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1.0 Impressions


Lord Aurelius
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I've been playing the 1.0 update for a few hours now and feel that I've had enough experience with the update to at least write some initial impressions.

The first thing I noticed was the vastly improved load times. I'm glad Squad was able to integrate the DDS loader. Having Valentina Kerman on the main menu is a nice touch. I haven't had any memory issues, but then again I never really did in stock. Looking at the memory usage in task manager shows that there still appears to be some memory leaks on scene changes so Squad still has some more work to do on that front. The rocket particle effects on the ground and on the launchpad are neat.

Looking at the parts in sandbox, I mostly like the new parts, but I don't care for the new mk1 inline cockpit (the old model was better) and the new Flea SRB is a big missed opportunity to add a proper 0.625m booster. All the other boosters are 1.25m already, we didn't really need another one. The new wings with fuel tanks are nice, but I wish Squad had made that change to all the other wings as well. All of the engines have been rebalanced and it looks like the worst of the balance issues have been addressed. The new fairings and service modules are pretty slick as well.

The new aero model is a nice improvement from the old placeholder, but it still needs some balancing/tweaking. Jet engines have way too much acceleration (FAR had to reduce their thrust in previous KSP versions to prevent this, but Squad doesn't seem to have rebalanced this yet) and parachutes are just silly now. The deployed chutes are immune to heat effects and even partially deployed at 30km have magical craft-slowing properties that easily redline the G-meter.

Moving onto the new career mode, I'm sad to see that Squad hasn't really fixed anything here, in some ways they've actually made things worse. First off, the tech tree is still terrible. It has numerous issues with balance and progression that I won't go into here as it would take up way too much space. Suffice to say I don't think Squad's method of determining the tech tree layout was successful at doing anything besides randomly moving parts around. There's still a lot of parts in nonsensical locations in the tree and poorly thought out part dependencies that more or less make certain parts useless until you've unlocked another node with the supporting parts (i.e. you get antennas before batteries, and the transmission cost is so high you can't even send one crew report without depleting the internal batteries in the command pod so antennas are useless until you get batteries). The only improvement I can see is that airplane parts are available sooner.

Contracts are marginally better than they were before, but still need a LOT of work and a way to filter out certain types of contracts.

This leads to another major balance issue: funds are basically meaningless. You get so much from contracts that even on hard you don't have to think about them. It seems like Squad heard people complaining about the building upgrade costs, so rather than adding an extra tier to smooth out the progression they threw money at the player so they could just upgrade them.

Playing the game, I didn't really run into any bugs, the EVApult is fixed and water seems to be a bit more forgiving. The only issue I noticed was some Z-fighting around the space center (and the lack of clouds). The textures for some of the older parts really look out of place (i.e. mk1-2 pod has a pretty low-res texture even on high settings and looks pretty bad compared to the newer parts).

Looking into the game files, its nice to see that the tech tree is now editable without mods, but the promised ability to edit the upgradeable buildings appears to be missing. This was a major sore spot with modders and at a glance it looks like Squad hasn't done anything to address this issue.

Overall, this update is about what I expected. The new features are neat, but balance is still way off and quite a few bugs were revealed during the livestreams after the cutoff date so they won't be fixed until the next update (this is exactly why I and many others made such a big deal about Squad not doing another beta release before 1.0). It doesn't feel like a 1.0 release, to me it's just another (albeit larger than normal) update that should be called 0.27. There's still some fundamental issues with career that really need to be addressed, as is the game is an excellent sandbox to play around in but the career still lacks any meaning.

What are your impressions on the new update?

Edited by Lord Aurelius
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It's hard for me to judge KSP 1.0 harshly. I have seen games less stable and far less fully-featured make it to 1.0 before, and also seen those very same games grow into something far greater than they were at 1.0 as development continued. We're somewhat spoiled when it comes to this sort of thing, as we tend to expect a level of completeness and thoroughness of testing that basically only the most profit-healthy game developers can afford. I find that, with indie games (even popular ones), you have to accept that things are never going to be quite "just right", but that they'll also remain in active development long after the IPO (which is not true of most big-name titles, DLC and bugfix patching aside).

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My impressions. Hmm. I think Squad has done a good job. I like most of the features, and the fact that it is *relatively* bug-free. When it was announced some time ago that the next update would be 1.0 and the exit from Early Access I was quite sceptical and seriously doubted whether Squad could add so many features, polish the game and squash most, if not all, the bugs. I will wait until critical reviews come out to decide whether Squad proved me wrong.

On the actual game side, it kind of feels like just another update, although a better update than usual. I like the small QoL features, like warp to next morning. I haven't had time to use the new resource system yet, but will try it soon. I'm going to write a proper review after playing it more.

