Hysterrics

-Career Fixes Discussion-

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Career Mode Fixing Discussion
Please someone suggest a better name
Contributors:
Sequinox |
John FX
Pthigrivi | Workable Goblin
tater
Kaos
juanml82

How to Submit: State your idea with an explanation To submit, go to this link, http://goo.gl/forms/5eMyLdvSOv.
If you want your name on the contributors list, please include your forum name along with your suggestion.

Red - Not a good idea for stock and is likley to never be added, but a good idea for modders to look into.
The list is under development.

Science:

-Science experiments should be more involved, such as studying the results.

- Most experiments as well as crew and EVA reports should be automatically gathered and stored to await transmission to reduce clickiness.  

- Other experiments aught to require some specific flight action by the player, rather than just being clicked. 

- Data should be in principle 100% transmittable. To encourage crewed return missions surface samples should not be transmittable, and their science value should be much higher by comparison. Transmission losses could be handled entirely by the new dish setup.

- Experiments should open new information to the player outside of unlocking the tech tree, such as making heat-bars visible and producing biome maps. 

- Different Biomes aught to offer different science multipliers on the same world, so as to encourage site-specific landings.

Spoiler

Crew Reports: Gathered automatically by crewed capsules and stored for each new biome the craft enters, serving as a running log of the mission.

EVA Reports: Gathered automatically on EVA for each new biome a kerbal enters and stored when they return to the vessel. Scientists gather more valuable EVA reports, and their value can be further upgraded as they gain in levels. Kerbals cannot discern between biomes above the surface.

Surface Samples: Can be gathered on EVA by any crew member, though higher level scientists gather more valuable samples. Samples cannot be transmitted unless analyzed in a mobile processing lab, but give much more science than other sources. When a sample is analyzed either in a science lab or on Kerbin it will indicate precise ore concentrations and will become available for loading into Materials Bays (more below).

Goo Canister: First experiment available in the tech tree and acts as an introduction to gathering science. When it enters a biome with uncollected science it flashes blue for a few moments and then auto-exposes. Its one-time use unless there's a scientist on board in which case it auto-collects, stores, and then auto-resets. It draws no power. By default its set to activated, but it can be deactivated and reactivated via right click if a player wishes to hold out for more a more valuable exposure. It cannot distinguish between biomes above the surface.

Thermometer: Next experiment on the tech tree, flashes blue and then takes a reading and stores automatically when entering a new biome. Its activated by default, but draws 1.5 e/m while activated and can be deactivated to save power. It cannot distinguish between biomes above the lower atmosphere or high above a body. Vessels with a Thermometer on board show overheat bars in flight, though even without the parts will still glow red.

Barometer: Arrives shortly after in the Tech Tree and flashes blue when new science is available. The barometer is activated by default when in the atmosphere, but can be deactivated to save power via right-click. Unlike the thermometer, the barometer logs science based on the vertical swath of atmosphere it passes through while continuously running. This means it gathers a lot of data on ascent and descent, but sitting on the ground it gathers next to nothing. Later in the game, a body for which the player has completed a barometric scan will show trajectory, landing site, and aerobreak predictions factoring drag for higher level pilots.

Materials Bay: Materials Bays should be able to be loaded with materials, i.e. samples, and replace the current Mobile Lab magic science generator. When a surface or atmospheric sample is recovered, it goes into a bank of available samples. Upon launch, the materials Bay can be loaded with up to 5 of these samples, and when activated (0.5 e/s) it generates and stores science based on the value of the sample multiplied by the value of the exposure location. This means that a sample from the launchpad exposed at KSC will be worth very little, but a sample from Ike exposed on Duna will be worth a great deal. Samples generate science for 30 days and then become spent. Materials Bays can be reloaded by an adequately staffed Mobile Processing Lab, but only with samples banked at the time of the Lab's launch and with samples processed by that lab. This means bringing a lab to another body will be useful for processing and gathering science from that body over time, but samples cant be magically transported across the Kerbol System. Indeed routing samples from surface to lab to materials bays (and from planet to planet even) to maximize their value would be the real challenge.

Atmospheric analyzer: Essentially works as an atmospheric sample collector. Its deactivated by default, and once activated (1 e/s) the vessel must maintain roughly the same speed and altitude for 10 seconds to collect a viable sample. Like surface samples they may not be transmitted unless analyzed by a mobile processing lab. If atmospheric xenon collection were enabled perhaps precise concentration levels could be determined from these samples.

