Mining Profession

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As this will be one of the professions many new players gravitate toward, here’s a quick overview of the mining profession.  It was one of the first career design documents published and is supposedly representative of their philosophy for all careers.  Which is that career associated tasks contain activities that require skill, dext, rity and intelligence, where mindless repetition or idle monitoring are explicitly avoided.

This is after all, deep space and although a career isn’t combat oriented there’s danger present.  In the case of mining, the more valuable materials will reside in dense asteroid fields that must be piloted through without suffering serious damage to your ship.  While mining, you can encounter compressed pockets of gas and other volatile materials that can explode in the presence of excessive energy or detonate from seismic activity.  In other words, this isn’t an auto-pilot profession and careless players can die.

 IN THE BEGINNING

Visiting your local Trade and Development Division (TDD), which serves as the marketplace for commodities, can provide a sense of what’s in demand, at what price and where.  Once you’ve decided on what you want to attempt to mine, it’s time to decide between going freelance or acquiring a contract for those materials from a NPC run corporation.

There are benefits and risks of working freelance.  On the good, you are your own master.  You set your mining schedule and pace.  You may be able to sell your cargo for a higher than average price based on market changes.  However, the opposite is also a risk.  By the time you return with your cargo and list it for auction, the prices may have decreased.

If a committed payout is preferred, working on contract is the better option.  You know exactly how much you will be paid for your cargo.  However, this isn’t completely without risk.  If during the excursion your ship suffers damage OR unforeseen setbacks delay your return or reduce your cargo, your reputation will take a hit. In the end, you are paid less than you expected because of your performance and that performance has a lasting impact on future employment.

LOCATING THE RIGHT ASTEROID FIELDS

After deciding between freelance and contract, it’s time to locate asteroids that contain the materials you seek.  Every solar system will contain a variety of public information on major asteroid fields. It’s probably best to head into the known when you’re starting.  However, don’t expect to find the more lucrative materials there.  If they existed in that location, they’re likely long gone.  However, it’s still a good place to start mining common materials.

Freelancers wanting to maximize their profits can opt to spend money on an Information Broker.  This is someone who has knowledge about asteroid fields which aren’t public.  They either bought the information from someone else or obtained the coordinates through exploration and are using that information to provide a service.

Lastly, you can explore the galaxy yourself.  This will be the most time-consuming approach and not likely to be feasible for contract work that contains deadlines.  However, combined with an emphasis on exploration, a freelancer could turn an excellent profit by harvesting from isolated/unknown locations and/or selling the information to an Information Broker. You could also be an explorer and information broker yourself but we’re here to talk about mining. *Smile*

GETTING THE JOB DONE

Mining consists of multiple roles, and is done using a ship configured for mining, such as the Orion.  The more proficiency you have with performing a role the more efficient the results, which ultimately impacts effort versus profit.  Note that any or all of these roles can be performed by NPCs.  The NPC’s proficiency will be commensurate with their fee.

As for solo play as a miner, the design document leads me to believe that it’s not possible to mine completely solo – without players or NPCs. Roles that happen sequentially can be carried out by the same person.  However, there are activities that take place simultaneously and as such, require multiple bodies.

The pilot is responsible for safely navigating the ship to and within targeted asteroid fields.  This may not be as simple as it sounds.  Rarer materials will be located in dense fields which require nimble navigation skills to avoid costly ship damage.

A scan operator is responsible for identifying an asteroid’s composition.  This is accomplished by injecting remote material analysis packages (RMAPs) into nearby asteroids. The telemetry data is sent to the pilot and scan operator. Once a site is selected, the optimal injection orientation is displayed.  The scan operator launches and manually controls RMAP-equipped missiles used to impact the asteroid at the correct location to expose the materials you want to mine.  Actual mining efficiency is impacted by the accuracy of the scan operator’s efforts to expose the asteroid’s components.

Next up is the beam operator who is responsible for wielding the mining beam affixed to the ship’s robotic arms.  They have direct control over beam output and if they’re good, are able to precisely extract materials.  Their control of the beam is also critical to safety, as an injection of surplus energy into volatile materials can cause explosive chain reactions.  The result of such a mistake can range from ship damage to the loss of the ship and its crew.

The cargo operator is the sifting and pick-up role.  Mined materials are NOT automagically deposited into your vessel.  The cargo operator monitors the fragments being excavated by the mining beam and interrogates them using an integrated Fragment Scanner. Fragments of interest are directed into a ship’s input port.  The input port houses a crusher that pulverizes the fragments into rubble and stores the contents into cargo modules.  The skill of this person also impacts the value of your payload. They can miss important fragments or be so slow that they impact your efficiency, putting you behind schedule for contract deliveries.

