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Programs instead of strategies, no science points, no tech tree and some other things

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This is the original original post (what tater and superstrijder15 liked):

Spoiler

 

AKA let's put the R&D to a real use.

Here's the original post of mine:

 

Quote

 

I wouldn't mind if the tech tree was completely removed and instead we would have a system that would work more or less like this:

To unlock a part you need to perform a special set of experiments. For example: Use the rocket engine to go supersonic, measure the air density and temperature. Go back to base. Then wait for a few days and get a new shiny engine called "Whiplash" from your R&D. First you get a limited amount of them (they are produced 1 per week, or something), but after the R&D upgrade the production rate increases.

Some parts need the experiments, some parts would need a usage of a lower tier part of the same type (Tiny size -> Small size -> Medium size -> Large size, or short fuel tank -> medium tank -> long tank. Same with engines: Terrier -> Reliant -> Swivel).

I would prefer this instead of the science points tbh. IMO such system would actually force/give the choice of which of the planets you want to explore (go to Duna to research a new engine that would suit it's atmosphere best) than just grind your way through the tree by biome hopping on the Mun.

 

Basically a "if you want to explore that planet, better focus on the tech you might need once you get there" approach. Of course we would need some more engines and other parts that would serve as a sort of connections between what we have now to make this work a bit better (at least two types of each engine, like a more powerful LV-N or a linear Aerospike.)

I've been thinking about this concept for a week or so now and it's more of a rough sketch of what I have come up with. Feel free to contribute and point out the flaws. Let's all brainstorm this.

 

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OK, so I wanted to edit this post just to make sure it's easier to understand and a bit clearer. Please do keep in mind that I have never played RO and probably am rediscovering the wheel here.

I'm a bit disappointed with how the career progression works. What I would like to propose is a more realistic approach to it (at least I hope it's more realistic, not like I've ever ran a space program, or something):

 

THE SCIENCE

There are no science points. You do the experiments to understand the world, raise your rep and unlock some parts. EXAMPLE: To unlock the Whiplash you need to go supersonic first and perform a bunch of related experiments, like the temperature experiment and the pressure experiment. That gives you the understanding of the high speed atmospheric flight and unlocks the ability to research the Whiplash engine.

EDIT NOTE: Here's something really good from @tater.

THE REPUTATION

This is what influences your annual money income from the goverment/HQ. If you do what the space program HQ tells you to do (missions) you get higher rep. If you don't, the rep slowly drops down and you have to find alternative ways to fund your space program (through space mining, selling the tech/patents you've researched, or something like that)

EDIT NOTE: An alternative way of how to deal with the (somewhat problematic) reputation decay by @Mr. Scruffy can be found here.
EDIT NOTE: There's also a few other ways proposed and discussed by @monstah starting somewhere around here.
EDIT NOTE: There's also this by @The Optimist.
EDIT NOTE: There's also this by me!

THE MONEY

Preferably granted by the government/Kongress/HQ every week/month/year, or something like that. This is what you use to research and build parts (and vessels, of course). Research takes a bit of time. Building the parts too, but less. EXAMPLE: You pay the R&D to build you a new experimental engine (let's say it's the Whiplash again). You paid them X amount of money (+provided with important data from the experiments tied to supersonic flights) and it was enough to build, let's say 5 of them. You need to run the static test first (by activating the contract) and then you have the access to those 5 engines to stick them on whatever you want. If you want more then send some more money to R&D and they'll make sure you get them in time.

THE MISSIONS (previously called CONTRACTS; now directly tied to PROGRAMS)

This is what the HQ wants you to do. If you don't, then it affects your rep in a negative way. If you do, the reputation rises.

EDIT NOTE: Ideally there would be a mission editor in the Mission Control. The player would go into the Admin Building first and pick a program (based around a planetary body). Once that's done a new tab would show in the MC in which the player would design their own mission by picking the body first, then the biome (high/low orbit, midlands, lowlands, etc.). After the places are chosen the player would have the ability to pick what kind of actions (land, take a sample, perform the X experiment, bring a tourist, build a station, build a base, etc.)  he/she wants to perform there with each action having its own reward.

THE TECH TREE

This only shows you the history of your tech research. Not exactly a tree anymore.