Surface Sample Collector: This part would replace the surface scanner, and ought really to be a small arm and drill that drops down when activated. It aught to come very late in the tech tree, but in principle enable collection of surface samples by probes. Like other surface samples these would be available for loading into Materials bays and would show ore concentrations when analyzed.

Survey Scanner: Works much as it does now, once placed in a polar orbit it generates a rough ore concentration map which can then be transmitted for additional science.

Narrow Band Scanner: Works much as it does now, but could also provide accurate distance to surface information or even a topographic overlay.

Gravoli detector: This part works 2 ways, its activated by default and draws .5 e/s, and like the thermometer automatically collects and stores data for each new biome it passes into. If however it is placed in a polar orbit it gathers all biome information for that body at that altitude, and if it is attached to a vessel that also has a survey scanner it can generate an overlay map of all biomes on that body. If a mission planner were to be added including flight time and delta-v estimates, completing a gravoli scan might unlock that body in the planner, encouraging players to send a probe first if they wanted to optimize their crewed mission.

Seismometer: This part is redesigned as an impactor experiment. Once on the surface and activated (2 e/s) a blue circle appears on the body in map mode indicating the scanning radius. The higher the level scientist on board the larger the radius. If while activated another object is slammed into the surface a red impact radius is shown, whose radius is determined by the mass and speed upon impact (I can foresee some really fun asteroid antics here :D) The Seismometer generates science based on the area of overlap between the scanning and impact radii, meaning more precise collisions and bigger booms make for more science. Additionally, ore concentrations can be seen with detail within this scanned area making for better landing site decisions for mining operations.

Mobile Processing Lab: With material studies now moved over to the Materials Bays, the lab can be used primarily for processing and reloading samples. In addition new contracts could provide special samples which could either be pre-loaded or delivered to existing labs for processing and/or loading into materials bays. Unlike other data sources processing samples makes makes them transmittable, with level 1-5 scientists converting samples 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% respectively. Where most capsules can store just 3 samples, Mobile Processing Labs could store 25 samples at a time. 

Transmitting data: As almost all data is automatically logged and stored, all that would be left would be transmission. For simplicity's sake, I feel like the data should be attached to the vessel, not a part. Clicking any pod or antenna ought to bring up a single data log indicating all stored data in one screen, the value of each piece of data, and giving the option to transmit. I'll be interested to see the changes Roverdude has made, but in my mind the most straight forward solution is that all data except samples should be in principle 100% transmittable, and all losses could be controlled by quality of arrays. If surface samples could not be transmitted without processing and were worth a great deal (as they should be) then returning these samples would make 2 way trips worthwhile without the over-complication and grind of multiple transmissions. 

Tech Tree:

 -Tech tree should be less linear.

Game Mechanics:

- Kerbals should either automatically level-up in flight or some method aught to be offered to allow them to do so.

- The mechanics of gaining experience really needs better visual feedback, so that players can see what they need to do to gain experience and see when they've achieved it. 

- New abilities could be added for higher level kerbals, such as aerocapture and landing site prediction for pilots and perhaps simple KAS-like abilities granted to engineers.

- Loans

-Kerbonauts should spend time for training at the KSC. Training would cost money. Only after their training is complete they can fly on missions.

-Kerbonauts can have more than one skill based on their training.

-A mission planner and organizer: Set times to launch missions, name your missions, etc...

Misc.:

-Add more flexibility. Ex: Play with reputation but not money, science and money but not EXP.

-Ability to play against other space programs, much like a space race type thing.

-Procedural Engines: You can build your own engines and get breakthroughs in science. You can sell blueprints to other companies for funds. If you want to buy a pre-existing engine(which would be developed by other companies) you must buy the blueprint from another company. It would take science and funds to build an engine, but would give you science in return. This mechanic could be used in a part testing feature and the engine could have a chance to fail.

Building Tiers:

- Fill out the 4 tier system so that the step-ups are more manageable, with costs both distributed and reduced.

- Tighten up the size and weight limitations for lower tiers on the LaunchPad and Runway. The runway aught to increase in size, but not smoothness.

- Add an Alarm Clock and Mission Planner to the 2nd of 4 tiers at the Tracking Station and Mission Control

- Add Delta-V and TWR to the the 3rd of 4 tiers of the VAB and SPH


Missions, Contacts, Strategies and Milestones:

-There should be a delineation between "Missions," designed by the KSC staff (Linus and Werner, et al), and commercial Contracts
-System for generating non-commercial contracts. Ex: Set goals for the mission, time limit, etc... and the game will generate a budget for you if the mission is accepted. Mission acceptance will be based on rep. For more explanation, see Tater's post below on the 1st page.        
- Contracts could be categorized by the body they pertain to so players could more easily sort and plan missions. (Sort of like a hierarchy system. Kerbin -> Mun -> (Contracts and milestones)
- Strategies that are already active should be adjustable at any time without disabling the strategy.

