Wjolcz

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

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I don't think taking human history as a tech template is going to work for Kerbals. Remember that the liquid rocket you talked about was ultimately developed to destroy a city, not to launch people into space. Rockets that reached orbit were essentially nothing more than warhead-shaped "capsules" that could hold a person and could be strapped to an ICBM. I don't think weapons of mass destruction should be a leading "story" element in the gameplay of KSP.

Also, the first jet aircraft wasn't researched after the first rocket reached orbit.

I fully support a historical backstory that tells the history of the Kerbals and their quest to reach space, but it should be kept in a fictional and peaceful Kerbal context.

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13 minutes ago, Stoney3K said:

I don't think taking human history as a tech template is going to work for Kerbals. Remember that the liquid rocket you talked about was ultimately developed to destroy a city, not to launch people into space. Rockets that reached orbit were essentially nothing more than warhead-shaped "capsules" that could hold a person and could be strapped to an ICBM. I don't think weapons of mass destruction should be a leading "story" element in the gameplay of KSP.

Also, the first jet aircraft wasn't researched after the first rocket reached orbit.

I fully support a historical backstory that tells the history of the Kerbals and their quest to reach space, but it should be kept in a fictional and peaceful Kerbal context.

I am aware that V2s were weapons of pure military usage, but after the war they were used for science. What I had in mind was the after-the-war approach of spaceflight research. And let's be honest: military research influences most of the technologies used today. Not saying that bombing the cities should be included into the game, but the fact is if it wasn't for that military money the US wouldn't go to the Moon about twenty years later.

Also nobody said that you should reach the orbit first and then get the jet engines. What I had in mind was a situation when you perform a few test flights with tiny and not very powerful rockets and shortly after that get to fly jets (with Juno being the only option for the early jet propulsion, of course).

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Except for the fact that jets in will also get you nowhere except Kerbin, so from a science standpoint, jets and aircraft are totally pointless unless you can get them to space. The science payoff on Kerbin is just too little to warrant jet propulsion -- if I want to do a science mission on the poles, a sub-orbital command pod with chutes is a lot faster than flying a jet straight and level for 30 minutes flat.

So I suspect part of the reason the Juno and other jets are so late in the game is because they hardly have a purpose.

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9 hours ago, Stoney3K said:

Except for the fact that jets in will also get you nowhere except Kerbin, so from a science standpoint, jets and aircraft are totally pointless unless you can get them to space. The science payoff on Kerbin is just too little to warrant jet propulsion -- if I want to do a science mission on the poles, a sub-orbital command pod with chutes is a lot faster than flying a jet straight and level for 30 minutes flat.

So I suspect part of the reason the Juno and other jets are so late in the game is because they hardly have a purpose.

True. Not sure if I was clear enough, but I didn't exclude the possibility of researching rocket and jet engines at the same time. You could go the jet way, the rocket way or both at the same time. It's up to you what you want to do next since there's no tech tree. The atmospheric flight branch and the rocket branch could be completely independent, which is not something you get with the stock tech tree. There should be stages of the research and major breakthroughts, but shouldn't be as limiting as the tree we have now: you go for the parts themselves not the whole nodes you don't need.

EDIT: what I meant was that Juno becomes available for the research shortly after a few tiny rockets' flights. You don't have to research it. It's there ready to be buult, but you still can advance through the career using only rockets.

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OKAY! So here's something I've came up with recently (and yes, it's already in a completely different thread) about the Admin Building. Program mixing:

Quote

In my perfect world the Admin Building is the place where you pick programs you want to get involved in (Space Station Research, The Mun Landing Program, Duna Rover Exploration Program +a lot more things like that). Once you picked one or two, or more you go to the Mission Control and pick the missions, which are influenced by the programs you chose.

So if you picked the 'Space Station Research' and 'Duna Exploration' programs you suddenly find a bunch of missions which will prepare you to the ultimate goal of the mix of said programs, which is the Duna Space Station (you mix them and get different things to do based on what you've picked). You first get to do small things like probing Duna and building a small research station in Kerbin's orbit, then it moves onto the harder ones and once the system decides that you are ready it gives you a mission to build the Duna Space Station! BAM! A sense of progression!

I guess it could be thought of in a similar way the potions in Minecraft work, except without any side effects. You mix the two, you get something else.

Don't mind me. Just adding here whatever I consider good enough for the career improvement.

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Hey @Veeltch lets continue the time discussion here. I just don't want to totally blow up Brainlord's spot too much with a dependent issue. I'd actually love for time to work, its just tricky.
 

On 5/7/2016 at 8:07 PM, Veeltch said:

Maybe the vessels/probes could have some sort of flag. It seems like they already do, so maybe a vessel launched would have an objective to have a SOI change in it's trajectory.

Yeah what we're trying to prevent is players time-warping to infinite money without cost. So long as they've got a mission in-progress the cost can be deferred. The trick is that right now vessels aren't tied to missions at the time they're launched. The contract just sets up a set of conditions and if any vessel satisfies those conditions the contract is completed. You could of course set things up so vessels are labeled as part of a mission before launch, but Im worried this could get really complicated when docking is involved. There is however already a system set up for satellite delivery, so it seems to me if you could get any vessel to satisfy a condition like 'on Jool intercept course' this could satisfy one of your steps. If later that mission failed to satisfy other conditions like 'landed on laythe' the reputation cost could be incurred then. 

