Mark Kerbin

Next DLC; Planetary Exploration?

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Fact: Planets in ksp are boring.

Solution : Give players a reason to explore them. Put it in a dlc.

Problem: I can’t think of anything to make planets less boring. What about you guys?

Brainstorming.....

 

Ehh, Maybe add some weather or wind effects? Ik Ik physics engine limitations, but maybe just a little bit of weather? Togglable option?

Maybe some procedurally generated terrain features. Stuff that will be different in every save. Maybe each body with a physical surface could have a library of various rock formations, canyons and what not, and those just get randomly placed on a save by save basis? 

Maybe make it so the scan sats are a bit less op, so you have to actually map the body by flying low or driving across it if you want more details. 

Give bases a purpose. Stations too. I’m thinking making ore a bit easier to get and refine, and long term experiments that have to be completed in a specific environment. 

Biomes actually being biomes would also be nice. Sure on kerbin it’s obvious, but everywhere else it’s just, “hey doesn’t that look slightly [darker, lighter].Random() ?... okay moving on.” Just maybe make it a bit more noticeable and spice up the way terrain works in different biomes.

Maybe terrain could also act differently? Like rovers and landers sink in more on some terrains and others are just super slippery? Though that would require making wheels less... derpy.

Guess I do have some ideas. Thoughts?

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Well again, as with many such suggestions, a lot of what you are suggesting here is being covered by some very good mods already, but I won't let that stand in the way...

But as to your ideas:

  • From my understanding, weather is on the "features not to suggest" list, i.e. won't be made. At least I was told that, when I brought this up ages ago. Won't mean that this stance has changes since than. However I would like so. Imagine designing a lander that has to be made to survive the acid rain on Eve. Or having to contend with actual sand storms on Duna. This would add tremendous interest to planets.
  • I suppose one could extend the whole terrain scatter feature to make planetary surfaces more diverse. Maybe add live forms? Add procedurally generated 3D rocks, where terrain slope / gradient change make rocks sensible.
  • I agree, the stock resource scanning is way OP. Take a look at the ScanSat mod. It is actually a fun mod, having to design a satellite that goes around a planet, discovering resources, making an altimetry / biome map and even discovering anomalies.
  • Speaking of anomalies, one great idea would be to extend the lore around the anomalies, maybe even make them more detailed (like that ziggurat in the desert).
  • Lastly to your comment re terrain characteristics. I'd at least consider a sort of generic terrain characteristic depending on what the surface is. Let the standard grip of tyres be 1 for normal earth / regolith and then modify e.g. for ice or so.
  • There are mods that have you run experiments over long times, but this would definitely be a nice feature that could be integrated into the stock game by tying it more into the whole science / fund / rep construct.
  • One thing I just thought of, that would make planets more interesting would be vulcanism, be it the hot kind or cryovulcanism.

Just some random thoughts...

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Yeah I do have the scan sat mod, is quite enjoyable. And yes volcanos would be freaken awesome. 

(Didnt notice weather was on the do not suggest list, woops)

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Or maybe make science science. Not research points generators.

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1. KSP was better when it was less complicated, with fewer parts and fewer reasons why to do anything. Intuitively learning how to do something hard (and the subsequent incremental success) was its own reward.

2. Planets will only become properly interesting if they start to teach us things we didn't already know, but the cost of not knowing things in KSP is usually mission critical. When one has invested hours of planning, design, testing, launching, manoeuvering and transferring just to discover that Eve's atmosphere is all-but-inescapable, this is an exponentially greater cost than discovering 20m above the launchpad that your parachutes have deployed because you forgot to set your staging properly, or even 100km up that you didn't attach any RCS thrusters.

3. Teaching us things about planets that we don't already know is kinda hard - we've lived on a planet our whole lives, and we kinda get it. The variables that make planets different sit somewhere on a scale of mundane (atmosphere/no atmosphere, water/no water) to cataclysmic (extreme pressure/temperature, toxic/corrosive atmospheric chemicals, inescapable gravity wells), with most of the more interesting being very difficult to implement because they require engine improvements (e.g. tectonic activity, cave networks). A less intensive workaround would be to introduce surface science minigames, but frankly nobody wants that at all.

