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MidFellow

Science evolution through objectives

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Hello fellow kerbals. Let's talk about science mode !

I - The Issue

I might be some kind of a masochistic player but I can't help to think that even with a 10 % science rewards settings, unlocking the tech tree feels wrong.
In my experience, for a 10 % setting, it's :

1) Unnecessarily grindy at the very beginning 

2) Somewhat normal around moon and minmus if you travel a bit through biomes with like 2 moon missions and 2 minmus missions

3) Still way to fast to unlock once you can get into other planets orbits

4) Rendered completely pointless by science lab, which stays OP even at 10 %. I mean, even if I just put science stations here and there and don't speed up time directly, any trip to Jool while they are running in the background will speed up that time anyway and grind hard.

I won't say much about career mode as I feel it's quite the same issue, science and money feeling like two separates things even with strategies running, plus I tend to prefer science mode at the moment. My computer lags with too much pieces, so I actually build low-price rockets anyway :$

II - The Idea

As I came across a simple achievement mod found on CKAN (this one, here) I thought "hey, it would be pretty cool if instead of science, tech tree was unlocked through objectives / missions / achievements of some kind !" It could look like this for instance :

Launch a Vessel --> Land a Vessel / Splash-land a Vessel --> Get Over Kerbin Atmosphere --> Land at North / South Pole --> Get to Orbit --> SOI Moon or Minmus --> Orbit M or Mm --> SOI Sun --> Land M or Mm --> SOI Duna or Eve --> etc...

That would require some kind of thinking as for the order, but it would be fun to play in my opinion. Plus, as tech tree columns grow in size, your possibilities tends to inscrease as well : orbiting Duna or Jool makes little difference, so the same mission in multiple planets could fill up tech branches (same for Moon or Minmus actually).
As science parts would be rendered useless, some missions could call for them, i.e. "do an atmospheric scan landed of EVE" or something.

What do you think, is that cool and doable as a mod ? (Or does it exist already, making me look very dumb ?) 

I know that one could challenge himself and not rely on a game mechanic, but I feel like a progressive mode like science is pointless if you have to moderate yourself playing it. I mean, you might as well go for the sandbox mode if you have to make your own challenges anyway. It would also be newbie-freindly I think, as it would give the player objectives that are assured to be doable, which is very good for motivation and understanding (i.e. seeing Minmus before Moon or at the same level could bring some kind of questions, leading to an illumination when player understands why / do the mission).

Edited by MidFellow
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I think you could create a mod that does something like what you are suggesting.

Set all science reward multipliers to zero, then add contracts(missions) that reward you with science, which then allows you to unlock new parts. 

(Personally I never use the stock science lab for generating science.  It just feels too cheaty).

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Anything is better than science points. The problem is some people would want to do things faster than others.

Let's say the first landing legs (let's assume they are essential for landing) are unlocked after an orbital mission to the Mun. Now, some people would like to do both at once (orbit and land in one mission). The problem is it's impossible (it's not but let's assume it is) without the legs which become available after the orbit is achieved. So now you have to build a second mission and then land.

This is a lousy example but hopefully you get the idea.

Tha being said, it's really not a bad idea depending on how it's handled. Maybe the basic legs could be unlocked while you're still on Kerbin by performing a couple of successful grasshopper-like VTOL tests? Then the better ones would become available after landing with the basic ones on the Mun.

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You could start with landing legs (the only reason I can think of that wheels, ladders and landing legs aren't available in the starting node is to help players new to ksp to get started with a more focused and hopefully more accessible experience).

As you implied can also land on structural members or spare fuel tanks, or even on an engine bell. 

But depending on how the contracts are organised, doing a landing when the contract only requires an orbit, then a return to Kerbin would not help you progress faster.   Of course you could also structure the contracts, so the first Mun mission requires a flyby, and completes when you enter the mun's SOI on a flyby trajectory, then the second Mun mission could require an orbit, and complete when you achieve orbit, then the third could require a landing, and the forth could require a return from the surface.  So once you understood the contract structure, you could do all four with one mission.