If your ship is equipped with a refinery, the refinery operator will process raw ore into its purified forms, ejecting waste elements out into space.  Purified materials consume considerably less storage space which allows your operation to continue for extended periods of time before it becomes necessary to dock and unload.

Whew, that’s more involved than the mining I’ve done in other games such as EVE Online. I have no intention of mining in Star Citizen.  Even in this interactive model, there are other things I’d rather do to earn a living.  However, I’m sure this is going to appeal to a lot of people which is why I wanted to provide a short overview of the mechanics involved. Here’s a link to the design document for a more detailed look at the profession.

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Passenger Transport & Genesis Starliner

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OH MY GAWD, they had me at profession…

For a long time now, I’ve had a vision of the role I wanted to play in Star Citizen. I saw myself playing out a female version of Mal from Firefly. My love for FF is undeniable.  I create and sell FF inspired jewelry. On some level, this role would also mirror my career in EVE Online, which existed long before there were salvage specific ships available.

In EVE, salvage appealed to me because I liked the freedom to engage random rats and salvage their ships while exploring, salvage kills from riding shotgun during mining ops, leech cleaning around AFK miners and cleaning up after my own PVE missions.  It certainly didn’t hurt that salvage was lucrative, even for freshies, which is what I was when I started.  I suddenly had a license to print ISK in EVE, after a long suffering stint of poverty. As such, my vision for SC was a more RP and environmentally lush version of this.  I knew there would be piracy/PVP, FPS pew-pew, industry/mining, etc., none of which excited me as a primary focus.  I was content and excited about the vision I held.

To cement my vision, I purchased a Freelancer, now upgraded to Freelancer MAX before they announced the salvage specific ship, the Reclaimer. Even so, the FM would be good enough until I upgraded in the future to the Reclaimer. La la la, all was settled in my SC world.

That was until I saw a YouTube video discussing the recently unveiled Genesis Starliner and the accompanying transport career.  My mouth fell open, hit the floor and remained there.  I watched the video multiple times. I went to the RSI website and read the content for myself.  Why oh why, did RSI include interactive content allowing you to see the travel brochures someone might read when planning a vacation and then choose a destination from an airport departures board, which tied to a short RP story of a passenger aboard the ship. It was a sucker punch to my gut that excited me for a SC experience that was very different from the one I had planned in my head.

I could pilot and manage a civilian transport business. I COULD PILOT AND MANAGE A CIVILIAN TRANSPORT BUSINESS. I could do this with friends. I could do this with guildmates! WhatchootalkinboutWillis??

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mid-range luxury civilian transport ship.
  • Modular design seating up to 100 economy passengers, or less as a mixture of economy, business class and luxury.
  • Versatile interior design can also used to transport and repair race ships, military troops transport or fitted out as private luxury liner.
  • Is same ship-class used for the SC equivalent of Air Force One, The UEE Imperator’s transport ship.
  • Is big. Is beautiful. Is WOW.
  • Comes with Lifetime Insurance (LTI)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Formal career and mechanics being designed around civilian transport.
  • Requires obtaining licenses to operate out of your desired travel hubs.
  • Requires clean criminal record to obtain and maintain licenses.
  • Incorporates a reputation systems based on passenger satisfaction.
  • May require actual crew depending on configuration/passenger count.
  • On-board mini games provide customer service tasks such as food and beverage service, entertainment centers, in-flight mechanical and medical emergencies, etc..
  • Crew roles can be fulfilled by other players or you can hire NPC flight attendants.

WHY I’M ENTHRALLED

  • I prefer when there are mechanics in MMOs that allow me to take on a role that feels as though I have an on-going existence in the world beyond showing up to do quests and craft.  The EQ2 crafting and housing system allowed me to establish and run a decorating service. ArcheAge for all its other faults, had a detailed crafting and economy which served the same, that I really enjoyed.
  • I play and enjoy task based / time management games such as the various Dash games and the survival but heavily time management slanted, Don’t Starve / Don’t Starve Together.
  • I’m a long time The Sims fan who is brimming with ideas of how you can really RP this ship and career, not to mention the modularity of the ship itself, which will lend to all sorts of personalized and flavorful transport services.
  • Get tired of transporting civilians, carry race ships.  Get tired of trucking race ships, it can be outfitted for military operations for your corporation and allies.  Over that, setup for search and rescue.  Lots of options to choose from to change up your game play or help your friends and corp.
  • It’s a completely new and unique gaming experience/profession!
  • I’m like a cat.  When I enjoy an activity in game, I can do it routinely without becoming board.  Just ask my ArcheAge guildmates about me a running trade packs. LOL Who I would also transport goods for using my farm wagon, for the modest price of one free trade pack for me to turn in too and some boosted fuel.

