nikokespprfan

Making current planets more interesting brainstorm

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"I think we should have more things to do on the bodies we visit."

"The planets are not very interesting IMHO"

Many players (me included) have these opinions, but what can SQUAD actually do to make bodies more interesting places?

So what do you think?

"What game mechanics (can be small, can be big) could be implemented to make bodies more interesting places?"

 

As a start I'd suggest an idea based on one of my earlier  threads, which involves camera and telescope experiments that show you pictures of the bodies in different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

You run your experiment -> the expeiment dialoge shows up -> instead of the experiment message, you see the picture taken in the wavelength of the camera/telescope -> You see things normally invisible (insides of atmospheres, aurora's, coronal ejections, easter eggs, name it.) show up. -> get science (and rep if in career)

Edited by nikokespprfan

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More involved scanning, for starters. We use a range of geology scanning tools up to and including explosives, so the current ingame range of tools don't really do full justice. Most other things are either directly science related and wouldn't directly impact gameplay, or are related to survival or future large scale exploitation - neither of which are really gameplay elements yet either.

I have a long term aim of being able to build static interactable structures with the EPL mod but I'm still lacking all the knowledge I need to implement that; while that would be a temporary gameplay driver it still lacks a definitive purpose. So, for this discussion I think we need to ask some broader questions about real life first.

* why do we go to other planets?
* what do we do on other planets?
* what do we *want* to do on other planets?
* which of these activities would be a fun, fascinating or fulfilling thing to implement in a game?


Try also to pick things which work in sandbox too - scanning the planet for resources works, for instance, because you can make use of resources. Plopping a science generator down and painting it as some random experiment doesn't work in sandbox ( and if it's as simple as just placing it, doesn't really add much to career either ).

Edited by Van Disaster

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I think there are only really two basic options for achieving this

1.  Remodel the planets and moons

2.  Add more anomalies and/or smaller scale geological features like rock formations and geysers etc.

As much as I would like to see the terrain on all bodies re done and made a bit more diverse (Kerbin is a fair example of the kind of overall diversity that may be about right) this does run the risk of screwing up a lot of saves where players have bases and vessels on flat bits that could suddenly become steep slopes etc.  So this, as attractive as it sounds, may not turn out to be a practical solution.

Adding more 'stuff' like geological features and anomalies may be more viable than remodelling the bodies completely as it could be done in the same way as anomalies are by sticking extra models onto the existing terrain, but again this runs the risk of wrecking saves if players happen to have stuff at the location, albeit less than modifying the whole surface.

To be honest I would like to see both of the above implemented if possible, because the long term gains would be far better, as we would get more diverse geology and more smaller points of interest to visit, as long as sufficient warning is given so that players know the risks of updating.  Then as more bodies are added in future they would be made in the same way.

A more practical and 'save friendly' way may well be to add a few more small features and anomalies to the existing bodies, but then add more bodies and moons in the new 'more diverse' style.  But then this would simply highlight the contrast between old and new bodies and cause a campaign to remodel the old ones anyway.

Bit of a no-win scenario really. :blush:

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Yes for cameras and telescopes.

Not sure about what more can be added to surfaces of planets and moons apart from weather effects. I'd like to see grand canyon-like formations though. With ledges being actually steep and a kilometer high.

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I have always liked the idea of a small brown dwarf orbiting a gas giant as a satellite. A while back ago, I was watching some show on Discovery Channel where they were talking that a brown dwarf could actually be the size of Jupiter, and since we know that there are some gas giants much larger than Jupiter, the idea hit me... It would be a neat visual effect for the game! After all, brown dwarves do give off a little light...

browndwarf.jpg  C_BrownDwarfArtistConcept.jpg

 

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To me the detail and variety on the small scale wants improving. That's not an easy thing to do considering the size of KSP planets, but other games now feature exploration of similar sized environments that are a lot richer, for example Elite: Dangerous.

Then again without the gameplay to take advantage of such detail, is there much point? And I've thought about this and realised that KSP is not about planetary exploration. It's about spaceflight, about launches and orbits and landing. Surface exploration is an afterthought. Space program management feels like an afterthought. Even aeroplanes were an afterthought and only became central because small Kerbin makes orbital spaceplanes fairly easy.

With that in mind, maybe richer and more detailed planets should be a thing for a KSP sequel with a greater emphasis on planetary exploration. Although that starts to feel like a crowded genre. I do still hold the view that I want to see KSP finished and Squad working on something new. Maybe a sequel, maybe something totally different.

