Pthigrivi

Career mode: fixing what's broke

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one thing i'd like to be added/rearranged
tech tree,
we started from making basic planes, then we get a probe core, making small rockets, then we make an unmanned orbital rocket, then a crew capsule, etc etc...

RnD
add other features so we can do science and upgrade parts in it

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Posted (edited)

Been noodling on this a bit this week. After some fiddling I do think the initial Planes/Rockets/Probes split can work. I feel like the most important thing is to organize the parts in a way that allows multiple strategic branches. So for instance you could just climb vertically up the Planes route until you had the tools to cheaply put satellites in orbit with spaceplanes, or you could push forward sending deep space probes early and use those higher multipliers to unlock everything else. I also ended up moving a lot of the more basic quality of life parts (lights, ladders, structural doohickies) earlier in the tech tree. Next I guess is to see if I can plug this into Yongetech and set some sensible node unlock costs.

W5eOwqX.jpg

It does lead me to believe there could be better options in the Administration building to facilitate committed strategies. For instance there could be strategies for Terrestrial Science (higher rewards for data from Kerbin), Spectroscopy (Higher rewards for returned or processed samples), and Data Analysis, (higher rewards for transmitted data). Im liking the idea that samples can't be transmitted without processing and that they are all that can be processed more and more. Its a good check on the OP Science labs and presents clear strategic decisions to the player, to go manned and maximize field research or focus on lighter weight probes and the low risk/reward they offer. 

Edited by Pthigrivi
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I play Career and only Career, and I play it on hard. And I'm 1300+ hours into it. So far, mostly stock game, with a few exceptions.
So here's my :funds:2 .

  • Tech Tree
    The tech tree's initial levels were hard to come, and that was good. Every new tech I could acquire was almost immediately chewn for hours on like bubblegum, to use it the best way I could to improve on my designs. This means a lot of time in the VAB, and testing models to varying degrees of success.
    The late tech tree, on the other hand, and besides the higher science cost, felt/feels very bland and easy. Sure new parts are used to improve designs all the same, but there's no challenge in unlocking them - just time. By this point I haven't really even unlocked the whole tech tree, but it's a matter of time as I have a lot of labs crunching science experiments. And the parts in later techs, with the exception of a few, are all but vital to my space program. At some point even reducing the part count was a good thing, now I almost don't even bother. 

    That's not to say the tech tree doesn't need changes, but it doesn't really need to be split by "playstyle". I do all playstyles, and I don't think it has to be made that easy to just follow you like most - sure as an experienced player you'll have preferences, but a new player might be on about to just explore all options, like I was.
     
  • More surface features and exploring for science
    Definitely! Going around in rovers, even for survey contracts, is about the most boring thing to do in the game. Once I already a rover in Mun for example, I can just get anywhere in it. But I'm tempted to just hit Alt+F12 and complete the contracts, just to not spend 2 hours avoiding rocks.
     
  • Spotting such features and biomes from orbit
    *cough* KerbNet *cough* SCANsat *cough*...
    SCANSat makes it too easy and KerbNet is rather incomplete, and not as cool, but I like the way I have to find anomalies in it, by actually looking for them. No automatic waypoints - I spot the ? in KerbNet, mark it using a waypoint, edit that waypoint in Waypoint Manager, and later try to spot the anomaly with Eyeballs Mk1 orbiting low over the place, before sending in a lander.
    All features already available somehow in KSP, which brings us to...
     
On 5/5/2018 at 5:21 PM, Pthigrivi said:

2) Include a stock alarm clock for setting reminders on manuvers, encounters, transfer windows, etc.

3) Include a transfer window finder. This needn't be a list of dates, in fact its probably better if players can play with optimization a bit. Something like Transfer Window Planner with an orrery so you can see how it works?

  • Features that area already available in mods
    I definitely don't need washed down versions of great mods in KSP. KerbNet was almost one of those, compared to SCANSat, but I still use it because I think SCANSat's mapping of anomalies was too easy. Alarms for maneuver nodes might be another example - I don't need a bland version of this feature that I'd simply want to / have to replace with Kerbal Alarm Clock, specially if it conflicts with the mod I already love and use, instead of improving on it.
    I also toy around with FlightPlan and maneuver nodes, to find the best transfer. And transfer windows are available in AlexMun's transfer window planner, site and mod, with pork chop plot and everything.
     
