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Old 08-19-2019, 06:31 PM
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Kerbal Space Program 2


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Time to set aside another 750 hours over the next couple of years. At least this means I can stop playing the original...
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:36 PM
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BTW, if anyone with even a passing interest in space and games wants an argument why you must play this game (or at least the original), just ask.
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:27 PM
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So why would I want to play this game?
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:09 PM
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It is by far the best way to understand orbital mechanics at an intuitive level. Most people do not understand space at all, whether it's how orbits work or the purpose of staging or concepts like the Oberth effect.

It does so in a way which is fun--hard, but not too hard--but where the core ideas are completely accurate. And the basic game cycle is fun even (or especially) when you fail. You will blow up your rockets, and often, but it is always hilarious and motivates you to fix your design and try again.

As a simple example of how KSP forces you to learn something about space: most people tend to think of space as just going up really high. But like real life, if you do that in KSP your rocket will fall back to the planet and you will not go to space today. Instead, space (and orbit, specifically) is about going sideways really, really, fast. And it's actually crazy difficult to go that fast sideways, especially since you have to go up a little first to get out of the atmosphere. And you find that it's impossible to do so with just one stage and anything like a decent payload, so you use multiple stages to eliminate the dead weight. Each time you try and fail, you learn something about the next design, and apply that new knowledge to your next design.

The downside is that the game has a fairly high barrier to entry. They claim to be improving this in KSP2, so hopefully they can bring in a larger player base without eliminating the depth.

And there is a tremendous amount of depth in the game; making orbit is just the beginning. Orbital rendezvous, landing on the moon, asteroid intercepts, interplanetary transfers, space stations, orbital refueling, and so on are just a small number of the possibilities. If you like games which give you an open world (solar system) to explore and invent your own story in, there are few other games that come close.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:43 AM
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Thanks for the great explanation.
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Old 08-20-2019, 01:06 AM
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I realized that I forgot to explain what the game actually is. Well, you might have an idea from the links but I'll give you a summary.

At its core, KSP is a space-based physics sandbox. You build rockets, spaceships, and aircraft out of a set of modules like engines and fuel tanks. You then go on to pilot those craft in a solar system that resembles (but isn't identical to) our own.

There are various modes to the game. You can have a completely freeform sandbox if you like where you can build whatever you want at any time. Or, there's a career mode where you slowly unlock new technologies as you progress. There are missions you can go through to earn money and science points. The missions increase in difficulty in a way that guides you toward increasing your skill set.

There's no story in KSP, though there's an amusing background to the game which comes through in the item descriptions, missions, etc. Kerbals (the alien species who are our heroes) are either brave or foolhardy, depending on your perspective, and while they seem to build reliable hardware it is a bit more slapdash than one would hope for. But never mind that; you can always add more struts if your rockets keep falling apart.

It's not a game for you if you want a linear story based game, or don't like the basic fail-and-iterate loop. But if you like physics games at all, this is for you. It is kid-friendly, though "with adult supervision" given the basic difficulty. In fact, I'd say if you ever liked building-type toys like LEGO or Erector, then KSP is also for you.
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Old 08-20-2019, 02:00 AM
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Some notes about the video:

An approximate translation for non-KSP players:
Kerbin = Earth
Mun = Earth's Moon
Duna = Mars
Jool = Jupiter

