NermNermNerm

Thinking about a new Colonization mod

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I've been giving some thought to creating a new mod for KSP.  KSP already has a great assortment of great mods, so it's tough to come up with a novel idea, but here's mine, and I'd love to hear what people think.  Maybe what I'm thinking of has already been done or maybe there are other folks who've just started down a similar track.  Or maybe it's been done and found not to work.  I'm listening.

I've played KSP for more hours than is reasonable, and a good portion of those hours have been with Modular Kolonization System and Extra-Planetary Launchpads installed.  I enjoy building big, and I like for there to be some point to it.  MKS seems to me unique among the life support mods in that it doesn't just add a new mechanical challenge to space-flight -- it tries to extend the career game itself beyond just collecting all the science.  Having a goal like creating a self-sustaining extraplanetary colony really increases my enjoyment of the game.

Although I think that KSP+MKS is much better than KSP alone, there's quite a few things that I think could be better.  Alas, many of those things seem to me like they are just fundamental to the "system" part of MKS so I see little hope of tweaking it to be what I'd like. I think we need to learn from MKS and forge something new.  I'd like to take a crack at it, but before I do, I'd like to share what I'm thinking to see if others have better ideas or can show me how this has been done in the past.

First off, let me list out the key things I've struggled with as a player using late-game KSP and MKS.  Admittedly, some of these are going to be subjective, but I think you have to take a look at the fact that although some of the let's-play presenters have tried creating playthroughs with MKS & friends, none of those few attempts did anything but peter out due to a combination of lack of viewer interest and some rather obvious struggles on the part of the content creators to actually get things working.  I take that as evidence that I'm not just blowing smoke here:

  1. All the math to figure out production rates is no fun.  I shouldn't have to use a spreadsheet to play KSP.
  2. All the math to figure out if Kerbals are going to get homesick or not is no fun either.  It's especially annoying if a kerbal becomes homesick just because he came into the sphere of influence of another ship.
  3. The science grind in stock KSP is really not much fun after you've played a while.  You can unlock the whole tree just by bouncing to Mun and back or by plopping down a research lab and doing the whole thing over and over and over.  It's a good model for early-game, but for late game, not so much.
  4. Agroponics (in MKS) is just better than farming in every way and that makes farming pointless.  I don't know why that grates on me as hard as it does...  But it does.
  5. Mining is unrealistic, frustrating, math-intensive and generally no fun.  MKS' Resource Lodes seem aimed at addressing this, but the mechanics of the mod system don't really give me a reason to do it.
  6. Fully self-sufficient MKS colonies are generally easier to build in one shot than it is to build up to them over time.  It's trivial to get a colony that keeps itself in supplies, but both machinery and colony supplies require a vast diversity of stuff to make happen.  If you can make one, you can generally make the other, so you go right from an initial exploratory base to the full thing.  No stopping in the middle.
  7. There's no encouragement to build spiffy orbital bases.

I'm thinking of a number of changes to attack that list:

  1. Dramatically reduce the number of resource types and simplify the calculations of how they're produced and consumed.
  2. There should be an activity performed by kerbals, akin to research, that unlocks more advantageous life support and off-world fabrication abilities.  This will need to be performed by Kerbals at the body they are researching and will usually only affect future activities at that body.
  3. The "research" described above unlocks "tiers" of equipment.  Ships need to be built with that unlocked tier of equipment in order to see its advantages.  (And perhaps: Ships can't be built with that new tier until a kerbal actually returns to kerban from the planetary body.)  The supplies and such produced by early-tier equipment are immediately useful, but less effective than what you can get from Kerban.
  4. Except for fuel, there is no more mining.  Instead, when manufacturing is undertaken at a body, there will be occasional requests from the kerbals to gather raw materials.  To accomplish these missions, you need to send a ship with storage and a special gathering module (which might be skinned to look a whole lot like a drill).  You'll need to get the prospector ship reasonably close to the target coordinates to be able to gather the stuff.  Once a vessel has proven its ability to carry out a prospecting mission, future missions can be automated ala Routine Mission Manager.
  5. Drop the MKS notion of "Habitation" and "Colony Supplies".  In their stead, there'll be "Goodies", which are consumed by Kerbals like supplies.  "Goodies" require substantially less mass-per-day than "Supplies" and Kerbals don't start requiring them until they've been off Kerban more than 6 months.

