• Developer Articles


    HarvesteR
    Hi again,
     
    It seems from yesterday's dev notes there were a lot of pending doubts as to how the cargo bays would function excatly, so here's my attempt to explain it in more detail.
     
    First off, I should make it clear that with Cargo Bay, I mean the cargo bay Part Module, as in the bit of code used to make them functional. This module mostly deals with containment detection, and it should be possible to apply it both to the existing cargo bays and to new fairing parts, when we get to that. For now though, the purpose of the cargobay module is twofold: To detect (as efficiently and accurately as we can) which parts are inside the bay and which aren't, and to flag those parts as not exposed to the outside world (aka shielded).
     
    This cargo bay module isn't entirely new in fact. It was first written sometime last year, during the blur that was the last months of the 0.90 release, and it was pretty much working already. The problem then was that by itself, it was deemed to be too little to count as an improvement over the existing (old) aero model, so we decided to leave it out until we got to a point where we could tackle aerodynamics properly (aka now).
     
    Another thing that needs to be made clear is that the following method is used to detect containment relative to Cargo Bays, and cargo bays only. This is not the same method used to handle aerodynamic occlusion for the new drag system. That is an entirely separate thing, which would be the subject of an entirely separate (and equally long) post.
     
    So, the first problem to solve is that of containment. There were a number of potential pitfalls we needed to have our solution avoid:
     
    The first issue is that we saw early on that we couldn't rely on any of the 'standard' ways we usually use to work with part relationships. A cargo bay can contain parts attached to the same vessel, but then again, it might contain detached debris (or Kerbals taking a zero G joyride), so we can't rely on the vessel hierarchy, or any of its lists of parts to detect which are contained in the bay, as that wouldn't include parts that don't belong to the vessel at all.
     
    Also, we have the problem of parts which may be partially inside, or surface-mounted to the internal or external walls of the cargo bay. That means we can't rely on the part transform.positions either, as those often are placed at extreme ends of parts, which means they aren't accurate representations of where parts really are.
     
    Furthermore, mesh containment is in itself a complex problem to solve with full accuracy in software. A complete solution would require going through every vertex in every mesh, in every part against again, all verts in all meshes of the cargo bay. Not exactly fast... needless to say. That means our solution must also not be computationally impractical, so we're looking for something that falls in the 'good enough' zone, where it works as you'd expect without reducing the game to a slideshow. Fortunately, we don't have to solve for contained parts every frame, so we have some headroom, albeit not a lot.. But a very complex solution would also give us very complex results to deal with, which would become an issue all of their own... We could easily get caught in a never-ending spiral of complexity there, and that's the most dangerous pitfall of them all, because there is no limit to how complex a system can be made.
     
    So taking a step back, what we really need is a solution that hits the 'predictability' zone, where if something looks like it should be contained, it should be contained. The emphasis is on the word 'looks' there, you'll see why in a bit.
     
    Here's how we tackle the problem of detecting containment:
     
    * The cargo bay first detects all parts inside a spherical radius that entirely encloses it. Those are the nearby parts that will be tested. This detection method is independent of vessel relationships, being solely dependent on the position of parts. A lot of the parts in this first list will be outside the bay, and that's fine. We just do this to avoid having to iterate through every single part in every single vessel.
     
    * Next, we compute a centroid point for the part, based on its renderer bounds. That centroid is then a product of the part's visual mesh, not dependent on attachment position, center of mass or even colliders. It's the visual center of the part. This is now our reference to test the part in a visually accurate way.
     
    * We then rule out any part whose centroid lies outside the merged visual bounds of the cargo bay itself. This is just a sanity check to avoid performing needless calculations on parts that are clearly outside the cargo area already. The merged bounds are a bounding box we calculate off all renderer bounds, to encompass the entirety of the part. This is necessary as cargo bays (or fairings) can potentially be made out of multiple objects, meaning multiple renderers, and multiple bounds, hence the need to merge them.
     
    * So, we now end up with a much shorter list, comprised of nothing but parts which are in a reasonable range to warrant further testing. Now it's time to really check whether we are in or out of the bay.
     
    [a quick note here to explain that all this is done with the assumption that the bay doors are closed. If they are open, no part would be considered as shielded by that cargo bay, so that's something we can safely not worry about]
     
    * The test itself is simply a raycast, from each part's visual centroid to the bay's own centroid. Now, the thing with raycasts is that they can (and do) hit any parts along the way, and we don't want that. We are just concerned with the bay itself and each part, in isolation. This testing then is done against only the bay's own colliders.

    * From this we can now determine if a part is inside or outside of the bay with a pretty decent level of accuracy. If the raycast reaches the bay centroid without hitting anything, we can be quite sure it's inside the bay. If it hits anything, it must by necessity have been a wall of the bay itself, and therefore must be outside the bay.
     

    Now, you may be wondering then, what of the open sides of the bays then? Surely there is no wall there. Indeed there isn't, but that doesn't mean we can't add a 'wall' that only exists to catch a raycast. Trigger type colliders will do just that in fact, so for all testing purposes the open ends of the cargo bays are effectively closed. This still lets you pass though the open spaces normally, but catches the raycasting so we have a fully enclosed volume which defines the cargo bay.
     
    As for the shielding itself then, after the containment is solved for, it becomes much simpler. We can now flag parts as being shielded, which is then used by each part's modules to determine how a part should behave if shielded. This way, we can prevent surfaces from generating lift while inside a closed bay, protect them from any heating from atmo friction, prevent them from receiving drag forces, and keep some parts (like parachutes and such) from functioning at all until the bay (or fairing) is open.
     
    The only limitation of this method is that there is no support for partial shielding. A part is either inside or outside the bay. This I believe is fine, as it still means we meet all the initial requirements for the parts: We can protect payloads from being exposed to drag forces and air friction, we allow you to pack lift-producing parts inside the cargo area and not have to worry about those affecting the ship's handling (especially useful if launching a flying thing meant to do its flying off-Kerbin), and we can exclude the enclosed parts from being affected by drag, which is the primary purpose of cargo bays (and fairings). Plus, the solution is very simple to work with, which is also a good thing as we get to keep our sanity.
     
