Lunchtime Post: Mining Revamp

It’s actually approaching 2AM as I write this, but the concept of a lunchtime post is something short and fast enough that I can hammer it out in the hour I have for lunch at work, while I eat, using my iPad’s on-screen keyboard.

Mining is boring. Mining offers no particularly meaningful way to reward being active or paying attention – you can pick a ship that mines faster and requires you to empty your cargo bay more often, that’s about it, and (despite still being low-effort at a few actions every two minutes) the roughly seven-fold increase in activity required clearly isn’t worth it for the ~25% higher yield. There’s even less gameplay involved than ratting or other solo PvE and that’s saying a lot by EVE’s standards. That said, there is value in low effort and even “passive” (man do I hate that word) income, so doing away with that mode of mining shouldn’t necessarily be a design goal, either – properly incentivizing and rewarding a more active style should be.

So, to present an idea that isn’t really exactly new, throw out the notion of asteroids as big chunks of specific ore and instead imagine them as huge blobs of undifferentiated ore, or to keep the thinking simple, blobs of all kinds of ore mixed together. What’s actually in the asteroid would still be based on where you are, of course, so lots of ABCs in nullsec whereas these highsec blobs would be Veldspar and Scordite and Plagioclase, with Omber & Kernite and so forth about as you’d expect to find it now.

One option a miner would have would be something about like what you do now. Point your mining lasers at the rock and just let them run. You get… whatever you get. You might randomly get lucky and hit a node or vein of higher value ore, you might not, but there’s no more effort involved than there is today. Where the income from this low-effort mode should be balanced, well… that’s honestly another debate unto itself. Could leave it where it is and just put the active mode higher, could nerf it, could do both.

The active mode, by contrast, would involve some kind of minigame. Plenty of obvious (and less than obvious) options for that out there, really, but by doing it and doing it well you’d be able to not only target specific ore but greatly increase your actual mining rate, because reasons. Because you’re optimizing the frequency of your laser for the ore you’re after or whatever technobabble you want to go with.

The important thing here is that regardless of the mode you mine in, if you point a bunch of miners at one of these rocks for long enough, it’ll yield the same amount of minerals by the time it’s exhausted whether you’re active or not – the active option just does it much more quickly and so far more profitably. Or hell, you could raise the stakes a bit and present special bonus nodes or “things” in the minigame that let you get some extra minerals (or something else) impossible to get at in the passive mode.

In context here skills probably would just continue to affect mining much the same way they do now, improving your volume intake. Skill and success at the minigame would be a new factor though, and it’d be absolutely possible for an active miner with much lower character skills to nevertheless out-mine someone with high character skills. This would be a good thing and I dare you to convincingly argue otherwise; in the meantime, I’m going to sleep.

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15 thoughts on “Lunchtime Post: Mining Revamp

  1. Please.

    Make the mining minigame a sort of ultra-satisfying crack addict game where you search asteroids with a drone and then pew directly at veins of juicy ore or something.

    I’d never stop mining, and I say that as someone who has never mined in the current state of Eve.

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  2. Before you introduce mini games, could you please look into the number of hours that folks mine in the current iteration? I understand you are trying to make the game more exciting/fun but there are ample folks out there who like the ‘boring’ aspects of Eve and use the game as a social network while doing mindless, repetitive tasks. I’m afraid you’re going to push more of them away by requiring them to be active on keyboard.

    Rewarding active mining but leaving passive mining as is, is fine though. Effort should be rewarded with more/better bacon.

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    • I get the sense that you didn’t really actually bother reading at all, did you? That’s more or less the goal here. The only thing that might, or might not, change is how much value you actually get out of passive mining. That’d depend on whether it had to drop a bit to give more room for active mining to be enough better or not.

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      • I did actually bother reading :)
        My comment was meant as a caution toward making changes to the game that may possibly result in players quitting/leaving. That appears to be a source of concern atm.

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  3. Star Trek Online haves some interesting (and unbottable) mining/harvesting minigames. Albeit they’re meant to run in 60 seconds stretches, as they’re pretty fast paced, it would be an interesting foundation for EVE’s “mining minigame”.

    In “passive” mode, you just sweep whatever is down there. The yield in passive mode would be such that a fully boosted passive T2 bot barely mined as fast as a T1 solo miner does today.

    In “active” mode, a solo miner would be able to mine 10% more than today, and a bit more than currently if boosted.

    This way, active miners would be able to outmine bots and sweep a field under their nose, but without making impossible to find a full field before downtime.

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  4. The more interesting approach would be to remove mining altogether as a player activity – and turn it over to NPC operations. Each of the factions in Empire have specific NPC Corporations. Minerals (eg Minmatar Mining Corporation) can be purchased. Similar to NPC work crews for manufactoring, players can hire an NPC Foreman to increase Constellation ore yield which in turn impacts volume or cost. Or it could be added as a factional unit for a POS. As well as have it some form of upgrade in Null Sov to an Outpost. This approach parallels moon mining with is an even more passive income than asteroid mining.