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KSP is a logistics simulator - you can either go the EVE way and fight over logistics, or you can make a point to the logistics, or you can make the logistical puzzles less homogenous. Fighting is not something I'd like KSP to move to ( or can I see it going that way ), less homogenous puzzles is a bit of an issue in space - you're limited by power and radiation issues, I guess? it's not like there's holes in the gravity well to avoid. I guess you could find a moon which needed some really odd combination of maneuvers to service, but then you have to ask why you're going there in the first place.

So, let's have a point to the logistics - there is a big step towards that with the resource system already, there just needs to be some creative use of that & perhaps some extending for more detail. You don't want to put all this effort into fighting your way to some awkward planet and 30s later after you've planted your flag go "well, ok!." First though we have to think about why we want to go places IRL.

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11 hours ago, adsii1970 said:

I have always liked the idea of a small brown dwarf orbiting a gas giant as a satellite. A while back ago, I was watching some show on Discovery Channel where they were talking that a brown dwarf could actually be the size of Jupiter, and since we know that there are some gas giants much larger than Jupiter, the idea hit me... It would be a neat visual effect for the game! After all, brown dwarves do give off a little light...

browndwarf.jpg  C_BrownDwarfArtistConcept.jpg

 

Wait... what? I think the discovery channel is wrong there.

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Brown dwarfs usually are about the size of Jupiter but several times its mass. Over a range from about 1 to 80 Jupiter masses, for an object made of hydrogen and helium, extra mass just squashes it together more.

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What if Kerbol was in a binary orbit with a brown dwarf? The two stars would orbit far enough apart to not affect each other's planetary orbits.

This could open up a whole load of potential variety for unique planets.

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Even if we add geysers and mountains and rock formations and all that other stuff they're still going to be what they are. We'll go there, check out the new features, and then just get bored again. Honestly adding more and more is just going to delay the inevitable and you are going to want to add more stuff to planets after a while. We haven't gotten a new planet since 0.18.2 anyways. We should get 1 or 2 more before we improve what we have.

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2 hours ago, The Optimist said:

Wait... what? I think the discovery channel is wrong there.

Nope. Did some research. It comes straight from NASA. And you can find another NASA link here. Space.com has an article here that also discusses the size range beginning at Jupiter's size at the small end of the range.

Nope, Discovery Channel got it right...

2 hours ago, cantab said:

Brown dwarfs usually are about the size of Jupiter but several times its mass. Over a range from about 1 to 80 Jupiter masses, for an object made of hydrogen and helium, extra mass just squashes it together more.

But...wait...remember this is the Kerbin universe where real world physics do have some leeway.  If we can have all kinds of parts and craft that breaks the bounds of physics, putting a small brown dwarf in the Kerbol system should surely be possible... :confused:

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11 hours ago, HoloYolo said:

Even if we add geysers and mountains and rock formations and all that other stuff they're still going to be what they are. We'll go there, check out the new features, and then just get bored again. Honestly adding more and more is just going to delay the inevitable and you are going to want to add more stuff to planets after a while. We haven't gotten a new planet since 0.18.2 anyways. We should get 1 or 2 more before we improve what we have.

You would want a proper career overhaul for that. There are so many ways to make planets and moons so much more interesting by setting specific task on the surfaces of planets. The problem is we have to deal with random contracts instead of setting the goals ourselves.

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12 minutes ago, Veeltch said:

You would want a proper career overhaul for that. There are so many ways to make planets and moons so much more interesting by setting specific task on the surfaces of planets. The problem is we have to deal with random contracts instead of setting the goals ourselves.

This is why I prefer sandbox mode -- for now. What I would like to see is a set of options for sandbox mode, such as the ability to "collect" science points or even work a contract. Not really interested in the whole "do this to get this to do this but you can't waste too much of your junk on this..." kind of thing.

Edited by adsii1970

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11 hours ago, adsii1970 said:

But...wait...remember this is the Kerbin universe where real world physics do have some leeway.  If we can have all kinds of parts and craft that breaks the bounds of physics, putting a small brown dwarf in the Kerbol system should surely be possible... :confused:

And while we're at it, let's add square orbits, infinite fuel and a moon made of cheese. After all, physics doesn't apply.

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1 minute ago, Holo said:

And while we're at it, let's add square orbits, infinite fuel and a moon made of cheese. After all, physics doesn't apply.

No, that is not at all what I am advocating. There's  nothing beyond the scope of possibility that says we could not have a brown dwarf in orbit of a gas giant in the Kerbin system. It is in the realm of real physics possibilities AND could fit within KSP, even if you decided to make it a "moon" of Jool and at a reduced size.

