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OCD Alert: I want to get around the contracts system!


Gunnn
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Hey, I started playing KSP a while ago, but I’m struggling to get into it, because of the contract system.

The "story" contracts are great: your first flight, your first space flight, orbiting and so on. And after starting over, I got a first few "other" contracts that I enjoyed and that were immersive and "cinematic": I got contracts for testing the engines, chutes, and couplings, which is realistic, and then a contract to test the Hammer, which I combined with escaping the atmosphere to make a series of highly efficient missions. It first played almost like a scripted story. However, then the contract system started spitting out contracts that either were dumb (testing the Swivel splashed down?) or that I simply didn’t want to do: hauling the flea to 200,000 m altitude, testing the hammer mid-flight, and a ton of observational studies! Chores and not fun objectives.

I would ignore the contract system, except then I know I’m going to run out of funds without any source of income and it feels like I’m not playing the game right. Also, rejecting the contracts only generates new ones that are just as bad as the old.

I’m not interested in the Sandbox, because I want to feel progression and dislike full freedom.

I thought, hey, I don’t care about reputations and guess I don’t care about funds: why not play Science, then? I did, but unfortunately, a few big problems still bothered me significantly: 1) I can’t see the cost of my spacecraft, which gives me no incentive (or ability) to make cost-efficient spacecraft, 2) there are two facilities without any use, and 3) all facilities are fully upgraded from the start and un-upgradable. It makes Science a lot less attractive, IMO.

My question is: are there any cheats or mods that I can get around this with?

Is there any conceivable way to see the cost of your spacecraft in the Science mode? Can anyone remove the administration and mission control facilities (I don’t want to look at them)? Or does any mod allow you to upgrade facilities in Science, with science instead of funds? Or is there any Career cheat or mod that allows you to create your own contracts or choose which contracts appear in the game? If I could clear all contracts and then simply create my own contracts, say, choosing “Flea”, “test at launch pad”, and then have it reward me with the same amount of funds that the game would if it had generated the contract itself, or allow me to choose an amount that could also work for me.

Basically, I want to get away from the contracts system and choose my own objectives, but still want science and preferably, facility upgrades and funds (and reputation can really go either way).

I’m struggling right now to figure out whether I should simply play Career, ignore the contracts completely right from the start of the game, use an infinite funds cheat (I don’t really care for funds as a constraint to what I can construct, only as a measure of cost-efficiency), and upgrade facilities when it “feels” right… or whether I should play Science, ignore the worthless facilities at the KSC (easy), pretend that I’m upgrading my facilities by simply not going EVA (etc.) until I pretend to have upgraded the facility (moderate), and forget about cost-efficiency (hard).

If I could simply find a few strings of code in the Science code to show the cost meter in the Science mode VAB, manually set the upgrade level of facilities, and/or delete the 3D models of the Admin and MC facilities (without crashing) that would be great. OR, if someone can recommend a cheat or mod that allows me to customize the contracts.

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Science mode lets you see the cost of your craft, same as Career... and same as Sandbox, for that matter. The number's in the same place in all three modes, at the bottom left of the screen when you're in the VAB/SPH. Post a screenshot of your VAB-if the cost number's not showing up for you in Science mode it's probably a bug.

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I'm still not quite sure what you're asking, but.

You could play career, and ignore the contracts.  Since you want your own reward system, you could simply give yourself a "grant" when you feel your space program deserves it.

Your funds are controlled by a single line in your save file.  Save the game, and open up your save .sfs file.  Look for:

    SCENARIO
    {
        name = Funding
        scene = 7, 8, 5, 6
        funds = 123456
    }

 

Change your funds as you see fit, then reload your save.

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@Gunnn, it’s a real problem!  

1st grab the mod Contract Configurator. It can disable various stock contracts.

Next, look at some of the contract packs available, there are several that have “storyline” exploration themes.

@Geonovast, no need to muck about in the save file. You can add funds or science points straight from the f12 menu. 

