Wjolcz

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

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Yes, that is exactly what I mean.

Also, maybe stuff like "Don't kill any astrounauts during this".

Or "this prototype took long to build and it's the only one we have now, don't wreck it". I'm just brainstorming here ^^

...making use of the lovely post-merging function :wink:

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It sounds like what you want is something closer to Realism Overhaul (which has TestFlight, and incorporates some of the new-tech mechanics you're describing) than the current stock KSP.

You basically want a complete redesign of the game, which isn't likely to happen since the game is no longer in alpha or beta testing

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1 hour ago, Roastduck said:

You basically want a complete redesign of the game, which isn't likely to happen since the game is no longer in alpha or beta testing

Yes, yes we do. We know that it's unlikely, but the current game is pretty broken.

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Just now, Panel said:

Yes, yes we do. We know that it's unlikely, but the current game is pretty broken.

Then the best you can hope for is mods. fortunately for us, Squad has always been mod friendly. I haven't played stock since my first week with the game back in .23, so I definitely see areas where the stock game could be better, but it makes for a wonderful framework to add onto

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The thing is, I am playing with mods. I have Strategia, KCT, and Engineering Tech Tree as the most game-changing. I have not been able to find anything for better career overhaul, but it's still not up to snuff.

That's why this thread is in Suggestions and Development. We are suggesting a way to improve the game.

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Yeah, I think many career elements are hard-coded and can't be easily modified.

But that doesn't change the fact the game should have some quality to it. You can't just create something broken and make it moddable. I mean, it's great to have mods and be able to easily create them, but the game should also be playable without them.

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Besides most of the progression we're idealizing here can be recreated with mods :wink: 

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1 hour ago, monstah said:

Besides most of the progression we're idealizing here can be recreated with mods :wink: 

Maybe. But it would definitely be nice to play and enjoy the game without downloading add-ons every time a new update comes out.

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I´d like to repeat what i said before, albeit in a different thread, it seems:

IMHO, REP should not decay at all. You should lose some for killing kerbals (crew & tourists) and for suspending programs. But it should not decay over time.

What should decay over time is a portion (say 50%) of the financial reward you get for completing missions inside active programs.

This way the relevance of time becomes more program/mission specific and balancing becomes a lot easier. If you chose to focus on just your Jool-program, you get taxed in REP once for any other active program you want to suspend, in order to prevent its rewards from decaying, while you are busy with Jool. Once you did that, your entire game runs on the timescale of Jool-missions and you dont have to do any "filler"-missions, at all. That would accomodate the ´one mission at a time´-playstyle.

OTOH, this would not prevent the ´multiple-missions-at-once´-playstyle at all, either, because if that floats your boat, you could opt not to suspend your other programs and carry on with them, at their own reward-decay-rates, while your Jool-mission is en route.

Another reason not to have REP decay with time, is that i´d like to imagine certain levels of REP to be pre-requisites to activate certain programs - if it decays with time, you could run into a deadend-street, just for taking too long to figure things out. That the mun-landing is 50 years in the past should not prohibit you from initiating a duna-program. If you like to spend this much time doing things in the Kerbin-SoI, you should be free to do that.

For time to matter, spending a lot of it, need not, and should not, mean ´game over´ - that would be punishing the player. What we want is to incentivize the player to attach some importance to time - no more, no less. Ideally, a player would want to have a certain idea on how to progress through every program in quick progression, even before he/she activates it, and be rewarded for all his/her planing ahead and trying to achieve multiple goals with single launches. Yet, failure to do so should not lead the player crushing against a wall.

EDIT: The idea is, that you, as head of the KSC, announce what program (=body-specific mission-tree) to persue and the quicker you deliver, the higher the reward. Sure, this is not 100% realistic, but it´s close enough, in my book and facilitates interesting gameplay. Universal REP-decay is problematic as outlined above. So, when you announce to the kerbal public "The mun is our next goal", the difference in achieving your first orbit the next week or the next year, needs to be money.

You´d persue that program upto your abilities and/or ambitions and then announce "We have gotten as far as is sensible on the mun, for the time being", suspend the program at a mediocre rep-cost, and then move on to the next program (or have multiple run in parallel or just take a break from the programs entirely and focus on commercial mission, aka contracts, as we have them now) and announce "now, it´s time for minmus (say)".

