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Let's Rebalance the Tech Tree


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So this has come up a number of times so I thought we could sit down and make sound suggestions for rebalancing the tech tree in a methodical, crowdsourced way. Importantly, this is not about re-inventing the tech tree or throwing out the entire science system or anything so drastic. There are a number of great threads on those subjects and I'd prefer not to derail the process with long-standing (though valid) arguments. The focus here first is to identify parts that are either too high up or too far down the tech tree, impeding natural gameplay. Some things we will probably tend to want sooner, but its important to remember we can have everything sooner. Some advanced parts are probably worth the wait and effort it takes to earn them and can be pushed back. What we are trying to achieve is not an easier tech tree or one tailored precisely to our playstyle, but a balanced tech tree that works well across the board. I think the best way to go about this without getting too esoteric too quickly is to first have everyone simply list a series of parts that they feel come too late or too early and then say what level you think that part should come in at. After we look at the problem areas maybe we could make suggestions on refinements on groupings. 

So, I'll start. Below are (to my mind) the worst offenders, followed by a complete list that I've hidden for brevity. 

Stayputnik MK.1 - up to level 20
Pegasus mobility enhancer - up to level 20
OX-STAT Photovoltaic Panels - up to level 20
Rockomax Brand Decoupler - back to level 90
Rockomax Brand Adapter - back to level 90
Illuminator MK-1 - up to level 45
MK1-2 Command Pod - up to level 90
TVR Stack Adapters - up to level 90
Rovemax Model M-1 - up to level 90
LV-N Atomic Rocket Motor - back to level 550
Heat Shield (10m) - back to level 1000
Convert-O-Tron 250 - Back to level 1000

 

Spoiler


FL-T200 Fuel Tank- up to level 5
Heat Shield (0.625) - back to level 90
FL-T400 Fuel Tank - up to level 20
Rockomax Brand Decoupler - back to level 90
Rockomax Brand Adapter - back to level 90
Small Inline Reaction Wheel - up to level 20
Stayputnik MK.1 - up to level 20
Z-100 Rechargeable Battery Pack - up to level 20
Radiator Panel (edge) - back to level 90
Radiator Panel (large) - back to level 90
FTX-2 External Fuel Duct - up to level 45
FL-T800 Fuel Tank - up to level 45
LT-1 Landing Strut - up to level 45
MK1 Lander Can - up to level 45
Pegasus mobility enhancer - up to level 20
FL-A5 Adapter - up to level 45
FL-A10 Adapter - up to level 45
Probodyne OKTO - up to level 45
OX-STAT Photovoltaic Panels - up to level 20
Z-200 Rechargeable Battery Pack - up to level 45
Thermal Control System (small) - back to level 160
Illuminator MK-1 - up to level 45
Illuminator MK-2 - up to level 45
Sepratron 1 - up to level 90
Round 8 Toroidal fuel tank - up to level 90
Advanced Nose Cone - Type B - up to level 90
TVR-200 Stack Bi-coupler - up to level 90
Advanced Grabbing Unit - back to level 300
MK1-2 Command Pod - up to level 90
Telus Mobility Enhancer - up to level 45
Telus Mobility Enhancer - up to level 90
Probodyne HECS - up to level 90
Not Rockomax Micronode - up to level 90
Cubic Octogonal Strut - up to level 90
Octogonal Strut - up to level 90
Comms DTS-M1 - up to level 90
RA-2 Relay Antenna  - up to level 90
TR-2V Stack Decoupler - up to level 90
SPL-1x6 Photovolteic Panels - up to level 90
SPL-3x2 Photovolteic Panels - up to level 45
Z-400 Rechargable Battery - up to level 90
OX-STAT XL Photovolteic Panel - up to level 90
Thermal Control System (medium) - back to level 300
LV-N Atomic Rocket Motor - back to level 550
TVR-2160C Mk2 Stack Quad-Coupler - up to level 90
M-Beams + M Panels - up to level 160
Heat Shield (10m) - back to level 1000
EAS-1 External Command Seat - up to level 90
Probodyne Rovemate - up to level 90
Rovemax Model M-1 - up to level 90
Communotron HG-55 - up to level 160
RA-15 Relay Antenna - up to level 160
Gigantor XL Solar Array - up to level 160
Z-1k Rechargeable Battery Pack - up to level 160
Thermal Control System (large) - back to level 550
TVR Stack Adapters - up to level 90
Rockomax Hubmax Multipoint Connector - up to level 300
TR-2L Ruggedized Vehicular Wheel - up to level 300
Communotron 88-88 - up to level 300
RA-100 Relay Antenna - up to level 300
Drill-O-Matic Mining Excavator - Back to level 1000
Convert-O-Tron 250 - Back to level 1000
Probodyne HECS2 - up to level 300
PB NUK Radioisotope Generator - up to 550

