I always wondered how resource gathering worked, and after playing the game for a few weeks, I got curious enough to do some research. Here's what I found.
Resource extraction rates:
When the game starts, the values for Mining, Luxury, and Gas (MLG) modules are 3, 3, and 20 respectively. When adding these modules to your ships and bases, the values you want to reach are 10, 10, and 40. Reaching these values will allow you to extract the maximum amount of resource every extraction tick (one extraction tick happens every 6 game days). This means that with level 1 tech, you would have to add 4 mining modules, 4 luxury modules, and/or 2 gas modules to hit the extraction cap. These values apply to ships and bases, state and private alike.
The extraction values can be thought of as percentages. Meaning at game start, the extraction values for each MLG extractor (3, 3, 20) would be 30%, 30%, and 200% per extractor.
The maximum extraction rates for MLG resources are hard coded at 100%, 100%, and 400% respectively (10, 10, 40, going by the abstract values for the equipment).
This means that the number of extractors you need to hit the extraction cap changes depending on your mining tech level. Here are the MLG extraction rates per tech level.
Mine Luxury Gas
Tech 1 3 3 20
Tech 2 4 4 26
Tech 3 5 5 31
Tech 4 6 6 40Now, the number of extractors you need to hit the extraction cap, per tech level:
Mine Luxury Gas
Tech 1 4 4 2
Tech 2 3 3 2
Tech 3 2 2 2
Tech 4 2 2 1The upkeep costs per MLG extractor are 33 (for miners), 35 (for luxury) and 30 (for gas) per unit. Given that extractors don't really make up a large slice of the private sector's maintenance costs in the first place, and also that research time is extremely valuable and finite, I personally don't see the value in researching the Mining techs. I think it would be cool if mining techs increased the mining caps above 100, 100, 400. Maybe have each level increase the extraction caps by 10 or 20 percent. Right now the tree isn't competitive with other techs. Just a random side thought.
Edit: My original conclusions on cargo space were wrong, and I have removed them. For a good explanation of cargo space, check out Feelotraveller's cargo space post at the below link.
A mining unit puts resources in its cargo bay once every 6 game days. To see how many resources the mining unit gets, you need to know two variables.
1) What percentage of the extraction cap is the mining unit at? (Extraction)
2) What is the percentage value for each different resource on the planet? (Richness)
Every tick, the miner gets Extraction x Richness / 100 resources, for each resource on the planet. Here are some examples from in-game testing. Note that the extraction rates below 100% are rounded down.
Dantha 26% Tick 1 Tick 2 Tick 3 Tick 4
3 luxury 7 14 21 28
6 luxury 15 30 45 60
9 luxury 23 46 69 92
12 luxury 26 52 78 104
15 luxury 26 52 78 104
Steel 89% Tick 1 Tick 2 Tick 3 Tick 4
3 mining 26 52 78 104
6 mining 53 106 159 212
9 mining 80 160 240 320
12 mining 89 178 267 356
15 mining 89 178 267 356
Helium 43% Tick 1 Tick 2 Tick 3 Tick 4
20 gas 86 172 258 344
40 gas 172 344 516 688
60 gas 172 344 516 688This formula is applied to every resource on the planet being mined. So, let's say you have a planet with 100% Gold, 75% Steel, 50% Lead, and 25% Iridium, and a miner with 100% extraction, each tick you would get 100 gold, 75 steel, 50 lead, and 25 Iridium (250 resources per tick). If the miner had only 50% extraction, you'd get about half that (125 resources per tick). Here is some in-game data showing a 100% extractor on a 4-resource planet.
Tick 1 Tick 2 Tick 3 Tick 4 Tick 5 Tick 6 Tick 7 Tick 8
Dantha 41% 41 82 123 164 205 246 287 328
Winconium 37% 36 73 109 146 183 220 256 292 (slight variations noted)
Silicon 54% 54 108 162 216 270 324 378 432
Osalia 48% 48 96 144 192 240 288 336 384Relatedly, given that one tick happens every 6 days, and there are 360 days in an in-game year (12 months x 30 days per month), there are a total of 60 extraction ticks every year. If you had a 100% extractor pulling resources from a 100% richness resource, you would get 100 resources every tick. Multiply that by the number of ticks in a year, and you get the total possible resource extraction rate per year. 6000 mineral, 6000 luxury, 24000 gas. That means that every 1% richness that a resource deposit has will give you 600 of that resource per year. Thus, if you give a mining station 12000 cargo space, you will guarantee at least 2 years worth of uninterrupted mining. In reality, 6000 storage will probably be more than enough in most cases. Rare resources will be regularly picked up, and common resources will cap out, which isn't a problem. Also, this lower amount of cargo bays added will help keep mining base maintenance costs down.