EDIT NOTE: Ideally, the tech tree would look like the one in War Thunder. Each branch/path would be themed (electric with electric, jets with jets, wings with wings, etc.) and have it's own start. I believe such tree would offer more flexibility to what kind of playstyle a player prefers (if he wants to go full atmospheric/SSTO branch then he should be allowed to do so and still progress by investing money in the tech he/she needs).

THE R&D

This building is used to unlock and build you parts. The tech tree is no longer a single tree and more of loosely connected groups that don't influence each other. There's also a semi-realistic progression of parts. You need certain science data to start the research. EXAMPLE: To unlock the Vector engine you need to go through a bunch of steps first:

Terrier -> Reliant -> Swivel -> Vector

Same for parts' sizes:

Tiny -> Small -> Large -> Extra large

EDIT NOTE: Something like this, where each branch has its own start to it and an independent progression based on the type of parts the branch has.

THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING (the STRATEGIES are now called PROGRAMS and directly influence the MISSIONS you get to do and cost nothing to pick)

Would be used to influence the annual income. The programs influence the missions you get to do and are directly tied to the final goal of the program you chose. The missions would have more or less realistic progression and every completed mission would unlock a new harder/more complicated one to do. Each program has it's final mission which is also the goal of that program and marks a major milestone in the history of space exploration (permanently rises your annual income, unlocks more programs, or sth like that). Each program has its own tab in the Mission Control, which when selected expands and offers a whole set of missions/objectives that can be selected (a few of them at once). EXAMPLE: You choose the 'Interplanetary manned vessel research program' which gives you extra annual funding, but also harder missions to complete, like hauling a bunch of crew members to a set destination, or building a research station around/on some other body than Kerbin.

EDIT NOTE: @tater has the right idea about how programs should work here.
EDIT NOTE: Here's a thread about strategies in case the results of the poll are any useful.

Another way to picture it ("The Career Loop"):

Spoiler

9hvSW37.png

OK, so here's the explanation:

1. - Using money you build and launch vessels capable of doing science experiments
2. - Science experiments show the HQ that you are not passive (useless); reputation increases
3. - Reputation proves you useful; annual funding increases

MONEY - You get more cash for accepting programs; spend it (and time) on tech (parts' research).
SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS - No longer rewarded with science points (now they get you rep); each experiment is weighted based on how hard it is to perform (the closer to the surface of a planet/moon it's performed the more rep it gets you).
REPUTATION - If you do experiments, then it means you are not sitting on your butt all day long; income increases.

Programs - this is what is offered in the Admin Building instead of strategies; programs influence the theme of your missions (if you've picked the Jool Exploration Program then you should expect missions to be based around Jool's SOI).
Missions - Those are what you get based on what kind of program you've picked (previously called 'contracts') .
Tech - The tech "tree". Now more of a loosely connected set of groups of parts which you can research without caring much about previous steps (takes money and time to research).
Failed missions and time - The reputation goes down with time; failed missions have much worse consequences and hit your reputation harder.

EDIT NOTE: Note that by creating such a loop it enables merging of Science and Career modes into one. You can do science only (like in Science Mode) or do science and missions (like in Career Mode) to close the loop and progress. It also enables the player to do missions only (Commercial Mode) and still progress since tech research is directly tied to money (granted based on reputation). It's also easier to balance, since missions have only one type of reward (reputation).

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So I hope I have covered most of the ideas and concepts I originally had in mind. As always: tell me what you think and what could be changed.

BTW the whole thread is worth reading as this post doesn't incorporate everything that's been discussed here, so go give the guys some rep too if you like their ideas. It's also worth noting that when I was creating this thread I was not aware of the Strategia mod and the way it incorporates the programs there. That's why both concepts differ a bit but also have some things in common. I guess that just proves how good they would be to have in stock.

EDIT NOTE: An alternative and somewhat simpler version of this can be found here.

Edited by Veeltch
Spelling, wording, coherency.

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Yeah, this is more akin to how things actually work in the world. A problem exists, and technology is developed to address that problem. In KSP, you address some problem to get "science" to build a solution. It is, as they say, bass ackwards. 

The only issue is that science and the tech tree is the only rewards system in the game. You do science to get points--that you get to spend.

