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My thoughts on the Mission Builder and Making History


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So I've been playing around with the mission builder. It's been alright though I'd be lying if I didn't say there were some issues.  Here are my thoughts.

  • Asteroid Redirection: You can spawn asteroids with the Spawn Asteroid node. However, once you've spawned them you can't really do anything with them. There's no way to require a ship to dock with them (they don't technically count as vessels), there's no "grab object" node, there's no "move asteroid to x orbit" node. This is really disappointing since a very specific Asteroid Redirect Mission was the first thing I attempted in the mission builder after getting my bearings.
  • "Dialog" Boxes: First of all, a nitpick: "PR Kerman" should be "Walt Kerman." Second, it would be nice to have the dialog box show an astronaut of any of the four space suits (Veteran/Normal, Vintage/Normal) of any gender. Or a tourist. Or female scientists and engineers. Third, and most important: it's not really a "dialogue" if there's just a rant from a single Kerbal and then a single "OK" button to close the box. There should be multiple dialogue choices that the mission player can choose that might affect the rest of the mission.
  • Solar Orbit: Without using maneuver nodes (and even then it's finicky), it is impossible to set high orbits above the Sun for spacecrafts, space stations, and asteroids. The maximum distance allowed by the semimajoraxis slider and number box is below the orbit of Moho, something like 0.002 AU. This makes conventional ARM or some deep space rescue mission very difficult to set up. You can not zoom out enough to set this up either, and children bodies (planets around stars or moons around planets) are not plotted in the graphic action plane.
  • Glimmeroids are supposed to be called "Magic Boulders," as their implementation in 1.1 or so was a callback to an old easter egg of the same name. Also, there should be more types of asteroid than just the one gray texture, there is at least one more reddish-brown texture.
  • There are a lot of problems with the default historical missions. At this point though I'm not sure how much of it is just based upon lack of polish and gameplay testing for the missions and how much of it is fundamental limitations of the editor. Misspelled or awkward text, reverse completion order, *precious loads of goo*, and so on.
  • Why not let the player choose to launch as many vessels as they want for the mission as an option? If you wanted to use the Mission Builder for, say, the Jool Five Challenge, it would be unreasonable not to allow orbital assembly. On a similar note, the player should be able to optionally choose the name of the ship.
  • Wernher (shouldn't it be Gene, the Mission Control guy?) von Kerman in the Mission Builder tutorial alludes to a third tutorial which seems to be missing.
  • Now that we have this sort of programmable mission building u.i., maybe we can have scratch-style programmable flight computers for space probes?
  • Why partition it off from sandbox and career mode? It would be amazing to have missions come in through the mission control center that you would get funds and reputation for. Or even as a way of planning out missions in sandbox and career. You could add a setting to the mission builder that disables universe-scale changes like funds, universal time, etc and marks it as a "Career Mode Mission." 
  • The vessel part explosions and failures could be an interesting hard mode setting for sandbox--as long as it's optional!
  • Buying new launch sites on Kerbin would also be an interesting mechanic for career mode. You could spend funds to update them through each of the launchpad levels.
  • EDIT: THE NEXT DAY: There is no way to display dialogue boxes of information in the VAB or SPH, which may be where you need exposition delivered through witty one-liners the most!

The mission builder has so much potential to be great. But it isn't quite there yet. It's mostly functional, it's decent, but it's not great. Some of the features I've suggested are pretty major things that would classify as "updates" to the whole Making History DLC (or even future KSP DLC or Updates), but some of them are more like what you could put in a Making History fix patch, like the asteroid redirect mission and higher solar orbits. The main failing of the Mission Builder is that its limitations seem to come from a lack of imagination of what this system could do and what mission authors may want players to do.

 

Also, a few thoughts on the new parts:

  • The center of mass for many of the new pods is far too low. For the spherical pods and the MEM it looks like the COM is near the bottom attachment point. If your reasoning for the spherical pods is "well it's to keep it pointed the right way during reentry" then that's the wrong answer--that's the point of conical pods.
  • The MEM would need to be completely filled with fuel to hold the amount of fuel that it does.
  • Many pod IVAs have the ability to double click on windows to get a closer view of the window. This feature is absent in the new pods. It's not the end of the world, except for the MEM. The way the real Lunar Module was designed, the astronaut had to lean right up against the little window. In order for the MEM IVA to be usable for internal-view flight, you need to set up the double-click window setting so that you can look closely. This should also be enabled for the windows on the Gemini-like pod and the Mk1-3.
  • No soyuz spacecraft parts?
  • There is a part model switching feature now. Why not use it to keep the old parts in the game (neither removing them entirely nor keeping them hidden away), since some people (myself included) prefer them to the new ones?
Edited by GregroxMun
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I've only been fighting the mission editor for a few minutes and I've already found a bug. You can orbit Laythe - and I assume all other moons if not planets as well - outside their SOIs so you have to dial the slider back a bit. And if you do that, the graphic of your orbit gets overlaid on the left side of the screen, not in the box on the right.

