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How to maximize milestones?



One of my favorite improvements of 1.0.x (not sure it was in 1.0) was the milestone program that allowed players to have a separate source of funding from contracts for simply boldly going where no kerbal had gone before.  Sometime since then (I think with 1.1.0) Squad added the "leadership initiative" which allowed players to greatly emphasize this part of the game (warning: there is a stiff reputation requirement to use these.  I basically decided that 80% was as high as I could get it).  At this point expect that hitting as many milestones as possible is critical to your funding.

So how do you get milestones?  And is there a "milestone dance" similar to the "science dance" of doing a crew report, EVAing, taking the data out, putting the data in, shaking the data all about and taking (and resetting where appropriate) all the other science on you spacecraft?  So far I've noticed some odd ways that KSP throws milestones at you:

  • Sending a spacecraft there [a new soi/planet/moon] (obvious)
  • Sending a kerbal there (another obvious one)
  • Planting a flag (the game likes flags)
  • Doing a spacewalk/EVA (don't forget this one, especially if you have modded the "science dance" out of your game)
  • Doing a crew transfer (as far as I know, this gives big rewards just for changing seats.  Bring along at least two crew compartments.  Have to test command seats).
  • Doing a rendezvous (not sure how far you have to be apart.  Presumably far enough that "[" and "]" don't work.  Might take longer to knock out than all the rest combined.  I think I've only received the reward by doing a real rendezvous).
  • Doing a docking (just decoupling and rejoining from 8m was enough.  Probably can get away with it a lot closer)
  • Starting a spacestation (yes, I got an extra hefty reward by decoupling and rejoining two connected parts.  They both had crew facilities, different names, and were launched separately.  No idea what the real requirements are).
  • Yes, there are all those distance/height records.  You aren't likely to start the leadership initiative before getting all of them.

So: is there an easy/known way to maximize the milestones once you get to a new planet/moon/soi?  Am I missing any, and are they otherwise easy to snatch up?  Obviously, you want two separate crew compartments, and likely two parts with docking ports (don't be surprised if the crew compartments should separate as well).  So far, KSP/Kerbal milestones don't seem to be showing up in google very well.

One difficulty I have is that I haven't been able to see my old milestones.  They don't show up in the contracts building (I thought they used to, even with the milestone switch).  The don't show up in the science building either.  I'll have to check my files as well, but everything seemed to be working fine in 1.1.3, but no means of seeing my milestones (to point out how big the rewards are and how you absolutely need two crew compartments in your early spaceships to a new soi/planet/moon).

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45 minutes ago, wumpus said:

So: is there an easy/known way to maximize the milestones once you get to a new planet/moon/soi?  Am I missing any, and are they otherwise easy to snatch up?

There are a few more concerning moving ships

  • Flyby (upon entering new SOI)
  • Orbit (regardless of direction or inclination)
  • Suborbital Flight (happens any time your Pe is below the surface)
  • Atmospheric Flight (where applicable)
  • Landing
  • Building a surface base (docking 2 landed ships)

Sadly, asteroids don't seem to have any unique milestones.  For instance, grabbing an interplanetary asteroid counts as building a station in solar orbit (and no rendezvous milestone for getting there).

There are 2 problems with Leadership Initiative.  First off, the previous batch of milestones doesn't pay enough to fund the complex mission needed to make a complete sweep of the next batch at a planet further away.  Thus, you still need to do contracts and, because the strategy reduces contract payoffs, you still have to do a fair number of contracts.  But the biggest problem is, milestones are 1-and-done.  Once you get them, they're gone for good.  Thus, you can't rely on them to fund on-going, long-term space empires.  Contracts, OTOH, are a continual source of income and after a while you get repeats for ships you've already got in orbit so it's just free money :)

To me, Leadership Initiative only really works fairly early in a game with Hard difficulty settings.  It's handy for when you're so broke you can barely get anything to space and your rep is so low that the few contracts you can do don't pay much anyway.  But once you've used the milestone cash to bulk up a bit, and the milestone rep to improve the value of contracts, I think it best to switch to another strategy.

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Not that tricky. You just need a little rover with a docking port or klaw on it. Attach it to any other ship = instant "landed base". I always use that kind of rover for doing fuel transfers, so that one is easy for me.

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The other big thing about leadership initiative is the large "field work" bonus to science.  Spamming all the minmus science seems to leave only a few thousand science needed to unlock the rest, plus a few more thousand to set "science to funds" to 100%.  Looks like you end up the same as with contracts, only wind up needing to fund everything with science.

I'll probably wind up spamming mobile processing labs.  One is ready to go and finish off the rest of the science (assuming the Duna squad doesn't get there first).  It looks like the leadership initiative might be enough to bootstrap yourself into space as long as you keep an eye on costs and are willing to abuse strategies and spam science in other ways (hopefully it beats abusing contracts).

But don't ignore the "field work" bonus.  Up to 50% bonus straight to science.  Contracts give science, but never what a good biome does.

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