SQUAD

KSP Weekly: Refactoring Kerbal

196 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, Snark said:

quoting this in its entirety would be a crime against humanity

Good point.

I think that what upsets me is that the 1.3 update is a "big" update (I don't know how to describe it, think of it like 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, etc) and only contains localization + bugfixes. If this update was numbered 1.2.3 or something I'm guessing it would be more well-received. I don't know.

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1 minute ago, Aperture Science said:

I think that what upsets me is that the 1.3 update is a "big" update (I don't know how to describe it, think of it like 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, etc) and only contains localization + bugfixes. If this update was numbered 1.2.3 or something I'm guessing it would be more well-received. I don't know.

Many of our Spanish-, Chinese-, Japanese-, and Russian-speaking soon-to-be-friends will remember this as the version they started on. That sounds more like a major release than a minor point release to an already released version.

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11 minutes ago, Aperture Science said:

Good point.

I think that what upsets me is that the 1.3 update is a "big" update (I don't know how to describe it, think of it like 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, etc) and only contains localization + bugfixes. If this update was numbered 1.2.3 or something I'm guessing it would be more well-received. I don't know.

In software dev terms, that's called a major revision... while 1.2.1 -> 1.2.2 is a minor revision. 

Having done dev work in the past (and in particular relating to localization), esp. wrt software that wasn't designed with localisation in mind (i18n is how it's referred to in the trade) putting in proper i18n is a major revision... it's esp. a major revision for people who play the game for whom English is not their first language. For them, this is a major feature... as well as being a major feature to implement as apparently the early stages of the development process didn't take i18n into account.

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16 hours ago, Mako said:

I think a lot of the frustration would be alleviated if the current community had a better understanding of Squad's intentions for KSP.

Do you think Squad could benefit from a public

R O A D M A P
O A D M A P R
A D M A P R O
D M A P R O A
M A P R O A D
A P R O A D M
P R O A D M A

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Posted (edited)

I think that Squad's intentions are to make a kernel for mods... The vanilla stuff is like some OS with basic programs. Don't ask them to be Microsoft for you. I guess we should see that like a Linux kernel, but without complete distros : everyone has to make his own.

Edited by Kenny Kerman
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2 minutes ago, Aperture Science said:

I think that what upsets me is that the 1.3 update is a "big" update (I don't know how to describe it, think of it like 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, etc) and only contains localization + bugfixes. If this update was numbered 1.2.3 or something I'm guessing it would be more well-received. I don't know.

Yeah, there is that psychological aspect to it.  Thanks for pointing that out, it honestly hadn't occurred to me.

Though I think that the reason it hadn't occurred to me is perhaps illustrative:  it's because I'm a developer, so I think like one.  :)

When they call it "1.3" instead of "1.2.3", that indicates it's a major update, right?  I think we can all agree on that.  It's pretty obvious.

On the other hand... it's "major" how, exactly?  That's not quite so obvious.

From the player's perspective, it certainly seems obvious:  "major" means "big change to the experience of playing the game", such as "big performance increase" or "major new features" or something.  The gameplay experience is all the player can see, and therefore all the player cares about.  "Oh, and by the way, we also spent a few months doing arcane things under the hood, to thousands of lines of code you'll never see, with no effect that's observable to you" is simply not anything that the player's gonna care about.

From the developer's standpoint, though, "major" can encompass a lot of other stuff besides just that.  For example, it can be "major" if "we made a huge amount of code change to accomplish some goal that's not directly tied to player experience."  Could have to do with the marketing and sales of the game, for example.  For example, if you're a Chinese game player, "KSP 1.3 is the first Chinese version" is more meaningful than "patch 1.2.3 happened to enable my entire market as if it were some minor dot-release."

It can have implications for stability, as well.  When you refactor stuff, you break stuff.  Both in the sense of "there's fertile ground for new bugs" but also compatibility.  I wouldn't be surprised, for example, if the sort of refactoring they had to do for 1.3 would break a lot of mods and require that the mods have to update their code in order to work again.  As a KSP consumer, and as a modder, and as a mod user, I tend to assume "anything that's just a minor dot-release is pretty much just bug fixes and probably won't break manhy mods at all", whereas if it's a major version release, I tend to assume "this is a big code change and will probably break lots of stuff."  So, giving it a major version number helps to set expectations, in that regard.