In general this would mean moving almost all of the probe cores, PV panels, batteries and rover wheels up to aid probe-first player styles. It would also mean moving ladders and lights up so that you can land somewhere before level 160. Of course if you move everything up then you don't have anything to really work for, so I think we should also move the LV-N, 10m heat shield and large Convert-o-tron back. Also all of the radiators come in far earlier than they are really useful.

Feel free add your own list with as many or as few parts you'd like to see moved. I'll compile a spreadsheet if we get enough data to require one.

 

Edited by Pthigrivi
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I don't know if you are aware of thus mod but i would insist thst you take a look at "Unmanned before Manned".

This Techtree trys to go the same way. The greatest Problem is that you have sience grind phase in low tech range to go to space manned if you play on lower as 100% science. The most players i seen here try to get PAPIER's as fast as possible and go for SSTO 's and hardcore players go for "Caveman".

My tip for you would be to build an Techtree-Mode and try out how would it work out? Something like a mode where you/users can personaly set up parts for nodes?

Funny Kabooms 

Urses

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Oh I know there are a few tech tree mods out there and that's great. This is a thread for trying to craft some real suggestions to help Squad if they wanted to take a balance pass since its one of the more frequently cited areas of complaint. Some things seem mostly like mistakes, like having Rockomax adapters and decouplers at level 45 before you have any 2.5m parts to put them on, or having thermal control systems long before there's anything that needs them. Other placements are almost universally regarded as onerous, like having to wait to level 90 for a non-telescoping ladder. As I said, this isn't about crafting a personalized tech tree for each person, but aggregating some consensus suggestions for the the stock game.

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11 minutes ago, Pthigrivi said:

Well, there are a lot of folks who think its much worse than I think it is.

And for then I also suggest mods.

Each player will have his own opinion about how this balance should swing, often contradictory wishes about what should be done to the tree.

 

21 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

Of course if you move everything up then you don't have anything to really work for,

This is also something that don't have the same appeal for all players.

Lets take for example:

20 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

LV-N Atomic Rocket Motor - back to level 550

My opinion: Nuclear Propulsion is a dead-end node with two requirements that only unlock a single part. The NV-N is a weak and heavy vacuum engine which diminish the advantage of the great Isp. A lesser issue is the inexistent of LF only adapters and less granularity of LF only tanks capacity. This all sum up to: Nervs are niche engines that cost 300 science to unlock.

It results to being the last thing I unlock for 300 science, at least once it was the last thing I unlocked in the entire tech tree.

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19 minutes ago, Spricigo said:

Each player will have his own opinion about how this balance should swing, often contradictory wishes about what should be done to the tree.

Which is exactly why I suggested we crowdsource a question like this. Of course I wont agree with everyone. Thats exactly the point. I don't really mess around with planes much so Im not too worried about where they fall on the tech tree, but others may feel more strongly. Since I hear it griped about so much I thought we could constructively work at deriving some consensus. If you think perfect as is thats okay.

