glen.mack

What do you think about automated launches?

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New Shepard has flown and landed twice. According to the wiki, more sophisticated autopilot features will not be part of the main game. How do you feel about automated launches and landings?

 

I show how mods (Kerbal Operating System) can bring the New Shepard style missions to "life" in KSP, but this kind of programming is very difficult (for me at least). How would you implement an autopilot feature if it were up to you?

 

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I dunno, they're pretty cool I guess? I like the idea of watching different sequences play out.

You gave me an idea, I should make a New Shepard launch script for my stock New Shepard vehicle.

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I use mechjeb because it has telemetry but also because it is an AUTOPILOT. I believe automation is the best. Im no coder so kos isnt for me tho.

mechjeb proud since 0.21!

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Well, if I end up launching a perfectly reliable rocket a bunch of times, it's rather nice to be able to automate the whole process.

I guess the best way to automate the process, (while still keeping the flying a rocket into space part necessary,) would be to have the ability to save a launch profile that has been flown by hand, and have a rocket follow the saved launch profile.

So you would still need to fly your rocket into orbit at least once, then once you have manually flown a launch you feel is satisfactory, you can save the flight path and use it as an automated launch profile. There would also be a requirement to manually fly and create a new launch profile for each new craft you build, that way you still have to fly your rockets, but once you've done so, you can automate repetitive launches.

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I use gravity turn.  Its a low level automation that automates the part of space missions astronauts normally have no control over...  the rocket launch, but leaves the rest up to pilot skill.  it also allows some control on parameters to get the most efficient launch possible for a given design.    it allows me to focus on the fun parts of the game for me, mission planning and rocket engineering.

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I have no use for any kind of automation beyond SAS; I prefer to fly my rockets myself.

For folks who prefer automation, I hear good things about MechJeb.

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I use KOs, useful for a lot more than just piloting, and staging, and auto landing, and science spam...

 

Haven't written an auto dock script yet...I think that may be my next project.

 

I generally won't use an automation program unless I have written it myself (and I normally won't write one until I've done that task to the point of boredom) it's about the only programming I will do any more.

 

Edit: what's this mechjeb I keep hearing about?

Edited by jhousen

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I learned a lot from MJ, but these days I use it less and less. I'm tempted to change it to KER, but I'd really miss the Manuver Planner tool. Creating a circularization node, or one that zeroes relative velocity with one click is -so- much more convenient than fiddling with the stock axises. I also love having an ingame porkchop-plotter (that has more functionality than the most popular web-based one).

I sometimes use it's ascent autopilot feature too, but not for making my job easy. I found that I can launch -anything- manually, but designing something that even MJ can get to orbit is an engineering challenge for me (maybe it can launch anything too, but I never figured out how to utilize it many settings).

I'd also really like to get into kOS scripting one day, but with my zero~ish programming experience, that would require a week when I don't have anything else to do - and I don't think I'll have such luxury in the foreseeable future.

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17 hours ago, nosirrbro said:

Goddamn dude, good job!

Thank you kindly.

6 hours ago, Evanitis said:

I'd also really like to get into kOS scripting one day, but with my zero~ish programming experience, that would require a week when I don't have anything else to do - and I don't think I'll have such luxury in the foreseeable future.

If you do, start with something a lot simpler than this. It nearly broke me.

6 hours ago, maceemiller said:

Never did an automated launch or landing and never will. Manual only for me :)

But you don't explain why? Do you play career? Do you never fly the same thing twice? I find it difficult to understand people who play but don't want some automation, UNLESS they only play sandbox mode. Then it makes sense they don't need automation.

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1 hour ago, glen.mack said:

But you don't explain why? Do you play career? Do you never fly the same thing twice? I find it difficult to understand people who play but don't want some automation, UNLESS they only play sandbox mode. Then it makes sense they don't need automation.

Can't speak for @maceemiller, but can for me.  I never, ever use any automation.  Never have, never will.  It would be a game-killer for me and would completely suck the enjoyment out of the game.  For me, it's hard to understand people who do want automation.  ;) 

I play KSP because I like flying rockets.  By that, I mean I like it that I, me, personally, moment by moment, am flying the rocket.  If something else is flying the rockets for me, then I'm not flying rockets, = I'm not having fun.

It's not that I "don't need automation", it's that I actively need not to have automation.