It still leaves the question of transfer windows though. They wouldn't have vessel on an intercept course so they'd still be vulnerable to the reputation hit, and it wouldn't really be fair to penalize players for time-warping to the next window.

Edited by Pthigrivi

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Time warping is not a problem.

In fact, we WANT time warping, that's the point, in fact.

A system with budgets would have the budget level predicated on Rep, probably. Congress gives you funds for a year based on how you've done with what they gave you last year. If you warp a year, and do nothing... your Rep plummets, and the new budget suffers a great deal. You get budgets for projects, and the projects would have reasonable time limits (or indeed, the player can slide the time limit around in return for more Rep reward, etc, upon completion). Reasonable in this case means weeks, maybe months for many goals. They would be calibrated to the new system under the assumption people will warp. Perhaps "reverts" could be limited to X per budget year (they are simulations). 

This would allow warping as much as you like, but it has a cost, loss of Rep.

Regarding the R&D, adding time as a currency would encourage warping (min funds and science, max time, so you warp). This is GOOD. It means that say you have an orbital program (Mercury/Gemini/Soyuz-like) going, AND a Mun program to land and return within 3 years (dunno where time limits should be set, so don't get hung up on the number). You need certain parts you don't have for your planned Mun mission that you lack. So you set the tech tree to research the important part node you want using minimal science and funds, and it will take a year, and you'll need at least 1 more node unlocked after that. You work away on your orbital stuff, run out of budget for the year, and warp ahead a couple months to the new year. You get some funds, do some more science, complete more orbital program stuff (docking, etc). You decide to make a Munar flyby, warp a few more months to secure the funds (dolled out monthly), then do that mission (completing part of the Munar program, adding some Rep. You might at this point just warp to R&D completion. Now you do the next tree node, but you spend some extra funds and some science, so instead of a year, it's 6 months. You do a few contracts, just because, and get some extra funds. You buy some cheap nodes you had not unlocked yet outright with science and funds. You warp to completion of the required node. You now have under 3 months to complete your Munar Program on time, and now you have the parts to build the craft you want to build.

3 years have passed, and much of it was hitting a warp button. So what? In stock KSP, all that would have happened in 3 DAYS.

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31 minutes ago, tater said:

Time warping is not a problem.

In fact, we WANT time warping, that's the point, in fact.

A system with budgets would have the budget level predicated on Rep, probably.

A year or so ago, in the BTSM thread, we came up with the idea of having a per launch budget, based on your reputation. You'd get a set amount of funds that you could spend on a single launch. It never went anywhere, but I still think it'd be a good way to address some career mode weaknesses. I really like the long-term objective based gameplay suggested by this thread. I hate biome trolling, and would really love to be able to unlock tech and parts by completing missions, rather than by shuffling science reports around and doing random EVAs.

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Yeah, I fear the current career paradigm will not grossly change, so some of the ideas in this thread are possible, because they work with what we have.

New tech tree shape: there are mods that already do this. And overhaul gets something like CTT/ETT.

New tech tree currencies: maybe add time as a currency (it takes a certain minimum time, but that time can increase and save science/funds, or decrease to min, and increase science/funds expense. Parts testing can also be used to modify the time/funds/science required, and ideally with some chance of failure as this is a voluntary decision by the player (engines have a small % chance to fail (function at some level between 0 and 90%, say) at each control input (throttle on/off), tanks have a small chance of developing a leak every XX hours, RCS can work or not work by unit, batteries can leak charge, experiments produce lower (or no) science, etc).

If you add in LS (something like USILS for stock, as it has no default death penalty), then time really matters with no other changes.

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45 minutes ago, tater said:

Time warping is not a problem.

In fact, we WANT time warping, that's the point, in fact.

A system with budgets would have the budget level predicated on Rep, probably. Congress gives you funds for a year based on how you've done with what they gave you last year. If you warp a year, and do nothing... your Rep plummets, and the new budget suffers a great deal. You get budgets for projects, and the projects would have reasonable time limits (or indeed, the player can slide the time limit around in return for more Rep reward, etc, upon completion).

The devil is in the details here. The trouble is you can't say you want people to time warp and then punish them for doing so. Rep loss can't happen linearly with time for reasons mentioned here. What happens in practice is players are forced to run huge numbers of short-duration missions, hundreds even, just to keep the lights on while long-duration missions are in transit. This is why we started talking about rep-loss deferrals based on having in-progress flights, so players can time warp when they need to without killing their program. This works for time-warping in transit, but players will still be punished for time-warping to the next transfer window. 

Its sort of the trick here, and the reason I think Squad hasn't tackled this earlier. What seems simple and perfectly realistic can have big unexpected consequences in practice. Solving these issues isn't trivial, and can lead to solutions even more complicated and baroque than what we already have. I tend to think people play KSP because they like flying rockets, not because they like messing about doing paperwork at KSC, so in general the most straight-forward, simple solutions are almost always best whether they are strictly realistic or not. 

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1 hour ago, Pthigrivi said:

The devil is in the details here. The trouble is you can't say you want people to time warp and then punish them for doing so. Rep loss can't happen linearly with time for reasons mentioned here. What happens in practice is players are forced to run huge numbers of short-duration missions, hundreds even, just to keep the lights on while long-duration missions are in transit. This is why we started talking about rep-loss deferrals based on having in-progress flights, so players can time warp when they need to without killing their program. This works for time-warping in transit, but players will still be punished for time-warping to the next transfer window. 