The key mechanic that enforces graduated progression is the idea of tiered equipment and tiered qualities of materials.

To explain what I'm thinking, let's just look at one consumable and its supply chain and then work on applying the same mechanic to other stuff.  Let's start with snacks - the basic food & air idea that I'm happy to camp on.  If you fill a container with snacks on Kerban, it's "Kerban Snacks".  A kerban will eat one "Kerban Snacks" every day.  Let's say you have a "Tier 1" Agroponics module on this ship.  Given a little fertilizer, it can produce "Tier 1" "Agroponics Snacks".  Tier 1 snacks are far from haute cuisine, but nevertheless Jeb is willing to take one for the team.  But he's got limits; Jeb will be willing to consume only up to 20% of his daily snack quota on Tier-1 quality snacks.

"Tier 2 Agroponic Snacks" are tastier, and Jeb would be willing to take that as 40% of his diet - similarly "tier 3" would be up to 60%, "Tier 4" 80% and finally "tier 5" might be just as good as kerban snacks...  Or maybe they should peak at 90% or so - you can't, as far as I know, make agroponic bacon.  But to be able to get out of the tier 1 kit, Jeb's going to have to choke down quite a few of those tier 1 snacks and Bill's going to have to spend some time trying to make them better.  Tier-2 is unlocked by kerbals consuming Tier-1 snacks and lab research on ships equipped with Tier-1 kit.  Once Tier-2 is unlocked, nothing changes on board Jeb's vessel - it still has the "Tier 1" equipment.  A new vessel has to be designed that includes the new "Tier 2" agroponics module.  (Well, it could be exactly the same vessel design, with a tweakable (only settable in the VAB/SPH) set to "Tier 2" rather than "Tier 1".

"Agriculture" works along similar lines only it's a whole lot more effective out of the gate - Tier 1 Duna farmed snacks might start at, say, 80% of a kerban snack.  The practical upshot of that is that if you've managed to unlock tier-3 agroponics at your Mun base and want to plan a first mission to Duna with tier-1 agriculture, you'd have to plan for your kerbals eating .6 units of agroponic snacks and .4 units of kerbal snacks per day on the way over, .8 units of farmed snacks per day and .2 kerbal snacks per day while there, and then .6 agroponic snacks, .2 farmed snacks and .2 kerbal snacks on the way back.  (Assuming you've farmed up enough snacks while at Duna to fill your ship's stores).

Both Agriculture and Agroponics rely on fertilizer.  But the fertilizer has to be at least the same tier as the agroponics/agriculture part.  So you'd need a module like the MKS "Agriculture Support Module" to make that fertilizer.  There too you'll need a kerbal working on making the fertilizer and researching how to make it better.  At Tier-1 you can make do with a raw material collector attached right to the base and you'll need storage for "Tier 1 Raw Materials" and your finished resources.

Tier 2+ raw materials show up like "Resource Lodes" from MKS do - your planetary scanners spot them and vector you to them.  The better your scanning network is (and the lower your tier is), the more likely the lodes will turn up close to your base.  You can either move your whole base (equipped with a resource collector of the appropriate tier) to the resource lode or you can move a rover or something to it.  At first, you'd have to actually move the craft to the resource lode, activate the resource collector on the forager craft, and rumble back to the base.  After a few successful gathering missions with that craft, you'd be able to mark it as the dedicated craft for doing these missions.  When future requirements come up, and the ship is near the base, the requirement will just be automatically fulfilled without requiring anything from the player.

The same "Tier" thing applies to the mining ship and the scanners used to find the lodes.  A planet where the scanning satellites are Tier-1 won't be able to find Tier-2 resources and a Tier-1 miner won't be able to gather tier-2 raw materials.

The concepts of "habitation" and "colony supplies" will be amalgamated into "goodies".  When a Kerbal leaves Kerban, they're good for snacks for 14 days and can go without goodies for 6 months.  They'll consume both snacks and goodies every day because who can resist ice cream?  If a Kerbal has been off kerban for more than 14 days and they haven't had a (full) snack in 7, they'll be tough to be around and turn into Tourists.  Similarly, if they've been off Kerban for more than 6 months and haven't had their quota of goodies in 7 days, they go tourist.  Kerbans find it hard to hold a grudge, so they'll come back to their duties once they get their needs met again.

