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Stock Game not very fun without Delta-V & TWR readout


Kobymaru
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Hey there!

So I bought the DLC and apart from all of the other bugs and issues mentioned in many other threads, I have come to notice something:

I'm not actually having any fun playing the Stock missions, and generally the stock game.

 

I would dare to call myself a KSP veteran, having started out a few years back. Building rockets that can go to the place you want to go is quite a hit and miss, until you discover the concept of Delta-V and TWR. After my discovery, I started calculating them with pen, paper and a calculator. Then I switched to Excel, but that still got tedious real fast. Luckily I discovered MechJeb (and later KER) that calculated the TWR and the stages for me.

I got used to them, and building rockets became second nature to me.

When Making History was released, I thought to myself: "OK, let's play these missions as they were intended: with just the Stock game, no mods".

I finally got to the third part of the mission (building Jebnik 1), and I come to realize:

Wait, how the hell am I supposed to know if this is going to space or not??? I don't have a dV readout, I can't even do trial and error, because there is no Revert to VAB after I've launched the thing.

My options are: 

  1. Build the most "Kerbal Rocket" and create a giant behemoth that by my *guess* will probably make it to space
  2. Do trial and error by cheating
  3. Get it right by copying an existing design from the forum
  4. Go back to my days of calculator usage, calculate the dV of 3 stages by hand

None of these is fun for me. Option 1) just isn't my style, and it's not even a guarantee that it will work. Option 2) feels cheaty, and also doesn't work very well. 3) is plain lame, and I'm just too old to do 4), I have moved past this years ago, and it's way too much work for a game meant for recreation.

So what now?

I'm usually a critic of statements like "this mod should be stock", but I'm coming to realize that the game really, really needs a Delta-V and TWR readout.

What are your thoughts about this? How do you deal with building rockets without KER/MechJeb?

 

ps.: inb4 "Just install KER/MechJeb": I know I can do that, and probably will. But in this thread I want to talk about the *Stock* experience that the game provides and that the developers intended.

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Just a week ago, we had a very very good discussion on this topic.  I recommend checking it out:

 

There are a lot of good points pro and con in this thread, with the cavemen offering up some very good tips on doing the math easily.  I would assume that most wouldn't want to repost all that stuff again. 

 

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First, I agree that stock ought to have TWR and dV indicators. I'm replying only to address two specific points, not to argue that the game does not need these features.

1 hour ago, Kobymaru said:

there is no Revert to VAB after I've launched the thing.

There is if you use an alternate procedure described here to advance missions instead of recovering vessels:

1 hour ago, Kobymaru said:

What are your thoughts about this? How do you deal with building rockets without KER/MechJeb?

I've developed a method for eyeballing it, which I detail in this reply to the aforementioned thread:

The only math involved is simple multiplication, using information given by the stock game. The end result is a rocket with respectable TWR and known delta V. Complicated staging schemes would still need additional calculations, but it works well for Jebnik 1.

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You can do the exact deltav calculations with numbers provided by the stock game. I just use the calculator on my phone. I've never really found it very time-consuming.

 

Honestly, all I want is a button to drain and refuel all of the engines in a stage all at once instead of using all the sliders. And that's only because I've never been motivated enough to calculate how much fuel weighs and write it down somewhere.

It's not exactly rocke...

*Ahem*

Rocket science isn't actually that hard? That doesn't sound right...

Edited by Opus_723
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2 hours ago, Kobymaru said:

I finally got to the third part of the mission (building Jebnik 1), and I come to realize:

Wait, how the hell am I supposed to know if this is going to space or not??? I don't have a dV readout, I can't even do trial and error, because there is no Revert to VAB after I've launched the thing.

I was in the same boat for the Jebnik 1 portion of the mission.  Not the part about a dV readout (because I've never used KER), but for sure the part about no Revert to VAB.  My workaround was to make a hard save before entering the VAB.  So after building the rocket and then launching, if the rocket needs changing you can reload the hard save and get back into the VAB.