Yeah, actually you can. They only get punished if they warp excessively. They need to do something per year with their budget. So if they chose to no nothing, and warp month by month till next tear, next year they get less funding. Boo hoo. Right now it is nearly impossible to lose KSP career, ever, as far as I can tell, even not reverting. It's possible in "grind" ("HARD") mode, but it's just a grind, it's not difficult.

Your statement about running hundreds of garbage contracts does't apply, since those don't even exist any more in this scheme. All the bad contracts go away to start (which is most of them, sadly). 

"Program" spending is annual, and is a budget from Kongress---but as I said, it is doled out monthly. Out of cash? Warp to next month. This budget is pretty much for all science missions and is based on rep, what programs you want, etc. No more 3d parties asking you for science from orbit around the Mun. Linus and Werner ask for funds to do science. Commercial contracts are commercial, and are an external income stream. Tourism has to self-fund as well. Warping to Jool mission completion, ignoring everything else you have going on? That's not a thing, play sandbox for that. Besides, you don't need to, as routine play will actually move time forward, unlike now, where it ONLY moves forward due to players warping mission transit.

Warp to next transfer window? If the next transfer window is in a year, guess what, you don't warp to it, you do a few other things, and since time actually moves forward in smaller wars, you don't need to do this. Building a rocket could take a few weeks, for example.

 

Quote

Its sort of the trick here, and the reason I think Squad hasn't tackled this earlier. What seems simple and perfectly realistic can have big unexpected consequences in practice. Solving these issues isn't trivial, and can lead to solutions even more complicated and baroque than what we already have. I tend to think people play KSP because they like flying rockets, not because they like messing about doing paperwork at KSC, so in general the most straight-forward, simple solutions are almost always best whether they are strictly realistic or not. 

Stop with the straw man, no one has ever suggested "messing with paperwork" in relation to career mode. Ever. Career is supposed to have management aspects, and the ability to fail as a program. In replay it is simply not possible to fail. There are not even alternate strategies to bother taking.

Squad hasn't tackled this because they have no decent conception of what career should be, and they tacked on the current system, then just ran with it as it was easier to "finish" this one than make one that is actually good. The current career is random side quests. That's it. The "strategies," are not strategies. The Mission Control does;t control missions, it's a contract office. The rescues and milestones imply a space race... that doesn't exist. It's a cobbled together mess.

I agree that getting the balance right on a new career system is non-trivial, but it would be time well spent.

Things required to make career decent, plus have a chance of failure in any normal play mode, IMO:

1. Time needs to progress for normal operations. This means that warping has to become standard at some level due to budgets doled out over X week timeframes, construction taking time (a whole bunch of KCT stuff could be used here), etc. Life support? Maybe (could be Hard mode, as LS actually makes a qualitative difference in play, not just grind).

2. Dump absurd contracts. Hauling ore is not a thing, making a base with ISRU is. Suborbital is no different than orbital for part testing, ever, but being in or out of an atmosphere is meaningful, or reentering might be a new one (heat above some value). Most contracts are goofy. They need to make sense in the career context, instead---designed to make sense in that context from both directions.

3. Revert and quicksave... QS is pretty necessary for crashes, but using them in the course of regular play is a problem for career mode. In Sandbox, try things back from orbit all you like, but in career, since there are no random failures, the player has to be allowed (forced) to deal with their mistakes. That;s kind of the point of career, else why not play sandbox/science? I'd have a revert quota per year, dunno if that is possible for loading or making saves. So the revert quota is for simulation (or it could go the KCT route). Then you actually end up testing stuff to save a revert for when you might really need it (you launched the Duna ship, but forgot to put an antenna on it). If building takes time, then just some testing moves the clock. We want testing, and failures to take time, so that you might end up with time pressure at some point if you've not done well.

4. Make Program/mission/contract (whatever we call them) time limits sensible.

5. Allow the players to set the agenda. There are finite bodies to visit, and finite ways to visit them---from orbit, in the atmosphere (if any), or on the surface), manned or unmanned. That's it. It would be easy to have a "build your program" section with pull downs. Allowable budget, timeframe, rep, min science gathered, all these can be interactive sliders... do the same mission for fewer funds, and watch the rep reward slider move up automatically, build a trivial mission, and the rep slider goes down, unless you can do it far cheaper than average.

 

There has to be a way, and the entire Squad career paradigm is broken now. I just started a 1.1.2 career (mostly normal settings, dead crew is dead, and I don't revert except from the pad for dumb stuff (forgot to change the crew, or forgot some part, etc), and I only use QS for crash recovery. I take contracts that make sense, and parts contracts have to be part of a launch on an actual rocket. I've unlocked the first few tiers of the tree, it's like day 61, and I have a million funds, and a few buildings upgraded. At this point, the game in terms of win/lose is long over. There is zero probability my funds and science don't just grow like crazy. Every career I start is like this, I'd have to fubar several launches in a row early on to have a chance of failure. In hard mode, it would be similar, except I'd have to take contracts I'd never take otherwise (which I hate).