 

 

 

For Modders: You are absolutely allowed to use this list to build a mod upon. You do not have to give credit to this thread if you do not wish to.

Resources:

Kaos's "Unify Game Modes For Greater Configurability"

Edited by Sequinox
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The tech tree can be made up using an older version; for the most part.

Then advancing thru it can be made non-linear however you want.

To achieve this...means rewriting each part to the tree accordingly; have fun. I may restart mine again but now with problems at home I am looking at3-4 months if not more to even get back here.

 

zeta

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On 12/3/2015, 12:41:19, Cdr_Zeta said:

The tech tree can be made up using an older version; for the most part.

Then advancing thru it can be made non-linear however you want.

To achieve this...means rewriting each part to the tree accordingly; have fun. I may restart mine again but now with problems at home I am looking at3-4 months if not more to even get back here.

 

zeta

I was kinda thinking of something like the Engineers Tech Tree, which is a really cool mod.

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So this is a neat project, and Im sure the devs are thinking a lot about this and would love feedback. Still, like I just wouldn't want this thread to read like a list of gripes and demands. I effing love this game. These are just some ideas I've had about how things could be filled out. Im sure many of these are already in progress. Others are probably long term or long shot projects I wouldn't imagine we'd see very soon.

Building Tiers:

- Fill out the 4 tier system so that the step-ups are more manageable, with costs both distributed and reduced.

- Tighten up the size and weight limitations for lower tiers on the LaunchPad and Runway. The runway aught to increase in size, but not smoothness.

- Add an Alarm Clock and Mission Planner to the 2nd of 4 tiers at the Tracking Station and Mission Control

- Add Delta-V and TWR to the the 3rd of 4 tiers of the VAB and SPH

 

Science:

- Most experiments as well as crew and EVA reports should be automatically gathered and stored to await transmission to reduce clickiness. 

- Other experiments aught to require some specific flight action by the player, rather than just being clicked. 

- Data should be in principle 100% transmittable. To encourage crewed return missions surface samples should not be transmittable, and their science value should be much higher by comparison. Transmission losses could be handled entirely by the new dish setup.

- Experiments should open new information to the player outside of unlocking the tech tree, such as making heat-bars visible and producing biome maps. 

- Different Biomes aught to offer different science multipliers on the same world, so as to encourage site-specific landings.

 

Experience:

- Kerbals should either automatically level-up in flight or some method aught to be offered to allow them to do so.

- The mechanics of gaining experience really needs better visual feedback, so that players can see what they need to do to gain experience and see when they've achieved it. 

- New abilities could be added for higher level kerbals, such as aerocapture and landing site prediction for pilots and perhaps simple KAS-like abilities granted to engineers.

 

I might be able to think of more, but these are some bullet points off the top of my head.

 

 

 

Edited by Pthigrivi

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There should be a delineation between "Missions," designed by the KSC staff (Linus and Werner, et al), and commercial Contracts. Missions would be the more sciencey stuff, including crewed spaceflight experiments (stations, etc). My suggestion would be that they are given a budget (ideally dolled out over time) to accomplish them. The budget could include prepaid science points (technology is invented to do missions, not invented because of missions already accomplished).

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The list has been updated and both users are given proper credit in the "Contributors List".

15 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

Still, like I just wouldn't want this thread to read like a list of gripes and demands.

I agree, and this is by no means what this thread is supposed to be. I want this thread to be a comprehensive list for KSP developers and modders alike to use. I also would really like to get people talking about career mode, because as it is it's very hard to get into.

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You know what I think career mode needs?

Loans.

Think about it: by the early career you face a lot of grind in order to upgrade the buildings and, depending on difficulty settings, buying the newly unlocked parts for use.

Once the buildings are unlocked, you'll still make the same amount of money (if not more, since you have more reputation and you're likely to be receiving contracts for other bodies, which pay more), but you don't need to sink millions into upgrading building, so you're pretty much into "Sandbox with contracts"

 

However, if you could take a loan to pay for building upgrades, which you pay monthly afterwards, you reduce the grind in the early career, while you don't swim in cash later in the career (at least, so easily) because every month, payment for the loans get deduced and you need to have the cash to pay for it

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17 hours ago, juanml82 said:

You know what I think career mode needs?

