JabbleWok wrote:For any slow sweep, I'd also suggest the idea of dropping off probes that can take their time to scan a region, and pick them up later. The survey data can be uploaded to your mapping computer, and that way you can survey large regions of asteroid over time even while you're busy elsewhere. As your number of ships grows you could even do all this remotely, steadily mapping out an entire field. The survey probes could be sufficiently encrypted so they're of no use to anyone else who comes upon them. Once you have the information, you can use it or pass it on (for a price, presumably). However, I'd suggest that such scanning should be limited in range, thus requiring repeated probe drop-offs to map out a whole region. It should not be trivial.
This is the kind of thing that I was thinking. Another interesting concept maybe that you can stake a claim to some regions by dropping off beacons that indicate to others in the locality that you have performed a survey and intend to return. Your reputation in the game could then be tied directly to whether people observe these beacons or not. If you're known to have an itchy trigger finger and you fly a serious ship then when you return everyone is as it should be. If you're Joe Schmoe on the other hand...
JabbleWok wrote:IMO such scans should give indications, not concrete results, and finding actual deposits should require dropping a survey team on an asteroid to analyse it. Core samples and all that. Maybe there could be a distinction between droid teams and human ones, with the latter being slower and more expensive but getting better results. In terms of visuals, it could take the form of a vehicle which travels across the asteroid's surface, occasionally putting up a drill rig, until 100% surveyed. Again, such information is marketable. It means that there's a potential niche for those who want to make money by surveying, as well as those who wish to mine themselves.
I agree, but think that you should be able to sell information that is not 100% complete at a discount (or, vice-versa, for a mark-up). So if you jump into a really dodgy system and sneak around avoiding pirates or other nasties doing some surveying but get caught before you can complete, you could still cash in.
There's something that appeals to me about being some sort of fighting surveyor, flying a heavily-armoured mineral lab.