Background / Summary
I backed DU early on and have three accounts - honestly, I tried to give my beta keys away to friends, but no one wanted them. So, I have a character dedicated to mining / refining, one to piloting, and one to industry. All three have some combination of radar, gunnery, and ammo skills. Each of them is around 50M skill points.
My play time prior to Demeter could be classified into three categories, active, passive, and mindless. The active playtime involved building, pvp, asteroid mining, or using the markets. I’m sure most of you reading this know the autopilot time as you scanned an asteroid or traveled to a planet. This is the passive; dare I say AFK time. What I call mindless time includes digging around in an unclaimed tile, you could simply zone out, watch a video, or listen to music. I liked this time, it was relaxing, easy, and still offered progression without any risk.
Prior to Demeter, On average, I spent about 3 hours each day playing DU. About half of this time was active or mindless mining and the other half was some mix of ship building, industry, or solo pvp. Occasionally, I would spend an entire session repairing my ship because...well you dicks with the giant towers know why.
On an average day, I would generate $46M. About half was ground mining and the other half Asteroid mining. This worked out to about $30M / hour of money making activity.
With the advent of Demeter, the mindless playtime has disappeared. My playtime has shifted to only two categories and the overwhelming majority of my playtime is now active and focused on three tasks - calibrating, hauling ore, and picking up ore from the bonus ground spawn. The passive time is almost non-existent and involves flying 60km on the same planet.
After playing the minigame 15 times, trudging out to some random spot to collect between 2 and 4k ore, and then doing my best impression of a garbage man picking up all the auto-ore from 14 containers, I generate on average $10M over 90 minutes or about $6.7M / hour. I could probably generate $30M / hour asteroid mining again but that would be at an opportunity cost of the passive ore mining or I would have to fully dedicate my entire 3 hour play time to money making activities.
The real takeaway here is that my money making active playtime has shifted from scanning and mining to babysitting autominers and picking up ground ore - both steps down in the level of fun and engagement. Sure, I could go back to asteroid mining exclusively and will likely get to that point but for the purposes of this dsicussion, I focused on really exercising the auto mining system.
Additionally, to keep the automiers at a reasonable level (not even optimal) I have had to set timers, reminders, and build a spreadsheet to track the decay so I’m hitting the right autominers at the right times and carefully balancing my calibration charges. While I’m perfectly capable of managing all this, it is quite annoying and doesn’t lead to long term engaging gameplay.
At the current market rates, I’m able to generate about $5M per tile per week. My tiles are probably slightly above average but are all T1 and similar to most of everything else I have seen around Alioth - so nothing special here.
I have seen several posts of people complaining the taxes are too high and hopefully the next section will help show how to make automining profitable.
I put some of the refunded mining skills into the “on deploy” auto mining skills on my main mining character and had all three characters train to 4 4 3 3 (Calibration Charge Optimization / Efficiency at 4 and Improved versions at 3). So, as far as investment into auto mining goes, I’m pretty deep but not outside of what most folks can do with a week of skill training. This gives the three characters the ability to comfortably manage 60+ autominers across 14 territories. A single character with 10 days of training can easily handle 7 territories - perhaps not at a perfectly optimal level but enough for a good profit margin.
While I was fortunate enough to have some scanners already available, I haven't found many territories that couldn't turn a profit with proper management. The tiles that had 500 of one ore are best as you can get 4 miners working that tile with no leftover. But most tiles offered at least 3 full miners and some partial miners. The proximity bonus is key so simply picking a spot that has 7 open tiles will almost always yield a profit.
I currently have 14 T1 Territories with 7 being very bauxite heavy and the other 7 evenly distributed across all 4 T1 ore types. There are 63 autominers currently running with the lowest base rate being 70 and the highest being 125. With the territory bonus, the optimal rate ranges from 126 to 226 per hour with most clustered at 183 per hour.
For production bonus purposes, the tiles are clustered around a center which means one tile gets a 60% bump and all others get a 30% bump.
