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Devnote Tuesday: Experimenting and Researching


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<figure data-orig-height="92" data-orig-width="480"><img data-orig-height="92" data-orig-width="480" alt="image" src="https://31.media.tumblr.com/0ff9377afa68dc3ad3fe6844aaf1bd38/tumblr_inline_nldjh5jd7w1rr2wit.jpg"/></figure><p><b>Felipe (HarvesteR):</b> Last week was mostly about improving the R&D tech tree; not so much about redesigning it just yet, but on revising how it is defined in-game. Up until now, the tech tree was hardcoded into the research and development UI prefab. This was changed now, and tech tree is now completely loaded from a cfg file. This means modifying the tech tree to add, rename, revise the hierarchy between nodes and all that stuff is now easily within reach of modders, not to mention making our own lives a whole lot easier as well. But not only that; the path to this cfg file is saved along with the game parameters inside the save file, which means each game can have its own tech tree definition. This is all theoretical of course; We plan to implement just one tech tree for stock games, but more mod support has never been a bad thing has it?</p><p>On the subject of revising the tech tree’s layout, we’ve done a fair amount of brain-bashing here in a vain attempt to figure out what nodes should unlock which parts and when… However, this is highly dependent on what the contracts system will ask of you, and because that is changing in this update as well, we simply can’t tell what parts are gonna be most needed throughout the game’s progression, not just now at least. So we’ve had an idea to make that task easier.</p><p>Instead of arbitrarily deciding on a new tech tree layout, we’re going to do this in a more ‘scientific’ way. I’ve created a new version of the tech tree which features absolutely no dependencies between nodes. This means all notes are researchable from the start. Also, all nodes have the exact same cost. This tech tree will be included on the QA builds, and during testing, we will ask the testers to note down the order in which they went on unlocking the nodes. From that data, we should be able to run some statistical analysis to help us determine which parts are needed first, and how we should better organize the tech tree. This process can also be repeated multiple times, to refine the tech tree layout more and more. We hope that at the very least, this method will give us more accurate insights than just relying on anecdotal feedback.</p><p>Now, this week I sat down to get the female Kerbals working in the game. Their EVA models are working nicely now, with full animations, as are their internal meshes. I’ve set up new collections of names and syllables for the crew name generator, so we should have a couple thousand possible female names. Putting those together from syllable combinations worked just as well for female names as it did for male ones, which means you can probably also expect the same level of lunacy in some of the names it comes up with.</p><p><b>Alex (aLeXmOrA): </b>I’ve been doing more accounting work than dev work. There are some issues I’m helping with about payments, invoices and that kind of stuff. Of course, I’m still working on the license system, but for now I had to put that aside and focus in some managment.</p><p><b>Marco (Samssonart): </b>That Duna tutorial is turning out more complicated than I thought, there are many things that can go wrong and screw up the whole trajectory, so I’m trying to find a way to make it not so error prone, but also not fall into hand-holding the player’s every move, if it were so they might as well just watch a video tutorial, there has to be some action from the player to ensure they learn the concept and can extrapolate it and incorporate it to their playing.</p><p><b>Daniel (danRosas): </b>Doing side quests while working the main plot, the release animation. I just got an email with the kerbal voices for lip sync! So that’s what’s going to happen next. Side quests involve the usual, graphics, things for Maxmaps, and so forth. Fortunately I jus read that everything that I worked upon the female kerbals is working good. We’ll see what happens on QA… </p><p><b>Jim (Romfarer): </b>The Engineer’s Report App is finally through QA and ready to be merged into develop. Most of the bugs from the last round were fixed so it was mostly a matter of confirming and closing reports.<b><br/></b></p><p><b>Max (Maxmaps): </b>As you fine gents and ladies in the forums and reddit learned, we’re looking at the dev process of 1.0 and considering our priorities regarding the content we deliver and the quality that it is at. I want to thank everyone for their feedback as they have given us a lot to think about, and we will hopefully have something to share later this week.</p><p>On regular job stuff, organizing our launch plan so far has proven to be an exercise in plate spinning that would make a frisbee competition look tame by comparison. </p><p><b>Ted (Ted):</b> It’s been a grand week of QA. I’m not sure if I mentioned it previously, but we set up a second deployment channel for QA on Steam, so we’re now able to QA two branches at the same time. Understandably, this has really sped up things in the QA department and we’re raring through the features. We’ve had quite a number of features through QA this past week though. Firstly we had Jim’s Engineer App back for a second round to ensure all issues were fixed with it and thankfully they were expertly patched up! We then moved on to QAing the develop branch, which is our central QA branch that everything merges into - this was to ensure nothing is too broken by the feature merging. Meanwhile in the other QA channel, we began testing of Arsonide’s additions for 1.0 - which are numerous and very exciting. Mainly, they’re a rebalancing of the starter contracts that players receive as well as a very fine-toothed comb of the economics of KSP, with balancing applied where necessary.</p><p>Towards the latter end of the week, we began QA of Mike’s Aero-related changes which included some really excellent refactoring and extension of the systems he’s already done. QA is still proceeding on that and there are far too many changes in it to even begin talking about, but rest assured they’re all great! Additionally, that branch also contained a tentative implementation of DDS formatted textures for KSP, so far cutting the initial asset loading of KSP by 1/3rd if not more in some cases.</p><p>Lastly, I’ve been going over our internal documentation for 1.0 and ensuring that it’s both accurate and reliable for current and future use.</p><p><b>Kasper (KasperVld): </b>I’ve been working on getting a plan together on how we’re going to move forward with video makers and live streamers. Additionally I’ve been working with KSPTV people to finish up an overhaul on that end. Finally I accidentally made Windows uninstall all programs on my computer so I had to spend a fair few hours getting that back up and running: oops! On the bright side everything runs nice and fast again.</p>