  • Science action group
    I use one of the Custom actions for that, and that's one benefit of unlocking Custom Action Groups. Maybe being able to rename the action groups? I'd definitely name one "Science".
     
On 5/5/2018 at 5:21 PM, Pthigrivi said:
  • 5) Give the experiments themselves additional perks in flight and/or information valuable to the player later. For instance thermometers could enable visible heat bars, barometers could enable flight trajectory factoring drag, having a gravoli could increase the chance surface features are mapped, etc.

More functions/gameplay to science instruments, other than their only use being collect science, yeah that'd be nice.

On 5/5/2018 at 5:21 PM, Pthigrivi said:

1) Add Delta-V and TWR readouts in the VAB/SPH and in flight.

  • NO!! I don't want instant dV readouts, part of the challenge for me is to make it just right... by calculating those values before and during the mission and every maneuver. TWR only needs to be calculated once, and can be read on the Navball while applying thrust (as acceleration / G forces).
    Maybe add those to the numbers while in the VAB, as in maximum delta V and min and max TWR, since it'll change as fuel is spent. 
     
On 5/5/2018 at 5:21 PM, Pthigrivi said:

Make Milestones the MainQuest:

  • I like that sometimes Milestones are given as Contracts but you can also discover / complete them "by accident", and they're done forever. 
    I guess it wouldn't hurt to have them all listed from the beginning, but they'd better be available as a progression and not having the end goals available from the start, even if you know you can do them. For example I accidentally escaped Kerbin...and Kerbol while trying to complete the contract for exploring the Mun. But I only had the Mun Fly By as a goal at the time, not even landing on it yet.
     
    On 5/5/2018 at 5:21 PM, Pthigrivi said:

    Better Strategery:

  • Strategies are really a thing you buy 3 of and forget about them forever, their usefulness is limited and there's not much gameplay involved. Really needs some more dynamics.
     
    On 5/5/2018 at 5:21 PM, Pthigrivi said:

    Make Time a thing:

    This is another huge factor that I know a lot of players are interested in. Its of course very tricky because of time warp--anything that comes with a benefit over time encourages players to just time-warp through it (see the Mobile Processing Lab). Worse, if you try to hinder that with factors that cost over time it punishes players for time-warping when they really need to,  something that's desperately difficult to calibrate when some players want to play around KSOI and others want to warp out to Jool. I think there are a couple of ways that this could all be managed, however:


    1) Give Milestone contracts calendar based bonuses--ie, if you get to the Mun or to Duna before X date you receive World First bonus rewards. 

    2) Give building and research upgrades a duration to completion on a toggle. Rocket construction could be based on cost, with construction speeds increased with VAB/SHP upgrades.

    3) Open the door for experiments that take time to complete.

    4) Add life-support with a toggle. With a simplified habitation mechanic I think USI-LS is basically ready for stock. 

  • Contract Deadlines don't have to be tight, but having them 19 years in the future might be too much, at least for stuff that takes place around Kerbin.
    The way I play (no warping unless there's nothing else to do), in 1300 hours, I've completed 390 contracts and I'm only around Year 1 d 340.
    I might need all those years once I start getting contracts to recover stuff from places on the other side of Kerbol, but at first the deadlines have a lot of slack.
     
  • Requiring some time for research / experiments would add... just a new timer. Tech already takes some effort (at least in the beginning, without labs) and requiring time for research, besides the points, would just delay gratification for the already boring work of collecting science points. 
    Time for construction might be interesting, since it'd make the player push to launch as soon as possible if there's an opportunity in check, like a launch window. But what I really would like is the next item.
     
  • Make the clock keep ticking while in the VAB / SPH.
    I used to play my game in my own DarkMultiPlayer server, and the server keeps the clock ticking while you're still building rockets (it warps you to the current time when you leave the VAB). So it added a sense of urgency when the reason for building a rocket was, for example, rescuing a craft that's on a lithobraking course.
    But It also had the inconvenient of making me skip maneuver times, because as the time wouldn't tick while in the VAB, KAC wouldn't fire its alerts, so I had to keep my eye on the watch, and get out of the VAB now and then (loading).
     