Given how cargo storage works, it is most cost effective to build mining bases on planets with the highest total amount of overall resource richness. For example, a planet with 75% gold and 75% lead would be better than a planet with 100% gold (unless you don't need the lead, but you get the picture). This makes planets with multiple resource nodes on them much more likely to be useful than single-node planets.
Okay, with that out of the way, let's look at some tips, tricks, and exploits.
Mining Bases vs Star Bases that can mine:
It is possible to build an unlimited number of mining bases on a single stellar body. They will all extract at full speed, and freighters will come to take resources from all of them. I consider this technique to be a huge exploit which ruins the fun and integrity of the game, but if you want to try it, here's what to do:
Create a Star Base design. Put the following components on (plus any necessary hab bays, life support, and other necessary components):
- Enough Mining Engines to reach 10+ mining extraction
- Enough Luxury Extractors to reach 10+ luxury extraction
- Enough Gas Extractors to reach 40+ gas extraction
- 5 or so cargo bays
- 1 Commerce Center
- 10000 cargo capacity (flavor to your liking)
- Skip defense / offense. Make them as cheap as you can.
- Make the size Absolute: 10, so it's visually small (letting you pack more on the planet)
When you see a valuable planet, build as many of these mining Star Bases as you want on it. When you're done building them, build a single Mining Base or Gas Mining Base on the planet. As soon as the real mining base begins to build, your freighters will warp in to pick up the resources from your Star Bases. Freighters will only pick up resources as long as a legitimate mining base is located at the planet, so keep it there. If for any reason you ever want to add more Star Base miners, just scrap the real mining base, build more star bases, and then rebuild the mining base. With this exploit, you can meet your entire empire's resource need for a specific resource with only one planet.
You'd be wise to defend your mining hubs with 3-4 strong defensive bases that physically encircle the mining bases. Physically surround them, so the defensive bases pick off any harassing forces or space monsters before they damage your mines.
This can and should be fixed. The most appropriate way to fix this exploit is to prevent the Star Base template from equipping a Commerce Center.
Again, design a star base. Give it capped gas extraction (40). Calculate the maximum fuel stores of your biggest fleet. I use 10-ship fleets with up to 7000 fuel per ship, so in my case it would be 70000. Give the refueling base design this much cargo storage or more. Give it enough docking bays to accept every ship in your largest fleet at the same time (in my case, 10 docking bays). No armor, no weapons, no commerce center. Make them cheap. Find a spot along your border near enemy territory that you intend to attack. Build a number of these bases on a planet or gas cloud with fuel (Caslon and/or Hydrogen) near the enemy border. Again, make them physically small (Absolute: 10) and cluster them tightly together. Surround them with several large defensive bases to take out any attacking enemy fleets. By doing this, you will guarantee fast and efficient refueling capability for your fleets during wartime. Because these bases lack commerce centers, you don't have to worry about freighters stealing your wartime fuel reserves. The refueling farm will simply extract up to the maximum value and sit there, waiting to be used. This method is the most efficient, reliable, and cost-effective late-game refueling architecture that I have yet found. It is far more effective and defensible than haphazerdly building gas mining bases, and astronomically more effective than solar tankers (energy-to-fuel stations built on stars). Sadly, it is also better than resupply ships, which are a cool idea, but ultimately are just absolute garbage in their role as refuelers.
Another option available for late-game refueling is the self-refueling fleet approach. In games where I use this technique, I build 10-ship fleets with 2500 fuel per ship. Then I add 9 (fleet size minus one) docking bays, gas extractors (cap at 40), and 25000 or so cargo per combat ship (each ship's fuel capacity times number of ships in the fleet). Before beginning a war, I fly my all of my combat fleets to a hydrogen gas giant or cloud. I select the fleet, CTRL-right clicking the gas giant or cloud, and click "Move to Gas Giant/Cloud". When the fleets arive, every ship will begin to suck up gas automatically upon stopping. Once the ships have sucked up max hydrogen, I send them off to fight. When a fleet gets low, just select the fleet, CTRL-right click one of the ships in that fleet, and select "Refuel" and "At (ship name)". You have to do this manually. I couldn't get "Refuel at nearest..." to work for it. Nine of the ships will then dock at the tenth ship and suck its reserves dry to refuel themselves. Do the same thing for the 10th ship, and your fleet will be ready to continue fighting. For a 10-ship fleet, you can do this at least 10 times (usually more) before having to refuel the fleet at a gas giant or gas cloud. That basically means each ship's fuel tank is 10x the displayed amount (25000 in my case). The downside to this technique is that it gives up some offense/defense space in exchange for longer battlefield loiter time. If you have a technology or ship numbers advantage though, it can make this loss of combat power per ship less noticeable. This procedure, both gas extraction and fuel distribution, works in enemy territory.
If for whatever reason you mine gas other than caslon or hydrogen, you can have your ships empty their cargo holds by right clicking a gas planet (right click instead of using the "move to" command). By right clicking, when the ship fills its cargo bay to max, it will return to the nearest starport and unload all of its cargo. This differs from "move to" because when a ship reaches full cargo from a move-to command, it won't return to base to empty itself - it just sits there with a full bay.
