Asteroid Mining Etiquette
The Agreement on Etiquette
The following has been agreed by the Players as the etiquette to be used when mining asteroid fields.
Players should not harvest asteroids in fields that have been discovered by another player.
The exceptions to this are asteroid fields in systems in the 'Free Zone'.
A system is in the Free Zone if it is:
- in any sector within three sectors of sector 0,0,0; that is any Sector numbered ±3,±3,±3
- connected to Sector 0,0,0 by the Jump Gate Network
- in the Red Zone
Bearing in mind that the Red Zone is one eighth of the Galaxy, this gives a lot of scope for harvesting existing fields. There should, also, be enough fields to keep new Players happy until they can develop fields they have discovered. The consequences of not following the etiquette will be upset Players who, at best, no longer tend their fields and, at worst, leave the game. Also there will develop a lack of supply of materials vital for building Jump Gates and Ships, because no-one will leave the fields long enough to get optimum yield; too much risk of raiders.
It follows that when harvesting asteroids in the Free Zone a few non-NTP (Niobium, Tin and Promethium) asteroids should also be harvested to keep the field viable. Bear in mind that Autunite, Urelite and Chrondrite asteroids contain Uranium and Magnesium which, when sold to the Local Market are a very good source of income.
The Reasoning and History behind the Etiquette
The game has no mechanism for allowing a Player to make a claim on any real estate except space on planetary surfaces for colonies. This means that the game coding does not regulate who can harvest the asteroids in a field. This would not be a problem except that asteroids are spawned with very little yield and increase their yield over time. There does not seem to be a limit on how big an individual asteroid can grow. Therefore the Discoverers of asteroid fields like to leave them unharvested until the material is needed.
However, it is not as simple as that. The most in demand materials, sourced only from asteroid fields, are Niobium, Tin and Promethium (NTP). Consequently, Angrite, Colombite and Promethicite asteroids are the most sought after and the Discoverer will spend lots of game-time tending to fields which contain them. Most NTP asteroids are in fields with other asteroids. The Discoverer will remove the other asteroids to create more NTP asteroids. When an asteroid is harvested a new asteroid will spawn. However, the new asteroid is not necessarily of the same type as the one harvested; it can be any of the types of asteroid in the field. So, this process has to be repeated until the field mostly, ideally only, contains NTP asteroids. Then the field can be left to grow. When the field is eventually harvested the process has to be repeated. It can be seen from this that, if the Discoverer does not clear the other asteroids, but only harvests the NTP asteroids, the field will eventually contain no NTP asteroids at all.
Early in the game's history, when the Jump Gate Network was in its infancy, the Players who were building the Jump Gates were working extremely hard to supply NTP to the manufacturers of the modules for the Jump Gates. They were attempting to maximise the yields of NTP, particularly Promethium, and became known as the 'Prom Team'. Unfortunately, other players took advantage of the work done by the Prom Team and harvested their fields for their own use. The excuse being 'The game lets us do it so we are doing it.' So, the 'Prom Team' stopped working and Jump Gate building slowed to a crawl. Eventually an agreement was reached which established the etiquette to be used when harvesting asteroid fields.