DocMoriarty

Whats Your Cash Cow in Career Games?

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In my last career games I made most funds with one or two crafts (or types of crafts) that i used repeatedly. Especially in my current career game this got very important since I sat funds to 60% when starting the game which not only significantly lowers mission income but also seems to raise upgrade costs for KSC facilities.

So my current cash cow is a 5-Kerbal passenger cruiser which I use for various missions in the Kerbin system. The current version has a launch weight around 33t and I usually do roundtrips Kerbin->Minmus (land)->Kerbol orbit->Mun (land)->Kerbin (land) with it so that the passengers will have level 3 at the end. On these roundtrips many different missions can be completed so each roundtrip is usually worth a couple 100K funds. Also this gives me the science needed since I always land in different biomes to collect science data on these roundtrips.

I usually collect multiple Missions for one roundtrip. These are:

- passenger trips which involve Kerbin, Mun and Minmus

- rescue Kerbals from orbit / ground missions

- science data from surface

- build orbital station (5 Kerbal station missions)

- build base (5 Kerbal base missions)

cruiser_05_01.jpg

A previous and way bigger version of that concept for 20 Kerbals was the following. Not at this point in my current career yet but working on it:

cruiser_20_01_minmus.jpg

So what are your cash cows to earn funds?

 

 

 

 

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I typically play science mode, but in my single career game, I don't really have a single ship I just fly over and over to earn funds. Flying spaceplanes does not truly get many funds, but I do just send my kerbals to the mun and then minmus to help level up, and then get funds, so I guess it's pretty simmilar to what you're doing, but I like using minimalistic rockets with two kerbals as opposed to a five or twenty kerbal craft.

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Without a doubt science labs.
As soon as I completed the tech tree I set up a strategy to convert science to funds. All experiments are collected multiple times in order for them to be researched in multiple places at a time.
And whenever possible I try to pay for my launches with science, tourist and rescue contracts. Excess pilots and engineers get fired. Scientists get trained and put to work.

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In my previous game, I had a good scheme going for pre-orbit funds.

4 tuned BACCs with a hitchhiker and parachutes on top, and swept wings for fins.

Good for punting 4 tourists into space on the cheap just hitting space bar a few times.

 

 

For my current game, which has a house rule of no probes in command of propulsion systems:

Early game, I had a 1.25m-only Orbital Tourister.  Typically one pilot, one tourist and one spare seat for an LKO rescue.

That gets me set with funds to plunder science from the mun and then (once lifesupport tech allowed) minmus, and then deploy a basic refinery on the flats while still using 1.25m rocket tech because of the ISRU focus rush.

Late game, I have an SSTM spaceplane (3000 speso cost for any round trip) that can land and return from Minmus without refuelling if flown really well, but typically will refuel at the refinery and do the 3-star tour of Minmus surface, solar flyby, munar flyby plus optional munar landing with a second refuel at munbase alpha.  It also counts for 6-man bases and stations.

It is capable of deploying satellites to anywhere in the Kerbin subsystem by matching the orbit and then having the engineer KAS assemble the contracted probe from his backpack.  And makes a good part recovery ship when the cargo hold is filled with parachutes and fins to bolt on to the orbiting wrecks.  These kind of things were done once or twice to prove the concept and then faded off the schedule, but I do throw an occasional octo+RTG+communotron combo overboard to thicken up the comms network.

 

Other than the science building upgrade to push to ISRU, money was not an issue.  Every vehicle I have is now pimped out with RTGs, and very few things bother with solar panels anymore.

Edited by suicidejunkie

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Satellites, probably. Take 5 contracts and complete them all with one satellite.

And similarly, take as many base contracts as you can when sending Kerbals somewhere.

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SSTO-launched satellites. Make 150,000 WR Credits for a 3000 WR Credit launch cost. Plus slap a relay antenna on 'em, and hey, comsats!

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Yeah satellites aren't bad for making money. Once i have the infrared camera from 'Asteroid Day' mod i usually start to launch infrared satellites for the detect asteroids missions which also yield quite some cash plus each of these satellites also carries relay dishes for long distance coms. In a previous career game i had two contracts worth 2.3 million funds each for detecting asteroids which of course required a tad more than 1 satellite due to rareness of matching asteroids but hey my comnet grew too.

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"New station on a solar orbit." These are worth boatloads of cash, but are extremely quick and simple to design and launch. 

Those are huge boosters for the cash-hungry mid-game when I'm trying to upgrade the (very expensive) R&D complex and VAB.