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With 1.4 I realised I've become completely dependent of KER and my readouts.

To build to a certain extent: while I still can "eyeball" a rocket for up to Duna without calculating anything, I feel like there's something missing. Considering I haven't properly played a stock save since 1.0.4 and the new parts, it just feels like I have no idea what I am doing. I tend to massively overbuild my rockets (thank you RSS), underpower them (because everything is so heavy and I build tall rockets so lots of mass in a small diameter and muh tankbutts) and overall can't get everything the way I want. Say I want to adjust the TWR or dV on a stage, each time I want to do that I would have to recalculate everything because I'm not used to doing it anymore.

And it gets worse when I leave the VAB. I love information, I love readouts and I love keeping an eye on every single number at once. My KER preset has over 50 different readouts without the manoeuvres or rendez-vous ones active. And then there's stock where you have altitude, speed aaaaaaaand that's it. The worst is the absence of orbital readouts: I don't know where I am, I don't know where I'm going, I don't know when to cut my engines, when to light them... Sure you can use map view, but come on! Orbital data is literally in the game and you use it all the time, all the arguments you could find against dV readouts don't apply there, what would it cost to add a small window showing your apoapsis and periapsis? Just that would make launching your rockets immensely better. And don't get me started on IVA.
I know some advocate the "trial and error" and that absence of information is a part of the gameplay; but with all due respect, I find it's a moronic point of view and makes for an appalling element of gameplay.

Give us information, give us data, tell use what we are doing. Rocket science is rocket science: it's numbers, it's math, it's engineering, all of which require accuracy and planning. I just don't find it fun when you have no idea if your rocket will make it back, when you have no idea if you are flying efficiently, when you have no idea if you will even reach your target (because at Squad, porkchop just means meat and window is something you look through); I much prefer planning my mission thoroughly, having the tools to execute it precisely and if something goes wrong well it's okay because I was able to plan for contingencies as well.

Yes, manually calculating dV is easy and makes you work your math, great right? No! Because that's why we have calculators/computers for, unless you can't use yours you can't get it wrong: it's not an element of difficulty, it's just time-consuming and tedious. Difficulty should lie in being able to design and build your rocket properly for a mission, not in being able to find the natural logarithm on your calculator every time you take a part off.

Not giving the information we need for a mission is literally dumbing down the game (I know what "literally" means and I mean it) and making it harder at the same time, which is quite the achievement. Matching numbers is easier than trial and error, it's also miles less frustrating; and if you want to up your level of gameplay you'll have to understand these numbers anyway.

I could go on and on, but then I'll get to the "kerbals r so goofy lul, dem rokets explod !!!1!!!!!!!!" image of the game and I'll never stop.

 

TL;DR: if you want to achieve anything worthwhile, then no, stock game is not very fun without delta-V or TWR readouts.

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A spreadsheet that is designed in the conventional manner (how much twr and DV will this stage produce) is definitely going to be tedious. A spreadsheet that is designed *backwards* (what stage do I need to build to achieve this twr and DV goal), OTOH... is not only *not* tedious, but actually more useful and user- friendly than the mods.

 Just plug in what you need, build what it recommends, and *kaphoomph*... profit. Your rocket does exactly what you need it to do.

This is how I operate in stock, whether or not KER and MechJeb have been updated with the new release. I simply don't need the DV and TWR readouts.

 DV and TWR are not the answers, they are the questions. The true answers are which engine to use, how many engines, and how many fuel tanks.

 

Best,
-Slashy

Edited by GoSlash27
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On one hand, I'd like to say "This will be the 47'th thread on the same subject, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it"... and point out it's non-trivial to make an effective delta-V calculator.

On the other hand, I still disagree with the "vision" of pure trial-and-error gameplay, and think it would be a great addition to have at least a works-most-of-the-time delta-V calculator.

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2 hours ago, Gaarst said:

Orbital data is literally in the game and you use it all the time, all the arguments you could find against dV readouts don't apply there, what would it cost to add a small window showing your apoapsis and periapsis?

