MULEs were overpowered by accident. They were actually mining faster than in Standard model.
This problem has been fixed.
Update 22 Apr 2015
Double Harvest (3x3)
...is now available as a mod in all regions.
Other mods based on this one share the name, but do not include the "(3x3)" which describes the parameters of this particular harvesting method that is described below.
Updated 27 Nov 2014
Try "Double Harvest: Cloud Kingdom", (version 1.2)
Workers do three harvests before returning to drop off the resources.
This allows better base saturation scaling in terms of worker count.
- 8 workers work at 100% efficiency.
- With 16 workers the efficiency already drops to 85%
- 24 workers mine at 69% efficiency.
As a result it is worth taking more bases ealier.
But, at the same time, losing a base when saturated is slightly less punishing.
It has been suggested by various people that in order to enrich economy, and increased the desired amount of bases being built, the base saturation should gradually decrease the efficiency of mining. In other words, 16 workers in one base should mine slower than 16 workers split evenly in two bases.
Unfortunately, the current setup is not like this: The efficiency of 16 workers is almost as good as 8 workers. And then, as the number grows, there is a rather sharp decrease. The benefit of having a 17th worker is very low, and starting from 24 - none.
I was looking for a way to make this curve more graduate and I realized - with the current AI and mining rules, it's not possible.
Some other approaches, e.g. Starbow, tries to alter the mining curve by changing the AI. By having workers bounce-off one gets additional "variable". The downside is that this makes mining more random, income has higher variance and some odd results sometimes appear. It is also harder to reason about it on paper.
Harvesting can be split into three phases:
- H actual harvesting: worker is at the mineral patch and occupies it.
- W waiting: after H, a worker spends an additional moment at the patch, but does not occupy it and other workers can harvest from it
- T transporting: worker making a run towards the drop-off building and back
The core idea of double-harvesting is this: let the worker harvest a mineral patch multiple times, before it returns to the drop-off building. As a result, the complete work cycle of a worker consists of multiple H and W phases, followed by a single T.
As a result a mineral field harvested by a single worker has multiple intervals of different length, that could be used by more workers. This different length intervals allow for more interesting scenario and gives more freedom in manipulation the gathering curve.
After doing some math and experimentation we have chosen the following variables:
- Harvest time (H) reduced from 2.786 down to 1.6716
- Wait time (W) increased from 0.5 to 0.8093
- Minerals gathered in a single harvest reduced from 5 to 3
- Worker performs 3 harvests before dropping off the cargo
As a result a full triple-harvest takes 7.4427s + transport time, giving 9 minerals.
Gas minig has not been affected.
I have compared three mineral harvesting methods:
- Standard SC2
- Starbow beta v. 1.111 from 24 Nov 2014
- Double Harvest with parameters specified as above
I did not test FRB 8m/4pt mod, as it uses the same mining strategy as Standard, but income is reduced by a factor 4/5.
All tests were performed on Nimbus LE main bases, applying different mods to the map.
Income per minute is as follows:
Standard income is slowest at low worker count, but it increases linearly up to 16 workers, and then flattens rather quickly at 24 workers.
Starbow income is the highest at low worker count. However, at 9-11th worker there is a sudden drop in performance, which is then regained a bit in 12-16 range. I was somewhat puzzled by the fact that 13th worker actually contributes more than 11th and 12th. Tested multiple times and got similar results.
At 16+ Starbow flattens even faster than Standard.
Double Harvest at low worker count starts a bit faster than Standard. In 8-16 the efficiency drops by a small factor, falling below the Standard. At 16+ however, the penality is a little bit less severe, and at oversaturated base it reaches the Standard again.
A more interesting question is: how much benefit is there from an expansion. Assuming even split of workers between the bases, here are the results:
Benefit of 2 bases over 1
Even at as few as 10 workers, adding an expo can give noticeable benefits, for both Starbow and DH models. Starbow oscilates around constant 25% benefit, while DH gradually grows from 10% to Starbow's levels.
Standard falls behind a lot. Expo starts to kick in only at above 20 workers.
At higher worker counts (24+), second expo is a must for all models. Double Harvest however grows slower by few %.
Benefit of 3 bases over 2
The decission of taking third base is probably more important. Standard gives no noticeable benefit until you reach around 40 worker count, and then grows very quickly.
Starbow has a strange peak around 25 worker count, caused by the odd behavior around 10-12 worker in single base.
Apart from that, Starbow and DH shows similar benefit of 10-15% when taking 3rd base at 20-40 worker count.
At higher worker counts 3rd is important for all models. Double Harvest however is the lowest - which is good: it penalitizes the loss of such base the least.
Benefit of 4 bases over 3
This is were Standard fails the most: You don't really need 4th mining base until you are really high on the worker count. In practice, given that some workers mine gas instead, you usually don't have 60 workers mining minerals.
For Starbow and DH, the benefit starts much earlier, giving you additional 5-15% income.
Which is better?
I believe the benefits of Double Harvest and Starbow over the Standard are clear: bases matter more. More expansions, more interesting gameplay.
Comapring Starbow to Double Harvest is less clear. While Starbow is easier to implement, Double Harvest is much more predictable and less random. The DH curves are more linear and puts less emphasis on any particular probe count (16, 24).
DH has also this unique property, that oversaturated bases (24+) still give slight benefit. Double Harvest becomes least punishing when losing a base. It still punishes, no doubt, but those few % of mining efficiency may help you stabilize your game.
Finally, more of an esthetic argument: since the "intelligent" AI is maintained, at 8-16 worker count, you end up having very few or no workers jumping from one mineral patch to another. In Starbow, as by their design, workers jump a lot.
Encouraged with the experimental results I wanted to try it in real match.
For that reason I published the modification with the Cloud Kingdom map so that you can test it too.
Search for "Double Harvest: Cloud Kingdom"
How does it affect your gameplay and decision to expand? Is the overall gathering speed right, or should it be tweaked a bit?
... and if you like the idea, spread the word! Maybe it could be implemented into LotV?
Note, this is an experimental modification, and may be buggy. I expect that errors might occur when minerals get depleted.
Thank you for your time!