Then there's the problem of PR and advance notice.  Remember how everyone thought that CommNet was going to be in 1.1?  And "We're calling it 1.1" was announced way in advance?  And then, fairly late in the cycle, they decided it just wasn't quite ready yet and was gonna have to wait for the next release cycle?  Well, as it happens, 1.1 had some other big player-affecting stuff in it, too, so that wasn't the end of the world there.  But suppose it hadn't?

Like I said, I don't work for Squad, so I have no idea about their internal development and find out about new features pretty much at the same time that you do.  So I can't speak at all to the specifics of KSP 1.3.  But speaking about software in general, it's not all that unusual to announce a version number based on one set of assumptions, and then circumstances change as development progresses, but the announcement has already been made so that's what it is.  I have no idea if that's even vaguely relevant to 1.3 in particular or even KSP in general, but it's certainly a scenario that can come up in software development.


[EDIT]  Ninja'd by @HebaruSan and @stratvox, who basically said what I just did, only better and with fewer words.  :P
 

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Refactoring is a long-term gain through a short-term noise :)

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24 minutes ago, regex said:

Do you think Squad could benefit from a public

R O A D M A P

Hard to say.

From a player's perspective, I'd love one.  Totally with you on that.

From a developer's perspective, though... there are potential pitfalls either way.

On the one hand, if you play your cards close to your chest and keep your players in the dark (as Squad has been doing, lately)... it annoys the customers and they get frustrated at the lack of visibility and you see a lot of the (quite understandable) frustration here in this thread and elsewhere in the forums.

On the other hand... unexpected stuff can happen and stuff can shift around due to unforeseen circumstances.  Once you announce something, you'd darned well better deliver it or people get really upset:  "You promised us X and then you didn't deliver!"  Look at all the outrage that erupted when CommNet didn't make it into 1.1, the way they said it would.

From the developer's perspective, it can easily resemble a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of situation.  It's far from a no-brainer.  I've personally been in situations where it was clear there needed to be a public roadmap... and I've also been in situations where the reverse was the case.

Of course, the ideal case is that you've got stuff planned out way in advance, and it's the kind of stuff where you have enough control over the situation and your internal processes and various other factors that it's pretty straightforward to predict/plan in advance.  It's just a matter of turning the crank and out comes the win.  So in that case, you can publish the roadmap, and deliver on it reliably, and everybody's happy and everybody wins.

That ideal case sometimes happens, but it's far from a slam dunk.  There are plenty of reasons why a software company might be in a place where the future is hard to predict or control.  One reason would be "because they're a bunch of noobs", sure (and I've certainly seen my share of that kind of software organization... sigh).  However, there are plenty of other reasons why that might be the case, without any incompetence on the developer's part:

  • Maybe they're in the process of hiring a bunch of people, and it's hard to predict how quickly you can fill headcount.  (Hiring people is hard.)
  • Maybe they're in an uncertain financial situation and it's not clear in advance how much money they'll have to play with.  Less money = slower development.
  • Maybe they're venturing into a new, high-risk technical area, so the potential for discoveries is high.  (I use the word "discovery" as a term of art in the software industry, meaning "bad thing that you didn't expect."  Software engineers hate discoveries and spend a lot of time trying to design processes and development plans so as to minimize them, or at least, to find them as early as possible in the cycle.)
  • Maybe they've got external dependencies (e.g. on other companies or organizations outside their control), so that they can't absolutely determine their own schedule.
  • ...And so on, and so on, and so on.

I have not the slightest clue whether any of these (or other equally reasonable reasons) apply to Squad in the development of KSP.  Nor do you.  Nor does anyone else who doesn't work there.

And without knowing that, it's impossible to say whether announcing a roadmap would be a good thing or a bad thing for them.  I know I want one... but I don't know if it's a good idea.  I'm assuming that they have good reasons for not doing it, mainly because they have the information and I don't.  :wink:

I agree that, where circumstances permit, a roadmap is great.  But that's not invariably the case.