    This method also works independently of vessel hierarchy relations (or parts even belonging to the same vessel), and reliably works in tricky cases, like parts being side-mounted to the bay, which could potentially have their transform positions at the wrong side of the bay walls. It works based on the visual mesh, so if it looks like it should be shielded, it probably will be.
     

    Hopefully that explains the process enough to answer most of the questions about how cargo bay occlusion will work.
     

    Cheers
    HarvesteR

    By HarvesteR, in Developer Articles,


    As development in Beta has progressed, one thing has become very apparent, Kerbal Space Program is about to reach a state in which every single one of the original goals for the game has been reached, and we can say that our original design document has been fulfilled.

    Because of this, the next update will be our 1.0 release, and with it we will be leaving Early Access. This is a landmark moment for us at Squad, as after over four years of development, we feel that KSP is finally ready to be viewed by all as a complete game. However, this is not the end by any means.

    What does 1.0 mean for everyone then? Most noticeably, it means KSP will be leaving the Early Access program. And while this does mean we are ready to call KSP a complete game after the next release, it does not mean development itself is complete. Far from it, in fact.

    We see no better way to follow up on reaching our initial goals than to continue development on Kerbal Space Program, beyond Beta, past our original plans. This means that after 1.0 is out, we will continue on with free updates 1.1, 1.2, and so on.

    This has only been made possible by the astounding, incredible support we have gotten from you all. Consider everything that will come after 1.0 as our way of saying thank you, for believing in our crazy little rocket-launching game, for supporting us through four incredible years, for sticking with us all the way here, and in advance already for staying around for 1.0 and beyond.

    So lets talk about the nearby future then, here’s what we plan to have on update 1.0.


    * New Drag Model:
    We’ve redesigned the way drag is calculated, now it will take into account things such as part occlusion, facing, and got rid of the calculation being based on part mass.

    * New Lift System:
    Corrected the lift so that it is now (properly) a function of the square of velocity, not linear. This allows for far more effective, and accurate, wings.

    * Aerodynamic Stability Overlay:
    A new part of the UI that shows you the stability of your crafts as you build them, so you can easily tell at a glance how air-worthy (or not) your design is, and see the effects of any changes as you build.

    * Engineer’s Report:
    A new panel in the VAB and SPH which will warn you of crucial (and generally frustrating) issues in your design, such as a lack of fuel tanks, engines or landing gear, among many other advanced concepts like those.

    * TimeWarp To:
    Fumble with timewarp and mess up your burns no more, with this new feature you can choose a point along your orbit and the game will take you there as fast as physically possible.

    * Deep Space and Planetary Refueling:
    Adding a new system and a set of parts that will allow you to collect matter from Asteroids and other bodies, then process it into useful things, like Fuel or Oxidizer.

    * Game Over:
    Be careless with your funds and reputation and you might promptly find you no longer have a job at the Space Center.

    * New Landing Gears:
    With the much larger Mk3 parts, we too felt the need for equally much larger landing gears. We’re giving you larger and more diverse ones to fix that.

    * New, Larger Wings:
    Mk3 crafts also require you to make large wings out of way, way too many small ones. We’re adding wings that are not only larger than all others, they also carry fuel, so you can finally make room for a properly massive payload area.

    * Kerbal Clamber:
    Kerbals can now climb over small obstacles and out of ladders up onto flat surfaces; because their job wasn’t dangerous enough already.

    * Female Kerbals:
    Long time in the making, finally joining the team at KSC.

    * Economic Systems Rebalance:
    Strategies, Part costs, contract payouts, they all needed to be fixed, and have all gotten a much needed balancing pass.

    * Part Stats Rebalance:
    We’re making sure no part is too light, too heavy, too powerful, or too weak. Exploiters beware!

    * New Contracts:
    We aim to bridge the gap between the early and late game contracts, as playtesting showed the difficulty curve could use some easing.

    * Tier 0 Buildings:
    The originally revealed buildings have been enhanced and modified to meet our original vision for them.

    * Sound Overhaul:
    Adding sounds to several parts of the game and interface that needed them, as well as improving some existing ones.

    * Bugfixes:
    A lot of long standing bugs are being fixed, and we do mean a lot of them. Beta means bugfixes, after all.


    As always, we ask you to please keep in mind that the items above are not a commitment on our part. Plans can and do change as development progresses, and this update is no different. Same as always, you'll find the complete changelog on the release notes once the update is out, or stay tuned for our development notes every Tuesday to hear the news as they develop.

    Happy Launchings!

    Cheers
    HarvesteR
    Hi again,

    It's time to talk aerodynamics. More specifically, about what we have in mind for the upcoming patch and what you should (and shouldn't) expect from it.

    First off, though, let me go ahead and say that our main goal with this is to make the game more fun. We are not looking to make things more realistic just for the sake of being realistic. If it doesn't make the game more enjoyable overall, then it's not worth adding.

    That said, there are many planned changes that will indeed improve the realism of the flight model, because in many ways, a more realistic model means a more intuitive model, and more intuitive does mean improved overall enjoyment of the game.

    You should keep in mind at all times, however, that KSP is a game first, a simulation second. We are constantly trying to maintain this precarious balance between too much realism vs too much simplicity. Both would frustrate some part of our players. Ultimately though, this is about making the game more fun.

    So, let's first talk about the problems of the current system, from a gameplay point of view. Realism aside, what are the gameplay limitations we have at the moment?

    * Cargo bays and nose cones have no use.
    This is a big one. Nose cones and cargo bays are no more than dead weight (and wasted Funds) if they offer no advantage over launching an exposed payload.

    * Streamlined designs don't fly any faster than non streamlined ones.
    This is important from a gameplay POV because it's counterintuitive. If I build a javelin-shaped ship, I would expect it to cut through the air with far less resistance than a disk-shaped craft flying flat-side-first. This isn't happening with the current system, and it should be improved, if nothing else just because it makes sense that streamlined looking things should fly faster than flat-looking things.

    * Wings are inefficient, making it overly difficult to design a spaceplane that will reach orbit with a meaningful amount of payload
    At the moment, the lift and control surfaces are producing less lift than they ought to, which of course, affects gameplay negatively in that you need excessive wing parts or excessive speed to lift any amount of payload. This is further aggravated when climbing out of the thicker parts of the atmosphere, as the reduced air density provides even less lift there.