I usually do this to skip ahead to the middle of the tech tree since I have played the early game a lot.

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You can customize your Difficulty Options for Career: increase funds rewards, decrease decline penalty. Also have a look at the administrative strategy which I forget the name of - it decreases contact rewards and increases "world first" rewards proportionally. That way, you still get the contracts for ideas/funds, but don't have to rely on grinding for funds.

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In the headquarters, there is a strategy option (or was somewhere between 1.1 and 1.2, I can't check it now) to increase rewards from "milestones" and decrease rewards from contracts.  It has some extremely stiff reputation requirements (and it isn't all that clear how to check your absolute reputation) as well as the inevitable funds cost.  As it cuts contract rewards at least in half, I'd think twice before trying it (or at least be ready to lower game "difficulty" (it really only changes "grindiness')).  Unfortunately, the wiki hasn't been listed as updated since 0.90 and this is not listed among the strategies.

https://wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Campaigns

This is what the kerbal community used/developed when sandbox was the only option.  I rather liked it and felt it was 'the right amount of limitation', except there was no real way to specify "how limited" you should make your tech (I launched way too many missions to Mun and Minmus in attempts to reduce the numbers and types of boosters).
- notes for campaigns:  I'd jump straight from orbiting Kerbal to landing on Minmus.  Docking is one of the hardest parts of KSP (if you have your career game going, rescuing kerbals is great training).  Also working the maneuver nodes to hit other planets is also tricky, you might want to be more familiar with them before flying to Duna.  Landing on Minmus really only requires you to know how to adjust your inclination (don't expect it in the notes, I don't think it was inclined when they were written and Minmus itself might be a later addition).
- also don't worry too much about "hit a specific continent with a rocket".  I suspect this was written before maneuver nodes were included and such tricks really only matter when farming Minmus/Mun for every last biome.

Avoiding the "science grind" is pretty hard outside of sandbox.  I'd recommend looking through the mods for things that at least no longer require the "science dance" (I've had one that automatically performs and resets experiments if a scientist is on board.  Highly recommended [note I haven't tried it with 1.3.2].  Whether you want to make 9-10 landings (each) on Minmus and Mun for all the biomes (expect to need to refuel, but it is pretty easy on Minmus) and how you want to treat the science lab (it can be overpowered) is up to you.

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"However, then the contract system started spitting out contracts that either were dumb (testing the Swivel splashed down?) or that I simply didn’t want to do: hauling the flea to 200,000 m altitude, testing the hammer mid-flight, and a ton of observational studies! Chores and not fun objectives.""

 

On normal difficulty these tend to mostly only be required if something went wrong following the achievement missions that drive you to landing on the mun. On normal you don't need to do the grindy contracts once you can achieve orbit. BTW Observational studies are not to bad if you use ICBM with probe pods, pretty fun and challenging mapping the polls with bad tech and eyeballing re-entry, just dont try fly or drive before you get high altitude parts.... so slow otherwise.

 

Starting a new game I tend to rush getting to orbit, followed by orbit the mun (usually two missions, one high and one low flyby for science), then land on the mun and return. Ditto Minus. Now the more interesting contracts will tend to pop up -> plant flag on both bodies, recover science from mun / munis, Rescue stranded fools, launch space stations and satellites, land bases... {Also once you upgrade the mission centre you can just accept good contracts when they pop up and you'll have a long list before long}. 

 

Other alternatives might be starting a game with custom difficulty, upping fund rewards. I think the Kerbal Engineer Redux  mod included craft cost, which may also work in science career, although its been while since I last used it so may be wrong

Edited by Dilli
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Welcome to the forums! I actually felt the same way you did the first time I played KSP but I got over it when I figured out you can just play Career and only do the contracts you want.

Money really isn't an issue on normal difficulty once you are past the early-game, since there are no upkeep funds or overhead costs, any money you make is kept forever until you spend it, just build a stockpile and cherry pick the missions you like/want while declining/ignoring the ones you don't.