  • I still haven't toyed with life supports, no mods even, as I'm a bit scared of it because I already have a lot of stuff going (stations and vessels and kerbals all over the place). I don't want my Kerbals to die if I do nothing, or can't do it in time in my current save, specially after putting so much effort in them. But I will, someday. Will need to be toggleable though, so I can turn it on only when ready to start.
     
  • Habitation mechanics (besides life support) would be cool. From small tweaks like lights going on / off when parts are occupied, or not allowing transferring Kerbals from parts without hatches over fuel tanks, to more complex systems...  Like what I think there is in Kerbalism, there's a lot that can be added there. Even more stock habitation parts, the current selection is somewhat limited in variety. But again, stuff that's provided by mods already.

 

In this long career of mine, I haven't even reached Duna yet. I have a few contracts for testing parts, placing satellites and even mining ore from it, but the missions have been going for quite a while in my "almost realtime" mode.

I've just accepted a contract to recover a part from a low Kerbol orbit, which is going to require me some breakthroughs, as all I have is a station and Sentinel going for solar orbit at the moment. But I still keep getting contracts for testing parts splashed on Kerbin, for example, even at around 53% reputation, 2 million credits and almost all science tree completed.

I think that's a bug related to updates, every time the game updates that progression is pushed a bit back. Or maybe that's just the way it is. and an opportunity to rack up on credits. But those easy, mostly boring survey contracts I keep getting don't add much to my current game, besides giving me -3 reputation if I decline one of them.

I don't know when the game is gonna start pushing me past Duna and to other bodies (it already started for asteroids and Kerbol), and what will happen once I start having to timewarp for serious to get to places. But the next 1,000 ingame hours will tell. :D

 

 

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I mod I've played with before that adds some interesting ideas regarding stations, labs and science is 

.  It might be worth incorporating something similar into a science rework. 

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Posted (edited)

@81ninja Damn, son, 1300 in one save? I've been at this 5 year and I've maybe logged that. 

On 5/11/2018 at 5:13 PM, 81ninja said:

In this long career of mine, I haven't even reached Duna yet. I have a few contracts for testing parts, placing satellites and even mining ore from it, but the missions have been going for quite a while in my "almost realtime" mode.

I don't know when the game is gonna start pushing me past Duna and to other bodies (it already started for asteroids and Kerbol), and what will happen once I start having to timewarp for serious to get to places. But the next 1,000 ingame hours will tell. :D

Okay, so, I begrudge no-one who's having fun playing kerbal, but you absolutely should have been given reasons to go to Duna within 100 hours into this game. One of the great things about KSP is that an intuitive understanding of orbital mechanics is just the beginning. This game is about the deeper challenge, going farther, and doing more. 
 

On 5/11/2018 at 5:13 PM, 81ninja said:

The tech tree's initial levels were hard to come, and that was good. Every new tech I could acquire was almost immediately chewn for hours on like bubblegum, to use it the best way I could to improve on my designs. This means a lot of time in the VAB, and testing models to varying degrees of success.
The late tech tree, on the other hand, and besides the higher science cost, felt/feels very bland and easy. Sure new parts are used to improve designs all the same, but there's no challenge in unlocking them - just time. By this point I haven't really even unlocked the whole tech tree, but it's a mattof time as I have a lot of labs crunching science experiments. And the parts in later techs, with the exception of a few, are all but vital to my space program. At some point even reducing the part count was a good thing, now I almost don't even bother. 

That's not to say the tech tree doesn't need changes, but it doesn't really need to be split by "playstyle". I do all playstyles, and I don't think it has to be made that easy to just follow you like most - sure as an experienced player you'll have preferences, but a new player might be on about to just explore all options, like I was.

