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Resource Mining - Impressions and Questions

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First of all, I get it's the second day of release and I'm sure many hotfixes and content updates will come in the near future, however I wanted to address my impressions of resource mining.

Like many others, I enjoyed using Kethane as a way to create some purpose in the game and tackle the challenges of extraterrestrial refueling. When I heard Squad was introducing this concept into KSP, I just assumed they would essentially incorporate Kethane into the game.

There are a few things I thought weren't as they should be, as compared to Kethane;

Kethane orbital scanners survey the planet in real time, assessing each cell in a grid for deposits. KSP's scanner simply turns on and magically the whole planet is scanned.

Kethane had parts of various sizes for different jobs. For instance, I liked to set up a station in Mun orbit that had fuel and kethane tanks, as well as a large converter. Meanwhile, my lander had a few small tanks and a small converter, so it could top up before ascent. This system allowed me to efficiently ferry kethane from the surface where it could be converted into the station's storage tanks, allowing passing ships an easy way to refuel.

Stock KSP only has a large converter, making this system near impossible, as the lander needs to be much larger to compensate for the extra weight. The drills themselves are fairly bulky as well, but I guess that can't be helped, they do look pretty cool.

It doesn't make sense to me that the overlay is only visible when controlling a spacecraft with a scanner module or from the tracking station. Sure, this makes sense in real life, but this is KSP. Kethane's overlay toggle is simple and it works.

Regarding this next one, I'm not sure if it's something weird with Squad's implementation or if I'm just doing something wrong. I scanned the Mun and found quite a dense deposit, above 70% or so cutoff. I landed, deployed my two drills and got to work. It took them two whole years to fill a single large ore container. Their information showed something like 97% overheat, 2-3% load and a rate of maybe 0.001. Was this because this particular landing site wasn't actually above an ore vein, or were the drills actually overheating, causing them to slow down?

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Can you provide some more details on this? Ideally on the tracker (including screenshots)?

The design is that resources should retroactively show - i.e. once a planet is unlocked, you do not have to do subsequent scans to have modded resources light up.

Well my testing on a clean install has shown it to be working correctly, I'll have to do more testing ot find what combo of events created what I experienced, working on replicating.

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Hey RoverDude, do you think perhaps in a future patch Squad could add a tutorial scenario for the resource harvesting? It seems to me that the way the stock handles the multiple levels of scanning and resource concentration might be a bit confusing without any real manual haha.

I agree with your take on the matter, namely concerning the scanning. I suppose some people really do want to waste time flying a probe over every inch of a planet scanning it, but I have to imagine that the vast majority of players do not. And coding in the background ore collection is glorious. Another thing I would be interested in seeing is if there might be an experimental toggle added to do general resource processing in the background. Not strictly power, perhaps, but general resource processing would be highly highly useful for the LS mods. Instead of timers and what not, just have it drain the resource tanks.

Anyways as for the resourcing in general, for me personally I played with it a bit and then re-installed Karbonite ;P

Actually, Bob Fitch put up a tutorial on this:

Well my testing on a clean install has shown it to be working correctly, I'll have to do more testing ot find what combo of events created what I experienced, working on replicating.

Thanks!

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ISRU: I'm not understanding what problems are left as a challenge...

or, I'm looking at the wrong values. It "just seems to work" now.

With or without lvl5 engineer, (sandbox), on Kerbin's runway, the convertor not specially heatsinked.

I'm seeing ISRU part temp start around 288 and top out around ~310 after about ~700 ore units have been processed.

(via time acceleration)

Liquid Fuel gauge shows a rate of -.42, until tanks fill up.

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In 1.0.2 your biggest change is a significant reduction in ore production based on engineer level.

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ok... I should learn2reed. I actually did read the patch notes, but it goes in one eye and out the other, sometimes.

EDIT:

Fuel Cells don't cooperate with the Engineer's report:

It says fuel cell parts store electric charge, but nothing on the craft produces it. From the other direction, fuel tanks report no consumer on the craft.

Edited by basic.syntax

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So, according to the patch notes, there is no overheat mechanic at all anymore? So heat's now totally irrelevant for ISRU? Or does the drill just shutdown at overheat rather than throttling?

