Greedy Goblin

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Idea: making EVE-mining interesting

Mining is considered the most boring activity in EVE. You just sit and watch floating rocks, pressing F1, F2, F3, sometimes moving cargo to a jetcan or Orca. No wonder that it's botted or done AFK. Let me introduce a system that makes mining a much more engaging activity: the remote mining control module.

The module has two parts, a sender and a receiver. They are matched together during assembly. The receiver is low-slot module, the sender is high-slot. The receiver can be fitted on exhumers and mining barges. The senders can be fitted on everything except exhumers, mining barges, Orcas, Rorquals.

The mining starts with the miner flying the exhumer to the belt and activating the receiver. Doing so ejects him from the ship. No one can jump in the ship, not even himself. The ship justs sits there and switches on all med and low slot modules (which should be tanking modules) as long as capacitor allows it.

The miner re-docks and re-ships to something that has the sender module and returns. As soon as the sender ship gets in 50km, the link is established and the mining ship is acting semi-automatically. If the active ship has asteroids targeted, the mining ship approaches the nearest and starts mining. If the cargohold is over 80% and the active ship has a jetcan, Orca, Rorqual targeted the mining ship approaches it and unload the ore.

The point is that the miner, instead of pressing F1-F2-F3 is flying a combat ship defending the barge. He must be in 50km or the mining stops, and must command the barge by targeting asteroids and cans so it still needs the same active presence as mining now.

Activating the sender module orders the mining barge to warp to the nearest available station and dock. This is the only way to reclaim your mining barge, therefore the barge can only be deployed in a system with a station with docking rights. If the mining barge is warp disrupted, it keeps being aligned to the station and tries to warp until the disruption ends or the ship is destroyed. If the ship with the sender module is destroyed, the mining barge becomes derelict and can be boarded.

Overheating the sender module orders the mining ship to overheat low and med slots. Since it's a command signal, the sender module suffers no heat damage from overheating, the mining barge does.

The deployed mining barge has the same tanking abilities as it would with the pilot sitting in, but the autopilot obviously performs worse than a good pilot, for example if the ship has shield boosters, it runs constantly, neuting itself. Also the receiver unit takes the place of a cargohold expander or mining laser upgrade, making the yield lower. The guarding ship also has to sacrifice a high slot, making such duos weaker than two actual players. However it would still be more engaging than pressing F1, F2, F3.

Via this system mining can be made more interesting to other PvE players, by making belt rats stronger and/or more frequent. The player would be practically ratting, keeping him busy instead of just watching rocks. Of course ratting in a decent place should have much better ratting results, but this would be mixture of mining and ratting. You would have more yield mining only, you would have more kills ratting only, but this way you have a bit of both and the income from the combination can be higher than any of the activities done alone.

Thursday morning report: 41.1B. (1 PLEX ahead, 1.1B spent on LCT, 0.1 on Rorqual)
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Setsune Rin said...

so...basicly the same thing as before, only you sit in a combat ship instead?

its interesting for wont change solo mining, but if a mining op can field a large amount, then they might be able to stay mining regardless of a neutral/hostile presence

still wouldnt recommend it....bombers or smartbombing and all...

but for high sec it makes no difference, the odds of getting ganked at any point of time is low but stacks up in the long run

its still going to be seriously boring sitting there waiting for anything to happen, it will probably just allow you to sit in an orca and have remote repper running to buff the tank a bit

still wont be able to do jack again several catalysts though

evemonkey said...

I sincerely appreciate your continuing efforts to improve the game, this proposal breaks the fundamental premise that only one ship can be flown by one pilot at a time.

Partially related, In the past, there have been stupid people who fly orcas to a belt, eject a hulk from the ship bay and then eject and board the hulk. The opportunistic “pirate” can then fly to the belt and grab the unattended orca.

I guess my primary problem with this is not mechanics, but “gaming lore” including but not limited to: ships get bonuses from the skills of the pilot, these include shield bonus amounts, module run times, capacitor recharge rate etc. it would not make sense to have this all be the same without the pilot in the ship. Also, (I think – would need to work through your proposal a bit more) there is more opportunity for botting with this method than with the current method, which requires the bot to dock the hulk when its cargohold gets full.

A thought: how would mining drones work?

Anonymous said...

I think you are confusing POS and outposts. You can't dock at a POS, it's just a control tower with a forcefield around it. You warp to a bookmark inside the forcefield.
An outpost is simply a playerbuild station.
Your module is not mandatory so the old way of mining without protection but in a system without station/outpost would still be available?

