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CommNet Range/Tech and Game Play


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Just loaded 1.2, started Career from scratch for the challenge, and after a few Mun/Minmus missions, I thought I would send a one-way probe with a parachute to Eve.   Unlocked the OCTO with SAS, all set up, broke Kerbin SOI en route to Eve and.... poof, it's gone.

So, I have the Tracking Station fully upgraded, and a station in orbit with the base repeater antennas.   Everything has LOS, but the table on this page:
http://wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/CommNet
... says basically I can't control a probe around Eve or Duna until I unlock the DTS-M1 (PrecEng).

By the time I unlock those, it's easier to send a manned mission.   Going further than Eve/Duna requires a higher level unlock, by then I'll be sending manned missions on those as well.

It seems that CommNet does nothing but kill / make it more difficult to use interplanetary probes.   Am I missing something?

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CommNet, IMO just adds another layer of realism to the stock game. Realistically, you're gonna need relay probes in orbit around Kerbol if you're doing interplanetary missions. I believe this is KSP's attempt to mimic the NASA DSN.

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1 hour ago, maranble14 said:

CommNet, IMO just adds another layer of realism to the stock game. Realistically, you're gonna need relay probes in orbit around Kerbol if you're doing interplanetary missions. I believe this is KSP's attempt to mimic the NASA DSN.

Sure, but why make the radios so weak that I need to send manned flybys to Duna / Eve / etc to get the science necessary to research the antennas necessary to send UNMANNED missions to the same planets?   I mean, after that, what's the point?    Just send 1-Kerbal capsules everywhere on flybys, there's more science for less hassle.

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Did you knock your science reward multiplier down? It should be trivial to get a 160-point tech with just Mun/Minmus science.

Just by transmitting (not even recovering!) thermometer and barometer measurements from all the surface biomes of the Mun and Minmus, you can get 1,130 science. Once you start to recover, and start to bring in other experiments like the materials bay, goo pod, crew reports and EVA reports, you can unlock a pretty sizable fraction of the tech tree, and it's even easier now that there's the little science canister to store experiments in.

Some of my typical shenanigans: send a manned mission on a free return trajectory around the Moon; you can pick up EVA reports from space just above quite a few of the Moon's biomes that way, send a crew capsule into a polar orbit of Kerbin to pick up EVA reports from over Kerbin's biomes, etc. There's also DMagic's mod; the magnetometer unlocks very early and has biome-dependent readings from both low orbit and on the surface (more free-return shenanigans!).

EDIT: Also, not too hard to launch a mission to just barely escape Kerbin's SOI into solar orbit, collect science, and immediately return to Kerbin.

Edited by Starman4308
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Yes, I'm familiar with how to 'farm biomes' on Mun/Minmus.   I guess I'm a bit bothered by KSP going down the road of being a 'one way to play it' / everyone uses the same strategy, rather than being a sandbox where you can use various strategies of manned missions, probes, science stations, etc to accomplish your goals... 

Russians sent probes to Venus in 1975.   We sent Mariner 4 to Mars in 1964, years before we landed on the moon.   Pioneer 11 (Saturn) was launched in 1973.   Long range antennas aren't that hard a technology to master.   The limitations just seem goofy and an inappropriate limitation in the game.   Either ranges need to be increased, or antennas need to be moved down the tech scale another notch.

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8 hours ago, maranble14 said:

CommNet, IMO just adds another layer of realism to the stock game. Realistically, you're gonna need relay probes in orbit around Kerbol if you're doing interplanetary missions. I believe this is KSP's attempt to mimic the NASA DSN.

Except that the DSN doesn't include relay satellites around other planets and is quite capable of communicating with spacecraft out at Pluto and beyond. :) Not quickly mind you, so I'm not sure if it would be capable of real-time mission control of crewed missions over interplanetary distances but then signal delay over those distances is going to make real-time control from Earth a bit tricky in any case.

CommNet is a fun game mechanic that gives you another reason (other than science) to send probes to places but I don't think it's particularly realistic.

