Klapaucius

How do you rate KSP's learning curve?

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I would argue that KSP is pretty steep.  Not necessarily because of the game part of it though, but because of the simulation of orbital mechanics takes some time to get one's head around.  It's unintuitive to our Earth-born brains ("You mean I move further away from that other vessel when I thrust towards it?") and requires some readjustment of thinking.  The only "game" bit beyond that is some trial and error to figure out the proper weights and thrusts and the like to actually get anywhere or do anything, which can take a bit of experience before you get an intuitive handle on it.

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Each mode has a very, very different learning curve. 

Sandbox: From my experience, at least, there is not one. I spent infinitely more time goofing off or designing huge craft I would never ever be able to launch than I did making anything.

Science: Pretty good, overall. The tech tree keeps you from getting overwhelmed by too many parts at once and a combination of boredom and the lure of science pushes you onward to other planets. By the time you fill out the tech tree, you'll probably have landed on Mun, Minmus, and Duna.

Career: Hellish grind. You'll get very good at doing certain types of mission, but you'll probably spend so much time taking temperature scans at random spots for funds that you're not going to have much time for anything else.

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Posted (edited)

@RocketSquid Career teaches you how to be efficient.  Although on normal the difference between a minimalist design and a slapped together design is 100000% profit margin vs 90000% profit margin.  Hardly worth the effort currently.  I have argued that hard needs upgrade cost turned way down with contracts paying much less so that a well designed rocket makes 10-15% profit and something that is slapped together loses money or just breaks even.

I have always found rescue contracts and station contracts are my bread and butter.  Kerbin orbit station, Mun orbit station, Minimus Orbit station with a couple rescue contracts and I am sitting at a million funds and can do just about anything I want.

Edited by Nich

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3 hours ago, Nich said:

@RocketSquid Career teaches you how to be efficient.  Although on normal the difference between a minimalist design and a slapped together design is 100000% profit margin vs 90000% profit margin.  Hardly worth the effort currently.  I have argued that hard needs upgrade cost turned way down with contracts paying much less so that a well designed rocket makes 10-15% profit and something that is slapped together loses money or just breaks even.

I have always found rescue contracts and station contracts are my bread and butter.  Kerbin orbit station, Mun orbit station, Minimus Orbit station with a couple rescue contracts and I am sitting at a million funds and can do just about anything I want.

My problem is that it takes a lot of time and tedium to even get to that point unless you use mods to fiddle with the contracts. All of the early ones have a low enough payout that getting enough for anything but the most ruthlessly optimized mun mission takes so much repetition. I’ve heard that once you get past a certain point, it becomes a lot easier.

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On 3/29/2018 at 3:04 PM, Zhetaan said:

I would also like to point out that many people have said that KSP doesn't have a learning curve so much as it has a learning wall.  This is the first time I've heard of KSP's learning onion, but I think that we ought to go with this premise:  it takes a long time to peel back all of the layers and you may end up in tears during the process.

I'm just going to quote my favourite post regarding this matter. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/30/2019 at 6:26 AM, Klapaucius said:

So....What do you all reckon? Where does KSP fall on that continuum?  

What games would you rate as having an equal or greater learning curve?

Hmmmm....  This question can't help but generate very subjective answers as there are so many facets to KSP, it's changed a lot over time, and everybody's prior experience with not only spaceflight but other games colors judgment.

I divide KSP into the following main areas, each of which has its own learning curve.

1.  Spaceflight

I played Orbiter for decades prior to KSP.  Also, my tolerance for complexity is rather high and I've seen some REALLY steep learning curves in my day.  So I really didn't have to learn anything here except how to use KSP's interface to accomplish burns.  Now, if you know nothing of this subject before KSP, it will take you a while to grok the basic concepts, but it's not THAT hard.  Certainly nothing like, say, learning how to play Advanced Squad Leader, or how to do a high yoyo in a MMO PvP flightsim ;).  So I rate this area as easy, but it might be moderate for those unfamiliar with the concept.

2.  Designing Spacecraft

Until very recently, this was extremely difficult without mods due to the game's damnable philosophy of deliberately hiding things like dV and TWR from you.  Just making a basic rocket reach orbit, let alone Mun was thus EXTREMELY hard in the stock game even if you already knew what dV and TWR were.  After a lot of trial and error and/or doing math, you learned how to eyeball things and the difficulty declined.  Or you could just use mods to save yourself most of this torture.  But now that we have TWR and dV displayed in-game, this whole area is now MUCH easier than it was before.  The game could still use a built-in dV map, and RCS Build Aid and KAC should be stock (hint to devs), but by and large this aspect of the game is no longer really difficult.

Of course, you can still make craft design very difficult, even with mods, by setting yourself challenging specifications.  But this is self-inflicted, not an unavoidable part of the game.  Here I'm only talking about just simple, basic rockets.  That used to be a real pain, now it isn't.

------------------------------------------

There's really not much else to learn in KSP.  There's no "right way" to do career mode and besides, you can make that has easy or as hard as you want with the difficulty sliders.  Plus, you don't even have to play the game this way.  IOW, it's not an unavoidable game feature.

