I'm always a little bit disappointed about the way science works in KSP and in many games. It's mainly seen as a way to gather points to buy new technologies. In term of gameplay it works but we are not really speaking about science.
What about trying to introduce real science in a game ? I mean the way of doing science. I think KSP can be an excellent game for that.
Going back to the scientific method works : we first have an observation, going to a theory, making a prediction, then you build an experience to make a new observation that will confirm or not the theory.
Observation : obviously it's what we are already doing in KSP we send probes and kerbals on different bodies to make a mesurement
Theory : here we have nothing in the game but I think we can solve the problem by using labs, scientific in a lab propose a theory after studying data
Making a prediction : I think we can use this step to create some kind of contracts for the next step.
Build an experiment : here I would like to be able to build scientific instruments in the game just like we are building rockets, in real life this part is as important as building the rocket I think we can find some game mechanic to make this part of the game interesting.
There are many areas in science that could be used to build campaigns of scientific exploration :
- life on kerbin and in kerbol system : how does life come to be ? What is life ?
- history of the kerbol system
- climate study and understanding : obviously this will limit missions to planet with an atmosphere
- general physics and gravity
In real life science progress by showing that a theory failed at explaining a phenomenon. A new theory comes and a new cycle begin and at the end remains theories that can't be broken. This can be used as a progression in the scientific game.
I'm not a programmer, I have no idea of how to put such kind of thing into the game, but I would be happy to help if someone wants to build an add-on for KSP at least by giving ideas, crazy theories and proposition of game mechanic.
What do you think about it ?