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6 hours ago, The_Rocketeer said:

1. KSP was better when it was less complicated, with fewer parts and fewer reasons why to do anything. Intuitively learning how to do something hard (and the subsequent incremental success) was its own reward.

But that only lasted so long.  Once you did everything you thought you could do, you were kinda stuck, as we are now.  But back in the old days, you only had to wait a few months until the next Beta dropped, and they added something new and shiny, and the game became fresh again. 

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Add more planets.

Final goal: make it as complicated as real life solar system.

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8 hours ago, Xd the great said:

Add more planets.

Final goal: make it as complicated as real life solar system.

Yeah. I agree.

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13 hours ago, Gargamel said:

But that only lasted so long.  Once you did everything you thought you could do, you were kinda stuck, as we are now.  But back in the old days, you only had to wait a few months until the next Beta dropped, and they added something new and shiny, and the game became fresh again. 

I don't think you've understood me. I'm describing the character of the game, where the goal is not to reach anywhere in particular, it's simply to do better than last time by applying what you've learned. Doing better just requires another run at it, and it definitely doesn't require new parts - those are usually just gimmicks to keep people talking about the game.

There are 3 kinds of 'improvements' to my mind:

  1. Aesthetic/"quality of life" improvements
  2. Features/parts that make difficult things easier
  3. Features/parts that make impossible things possible

I strongly advocate 3 because this allows the player to become better at more things, and continue to derive satisfaction from applied learning.

I strongly discourage 2 because this breaks the cycle of trial and error - you're not learning to walk if someone hands you a mobility scooter, so how can you take pleasure from learning how?

I would not encourage 1 until there was no more 3 that could realistically be delivered. This is just polish, and as Atari taught us long ago, games can look crap but still be addictively fun.

So if applied learning is the best model for KSP as the way to make planets fun, what do I see as the stumbling blocks for investing in KSP planets?

  1. The starting point is always on Kerbin at KSC, and the rinse-and-repeat learning curve is just too time intensive to be fun. To get around this, I suggest adding a way to 'send' a deployable start point to a planet as part of remote base mission. Once deployed, planetary excursion vehicles could be launched, reverted to launch, reverted to editor and recovered to this point.
  2. You still need something to learn about. Most of us expect to be able to drive a rover without too much bother, so where else could KSP take this? This is the hardest question to answer, but finding the right answers to it would be by far the bst way to make KSP addictively satisfying again for experienced players, and it's about the only DLC I can imagine actually being worth the price.

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10 hours ago, Xd the great said:

Add more planets.

Final goal: make it as complicated as real life solar system.

 

1 hour ago, The Minmus Derp said:

Yeah. I agree.

This is something they probably won't do. 

If something is available for free in a Mod, it won't make sense for them to release it as a paid DLC.   The revenue from sales would not even come close to the development costs. 

The next DLC needs to be some fundamental change or additional to the game play mechanic that is not accessible from a mod.   Hopefully we can come up with some good ideas to steer Squad in that direction. 

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The planet's surface needs to go through a graphic overhaul. It's just one color (or two, if it has ice caps) on a bland texture. I've been playing with KS3P and Textures Unlimited and the difference in materials between the ships and the planetary surfaces is jarring.

Thinking about existing mods plus stock we have:

Surface experiments (don't remember the exact mod name), which requires you to use KIS to assemble and connect stuff on the ground. Once you, it's just waiting months until science accumulates.

There is a rover science pack which consists in a part to be added to rovers (IIRC, it also adds the module to some cockpits) and you use it to search for random locations in the ground were you get science.

The stock contracts about running experiments at a given set of locations

The problem with these things above is that the reward is science. In stock, you don't need the additional science. There is also the immersion breaking thought that running a seismographer at Minmus should have nothing to do with the R&D of developing the nerv engines, for instance. That's a general problem with career. And while Making History allows for missions, those missions don't form or affect any coherent campaign, which would make "Do stuff in planets" part of some sort of gameplay.