I also found quite a number of UI elements that are out of whack. For example, the info boxes on the right keep jumping around as I select them and they're all the same color so when they do, they get lost to my eyes. And it took me a while to figure out how to create a ship for the mission, as all that's up in that area of the UI is a drop box that's empty. I had to scroll all the way down to where I could click a button to create the ship.

I also found what appears to be detritus from testing or a previous version of the mission builder. When you make a mission, it is saved in \ksp\missions\ but the structure of the mission is also created in \ksp\saves\test_missions\ for some reason.

I'm going to keep at it but it really feels like this needed to bake for another... I have no idea how much time.

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5 minutes ago, 5thHorseman said:

Here's another one. Needs a picture. Note the location of the Sun, and the lighting of Pol.

pol_lighting.jpg

 

Oh that is just completely and totally unacceptable.

17 minutes ago, 5thHorseman said:

 

I'm going to keep at it but it really feels like this needed to bake for another... I have no idea how much time.

Absolutely this. This is a problem they also had with 1.4.0. Both 1.4.0 and Making History really needed to have a good long Quality Assurance pass. Lots of gameplay testing, ironing out bugs. 1.4.0 had a few pretty annoying issues at launch, though it looks like 1.4.1 has fixed some of them in the base game at least. And now Making History really feels like an internal beta, not a finished and well polished release.

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Haha I managed to break the very first mission by recovering my vessel instead of reverting to VAB. Now I'm at the space center and every single building reports itself as "closed" when I click it.

Cutely, I have 1337 science.

Alt-F4, back to playing Into The Breach for now.

Edited by 5thHorseman
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Well good thing im patient and didnt buy the expansion as it came out.  I think ill wait a few weeks to see whether they fix some of the nastier bugs in it.

 

Hopefully 1.4.1 bugs get fixed too. 

Broken reentry fx where most new parts dont even render the fx at all (fairings have 0 reentry fx on them), or have weird bugs like seeing through vessel and having fx show up on stuff thats hidden (kerbal face can be seen through the backside of helmet during reentry).  Also the really weird artefacting that sometimes causes reentry ray effects to go all over to the side of teh screen at certain camera angles which looks terrible.

No clickable windows in IVAs which is extremely annoying as you cannot see squat except to the far left/right of the MK1-3, and makes it a nightmare to hit anything with unguided weapons.

Derpage with the naming system where it works normally but sometimes my carriers go from the station icon to the airplane icon despite specifically setting the station icon on EVERY probe and command pod in said carrier, ect.

 

I will defenetely get making history mostly for the sock implementation of launchpads so i can get rid of the laggy and buggy mess that is kerbinside (assuming it actually can be configured to allow launching from say a pad on Duna or any other world in sandbox mode).  Also gonna take a look at the new parts, not that im crazy about em, but hey, might as well support the future development solong as they actually patch out the major bugs that shipped with it (from what ive seen and heard its more buggy then some of the more complicated mods out there like BDA, scatterer, ect).

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First thing I tried to do as well was mess around with asteroids and got a big smack in the face when i realised how difficult it is to set up anything with asteroids involved. Additionally, I don't know if I am just overlooking things within the mission builder, but there doesn't seem to be a way to confirm two objectives at the same time. I wanted to make a mission where you just grab an asteroid from LKO and bring it back to the surface but the only way for me to do it is to create an objective that says something like "test distance from vessel to Asteroid" but there doesn't seem to be any way to keep checking, so one could easily just get near the asteroid, then leave it and go do the rest of the objectives.

Also, I noticed there is only a slider for setting starting cash, which was an interesting choice seeing that moving the slider one pixel changes the dollar amount you have wildly, and there is no box to just type a number in, which seems to be a huge oversight. Hopefully these things will get hammered out in updates soon, but so far I do think the mission builder is extremely cool as a concept.

Oh, and one more thing, since they didn't have any kind of in-game way to do mission sharing (which I think was a huge miss), where did Squad think people were going to go to share missions? I cannot find anywhere in these forums or in the KSP subreddit anywhere where people are even talking about sharing missions... Just my few thoughts.

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29 minutes ago, punchyfist said:

Also, I noticed there is only a slider for setting starting cash, which was an interesting choice seeing that moving the slider one pixel changes the dollar amount you have wildly, and there is no box to just type a number in, which seems to be a huge oversight.