Hopefully, it'll be possible to not have a recycling concept for "goodies" like agroponics is for "snacks" in order to take one more complexity away from long-duration mission planning.  But there's a good chance that it will cause really long duration trips to require unpleasantly large ships to tote all the goodies.  If it comes to that, perhaps a way to fix it would be to make a holodeck part that generates tiered goodies.

I'd also like to have an excuse to send ships home to sell off things from the colony.  Honestly, I don't think this really has any kind of real-life analog, but I think it'd make the game fun.  So we'll do it anyway and call these things "shinies".  Kerbals don't consume them, they just have monetary and prestige value back on Kerban.


Hoped-for playthrough

Let's review what we've got so far with a description of how the game will play with this system.  After that, we'll return to game mechanics.

The opening game would be unchanged - we keep the same 14-day grace period as is in MKS because it's great.  The player unlocks the lower tiers of the tech-tree in the usual way with voyages to Mun.  Technologies that unlock things like hydroponics and off-world agriculture are easy to get, but without having done any long-duration flights, they are fantastically inefficient -- a trip to Eve or Duna would require a vast ship.  So the player creates a station around Kerban or Mun so they can start the research necessary to start improving resource utilization and hydroponic efficiency.  Those first off-world bases will require several resupply missions before any of those breakthroughs are hit.

Unmanned missions are possible, of course, and the wise player will send unmanned probes and satellites to worlds they're looking to create outposts on.  So we'll create a couple probes for Duna - one with a scanner on it in a nice polar orbit and a lander.  Once the player has a scanner in orbit, they can set the boys at the Mun base the task of figuring out scanners for Duna.  Once the landers have visited three biomes on Duna, they can research Tier-1 fertilizer, Tier-1 farming, Tier-1 goodies and Tier-1 shinies production.  But that's as much as the Mun base can contribute to the future Duna base.

The Mun base and another base in Low Kerban Orbit have also been busy researching hydroponics.  They've pushed that up to Tier-3, which is as far as you can go with hydroponic research within the kerban system.

At this point, the player will be in a position where they can launch a medium-sized ship with a few Kerbals to Duna.  It will need to pack a substantial (but no-longer overwhelming) quantity of stowed snacks and goodies.  Upon arrival, the Kerbals will be able to do research that will improve their ability to exploit local resources and extend their ability to survive at that body...  But the effect will not improve the current mission - the research will unlock upgraded versions of the modules, but their ship is still equipped with the old stuff.

While they're at Duna, they'll need to farm snacks.  While they were en-route, they sustained themselves partly on agroponically grown stuff, and partly from supplies form Kerban.  On Duna, they can farm a wider variety of foods that are both tastier and more nutritious than what they can get out of the agroponics dome on the ship.  They'll need their farm to not only keep them from chewing through too many of the original kerban stores while on kerban, but also to resupply the ship for the return home.

The glorious return of the Kerbals from their adventures on Duna triggers the ability to create ships that take advantage of what was learned.  The combined effect of having been able to deploy Tier-2 devices for all the Duna abilities and unlocking Tier-4 hydroponics because of all that time spent studying the kerbals mixed reactions to the Tier-3 stuff in interplanetary space means that the next mission to Duna can be quite a bit grander.  On this trip, you can afford specialists, like miners to collect the more advanced raw materials, geologists to speed research on the next tier of scanning, quartermasters to reduce the frequency of supply missions.

While the first mission was able to scrounge up enough raw materials for their needs with just a materials gathering pod attached to the base, on this next mission with its more advanced processing technology, we're going to need a supply rover.  It will be asked to voyage away from the main settlement to collect needed supplies from points identified by the scanners on the station.

On this mission, more research can be done and some of the kerbals will be able to stay on at Duna while the rest will return to lead the construction of the next phase.

Over the course of the third and fourth missions, a self-sustaining colony can be built up.  The player will need to upgrade the scanning network to keep up with the growing sophistication of the base's requirements and create bigger resource collecting rovers.

An orbital station in Duna's Sphere of Influence is helpful - research conducted there contributes to increasing the efficiency of scanners around Duna.

A trip to Jool is now feasible - but a large ship with just a handful of kerbals will be required, and a probe with a resource scanner is almost a necessity if any local resources are to be used at Jool.  The lessons learned from Duna are not useless on the Joolean moons, but the player is again in a position where they'll need to have a short stay, return to Kerban, and set forth again with vastly improved hardware.