Loans.

Think about it: by the early career you face a lot of grind in order to upgrade the buildings and, depending on difficulty settings, buying the newly unlocked parts for use.

I've never had money be even a little bit of an issue except right before being able to get past LKO---then I take some lousy contracts I would usually ignore and it's all better.

The global issue with career is that the gameplay difficulty is opposite of what people would normally expect. It starts out harder, and gets easier. The attempt to "fix" this is typically along the lines of "boss" characters in other games (that I don't like playing). They can't make the gameplay harder, so they just make a hoop that is really tedious, sorry, "difficult" to jump through. Career needs mid and end game goals that are not tedious, but difficult in a "real" way (not hauling arbitrary fuel to a base on X, but a legitimately complex design problem).

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2 minutes ago, tater said:

I've never had money be even a little bit of an issue except right before being able to get past LKO---then I take some lousy contracts I would usually ignore and it's all better.

The global issue with career is that the gameplay difficulty is opposite of what people would normally expect. It starts out harder, and gets easier. The attempt to "fix" this is typically along the lines of "boss" characters in other games (that I don't like playing). They can't make the gameplay harder, so they just make a hoop that is really tedious, sorry, "difficult" to jump through. Career needs mid and end game goals that are not tedious, but difficult in a "real" way (not hauling arbitrary fuel to a base on X, but a legitimately complex design problem).

You know what would be neat? Either with the DangIt! mod or some sort future feature there could be a contract that pops up if a failure for a part has occurred. Let me explain.

Say you have a fuel tank leak on a station. A contract could pop up and ask you to send some kerbals up to fix it.

With TAC life support, say an oxygen tank fails on a station. The contract would have some steps like.
A. Move kerbals out of the broken module.
B: Fix the broken module
C. Return the module to normal operation

This would most likely do best with a mod, unless Squad is willing to add a whole new mechanic to their game. Regardless, it could make for some very interesting Apollo 13 events happening.

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I posted this in the tech tree thread, but it belongs here just as much because they are all connected...

 

Yeah, because the whole thing is bass ackwards, as they say. Exploration doesn't make new tech, new tech is purpose-built for exploration. 

What we really need, is a whole new system for creating non-commercial missions.

You'd select from lists/buttons for each numbered section. Note that you might be limited in bodies you can pick, and how much the kerbal government is willing to risk based upon REP, Rep is now the thing you want to buy the "reward" of more mission design choices:

1. Pick broad mission type (crewed orbital, crewed landing, probe orbital, probe landing, others that we can come up with)

2. Pick target body (Kerbin, Mun, Minmus, Duna, Ike, Eve, Asteroid, etc, etc)

3a. Pick broad goal (b. science, c. base/station construction, d. resupply)

3b. Set science goals (radio boxes with all the science instruments, plus EVA, sample return, etc available to check).

3c. Set facility requirements you wish to build (min crew capability, power, RCS, etc)

3d. Set resupply target, and amounts.

The game would then generate a budget based upon your stated mission parameters. This budget might include points for buying new tech to accomplish this mission. The game provide serval choices of budget, with lower budgets offering a higher rep reward (where rep might increase the base budgets for future requests). Since there are a small number of target worlds, and a smaller number of possible instruments, this really describes all possible missions. Early on, you might only have the rep for simple probe missions, and early crewed attempts, you need to build rep to be able to build more complex missions.

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14 minutes ago, tater said:

I posted this in the tech tree thread, but it belongs here just as much because they are all connected...

 

Yeah, because the whole thing is bass ackwards, as they say. Exploration doesn't make new tech, new tech is purpose-built for exploration. 

What we really need, is a whole new system for creating non-commercial missions.

You'd select from lists/buttons for each numbered section. Note that you might be limited in bodies you can pick, and how much the kerbal government is willing to risk based upon REP, Rep is now the thing you want to buy the "reward" of more mission design choices:

1. Pick broad mission type (crewed orbital, crewed landing, probe orbital, probe landing, others that we can come up with)

2. Pick target body (Kerbin, Mun, Minmus, Duna, Ike, Eve, Asteroid, etc, etc)

3a. Pick broad goal (b. science, c. base/station construction, d. resupply)

3b. Set science goals (radio boxes with all the science instruments, plus EVA, sample return, etc available to check).

3c. Set facility requirements you wish to build (min crew capability, power, RCS, etc)

3d. Set resupply target, and amounts.

