Mining is instant gratification exploration.
This is nothing to do with my log, but I just saw another Void Ople rich ring and I have to talk about mining.
Every time I fly by a planet with rings I pop a probe out because I just can’t help myself, I want to know what’ in there. I haven’t got any mining tools on this ship so I can’t do anything at all with what I find, and every ring is thousands of light-years away from the bubble so no one will be mining them.. .. ever! Even so, I still want to know what the rings hold. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss mining.
First I give up the life of the privateer to become a god damn Passenger Liner Pilot just like mum, and now I miss mining which is the job my mum did before she was a Liner Pilot. Maybe it’s the rose-tinted glasses of childhood. I remember sitting in the co-pilots seat for a Cobra MkIII leased from Lambaana Partners, pumping the mining laser while mum did the complicated stuff. That was my babysitting, a mining laser and a big rock to point it at. I avoided the Rock Hound life for years because I felt I’d done enough of that boring dross, but when the mining guild released the tools for advanced mining, I had to have another go. Bend my biscuits, if I didn’t enjoy it just as much as five year old me did.
Has anyone else noticed mining and exploring is exactly the same thing? The biggest difference is mining isn’t a total waste of time if you happen to need the escape pod. If the worst happens when ya mining, you only lost a few hours’ worth of work instead of months of logged astral bodies and thousands of light-years. Let me explain for the few that don’t see the similarities.
Just like exploration, you do your research into the task and spend a good amount of time picking the right ship for the job and filling it with the appropriate tools. Once you have your ship set, you have to pick a goal to achieve. It’s not just what materials you want to stuff into your cargo racks, it’s about how you’re going to collect them. What tools are going to bring to bear on the task and where are you gonna sell the geological bounty you have teased from its rocky tomb.
Once you know what you’re after and you know who is going to take it off your hands, it’s time to go find it. Here is the second crossover with exploration. A lil more research will let you know where to start looking for your chosen goods. I like to mine in rings so I drop a probe in, and with a lil time, and a lil luck (just like exploring) something worth finding turns up on the scanner. The exploration isn’t over yet. You may be in the right place, but now you get to ping the rocks. This part is way better than mapping a planet. The sound the rock scanner makes is fantastic, and watching the asteroids that contain minable minerals light up just makes your trigger finger itchy.
I enjoy this part so much. It’s not too dissimilar from jumping between stars using your Discovery Scanner, but you're just cursing through a field of asteroids pinging the Pulse Wave Analyser. It doesn’t take long before you start to learn what the different hues in the Analyser’ shadow mean, but it’s the really bright yellow return that you're waiting for. This stage is the extra portion that exploration doesn’t offer. Sometimes explorers find a body worth landing on to investigate. Maybe to visit a point of interest or the chance to catch a good vista for a picture, but every asteroid that lights up could be the rock your looking for as a miner.
A prospector limpet will tell you what is in the roid, and what tools you’re going to need to get at the goodies within. I love cracking the roid open with a Seismic Charge Launcher. It’s not just a fire and forget device, it takes some skill to use much like getting a good picture to supplement your log as an explorer, but luck is hardly involved. After that, you get to sit in front of the roids picking off the surface materials with an Abrasion Blaster while your Collector Limpets fill the Refinery. You can even wring the roid dry with your Mining Laser for a few more kilograms to push through the Refinery and collect materials for synthesis and engineers. Mining really is the gift that keeps on giving.
You’ve been jumping around the galaxy hunting down just the few rocks that contain the minerals you want and filled your racks to the top. Just like an explorer that’s ready to head home, it’s time to sell your wears. Unlike exploration, it didn’t take you at least a week to make it worthwhile, just two to three hours depending on how good you are at mining and you're already going to benefit from your work. . . as long as your good at dodging pirates. Ok, you’re not going to get to name a world, and no one is going to know you were first to see some astral body that hardly anyone is going to visit anyway, but you will make a Type-7 full of cash for your troubles.
If you’re chosen vocation is exploration and you haven’t had a crack at mining, try it. Most of it will feel familiar to you, and learning to use the tool skilfully will just enrich the experience. If you just explore for profit, don’t bother anymore, mining makes you way more money in a fraction of the time and you don’t risk losing months of flight hours for just one mistake.