0:00: A seemingly well-planned mission from Kerbin to Mun.
0:57: A foot slips...
0:58: We see everything we need to know about how Kerbals operate. The tiniest mistake snowballs into a complete mission fail. And yet the Kerbals remain characteristically oblivious to their own impending doom, and in fact happy.
1:27: A Korolov... hexagon? Snowflake? Of course, a mere six boosters is just getting started.
1:28: I see that the KSP universe has their version of Gravity.
1:30: Someone is not going to space today. The launch escape tower is engaged.
1:31: Duna. But that's an interesting engine on the end... what could it be?
1:34: An artificial gravity ring.
1:36: Very 2001esque.
1:39: A fairly large colony on Duna. Those units look quite like Bigelow inflatables.
1:40: We can see that Kerbals drive their rovers like they do their spacecraft: only rarely touching the ground.
1:42: Oh, shiiiit! That weird engine? It's an Project Orion nuclear pulse propulsion drive. Detonate thousands of nuclear bombs on one side of a pusher plate and hope for the best.
1:43: A burnt reentry shield, and parachutes.
1:44: For Kerbals, an actual enclosed spacecraft is a luxury. A chair with a joystick is usually sufficient.
1:45: Jool. With quite a large station. But what's that weird engine again...
1:52: Inertial confinement fusion! The refined man's nuclear drive. This sucker might go interstellar.
1:55: These planets seem to be new, and don't have local analogues... hmmm.
1:56: The original KSP didn't have a Saturn analogue, either. We seem to be braking toward a moon.
2:02: And dropping a lander on its icy surface.
2:09: That is an impressive colony.
2:17: Parked the lander a liiiiitle too close to the edge there.
2:38: Lithobraking: litho means rock. Lithobraking is using the ground to bring your craft to a rapid stop.
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Old 08-20-2019, 07:48 AM
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Thanks for the heads-up. Just the upgrade from basic Unity graphics will be worth the price. The combination of interstellar travel and modding suggests that we may have a practically infinite number of planets to explore. It would be nice to download whole solar systems from the Steam Workshop.
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:06 AM
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I just hope they fix the way that mods are implemented.

ETA: Now that I have seen the trailer, that is just the perfect way to sell the game to people who have played the first one.

Last edited by Ike Witt; 08-20-2019 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 08-20-2019, 09:02 AM
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I just hope they fix the way that mods are implemented.
Yeah, implementing mods like it's 2005 instead of using the Steam Workshop was a bad decision. Anyone have an idea why they did it that way?

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 08-20-2019 at 09:02 AM.
  #11  
Old 08-20-2019, 09:26 AM
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So why would I want to play this game?
I'm an aerospace engineer. I have taken coursework in rockets and orbital mechanics. I never really had an intuitive understanding of the subjects until I played KSP.

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Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
Yeah, implementing mods like it's 2005 instead of using the Steam Workshop was a bad decision. Anyone have an idea why they did it that way?
A lot of KSP's problems stem from how it was originally one programmer's (who wasn't a game developer) very small side project, with features added piecemeal. Mod support feels like a bit of a hack, and it probably is. Building everything anew from the ground up while having a roadmap of where to go can only improve things.
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Old 08-20-2019, 09:45 AM
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I love KSP and I've flown all over the system however docking is something I've never been any good at. I just hope there's a better way to teaching docking. Orbits, and everything else I got I just could never mail down orbital rendezvous.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:23 AM
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I love KSP and I've flown all over the system however docking is something I've never been any good at. I just hope there's a better way to teaching docking. Orbits, and everything else I got I just could never mail down orbital rendezvous.
I have 910 hours on KSP and docking/rendez-vous are still daunting to me. It could be really fun. I wonder if there's a MechJeb-like tool somewhere.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:35 AM
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MechJeb is great and honestly helped me do most of the calculations that you need. It was a great add on
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:39 AM
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Docking took me forever to figure out, but once I did it became totally intuitive.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:43 AM
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The downside is that the game has a fairly high barrier to entry.
This cannot be emphasized enough. Great fun as the game is, the learning curve is extremely steep. I got in pretty early on the Early Access, so I got into it before there was any tutorial or instructions in-game at all. I could barely even get anything off the ground until I watched several hours of YouTube videos about it. While there are tutorials in-game now, much of it is still pretty baffling if you know nothing about rocketry or space travel.

