In this Devblog, we aim to shed some light on a very important part of the future gameplay of Dual Universe: scanning & mining. What follows is our current thinking on these features, as we are currently implementing them. This may still evolve in the future, in particular thanks to your feedback! So, let’s have a look.
Scanning is the activity of prospecting to find new resources in the ground on planets. Resources are physically geographically located, they have a span and a size, and they are generated via our procedural algorithms together with the planet as voxel blobs. They will be spread on the planets based on rarity and how important they actually are in crafting recipes. Some rare resources will not be found on Alioth, the starting planet, so you will have to journey out into the universe to locate them.. Each biome will have a set of typical resources associated with it, so prospecting starts by “knowing your biomes” ;) The table below presents a simple rough description of how we plan to stage the levels of difficulty for materials:
Our current plans for prospecting are focused on two scanning techniques: radial scanning and directional scanning.
Radial scanning will allow you to probe for a given class of material in a given radius: the scanner will be able to show you what percentage of the area you’re scanning is made up of the class of material you are seeking. It’s only partial information. You won’t know where it is exactly, just that 1.6% of the volume of your scanning sphere is filled with metal, for example. A scan “operation” will take some time. Longer scans will yield more precise measurements. There will be a level of imprecision in the exact size of the radius, which you will be able to improve via skills.
How does it work? Well, most of the time, the thing you are looking for will not be in the sphere you are probing. So, you’ll see a 0% signal reading. You will then move and suddenly, a signal will show up. You know that your sphere has just “hit” a vein of what you are searching for. At this moment, you will be able to deploy a sphere marker, that will basically help you to visualize the volume where your target material is likely located.. The marker will stay there while you move to another location and start again. By intersecting markers you will start to be able to pinpoint more precisely where your precious material is located. This is the general idea.
Now, the exact technique you will use will also depend on the type of veins that correspond to the material you are looking for and what kind scanner you have. Consider these two schema that illustrate different strategies depending on the relative size of the average vein compared to the radius of the scanner (the double circling of the spheres illustrate the imprecision on the radius):
These strategies will be important to master, because mining randomly will just exhaust your time and resources and will usually return only very common and not very worthwhile materials. Mining gear will have fixed scanning ranges that correspond to their levels. You won’t be able to adjust these ranges or change the scanning radius. They’re fixed. So, no choice: you need to move!
Now, once you start to have a better idea where you material is, you might start to use the directional scanner. This is much more straightforward. The directional scanner will give you the amount of the 4 or 5 most significant materials within a cone of a few degrees in the direction you’ve pointed your scanner.. The max distance will be a level dependent parameter, but will remain relatively small so you need to use radial scanning first to narrow your search area. The signal received for a given piece of material will decrease with distance, which should give you precious “gradient” information to follow. This is roughly how this could look:
In some future expansion we will probably add some more advanced tools for prospectors as well as planetary scale global information to help you judge the potential of newly discovered planets.
Our vision for this gameplay (as well as most of the gameplay of Dual) is to make it deep. We want players to be able to develop their own very real expertise on best practice, specializations, etc. We want the activity of prospectors to remain challenging even when you master it, so that a good prospector will have a very high value as part of a team. Now, for easy and abundant materials, it will be possible to find resources much more easily (we are considering a simple local highlight of what is there, so you just “see” it). But for the more rare and uncommon materials, we want it to be rewarding and feel like a real achievement. We provide the tools, but players will have to come up with the best strategies to get to the most precious material. The way you dig for gold as a beginner, and the way you will approach it after 100 hours of being a prospector are totally different. Sure there is a skill tree, but the actual trial and error experience also makes a difference. For a MMO game that is supposed to be played for hundreds of hours, anything not challenging quickly becomes a chore. We want to prevent that.
Now, about mining: it will be done via your Nanoformer. The harder the material and the larger the volume collected, the longer it will take. We have chosen an energy-based model where each material is capable of absorbing a certain level of energy before being “mined”. So, you will be able to upgrade your Nanoformer energy throughput to improve your mining as well as various mining skills. For more advanced mining, and possibly some rare materials, dedicated tools will enter the scene, but this might not be available at release, but rather in a future expansion. We are considering the possibility of Mining Units inside your constructs, but this will be in an expansion after release and it will require some careful balancing to make sure standard mining is still an option, in particular for beginners.
Interestingly, we imagine that the “profession” of prospector/scanner and the “profession” of miner could very well be separate. Some people will specialize in finding large veins of important materials (and possibly sell the intel about the location), while some others will specialize in mining it, focusing on a mining site for several weeks or months. When you exploit a deep vein, you will need to install things like lifts, vehicles, containers, and clean wide shafts to ease material and dirt evacuation. Maybe even factories close to the vein to transform the ore into pure material. This differs from most other games where scanning and mining are usually very similar and the activity of mining and scanning alternate frequently as you jump from one asteroid to another, or one mining spot to the other.
We hope you enjoyed this short intro and, as usual, we are very excited to hear your feedback and ideas! We are developing this at the moment, so it’s a good time for the community to share your thoughts and influence what is going on!