    * Spaceplanes are fiddly to design and build
    This doesn't concern the realism of the simulation so much as it does the UI around building spaceplanes. At the moment, there isn't enough information displayed to help players intuitively build aircraft that will fly properly and be controllable.

    There are, of course, other issues, but these are our main concerns for the upcoming overhaul. Some of these issues will in fact require solutions that improve realism. Others will require some lateral thinking.

    Another big concern that must be kept in mind here is that many players are already used to the existing system, and have build their fleets of spaceplanes based on the existing conditions. As much as possible, we want to ensure existing functional designs will still perform acceptably. It would be no fun to find out your spaceplanes aren't controllable anymore because of the new system. That wouldn't be an improvement at all from a fun point of view.

    So that brings us to the core of the matter. These are the changes we are planning to change as of today (needless to say, this is all subject to change as we develop further):


    * Improved Lift Model
    We are revising the lift model on lift and ctrl surface modules so that the lift force follows the standard lift equation, where lift is a function of the square of velocity. This will mean all lifting surfaces will produce a lot more lift as speed increases.

    Increased lift output will change quite a lot more than just how much payload you can carry. With wings requiring less speed or less air density to produce enough force to take off, we can tune other parameters to solve other problems, without compromising the air-worthiness of existing craft. Furthermore, early testing shows that planes now fly at much more reasonable angles of attack, fly faster at low altitudes (due to less drag from wing surfaces at lower AoAs), and remain controllable when flying fast at high altitudes. This was already a marked improvement even without any changes to the drag itself.

    * Improved Drag simulation
    The current drag model is flawed not just because it isn't unrealistic. It precludes nose cones and cargo bays from being of any use, and generally behaves in unauthentic and unintuitive ways. This goes beyond the problem of realism. The current drag model isn't capable of simulating things that are essential aspects of a space program, like ejecting fairings and the importance of a streamlined design.

    There is one caveat however. The drag model as it is has one good aspect to it: it is far more forgiving to outrageous designs than a more realistic one. To some this further compounds the problem, but from a gameplay standpoint, being able to construct ridiculous designs and get away with it (if you can manage) is a good thing. It wouldn't be much fun if the game simply made it impossible to control those ridiculous contraptions that are so entertaining to build and attempt to fly.

    The solution here then must be in either a happy middle ground, which may not exist; or, if that's the case, be somehow adaptable to each player's style of playing. Needless to say, this is not an easy problem to tackle, as it's quite clear to us that a move in either direction will upset some group of players. Too simple will upset those who like things to be realistic. Too realistic will upset those who like to build crazy things for fun.

    This problem is further complicated by the very nature of the system we are trying to simulate. Airflow is a notoriously complicated system to simulate accurately, and even more so when you can't know in advance the flight characteristics of the aircraft. All flight simulations use approximations, in varying degrees of realism, for how air behaves around an aircraft. So whatever solution we come up with must not only fit the gameplay requirements above, it must also be computationally viable to not reduce the game into a slideshow.

    The main goal of a new drag model then, is to allow the game to properly simulate payloads being protected from the airstream by a cargo bay or fairing, and nose cones properly reducing the drag of parts stacked behind it.

    We are implementing a new system already, which is a solution we had planned for quite a while already, but so far hadn't had enough time to attempt. It's a large-ish implementation, but it should give us a new drag model in which parts can be obscured by others, and in which pointy objects will be able to fly faster than flat-faced ones.

    This level of realism is what we are aiming for. It's not going to be an intricately realistic flight model, but it should at least be accurate enough to portray the important effects which are currently missing from the game.

    That is about as much as I can talk about it without getting into uncertainty territory, but there is more to the overhaul as a whole still:

    * Craft Design Difficulties:
    From an engineering standpoint, a rocket is a much simpler machine than an airplane. Rockets essentially fire a lot of mass towards the ground, and get pushed towards the sky. That means construction-wise, as long as you've got a nicely balanced craft where engines balance out, things should be quite straightforward.

    An airplane is quite another matter. They require a much more complex set of forces acting on it in carefully balanced ways in order to achieve level flight. It's no wonder that rockets existed as fireworks thousands of years before fixed-wing flight was a thing.

    Airplanes fly as a result of several forces balancing out: Wings produce lift, which must be balanced so as to not cause the craft to rotate out of control. Try launching a poorly thought out paper airplane to see what an imbalanced plane flies like (it doesn't). But balance alone is not enough. To maintain controlled flight, you must be able to influence this balance to cause the plane to pitch up or down, and thus be able to keep the thing in the air. Elevators are the common solution to that, but the way they work is not immediately obvious. The tail stabilizers on most aircraft doesn't actually keep the tail up, they actually push the tail down, acting on the plane as a lever, to push the nose up. Given enough airspeed, the downforce from the tail will force the nose up enough that the wings will catch enough air to produce the proper amount of lift to counteract gravity. Level flight is achieved when all these forces are in equilibrium.

    Now, all that is usually done already for you in a normal flight simulator. Your job is simply to fly using the already-there controls. In our case, however, these concepts must somehow be made apparent to players, in a way that will help you see if your airplane is going to be stable or not.

    There is a little-known trick to gauge the stability of a spaceplane before flight. Turn on the CoL and CoM overlays in the editor, then grab the root part with the rotate gizmo, and pitch the craft up and down. Note how the CoL shifts as the craft is subjected to airflow from different angles. A stable craft generally is one where the CoL stays behind the CoM at all times, and flips direction when the plane pitches nose down (i.e., pushing the tail down).

    Using this trick, one can almost always achieve level flight without too much trial and error, and even if it's not completely right, level flight can be achieved by trimming the craft.

    We can't expect people to figure this out, however, so the plan here is to come up with an improved UI for the SPH, where a more useful overlay will display this information for you in a way which will (hopefully) be clear enough to help you construct a decently stable craft without relying on excessive trial and error.

    We don't expect this UI to be enough, however, so we are also working on other systems to warn players of potential issues (possibly based on the upgrade level of the SPH also), and also planning new tutorials where the basics of spaceplane design are explained.



    This about covers the extent of our plans for overhauling aerodynamics. Hopefully this will clear up what we intend to do and dispel the concerns about what to expect from it.