To me, the hardest part of KSP is really determining my overall goal for a given save.  I have no creativity or imagination whatsoever.  But this has nothing to do with learning curves :)

Edited by Geschosskopf

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1 hour ago, RocketSquid said:

My problem is that it takes a lot of time and tedium to even get to that point unless you use mods to fiddle with the contracts. All of the early ones have a low enough payout that getting enough for anything but the most ruthlessly optimized mun mission takes so much repetition. I’ve heard that once you get past a certain point, it becomes a lot easier.

Mun is a waste of time.  I just complete the contract to open Minimus contracts.

Been a while since I have played hard stock but my contracts are generally

Launch a craft

Suborbital

Orbit (polar orbit for science)

Unlock terrier

Mun flyby and polar orbit (you have to go back to KSC while on flyby to pick up orbit contract)

Upgrade tracking and mission planning

Rondavou

Docking

Rescue contracts x5

Mun landing (1 way probe)

Minims Flyby and orbit (same as before)

Unlock Spark and upgrade vab for parts

Scientist minimus hopper with, SAS probe core science jr and bio and all other science normally get 7000-9000 science but those might be on normal numbers.

Unlock station parts and upgrade pad

 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/29/2018 at 6:04 AM, Zhetaan said:

Aside from agreeing with what Snark said above, I would also like to point out that many people have said that KSP doesn't have a learning curve so much as it has a learning wall.  This is the first time I've heard of KSP's learning onion, but I think that we ought to go with this premise:  it takes a long time to peel back all of the layers and you may end up in tears during the process.

With the new robotics, there is a learning wall, if it's the same wall that protected Westeros season 1 to 4.

Edited by Jestersage

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Lots of games might have a harsh learning curve but the skills and knowledge you learn in Kerbal are actually pretty nice outside of the game in my opinion. Developing a practical insight into orbital mechanics grants you an understanding that a lot of people don’t have. 

I imagine it’s a great game for the engineer minded person too with how you need to achieve goals by overcoming problems through designing, testing, improving based on results etc... 

The learning curve is there but I think it’s a worthwhile one, not pointless. You actually improve yourself a little ^_^!

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I started on 1.3 and played that until last week and upgraded to 1.7.2. I love the learning curve. I don't do tutorials because I like to figure things out on my own. Basically I am once again roughly 1950's NASA trying to figure out how to fly rockets safely. I have been collecting science while experimenting with different rocket types. I have yet to man a rocket until I can get a sub orbital flight to succeed safely. 

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On 6/1/2019 at 5:33 AM, Geschosskopf said:

Hmmmm....  This question can't help but generate very subjective answers as there are so many facets to KSP, it's changed a lot over time, and everybody's prior experience with not only spaceflight but other games colors judgment.

I divide KSP into the following main areas, each of which has its own learning curve.

1.  Spaceflight

I played Orbiter for decades prior to KSP.  Also, my tolerance for complexity is rather high and I've seen some REALLY steep learning curves in my day.  So I really didn't have to learn anything here except how to use KSP's interface to accomplish burns.  Now, if you know nothing of this subject before KSP, it will take you a while to grok the basic concepts, but it's not THAT hard.  Certainly nothing like, say, learning how to play Advanced Squad Leader, or how to do a high yoyo in a MMO PvP flightsim ;).  So I rate this area as easy, but it might be moderate for those unfamiliar with the concept.

2.  Designing Spacecraft

Until very recently, this was extremely difficult without mods due to the game's damnable philosophy of deliberately hiding things like dV and TWR from you.  Just making a basic rocket reach orbit, let alone Mun was thus EXTREMELY hard in the stock game even if you already knew what dV and TWR were.  After a lot of trial and error and/or doing math, you learned how to eyeball things and the difficulty declined.  Or you could just use mods to save yourself most of this torture.  But now that we have TWR and dV displayed in-game, this whole area is now MUCH easier than it was before.  The game could still use a built-in dV map, and RCS Build Aid and KAC should be stock (hint to devs), but by and large this aspect of the game is no longer really difficult.

Of course, you can still make craft design very difficult, even with mods, by setting yourself challenging specifications.  But this is self-inflicted, not an unavoidable part of the game.  Here I'm only talking about just simple, basic rockets.  That used to be a real pain, now it isn't.

------------------------------------------

There's really not much else to learn in KSP.  There's no "right way" to do career mode and besides, you can make that has easy or as hard as you want with the difficulty sliders.  Plus, you don't even have to play the game this way.  IOW, it's not an unavoidable game feature.

To me, the hardest part of KSP is really determining my overall goal for a given save.  I have no creativity or imagination whatsoever.  But this has nothing to do with learning curves :)

This was a really thoughtful answer. For me, it was not the conceptual aspects so much as just the amount of detail you had to consider, coupled with learning a fairly complex interface.  It was probably more so for me, because I had not been doing any kind of gaming at all prior to KSP.  I really struggled building planes until I sat down with a good tutorial that got me understanding how you manipulate the parts in the SPH.  There are all sorts of little tricks (like holding the shift key while dragging a  part) that you would never know starting out.  Now I build planes all the time, and I set myself challenges to see what sort of odd stuff I can actually make fly. None of it is practical, but I love having the ability to go nuts and test that against the physics model.

Having said that, I'm finding the robotics aspect pretty easy to as far as the interface goes, but that is because I know video editing and so am used to working in keyframe editors, which is what the controller is.

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