In my current Career, I have a huge pile of contracts I've amassed to do at Duna but haven't got around to doing them, I've literally been playing 2-4 hours per day for a week or two just messing around and such and haven't done any contracts what so ever in that time frame. So don't worry about running out of funds, you almost can't; there is a strategy in the admin building as well for a bail out grant, you can always use that for an instant pile of money at the cost of rep, which you can just grind back up.

Edited by Rocket In My Pocket
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There are contract mods that will let you configure them a lot, or removes ones you dont like. There are also ones that add in better satellite or base contracts, for example. Get CKAN if you dont have it & check out all the contract mods on there.

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4 hours ago, Rocket In My Pocket said:

Welcome to the forums! I actually felt the same way you did the first time I played KSP but I got over it when I figured out you can just play Career and only do the contracts you want.

This. The game also seems to be checking your contract history and adjusting the generation process, according to the types of contracts you've been picking.

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@Gunnn:

I'm going to tell you in the first place that you are intended to ignore or refuse some of the contracts.  The system is designed that way, and it was done for a few reasons.

For one thing, some contracts are impossible.  Test Launch Clamps on Minmus?!  Please.  I think Squad finally got rid of that one, but the point is that a contract from anyone who is not the World-Firsts organisation is only an offer for a job.  You don't have to take it if it's a bad offer.

Second, there's a weighting system for the contracts.  However, it doesn't start knowing which contracts you're willing to accept, so it throws a bunch of them at you in the hope that you will start refusing the ones you really don't want.  Then it learns.  Yes, there's a reputation penalty for that, but that also justifies the tremendous negative weight it puts on offering those contracts in the future.

Third, most contracts are offered with an expiration time of a few days at most.  What happens when you decide to explore Duna or Jool?  Are you going to stop your game every few in-game days to check for new contracts?  The point of it was that you can send out your long-term missions and complete them in something less than realistic time.  That requires you to ignore the cycle of contracts offered on Kerbin during the trip.  This is also why simply ignoring a contract does not carry a reputation penalty.

Also, there's a mod for that.  It's called Contract Configurator, and the person who wrote it was once a Squad staffer.  He knows exactly what the contract system can and cannot do, and the entirety of the mod is built to hook in with KSP's contract functionality so that you can make the contract experience in exactly the way that you want it.

It's also built for other people to do the same.  Some story-like, campaign-based, or even contract packs that have an obvious progression and therefore may interest you are (all taken from the second post of the Contract Configurator thread):

  • Additional Progression Contracts
  • Anomaly Surveyor (not quite up to 1.3.1 yet, so you'll have to wait)
  • Grand Tours (actually part of a larger pack; it also says it's outdated but appears to work for 1.3.1)
  • Kerbal Academy (this gives alternative ways to improve your Kerbals' skills; I personally use this because I think engineers should learn skills by training those skills, not by taking passage on a Minmus fly-by)
  • Bases and Stations Continued (this makes manning a space station a lot more realistic and avoids the contracts that require you to send a useless station to solar orbit)
  • Tourism Plus (this is one of my absolute favourites of all the packs and I use it in all my saves.  If you want something that can keep you occupied for a while as you pursue a particularly lofty goal, look at the image in the opening post of this pack's thread)

Those ought to keep you busy for a long time.  Don't forget that the best part of Contract Configurator is that it allows you to shut off contract types that you don't like.  I have not yet seen a pack that gets rid of the silly testing contracts (I too fail to see why I would want to test a Swivel in the ocean), but we can hope.

In the meantime, remember:  the contract system is supposed to give you bad contracts from time to time, just as you're supposed to mess up a few rocket designs.  It's a test of intelligence.  If you accept the contract and find you can't do it, then take the penalty and learn something.  If you know the contract is stupid, then refuse it and show what you've learned.

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11 hours ago, Zhetaan said:

Yes, there's a reputation penalty for that, but that also justifies the tremendous negative weight it puts on offering those contracts in the future.

