The Asteroid Generator could be combined with other parts for player made "Mining Job Sites" where the owner can pay other players to mine asteroids. An "Asteroid Collector" structure could covert asteroids placed inside of it into Asteroid Silo materials. All of these structyres would be very large and would feature specialized ports to connect to a central Asteroid Silo. Six for the silo itself, one port for the Purifier, Generator, and Collector. Multiple Asteroid Silos could be connected and move materials between each other. When the Asteroid Silo is destroyed its contents vanish.

The "Grinder" would be able to convert objects into stored materials instantly. A box with a specialized tractor array and two onium rollers spinning inward with extreme torque would crush anything small enough to fit inside. Of course it would have a similar problem with impurity. When on object enters it would be deleted and each of the materials in it would be counted. Two material types present would be chosen randomly. Everything in the smaller quantity would become impure. An amount equal to the smaller quantity times "N" would be subtracted from the larger quantity and become impure. Then the impures would be output to the inventory network. Repeat until you only have one material type left and then that is output unchanged. "N" would be changed depending on how much impurity should punish. An object with only one material in it would not generate any impure ores. So a bastium beam by itself would be refined bastium, and a Onium plate by itself would be refined Onium, but if they are still bolted together you would get impure ores. The main use would be with pieces of asteroid, though it can be used for salvage or even as a weapon. The Grinder would allow players to separate out pieces of asteroid and once the materials are separates they could be processed far faster than crushing with the blunt end of the pick axe or even the mining laser + ore collector. The Grinder would probably be implemented separately, but would need something like the above to balance it out.

A harsh alternative would be to simply delete ores that become impure. You would have to bother with "Impure Ore" but there would be less supply for the player made mining job sites. Carrying lots of impure ores has an effect similar to carrying whole asteroids with cargo lock beams. It could be good to make players spend more time out in the asteroid fields and nerfing carrying whole asteroids could help with that.

For this to work asteroids would need to be designed such that there are no large sections of a single material. In larger asteroids the valuable core material would be separated into smaller sections by walls of outer material. Each chunk of valuable ore would be roughly the same size regardless across every asteroid or moon surface deposit, (this size would be about the same of the above Grinder) and they would all be embedded inside of other outer material. In addition larger asteroids might contain more than two materials. It might be a good idea to have procedurally generated asteroids. Recycling ships would be similar to asteroids, except for complicated parts that required multiple materials.

Forcing players to separate out the materials in an asteroid is strongly hinted at in the original asteroid mining video. Making this process a core part of real mining makes the process more engaging as players pay attention to the structure of the asteroid and how to seperate it. It prevents players with a vast array of mining lasers from breaking the economy by bringing a flood of building materials. It even makes mining into a small challenge. A skilled player will mine a bit faster than an unskilled player, espicially with the Grinder. So a feature similar to what I have detailed seems essential.
 
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