In order to maintain this, I do need to log in every day so I don’t overcap my calibration charges. My characters generate 5.7 calibration charges per day and if I don’t use them every day, I lose 1.4 charges. With current skills I can refill between 60% and 72% if I get lucky with the minigame. If I don't get lucky, it's around 57% which means I need to calibrate when a mining unit decays to between 30% and 50%. While I may over cap the 100%, I found calibrating when the unit is between 40% and 45% is the safest time. The tracking sheet below highlight the units that need adjusting.
Given the base rate of 125 for most of the miners, I can usually get 4 full miners on a tile and one partial. On the 60% bonus tile I see around 1.1KL / hr of total ore and my lowest tile currently generating around 500 L / hr. Optimal generation is around 700 L / hr on average. I have also found that unless the unit is on a 60% tile, a rate below 90 would be better deployed elsewhere as it relates to spending calibration charges - there is something to be said about convenience so I have a few mining below that rate, but they are lower priority to calibrate.
Each day I spend about 15 calibration points and get an average of 3k bonus ore which works out to 45,000 L in bonus ore or about $2M income. Getting the bonus ore is relatively quick but tedious and feels like a chore. The bonus ore makes up 20% of the weekly income so it is unfortunately required to maximize the tile. Without the bonus ore, I would still see a profit but it would reduce down to $44M / week (still not bad).
Territory Unit: $175k -> $2.45M
Territory Claim Fee: $500k -> $7M
Small Static Core: 12K -> $168K
Basic Mining Unit L: $175K -> $11M
Container L: $300K -> $4.2M
Total Investment: $24,800,000
Time to setup: 8 Hours
I should note I have a ship with two L containers that handles the logistics. This ship costs about $15M.
Nitron Fuel: $70,000 / week
Scrap for those unexpected times: $250,000 / week
Territory Tax: $1,000,000 / week -> $14,000,000 / week
Total Maintenance per week: $14,320,000
Maintenance Time: 90 minutes / day or 10 hours each week
Raw Sales: $72,000,000
Balance Sheet (Week to Week expectation)
Given the initial investment of $24,800,000, I fully covered this investment in 4 days and had a first week pure profit of about $16,600,000.
This works out to a little over $1.7M / Hour of play time in the first week. I expect around $6M / hour of playtime next week
Can’t access the Calibration menu that tells me things like when it was last calibrated and the location of the surface ore pop if I have no calibration charges
Tooltip on Adjacency doesn’t have a % indicator - should be “a 30% bonus” not "a 30 bonus"
The small 50L of ore are physically much smaller than the normal surface rocks that only deliver 20L of ore
The harvest time on the bonus ore is not scaled with the regular surface ore - it takes less time to harvest the 50L and 150L rocks than it does the normal 20L ore
The bonus rocks are labeled incorrectly, they show up as their pure counterparts instead of the raw ore label; Aluminum Rock vs Bauxite Rock
As mentioned in the Q&A, the transition screens on the minigame are painfully slow. Can we eliminate or speed them up?
The current reasonable cap of calibration charges is 9. You can get more by investing more skill points but 9 feels like where most folks will end up given there are far more interesting skills to train. I’d like to see this cap at least doubled if not tripled (or removed all together, why cap it?) If I decide not to play for a few days, I over cap and there is an opportunity loss.
Where can I see my current calibration charges? Or is the Autominer UI the only spot? I’d like to be able to see the current calibration charges on some character screen.
The minigame is prone to RNG which causes a reduction in income for things that are outside of my control. Could we have some of the mining unit skills affect the size off the tools in the minigame so that if I choose to invest points in those skills, I see my efforts less affected by RNG?
The bonus ore is nice for the minigame but it's a chore to go out and collect it. Can we have it simply deposited into the container
The surface rocks offer a performant way to create a small faucet and give new players a way to earn money. However, the way they are designed is both tedious to gather and painful to look at. Could we instead have larger nodes that leverage the mining talents spawn on the surface and offer the same amount of ore just more concentrated? We could even add a piece of equipment that allows me to scan my territory to identify these pockets or leverage the territory scanner.