It's super clunky but you can go in and edit the mission file. It's a lot like the save game persistent file.

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4 hours ago, GregroxMun said:

Also, a few thoughts on the new parts:

  • The center of mass for many of the new pods is far too low. For the spherical pods and the MEM it looks like the COM is near the bottom attachment point. If your reasoning for the spherical pods is "well it's to keep it pointed the right way during reentry" then that's the wrong answer--that's the point of conical pods.

You are brave to say the Russian don't know what they are doing and should do it the American way.

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1 hour ago, punchyfist said:

there is no box to just type a number in, which seems to be a huge oversight

This is also a general complaint of the normal stock sliders. A box for precise number entry would be nice. Getting elevon deploy limits to matchup sometimes.... 50 and 51, move it and it jumps to 49!

4 hours ago, GregroxMun said:

Why not use it to keep the old parts in the game (neither removing them entirely nor keeping them hidden away), since some people (myself included) prefer them to the new ones?

This. So much this.

My question though - this has been in the works for more than a year now. Not to say that software development is easy, but you'd think they could polish it a bit more... or have a soft release to fix the bugs/niggles present?

Edited by qzgy
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@GregroxMun

I agree with all of your points.

If they adapt your suggestions the Mission Builder would be a lot more fun to use! Why don't you submit them as new issues to the feedback (some might be bugs though) tracker on https://bugs.kerbalspaceprogram.com ? Then I'm sure your suggestions will get more attention from the developers. :)

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I wish GregroxMun was in QA team before the release. All of his points are valid and some are absolutely crucial for good end user experience.

Edited by Enceos
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4 hours ago, GregroxMun said:

No soyuz spacecraft parts

They considered as modern spacecraft (LOL).

If you think about it, it is actually the only manned craft actively used. Except Shenzhou, which is a copy of soyuz.

Jokes aside, souyz is missing. It's a bit sad. but HGR is still valid I guess

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5 hours ago, GregroxMun said:

Glimmeroids are supposed to be called "Magic Boulders," as their implementation in 1.1 or so was a callback to an old easter egg of the same name. Also, there should be more types of asteroid than just the one gray texture, there is at least one more reddish-brown texture.

I agree with most of your other points - but if I recall it was @Arsonide who named them Glimmeroids when he did the callback easter egg to the Magic Boulder.  So he gets full naming rights.

Semi-related - the gold monoliths (they are supposed to be gold - don't think the color is right though) were always referred to as "randoliths".

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5 hours ago, The Dunatian said:

I'm really not that interested in the mission builder as I've always enjoyed building and flying everything myself. For me anything less would feel like cheating.

The mission builder isn‘t flying missions for you.

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8 hours ago, GregroxMun said:

"Dialog" Boxes: First of all, a nitpick: "PR Kerman" should be "Walt Kerman." Second, it would be nice to have the dialog box show an astronaut of any of the four space suits (Veteran/Normal, Vintage/Normal) of any gender. Or a tourist. Or female scientists and engineers. Third, and most important: it's not really a "dialogue" if there's just a rant from a single Kerbal and then a single "OK" button to close the box. There should be multiple dialogue choices that the mission player can choose that might affect the rest of the mission.

 

Yes, yes, yes,....

If they make missons a click frenzy of pointless dialogues then at least the return key should dismiss them.

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I am a bit disappointed by the mission builder. I expected issues, just like every release of KSP had some issues. But not that many, and some of them seem like really obvious oversights.

That said, i still expect to have some fun with it. It just could have been so much better :(

Edit: Just tried to do the first stock mission. Game crashed, so far twice. Of to a good start! :(

Edited by rudi1291
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8 hours ago, 5thHorseman said:

Haha I managed to break the very first mission by recovering my vessel instead of reverting to VAB. Now I'm at the space center and every single building reports itself as "closed" when I click it.

Cutely, I have 1337 science.

Alt-F4, back to playing Into The Breach for now.

I encounter the same issue. Except that reverting to the VAB is not even an option. Recovery it is.

Make a mistake, and it's game over.

This is the first flight of the first mission. I'd like to hear from @SQUAD how this managed to sail past QA. And yes, it's perfectly reproducible, every single time, on a virgin installation.

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9 hours ago, 5thHorseman said:

it really feels like this needed to bake for another... I have no idea how much time.

Why are we surprised? :rolleyes:

5 hours ago, mattinoz said:

You are brave to say the Russian don't know what they are doing and should do it the American way.

Yeah they might ****** you **** a ***** *****...

