Under the Hood
The MISC Prospector is the way to get started with mining in the ‘Verse! Last year, we developed a number of concept ships around different careers we are developing in Star Citizen. The Orion platform for miners, the Reclaimer for salvage crews, the Starliner for commercial space travel and the like. In these cases, we designed large, multi-crew ships that would let us prototype everything we want to do with a particular career… and now we’re going back and looking at gameplay progression. That is, determining how an individual player might progress from general ‘jack of all trades’ ships like the Aurora or Constellation to ones specialized for a career. The Prospector is the first of these ‘entry level’ career ships, and we’re extremely pleased with the work the team has put into it!
As cool as the Prospector looks, we know what really matters is how it works and what it does. Our designers have volunteered to answer some initial questions about the Prospector today, as we know there are always many things to discuss about a new ship. Do you have a question we haven’t covered? We will be doing two MISC Prospector Q&A posts on Wednesday and Friday next week with the ship’s designers! You can submit questions for consideration on the forums here.
You can also read more about plans for mining careers in Star Citizen here.
What is a ‘small’ mining ship and how does it compare to an industrial-class option such as the Orion?
The Prospector is the jumping off point for miners and is intended for precision mining on a small scale, finding mineral pockets on asteroids or planetside and extracting them. The Orion on the other hand operates on a much bigger scale befitting a large industrial ship. It is able to break up and destroy asteroids and, with the correct variant, process the minerals on board. The Prospector is more of a precision tool for a solo player to target resource pockets directly, whereas the Orion requires a full team to grind their way through an asteroid field.
Planetary mining? What about asteroids and other small space objects?
The Prospector can also land on asteroids and small objects if they are big enough to accommodate it, but the purpose of landing is to allow for mining deeper under the surface, so if the asteroid is only twice the size of the Prospector, it’s likely not worth doing.
Planetside mining will be broken down into the following phases:
- Scanning – The first step should be to identify where the mineral pockets are under the surface. This way the miner can search around until they’ve found a spot that’s rich in minerals, or contains the resource they’re specifically searching for.
- Landing & Prepping – The next step would be to find a safe, flat place to land that is above the selected mineral pocket. Once touched down, the pilot can then activate the ship’s deep core mining mode, in which the mining laser arm will extend further out and point downwards. In this state more power is able to be pushed to the mining laser as other ship systems are now turned off, so the laser will be visibly more powerful and can mine deeper under the surface.
- Mining & Extracting – This would be a slightly more drawn out process than surface mining, as the mining laser has to bore a hole down to where the mineral pocket is. Once a path to the resource is cleared, the tractor beam begins extraction and begins to fill the storage crates.
- Selling or Dropping – The Prospector is quite unique in that it can either take a full load of resources back to a station or refinery for selling, or it can drop the cargo on the spot and begin to fill one of the collapsed storage crates it has in reserve. This makes it very good for working in unison with other Prospectors and cargo haulers.
What can you tell me about the Prospector’s sensors? How do they compare to the Orion?
The sensors on the Prospector would operate on a smaller, more detailed scale. It would be able to circle asteroids and scan to find out where exactly the mineral “pools”/pockets are to extract, so it can pick and choose which minerals it wants. The Orion would be scanning on a higher level and at a longer range, scanning multiple asteroids at once to find out their mineral content so they can grind up the most valuable asteroids as a priority.
The biggest benefit the Prospector has over the Orion is that it can scan for and mine minerals planetside (where there may be different minerals depending on planet type) while the Orion is restricted to mining in space.
Do you operate the tools/mine from inside the cockpit or is there an EVA component?
It was intended that everything was handled from the cockpit, as you have to manage your equipment and keep an eye on how deep you are mining. It should be possible to leave it going and get out of your seat/the ship, but your productivity will suffer for it. The only time during a ‘by the book’ mining operation that we expect you to need to get out is if something goes wrong with the laser itself, causing it to require repairs.