A system like the one you propose might work best with a budget system. Kongress gives you X funds, and Y tech points in year 1. You have to buy the tech with tech points and funds, and then build whatever. Your earnings in rep and science then determine your budget next year.

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3 minutes ago, tater said:

Yeah, this is more akin to how things actually work in the world. A problem exists, and technology is developed to address that problem. In KSP, you address some problem to get "science" to build a solution. It is, as they say, bass ackwards. 

The only issue is that science and the tech tree is the only rewards system in the game. You do science to get points--that you get to spend.

A system like the one you propose might work best with a budget system. Kongress gives you X funds, and Y tech points in year 1. You have to buy the tech with tech points and funds, and then build whatever. Your earnings in rep and science then determine your budget next year.

Maybe that could be solved with the contracts, or rather missions and strategies. If you accept a kind of mission that suits you best, then you get the funding. After the completion of the mission you pick another one you want to complete. You get the money only by accepting the mission and not for completing it. How well you completed it is scored with the amount of rep (only!) you get for the completion.

The strategies could influence the way you want to spend the money. For example:

You activate the "Tech Demonstrator" strategy. That makes a bunch of "demonstrator" missions to show up. You pick one and are given funds to perform a test of, for example, ion engine in LKO. The money goes into the research of limited amount of ion engines. If you succeed you get rep, if you don't, the money is spent on research but you get nothing (unless you somehow saved some of that money) and you are left with a bunch of poorly put together ion engines.

The time to develop such tech would of course vary based upon how much funding you got, the level of your R&D and probably some other factors. And you would have a limited amount of time to develop those technologies. If you saved a bunch of money from the previous research program you would finish faster, thus getting way more rep than if you spent more time on it.

There would also be other strategies like "The shuttle program", "The sounding rockets", "The Munar program", "Space station research program" and probably a bunch of others. Each of them would have a set of missions bound directly to what is the goal of the strategy.

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I would LOVE to see something like this as a science/career-overhaul mod.

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BTW I'll update the OP tomorrow to make the idea clear and easy to read by listing all the discussed features and their simplified descriptions.

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I also support this.  I wanted to do a mod on a similar line years ago but it never got out of the drawing board.  I also kicked around the idea that science is gathered as pure research (as in, each planetary body has a certain threshold for levels of knowledge..  each milestone unlocks a secret of the planet).  

I think this idea could be integrated with a mod like KCT where you can actually "store" parts for use later.  I know magico (the author) was building a framework for adding mods on top of KCT but he/she got busy with school.

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So, there are a couple of conflicting issues here. I think its broadly agreed that career mode while promising still feels a bit clunky and incomplete, and I think people are right to try to imagine ways it could be improved. There are two parts to this: diagnosing where the issues are and coming up with ways to address those issues. Coming up with ideas that seem more realistic can be a good start, but at the end of the day any solution is going to be an abstraction and what ultimately matters is whether the mechanics are actually fun use. 

The conflict I see in replacing science points with a series of specifically proscribed missions is twofold. At the moment one of the most common complaints I see are people who don't like having to do numerous side-quests in order to progress, and making it so unlocking each part requires doing a side quest seems to massively exacerbate this problem. It sounds fine if you're thinking about going supersonic to unlock an engine, but there are 227 of parts now. Do we have to run dozens of tedious missions to unlock decouplers and octagonal struts and adapters and fuel tanks? And like okay you could lump a bunch of things to cut that down from 227 side-quest missions, but its still basically asking players to spend a huge amount of time doing somewhat repetitive tasks that they may or may not want to do. You could cut it down even further to just be like 12 science related side quests but then you run into problem 2: the tech tree is currently the default reward system of the game once it completes people feel like they've "beaten the game", and the more you cut down on part-tests the worse this problem becomes. Having science points might seem arbitrary, but it does have the advantage of being non-proscriptive; allowing players to go to the mun or send a probe to Eve or fly a plane around kerbin or play as they wish and still be rewarded and progress through the game.