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12 hours ago, HoloYolo said:

Even if we add geysers and mountains and rock formations and all that other stuff they're still going to be what they are. We'll go there, check out the new features, and then just get bored again. Honestly adding more and more is just going to delay the inevitable and you are going to want to add more stuff to planets after a while. We haven't gotten a new planet since 0.18.2 anyways. We should get 1 or 2 more before we improve what we have.

The point of the thread was to discuss how to make planets more interesting, not add more planets ( I think the title is a bit misleading ). Most people don't even bother going to the ones we have already, there's no point adding any more unless there's a specific reason to do it.

The thing that needs to be done is to make more things to do on a planet, not to just make them look more interesting.

Edited by Van Disaster

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but if they look interesting, then the few mechanics we already have could be enough.

Biome hopping to 10 bland very similar biomes to collect science is boring.

Biome hopping from rift valleys, to riverbeds, to ancient shorelines, to volcanoes, to massive craters, to high plateaus to collect science is much more fun.

Maybe not more varied bodies, but more variation present on existing bodies, such that the mechanisms encouraging visiting different biomes expose you to different sights and challenges

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Some ideas:

Add weather

Add more varied biomes/color/surface irregularities.

Add surface qualities, eg. muddy, slippery, sandy, rocky, etc.

Make temperature matter more

Add more detailed geography (this is highly dependent both on Unity's capabilities and man-hours to make said geography).

Add more dangerous, difficult terrain: crevasses, steep mountains, lava plains, slippery slopes, etc.

Add disasters (this is really ambitious :P ) occasional meteor strike, rockslides/avalanches, geysers, active volcanos....

Let's be honest, Squad has gone over all of this stuff and more. I imagine the issue is both time and keeping hardware requirements at a sane level.

 

 

Edited by Waxing_Kibbous

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Ain't nothing like the real thing... except the real thing made even more interesting

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Seriously... after playing with Mars data... the in game planets are just so... boring. Kerbin's OK, but duna... needs more finer detail.

Look at those dry martian riverbeds... and then look at the canyons we get for Duna....

Even Kerbin isn't as interesting as its source material:

http://libnoise.sourceforge.net/examples/complexplanet/

The color and heightmaps for mars are the same resoulution as the ones for the in game planets as far as I know, so that sort of detail can easily be put in game with current performance. We need to either rip off real world stuff (as I did above), or use more procedural generation.

I wouldn't mind if it disrupted the stuff I have on the surface of worlds already (I can save file edit as needed to get them to survive the transistion)

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3 hours ago, KerikBalm said:

but if they look interesting, then the few mechanics we already have could be enough.

Biome hopping to 10 bland very similar biomes to collect science is boring.

Biome hopping from rift valleys, to riverbeds, to ancient shorelines, to volcanoes, to massive craters, to high plateaus to collect science is much more fun.

Maybe not more varied bodies, but more variation present on existing bodies, such that the mechanisms encouraging visiting different biomes expose you to different sights and challenges

This!! KerikBalm nailed it  +1

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5 hours ago, Holo said:

And while we're at it, let's add square orbits, infinite fuel and a moon made of cheese. After all, physics doesn't apply.

Now I want square orbits.

Cheese moons aren't physics-defying, they just aren't plausible.

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I'd like to see improved, and more, texture variety and colors, yes there are mods and I plan on using them but the default stuff tends to be a bit bland and uniform in color and could stand some improvement...a lot of it was done some time ago so a bit of a revamp seems appropriate for the stock game (and an option to turn it off or revert to "original" colors textures for purists would be a good idea).  I think at this point  leave the existing planets as is terrain wise and just add another planet or three and some more moons (especially around Kerbin but other places too).  The new heavenly bodies can then be much more varied with an Olympus Mons here and a Marianas like trench there and so on. 

Then to go with these maybe add some more options for doing things, plenty of ideas around for this (e.g. hydrogen mining, more interesting and varied science gathering options, more reasons to sustain bases and etc. ).

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1 hour ago, kBob said:

Then to go with these maybe add some more options for doing things, plenty of ideas around for this (e.g. hydrogen mining, more interesting and varied science gathering options, more reasons to sustain bases and etc. ).

Well, let's hash out some details & see what can be incorporated with what we have, or by extending what is in the game already. "More reasons to sustain bases" is extremely vague.. what reasons? what does hydrogen mining bring to the game and how would we do it?

Biome hopping does absolutely nothing for sandbox. There are things which would add to sandbox just as much, like more detailed resource extraction for one, which would also add to career. Biome hopping to more differing biomes is still not going to keep you on a planet very long.

Edited by Van Disaster

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