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: obviously you can mine without module the current way.

@Evemonkey: while the pilot is not in the ship, he is remote controlling it from nearby so the bonuses still apply. Just like the skill drone interfacing increase the damage of the drones despite you aren't sitting in the drones.

Hivemind said...

Setsune Rin has pretty much nailed it - the problem with this is it doesn't make mining any more interesting, because the player still has to be sitting in a belt watching floating rocks. The only difference is now they'd be in a different ship type.

It would open up some interesting gameplay options - Hulk + Orca for one-man mining crew, Hulk + Logi for better tank, Hulk + Hulk for more mining yield etc, but it still doesn't address the issue of having to sit in a belt watching mining lasers and if you're specifically after any of the gameplay mechanics you could get by pairing a mining ship with another ship you could just as easily make changes to the mining ship itself; for example rather than allowing a single player to pair hulk and logi you could just buff the hulk tank and leave them in that.

Gevlon said...

@Hivemind: the mantra is that mining is boring but PvP is fun. (don't ask me why, I rather watch rock than camp some gate hoping that a newbie happen to jump in it).

So instead of being in the hulk, he can camp the hulk and wait for gankers to show up.

Fade Toblack said...

Gevlon, you tried mining and have declared never again. Would your proposed change to the game make you try mining again?

Hivemind said...

Ganks aren't common enough for the addition of a combat ship to a mining barge to turn it from watching space rocks into a PvP camp; this is the same reason you get PvPers camping gates looking for fights rather than camping belts in hisec looking for fights.

There's also the problem that suicide ships are already fitted to dish out damage very very quickly with the expectation they'll not have long to shoot, so there's no guarantee that having a combat ship present will actually prevent the gank succeeding, especially not if there's multiple ganking ships involved, and gankers frequently check their targets in advance so if they're not sure that they can take an exhumer with combat cover they'll just leave it be and the PvPer gets nothing to shoot.

As someone who's spent a fair bit of time mining in both high and nullsec and seen gankers at work plus spent some time on PvP ops, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that this isn't going to suddenly make mining attractive to PvPers or other players who are put off by the "Hours staring at space rocks" factor. The only change it would make would be to existing miners, who would certainly find it interesting; like I said, Hulk + Logi is a significant improvement in protection over anything the Hulk can provide on its own. When it comes to making mining interesting for non-miners though, sorry Gevlon but you've missed your target on this one.

Gevlon said...

@Fade: I declared to never LEAD mining ops, not to participate

@Hivemind: If it would make existing miners happier, wouldn't it be a good thing on its own? Also, you just gave me an idea, check last paragraph on the post.

Anonymous said...

how about... teamwork?
usually mining gets better when hanging out with a few friends - and a fake-team by giving you two ships wont add to your fun, youll soon discover that belt ratting is as boring as mining.

what makes mining fun is to do it with a few friends, to socialize during it - get drunk sing songs, talk tell jokes..

Antivyris said...

You are not a miner, so I can understand why you are trying to make mining more 'interesting'. Unfortunately, it's not needed.

The interest in mining comes from the complexity of research leading up to and running the op, not the actual shooting of rocks. The closest comparison is that of the Fleet Commander. From your idea of mining, you'd believe the fleet commander sits in a warfare linked command ship and does nothing but fly around and give bonuses.

To make mining interesting for Miners, CCP simply needs to do what they are planning, introducing Ring Mining which gives us greater chances for profit with a new variety of items. It's never been about shooting rocks, common misconception.

Flick said...

Sorry to say, but this idea is clearly overcomplicated, and violates the basic "keep it simple, stupid" principle.

Automatic warping to station?
Special-case ejecting from ships?
Linking two modules on different ships?
Automatically shuttling stuff into a can for you?
Remote controlling a second ship?

Rule of thumb, if you can't fully describe a module's operation in 1 or 2 short sentences, it's poorly designed.

A much simpler solution which accomplishes the same goal: introduce the mining equivalent of sentry drones. These drones work just like sentries (stationary, manually deployed and targeted) but they have some nominal ore-only cargo capacity (say, 800m3 each, or 1000m3 for ice harvester drones) and only shoot rocks.

They should also take advantage of fitted mining upgrades on the ship, so the pilot has to make some fitting decisions to balance combat ability/tank and mining yield (M&S of course always choosing the latter and getting ganked as usual).

