Box of Stardust

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  1. We had/have certain "universal" attributes as part of the work-in-progress scoring sheet (e.g., noise/comfort, takeoff run, flight handling, safety, etc.). We had yet to truly define what constituted what score in each category. And we never really got to how all these values would come together in terms of a final score (if at all necessary). (When the discussion moves to defining specific scoring methods, we should talk about that; but as it is, we're still on setting up the whole thing.) Point is, the idea was that the judging process would have a fully value-based aspect that would help... "formalize" the challenge better for entrants and their results. Give people something tangible to work with and have a way to easily compare their planes to others. That said, I think some of the odd "sub-categories" (seaplane, hopper/regional) should be relegated to a "final judging verdict footnote" thing, separate from the value-based portion. Those attributes are just too odd and unrelated to have as part of a "final score" kind of thing. I think || Turboprop, Small / Medium, Large / Jumbo, Supersonic, Super Jumbo, Specialty Aircraft || is a pretty good, functional division of aircraft that covers all the bases within a proper wide-but-constrained scope for the challenge. ... I also think the Turboprop category could use a bit of a rework (or at least a re-title), since it was originally stated that it didn't necessarily need to be turboprop-powered, and the class was more about being a low-volume, shorter-range hauler. Maybe just a <=32 passenger deal to define it, which can also encompass the (proposed to be deleted) seaplane category (of which the attribute can just be tacked on post-judging if applicable), but at the same time open up the possibility for an implied business jet entry. Maybe just call it "Light Commercial Aircraft" instead of "Turboprop". We could add a note somewhere saying "[shorter range] is minimum for regional, [longer range] is minimum for standard" for the Small, Medium, and Large categories, therefore avoiding directly implementing subcategories, but also implying that there are variations of submission options. It could also serve as a "choose your own difficulty" sort of thing (though I personally didn't find most of the range requirements too hard to achieve, and in many cases, over-achieve). As for cargo aircraft, that could probably slot into the suggested "Specialty Aircraft" category (which also puts it all the way in Tier 3). It does bring an interesting question as to how to approach aircraft variants (which many entrants- many of us judges even- had). I suppose that is something that could be a score modifier, unless variants are just scored completely separately from each other (though that seems somewhat excessive). In terms of non-value judging, the approach used in KEA has been working though (all the text-based stuff doesn't really need reworking I think). And regarding supersonics, I sort of agree that there should be a passenger capacity minimum and maximum, but it was also really interesting to me the way some people managed to bend/combine categories (I reviewed the Jupiter, a supersonic jumbo, and it was actually quite good). Category combinations (it tended to be supersonic jumbo) tended to be less common, and we're already putting Supersonic and Jumbo all the way behind the wall of Tier 3. Maybe, again, these "Category Combinations" are cases that can be covered under the proposed "Specialty Aircraft" category, which is also all the way deep in Tier 3, which means judges shouldn't need to worry about reviewing too many of the odd ones, and the ones that do come around will at least bring something productive (or at least interesting) to the table. To have all these "lucrative" "kerbal-ish" designs deep in Tier 3 though... hm. Not sure if that affects the appeal of the challenge, but then again, I did say we need to structure the whole thing such that players approach KEA in a productive manner.
  2. Well, let's look back at what the KEA challenge had as categories, because I think those need an update as well: Firstly, we could keep the odd KEA-specific cabin sizes. I'm not opposed to that, but it's just an additional odd detail for newcomers (albeit one that's not difficult to pick up just by reading the rules). And it increases "passenger numbers" up to something that sounds reasonable. But we're still kind of working with kerbal-scale here, so there's a compromise somewhere that has to be identified. Basically, what I'm saying is we should better-identify how many passengers and how much range equates to our classifications in kerbal-scale. For the jets, these are defined as "regional" jets, but I think the challenge grew past the whole "regional" moniker (and the fact that, with stock Kerbin, ranges are quite short), despite the small passenger sizes. So, at least label-wise, we can get rid of that. Probably a good baseline. The classifications kind of go by "passenger capacity x range", so that's something to keep in mind. So it does seem pretty reasonable to just divide up by one of those, then sub-categorize post-judging based on range (and speed) or capacity? Dividing up by passenger capacity makes controlling entries easier, I think, since it controls the size of the plane. Range is just an additional thing that gets tacked on. It also makes sense from an "in-universe" view; build smaller aircraft first. Dividing up range invites the possibility of some larger aircraft in lower categories, which we want to avoid. For my own revised category list, this is my suggestion: Tier 1 (Entry Tier): Tier 2: Tier 3 (Specialty): Ideas Not Currently Tiered So, that's firmly 8 categories; 2 in Entry Tier, 2 in Tier 2, and 4 in Specialty Tier. Beyond these categories, I guess judges could somehow nominate aircraft as "top in specific qualifications", such as "best long range medium airliner for overall value" or "cheapest small airliner for minimum requirements" or whatnot. I feel like dividing aircraft up into further sub-categories is something best done during/after the judging process. Rather than opening up so many subcategories for people, because I feel like that just invites an even larger backlog as people design for all specific categories or whatnot. At the very least, I feel like it'll perhaps invite people to aim for specific attributes within each category, rather than inviting entries for every available category if we divide up by too much. As well, dividing up by such specific attributes is something better suited to the "extended simulation" challenge with economics and such, something I think is a bit unnecessary here for categorical purposes.