Another issue I see is how to make time based budgets work in a game with time-warp. Sure, you can make money increase over time as rep decreases over time, but you still have to deal with game balance. The trouble is getting a monthly budget might be fine early in the game sending things to the Mun and Minmus, but what happens when a player wants to send a probe to Jool? How do you make sure that time warping that mission doesn't give you crazy amounts of money and erase all your rep? Maybe you say okay I'll launch the Jool probe and then do some smaller Kerbin SOI missions to keep things even in the mean time, but a round trip minmus mission takes a couple weeks and a way trip to Jool takes almost 3 years. Thats a lot of repetitive filler missions. What you end up with is either wild swings in funds and rep or lots and lots of repetitive missions to keep things stable. Personally, I tend to think receiving lump sum advances and rewards is much easier to understand and balance. 

Thats not to say there aren't ways career mode couldn't be improved, its just that I don't think these two solutions actually make the situation better. 

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@Pthigrivi

1st issue: not all of the parts would need specific experiments to be unlocked. Only the most complicated ones. I'm thinking mainly about propulsion systems (mainly engines). The decouplers and structural parts are way simpler than that. Only money would be needed to research those (and maybe time + previous technological advancments). Also wings don't need any special research. It all comes down to building a new light weight material that can withstand heat without snapping in half.

About the science points: the system of points is actually more limiting IMO. It all comes down to visiting a few biomes on the Mun and Minmus to unlock the whole tree. System based on specific experiments that influence the part research would actually give the players a nudge to explore more than only the dark side of the Mun.

And btw, you have to run tedious missions in stock, which don't even unlock you any parts when completed.

2nd issue: I'm not really sure what you mean by crazy swings in rep and money, but think about it this way: you choose a strategy (Explore Jool system) and get the money to build a probe, a rocket and send it there. You have X years to complete that exploration program. If you run out of time and don't have any ongoing mission on a stable orbit of Jool your reputation goes down. If you succeed the rep goes up. Kind of like the contracts work right now, except you don't get any money after completing it.

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Also @Pthigrivi, could you provide some ideas on how to improve the career mode? I don't mean to be mean, but every time I see you commenting on something it's just complaining and I feel like the whole point of those threads and discussion is to point out the weak arguments and exchange the ideas. So maybe you could share some of yours since I've asked for it in the OP?

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Yeah don't worry Im not discounting this idea, just trying to understand how it would work in practice and how it would improve upon the status quo. Its not impossible, just tricky to make it fun. Being able to complete the tech tree after a few Mun visits isn't playstyle restriction, just a balance issue. On the other side even limiting it to the engines means locking players into 32 specific missions they have to run to complete the game instead of just being able to fly planes or go to the Mun or do whatever they'd rather do. Another question is if science points are gone do you need to put experiments on probes anymore? Like sure maybe some missions might require a specific experiment on a specific planet to unlock a part, but proscribing specific experiments this way could really lock players into being required to do the same thing every time. Like if you make it so unlocking the aerospike requires doing an atmospheric test on Eve then you have to run that specific mission to get the aerospike, and if you don't have a part thats unlocked by doing that test then there's no in-game reason to run this mission. The advantage of generic points is you really have a huge amount of freedom to do the kinds of missions you want to do and still be rewarded for it because any type of mission that gathers science points helps you advance in the game. I feel like what you really want is for experiments to provide players with something specific and useful and to feel like doing science, which I agree with. To me, instead of locking a specific experiment to a specific tech tree node, it might be better to give each experiment a reward to the player outside of the tech tree entirely. For instance including a thermometer might allow you to see heat bars in flight, or a gravoli detector might double as a biome scanner. This way not only is the experiment providing the player with valuable in-game information, but they also remain relevant even after the tech tree is complete. 

Time-based budgets have been thrown out a several times and again, while I don't think its impossible to make it work time warp does complicate things. Part of it is just the mechanics of the game, throwing together a bunch of parts and hitting launch is just fundamentally different than running a government agency with thousands of employees and vendors and salaries to deal with. Within the construct of the game you really need the money up front so you know what your budget is for any given mission, otherwise you're just time-warping until you have enough money to build whatever you want to build. If the rep hit is tied to just having a probe en-route vs actually completing the mission then why even finish the mission? Why do anything but put a tiny probe core on an intercept if all sense of risk and reward ends there? Sure, you can select "Jool exploration" as a mission strategy, but what if you want to have lots of concurrent missions? Is each mission type tied to its own revenue stream or does it all go into one monthly allotment? Like can you select an Eeloo mission and then spend that money on a Duna mission? Can you spend Eeloo money on R+D? My concern generally is that it makes the risks and rewards of accepting and completing missions really difficult to understand and manage and that maybe leaving time out of it and keeping contracts as lump-sum advances, rewards, and penalties is actually easier to understand and harder to exploit than multi-layered strategic time-warping.