Perhaps they require a single high-slot module to use, but the drones are only 5m3 size so a wide variety of ships could operate them. Think 5m3 drone with attached 800m3 collapsible jetcan. If you scoop drones the ore in the can goes poof.

The pilot then has to multitask between unloading the drones cans, moving the drones from rock to rock (they have relatively short range), defending himself and drones from rats/players, and shuttling ore back to station, as well as remembering to scoop/collect his drones when he leaves the area (of course like all drones they become abandoned and stop working when you leave grid and can be scooped by someone else).

Of course all this would have to come with a rebalance of the yield of ship-mounted mining lasers.

Obvious disadvantage is that it applies only to drone boats, and requires a secondary skill tree be well-developed. But it fits much better within existing frameworks and concepts than your "remote control ship" proposal.

Hulfnar said...

Um, this sounds pretty much like drone mining in a cruiser, only with higher yields. Why not make it simple and ask for some kind of heavy or capital-class mining drone? If you wanted to totally divorce mining from barges, make the drones capable of "piggy-backing" on any large combat ship (no large drone bay necessary) with some penalty for fighting with them on board.

To avoid the drudgery of manually jet-canning they could also be set to jetcan mine automatically. The pilot's main job would be to protect the drones and cans from rats and PvPers.

Rats could be fine-tuned depeding on security level to achieve the appropriate risk/reward. A player could choose -- drone mine in a combat ship or strip mine in a traditional barge.

Anonymous said...

What problem are you trying to solve? Like suggestions for WoW fishing or healing, it is designed to make it more interesting for people who do not mine now and won't mine if this change were made.

Besides the sick thing about MMOs is that it would really unbalance the game if mining were made enjoyable. (Twice as many people mining and selling ore for half the current price does not make the existing miners more money. ) Worse, what if after a Hulkagedon sociopath suicide ranked a Hulk the miner said "I'll have to mine some more minerals to replace it but that is not a problem because I love to mine; it's so fun"? Sad Sociopath.

MMOs put in unpleasant things as shibboleths to differentiate "the dedicated who work hard" and the "slackers."

Besides in hisec can you really ever protect a Hulk? You could have a hundred combat veterans in your fleet and they can't open fire until after the suicide ships launch their one-shot fatal attack.

Anonymous said...

Antivyris, the issue though is that currently, because mining requires so little user input, it's too easy to create botting algorithms for it.

If only for that reason, mining needs to be more interesting and require more user input than it currently does.

Anonymous said...

I'd say something simple, like a hacking-type mini-game that we see often (a mini mind game basically) that involves finding the highest ore concentrations would be good. Add to that the possibility of hitting gas pockets that could damage your ship, and you have an activity that can give higher reward than now, creates some mental stimulus that is currently non-existent, and makes it impossible for botters to run (they'll blow themselves up and/or have very low yields).

Hivemind said...

"If it would make existing miners happier, wouldn't it be a good thing on its own?"

Not automatically, no. Just because an idea makes one group happy doesn't mean it doesn't have costs for others that can make it a poor choice to implement. Just as an example there's the constant argument between PvE carebears who want hisec completely PvP free, lowsec pirates who want to be able to erode the security from hisec and nullsec alliances who want to be able to conquer it, plus everyone else who wants to keep it as it is.

In this particular case the fact that miners would be interested isn't a justication at all though, as they'd be interested in the results rather than the idea. I've never thought while mining "This would be a lot better if I was remote controlling my barge from another ship" and I've never heard that sentiment from other miners either. What they do want is what this allows, which would be options to increase yield or increase tank beyond what a Hulk can currently provide, but those benefits could just as easily be provided by buffs to the mining ships directly without the specific "remote control mining ship while in another ship" setup you're proposing.

With regards to your altered proposal, you're still not doing anything to change the fundamental gameplay of mining, you're just trying to conceal it behind other gameplay. If this combination is more profitable than mining or missioning then it will attract people who simply want to maximise profit, but the same would be true if you simply made mining the most profitable activity in hisec by reducing payouts for missioning or similar. Players who enjoy missioning over other forms of ISK generation because it requires attention and has lots of action (IE things blowing up) will still stick with missions because it provides more of what they enjoy and less of what they don't.

The other problem would be that that change may well drive off existing miners who like it precisely because mining requires little interaction with the game; people who mine because it's something to do while they socialise in chat, read a book, watch TV or do work. While as a gameplay mechanic on its own merits mining is quite boring, there is room within the sandbox for a boring activity.