  3. The only issue with the Mk1 Cabin was really the fact that it translated to 8 passengers, which scaled horribly against the rest of the cabins. Limiting it to 4 should be good enough to balance it out, though I do feel we're missing a "cheaper" and "conventional" 8-passenger cabin.
  4. So I just want to address this in one of my own posts, primarily so I have my own reference regarding it, as well as my own suggestions on how we might be able to help streamline the submission-review process. Because the ideas in this are quite good. It seems to me that some of the most submitted classes to are the jumbos and supersonics. Not by a huge margin, but the queue is still larger for those two compared to the others. Supersonics especially, but this is, after all, Kerbal Space Program; I suppose that's to be expected. In terms of "problematic" designs, those also seem to be generally spread around, but I expect will be more present in the two previously mentioned larger categories. It's a good night for distractions and rambling, so here's my take on restrictions based on "company progression": Firstly, maybe just disconnect from any initial pricing-related restrictions. Those could come afterwards, and it's already tacked onto the aircraft submission parameters anyways, and should also factor into a company's "first impressions" in tandem with the actual aircraft's performance and quality (because someone could just come along with a relatively expensive turboprop but it's quite good and fair for the price). In terms of submissions, a "company" should start with light, small, or maybe medium aircraft (possible as per Airbus). This puts them in a set of "primary" review queues (per class, as we had before), which judges should aim to address and review in order of submission (or such). The idea behind this being that these smaller/more manageable aircraft are fairly easier to put a review out for, and in my opinion, somewhat more fun of an experience to fly around, thereby making it less of an ordeal for judges to review. It then therefore allows people to get their foot in the door a little faster if they can prove that their planes won't be something future judges will have to slog through. As "company" prominence raises, they can expand their "market lineup" to the larger or more expensive/lucrative aircraft (supersonics, jumbos, even just general large airliners), and their submission allowances reflect this. Maintaining such reputation upholds their submission privileges (in a formal and meta sense). This should ensure that these classes of aircraft that can be somewhat more of an ordeal to review (heavier to handle and whatnot, finnicky flight characteristics, etc.) are generally reserved to "companies" that are known to make reliably flying aircraft that won't be too much of a bother to undertake as a review and would provide an interesting, productive experience. Making a poor impression imposes a sort of submission penalty that makes future aircraft less of a priority to review until they prove themselves able to build reliable aircraft, keeping the combination of "not so productive aircraft of a tedious class to review" to a minimum. That said, anyone is still free to submit whatever they'd like; they'll just be put in an according set of "secondary" review queues. If someone wants to just build a supersonic or whatever, they still can. But they should be notified that they will be put in a secondary sort of queue that judges can select when they want to review it; it's not a priority or anything. So at least, the person is warned that they're not exactly following the bounds of the challenge, but their effort is still respected and, if presented attractively enough, may still perhaps get a judge to take interest and review it. Heck, maybe we could still allow people to submit full-range catalogues, but only place the "starter class" aircraft in the primary queues, and leave the rest in the secondary queues until further reviews deem a possible upgrade for those aircraft to the primary queues. If it goes somewhat according to plan, we'll have a weirdly big backlog of turboprops, small airliners, and some medium liners, and then it should taper off as it gets into the bigger, more heftier aircraft. We could even have judges assigned to certain tiers/classes of aircraft, which could help onboard people looking to start judging. Like, "Hey, you can start helping us judge by going through some of the turboprops!". Could also act as a bit of quality control for reviews, and ensure that the "bigger" projects go to judges of higher tier that are known to be pretty good about posting interesting reviews. Restrictions may need adjusting based on how popular general medium and simply large aircraft are, or even smaller business class-like jets. Though I guess it would be pretty simple to divide up the aircraft classes by "starter company tier" and "experienced company tier". I like how KEA inspires people to just build, and I don't want to take that creativity-inspiring aspect away from the thread. But we also need rules in place to ensure that the thread doesn't die off like it did, and so there needs to be a way to encourage people to actually play the challenge in a productive manner. This is just reiterating the entire discussion that's been going on right now: the queue and review process needs to be manageable such that judges don't burn out quickly and also be easier for new judges to get in so that the challenge can continue along in a healthy manner. (Or we can also take the route other various challenges have done that, by virtue of the challenge, have taken the core community that had formed and create a Discord server...)