 

Edited by tater

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1 hour ago, Pthigrivi said:

The devil is in the details here. The trouble is you can't say you want people to time warp and then punish them for doing so. Rep loss can't happen linearly with time for reasons mentioned here. What happens in practice is players are forced to run huge numbers of short-duration missions, hundreds even, just to keep the lights on while long-duration missions are in transit. This is why we started talking about rep-loss deferrals based on having in-progress flights, so players can time warp when they need to without killing their program. This works for time-warping in transit, but players will still be punished for time-warping to the next transfer window. 

Its sort of the trick here, and the reason I think Squad hasn't tackled this earlier. What seems simple and perfectly realistic can have big unexpected consequences in practice. Solving these issues isn't trivial, and can lead to solutions even more complicated and baroque than what we already have. I tend to think people play KSP because they like flying rockets, not because they like messing about doing paperwork at KSC, so in general the most straight-forward, simple solutions are almost always best whether they are strictly realistic or not. 

I'm thinking maybe the rep shouldn't be tied to missions only. Maybe it could also be directly influenced by vessels showing off brand new tech and the tech research itself (New tech = everyday life improvement).

Apart from that there are a lot of things to care about in a space program, so as long as there's something to do the time would fly. It's all down to setting the right amounts of reputation penalties and rewards.

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Life support (with kerbal death), a per-launch budget based on rep, and (major) reputation loss for kerbals dying would add in the time constraint organically. I like the idea of KCT, but don't like playing with it; simulation feels like a kludge, both in implementation and in concept. Time really only matters though, when kerbal lives are on the line, and distance and travel times provide their own constraints, so ignore time for construction and research. 

Biome trolling was the worst idea ever; they're not actually distinguishable visually, so you have to guess where they are or use a mod. It's just dumb. There are currently contract packs for visiting the anomalies and for visiting the highest points on each planet. Those are fantastic. Use that kind of thing for science results instead of biome hunting. Give me something of interest to go see and do.

Strategies are terrible in the stock game, as is apparent to anyone breathing. Strategia is a great first step, but it's not very balanced, and doesn't integrate very well with the stock contracts. (I currently have 3 separate contracts for putting a flag on the Mun in one of my games.) But the idea of using the Administration Building to choose among an array of possible long-term goals, with bonuses for achievements toward those goals, and progressively unlockable contracts along that path is awesome. This would enable some really cool end-game scenarios.

Ability unlocks: currently you can unlock abilities through facility upgrades and kerbalnaut experience. BTSM did a great job showing how that system works best integrated into the tech tree. In BTSM, you could unlock pressurized capsules and EVA suits. More of that please. It's nice to get a few new parts; better to get new abilities. 

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^^yeah, the simulation thing is hard... it doesn't help that KSP gives the player no information. With KER, then you can tell in the VAB what your craft can do, and there is less need to guess.

The revert/simulation thing was why I suggested just X reverts allowed. Maybe X is lower with diff level.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Yeah, actually you can. They only get punished if they warp excessively. They need to do something per year with their budget. So if they chose to no nothing, and warp till next tear, next year they get less funding. Boo hoo. Right now it is impossible to lose KSP career, ever, as far as I can tell. It's possible in "grind" ("HARD") mode, but it's just a grind, it's not difficult.

...

Warp to next transfer window? If the next transfer window is in a year, guess what, you don't warp to it, you do a few other things, and since time actually moves forward in smaller wars, you don't need to do this. Building a rocket could take a few weeks, for example.

I don't think you're getting it. Its not "a few other things", its dozens and dozens of other things. The game doesn't know the difference between "excessive" time warp and necessary time-warp to run a long mission. What you're suggesting is a system thats impossible to scale.

Say you want to go to the Mun. For money to matter the game should really only provide you with just enough money to complete the given mission. Lets just say the Mun mission should cost less than 50,000f. So the game gives you a deadline of 6 months and provides you with 10,000f a month. What this means is you have to time warp through 5 months of your deadline in order to have enough to launch the mission and for each of those months your reputation is declining. Fine, you say, once you complete the Mun mission you'll earn all that reputation back and more. But what happens when you want to run a Jool mission? Its going to slowly dole out the amount you'll eventually need to run the mission, then you need to warp to the next transfer window, then you have to warp 3 years while your mission transfers. If you don't run shorter missions in that time-frame you'll be sitting on a million gazillion dollars and all of your reputation will bleed away. You're thinking "whatever, just send a Duna mission in the mean time", but you still have to wait for the Duna transfer window and then 300 days in transit, so that mission must also be filled in with yet smaller missions in between to keep your rep alive. As pointed out in the thread I linked above this adds up to a lot of smaller missions. Striping away the option to do smaller missions doesn't help you in this circumstance, it just makes you #*$&ed. 

"Do something per year" is not a game mechanic. The game needs to provide players with very clear, scaled expectations and risks and rewards for success or failure. Money needs to be tight or it doesn't matter. You can't require players to time-warp and then penalize them for doing so and expect there to be no consequences. You can't offer up something this vague and just assume it will work and then get annoyed at Squad because they didn't think of it. They have thought about it, which is why the game doesn't work that way. 

I totally agree there is room for improvement, and including time-based mechanics could be really fun and immersive. Its hard to make it work though, and in the end might honestly be more complicated than its worth. Thats what we're discussing--how to solve these subtle, important details.

Edited by Pthigrivi

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1 hour ago, tater said:

<LOTS OF QUALITY TEXT>

I double-agree with this post and I'd double-like it, if it was possible.