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Posted (edited)

15 minutes ago, Snark said:

On the other hand... unexpected stuff can happen and stuff can shift around due to unforeseen circumstances.  Once you announce something, you'd darned well better deliver it or people get really upset:  "You promised us X and then you didn't deliver!"  Look at all the outrage that erupted when CommNet didn't make it into 1.1, the way they said it would.

You fell victim to one of the classic roadmap blunders, actually suggesting that <development house> make a promise. Successful roadmaps provide a visible, easily quoted disclaimer and talk about future features outside of version numbers. This is a favorite argument against roadmaps and I find it to be unimaginative, especially in light of plenty of game development houses that can (and do) do it correctly.

The rest of your argument makes sense but I am of the opinion that Squad is just gunshy about talking of future features or prefers building hype (for whatever reason). It's worth noting that literally 90% of my previous forum rants would have been stalled at the gate by simply having an official roadmap that said, in bullet points, without version promises, and with a disclaimer saying "these are our ideas for future features and may not reflect what will be in the game", that <thing> was officially on the list of "things to think about doing".

Perhaps that's the problem, that we're talking about a "roadmap" literally rather than as an official list of "things to think about doing", which Squad desperately needs.

Edited by regex
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19 minutes ago, Snark said:

Once you announce something, you'd darned well better deliver it or people get really upset:  "You promised us X and then you didn't deliver!"  Look at all the outrage that erupted when CommNet didn't make it into 1.1, the way they said it would.

Funny, I could have sworn there were dozens of indie developers with public roadmaps that change from time to time, and since they're straightforward about what they're working on, there's almost no community blowback at all.

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17 minutes ago, Snark said:

On the other hand... unexpected stuff can happen and stuff can shift around due to unforeseen circumstances.  Once you announce something, you'd darned well better deliver it or people get really upset:  "You promised us X and then you didn't deliver!"  Look at all the outrage that erupted when CommNet didn't make it into 1.1, the way they said it would.

From the developer's perspective, it can easily resemble a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of situation.  It's far from a no-brainer.

I never thought I'd come full circle after concluding Notch > ToadyOne and then SQUAD > Notch, but...

Here's an example of a roadmap with no dates on it; very indie, but it gets the job done.

http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/dev.html

It lays out the developer's vision for the future of the game without tying it to specific timelines or even version numbers. The developer also separately announces the major focus of development as features are completed, but this document is always there to give a sense of what they want to add and how the game might look in the far-off distant future. I haven't frequented those forums for a number of years, but I don't remember any raging out over features promised and not delivered.

(Ninja'd by @regex to some extent)

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50 minutes ago, regex said:

<good points>

 

46 minutes ago, Jarin said:

<good points>

 

43 minutes ago, HebaruSan said:

<good points>

Yup.  And I'm not disagreeing with any of you.

I've seen just about every possible permutation of companies that did (or didn't) have a public roadmap; for good (or bad, or random) reasons; which ultimately helped (or hurt, or didn't make much difference to) them.

All I'm saying is, "don't know" means "don't know."  Yes, one can certainly come up with cases of "company X did this and it worked great," but whether it's a good idea or not totally depends on circumstances.  I'm with you:  I'd love to see some sort of a roadmap from Squad about upcoming features, even an unpromised / speculative one.  But since I don't know what's going into their decisions, I'm not in any position to judge whether they're Doing It Right™ or not.

And to be clear, lest I seem some sort of Polyanna optimist, I'm judgmental as heck about software development.  I've got strong opinions and am quick to say "that's wrong"... when I know enough to have a valid opinion.  But this is one of those cases where, just speaking for myself, I don't feel that I know enough to make a really informed opinion.

There's always a reason for everything.  If a company omits to have a roadmap (or, indeed, does anything that appears on the face of it to be stupid), the reason will generally boil down to one of,

  1. Because they're stupid.
  2. Because they have a good reason that happens not to be apparent to an outside observer.

Both cases happen.  (Certainly, companies do a lot of stupid things, just as people do.)  If you want to assert that this case happens to be a #1, I'm not in any position to tell you that you're wrong.