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7 hours ago, mattinoz said:

You are brave to say the Russian don't know what they are doing and should do it the American way.

No I'm not because that's not what I'm saying. The Russians eventually switched over to the capsule shape too with Soyuz. It's not the American way, it's just the way that Americans tried first.

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Lots of good points!

On 14.3.2018 at 1:55 AM, GregroxMun said:
  • Why partition it off from sandbox and career mode? It would be amazing to have missions come in through the mission control center that you would get funds and reputation for. Or even as a way of planning out missions in sandbox and career. You could add a setting to the mission builder that disables universe-scale changes like funds, universal time, etc and marks it as a "Career Mode Mission."

Yeah, that one really surprised me. I thought the part of the mission builders point was that you could add those missions into careers, creating more interesting contracts.

Seems like a massive oversight to leave that much potential on the table.

On 14.3.2018 at 1:55 AM, GregroxMun said:
  • The center of mass for many of the new pods is far too low. For the spherical pods and the MEM it looks like the COM is near the bottom attachment point. If your reasoning for the spherical pods is "well it's to keep it pointed the right way during reentry" then that's the wrong answer--that's the point of conical pods.

I've just checked, and Voskhod 1 had an offset center of mass, too. I mean, it makes sense, you don't want the thing to eternally tumble and, idk, break the pilots neck?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voskhod_(spacecraft) :

Quote

Landing system: Sphere made ballistic reentry, with shield side seeking correct orientation by virtue of the center of gravity being aft of the center of the sphere.

 

Edited by Temeter
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7 hours ago, Temeter said:

Lots of good points!

Without repeating the entire discussion, indeed very enjoyable and educational. A few comments of my own:

  • You are brave to say the Russian don't know what they are doing and should do it the American way — in defense of "the Russians didn't know what they were doing" keep in mind, this was the beginning of space flight, so to a large extend design was indeed terra incognita and designing was to a large extend "throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks"
  • I always wondered about why early Russian capsules were spheres and it never really dawned on me until I read the wikipedia quote listed above: "Landing system: Sphere made ballistic reentry, with shield side seeking correct orientation by virtue of the center of gravity being aft of the center of the sphere" — it's actually a genius design. You don't have to worry about the capsule having two or more aerodynamic equilibria (anyone whose capsule decided to ride out reentry "pointy end first" knows the joy of that). No extensive wind tunnel testing needed, not depending on complex calculations or (in those days likely not existing) simulations.
  • A self-righting design obviously has benefits but getting the aerodynamics right might be tricky. In the race to get into space first, the Soviets didn't have the luxury of going through an extensive process to get the best capsule possible. They just went straight for "we know this works."

I've always admired Soviet-style engineering designs. It might look primitive but it's amazingly effective. When Victor Belenko defected and landed his MiG 25 Foxbat in Japan, the jet was of course torn apart by Americans who were appalled over how primitive it was. From what I understood, after the collapse of the cold war, they found out that many of the "primitive" features were well thought out. Lots of stainless steel instead of exotic metals, it was apparently very heat resistant and easy to handle in the field. Radar electronics working with vacuum tubes had more to do with being EMP resistant than the state of Russian electronics, and so on. The Vostok design seems to fit right in.

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On 14/03/2018 at 11:55 AM, GregroxMun said:

Why partition it off from sandbox and career mode? It would be amazing to have missions come in through the mission control center that you would get funds and reputation for. Or even as a way of planning out missions in sandbox and career. You could add a setting to the mission builder that disables universe-scale changes like funds, universal time, etc and marks it as a "Career Mode Mission." 

I incorrectly assumed until about 1 week before the release that this was the whole point of the DLC! 
Not having the functionality to design missions for career mode is disappointing. If marked for "Career Mode" it could have had entry level triggers such as tech level and available funds. Likewise rewards could have been in science, funds and reputation.

Maybe someone with the skills will mod in the missing career mode functionality?
Never mind, in the meantime it is a bit of a fun short distraction from my regular career progression play.

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On 14.3.2018 at 1:55 AM, GregroxMun said:
  • Why partition it off from sandbox and career mode? It would be amazing to have missions come in through the mission control center that you would get funds and reputation for. Or even as a way of planning out missions in sandbox and career. You could add a setting to the mission builder that disables universe-scale changes like funds, universal time, etc and marks it as a "Career Mode Mission." 

In my opinion this would be the most important thing! Imagine the possibilities in carrer mode - doing a real historic progression, where there are certain missions that you can complete, where you have to use certain parts to build e.g. an Apollo Style mission - using Apollo like parts.

Actually - that's what I expected when I read about the DLC for the first time, and kind of what I was still hoping for when I bought it...

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