We also have:

Contracts to build bases and stations. Cons: players may not be interested in building bases or stations in a given body at a given moment. There is also no easy stock system to build bases as single or connected vessels. Some stock implementation of KAS-KIS and some sort of flexible docking port would be required.

Ground Construction and EPL give bases a purpose in building ships. This is good and it's something which could be stock/DLC. IMHO, ship building should always require some resource to be shipped from Kerbin, because no matter what kind of fabrication capabilities are deployed at the Moon or Mars if we ever colonize them, we won't be building microprocessors there. I also think a better navigation system should be implemented, allowing not only porkchop plots but also to plan and link together a series of maneuvers and gravity assists. With mods, you can build and fuel ships in either Mun or Minmus and, theoretically, send them inwards towards Kerbin so the Pe coincides with a transfer window for another planet, thus saving lots of fuel (and avoiding the need to make ships more or less aerodynamic in order to launch from Kerbin). But that needs to be carefully planned or may even be more costly, fuel wise, than just departing from LKO. Another advantage of this is that allows for an easier way to use Eve and Kerbin for gravity assists towards Jool (and potentially, extra planets beyond Eeloo)

MKS adds plenty of resources and converters. But that's not only too complex, IMHO, for the stock game, the game is also not designed for so many converters working simultaneously and becomes Kerbal Slideshow Program. But maybe a more limited resource system (like just EPL with metal ore) and offworld construction would add something to do at planets.

Overall, I think the planets need a graphic and gameplay overhaul, including better textures, different terrain types (with different grips for wheels as someone mentioned), weather/vulcanism/caves which can interacted with (ie, cover them to create a base), some sort of rover/wheel mechanic which isn't so prone to tipping over (or at least, that allows better driving akin to a racing game plus the ability to save while moving), weather/vulcanism (with a warning system, I guess, in case your base or rover is about to be destroyed) and some sort of campaign system that gives you objectives of some sort

 

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On 7/13/2018 at 7:55 PM, The_Rocketeer said:

1. KSP was better when it was less complicated, with fewer parts and fewer reasons why to do anything. Intuitively learning how to do something hard (and the subsequent incremental success) was its own reward.

2. Planets will only become properly interesting if they start to teach us things we didn't already know, but the cost of not knowing things in KSP is usually mission critical. When one has invested hours of planning, design, testing, launching, manoeuvering and transferring just to discover that Eve's atmosphere is all-but-inescapable, this is an exponentially greater cost than discovering 20m above the launchpad that your parachutes have deployed because you forgot to set your staging properly, or even 100km up that you didn't attach any RCS thrusters.

3. Teaching us things about planets that we don't already know is kinda hard - we've lived on a planet our whole lives, and we kinda get it. The variables that make planets different sit somewhere on a scale of mundane (atmosphere/no atmosphere, water/no water) to cataclysmic (extreme pressure/temperature, toxic/corrosive atmospheric chemicals, inescapable gravity wells), with most of the more interesting being very difficult to implement because they require engine improvements (e.g. tectonic activity, cave networks). A less intensive workaround would be to introduce surface science minigames, but frankly nobody wants that at all.

This basically sounds like one shouldn't improve the game anymore, because otherwise it gets too complicated. Also engine upgrades are hard... What was suggested was to improve immersion, to add visual interest. Having paired that with a revamp / overhaul of the science system to increase the sense in "doing science" would IMHO add greatly to the attraction and long-term interest in the game.

On 7/14/2018 at 7:33 AM, Xd the great said:

Add more planets.

Final goal: make it as complicated as real life solar system.

Sometimes less is more. I do not think we need the upteenth Dres analogue and/or gas giant out there, if they are all as non-descript as the other existing planets. True they vary in gravity, color and size, some have atmo, some have not, but quite frankly, once you have seen one variant, you have seen them all...

On 7/14/2018 at 4:32 PM, The Minmus Derp said:

Yeah. I agree.

I bet you would...