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So, according to the patch notes, there is no overheat mechanic at all anymore? So heat's now totally irrelevant for ISRU? Or does the drill just shutdown at overheat rather than throttling?

I did some limited testing to try and get the drill to overheat but so far it didn't overheat. As far as I can tell you need an engineer to increase effeciency.

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Yea, they don't overheat anymore. I actually liked the heat. I just didn't like being given nothing to deal with it. I think maybe a small reduction in heat and the addition of stock heat sinks and radiators would have been much easier to swallow than nothing at all. Hear is hoping that this is just a stop gap until we get something like that in the future. Real space crafts do require radiators. So I didn't find the heat mechanic to be that much of a stretch.

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Yea, they don't overheat anymore. I actually liked the heat. I just didn't like being given nothing to deal with it. I think maybe a small reduction in heat and the addition of stock heat sinks and radiators would have been much easier to swallow than nothing at all. Hear is hoping that this is just a stop gap until we get something like that in the future. Real space crafts do require radiators. So I didn't find the heat mechanic to be that much of a stretch.

Yeah... I enjoyed the concept of heat as another build concern, but can accept that it wasn't working terribly well as things where.

I hope it returns once we have radiators... As they are also needed for the LV-N.

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I really wonder why they removed the heating mechanic. Turn it down a bit, yes please. But removing it? Between this and the not-so-deadly reentry in 1.0.2, I don't see the point for thermo at all. Which is a pity, because it is a well thought-out and generally cool mechanic. I'd like to see it used more.

Radiators would be nice, but I can work with solar panels for the time being.

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at 1000x time warp resource gathering almost completely ignores power consumption. Tested using a vessel at night, drill running and at 100x time warp my power dropped to 0 in about 5 seconds, at 1000x timewarp it dropped to 0 in about 20 seconds and I gathered lots of ore and converted it to lx/o at the same time. Not sure if that is a bug or intentional.

From patch notes: * Replaced overheat mechanic of the ISRU and drills with a skill-based mechanic.

What exactly does that mean? I noticed if I put 3 engineers in a pod on a drilling rig I can get .06 vs .002 on a probe drill rig. Does this scale up with more engineers? Say I put 6 engineers on a drill rig, will I get substantially more ore recovery?

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I think overheating mechanic was not really a good one. First of all, It's hard to believe that the drill would heat your entire craft to 700K which is very hot... And second, it didn't look too fun on streams honestly :/

1000x timewarp - same happened to me. And for number of the engineers, I think Dude said that it just cares about the highest rank of all the engineers in the vessel.

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Dont they mine/refine "of screen" or did I get that wrong?

I should have played with them in sandbox ...

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I really wonder why they removed the heating mechanic. Turn it down a bit, yes please. But removing it? Between this and the not-so-deadly reentry in 1.0.2, I don't see the point for thermo at all. Which is a pity, because it is a well thought-out and generally cool mechanic. I'd like to see it used more.

Radiators would be nice, but I can work with solar panels for the time being.

at 1000x time warp resource gathering almost completely ignores power consumption. Tested using a vessel at night, drill running and at 100x time warp my power dropped to 0 in about 5 seconds, at 1000x timewarp it dropped to 0 in about 20 seconds and I gathered lots of ore and converted it to lx/o at the same time. Not sure if that is a bug or intentional.

From patch notes: * Replaced overheat mechanic of the ISRU and drills with a skill-based mechanic.

What exactly does that mean? I noticed if I put 3 engineers in a pod on a drilling rig I can get .06 vs .002 on a probe drill rig. Does this scale up with more engineers? Say I put 6 engineers on a drill rig, will I get substantially more ore recovery?

It adjusts output rate based on the single highest level engineer on the vessel. I would like to see heat generation back at some point, but under a different mechanic.

Dont they mine/refine "of screen" or did I get that wrong?

I should have played with them in sandbox ...

Correct

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I would like to see heat generation back at some point, but under a different mechanic.

Definitely need a different heat mechanic, the one we now have working rather backwards to reality. However, again the basic question is, why bother with heat at all? If heat is a potential problem, then solutions will appear, maybe in stock and certainly in mods. Everybody will use these, effectively eliminating heat from the game except in the building phase of the ship. Once it leaves the VAB, the player won't think about heat again, and the only thing that will be happening is wasted CPU cycles and RAM space as 1 module makes heat and another module eliminates it, all in the background.

