As the name implies, the purpose of this project is to overhaul the game's progression. Essentially what I intend to create is a coherent modpack, with a sensible progression and a level of difficulty somewhere in between the stock game and Realism Overhaul.
Initially what inspired me to do this was the fact that, when playing with large collections of mods, the tech tree quickly ceases to make sense (and even with some good tech tree overhauls like CTT, unsupported mods can easily shift progression away from the realm of logic). This would've end up being just another tech tree rework (and the first stage of development will be just that), but I want to make a few more changes beyond the scope of yet another tech tree mod. Additionally, there are often empty nodes in the tree when using any mod that expands its structure, and I'd like to avoid that issue while leaving my tech tree intact - the obvious way of doing this is by making some mods required, hence the need to make a modpack. I'd also like to balance this to be well-suited for use with the JNSQ planet pack. It's a somewhat self-indulgent project I suppose, since I'll be balancing a collection of mods that I enjoy for a playstyle that I prefer, so I don't expect a huge target audience, but I still think it's worthwhile to share what I come up with; I'm sure there are other people who would appreciate a modpack such as what I plan to create.
Complete tech tree structure rework. Current Stage
Determine a preliminary list of mods. This has partly been done, and the initial tech tree rework will be based around mods which I already have decided to use, but the list is still mutable and will be finalised once the tech tree is completed. I'd prefer to fill logical gaps in progression without having too much overlap, and once the tech tree structure is completed I will be in a better position to figure out what's missing.
Fit all aforementioned mods' parts into the tech tree. At this stage I'll also move certain parts into an unresearchable node if I determine that they overlap too much with other parts and/or don't fit well into my desired progression (e.g. this will almost certainly happen to the Kerbalism centrifuge as it will be made obsolete by centrifuges from Station Parts Expansion).
Default config writing. For the sake of creating a coherent progression, I'll need to determine how to balance the mods I've chosen and do some playtesting to figure out what config settings all configurable mods need to have in order to suit the desired play style.
Science rewards lab overhaul, as well as pricing for tech tree nodes. This stage is to make sure that science collection progresses at a rate which works well with the reworked tech tree, and also to make newer labs better than older ones while also ensuring that labs in general are not overpowered. Additionally, I'd like to make lab processing necessary (or at the very least, extremely desirable) for most science experiments, while also not making probes obsolete.
Compatibility patches. At this stage I'll take a look at game mechanics and the tech tree and write any necessary patches to make the progression smoother and to integrate all of the mods in the pack *properly*. For example, one of the things I'll do at this stage will be patching every crew capsule to adjust life support resources. Once this is done, things should be in an early playable state.
Major overhauls*. See below.
Final balance passes and full release.
The general structure of the tech tree will largely be split between early space exploration and more modern space exploration; the former portion will largely be balanced around Tantares and/or BDB, while the latter will be balanced mainly around the Near Future series of mods. Additionally, I intend to ensure that, while either Tantares or BDB will be required for filling the entire tech tree, it will not be necessary to utilise both if not desired (this isn't going to be a "space race" pack, I just think that this is one case where overlap is a good thing).
My primary design philosophy for the tech tree is to keep similar technologies in similar places with logical prerequisites, and have more complex technologies require more science points. Additionally, individual tech nodes will generally include fewer parts, but cost less in general to unlock. This will mean that, rather than (for example) unlocking an assortment of station components, science experiments, utility parts, and several other things all together for a large investment of science, you will be able to choose to put a large amount of science points into advancing a specific technology while ignoring ones you don't yet need if so desired. However, certain advancements will require other developments if those developments logically should occur first (e.g. to research early space stations, you first need crewed spacecraft and docking techniques, and crewed spacecraft will need an understanding of life support). The tech tree will become significantly larger, but also more sensible.
Major changes from stock-style play
As previously mentioned, everything in this pack will be balanced to suit the JNSQ planet pack (and consequently should also be well-suited for use with the stock system at 2.7x scale). This will mean bigger rockets than in stock, and longer missions, but the basic concepts are by no means more difficult to apply than in stock KSP.
Mandatory RCS and Engine Ignitor Reignited are assumed to be included, and balance of the modpack will be built around this assumption. This might mean that gyroscopes and certain engines may appear to be unbalanced for their positions in the tech tree if these two mods are ignored; with them, however, things will make more sense.
Kerbalism. I'll be providing my own set of configs for Kerbalism; I like exploring distant planets so it's not going to be the kind of hardcore life support that makes such expeditions impractical, but needless to say it will be more complicated than just shoving a few kerbals into a tiny lander can for decades and hoping for the best.
Kerbal Construction time will be assumed to be present. Obviously I'll be providing my own default configuration for it, but I think it should make things somewhat more interesting
*One of the big changes I want to make in later stages of development is modifying most engines. This will include modified fuel mixtures, addition of methalox fuel (and related ISRU potential), limiting the minimum throttle (since most real engines cannot deep-throttle, and many launch engines cannot throttle at all), and (if I can figure out how to do this) adding upgrades for engines (the way I think I can confidently accomplish this last feature is by duplicating parts with MM and just changing the stats, but ideally I'd like to keep a single part and just allow part variants). This will be an optional change.
*Contracts. Assuming I can figure out how, I want to modify contracts to work better with the balance of the rest of the modpack. The larger scale of JNSQ means rockets will generally be more expensive, so contracts should be somewhat more rewarding by default; additionally, many stock contracts are either uninteresting or impractical (or both), so I'd like to change things up a bit. I do know of a few contract packs that I will almost certainly be using, but there are probably other contract ideas that I'd like to add in as well.