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DevBlog: Scanning & Mining

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(Posted Friday 4th of November 2016 on the DevBlog)

 

 

digging-nov-2016-w560px.gif

 

Some progress on the mining game mechanics

 

 

In this Devblog, we aim to shed some light on a very important part of the future gameplay of Dual Universe: scanning & mining. What follows is our current thinking on these features, as we are currently implementing them. This may still evolve in the future, in particular thanks to your feedback! So, let’s have a look.
 
Scanning is the activity of prospecting to find new resources in the ground on planets. Resources are physically geographically located, they have a span and a size, and they are generated via our procedural algorithms together with the planet as voxel blobs. They will be spread on the planets based on rarity and how important they actually are in crafting recipes. Some rare resources will not be found on Alioth, the starting planet, so you will have to journey out into the universe to locate them.. Each biome will have a set of typical resources associated with it, so prospecting starts by “knowing your biomes” ;) The table below presents a simple rough description of how we plan to stage the levels of difficulty for materials:
 
 
table.png
 
 
 
Our current plans for prospecting are focused on two scanning techniques: radial scanning and directional scanning.
 
Radial scanning will allow you to probe for a given class of material in a given radius: the scanner will be able to show you what percentage of the area you’re scanning is made up of the class of material you are seeking. It’s only partial information. You won’t know where it is exactly, just that 1.6% of the volume of your scanning sphere is filled with metal, for example. A scan “operation” will take some time. Longer scans will yield more precise measurements. There will be a level of imprecision in the exact size of the radius, which you will be able to improve via skills.
 
How does it work? Well, most of the time, the thing you are looking for will not be in the sphere you are probing. So, you’ll see a 0% signal reading. You will then move and suddenly, a signal will show up. You know that your sphere has just “hit” a vein of what you are searching for. At this moment, you will be able to deploy a sphere marker, that will basically help you to visualize the volume where your target material is likely located.. The marker will stay there while you move to another location and start again. By intersecting markers you will start to be able to pinpoint more precisely where your precious material is located. This is the general idea.
 
Now, the exact technique you will use will also depend on the type of veins that correspond to the material you are looking for and what kind scanner you have. Consider these two schema that illustrate different strategies depending on the relative size of the average vein compared to the radius of the scanner (the double circling of the spheres illustrate the imprecision on the radius):
 
 
surrounding-technique1.png
 
 
 
triangulation-technique1.png
 
 
 
These strategies will be important to master, because mining randomly will just exhaust your time and resources and will usually return only very common and not very worthwhile materials. Mining gear will have fixed scanning ranges that correspond to their levels. You won’t be able to adjust these ranges or change the scanning radius. They’re fixed. So, no choice: you need to move!
 
Now, once you start to have a better idea where you material is, you might start to use the directional scanner. This is much more straightforward. The directional scanner will give you the amount of the 4 or 5  most significant materials within a cone of a few degrees in the direction you’ve pointed your scanner.. The max distance will be a level dependent parameter, but will remain relatively small so you need to use radial scanning first to narrow your search area. The signal received for a given piece of material will decrease with distance, which should give you precious “gradient” information to follow. This is roughly how this could look:
 
 
directional-technique.png
 
 
 
In some future expansion we will probably add some more advanced tools for prospectors as well as planetary scale global information to help you judge the potential of newly discovered planets.
 
Our vision for this gameplay (as well as most of the gameplay of Dual) is to make it deep. We want players to be able to develop their own very real expertise on best practice, specializations, etc. We want the activity of prospectors to remain challenging even when you master it, so that a good prospector will have a very high value as part of a team. Now, for easy and abundant materials, it will be possible to find resources much more easily (we are considering a simple local highlight of what is there, so you just “see” it). But for the more rare and uncommon materials, we want it to be rewarding and feel like a real achievement. We provide the tools, but players will have to come up with the best strategies to get to the most precious material. The way you dig for gold as a beginner, and the way you will approach it after 100 hours of being a prospector are totally different. Sure there is a skill tree, but the actual trial and error experience also makes a difference. For a MMO game that is supposed to be played for hundreds of hours, anything not challenging quickly becomes a chore. We want to prevent that.
 
Now, about mining: it will be done via your Nanoformer. The harder the material and the larger the volume collected, the longer it will take. We have chosen an energy-based model where each material is capable of absorbing a certain level of energy before being “mined”. So, you will be able to upgrade your Nanoformer energy throughput to improve your mining as well as various mining skills. For more advanced mining, and possibly some rare materials, dedicated tools will enter the scene, but this might not be available at release, but rather in a future expansion. We are considering the possibility of Mining Units inside your constructs, but this will be in an expansion after release and it will require some careful balancing to make sure standard mining is still an option, in particular for beginners.
 
Interestingly, we imagine that the “profession” of prospector/scanner and the “profession” of miner could very well be separate. Some people will specialize in finding large veins of important materials (and possibly sell the intel about the location), while some others will specialize in mining it, focusing on a mining site for several weeks or months. When you exploit a deep vein, you will need to install things like lifts, vehicles, containers, and clean wide shafts to ease material and dirt evacuation. Maybe even factories close to the vein to transform the ore into pure material. This differs from most other games where scanning and mining are usually very similar and the activity of mining and scanning alternate frequently as you jump from one asteroid to another, or one mining spot to the other.
 
We hope you enjoyed this short intro and, as usual, we are very excited to hear your feedback and ideas! We are developing this at the moment, so it’s a good time for the community to share your thoughts and influence what is going on!
 