14 minutes ago, Pthigrivi said:

I don't think you're getting it. Its not "a few other things", its dozens and dozens of other things. The game doesn't know the difference between "excessive" time warp and necessary time-warp to run a long mission. What you're suggesting is a system thats impossible to scale.

Say you want to go to the Mun. For money to matter the game should really only provide you with just enough money to complete the given mission. Lets just say the Mun mission should cost less than 50,000f. So the game gives you a deadline of 6 months and provides you with 10,000f a month. What this means is you have to time warp through 5 months of your deadline in order to have enough to launch the mission and for each of those months your reputation is declining. Fine, you say, once you complete the Mun mission you'll earn all that reputation back and more. But what happens when you want to run a Jool mission? Its going to slowly dole out the amount you'll eventually need to run the mission, then you need to warp to the next transfer window, then you have to warp 3 years while your mission transfers. If you don't run shorter missions in that time-frame you'll be sitting on a million gazillion dollars and all of your reputation will bleed away. You're thinking "whatever, just send a Duna mission in the mean time", but you still have to wait for the Duna transfer window and then 300 days in transit, so that mission must also be filled in with yet smaller missions in between to keep your rep alive. As pointed out in the thread I linked above this adds up to a lot of smaller missions. Striping away the option to do smaller missions doesn't help you in this circumstance, it just makes you loveed. 

"Do something per year" is not a game mechanic. The game needs to provide players with very clear, scaled expectations and risks and rewards for success or failure. Money needs to be tight or it doesn't matter. You can't require players to time-warp and then penalize them for doing so and expect there to be no consequences. You can't offer up something this vague and just assume it will work and then get all liquided at Squad because they didn't think of it. They have thought about it, which is why the game doesn't work that way. 

I totally agree there is room for improvement, and including time-based mechanics could be really fun and immersive. Its hard to make it work though, and in the end might honestly be more complicated than its worth. Thats what we're discussing--how to solve these subtle, important details.

Seems like your presumptions on how the rep, cash and missions would work are based on the observations of how the career mode works now. The penalties and rewards would have to be simply balanced. Nobody said that the rep would go down per month. The money could be doled out monthly, but the whole 'money-to-rep' summary could be done every year, or so.

Edited by Veeltch

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What Veeltch said. The game would know what excessive warping is. If you warp past deadlines (including the end of the fiscal year when you get your new budget) too much, that's "excessive." It's organic to the changes made. With nothing but stock and Life Support, excessive warping is characterized, and enforced. War too long, and your station crew dies, un-resupplied. 

I would add that from a management POV---and career is supposed to be management---ideally kerbals could do some things by themselves. It would be nice to be able to demonstrate resupply, then have it occur, even if abstracted, by itself.

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I'm going to start with saying that concise communication is a skill that needs nurture and developed. I'm sure there's a lot of good stuff in this thread, but good lord, the amount of text one needs to read for it... I couldn't bring myself to read it all, so I probably missed half the points by skimming too much. Yes, curse marketeers and their fluffy talk, but do ignore “communication is a science, too!” at your own peril!

From what I gather, the main aims and concerns are:

  • Improve career
  • Avoid career being grindy, while at the same time prevent time warp to be the magic bullet that allows generating funds/science by spamming the warp button
  • Provide a bit more of a program instead of fulfilling random missions

I'm more than happy to burn at the stake if I got things wrong. 

With that said, how about the concept of:

  • Contracts have a reasonable deadline. We want three mun landings within the next 100 days, for instance
  • Missing the deadline will result in a penalty. Either financial, rep, or both
  • The contract will make regular payments over the contract period, with a lump sum when the goal(s) is (are) reached.

You can combine a lot of what is mentioned above into this. Obviously you'll get paid more when your reputation is higher. You can fast forward to collect on that "build a base on duna" mission, but miss the deadline and you'll go bankrupt.

Example Contract One: Land at the Mun

Within the next 90 days, make at least five Mun landings. Each landing should be in a different biome, and should consist of planting a flag, performing at least four science experiments and returning a surface sample to Kerbin.

Payment up front: 100,000 funds
Decaday* payment: 44,400 funds
Penalties: 50,000 funds and 10 rep points per missing biome at the end of the 90 period; 30,000 funds per missing biome after 100 days; 20,000 funds per mission biome after 110 days which will cancel the project
If all five biomes have been completed satisfactory before the 90 days the remainin payments will be paid lump sum

A decaday is a 10 (Kerbin) day period. Not sure if the Kerbals would call it a week, or a month, or something completely different.

Note that it's not planting five flags, doing 20 experiments and return 5 samples. you'll need a flag, 4 experiments and a sample all from the same biome, and do that for five different biomes.