On 7/14/2018 at 7:27 PM, juanml82 said:

The planet's surface needs to go through a graphic overhaul. It's just one color (or two, if it has ice caps) on a bland texture. I've been playing with KS3P and Textures Unlimited and the difference in materials between the ships and the planetary surfaces is jarring.

Thinking about existing mods plus stock we have:

Surface experiments (don't remember the exact mod name), which requires you to use KIS to assemble and connect stuff on the ground. Once you, it's just waiting months until science accumulates.

There is a rover science pack which consists in a part to be added to rovers (IIRC, it also adds the module to some cockpits) and you use it to search for random locations in the ground were you get science.

The stock contracts about running experiments at a given set of locations

The problem with these things above is that the reward is science. In stock, you don't need the additional science. There is also the immersion breaking thought that running a seismographer at Minmus should have nothing to do with the R&D of developing the nerv engines, for instance. That's a general problem with career. And while Making History allows for missions, those missions don't form or affect any coherent campaign, which would make "Do stuff in planets" part of some sort of gameplay.

We also have:

Contracts to build bases and stations. Cons: players may not be interested in building bases or stations in a given body at a given moment. There is also no easy stock system to build bases as single or connected vessels. Some stock implementation of KAS-KIS and some sort of flexible docking port would be required.

Ground Construction and EPL give bases a purpose in building ships. This is good and it's something which could be stock/DLC. IMHO, ship building should always require some resource to be shipped from Kerbin, because no matter what kind of fabrication capabilities are deployed at the Moon or Mars if we ever colonize them, we won't be building microprocessors there. I also think a better navigation system should be implemented, allowing not only porkchop plots but also to plan and link together a series of maneuvers and gravity assists. With mods, you can build and fuel ships in either Mun or Minmus and, theoretically, send them inwards towards Kerbin so the Pe coincides with a transfer window for another planet, thus saving lots of fuel (and avoiding the need to make ships more or less aerodynamic in order to launch from Kerbin). But that needs to be carefully planned or may even be more costly, fuel wise, than just departing from LKO. Another advantage of this is that allows for an easier way to use Eve and Kerbin for gravity assists towards Jool (and potentially, extra planets beyond Eeloo)

MKS adds plenty of resources and converters. But that's not only too complex, IMHO, for the stock game, the game is also not designed for so many converters working simultaneously and becomes Kerbal Slideshow Program. But maybe a more limited resource system (like just EPL with metal ore) and offworld construction would add something to do at planets.

Overall, I think the planets need a graphic and gameplay overhaul, including better textures, different terrain types (with different grips for wheels as someone mentioned), weather/vulcanism/caves which can interacted with (ie, cover them to create a base), some sort of rover/wheel mechanic which isn't so prone to tipping over (or at least, that allows better driving akin to a racing game plus the ability to save while moving), weather/vulcanism (with a warning system, I guess, in case your base or rover is about to be destroyed) and some sort of campaign system that gives you objectives of some sort

 

Yeah, you are describing the issue this game IMHO has with adding any DLC. Almost all functionality that one can hope for has at some point been added into the game via mods. The goal for any future DLC would ideally be to add to the "base gameplay" such functionality so that it integrates as seemlessly into it as possible (like the CommNet).

I furthermore fully agree with you that the game would greatly benefit from a total graphics overhaul and some sensible detailing. Weather, more detailed geographical features, vulcanism/tectonism, etc. would be the endgame for such an improvement. Infact this is quite a lot and worth at least two or three updates to the game (or DLCs if you are so inclined)...

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10 hours ago, StarStreak2109 said:

This basically sounds like one shouldn't improve the game anymore, because otherwise it gets too complicated. Also engine upgrades are hard... What was suggested was to improve immersion, to add visual interest. Having paired that with a revamp / overhaul of the science system to increase the sense in "doing science" would IMHO add greatly to the attraction and long-term interest in the game.