More Thoughts on Mechanics

Specialists

You shouldn't be able to staff a colony with one 5* scientist one 5* engineer and have it be slamming good.  I want to steal all the kerbal professions that have been developed for MKS because that's a fun idea.  My thought is that each converter part will need to be staffed by a specialist in order to get it to work at all.  Engineers and Scientists can fill the seat too, but only if they have as many stars as the part's tier.  Specialists don't have any experience requirement to operate the gear.  My feeling is that alone will encourage players to have colonies that are populated with a bunch of kerbals.

Maintenance

There's a lot of charm to the MKS idea that machines break down and need replacement parts.  However, the "Machinery" resource is awfully fiddly in MKS; I don't like them enough to want to reproduce something like it.  We'll see how we get on down the road, but I don't think we need them.  Under the "tiered" approach, you'd probably want to just plain abandon and replace your colony until you reach tier 5, and once you reach tier 5 on a planet, you're really pretty much done with it and the player will want to focus elsewhere anyway.

Extraplanetary Launchpads

I love Extraplanetary Launchpads.  I also really like MKS' integration with EPL, with the Material Kits representing the low-tech bits of stamped aluminum, rivets and such that make up most of the rocket and the Specialized Parts representing the higher-tech stuff.  The only thing I don't like is that one engineer can plop down on Gilly, deploy a few drills and pop out with Romulan Battlecruiser in a couple months.

Given the tiered parts system that we've got here, there's no need to have two different production chains - the fancy parts and simple parts thing is effectively represented by the idea of "Tier-1 Local Rocket Parts" taking up at most, say, 60% of the mass of the final ship.

MKS Logistics

MKS' planetary logistics is an idea that's pretty much necessary for that mod to work, but for what I'm thinking of here, it isn't.  That's good, because planetary logistics are (in my estimation) an obvious plot device.

However, as long as it's true that docking landed ships is fiddly at best, MKS' Local Logistics concept seems seriously desirable.  Under the system as I've laid out there's going to be at least 20 sub-missions on the road to full independence for a colony.  These would be hauling fuel, snacks, fertilizer, goodies and shinies between ships on the surface and in orbit.  In the short-term, we could punt this requirement and lean on Kerbal Attachment System (KAS) to take care of this, but in any longer term, local logistics seems the way to go.

Fuel Mining

Fuel mining with stock KSP is a drag:  it's unpredictable, math-intensive and unrealistic.  But people know how to deal with it by the time they hit late-game.  I'd love for some mod to take the suck out of ISRU, but I don't think it has to be this mod.

Nuclear Power

I just hate it that any base that does mining has to have nuclear power.  I'd like to tune the facilities so that at least on some bodies it's reasonable to run with solar and batteries.

Replayability

Simple has its charms, but you can't help but notice that in the system as I've described it, there's no particular difference between one biome and another or for that matter one planet to the other.  Once you've got Duna at Tier-5, getting Bop to Tier-5 is the same grind.

I see this as a 2.0 kind of problem, but there should at least by a handwavy idea of how to fix it given it's a pretty crushing problem.

First off, I don't think MKS' answer is something I'd want to repeat.  MKS has the notion that some biomes have some resources but not others - but to adapt to that you generally just need to sprinkle mining bases in different parts of the planet or maybe just re-adjust the drill heads.  Generally, you meet the challenge of each new world by plugging fresh numbers into your spreadsheet...  Yuk.

This being KSP, what I'd really like to see is each world requiring different ship and base designs.  I don't think production & consumption ratios for different locales get you there.

My thought at the moment is that there should be a few different parts that all produce the same kind of things.  These parts should sorta look like they'd be better suited for one kind of planetary body or another and they'd have different masses and form-factors, and indeed they would be more applicable to one kind of world than another.

I'm imagining that the part might have some property, e.g. "Gravity Suitability" - if you hauled a low-grav farming module to Eve, it wouldn't work.  You could make this idea tweakable by having a massive resource "Gravity Compensation" that you could load onto the part in the VAB - kind of like ablators on heat shields.  You might, say, have to use some amount of this "Gravity Suitability" material in order to make the low-grav farming module work on a body like Gilly - which maybe is below the bound of what the low-grav module can do without help.

Atmosphere density could be done this way too.  Maybe there could be one for solar radiation.  Who knows.