  5. I considered bringing up the idea of having "rounds" for entries and classes, but ultimately decided that, even with a lenient period of 2+ weeks, I have enough deadlines in my life and don't want to deal with something like that. As well, I liked the open approach to KEA that anyone could design anything for whatever class at whatever time, making the design process rather enjoyable to approach, as there wasn't any pressing need to really work on a design. You want to design a medium-sized jet? Go for it, it's not like there was a specific entry period for that class of aircraft. Each aircraft entered could potentially have its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and it was up to the judges to decide on how an aircraft could best be used. I like designing craft with an objective in front of me; I feel like I rarely build aircraft for the sake of designing one. I don't think I'd feel motivated to design my entire lineup of aircraft if calls for specific aircraft classes came and went. And the entire design process was certainly educational through experimentation, and I'd rather not reduce that effect by making the entry process more restrictive in terms of requiring a completely focused goal. In this scenario, I think it's more beneficial to encourage free experimentation instead of directing people to a specific design goal that they may meet better if they had gained experience in building other projects. That's just me though. There was also talk about refining the aircraft classes and requirements though, but I think that discussion can be left for last. That said, I think a case can be made for judges coming together and selecting an aircraft as "best fit for role" (e.g., current top pick for long-haul medium capacity, current top pick for isolated airfields, etc.) and awarding the winning builder in some manner. Though, selecting as such is a bit odd with rolling submissions with open submissions for all classes. I do agree that a way to filter out poorly thought-out designs would be nice, but perhaps it might be more productive to encourage well-thought-out designs (not that that seemed to be a huge problem anyways). I guess, my point is, the nature of this challenge is such that we're probably going to get the lesser designs one way or another, and it's just something we'll have to work through. Besides, they do provide interesting material to write the more entertaining reviews. The judging system we were working on, if you recall. It was going along pretty swell, actually; we had most of the important scoring categories down (from aircraft range, control authority, ease of flying, comfort of ride, etc.). It's just that there was pushback for the idea of going through with it because the current KEA was still going at the time, so it would have been somewhat disruptive to suddenly have this value-based scoring system pop up. I think that the scoring sheet we were working on provides sufficient enough uniformity in actual feedback for performance in meeting the challenge's goals, maybe with the addition of easily accessible metrics such as size dimensions for some additional help in easily parsed value-based differentiation between aircraft.
  6. Given how much the challenge has evolved even during the time it was running (inclusion of spreadsheets for organizing, testing methods, etc.) it does sound like a complete refreshed thread (if/when it happens) is good just so everyone can get on the same page of what to do, because the KEA processes only really hit its stride once we starting judging enough planes, thus finding and solving kinks in the process, and figuring out what we all really want out of the challenge. Things that would be best listed out in the main post, instead of having these kinds of things lost deep within the thread somewhere where it will never be found by anyone new that might want to judge (or even enter a plane). Things like, "if judging, use Pilot Assistant". Or "don't use Aircraft Autopilot, it messes up control surfaces between installs with and without it". These sorts of things. I personally think KEA's original mod list is sufficient for the challenge, and better retains the spirit of the whole thing. Splitting up between "lightly modded" and "heavily modded" where "heavily modded" just adds extraneous parts or near-functionally identical parts just seems like straying from the strengths of the KEA challenge. I like customization and variety, but I also think KEA is better with its tighter constraints.