The game would then generate a budget based upon your stated mission parameters. This budget might include points for buying new tech to accomplish this mission. The game provide serval choices of budget, with lower budgets offering a higher rep reward (where rep might increase the base budgets for future requests). Since there are a small number of target worlds, and a smaller number of possible instruments, this really describes all possible missions. Early on, you might only have the rep for simple probe missions, and early crewed attempts, you need to build rep to be able to build more complex missions.

Good Idea!

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Since this is the new Career catch-all, just wanted to log a few recent thoughts on contracts:

- Contracts could be categorized by the body they pertain to so players could more easily sort and plan missions. If this were done the total number of available contracts could be expanded to perhaps 5 to 10 per body depending on reputation.

- World Firsts and Explore contracts to Fly-by, Orbit, Land and Plant Flag could be merged and made available from the outset so players could see the rewards for these missions and more easily focus on them. Advances for these missions however could be locked until a player had amassed enough reputation. The reputation needed to earn these advances should be visible to the player ahead of time so they can strategize. 

The contract list might then look something like this:

Mun:

 

- Explore the Mun

     - Fly by the Mun [completion reward]

           - X Advance [Y advance after Z rep]

     - Achieve Orbit around the Mun [completion reward]

           - X Advance [Y advance after Z rep]

     - Land on the Mun [completion reward]

           - [X advance after Y rep]

     - Plant a Flag on the Mun [completion reward]

           - [X advance after Y rep]

 

- Ferry VIP to Orbit around the Mun [completion reward]

           - X Advance

 

- Collect readings around X [completion reward]

           - X Advance

 

- Place satellite in stable orbit around the Mun [completion reward]

           - X Advance

 

 

This would give players much more freedom to direct their own space programs, visiting the bodies they wish to, while still providing optional constraints, rewards, and side-mission ideas to stretch their creativity.

 

Edited by Pthigrivi

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In earth based space programs the astronauts are multiskilled, they have to be, and they spend a LONG time in the equivalent of the KSC sucking up money and resources raising their experience level to the point where they can do their job very efficiently alongside their team mates. Only then do they fly.

I think there should be a ground based training facility (possibly the existing one) for the kerbals to raise their experience levels in through training.

I also think any kerbal should be able to gain experience in any of the current skill categories, there should just be astronauts with different skill levels in each of the current categories. When you train you eventually gain a skill point and you put that point into whichever category you like. Scientist, pilot, or engineer. Training should take a long time though. It should also cost funds (optional obviously) to encourage you to fly missions and not just timewarp. The stupidity stat could affect the time needed for that kerbal to gain a skill point (it might as well do something if it`s going to be in the game)

There could be a skill point cap based on number of missions flown to stop you just leaving kerbals there and getting uber kerbals with no flights under their belts. This could be non linear so you would need a really experienced kerbal to max out all three categories.

I feel this would give us the ability to make more individual but still specialized kerbals and the managing of training (and getting the funds for that) would help towards the game getting a bit more like managing a space program in career.

 

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On December 8, 2015 at 9:51 PM, Pthigrivi said:

- Tighten up the size and weight limitations for lower tiers on the LaunchPad and Runway. The runway aught to increase in size, but not smoothness.

This feels backwards to me. The runway itself is plenty big for any reasonable aircraft at lower tech tiers, but its roughness makes it really frustrating to take off from. This might be acceptable, but there's a big plain around it that's totally flat and smooth, so the only reason to take off from the runway at the lower tiers is because you happen to feel like it, not because it actually makes sense. If the runway were reasonably smooth instead of looking like Flanders in 1918, then it would be much more usable. I mean, it's rougher than a grass field, which just doesn't seem right.

One interesting upgrade that might be added to the runway might be to add a north-south runway after a certain point. This would make launching polar-orbiting spaceplanes easier, which is useful due to the biome system and which could be made more useful if scanning parts like those in SCANSat were added to the game.

Edited by Workable Goblin

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4 hours ago, Workable Goblin said:

This feels backwards to me. The runway itself is plenty big for any reasonable aircraft at lower tech tiers, but its roughness makes it really frustrating to take off from. This might be acceptable, but there's a big plain around it that's totally flat and smooth, so the only reason to take off from the runway at the lower tiers is because you happen to feel like it, not because it actually makes sense. If the runway were reasonably smooth instead of looking like Flanders in 1918, then it would be much more usable. I mean, it's rougher than a grass field, which just doesn't seem right.

One interesting upgrade that might be added to the runway might be to add a north-south runway after a certain point. This would make launching polar-orbiting spaceplanes easier, which is useful due to the biome system and which could be made more useful if scanning parts like those in SCANSat were added to the game.