Actually Making This Happening

What I'm going for here is a simple life-support system and a simple off-world manufacturing mod that encourages a play-through that feels like an organic progression from the basics to the extravagant.

Making a mod is hard, and I don't have a huge amount of time to do the work, and I've never made a KSP mod before, and the stuff I mentioned above is already a big body of work.  This needs to be kept scoped if it's going to ever turn into anything.  So I'm not really interested in adding any new elements to the ideas presented here that don't have a crucial contribution to the mission statement.  I'd also like to make the new part count as low as possible.

One of my biggest concerns is that KSP doesn't have a real good analog to the notion of 'Tiers' built into it.  It's a mod, so it should be possible to add it, but this is a concept that doesn't seem to slot into anything already in the game.  If you've got ideas on that, I'd love to hear it.

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Hi @NermNermNerm.

Great articulation and read.  

So I think you may have something already pushing towards this.

IFILS maintianed by Linuxgurugamer is a good start.   Pretty sure that special science experiments need to be performed in biomes to enable growth of supplies there.  Also I think that tech levels allow an increase in production which I think parralells what your suggestion on tiered food making, but without the multiple food types.

My upcoming SIMPLEX Resources will switch Ore for three ores, two of which will make two resources for EPL construction in a similar manner to the RocketParts/Material Kits (Metal Parts) and Specialist kits (CustomParts) but will only have a single step for production i.e. NaturalOre converts to MetalParts, RareOre concerts to Custom Parts.  The mod will included reciepe changes for EPL.

HydrateOre is the third new Ore and is mined for LFO but also food/water production.  I'm still tying that into IFILS.

EVA Fuel Transfer might also be a good place to start as well as KAS for a more stockish feel.

That's it really.  I think you kind of get there with these available and upcoming mods. What do you think?

Peace.

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I hadn't tried IFILS before, I think you're talking about this guy:   https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/166373-131-interstellar-flight-inc-kerbal-life-support-mod-development-thread/&page=4

Looks like it's been quiet for a while, but LinuxGuruGamer got it to a good place about a year ago.  The thread was definitely an instructive read.  It gets me to thinking that maybe there should be a base life support mod that just deals with:

  1. Kerbals consuming resources
  2. Kerbals going into altered states when requirements aren't met
  3. Providing data in the VAB/SPH that predict the maximum duration

I say it should be a base mod because all the life support mods at least do that much - the variant is just in the form of what gets consumed.  And yet we keep re-inventing that segment of the mod, even though that part is pretty well settled canon.  (As opposed to things like habitation and radiation, where I the community is still innovating.)

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Does sound interesting. Also sounds like a few kerbals will die along the way... 

I've been looking for a little more challenging gameplay where bases and stations aren't essentially useless after initial launch, so I would probably give this a try 

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Some fun ideas there - I wish you luck. My attempts to play MKS often run into a wall because while I like setting up logistics, I don't actually like flying supply missions. So I spend 24 hours in the VAB making a giant colony barge and towing it wherever and feeling satisfied. Then bored because I'm done now. I think you have a good start, here's some random thoughts I have when playing KSP. 

  1. Production chains for resources and tons of resources in general: KSP just doesn't handle this well. Manually transferring things between bases, shuttles, miners, etc really contribute to the one-shot-base approach, because many small missions end up being repetitive. I'd honestly abstract the resources completely: drop a factory, it produces N per day when all is said and done, no need to deal with the actual resource bins.
  2. Colony building shouldn't feel like building rockets and ships, it seems like ships (to me) are micro and colonies are macro. If you think of it in RTS terms, playing MKS is so very micro that the higher level meta shrivels and dies. Not a bad thing if you like that, just... not what I would want.
  3. There should definitely be no out-of-game math required to play. Maybe to optimize perfectly, but not to play a decent game. I think this is a UX problem and totally solveable.
  4. I'm not sure that making busy-work like needing to return crew to Kerbin is especially helpful in solving problems, but if you want to gate things with specific measurable missions it's a decent solution. My attention span is def. < 20 missions :P. 

