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Advice on progressing through Career and Building?


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Hiya! I've had KSP for many years now,and I LOVE Career mode!.......However it's just...not fun when you're progressing at a snail's pace. Basically,I only have a few things unlocked in R&D,and I don't have enough money to upgrade the VAB so I can make bigger ships. (Plus I'm not that great at making ships in general!) It's just not fun! It's also hard when ALOT of the R&D things that cost like 90 Science only give you three parts when I struggle getting 20 science! It's just not worth it,and it makes things harder when that thing unlocks everything else! So if anyone can give me some advice on what to do in Career mode,i'd be much appreciative! 

 

And if anyone also has tips for building basic to semi-basic ships,that would help ALOT too ;D (Again,I am definitely not the best at building working ships,I haven't even gone interplanetery before!)

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I never bother with any of the strategies in the admin building.  Here's my recipe for career mode (I run on Moderate difficulty, with 90% financial rewards; so this should work fine for you, as long as you're not playing on Hard.)

  1. Putter around gaining the first one or two dozen science points, basically just get crew report + goo for the launch pad, and in flight, and in the water when you splash down; then research Science Jr., and get that too, for all those places.
  2. This unlocks enough parts (Hammer SRB, Swivel engine, 1-ton fuel tanks, stack decoupler) that you can fly suborbital out of the atmosphere.  This gets you more science (upper atmosphere, space-near-Kerbin).
  3. Now you have enough science to research Aviation, which gets you all the parts you need to build a "poor man's rover":  basically a plane sitting on landing gear, with no wings, and a Juno jet engine to power it.  Build one of those with all the science instruments, and let Bob drive it around KSC to all of the buildings.  Each one of them is a separate biome with its own science points.
  4. Now you've easily got enough science to get Basic Science (which gives you the thermometer) and Advanced Rocketry (for the 2-ton fuel tank and the Terrier).  This lets you build very nice, cheap, efficient rockets that will take you to orbit.
  5. You're swimming in cash at this point (not just from contracts, but from all your "world first" accomplishments).  This should be enough to let you upgrade the astronaut complex so that you can do EVA.  Moar science!  (For example, once you've gotten EVA, you can go to orbit and do EVA reports from above each of the half-dozen biomes.  It's a bonanza).
  6. By now, funds and tech should be at the point that you can do a simple Mun shot.  (Note that you can do this without patched conics-- you don't have to upgrade the tracking station yet.)  If you're conservative, send an unmanned lander and transmit science so that you can build a better manned ship to follow.  If you're a little more ambitious, go straight for a manned land-and-return mission.  This gives tons of science (the Mun is much more lucrative than Kerbin, science-wise) and also a lot more cash for World Firsts.
  7. Now you've pretty much reached critical mass.  Better Mun ships, more science instruments, land on various Mun biomes.  Once you have unlocked patched conics, do Minmus.
  8. And then progress!
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Never miss an opportunity to gather science. If you collect all the science within the Kerbin system (Kerbin, Mun, Minmus) you can unlock the entire tech tree. Protip: as you move up the tech tree, unlock techs with science experiments first, so you can go add that experiment to the places you've been so far on a new mission and add to your science. Go hit Scott Manley's tutorial series on career mode to see how this is done.

When it comes to building rockets, get thee to a delta-V map to find out how much you need to get places, and install Kerbal Engineering Redux so you can get readouts on how much dV your craft has while building it... and don't forget that you need delta V to get back to Kerbin too!

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I always use the strategy that gives you science points at the cost of reputation (Unpaid Research Program) as rep is easy to farm but science points are much harder to come by.

Apart from that doing tourist missions is usually a good way to get cash, once you have built a ship that's capable/reliable, it's a simple matter to just keep farming tourist runs for cash to upgrade your buildings.

Also, what the guy above me said. Always unlock new science gathering parts first if you can, they will give you more science to unlock the other nodes.

Best of luck!