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I am having a lot of fun. Career really seems more enjoyable to me now. Yes, more balance is going to be needed, but the improvements are fantastic. Weirdly enough, I fin the new aero really adds to career: I had a lot of trouble sending Bob without SAS in a very overpowered rocket, and immediately lost Valentina on my first try (restarted since then). The new tech tree progression seems much more sensible. The amount of money you get from contracts is tweakable, so I have no problem with that... I prefer to get a bit more money (about 80%) and less science, and that balance is fun to play with.

And, oh god, reentering is so much more fun. I used to play with FAR and DRE, and I still find this better. I would like parachutes to break at high speeds and high g's to kill kerbals, but that is an easy fix with a mod.

I really feel I will be playing for some time with just stock parts. KAC and KE might still bee needed, and of course I would like to tweak this and that, but the game feels very nice.

As for bugs, I am not sure, but I think I went through a mountain at high warp... Not sure because it was night, and very dark, but something weird happened. But that would be hard to fix, and I am not sure if I would even call it a bug.

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I find no major faults with 1.0 myself. Naturally, I always want my favourite mods to be included, but the game stands on its own very well. I do agree with you that it doesn't necessarily feel like a 'release', but I feel like that may be due to the fact that KSP has been on par with other released games since 0.20 or so.

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Yeas, I agree. KSP's alpha spoiled us. But at the same time it's evident in my view that we needed a real beta period. You can't launch and have people finding problems with one of the most important things the update added, ie heat shields.

The tech tree... yeah, doesn't make more sense to me than it did before. I don't know, man, career never looked good to me. The rest, I guess is a matter of opinions...

- I don't like the insta-scan of the resource scanner.

- I don't like that the nuclear engines don't use oxidizer (good) but there are no fuel-only tanks for them.

- Don't like that some options that in my view are necessary for the player (aero, dV et all) are hidden in the debug menu or just not implemented.

- The "tutorials", never a game needed more tutorials/manuals than KSP, yet we don't really have any complete tutorials nor manuals.

- Some day they will implement a smarter SAS :) I know they didn't promise they would, but one can dream.

I ran into a couple of bugs, not serious, but should have been caught by QA. Oh, BTW, someone already experienced EVA catapult again.

EDIT: Oh I forgot, the farings retaining their weight after they've been jettisoned! That's a big one my friend.

Edited by Rosco P. Coltrane
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The one major problem I had with the tech tree: You start with the SMALL tanks. You start out with the more complicated engineering solution and unlock less complicated ones over time. The small tanks don't look good on tall rockets, and they're wobbly, and really, we should start with the biggest tanks of a tier first. It would be quite a bit more limiting on fine-tuning the fuel, and that's a good thing. And yes, I realize part of that is done so that you are forced to get close to the VAB part-attachment limit, but honestly I feel that it just feels really artificial at that point.

And while I love the female Kerbals, I noticed something while casually watching a group of Kerbals in the Spaceplane hangar. There are no female Kerbals there. The entirety of the KSC staff are men. That's not right. We don't have engineer women or scientist women or even ground crew women. They're all males. We don't even have a woman as part of the administration team or any KSC building! This is a pretty major oversight in my view!

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@Rosco

There are fuel-only tanks that would work for the nuclear engines... They're the aircraft LF tanks that were there already.

@GregoxMun

I didn't mention that in my impressions, but I totally agree. They give you the biggest 1.25m engine and the smallest 1.25m tank in the same node. Not a terribly practical (or balanced) combination.

Edited by Lord Aurelius
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Yes if course (altugh I'm sure I'm gonna forget to do it:) ) but the dry/wet ratio is against you. It's like the KSP didn't have the money to build fuel only thanks for their engines!

Yeah, I always forget to take monoprop out, so that is a problem... But, as for the extra mass, consider that such a tank would have to be cryogenically cooled and, therefore, heavier anyways.

@Gregox: I actually think starting with the small tanks plays well with the launchpad/VAB limitations. As you unlock new parts you can build bigger rockets because you don't need so many parts for each unit of fuel.

The lack of female employees at the KSC is, indeed, worrying.

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The one major problem I had with the tech tree: You start with the SMALL tanks. You start out with the more complicated engineering solution and unlock less complicated ones over time. The small tanks don't look good on tall rockets, and they're wobbly, and really, we should start with the biggest tanks of a tier first.

Actually, larger fuel tanks are more complicated to engineer, as I understand it. I can't pretend to understand it very well, but I have read that the larger a pressure vessel is, the more difficult it is to manufacture.

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- I don't like that the nuclear engines don't use oxidizer (good) but there are no fuel-only tanks for them.