4 hours ago, sdrevik said:

Yes, I'm familiar with how to 'farm biomes' on Mun/Minmus.   I guess I'm a bit bothered by KSP going down the road of being a 'one way to play it' / everyone uses the same strategy, rather than being a sandbox where you can use various strategies of manned missions, probes, science stations, etc to accomplish your goals... 

Agreed. Biome farming is by far the quickest and easiest way to get your science points. Going off that well-worn track is disproportionately difficult which is a shame. I find it also pushes me into slightly absurd measures like farming the KSC biomes for scraps of science.

Edited by KSK
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6 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

Did you knock your science reward multiplier down? It should be trivial to get a 160-point tech with just Mun/Minmus science.

Just by transmitting (not even recovering!) thermometer and barometer measurements from all the surface biomes of the Mun and Minmus, you can get 1,130 science. Once you start to recover, and start to bring in other experiments like the materials bay, goo pod, crew reports and EVA reports, you can unlock a pretty sizable fraction of the tech tree, and it's even easier now that there's the little science canister to store experiments in.

Why bother? Just cheat some science in instead of increasing your science rewards. Same result.

KSP's pseudo-career mode needs to change. "Tweaking" science rewards won't help it. It never have.

2 hours ago, KSK said:

 

Agreed. Biome farming is by far the quickest and easiest way to get your science points. Going off that well-worn track is disproportionately difficult which is a shame. I find it also pushes me into slightly absurd measures like farming the KSC biomes for scraps of science.

Yep. It's always either "grind your way through the ridiculous tech tree with half-assed manned science collectors", or "be prepared to have a hard time doing anything else".

And people say career mode let's you try different playstyles. Yeeeeeeah, right.

Edited by Veeltch
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So your complaint is not "it is too hard to get these antennae", it is "the tech tree is hard when I ignore one of the major science mechanics".

Here's the thing about KSP: you can determine your own difficulty. If you're going to make things more difficult by ignoring biomes, you can also make things easier by increasing science returns and possibly starting with some extra science points. It is flat-out impossible to make everybody happy, which is part of why Squad included those toggles.

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14 hours ago, maranble14 said:

CommNet, IMO just adds another layer of realism to the stock game. Realistically, you're gonna need relay probes in orbit around Kerbol if you're doing interplanetary missions. I believe this is KSP's attempt to mimic the NASA DSN.

KSP simulates the DSN if you have it configured to have 3 base stations on Kerbin and have it fully upgraded. It gives LOS to any location in the solar system 99.9% of the time. There is no real need for relays in solar or Kerbin orbit. Relays are intended for remote locations to enable connection between Kerbin and for instance a rover that has only a small antenna.  


From the pov of technological development it does not make much sense to have bigger/more powerful antennas late in the techtree, because antennas are simple and making them bigger is also simple (similar for the unmentioned radio transmitters that are build into KSP's antennas).

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1 hour ago, Starman4308 said:

So your complaint is not "it is too hard to get these antennae", it is "the tech tree is hard when I ignore one of the major science mechanics".

More like "the places all the parts are in are ridiculous and hard to deal with".

1 hour ago, Starman4308 said:

 

Here's the thing about KSP: you can determine your own difficulty. If you're going to make things more difficult by ignoring biomes, you can also make things easier by increasing science returns and possibly starting with some extra science points. It is flat-out impossible to make everybody happy, which is part of why Squad included those toggles.

The problem is these toggles won't fix something that is broken from the start.

All I'm saying is that career is always either a purgatory or child's play. All it takes to fix it is a few simple things.

Edited by Veeltch
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5 hours ago, Veeltch said:

Yep. It's always either "grind your way through the ridiculous tech tree with half-assed manned science collectors", or "be prepared to have a hard time doing anything else".

And people say career mode let's you try different playstyles. Yeeeeeeah, right.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^'

This.    Thank you for being a person who gets the point.  It's not a sandbox game if there's really just one route to go (or one reasonable route and one obviously bad route).