Edited by Rocket In My Pocket
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  • READ THE FINE PRINT. Remember that many contracts come from a mod with that name, for a reason :)
    Conversely, when a contract looks to be good to be true (That much funds? And I only have to do THIS?) it usually is (e.g. “Sun Orbit, 179° inclination,” etc)
  • Collect funds to do science. If you can do science on a money-making mission that's great but don't bend over backwards for it. Same way, when doing a science mission it's great if you have a contract riding along to pay for it, but don't go crazy. Also, while contracts my offer juicy science sometimes, pure science is much quicker.
  • Do maximize yield per mission, this is where you can (and should!) go crazy. That unmanned space station you're going to put into Kerbol orbit? It can also collect on that "put a satellite into orbit" mission and on "Put a space station in Kerbin Orbit" as well. Ka-ching! Just don't mix science with income, is my experience. Or at least don't aim for it.
  • EVA reports get you an amazing amount of science. Send a Mk I into polar orbit, EVA over each biome and let the science flow in. You don't even need an antenna (or expensive solar cells) for that
  • For landing, Minmus needs to be your priority. I recently did a Minmus visit with a lightweight lander (not sure how much DV I had, but not a lot) and I was able to cover all biomes with two surface expeditions (and a bunch of hops) which unlocked like the lower half of the tech tree. After that you've got enough scientific equipment to cover the rest of the tree with Mun landings
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One important thing to watch for are 'free money' contracts, including planning to take advantage of them.

  • Satellite contract?  Make sure it has a thermometer so that it can do "transmit science" contracts.
  • About to do your first rescue?  Remember that a rescue involves doing a rendezvous, (for some reason many of the YouTubers doing career games miss this).
  • You're about to land somewhere?  Check to see if anyone wants you to look at something in particular.
  • Before you take off to come home, does anyone want a flag planted?
  • And who can forget the ever popular test contract conditions "on the launch pad" and "landed at Kerbin"?

Another thing to remember is that you can often pay for Mission Control upgrades using advances on long/no deadline contracts.  I'll take two more contract slots and mission planning for free any day of the week.

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2 things that can get a lot of science fast early on- the science jr. and the EVA ability. Get into orbit and EVA like mad over every biome you can, take a scientist to grab science from the jr and reset it whenever possible. Also, as previously stated, the terrier engine is a gateway to anywhere in the Kerbin system. Get that bad boy unlocked and you are golden.

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My only regret is that I have but one up- vote to give for Snark's response. I personally go for Minmus before the Mun, but there are advantages and disadvantages to doing both in early career.

 The only thing I can add to this is that it's much easier to build career rockets if you learn the process and math.

The process:

The math:

If you learn these, career mode becomes easy.

Best,

-Slashy

 

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My tips for getting a lot of science in a shot time.

Think big and send a refuel tank to Mun or Minmus orbit with a science lab if you want to take the time to wait. Then send a lander fully equiped with science packages and with a nice dV capacity (I like 3000m/s). With that, you can land multiple times, do some hops and retrieve science.

IIRC, I got from my first Mun mission around 2200 science points and 2500 from Minmus but that was 10 month ago, so I may be wrong. I remembered doing a simple trip to Minmus before to unlock docking ports. I also remembered going back to Mun and Minmus for an additional science farming (using the same space station.

With that, I unlocked the whole tech-tree without even leaving Kerbin SOI. I was able to launch my Duna mission in the first window which appear around day 30, If I'm not mistaken. As you would suspect, I sent a space station with landers...(which are still in operation) :D

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On 19.1.2016 at 9:20 PM, Snark said:

3. Now you have enough science to research Aviation, which gets you all the parts you need to build a "poor man's rover":  basically a plane sitting on landing gear, with no wings, and a Juno jet engine to power it.  Build one of those with all the science instruments, and let Bob drive it around KSC to all of the buildings.  Each one of them is a separate biome with its own science points.

:(

I always feel saddened when this is recommended to new players, considering it is a.) extremely boring to do in practice, b.) makes absolutely no logical sense, and c.) is not required to progress in any way, shape or form unless you intentionally tuned the science yield down even further than the highest stock difficulty mode.