Sorry yeah this was a misleading summary. What I meant was the runway should always be smooth, but the tier zero runway should be much smaller, and increase in size with each upgrade to finish at the current tier 3 length and width. I'd be down with an angled secondary runway but since there's no wind its not really necessary. Even if you're going for a polar orbit its pretty easy to turn soon after take-off and run up almost all of your speed facing north.

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Nice list. Strikes the right balance (as it was no doubt intended to) between adding to what we have but without radically overhauling the whole game (which aint going to happen anyway).

I particularly liked:

 New abilities could be added for higher level kerbals, such as aerocapture and landing site prediction for pilots and perhaps simple KAS-like abilities granted to engineers.

and

        Add more flexibilty. Ex: Play with reputation but not money, science and money but not EXP.
 
Two quick questions:
 
1. If funds were out-of-play I was wondering if KSC building progression could be tied to tech tree progression in some way. It would be really nice to play an essentially Science mode game but not start off with a fully upgraded shiny space centre. 
 
2. is that 'aerocapture prediction' as a skill? That would seem to be more consistent with having landing site prediction as another skill. Alternatively, aerocapture prediction would play very nicely with:
 
    Science experiments should be more involved, such as studying the results.
 
I was researching this recently. We had a reasonable idea about the upper limits of density and pressure for Mars' atmosphere from ground based observations but it wasn't until the Mariner flights that we pinned their values down more precisely using radio occultation. Proper values of atmospheric density of course, are rather helpful for aerocapture predictions. :) So maybe a combination of pilot level and having completed at least a flyby of the relevant planet would be necessary to unlock aerocapture predictions. I think that plays quite nicely in terms of game mechanics and has the side benefit of being similar to how such things are done in real life, for those that like such things.
Edited by KSK

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6 hours ago, KSK said:

I was researching this recently. We had a reasonable idea about the upper limits of density and pressure for Mars' atmosphere from ground based observations but it wasn't until the Mariner flights that we pinned their values down more precisely using radio occultation. Proper values of atmospheric density of course, are rather helpful for aerocapture predictions. :) So maybe a combination of pilot level and having completed at least a flyby of the relevant planet would be necessary to unlock aerocapture predictions. I think that plays quite nicely in terms of game mechanics and has the side benefit of being similar to how such things are done in real life, for those that like such things.

This is one reason why I'm in the "scrap the career system entirely" camp (which I realize is not going to happen ;) ), but instead I might advocate for a new career mode to be added for veteran players that offers better replay value.

This might be in the context of a "Space Race" mode where there is a foil for the player (AI) filling in the role of the CCCP to the player's USA (or vice versa!), or it might be a new "Exploration" mode (with or without normal career options, it can have a checkbox to function in "science" mode or "career").

What would it entail?

1. Starting a new Exploration Mode career would have a checkbox to use the stock Kerbol system, or create a random system. If you choose a random system, It would act like various Kopernicus mod systems available, but would scale the planets and distances separately---though if the planets are scaled up, the distances should always be scaled by at least the same amount, possibly greater. There could be a collection of already generated planets to chose from, so you might get the Kerbol system planets again, but they'd likely be scaled/placed differently. So planets might be 4X larger than stock, and distances might be between 4X and 10X. Relative positions, moons, etc would change. Atmospheric heights and densities (except for Kerbin scalings, which would be designed to be what they should be) would vary within some range. There might be another check box for if the Kerbin SoI always includes the Mun (default this is checked).

2. Map mode currently allows the player to zoom in such that the camera height goes to some minimum altitude, and no closer. We keep this functionality, but the minimum altitude of the camera heigh becomes a variable for each world that is set by science data collected, with the default being a resolution you could expect as viewed through a telescope from Kerbin. So the Mun would have a great map view on the side that faces Kerbin. Assume Duna was in the same spot it is now, You could only zoom the map mode to a pretty distant view of the planet until you did a closer flyby (with a probe that had a camera). Have real mapping be a thing (put a camera part in a polar orbit to map the whole place, otherwise you get just a swath.

3. As KSK just said, the atmospheric data could require various experiments to nail down. It would start with a range of possible values, then get distilled to more accurate values based upon Science!

4. Add clouds, and radar mapper parts. Landing blind on a clouded world (Eve/Venus assuming there is one in the new, random system) would give you no data whatsoever about the surface unless you had radar mapped it.