But in my experience, #2 tends to be more frequent than #1.  So, in the absence of any information, I'm more likely to assume #2 purely on statistical grounds.  Not sayin' I'm right, simply that I've been doing this for a while and that's what I've observed, usually.

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@Snark, I don't agree with your opinion (which is quite rare...) on "roadmaps carved in stone" which devs can't change. This is not true. Everything is about communication... and Squad is not particularly good at it, to say the least...

Factorio has a public roadmap since the beginning. Forum don't rant when it changes. It gives target, sens of upcoming features.

Subnautica has quite detailed roadmap (even daily production updates one trello...). Again, things are added, or removed from the roadmap by the devs. I haven't seen any rant about it.

KSP gets constant ranting about lack of roadmap... And as there's NO roadmaps, people imagine one and start asking about features... Then rant that they're not coming.

And it's so easy : KSP lacks so many features which mods provide... I can't imagine playing one of those console version which BTW have terrible reviews (when the review is done on console and not on PC).

And there those devs turn over, which doesn't smell nice... You are a 20y developer, I'm somewhat too. You don't fire a big part of a dev team except if devs are crappy or production is over or you have a cash issue. And if a big chunk of your dev team leaves on it's own (instead of being fired), this seems even worse.

On the other hand, I know devs from Nadeo which created Trackmania. 13 years after the first version, the (quite small) team is nearly the same from team leader to devs to designers ! And Nadeo continues developing the nearly same game with improved features with quite success (even their "Shootmania" attempt was a failure)

I don't know what really happened at Squad. I have an idea but as it's only an opinion, it's not worth talking about... I'm not too optimistic though, even I would love to be wrong...

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On 4 March 2017 at 6:12 PM, Majorjim! said:

What has not been mentioned for a long time is how the part shape changes will affect the game and the way we play it. Lots of us submitted our bearing/hinge designs to avoid them bein broken, at the request of Squad I should add. We have heard nothing back from that. 

 Any change of letting us know of any changes that will break those designs? 

So chaps? 

 Any chance at all of any details of any game changes in the next patch that may or may not break our very precious craft? We spend many hours making these things and we do so with drive and passion. It would be heartbreaking to have anything we invent or build broken. 

 Any info at all would be grand. 

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11 minutes ago, Snark said:

And to be clear, lest I seem some sort of Polyanna optimist, I'm judgmental as heck about software development.  I've got strong opinions and am quick to say "that's wrong"... when I know enough to have a valid opinion.  But this is one of those cases where, just speaking for myself, I don't feel that I know enough to make a really informed opinion.

There's always a reason for everything.  If a company omits to have a roadmap (or, indeed, does anything that appears on the face of it to be stupid), the reason will generally boil down to one of,

  1. Because they're stupid.
  2. Because they have a good reason that happens not to be apparent to an outside observer.

I smell a false dilemma. There are all sorts of in-between/gray-area reasons to not have done a thing, many of which are amenable to persuasion from a third party. "I never thought of that" or "I didn't think anyone would care" are two examples. You may class those as "stupid," but I wouldn't.

I've written one mod. That's a very tiny form of software development, and I beg forgiveness for drawing an analogy between myself and SQUAD on that basis. But if someone said to me that they would feel more comfortable using my mod or promoting it to others if my future vision for it was more fleshed out, I would give some consideration to that feedback, and I might end up rewriting my TODO.md to make it more complete and approachable. I might even draw up more concrete plans than I had previously, to be able to make those updates.

For the record, I'm very much "glass half full" when it comes to SQUAD, and I don't feel they owe me a roadmap. But for those who would like one, I think it's legitimate to suggest it.

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9 minutes ago, HebaruSan said:

For the record, I'm very much "glass half full" when it comes to SQUAD, and I don't feel they owe me a roadmap.

I don't necessarily think anyone thinks Squad "owes" them a roadmap, but it sure would alleviate some of the same questions we get around here every single update.

"Are you thinking about doing <thing>?"

"<thing> isn't important to me, why isn't <thing> being worked on?"

"What is Squad's vision for the future of KSP?"

And so on.

Every.

Single.

Update.

