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If you could redesign/improve the Kerbol System, what would you do?


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I'd like to see something done with Tylo, maybe turning it into a Titan analogue with atmosphere and oceans.
- Tylo a bit smaller or at least give it some atmosphere and a more interesting Terrain.
In my view Tylo should keep its current size (unless the whole system is upscaled), gravity, and lack of atmosphere. It's one of the game's standout challenges and should stay that way. Laythe is already a loose Titan analogue, but if there's to be another one that can easily be a new body, quite probably the biggest moon of GP2.

Or Vall could take some cues from Titan. It's the right sort of size and could permit interesting Laythe-Vall spaceplane operations.

In fact, that makes me think of a cool Titan-analogue idea: an atmosphere containing fuel that can be burned with onboard oxidiser, the reverse of how it is on Kerbin and Laythe. The RAPIER could have a new FuelBreathing mode, and a pure fuelbreathing engine or two might be added. If KSP also adopted a more realistic fuel:ox mass ratio that would make things especially interesting, fuelbreathing engines would seem very oxidiser hungry making for a novel spaceplane challenge.

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I'd make the solar system realistic in density and radius. Then adjust orbits a bit to make it more realistic.

This and also some interesting geological formations to visit.

Still reading through the thread. Some good ideas here.

- - - Updated - - -

Well, I would scrap the surface of all the planets in a game and re-think it from ground up. Money permitted - I would hire geologist to help out creating some interesting interconnecting geologic features on a surface (canyons, mountains, riverbeds, etc.), introduce some some active features (volcanoes, cryovolcanoes, geysers, seas of methane, etc.), basically: Use planetary geology as a list of possible features to implement into the game.

My main goal would be to make planetary exploration a thing. Something that pretty much doesn't exist in the game as of now.

What he said.

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Planetary axial tilt... I didn't realise there was a problem with the engine that makes that not happen. That's a real shame; it's a fundamental feature of nature... because the perfect alignment of planets mean that there are no seasons on any of them. Which is absurd. That would be the VERY FIRST THING I would change about it. Having an earth-like axial tilt to Kerbin would make a massive difference in interest and challenge to the game overall.... before you can do a transfer you have to align your orbit with the system ecliptic (i.e. the plane of Kerbin's orbit around Kerbol), and since as Kerbin moves around the sun that alignment will change over time... and yet, would not make getting into orbit of Kerbin any more difficult than it currently is.

I like the tiny system with improbably dense celestial objects, and its frankly cartoony nature. I mean, it's a video game, so cutting transfers to Duna (for example) down to a manageable length of time is just fine with me. I use Distant Objects and I have all the flares cranked to max because it aids in the cartoony nature of the night sky. I understand people's complaints about the sameness of the planets, but I can also understand why it's like that... making the planets more complex will seriously add to the overall footprint of the game, and the game's footprint is pretty hyarge to begin with. My thinking on that is that on the ground becomes a load on demand instead of load at runtime sort of scenario, and that means developing a subsystem that can load and unload the resources for that... so in orbit it pretty much is as it is, but once you land on a body then the game starts pulling in more resources to handle what you see going on on the ground. It's an interesting problem figuring out how to do that without necessarily going into trying to map all of a FREAKING PLANET for the game. How can one make that sort of thing happen deterministically yet procedurally with the level of detail required to make surfaces more interesting without totally driving the CPU into the dirt? Personally, I think that Squad should seriously consider hiring a superstar in numeric computer science to look at ways at making that happen. They should also maybe consider taking a good long look at the Principia plugin implementing Hamiltonian orbital mechanics, fixing some of the orbital resonance problems with the Jool system, and look at using that in the future... it gives so much more to the game like Lagrange points and the ability to really run some of the more arcane kinds of celestial motions like moons in horseshoe orbits and so on... the down side is that Principia and the asteroid belt are pretty much incompatible as they will drive your CPU into the dirt, though perhaps with the improved physics engine in Unity 5 that may not be the case after 1.1 comes out.