I was negative about procedural planets but I think I've been quite supportive of most other ideas. Part of this whole thing is making a game that's structured enough to provide clear goals and rewards and flexible enough to let players conduct the type of program they like. I like to build efficient ssto's and get a minmus mining base set up and then expand deeper into the system with lots of concurrent missions. Other people like to make big mothership one-off missions and Jool-5's, or mess around with planes, or wing it with balzy caveman missions, or send probes everywhere and then mount careful crewed missions. Even within career its tough to accommodate all these kinds of playstyles. Most of the complaints I see now are that the current contracts are too random and require a player to do a bunch of things that they aren't especially interested in to keep things going. Conducing science basically means clicking a bunch of parts and feels at once grindy and too easy. There's no end game or sense of completion so people feel as though finishing the tech tree means finishing the game. My central interest is in addressing these issues specifically, keeping what works and making changes that are as incisive as possible to make things better.

First: the core fun of KSP is in building rockets and planes and flying them. Everybody who plays this game and has gotten years of enjoyment like those things, and everything should focus on that. At the moment there are parts to build rovers but there's no real reason within the game to actually drive them, that can be fixed as well. Contracts are okay, the basics of getting money and rep for going out and doing things makes sense, but making them random doesnt make them less proscriptive and a lot of players are chaffing. I think the solution to this actually pretty simple: make the World Firsts the main quest of the game. It really doesn't change much mechanically, its actually just a UI change, but when you open up Mission Control these should be up-front and visible and ready to accepted at any time. Missions should be categorized by planet, with Flyby, Reach Orbit, and Land featured up top, and various generative contracts listed below as optional side-missions. What would be locked out would be the advances for these missions. This means you could see that you could go to Duna at any time and be rewarded for it, but if you wanted the advance you would need to build up rep first. This way players could do what the like to do and understand that completing the game doesn't mean unlocking the tech tree, thats only a means to an end, but landing on each planet and moon in the game is the goal.

Next is science. I've posted this before but I think the issue with science isn't the tech tree or science points in principle, its with the in-flight experience of conducing experiments. I think each experiment should require the player to do something special that feeds into the experience of flying and receive valuable information for doing so. I posted my thoughts on this here if you're interested. I also think each biome should have a slightly different multiplier so that players have to think carefully about where they should land, and that the easter-eggs system should be expanded to real surface features that could be mapped and explored on the surface. This way the experience of going out into the solar system and finding new and unexpected things carries straight through from the VAB to tooling around on the surface with rovers. 

Edited by Pthigrivi

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@Pthigrivi

1st paragraph: The experiments would help you to research the parts faster. If you don't do science then you have to spend more money and time on the research.

2nd paragraph: The rep is what influences your income. You can't just time warp without a rep hit if you did nothing. If you activate the Jool Exploration Program and send a probe to Duna instead of Jool, then you get a rep hit. BUT if you do both, without taking the budget to explore Duna, then the HQ would be impressed with how you managed to do that without begging for extra money.

So basically you say: "Alright HQ, we want to go to Jool and do a fly-by of Duna with the same spacecraft", and they are like "Damn, you're ambitious! If you manage to do that and squeeze some extra science from that fly-by then you can expect some extra cash next year!"

3rd paragraph: That's why I propose those 'programs' instead of 'strategies' to be implemented. You want to go Eve soon? Just take that exploration program and we'll give you cash to do that! Want to work on some new types of propulsion for SSTOs? Well, grab that money and get into the spaceplane hangar! Want to do everything at once? Go ahead and spamclick the heck out of the Admin Building, but be aware of risks of uncompleted tasks and goals you set yourself!

4th paragraph: That's exactly what I mean by implementing the 'Programs'. You choose one and it gives you a bunch of program-related tasks to complete, which if done right rise your rep.