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You're doing a great job. Complainers should play. And give ideas you're free to take or leave. Your game.

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37 minutes ago, HebaruSan said:

I've written one mod. That's a very tiny form of software development, and I beg forgiveness for drawing an analogy between myself and SQUAD on that basis. But if someone said to me that they would feel more comfortable using my mod or promoting it to others if my future vision for it was more fleshed out, I would give some consideration to that feedback, and I might end up rewriting my TODO.md to make it more complete and approachable. I might even draw up more concrete plans than I had previously, to be able to make those updates.

Yup.  And that's a great example of a case where the factors align to make that very clearly the right thing to do.  I do the same thing with my own mods.  It's the ideal use case:  you're in total control of the feature set, you've got a stable platform to build on, you're producing something that's small-scale enough that it's easy to estimate time requirements, there are no budgetary/resource constraints, and you have an eager and welcoming audience whom you owe nothing to.  Pretty hard to go wrong there, that's one where it really is pretty much a no-brainer.  :)  Situations differ, though.

24 minutes ago, regex said:

I don't necessarily think anyone thinks Squad "owes" them a roadmap, but it sure would alleviate some of the same questions we get around here every single update.

Yup.  Not disagreeing with you, there.

I guess the only point I was really trying to make is that I tend to say "I sure would like a roadmap", or "it sure would be nice to have a roadmap", rather than "they really should give me a roadmap", when I'm not in any position to know the reasons behind their decision.  The former statements are merely saying what I'd like, which I'm an authority on.  The latter is making an assertion about their business choices, which I'm not.

Apologies if I seem to be splitting hairs.  If I seem overly cautious about this, it's simply that, as a producer of software myself, I've been in situations where I've been on the receiving end of this sort of thing (i.e. I or my team or my company have a good reason for something, then get criticized by someone who is making reasonable arguments but who is missing important factors that are necessarily not public) that I prefer not to be on the other side of the equation.  It's a situation that's not uncommon.

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, regex said:

Do you think Squad could benefit from a public

R O A D M A P
O A D M A P R
A D M A P R O
D M A P R O A
M A P R O A D
A P R O A D M
P R O A D M A

Absolutely.

We never had one before, as you well know, but we did have some idea of what KSP was intended to be. Harvester and team did hint at goals from time to time.

Now that KSP has reached a good enough point that the previous team has moved on, the community has absolutely no hint at what is intended beyond the coming update. All we've been told is people have been hired and Squad is continuing to work on KSP.

For all we know "continuing to work on KSP" could mean that they will continue to create and hold various KSP-related contests for various KSP-related prizes. I doubt that's truly the case, but no one outside of Squad can say with any certainty.

Until the community is given some kind of idea about Squad's intentions for KSP I'm sure we'll continue to see a lot of discontent. Even if you don't agree with something, it's easier to accept it and move past it if you know what it is. Until then imagination makes you fear the worst, and without anything to stop that fear you feal uneasy and discontent.

Squad is asking the community to trust them without offering anything to base that trust on beyond what has been previously delivered by people that no longer work for Squad. 

I am not good at having faith in something unproven; I like to wait and see how people prove to be. Past Squad proved capable of delivering a fantastic, unparalleled experience despite its flaws and limits. I am curious how current Squad will prove itself to be.

Edited by Mako

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Quote

Until the community is given some kind of idea about Squad's intentions for KSP I'm sure we'll continue to see a lot of discontent. 

In the early days when Squad did announce features or release dates, there was a lot of discontent that they weren't working on other features, if the plans changed, or if the estimated dates were moved. Discontent is why they stopped giving their intentions in the first place. They get discontent either way. 

Quote

Squad is asking the community to trust them without offering anything to base that trust on beyond what has been previously delivered by people that no longer work for Squad. 

What do you lose by granting them this trust? If worse comes to worst, you still have a game you've enjoyed playing. 

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11 minutes ago, Mako said:

Squad is asking the community to trust them without offering anything to base that trust on beyond what has been previously delivered by people that no longer work for Squad. 

Some people are asking us to distrust Squad without offering anything to base that on beyond that nothing has yet been delivered by the people that currently work for Squad.