There's actually no need to take the reputation penalty to bring down the weighting. Since 1.2 the contract system will also adjust the weighting if you viewed a contract but didn't accept it (just not as much as it does if you actually reject it).

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Wow, a lot of activity here! Was expecting one or two answers.

I'm going to give Career mode another go and use the "clear contracts" cheats to quickly try and filter through contracts to make sure I get a sequence I want (I want a contract for testing every new engine I unlock on the launch pad, because that's something I want to do and it makes sense that I would be rewarded for doing so). The only problem is that it clears all active contracts, so I can only do one contract at a time with this strategy. Instead, as someone suggested below, I should probably decrease the decline penalty to zero and maybe use the "reset weights" cheat every now and then to make sure I'm not missing out on anything.

 

Anyway, since the starting settings are kind of important, I think I'm going to go with these. I want an experience that as realistic as possible, but without extra grind.

Normal, with these alterations:

No missing crew respawns. I'll revert any flight that goes wrong in the early-game anyway and if this turns out to be a hassle, I can get my kerbals back with cheats.

Entry purchases on. (Edit: actually, I looked into this and the costs are really small and seem arbitrary (3-10x the part cost), so I think I'll play with this off)

Decline pentalty: 0. This will allow me to cherry pick contracts.

Kerbals level up immediately. Sounds like they should!

Part pressure, G-force, and Kerbal G-force limits. I don't know why this option isn't active on any difficulty setting by default. It seems to be a given to me.

Resource transfer obeys crossfeed rules. I don't know how annoying this will be, but it sounds like a realistic consideration.

Building impact damage multiplier: 1.0. If it dies, it dies.

Require signal for control.

Plasma blackout.

Occlusion modifiers both 1.0.

Anything that looks off about this and that's buggy, overly annoying, a legacy feature that doesn't mesh well, etcetera?

 

Also, I don't understand why allowing negative funds and science seems to be active on Hard by default. Why should it?

On ‎03‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 2:19 PM, IncongruousGoat said:

Science mode lets you see the cost of your craft, same as Career... and same as Sandbox, for that matter. The number's in the same place in all three modes, at the bottom left of the screen when you're in the VAB/SPH. Post a screenshot of your VAB-if the cost number's not showing up for you in Science mode it's probably a bug.

Oh, I didn't realize it was cost, with the green money meter missing. It looked more like mass or dV!

23 hours ago, Nightside said:

@Gunnn, it’s a real problem!  

1st grab the mod Contract Configurator. It can disable various stock contracts.

Next, look at some of the contract packs available, there are several that have “storyline” exploration themes.

@Geonovast, no need to muck about in the save file. You can add funds or science points straight from the f12 menu. 

I usually do this to skip ahead to the middle of the tech tree since I have played the early game a lot.

Yeah, I've found Contract Configurator. I guess I'll use it a lot, once I figure out how it works!

23 hours ago, Hupf said:

You can customize your Difficulty Options for Career: increase funds rewards, decrease decline penalty. Also have a look at the administrative strategy which I forget the name of - it decreases contact rewards and increases "world first" rewards proportionally. That way, you still get the contracts for ideas/funds, but don't have to rely on grinding for funds.

Ah, decreasing decline penalty seems useful. That way I could get around cheating to find ideal contracts.

21 hours ago, KerikBalm said:

Text edit your save so that you start with 100% commitment to the leadership initiative strategy?

IMO, we should be able to more freely switch between strategies, instead of paying large costs to switch

Interesting, but I don't know how it would balance out. Since I haven't played the game a lot (only suborbital flights yet), I don't know anything about how the balance of the economy changes a few hours into the game.

Edited by Gunnn
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You should try Strategia, it is a great mod for adding real progress contracts. You could also tune milestone rewards up, especially since Strategia buffs them if you do the program for a body (there are unmanned and manned ones) by making the 5x bigger, which totals in a good million funds if you know what to do.