5th paragraph: The science points should go IMO. NASA didn't send a bunch of rovers to the surface of Mars just to build the linear aerospike. It may somehow give freedom of what you want to do next, but is dumb and meaningless by the time you performed the experiments.

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6 hours ago, Veeltch said:

 

1st paragraph: The experiments would help you to research the parts faster. If you don't do science then you have to spend more money and time on the research.

So in this version conducting science isn't even mandatory? Im just having trouble understanding how this would work. What you seem to be saying is to complete the tech tree you need a lot of money, or to do a few dozen proscribed experiments. Right now there are thousands of potential experiments and you have total freedom to conduct whatever experiments you like. You can go to the Mun and take temperature and gravoli readings or take atmospheric readings around kerbin and it will still help you progress. In your version how how many places do you envision taking surface samples? Half a dozen? Is there a reason to even send crewed missions to the remaining planets? Is there a reason to put anything but the bare specified minimum on any given probe? In either case you're either paying not to do science at all or you have to do a series of specific missions with very little freedom to do what you like, and there's no point in doing science beyond those specified missions. Eliminating this entire realm of the game seems pretty drastic, and Im not sure I see the payoff. 
 

6 hours ago, Veeltch said:

2nd paragraph: The rep is what influences your income. You can't just time warp without a rep hit if you did nothing. If you activate the Jool Exploration Program and send a probe to Duna instead of Jool, then you get a rep hit. BUT if you do both, without taking the budget to explore Duna, then the HQ would be impressed with how you managed to do that without begging for extra money.

This is even more confusing to me. So income is a direct reflection of reputation? Why do you even want to select a mission then? Say you start out with some amount of money per month. You time warp until you have enough to build a rocket to get to orbit. Your rep goes up and you time warp until you you have enough to go to the Mun. Your rep goes up more and you go to Duna or whatever. You can do whatever you want, and at no point yet have you accepted a contract that includes a rep penalty. In this way money and budgets don't matter at all because there's nothing forcing you to accept the risk of penalty. 

If that's not the case, if you have to accept contracts to get money then income isn't a reflection of rep, its a reflection of what contracts you accept. What's weird about this is money in KSP isn't spent over time, you make something in the VAB and hit launch and money is deducted all at once. So why does it make sense that a player would have to wait for money to trickle in rather than just getting it up front? Like say you accept a contract to go to the Mun. Its going to slowly doll out some small amount of money that over time equals what it should cost to do a Mun mission. That means you accept the contract and then time-warp and wait until you have enough money to actually do the mission. Just from a pure game-play standpoint is this necessary? Why is this better than what we already have? Think about if someone is in the mid-game and wants to send probes to Minmus, Eve, Dres, and Jool. Presumably the income they're receiving for accepting these missions is dolled out over the time those missions should take, say a few weeks for Minmus, longer for Eve, longer still for Dres and Jool. This means you have to do the Minmus mission first, then Eve, then Dres, then Jool, because thats the order in which the rep penalties are incurred and you necessarily have to time warp between each to accumulate enough money to start each mission. You cant chose which order to do these missions without incurring penalties. How does this work with transfer windows? Like if you have to sit and wait for the money to trickle in and you miss your transfer window are you just screwed? What about just plain time-warping through a mission itself? If all it takes to complete a Jool contract is to have a probe en-route then there's no reason to complete the mission, and if I have to complete the mission avoid the rep hit then I have to worry about how long Im time-warping while its en-route. 

I hope you see what I mean, what seems like a sensible real-life solution actually injects a monstrously complicated and problematic mechanic to the game. Sure, maybe some people could manage it, but having to strategically pre-plan when you accept contracts and carefully time warp to build up money while mentally keeping track of half a dozen transfer windows and penalty dates and en-route craft just to keep your program running seems like a huge distraction from just making rockets and flying them, which is the real reason people play KSP. 

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I'm feeling trolled. @Pthigrivi, do you like the current career mode? Because it sounds like you (and the other people you mentioned) play the game just to "build and fly", which is fine, but can't you do that in sandbox? Why even have the career mode if you want to do only that. Sandbox's got all you need, so why even bother replying to this thread?