Good to know about the early game, even in hard mode. Although the 'matter of time' reference is still a bit of an indictment of the stock game mechanics. And just so it's visible, those playstyles are already present within the existing tech-tree, they're just executed in a slightly clunky manner. The first two nodes really don't need to exist, at which point you might as well give the players who would like to start with planes and probes a straight shot at it.

j04p1u4.png

 

On 5/11/2018 at 5:13 PM, 81ninja said:

No automatic waypoints - I spot the ? in KerbNet, mark it using a waypoint, edit that waypoint in Waypoint Manager, and later try to spot the anomaly with Eyeballs.
...

Features that area already available in mods.
...

I use one of the Custom actions for that, and that's one benefit of unlocking Custom Action Groups. Maybe being able to rename the action groups? I'd definitely name one "Science".

My central question through all of this has been how do we capitalize upon all of the centrally fun experiences of KSP while eliminating as much repetition and frustration as possible. "But mods though" comes up in this forum and a lot, and the obvious rejoinder is that console players cant use mods and new players may not even be aware of them. This isn't really about your play experience or mine individually, but the about the general game-flow experience of all players. And the results needn't be watered down. If data like this was integrated into the discovery system Squad could actually provide a game element no mod currently does. If we're adding surface features there should be a clear, non-frustrating way to find them, and I just don't think most players would find it fun sitting and watching the little kerbnet window for hours hoping for question marks. Ditto with a science action group--of course you can manually add all those parts to a control group, but why would you want to? would you want to manually add all your lights or your landing gear? Player time could be better spent on more rewarding tasks.
 

On 5/11/2018 at 5:13 PM, 81ninja said:

NO!! I don't want instant dV readouts, part of the challenge for me is to make it just right... by calculating those values before and during the mission and every maneuver. TWR only needs to be calculated once, and can be read on the Navball while applying thrust (as acceleration / G forces).
Maybe add those to the numbers while in the VAB, as in maximum delta V and min and max TWR, since it'll change as fuel is spent. 

At the same time though you've never been to Duna or spent many hours designing and orbitally constructing a Jool-5 mission. Like I said, getting around Kerbin SOI on intuition is no problem. Managing large, complex interplanetary missions requires a some more concrete planning. Many players do the math by hand, which is fine and not very difficult if you're building something simple, but having readouts saves a lot of time on complex long term missions. And any dV readout is going to be in a drop-down of some kind, so folks who are passionate about not knowing should have no problem mustering the will power not to look. 
 

On 5/11/2018 at 5:13 PM, 81ninja said:

I like that sometimes Milestones are given as Contracts but you can also discover / complete them "by accident", and they're done forever. 
I guess it wouldn't hurt to have them all listed from the beginning, but they'd better be available as a progression and not having the end goals available from the start, even if you know you can do them. For example I accidentally escaped Kerbin...and Kerbol while trying to complete the contract for exploring the Mun. But I only had the Mun Fly By as a goal at the time, not even landing on it yet.
 

This is kind of what I mean though, you've been playing a loonng time and only ever discovered these by accident. Those contracts are out there waiting whenever you feel like going to a place you've never been, its just that the UI hasn't informed you of that fact. 

Edited by Pthigrivi

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I play only career with USI-LS, MKS and CTT.
So I feel that the tech tree and the life support challenge is well done by these mods (with the exception that rockets come before planes and, even more ridiculous, wheels). 
What I really want to see is improved missions contracts!
Your @Pthigrivi ideas for the milestones missions are really great; but if only the mission builder had been compatible with career mode ...
 

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On 5/11/2018 at 9:27 AM, Pthigrivi said:

I feel like the most important thing is to organize the parts in a way that allows multiple strategic branches.

By 'multiple strategic branches' I understand you to mean multiple choices in what order to unlock the parts in a career.

Splitting into many branches early, like the Historical Progression Tech Tree, gives more choices of which branch to advance at any point in a career.  It happens that the author there used the word 'linear' to describe his tree, which does not at first sound like what you want, but the many parallel branches give a high-dimensional space of choice to the player.  It is also easier to find the technology you want next in its grid organization.

earlySpaceplane.jpgYou might want to split your branches all the way down to the starting node, so that you have 12 parallel paths branch out immediately after the starting node, grouped by technology rather than intended application, with the early-node research costs reduced as there are fewer parts in each node.   Then we can choose, for example, to develop aerodynamic recovery of upper rocket-stages using wings, without air-breathing engines or landing gear, or liquid fuel tanks (or even cockpits if I had chosen to build this with capsules).

