Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Planetary Interaction - New and Improved!

This should also be subtitled "OMFG an article".

Yes after the literally some messages that have flooded (trickled) into my inbox about the lack of articles on this blog, I've finally managed to find the time and write something about the new Planetary Interaction (PI).

First we must visit the old PI one last time so I can explain some of the differences.  The old PI was more simplistic compared to the PI we have now.  In the old PI the area your extractors gathered from did not change no matter what length the extraction cycle was.  The resources in your area did not change so you could just run them on maximum extraction forever and the resource was not depleted.

Pictured below was one of my old PI setups.



You'll notice the position of the extraction units were placed more to convey an image rather than efficiency.

Now if we look at an image of the new PI setup below:


You will notice the faint blue discs around the extraction units (the extraction head) attached to the main extraction unit (the hub).  These head units cannot touch other head units otherwise your extraction rates will drop, though the survey program will show you this quite clearly and you can move them (the head units) to compensate.

The time you run the survey program for changes the extraction head area, the longer the larger.  So changing the extraction time may require a readjustment of the extraction head.

One thing to remember is power usage.  The links from the extractor to your launch pad or similar will cost you in power usage, but the links from the extractor to the various head units do not.  So place your extractor as close to your base as possible and move around the head units.

Moving out to a wider shot:


We can see I have depleted my local area somewhat, this did not happen with the old PI.  Should I continue extracting at a high rate I will reduce the amount I extract to a low level.  Two ways you can combat this are move your extractors to a new area (the whiter areas typically) or increase the time your extraction program runs for.  The planet will rejuvenate the extracted area at a certain rate, if you can adjust your extractors to that rate you may be able to find an equilibrium.

The survey program:


Now this is the heart of the operation as far as material extraction is concerned.  You'll notice under the green Program Running section are five images of what this extractor can source from the planet, you then click on the one you require.  On the left hand side are the controls for the Extractor Head Units, select as many of these as required, on your planet they will appear in a spoke pattern, you can then drag them to the position you desire, usually for the highest extraction amount.  On the bottom left is the Extraction Area Size, this will give you your run time, which also dictates the size of the extraction units.

In the middle of the image is an expectation of how your extraction cycle will run.  Notice the bumps?  I believe these are called Nuggets and are short increases in the extraction amount, possibly from the natural movement of the resource on a gas planet

Time creep is something to watch out for.  Should you choose a 24 hour program then the finish times will creep forward over a period of days, I'll usually set mine for 1 hour less than I expect my next PI time will be, so it is all done and waiting for me.

Finally to set the program going click on the Install Program button (in the Stop Program location above) and then also click on Submit just like any other PI change and it should start.

Other items are quite similar to the old PI.

Potentially the output of this PI iteration is lower then the previous, certainly that is what the forum whiners are saying, my experience suggests it is about the same.  Certainly the amount of time required to reset the new PI installations is GREATLY reduced and that alone is a massive saving to me, conservatively it would save me 20 minutes a day.

Well worth the change.

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