Edited by Pthigrivi
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You clearly put a lot of thought into your changes. Over time I've also updated my tech tree and you could do the same. I started with Unmanned before Manned, because it got me close to what I was looking for. After I learned how @Yemo made the changes it was pretty straightforward to make changes to it to suit my taste.

I just renamed it TykoTechTree to keep CKan from overwriting my changes and have been slowly making changes ever since. I realize you're looking for suggestions for changing Stock. It may be worthwhile to create your own mod, share it with others, and build support for your point of view.

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I like to be thorough :wink: I certainly don't expect anyone to rule on every part, just the ones that might stick out in their minds as screwy. Perhaps Im being overly expectant nevertheless. I've heard so many times folks saying "ug the tech tree makes no sense!", so I thought I'd offer a fair method to fix it. 

Edited by Pthigrivi
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13 minutes ago, dvp said:

No point. It's too easy to grind science with labs and time warp, and the tech tree is too short. What order you unlock things is basically a playstyle choice, not something that has a big effect on gameplay.

hmmm...that's one point of view... I don't use labs that way and find that most of my fun happens as I unlock parts and have to build missions based on my choices. If you're just going to do the labs/time-warp trick you might as well just give yourself a million science points and unlock the whole tree, or play Sandbox.

For those of us that do enjoy progressing through the tech tree there's a bit point to this  :)

 

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It looks like the techtree needs more a finetuning in upper brunches and a logical ability to upgrade the parts through since investment. And may be to split the science lab ability in 2 branches. 

For parts something like some rebuyable nodes named "Upgrade for...." with exponential cost advance. As examples EC-Economy, Weight, Heat and or Impact Tolerance and so on. You can place the nodes in midfield and begin the research there. But reinvestments would be logical/or imvestment worthfulk only realy later on.

And for Science lab a basic node like now with ability to clean up the experiments and a much later one with research ability that you use mostly for Upgrade research.

As a thoughthrough option.

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That's okay! What would you rather see?

Its funny, there's this general structure to almost all internet discussions wherein each person has thier opinion and they've got all thier ego and intellectual identity wrapped up in being right and conversation can only really happen if others with similar egos agree or disagree. This isnt one of those kinds of discussions which is probably why this project is failing haha

Edited by Pthigrivi
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I do agree that a lot of players don't like the current stock tech tree. However I'd also like to point out that they are often advanced players with loads of hours under their belt.

The stock tree was designed from a game play flow perspective to move a new player from building rockets, to planes, to rovers, etc...at a comfortable pace.

Unmanned vs. manned is a perfect example of this; Many players will say after spending some time with KSP that having manned before unmanned doesn't make sense from a logical/historical perspective; and this is true. However if you look at it from a game play perspective relative to a new player who just bought this game; the Kerbals are the star of the show, the main characters as it were, to not start out using them would be odd and off putting. Also, Kerbals are simpler for a new player, they don't need connection, batteries, solar panels, etc... Starting out unmanned would be a nightmare for a new player, requiring them to learn several different complimentary systems just to launch their first rocket.

Not shooting your idea down, merely suggesting you should take new players, and overall game play flow into consideration when making your tweaks.

Edited by Rocket In My Pocket
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The tech tree is a complete, unplanned mess, as is the entire career and science system. I know that the thread is to not address that, but the problems are past tweaking the tree, IMHO, since everything is connected. Nothing about KSP career is well designed.

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1 hour ago, Rocket In My Pocket said:

I do agree that a lot of players don't like the current stock tech tree. However I'd also like to point out that they are often advanced players with loads of hours under their belt.

The stock tree was designed from a game play flow perspective to move a new player from building rockets, to planes, to rovers, etc...at a comfortable pace.

Unmanned vs. manned is a perfect example of this; Many players will say after spending some time with KSP that having manned before unmanned doesn't make sense from a logical/historical perspective; and this is true. However if you look at it from a game play perspective relative to a new player who just bought this game; the Kerbals are the star of the show, the main characters as it were, to not start out using them would be odd and off putting. Also, Kerbals are simpler for a new player, they don't need connection, batteries, solar panels, etc... Starting out unmanned would be a nightmare for a new player, requiring them to learn several different complimentary systems just to launch their first rocket.