Early game, it's place-a-satellite, and the World First stuff around Kerbin, Mun, Minmus. Also "science data from space around X"; these are not super valuable individually, but they pop up all the time, and they only take about ten seconds to complete, as long as I left a satellite parked around X (which I always do).

I do a few of the easier tourist missions early on. They pay almost nothing, but they can be useful reputation builders to unlock the more lucrative contracts. Beyond the very early ones, I generally don't bother with tourism, because the payout is generally very low compared to the amount of time I have to spend on them.

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My initial career cash cow tends to be an orbital unit that can carry four or more kerbals to orbit and a fly-by of Mun. As I advance through I create ones that will land on Mun/Minmus with 7 or even eleven kerbals on board.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Draco T stand-up guy said:

My initial career cash cow tends to be an orbital unit that can carry four or more kerbals to orbit and a fly-by of Mun. As I advance through I create ones that will land on Mun/Minmus with 7 or even eleven kerbals on board.

Yeah something like

4_passenger_liner.jpg

 

 

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Explore Body missions, magnetic surveys from @DMagic's Orbital Science, Scansat scans, and ground-survey type things. And as @5thHorseman says, satellites, when actively seeking money. Research small parts and send up a little half-tonner to fulfil a couple of them at a time, great RoI every time. I play at 50% funding and am never really short of cash...

I never found tourism to be paying enough to be worth the effort. I also never test parts or mine ore, and rarely do stations unless I happen to be going to the destination anyway. In-atmosphere surveys are usually too awkward to bother, either being above the altitude of the engines I have available, or something stupid like on Jool.

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I strap parachutes, airbrakes, and a probe core onto my boosters and I never have to worry about funds. They are great for evreything. I just ditch them in the ocean and don't bother with flyback and precision landing.

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Early on, multiple tourists with a single launch.

Then, rescues (until roster is where I want it).

Moving on in the game, placing a probe in orbit of and on the surface of every planet/moon I encounter for "collect science from" contracts. Not a lot of cash, but super quick to complete.

Major cash cow is planting a probe with an ore drill and ore storage on the Mun and Minmus. They just live there. I can immediately complete any "collect X ore from Mun/Minmus" contract and they pay well. After completing a contract, jettison the ore and leave the probe mining away: when a contact drops, I visit my "Contract Miner" and get immediate credit for all the ore it's mined. Easy money.

Edited by N4CDLAW

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5 hours ago, DocMoriarty said:

Yeah something like

4_passenger_liner.jpg

 

 

Can't say that I've ever used that particular configuration. More normally something like this:

20161002141922_1_zpshnjvro3q.jpg

Or this:

20161011211406_1_zpsgvpe4mvy.jpg

And this:

20160501000318_1_zpsjxqistr1.jpg

Tech level dependent of course. I haven't got any screenshots of my really early ones.

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17 hours ago, Garrett Kerman said:

I strap parachutes, airbrakes, and a probe core onto my boosters and I never have to worry about funds. They are great for evreything. I just ditch them in the ocean and don't bother with flyback and precision landing.

in that case the better solution would be the mod "stage recovery" . You still need parachutes/probe but don't have to worry about the 25km rule and jumping between ships.

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  • Plant a flag on the Mun/Minmus. (I typically have to go there anyway to collect science, and sometimes these pop up when I already have a Kerbal there.)
  • Conduct temperature surveys in orbit around the Mun/Minmus. (I typically have a satellite in polar orbit of those bodies awaiting these cash grabs.)
  • Rescue Kerbals from orbit (Essentially free cash and Kerbals, especially when done with a spaceplane.)
  • Get science from/explore celestial body (Generally easy and cheap to do with a small probe.)

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I've always preferred the ground base contracts for Mun/Minmus.

Sooner or later a "5-kerbal base" comes up, and I land a super-cheap, probe-controlled, empty base on one of Kerbin's natural satellites, and rake in the cash.

I don't recall the exact figures, but it's like a 30k launch with a 250k-500k payout or something like that.

Well, those missions, plus rescues.  i'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a kerbonaut when they're just floating around in space for free :wink:

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LKO rescues all day long, easy to do, you can do multiple rescues in one launch, and they are worth way more if you consider the cost of hiring Kerbals outright. Plus they are nice short missions if you just want to play for a little while.

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In the past I'd say it was my Tano-series launch vehicles. They weren't as cheap as some people's methods of getting things to space, but they were cost-effective enough to be useful, and versatile enough that even though I've now retired the design, I've still probably launched more of them than any other type of rocket.

As for now, that place is probably going to be filled by the Raven-series rockets once I get to the mid-game, which are really quite highly efficient and are even more versatile than the old Tano series. Or for the 6.4x scale New Horizons playthrough it'll probably be the Sonnah-series rockets because they have a very wide payload range with small increments.

