Saturday, January 23, 2021

Mining TNT With a Blowtorch

~or "The Quest for Quant"

Heading out to the Rock Garden

I am getting settled down in Stanton system. Since my last post two important things have happened... I have found my first real niche in StarCitizen, and strangely enough it's mining, and... I have a home.

I know, I know... I HATE mining. I mean in EVE I really did. Seriously, I did. It was IMHO the worst gameplay ever. That is, if you prefer "active gameplay" over passive, and in EVE mining was mind numbingly passive, at least to me. I honestly felt PI was more active than mining.

Please keep in mind that I believe this was as it should be. All PVE in EVE is just a job. A way to make ISK in order to afford to PVP. PVE was never supposed to be The Point of EVE, the Endgame, the Reason to Play. Player Interaction, PVP, whether consensual or non, was and is THE Point of EVE, and so PVE was designed as a mostly grindy “job”. I got that then, and I get it now, it IS the EVE Meta… it is, The Way of EVE.

"Yeah, mining is ok, it's easy and relaxing."   (Nullsec Industry Player)

Not so in StarCitizen. We mine TNT, well, more accurately, we mine a highly volatile and explosive resource, actually more powerful than TNT considering what it refines into. There is a resource called Quantanium, this is refined into Quantum Fuel for the Quantum Drives that give us the ability to travel faster than light speed in normal space.

In case yer curious, all the rest of the resources that can be mined are pretty much the standard stuff... Gold, Diamonds, Aluminum, Titanium, This and Thatium... with a few 'new' resources but none are “dangerous” in and of themselves to mine. Not so Quantanium.

Quant is unstable once mined and becomes more unstable over time. Very unstable… like ~15 minutes unstable. As in “more or less” 15 minutes after the first mSCU (milliSCU) hits the inside of your ore bay… BOOM. Yup… BOOM. It explodes. Oh and it’s touchy too… get attacked, bounce off a rock, hell just LAND a little too hard and… BOOM.

Add that to the fact that in order to mine Quant, or anything in SC, you have to DO it. It is NOT mining in EVE, that goes something like this:
> Fly to an Asteroid Belt
> target rock(s)
> engage mining lasers/mining drones
> wait as ore bay fills until rock “pops”
> move to to next rock
> engage mining lasers/mining drones
> as ore bay fills, transfer to Orca/Rorqual or when full fly to station and unload
> continue mining/fly back to Asteroid Belt and continue mining
> “rinse & repeat” while you  struggle to stay awake or chat on comms or watch TV or… well or anything except actually play EVE.

In StarCitizen mining is Active Gameplay with Consequences. That goes more like this:
> Fly to Asteroid Field
> scan for asteroids in range
> narrow scan to pinpoint rocks with ores
> Fly to and detail scan/decide yes-no
engage mining laser and carefully & constantly, increase/decrease power input and use consumables as needed to safely crack the rock into lrg. chunks
> detail scan all chunks/
decide yes-no
engage mining laser and carefully & constantly, increase/decrease power input and use consumables as needed to safely crack lrg. chunks into sm. chunks
> repeat on all lrg. chunks worth cracking
> switch to extraction mode and scan/selectivly extract all worthwhile ores until all have been collected or Ore Cannisters are full
> fly IMMEDIATELY to refinery station
> land (VERY carefully), exit ship and go directly to Refinery, start up refining process ASAP
> “rinse & repeat” while you try to keep your head on a swivel watching for Bad Guys (NPC or PVP)...

Now THAT is Active Mining with Consequences.

In EVE you have “local” a list always onscreen that tells you immediately if anyone jumps into the same SYSTEM you are in, IE “perfect intel”...  none such in SC, your safety is ALL on you, or your friends.

Bad enough that Quant is a damn touchy explosive once freed from the rocks it is locked up in, but the very nature of just the basic mining process alone is, in and of itself, dangerous to ship and crew.

You see we scan down the rocks that have desired resources, then we “charge” the rocks with heat via mining lasers. This process has to be applied very carefully and takes focus and concentration. You charge the rock until it breaks up… just enough to safely crack it into several pieces but gently… oh so gently, so that the chunks remain close together.