I think you could build replayability by defining a particular challenge for each body that needs to be solved. As you've indicated, the challenge shouldn't be something that's solveable with just "bring more stuff", but with mission/base physical design. The design challenges should be specific and not repeated and almost fall really naturally out of the geometry of the system

  • Hot/cold extremes: maybe a mechanic can be devised that makes you need to physically huddle the base together for heat on a cold planet, versus a hot planet needing to be spread out
  • Deprivation: remove a "pillar" of a base and have a need for an alternate, ineffective workaround in some cases. Maybe farming doesn't work on Pol due to the lack of substrate, what do you do?
  • Location: I'm sure location can be a challenge element - if you make orbital bases useful, you can totally tie that in so that maybe around Eve it's not possible to effectively 
  • Gravity: perhaps as you mention.

Every challenge should bring with it a bonus too, maybe your base doesn't need cooling at all on Eeloo! 

Anyways, good luck! MKS is a huge project, I'd recommend trying to build something small first. 

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@NermNermNerm, yes that is the mod.  I'm pretty sure it works in 1.5.1, but if not, Linuxgurugamer I'm sure will update it if asked nicely.  With the range of different options.

For specialists, I did think that Rocket Surgeon would be a good one for EPL.  Engineers not doing EPL builds until level 4 and 5, and instead have a Rocket Surgeon kerbal who can't EVA.

@Nertea, what great ideas.

The contracts system could be the great reward here.  Roll over World First style contracts that require differing solutions on different bodies perhaps, no longer encouraging a one size fits all approach.  Perhaps goal of colonisation would be to reproduce -  that counts down when two alternately gendered kerbals are present a landed base to produce a kerbal maybe with the Colonists! mod in mind https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/149488-14x-colonists/.  The contract completes when the countdown (resource reaches a certain level) and generates a kerbal at the base.  The more of each gender, the faster the rate increases?

A win might be to have a Colonists kerbal on every planetary body.

Having a few required insitu resources, but some not available would mean some logistics in planning, but I do like the idea that because 'reasons' the ISRU or EPL construction or greenhouses aren't as efficient.

 

NermNermNerm, are you think of coding a new mod for this or reworking MKS or a couple of others to fit your vision?

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On 12/16/2018 at 4:11 AM, NermNermNerm said:

All the math to figure out production rates is no fun.  I shouldn't have to use a spreadsheet to play KSP.

Yeah, this is critical, and may be the element that I agree with the most out of everything said in this thread. Just because realistic rocket engineering benefits from spreadsheets doesn't mean that abstract gameplay mechanics should!

A looong time ago, I tried TAC Life Support, and I eventually realized it was a bunch of gratuitous spreadsheet-oriented math in service of "realism" that didn't contribute to gameplay. (There were only a limited number of ways to balance the food/water/oxygen triad.)

Then I used USI-LS for a long time, but it really cried out for MKS to fully develop the resource chain, and MKS for years was on a treadmill of development that was so rapid that it was impossible as a player to keep up with how features were "supposed" to work (vs how they actually worked with bugs and unimplemented features.) It was a constant boom-bust cycle of overcomplication and oversimplification. (I remember back when MKS used a PunchCards resource!)

Right now I think the sweet spot is Snacks + KerbalHealth, but the missing piece is colonies. I don't have a compelling reason to create a complex base when a ~3 part outpost can meet all of the life support requirements; not coincidentally, I don't have a way to construct vessels off-world.

I applaud anyone who's trying to come up with new concepts to develop satisfying gameplay for colonization within KSP.

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6 hours ago, theJesuit said:

NermNermNerm, are you think of coding a new mod for this or reworking MKS or a couple of others to fit your vision?

I think the best plan is to create a new mod, but start based on something (as an example) and to provide a few custom parts.  I'm comfortable with C# programming, but the art and 3d modeling is beyond my skillset.

I think @theJesuit's suggestion of using IFILS is a good one, and @Nertea's remarks about MKS are spot on - it's a sprawl.  Having poked around now in both codebases, MKS's C# is vastly bigger, but much cleaner.  Seems like a choice between picking apart something small, but likely not using Unity as nicely as MKS, or using MKS as the basis of learning, but having to work hard to pick out the bits I need from the bits I don't.  We'll see.

5 hours ago, PocketBrotector said:

A looong time ago, I tried TAC Life Support, and I eventually realized it was a bunch of gratuitous spreadsheet-oriented math in service of "realism" that didn't contribute to gameplay.

Indeed.  I'm quite sure there's an appetite in some parts of the community for a good, reasonably realistic simulation of life support in all its quirks.  I'm not going there.