Of course, this is something that Squad put in, and I don't presume to know what they were thinking... but I still firmly hold the opinion that it's the wrong thing to teach newbies. It's akin to telling them to download an older version and practice with the old aerodynamics first. Yes, it makes for an easier start, but it also teaches the wrong thing, and they'll struggle to rid themselves of that crutch later-on.

 

Personally, I'd rather recommend newcomers to try Science Mode, tinker with the difficulty settings in Career, and/or focus on learning to build efficient rockets out of a limited part set - a skill which will help them throughout their entire KSP time.

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You can get stuck in early career game - but it's fairly easy to rack up a lot, and I mean a really large amount, of science by a couple of well-planned trips away from Kerbin.  

Basically, go to Minmus.  Landing is so trivially easy, you don't even need to build a lander as such (you can 'land' a second or third stage rocket on Minmus safely even without landing legs engine first if you're careful; if possible, take a scientist with you to reset any science experiments on the way; and above all, use the delta-V maps to do it cost-effectively.

And if you haven't already, get MJ or KER so you can plan the size of your rockets effectively. Don't go overboard with your designs. Most of my early career problems were caused by me repeatedly putting into orbit colossally over-fuelled 'satellites'[1] that, looking back, were all entirely capable of return duna missions. Consequently they used equally over-priced, over-large launch vehicles.

Wemb
[1] Meaning, putting an nearly full FLT-400 fuel tank with a terrier engine under a probe core. Completely insane.

 

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42 minutes ago, Wemb said:

And if you haven't already, get MJ or KER so you can plan the size of your rockets effectively. Don't go overboard with your designs. Most of my early career problems were caused by me repeatedly putting into orbit colossally over-fuelled 'satellites'[1] that, looking back, were all entirely capable of return duna missions. Consequently they used equally over-priced, over-large launch vehicles.

I used overfuelled satellites to validate two contracts at one time. It's cheaper and quicker than sending 2 rockets. Same thing with Kerbal recovery combined with tourists contracts.

Anyway, what you do greatly depends on the contracts and/or objectives you set.

On last advice, keep your cash and only upgrade buildings when you need it.

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I played the demo on and off for years before buying the game and going straight to career mode. And I only installed my first and only mod (KER) after feeling like it was too much work determining delta-v requirements for my Jool missions.

So although I recognise the validity of options such as doing "science" rather than "career", or installing KER or MechJeb, I personally wouldn't recommend either. Different strokes etc.

So for my two cents, I'd add:

- always give preference to unlocking science experiments at each stage in the tree. Scott Manley's videos concerning career mode insist on this, and he is absolutely right.

- find some sort of method for naming your ship designs. In early career you will try numerous designs. You really need a way to make sure your best, cheapest, most powerful etc. designs are labelled so that you can reuse them - and make sure that you don't reuse them if you make expensive changes to fulfil a particularly demanding contract or mission.

Personally, I didn't touch aeronautics, or upgrade the SPH or runway, until I had everything else. The VAB and launchpad limits I took as a challenge, rather than a need to upgrade, for as long as possible. What I did upgrade was mission control (for contracts), tracking station and astronaut complex (EVA = more science).

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3 hours ago, Warzouz said:

I used overfuelled satellites to validate two contracts at one time. It's cheaper and quicker than sending 2 rockets. Same thing with Kerbal recovery combined with tourists contracts.

I was under the impression that you had to use entirely new satellites for each contract and that repositioning an existing one not work?

Yes, for tourist/rescue missions, I normally send up two Mk1 capsules bolted together with a StayPutnik bolted to the top. and a couple of radial parachutes Usually capable of any tourist or rescue mission around LKO, or any mix of the two. 


Wemb

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4 minutes ago, Wemb said:

I was under the impression that you had to use entirely new satellites for each contract and that repositioning an existing one not work?

Correct, but...

If I have 2 contracts:

  1. Put a satellite with a docking port, thermometer and can generate power in a 75kmx75km orbit
  2. Put a satellite with a docking port, goo canister and can generate power in a 80kmx80km orbit

then I can launch a satellite with docking port, thermometer and goo canister into a 75km orbit and move it to fulfil the second contract provided I accepted both contracts before launch.