Then again, the trial-and-error aspect of the game is a large part of the fun, and it makes the successes much more rewarding. Even with proper knowledge going in, you will still fail, a LOT. But you will also learn quite a bit by playing it. I knew nothing about orbital mechanics, periapsis and apoapsis, thrust-to-weight ratios, curved trajectories, any of that stuff, and I killed a ton of poor Kerbals along the way, but after a few hundred hours playing around with it I've managed to keep most of my Kerbals alive lately.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove View Post
Some notes about the video:

An approximate translation for non-KSP players:
Kerbin = Earth
Mun = Earth's Moon
Duna = Mars
Jool = Jupiter

0:00: A seemingly well-planned mission from Kerbin to Mun.
0:57: A foot slips...
0:58: We see everything we need to know about how Kerbals operate. The tiniest mistake snowballs into a complete mission fail. And yet the Kerbals remain characteristically oblivious to their own impending doom, and in fact happy.
1:27: A Korolov... hexagon? Snowflake? Of course, a mere six boosters is just getting started.
1:28: I see that the KSP universe has their version of Gravity.
1:30: Someone is not going to space today. The launch escape tower is engaged.
1:31: Duna. But that's an interesting engine on the end... what could it be?
1:34: An artificial gravity ring.
1:36: Very 2001esque.
1:39: A fairly large colony on Duna. Those units look quite like Bigelow inflatables.
1:40: We can see that Kerbals drive their rovers like they do their spacecraft: only rarely touching the ground.
1:42: Oh, shiiiit! That weird engine? It's an Project Orion nuclear pulse propulsion drive. Detonate thousands of nuclear bombs on one side of a pusher plate and hope for the best.
1:43: A burnt reentry shield, and parachutes.
1:44: For Kerbals, an actual enclosed spacecraft is a luxury. A chair with a joystick is usually sufficient.
1:45: Jool. With quite a large station. But what's that weird engine again...
1:52: Inertial confinement fusion! The refined man's nuclear drive. This sucker might go interstellar.
1:55: These planets seem to be new, and don't have local analogues... hmmm.
1:56: The original KSP didn't have a Saturn analogue, either. We seem to be braking toward a moon.
2:02: And dropping a lander on its icy surface.
2:09: That is an impressive colony.
2:17: Parked the lander a liiiiitle too close to the edge there.
2:38: Lithobraking: litho means rock. Lithobraking is using the ground to bring your craft to a rapid stop.
Yeah, the Orion at 1:42 caught my eye as well. And the image next to the category "Next Generation Technology" on the website has a wider picture of what appears to be the same spacecraft. (I'm guessing so, based on similarity in coloring and form and the fact that they both have an explosion in space behind the spacecraft. Kerbal spacecraft do explode, but generally not behind the SC.)

Nuclear Pulse propulsion was several third-party mods to KSP 1, so I find it interesting that they're doing something I see a lot in games: letting modders design interesting capability and then incorporating their own rendition of those capabilities in the next major release. Let the modders do the pioneer work and cherry-pick the winners.

Not sure how I feel about that in general, but it does seem to work.

Last edited by gnoitall; 08-20-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 08-20-2019, 12:21 PM
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Great fun as the game is, the learning curve is extremely steep. I got in pretty early on the Early Access, so I got into it before there was any tutorial or instructions in-game at all. I could barely even get anything off the ground until I watched several hours of YouTube videos about it. While there are tutorials in-game now, much of it is still pretty baffling if you know nothing about rocketry or space travel.
The game is literally rocket science, so itís not that shocking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
Nuclear Pulse propulsion was several third-party mods to KSP 1, so I find it interesting that they're doing something I see a lot in games: letting modders design interesting capability and then incorporating their own rendition of those capabilities in the next major release. Let the modders do the pioneer work and cherry-pick the winners.

Not sure how I feel about that in general, but it does seem to work.
Bethesda Softworks relies on this concept. I donít think the Elder Scrolls series would have survived after Morrowind without mods. The later Fallout games as well. When they donít allow mods they end up with Fallout 76. *shudder*

Itís definitely not a crutch you want to use forever.
  #19  
Old 08-20-2019, 06:48 PM
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I have 910 hours on KSP and docking/rendez-vous are still daunting to me. It could be really fun. I wonder if there's a MechJeb-like tool somewhere.
Docking is pretty easy ifyou have the correct instrumentation, which in stock KSP you do not. Navyfish Docking Alignment is the mod you need. When you target a docking ring it shows you if you are aligned, and what your translation speed is in a reasonably intuitive way. There's another mod that just sticks an extra marker on your navball that I actually prefer, but it will only make sense if you've used the Navyfish mod. Or if you're a prodigy, I guess.
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Old 09-01-2019, 12:00 PM
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So I was a bit dishonest with first post because I didn't mention I'm an experienced player and fellow space nut when I asked why I should play the game.