A reasonable compromise might be setting it up to run on Lagrangian orbital mechanics. The TL;DR is Newtonian (which is what the game uses) is 2-body orbital mechanics, Lagrange is 3-body, and Hamiltonian is n-body. With Lagrangian you would still have SOIs and so on, but when you're focused on a body in a particular SOI it will only go two deep for it's orbital calculations... so if you're looking at a ship orbiting Minmus, it will account for the ship, Minmus, and Kerbin. If it leaves Minmus' SOI, it will look at the ship, Kerbin, and Kerbol. If you're looking at Minmus, it will look at Minmus, Kerbin, and Kerbol... and so on, with everything that appears in the map outside of the analysed bodies being on rails like they are currently. You could then do things like give each asteroid an SOI depending on its class, and when your ship is in it's SOI (which would necessarily be very tiny... down to just a few meters for Class A for example) then you're looking at the ship, the asteroid, and whatever SOI the asteroid happens to be in at the time. Overall, this would mean you could get some but not all of the features... you'd have Lagrange points, but horseshoe orbits are out. This isn't a perfect solution but it might be a good compromise solution, if you follow me.

One major expansion to the game that would be pretty cool would be to implement a local stellar grouping, with somewhere around five to ten stars orbiting a common centre... with principa you could even set up that common centre to be the barymetric centre of the stars (not sure if I've got the term right there, but hey). This would permit setting up LOOOOOOOOOONNNNGGGGGGGG transfers to other stars would be similar to how one does planetary transfers now, and possibly mean that you would have to expand the tech tree to include things like long hibernation, generational ships, and so on. Other fun things to possibly include (even though there are good reasons why they won't work in the real world) would be things like Bussard drives to permit extremely long burns (boost at 1 g until halfway there, then flip over and boost in the opposite direction until one gets to the rendezvous). Again, the Lilliputian nature of the game would mean the closest system would be about one light year away, which (if I recall my scifi) would make for a trip using the 1g-flip method something along the lines of 2 + log2(2) years transit time, or ~3.5 years for the transfer.

None of this stuff is trivial to implement, of course, but it would add a great great deal to the game. Bah, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now! :D

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No axial tilt is a limitation of KSP as it stands, but I'm sure Squad could fix it if they wanted. I think on balance I'm against giving Kerbin a tilt because the "jump" from visiting Mun and Minmus to going interplanetary is hard enough as it is, but supporting different tilts would enrich the rest of the system.

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If we want to do "interstellar" travel, it may just be more convenient to place a system of jump relays in Kerbin orbit (and other stars in the network), similar to the Mass Effect idea. Once the player completes a rendezvous with the relay, the current star system can be unloaded and a new one can be loaded in its place once the jump is completed.

This would be a lot less resource-heavy than having all star systems simulated at the same time, while still allowing more game content to be added.

The advantages of that not withstanding, adding new stars is purely modding territory, I suspect.

No axial tilt is a limitation of KSP as it stands, but I'm sure Squad could fix it if they wanted. I think on balance I'm against giving Kerbin a tilt because the "jump" from visiting Mun and Minmus to going interplanetary is hard enough as it is, but supporting different tilts would enrich the rest of the system.

I think axial tilt has little purpose since there is no weather on Kerbin or on the other planets, making the existence of seasons kind of pointless.

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First I would add axial tilts. That would be easy task and it would give relatively much interest in orbital maneuvering. If I had programmed KSP axial tilt would have been in first version with spherical planet and 1/r^2 gravity.

Other things would depend on how much resources I would have. Real 3D terrain models (caves), fluid physics (weather, liquid stuff), etc. fancy stuff would be fantastic, but it would need much more development resources than Squad has. Therefore realistic option would be moderate improvements, for example procedural terrain generation to give nearly infinite amount of details on bodies.

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Right, then.

Time has refined my views.