5. Perhaps with 1.1 they might be able to make more detailed worlds. If the scale size of planetary features could be reduced closer to spacecraft size, this would be nice. Take the Mun for example. Given the current map zoom in KSP, you can see all the craters, even if poorly. What if there were some craters that were only 10m across scattered around, and a few that were 5m? They could be scattered in a non-uniform way as well (i.e.: some more ideal landing sites that have few such small features, others with more). Without sending probes first (or low alt piloted missions), you'd land, and possibly have to steer slightly to avoid a crater that might tip the lander over. So the player might be well-served to fly a munar orbital mapper, them maybe even a "Ranger" like crasher (if they can't manage a landing with available parts yet). For a Mars-like world, where precision landing might be a little more difficult, mapping would help find an area with fewer small craters.

I'm sure we can think of more stuff to add. The goal of this game mode would not be going places for science points, but to actually explore a new system. The science would be redesigned so that instead of ONLY being a way to get points, the primary purpose would be to create useful information for exploration. This, combined with varied and more challenging worlds to land on creates novel decision making for the player. In my experience there is a huge difference in the different scalings. Playing k-365 (3.2X planets 6.4X distances), SKY (5X planets, 7X distances), 64X (6.4X sizes and distances) with stock-like parts (perhaps SpaceY or other larger parts, but not rescaling all parts) demonstrates this nicely. A 3.2X Mun still allows 1-stage landers that are not dissimilar from stock. 5X or 6.4X Mun starts making staged landers a choice that needs to be considered (just like the real lunar landing options NASA looked at). This would result in far more varied, interesting play, IMO.

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15 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

Sorry yeah this was a misleading summary. What I meant was the runway should always be smooth, but the tier zero runway should be much smaller, and increase in size with each upgrade to finish at the current tier 3 length and width. I'd be down with an angled secondary runway but since there's no wind its not really necessary. Even if you're going for a polar orbit its pretty easy to turn soon after take-off and run up almost all of your speed facing north.

Sure, but it would still be nice to be able to line up immediately, especially for those without joysticks or piloting mods. Managing pitch is bad enough with the keyboard, trying to turn is very unpleasant. Another thing that would be nice would be choosing which end of the runway to start on, so that you could take off to the west if you wanted. Again, it's not a big deal, but it would be nice.

One thing people talk about a lot is adding other space programs to the game and making it more "space race"-like. I feel this would be a serious mistake based on my experience with Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space, a game from the early 1990s that had a similar premise to Kerbal (build and launch rockets to complete missions), but more explicitly in the frame of the Space Race (and modulo early 1990s computing capabilities). Quite honestly, this ended up feeling like a straitjacket; you were completely oriented around going to the Moon instead of doing what you wanted to do, you had no real ability to deviate from the script, and many missions were basically pointless because they didn't help you get to the Moon. This wasn't helped by the fact that the computer cheated badly even at lower difficulty levels. In practice, I always activated hot-seat multiplayer mode and essentially turned the game into a primitive version of Kerbal's career mode, without any competition, because it was more fun to just experiment (with different methods of getting to the Moon, if nothing else).

Now, that doesn't mean I don't want other space programs in the game, but rather that I don't think the space race paradigm is the right way to put them in the game, even granting that Kerbal would have a more sophisticated "space race" model than a game from nearly 25 years ago. Instead of thinking about it in terms of the tired old Russian-American competition, why not have a cooperative-competitive model more like the more recent era of space exploration, from the 1970s to today? Sure, you might sometimes compete with other space programs to get firsts--or you can cooperate with them to achieve other objectives. For instance, suppose that you were planning on launching a major mission to Laythe, and another agency or program had already built an ISRU depot on Pol. You could duplicate this infrastructure, or you could save yourself some time and trouble and contract with them to buy propellant at Jool, instead. Or, alternatively, suppose that some parts like the SCANSat parts are added to the base game and you want to, say, scan the surface of Kerbin. You could build and launch satellites yourself to do it, or you could contract with other agencies or programs to launch satellites into specified orbits to take care of that mission while you focus on something else. And these other programs or agencies would, of course, offer contracts to you, much like the ones already in the game.

This seems more interesting to me than a monomaniacal competition with other groups to get firsts and go places, since it allows different people to calibrate the game towards their interests. For instance, building on the second example I gave, if someone likes doing launches then they can launch every mission themselves, whereas if someone does not particularly like doing launches then they can contract out some missions. Both people are then happy (there might be a slight financial hit for not doing it yourself, but it shouldn't be so large as to make the feature useless). In general, I think it's better to promote flexibility of this sort so that many people can play how they like.