PAX is happening here this weekend so I was able to get to the KSP2 booth and check out the gameplay video and meet some of the developers. Scott Manley and other community people were also hanging around on Friday in that area.

Overall thought PAX is extremely loud, hot and annoying because I'm too old for this stuff
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Old 09-01-2019, 01:16 PM
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PAX is happening here this weekend so I was able to get to the KSP2 booth and check out the gameplay video and meet some of the developers. Scott Manley and other community people were also hanging around on Friday in that area.
Hey, good to see another PAXite. I've been coming up for close to a decade now. Not sure if you've gone to previous ones, but while they're always extremely crowded, the security stuff is new and extremely annoying.

Haven't made it to the KSP2 booth yet, but I plan on doing that today. Been keeping an eye out for Scott Manley as I'd heard he'd be up here, but haven't seen him yet.
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:57 PM
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I've been to most of the PAXes since about 2010 or so. I usually just cruise in and out to see what's up. Luckily I have friends with expo badges so usually I just grab a badge for a couple of hours. Security was annoying this year but I skipped the line by going in the side(exhibitor) door near the elevators so it wasn't a huge deal.
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Old 09-03-2019, 12:49 PM
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I'm definitely looking forward to this one. I enjoyed KSP but I was pretty bad at it.
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Old 09-03-2019, 01:07 PM
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KSP2 at PAX

Couldn't take pictures in the demo room, and they didn't have a playable demo, but they did have a video showing gameplay not in the trailer. Current graphics is substantially beyond KSP1, though nowhere close to the CG trailer. The UI has a lot more stuff, which seems counter to their goal of onboarding people easily, but maybe it shows up progressively. In any case, they're still iterating on it.

The assembly building has a new feature--blueprint mode. This gives you an orthogonal side view of the rocket to make it easier to place things accurately. They also made it so you can build subassemblies separately and then attach them later, which is nice (it had been annoying to build some complex repeated element, only to discover partway through that you need to make a change in the middle and then have to rebuild the whole thing).

It appears that the Orion drive is for fast in-system travel and the fusion drive is for interstellar travel. Interstellar ships are big enough that you pretty much have to do orbital assembly of the ship. I get the impression that you may need to mine fuel from Jool as well. They are tweaking the time warp to better handle interstellar travel. Not sure if this means extreme million-X scales or something else.

Speaking of off-Kerbin assembly, one of the features of planetary colonies and orbital stations is the ability to build and launch rockets from them. Presumably there will be some resource mining involved as well.

That's all I remember for now. They repeated that easier onboarding without sacrificing realism is a goal. I didn't get the impression that they were introducing any "magic", and said they had been consulting with aerospace scientists and engineers for ideas.
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:22 PM
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You know, I've been really thrilled with the recent enhancements to KSP. Lots of "quality of life" improvements, also more things to explore in the Kerbol system.

It's more than halfway to what's promised for KSP2, if you ask me. (OK, base building* is still not that great a thing in KSP, so hopefully that will finally be addressed.)

*Imagine being able to build a base from local resources, in a manner similar to current base building games, but shorn of too much complexity because, after all, this is a spaceflight game. That could prove awesome...
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove View Post
KSP2 at PAX

That's all I remember for now. They repeated that easier onboarding without sacrificing realism is a goal. I didn't get the impression that they were introducing any "magic", and said they had been consulting with aerospace scientists and engineers for ideas.
As an aerospace engineer who has used KSP to teach kids about spaceflight, I've got a few ideas of my own...looking forward to seeing how they implement in-game tutorials to help get people to space. Without having to resort so often to Scott Manley.
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