    The skills required for Mining do not contribute in anyway towards a player’s survival in a PvP game. And yet new players are pointed into this activity by the opening tutorials. If I train turret skills (eg tracking), then it has utility; it applies across 4 levels of size, multiple racial systems. What does astrogeology get someone?

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    • Moon mining means people to fuel and empty the towers, to remove siphons, fleets to defend the moon, etc etc etc. “Passive” is and always has been a laughable label for it. What does mineral mining have going for it that would justify it working that way? This question especially applies in Empire.

      Let’s be clear, I think the idea is awful, but I’m curious how you’re going to defend it along that point.

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      • I personally do not see a difference between the occasional refuel of a tower verses the occasional offload of ore in a barge-hold. Different scales perhaps – but a comparative cyclic check of status. I am sure that this is a completely naive – but having once maintained a tower for Industry; it was minimal effort. Top the fuel when notified, add minerals, remove completed goods and reset the job list.

        Defend the moon? When was last significant threat the moons held by GSF? I would posit that moons are intended as conflict generation – something which has largely failed to “work as intended”. (other than Fountain of course).

        Mining is the most maligned activity in Eve. And yet what is one of the first income generators in the New Player Experience?! It is pretty much a “push button, receive bacon” tutorial. The skills behind mining have no long term merit and do not contribute to any combat or survival ability. Is the NPE merely sustained to sausage factory new players into the receiving end of a suicide gank?

        The idea you have floated here (which is not new) does not address the tedium of mining. It does not have an incentive away from AFK activity. Since the most recent change to barges I have not seen any perceptive change in pilot ship choice or habit. Following DownTime – the belts and gravs are cherry picked – this will not change. Instead of whole asteroids, valuable ores would be cleared piecemeal.

        Turning mining over to a NPC feature would direct players more immediately into a combat oriented play style. There is cross-over for skills between PvE and PvP laying a good foundation for longevity of the player experience.

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      • “Difference between refueling and emptying a barge”

        Perhaps not but there’s no argument there for making mining work that more even way.

        “Moons failing to work as conflict generation”
        Symptom of larger issues with sov and space conquest.

        “Maligned activity”
        Yep – because it’s dull, because it’s boring, which makes it no surprise that people drift towards ships that involve the least activity possible, maximizing vulnerability to ganks.

        “The skills behind mining have no long term merit and do not contribute to any combat or survival ability.”
        Neither do industry & science skills. Are you going to propose we remove them next? Backing away from mining specifically for a moment, who are you and what justification do you have to say gameplay experience should be purely combat oriented?

        “Not a new idea…”
        Well aware, I only acknowledged it myself, having you try to trot it out as though it’s a bad thing is cute.

        “…does not address the tedium…”
        That’s the very objective of the minigame. The goal would be something

        “The belts are cherry picked…”
        Cherry picking is a symptom of and problem because of dramatically differing ore values. Not to say that all ore should be exactly the same value, but a 10-15% difference is very different from a 100% difference. And if it really is an issue it wouldn’t be hard to tweak mechanics.

        So, nothing you said really defended your point, but maybe I didn’t ask my question well. What’s the actual value turning mining over to NPCs? What gameplay benefits does it have, what new gameplay opportunities is it going to create? What justification is there to say that non-combat activities are bad? If they’re bad are you also saying we should get rid of industry and science next?

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  5. I had a thought about asteroids (rarely) dropping a piece of “ancient tech”mthat gives a very small bonus to some part of manufacturing (-1% materials). If you aren’t at your keyboard it will with we be scooped up by someone else or despair in a short period of time.

    Lore could be that that particular asteroid was part of ancient base or something.

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  6. Firstly, I want thank you for being engaging in this discuss, sorry I was not able to respond sooner. I would have liked more time to properly respond, sadly I am not a master of my own circumstance.

    I was not referring to plagiarism of the idea which you admit. However you blog is the fourth time I have seen this particular idea presented. If the previous three iterations were blithely ignored why should another attempt make a difference?

    Thus its remains that mining is an out-dated method is a resource gathering tool, largely unchanged in mechanics since the game’s introduction. And I would believe from the vapourware proposal of ring-mining – no change is expected. All rather disappointing in view of Crius massive update to Industry in Eve. I had always been my view that mining is the entry point of Industry. But Crius impacts everything else except Industry’s foundation – its prime resource gathering.

    Mining is a marginalised trade within Eve, yet is a benign activity. Politically Correct terminology and crass role play act as a poor excuse for miners to be relegated to second class citizens fit only for harassment and ridicule.

    No progress and no welcome – why do we to retain as mining as a player option, when it could be done by NPCs?

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  7. Since 2006, I have hung out with players like myself, multi-account miners, who have enjoyed what we do. I see plenty of people say how mining is so boring, yet plenty of us enjoy it. They say we don’t add anything to the content. Well, I have been bumped by James315 and co., targeted by Goon interdictions and hulkaggedons, lost haulers carrying minerals and exhumers to gate camps, been the victim of a genius attack by wormholers deep in nullsec. Still, there are those who think I can and should be replaced by NPCs. Good luck getting an NPC to pay a subscription…although I guess it could PLEX its own account…

    But, please explain how someone like me is such a detriment to the game that you want me gone.

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