For now, drain off the oxidizer or use the aircraft fuel tanks. Someone will likely mod tanks specifically for the Nukes in the near future.

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I agree with your impression that this feels like a larger-than-normal release but not a special "1.0" release. I suppose it's just a result of different perspectives -- the developers have known all along what they wanted the game to look like in a 'finished' state and what elements needed to be present, and we haven't. It is a big update though, and some of the new features should be pretty great when they're polished a little more. I'm pretty excited about the new aerodynamics; up until now I've flown only rockets because the old placeholder soupodynamics were just no fun at all to me. I'm looking forward to giving spaceplanes another try. I'm also excited about resources; I'm looking forward to making missions that can go around to multiple locations and come home again, rather than one-way flights that eventually run out of fuel and are abandoned. That said, I'm playing in career mode and it will be a while before I'm able to do any of those things.

They finally fixed the radial decoupler bug, thank goodness.

I'm rather disappointed at what seems to be the unfinished state of the new aerodynamics. I like that I have to be much more careful about what I re-enter and how. But putting a heat shield on a capsule destabilizes it; how did nobody notice that in testing?! It's a problem that re-entry heating can destroy my craft, but I don't have any way to check the temperature of parts without using options hidden in a debug menu. It's also a problem that I can't see how far I can angle the capsule on re-entry to produce body lift before the heating starts hitting parts other than the heat shield.

I like the changes they've made to the contracts in this version, at least so far. The problem I had with them in 0.90 was that the main new contract type that appears late-game (doing things with asteroids) didn't appeal to me, so doing the other contract types got repetitive. More contract types should help.

I don't think I agree regarding excessive funds. In version 0.90 I played career on hard mode and building up funds to pay for space center upgrades and unlock parts was the main limiting factor. This time I'm playing on moderate and the upgrades are coming more quickly, but so far at least funds are still the limiting factor.

In version 1.0 I just got my first ever Danny-style game bug -- when landing a capsule at the end of a flight, I noticed that the upper stage that crashed nearby had thrown some parts back up into the air. I switched to them and discovered a pair of goo containers, and they suddenly took off out of the atmosphere! By the time I switched back to the tracking station they were out around the orbit of Mun. I tried switching back to them again and the game froze. So it's still buggy!

Edit: Aaaand, I just killed a tourist on re-entry. I was at something like 35km, coming in tail-first, not even seeing re-entry effects yet, and the capsule blew up. The probe core on top of it was fine, the heat shield and still-attached upper stage below it were fine, just the capsule blew. Wish there was some way to tell if that was a bug or bad re entry or what!

Edited by Mattasmack
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Well, I think it's great. I haven't played KSP in several months; I stopped right around when they introduced the Admin building and "strategies" and decided to take a hiatus while waiting for 1.0. I'm glad I did, because version 1.0 probably seems like a much bigger advance than if I had been playing all along.

All sorts of cool stuff is new to me: the barebones initial Space Center, the new aerodynamics, the much better UI for choosing parts in the UAB, the little engineering widget in the VAB (helpfully reminding me to put my chute on a separate stage), the new costs for recruiting Kerbals, the reorganized tech tree, Valentina, XP for Kerbals and skills like "pilot" and "engineer", etc. I'm actually playing entirely unmodded. That won't last, but it's one more sign that things have improved a lot. I'm sure I'll find plenty of stuff to complain about (and mod), but for now, I say: Congratulations to Squad!

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Contracts are marginally better than they were before, but still need a LOT of work and a way to filter out certain types of contracts.

This leads to another major balance issue: funds are basically meaningless. You get so much from contracts that even on hard you don't have to think about them. It seems like Squad heard people complaining about the building upgrade costs, so rather than adding an extra tier to smooth out the progression they threw money at the player so they could just upgrade them.

You know - there are difficulty sliders for this. Changing the "cash difficulty" (forget what's called), changes both contract payouts and cost of buildings. It's default position is a "joke" though.

The big influx of cash really comes from the "record" contracts in the beginning, after that things slow down quite a lot. Kerbals cost rather a lot to hire too, and if you want to exchange cash for science, you'll toss really a lot of cash.

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I had some concerns on fund reward, it was too much early. I could upgrade launchpad by 3rd launch and still have lots of cash. This as hard setting. The dV requirement for orbit seems to be much lower now. I am spoiled by great mod FAR so I am surprised that new aero model do not enough drag to slowdown my pod while i am trying to return from space. I was about to crash surface at 1000-900 m/s speeds. Parachutes were safely usable at those speed which leads to another amazement. Other than these new version is great. I liked the tech tree myself.

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