Example Contract Two: Save Kerbals stranded in Low Kerbin Orbit

On a regular basis, Kerbals get stranded in low Kerbin orbit for a variety of reasons. You are requested to perform rescue missions for the unfortunate Kerbins that do get stranded in orbit. The contract will run for 100 days, or 10 rescued Kerbals, whichever comes first

Payment up front: 20,000 funds
Decaday payment: 10,000 funds
Bonus: 30,000 funds and 5 rep points per saved Kerbal, and the opportunity to offer the rescued Kerbal a job
Penalty: Any Kerbal not saved within 5 days will run out of life support. There will be a penalty of 25 rep points for each failed rescue

After saving the rescue you can opt to make a job offer by typing in a payment amount; it is not disclosed what the minimum is. If the offer is accepted, the amount is deducted and the Kerbal joins your workforce. The minimum payment will hinge on the reputation of your agency, but also on the experience of the Kerbal rescued (you could rescue a 4-star scientist, for instance) and the "market value" (the going rate at the astronaut center), although it will of course be a lot lower than the existing market value (our rescued Kerbal is grateful for being saved, after all—Mortimer shows up with a "sign here" contract when they're still in shock after being rescued and safe and well back on Kerbin)

 

You could use this system for existing science contract as well, by incorporating sub contracts. I could accept a contract for 25 temperature measurements on Minmus, "to be decided where," and then pick up the subcontracts as they're being offered.  Do I ignore/decline early contracts, hoping I combine it with later manned missions? I will risk running out of time, of course.

The point is that contract do offer steady income, while it is unatractive at the same time to fast forward and cash in on those monthly payments; there are goals to be met, eventually.

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The Spark isn't that much a low-tech engine. Its a small one, which is a different thing.

The fact is that the LTV-30 "Reliant" and LTV-45 "Swivel" are very good engines that are cost-efficient even when you have unlocked hi-tech stuff. I would compare them very much to the engine designed circa 1957 for the R-7 : quite powerful, efficient, and cheap.

Also, there were more or less successful experiments in Germany and Soviet Union in the 1930's, strapping small SRMs to airplanes.

The SRM technology is by far the oldest one, its an upscale of the fireworks used by the Chinese in the Middle-Ages, with improvements in the powder formula (better stability, better ISP). The first liquid rocket engines developed in the 20-30's by germans, soviet and american (non-exclusive list) engineers like Goddard were really experimental stuff. Goddard's record is only 2,700 meters of altitude. Propeller airplanes, which were quite advanced at that time (1937), did much better, and could carry significant scientific instrumentation.

The V-2 is really the one that changed everything, getting out of the atmosphere. No wonder why americans and soviets hurried to get the german scientists, even before the capitulation of Germany was signed. That being said, its not a matter of nationality or anything, there were scientists like Wernher, Korolev and Goddard in various countries. But the desperate situation of Germany in the late war and its half-mad dictator allowed the enormous funding, slave labor and industrial facilities that made the V-2 (and all the invaluable know-how of involved people) possible.

Next step was the Soviet R-7, that went orbital in 1957 and sent interplanetary payloads as soon as 1959. Then the USA took things seriously, funded NASA and put Wernher at the head of the R&D. That's where KSP begins, roughly. So I'd say the technology tree in KSP is quite accurate - excepted that it puts the first unmanned probe after the first crewed pod -.

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23 minutes ago, Veeltch said:

I double-agree with this post and I'd double-like it, if it was possible.

Seems like your presumptions on how the rep and cash would work are based on the observations of how the career mode works now. The penalties and rewards would have to be simply balanced. Nobody said that the rep would go down per month. The money could be doled out monthly, but the whole 'money-to-rep' summary could be done every year, or so.

Yearly budget assessments would certainly help, but are we really only expecting players to complete one mission a year? That doesn't sound like much of a challenge. We've also traded the the reputation-bleed problem for an opacity problem. It's bad enough right now that Reputation is a black box. We know having it is good, we know it gives us more prestigious contracts, but exactly how much rep we need to earn a given contract is hidden from us and therefore impossible to predict. This is actually half of the "random" contract problem--players don't know what the reputation they're earning is buying them. What yearly budgets based on rep does is to put the budget into that same black box. Say we go to our Programs menu and select a Mun mission and it promises us X rep if we complete it. How much money will that translate into when the next year-end budget assessment happens? Its impossible to know, so players have even less long-term planning power than they do now.

I think we can do better than that. It actually makes me wonder if we can't dispense with reputation altogether. I mean programs are self-defined in this paradigm, so you don't need rep for that. If reputation = money then why not just tell people up front how much money they'll get? Why not just tell players "Completion of this mission objective earns X dollars for Y months totaling Z" In fact, you don't even need scheduled budget assessments, just give the rewards cut-off periods. You don't need deadlines either, its just up to you to roll the earnings from your last mission into your next. 

The one place you still need reputation is if you plan to keep any of Arsonide's careful contract work. I know you guys aren't crazy about them, but a lot of players are. I actually quite like being provided with oddball constraints I might not otherwise have thought of. Just something to consider.

 

22 minutes ago, Kerbart said:

I'm going to start with saying that concise communication is a skill that needs nurture and developed. I'm sure there's a lot of good stuff in this thread, but good lord, the amount of text one needs to read for it... I couldn't bring myself to read it all, so I probably missed half the points by skimming too much. Yes, curse marketeers and their fluffy talk, but do ignore “communication is a science, too!” at your own peril!

What did Mark Twain say? "If I'd had more time I would have written a shorter letter."

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1 minute ago, Pthigrivi said:

What did Mark Twain say? "If I'd had more time I would have written a shorter letter."

Actually, it was Blaise Pascal; “Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” But it's such a great quote that I wouldn't be surprised if Mark Twain had come up with it by himself.

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How about you can set the intervals at which you are evavluated and funded? At the beginning you might want monthly ´board meetings´ but when you are running Jool-missions exclusively, you might want them to be bi-annual. Picking the next interval at each time you get funds and rep-decay could add another interesting decision. "Okay, i am pretty much done with mun and minmus now - lets change the board meeting routine to once a year, instead of monthly."

