Armisael

Suggested rebalance for the command pods

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From what I've seen and heard, it's pretty widely agreed that the current command modules aren't very well balanced. There doesn't seem to be any good mechanical reason to use any of the 2.5m parts - you can always get the same capabilities by using multiple 1.25m modules stuck together - and even that's usually just the Mk1 Lander Can. In the spirit of making each command module worth using without just outlawing half of them from the game, here's an attempt at a rebalance.

First, the current stats of the pods (and the hitchhiker pod, which while technically not a command module is still relevant). Cockpits are not included - I simply don't have a good feel for those parts: 95f5a8e8d5.png

When you look at mass-adjusted stats, the Mk1 Lander Can simply beats the pants off any other part in both raw kerbal carrying capacity and monoprop capacity. It's second to only the cupola in battery capacity, and third in torque. It isn't great in stats that don't vary on weight, but to be honest, those don't really matter. A Mk1 Lander Can with a parachute and an empty heatshield still only weighs as much as the next lightest command module.

Conversely, the Mk1-2 Command Pod is really truly awful. It beats only the cupola in kerbal-carrying capacity and is the outright worst part in every other stat. The mass-unadjusted stats are a little better - but those are generally pretty easily mitigated with additional parts that are ultimately much lighter.

 

Making all of these effectively size-scaled copies of each other isn't any better - we'd still be functionally down to a single part. Hopefully my changes give each part a useful and distinct role:

Mk1 Command Pod: This part is untouched.

Mk1-2 Command Pod:

  • Dry mass reduced from 4t to 2.4t
  • Torque cost reduced from 0.08 charge/kN⋅m to 0.04 charge/kN⋅m

Mk1 Lander Can: 

  • Critical skin temperature reduced from 2000K to 1200K
  • Impact tolerance reduced from 8 m/s  to 6 m/s
  • Battery reduced from 50 charge to 25 charge

Mk2 Lander Can: 

  • Dry mass reduced from 2.5t to 1.2t
  • Critical skin temperature reduced from 2000K to 1200K
  • Battery reduced from 100 charge to 60 charge
  • Torque per axis reduced from 15 kN⋅m to 10 kN⋅m
  • Torque cost per axis increased from 0.05 charge/kN⋅m to 0.06 charge/kN⋅m

Hitchhiker Pod:

  • Dry mass reduced from 2.5t to 2.2t
  • Impact tolerance increased from 6 m/s to 10 m/s

Cupola:

  • Dry mass reduced from 1.76t to 1.35t
  • Battery capacity increased from 200 charge to 1000 charge
  • Monoprop capacity increased from 10 to 100
  • Torque per axis increased from 9 kN⋅m to 30 kN⋅m
  • Torque cost per axis reduced from 0.1 charge/kN⋅m to 0.02 charge/kN⋅m
  • Probe core with basic SAS (ie, stability assist only) added to the part. This drains 1.2 charge/minute (this is equivalent to an OKTO). Crew reports still require a kerbal, and if a level 2+ pilot enters the cupola their maneuver abilities are used instead.
  • Critical skin temperature reduced from 2000K to 1500K
  • Impact tolerance reduced from 8 m/s to 6 m/s
  • Dry cost increased from √3188 to √4380

The state of the new parts is summarized below (does not include cost or probe core modifications to the Cupola):

fe75e6fbb0.png  

 

All of these changes can be made using nothing more than Module Manager - this guarantees that the changes are both easy to make and easy to setup as a mod for testing. My rationale for each part is listed below. As a general rule I wanted to maintain the weight of a seat in a category (command pods are 0.8t/seat, lander cans are 0.6t/seat) but make the larger parts a little more useful in other aspects.

Mk1 Command Pod: Everything is already functionally balanced to this pod - starting engines, parachutes, fuel tanks - so I was totally uninterested in messing with it. Instead, I've used it as a benchmark for roughly how useful a part should be in its niche. The full suite of changes I'm proposing make the command pods the durable choice - particularly good for re-entry - 

Mk1-2 Command Pod: This part already had triple the seats, monoprop capacity, battery, and torque of the Mk1 Pod, so the natural thing to do was to reduce it to triple the mass as well. The charge required per unit torque was reduced to make it a little more efficient than Mk1 Pod. The high impact and thermal tolerances really work with the "durable re-entry module" theme of the command pods, so I left that. 