Careful.... careful... easy does it...  (OK, not Quant but still)

But if you do it wrong, if you heat it up too fast, the rock will break up more and more energetically throwing the chunks apart faster and faster, just like a grenade. Best case is you might have to chase the chunks down… worst case they can actually explode… not to the degree that Quant does, but forcefully enough to damage or even destroy your ship… oh, and kill you too.

It’s like using a torch to take apart a landmine while trying not to get killed in the doing.

Like I said this is ACTIVE, Consequential Gameplay of the First Order and it is DAMN good PVE. Oh, and it is very lucrative too as all Risk Equals Rewards PVE should be, hell as all aspect of actual LIFE should be.

Now let’s add to all of that, the ever present risk of non-consensual PVP.

I was attacked twice while mining this past weekend. Once I was quite simply blown out of the sky by a guy who (in SC’s version of “local”) later said, “I was just trying something.” (I think I kinda pissed him off when I didn’t get upset…) LOL

The other guy did a flyby, strafed me then turned and stopped about 5 klicks away from me. We sat staring at each other for about a minute then he burned in and opened fire… I evaded and burned hard towards the station, then warped out to a nearby warpable. I waited a little bit then came back to find him gone.

THIS is good damn gameplay!! GOOD PVE with the risk of PVP. THIS is the game I had been waiting for.

EVE players all know one of the ongoing problems with EVE is how easy it is to make ISK. Not for real noobs, but EVE is The Game for Large Group Gameplay and once you are in any of the Big Groups in EVE ISK is the least of your issues.

Trillionaires are not rare in EVE. To have less than several billion in your wallet as a line grunt is rare in EVE. I was a wormholer and preferred small corps (though we were once part of a large wormhole Alliance) and was considered poor most all those years, even though I normally had a few billion in my wallet.

I am new enough in StarCitizen that I don’t know what the norm is as regards how much players make or can make in the game. I talk to orgmates in Discord who are quite “gamerich”, but they still talk in the low millions, not billions.

What I do know is I am finally on track to make my first million. And it’s all due to Quant and an orgmate. I started hand mining… loved the gameplay but I simply died too much, I tried ROC and surface mining, interesting but I wanted to see what mining looked like in space so I got a Prospector.

The MISC Prospector and your humble reporter

Initially I was not having much success credit-wise, but it was OK, I was new and learning and I was banking “some” credits (aUEC), just not a lot. I was making in the 10 to 30K CR range per sales trip at one to two sales trips a day. As I was at the time renting a Cutty Black as my cargo ship that rents for approx. 95K CR for 3 days… well, I actually lost CR over the three days I had the rental. Partly that was on me being a noob and oooohing and ahhhing over everything (IE “wasting time” enjoying the game, LOL), partly it was lost to client crashes and 30Ks and PVP… sigh. Life in Alpha.

But I had a late night chat with an orgmate and he put me onto his “secret spot” for really fat Quant rocks AND talked me into trying it.

You see I was so bad at hand mining and such that I was seriously scared of Quantanium. I mean it goes BOOM all on it’s own FFS… and I was dying way too much from just being a noob to feel any confidence that I could mine the single most dangerous resource in Stanton… until I thought, wait… I didn’t get settled down in EVE until I moved into Anoikis (wormhole space)… I didn’t find My Game there until I was living in the most dangerous space in EVE, so what the hell huh?

So I tried it… and it turns out I am good at mining Quant. I get it. I understand the time pressures and can work with them. I have only had two bad trips. The first, I over-charged the rock just a little and when it cracked it damaged my ship, but we survived to fly back, repair and return.

Rock popped a little early... blew the ore containers right off

Yup, took some damage to the cockpit too, but she's a tough little lady

The second was, enlightening to say the least. You see, part of the mining process for Quant is a neat little additional display in the cockpit… the Volatiles Warning Panel. It shows a Flashing Yellow Light the moment the Quant begins to decay, ~8 mins. in… after approx. ~6 minutes it should go to Flashing Orange… after approx. ~4 minutes it should go to Fast Flashing Red… after approx. ~2 minutes it should go to VERY Fast Flashing Red in which case… BOOM is in approx. ~30 seconds. There is an “Eject Cargo” button on the Volatiles Warning Panel… at Flashing Red, you should use it…  I did.