Hi @StarStreak2109,

I invite you to read my later post where I discussed what constitutes 'improvement', it really speaks directly to everything you just said about my earlier post. I really don't think immersion is lacking in KSP, and using immersion as a justification for polish is both irrational and unnecessary. In my opinion, everything that's been added that steers into space administration and away from space exploration has been a mis-step. At its purest and best, KSP is a really good caricature of a realistic physics sim, that makes learning about physics, aerodynamics and space travel, fun. Science desperately needs an overhaul, but what it really needs is an overhaul that makes it educational and fun. Likewise for planets. Currently science and planets suffer from the same problem - they're soulless props designed to fulfil a practical need for demonstrable progress. They (with perhaps 2 exceptions) do not inspire any wonder or enrich the game experience (or even better enrich the player) in any significant way. If an overhaul or a redesign is ever on the cards, that aim must be at it's core.

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Hi @The_Rocketeer,

oh, I did read your post. I think we are not so far away from each others interpretation:

Re your points:

  • IMHO immersion in a video game is generated by a number of different aspects.
    • A challenging and captivating gameplay - This is achieved by a well designed campaign / career gameplay, which has the player face ever new plot twists and challenges. Right now, the "career" is being signified by missions that are generated randomly and presented to you. The goal is to amass money, reputation and science by which you progress along a tech tree. The style of the missions may be fun to some, but I know there are many including myself that object to the ever repeating nature of missions, including the fact that there is no underlying "story" involved. Gaining science is equally pointless, since many real world "science recovery methods" require months of stupendous taking measurements and researching stuff. So basically I can build a bunch of probes and shoot them at the various planets and moons and have them take all kinds of point readings. Boom, tech tree completed, immersion gone (overly simplified).
    • Optics - A game can have appropriately stunning visuals that take the player into the atmosphere of the game. This includes not only the games assets (space craft etc.) but also the "backdrop" (i.e. planets, atmospheres, weather, geographical features and so on). While I appreciate that the "cartoonish" look e.g. of some of the rocket parts was intended, the graphics overall look flat and outdated. Immersion gone. In stock, the planets have no clouds and virtually no surface features. Most planetary textures are just bland. Immersion gone.
    • Purpose - A game can also profit from being educational, as you pointed out already. In stock, you have to guesstimate almost every aspect of rocket design. While you can use spreadsheets and other external tools, it is complicated and cumbersome. Immersion gone. So what the game needs and what has been clamoured for by many users are the basic tools that make "rocket science" an educational experience (like with using KER or MJ).
    • Surprises - Finally, if a game provides the user with surprising experiences, it can be more immersive. This can be achieved via the above described gameplay aspect, but also by being able to discover stuff in the game, like the anomalies, but also stuff we don't yet have like new geographical features ("Hey, did you see that giant rock drop on Dres? You can do base jumping in low-g there...").

To sum this up:

  • I believe the science and career system is in dire need of an overhaul, that gives it more purpose with a strong focus on space exploration.
  • The games optics also need an overhaul / modernization to provide the necessary immersion.
  • Educational tools like a dV-calculator or a transfer window tool (just two examples) need to be integrated parts of the game.

The chance that any of this is happening are pretty slim tho, I don't have my hopes up. Therefore: M.O.D.S :) 

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TBH, as you mention mods, I was toying with the idea of using Kopernicus and Textures Unlimited to create PBR shaders for the planets, but I have no idea how to do that. A general idea would be to create several shaders:

A rocky one

An ocean shader (huh, scatterer already has one anyway)

A more reflective material for ice caps

Another one for dust/grass and the like

And try to use the biome maps so some changes in the biomes as you travel through the planets are reflected into the way the ground looks like. But even if that last can't be done, at least have a few PBR shaders for planets. At worse, we could have a dusty material for Duna, a rocky one for the Mun, the ice caps material for Minmus and maybe Eeloo and one of Jool moons, etc

 

But, as I said, I don't know how to do that

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I've been playing KSP with mods recently (including graphical ones) so maybe I'm remembering stock graphics through rose-colored glasses, but I really didn't think they were so bad as to be deal-breaking.

My problem with the planets in KSP has always been how dead they are.  As I recall, my reactions to landing on new planets was usually along the lines of "Wow, a new planet/moon, cool ... this place is really desolate ... I wanna go back home! I'm homesick!"  Sending bases always seemed kind of depressing, as they were destined to just run out of resources and/or break and be abandoned. (Eventually, every solar panel on an active base/station is likely to be run into!)  There would be no lasting impact on the location of the base, and no impact on Kerbin other than some science points.

