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Find ore? Mod ?

motor services of chepstow

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Unfortunately, finding ore in this game is mostly about luck. The prospecting pick does NOT work the way you would expect, especially if you've played Minecraft TFC. Basically, in its main mode, the propick does NOT tell you how much ore is nearby. It only tells you the chance that the game might have generated some ore nearby. You canNOT use it to triangulate where ore is. Digging wherever the propick gives you the highest percentage in no way guarantees you'll find anything. Sometimes the ore is in an area with a lower percentage. Sometimes there's no ore at all. And yes, it is TREMENDOUSLY frustrating and I wish it would just work like the TFC one, let you triangulate where the highest concentration of ore is and dig down.

As it stands, your only real option is to find an area where the propick gives a reasonably high concentration of what you're looking for, then either dig a ton of holes in the area and hope you get lucky, or find a cave system to explore (potentially very difficult and dangerous depending on your gear and how good you are at combat or cheesing enemies).

It's a nightmare and I and other players have been begging them to change how propicks work for ages and they have not done so, so I guess it's unlikely that it will ever be more useful or intuitive. If someone ever makes a mod that creates a propick that works like the TFC one I'll be all over it, but I'm not sure how likely that is - it would probably be pretty complex to make.

In the meantime, you can at least reduce your frustration by cranking up the ore density when you create the world. That'll make ores common enough that you're not pulling your hair out searching for them. You can also do this in a world that's already generated using commands, but it will only affect newly-generated chunks.

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1 hour ago, Ari said:

And yes, it is TREMENDOUSLY frustrating and I wish it would just work like the TFC one, let you triangulate where the highest concentration of ore is and dig down.

...I'm sorry, what? When did you last play TFC, and are you sure you're remembering that, and not some variant/fork with a different implementation?

Because you can have TFC-style prospecting in Vintage Story. Natively, without a mod. Just turn on node search mode and make the search radius impractically large. Then you have the same thing, except better, because Vintage Story never gives you false negatives like TFC did on like every second block.

I encourage you to do it, and try it out. Play a game without using density search mode at all, working only with node search. You'll find that, despite 100% reliability, prospecting like that is terrible. You'll spend hours fruitlessly searching in areas where the ore can never even spawn, because you have no tool that tells you this fact. A tool like... I don't know... density search mode. Which is designed precisely to tell the player where it is worth looking, and where not.

TFC's method of prospecting was exactly what you accuse Vintage Story's method of being: straight-up blindly clicking blocks until random chance smiled on you. It was partially obfuscated by making the propick's range extremely big, at the cost of making positional triangulation far more work than it should have been; and also the game's greater reliance on surface nuggets, which generally (and thankfully) made the prospecting pick unnecessary for the majority of ores. But as far as being placed at a random spot in the world, given a propick, and being told to go find nickel? Yeah, good luck - there was no approach supported by game mechanics there, other than blindly guessing often enough to succeed. You dug yourself a shaft to layer 3, checked if there was any gabbro, and if not, you ran a kilometer in a random direction and dug another shaft. And once you found gabbro? Why, you started digging a tunnel in a random direction, clicked your propick all over the walls, praying that your blind tunnel passed in close proximity to a vein at some point, and that your detection of it didn't get randomly screwed by false negatives. Truly, a shining example of a deterministic, skill-based system... oh wait.

Vintage Story tells you where not to even bother digging. Density search mode will never show anything unless the conditions are right, so you can skip finding the right stone type. If if spits out a cassiterite reading, then the right stone type is present and all spawn conditions are fulfilled for cassiterite to exist there. Guaranteed. And you can use it on the surface, without digging a shaft down to check the layers, in contrast to TFC's pick. With this, you have a tool for an actual, structured approach to prospecting, where you systematically map out hotspots on the world map long before ever taking a pickaxe in hand. It is a skill that you, the player, can learn and perfect. You can guarantee yourself that, once you do start digging that first shaft, you've already maximized your chances. If you did it right, then in the vast majority of all cases, you won't need to dig a second shaft.

(And of course, you do use node search mode once you start actually digging. Prospecting gameplay is at its best when the player has learned to combine both modes for maximum payoff, IMHO.)


That's not to say that Vintage Story's system is perfect. There are many improvements I can think of, from the really elaborate like having a toggleable layer on the map where the game saves and graphically displays your prospecting results for you, down to the really simple like please just enabling node search mode by default already, to stop people having to resort to console commands for something that genuinely makes gameplay better.

But if given the choice which gameplay implementation I'd rather use for prospecting, between TFC and VS? I'll choose the latter. In 100% of all cases.