    There is one last thing to address of course, Modding support. This I think is one of the most frequently heard concerns, that our overhaul will prevent aerodynamics mods from functioning. This, as much as possible, is something we don't want to cause. Mods may very well become incompatible after the upgrade, as they often do, but we are by no means trying to prevent mods from functioning afterwards. If the new system is not to your liking, it should still be moddable just as much as the existing system is. We are changing how the stock aeros work internally, but as much as possible, we're striving to make the transition as transparent as we can to all other components, keeping the changes contained to their original modules.

    That's all for now then. More news as they develop.

    Cheers

    Update:

    From the comments it's evident that some clarification of what 'preserving functionality in old designs' should be taken to mean. First of, we don't expect any of the planned changes should require breaking the craft file format in any way, so this is a minor concern already.

    But most importantly, the only way to really judge whether the new system is an improvement over the old one is to compare both under equal circumstances, and for that we need a control. The stock crafts are coming in very handy for this. We know how they handle in the old system, and for the most part, we like how they fly (with some exceptions which do need improvement).

    The point is, the stock craft are our measuring stick for comparing, tweaking and tuning the many variables of the new system, and for that reason they must stay, as much as possible, compatible. This does not mean we aren't willing to compromise on a few designs if others are performing better (not in terms of service performance, in terms of feel when flying). But take for instance, the change over to the new lift model. There is one constant which is used to scale the lift coefficient of all wing sections, defined in the part cfg, so that it translates into a nice, controllable flight model. How do we tune something like that? We have to have some reference to compare it to. For now, this scale was set so the takeoff speed of most craft remains unaffected. This means the new lift model is producing values in the same order of magniture as the old one, in one particular situation, so we can start from there to have a solid basis to tune from. We will probably end up tweaking this value further based on feedback during testing, but the importance of having a basis for comparison can't be understated when working on something like this. On my first attempt, this value was set to 1.0, and ships simply exploded on physics start, because the forces were orders of magnitude off. Without a benchmark, it would have been very difficult to even find out what should be changed to fix it.

    In any case, the short version is: don't worry too much about us worrying too much about backwards compatibility. It's not even likely to be such a big deal after all.

    Cheers
    Rowsdower


    What is KSP: Beta Than Ever?
    This is a new update to Kerbal Space Program, also numbered 0.90, as each update to the game has a number attached to it. It is free for existing players and new players will install this version when they download the game. It focuses on brand new upgradeable facilities, the Kerbal experience system, new biomes, new contracts, new parts and the usual batch of bugfixes and improvements. Check out the full changelog which always accompanies the release for a complete list of changes.

    When is it coming out?
    It is out right now. Purchase it from the KSP Store, Steam and other participating digital retailers.

    What happened to 0.26 to 0.89? Why did you skip straight to 0.90?
    We’re going to call our first Beta version KSP v0.90.0 (zero-ninety-zero, or oh-ninety-oh if you live across the pond), to make it clear to everyone that KSP is nearing a state of completion. Of course, that doesn’t mean we plan to do exactly 10 Beta patches to reach 1.0. It could be more, it could be less, we can’t tell. If we run past 0.99. the next version could be 0.100.0, or we could change the system a bit, and increment the revision numbers instead, depending on how much we feel a release has added. In a way, Beta updates really are more like revision patches actually. We’ll keep announcing new releases as we have always done in any case, so just hang around the community and you’ll never miss a release.

    What does being in beta mean?
    Think of it as being in the home stretch to scope completion - the long awaited KSP 1.0. While being in alpha was fun, it’s finally time that we share our commitment in wanting to deliver a complete, quality product to the table. Nevertheless, there will still be changes happening during the beta stage, as they have in the past, but now we’ve got the finish line in sight.

    Are you close to ending updates for the game?
    No. Even by the time we begin to implement some of the larger scale projects like overhauled aerodynamics or deep space refueling and beyond, we have no plan to put a hard stop on delivering updates anytime soon.

    What are the main new features in KSP: Beta Than Ever?
    You can read more about them HERE.

    What are some of the smaller new features in KSP: Beta Than Ever?
    Too many to mention here! As always, the change list included with the update will be very helpful. We’re sure you’ll be coming across a lot of details that have changed, starting even from the loading screens. Wernher now has a word of welcome for players in games with new saves. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Have any old features been tweaked?

    The Editor has seen a complete rewrite from the ground on up. The part filters were redone, and many new ones added. Parts can now be sorted according to mass, price, size and name. The SPH and VAB have unified camera controls. New gizmos have been introduced to translate and rotate parts. You can now select a new root part for your craft. The editor keys are now remappable. Symmetry modes can be toggled. Also more of a complete overhaul rather than a tweak, but Porkjet has delivered a complete new set of Mk3 Spaceplane parts, and the cargobays will be able to fit 2.5 meter parts. Need we continue?


    What bugs were fixed in KSP: Beta Than Ever?
    You can find a list of bugfixes in the readme.txt file in your KSP install directory or HERE

    Will this update break my saves?
    We do not intend to push an update that will break saves, but due to the sometimes unpredictable nature of an update push, combined with other factors, there’s always a small risk involved. If there are any problems, check out the support forums for help, or report them to the bug tracker right away and we will have a look at the issue. Please keep in mind that modded installs are much more likely to stop working. We recommend starting off with a clean install and add mods gradually so you can spot if one isn’t working.

    Have there been any improvements to the 64-bit build?
    Unfortunately not, the Windows 64-bit version is still very unstable and 0.90 has introduced a loving handful of new issues with the win64 build. The 64-bit issues are definitely on the radar though, and we do want to fix the issues if and when possible. If you happen to find any sort of fix or workaround to these issues, let us know. We appreciate any input that might better help us find a greater solution to these issues.

    I'm using the 64-bit build just fine, but why does my KSC start at the top tier?
    It's a unity bug with windows 64 that we unfortunately haven't had luck with fixing at this time.

    Will this cause any problems for the 32-bit build?
    The Windows 32-bit platform is the preferred choice, due to its stability.

    How long has KSP: Beta Than Ever been in development?
    It’s been in development for the last several months, starting from the end of 0.25, but even a little before that, as the roots of the upgradable facilities had been mentioned as a “secret project†by the art team before then.