Having things happen on planets to make them seem alive or at least changeable should be helpful -- weather, scatter that indicates the presence of life or even moves, tectonic activity and other things yall have suggested.

In my current save I have MKS, KAS/KIS, and ground construction; I hope they will make base-building feel fulfilling rather than empty, though I haven't progressed far enough yet to actually use them.  Seeing some change to the planet around the base would make it feel more meaningful -- even if it's just the accumulation of trash, though I'd hope for a more positive impact than that.

Having terrain that actually has small-scale features might be helpful too, and it might even make using rovers interesting.

Adding more planets is definitely not helpful, if they are just more of the same.

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On 7/14/2018 at 1:04 PM, Gargamel said:

 

This is something they probably won't do. 

If something is available for free in a Mod, it won't make sense for them to release it as a paid DLC.   The revenue from sales would not even come close to the development costs. 

The next DLC needs to be some fundamental change or additional to the game play mechanic that is not accessible from a mod.   Hopefully we can come up with some good ideas to steer Squad in that direction. 

Ok, what about console players ? As I can’t download mods to KSP EE, I would totally pay to have mods like RO, Engineer Redux, and others. What do you think they can do ? If in PC players get bored because they’ve achieved all the goals, you can’t imagine how it is to play only in the console.

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5 hours ago, Thomas, a Kerbonaut said:

Ok, what about console players ? As I can’t download mods to KSP EE, I would totally pay to have mods like RO, Engineer Redux, and others. What do you think they can do ? If in PC players get bored because they’ve achieved all the goals, you can’t imagine how it is to play only in the console.

It's not about PC vs Console, not at all.  It's about sales.   They would have to look at the market shares of each platform, and then estimate future sales of a DLC on each platform, then compare that to the development costs for the DLC for each platform.   If the end result at the end of that analysis is not a big fat profit, then the DLC won't get made.  I totally agree that KER and other 'base' mods would sell like hotcakes as a DLC for the console, but there wouldn't be much sales on the PC end of it, and that alone might squash any hopes of if coming to fruition.   If they aren't going to make money on a DLC, they aren't going to invest the time.   

If there were enough potential sales in the console market alone, then they would probably make a mod pack style DLC for the consoles.  That might even spur more base game sales too,  but I think the market share of consoles is so small vs PC, that we won't see any DLC coming to the consoles that we don't see on the PC first.      I do hope I'm wrong though. 

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This game needs something to do in the planets: Now, you just land, get science and takeoff... no motive to ever visit a planet again. 

I stopped playing KSP for some 6 months, restarted playing last week because i wanted to test some spaceplanes design and to try some skycrane and to test rover, but, no more well planned mission to Eeloo, Eve, etc - its just pointless. Once you arrive to Eeloo, land and return from Eve, and learnt how to repeat it , the big challenge is over, Eve is not difficult, Eeloo is just there...

We need a new motive to go to the planets, and few rewarded by it. Things like random cave formations, with underground lakes, rock formations? Meteor impacts and active vulcanos with eruptions that, really, change terrain (Shattered Steel, a 1996 game, has terrain deformation! Why Kerbal Space program cant have?)  Planetary weather, with dust storms, hurricanes, lighstorms...? Lifeforms on Laythe? Rescue civilian kerbals lost on Kerbin desert before a bug hurricane hits the area? Explore a cave to save lost kerbals? Intercept an AI aircraft to do something?

So.. there is so much to add to make it fun again... Things can even be generated by a Seed system - so one can share some nice universe seed here in the forum (like people do in Oxygen not included) ... 

KSP is a unique game, with a perfect concept, and, while is focused on rockets and space, it can be expanded to anything! Mods are a proof that KSP is a 'framework to limiteless possibility', i think there is no other game with that characteristics, but Squad (and, now take 2) need to keep it fresh by adding new more things to do.

Edited by Freds

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