I like the mechanic of having to deal with LOS, have relay stations, etc.   I think it's an interesting mechanic.   The antennas are all just needlessly weak for their given point in the tech tree.

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3 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

So your complaint is not "it is too hard to get these antennae", it is "the tech tree is hard when I ignore one of the major science mechanics".

Here's the thing about KSP: you can determine your own difficulty. If you're going to make things more difficult by ignoring biomes, you can also make things easier by increasing science returns and possibly starting with some extra science points. It is flat-out impossible to make everybody happy, which is part of why Squad included those toggles.

For me it's not about ignoring biomes, it's about Mun/Minmus biome farming being the overwhelmingly superior way of progressing through the tech tree. Once you've figured out enough of the game to get to LKO, it's reasonably straightforward (especially with the in-game tutorials) to get to the Mun and Minmus. After that - bam - more science than you can shake a scientific stick at. Yes you can go interplanetary and yes you can use orbiting labs (with a bit of self-control on the timewarp button they're not even too broken) but both of those options are significantly harder then Mun/Minmus biome farming.

That's partly because of the amounts of science available but mostly because the tech tree is geared towards that Kerbin-Mun/Minmus-interplanetary game progression which means that most of the useful technologies for different play styles come near the end of the tree. Changing the difficulty slider doesn't affect that much, if anything it encourages more biome farming just to scrape enough science together to do whatever else you want to do. Even if you're going interplanetary in a Mk1 capsule you still need reasonably advanced power generation (because solar is less effective) and taking along a proper suite of science experiments is handy too.

What would be nice would be to have a tech tree that allows more options once you get to LKO. Want a standard progression to the Mun and Minmus? No problem. Want to focus on interplanetary probes and get your science that way? Go for it. Want to build a space station before going to the Mun and use an orbiting lab to get a boost from some of those early LKO experiments? That should be an option too. Heck - putting more than one kerbonaut at a time into orbit before you've unlocked the first third of the tech tree would be an improvement.

Those alternative play-styles are hobbled at the moment in that to unlock the parts to do them properly, you need to farm significant amounts of science from the Mun or Minmus. Which makes them a bit pointless.

This isn't about difficulty - it's about variety. Give me an FL-T400 tank, a Mk1 capsule, some landing legs, a couple of decouplers,  a Swivel and a Terrier and I can unlock the whole tech tree by going to two destinations (unless I self-impose a swingeing science penalty). But who wants to do that every single game?

 

Edited by KSK
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I'm still not seeing it. You are complaining that going interplanetary is difficult when long-range relay antennas are just 160 science points away from basic solar panels. It is a grand total of 320 points from the start.

So far as I can tell, your complaint is "I wish I could go interplanetary after barely touching the Mun and Minmus". While I would agree that there is too much science at those moons (and that there should be diminishing returns after the first few biomes), you are still complaining that interplanetary antennae are located at a 160-point node just following the node that gives you the solar panels and halfway-decent probe core you'd need anyways.

The 160-point nodes are generally where you start to get into advanced mission equipment-and guess what? Interplanetary probes count as an advanced mission! The tech tree has to be designed around some assumption of how players will progress, and "player will at least visit the Mun/Minmus with a full set of experiments before going interplanetary" is a pretty good one.

Getting one 160-point node is, quite frankly, trivial. If you don't have the patience to "do that every single game"; give yourself 320 points at start; nobody is going to blame you for saying "I've been to the Mun and Minmus a million times, and I'd rather just skip to going interplanetary". The stock tech tree is designed with new players in mind, because Squad makes the entirely reasonable assumption that advanced players who want to skip the early game will be able to undertake the Herculean effort of sliding the "starting science" slider a bit to the right.

EDIT: In short, while yes, it's annoying that you can spend hours and hours farming lunar biomes to unlock a large fraction of the tech tree, 160 point nodes are not very deep in, and there are plenty of very-skippable 90-point and 45-point nodes.