I am talking about launch vehicles rather than payloads because I don't really re-launch the same payloads often, except for crew transports which don't really count. Launch vehicles are used frequently enough that I can usually get a pretty good idea of their cost-effectiveness. And in any case, most of my funds come from completing various exploration-oriented contracts, which require sending different payloads to different places with the cheapest launch vehicle suitable for the task.

All this being said, my new infrastructure does have a couple of payloads that will be used multiple times, almost all of which are cubesats. I anticipate the most valuable ones will be the small-size 1U cubesats for magnetic surveys. They are small, reasonably cheap, and can be reused for any magnetic survey contracts that take place around the same target body once they've been sent to orbit it.

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I try to fulfil multiple contracts in a single flight.  i.e. Station in kerbin orbit, Mun or Minmus orbit, land base on minmus, mine on minmus , base on solar orbit or Duna flyby.  I include part testing contracts and make a boatload of cash in one mission.  You usually need to wait a while to get a good list but it pays off.

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They're certainly not quick or easy, but the new "Complete the ultimate ______ voyage" contracts can be extremely lucrative relative to their cost, especially if you use little ion-powered probe as a last stage.  The last one I took paid out well over $2 million, and I'm expecting to complete it with a $47k rig that's probably overbuilt in terms of delta-v.  

The contracts to test a small part in Minmus, Mun or solar SOI are also great.  You can strap the part in question on a tiny last stage, add another little stage or two, and launch the thing on an SRB for next to nothing.  

Contracts to mine ore or move ore to a neighboring SOI are essentially free if you already have the mining infrastructure in place.  

Kerbal rescue missions within the Kerbin SOI don't pay a lot (though the kerbal + scrap ones aren't bad), but saving a recruitment fee really adds up quickly.  

"Build an orbital station" contracts can often be accomplished by launching something you wanted anyway, sometimes with small modifications.  Even if the craft isn't intended for use as a station.  

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Opening cash is the world's first contracts.  I milk them like mad.  Sets me up nicely for stage 2.

I drive up the science portion of the tree to the Oktos.  Once I have Okto, I start sending up single-shot dual MG-5 satellites all over the place.  Comm network, here I come... and it's getting me cash, too.

2 pod LKO rescues round out the cash grab here while I'm dancing around with Mun world firsts, as you have to return a bunch of them and I've got time to spare at that point.

I rarely, if ever, have a cash problem from that point forward.  I've gotten very good at building minimalist rockets to do exactly what I need them to do.  However, it's at this point I've started banking towards a pair of science bases on Minmus while 4 scientists go on a nice tour of the local SOI and Solar to get 3 star xp.  Meanwhile, a lander is soaking Mun's biomes with refueler craft being launched every day or so, so there's plant the flag requests and (hopefully) science from on or around Mun (don't lose anything for the crew reports).  Meanwhile, Minmus satellite network contracts are coming up and the same design I used for Mun starts setting up my Minmus network.

Once I've got Seismic opened up, a Minmus Lander is launched to start biome hopping and collecting 3 copies of all science, using the new Science Storage units.  That will then park near wherever I've decided I'm going to park my new science stations, which is usually the Greater Flats just for convenience of so much flat ground.  Eventually, the Station parts are launched once the Mun lander comes home and beefs up the science available.  I get pretty dry on cash here for a little bit, so I will probably ship a few solar suicide stations or similar up.

Once that's done, it's home free.  Minmus Science begins processing and the lander heads to Minmus orbit, grabs the third copy of data, hitches a rescue ship home, and kills the science tree.  From there on a contract turning science to cash leaves the organization free and clear.  Since the bases are modular, if they ever run out of science to process I'll detach the mpl, toss it aside, and connect a new one to the base and it can start fresh one the lander that was left in orbit does another series of biome bounces.

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In terms of contracts taken, I don't really have a cash cow because I don't always favour one contract over another based on monetary reward.

My biggest hurdle to progressing in the game is finding the time to play, so I make sure I have a family of vehices that are flight proven, so no time is spent testing things before I go out and actually do the mission.

The basic vehicle can put almost 15 tons into orbit in SSTO mode. Adding reusable upper stages pushes the payload mass up to 28 tons. If I add expendable SRB's and expendable second stage, 45 tons is achievable, which is good enough for anything unless I want to land on Eve or Tylo.

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I seem to end up doing a bit of everything ... satellites double for relays, bases/stations are good (but tend not to stay there), mining from Mun/Minmus isn't a problem, and the miners can double as bases and carry some tourists.

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