 
JC Baillie,
Project Lead.
 

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Sounds good, good thing it isn't like SE where it just tells you where it is exactly. Scanning for rare (>500m depth) metals is probably going to involve a lot of probe shafts to get to the right level for them

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Very nice information. But I also would like to see something like:

 

● Nanoformer battery (how long player can dig), which can be improved (same as power of nanoformer). And not with 5 sec recharge.

● Ability to restore ground. This could be very useful. If you removed too much ground by an accident or maybe when somebody did underground dig to your base. To make blocks could damage interior of surrounding enviroment.

●Defence module which will increase power needed for digging (making "shield" of basic ground similar as rare mineral, as example). This could really help against underground abuse. No need point on TU, it is very expensive and give many other opportunities (which could be unnecessary and have no need for player).

 

P.S: Not sure what .gif image shows, but I hope it won't looks like "God Hand", and we will get some tools for scan and dig.

 

Thanks,

Archonious

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P.S: Not sure what .gif image shows, but I hope it won't looks like "God Hand", and we will get some tools for scan and dig.

probably a placeholder, as it is the same thing used when placing blocks

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Sounds good, good thing it isn't like SE where it just tells you where it is exactly. Scanning for rare (>500m depth) metals is probably going to involve a lot of probe shafts to get to the right level for them

 

I imagine that scanning will probably involve a lot of underground exploration and test digs. I'm really glad to hear that there will be incentives to dig down into the planets.

 

I hope there will be giant veins so there could be a community build on them instead of a "mine it and move" mindset.

 

This is what I hope too. One of my biggest worries with this game is that if the rate of resource depletion not being properly balanced and, as you say, leading to a "mine and move" mentality. I would love to see mining sites turning into little towns and outposts.

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digging-nov-2016-w560px.gif

Nice to see that in only a month since the Kickstarter the graphics have really improved. The dirt looks a lot nicer and the mining really feels like you're blowing stuff up now thanks to those rocks that appear.

 

Radial scanning will allow you to probe for a given class of material in a given radius: the scanner will be able to show you what percentage of the area you’re scanning is made up of the class of material you are seeking. It’s only partial information. You won’t know where it is exactly, just that 1.6% of the volume of your scanning sphere is filled with metal, for example. A scan “operation” will take some time. Longer scans will yield more precise measurements. There will be a level of imprecision in the exact size of the radius, which you will be able to improve via skills.

Interesting ideas which should promote team gameplay. Does NQ have any thoughts about how long these scans would be?

 

I personally feel like it should be somewhere long enough so that it requires a team even for the triangulation technique, but not so long that you're bogged down on a small corner of the planet just trying to find something. Presuming that these radii are only a few hundred metres, setting these up shouldn't be in the realm of three minutes but shouldn't be taking days either.

  

In some future expansion we will probably add some more advanced tools for prospectors as well as planetary scale global information to help you judge the potential of newly discovered planets.

This should take long enough so that a settlement will spring up there as a gamble that the planet has good resources. So, weeks, potentially. Short enough that the planet can't be scanned regularly and long enough so that people don't just try to move on to the next system.

 

So, you will be able to upgrade your Nanoformer energy throughput to improve your mining as well as various mining skills.

Will Nanoformer energy be linked to other parts of the game, like the building of constructs?

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Amazing! With the complexity of simply mining ores, the game will therefore, present an opportunity for more intricate jobs and a working economy. 

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This is really awesome. I'd like to see something like drills for constructs (so you can set up a big drill to dig a tunnel through the vein, which mines slowly but semi-automated) and big scanners for ships (more accurate, bigger radius etc.)

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That all sounds great to me! I mean I certainly don't have better ideas.

 

I know biomes were mentioned as a hint to finding resources (so, whole planets then?), and it was also said that the starter world is missing some resources. I know that was all said, but I still want to say that I think it's very important that not all reosurces are found on all planets. Something that murders No Man's Sky's variety is that the same resources are found in the same form on every planet. When this is done, it really makes it hard to convince your brain that a planet is unique. As such, I am suggesting that you really ensure that simply the locations of these resources are diverse, especially on a planet-to-planet basis. It will make searching for them far more interesting and rewarding.

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This is really awesome. I'd like to see something like drills for constructs (so you can set up a big drill to dig a tunnel through the vein, which mines slowly but semi-automated) and big scanners for ships (more accurate, bigger radius etc.)

 

Yes, make a planet unique by his sort of athmosphere, so by his sort of ressources. Make variety on planets, not only for planets but for the whole aspects of the game. Find this sort of ressources specially by this sort of planet. Find this sort of artifact in this or this sort of planet. Make a hierarchy on planets. Make variety on unity. I hope that's what they plane and even better. :) 

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These seem like some really great mechanics but I have a question. How can we scale up this process? The scanning I understand and it makes for a whole prospector type of player but assuming you have a large team working on this no where is it mentioned of Construct level equipment. This means no mining vehicles, no scanning probes we are supposed to dig out everything by hand? I personally would much rather be able to scale up the process. I mean if I want to build a capital ship depending on the resources required I would need a veritable slave army before it becomes viable. I'd be a lot more interested to know what sort of Elements are going to be in the expected launch because while the mechanics are fine how does this allow us to develop a more advanced system? All this shows us is how to mine and scan by hand and ideally I don't want to be stuck doing that forever.

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