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Sorry man, I don't mean to be so negative Im just having trouble understanding how these particular aspects of your solution would work in practice. I quite like the idea of giving players a clearer idea that they can select the main mission they want and then go do it, and the idea of making science experiments feel more relevant. Im just not not sold on eliminating science points entirely or dolling out funds over time rather than up front as a lump sum. They're common suggestions, and again Im not saying its impossible it just means a huge amount of thought and work to make them balanced and seamless. Im pretty so-so on the current implementation, and think there's a lot of room for improvement. To me though the best possible suggestions from our end are ones that don't require a total re-write of the game, essentially starting from scratch from a balance standpoint, but that specifically target the deficiencies that exist and fix them.

And you're right, any form of career mode is going to add tasks besides just building and flying rockets. I think the things that people want and expect are to start with a limited number of parts and slowly unlock them, and to have to worry about what different rockets cost. The real challenge that the devs have embarked on is how to make these rules of the road work and to apply constraints and challenge players to do things they might not have otherwise thought of while still giving them the freedom to set their own agenda. To my mind science does allow players to set their own agenda, in that no matter where they go they can collect generic points and spend them on the tech tree. In many ways what's missing here are some fun constraints. The only thing you need to do to make an experiment work is to click on it, and you have to do that repetitive task a lot. The challenge is to allow people to collect science from anywhere, but to create game mechanics in which doing so intelligently gives greater rewards than just winging it. You should be able to chose where you want to go, but still have to think carefully about how to execute that mission to get the best results.

I think you're right that contracts as they stand now suffer from the opposite problem. Arsonide has put a lot of very clever work into constructing a huge range of randomized missions, but still when you look at the pool you don't get that open-world sense that "Hey, I can go anywhere!". Of course because of World Firsts you certainly can, in fact you can pretty easily run a functioning program purely by exploiting them, but when you go into Mission Control you aren't given a clear sense that this is so. So to me this is largely a presentation problem, not flaw in the basic underlying mechanics. This is why I like your idea of being able at any time to select the specific mission you want to go on, to tell the game "Hey I want to send a probe to Eve!" or "I want to go see an asteroid!" Its how to carefully apply constraints to that, slowly building reputation and funds to make those missions logistically possible thats the real game-design challenge.

 

Edited by Pthigrivi

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Yes, I agree that the whole rewrite should be avoided even though the career mode right now is not something I enjoy. That's why I try to incorporate the already existing mechanics of the game into my idea.

I also agree that science experiments aren't that good either. Simple right clicking them is not that fun. After a while of spam clicking the experiments I don't even read the science messages that appear on the screen. It saddens me and makes me kind of guilty that there was so much work put into writing them and I don't even read them.

 

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On 11/04/2016 at 1:26 AM, Jarin said:

I would LOVE to see something like this as a science/career-overhaul mod.

Agreed, it would be a lot less grindy in career and in particular in science mode when compared to the "earn money/science to complete contract to buy stuff you need to complete said contract" dynamic that is on career.

I can see unlocking special parts through completion of contracts work very well, especially if there are parts that can never be researched. That would prevent players from researching the entire tree through science-mining and make for more varied gameplay.

It would also give more sense to part testing contracts. Complete all of the contracts to test an experimental part under a certain set of conditions (fx. at the launch pad, in flight, in space, splashed down), and you earn the part. Especially in end-game, that would be more challenging than the "build a station on Duna that can house a million Kerbals and has an antenna" contracts that show up in the contract window right now.

I enjoy science career the most, but only with a few mods that allow me to do a lot of different experiments (DMagic Orbital Science, SCANsat, Station Science) so I won't get bored of sciencing. A more "progressive" science career with experiment dependencies and "contracts" to unlock tech nodes and parts would be a great addition.

Edited by Stoney3K

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That sounds... very complicated. There's lots of parts in KSP. How will you know what steps to do to unlock each one? I think it'd slow the game's progression to a crawl, having to do multiple missions to unlock every single part. Then, having to order each part from R&D would ruin building rockets for me. I like to tinker in the VAB, see what works and what doesn't, what looks pretty and doesn't. Having a limited number of parts would require planning in detail crafts before I build them, and that sound very un-fun to me :/

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I'd say just have a single testing mission for each part in a node. Once done, that node unlocks. There may still be the option to unlock nodes with science points - just have to rebalance the costs.