Mk1 Lander Can: Lander cans should be lightweight. They should not survive re-entry from Mun without any shielding. The thermal and impact tolerance nerfs should give the lander cans a defined role (other than "awesome at everything", which is this part's current role). The part still felt too good to me, but I understood why monoprop would be useful in lunar-orbit rendezvous lander. Limiting the battery made the lander can worse than the command pod in every stat except weight and monoprop, which is about where it belongs in my opinion.

Mk2 Lander Can: The weight and critical skin tolerances brought this in line with the new Mk1 Can. It's now a little better in battery, monoprop, and torque than the Mk1 but still worse than either command pod in all of those except monoprop. This probably still won't be great for small landers, simply because 1.25m engines weigh less, but it'll be a good choice for slightly beefier ones.

Hitchhiker Pod: The Mk1 and Mk2 Crew Cabins both carry 2 seats per ton, and have 40+ m/s impact tolerances. This weight reduction brings the hitchhiker pod in line with those in terms of carrying capacity. I don't understand why it had such a low impact tolerance in the first place - the basic fin is the only part in stock with a lower impact tolerance than 6 m/s.

Cupola: This part is in a rough place for balance. This part obviously belongs on a space station (or a mothership - they're nearly the same thing), so impact and thermal tolerance aren't a big deal. On the other hand, it shouldn't be light enough to become a strong competitor for normal rockets. One step is to give this phenomenal battery, monoprop, and torque, and to make the reaction wheels more efficient. That still isn't really enough in my opinion, so I decided that the reasonable thing to do with the Cupola was to make it the next-best thing to a complete space station in a single part to help keep part count down - and that meant adding a probe core so that the space station could still function even without a kerbal. The only things this part is really lacking are power generation and an antenna. For comparison, a Mk1 Pod with an OKTO, 1k battery, large reaction wheel, and an empty 150 unit monoprop tank only weighs 1.4t, so this isn't really even particularly lighter.

 

I've tested all of these in my own install, and they all seem reasonable to me. I'm not the only person in the world though, and I'd like to hear some other opinions.

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Add the mk3 spaceplane cockpit. It's absurd. It bests the mk1-2 in every single statistic, but has lower mass.

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The mk1-2 is probably the worst part in the stock game. I won't rebalance every other part in the game to fit it, and I hope that SQUAD doesn't either.

Edited by Armisael

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The reason Hitchhiker is so heavy is because it is a living space not a seat.  Comparing it to airline seating is not a good comparison.  Most countries would consider 24 hours in an airline seat torture.  Everything else looks good but I prefer adding more life support to overweight pods 

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1 hour ago, Nich said:

The reason Hitchhiker is so heavy is because it is a living space not a seat.  Comparing it to airline seating is not a good comparison.  Most countries would consider 24 hours in an airline seat torture.  Everything else looks good but I prefer adding more life support to overweight pods 

Not everyone use life support.

I think the Mk 1-2 needs maybe .5 tons more added to be balanced, it's meant to be a "workhorse" command pod. You should use it for long missions that experiance Reentry and such, but the Mk 1 lander can already beats it doing that.

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I think omitting the cockpits and plane cabins was a mistake. these actually follow some semblance of rhyme and reason in assigning thier mass at least based on the parts purpose and volume.

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It would still show a useful comparison to look at the spaceplane cockpits as they are so OP. Any of the command pods need to be lighter than those.

I agree that the hitchhiker is not a reasonable comparison, it's supposed to be an on-orbit habitat. Like even other non-spaceplane part, it need to be made not ugly, and we need more options for station and base parts.

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As requested, the same stat block for the cockpits (as they currently are). This doesn't note the fact that these parts have lower drag (usually 0.1 vs 0.15-0.2 for rocket parts) or that the Mk2 parts provide lift.

0ebc3d9cd1.png  

The situation with the Mk1 and Mk1 inline cockpit is obviously dumb, since a 1.25m nosecone weighs way less than 0.25t, but otherwise nothing here seems totally unreasonable to me. They're heavier than what I proposed for the rocket parts, but they're also much more durable and less draggy. Ultimately I think that they serve a different purpose than the rocket parts do, which makes this a difficult comparison.