All the while, outside of catastophic desasters and crazy amounts of program-suspending, you accumulate REP. This way REP becomes a bit like the completion scores of old adventure games. Later missions of any program would be harder to achieve than earlier ones, but also yield more REP. Your REP is your score, so to say: If you only complete the first 3 or so tiers (out of say 10) of any program, just enough to accumulate enough to initiate the next program, you might be able to visit all planets and moons, but your ´score´ would be pretty low, when compared to a player who focuses on completing entire programs in one go without suspending. Once you completed all programs, your REP could be normalized against your difficulty settings and give you a final score with an entry to a ´high score´ list (while still offering the option to play on, anyways).

Now, if science requires money, too, then quick completion of programs/missions becomes self-amplifying: If you are able to reap the bonus for quick completion entirely, you will have more money on your hand, enabling you to research quicker, which in turn, will enable you to complete the next mission quicker, which yields you its quick-completion-bonus, which in turn... you get the idea. I think that´s enough incentive to get and keep things rolling. There really neednt be this sword of damocles hanging over your head called ´out-of-REP - game over´. Rather keep things positive, let inexperienced players progress at their own pace, while offering experienced ones the possibilty to figure ever more effecient ways to get about progressing through the game and allow them to have ´slingshot´-experiences, where they, due to planing really clever, rip through the programs at light speed, utilizing the aforementioned self-amplifying effect, as well as synergies between programs and missions (e.g. complete various missions in one launch, even across programs, when applicable).

EDIT2: The above is for a model, that doesnt have budget-intervals, which i´d find preferable, at least for now, even if only as a transition stage to a budget-interval model. Your science staff on the ground could simply cost daily wages, which gets deduced daily. But that´s not really a budget-interval-model, yet, in my book.

For a model that presents you with budgets on certain intervals and grants you money on these, based on your REP, the missions inside programs should probably not give any financial reward at all, and instead the REP-reward you gain for completing them, should start to decay once you activate the program (again down to a cap - so not 100% of it would decay away).

Still, this seems much harder to balance, and i´d like to push any further thought on such a model beyond the point, where time-relevant mechanics are implemented at all.

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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6 hours ago, Mr. Scruffy said:

For a model that presents you with budgets on certain intervals and grants you money on these, based on your REP, the missions inside programs should probably not give any financial reward at all, and instead the REP-reward you gain for completing them, should start to decay once you activate the program (again down to a cap - so not 100% of it would decay away).

Yes, I agree. The completed missions shouldn't give anything but rep.

I'll edit the OP and include your post as an alternative way to deal with the reputation drop.

EDIT: I will also include other posts into OP when I find some free time to re-read the thread.

Edited by Veeltch

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Do you guys want to try to put some numbers on this thing ala this thread? Its really impossible to assess anything without some sense of how this could be balanced.

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Actually, Pthigrivi, i´d prefer not to. Since you ask, though, i will, under the provision, that they can only give rough ballparks and are by no means chisseled in stone, even when they are just meant to be approximations.

For normal difficulty levels, the player could start with, say, 100K (i´ll use this sign for money*1,000) and 0 REP.

The ´Kerbin program´ is activated right away.

Your R&D-lab at its first tier could hold upto 10 Scientists, who can reserach 0.1 SCI and cost 0.2K per day each.

The Kerbin program has a basic interval of 1 day. It has couple of branches right of the bat, each themed and thusly colorcoded in its appearance. There´s a Tier1-Science(yellow)-mission, requiring you to collect temperatur scans (thermometer provided) from 3 different biomes of Kerbin with a basic reward of 50K - this is followed up with a Tier 2 mission, requiring you to add another 5 biomes to that, maybe with a higher basic reward. There´s also a Tier1-Exploration(lightblue)-mission, which requires you to reach a sub-orbital trajectory, with a basic reward of 50K, followed up with a Tier2-mission, which requires you to reach orbital, for 100K. Once you complete this last one, another branch opens up "infrastructure" (red), which is about station building in LKO mostly.