    I thought updates came out “when they were ready.†Why did you rush to get this one out before Christmas?
    We wouldn’t say there was a rush, but internal milestones had to be hit. We wanted to bring this update to you by the end of the year so you could have more time to enjoy it over the holidays and we can start up a fresh development cycle in the new year.

    What are upgradable facilities and how are they upgraded?
    In Career mode, KSC facilities will now start in a more barebones version. All of them, from the flagpole to the VAB and the buildings will have a more basic appearance that can be upgraded using funds.

    Are there any perks for upgrading?
    The building in question will upgrade visually, both from the outside and the inside. More gameplay mechanics will be also be unlocked as the player progresses through the different building tiers. For example, allowing EVAs in space or being able to use maneuver nodes in the map view.

    Are there any limitations to upgrading?
    Upgrading buildings is only required in career mode. You need funds to upgrade a building, but be careful how much you spend because you still need to be able to afford your next rocket.

    How many tiers are there?
    Currently, there are only three tiers per facility.

    Will we still be able to access the old KSC?
    The “old†KSC, i.e. the one you know and love from previous versions, is the final tier. Once you have upgraded everything,your KSC will look very familiar.

    What happened to the barn?
    The barn tier of buildings were initially introduced to the community as the first tier of buildings that would be encountered in Beta Than Ever. However, both the community and the KSP team both agreed that more work needed to be done on them, so a decision was made to leave that tier out of this update. The status of the barn is currently unknown, but will be touched on internally once development on the next update has begun.

    What is Kerbal Experience?
    Kerbals are randomly assigned the role of scientist, pilot or engineer when you first get the choice to hire them. They can then gain experience that grants them unique bonuses based on their level and role. Pilots can take over some minor piloting tasks, engineers will be able to fix parts and repack parachutes and scientists will boost your science gains.

    What skill levels are there?
    See the tables in THIS POST for more information.

    How does a Kerbal level up? Can they level up in multiple areas?
    Kerbals level up by going on different missions in the solar system. If you want to level them up, make sure you send them to different planets and moons. Kerbals can only gain experience in the specialization they’ve been assigned, so they’re either a scientist, engineer or pilot; not a combination of the three.

    What is autopilot assistance and how does it work?
    Pilots and certain probe cores can now help you point your craft in certain directions depending on how much experience a pilot has or how advanced a probe core is.

    Will new piloting skill-based SAS restrictions work with unmanned vessels?
    Yes, the probe cores have different levels of flight computers built into them that can perform tasks just like a pilot can. Perfect for that one-kerbal mission where you need the SAS assistance.

    Where are the orbit markers?
    In career mode, you’ll need to upgrade the mission control and tracking station buildings to gain access to all the map screen functions, but you do start out with basic orbital tracking.

    What Mk3 parts are included?
    A cockpit, three liquid fuel tanks, three LFO tanks, a monopropellant tank, a crew tank, 7 size adapters and 3 lengths of cargo bay.

    What are the differences between these Mk3 parts and the old ones?
    The new Mk3 parts are noticeably bigger than the old ones and are also three-way symmetrical. They’re also new and shiny.

    New IVAs?
    Unfortunately not yet. Creating IVAs is a very time intensive process, and considering our developmental priorities over the past few updates, we just haven’t had enough time to give them the proper focus that they deserve. We know you want them and we intend on getting them in during a future update.

    What about cargo bays? You didn’t forget those, did you?
    Nope! There’s three sizes of cargo bays for the new Mk3 parts.

    How many new biomes were implemented?
    More than one hundred biomes have been implemented.

    Are there really “biomes everywhere?†and even if not, where are they?
    There are now biomes on every body you can land on. This means that they exist everywhere except the ‘surfaces’ of the Sun and Jool.

    Was Fine Print directly implemented into Beta Than Ever or is there anything different about it?
    There are some aspects of Fine Print that were directly implemented, and some aspects that were modified. For the most part, these changes were polishing the elements that are already there or integrating more elements of progression so contracts start appearing as you have the appropriate experience, upgrades, and technology. However, there was one significant change.

    We merged Aerial Surveys and Rover Surveys into a more general "Survey" contract. The reasoning behind this change was that we wanted to give the player more freedom in how they design their vessel and how they approach each mission. These surveys still include contracts that have clusters of smaller waypoints on the ground, which would be easier to do in a rover than anything else, but they do not actually mandate that you use a rover, a plane, or anything else. You might decide to use a VTOL for those instead. It is up to you now. Surveys can include ground waypoints, aerial waypoints, or even a mix of both. It is up to the player to design a vessel or series of vessels that can appropriately handle each contract. We also made these contracts a bit more interactive by requiring the player to actively take survey readings at each waypoint.

    How many new contracts were put into the update?
    The new contracts include Asteroid recovery missions, building space stations and bases on other planets. There’s also contracts for survey missions and satellite deployment. More than enough choice for players of any skill level.

    What’s new about the craft editor?
    New part filters, firstly. Parts can now be sorted according to mass, price, size and name. The SPH and VAB have unified camera controls and new gizmos have been introduced to translate and rotate parts. You can select a new root part for your craft and finally, the editor keys are now remappable. There’s a new button that shows basic vessel information such as size and mass and symmetry modes can be toggled. See THIS THREAD for more information.

    Can I still build my craft like I did before?
    Yes. The simple mode for part sorting is exactly the same and one can still use the QEWASD to orient parts.

    What are gizmos?
    Gizmos are new ways of rotating and offsetting parts as you’re building your craft. They’ll allow for more creativity than before and provide a more intuitive platform for tweaking your spaceships.

    How many different ways can I rotate parts in the editor?
    As many different ways as you can think of.

    Can I set up custom categories?
    You absolutely can. Go to the Advanced Mode and click the custom category button. You can select custom icons for your categories and you can even make custom subcategories, and that also applies to the subassembly category!

    How did you end up working with the ESA? When did this come about?
    This actually came about quite recently in a similar manner to how we ended up getting in touch with NASA. We said shared some pleasantries on Twitter, then took it from there.

    Will you be working with the ESA on anything else in the future?
    We love working with real life space agencies. The ESA has a long and distinguished history in spaceflight. In short, we would love to work with them in a greater capacity.