Edited by Starman4308
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9 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

@Starman4308 you are missing the point. It's not about getting enough or not enough science points to unlock certain nodes that let you progress in a certain way. It's about the progression itself and how one wants to go about their career and tech tree research. As you said, there seem to be only to ways of unlocking nodes needed for interplanetary missions: cheat the science in, or Mun and Minmus biome hopping. There is also an option of increasing science rewards, but the truth is it isn't that different from cheating some in.

Now, as a person who tried the stock career mode and a modded one based on funds and reputation only, I can tell you there is a significant difference between the two. The second one where the only things that matter are reputation and money is much more enjoyable. Why? Because I can pick my own path of progression (by having a tree that branches out right at the start) and either decide: have slow progression without much exploration, or earn tons of reputation (thus money) by going places really quick and making the progression much faster. It's amazing how much more flexibility and freedom I have by getting rid of one of the reward currencies (science points).

About the "but the new players!" argument: I've seen people using this, frankly poor argument, and I've said that the tutorials are in the game for a reason if you want to learn. The KSPedia and sandbox are also available. Being guided by the hand every time a career mode is started is a bad design choice. It's like doing the same tutorial mission over and over again.

To sum up: it doesn't matter how quick you progress, it's how many ways of doing so you have. In stock you have only two: cheating the science in (which isn't much different from adjusting the sliders to the full) or grinding your way through the tree by biome hopping.

AND WHY CAN'T I DELETE THIS QUOTE!?

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I think @sdrevik's point was that by the time you've unlocked that 160 point node (along with the other nodes needed to build an interplanetary probe) then you're already able to send an easier and scientifically more lucrative crewed mission. So unless you're dead set on going for a 'probes first' game, you may as well do the crewed mission first.

As such he was bothered by "KSP going down the road of being a 'one way to play it' / everyone uses the same strategy, rather than being a sandbox where you can use various strategies of manned missions, probes, science stations, etc. to accomplish your goals..."

It's not so much that getting that 160 point antenna node is hard - it's that there are much easier (and arguably better) options available much sooner in the tech tree.

Then again, try getting to that 160 point node without getting any science from crew reports or EVA reports? Maybe try getting it without going to the Mun or Minmus? Suddenly it looks a lot harder to get to. It's only trivial if you follow the well-trodden progression path and a lot harder if you deviate from that path. 

But I think we're talking past each other a bit. You seem (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) to be regarding the early game as something to be skipped past once you're bored with it - which as you point out, is very easy to do. Whereas I'm coming from the viewpoint of 'wouldn't it be nice if there were more ways to play and enjoy the early game, rather than skipping past it.'

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1 hour ago, KSK said:

I think @sdrevik's point was that by the time you've unlocked that 160 point node (along with the other nodes needed to build an interplanetary probe) then you're already able to send an easier and scientifically more lucrative crewed mission. So unless you're dead set on going for a 'probes first' game, you may as well do the crewed mission first.

Well that's because stock treats Kerbals as slightly-heavier and more lucrative probes. It isn't the tech tree's fault that you can stick a Kerbal in a lawnchair in a can and send him on a 100-year multi-slingshot expediton around the solar system; it's the fault of there being no life support and precious little reason to bother with unmanned missions when the game goes out of its way to encourage manned missions.

1 hour ago, KSK said:

But I think we're talking past each other a bit. You seem (and please do correct me if I'm wrong) to be regarding the early game as something to be skipped past once you're bored with it - which as you point out, is very easy to do. Whereas I'm coming from the viewpoint of 'wouldn't it be nice if there were more ways to play and enjoy the early game, rather than skipping past it.'

I have no idea what you would even consider to be the early game if you cut out exploring the Mun and Minmus (and a token bit of getting to Kerbin orbit), so count me confused as to what you're trying to get at.

2 hours ago, Veeltch said:

@Starman4308 you are missing the point. It's not about getting enough or not enough science points to unlock certain nodes that let you progress in a certain way. It's about the progression itself and how one wants to go about their career and tech tree research. As you said, there seem to be only to ways of unlocking nodes needed for interplanetary missions: cheat the science in, or Mun and Minmus biome hopping. There is also an option of increasing science rewards, but the truth is it isn't that different from cheating some in.