If something else is going to fly the rocket for me, I might as well just sit back and spend my time watching Apollo 13 and The Martian instead of playing KSP.  Yes, I realize that's an exaggeration-- it's not as though people who use MechJeb have it do 100% of the gameplay for them.  But the point is, I enjoy all the little fiddly bits of KSP, and those will be removed for me by the precise extent to which the game is automated.  Automate it 20%, you take 20% of the enjoyment away.

It has nothing to do with "career" versus "sandbox."  I play career exclusively.

I do play in a way that deliberately mixes things up to keep KSP fresh; no two career playthroughs are quite the same.  I'll pick a different combination of mods and/or self-imposed rules to keep things interesting.  So that minimizes some of the repetitiveness.

Of course, there are some things that rarely change.  "Rescue a kerbal from low Kerbin orbit" doesn't change much, they're always in equatorial orbit 70 to 90 km high, and a rescue ship requires such simple low-tech parts that the design is unlikely to be affected by the mods I'm running.  So yeah, I have a fairly standard "rescue one kerbal from LKO" ship that I use for pretty much every mission, and every one of those recoveries are pretty similar.  And yet:  I love doing them.  Every time.  It's fun.  I take it as a personal challenge:  how precisely can I nail the intercept on launch?  Or:  I launch, rescue the kerbal, reenter and land-- what's the smallest eastward longitude separation from KSC that I can achieve, from takeoff to touchdown?

So ultimately, it boils down to:  different people like different things.  The stuff that I find endlessly fascinating is repetitive tedium to someone else.  There's no accounting for taste.  ;)

Makes me really happy that we're playing a game that's so customizable, so easily moddable.  It means everybody wins, and everyone gets to have exactly as much automation (or whatever) as they want to have.

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3 hours ago, glen.mack said:

I find it difficult to understand people who play but don't want some automation

Flying spaceships is enjoyable and fun for some people. Why would you ever want to automate away fun? Seems pretty easy to understand to me. No doubt other people enjoy the challenge or honing their piloting skills to a peak of perfection. Or they might be stock purists or those that just like having something to do while launching. I'm sure there a loads of reasons. In a game I'd rather be playing Neil Armstrong style, heroically nailing a moon landing on manual than to be spam in a can watching a blinking autopilot.

I don't use automation and have little interest in using it currently. I find flying rockets into space interesting and fun. I like getting direct feedback on how something flies, it's all part of the fun. For me piloting things is half the game, getting rid of it would make as much sense as removing the VAB and only flying rockets other people had built.

 

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1 minute ago, Bill Zarr said:

Flying spaceships is enjoyable and fun for some people. Why would you ever want to automate away fun? Seems pretty easy to understand to me. No doubt other people enjoy the challenge or honing their piloting skills to a peak of perfection. Or they might be stock purists or those that just like having something to do while launching. I'm sure there a loads of reasons. In a game I'd rather be playing Neil Armstrong style, heroically nailing a moon landing on manual than to be spam in a can watching a blinking autopilot.

I don't use automation and have little interest in using it currently. I find flying rockets into space interesting and fun. I like getting direct feedback on how something flies, it's all part of the fun. For me piloting things is half the game, getting rid of it would make as much sense as removing the VAB and only flying rockets other people had built.

^^ This.  My thoughts exactly, just expressed better and in fewer words than I managed. :)

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10 hours ago, Evanitis said:

but I'd really miss the Manuver Planner tool.

See the Precise Node mod. Doesn't automate the creation of nodes, but is much better than the stock tools.

10 hours ago, Evanitis said:

I also love having an ingame porkchop-plotter (that has more functionality than the most popular web-based one).

Transfer window planner has an in-game porkchop plot, though I can't speak to what functions it has or doesn't have compared to MechJeb (never used MechJeb).

Edited by FullMetalMachinist

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4 minutes ago, Bill Zarr said:

Flying spaceships is enjoyable and fun for some people. Why would you ever want to automate away fun?

Key phrase is "some". One could also add "sometimes".

Way back when I was still doing a cost-efficient space program, chopping payloads into slices my good lifters could handle and assembling missions in space, I was quite happy that there are automation tools. Because the launch was just something I had to get out of the way before the real mission could start.

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16 minutes ago, Bill Zarr said:

Flying spaceships is enjoyable and fun for some people. Why would you ever want to automate away fun? Seems pretty easy to understand to me. No doubt other people enjoy the challenge or honing their piloting skills to a peak of perfection. Or they might be stock purists or those that just like having something to do while launching. I'm sure there a loads of reasons. In a game I'd rather be playing Neil Armstrong style, heroically nailing a moon landing on manual than to be spam in a can watching a blinking autopilot.