Not shooting your idea down, merely suggesting you should take new players, and overall game play flow into consideration when making your tweaks.

Well given that my suggestions are probably the only ones that appear here I suppose I'll defend them. You'll notice I didn't actually set things up to start unmanned. Nothing has been moved up to the first two tiers. I've simply moved the first basic probe parts up to level 20, concurrent with heat shields, the first landing legs, and more efficient engines. This still gives new players an easy to understand and fun foundation, but provides an earlier strategic branch for them to explore. They can continue manned and make bigger rockets, or they can go lean and put less expensive probes in orbit. Efficiency is a big deal in KSP, and I think its better for players to at least have the option to explore these things earlier than the current tech tree does. 

I totally agree that the tech tree should do double duty, both serving as a robust mechanism for progression as well as a learning tool for new players. I do though think it could do so more cleanly and efficiently. Whether to move probes or planes up or back is a good question for debate, but not having ladders until level 90 and hoarding basic stack couplers all the way up at level 550 seem like obvious mistakes. As does including 2.5m decouplers before you have any 2.5m tanks to put them on or radiator systems long before you have anything that generates heat.

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1 hour ago, Pthigrivi said:

Well given that my suggestions are probably the only ones that appear here I suppose I'll defend them. You'll notice I didn't actually set things up to start unmanned. Nothing has been moved up to the first two tiers. I've simply moved the first basic probe parts up to level 20, concurrent with heat shields, the first landing legs, and more efficient engines. This still gives new players an easy to understand and fun foundation, but provides an earlier strategic branch for them to explore. They can continue manned and make bigger rockets, or they can go lean and put less expensive probes in orbit. Efficiency is a big deal in KSP, and I think its better for players to at least have the option to explore these things earlier than the current tech tree does. 

I totally agree that the tech tree should do double duty, both serving as a robust mechanism for progression as well as a learning tool for new players. I do though think it could do so more cleanly and efficiently. Whether to move probes or planes up or back is a good question for debate, but not having ladders until level 90 and hoarding basic stack couplers all the way up at level 550 seem like obvious mistakes. As does including 2.5m decouplers before you have any 2.5m tanks to put them on or radiator systems long before you have anything that generates heat.

I'll give you the 2.5m decouplers for sure. That's always just been silly. Radiator systems too, but that's just a hold over from older days when you needed them for more things. So yeah the tree does need "tweaking" but not outright rebuilding imo.

Ladders however are another good example where common sense doesn't apply. From a game play flow perspective, you shouldn't need ladders any earlier. You'll be going mainly to the Mun/Minmus where gravity is so low it's not an issue.

The stock tree is targeted at the lowest common denominator, Ie. The dumbest person we can imagine playing KSP. Which is why in my opinion; it doesn't usually make much sense to us. It's certainly not perfect but I think some of the glaring "faults" people like to point out like wheels and ladders being above rocket engines; makes perfect sense if you look at it as a video game.

Edited by Rocket In My Pocket
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17 minutes ago, Rocket In My Pocket said:

I'll give you the 2.5m decouplers for sure. That's always just been silly. Radiator systems too, but that's just a hold over from older days when you needed them for more things. So yeah the tree does need "tweaking" but not outright rebuilding imo.

Ladders however are another good example where common sense doesn't apply. From a game play flow perspective, you shouldn't need ladders any earlier. You'll be going mainly to the Mun/Minmus where gravity is so low it's not an issue.

The stock tree is targeted at the lowest common denominator, Ie. The dumbest person we can imagine playing KSP. Which is why in my opinion; it doesn't usually make much sense to us. It's certainly not perfect but I think some of the glaring "faults" people like to point out like wheels and ladders being above rocket engines; makes perfect sense if you look at it as a video game.

