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SETI-UbM Career Challenge (setup takes 5-10min)

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Tired of the same old stock career, which lacks balance and incentives to really consider your spending and design choices?


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SETI-UbM Career Challenge

Tired of the same old stock career, which lacks balance and incentives to really consider your spending and design choices?

Where funds are piling up so fast, that they are at best only an early career issue for facility unlocks, but not for vessel design.
Where even early career science is so abundant without farming, that it does not really matter what you unlock next.
Where design restrictions beyond the 30 part 18ton limits are pretty irrelevant.
Where contract progression is a bit too procedural.
Where you routinely put a kerbal into orbit with one of your first launches.
In a 1 kerbal capsule (0.8tons) which is much, much more mass efficient than the later 3 kerbal capsule (4tons).
Where all powerful magic reaction wheels fix every control issue right from the start, so you never have to think about it.
Where you don't need any life support at all for manned missions, but have to consult a calculator/spreadsheet to find out your commnet sat ranges.
And so on...

Well, it is pretty impossible to change everything. But if want a bit more balance, a bit less basic mod install hassle and a bit more incentive to design efficient vessels, while being willing to learn and adjust to something different than stock, this might be for you.

What is the challenge?

Play career with a specific meta mod pack and game settings and thus face decision and design challenges:

What mission to select next, and is it really necessary to unlock a tech node or rather save the science in case a later mission needs specific tech?
Spend the funds on a facility upgrade, or rather keep them as a reserve?
How to control your vessel without magic reaction wheels (you will get them later for convenience, after you are able to do it without them)?
Is it worth it to send a 1ton probe with all the expensive experiments for this flyby mission, or would a 300kg probe suffice, and then bring the experiments on the landing mission?


What designs do you use to complete the contracts (SETIcontracts are numbered)?

How much tech unlocks did you need for them, what are their costs, masses, part count and dV?

Would you use them again or design them differently the next time?


I'll start with 2 of my designs

02.1 18km Manned Altitude mission, 14500funds, ~5tons, 23 parts: Jet engines are below the wings, in hindsight the tail is too exposed for landing on a dirt runway, and it needs more roll control).



03.0 Orbit Kerbin, 4800 funds, 6tons, 17parts, 3200dV + ~700dV from monoprop: First artificial satellite, no magic reaction wheels (because at this tech level you do not have any).





1. Make a clean copy of your KSP folder, so it does not interfere with your other careers/updates etc.
2. Make sure that your GameData folder is empty except for the Squad folder.
3. Install CKAN (thank you very much CKAN team, this would not be possible without you! @Olympic1, @linuxgurugamer, ...)
4. Search for and select SETI-MetaModPack, nothing else, and then click "Apply changes" and "Apply".
5. Leave all recommendations checked and click continue. Select the suggestions you like and click continue.
6. Wait until all those mods are installed and start the game to check out if it works.
7. Missing at the moment is AnomalySurvey mod from @nightingale (not yet updated to 1.3), it provided a very nice diversion from all the other contracts. Visiting the island, the pyramids and the mun arc and so on...

1. Install visual mods, in ckan or manually. Planetshine and RealPlume are already installed with the recommended mods, if available via ckan for current ksp version.
2. I use CKAN config installs of Stock Visual Enhancement at the moment. It produces some flicker on the start screen but works in game. Choose at your own discretion.
3. Of course you are free to add mods like kOS and KCT, I have just not tested playing with them for some time
4. Other contract and part packs might integrate well (CTT is used anyway), I simply can not guarantee it (eg NearFutureSpacecraft configs, and InterstellarExtended mostly uses the later tech tree which is not affected)



There are no changes to any mods necessary.
Just a list of changes from stock (what to expect) and how to alter them.
And then the career start options to get a challenging, yet not annoying game.

Please provide feedback on the challenge here and/or gameplay/technical feedback on the SETI/UbM mods in the SETI thread linked above.

I would also like to thank all the mod authors who made this meta mod pack and thus this challenge possible!


1   House rules
1.1 TweakScale can bridge part catalog gaps, or it can remove the challenge to tinker with your design, use with restraint.
1.2 No excessive science (KSC, Mun, Minmus) and funds (completing new contracts with existing vessels) farming, if you want a challenge. This is a guiding framework, not a rigid corset. You can farm KSC and science hop minmus, but if you are not interested in tech progression and decision challenges, why not start with lots of science and funds in the first place? KSC science can be a fun rover aside, if you just need a bit more science or are really not interested in surveys with aircraft etc. As with every open world game, self control and role playing are advisable for certain experiences.

2   Facilities
2.1 Action Groups, Maneuver nodes (from Mission Control) and 2 strategies are available from the start.
2.2 Kerbal hiring costs are 60k, fixed.
2.3 Many facilities have more levels, no size restrictions from the launch pad (only mass restrictions).
2.4 You start with 3 contract slots, 30 parts and 9ton max vessel size, and R&D can research nodes up to 40 science.
2.5 With efficient designs, you can gather science from "High above the Sun" (SETIcontract 04.2), i.e. leave Kerbin SoI without any facility upgrades. Though I would recommend the first tracking station upgrade to do a flyby of Mun and Minmus.
2.6 So be considerate how you use your funds and science and how you design your vessels.