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Sounds interesting.

Make the tech tree work along the lines of "related science unlock".

Player must take measurements at hypersonic speeds before being able to invest in unlocking highspeed flight.

Player must encounter Mun's gravity before being able to unlock Landing legs.

Player must rendezvous in orbit before being able to unlock docking collars.

This sort of thing would probably work for the PC crowd, but might make my PS4 unhappy.

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2 hours ago, Wjolcz said:

Anything is better than science points. The problem is some people would want to do things faster than others.

Let's say the first landing legs (let's assume they are essential for landing) are unlocked after an orbital mission to the Mun. Now, some people would like to do both at once (orbit and land in one mission). The problem is it's impossible (it's not but let's assume it is) without the legs which become available after the orbit is achieved. So now you have to build a second mission and then land.

This is a lousy example but hopefully you get the idea.

Tha being said, it's really not a bad idea depending on how it's handled. Maybe the basic legs could be unlocked while you're still on Kerbin by performing a couple of successful grasshopper-like VTOL tests? Then the better ones would become available after landing with the basic ones on the Mun. 

Sounds great! Besides, needing to do ground and air tests in order to unclock eqipment is a great idea of it's own. I mean, think of all the testing! The aircraft parts could finally cpntribute to the tech tree (I always thought it's sad that you don't actually need them as all the science can be made with rockets and aircraft parts remain highly optional)

So what I see is actually contracts that allow you to permanently unlock certain parts

For example: a contract that makes you launch a rocket to a certain place and land it there will unlock better guiding surfaces (wings and stuff) as well as jet engines. Contracts that require to build and send to specific location aircraft will unlock additional parts. Occasionally contracts like "build a hovering plane" appear, with something like "hover for 10 seconds with horizontal/vertical speed lesser than 10 m/s", that will award you with landing legs and RCS system. "Drop a probe from orbit, we want to see what will happen" will reward you with heat shields, etc.

Edited by rewinderon
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While I do agree science collection needs some work, one of the key advantages to having science points is how flexible they are. Whether you like flying planes around or sending interplanetary probes or setting up bases on the Mun you can slap some experiments on there and make progress. You aren't being proscribed to do any specific type of mission to unlock a specific part, so players can play as they will. As a player you're not sitting there thinking "Man I'd like to go to the Mun but instead I have to do 6 unlock missions to get the parts I need." You just go to the Mun and that provides its own reward. Its probably the reason Squad settled on that system, because it accommodates such a wide range of playstyles. The downside, however, is that science ends up being unstructured and bland and the collection process is repetitive. I tend to think those drawbacks can be attacked directly without throwing the flexibility out with bathwater, but thats me. 

What I would love to see though is a clearer structure for the milestone contracts. I think given the broad diversity of play styles it really shouldn't be even as linear as it is now. Mission control should just have tabs for each planet and the milestones should be listed at the top with any other procedural contracts listed below. Right now you can of course just go to Duna or Minmus or wherever and when you get there you get paid, but you would never know that looking at Mission control. If that were the case you could pretty much have what you want by fiddling with the difficulty settings and doing what AVaughan suggested.

Edited by Pthigrivi
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I've only completed the tech tree once, PS4 on normal career.

I know next to nothing insofar as programming a game.

But I do like the possibility of have a more difficult but guided 'contractor career mode'.

I have paid little to no attention to the milestones.

The Game is fantastic as it is, and every KSP player will have some ideas as to what they think would improve it.

A few more space-station/Mun-base parts, and a few more skills/abilities for my Kerbals.

Many of us are use to having a storyline to sorta follow and keep us motivated.

Cheers!

 

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The problem with science [points] is that it's a system that had been built around one and finite objective: spending it on tech. They could make it more interesting by adding minigames, randomizing the outcome/reward but I guarantee you that you won't care once you have all the parts unlocked. You can say that it adds this 'flexibility' but a career game with only two resources (reputation and money) would do exactly the same, add even more flexibility and be more elegant at the same time. The experiments would simply be a part of contracts.

Edited by Wjolcz

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