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I have a question regarding NBS and how to control it. So i put NBS in polar orbit and open the window with the image. And it shows me instantly what is below it? Then if I press the refresh button the previous image is gone and new one is in place? There is no way to review them later on? What does resource button do on NBS?

Here is what I like to see in future update regarding NBS. To add an option to tag a spot where the mouse stands in the current image and place that tag to be visible in the map view. So if i want to visit multiple areas with rover and surface scanner I cover them properly and plan the driving route easily.

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I have a question regarding NBS and how to control it. So i put NBS in polar orbit and open the window with the image. And it shows me instantly what is below it? Then if I press the refresh button the previous image is gone and new one is in place? There is no way to review them later on? What does resource button do on NBS?

Here is what I like to see in future update regarding NBS. To add an option to tag a spot where the mouse stands in the current image and place that tag to be visible in the map view. So if i want to visit multiple areas with rover and surface scanner I cover them properly and plan the driving route easily.

The NBS doesn't record anything so if you see a good spot on the image, write the coordinates down on a piece of paper, take a screenshot of it, whatever.

I agree it would be nice if there was a way to save such info in-game. I believe there will be once the SCANsat mod gets updated to 1.0, if it hasn't been already.

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This is good because it means a different niche is filled and so gives the players a different option. The one-click to scan the entire planet is no bad thing...

BEWARE! Many of us who play this game want as "real deal" as possible... This is the kind of game that attracts many people who has an actual interest in aviation, aerospace technology, astrophysics or astronomy, and some who actually do have contact with these in real life either working in those fields or considering studying those fields, one day, so the "hard, naked reality" bit is always welcomed here, and the shortcuts are always dangerous, unless you have a switch where you can turn them on or off, In which case it will appeal to everyone, which is always the safest route.

so, I'd say, opting for slow scanning via polar orbit is closer to the real deal, want faster? switch it off :), but leave the decision to the player, as often as possible.

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Definitely need a different heat mechanic, the one we now have working rather backwards to reality. However, again the basic question is, why bother with heat at all? If heat is a potential problem, then solutions will appear, maybe in stock and certainly in mods. Everybody will use these, effectively eliminating heat from the game except in the building phase of the ship. Once it leaves the VAB, the player won't think about heat again, and the only thing that will be happening is wasted CPU cycles and RAM space as 1 module makes heat and another module eliminates it, all in the background.

I feel like you could make the same argument for electricity. Something requires it? Just add parts that generate it. The challenge comes in designing a vessel that generates electricity to meet your needs. Similarly, managing heat should be about making sure you have enough radiators for the task. Drilling and refining should generate various amounts of heat for various resource concentrations to make this meaningful.

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I feel like you could make the same argument for electricity. Something requires it? Just add parts that generate it. The challenge comes in designing a vessel that generates electricity to meet your needs. Similarly, managing heat should be about making sure you have enough radiators for the task. Drilling and refining should generate various amounts of heat for various resource concentrations to make this meaningful.

I do make the same argument about electricity. Used to be, crewed ships didn't need any, just probes. Then when crewed ships started needing it, you had to slap on a few OX-STATs and radial batteries and that was that. All of which has zero positive effect on gameplay and results only in higher part counts and reduced computer efficiency thanks to one pointless module consuming and another pointless module creating EC in the background. It's just bad game design. The only direct effect it has on the player is to create a "step-and-die" trap for the unwary. Same applies to heat.

And, no offense, but your idea of heat varying with the resource concentration is seriously bad. First off, the heat mechanic is already bass-ackwards to reality. Now you want to make its accuracy even worse? There is no real-world justification for this, and heat is supposed to be (but utterly fails at being) a "realism" factor. There is no way to make this "meaningful".

Drilling heat comes from friction. Friction comes from downforce. So there are MUCH better grounds for making heat vary with experience of the operator, who knows not to force the machinery but let it work at its own pace. But OTOH, everybody knows that from drilling holes in wood around the house., so less heat from more experience isn't really a good idea, either.