Each mission gives REP on completion according to its Tier. (Tier 1 -> +1REP, T2-> +2 REP...). Suspending the Kerbin-program costs 1 REP. The threshold for the mun and minmus programs is 3 to see, what their first missions will require, and 5 to activate (these arent paid, just needed to be collected: so you need 5 REP to activate both - not 10 - and you would still have at least 5 REP afterwards). Mun has an interval of 2 days, Minmus of 10 (say), suspending either costs 2 REP, and each have their own mission trees, like Kerbin´s, but designed to fit the body at hand.

The decay would work like this. Beyond the Basic reward, you can get a bonus of the same amount, which starts to decay after a grace period which is one interval per tier of mission. The decay is 1% per interval. If you complete any one of the above T1-missions of the Kerbin tree after 3 days have elapsed since you activated the program, you´d get 50K + 50K * 98% = 99K. Keep in mind, that science takes time, and canceling the program is not possible before you collected 1 REP. Fully having staffed your R&D you will have collected 3 SCI and spent 6K on it.

The player would probably have a little SCI to start with, but the point is the pinching issue of hurrying the mission vs. spending time to research better stuff for them.

 

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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Well, I was going to say that balancing something that doesn't exist yet is really hard. Even harder when the player gets to move the difficulty sliders himself.

I would really prefer not having the sci points at all. The parts would simply require time and money. If parts are queued, the time to research simply adds up. I think it's a really nice way to balance the tree. If someone wanted to queue the whole tree (assuming he/she has enough money) it could take a few years to research the last part. And before I get bombarded by Pthigrivi again: No, all the parts wouldn't be available after the last one is researched. After each part is researched it becomes available and then the next one in the queue is being researched.

I kind of like the idea of the staff number and their salaries, but I think it should be avoided. At least for now. IMO we should focus on the more basic systems first.

I'm also not sure if I fully understand the whole interval mechanic. So let's say there's a Mun program and the reward for it drops at 1% of the initial reward every 2 days? And if we suspend it 2 REP is taken from us, right?

I feel like the system where each activated program doesn't let your REP drop below a certain level is easier to balance and understand though.

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23 minutes ago, Veeltch said:

[...]

I'm also not sure if I fully understand the whole interval mechanic. So let's say there's a Mun program and the reward for it drops at 1% of the initial reward every 2 days? And if we suspend it 2 REP is taken from us, right?

[...]

The rewards are mission-specific and its important to see the decay as one of a bonus, especially considering balance. That bonus decays by 1% per interval (which is program specific), after a grace period of the tier of the mission * interval length. This simply means, that higher tier missions´ boni will start ticking off later.

Suspended programs are taken from until you re-activate them. The cost of suspending is the main disincentive to activate-deactivate willy-nilly. That´s also why it probably should not be universal, but program-specific: Start with a lax-regime for Kerbin-SoI objects to open up the game rather quickly, then crank up the suspensions costs gradually for other programs, to add challange. While the REP-rewards is flat between programs (they solely depend on the tier of mission, regardless of program), the costs for suspending them rises. 

So, basically, yes and yes. I partly misread your post ;P - sorry.

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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About science, Veeltch: The ´SCI´ i mentioned in my earlier post would just be a unit of measurement for the rate at which you research - like the beakers in civilization, say.

Your system would work, too, and i am sort of on the fence about which would be preferable. On the one hand, your suggestion is simpler, which is a good thing. On the other, being able to hire scientists and having to pay them constantly, might be an interesting game-mechanic in and off itself: It would be about the choice of pushing R&D upto your financial limits and, when you are getting short of these, reducing the staff to save money.

I think, especially if we´d aim for a flat tech tree, the rate of research must rise throughout the game, to prevent the really neat stuff to be researched first. Things like the Rapier (to name just one arbitiary example) should almost be prohibitve to research at the start of the game, while being affordable later, and researchable in a reasonable amount of time. That would require a raise in the rate of research across the game. Simply making the Rapier super expensive might have a comparable effect, technically, but might come off quite different in its appearance to the player - namely that of a ´pay-wall´.

Also, if the research rate would be constant troughout the game, you´d lose a vital part of the game´s equation as i envision it. You´d want to reap the early completion boni of missions, primarilly to sustain a high research rate (to enable you to take on the next mission and so forth). Progression through the programs and the rate of research are like interlocking gears which you´d want to keep in sync with each other at as high a speed as you can manage(! important word here).