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On 5/12/2018 at 10:42 PM, Pthigrivi said:

@81ninja Damn, son, 1300 in one save? I've been at this 5 year and I've maybe logged that. 

I play career, on hard (limited rewards), disabled extra groundstations, avoid killing Kerbals, and don't revert (except when due to game bugs / kraken). At any given time I have 12-15 contracts accepted, I don't usually decline (except the silly survey contracts...), and right now there are around 60 flights going on about 40 missions, though some are idling / waiting for rescue, not counting the relays and left over stages that are being or to be returned.

And I learned all about the game while playing it, not by looking at the wiki or watching YouTube videos on how to do stuff.

You wonder why my game has been going for so many hours...:D

On 5/12/2018 at 10:42 PM, Pthigrivi said:

 I just don't think most players would find it fun sitting and watching the little kerbnet window for hours hoping for question marks. 

The way I work with it is this: once the craft enters the body's SOI, still far away from the surface, I open KerbNet so I can get a glance at the whole side I'm looking on. Probes and modules are limited in how many degrees they can look at, and in how many degrees in their focus they can detect anomalies on (a percentage).

So looking at the body from far away gives the most probability of spotting any anomalies on that side, but at a lower precision, due to the lower resolution. I mark the spots.

When a second flight, or the same one, happens to be flying over that point closer to the surface, I look at it using Kerbnet again, to try to see if I can get a more precise position and mark it.
Sometimes it just happens, sometimes I use SCANSat to predict when the point I first marked will be under a craft's orbit, and add a maneuver node at that time, or an alert in KAC.

Once I have marked the spot with enough precision, next I try to see the anomaly while in flight, when I have a craft orbiting or flying low enough over it. Or I send in a lander, which may have another primary mission, like exploring a biome or taking tourists to land, but I use the opportunity to explore.

So far, that way I found the Desert Pyramids, the dish on the other side of Kerbin, the Rock Arch, the Armstrong Memorial... All using Kerbnet.

And having no idea they were even there. I just opened Kerbnet, saw a question mark on the Mun, and marked it for future reference. Then I was orbiting over the KSC and saw the same question mark over the Monolith, and connected the dots. 2016, A Space Oddissey :D

I now have maybe a dozen other marks waiting to be pinpointed / explored on Mun, Minmus and even on Kerbin. Expecting to find more anomalies when my first sat reaches Duna, in a few months.

On 5/12/2018 at 10:42 PM, Pthigrivi said:

Those contracts are out there waiting whenever you feel like going to a place you've never been, its just that the UI hasn't informed you of that fact. 

You're right. That, and now I got a part recover contract in a Sun orbit that's lower than Moho's, which will require some previously unseen planning (and amount of dV). Yet I haven't even got missions for Moho and Eve fly-bys or sats, like there were for Mun, Minmus and now Duna, that would've been a tad easier - though I may "complete" them, in case I use Eve or Moho for a gravity assist.

 

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, 81ninja said:

The way I work with it is this: once the craft enters the body's SOI, still far away from the surface, I open KerbNet so I can get a glance at the whole side I'm looking on. Probes and modules are limited in how many degrees they can look at, and in how many degrees in their focus they can detect anomalies on (a percentage).

Right, which is without scansat the way we have to do things now. Like I said Kerbnet is great for landings, but science collection and site selection should be at least as clear if not clearer than resource prospecting, and big component of that is being able to see the whole picture in map mode. I suggest automatic waypoints (on a toggle even) for the same reason I suggest a science control group--the game is fundamentally better when we automate tedious tasks so player time can be focused on more important (and fun) activities. 

 

18 hours ago, 81ninja said:

You're right. That, and now I got a part recover contract in a Sun orbit that's lower than Moho's, which will require some previously unseen planning (and amount of dV). Yet I haven't even got missions for Moho and Eve fly-bys or sats, like there were for Mun, Minmus and now Duna, that would've been a tad easier - though I may "complete" them, in case I use Eve or Moho for a gravity assist.