1 hour ago, Andem said:

I think the Mk 1-2 needs maybe .5 tons more added to be balanced, it's meant to be a "workhorse" command pod. You should use it for long missions that experiance Reentry and such, but the Mk 1 lander can already beats it doing that.

Why should the Mk1-2 pod weigh more per - well, everything - than the Mk1 pod? Is that just a gut feeling, or do you have a more specific reason? I'd like to know.

32 minutes ago, tater said:

I agree that the hitchhiker is not a reasonable comparison, it's supposed to be an on-orbit habitat. Like even other non-spaceplane part, it need to be made not ugly, and we need more options for station and base parts.

The mechanics of the game don't support that idea at all, though. Sticking four Mk1 cans together beats the hitchhiker pod at literally everything (except providing 2.5m attachment nodes, and that isn't objectively a good thing).

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I agree that these should be looked at. Having four distinct categories of command pod balanced by their strengths and weaknesses, and balanced within those categories would be good.

1. Aeroplane cockpits. The heaviest parts, but with the best impact resistance, good heat resistance and the best aerodynamics (low drag or added lift).

2. Command pods. The jack-of-all-trades. Good impact resistance and heat resistance, reasonable aerodynamics.

3. Lander cans. Best for orbit-to-orbit ferries, rovers and moon landings. Poor impact resistance and heat resistance, poor aerodynamics, but light and cheap.

4. External seats. Even more extreme than the lander can. Even worse impact resistance and heat resistance, even worse aerodynamics, and no reaction wheels or internal stores, but extremely light and the cheapest of the lot.

I'd also like to see the Hitchhiker's role split in two, with one designed for moderately cheap transport of Kerbals to and from orbit (i.e. a type 2) and one designed for extremely light and cheap transport of Kerbals exclusively in low gravity, zero atmosphere environments (i.e. a type 3). Perhaps throw in a roller-coaster style row of 2-3 external seats with no command authority as well.

 

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I think this is a very good analysis and agree 100% that the pods need drastic re balance to make more than 1 or 2 viable.

I even like the baseline figures. It'd be great to see something like this in the not so distant future.

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@Grumman Yeah, that's pretty much what I was going for with the different classes of parts.

Balancing the external command seats is an entirely different kettle of fish. The existing part already has terrible aerodynamics, 800K effective thermal tolerance, and no torque/monoprop/battery whatsoever, but it's so incredibly light that you can put the chair in a service bay with a reaction wheel and a battery and still come out lighter than even a mk1 can. The only knob you have left to fiddle with is weight, and using that would effectively destroy the part.

I think the fix there requires something more than tweaking the existing stats. I'm leaning towards 'kerbals fall out of the chair if exposed to more than ~2.5G', but my modding skills are limited so I haven't tested it - and that seems like the kind of change that would be chock full of unintended consequences.

Edited by Armisael

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I don't know how it would work, but something like the hitchhiker (or lander cans) should require a fairing. If the HH didn't, then it could be heavier than one might expect, because it's designed with that sort of stress in mind. 

It would be nice to have a benchmark about what is actually reasonable in terms of survivability, too.

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I scrapped today my lander with the MK2 Can. It was just too heavy and inefficient. Slapped on a Stack Bi-Coupler with two MK1 Lander Cans instead. This poor weight balance comes from the lack of a dV readout in the stock game. People who play purely stock don't bother with efficiency, moar boosters fix everything.

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I did a similar thing on my own but this is much more rigorous. We actually came up with some similar numbers, though I think I was a touch heavier across the board. Really like some of your other tolerance adjustments as well.

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Impact speeds are odd because we don't injure kerbals as they should be. The LEM was designed to touchdown at a max sink speed of 3 m/s. That was for purely vertical. Any horizontal component reduced this, and ideal was sort of in the middle, say 1.75 m/s or so. Part of the rationale was to not exceed the tolerances of the rest of the LEM.

That would put the impact tolerance of a mk1 can closer to 4 m/s perhaps (as a sort of LEM analog). Obviously gear should mimic this as well.