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If each save loads the tech tree from a single cfg file, then how does that affect mods which often rely on ModuleManager patches to modify stock behavior? Does the whole tech tree need to be redefined if it needs to be changed?

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This was very interesting to read. I really liked to hear all about the things that happen around KSP at the moment. You guys are having a seriously dense schedule so it seems. So, thank you for all the hard work! Its really appreciated. But now i am even more eager to see and hear of the new stuff coming. I hope Max will find the time for a KSP TV episode on friday :)

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Good to hear everything guys :). On the note of video makers and streamers, I actually have a project premiering sometime within the next two weeks which I you you SQUAD employees enjoy :). It's been fun making it.

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Nice solid devnotes. What we've come to expect from you guys. As always, thanks!

<p><b>Felipe (HarvesteR):</b> tech tree is now completely loaded from a cfg file.</p>

Very nice. You completely eliminated the need for an in-game tool to modify the tech tree. With this setup, a modder will write one in no time. Heck, one of the faltering mods to do it with the current system will probably be adapted to do it.

<p><b>Marco (Samssonart): </b>That Duna tutorial is turning out more complicated than I thought, there are many things that can go wrong and screw up the whole trajectory, so I’m trying to find a way to make it not so error prone, but also not fall into hand-holding the player’s every move, if it were so they might as well just watch a video tutorial, there has to be some action from the player to ensure they learn the concept and can extrapolate it and incorporate it to their playing.</p>

That's because getting to Duna is HARD when you break it down. It's easy for US because we've done it. For a new player it's daunting.

One thought: Could you break it down into multiple tutorials?

  1. You're in LKO, get a Duna encounter.
  2. You're halfway to Duna, use a mid-course correction to tighten your approach.
  3. You're in Duna's SOI and Ike's in the way. Oops. Fix that.
  4. Aerobrake into a stable orbit.

Each starts in a situation that you COULD have gotten to from the previous tutorial, but it's set in stone so you as the tutor have control of the variables.

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Think hard about this:

"Instead of arbitrarily deciding on a new tech tree layout, we’re going to do this in a more ‘scientific’ way. I’ve created a new version of the tech tree which features absolutely no dependencies between nodes. This means all notes are researchable from the start. Also, all nodes have the exact same cost. This tech tree will be included on the QA builds, and during testing, we will ask the testers to note down the order in which they went on unlocking the nodes. From that data, we should be able to run some statistical analysis to help us determine which parts are needed first, and how we should better organize the tech tree. This process can also be repeated multiple times, to refine the tech tree layout more and more. We hope that at the very least, this method will give us more accurate insights than just relying on anecdotal feedback."

because i dont think it will do what you expect.

If you are gaming the system, i would unlock the most useful things first, which means the least useful things last if ever, even though they argueably go on the tech tree first. For example, I'm going to unlock a science lab, and science modules near the begining, and go science my way to a complete tech tree. In reality, both the current order, and what I would do in your world, are both wrong from teh game perspective. It should go simple scientific instruments (thermometer, barometer) - more complicated instruments - simple experiments - complicated experiments - science labs.

Similarly, why would i ever unlock the stupid drone core, when I can unlock the good one with sas and node pointing and such? Why would i unlock the inefficient engines when I can go straight to the best ones?

Counter-suggestion - open a thread asking people for suggestions on what the tech tree should look like and why, and use those as inputs.

-Seyv

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It will be very interesting to hear about the changes that are ultimately made to the tech tree, and the QA feedback that ultimately informs those decisions. I'm sure we'll all want to know why particular parts ended up where they did.

