boolybooly

Experience & kerbal training, gameplay ideas.

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I have some ideas and wanted to jot them down for the devs to consider. Dont know a better way to communicate. If anyone else wants to spark off this or chime in please do.

In KSP1 Kerbals gain experience rank by missions which enables better abilities but a second mission within the same rank-range avails zero experience.
I always thought it would be nice if there was experience to be gained by Kerbals becoming an old hand and running many missions within the same experience rank-range, so gaining a prestigious flight time record.

The suggestion I have for this is to add another dimension to kerbal experience, lets call it proficiency, plus add training to the Kerbal astronaut complex, where experienced Kerbals can pass on their skills to new recruits in training facilities. The idea is, as Kerbals fly they gain proficiency points in the same way they would get experience points but they keep on getting them with every flight even if it is to the same location. Proficiency levels require significantly more points though. Then when they have a high enough proficiency they can teach other Kerbals some of what they know.

Since no amount of theory can prepare astronauts the way actually flying does, it might be more credible if Kerbals who become trainers can only raise recruits to one rank less than the level of their own experience and only when they have enough proficiency and adequate facilities.

To simplify it to mathematical language, max training rank is the smaller of (experience rank -1) or (proficiency rank).

e.g. A level 3 pilot with level 2 proficiency could train Kerbal pilots up to level 2. 
A level 5 scientist with level 2 proficiency could train Kerbal scientists up to level 2.
A level 4 engineer with level 3 proficiency could train Kerbal engineers up to level 3.
A level 3 engineer with level 3 proficiency could train Kerbal engineers up to level 2.

Naturally a trainer cannot be flying at the same time as training, so experienced Kerbals would only be able to train while assigned to astronaut complex duties.

While time can always be warped in KSP it would also make gameplay sense if training rate was related to Kerbal recruit "stupidity" and trainer proficiency. So a trainer with higher proficiency would train Kerbals faster than a trainer with lower proficiency and Kerbal recruits with low stupidity would rise in experience rank while training faster than Kerbals with high stupidity.

It also seems like a valid idea that adding (expensive) training facilities to the Astronaut complex would enhance the speed of training and perhaps raise the cap on the highest experience rank a Kerbal can reach through training alone. So a level three complex can train Kerbals to level 3 max for example.

Further to this, it might be nice if proficiency rank can raise experience rank as well and enable better skills, meaning a Kerbal can never have higher proficiency than experience rank, but will take a lot of missions in the same rank-range to gain a proficiency rank.

Hope that makes sense, hope you like it :) watjafink?

Edited by boolybooly
because I cant spell !

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Further to the above, given what is known about KSP2 colonies, proficiency mechanics would need to work with the scenario of colonies as well as the ability of the space lab to update kerbal experience rank.

The problem is that if a kerbal gains proficiency with every mission then unlike experience which is a one off bonus per activity type, proficiency would be added with every repetition. If a kerbal is in a space lab or similar training related building which can update proficiency far from Kerbin, then if the proficiency is calculated like experience (relative to Kerbin) then the kerbal could add proficiency for just sitting there and updating repeatedly.

So if proficiency is updated at a remote location then that location becomes the new home location and further proficiency would be calculated for missions relative to that location (even if the building which allows the update moves from the location, even if it moves with the kerbal). The resulting mechanic, while logical and representing an advantage of colonies/labs/training facilities means a doubling of proficiency points since a trip to Minmus and back to Kerbin for example could result in twice the proficiency if there is a proficiency update facility on Minmus. So the proficiency point requirements for ranks (which IMHO should scale geometrically with rank to make higher ranks harder to get) would need to take that into account but it is another reason why such facilities are worth having. Such an advantage can be considered to represent effective debriefing and mission planning at the facility, not to mention a coffee machine and snacks dispenser.

This problem of mission value relative to other locations besides Kerbin needs to be solved anyway for kerbal reproduction at colonies based on accomplishments. (Sounds like it must involve some pretty wild parties.) Doing the same for proficiency would not add this development task but would make the most of something which needs to be developed anyway.

Edited by boolybooly

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This whole idea of kerbals training kerbals comes into its own when you consider how kerbals can help the space program.

They are already pilots of course and the scientists and engineers can place surface experiments, run space labs making science and ore digging and refining machinery making fuels. Which is why I think they could help with operations in KSP2 as well.

For example a colony VAB might be able to build cheaper or bigger or with more parts with better engineers overseeing operations and giving them a % bonus depending on their skill rank. Say a VAB can assemble a 30 part vessel might have a rank 3 kerbal engineer staffing it who adds 10% per rank so 30% = 9 extra parts. A rank 4 engineer might add 40% to a colony launch platform which can take 18t ships, raising the limit to 25.2t.