Edited by ineon
Now with proof reading...
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I started a new game the other night, my general approach was:

  • Crew reports from a pod on the runway and launch pad for a bit of early science
  • First flight goes East to splashdown in the sea, next one goes west to land on the grasslands.  2 extra biomes covered
  • Unlock the materials lab as soon as possible, and always take all available science experiments when going somewhere new
  • Upgrade the astronaut complex as soon as possible to allow EVA
  • Polar orbit to get EVA reports from all the biomes
  • Try and fulfil multiple contracts in one launch (test part missions are good for this)
  • 3 Mk1 cockpits stacked (middle one upside down) is good for profitable tourist and rescue missions and is stable on re-entry.  I try and do rescue missions in pairs (2 contracts, one launch)
  • Upgraded the tracking station (patched conics) and got a Mun flyby mission so did a mun flyby with 2 sets of science on it, one for high above kerbin, one for high above mun, the pilot can then collect the data and discard the experiments before re-reentry
  • By then I had enough parts to do a mun landing with a Mk1 capsule, getting EVA reports from all the biomes Jeb overflew as well (capsule, stack separator, materials lab, FL-T200, Terrier, 3 more FL-T200's with landing gear on radial separators, plus experiments and solar panels.  Good enough to get to the Mun, land and get back from Kerbin orbit)
  • I go for the Mun first as I get a contract to do it before I get a Minimus contract
  • A couple of Mun landings should get me the NERV at which point I'll build a bigger lander to go and get all the Minimus biomes in one mission.
Edited by RizzoTheRat
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39 minutes ago, Wemb said:

I was under the impression that you had to use entirely new satellites for each contract and that repositioning an existing one not work?

As for 1.0.4 (I don't know if that specific feature was changed in 1.0.5), AFTER accepting 2 satellite contracts, you could launch ONE new satellite and check both orbits. I did that several time (I even had my generic sat rocket). But you can't use a existing satellite to validate a NEW contract.

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1 hour ago, ineon said:

Correct, but...

If I have 2 contracts:

  1. Put a satellite with a docking port, thermometer and can generate power in a 75kmx75km orbit
  2. Put a satellite with a docking port, goo canister and can generate power in a 80kmx80km orbit

then I can launch a satellite with docking port, thermometer and goo canister into a 75km orbit and move it to fulfil the second contract provided I accepted both contracts before launch.

+1 to this.

Also:  In 1.0.5, there's a new kind of contract that pops up from time to time, which is "Move <thing you've already launched> into <new orbit>."  So it's not a terrible idea to have a bit of spare fuel capacity on those contract satellites you launch, so that if you're given the opportunity for one of these add-ons, you'll already have the dV available to make it happen.

2 hours ago, Plusck said:

- always give preference to unlocking science experiments at each stage in the tree.

+1 to this.  Absolutely grab new science experiments as soon as you can.

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On 1/19/2016 at 0:20 PM, Snark said:
  • You're swimming in cash at this point (not just from contracts, but from all your "world first" accomplishments).  This should be enough to let you upgrade the astronaut complex so that you can do EVA.  Moar science!  (For example, once you've gotten EVA, you can go to orbit and do EVA reports from above each of the half-dozen biomes.  It's a bonanza).
  • By now, funds and tech should be at the point that you can do a simple Mun shot.  (Note that you can do this without patched conics-- you don't have to upgrade the tracking station yet.)  If you're conservative, send an unmanned lander and transmit science so that you can build a better manned ship to follow.  If you're a little more ambitious, go straight for a manned land-and-return mission.  This gives tons of science (the Mun is much more lucrative than Kerbin, science-wise) and also a lot more cash for World Firsts.