Now, to increase the rate of research during the game, simply upgrading the R&D facility could suffice. Still, each ´node´ of the tech tree would have to have something like ´SCI´ attached to it, simply to quantifiy the amount of time needed to research it at different rates of research.

So, yeah, maybe scientists (on ground) are not needed. Different research rates are, though (imho). Hired scientists would give the player some mini-mechanic to fine tune that rate, according to his/her needs and financial resources, that would tie in neatly with reward-decay-mechanic, translating reaped boni into an increased rate of research, which needs to be maintained, though, and isnt a pay-once&forget affair (like simply upgrading the R&D-facility would).

Example:

If i understand you correctly, under your model, a ´node´ or a ´part´ (doesnt matter for now) would just have a monetary value attached to it, which you´d pay upfront, and then research begins on it, at a fixed rate, which, as i understand, must be something like x money per day. So, if that part you want costs 10K and the fixed research rate is 0.5K per day, you´d take 20 days to research it. Always. If you have surplus money, all you can do, is put more items on the queue, but that wont affect how fast you research any of them.

The paying upfront part as pros and cons: The pro is, that it´s easier to manage - pay once and forget about it. The con is, that you have to have the amount avaiable in its entirety even before you start working on it. The fixed rate is a clear con, though, in my book, since it puts a fixed speed on game-progression and turns R&D into a boolean affair (either you do have the money to research something, or you dont - if you do, it will happen at a fixed speed).

Now, with hired scientists, that part you want might cost 10 ´SCI´ ("beakers", whatever). How fast you can accumulate that amount depends on how many scientists you have employed. Say, it´s not vital for you next planed mission, and you are short on cash before you complete that -> fire a couple of scientists. Say, it is vital for you next mission, and you dont even need to consider a launch for it without that part, but the program is already active, and you have some spare cash: Max-out on scientists, maybe upgrade the R&D-building in order to be able to hire even more. Sure, that will leave you just enough money for the actual launch, but if that succeeds and the mission runs well, you´ll get a couple of Ks in early completion bonus, which will pay your R&D-efforts later on.

 

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Well, yeah. Non-linear tree might indeed be a little bit wonky to deal with. People would simply go for the best parts straight away if they could afford it.

I like idea of staff hiring. I'm actually sick of paying ridiculous amounts of cash for my 20th astrounaut. It would be better to pay them salaries every X amount of days, fire them and send on vacations.

The SCI you were talking about actually makes sense now that you've explained it, though I think it might also be solved with a system where a part needs a certain amount of scientists before it can be researched. So the player would have to upgrade the R&D and hire, let's say 150 of scientists, because that would be the amount to unlock the most valuable part. That way we could get rid of the one time payment mechanic and have theR&D scientists upkeep cost instead.

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Problems with that:

- If you attach maintainance cost to the R&D-building itself, it becomes a fixed, unalterable cost, over which the player has no influence. It could end up running his/her finances into the ground, especially, if he/she focuses on long-term programs (like Jool). With hired scientists, when you focus on long-term programs and already have most of what you need for it, you could simply fire some scientists. When you have researched everything you´ll ever want or need, you can fire them all for good and avoid any further expenditure on something you are done with.

- These hard caps, which we currently have inside the R&D-building, is something i distinctively dont like. Do you? I´d much rather like to have the freedom to research whatever i find to be affordable and judge what is, by myself. If i am okay with my next project taking 6 months (maybe, because i am waiting for a transfer-window and have no active programs), i should be free to research big stuff even at low research capacity. Also, if i just want a temporary surge of high-speed research (or just one ´expensive´ part), i dont want to be forced to pay for that for the rest of the game with high building maintrainance cost.

