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Geology and Rock Drill – Update 9.0

March 30, 2020

Hi folks, this week’s Eco update will be presented by Eco artist and dev Keegan O’Rourke. We’re going to get a close look at all the changes to mining and drilling, which is a way to let you prospect and find new places to mine.

Here’s the Eco 9.0 hype-train of blogs so far:

  1. New Government system: Constitution
  2. New Government system: Elections and Elected Titles
  3. New Government system: Demographics and Wages
  4. New Government system: Laws Part 1: Using the system
  5. New Government system: Laws Part 2: Taxes, Ownership, Property, and Wealth
  6. New Government system: Laws Part 3: Tour of different actions, and Executive Actions
  7. New Government system: Districts
  8. New Crafting: Work Parties
  9. New Crafting: Labor System
  10. New Crafting: Modules and Efficiency Redesign
  11. New Crafting: New Tech Tree
  12. New Building System: Hammer and new Building Styles
  13. New Mining System: Mineral Dispersion and Drill Usage (This blog)
  14. New Mining System: New Processing Path and Pollution Info
  15. New Animal System: Attacking Animals
  16. New Ecopedia System
  17. New UI
  18. New Audio
  19. New Hosted Worlds System

Geology Generation

In Eco as in real life, many of the most important resources for a civilization come from the ground. The largest efforts to extract resources from our planet center around what we can use that is locked underground in rock.

In our 9.0 update, we are improving and expanding our representation of these resources and their use in industry. We have also improved the procedural generation of the world in Eco to better control how and where these resources are located. We are laying the groundwork with 9.0 to keep evolving what mining is in Eco and how it impacts both players and the environment. I think our players will be excited by some of the changes, let’s take a look:

Prior to 9.0, we had in place a layer system that allowed us to generate different layers of rock in the environment, and assign these layers to different biomes. With this we could begin thematically creating a diverse world of different types of rock and ore located in different places. But biomes can be large, and ore deposits are not all shaped like layers. To combat that, we’ve created a new ore deposit module in our generation:

One of the biggest improvements to this is that in 9.0 we have an ‘ore deposit module’ in our world generation system that allows us to insert ore bodies into the layers which have their own definable shape and likelihood of appearing. We can also locate these at any level we want in the layers, and define size ranges for them. With this, we finally are generating a set of earth resources that works much more like the real world. These improvements will have a good impact on how mining feels. Players will likely get a bigger sense of reward for finding a deposit, and have much more to think about when it comes to efficient extraction and the shape of their mines.

Here’s a series of cutaways using a new admin command we added to debug ore generation. In the first shot, all the soil has been removed. In the second, the bedrock granite has been removed to reveal bedrock basalt and gold ore. In the third all rock and ore has been removed except copper ore

And here is a view from the bottom up, where you can see some of the copper ore deposits that have formed deep below the surface.

Since ore deposits have massively concentrated where resources like metal ore and coal are located, players will have more incentive to create efficient infrastructure to link a successful mine to other parts of their civilization. Mining towns will grow around these deposits, supplying miners with the tools and resources they need to extract the resources.  It also means that players will have to explore for earth resources much more, since where deposits are located in particular biomes will be different for every different world.

Introducing the Drill

To aid in this process and to lay the groundwork for a powerful future mining tool in Eco, we have added a new Rock Drill tool to the game. This tool will let players find out what blocks are beneath them much more quickly than shoveling up all the earth in the way. As players get a feel for where deposits show up in the biomes, they will be able to learn to search intelligently for them using the drill.

To use the drill, you can aim it in any direction at a landmass and activate it. Based on the tier of the tool, it will inform you what is buried beneath the surface to a given depth. You’ll be able to easily mark these positions in space with world markers.

With this addition, exploration and prospecting will become an important first step to every mining operation. 

Adding Crushed Ore and Rock

One cool new addition is that because all rock and ore have crushed varieties that fit into other improvements to mineral processing in Eco 9.0, we are also able to use crushed rock and ore to begin to simulate natural erosion of rock and ore in the world.

As part of this update, all of the layers which contain ore and other resources like clay and sand have been revamped and improved with an eye both towards balance and future improvements coming to mining and industry in Eco. Mineral processing has been deeply expanded in 9.0 to more realistically break down rock and ore and create the correct byproducts from the right processes, which will be detailed in another update!

We are in the process of big updates to the balance of different ores with regards to their byproducts, so with all these factors changing we are being generous with ore quantity to start. We are excited that as far as what’s waiting under their feet, players will have a brand new world to explore in 9.0.

Our next livestream will take place on Thursday, noon (12:00) PST / 9pm CEST (21:00). I will be showing off all the content of this blog live on our Twitch and Youtube channels as well as on Facebook.

– Keegan O’Rourke, Eco Lead Artist, Strange Loop Games

The Eco Team is a collection of introverted and sometimes genius programmers/designers based in Seattle and Australia. We all grew up and thrive in the video game culture, so of course making them is our dream job. We look forward to continuing to put out quality games for the community of players.

5 thoughts

  • Reply

    I can’t wait till this update comes out. I love the game already. It just misses the realism you are about to bring in. Definitely gonna check out the game more once this update is ready!

  • Reply
    jonathan guerrero

    Congratulations for the work, I would like you to implement more the survival system with respect to the animals and the damage to the character so that you feel a danger as well as feel cold or very hot and affect the crops.

  • Reply

    Very good change!
    It was needed.

    Now on to improve the mining interaction itself, and that part of the game will be perfect.

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