I want to add something to this.  If you are having trouble actually sticking the Mun landings and returns at this tech level, you should not feel obligated to risk it yet.  Certain scientific readings, such as crew reports, can occur at altitude over different biomes, giving you a fresh set of scientific data for each biome.  If you want to get a bunch of early science on the cheap, just send a manned orbiter to the Mun, and without even trying to land, do some EVAs in low orbit.  The more polar the orbit, the more biomes you will cover.  If you have an antenna by this point, you can just transmit the data from the crew reports immediately for a full-value gain.  Plus, if you have the tech to orbit the Mun, you also have the tech to orbit Minmus.  You can replicate the exact same thing there (plus landings on Minmus are a little easier in my experience if you are not ready for a Mun landing yet.)  

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6 hours ago, Wemb said:

Basically, go to Minmus.

 

14 hours ago, GoSlash27 said:

personally go for Minmus before the Mun

I'm with Wemb and Slashy on the attractions of Minmus.  Low dV requirements, easy flying, lots of flat spots to land, etc.  Certainly, when I get to the "strip-mine a moon for science" phase of my career, I do Minmus before the Mun.

However, Minmus can be quite challenging to navigate to if you don't have patched conics yet.  It's doable, and I've done it, but the Mun is far easier.  I imagine that a newbie would find going to Minmus without patched conics to be very challenging.

So what I usually do, for my very first land-somewhere-other-than-Kerbin mission, when it's really early career and I have very few parts available and I haven't even unlocked patched conics yet, is go to the Mun.  Even if it's just land-an-unmanned-probe-and-transmit-science, that's a lot of science points for very early career, and gives a big boost to unlock other useful parts.

(I tend to unlock patched conics as late as I can get away with, because that frees up cash I can use for unlocking EVA which is a lucrative source of science, and for upgrading the launch pad, and then the VAB to get past the part limit.)

Edited by Snark
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14 hours ago, Wemb said:

I was under the impression that you had to use entirely new satellites for each contract and that repositioning an existing one not work?

As mentioned, the new satellite contracts don't require that the satellite actually stay in that orbit so you can do the 'satellite tourist' thing and build one to clear all of the contracts you have.

As of 1.0.5 there is finally a reason you might want to avoid doing this[1]:  Satellite repositioning contracts.  Since a minimal satellite is probably going to make its orbit with plenty of deltaV left, (especially if you've reached the point of building them with Oscar-B/Ant rather than FL-T100/Terrier), those contracts become "make two manoeuvres, get paid" until the fuel runs out.  If you are going to do those contracts, make a point of giving satellites unique names and tag them once they run low on fuel.

 

[1] Personally I consider it about as gamey as farming the KSC for science.  Those are not my birds and I name them accordingly, (e.g. "Probodobodyne Satellite 3").

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Fortunately, the map display makes it very clear which bird is the one which needs repositioning.  As for those that are running low on fuel, I just de-orbit them - at speed, aiming for the KSC. For fun.

 

Wemb

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On 1/19/2016 at 1:17 PM, DocktorMedic said:

And if anyone also has tips for building basic to semi-basic ships,that would help ALOT too ;D (Again,I am definitely not the best at building working ships,I haven't even gone interplanetery before!)

Here's an example of a full return Minmus surface probe for starting facilities. I keep it in my "rocket park" because it was so helpful in early career.

ECLander_zpsajiudep0.jpg

 

The parts available in tier-zero are sufficient to get you 3 tonnes of payload into LKO without violating the pad mass restrictions, and this is a lot to work with if you design for efficiency.

Design tips:
* I don't bother with kerballed flights once I have probe cores. 
* The LV-T30, LV-909, and 48-7S are the triad of awesomeness in early game.
* SRBs are evil when first starting out. You can get a lot more done without them until you upgrade.
* Expect your upper stage+payload to weigh about 225% of your payload and your total lifter to weigh about 275% of your upper stage and payload. Your booster should be able to get you to about 27km altitude on a gravity turn so that your upper stage won't have to deal with aerodynamic stability problems.

One gameplay tip:
* "World's first" awards pay way better than contracts. You should try to focus on going to new places and collecting science rather than completing contracts. Once you've got the tech tree opened up, you'll start getting satellite contracts and rescues. Those are usually worth doing (read the fine print).

Best,
-Slashy
 

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