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2 hours ago, Gunnn said:

I want an experience that as realistic as possible

Occlusion modifiers both 1.0.

Actually the stock occlusion settings are fairly realistic if you account for bouncing signals off the atmosphere IRL.

1.0 occlusion is sort of unrealistic in that sense.

This is what I've heard anyways, perhaps someone more learned in this area could add more details.

2 hours ago, Gunnn said:

Anything that looks off about this and that's buggy

Resource transfer obeys crossfeed rules. I don't know how annoying this will be, but it sounds like a realistic consideration.

I've personally encountered bugs using this particular rule. Oftentimes it won't allow fuel transfer even if you've built it so fuel should flow correctly and without blockages. This occurs most often in my experience when docking one craft to another and trying to transfer fuel across them. (I've confirmed this to be a bug, not a mistake on my part, by spawning both involved vessels fresh on the ground and docking them, then transferring fuel with no issues. In actual game play however they refused to share fuel.)

However you can always toggle it off if you have an issue, then turn it back on later.

Edited by Rocket In My Pocket
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On 11/3/2017 at 7:32 AM, Gunnn said:

Basically, I want to get away from the contracts system and choose my own objectives, but still want science and preferably, facility upgrades and funds (and reputation can really go either way).

Very simple to do....

When you start a new game, just set the funds rewards to like 200% in the advanced options.  Feel free to up the science and rep awards, too.  But with 200% funds rewards, you get freedom of choice.  You'll no longer be a wage slave, forced to do every silly contract just to be able to do SOME of what you'd rather be doing.  Instead, you can pretty much do all that you want to do for your own purposes, and only accepting contracts that happen to fit into what you're doing anyway.,  You still need to do contracts periodically, of course, as you'll always need money, but pretty soon you'll have KSC fully upgraded and then you'll have millions in the bank to do whatever you want to with.  And by then, the contracts will mostly be for stuff you're doing for yourself anyway.

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3 hours ago, Rocket In My Pocket said:

Actually the stock occlusion settings are fairly realistic if you account for bouncing signals off the atmosphere IRL.

1.0 occlusion is sort of unrealistic in that sense.

This is what I've heard anyways, perhaps someone more learned in this area could add more details.

I've personally encountered bugs using this particular rule. Oftentimes it won't allow fuel transfer even if you've built it so fuel should flow correctly and without blockages. This occurs most often in my experience when docking one craft to another and trying to transfer fuel across them. (I've confirmed this to be a bug, not a mistake on my part, by spawning both involved vessels fresh on the ground and docking them, then transferring fuel with no issues. In actual game play however they refused to share fuel.)

However you can always toggle it off if you have an issue, then turn it back on later.

Thanks, perhaps it's better to start with default normal settings and only set the decline penalty to zero, for starters. I'll try that for a few hours tomorrow and try to stick with it for a few hours and see if I run into any problems first.

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Yeah, I've been playing with the "clear current contracts" cheat and that let's me choose the contracts I want in the order I want. It's a hassle that "clear current contracts" also clears active contracts, so I can only do one at a time and even without a decline penalty, I don't want to decline anything, because it seems to me that some contracts only appear once, but the way I'm playing the game right now works. I've made my first orbit and am doing smaller contracts to afford the facility upgrades necessary to get to the moon properly (science facility upgrade, so I can keep more science from one mission and do surface samples), so I've "gotten into" the game.

 

Thanks.

Edited by Gunnn
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On 11/3/2017 at 3:26 PM, Zhetaan said:

I have not yet seen a pack that gets rid of the silly testing contracts (I too fail to see why I would want to test a Swivel in the ocean), but we can hope.

Curiously, I can think of a pretty good reason.  It reads to me as a bit of an abstraction for something like "We've noticed that seawater plays havok with our engine components, so we've whipped up an onboard instrument package to quantify just how bad it gets and at what rates the corosion takes place.  Just splash one down for us, fire up the instrumentation once it's in the drink, and send us back the data."  'Sure would be cool if the contract text read like that.

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