On a sidenote: I also wouldnt make the difference in the tiers of the R&D building too steep. If 10 hireable scientists would be the cap for tier1, i´d maybe have tier 2 have 20 and tier 3 40 (or 25/50, something like that). Missions later on will tend to be longer, anyways, and that will cancel out higher "SCI"-cost for items partially, on its own. As you begin focusing on more distant targets, the pace of the game will tend to have you timewarp more and more expensive techs may take longer, even when researched at their ´appropriate´ time. The average time to research something en par with your current progress in the game may go from days to months during the course of the game. So if the cost-layout for techs is something like it is now (ranging from ~10 to ~1000, i dont remember exactly, but ballpark suffices), quadroupling maximum research rate throughout the course of a game seems about right.

EDIT: Actually, this is something that would make the player go to more distant targets in the first place - if the next item on your research-list takes like 200 days, anyways, you could as well start your first interplantery program, now. If intervals keep being too short for too long, you will always go "hmm, i´ll wait for this tech to finish first before i activate program X", so long as you can afford it. It´d be like in civ, when you are 3 turns away from your next military upgrade - constantly - and you´d never end up actually building ´units´ unless you reaaallly need to. The tech-costs and branches need to be balanced in accordance to avoid that.

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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There's something I think we forgot to discuss: Surface Bases and Space Stations.

Let's say there's a program that asks you to build a base on the surface of Duna. The program doesn't end with simply placing a base there that can hole up to X crew members. The last mission would be to bring the crew back. The problem with this is the reward decay may cause some problems if the game doesn't take phase angles into account.

So let's say the base lands and the crew is brought down to it. Now there are a bunch of filler missions to be completed before they go back home (drive a rover there, pick a sruface sample over here, bury the rtg on a top of that hill, etc.). After some time the planets align and the crew is sent back home in their mothership.

Now the problem here is: if the reward decay drops with time you either do the filler missions (I assume each one of them bumps the program's rep reward back to 100%, or so), or you don't do them and accept the minimum rep reward for the program (50%?). There's also a problem when the crew is on their way home, where they can't perform any Duna-related missions. If that is the case the reward drops even though the Duna Surface Base Program was a complete success.

That's why I would prefer @monstah's rep bar idea, where the rep can't go below a certain level when a program is active. EDIT: IMO the programs should be unlockable (instead of being based on the amount of rep), akin to how the tech tree works (branch out). That way they are always available. By tying them directly to reputation you have a chance of losing your REP by killing your crew, thus losing current programs. Then you would have to go through the previous ones to unlock them again.

EDIT 2: Done editing!

Edited by Veeltch

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2 hours ago, Veeltch said:

IMO the programs should be unlockable (instead of being based on the amount of rep), akin to how the tech tree works (branch out). That way they are always available. By tying them directly to reputation you have a chance to lose REP by killing your crew. Then the end game programs would disappear and you would have to go through the previous ones (you've already performed) to go back to the end game ones again.

I'm totally okay with that. Mission Controller Extended had some historical missions set up like that, I've always liked the progression.

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2 hours ago, monstah said:

I'm totally okay with that. Mission Controller Extended had some historical missions set up like that, I've always liked the progression.

Wouldn't that cause grind though? If programs are unlocked with rep you need to rise your rep to unlock them instead of performing previous programs. This means that if you want to make the good ones appear you would have to grind for rep, as they only appear when a certain amount is achieved?

Though it might be a case of simply balancing it, I guess.

Edited by Veeltch

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Oh no, I meank I was OK with what you suggestion, that they unlocked as in a tree! :) 

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Quote

IMHO, REP should not decay at all. You should lose some for killing kerbals (crew & tourists) and for suspending programs. But it should not decay over time.

 

If you want actual realism killing or stranding too many crew would result in a investigation from Kongress and after a scathing report outlining the lax saftey culture of the space program from the AIB headed by Harold J. Kerman, former commander in chief of combined Kerbal forces, forced to resign your position as KSP director. Game over. 

I think I'll just stick with the current system. 