    What happened to the landing gears?
    Unfortunately, the landing gears we said we had been working on were not ready in time for 0.90. We intend to implement them into the next update.

    Does KSP: Beta Than Ever use Unity 5?
    No. We look forward to seeing what can be done with Unity 5 once there is a more complete release, but right now we are using Unity 4.5.5.

    What’s next for KSP?
    After a short holiday break, we’ll begin development of the next update. While we don’t have much to share on it for the moment, we hope you can get a better sense of some of our long term plans by reading THIS.
    HarvesteR
    Hello everyone and welcome to version 0.90.0 of Kerbal Space Program: Beta than ever!



    Version 0.90.0 marks the transition from alpha to beta development of the game and will introduce the final major components to career mode. This then is the version that makes the game ‘scope complete’: every major feature that the game was designed to incorporate now exists and from here on, development will shift focus from implementating new systems to improving the existing ones, adding content, polish, balancing and bug fixing.

    The update contains many new features and updates to previously existing systems which combined make for quite likely the largest update in the game’s three year history. Here are the highlights:

    Upgradable Facilities
    In career mode the Kerbal Space Center will advance with your space program. Start out with small buildings and limited functionality and build up your facilities into a state of the art space center with capabilities to launch and manage every mission you’ve ever dreamt of doing. Each building such as the Astronaut Training Complex, Vehicle Assembly Building and Tracking Station can be upgraded separately (and destroyed and repaired too), unlocking new and exciting capabilities and bonuses to your space program. Choose where you spend your money wisely: constructing buildings is most certainly not cheap.

    Kerbal Experience and Skills
    Your Kerbals now have specific skillsets they will develop as they gain experience: Choosing from your available applicants now mean deciding between pilots, scientists and engineers, each adding abilities specific to their skill, and unlocking further abilities as they earn experience by going on missions in outer space. Pilots are able to take over control of your spacecraft’s orientation to provide stability control during flight; Scientists are better at collecting and analyzing experiment data, so their science skills give bonuses to science collection, data transmission, and lab processing; and an experienced engineer can repair specific parts of your craft which may just save your mission.

    Editor Overhaul
    Ship Construction has been almost entirely rebuilt from the ground up. The Parts list now allows you tolook up parts not only by function (category), but also by resource, module type, tech level and much more. In case you want to add your own custom categories, that’s possible as well, you can set up lists of your favorite parts and organize your subassemblies into subfolders. As if that wasn’t enough there’s also the option to sort the filtered parts by mass, cost, size and name.

    Also new in the Construction Facilites are the Gizmos which will allow you to Offset and Rotate parts, giving you complete control over how they are placed. The functionality to set a new root part for your craft has also been added, so you don’t have to rebuild your entire craft if you decide the root part should be somewhere else.

    Other than these, we've also added many other improvements and new features: Symmetry can be toggled between Mirror and Radial modes, in both editors; Crew assignment is now fully persistent as you build; A new Stats toolbar panel lets you see your craft's total mass, part count and size; the list goes on.

    Mk3 parts
    After the major overhaul on Mk2 spaceplane parts in version 0.25 there is now a lot more to choose from when it comes to the Mk3 spaceplane parts: the old Mk3 parts have given way to a total of 15 all-new parts of unprecedented size, capable of carrying truly enormous payloads. Really. You can fit an orange Jumbo-64 fuel tank inside those cargo bays!

    More contracts
    Kerbal Space Program version 0.90.0 also brings the Fine Print mod by Arsonide into the game. This addition brings a whole new array of contract types to the table for you to choose from, adding depth and diversity to the contracts system. Survey areas, deploy satellites in precise orbits, capture asteroids, construct orbital space stations and build bases on planets or moons. This isn't a simple mod addition however. Fine Print author Arsonide has worked with us to tweak the mod into the stock game seamlessly. It’s all included and should provide any player with a challenge suited to their skill level and interests.

    More biomes
    The biomes system has seen a major overhaul for the first beta release of Kerbal Space Program. With help from KSP enthusiast and streamer Tanuki Chau every planet and moon in the game now has new biomes players can go out and explore. From the canyons of Dres to the peaks on Pol, the game now counts over 100 unique biomes. Each of these places represents another location where your Kerbals can gather, analyse, recover and send data from.

    These are the major changes for Kerbal Space Program update 0.90. For everything else, check out the complete changelog below:



    =================================== v0.90.0 Beta =======================================================

    New:

    Editor Overhaul (Gizmos):
    * Added Offset and Rotation Gizmos to Editor ([2] and [3] keys)
    * Added Re-root tool to Editor ([4] key)
    * Gizmo coordinate system can be toggled between Absolute and Local with the [F] key.
    * Rotation and Offset gizmos can also snap to angles and to a 3D grid.
    * Gizmo snap can be toggled to constrain to an absolute grid or a local one depending on coordinate frame.
    * Holding shift during placement or while gizmos are up will decrease angle snap interval to 5° (from 15°) and grid snap interval (for offset gizmo)
    * WSADQE keys still work to rotate in 90° or 5° (Shift) increments, and are now more consistent with pitch, yaw and roll rotations.

    Editor Overhaul (Parts List):
    * Fully overhauled Parts List UI.
    * Added Filters system to allow new methods to find parts, apart from the existing category tabs.
    * Existing categories overhauled into 'By Function' Filter.
    * Split Propulsion category into Engines and Fuel Tanks.
    * Added 'By Resource' Part Filter: Lists parts based on resources they contain/use
    * Added 'By Manufacturer' Filter: Lists parts based on their manufacturers
    * Added 'By Module' Filter: Lists parts based on the modules (functionalities) they implement.
    * Added 'By Tech Level' Filter: Lists parts based on their corresponding Tier on the Tech Tree.
    * Custom Filters (and subcategories) can also be created and edited for user-made collections of parts.
    * The Parts list can now be sorted based on several criteria (to organize displayed parts after filtering).
    * Added Sorting by Size to parts list
    * Added Sorting by Cost to parts list
    * Added Sorting by Mass to parts list
    * Added Sorting by Name to parts list (default)
    * Subassemblies can also be sorted and arranged into custom categories.