9 hours ago, Nertea said:

I'd recommend trying to build something small first

Amen to that.  My first goal was just to get IFILS to build and deploy.  I've failed at getting it to stop at a breakpoint but succeeded at finding out how to do debugging prints (although it looks to me like you need some means of controlling spew from those prints in order to make them worthwhile).

Baby steps.  The first checkpoint is to be able to launch a spacecraft where the kerbals chew through supplies and go Tourist when they run out.  Not very ambitious, but given the amount of time I can spend and the fact I'm still trying to get a grasp of the fundamentals, well, it could be a while.

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My idea with Simplex was to create a kerbalism profile (kerbalism is unlicense btw so you can rip that code apart as you see fit) that was similar to IFILS as one one unit of resource per kerbal per day.  I realised quite quickly (and this is my only gripe with IFILS) is that what is breathed should be separate. So air and consumables.  Why? Cause whenever I played with TAC or kerbalism or what then food and water was always the same.  Only O2 was different. 

My suggestion is that you go with the two resource model as you can play with it more.

For parts initially just retexture stock models. I think it does the job.

Peace.

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@NermNermNerm, I for one would certainly download that mod! Go, start creating, please! Also, if I can help in any way, let me know.

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For the sustenance portion, if you're looking for simplification, have you looked at using "Snacks"?  Start with that as your basis (MM the heck out of it), and then add your own production and effects for habitiation, etc. 
 

 

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I spent much of the holidays grinching it up at my computer building the mod.  There were several "you should start here" kind of posts, but the trouble with that is that the "tier" thing is absolutely central to the idea, and there's nothing remotely like it out there.  But I have implemented the hydroponic/farming scheme and the tiered-consumption code - the code is here https://github.com/SteveBenz/ColonizationByNerm/blob/master/src/TieredProduction.cs - it's somewhat ferocious, but also decently unit tested.

The mod is playable at this point!  I'm also pretty confident that I won't need to make any save-file-breaking changes to the thing to implement the remainder.  I , which means that you can with the mod as it is, build orbital bases and progress through the tiers.  At this point, I'd make a release, but I'm waiting on an "OK" from @RoverDude to use the art from several of his modules.  The project is here:

https://github.com/SteveBenz/ColonizationByNerm

I haven't created a compiled release yet, but a highly motivated person could try it out.  I'll try to keep 'master' clean until I can get a release out.  I specifically have it coded at this point to not rely on anything external - installing it is just copying the stuff into GameData, and uninstalling it is removing it.    Integration with other mods will be towards the end-game.  (The ReadMe.md has my development plan and the completed/not-completed stuff).

The big-ticket remaining items are:

  1. Having to rove to collect resources (I'm edging towards the idea of making this a Tier-3+ requirement - just in the playing, your grip on the land is pretty tenuous at Tier1 and you don't need the extra challenge)
  2. The Shinies chain (which seems pretty simple, compared to #1)
  3. A calculator in the editor

If you play it now, you'll notice these tedious but non-blocking things:

  1. The status panel is fantastically fugly (but the data on it is pretty good).  (I learned how to make a dialog and then learned that there's a better way)
  2. All the parts are lumped under the "Science" category and the models are dead copies of MKS or Stock things (but I hope you'll find the descriptions accurate, informative and amusing).  This is just until I can get my own art or at least skins and can find out how to make a custom category or something.
  3. I made it so that you have to have a ship return from a body to be able to build a surface base there.  That's true even in Sandbox - so if you wanted to test it out that way, you should just cheat yourself up a landing there.
  4. It is incredibly painful to set the target body for each part and way, way too easy to launch a ship without one part set correctly.  (If you make that mistake, you can save-file-edit a fix for yourself quite easily, but it's super-frustrating, I know)

Some changes have come from the time spent developing and time spent playing around with it:

  1. I've decided to hold off indefinitely on the "Goodies" thing.  I've come to agree with the idea that one life-support chain is enough.
  2. I liked the "You can't do Tier3 & Tier4 near Kerbin" idea so much that I decided to apply it to Shinies too - you can only get "Tier2" shinies at Mun & Minmus - "Tier3" is the limit at Duna, Ike and Gilly, Tier4 is the limit at any of the Julian moons.  (So you gotta go to Eloo, Mojo or Dres for Tier5 shinies and the mighty style points you will earn from that)
  3. One thing that I don't like is the feeling "Why should I build a surface base on Mun?"  And really there isn't one right now other than there's nothing much else to do while waiting for your first landers to return.  One idea I had was to make it so that if you're unlocked Tier2 anywhere that it makes it so that researching T2 elsewhere is easier.

