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Suggestions on Ore and Its Processing, to Ecourage Conveyance


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This post was spawned from the propick mechanic discussion thread.  I felt that Heptagon's poll and discussion were pretty focused on the propick, and so I thought it best to make thread focused more broadly on the ore meta of the game in general, and how the entire process chain might be improved.  The propick thread was taking a turn toward this discussion at the end, specifically with regard to how the ore system could be made to enforce - to greater or lesser degree - the use of minecarts. 

Tony suggested in the propick thead that ores should only be carryable in certain containers that only fit on the player's back, and the player cannot climb, sprint, jump, *or use stairs* while carrying that container.  Basically forcing the player to use a conveyance.  He only mentioned minecarts there but I'm assuming stoneage people could use donkeys or something.

I'll reiterate here that I think trying to use an onerous ore mechanic to enforce minecart useage is a bad idea.  Minecarts are not the end-game.  You can make them useful without making ore gathering tedious and restrictive.  You can require that certain process blocks (quern, blast furnace, etc) or possibly prestige items (statuary, thrones) are only transportable via conveyance.  Prestige items are not strictly required, so the player can build that cart system at their leisure, when they think it's worth it.  Process blocks, what you're doing is encouraging the player to assemble them where they want them to be long-term.  *IF* they later decide to pull up stakes, well, they better get some conveyance.  But you're not forcing them into that situation. Moving is their choice.  That said, I think there are ways to make the ore mechanic lean more heavily on minecarts, or even require them for some parts.

What I'm going to outline here is the most drawn-out strategy for making several tiers of ore gathering, and letting the player actually *choose* which method they want to pursue based on their goals, rather than railroading them (ba-dum-tssss!) into useing minecarts.  I'm outlining it in three scenarios.  The first could be standalone, and the second does not require the third, so there's a choose-your-own-complication-level here.

First off, apart from everything that follows, I think inventory and item stack mechanics need to be arranged so that the player's inventory is *not* automatically the highest stacking space in the game.  This works very hard against making containers and conveyances attractive.  If I can carry 30 full stacks of ore in my inventory and a minecart can carry 40 full stacks, I'll save the infrastructure effort and carry it all.  The player inventory needs to be capable of having limited stack sizes, imo, so that a stack of ore can be limited to 32 in their inventory, but 64 or even 128 in a cart or minecart. 


The basic mechanic requires no new assets.  Except that, as I understand it, it is already the plan to have VS ores at some point become graded as in TFC.  nuggets, poor, normal, and rich.  The first step is limiting these in more fine-grained ways.  Surface nuggets and poor nuggets will fit anywhere in the inventory.  They will essentially have no special qualities, and be just as now, though with reduced stack sizes in player inventory (except if the player is carrying a mining bag, which will allow higher stack sizes).  Normal and rich ores will only fit in the hotbar, and perhaps have stack size reduced to 16 there (32 in mining bag, which is the only case where they can be 'in inventory').  They will also prevent the player from sprinting or using ladders regardless of being in a bag or not.   This creates a situation where early on, the player can find a poor copper deposit and carry lots of it, without having to tame animals or make a cart.  It will not be a simple matter to get normal or rich ores up out of a deep shaft, but it's doable, if slow.  At the stone age tier, we're encouraging the player to domesticate a pack animal to help them get the ore home.  Maybe look for ore in easily entered sloping caverns, where they can bring the animal right in.  Phase 1 is basically the player just find basic ores and refining it.  Maybe schlepping heavier ores up via stairs or cavern jumping if they really want.


In phase 2, we're offering the player the chance to get more bang for their ore buck.  Enter the stamp mill an early-tech machine.  The stamp mill will be a machine that requires power.  It will not be able to be powered by animals, only water or *maybe* wind (and of course higher tier power as well).  If the player tosses *raw stone ore blocks* in the stamp mill, the mill will return the basic ore, and also have a *chance* to return something more.  It could have X% chance to return a piece of ore of the next lower grade.  Higher tier (and better quality?) stamp mills have a better chance, and/or return higher grade ore.  So you may be able to double your ore (ore more?) vs just mining the block with a pick.  Now, as part of this *raw ore* blocks become very encumbering (not raw stone though, which is only decorative really).  Very low stack size, hotbar only (does not fit even in mining bag), and the player cannot jump or climb stairs while carrying.  They will be difficult or impossible for the player to transport without conveyance.   So now the player has a *voluntary choice* to just take the basic ore, or to spend the time, get conveyance, mine the raw blocks, and get extra ore out of it.  This will be more attractive for rare ores.  I emphasize that we're letting the player choose here, not forcing them. 