Edited by IWanttobeEVA

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OK, so I see some confusion about the concept. People keep saying that a career like this would punish the player for doing what the game asks for, but I really don't understand why (someone illuminate me, please). I came to conclusion that the misunderstanding might be coming from the fact I'm not a native English speaker and the way I word things is a bit messy, so I tried to narrow it down a bit by including only the basic concepts and ideas of the proposed system. Here it is:

Quote
  • The tech tree is unlocked with time and money.
  • Science is actual science that also grants you reputation for gathering it.
  • The amount of reputation influences the monthly budget.
  • The Administration Building gets proper programs that let the player choose the planetary body of interest (kind of like in Strategia mod). IMO the programs should progress in more or less this pattern: Scientific Programs (mostly unmanned probes, rovers, satellites, LKO/sub-orbital tourism, etc.) -> Colonization Programs (bases, stations, interplanetary vessels, tourism, etc.) -> Commercial Exploatation of Space (hauling ore from different places back to Kerbin to sell it, advanced interplanetary tourism, etc.). If a program is selected/active the tab relating to that program shows up in the Mission Control building.
  • The Mission Control gets an actual Mission Planning Tool. Each planet/moon has it's own tab. When clicked on, the tab opens and all the possible scientific/commercial/tourism-related objectives roll out. Once that's out the player should be able to mark the ones he wants to complete around the selected body and accept the mission plan.

Is everyone OK with this version? I didn't include the reputation-eating time in this case (maybe this could be dealt with by making the rep work the way it works now, but it would probably cause some balancing issues) mainly because I feel like this is the main cause of confusion about this thread. Let me know if I forgot about something cruicial.

So,again: if anyone could point out the flaw and why people think creating this would cause the player to become the punished, please do so. 

Edited by Veeltch

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I, for one, LOVE this idea! I think it's an excellent overhaul of career mode. The science system always struck me as a little weird. I don't like the fact that currently you pay increasing amounts of money to hire each astronaut. The idea of having the facilities use different Kerbals is an awesome one. I have an idea or two to add tho. Perhaps if the R&D facility would use scientists you could hire in the Astronaut Complex, and the VAB and SPH used engineers, and the faster you want to research, the more scientists you have to hire. In the VAB, the way it could work has two potential uses:

1. The bigger you want to build your rocket, the more engineers you have to have, say if you're building the KerbalX, it would take three engineers, etc.

2. You could also incorporate the build times concept, only the more engineers you have, the faster you can build them. 

How hiring might work: You would hire all your Kerbals in the Astronaut Complex, only they'd start out as civilians. Civilians would be cheap to hire, and you'd have your limit for how many you can have in T1-2 be higher than for the astronauts. There would be a button to assign the selected Kerbal to the VAB, SPH, or R&D facilities. The Engineers would work best in the VAB/SPH, and the scientists would work best in the R&D facility. If you want, you can 'promote' them to be astronauts, but training costs money and time. You can also demote the Kerbal to be a civilian, but at the cost of a teensy amount of reputation. 

Funding. I like the idea of a monthly budget, and also the idea of Kerbal salaries. So let's combine them! The way this would work is that when you start out, you'd have a set (small) monthly budget, a set amount of money, and a set amount of workers in each facility. The workers' pay would perfectly offset the monthly budget, making it impossible to warp for funds. Contracts would add to your monthly budget, which, if nothing is done in that contract for a certain time period, would drift back down to that equilibrium over a couple months. If you hire Staff and place them in facilities, the budget would increase over a year to match it. The interval is longer to prevent it being taken advantage of. This budget is 'time warp proof' since your space center will not run out of funds while you're visiting Jool. Other things could be tacked on, of course.

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3 hours ago, Mycroft said:

The workers' pay would perfectly offset the monthly budget, making it impossible to warp for funds.

That wouldn't be a problem if the budget reset each month/year.

Basically, you a new month just started. Let's call it Month One. You have 120 REP. Because the month just started it grants you money based on your rep, which is 1200 FUNDS. You do a bunch of missions before Month One is over and end up with 500 REP. Your FUNDS reset to 5000 FUNDS (because you have 500 REP and 1 REP = 10 FUNDS).

3 hours ago, Mycroft said:

Contracts would add to your monthly budget, which, if nothing is done in that contract for a certain time period, would drift back down to that equilibrium over a couple months.

That's what programs would be for. How would that work (ideally):

You have 100 REP. That grants you 1000 FUNDS (1 REP = 10 FUNDS) per month. You activate an exploration program and that gives you (let's say) +1000 extra FUNDS no matter how much rep you have.

The numbers here are obviously nowhere near the minimum amount you need to launch a rocket, but that's to only show how the system would work.

 

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