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I'm a little surprised that no one has commented on adding a probe core to the cupola. I thought that was my wildest suggestion by far, since it'd be the first probe core with a seat for a kerbal.

@Pthigrivi I remember looking at those when I posted a thread asking if this was something people were interested in at all. It's good to hear that people like the tolerance changes, since those're really fundamental to balancing the lander cans IMO.

On 4/9/2016 at 1:43 PM, tater said:

I don't know how it would work, but something like the hitchhiker (or lander cans) should require a fairing. If the HH didn't, then it could be heavier than one might expect, because it's designed with that sort of stress in mind. 

It would be nice to have a benchmark about what is actually reasonable in terms of survivability, too.

Again, why would the HH be so much more fragile than the crew cabins? The only thing the HH does that those don't is provide 2.5m attachment nodes. Stock KSP doesn't have life support, and parts shouldn't be balanced with respect to that.

10 minutes ago, tater said:

Impact speeds are odd because we don't injure kerbals as they should be. The LEM was designed to touchdown at a max sink speed of 3 m/s. That was for purely vertical. Any horizontal component reduced this, and ideal was sort of in the middle, say 1.75 m/s or so. Part of the rationale was to not exceed the tolerances of the rest of the LEM.

That would put the impact tolerance of a mk1 can closer to 4 m/s perhaps (as a sort of LEM analog). Obviously gear should mimic this as well.

I don't think anything less than 6 m/s is practical for landings by new players. The part shouldn't require an expert pilot just to land.

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I tend to see the HH as a space station part. Partially it's a general problem in the stock game of not really having crew parts matter in terms of differences (your whole point in rebalance in some sense). I always play with LS, so I tend to forget it's not a thing.

Regarding landing sink rates, I think the mk2 is heavier, perhaps that is optimized for different landing situations. Less than 6 m/s is not practical? I've never landed anything higher than that, even my first mun landing, lol. That said, I see your point.

That makes me wonder about something tangential... career "difficulty levels." These tend to merely be "grind levels" in my experience, but craft survivability would be a much more interesting place to go. Easy uses the stock values, with Normal and Hard decreasing tolerances by some %. Engine bell impact tolerances should drop to near zero, frankly.

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The biggest problem is that, for the Pods and Cans, the mass-per-kerbal is higher for the ones with more seats. This doesn't make much intuitive sense, and if it was slightly lower, it would actually be efficient to use the pod with the carrying capacity you need, instead of a cluster of Mk1s or something. The Mk1-2 has an insanely high 45 m/s crash tolerance, but that should be impossible in a crewed part. (100 mph? Hope you like giant green pancakes!) The Mk2 doesn't even have that, which is why people rarely use it.

The cupola is fine, it's a decorative part for space stations and bases, not meant for efficiency. The hitchhiker is supposed to have terrible crash/heat tolerance for the same reason, but it should probably weigh about the same as the rebalanced Mk1-2. And come to think of it, more evocative names to distinguish the various pods and cans would be nice.

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I've already posted a more general proposition for part rebalance.

And finally manage to do a MM part fix

 

Edited by Warzouz

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You make a pretty good assessement for the pods and lander cans.

 

but I think you are off with the cupola and hitchhiker. Imho the hitchhiker is not meant for re-entry. It should have a very low impact tolerance. Its a space station part or living quarter for long missions. It has room for 4 kerbals, and it is not unreasonable to think that it would be pretty fragile. It should be far less durable then lander cans, and meant to stay on orbit. I would even go so far to say that it heat tolerance should be nerfed to 1200.

 

as for the cupola, I think you are also way off. It is obvioulsy meant for observation. it is modeled after the ISS cupola, and is mainly a flavor part for IVA. As such, it should stay that way. No monoprop, only token amounts of electricity, reduced torque. The best way would not to make it a probe core, but make it so that when a kerbal is in the cupola, he gains all benefits of a max-level pilot. The cupola is equipped with a lot of computers to help navigation, and the good view should make it easier. but the cupola should not be the go-to command module that everyone puts on his station for control (RCS, SAS etc.)

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1 hour ago, Warzouz said:

I've already posted a more general proposition for part rebalance.

I don't think that simple mass changes are sufficient to create a set of parts that are both distinct and useful. I still don't see any reason to use the Mk1-2 Command pod with your changes - the lander cans are lighter, available earlier, and durable enough for reentry.