IMHO it would be nice if scientists could staff research facilities which actually make a difference to the performance of craft. So for example if the KSC research complex or a colony research building staffed by scientists researches "monocrystal components"  or "vacuum sintering" etc they might be able to reduce the weight of engine bells or heat shields for parts of craft built at that location. by a % margin related to the  rank of the scientists (likewise isp, max thrust, tank mass, wheel impact tolerance, torque etc etc). Considering colonies are likely to have the more experienced scientists, due to the way distance increases rank they might be able to send their more advanced construction technology to the rest of kerbalkind by developing blueprints which can be sent as data (either transported as documents by interstellar couriers or transmitted if powerful enough tranmitters can make a connection) to other colonies and back to Kerbin adding the % bonus from the research conducted elsewhere to those facilities.

Just a few ideas for why it might be fun to have highly trained steely eyed missile kerbals on the job.

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What made you come up with this. Was there some gamplay role you wanted this proficiency to have, or is this a "it'd be cool"-mechanic?

If I understand correctly (your posts are quite dense) the idea is to have a proficiency varable to each kerbal, earned from repeting a task, that can be used to train other kerbals. The speed of this training is dependend on the stupidity of the kerbal (is that already a thing?), and the result of the training can never be better than what the mentor has. Furthermore, training occurs only when both the mentor and the trainee are in the same astronaut complex.

Then, remoteness, a necessary variable for experience/proficiency, is calculated based on the last place where that kerbal checked in their experience/proficiency points, effectively this measures the distance traveled by that kerbal. And lastly, you want this training mechanic to improve colony functions.

______

What about making profiency increase something that phases in with repetition, as opposed to a static gain for every repetition.

I believe currently experience is a diminishing returns thing for every repetition, proficiency can be an increasing returns thing.

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Thanks for replying. Sorry if it is dense for you. Most of your summary points are correct but not sure if the big picture has clicked. If you read it again after sleeping on it, it might make more sense and click! :) 

An important point to clarify is that the trainee gets the rank while training but that is just the starting point for their career, noob kerbals start out with better skill and they can surpass their mentor by adding to their trained rank with experience, this actually means the trained kerbals have a head start over their trainers and go on to forge their own path in life.

What made me think of this was my kerbals making orbit or flying to the Mün and not necessarily repeating the same task, perhaps doing something completely different and adding to their flight time but getting no experience because they went to that location once already. Didnt feel right to me for them to get nothing out of it, felt like something was missing. I feel like the KSP1 mechanics were often placeholders and this is what they might have been aiming at.

What I like about the idea is it makes the society of kerbals important and makes individual kerbals significant to the gameplay for the player, adds to their usefulness and even character and also gives the nuance of historic and social significance of kerbals to other kerbals which I think would be a nice touch and reflect the reality of space programs staffed by humans in a way which adds to the enjoyment. I also recently watched First Man which may have something to do with it, as the film follows Neil Armstrong through the training program for the Apollo 11 moon landing. Another factor may be that I qualified as a teacher once long ago and come from a family line with lots of teachers in it. But try not to hate me, I am not a compulsive megalomaniac like too many of my teachers were !

In short it makes the kerbals' experience valuable, so keeping kerbals alive is useful and desirable and it offers something to the player to improve their missions using kerbals and even craft design specs which they otherwise could not build.

Edited by boolybooly

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Sorry I didnt address these points directly in my last @nikokespprfan , it was getting late and I needed some sleep! Its worth explaining since if I explain it to you it helps explain it to all other readers as well.

13 hours ago, nikokespprfan said:

What about making profiency increase something that phases in with repetition, as opposed to a static gain for every repetition.

I believe currently experience is a diminishing returns thing for every repetition, proficiency can be an increasing returns thing.

First point, I am not sure what phasing in means but I think you are getting the idea, this is what proficiency is trying to achieve via the experience system. This is because all the useful attributes/skills for kerbals are currently linked to experience rank, so rather than reinvent the existing mechanics, proficiency does what you are suggesting by improving experience rank, for both very proficient pilots who can raise their experience rank via gaining proficiency and trainees who can raise their rank before gaining further experience.

You are absolutely correct about experience providing diminishing returns. In fact returns from experience diminish to zero after one trip. The whole point about proficiency is it would continue to accumulate and so it is worth sending experienced pilots out to gain more proficiency and it creates a choice dilemma between sending noob kerbals out to gain experience and raise their rank or setting up a trainer kerbal to train them first so that when they do eventually gain experience they get even more rank, which adds skills and can become a virtuous circle because that increases the rank they can train other kerbals to (if they have enough proficiency).

Its worth pointing out that with this mechanic as it stands, if noob kerbals go and get experience they cannot train later*, as they sooner reach a rank their trainer cannot surpass and have to go further afield to gain more experience the hard way, whereas if they train first then they start with an extra rank and can then add to that with experience from local expeditions which are quicker to do as they have shorter flight times.