Now, as a person who tried the stock career mode and a modded one based on funds and reputation only, I can tell you there is a significant difference between the two. The second one where the only things that matter are reputation and money is much more enjoyable. Why? Because I can pick my own path of progression (by having a tree that branches out right at the start) and either decide: have slow progression without much exploration, or earn tons of reputation (thus money) by going places really quick and making the progression much faster. It's amazing how much more flexibility and freedom I have by getting rid of one of the reward currencies (science points).

From what I can tell of your no-science modlist, it is "I want to be able to unlock everything by sending octabajillion tourists to orbit and converting the cash to science". Not interested-I want to be forced to do new things to progress, and while unfortunately there is too much science available on the Mun/Minmus (see suggestion on decaying returns for visiting multiple biomes), I don't really see how your modlist fixes that; instead of grinding biomes, you're grinding funds/reputation.

2 hours ago, Veeltch said:

AND WHY CAN'T I DELETE THIS QUOTE!?

Click on it and hit the backspace/delete key, assuming you're on a desktop. Not sure about mobile.

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9 minutes ago, Starman4308 said:

From what I can tell of your no-science modlist, it is "I want to be able to unlock everything by sending octabajillion tourists to orbit and converting the cash to science". Not interested-I want to be forced to do new things to progress, and while unfortunately there is too much science available on the Mun/Minmus (see suggestion on decaying returns for visiting multiple biomes), I don't really see how your modlist fixes that; instead of grinding biomes, you're grinding funds/reputation.

Except that's wrong. The modlist actually enables me to choose what I want to do. I can go to the Mun, Minmus, build a station entertain the tourists, send probes wherever and whenever I want to. The fact that tourist contracts give too much reputation is a different thing though.

The approach of "I want to be forced to visit Mun/Minmus" is... really bad. What you are sayins is "play it this way because exploration".

The exploration part of the game should be driven by contracts. They should be the main reason to go "out there", not tech research. You should be able to say "I want to go to planet X, do you want me to do anything there?" If the missions/contracts don't do that then the game is finished when the tree is finished, which is not right. Contracts are so bad people just go "hey, I beat the game! look at my completed tech tree!".

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The idea that I need to examine some rocks to develop a slightly new antenna is comical. The transmitters involved are low power compared to anything they would use on the ground, in fact. The biggest antenna is akin to the Voyager antenna which is what, 8 watts?(it also has a mass equal to 3/4 that of the entire Voyager spacecraft). The tech progression in general is absurd, as is the purchase mechanism. Almost everything in the tech tree should actually be coincident. The first RTG and solar panels flew around the same time as the first manned spaceflights, for example.

I imagine the mass of points around kerbin SoI is there because apparently a majority of people never leave the kerbin SoI.

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Ok, everyone settle down. This is becoming quite a heated discussion (*)! Don't forget to include some compliments for each other to keep the atmosphere nice and friendly!

I gotta say that there is something to be said for having an antenna that can allow probes to communicate from Duna back to Kerbin early on. Just looking at the table on the wiki, then you need to have either the 160-point-node and a tier-3 tracking station (>800,000 funds!), or a 300-point-node (electronics) and a tier-2 tracking station. I still think that is a little difficult to get early on.

In the real world, the USSR And USA combined had launched 17 probes to the Moon (of which only 4 (partially) successful) before even trying their first launch for Mars (which also failed). That is probably something that the career mode wants to simulate. Luckily, a single successful Mun mission usually gives enough science points to go somewhere else... and if you also nail a Minmus landing then you can almost certainly head for Duna afterwards.

On the other hand, in that same real world, missions (or accepted contracts) unlock cash. And cash (plus time, plus trained scientists) gets you science / engineering, which then 'unlocks' new parts. So, the way we unlock new parts directly by doing a Goo experiment on the Mun makes little sense. But this is again just a way that the game wants to simplify and simulate reality.