(Incidentally, experience with Race into Space also soured me on the "random failures" idea some people like. It had that as well, and it was very frustrating, particularly on longer or more complicated missions where even with very high reliability there was a good chance of a failure at some point, or where there were steps it was difficult to bring up to a high degree of reliability ahead of time.)

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I'm liking quite a few of the suggestions here, as I only play career mode. Thanks to the OP for putting it up.

I'd also like to offer a few things, if I may.

 

Tracking Station :

Tier 1 or 2 it would be nice to be able to allocate "mission" folders, and group vessels under that folder for easier tracking / tidying of the tracked vessels.

Tier 4 Id like to see a transfer window indicator / display, maybe in conjunction with the alarm clock suggested.

 

Tech Tree:

It definitely needs revising as it makes little sense as it is.

While making it less linear would be good, it may also work by being a little more linear, but with multiple paths available to select in parallel.

i.e. start with the "probe cores" path, "engines" path, "fins" path, "fuel tanks" path  etc ready at the start (each with the most basic part available in that group - say the Stayputnik, basic fins, spark engine etc) , and have the player progress along each path based on whatever they want to focus on - so if youre program is largely unmanned, you could avoid the "capsules" path etc until you are ready. Hope that makes sense.

I wouldnt mind node opening being time / science / funds based either - i.e. you use science to "research" each node, but it takes "time" and "money" to do so.

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- Generate and organize contracts per celestial body.  Each celestial should have some ten contracts at any given time.

- The player should be able to select what sorts of missions are acceptable for their program.  This should be actual selection rather than based on some trend of mission selection.

- Strategies have prohibitive costs for initial setup which should be significantly reduced.  They are currently pretty much useless until end-game state.

- Strategies that are already active should be adjustable at any time without disabling the strategy.

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3 hours ago, regex said:

- Generate and organize contracts per celestial body.  Each celestial should have some ten contracts at any given time.

Yeah, short of build-a-mission given the quite few types we actually have, this makes a lot of sense.

Quote

- The player should be able to select what sorts of missions are acceptable for their program.  This should be actual selection rather than based on some trend of mission selection.

This is what the "Strategy" office should really do. Set a strategy for your program. Have sliders for Unmanned Science, crewed science, commercial launches, aeronautics, R&D (parts testing), and passenger (VIP/tourist) operations. The total of all the sliders combined would be 100%, and your contract selections would be based upon those relative %s.

Quote

- Strategies have prohibitive costs for initial setup which should be significantly reduced.  They are currently pretty much useless until end-game state.

- Strategies that are already active should be adjustable at any time without disabling the strategy.

Yeah, and these could be another tab in the strategies office, after the real strategies.

Edited by tater

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Im not saying the space race system couldn't work, but I agree it could end up being even more proscriptive than what we already have. The real foil in KSP is the physics of spaceflight. Tylo and Eve are your adversaries, not the soviets. Kerbal is already very successful despite some of the current wrinkles, which means something is certainly working. To me tightening up career mode would mean identifying the activities that make Kerbal fun, growing these, and shifting gameplay time and energy away from processes that get a little draggy. If we were to be as helpful as we could be we would also be able to identify these areas as precisely as possible so as to make changes as efficient as possible in terms of the most gameplay improvement for the least possible (re)development time.

To me, the activities players enjoy most are:

1) Problem solving in the VAB/SPH--creating new, working machines. 

2) Using these machines to overcome complex challenges in flight.

3) Learning physics not from reading a book (or flavor text), but by engaging with it in real-time.

 

The elements dragging things down a bit are:

1) Requiring players to engage in repetitive, sometimes tedious missions to achieve goals.

2) Attention diverted from flying to repetitively click through many instruments to earn science points.

3) Being forced to repeat long, complex missions due to lack of information and trivial failures. 

 

So to me the most efficient solutions would be:

1) Focusing the game on exploration and giving players control over what body to explore next by making World Firsts prominent and available from the outset.

2) Reducing science grind and making experiments more engaging by tying them by automating collection and tying payouts to specific maneuvers.

3) Provide players with progressive, timely information to help them improve throughout their program's development. 

 

For now I'll leave out the lack of defined goal and end-game as this is a slightly more controversial topic, but I do think the fact that players are treating tech-tree completion as game completion is probably an indication that something is missing. 

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Note that I have suggested Space Race as an alternate career mode, not THE career mode. None the less, it is completely implied by the current rescue contracts. Space Race could be nationalistic (the most obvious connotation), though it could just as well be SpaceX vs ULS vs Blue Origin if you prefer that (a checkbox for nationalistic vs commercial).

Edited by tater

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