SQUAD

Devnote Thursday: Tweaking and Turning Gears

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Hello everyone!

Welcome to our first-ever Devnote Thursday. It’s been quite  a busy week at Squad: A couple of people were at Gamescom in Cologne, new developers were brought on and in the middle of this the regular pace of development had to be kept up for the 1.2 update.

This week also marks the start of a new sprint for the developers, and for this third part of the 1.2 update development we’re focusing on finishing the last bits of functionality, and QA testing the changes so far. Because the project has changed so much, and bugs could literally pop up anywhere, we’ve enlisted the help of VMC.

VMC is a professional testing company that will help us test the new update, freeing up our own QA testers to focus on the latest and greatest features. Mathew (sal_vager) spent the last week testing an issue on the Xbox savegame issue, where the game would refuse to save any progress after a certain file size limit was reached. It’s a long and repetitive task from a QA standpoint, but we want to make sure this issue is well and buried when we release the patch. Dave (TriggerAu) and Steve (Squelch) have tackled the job of testing what is definitely the major feature update for 1.2: telemetry and antennas. Bob (RoverDude) wrapped up his work on partial control, which can happen when a probe or crewed pod without a pilot has no connectivity to a control point.

Probes will be limited to no throttle or full throttle, actions and events, SAS/RCS toggles, and the  autopilot settings that are allowed by their SAS level.  This means that maneuvering is still possible, but somewhat limited. Both probe cores and non-pilot crews without a connection to a control point will also lose the ability to add/edit/delete maneuver nodes.  The pre-plotted will remain, but without connectivity to a control point (or a pilot on board), it will not be possible to place new ones on the fly. We expect this provides appropriate incentives to maintain control without ‘bricking’ your existing probes, and also provides an incentive to use your pilots, even after probe cores are unlocked.  Bob was kind enough to share a shot of the updated user interface! http://i.imgur.com/l7sEIP3.png

A plethora of other bugs were tackled as well: Jim (Romfarer) fixed an issue where the startup procedure of the Application Launcher could under some cirucmstances cause a CTD (Crash to Desktop) for Linux users. As a result the whole system was simplified and the startup procedures have been merged into one, while also fixing the issue.

Nathanael (Nathankell) fixed outstanding issues with deployable parts: solar panels, radiators, antennas, and so on, and fixed a long-standing issue with Kerbals sliding on ladders. As it turns out this issue was linked to orbits, where Nathanael refactored the way in which vessel stats and orbital data are calculated each frame. An important note for modders is that the CoM and other vessel stats are now correct for the physics frame in which they occur. Vessel movement going on and off rails has been mostly eliminated, solving a persistent and noticeable issue. All forces except those for ragdoll Kerbals and wheels are now tracked and only applied by the flight integrator, and no longer at the PartModule level.

While working his magic, Nathanael also applied some tweaks to the game: in order keep fuel lines relevant radial decouplers can now not toggle their crossfeed until the Fuel Systems node is unlocked; Mods can now specify maximum G forces and maximum pressure (static + dynamic) for parts; a gamesetting for toggling navball hiding going to map view was added; and finally Nathanael also implemented IgorZ’s kindly donated assembly-version-resolving code.

Bill (taniwha) got his orbit targeting code implemented and working, and, with an eye to future enhancements, cleaned up the orbit marker code and the patched conic calculation code. Bill and Sébastien (Sarbian) then tackled a math precision problem and further improved the orbit rendering performance. Finally, Bill and Nathanael worked on enabling SAS controls for Kerbals: the “EVA kerbals reorient on move” game setting can now be toggled with the SAS key during an EVA.

Brian (Arsonide) added IContractObjectiveModule: an interface that modders can use to define valid antennae, or power generators, or docking ports, and so on for contracts to utilize and check. In 1.1.3 there was a way for mods to do this by modifying a configuration file, but it was not very flexible or extensible. The interface will allow them to do that in a way that does not require ModuleManager, and that gives them a lot more flexibility. Further modding tweaks were added by Jeremie (Nightingale), who made it so that mods can now add their own custom difficulty settings to the new game screen, rather than each mod needing to have a custom settings button in the space center.

Finally, Nathan (Claw) started out the week adding a few more quality of life changes and fixing some odds and ends, such as ablator turning as dark as a black hole when fully burnt, and fixing some issues with the buildings at KSC and KSC2 turning different colors. He then switched gears and hopped on board the CommNet train, stressing the system and running through the multitude of test cases to ensure the Kerbals can phone home when appropriate.

All in all it should be evident that a lot of changes were committed this week, and a lot of progress has been made. A note from the editor: we had to cut some of the changes out of these devnotes, so you’re only seeing the highlights here! That’s it for this week though, please follow us on our forums, on our social media, or join the KSP subreddit to stay up to date on all KSP news. Until next week!

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3rd. 

 

Finally a devnote. Excited.

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Definitely worth the 2 day wait. This is some great stuff

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Sounds great!  This is going to be an awesome update. Can't wait!