    Editor Overhaul (General):
    * The VAB and SPH are now based on a single scene.
    * Editor Logic fully overhauled and rewritten using the very reliable KerbalFSM framework used for character animation and many other systems in the game.
    * Most editor Keyboard inputs are now remappable.
    * All Craft files can now be cross-loaded in the VAB and SPH.
    * Crew assignment is now fully persistent during construction, including detached parts.
    * Vastly improved placement logic for angle-snapped parts.
    * Symmetry methods can be toggled between Radial (VAB) or Mirror (SPH) using the [R] Key
    * Radial Symmetry coordinate frame can also be toggled with [F] key.

    Upgradeable Space Center Facilities:
    * All KSC Facilities can now be upgraded through levels (currently 3 levels implemented for all facilities).
    * Added new models for KSC facilities at each level.
    * KSC Facilities now start at level 1 (in Career Mode), and can be upgraded to top level separately.
    * Upgrading Facilities costs Funds, lots of Funds.
    * Repair Cost of destroyed structures varies depending on facility level. (Higher-Level Facilities are more expensive to repair)

    KSC Facility Upgrade Effects:
    * Vehicle Assembly Building / Spaceplane Hangar:
    - Increase part count limit
    - Unlock Basic and Custom Action groups
    * Launchpad / Runway:
    - Increase Mass Limit for launched vessels
    - Increase Size Limit for launched vessels
    * Tracking Station:
    - Unlock Patched Conics in Map View
    - Unlock Unowned Object Tracking
    * Astronaut Complex:
    - Unlock EVAs off of Kerbin's surface.
    - Increase Active Crew Limit
    - Unlock Flag-Planting during EVA
    * Administration:
    - Increase Active Strategy Limit
    - Increase Strategy Commitment Limit
    * Research And Development:
    - Increase Max Science Cost Limit
    - Unlock part-to-part Fuel Transfer
    - Unlock EVA Surface Sample experiment (requires EVA on Astronaut Complex)
    * Mission Control:
    - Increase Max Active Contract Limit
    - Unlock Flight Planning (Requires Patched Conics in Tracking Station)

    Space Center (General):
    * All KSC Facilities in all levels are destructible (except level 1 runway and level 1 launchpad, which are indestructible).
    * Hold Ctrl while Right-Clicking over KSC Facilities to display 'extra' options concerning upgrade levels.
    * Expanded Context Menu for KSC Facilities, to allow upgrading and viewing the current (and next) level stats.
    * Hovering over the Upgrade button on the Facility Context Menu will display stats for the next level.
    * Space Center ground sections and Crawlerway change levels based on level of neighboring facilities.
    * The Flag Pole in front of the Astronaut Complex will change levels based on the average level of all KSC Structures.

    Facility Interiors:
    * Editor scenery now loads independently of the editor scene.
    * Exterior Scenery (out-the-door view) loads based on current editor Facility (VAB or SPH)
    * The KSC as seen from the editor facilities will change to reflect current level and destruction state of visible facilities outside.
    * Interior Scenery loads based on current editor Facility and Facility Level.
    * Added new 3D interior scenery for Level 1 and 2 VAB
    * Added new 3D interior scenery for Level 1 and 2 SPH
    * Added new 2D interior backdrops for Level 1 and 2 Astronaut Complex UI
    * Added new 2D interior backdrops for Level 1 and 2 R&D UI (Archives Tab)
    * Added new 2D interior backdrops for Level 1 and 2 Mission Control UI
    * Added new 2D interior backdrops for Level 1 and 2 Administration UI


    Parts (Mk3 Spaceplane Set):
    * Added 15 new 'Mk3' parts:
    - Mk3 Cockpit (IVA is blank atm)
    - 3 Mk3 Rocket Fuel Tanks (2.5m, 5m, 10m versions)
    - 3 Mk3 Liquid Fuel Tanks (2.5m, 5m, 10m versions)
    - Mk3 MonoProp Tank
    - Mk3 Crew Tank (holds 16 Kerbals, IVA is blank)
    - Mk3 - Mk2 Adapter
    - Mk3 - 1.25m Adapter
    - Mk3 - 2.5m Adapter (slanted)
    - 1.25m to Mk2 Adapter
    - 1.25m to 2.5m Adapter
    - 1.25m to 2.5m Adapter (slanted)
    - 3.75m to Mk3 Adapter
    - Mk3 Cargo Bay Long
    - Mk3 Cargo Bay Medium
    - Mk3 Cargo Bay Short
    * Old Mk3 cockpit, fuselage and adapter removed.

    Parts (General):
    * Struts and Fuel Lines now use a common base system called CompoundPart.
    * New CompoundPartModule base class added to provide functionality for parts based on CompoundPart.
    * Added CModuleLinkedMesh CompoundPartModule, handles the mesh objects connecting between both ends of a CompoundPart.
    * Added CModuleStrut, creates a physical Joint between both ends of a CompoundPart
    * Added CModuleFuelLine, creates a fuel re-routing between both ends of a CompoundPart.
    * LandingGear and Rover Wheels 'Invert Steering' option now changes to 'Uninvert Steering' when inverted.
    * Part-to-Part Resource Transfer now possible between more than 2 parts. (In/Out options will push/pull from all other selected parts evenly)

    Kerbals:
    * Kerbals now have Skills they can develop.
    * Kerbals now gain experience after returning from missions.
    * Kerbal Experience is needed to level up crew skills.
    * Added Scientist Skill. Scientists increase recovery value of collected data, transmission value of uploaded data and the lab boost factor (when manning a lab).
    * Added Engineer Skill. Engineers are able to repair broken parts like Rover Wheels and repack parachutes.
    * Added Pilot Skill. Pilots provide SAS features at various levels. Basic SAS is available as long as at least one pilot is aboard.
    * Crews in the Astronaut Complex can now be Sacked (if available) or given up for dead (if missing).