A rant on resupply ships:
Since they're vaguely connected to resource extraction, I need to rant about resupply ships. Resupply ships are awesome in concept. In practice though, they're garbage. Consider the following pros (+) and cons (-):
- Drives around for 10 minutes after you order it to deploy in a gas cloud, then takes 30 seconds to set up.
- Can't fire weapons while deployed.
- Can't dispense fuel to other ships until it deploys at a gas giant or cloud.
- Built at a planet, so it takes forever to build.
- Cannot order a fleet of multiple resupply ships to all deploy at the same time.
+ Uses its hydrogen/caslon stores to refuel itself (when deployed).
Normal ship with gas collector, cargo bays, and docking bays:
+ Gathers gas immediately upon stopping at a gas giant or cloud.
+ Can fire weapons while gathering or fueling other ships.
+ Can dispense fuel at any time, even in open space.
+ Built at a space station, so they build fast.
+ Can order an entire fleet to gather fuel with two clicks.
- Cannot refuel itself with the resources it gathers.
Despite its ability to be built as big as a star base, resupply ships use the cargo rules for ships, not bases. Meaning if you have 10000 cargo storage, you can only gather 5000 hydrogen and 5000 caslon, not 10000 of each. This means that if the only planet available for gathering has caslon and hydrogen both on it, your cargo capacity will go towards gathering both resources, even though you can only probably use one for your fleets. So you waste half of your cargo space.
In my view, the only real benefit of a resupply ship is that it can be built as big as a star base, meaning 3x the size of a ship. Since 20% of that space must used for cargo bays and gas extractors, that still makes the resupply ship able to be 2.4x the size of a normal ship. In this regard, the resupply ship is uniquely useful as a single unit blockading a high-value enemy planet until it can be invaded. Oddly this role has nothing to do with refueling other ships.
Eliminating the need for the 30 second deployment entirely, and making resupply ships treat cargo capacity the way star bases do would go a long way towards making this unit viable as a heavy tanker. By treating cargo capacity the way star bases do, players would be able to gather from a hydrogen & caslon gas giant / cloud without having to worry about wasted cargo space. Removing deployment would put it on par with other fuel tanker ships.
A rant on the energy-to-fuel device:
It seems like there should be so many awesome ways to use this piece of equipment. Sadly, like with the resupply ship, it's in-game applications are few. When a ship with energy-to-fuel (e2f because I'm lazy) gear is stationary in a system (or moving along with a planet), it will gather caslon and hydrogen. This is great in theory. Unfortunately though, the gathered resources are not converted into fuel for the ship that gathers them. Even on a resupply ship, the gathered resources only change into fuel when the ship deploys at a gas giant or cloud. Another problem is that the e2f unit will only produce up to 20000 hydrogen and caslon each (40000 total). This cap does not increase with additional e2f units, fuel cells, or cargo bays. This bizarre fact makes this component completely useless as part of a good mid to late-game refueling infrastructure. By the time this component becomes available for use (ironically only in the mid to late-game), fleets generally need well more than 20000 fuel when they come in for gas. That means long lines as the component refills its very small tanks. Adding more e2f units increases the gathering rate, but with a 20000 resource limit, this hardly makes a difference. The hydrogen/caslon gained from the e2f doesn't refuel the ship equipped with the unit, and the artificial fuel cap means the ship or base can't refuel other ships effectively either. It's just a bad, bad piece of equipment.
Removing the artificial 20000 resource cap, and having the unit produce ONLY the fuel type that the ship its deployed on uses would make this piece of gear useable in the role it was intended for - fleet refueling.
Since I don't have anywhere else to put this, a final parting thought on private sector mining ships. Before conducting the above research, I would put gigantic cargo holds on my mining ships, with the thought that "more cargo is good". Knowing that the annual extraction cap for any single resource is 6000, and that civilian mining ships mine a target until their cargo hold is full then return home, I am going to change this approach. If you make the cargo bay too small, the ship will spend most of its time flying, only to pick up a tiny amount of resources and fly back to base. Make it too large, and the ship will sit for years mining, making its dropoffs too infrequent. This is a hard number to pin down, but just as a guess, I'll say 3000 cargo. Enough to keep a single 50% resource busy for 1 year. Enough to keep a dual 50% resource planet busy for 6 months.
Oh, I also saw the game sending my gas/luxury mining ships to planets with minerals & luxury resources, so it could mine the luxuries. I didn't know the game could use gas miners like this, so from now on, all of my mining ships, gas and mineral alike, will get capped gas, luxury, and mining modules so nothing is ever lost. This might be overkill though.
Hope this wasn't too long and annoying. This is my first post so hi.
< Message edited by Airpower -- 7/6/2014 3:17:33 PM >