EDIT: Or the individual ´programs´ could have evaluation intervals each. And rep-decay rates. The Jool program runs on a tri-annual evaluation basis with tiny rep-decay.

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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12 minutes ago, Kerbart said:

I'm going to start with saying that concise communication is a skill that needs nurture and developed. I'm sure there's a lot of good stuff in this thread, but good lord, the amount of text one needs to read for it... I couldn't bring myself to read it all, so I probably missed half the points by skimming too much. Yes, curse marketeers and their fluffy talk, but do ignore “communication is a science, too!” at your own peril!

From what I gather, the main aims and concerns are:

  • Improve career Squad has been "improving career" since well before beta.  I'm not sure it is working.
  • Avoid career being grindy, while at the same time prevent time warp to be the magic bullet that allows generating funds/science by spamming the warp button Doesn't this begin and end with the MPL device?  removing it removes the horror of the warp button.  Or do you want to avoid people waiting for their Duna mission to complete?  I imagine it would be terribly unpopular to force people to interrupt their Duna mission just because you're afraid of the warp button.
  • To make career less "grindy", all Squad has to do is seriously cut down the biomes.  Doing the science dance over and over and over is the why it is grindy.  Less biomes means less science dances and less grind.
  • Provide a bit more of a program instead of fulfilling random missions Luckily Squad included the "mission milestone" system.  I think it may have done a lot to save career mode.  I'm not sure why Squad insists on random missions, presumably plenty of people keep starting over (guilty, especially on new versions).

I'm more than happy to burn at the stake if I got things wrong. 

With that said, how about the concept of:

  • Contracts have a reasonable deadline. We want three mun landings within the next 100 days, for instance
  • Missing the deadline will result in a penalty. Either financial, rep, or both
  • The contract will make regular payments over the contract period, with a lump sum when the goal(s) is (are) reached.  I'm completely clueless how time matters in KSP.  Unless you are using the mod where spaceships take a finite amount of time to build, all this is just silly.  Are you expecting the player to be forced to be in a race to acquire the tech?  While that sounds great in practice, it assumes some new means of unlocking the science tree because right now all that will inspire is players rushing to spam driving (or kerbals help them, walking) around KSC spamming biomes followed by KSP getting uninstalled.  You need to fix the science mode before attempting to "fix" this.

You can combine a lot of what is mentioned above into this. Obviously you'll get paid more when your reputation is higher. You can fast forward to collect on that "build a base on duna" mission, but miss the deadline and you'll go bankrupt.

Example Contract One: Land at the Mun

Within the next 90 days, make at least five Mun landings. Each landing should be in a different biome, and should consist of planting a flag, performing at least four science experiments and returning a surface sample to Kerbin.

Payment up front: 100,000 funds
Decaday* payment: 44,400 funds
Penalties: 50,000 funds and 10 rep points per missing biome at the end of the 90 period; 30,000 funds per missing biome after 100 days; 20,000 funds per mission biome after 110 days which will cancel the project
If all five biomes have been completed satisfactory before the 90 days the remainin payments will be paid lump sum

A decaday is a 10 (Kerbin) day period. Not sure if the Kerbals would call it a week, or a month, or something completely different.

Note that it's not planting five flags, doing 20 experiments and return 5 samples. you'll need a flag, 4 experiments and a sample all from the same biome, and do that for five different biomes.

While I like this mission, don't add it unless you include something similar to the mapping mod in stock KSP (or your mod that includes such missions if you are making one).  The only means to tell what biome is what is to spacewalk while in orbit and do an EVA report, and by the time you do that it is too late to land.

The other problem is that there *must* be other options when introducing this type of mission.  Presumably "just Mun, then Minmus" (the milestone system does well here).  I'm sure plenty of players are going to want to go straight to Duna and not grind all over Mun carefully doing the science dance on separate biomes.

Example Contract Two: Save Kerbals stranded in Low Kerbin Orbit

On a regular basis, Kerbals get stranded in low Kerbin orbit for a variety of reasons. You are requested to perform rescue missions for the unfortunate Kerbins that do get stranded in orbit. The contract will run for 100 days, or 10 rescued Kerbals, whichever comes first

Payment up front: 20,000 funds
Decaday payment: 10,000 funds
Bonus: 30,000 funds and 5 rep points per saved Kerbal, and the opportunity to offer the rescued Kerbal a job
Penalty: Any Kerbal not saved within 5 days will run out of life support. There will be a penalty of 25 rep points for each failed rescue

After saving the rescue you can opt to make a job offer by typing in a payment amount; it is not disclosed what the minimum is. If the offer is accepted, the amount is deducted and the Kerbal joins your workforce. The minimum payment will hinge on the reputation of your agency, but also on the experience of the Kerbal rescued (you could rescue a 4-star scientist, for instance) and the "market value" (the going rate at the astronaut center), although it will of course be a lot lower than the existing market value (our rescued Kerbal is grateful for being saved, after all—Mortimer shows up with a "sign here" contract when they're still in shock after being rescued and safe and well back on Kerbin)

 

You could use this system for existing science contract as well, by incorporating sub contracts. I could accept a contract for 25 temperature measurements on Minmus, "to be decided where," and then pick up the subcontracts as they're being offered.  Do I ignore/decline early contracts, hoping I combine it with later manned missions? I will risk running out of time, of course.

