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Sorry in advance for the text-wall., but I wanted to think this out as much as I could 

 

I know that the devs have said they never want to automate the mining process, which is respectable, based on their intentions of making sure new players have a steady income source. However, the idea that large organizations in a futuristic scifi game can only mine by hand is a little silly. The idea of fleets of battleships being built by sending out dozens of people to scour the planet with a dinky scanner and a pickaxe is pretty un-futuristic. So, in lieu of automated factories or mining ships, I think that we should have a more advanced version of mining in space. In my idea, this would take the form of asteroids. Instead of the standard "mine asteroids, fill cargo, go home" formula, I think DU should actually require us to break down entire asteroids in an industrial fashion.

 

My idea, in concept, would be to have asteroids full of materials. In my head it would be only one material per asteroid, and they would be much less common than standard worthless asteroids, that way you would still need to search for whatever you need the slow way. You would then need to tow the asteroid to a static construct with the appropriate elements for breaking it down, and over time it will be broken down and provide the materials it is made of.

 

I think this could be a decent compromise. Over-automation and making it overpowered could be prevented or mitigated with certain restrictions and penalties. Some possible examples; the towing device can only be activated on a ship of a certain size, the towing device cannot be on the same construct as any weapons, the towing device requires a certain number of crew members to operate, using the towing device limits the ships speed, etc. Things like this would prevent over automation, force teamwork by requiring separate defense escorts, and providing considerable risk to the towing ship in that it can be attacked en route to the base if it doesnt have an escort.

 

Overpowering would also be mitigated by restricting the element that breaks down the asteroid to a static construct only, and possibly preventing it from being reclaimed or providing a steep penalty to move it. There could also be a limit on the number of refineries per organization. That way organizations would be forced to venture further and further out to find resources, preventing them from turtling in a corner of space forever and hoarding resources (*cough* goonswarm). This would provide a faster method of gathering resources, but would require an organized group of people to do, and over gathering would quickly strip an area of space since resources dont respawn, so resource production would slow down over time because of the longer travel times needed. However, it would effectively be an infinite resource, since space is big, so theres little chance of any group having a monopoly.

 

Let me know what you think, and be gentle. I know the technical requirements would be a challenge, but this is an idea thread, not an official drawing board

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