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On 9/18/2021 at 9:58 AM, motor services of chepstow said:

Hi everyone, I am finding it hard to get my head around how to find ore apart from copper. Is there a mod I need to get to help ? Or can anyone suggest a mod to make it easier. As currently I am just running around with the prospecting pick digging random holes and not finding anything. Thanks 

If you didn't enable node search on the prospecting pick then type this into your chat (t):  /worldConfig propickNodeSearchRadius 8

Finding ores is much harder without it.

In general, efficient prospecting goes like this:

  • Figure out what the parent or gangue rock is for the desired mineral/ore; you can check from the handbook or from this handy table. This can help prevent wasting your time searching in areas that will never have it or helping find areas with the highest grades (poor, medium, rich, or bountiful; not % chance of finding them) of ores. Case in point, Galena (lead) and borax can only be found in sedimentary rocks which are always the top layer of rock (usually, basalt and other sedimentary rock layers can be on top too but this is uncommon), so if you want those minerals, you need to find one of the 8 sedimentary rock layers like sandstone or chert. If you want cassiterite (tin), then you should look in regions without a top layer of sedimentary stone layers to increase your chances of finding a deposit closer to the surface or of a higher grade.
  • In a region with the right rock types, you can start doing prospecting samples (needs to be done on stone, with 3+ blocks between each sample in one axis {x, y, or z}). Record the results on the map and compare; you should be trying to first locate the mineral/ore you want and then trying to find the highest concentration of it you can find.
  • (Optional) Once you find the highest point of concentration, you can do a grid survey around it to find out the ideal area to be looking through for ores/minerals. This makes it easier to dig in from a cave/tunnel/shaft that spawned naturally.
  • Once you know the area you need to mine in, you should look at the depths the ores/minerals spawn at and get down to that level (keep in mind that some heights are based on distance to the top of the ground and others to sea level. Read carefully). Generally it is much cheaper to dig vertically than horizontally, as ladders are much easier to make than pickaxes are. You can use tunnels and caves you found to do that and save time and pickaxes, but keep in mind that you will have to deal with the dangerous denizens of the underground.
  • Locating the actual ore/mineral deposit will consist of using the node search function of the prospecting pick (switch functions with f), which will detect any non-stone ores/minerals within 8 blocks. If you do not find a deposit, try digging a shaft or drift 16+ blocks away (twice the detection radius) and use the prospecting pick again. Eventually you will find the target deposit. If you want to save on pickaxes, try to dig with more vertical shafts than horizontal drifts as your character cannot traverse 1 block high openings. The ideal search method will resemble roots branching off downwards.
  • The final step is triangulating the ore deposit. The prospecting pick will only reveal the amount of ores around it in an octahedron, so you will need to check how the readings differ along each axis (x, y, z) to find the deposit. When checking along an axis, you should keep checking until you read a change in the amount nearby. Mark the change with something (torches work well) and go in the opposite direction until you get the same change and mark that spot too. In between the two marks is where the deposit sits along that axis. Repeat for the other axis and you will find the deposit.

Good Luck!


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There are good suggestions on how to look for ores using prospecting. But if you have good amount of picaxe production going already i like usually to ckeck every deep hole in water or right under waterfalls. Holding shift will keep you above so you won't fall right away if there is cave below. :) Also places in caves where water flow stops usually indicate it is worth trying to dig down there. As game lets you breath underwater at the moment, having lantern will let you dig anywhere straight down using existing water or using bucket of water before. It is pure luck, wasting pickaxes, and somehow might be considered cheating, but for me it often leads to finding undergound ruins or ore deposits without risking dying in caves. Sometimes you won't find anything but will hear cave ambient music or drifters, thus knowing cave is near.  Anyway, just wanted to let you know about my sily method. But sure thing, if you are looking for a certain ore this won't be efficient unless you have found good area for that ore already. :)

P.S. Hide all torches. One mouse scroll and they all are gone. :D

Edited by Domkrats
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  • 2 months later...

I've been reasonably successful using the propick to find the chunk that has the highest percentage of the ore I'm looking for and digging bore holes straight down. Very high or ultra high seems to be the most successful. I'd say I'm hitting the ore 25% of the time in those. Not ideal, but it works. Dig bore holes in the chunks surrounding the highest concentration, and if you don't find it give up on that one and move on.

Just don't take anything with you that you can't stand to lose. You might fall until a cave system full of drifters or hit lava.

Granted, this is for ores that generate in large quantities, meaning most tool metals. I haven't been successful finding gold or silver with this. It did work for peridot, or whatever the green gem is. 


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