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Heya Space Cadets,

So yesterday I started with fixing mining and ended up redoing the whole concept of Miners, adding the option to build up a vast NPC labor force. So now, let’s talk about consequences. First off, I love this new system. Second off, it means that a ton of things are going to change. Let’s yank on the shifter and divert ourselves deep into speculative territory here. These are not the mechanics that WILL be, just mechanics that MIGHT be. They are a ghost of games future, if you will. Maybe I shoulda’ saved that for Christmas…

Anyway, let’s start off with the basics. For the NPCs to save you any time at all they need their labors to be automated, so that means we need to make sure they never have to do anything even remotely complicated, or else the deranged behaviors that the inevitably AI chooses for them will ruin the game. So, let’s bust out Occam’s Razor and cut out mineral loot.

What, loot, gone!? Remember, not relics, but with mining strictly the purview of automated NPC labor there’s no chance of a Hero picking up a gold chunk unless someone shanks a miner. Keeping the present loot system just for that is a terrible idea, and worse, it really plays havoc with a Simultaneous Turn-Based system. Removing problems and unnecessary complexity and replacing it with something easy and fun is worth considering other options. People like relics though, so let’s keep those and see if we can unify some mechanics and get more mileage out of greater simplicity.

Why not have it so when an NPC or Monster generates items after death, it comes in two possible forms: GP which is added to that creature’s wallet like in an old RPG, and treasure items like relics. A sack of gold could be a treasure, it’s less fancy than a relic but it certainly makes sense as an inventory item. Treasure can be the new catchall term for anything special enough for the relic slot, and we’ll just make that into the Inventory and let everything use that same mechanic. Bam! Uncluttered inventory, and a cool new idea that reduces complication.

This is a faster and simpler system to operate around, and those are huge design goals for Multiplayer. We can’t have 8 people manually ordering loot pickup just for pocket change, it would be a catastrophe to game flow. Getting rid of giant gold piles is also a good thing, though the hilarious visual of a loot pile is cool enough that I think we should keep them, and have Dragon Hoards handled the same way as an Ultra Rich gold vein. I’d like to see laborers stuffing coins into bags and sending them back up in Minecarts. It hammers home the old D&D problem of finding a metric ton of copper and silver pieces and having absolutely no way of getting it home. Again, this is a job for labor, while heroes can focus on the more legitimately heroic concept of grabbing a magic relic and running off with that.

Speaking of labor forces and infrastucture, there’s an interesting question about how mining will be done. I’m actually not positive yet, there’s a lot of things to consider, but something I really like is an idea I’m calling “progressive mining.” You’d have mineral veins spread across several of these small hexes, and that hex isn’t passable until it has been harvested. One of the advantages of a small hex is that a dwarf can stand on it and mine the ADJACENT hex, akin to characters on a D&D battlemat attacking ADJACENT squares. This means tunnel expansion is more like a “click a path” system and your guys will smash their way through over a few turns, and it means that mining could occur as your team chops through mineral veins in a similar way. The denser the mineral the longer extraction takes. I’d like to kick the idea around a bit.

This also gives us a chance to revamp the minerals and the mining economy entirely. What I want to do with it… I’m not yet sure. But I get the feeling that something has to be special about Mithril, more like an event and less like a normal haul. One idea I had for some kinds of Super Relics was that a giant chest would be too big to drag back yourself, so you either need a Roguish Dwarf to pick the lock or send down a team of Laborers to haul the thing out and turn the whole thing in. This would add some value to Thiefy characters, more use to Laborers, and be used as a basis for Mithril extraction. What if finding Truesilver meant that you’re faced with this Piano-sized lump of metal and getting it out requires you to send down a whole team of movers? The idea strikes my fancy because it would re-use a fun mechanic and make the conquering of mithril into a bigger event. It also makes it into an escort quest, which everyone loves.

Mithril in this sense stresses downward expansion, but requires some infrastructure. With NPC laborers we can actually do that though, since Mine Carts and Lifts and a variety of constructed doodads could all make it much easier. Assembling a big Rube Goldberg machine to assist in the extraction of the precious Mithril lumps could be an over-arching theme of the game itself, something to tie it all together. Get it back to the premise of digging down faster than you should, stretching your team to its limits, and watching as things blow up in your face. However, in this game they might literally blow up in your face, and take a good portion of the mountain with it.

Spacelab Signing Out

So one little change and suddenly everything is up in the air. Inventory system? Revamped! Loot system? Also revamped! Old problems fixed for the new game, new cool ideas able to be implemented, and a massive burden taken off the players to let them focus on the two goals they actually care about: killing monsters, and building awesome tunnel networks.

Have some questions or feedback about the proposed changes to the mining system? Don’t worry, you can ask us. Write your message below, find us on facebook, or track me down on Twitter. Mining will absolutely get another discussion in the future as we get closer to a final consensus on how it should work. Oh, and see you again on Monday!

Neil Wickman is a whisper of the dark times to come.

He has been working for Lunar Giant studios since its inception, one of the lead designers and the Creative Director. Listen to his arty nonsense @LunarNeil on Twitter.