Phase 3 turns the screws even further.  Not only do you need conveyance to get the ore out, you'll need it to get the ore *at all*.  Here the nature of stone and ore is reworked.  Stone will now be fully layered with igneous stones (granite, andesite, basalt) existing primarily in a lower world layer (perhaps 'Devi's Tower' style extrusions can exist).  Perhaps the bottom 30-40 blocks or so?  Everything above is sedimentary or other softer stone.  The 'regular' ores as we know them exist in the upper layers of soft stone, which is easily pick mineable, as currently.  However, the bottom stone layers are EXTREMELY hard.  Mining 1 block with a pick is an ordeal like mining obsidian in vanilla MC.  But, the ores here are a different class.  Perhaps it's copper "nodules" in granite, rather than just copper in granite.  These nodules are not on the order of 15-35 units, but 200-500 units or something.  Very high yield.  But when you mine them, they don't drop pieces of ore, they drop rubble blocks.  So you get 'copper nodule rubble'.  You can also get them raw in the usual fashion.  They (and igneous stone in general) are immune to ore bombs.  Both rubble and raw igneous stones fit only on the hotbar, prevent the player from travelling vertically, and slow them to a crawl.   To mine this deep ore you construct a steam powered drill, which requires a steam generating minecart to power.  So now you actually need to place the tracks and bring in your steam drill just to mine the stuff.  Maybe you can also mine them with dynamite (high tier explosives), but I'd recommend that dynamite cause cave-ins in a TFC-like fashion, even in normal playstyle.

This advanced scenario would only really make sense if the ore demand of the game ramps up significantly in the late game, probably for machinery.  So building a tier 4 crucible requires maybe 50,000 units of iron.  Stuff like that.  If demand never really gets above anvils, then you'll not really help the game balance by providing huge amounts of ore at depths, and people won't bother with it if they can get enough easier at higher levels.   Though you could perhaps have separate high tier items in the depths.  Diamonds, high tier made-up metals, exotic chemistry components.  Otherwise, best to just stick with the first two scenarios and let stamp milling be the main thing.


So, the point is, if you want to see players use minecarts in mining, I'd recommend not *forcing* them to do it, making the game more tedious and grindy, but instead giving them *incentives* that encourage it and *bonuses* that require it, but are not, strictly speaking, required to play the bulk of the game.    But even if all this comes in I *still* recommend making a variety of non-ore items and blocks that require conveyance of some type to move, so that it's not all about the mining.


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I've in the past discussed ore generation with both Bioxx (TFC creator) and Draco18s (the creator of reasonable realism modpack which includes harder ores) about the subjects of stone and ore. Both are fans of ore being generated in such a way you can use the same mine for a long time. They both also liked collapse mechanics and other underground hazards.

As you may know, TFC generated ore in large cloudy ore columns for the most part. These columns could be cleared out relatively easily with two people and then carried two barrels backs home where it'd last quite a long time. 
To first find ore in TFC you'd go to the wiki and find what rock type it spawns in. Then you'd scour the surface until you found that rock type then proceeds with the prospecting tool. The prospecting tool in TFC would scan the nearby area for ore and give you a reading. These readings weren't completely reliable so you often took multiple readings from a site. Using it in a cross pattern you could hone in on nearby ore deposits. This made finding ore easier than stabilizing your tunnel in TFC.

This was a pretty good approach as it was engaging and didn't usually leave too large of blemishes on the surface even when rigging the vacant area with explosives and purposely collapsing your mine when you were done. Where TFC failed, in my opinion, is the prospecting tool only detected nearby veins and veins were spaced quite a ways apart. What this combination did was encourage stripping the land of shallow deposits because unless you were wasting pickaxes digging tunnels deep down you'd never come across deep deposits and sane people not making underground railroads that stretch across the map never made long underground tunnels. 
Draco18s said he took heavy inspiration from the mod "Custom ore generation". In the mod Harder Ores, the ore distribution (http://reasonable-realism.wikia.com/wiki/Ore_Distributions) follows the general pattern of some mother load and some hazy clouds and/or arms reaching out. These networks of ore are spaced in such a way you don't generally come across more than one ore in an area. The end result is when you locate an arm or haze you can follow it to the mother load and even after the mother load is gone you can keep going until the haze and/or arms are completely mined out. For ores like diamond that didn't have clouds or arms, you could locate by listening for the sounds of lava that was at the core of every diamond vein. 

Locating these arms and haze was also not very difficult due to flowers indicating nearby ore at a depth of up to 45 blocks down and the fact that these clouds and arms can usually be located by spelunking (aka caving). Also, due to the nature of how these ores spawned and mined, there wasn't usually wasn't a surface blemish unless done on purpose. The shapes of the different shapes of the veins made finding and digging out each type of ore interesting.