Oh Im absolutely with you on the discrepancy between things that make sense in real life not always lining up with things that make sense within the context of a game, but I still think little items like lights and ladders are in some ways even more important for new players than they are for experienced ones. Using RCS to pilot kerbals around is actually a pretty tricky skill, and I can imagine a lot of new players getting pretty frustrated when after their first triumphant mun or minmus landing they can't get themselves back into the capsule, or knock it over, or go rag-dolling most of a kilometer down a hill because they haven't quite got the touchy controls down. Offering a ladder seems like a really easy way to help players avoid that. 
 

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11 hours ago, Pthigrivi said:

As does including 2.5m decouplers before you have any 2.5m tanks to put them on

This would make more sense if buildings didn't have to have an upgrade path (or had paths that actually made sense), most eapecially the part count limit on the VAB. Then you could build Saturn Ib style rockets and such, using mixed tooling...

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I like the idea. I just wish there was an easy (read: Not editing a huge config file over and over, reloading the game each time to check) way to edit the tech tree so someone could actually try these things.

And @regex I agree. I understand having a size limit (the building's too small! Upgrade to get more building!) and a mass limit (the launch pad's too weak! Upgrade to get more heaviness!) but a part limit (Sure we can add this 4-ton fuel tank. But 2 thermometers? ARE YOU INSANE MAN!?) makes 0 sense whatsoever.

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1 hour ago, 5thHorseman said:

And @regex I agree. I understand having a size limit (the building's too small! Upgrade to get more building!) and a mass limit (the launch pad's too weak! Upgrade to get more heaviness!) but a part limit (Sure we can add this 4-ton fuel tank. But 2 thermometers? ARE YOU INSANE MAN!?) makes 0 sense whatsoever.

When I heard about building upgrades, i assumed it would be the reasonable, obvious solution.  Surely, the VAB size would limit your rockets dimensions.  Instead we're limited by parts.  Honestly,  how was that decision even made?

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100% on the part count. Size would be a much more intuitive restriction, and might even encourage newer players to explore lateral staging and more easily controlled rockets earlier. Keeping part counts down is also important, but mainly for frame-rate, which isn't really an issue this early in the game. Better just to shift the FL-T400 and FL-T800 up a level so folks aren't building wobbly pencils out of FL-T100s.

Edited by Pthigrivi
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Agreed about about the building upgrades, although I do sort of enjoy the minimalism that a 30 part limit forces in the early game and I get that restricting new players is important so they'll learn instead of just making giant "wabbajackian" monsters. Also, teaching new players to be stingy with parts is important for other reasons like performance and such.

The actual numbers don't even make a lot of sense though; 30, 300, then infinite?! So we go from not enough, to way more than you'll likely ever need, to basically no limit at all.

I've been playing quite a while and I have made very few crafts that even come close to that 300 part limit upon launching. (Thousand part stations built in orbit don't count.) I'd at least like to see the numbers changed to something more reasonable like; 50, 100, infinite. I'd also be alright with them removing the part limits entirely and just basing it off weight/dimensions as suggested by others.

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Engine clustering is the tech tree error that stands out for me. Bear with me - its been a while, but as I remember the tricoupler is available quite early on in the tech tree, whereas the bicoupler and those adaptor parts that let you stick multiple 1.25m engines on a 2.5m tank come very late in the tree?

That makes no sense from a gameplay or a teaching perspective. To my mind you'd unlock all the 'clustering' parts at about the same time that you unlock the 2.5 tanks and engines, or possibly one tier later. From a teaching perspective, you then move from simple rockets to staged rockets (lateral or inline) to bigger rockets including mixed 2.5 and 1.25m parts, to bigger rockets with clustered engines. From a gameplay perspective it gives more advanced players an early set of trade-offs between engine size and cost vs part count, and also the ability to fine tweak their designs by giving them more options to work with.

Edited by KSK
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