Monday, 27 December 2010

Gold struck

On the subject of gifts, a brief look at wealth, specifically mining in games. One of the three wise men gave gold and mining is a real ghost of past, present and future.

The past we know about - 2010 was a year the human cost really made the news. In the present we have the battle for rare earth metals, a big one - you could easily have some of these in whatever you're using to read this. For the future, if you think Branson et al are interested only in tourism and lifting, think again - a smart investor would be growing the technology to mine the moon and asteroids. There's money in them thar belts.

How to fit all of this into a game?

Well, what's being mined? Think properties and uses, whether those of dilithium crystals, warpstone or even melange. There's much, much more ready-made besides.

Who needs it? The greedy, the addicted, those earning on the commerce - anyone or any group that's dependent in some way. Prestige and physiology both play a part, but not in that order. Even the slow adjustment of industrial output means a stable supply is highly desirable. Plus whole societies can be built on a gold rush.

Who controls it? The money men of course, but only if the miners agree. Robots would never strike - would they? - but there are things a pulp robot can't do, and who does the repairs? Bandits also have their say in terms of supply routes, as does Mother Nature.

What when things go wrong? Well, the adventurers go in, of course, to negotiate or wrest control back, or do the right thing if they find all is not as it seems. Strike forces launch surprise assaults to capture or re-capture, and perhaps even double-cross, and defenders have geology on their side. Mines can be mines, like Moria, or something else again - Necron tombs for example. Think of landscapes, entry points and interiors.

For research you could read the great Joseph Conrad's Nostromo. The book of course, not the Commercial Towing Vessel.

As an aside, today's wise men are still telling us to buy, and the nominal price of gold is breaking records. Perhaps it's that Old School Renaissance affecting the market?

Anyway, if you're thinking about cashing in unwanted Christmas presents to buy ingots, Porky says beware the bubble. Remember Goldfinger? Midas? Double 0 Sven knows the danger. That advice comes for free, but if you want to send a cut of what you won't lose because of it, I'll take it in food, any main from here followed by this candied ginger.

Update: A list of mines in fiction is getting started here.


Desert Scribe said...

Discussion of the price of precious metals brings to mind the Simon–Ehrlich wager. Ehrlich bet the prices of copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten would increase from 1980 to 1990; Simon said they would fall.

Porky said...

I'm one of the people who tend to think the timeframe was too short. To give an example, prices could have been unusually high in 1980 for the oil issues and low in '90 for the recession. There are many factors at work at any one time and they might need to play out before we can recognise them.

I do believe in ingenuity opening up new resources, but I worry some of the solutions - and maybe some of the problems too - are the kind the Goldfingers and Midases would back!

Paul´s Bods said...

Economics seems always to work in retrospect...unless of course the markets are fixed..which I have more than a sneaking suspicion that they all are. Why are we...the "prolls" told that to buy gold is a good idea? So the ones telling us can get richer off our backs and use that money to buy derivitives and make us pay more for them in the future..

Porky said...

That seems to have been the way of it.

If you haven't already, I recommend reading this famous article from Rolling Stone:

Of course, the problem is almost certainly wider and deeper than one bank. For an interesting - or rather terrifying - view of the bigger picture, this blog may be helpful:

This particular post is key to the point the author is making:

Greg Christopher said...

Space Mining is forever paired in my mind with HK Droids and their nefarious games.

Porky said...

I'm guessing that's the Star Wars game Knights of the Old Empire II - sadly I've never played it. It looks very involving and has that Star Wars feel.

While hunting, I found the entry on Perugas Mining Facility at Wookieepedia and it seems a very well developed location from the point of view of gaming. There are even maps available. It's interesting because the visuals are a different take than my first thoughts on space mining. Of course, when it comes to ideas, the more, the merrier!