This believe would be a good start.  Even the cavemen would agree this has a place in the game. 

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I'm curious why you don't install KER? It's the first thing I add after a new release. My research so far indicates KER works with 1.4, although I'm still gonna waiting for 1.4.2 because bugs, well, bug me and it sounds like 1.4.1 still has its fair share of em...

Edited by WildBill
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After almost 3,000 hours, I've been to every stock planet and moon multiple times. Done the Retro Solar Rescue, the Jool 5, and several Eve land and return missions. Except for mundane and repetitive missions like rescues from LKO and asteroid grabbing, I don't reuse rockets. I build every one from scratch for that particular mission. And I could not tell you the Delta V or TWR of a single one of them, because I just don't know. I've never used a mod, spreadsheet, or calculator. I just use trial and error and guesswork based on experience. It was tough going at first, but it taught me a lot. And I would not trade those early experiences. Now, unless I'm going to Eve, I just look at my rocket as I build it and I can kinda tell what it can do. You don't over-build, you try to make it as small as possible while  still bringing everything you need and accomplishing your mission. I've gotten good enough at it that I usually just make it or just miss it. And I'm right more often than wrong. It always makes me feel good. And there's an element of mystery and excitement to every mission. Did I cut it too close? Will I make it, or have to mount a rescue? It's fun.

The only drawback to this method is that my ships will almost never be as efficient as someone's with the information at hand, but I don't really mind that. I can pare it down pretty well if I work at it.

With all that being said, I will admit to salivating with envy whenever I see screenshots with KER open. I would love to have all that info available. I said when I started I would play stock, and I have. I figured once I got good enough and had nothing left to prove to myself, I would install KER. But I just never got around to it. I now moved on to New Horizons; where I've again been demoted to rank amateur. And I'm loving it. It's an absolute blast to me. Just a difference in play-style is all. However, if it were in the game, I would certainly make use of it. I would just make it something to be unlocked further along the game to encourage learning on your own; as I've seen @Rocket In My Pocket and a few others suggest. However, if I were Squad, I would not put it in the stock game. You would immediately see videos posted with ships showing a certain Delta V amount, then making maneuvers and showing the numbers to be completely wrong. Veterans here on the forum would rise to their defense and explain why you can't account for everything and say "you shoulda been around when we had nothing". And others will say "who cares? If it's in the game it should work". There's no winning there. I'd leave it to the realm of mods. It's not hurting anyone (except maybe  the console guys; and they're all nuts anyway). A better question is why isn't KAC in the stock game? It's the only mod you actually need, and it's authored by a staff member. That one's a head-scratcher.

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3 minutes ago, Cpt Kerbalkrunch said:

A better question is why isn't KAC in the stock game? It's the only mod you actually need, and it's authored by a staff member. That one's a head-scratcher.

Because it would be useful in helping successfully manage your missions, can't have that in KSP.

Edited by Gaarst
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No TWR readout I can deal with.  I honestly didn't even pay much attention to it until quite awhile after I got KER.  Same with dV readouts.  I've gone to Jool and back completely winging it (aka no math) with ~100 m/s to spare when I got back.

What drives me insane (and the only reason I initially got KER) was no AP/PE readout in flight view.   Make it toggle-able.  Make it unlock-able in career.  Just put it in there.

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4 minutes ago, Geonovast said:

What drives me insane (and the only reason I initially got KER) was no AP/PE readout in flight view.   Make it toggle-able.  Make it unlock-able in career.  Just put it in there.

I'd love to have that for sure. Flipping back and forth to map view is always fun. Especially when I switch back and the camera automatically zooms in for an extreme close-up on my huge ship. Always irritating.

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39 minutes ago, Geonovast said:

What drives me insane (and the only reason I initially got KER) was no AP/PE readout in flight view.   Make it toggle-able.  Make it unlock-able in career.  Just put it in there.

Why should it ever be hidden behind unlocks?  Squad needs to stop with making the game artificially more difficult at the beginning of career.  The difficultly should come from getting to the next planet, not having vital tools hidden from you.