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Any word on PorkJet's work with the rocket-part models?

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6th? Also probes are now all or nothing in throttle? Wt heck? How can you fine tune orbits using only a sledge hammer now?

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8 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

Probes will be limited to no throttle or full throttle, actions and events, SAS/RCS toggles, and the  autopilot settings that are allowed by their SAS level.  This means that maneuvering is still possible, but somewhat limited. Both probe cores and non-pilot crews without a connection to a control point will also lose the ability to add/edit/delete maneuver nodes.  The pre-plotted will remain, but without connectivity to a control point (or a pilot on board), it will not be possible to place new ones on the fly. We expect this provides appropriate incentives to maintain control without ‘bricking’ your existing probes, and also provides an incentive to use your pilots, even after probe cores are unlocked.  Bob was kind enough to share a shot of the updated user interface! http://i.imgur.com/l7sEIP3.png

Will this break scripted autopilot mods like kOS and kRPC? I like seeing my scripts continue to execute properly even after signal loss when playing with RemoteTech, it gives a unique feeling of accomplishment. (It also feels more realistic, but that's not the primary attraction for me.)

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Just now, AlamoVampire said:

6th? Also probes are now all or nothing in throttle? Wt heck? How can you fine tune orbits using only a sledge hammer now?

Keep a connection to a control point! This can be either Kerbin, or a spacecraft with a pilot on board.

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Thank you for the really nice devnotes. Highly appreciated.

 

1 minute ago, Jarin said:

Any word on PorkJet's work with the rocket-part models?

As far as I know, the only response we've gotten so far has been crickets chirping.

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1 minute ago, KasperVld said:

Keep a connection to a control point! This can be either Kerbin, or a spacecraft with a pilot on board.

So some form of link still gives full throttle ranges?

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Just now, AlamoVampire said:

So some form of link still gives full throttle ranges?

Yes, to the best of my knowledge (mind you I haven't tried the QA builds)

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Good to hear that the new kids (hehe) are getting aligned.

Next Tuesday (wednesday/thursday) will be the announce of experimentals?

Edited by Curveball Anders

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11 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

....and fixed a long-standing issue with Kerbals sliding on ladders.

Oh man, I can't tell you how happy I am to hear this! I know it seems like such a tiny bug in the grand scheme of things, but's been a pain in my butt for the longest time when I'm trying to set up screenshots with lots of Kerbals, and one or two starts sliding around before everyone is in place.  :D

 

 

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1 minute ago, KasperVld said:

Yes, to the best of my knowledge (mind you I haven't tried the QA builds)

Hope its true or its a step backwards. Some mods require some serious precision in orbital maneuvers and making probes either full stop or full go is gonna hurt mods :huh:

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Professional testing company.  Now we are talking here.  I can not be more pleased to hear that.

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Thanks for the notes chaps. 

 Why oh why have we still not seen or heard anything on Porkjets rocket part update though?

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3 minutes ago, Alshain said:

Professional testing company.  Now we are talking here.  I can not be more pleased to hear that.

Yeah, but think of it this way...they get paid to play KSP... :blush:

11 minutes ago, KasperVld said:

Keep a connection to a control point! This can be either Kerbin, or a spacecraft with a pilot on board.

I sure hope this is the case. Will there be a way to toggle back to the less real version of satellite communications? I play on an older machine and am not sure it could handle creating a huge network of communications satellites and stations to continue exploring the Kerbol system...

Edited by adsii1970

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Sounds great so far! I do hope there will be some sort of option(s) where there are different levels of difficulty for probes losing connection (for instance, simple full/no throttle vs. complete loss of any and all control). 

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1 minute ago, Majorjim! said:

Thanks for the notes chaps. 

 Why oh why have we still not seen or heard anything on Porkjets rocket part update though?

We haven't heard anything about him for a long time. :(

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4 minutes ago, adsii1970 said:

Yeah, but think of it this way...they get paid to play KSP... :blush:

It's not as glamorous as it sounds.  It's actually fairly tedious as you often end up doing the same tasks repeatedly, hundreds of times.  It's not just a matter of playing the game and hoping something breaks where they can see it.  They go out looking for problems.   I am a professional software tester, so I know what this entails (though I don't do games).  I know nothing about this company, but assuming they are a good one then they know exactly how to attack the testing situation.

Edited by Alshain
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@AlamoVampire the control limitations are for when the probe core or pilot-less ship does not have connection to either Kerbin or another control point. 

24 minutes ago, SQUAD said:

Bob (RoverDude) wrapped up his work on partial control, which can happen when a probe or crewed pod without a pilot has no connectivity to a control point.

(bold mine) I assume that this means that when they do have a connection or pilot, then they will have full control, i.e. what we currently have now. 

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4 minutes ago, adsii1970 said:

Will there be a way to toggle back to the less real version of satellite communications? I play on an older machine and am not sure it could handle creating a huge network of communications satellites and stations to continue exploring the Kerbol system...

I'm pretty sure that communications were said to be a difficulty toggle in an earlier note.

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