*cracks knuckles*

- Low-density belt of vulcanoid asteroids below the orbit of Moho

- Eve:

- Inclination reduced to make an easier early-game interplanetary target

- Hotter and generally more angry atmosphere on Eve

- Eve not violently purple (I regret this to this day)

- Perpetual clouds and heavy haze, thunder ambiance, flashes of lightning and a surface dark enough to require lights to see properly (except when the lightning is going of course)

- Kerbin:

- Small amounts of eccentricity and inclination

- Mun:

- More realistic crater distribution in both size and location (very uniform, as it stands)

- Tycho crater ripoff with properly shaped solid-black monolith

- Duna:

- More, flatter lowlands, more obvious ancient water-carved features

- More irregular ice caps with super cool features

- An additional asteroidal moon, far beyond Ike, if the systems allowed it it would have irregular rotation like Pluto's small moons are expected to (due to the odd dynamics of a binary planet system)

- Ike:

- Return of the magic boulder

- Craters and a more moon-like heightmap

- Asteroids discoverable in the actual asteroid belt, along with a significant quantify of larger asteroids

- Jool:

- Re-arrangement of major moons to be more widely spaced and similar to Saturn's layout of moons

- 150% its original size, with enlarged moon orbits as well

- Not so green (as with Eve, I still regret such an intense color), perhaps green bands instead, which when sampled yield algae...

- Oblateness similar to that of Saturn's or Jupiter's (requires reworking of how atmospheres are handled)

- Uncomfortable quantities of minor moons

- Laythe:

- Smaller, Duna sized

- Mostly cloud covered

- Scattered with active volcanoes

- No ice caps (hot greenhouse atmosphere would destroy them easily)

- Faint torus of gas along its orbit from escaping atmosphere (not enough to affect ships, but enough to catch the light, see Saturn's E ring [although you could of course get crazy with it and make it enough to change your orbit using aerodynamic surfaces... paging Larry Niven])

- Vall:

- Smaller, Mun sized

- Scratchy surface like that of Europa/Eeloo

- Tylo:

- Smaller, slightly below Duna sized

- Two-thirds-gee surface gravity (High for a body of that size, so perhaps a dense iron core surrounded by ices; a body from the inner solar system that was ejected and then captured by Jool)

- Ice geysers + resulting atmosphere

- Second faint gas torus

- New Planet: Mez

- Super-Kerbin with rapid rotation period, somewhat lens-shaped as a result (as later calculations of the properties of good old planet Mesklin suggested)

- Thick atmosphere

- Gravity at poles approaches 10-20g, gravity at equator only ~0.05g

- Scale height of atmosphere varies accordingly, and grows very diffuse and stretched around the equator

- ... which is annoyingly impossible with current systems unless the atmosphere can be rejiggered to work with non-spherical bodies (Dear ferram...)

- Eeloo:

- Surface like our new best friend Pluto with neat flowy stuff and everything

- Small blob of a moon

- Extra bodies with analogues of most real-world dwarf planets (especially Sedna)

Technical advances required:

- Functional atmospheres for non-spherical bodies

- Proper altitude detection for non-spherical bodies

- Non-spherical atmosphere rendering

- Gas torus rendering

- Dynamic loading/unloading of planet surface maps to keep memory usage sane (or just 64-bit and deal with the inefficiency)

- Ambient sound system for planets

- Irregular planetary rotation (optional, for Duna's minimoon)

- Clouds

Edited by NovaSilisko
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In my view Tylo should keep its current size (unless the whole system is upscaled), gravity, and lack of atmosphere. It's one of the game's standout challenges and should stay that way. Laythe is already a loose Titan analogue, but if there's to be another one that can easily be a new body, quite probably the biggest moon of GP2..