I shouldn’t have but I COULD NOT HELP MYSELF.  I pledged / purchased the Genesis Starliner.  As I said, they had me at profession.

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MISC Starfarer - Refueling Variant

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Musashi Industrial & Starlight Concern
Musashi Industrial & Starlight Concern, commonly called MISC,  is based on Saisei in Centauri.  As a manufacturer, they’re known for the ergonomics of their factories, where spacecraft are robotically assembled with precision.  Centauri was one of the first systems settled during Humanity’s expansion among the stars.  It was discovered in 2365 by a dedicated survey ship. Centauri III was quickly offered up at a premium to private concerns. The result was Saisei, one of the most beautiful and well-constructed Human worlds in the UEE.

The majority of MISC’s business comes from the production of their heavy industrial division. One of MISC’s claims to fame, is their technology partnership with the Xi’An, which came about due to the popularity of MISC ships within their culture.  That popularity led to MISC becoming the only Human spacecraft corporation to sign a lend lease agreement with the Xi’An.  The details of which, are a closely guarded secret.

In recent years, MISC has turned its attention to advancing its two ship lines marked for personal use – the Freelancer and Starfarer.  They’ve funneled profit from their corporate revenue to break into this crowded segment, battling against giants such as Roberts Space Industries and Drake Interplanetary.

THE STARFARER

Our discussion of the Starfarer will be solely on the refueling variant. We’ll save discussion of the Gemini for a future show.

The Starfarer is a niche spacecraft which has become the defacto standard for fuel transport.  Its design is the result of an 18-month survey that yielded a 15,000 page study on ship roles and the deficiencies faced by pilots.  That insight influenced the core design philosophy for the Starfarer. And led to it being fitted as a dual-role fueling craft, capable of collecting fuel in space and refueling ships in-flight.

The Starfarer’s massive internal fuel tanks are welded directly to the ship’s core superstructure.  This makes safer for fuel transport than ships modified to carry out this role.  The tanks use external probes and pressure access nodes to provide easy access.  In this manner, the ship can scoop hydrogen from a gas giant and just as easily funnel fuel to a nearby ship.

Starfarers can be upgraded to include a basic refinery to allow for processing unrefined fuel themselves.  The hydrogen tanks can also be modified to carry liquid food products.  Although this modification isn’t popular, you can replace the tanking machinery with a cargo chassis  to transport bulk goods.

Even though the Starfarer can be modified for other roles,  remember that it’s primarily a dedicated fuel platform.  And designed from the ground up to be that. It won’t perform in these other roles, as effectively as a dedicated option.

Although the Starfarer supports multiple crew stations, it can be run as a solo operation.  Management of the ship and its resources will take more time and require a lot of running back and forth.  But it is possible.

Detailed Design Doc Still Incoming

A detailed design document will be made available as soon as all of the mechanics involved the refueling process have been finalized. That said, here are some aspects which have been more or less “confirmed” based on CIG Q&A responses:

  • Eventually, you will be able to store pods of fuel in your hangar.
  • There will be refueling missions and NPC pilots can also be serviced by a player run Starfarer.
  • The Starfarer’s refinery operates considerably slower than a dedicated refining facility.  However, it allows you to refine and utilize fuel you’ve collected while out in space.  You will have the option of taking your unrefined fuel to a refinery for processing.
  • You’re carrying and processing fuel.  Mishaps can happen and it’s mostly bad news if they do.  They want refining to be a challenging process where failures and collisions can cause significant ship damage.
  • You can refuel ships while flying, similar to aircraft.  Doing so, is considerably more difficult and adds an additional element of risk.
  • Unlike the larger Hull series of ships, the Starfarer can land planetside even with a full load of cargo.
  • Potential owner upgrades include long range scanner and jump drives.  You can exchange the fuel tanks for standardized Stor-All containers to haul cargo.
  • Fuel will be important in space flight but not a constant worry. You’ll need to monitor your consumption if you quantum often and are traversing lots of jump points.  However, it’s not a situation that should leave you completely stranded if you run out. You can use a slower method of travel as a stop-gap, until  to reach a refueling option. The plan is for fuel to be a serious support role in Star Citizen.  NPCs and players will be manning Starfarers. And player managed Starfarers can supply fuel to NPC managed fuel stations such as Cry Astro.