The point is that contract do offer steady income, while it is unatractive at the same time to fast forward and cash in on those monthly payments; there are goals to be met, eventually.

While it is all well and good to expect kerbanuats to get a salary, do you bother to pay the kerbals doing whatever work in the VAB?  How about the rest?  Of course, this might be your cure for the "warp problem" (which I still feel is a disaster.  You should't penalize players for wanting to complete a mission).  Each building should not involve a one time cost but be paid monthly.  Presumably this will pay for all the kerbals' salary.

I'm also wondering about these "repeat the same mission n times".  It sounds much more grindy than the Squad's.

My comments in red.

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Rep is a stand in for the reason behind the real Space Race, for example, which was a PR battle between the US and CCCP for "hearts and minds." I suppose in the modern world, it's a stand in for if you're a fanboy of SpaceX, or Blue Origin (or pithy tweets between the two founders). It also fills the role of public support for a national program.

Regarding the extant contracts, the survey contracts from Fine Print could easily be included. I look at them this way, instead of being "contracts" from third parties, think of them as your science guy at KSC, Linus, sitting down at the conference table saying, "Look, boss, we've decided to go to the Mun in the next 2 years, here are the areas where we should explore to find landing spots to get us the most science." Then a few survey contracts... though slightly less random than now, and perhaps sorted at some level by "biome."

Player choses broad goal, science guy starts throwing out mission suggestions within that program---and perhaps you need to accept a certain number as part of an "exploration" program---you decide where to go, and your science guys tell you where the landings need to happen---and some might be tricky.

Answering some of wumpus's comments:

Regarding penalizing players for "wanting to complete a mission," That's the problem, I think that Squad has only ever flown single missions. That's how it seems like they mean the game to be played. Launch a sample return probe to Eeloo, and warp for years. Hence no LS. My argument was that if you want no penalty for this, play another mode. I like the idea of having to think about getting my ducks in a row for the next Duna window (and I tend to play at 6.4X distances with stock parts, plus LS).

The problem in terms of discussing all this, is that it tends to require ideas dropped as complete systems, as they all interact. Time becomes more important when LS enters the equation. Say you crash your Mun lander, or it lacks sufficient dv to return. It has XX days of LS, and you have no rescue craft already built... they die. What if you have some craft in flight, but not designed for the job... maybe you can top off the tanks, and land it to pick up the crew, or maybe you can use a probe with LS supplies added to buy time... those become fun play, in my experience (using KCT).

I'm not saying it's easy, either, but the first step is to decide what career is supposed to be, or bossily a couple career modes if one type will not cut it.

Edited by tater

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1 minute ago, wumpus said:

My comments in red.

Thank you for posting it in such a way that quoting you is impossible.

Squad has been "improving career" since well before beta.  I'm not sure it is working.

Well, why do you think it's listed as a concern? If it were good the goal wouldn't be to improve it, would it? The reason it's listed, is because it's good practice to have (well) defined goals. We're not here to talk about the verbage in the contracts, or the color of grass. The concernt is that career mode, as it is, is not satisfactory. Yes, as you mention, it's not working right now. We know that. Why do you mention that it's not working? 

Doesn't this begin and end with the MPL device?  removing it removes the horror of the warp button.  Or do you want to avoid people waiting for their Duna mission to complete?  I imagine it would be terribly unpopular to force people to interrupt their Duna mission just because you're afraid of the warp button.

No, it doesn't. Because you could also fast forward a couple of years and collect all your science in the Jool system. The point, in my view, is that in a good career mode you don't get away with running the clock months at a time, regardless of why. That's not how NASA or Roscosmos run things either.

  • To make career less "grindy", all Squad has to do is seriously cut down the biomes.  Doing the science dance over and over and over is the why it is grindy.  Less biomes means less science dances and less grind.

At least I took the effort to try to read this thread. You obviously didn't. I guess that was too grindy too?

I'm completely clueless how time matters in KSP.  Unless you are using the mod where spaceships take a finite amount of time to build, all this is just silly.  Are you expecting the player to be forced to be in a race to acquire the tech?  While that sounds great in practice, it assumes some new means of unlocking the science tree because right now all that will inspire is players rushing to spam driving (or kerbals help them, walking) around KSC spamming biomes followed by KSP getting uninstalled.  You need to fix the science mode before attempting to "fix" this.

Or simply do not offer contracts for programs where the required tech is missing. That's what's happening in the game right now too. The game would not be offering a Duna program until you've landed on the Mun (or even completed the Mun program first).

While it is all well and good to expect kerbanuats to get a salary, do you bother to pay the kerbals doing whatever work in the VAB?  How about the rest?  Of course, this might be your cure for the "warp problem" (which I still feel is a disaster.  You should't penalize players for wanting to complete a mission).  Each building should not involve a one time cost but be paid monthly.  Presumably this will pay for all the kerbals' salary.

I'm also wondering about these "repeat the same mission n times".  It sounds much more grindy than the Squad's.

Think of salary as a "joining bonus". Did I mention recurring salary everywhere? Please quote me on that, I must be losing track of what I typed (can't find it in what I wrote either, so besides losing memory I must be going blind).

I also want to thank you for your useful contributions to this discussions.

This one:

And this one:

And this one:

Thank you!

 

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