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35 minutes ago, Choctofliatrio2.0 said:

That sounds... very complicated. There's lots of parts in KSP. How will you know what steps to do to unlock each one? I think it'd slow the game's progression to a crawl, having to do multiple missions to unlock every single part. Then, having to order each part from R&D would ruin building rockets for me. I like to tinker in the VAB, see what works and what doesn't, what looks pretty and doesn't. Having a limited number of parts would require planning in detail crafts before I build them, and that sound very un-fun to me :/

Not every part should be unlocked through the experiments. Only the ones that checking the conditions is required to progress. The set of experiments rquired to unlock could be simply displayed when hovering over the part.

I see your point about the limitations of such mechanic. Maybe a good solution to this would be unlimited amount of parts in the VAB/SPH. The same way the blueprints work. You first draw the plans and decide whether you have enough parts to build it or need to manufacture some more of a particular type.

There are different playstyles, of course and we shouldn't judge anyone who playes by his own rules, but to me working with limited resources (the number of available parts) is part of the fun. I hoped such part manufacturing mechanic would be implemented in the game, but it wasn't.

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16 minutes ago, Veeltch said:

Not every part should be unlocked through the experiments. Only the ones that checking the conditions is required to progress. The set of experiments rquired to unlock could be simply displayed when hovering over the part.

I see your point about the limitations of such mechanic. Maybe a good solution to this would be unlimited amount of parts in the VAB/SPH. The same way the blueprints work. You first draw the plans and decide whether you have enough parts to build it or need to manufacture some more of a particular type.

There are different playstyles, of course and we shouldn't judge anyone who playes by his own rules, but to me working with limited resources (the number of available parts) is part of the fun. I hoped such part manufacturing mechanic would be implemented in the game, but it wasn't.

That makes more sense. I can see the appeal in a system like that, but i don't think it'd be for me.

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17 minutes ago, Choctofliatrio2.0 said:

That makes more sense. I can see the appeal in a system like that, but i don't think it'd be for me.

I wouldn't want a requirement where every single part in the tree needs to be unlocked through some kind of mission either.

But it could be a very useful gameplay tool to "skip" certain parts in the tech tree for very rewarding parts (e.g. unlocking probe cores and solar panels early) or playing the missions as a means to get rewards in the form of parts that are not unlockable through science points.

For the regular tech tree, players would have a choice: Grind for science, or play the (increasingly difficult) missions to unlock a series of parts. I like the railroading aspect of a career mode like playing a real 'space program' that is working towards an end goal.

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I think its honest to have some drawbacks when playing in Sandbox mode. They took the pain to offer Sandbox, Science, and Career modes. The way I see it Sandbox exists to give total freedom about experimenting new designs, having fun flying something in particular, but also polishing your skills in various situations.

Really, if you play the easiest mode of the Career mode, you'll still make fast progress and will experience few limits. :) And you still have the Science mode if you don't want to be bothered with money at all.

So yeah, while I hope that those modes will be polished in the future, I think that devs found a decent compromise, and that wasn't easy, as players all have different expectations : a lot of freedom, with a few hard rules.

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Oh, and something I just remembered: I always wanted to have a human history-like progression. The mechanic of the research mentioned in the OP would make something like this possible.

Think about this: The first liquid rocket was launched in 1926 and the first turbojet-powered aircraft flew in 1939. You start with the Spark engine and the Juno engine. You first build a bunch of tiny-sized rockets and later go for the V2 rockets. Just after a few rocket flights and a better rocket engine (something that could power a plane) Juno becomes available.

Would you guys like it? I think with the addition of some sort of story-telling it might be really cool and would tell a human-like history of rocketry and aerospace research programs. IMO it would be highly educational. You may argue that the science points and the tech tree give more freedom than this, but let's be honest: they don't. They are intended to do so, but don't. The way I propose it you could skip some parts you don't need and have a higher variety of parts to be researched after each step, if done right.

And here's a true story: if it wasn't for KSP I wouldn't get interested in so many things I'm into now, like the history of rocketry and jet propulsion (and overall space exploration). It would be a real shame if this game didn't exploit it's full educational potential.

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