I don't use automation and have little interest in using it currently. I find flying rockets into space interesting and fun. I like getting direct feedback on how something flies, it's all part of the fun. For me piloting things is half the game, getting rid of it would make as much sense as removing the VAB and only flying rockets other people had built.

 

While I don't disagree, and I love the way you've written this, I want to be Neil Armstrong too. I want to be the first Kerbal landing on the Mun. I would never automate something I hadn't flown, and I would never automate something I hadn't done.

My point of view is, who wants to be Alan Shepard? How many people even know who Alan Shepard is outside of this forum, where the number is probably higher than usual. If I've done something well, four times, do I really want to do it again a fifth? It loses it's luster about then for me personally. Though that probably has to do with my suspension of disbelief and being slightly jaded in terms of computer games.

I'm awed that you still get a kick out of every flight, every time. Thank you for taking the time to explain and help me understand.

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23 minutes ago, FullMetalMachinist said:

See the Precise Node mod. Doesn't automate the creation of nodes, but is much better than the stock tools.

Transfer window planner has an in-game porkchop plot, though I can't speak to what functions it has or doesn't have compared to MechJeb (never used MechJeb).

I'm well aware of the existence of these mods, and I'm considering to change for a while. Mainly for it would spare me the excusing at each challenge that yes I used MJ, but only for the readouts. Though I have two daunting concerns (well, not daunting enough to look into it or even ask before).

I wonder if TWP can calculate an interplanetary transfer from a munar orbit - that's what MJ does well, but Axelmoon's web-based planner lacks. And the author of the planner mod mentions that he used Axel's code.

My second daunting question was answered to my satisfaction by a brief look at Precise Node's documentation. ^_^ The time to ditch MJ is getting closer.

4 hours ago, glen.mack said:

If you do, start with something a lot simpler than this. It nearly broke me.

Well, I did some flash before... customer was satisfied, I was still well payed for the time I spent figuring stuff out. kOS also has some nice documentation and tutorials. It looks -fun-.

Edited by Evanitis

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Personally, I heavily rely on MechJeb to automate nearly all my flights/vessels for two reasons:

- My personal playstyle is that of a mission planner and infrastructure manager, and I prefer to focus on the big picture (e.g. "I'm going to need to set up standardized waystations/fuel depots here, here and here" or "Time to arrange for a resupply to the KSS") rather than stress myself out finding the exact timing to start/stop a burn or vessel orientation.

- As the author of the SDHI SMS mod, I need to test each update rigorously to ensure that all features perform to specifications, and flight automation ensures consistent test conditions and results.

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For me, the game would be unplayable without some autopilot mod.

I understand people who like to have entire control and direct everything their craft does, but I personally relish in designing a vehicle and mission plan, and then watching everything perfectly, mechanically, and beautifully execute its purpose, without my butterfingers getting in the way. That's also why I prefer kOS over MechJeb, seeing things go according to a precise and controlled planning is so much more satisfying to me than flying things myself.

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For me, I like automated launches and I will be trying out routine mission manager to get loads of miners in orbit around Minmus.

Been everywhere manually, written my own in KOS, now I use mechjeb

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I don't have a problem flying every single mission manually, in fact aside from a single day using MechJeb to learn how to plot a Hohmann Transfer, I have flown every single mission I have ever done manually. But do I really need to fly every single launch into Low Kerbin Orbit to have fun? No, I don't. It really is just seven minutes or so of adjusting my throttle, and tapping the D key a lot. Yawn.

After I've launched the same rocket into orbit a few times, it seems more like a chore, rather than something new and exciting. I suppose someone who designs a brand-new rocket for every single launch would have a different viewpoint, but I generally design a few utterly reliable, ridiculously over-engineered rockets, then customize each payload to fit the desired mission.

22 hours ago, kaptain_kavern said:

This mod do exactly that :

I thank you for the link, but the Routine Mission Manager seems to only function for craft using docking ports.

I was thinking more like the MechJeb Ascent Guidance module, but using it only after doing enough testing to design a custom launch profile.

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I don't think I could ever get into autopilot. I'm not much of a building kinda guy. I like it, sure, but I'm not thrilled by it. I like flying, and the satisfaction of doing something my own way.

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