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Banu Merchantman

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The Banu

Our first encounter with the Banu occurred in the Davien system. In 2438 an independent nav-jumper named Vernon Tar, opened fire on what he thought was another privateer trying to steal his meager claim in the system.  The pilot of the other ship turned out to be Banu. Luckily, the incident didn’t lead to any deaths and became humanity’s first introduction to the Banu Protectorate.

Baachus is believed to be the Banu’s home world.  We say “believe” because the they haven’t been forthcoming on the subject. The Banu Political System is a Republic of Planet-States, each run under its own policies. The representatives of each planet gather for a quorum to debate legal and trade issues that affect the entire species. Otherwise, each planet is left to their own devices.

The Banu do not maintain a standing army.  Local militia keep the peace within their systems and they’re not especially selective. Even criminals can and do serve.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking this makes the Banu worlds an easy target.  On the contrary, they have the means to muster a formidable fighting force if necessary.

In comes the Merchantman

The Banu are the traders and culture-hounds of the universe. There are a lot of things they’re willing to overlook in pursuit of commerce.  They trade with the  Vanduul and if you’re looking for shady, check the back alleys of any Banu city.

Their planets are varied and colorful and they take pride in being unique in their culture and traditions.  However, their pursuit of wealth through trading is their one true ring. And why the ship designed to support that lifestyle, The Merchantman,  is prized above all others.

The BMM is categorized as a trade vessel within the cargo ship classification. As far as available cargo size units, it’s carries more than the Hull C, coming in at 5018.  It’s 100 meters in length and supports a maximum of 8 crew stations.  Compared to the other cargo ships, the BMM on paper has more defensive and offensive technical capabilities – wolf in sheep’s clothing.  However, remember this is still concept ships and such, things are subject to change.

Why is the Banu Merchantman a lifestyle?

One of the things that sets the BMM apart from other cargo ships is that it’s designed for sustainable deep space travel.  A traveling business with residential accommodations. Instead of bunks stashed conveniently in a passageway or galley-like area, there the BBM contains dedicated living quarters a short distance from the cockpit. It also boasts an observation room where business negotiations take place and allows customers to view a portion of the cargo hold. The BMM is designed for you to go to your customers and reside at that location for a time while conducting business.  When you’re done, you close up shop and move on.

The BMM Can’t be an Island

While the features and lifestyle of owning a Banu Merchantman may instantly sound appealing, having one is only part of the equation.  Unlike a pure cargo hauler whose primary role is transport goods, not sell them, the BBM needs merchandise to sell.  I doubt you’ll be running NPC cargo hauling missions with your BMM.  That’s doesn’t sound like an efficient use of the vessel.  Therefore you need a consistent means of filling up your cargo bay.

Pairing the BMM up with a resource acquisition ship like the Orion, Reclaimer or Endeavor could be an option.  Like an airplane segregates seating into economy, business and 1st class, you might consider the same strategy with the Merchantman.  Commonly needed  ore, food supplies, industrial materials, etc., could be your economy merchandise. While the more exotic lower quantity higher margin cargo.  For your planning, you’ll need to know which systems produce luxury items that are in demand elsewhere.  For a headstart in ideas, you may want to start reading the Galactic Guides and taking a look at where those locations are in relationship to each other on the Starmap.

CIG has said that not all merchandise is available in every system.   Therefore savvy merchants will need to stay informed on pockets of consumer demand for merchandise versus where the items can  be acquired.  In that scenario it doesn’t have to be exotic or luxury to be profitable.  I wonder if we’ll be able to purchase wholesale quantities of goods from NPC managed businesses?

Nefarious Intentions

Although pirating and unlawful conduct isn’t my cup of tea, I recognize it’s a valid play style and the BMM can play a role in such activities.  CIG has suggested that the capabilities of the Banu Merchantman make it viable as an armored smuggling ship or blockage runner.  I wasn’t a pirate in EVE Online but I owned a blockade runner for transporting salvage and low level manufactured goods into hostile territories, where listing them on the auction house was considerably more profitable. I also used it to transport my own ships and equipment to whatever system our organization was defending during Faction Warfare –  a form of territorial PVP in EVE.