Well, I do not disagree with that , but for me the lack of atmosphere in Tylo sticks out like a sore thumb because a body that can have that surface gravity and is as far away from the parent star as it is must have a atmo, especially considering the quite dense one that Laythe has. If you want a almost 1 kerbin g body with no atmo, atleast toss it in a place where that would make sense ( say, somewhere between Moho and Eve ). Tylo where it is with no atmo makes as much sense as a Minmus made of ice... oh wait ;)

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Even though the winds can reach hundreds of km/h on Mars, the low atmospheric pressure means that the impact of those winds is not much more than a steady breeze on Earth. It would be unrealistic to have Duna winds blowing off unretracted solar panels.

Hmm, yah.. anyhoo, rethinking all this probably random disasters like this would be a mistake. Could be cool if it just coated your ship in orange dust though.

Oh man and COMETS!

Edited by Pthigrivi
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Well, I do not disagree with that , but for me the lack of atmosphere in Tylo sticks out like a sore thumb because a body that can have that surface gravity and is as far away from the parent star as it is must have a atmo, especially considering the quite dense one that Laythe has. If you want a almost 1 kerbin g body with no atmo, atleast toss it in a place where that would make sense ( say, somewhere between Moho and Eve ). Tylo where it is with no atmo makes as much sense as a Minmus made of ice... oh wait ;)

Yes, Tylo's lack of atmosphere has sat in the back of my mind for a while. It's cold out there which allows more atmosphere to collect, so... The planetary science knowledge possessed back then could probably have fit on a page or two. I've learned so very much more since then.

Even though the winds can reach hundreds of km/h on Mars, the low atmospheric pressure means that the impact of those winds is not much more than a steady breeze on Earth. It would be unrealistic to have Duna winds blowing off unretracted solar panels.

Two things:

1. Duna has much more atmosphere than Mars, and

2. Real solar panels can't even hold up their own weight under 1g unless specifically designed to. The ISS solar panels would shred under a marginally stiff breeze, and something like Dawn's would flex and bend easily. They're very large, and very lightweight. Sails.

Edited by NovaSilisko
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The Kerbol System could be given a few more alien solar system things and a few more realistic things.

Now, if Squad would be comfortable rebalancing the entire set of parts and game mechanics, make the planets full scale (kerbin = earth size), otherwise keep it the same.

1: Moho needs back its hot atmosphere, and its orbit needs more eccentricity.

2: Minmus orbits Kerbin in much the same way as Cruithne does (orbits The Sun in a 1:1 resonance with Kerbin).

3: Move Mun out to Minmus' old orbit.

4: Duna gets a thinner atmosphere, more akin to Mars.

5: Ike gets craters.

6: Dres spins very quickly. Not actually quicker than orbital velocity like Inaccessible, but still very fast compared to gravity, like Haumea.

7: Jool gets a more contrasted system of cloud bands and swirly storms.

8: Laythe gets working volcanoes and a slightly thinner atmosphere.

9: Tylo gets a more contrasted color map.

10: Vall gets a more cracked terrain with deep canyons.

11: Pol gets put in a 1:1 resonance with Tylo? Not sure how stable that would be, but it sounds cool.

12: Eeloo gets a swirly terrain with few small craters.

13: Sun gets proper (to-scale) density and size for a kerbal-scaled G-type star, and a white corona.

They seem like some cool ideas.

- - - Updated - - -

NovaSilisko said:
Right, then.

Time has refined my views.

*cracks knuckles*

- Low-density belt of vulcanoid asteroids below the orbit of Moho

- Eve:

- Inclination reduced to make an easier early-game interplanetary target

- Hotter and generally more angry atmosphere on Eve

- Eve not violently purple (I regret this to this day)

- Perpetual clouds and heavy haze, thunder ambiance, flashes of lightning and a surface dark enough to require lights to see properly (except when the lightning is going of course)

- Kerbin:

- Small amounts of eccentricity and inclination

- Mun:

- More realistic crater distribution in both size and location (very uniform, as it stands)

- Tycho crater ripoff with properly shaped solid-black monolith

- Duna:

- More, flatter lowlands, more obvious ancient water-carved features

- More irregular ice caps with super cool features

- An additional asteroidal moon, far beyond Ike, if the systems allowed it it would have irregular rotation like Pluto's small moons are expected to (due to the odd dynamics of a binary planet system)

- Ike:

- Return of the magic boulder

- Craters and a more moon-like heightmap

- Asteroids discoverable in the actual asteroid belt, along with a significant quantify of larger asteroids

- Jool:

- Re-arrangement of major moons to be more widely spaced and similar to Saturn's layout of moons

- 150% its original size, with enlarged moon orbits as well

- Not so green (as with Eve, I still regret such an intense color), perhaps green bands instead, which when sampled yield algae...

- Oblateness similar to that of Saturn's or Jupiter's (requires reworking of how atmospheres are handled)

- Uncomfortable quantities of minor moons

- Laythe:

- Smaller, Duna sized

- Mostly cloud covered

- Scattered with active volcanoes

- No ice caps (hot greenhouse atmosphere would destroy them easily)

- Faint torus of gas along its orbit from escaping atmosphere (not enough to affect ships, but enough to catch the light, see Saturn's E ring [although you could of course get crazy with it and make it enough to change your orbit using aerodynamic surfaces... paging Larry Niven])

- Vall:

- Smaller, Mun sized

- Scratchy surface like that of Europa/Eeloo

- Tylo:

- Smaller, slightly below Duna sized

- Two-thirds-gee surface gravity (High for a body of that size, so perhaps a dense iron core surrounded by ices; a body from the inner solar system that was ejected and then captured by Jool)

- Ice geysers + resulting atmosphere

- Second faint gas torus

- New Planet: Mez

- Super-Kerbin with rapid rotation period, somewhat lens-shaped as a result (as later calculations of the properties of good old planet Mesklin suggested)

- Thick atmosphere

- Gravity at poles approaches 10-20g, gravity at equator only ~0.05g

- Scale height of atmosphere varies accordingly, and grows very diffuse and stretched around the equator

- ... which is annoyingly impossible with current systems unless the atmosphere can be rejiggered to work with non-spherical bodies (Dear ferram...)

- Eeloo:

- Surface like our new best friend Pluto with neat flowy stuff and everything

- Small blob of a moon

- Extra bodies with analogues of most real-world dwarf planets (especially Sedna)

Technical advances required:

- Functional atmospheres for non-spherical bodies

- Proper altitude detection for non-spherical bodies

- Non-spherical atmosphere rendering

- Gas torus rendering

- Dynamic loading/unloading of planet surface maps to keep memory usage sane (or just 64-bit and deal with the inefficiency)

- Ambient sound system for planets

- Irregular planetary rotation (optional, for Duna's minimoon)

- Clouds

I'm curious to know what you would think about alien planetary systems (if interstellar travel was implemented) and possible cool idea for them.

Edited by GregroxMun
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I'm curious to know what you would think about alien planetary systems (if interstellar travel was implemented) and possible cool idea for them.

The nearest ought to be premade, based on known exoplanetary systems. Beyond that is an unending span of space populated procedurally like space engine.

If you assume the same speed of light in the Kerbal universe as in ours, even if locked to that speed, the lower scale of things means interstellar travel is a lot more feasible. Project Orion has been my favored means of Kerbal interstellar travel.

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There needs to be a planet or moon with a size somewhere between Duna and Tylo/Laythe, and another between them and Eve. Right now it's a large difficulty jump between them. There could be a planet with 1.3g or so, with a large moon of 0.5 or 0.6g. Also a comet and maybe one or two other Kuiper belt planets with high inclination to give more challenging destinations to reach. There should be another gas giant for variety, and rings would be cool. Possibly also give Eeloo a moon. I also think that there should be some significant departure from our solar system rather than an obvious analogue with some glaring problems such as Ike, Tylo, and Laythe which don't exist in any form in real life. (but keep Mun and Duna as they are for the replica missions and challenges based on real Moon and proposed Mars missions)

Planets need more interesting places. Landmarks that are not easter eggs need to be more common. Some that exist now are the Dres canyon and Eve's poles but there should be more than one interesting geographical feature on each planet. Terrain scatter should be solid, even if it is a very simple hitbox. For other immersion and visual upgrades, clouds and surface weather like dust storms, snow, and rain would be great. They would affect solar panels' output, reduce visibility, increase heat dissipation, and reduce rover traction. Different rover behavior on different terrains on the same planet would be great, too. Crossing the lowlands on Duna? Better have big tires or you'll get stuck in the sand.