Which is part of the reason I think these contracts need more presence in Mission Control. The reason you aren't seeing local contracts for those planets is that you haven't been there yet, and you haven't been there yet because the game hasn't offered you a contract to go there. If instead you opened up a tab and could see advances and completion rewards for Duna or Moho Milestones those goals would be obvious and any other contracts dealing with those bodies would just be extra incentives. 

Edited by Pthigrivi
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On 5/7/2018 at 12:30 PM, Pthigrivi said:

True, but many players would prefer to start out in a more historical feeling progression

I don't think it's just the fact that the tree is not historical. I think most people object to the random ridiculousness of the order that the parts are unlocked in. And the fact that You do seem to unlock the whole tree to quickly making many of the parts that should be used to build early rockets redundant and unused in carrier mode.

On 5/7/2018 at 5:04 PM, The Dunatian said:

I've never had any problems because of the tech tree order. 

I see you haven't played career mode much.:sticktongue:

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On 5/8/2018 at 3:39 PM, 5thHorseman said:

Maybe I'm jaded, I don't know.

You and half the  KSP community that’s been around for any amount of time.

 

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2 hours ago, Delbrutis said:

I don't think it's just the fact that the tree is not historical. I think most people object to the random ridiculousness of the order that the parts are unlocked in. And the fact that You do seem to unlock the whole tree to quickly making many of the parts that should be used to build early rockets redundant and unused in carrier mode.

I see you haven't played career mode much.:sticktongue:

Very droll. Says the man with 37 rep.

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Well I think the waggly tongue implies it he/she was makin a wisecrack ;)

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On 5/6/2018 at 5:41 PM, pandaman said:

I too would like to see a (simple and toggleable) stock implementation of Life Support.

I agree that 'Time' is a biggy too...  I think it needs some form of construction time, and long term experiments (such as temperature readings on a planet's surface) that give relatively small amounts of 'science' on activation, but when left running it accumulates more data (and science) which, could enable more accurate 'predictions' for other aspects (like working out how many radiators you need).

Time warp would be used exactly as it is now -  to fast forward to the next event you need to attend to, so an alarm clock is also essential.

The only problem I see with this is long missions without planning tools doesn’t work so well. I mean you either want plan them out in detail or play them out to conclusion. 

Still think part of the solution maybe let us play them out ahead Cannon timeline in effect pre recording them to play out in to the timeline as it progresses. Which sets up more opportunities for rewards over time. In effect we’ll plan by the seat of our pants.

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9 minutes ago, mattinoz said:

The only problem I see with this is long missions without planning tools doesn’t work so well. I mean you either want plan them out in detail or play them out to conclusion. 

Still think part of the solution maybe let us play them out ahead Cannon timeline in effect pre recording them to play out in to the timeline as it progresses. Which sets up more opportunities for rewards over time. In effect we’ll plan by the seat of our pants.

Agreed.  Planning tools should definitely be part of the package.

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I'm a little surprised that after so many years of demanding it, no modder or group of modders has got organised to produce a "total conversion mod" that combines standalone mod features and tools to -even partially- fix these things in a single package. I've seen this done with other games, often by modders working alone, on many occasions.

If a mod package existed that effectively demonstrated the demand for and scope of the changes you want, even if it couldn't deliver any of them entirely, it would probably attract more attention than dreamy, needy forum posts (I'm guilty of writing these too).

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2 hours ago, The_Rocketeer said:

I'm a little surprised that after so many years of demanding it, no modder or group of modders has got organised to produce a "total conversion mod" that combines standalone mod features and tools to -even partially- fix these things in a single package. I've seen this done with other games, often by modders working alone, on many occasions.

If a mod package existed that effectively demonstrated the demand for and scope of the changes you want, even if it couldn't deliver any of them entirely, it would probably attract more attention than dreamy, needy forum posts (I'm guilty of writing these too).

What can I say, I am a perpetual optimist ;) But hell yeah if there was a solid mod to streamline science and add surface features I'd be all over it.

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