I think everyone knows how MC vanilla spawns ores. It's small bits concentrated at different Y values and then evenly distributed throughout each Y value. This means every spot is equally good for setting up a mine in Minecraft. It also meant that the optimal way to get the targeted ore was to dig down to the desired depth and then continuously branch mine at that depth. Low surface profile, semi targetable, but not very interesting.

Vintage Story ore spawns in discs at different vertical spreads, uniformly between different Y values with different concentrations of ore spawns throughout the map. The prospecting tool makes you break 4 rocks a certain distance apart before giving you a reading from the density map. Many do not like being forced to break 4 rock a certain distance from each other to get a reading. Then there's finding the ore. Since most ore uniformly spawns between the map height and bottom there's no telling at what depth the ore is. The way it spawns also makes it more likely to hit doing shafts then tunnels. Now most players have no issue with finding copper. Finding iron is also not something most complain about. Finding bronze materials is a frequent complaint. Considering the average radius for bismuth, tin, and zinc is 4 that means using the shaft method you have to be within 4 blocks of the center to have a 50% chance to hit the ore. They spawn uniformly so the player needs to dig all the way down to the mantle to do a complete check. Since they have copper at that point if they hit one of the common and extremely wide quartz ore spawns, they can proceed no further or have to dig along it ignoring the silver and gold they come across until they reach the edge. If the shaft does not return a result they need to dig a new shaft 8 blocks away to give them a 50% chance to hit the ore they narrowly missed. Feels like a less fun game of battleship because you have to check the same spot at least 100 times, to get to the mantle from the surface. The end result of all this prospecting and vertical shafts is lots of holes poked into the ground.

Many have proposed ore spawns in certain rock layers. Having dug out many a chunk in creative mode using world edit that allows you to delete all of a selected block in an area, I can say that this isn't a great idea to implement with the way rock layers are currently formed. The layers are not layers but more like marbling with spires and pockets, and valleys. This would, in my opinion, make ore even rarer than it is.

At this point, I feel it prudent to say that my suggestions won't be entirely realistic because realistic isn't always fun and interesting. The following picture depicts the three most common types of mines you'll find in real life. Open pit for shallow deposits, sloped mines for sloped veins, and deep round deposits.

Here are the guidelines I want to work within.
The act of searching for and digging up ore should not leave lots of holes/blemishes on the surface.

  • The player should not have to make quarries to find ore.
  • It's okay for ore to be difficult to find if the mine lasts a long time.
  • A mine should last long enough to encourage an investment in infrastructure.

Here are some of the things my suggesting will rely on:

  • Blocks having internal pressure, and temperature, and gradients
  • Firepit heating up blocks around it and generating smoke blocks
  • Overweight mechanic 
  • Metal nuggets

First, a stone hoe because you'll want to farm before you go for metal. Next a stone hammer for smashing ore but doesn't work for smithing. When you find copper ore on the ground you must break them with a hammer and they will give copper nuggets. The number of nuggets depends on the purity of the ore. To prevent the issue of stacking different purities of ore, ore simply does not stack in your hotbar or bags. These nuggets will act like current ore in VS. The prospecting pick no longer breaks rock. You use it on a rock and it'll give you a reading. This reading will go through the density maps and reads them off like it currently does but this time it has a chance of miss reporting an ore depending on the per mille. It may not report the ore at all or may report an inaccurate concentration. By taking additional samples in the near area it'll get more accurate readings. Once you have a reading you can look in nearby caves or dig the dirt out to get to rock.  

Ore should be unlikely to spawn close to each other. Ore would spawn in either large clouds with pockets of concentrated ore, or concentrated ore with long branches like it does in the Harder ores mod. This makes veins of ore easier to spot from caves and hone in on using the prospecting pick. This increased ease of locating ore is balanced by ore taking longer to mine which incentives building infrastructure.

Rock now has different gradients. There's solid, fractured, rubble, gravel, and sand. On top of that, each gradient has internal pressure and temperature. How this works is when the internal pressure of a rock gradient reaches the breaking point it breaks down into the next tier of gradient. To increase the internal pressure you can make a fire pit which will heat up the surrounding blocks catching things on fire and increasing the internal pressure of rock. You can also increase internal pressure by smacking rock with a pickaxe. Note, you can use a combination of heating rock up and hitting it with a pickaxe to cause the rock to break. Higher tier pickaxes deal more damage and so break down rock quicker. When rock breaks down it emits dust and drops stones and ores if it's an ore-bearing rock. What this means is when you find a copper ore-bearing rock, it can be broken down into smaller and smaller gradients releasing more ore each time. A pickaxe and firepit can be used to reduce ore down to gravel. Past that requires a grinder. 