And besides, the drill is obviously based on oilfield equipment. Oilfield drills have a built-in cooling mechanism (drilling mud) and can't function without it, because the circulating mud is also what brings the cutting up out of the hole so the bit can make forward progress. Further, the pressure of the circulating mud is what keeps the hole from caving in above the bit. So you can't have a functioning drill without its built-in cooling mechanism, so there's no realistic need to add cooling parts OR to worry about heat at all when drilling.

And finally, no drill in KSP (stock or mod) goes very far below the surface--they simply don't have anywhere near the amount of drill pipe necessary. So when you're "drilling" in the game, the actual drilling only lasts a few seconds---all the rest of the time is pumping out product or, more likely letting it flow into the tanks by itself due to the inherent pressure of the reservoir, as the rockets don't carry oilfield pumping units. Thus, no energy expenditure, no heat accumulation, for the vast bulk of the time it takes to fill your tanks.

So, to be "realistic" and "meaningful", heat should not be a factor in acquiring ore. Adding heat to this isn't realistic because a functioning drill wouldn't have that problem in real life, and nothing blatantly unrealistic can every be "meaningful" except as a needless aggravation.

Now, heat for refining ore into fuel, maybe. This could well be an exothermic reaction and exothermic reactions cause many disasters in real life chemical plants (check out the USCSB channel on YouTube for some great examples). But what you learn from such studies is that the plants were designed to deal with the heat they produce and the explosions only happened due to lack of maintenance, lack of training, or deliberately improper operation, or some combination of all of these. Still, here is a place where maybe having to do heat management could be both "realistic" and "meaningful".

But even then, somebody will make a mod that solves the problem and we're back to a rocket with more parts and the computer wasting resources while providing exactly nothing that enhances gameplay. People want to fly rockets, after all, not stare at gauges and tweak valves to keep everything in the green. So again, the bottom line is, not a great game design decision to force players to worry about heat.

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Plenty of things require more than token amounts of electricity - drilling, resource conversion, science lab research, ion engines, not to mention dozens of applications that exist in mods. Managing electricity in terms of quantity, rate of generation, and vessel design is non-trivial.

If resource concentration is low, you'd need to do more intensive drilling to reach the ore which would create more heat. It would incentivize players to find high concentrations with the scanners instead of just time skipping. Engineer skill can also be a big part of the mechanic; I have no objection to that (and it makes plenty of sense since drilling into an asteroid is obviously massively more complex than making a hole in a piece of wood). Either way, it's the same essential concept as solar panels in how you need to manage heat.

As for your love affair with realism, please tell me all about how you never use reaction wheels in your space program.

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I'm just going to jump in here to say that I'm a huge fan of instascan. I've played with Kethane (many nights were spent running scanners at midling time warp) and Karbonite (scanning felt unsatisfying) and the first time I saw insta-scan, I thought that whoever thought it up was brilliant. I really appreciate the amount of effort you folks put into the design of resource extraction and I look forward to the improvements and mods that will inevitably come.

There's been a lot of (sometimes pretty harsh) criticism in this thread, so I'm just going to leave this here to balance things out a bit. Know that lots of us really appreciate what you've done, Roverdude.

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I'm just hoping they're expanding on the whole ore/mining thing sometime, allowing us to add production fascilities to our bases to create parts, eventually allowing us even to build entire launchplatforms, rockets and planes at our bases. Colonization!

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Apologies if I'm missing something obvious, but am I misunderstanding how scanning works? The scan map overlay makes no sense to me:

- Have a planetary scan of Minmus working

- Have two ships landed on Minmus

- Each of the landed ships has a surface scanner and has scanned its biome, so I should be getting reasonably accurate results, right?

Except that the one that I carefully landed right in the middle of a brightly-glowing overlay patch is only seeing 0.92% ore, whereas the one that's sitting in a totally un-highlighted area of the map is reading 5.5%.

What am I missing, here?

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Have you used the Narrow Band Scanner to see exact concentrations near you?

The instant scan just shows averages per biome, if I understand correctly, while the surface scanner shows the location at the pinpoint your at; the NBS shows the local area so you can find better concentrations nearby.

Edited by Wintersdark

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