It will certainly be interesting to see how planes and probes evolve in the early game. Doubtless, there will be some lively debates! :cool:

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Thanks everybody for the hard work you're putting into the game, and thank you also for going above and beyond the call of duty and keeping us informed not only of upcoming features but also of your thinking behind them. I know we all have our opinions on what is and what isn't important for the big release, but so far you have simply gone ahead and done what you enjoy doing, which I think is what an indie game is all about and why KSP has such a great feel to it. KSP isn't just a product, it's your creation.

Thank you.

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Glad to see the optimisation (dds):)

Regarding the duna tutorial.. Couldn't you do something more simple and less daunting... say a mun to minmus transfer... There's more room for error, accomplishes the same kind of intercept. It wouldn't appear as daunting especially....

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Think hard about this:

"Instead of arbitrarily deciding on a new tech tree layout, we’re going to do this in a more ‘scientific’ way. I’ve created a new version of the tech tree which features absolutely no dependencies between nodes. This means all notes are researchable from the start. Also, all nodes have the exact same cost. This tech tree will be included on the QA builds, and during testing, we will ask the testers to note down the order in which they went on unlocking the nodes. From that data, we should be able to run some statistical analysis to help us determine which parts are needed first, and how we should better organize the tech tree. This process can also be repeated multiple times, to refine the tech tree layout more and more. We hope that at the very least, this method will give us more accurate insights than just relying on anecdotal feedback."

because i dont think it will do what you expect.

I'll echo this. It is not going to work in any way like you expect. If playing completely stock I could unlock literally half of the nodes and explore the entire solar system, and then just unlock the other useless nodes whenever I feel like it. I mean, you'll quickly figure out which of your parts are terrible, but that's about it.
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Think hard about this:

"Instead of arbitrarily deciding on a new tech tree layout, we’re going to do this in a more ‘scientific’ way. I’ve created a new version of the tech tree which features absolutely no dependencies between nodes. This means all notes are researchable from the start. Also, all nodes have the exact same cost. This tech tree will be included on the QA builds, and during testing, we will ask the testers to note down the order in which they went on unlocking the nodes. From that data, we should be able to run some statistical analysis to help us determine which parts are needed first, and how we should better organize the tech tree. This process can also be repeated multiple times, to refine the tech tree layout more and more. We hope that at the very least, this method will give us more accurate insights than just relying on anecdotal feedback."

because i dont think it will do what you expect.

If you are gaming the system, i would unlock the most useful things first, which means the least useful things last if ever, even though they argueably go on the tech tree first. For example, I'm going to unlock a science lab, and science modules near the begining, and go science my way to a complete tech tree. In reality, both the current order, and what I would do in your world, are both wrong from teh game perspective. It should go simple scientific instruments (thermometer, barometer) - more complicated instruments - simple experiments - complicated experiments - science labs.

Similarly, why would i ever unlock the stupid drone core, when I can unlock the good one with sas and node pointing and such? Why would i unlock the inefficient engines when I can go straight to the best ones?

Counter-suggestion - open a thread asking people for suggestions on what the tech tree should look like and why, and use those as inputs.

-Seyv

Yes, that would be the case if you were intent on gaming the system. However, we're not doing this in an open environment, but in the controlled group that is the QA team. We can instruct the testers to select nodes in a well-paced progression, selecting not the best and shiniest parts first, but what seems fit to be the next logical step.

With the assurance everyone is collecting their data with the intention of creating a logical, incremental progression, we should get some useful information. This can only happen with a very small, communicative test group, but we just happen to have such a group... (Who by the way, are outdoing themselves again this time around. Major props to them, they've done an immense amount of work these last few weeks!)

Cheers

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The tech tree as a cfg is a good idea. Maybe this would allow novel ideas for unlocking stuff (via testing contracts, for example).

I think the order you see things unlocked by the QA groups might be sort of valuable, but that has problems itself. The trouble with the tech tree is:

1. planetary science doesn't really drive new engineering.

2. most all the tech in KSP shows up over a very short time span in the real world, and much of it is concurrent.

I'd really reconsider the way tech is unlocked, and think about incorporating it into play somehow ("experimental" parts that can fail become "production" parts after some amount of use (no failure), perhaps within some parameters that would be/replace the parts testing stuff?). Science can play a role for some parts, or "contracts" that are really space program missions vs commercial things that mimic some RL early flights (all the Gemini stuff, for example).

Edited by tater
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i would unlock the most useful things first, which means the least useful things last if ever, even though they argueably go on the tech tree first.

I was thinking the same thing. But perhaps it would work in reverse? For example, if you unlock the best probe part first in the test model, that's the one that should be unlocked last in the final product. I am guessing that's what the plan is.