So to mine and collect ore you should do a combination of fire setting and picking unless it's coal in which case just use a non-steel pickaxe. Don't want sparks, torches, or fires to come in contact with coal dust. Dust from breaking rock and smoke from the firepit can make you suffocate if you don't let the smoke and dust dissipate. Ore blasting bombs can help out by softening up surrounding rock and ore. Sulfer for ore blasting bombs should now be found at hotsprings. You can use a shovel to clear out rubble and smaller gradients. All this ore, rocks and rubble is really heavy so you won't be able to carry much of it without being slowed down and it'll be impossible to jump or climb while overburden. This is where minecarts and lifts come into play. Using one and/or the other will help you to move this heavy material out of the mine. 

You will be able to collect any ore using this method. When it comes to processing iron, however, instead of ingots from the bloomery, you'll get iron blooms. Iron blooms must be heated up and the slag removed on a bronze anvil which will turn it into a wrought iron ingot because a pure iron tool would break with one good smack.

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  • I totally agree with not making the hotbar have the largest stack size.
  • A stamp mill is a great option for automating breaking of ores. I also like the idea of it giving you more bang for your buck.
  • I like the deeper deposits yield more ore and require advanced technology to mine. I assume it also takes advanced prospecting techniques to locate.

I feel we have very similar ideas.

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Let's see if I can develop my idea in a way that's easily understandable.

First, let's talk about how we define the word grind. For me, grind is to do a repetitive action for a long time. When I am imagining solutions and building contraptions I am not bored.

  1. So for starters, I would not like limitations on the inventory for building blocks. This is, after all, a sandbox box game about building with colored blocks. let's not have the player to come down every 2 minutes to get more blocks from his chests just because he cannot fit enough building blocks in his inventory. that would get boring very fast. 
  2. Let's make it completely possible for the player to survive and thrive in stone age era. The player should be able to farm and raise animals as our ancestors did without the need for any metal. Stone Age civilizations were able to build and maintain great cities, some of the Inca cities had a larger population than any European city of the time.
  3. As with real life, metalworking should make life easier, but not be indispensable.

No matter how you define VS is still a game, A cube game with limited capabilities. So my idea is to make mining a complex process with a lot of steps, but at the same time highly rewarding.

In real life, most metal mines were worked for generations, at least until the advent of modern machinery, like excavators and I really do not think we need to have those in the game.

The ore itself, after the player has found some surface nuggets he finally gets a copper pickaxe and is able to remove the stone and expose the raw copper.

At this point, he notices that his pickaxe cannot break the ore.

He needs to build a fire on the side of the ore and heat it up when it changes color is time to quelch with running water.

Now the ore would show a cracked surface, making it possible for the player to break with the pickaxe. But hold and behold that one single block of ore does not break all at once, instead, it will slowly release mini blocks ( Very small cubes, after all, it is a cube Dimension) I thought 64 mini blocks would be a good number. When the player picks up those blocks they immediately go to a box in his back.

Now 64 of those ore mini blocks is the maximum that a player is able to carry.

Once the player has this box or barrel with any ore inside it automatically makes the player unable to jump sprint or go up ladders or stairs.

Initially, the only way for the player to get the ore to the surface is using a rope tied to a beast of burden. Horse, donkey or even a bull. This means that the player will only be able to work metals after he is so well established that he is able to domesticate animals.

Later on, the player can build minecarts that can carry larger quantities of ore.

Once the player finally gets the ore mini blocks to the surface it is time to crush them. he will need to hit each piece with a hammer to break and release the actual ore then he needs to wash it only then he will be able to smelt it. I am not sure about other metals, but at least with iron, I know it used to be cooked before it was smelted.

Looks like a lot of work? For sure it is. The reward? That one block of ore actually converted in 64 ingots of metal. So one block yields enough metal that the player is set for life in most cases.

The result in the aspect of World generation is that the ore mines do not need to be gigantic to be a more or less permanent site. 30 players can all mine from that same mine and it will still have metal for more.

It would encourage the player to build roads from the mine to their base. All parts of the metal ore should require some special way to carry. The player should not be able to carry either the initial mini blocks, the ore itself or the metal ingots.  

I know it is an intricate system that needs a lot of coding and is dependant on a lot of other mechanics to work, but I do believe it is unique at the same time that it is based on real-life techniques used by our ancestors. 

Will the players love it? Or hate it? There is no way to know until it is tried. 

For multiplayer, there could be an option for a town to control a region where a specific mine exists this would give that town an advantage and a trading good that no one else has. The game could be set in a way that ore rich regions are poor in other minerals or resources, forcing that town to trade for what it needs. That's the way it happens to this day in real life.


P.S If a player is able to get even one ore to the surface he will do 64 trips to avoid domesticating an animal and building something to have the animal pull the weight.

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