How about we give them a chance to show what they can do before we declare they are totally worthless?

 

Frankly, we've seen an upward trend in every. single. release. of KSP.  Sure, it hasn't been an exponential increase for each version, but every release has improved on the previous ones.

Can we at least wait until we see a release that's worse than the prior one to declare that KSP is rubbish?!?

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Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, Vanamonde said:

What do you lose by granting them this trust? If worse comes to worst, you still have a game you've enjoyed playing. 

That's the point. What exactly are they complaining about ? Localization is a ("local"...) community job. Not a developper one.

"Frankly, we've seen an upward trend in every. single. release. of KSP.  Sure, it hasn't been an exponential increase for each version, but every release has improved on the previous ones."

That's always true. Not only for KSP... More success = more complaints... (Even true for Led Zeppelin, back in the gooooood oooool'days). Developpers' major changes make huge improvements, LATER, for users.

Edited by Kenny Kerman

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Vanamonde said:

In the early days when Squad did announce features or release dates, there was a lot of discontent that they weren't working on other features, if the plans changed, or if the estimated dates were moved. Discontent is why they stopped giving their intentions in the first place. They get discontent either way.

Come-on, be serious 2 minutes... I roamed the forum for more than 2 years now. There was some rants before, but that was temporary and only few people and never to that level. Now it's on nearly every topic, as soon as Squad says anything, from a vast part of people here, including many "historical" community members. It's a plague and only Squad has the cure....

If you can't see that, please put on some glasses ! (and share them with Squad too...)

And that must be VERY frustrating for @Badie or @UomoCapra who try to fill the blanks and be flamed back (not personally hopefully).

The problem is that Squad has totally lost the trust of the bulk of it's community and do nothing to regain it. Instead, Squad gives the impression of delaying, covering up and hiding things.

 

Here is an example with Subnautica : The devs had multiplayer in mind. So that was on the roadmap. One day, they posted a topic on the forum to say there would never be multiplayer support and explain why. The discontent were very few for such a major feature removal. Coop or multiplayer in Subnautica? I'm afraid not . Case closed. Now if someone ask about multiplayer, he's redirected to that topic were devs explains why not.

Another example on Factorio. On day the main dev explained he'd played through a full game (which dev don't usually do, believe me I work closely with devs...). He discovered his game was already very complex and had removed some ideas he had. Well explained, the community accepted with very marginal discontent.

Squad :

  • Delta V or not ?
  • Correct burn time or not ?
  • Transfer window helper or not ?
  • Surface altitude or not ?
  • improved atmospheric or not ?
  • proper sound design or not ?
  • more planets or not ?
  • multiplayer or not ?

no one knows

5 hours ago, razark said:

Can we at least wait until we see a release that's worse than the prior one to declare that KSP is rubbish?!?

It's not about the next release, which I think can't be bad (except for breaking mods). It's about communication ! Localization would have been better accepted if motivation were officially explained by Squad (expand player base.) AND gives direction for after that.

Edited by Warzouz
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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Warzouz said:

Squad :

  • Delta V or not ?
  • Correct burn time or not ?
  • Transfer window helper or not ?
  • Surface altitude or not ?
  • improved atmospheric or not ?
  • proper sound design or not ?
  • more planets or not ?
  • multiplayer or not ?

I'm quiet new here so I know it may be quiet irrelevant but :

 Refactoring generally means more modularity, so your questions could be answered by modders, or later by Squad. But the limit between what is under Squad's or modders' responsibility (in the programming meaning) is unclear, seen from here. There should be some kind of contract (in the OOP meaning) between both parts, i.e. "Squad" and "the Community".

This is one of the best games ever. True lovers come back.

Edited by Kenny Kerman
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Posted (edited)

@Kenny Kerman, the problem is that Squad relied too much on modders to fill missing features. Delta-V is explained in the KSPedia, but there is no way to get it in the game. "Do my rocket have enough fuel ?" Answer : "install KER".

Do console player have access to mods ? I doubt it. I'm curious to know how many console players have venture outside Kerbin SOI.

EDIT BTW, it quite strange that there is nearly NO console let's play... (well not that strange...)

Edited by Warzouz
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