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Search and Rescue

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To provide a gaming experience that is more tactical and varied, Star Citizen has devised a limb-based injury system which includes varying degrees of damage severity and permanence.  It’s not going to be the more common scenario where after sustaining damage, a player runs and hides until his health magically regenerates to full.

In Star Citizen, various areas of the body go through damage states from Normal (no injury) to Ruined (not usable or gone).  To recover from a state below normal, player intervention is necessary. A detailed overview of the health system can be found here.

WHAT WE KNOW

If a player is incapacitated in proximity to his allies, they can be dragged to safety. Some assistance can be provided on the spot using field tech, such as the ability to stem bleeding.  However, field tech cannot be used to heal a player back to full capacity.

Beyond moderate injury or to be returned to a normal 100% health state, a player must undergo more intense treatments, such as those provided by Medbays and Medstations.  This is where Search and Rescue (SAR) comes into play. Given that Star Citizen has a permadeath mechanic, I expect SAR services to be in high demand.

Based on the Healing your Spacemen article, we know for certain that a robust SAR system is being designed. Requests to rescue players and NPCs is one of the major mission types being planned. Players will be able to send distress calls if they’re shot down or otherwise stranded in space.  A fellow player, whose ship is SAR equipped, can retrieve them and provide medical services aboard their ship.  If the injuries are beyond what they can provide, the responder can stabilize the patient and transport them to a dedicated medical facility.

Beyond what CIG has published on the topic, we know that providing SAR will range from small operations to larger player run medical services, based on the ships being developed.  They’ve talked about a large medical treatment ship being delivered in the 4th wave of Persistent Universe ships.  I have no idea what wave we’re on now but SAR capable ships are already in the line-up.

Here are the small to mid-tier SAR capable ships that have already been announced:

PLAYER SPECULATION

If MMOs have taught me anything, it’s that the vast majority of players like to pew-pew at every opportunity and even a cautious PVE carebear dies.  There will be no shortage of players needing medical attention.  Even if you die in space, there’s a possibility that your body can be healed if you receive intensive medical attention in time, which will save you a tick on your permadeath life counter. Yup, medical services will be in demand.

Even with the little, we have to go on beyond the ships announced thus far, player run organizations are forming around this career. One such group is Corporate Search and Rescue, which is 325 members strong at this point.  And there’s a SAR association for players who are in the medical/SAR career – even though the career itself hasn’t been announced.

SC backers are not short on imagination or enthusiasm for carving out their personal niche in space. Here’s a player made video illustrating what he thinks the SAR/medic role will be like in Star Citizen.  And a thread where players are discussing which ships can be used as space ambulances – no real treatment, has gotten traction.

As for me, I think SAR will be an interesting and diverse career that will also provide a lot of social interaction with the community.  I’ve already decided on commercial civilian transport as my primary career.  However, there’s always room to play multiple roles in MMOs.  I’ve picked SAR as a secondary.

I think SAR is a support role I can provide for guild/corp PVP operations or any endeavor where one of us might get hurt.  It’s also a service you can provide after the fact!  A friend is hurt while out mining, exploring, doing PVE, etc., and makes it back alive but with long term injuries. I can bring them aboard my ship to take care of their injuries, likely saving them some coin and hassle. I can also do sporadic rescue services while exploring.

DRAKE INTERPLANETARY CUTLASS RED

My decision to purchase the Genesis Starliner to accompany my goal of obtaining a commercial pilot license left me with redundant ships based on their roles.  I had a Freelancer MAX with the idea of doing salvage and hauling cargo but I missed the concept sale for the dedicated salvage ship and am not sure when/if I’ll pursue it at all now.

Lacking an exploration focused ship, I exchanged the MAX for the DUR variant, which left me with a store credit.  I also had the Aurora LN which is a combat ship but one that’s inferior to the Origin 325A I purchased.  I decided to melt the LN, which gave me full credit for the original purchase price.  Using my store credits plus $50, I bought the Cutlass Red, a dedicated SAR vessel.

It’s the smallest of the SAR ships announced thus far which is all I need.  I’m big on PVE in MMOs.  Although not typically a completionist, I like to do as much of the PVE content as possible, assuming that it’s decent.  Knowing that there will be missions specific to SAR, I decided that owning one was a something I wanted up front.  I also plan to team up with my guild from ArcheAge which contains a LOT of PVP/FPS gamers.  I think I’ll have a plenty of bodies to mend.