So, if you don't like the 'grinding for science points by visiting the Mun first', or if you don't like to turn science directly into new parts, then by all means use the game's greatest feature: Mods.

(*) At least for this forum's standards... compared to the rest of the internet, you're all still angels!

Edited by Magzimum
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1 hour ago, Starman4308 said:

Well that's because stock treats Kerbals as slightly-heavier and more lucrative probes. It isn't the tech tree's fault that you can stick a Kerbal in a lawnchair in a can and send him on a 100-year multi-slingshot expediton around the solar system; it's the fault of there being no life support and precious little reason to bother with unmanned missions when the game goes out of its way to encourage manned missions.

I have no idea what you would even consider to be the early game if you cut out exploring the Mun and Minmus (and a token bit of getting to Kerbin orbit), so count me confused as to what you're trying to get at.

Completely agree with your first point.

Your second point is a fair one and difficult to answer simply because it depends on so many things. A new player for example might consider a Minmus landing to be the end-game - and quite rightly so given the skills they've had to master along the way. Then there's the question of how one measures progression through the game. Skills mastered? Planets visited? Tech unlocked? You could make an argument for each.

Kerbal experience is an interesting metric though. Consider that orbiting Kerbin and planting a flag on the Mun and Minmus isn't quite enough to get a kerbal to level 3. To get to level 4 (if the wiki is still correct) requires a flag on Duna and Ike (there are others but Duna is an easy first target for interplanetary flights) and to get to level 5 requires flags on Duna, Ike and Gilly plus an orbit of Eve - again picking the easier targets.

To me, that suggests that (roughly), landings around Kerbin's SOI could be considered early game, landings on Duna, Ike and Gilly could be considered mid-game (ignoring the blatant anomaly that landing on Eve grants the same experience as landing on Duna) and anything after that (with fully leveled up kerbals) is end game.

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1 hour ago, Magzimum said:

Ok, everyone settle down. This is becoming quite a heated discussion (*)! Don't forget to include some compliments for each other to keep the atmosphere nice and friendly!

You are beautiful.

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Career is fundamentally broken because they never decided what it was, the worked to make that (whatever that was) work.

It's NOT about exploration, because there is no "fog of war" to it, and replays are always identical.

It's NOT about space program management, because it does a poor job of modeling a space program at even a zeroith order level, and it entirely lacks any management tools into the bargain.

So what it is? Heck if I know.

The only reward system is unlocking the tech tree. We all (here) know that unlocking the tree is not "winning," but that doesn't matter, because like it or not, unlocking the tree IS winning. People unconsciously play to reward systems, and that is the ONLY reward system in the game. Add to this that the tech tree is poorly conceived and executed, and we have a problem. Mapped to "real life," almost everything in the tree is in fact concurrent. What the tree needs are more choices---and not just with the parts we have. Look our lack of propellant choices. We have LF aircraft (and NTRs, for reasons), LFO rockets, and xenon. Oh, and a handful of mono prop engines. Since there is already more than one, why not more? And with real trade offs. Maybe that means (shudder) rare, random failures, but mapped to the different fuel types. Upgrades (now a thing) can provide increased capability/reliability so that if you invest in hydrolox, maybe you stick with it, even though not ideal for all uses because you've bothered to upgrade it.

It's not easy to get right, frankly, but the current tree is very, very wrong. Just look at having to even have a tech tree node for LADDERS...

On topic of comms, there is no reason why every antenna would not be available from the start. Really. The new relay antennas are grossly overweight, for example. 600kg for the big one? It's basically the Voyager antenna (not even scaled down), and the entire radio suite on Voyager, with all the structure to support the dish included I think is 50kg (I posted it during the pre-release and don't remember other than it not being close to 600 since the entire spacecraft massed 800kg at launch (including propellants). So make them all available, and perhaps drop the mass and increase the capability via "upgrades" so that the RA-100 can eventually mass what it should, maybe 0.05 or 0.1, instead of 0.6).

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