That was the second incident. I had just filled my ore hold when Yellow started flashing… cool, I had ~6 mins till Orange and another ~2 minutes until Red, right? Nope. I landed at CRU-L1 about 5 minutes after Yellow started but as I was shutting down to hop out, it went straight to Fast Flashing RED…

I sat frozen for a second, then reached up and punched the Eject Cargo button… it literally exploded as I was moving the mouse off the button… I ejected the Quant while I was on the landing Pad, thankfully without any damage to ship or station. All in all you are supposed to have approximately 15 minutes from the Yellow to BOOM,… the operative word here is “approximately”… on that trip I had ~6 maybe 7 minutes from first extraction to BOOM… go figure.

Other than those two incidents I have been able to mine, return and kick off refining processes for about 6 batches so far. I am using the Low cost, High yield, Long duration Dynex Solventation method, I ALWAYS use the DynSolv method, why spend more for less return? Screw how long it takes, waiting costs me nothing and it’s worth the investment to me.

Very first refining runs of Quantanium

So, where am I now? Well I’ll know when I log back in to the most amazing and immersive game I have ever played… 30Ks, client crashes and “10 years In Alpha” not withstanding.  =]

OK, so you may have forgot but up top I said two things had happened... I had found "my" gameplay, or at least very satisfying and lucrative gameplay that will keep me busy and happy (and flush with Space Bucks!) for a while yet and... a home.

A very favorite dimension of SC, if you have not noticed, is the First Person aspects. As I have said before, this is not for role play so much as being ME in the game. And I found it uncomfortable that I did not have a way to, well, put Tur to bed each night when I usually went to bed. I mean, we "wake up" in bed but we can't "rent" the Hab we are in, if we leave, the door locks, all the doors are locked.. So, where does one log off?

In EVE we didn't have First Person so you just logged off in your ships. And that was easy, I mean in EVE the Fabled Immortal Capsuleer is really just a Glorified Cyborg Sardine anyway, eeeeew.

But I really wanted a place to put Tur to bed so when I "woke up" the next "day" it made fukkin sense. I have that now.

For the last 3 nights I have set course, gone to warp then I manually drop out of warp at appox 1 M/KM from my starting point. I then set a new course, in this case I was lucky and my second "leg" was very close to being at a right angle from my original course.... again go to warp and drop out approx 1 M/KM from start... So I end up in a randomish Safe Spot.

For three days I have logged out in space and for three days on loggin in... I am back in the same spot. This means that 30Ks and Bob allowing, I can actually live in my ship. I have a home.  =]

And no... this is not where I am NOW... (I know better than that...)

As far as I know we do not have the ability to scan player's ships down, Yet(TM)... So I believe, at least until then, I am safe as houses out here deep in the black.

I ask you, gentle reader, to ponder this… I have played EVE Online for 10 years, highly active for 6 of those. I was so deeply involved that 6 months ingame I started blogging about it… yet here I am playing StarCitizen EVEN with (as stated right upfront) daily, even multiple daily server crashes (30Ks) and client crashes which are a bit less frequent but by no means rare, the glitches and weirdness in a game that's being created as we play... AND of course the age old Surprise Buttsex! (non consensual PVP)

All of which can and does cause lost ships, lost cargoes, lost fights, lost tempers, lost minds and the attendant loss of credits… and of course the whole “10 Years Still In Alpha” that generates so much rage and hate…

The peace and freedom of the eternal sky...

And yet, here I am. One cannot help but wonder why.  Yea… maybe you should ask yourself that.

 Kiss each ship goodbye on take off, and FLY!


  1. Hey, buddy. Welcome to SC. I've really enjoyed reading your post about mining Quant. I have done quite a bit of ROC mining (and to my surprise enjoyed it), but have yet to try Quant. Looking forward to more blog posts and see you in the verse o7

  2. Yo Evul! FIRST! You are the first to comment since I left New Eden for Stanton. Thank you! =]

    I have been enjoying SC immensely! And being a Quant miner is, well... it is DAMN interesting game play to say the least, ESPECIALLY in a 'verse where the game itself is out to kill you too!

    And I would like to apologize in advance... I post stuff when the Muse grabs me... so I do not have a regular posting schedule as such. I post as things move me to write about em. So keep your expectations low... LOL

    Thanx again,


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