    SAS Overhaul:
    * SAS is no longer available in any vessel for free. A pilot or an operational SAS-cabable probe core are needed for SAS to be available.
    * Level 0 pilots and basic probes provide basic SAS functionality (kill rotation)
    * Higher level pilots and more advanced probes provide new Autopilot Functions.
    * Added new Autopilot System featuring 8 modes:
    - Stability Assist (Basic SAS)
    - Prograde/Retrograde Hold (Level 1 Required: Automatically orient and maintain attitude towards prograde or retrograde vectors.
    - Radial In/Out, Normal/Antinormal Hold (Level 2 Required): Automatically orient and maintain attitude towards R+, R-, N and AN vectors.
    - Target/Anti-Target Hold (Level 3 Required): Automatically orient and maintain attitude towards the selected target.
    - Maneuver Hold (Level 3 Required): Automatically orient and maintain attitude towards the first upcoming maneuver's burn vector.
    * AP modes respect the current reference frame on the navball (surface, orbit or target).
    * Overhauled the existing ModuleSAS part module so it acts as a SAS provider in any level.
    * Removed ModuleSAS from all parts except probe cores.
    * Tweaked the R&D tech tree progression for all probe cores.
    * Tweaked costs and descriptions for all probe cores.
    * Probe cores set up with progressing levels of SAS service.

    New Contracts (Fine Print Mod by Arsonide):
    * Added asteroid redirection contracts.
    * Added surface outpost construction contracts.
    * Added orbital station construction contracts.
    * Added satellite deployment contracts.
    * Added survey contracts at specified locations on the map.
    * Fine Print contracts revised and overhauled with new graphics and to follow Career progression.
    * Fine Print contracts unlock based on KSC Facility level when applicable.
    * Existing contracts also revised to better follow progression of KSC facilities.
    * Existing and new contracts revised to be configurable.

    New Biomes:
    * Added new Biome Maps to all celestial bodies.
    * Over a hundred new biomes available in total.
    * Added cheat menu option to visualize biomes in map view.

    Misc:
    * Added a one-page 'Welcome Intro' tutorial module to all newly-started games.
    * Added new Edge Highlight visual effect when hovering over part icons on the staging UI, or when selecting a new root part or choosing a part to transfer crew to.
    * Added new Tooltips for several UI controls in the Editor, R&D, Flight and many other areas.
    * Added new ESA flags.
    * Improved some of the Loading Screen images.
    * Added new Craft Stats app to Editor toolbar, to display ship information like part count, total mass and size.
    * Craft Stats app icon will turn orange if any limit is exceeded for the current editor facility level.
    * Added new sound fx for gizmos and re-root in editors.
    * Added new destruction FX for all new facility models.
    * Added EditorBounds system to define part spawn point, construction boundaries, camera starting position and bounds for each editor interior.

    Bug Fixes and Tweaks:
    * KSPScenario 'Remove' creation options now work.
    * Added new PreSAS and PostSAS callbacks to vessel API.
    * Revised VAB and SPH camera behaviour so they stay within scenery bounds as best they can.
    * Overhauled time-of-day system for KSC emissive textures. All facilities light up at night. (except ones without lights, like lvl1 runway)
    * Fixed several issues with destructible building persistence.
    * KSC grounds grass shader now uses worldspace UV coords for consistent tiling.
    * KSC grounds grass shader now enforces vertex normals to smooth out the transition between PQS and KSC terrain.
    * Linux version now forces thread locale to 'en'. Solves most issues with installs in foreign locales.
    * Fixed several issues with Undo/Redo (ctrl+Z, ctrl+Y) in the editors.
    * Tweaked sideslip factor in landing gear (was much too strong).
    * Increased Mk55 Engine's ISP and gimbal range.
    * Fixed an issue with part rotation and placement using Mirror symmetry.
    * Fixed issues with symmetrical 'subgroups' after attaching a parent part using symmetry.
    * Re-saved all stock craft so they are fully compatible with this version.
    * Existing craft files from previous versions will require re-saving in the editor before they are allowed to launch in Career Mode, to calculate size data.
    * Crew auto-hire will respect Astronaut Complex crew limit.




    As always, the update is now available on the KSPStore and Steam.

    We hope you will enjoy Kerbal Space Program: Beta Than Ever as much as we enjoyed making it.

    Cheers
    Rowsdower


    Kerbal Space Program, the award-winning, indie space agency sim game from Squad, released its latest update, Beta Than Ever and it's available to download today through the KSP Store, Steam and other participating online retailers. Updates are free to existing players. While still in active development for PC, Mac and Linux, KSP: Beta Than Ever marks a major milestone, as it is the game’s first beta release. It’s the first major step in the process of growing out of early access and into a fully launched game.

    Building upon a long term project that was introduced with the last update’s destructible facilities, players will now have the ability to start from the ground up with a basic space center and turn it into a sprawling compound in the new upgradable facilities feature. It’s not just buildings, either. Players will unlock new capabilities and bonuses as their career path progresses.

    Speaking of progression, the new Kerbal Experience system allows for the Kerbals, themselves, to progress as they never have before. Kerbals have gained specialized skills that players can improve by taking them on missions. Advanced piloting, science gathering and spacecraft repairs are just a few of the things Kerbal crews can do as they gain experience.

    In surprise move, Squad and the European Space Agency (ESA) have banded together to provide a special treat for players. They have granted Squad use of their logo and imagery in Kerbal Space Program. Fresh off the unprecedented success of their Rosetta mission, their cooperation adds even more detail to players who’d like to recreate their own ESA missions in the game.

    Other exciting features include:


    A Retooled Craft Editor: Build crafts better than ever before with advanced part sorting and construction gizmos that allow players to place, offset and rotate the different parts on your craft. Expanded Contracts: Brian “Arsonide†Provan, creator of the highly rated mod, “Fine Print,†has implemented and expanded his mod into the game, granting greater variety, depth and difficulty to the previously implemented contract system. Biomes Everywhere: KSP-TV host, Alyson “Tanuki Chau†Young created new biomes for the game, bringing them to over 100 areas from which Kerbals can collect, store and send science data. The new biomes have been placed all across the universe, giving players bigger incentive to explore every inch of the game. New Mk3 SpacePlane parts: Prolific modding community member, Christopher “Porkjet†Thuersam has overhauled and added to the popular collection of Mk3 parts that allow crafts to carry larger payloads.


    "We've come a long way," said KSP lead developer, Felipe Falanghe. "The decision to go into beta is a big step and there's no better way to say it than with an update the size of Beta Than Ever. It means we're in the home stretch. We're not done with the game by any means, but it's matured to a point where we can safely say that hitting 1.0 is within sight."