  7. I mean, I was under the impression that it would be possible to create a general-usage kOS script that would just run a test that would work for any aircraft, not need a script specifically for an aircraft; simply set a speed, altitude, then it once it achieves those, auto-trims (because I guess I have this notion that a good program will be able to achieve a proper trim better and faster than a human tapping the trim controls). But if Pilot Assistant already works sufficiently well enough for most aircraft, then that seems fine then. That said, I was also thinking that FAR is able to do the simulation graphs and that a stock analogue would work equally as well along with feeding it some other values. Kerbal Wind Tunnel looks quite promising in that regard. But there's still the extra caveat of the actual aerodynamic layout of the plane including thrust offset, trim settings, and such, which I'm not sure it replicates. Though one could argue this is the point where "margin for error" comes in, and any angle of incidence seems like KWT does account for. I think I'd still prefer an automated, but actually experimental, test process though. Working things off of graph readings just... seems a bit against the spirit of the whole thing? Maybe that's just me though. and since the topic of mods came up briefly, I really like KEA's highly condensed mod list, and dear lord, I loathe mod bloat, but maybe perhaps consider expanding the mod list to maybe include some other smaller but also useful mods out there for aircraft-building? Not sure which; maybe procedural wings and maybe parts, just to give people a little more choice (though I personally would probably continue just using the basics). Tweakscale (including AP+ patch) covers most other bases that's really required for building commercial planes. I do rather like the challenge of forcing people to work within tighter constraints in terms of part availability and using Tweakscale to its fullest potential instead, as I think it's great "training" for learning the fundamentals of KSP aero and even some things about real aero (a fact I maintain as the KEA challenge's true best value); a focus on making parts work, rather than having this huge parts bin of various stats all over the place that everyone can just pick and choose whatever and muddles learning how KSP's aero system works. Mostly just mentioning this as a note that we could come back to, instead of me forgetting about the topic.
  8. That still leaves judging with the relatively arduous and boring task of verifying range to some extent. A standardized process that's straightforward and that everyone can agree on is still needed. I think the way fuel/range calculation might need to be looked at. Gah, what a complex issue. I do really like having more precise test methods, since this is still a KSP challenge where entrants should be encouraged to try and score high in certain metrics if they're submitting with the intention to do so, but finding a good verification process for that that everyone can agree to is really a puzzler. Maybe a look into Pilot Assistant would be good; I've never used it, but if @NightshineRecorralis says it's as good as it is, then maybe that's all that's needed to make judging a better experience. If not... maybe a kOS script that automates the entire trimming process and allows input for altitude and speed? idk, something that allows me to turn my brain off while verifying an entry's performance for what is ostensibly the "primary" challenge of the whole idea of this design challenge.
  9. Would've maybe been nice to know of the option, but I think the entire process (starting from even the entrant's side) can still be streamlined further. Somehow.
  10. I'm a little bothered my highly unconventional "seaplane" never got reviewed. Anyways, at its core, the KEA thread has always been attractive for its relative simplicity as a design competition. There's some basic requirements to be met, but the challenge, really, is otherwise pretty open-ended. I think that shouldn't change (though I, personally, would participate in an add-on challenge that would go further). If I were to think back to the most tedious part of judging, it's really the part getting cruise conditions down, since some of us are really reaching for that maximum performance metric. I think measuring aircraft range is a part that can be smoothed over, which will help make judging slightly more palatable to perform. I'm not really sure how that would be done, but it does just seem that manually finding experimentally discovered values is just the worst part of it all. You're just staring at numbers and trying to maintain decimals while you tap the trim on the plane, and god forbid you take too long that the fuel drain has kicked in and you're not sure if you're really getting the right numbers anymore. I also like searching for optimal performance, but geez, this was such a tedious part of judging. I'm pretty sure I gave up because of this. There needs to be some better standardized and potentially automated replacement for that process. Maybe some other mods to fill that gap, at least on the judge's side, but also probably changing up how cruise conditions are defined and calculated. (A mod/calculator that can straight-up simulate values of flight conditions and aircraft attributes, i.e., lift/drag, fuel burn, etc., would be fantastic.) Every other part of the judging process (the optional ones as well, though an argument can be made for making them mandatory) is more free-form and actually focused on flying/observing the plane yourself, and I generally enjoyed those portions.
  11. The split off part, really. That seems... in some ways, advantageous.
  12. I have to say, I'm a bit confused at the sequence of events and how the IA-42s always start off more split apart. That said, I think my primary flaw was assuming that altitude is a good thing when dealing with low power aircraft, but seemed to forget my knowledge of BDA dictates that the AI really defines how battles play out, and that trying to gain altitude is a really, really dumb idea with BDA.
  13. Yeah, thanks FAR, because moving my rudder down and making my vertical stabilizer shorter should worsen my L/D and Cl. FAR is great, but it still ain't perfect...
  14. Yeah, I suspect the single engine fighters, given that they have much less power, are less prone to GLOC-ing themselves in most cases outside of a high(er) speed dive.
  15. So far, the true winner of this competition seems to be GLOC. I suddenly don't have high hopes for my own plane.