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One of the many reasons people stop playing the game really quick, most of them without going interplanetary.

I understand all the fun and accomplishment in building the rockets be eye, only guessing things, and making gruesome mistakes. But it's a very short-lived experience, that gets more boring and tiresome than fun very fast. Most people got this taste around the boom in popularity in 2015, and then abandoned the game.

 

Zb5h5Mp.png

I think a lot of things should be added in the stock game in this regard. If a significant number of people complains (which I doubt), simple make it toggleable in the settings menu.

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41 minutes ago, MaximumThrust said:

I understand all the fun and accomplishment in building the rockets be eye, only guessing things, and making gruesome mistakes. But it's a very short-lived experience, that gets more boring and tiresome than fun very fast.


And that's for that percentage of people who find such things fun in the first place.  Anyone who isn't in that percentage is left out in the cold from the get-go.

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While I can fully appreciate the players to do the math 'by hand', it is a real chore for the ones that don't want to do that. 

I can get behind the game introducing the spread sheets into the VAB itself.  Where the details of each part/stage are either manually or automatically entered into some chart window, and it helps you perform the calculations, in game.  There's a lot of details to work out with this idea, but I think it would be a good compromise between the intent of the game forcing you to learn rocket science, and having some automation to help you along.   And as you progress up the tech tree, the process gets more and more automated, as the build team would have 'junior' engineers doing the math for you, unlike when you started off, it was just you and Werner. 

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You can use kOS and make your own pseudo-KER!

To get the TWR and (single-stage) dV readout all you have to do is:

parameter isp.

clearscreen.

set terminal:height to 5. // just to make the window a little smaller.
set terminal:width to 15.

lock g to body:mu / body:position:sqrmagnitude.
lock a to ship:availablethrust / ship:mass.
lock twr to a / g.
lock dV to isp * 9.80665 * ln(ship:mass / ship:drymass).

until ship:oxidizer < 1 {
  print round(twr,2) + "  " at(3,3).
  print round(dV,2) + "  " at(3,4).
}

Run with `run filename(isp).` where isp is the Isp of the engine in use, or engines if they're the same type. And you can add all the things you might want, like altitude or time to periapsis or whatever, and you can make it as complicated as you want. The sky's the limit! :)

I will add though, that both TWR and dV readouts should be stock at this point.

Edited by Black-Two-
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4 hours ago, MaximumThrust said:

One of the many reasons people stop playing the game really quick, most of them without going interplanetary.

I understand all the fun and accomplishment in building the rockets be eye, only guessing things, and making gruesome mistakes. But it's a very short-lived experience, that gets more boring and tiresome than fun very fast. Most people got this taste around the boom in popularity in 2015, and then abandoned the game.

 

Zb5h5Mp.png

I think a lot of things should be added in the stock game in this regard. If a significant number of people complains (which I doubt), simple make it toggleable in the settings menu.

I wouldn't put too much significance in "interest" in a search term.
All that really shows is the number of people looking for the front door. For a lot of us, who've maintained interest over the years, how often do we search for Kerbal? not often, we've prob already got tabs open (or bookmarked or however you roll) to the forum and other resources. If I do search for something "kerbal" it's usually prefixed with KSP rather than kerbal - ie KSP wiki, KSP calculators, etc, I'd say I almost never search for Kerbal. 

 

So yeah, Stock dV; I'm on the "I prefer the mod solutions" side of the fence, but I get some peps don't want, or can't use mods, so yes, there is the raw maths approach, but that's not for everyone. There's a kinda hacky Kerbal way which, while not 100% accurate, is "good enough for govt. work"; build, launch, open debug menu, cheat craft into orbit, create maneuver node without any dV, wait until you reach node, fire engines. The maneuver node will count the dV expended. 
I don't think KSP should provide a stock dV readout, because KSP is about figuring out weird solutions to problems; maths it, mod it, or do something Kerbal!

 

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