Now that we've had an early look at what scanners might be like, and since we've been told mining lasers are out, replaced by "transfer units," what does all this imply for creating a mining empire in LT?
More specifically, given what (limited) things we (think we) know now, what will this part of the game feel like? What will a typical game session be like for a player who wants to do a bit of the old Ore Processing Shuffle?
How much of a role should the following activities play in mining?
- Planning: Reviewing your production goals, studying the list of available resources, and deciding what to hunt for (or just winging it)
- Prospecting: Scanners for sure... but what about consumable probes? sample-taking devices? detailed mining assay devices?
- Extraction: Activate transfer unit, wait until hold is full. Should this be more active gameplay? Should some separation of base ore be possible here to minimize taking up some cargo hold space with trash?
- Hauling: Does a full hold slow you down, or burn more gas? Can what's in your hold be scanned by other ships? Can they take some or all of what's in your hold? (How?)
- Trading: Just sell your ore straight-up? Can you haggle, or otherwise allow character (RPG) abilities to affect sales price? If different places offer different prices, how much variation should there be in those prices, and under what conditions? Can you just give all your ore at no cost to your own factories if you own some?
- Refining: Too complicated to include in LT? Should "things" you can mine be directly convertible to products, or would a refining minigame be appropriate? If some raw resources can be refined, what should they be refinable to?
- Manufacturing: Blueprints to objects... but will blueprints call for specific input resources? How detailed will blueprints be? Will it be possible to customize the output of a blueprint, either before or during a manufacturing run? What's the limit (heh) on how many of some product can be manufactured if you have a blueprint and functionally infinite resources?
- Distribution: How do manufactured products get to "consumers"? Must real NPCs buy products, or can they be purchased by notional (simulated) groups of NPCs? Do products needs to be shipped to sales points? (Is there a viable gameplay role as a "superstore" selling products manufactured by NPCs?)
- Research: What kinds of research can improve mining? Better scanners... and what else? How much better can everything supporting mining get?
- Contracts: Why mine? Can you choose to do it just for yourself? Or will it clearly be more advantageous to take a contract to mine for someone else? At what point can you start to offer your own mining contracts? How far can you go down that path?
- Factions: Will mining-only organizations emerge? Or is factional mining only cost-effective when it's just part of a larger production-focused organization?
It's worth noting that the Commonly Proposed Ideas thread has links to a number of mining-related subjects. Those are worth reading. (Also, is anyone updating that thread any more?)
In light of recent Joshisms, though, I thought it might be interesting to revive an existing thread on the mining process to include the new scanning information, and to open it up to other gameplay systems that could affect mining-as-gameplay.