1 hour ago, Kosmognome said:

but I think you are off with the cupola and hitchhiker. Imho the hitchhiker is not meant for re-entry. It should have a very low impact tolerance. Its a space station part or living quarter for long missions. It has room for 4 kerbals, and it is not unreasonable to think that it would be pretty fragile. It should be far less durable then lander cans, and meant to stay on orbit. I would even go so far to say that it heat tolerance should be nerfed to 1200.

 

as for the cupola, I think you are also way off. It is obvioulsy meant for observation. it is modeled after the ISS cupola, and is mainly a flavor part for IVA. As such, it should stay that way. No monoprop, only token amounts of electricity, reduced torque. The best way would not to make it a probe core, but make it so that when a kerbal is in the cupola, he gains all benefits of a max-level pilot. The cupola is equipped with a lot of computers to help navigation, and the good view should make it easier. but the cupola should not be the go-to command module that everyone puts on his station for control (RCS, SAS etc.)

I don't understand this point of view at all. Why should we tolerate and encourage parts that are functionally useless? Boondoggles are fine for mods I suppose, but stock KSP doesn't have enough command modules to justify their existence (in my opinion).

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35 minutes ago, Armisael said:

I don't think that simple mass changes are sufficient to create a set of parts that are both distinct and useful. I still don't see any reason to use the Mk1-2 Command pod with your changes - the lander cans are lighter, available earlier, and durable enough for reentry.

Sure it's still heavier, but not stupidly heavier. It has a higher heat resistance (which is not marginal when you come back from Dres and farther, a higher torque.

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56 minutes ago, Warzouz said:

Sure it's still heavier, but not stupidly heavier. It has a higher heat resistance (which is not marginal when you come back from Dres and farther, a higher torque.

You can stack 3 Mk1 Cans, a medium reaction wheel, and an empty 1.25m heatshield and get significantly more thermal tolerance, the same battery capacity, more torque for less charge, and the same monoprop capacity for exactly the same weight. All of those parts are available earlier in the tech tree than the Mk1-2 pod and you can store more experimental data. The total assembly costs a little bit more, but not by much (3764 vs 5846, both without monoprop).

Even small differences in weight need to be justified by some serious benefits. Given current stats, the Mk1-2 doesn't provide enough to justify almost anything, IMO.

Edited by Armisael

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From experience Lander can and heatshield will blow over 4500m/s in lower atmospheric without heating warning. When I switched to the mk1-2 pod, I could deal with 4800m/s without a sweat. I think it can do much more.

But you have a point about lowering heat resistance of the MK1 lander can. It makes sense.

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1 hour ago, Armisael said:

I don't understand this point of view at all. Why should we tolerate and encourage parts that are functionally useless?

The Hitchiker isn't useless . it is just not a command pod, but rather in-space living room. and as that, it is quite well belanced (but imho still a bit too strong).

For re-entry there are the inline cockpits to ferry around kerbals, and the passenger parts.

 

As for the cupola, what you are doing is making the part ridiculous OP for stations. That isn't its intention. I love the cupola for the view it provides, and that should be its main strength. If it gets some additional features like giving boni to pilot ability (or pilot abilities to engineers/scientists while inside) it would make the part very useful, while still retaining it original flavor.

 

Besides, having some flavor parts isn't bad for the game.

 

Quote

 but stock KSP doesn't have enough command modules to justify their existence (in my opinion).

Which gap do you want to close? We have a 1.25m command pod and a 2.5m command pod, as well as non-atmopsheric variants for both. That is all 4 functional roles. There is not more roles to fill. You could argue that an orion-like 4 kerbal 3.75m pod would be nice to have in stock, but that is about it.

 

The cupola already has a unique role because it offers great visibility while inside. That already justifies the part - because it offers ingame exactly what it does IRL, and the view from it is simply breathtaking. I agree with giving it some more usefulness - but it should stay true to the spirit of the part, not simply make it OP by giving it ridiculous amounts of torque, electricity and monoprop. That doesn't make the part interesting, it just removes the lander can from the list of interesting parts as controlling part for stations and makes the cupola the clearly best choice. 

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