3   Contracts
3.1 The SETIcontracts are numbered, and may depend on earlier SETIcontracts completion to be available, but you can check their requirements in MissionControl
3.2 For the full experience, I recommend reading a little ahead, eg looking at the contract hierarchy picture in the SETI thread.
3.3 Sure you can complete the Mun flyby contract and then accept and complete the Mun landing contract with the same craft. The contracts are a guiding framework, self-control might result in a more fun game.

4   TechTree
4.1 Use search function in tech tree (thanks to quick search mod by @Malah), if you do not find the part you are looking for.
4.2 Unmanned start, rovers @engineering101 for 4 science (you can place Kerbals in the command seat), planes @stability for an additional 4 science.
4.3 No reaction wheels until miniaturization, use fins, winglets, RCS, gimbals, etc. until then (Unmanned before Manned Challenge mod).
4.4 No fuel lines for a long time and later 2.5m engines, use engine clusters and efficent rocket design until then (Unmanned before Manned Challenge mod).

5   Part rebalances
5.1 Background processing is one of the mods installed, so take enough battery capacity with you
5.2 Many masses, costs and entryCosts are rebalanced, many experiments can be transmitted for 100%
5.3 Many small things, like larger integrated batteries and smaller + radial materials bays.
5.4 Magic reaction wheels are nerfed considerably, you can manually delete the SETIrebalanceReactionWheels folder if you really want the stock ones back
5.5 MysteryGoo and MaterialsBay are not inteded to be collectable (SETIrebalanceMaterialsGoo). If you want to science spam in the late game, the StationScience Cyclotron? can help with that

6   Special Parts
6.1 SETIprobeParts provides a bunch of useful stuff, especially for the early career, eg engines, tanks, etc.
6.2 Cyclindrical probe cores, which are better protected by 0.625m heat shield and have inbuilt thermometers
6.3 RCS tanks with built-in thrusters and small linear RCS
6.4 Early Mini Alkaline Fuel Cell @survivability, once activated, only uses resources when there is EC demand.
6.5 The Hybrid Rocket Booster by @Lord Aurelius is more expensive than an SRB, but you can throttle it

7   Remote Tech
7.1 KSC range 900Gm, equatorial ground stations cover keostationary orbit. Defined in SETI-RemoteTechConfig mod.
7.2 Signal delay is off by default, you can turn it back on per in-game RT settings or just refrain from manually controlling vessels outside of Kerbin SoI.
7.3 If you want probe control to depend on an active connection, just uninstall SETI-ProbeControlEnabler mod via ckan. Otherwise you only need a connection to transmit science, comsats are still useful for comfortable science transmission beyond equatorial Kerbin orbit.
7.4 RT antennas are relabalanced, most stock dishes are not rebalanced yet. Usually too heavy/costly/EC consuming for their range/cone.

8   TAC Life Support
8.1 Recycler descriptions amended, so that you know what fraction of the original resource demand is necessary.
8.2 US recyclers are for 1 kerbal, small TAC ones are usually for 3 kerbals, 2.5m TAC ones are usually for 9 kerbals
8.3 SETIgreenhouse provides a food recycler, please consult the graphic in the SETI thread on how it works.

9   Career start options






Edited by Yemo
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19 hours ago, MostExcellent said:

So is there any scoring system or challenge-specific goals? Are we supposed to submit mission reports or something?

Regardless, I need to try this out.

It is intended to be a framework to make effient designs. Low tech, low mass, low costs to complete a mission in a meaningful way (science and funds return).

And then post craft designs/mission reports.

For example in the post above the 03.0 OrbitKerbin mission done by a craft which cost 4800 funds and has 6tons, 17parts 3200dV + ~700dV from monoprop and no reaction wheels. And can be built with only basicRocketry and stability nodes unlocked for 24 science total.

Or another example in stock career it is not unusual to send your first mission to Duna/Eve with a manned vessel of over a hundred tons launch mass and do everything in one go, including landing.

For testing this mod pack I designed that minimalistic craft, capable of reaching Eve/Duna and transmitting science with RT:

05.0 EveFlyby, 8100 funds, <9tons, 21parts, 4740dV. No reaction wheels, only monoprop. Requires 99 science total (up to generalRocketry, stability and basicScience as the only 45 science node for the RT dish). It is a minimalistic desing to test how many facility upgrades are needed to go to Eve/Duna. Turns out only the tracking station and R&D need one upgrade, the level 1 launch pad allowing 9 tons launch mass is sufficient for Eve/Duna flyby. Though for the actual mission I would upgrade the launchpad and take more experiments and scan sat stuff and use the flyby mission as a relay station for a low mass landing mission to follow. I did not make mission screenshots for all those testing flights, just loaded up the craft file and made a screenshot of the design.




Edited by Yemo
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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks like fun. I've been playing something similar anyway, though without as many restrictions, and not the challenge mod, and I'm finding it getting very samey at the moment. Just launched a probe to fly-by Duna.


My only comment/question would regard the stipulation of "No (...) completing new contracts with existing vessels". I would ask what you do with all those vessels? Or do you just not take those missions unless you can collect (and return?) new science? I guess that would make sense. If you launched a new orbital every time you you took one of those missions, the space around Kerbin would get pretty messy pretty quickly.

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...
4 hours ago, tomgle said:


I installed everything using CKAN, and I also added FAR. When the game is loading, ModuleManager says it found 67 errors, all of which seem to be related to the SETIRebalance mod. Should I be concerned?


No. It is due to recent changes in MM plugin. Check out following post and few other posts after linked ones for answer:



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