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Still purple, or a completely different colour? Either way I think its colours are iconic.

I think he means a darker purple, less vibrant, less cartoony. I would welcome this, as I've always doubted the possibility of Eve really being that purple. It almost doesn't feel....real when you're in orbit.

Of course, since KSP is a cartoony game, it fits the game, I would just prefer a darker color. That's just me. NovaSilisko you still did an amazing job with the planets. :)

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I think he means a darker purple, less vibrant, less cartoony. I would welcome this, as I've always doubted the possibility of Eve really being that purple. It almost doesn't feel....real when you're in orbit.

Of course, since KSP is a cartoony game, it fits the game, I would just prefer a darker color. That's just me. NovaSilisko you still did an amazing job with the planets. :)

Think a fairly subtle purple. Like venus, but with a blue-violet tinge.

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Resonances, especially for the Joolian moons are interesting to me. If for instance Pol had an eccentric orbit that brought it within regular close encounters with Laythe or Tylo there could be some cool mission plans there.

Edited by Pthigrivi
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Hmm... let me think...

  • Kerbol
    • Will orbit the galactic core.
    • Will have sister stars.
    • Will be part of a nebula.
    • Will be a binary with a black hole (Sorry, guys).

    [*]Moho

    • Will be tidally locked.
    • Will have a plasma atmosphere.
    • Will have lava.

    [*]Eve

    • Will be more... brown.
    • Make the oceans sulphuric acid.
    • Make the atmosphere sulphuric acid.
    • Make it have volcanoes that spew sulphuric acid (I'm really stupid...).

    [*]Gilly

    • Less dense.

    [*]Kerbin

    • Trees that you could actually hit and destroy.
    • The oceans could be a touch less locked to the sea level (that includes rivers...).

    [*]Mun... Nothing to seehere.

    [*]Minmus... Craters..

    [*]Duna

    • Less ice
    • Bigger Mountains
    • A large crater

    [*]Ike

    • Much smaller
    • Have the magic boulder again so I can actually SEE it

    [*]Dres... Highly eccentric Orbit

    [*]Jool

    • Bluified
    • Its moons more like the Jupiter ones

    [*]Eeloo

    • Comet.

    [*]All:

    • Proper clouds
    • Continental Drift
    • Procerdural Craters
    • Impact craters (when something hits something it makes a crater)
    • Not on rails, and realistic general relativity and Newtonian physics
    • Larger procedural asteroids
    • Realistic planet density, radius and gravity

    [*]New stuff

    • Stars
    • GP2, IG1 (ice giant 1), IG2, comets
    • Proper Asteroid/Kuiper belt
    • Nebula

That's all I can think of...

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Dynamic loading/unloading of planet surface maps to keep memory usage sane (or just 64-bit and deal with the inefficiency)

Love all your points, but just because you can use all the ram doesn't mean it's OK to ignore memory management issues. Not that that was exactly what you're implying.

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Love all your points, but just because you can use all the ram doesn't mean it's OK to ignore memory management issues. Not that that was exactly what you're implying.

Oh I know. There isn't a good enough emot for "biting sarcasm" however, so I had to make do without in that sentence.

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I would left part of solar system unchanged, part closer Kerbin, and add few procedurally generated planets further from Kerbin. This way new players would have accurate tutorials, maps etc etc in early game, but after they gather experience they would have unique challenges and they would be forced to improvise :)

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