Not sure if this* is entirely a good thing since it suggests training is useless after experience is gained which is not always true since further education like refresher and specialist training and the educational interaction it entails is often valuable and is why many good employers invest in continued training. Adding training after gaining experience would be a minor mechanic which allows instituting a program of further education among kerbals whereby the trainers could impart proficiency rather than simple experience rank. i.e. A further education kerbal trainer would be able to add proficiency to kerbals once they have experience rank but again only a limited amount, probably the lesser of the trainers own proficiency level -1 or the trainees experience rank -1.

Edited by boolybooly

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I don't think there will be a training system in the exact way you think it'll be. Because they said about colonies that they don't want us to time skip in order to increase kerbals population, I don't think we'll have a time-based training...

 

I think that specialities need to be revamped to be more flexible... Maybe we won't have specialized born kerbals but rather having them trained for specific tasks. (like exposing a kerbal at high gs make them more resistant for exemple).

 

Note that kerbals specialities are for now highly speculative because we don't know yet about science... If they don't keep that system, it's probable there won't be scientist kerbals, so what it left are engineers and pilots which is not enough to justify a specialization feature. 

What you think?

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21 hours ago, Kaerbanogue said:

I don't think there will be a training system in the exact way you think it'll be. Because they said about colonies that they don't want us to time skip in order to increase kerbals population, I don't think we'll have a time-based training...

 

I think that specialities need to be revamped to be more flexible... Maybe we won't have specialized born kerbals but rather having them trained for specific tasks. (like exposing a kerbal at high gs make them more resistant for exemple).

 

Note that kerbals specialities are for now highly speculative because we don't know yet about science... If they don't keep that system, it's probable there won't be scientist kerbals, so what it left are engineers and pilots which is not enough to justify a specialization feature. 

What you think?

Well since you ask what I think, judging by the KSP2 videos and interviews, KSP2 is built firmly on the foundations of KSP1.  Scott Manley took pains in his video to point this out and warn us against hyperbolic expectations. So I think this suggestion for "proficiency" is realistic because it enhances existing mechanics and uses existing assets like the Astronaut Complex staying true to the success of KSP. 

Time deserves discussion. Yes devs implied its not good game design to solve colony growth by doing the timewarp until our colony is bulging at the seams with baby kerbals, the other side of the coin is that in KSP time means something because of the way missions take time to fly and have to be planned around mission windows. Time is intrinsic to orbital mechanics and a rocket sim, this is why they dont want to use magic tech like warp drives, because it would wreck the subtle illusion of the rocket simulation.

Logically though, just because devs want more than timewarp for colony growth does not mean they are against timewarp or time related gameplay. The point of timewarp is flights take time because they emulate reality and timewarp is there to make them more fun because they would take too long. In real life, training takes time, so that is part of the subtlety of the sim, which is why training absolutely cannot be instant. 

Comparing colony expansion with kerbal training, the two objectives are on a different scale in terms of game goals, making the colony grow is a macro game goal whereas training a kerbal is a micro game goal. The question is the kind of gameplay each encourages. Will players while away the game timewarping to get better kerbals or respect and work with the training mechanic because of the advantages it can offer? 

Having a kerbal in training for a year really does make a difference to what missions they can go on because of mission windows but in KSP I find I have rescued many kerbals by mid game, plenty, too many, because they are lot cheaper than hiring but also I like the idea of saving kerbals, so I have enough to do some training to provide advanced crews for an interstellar mission and dont need to screw up my mission timing to do it. So I think using time is OK with training a kerbal just as it is with with spaceflight, spacelab research and ground experiments because I think players will play with it and not make sim breaking short cuts.

IMHO training kerbals would add to the subtlety of the sim and make choosing our crews a deeper more strategic decision, giving us something to play with which would remind us of NASA in "First Man". 

 

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On 8/25/2019 at 1:06 AM, boolybooly said:

While time can always be warped in KSP it would also make gameplay sense if training rate was related to Kerbal recruit "stupidity" and trainer proficiency. So a trainer with higher proficiency would train Kerbals faster than a trainer with lower proficiency and Kerbal recruits with low stupidity would rise in experience rank while training faster than Kerbals with high stupidity.

It also seems like a valid idea that adding (expensive) training facilities to the Astronaut complex would enhance the speed of training and perhaps raise the cap on the highest experience rank a Kerbal can reach through training alone. So a level three complex can train Kerbals to level 3 max for example.

Further to this, it might be nice if proficiency rank can raise experience rank as well and enable better skills, meaning a Kerbal can never have higher proficiency than experience rank, but will take a lot of missions in the same rank-range to gain a proficiency rank.

Hope that makes sense, hope you like it :) watjafink?

Excellent idea. Finally, having stupid traits does something other than smiling for the camera.

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On 8/28/2019 at 10:45 AM, Xd the great said:

Excellent idea. Finally, having stupid traits does something other than smiling for the camera.

Yes, its almost as if HarvesteR left stubs in KSP for those who came after to fill in :D

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