 

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Crazy idea: terraforming.

I remember UFO Afterlight, that was pretty interesting to observe how unhabitable places become less hostile to your colonists. How heavy pressure suits give way to light breathing masks.

Wait a bit... Starting this post, I supposed it as a joke, but the more I type, the more I like it. For now, it is not so stupid idea as it was at start. KSP has tools for planet editing, so it is not impopssible.

It may be a chain of contracts: drop some large asteroids and comets (hellow, Kerbal Comets) to raise pressure and water level, build some spesific buildings to raise oxygen level and spread vegetation... Well, that was a short moment of inspiration and it's gone. Maybe later I'll generate some more.

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Colour me interested.  This is essentially what I've been trying to achieve with a combination of USI MKS/USI-LS, EPL, Kolonisation and Nehemia's Orbital Science - a modset intended to create a Purpose™ to the carear game.  I've had to RP quite a bit, setting myself rules such as Civilians cannot go on long trips until they've had a month at the Orbital Training Facility and a minimum of 6 months at the Offworld Training Kolony on Minmus.  A lucky few get to join the Space Pioneer Programme and explore distant worlds.  Recruiting trained Kerbs is fiercely expensive, so 'converting' civilians and training them in the MKS Akademy is preferable.

Perhaps you might consider taking an idea of low-g / zero-g experimentation and tie that into the stats of the different bodies to unlock new tiers.  For example, something like a certain number of experiments are required in a Zero G environment to unlock Tier 2 (an Orbital in LKO will do the trick); but to unlock Tier 3 you need some experiments in a Low G environment (this would suggest a Mun base) AND some research outside Kerbin SOI (Space Station in Kerbol Orbit should do)...or you could skip them and go for a Moho base like a pro but it's going to be harder to get the results back to Kerbin.  Tier 4 is going to require some proper alien world experimentation, with demonstrable results from High G, alien atmospheres.  Essentially each Tier has an increasingly complex (yet abundantly clear) number of gates to achieve before you can unlock the Shinies and upgraded kit that your Kerbs need if they expect to build sustainable offworld habitat.

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I like the "produce a Kerbal" idea from @theJesuit to create a colonist and some other cool stuff are suggested here, having facilities that generate whatever the Kerbal needs can also generate other stuff... other stuff like @Gr@y mentioned. That terraforming idea is so cool, not sure if its possible to create something like this, but the idea is worth to think about

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13 hours ago, GerAseR said:

That terraforming idea is so cool, not sure if its possible to create something like this, but the idea is worth to think about

It is a really complex task. Speaking about colonization, most people instatnly think about Mars (Duna) and its' enviromental hazards: low plressure, oxygen, temperature and water. But there are more planets except Mars and not all of them needs the same. Venus, for example, has very high pressure and temperature. Thus, comet bombarding will have the reverse effect: it will be less habitable then before. But asteroids may be usefull, if grind them on the orbit to produse lagre dust cloud, blocking sunlight to cool the planet down

So there is no universal scenario for any planet terraforming. It is hard to make the process interesting, otherwise it will shrink to "Build a Terraformer" task.

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1 hour ago, Gr@y said:

It is a really complex task. Speaking about colonization, most people instatnly think about Mars (Duna) and its' enviromental hazards: low plressure, oxygen, temperature and water. But there are more planets except Mars and not all of them needs the same. Venus, for example, has very high pressure and temperature. Thus, comet bombarding will have the reverse effect: it will be less habitable then before. But asteroids may be usefull, if grind them on the orbit to produse lagre dust cloud, blocking sunlight to cool the planet down

So there is no universal scenario for any planet terraforming. It is hard to make the process interesting, otherwise it will shrink to "Build a Terraformer" task.

Even then, there's multiple possible paths - There's a good argument for floating cities on Venus instead.  (A bubble of breathable air would float in Venus's atmosphere right at around the 1atm pressure/20-25 Celsius range, which conveniently is a fairly wind-free zone.  Build a blimp with the living areas inside, and it would float right at the habitable range.  It's a viable method to terraform the planet, and arguably would be easier and better than trying to terraform Mars.)

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