EDIT: Harvester ninja'd me, and I was wrong. Looks like their plan is more like a live poll, which should work well.

Edited by Deddly
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Nice solid devnotes. What we've come to expect from you guys. As always, thanks!

Very nice. You completely eliminated the need for an in-game tool to modify the tech tree. With this setup, a modder will write one in no time. Heck, one of the faltering mods to do it with the current system will probably be adapted to do it.

That's because getting to Duna is HARD when you break it down. It's easy for US because we've done it. For a new player it's daunting.

One thought: Could you break it down into multiple tutorials?

  1. You're in LKO, get a Duna encounter.
  2. You're halfway to Duna, use a mid-course correction to tighten your approach.
  3. You're in Duna's SOI and Ike's in the way. Oops. Fix that.
  4. Aerobrake into a stable orbit.

Each starts in a situation that you COULD have gotten to from the previous tutorial, but it's set in stone so you as the tutor have control of the variables.

Thanks for you input, maybe making several tutorials is not necessary, but you break down of the mission is definitely helpful.

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Thank you - another excellent Devnote Tuesday progress update.

It's great to hear that work is starting on ways to optimize texture loading and memory consumption :)

The "Beyond Beta" announcement told us it would be possible to fail in 1.0 - will the tech tree's role on the success side, change at all?

Any new thoughts on end-game accomplishments?

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It is really great to see you guys sharing all this information with us. It enhances the sense of community that KSP has created for us all.

I have noticed that you guys have increased the amount of contact with us recently and that's really exciting as I can feel the end coming.

Or rather, the beginning. :wink:

Thank you also for all your hard work. I look forward to hearing about your plans for the 1.0 release.

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It's a live poll, but it's still "inside the box" thinking, IMO.

Tech right now is THE reward system, so science exists solely to unlock tech. Science has no in-game value (useful data from science) unless ISRU is planning on adding it via mapping.

I think the tech tree should be more complexly woven into career.

Select a node to "research." Doing so generates missions/contracts that result in unlocking the part---these may include offering the part (a la parts testing contracts). So you research a docking clamp, the game then creates a contract which offers the part, but requires completing a mission to dock 2 craft in orbit around Kerbin. (as an example).

Not all parts would be like this, but many would. It provides a way to steer new players a little as well. Perhaps there could be a low science "price" that requires the testing, or a more expensive version that buys it outright (so repeat players might select a game with more science to start, and just unlock them to avoid the grind).

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<b>Felipe (HarvesteR):</b>This was changed now, and tech tree is now completely loaded from a cfg file. This means modifying the tech tree to add, rename, revise the hierarchy between nodes and all that stuff is now easily within reach of modders, not to mention making our own lives a whole lot easier as well.

The tech tree is finally truly open to modders with out crazy hackery? This is exciting.

<b>Felipe (HarvesteR):</b>On the subject of revising the tech tree’s layout, we’ve done a fair amount of brain-bashing here in a vain attempt to figure out what nodes should unlock which parts and when… Instead of arbitrarily deciding on a new tech tree layout, we’re going to do this in a more ‘scientific’ way.

Some kind forum members can help.

- - - Updated - - -

<b>Ted (Ted):</b> Additionally, that branch also contained a tentative implementation of DDS formatted textures for KSP, so far cutting the initial asset loading of KSP by 1/3rd if not more in some cases.

A step in the right direction.

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Determining tech unlock progression based on contract requirements and contract progression, is working with the system as-is. And given that 1.0 is marching toward a release date... that's what I expect will happen.

Claw gathered a lot of thoughtful feedback from players like tater, on what a more logical science and tech system could look like. Squad, please consult with these guys, if not for 1.0, then for 1.1 :)

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...Finally I accidentally made Windows uninstall all programs on my computer so I had to spend a fair few hours getting that back up and running: oops! On the bright side everything runs nice and fast again.
@KasperVld, would you mind telling me how exactly you uninstalled all your programs? i need to reset my windows partition, but i don't want to go through bootcamp again, it was troublesome the first time. I just want to erase any extraneous programs I've downloaded, i'll reinstall only the ones i need. Edited by gkorgood
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@KasperVld, would you mind telling me how exactly you uninstalled all your programs? i need to reset my windows partition, but i don't want to go through bootcamp again, it was troublesome the first time. I just want to erase any extraneous programs I've downloaded, i'll reinstall only the ones i need.

I guess that little mishap helps someone out then, haha. I 'refreshed' my computer http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/restore-refresh-reset-pc

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I’ve created a new version of the tech tree which features absolutely no dependencies between nodes. This means all notes are researchable from the start. Also, all nodes have the exact same cost.

So this means that we can research nuclear propulsion for 10 science at the beginning?

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