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What strategy do you take in a career game?


What's your general career strategy?  

38 members have voted

  1. 1. When playing a career game, what kind of strategy do you go for?

    • I design an expendable "all-in-one" vessel to complete contracts
      18
    • I design re-usable infrastructure vessels
      20


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Yes.

(Longer answer)

I do all the contracts I reasonably can in most every mission, but also try to build up infrastructure so future missions can be more easily completed with what I already have in space.

It's common for me to go to Mun with an Apollo style craft, not because it's strictly necessary but so I can leave the lander behind so I don't have to bring up another one. Then I can just bring up the new science doodads or a couple fuel tanks or the part I need to test, and KIS attach them onto the lander.

But it's just as common for me to slap 4 random doodads to a rocket heading for nowhere to test and carry junk for random people.

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I'm kinda mixed in career.  I've played with reusable craft but after a while they just become a hassle to me - I end up spending as much time landing boosters at KSC as I do anything else.  And even with funds rewards set as low as 30 or even 20%, once your building upgrades are done, the funds savings don't really matter.   Later on in career, I use spaceplanes for crew transfers around Kerbin and around Laythe.   I also have some reusable landers for vacuum worlds/moons and a variant design for Duna.  Oddly, I rarely put reusable landers on Mun or Minmus.   I tend to put relatively large bases on Minmus, Duna, Laythe and sometimes Val.  Moho & Dres will sometimes get a small "emergency" ISRU base. 

Then another update hits, and I end up starting a new career.

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I normally design reusable launch vehicles, but I also have some expendable launch vehicles for small payloads, and once going beyond LKO, quite a lot of the payloads on reusable rockets are "expendable" or "single use".

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I tend to favor reusable since I like to preserve credits. 

This also seems to fall inline with a Challenge idea that I've been tinkering with...  

I've been a little hesitant to post it though as I'm not sure how many would really want to bother with it.  I also have certain tools that I use regarding the optimization of craft parts in relationship to the tech tree.  For example, there are certain parts that make no sense to add to a craft design because it doesn't change the overall performance of the craft in any way other than to constrain its availability until tech tree node X is unlocked.  So I can see where others who don't use tools that plot which tech tree parts a craft is comprised of would be as interested.

This is my draft idea for a "Pro-Stock" Challenge:

Spoiler
Challenge : Unlock the Tech Tree with a "Pro-Stock" hangar of prebuilt craft and subassemblies
  Our 4 favorite Kerbals must survive!
     
Goals : Minimize Time Required to Unlock the Tech Tree
  Minimize Total Number of Pro-Stock Craft and Subassemblies
  Maximize Credits
  Maximize Reputation
  Limit 25 Pro-Stock Designs
     
Setup : Remove all default "Stock" craft from the KSP root "Ships/SPH" and "Ships/VAB" directories
  Add your Pro-Stock craft to the root "Ships/SPH" and "Ships/VAB" directories
  Start new career with the following Custom game difficulty settings:  [screen captures of custom career settings]
  Add additional "Pro-Stock" craft Sub-Assemblies
     
Sponsors : Anything put into orbit at the request of a sponsor should be named for that contract sponsor [optional]
Memorial : If a Kerbal dies, the next unsponsored orbital installation should be named in the memory of our friend(s) who made the ultimate sacrifice [optional]
     
Allowed : You can only use unlocked Pro-Stock craft and subassemblies (subassemblies will only appear when all associated tech is unlocked)
  You may add "Science Parts" to your Pro-Stock craft
  While a Part Test Mission is active, "Test Parts" are considered "Science Parts"
  You may add/remove "Pro-Stock" subassemblies to any "Pro-Stock" craft
  MH and BG parts are allowed
  Pit Tuning  
     
Pit Tuning : You may adjust quantities of liquid fuels in the SPH or VAB
  You may adjust engine and/or thrust output in SPH or VAB
  Any other "right-click" part settings for your Pro-Stock Craft may be tuned
  Fairings may be edited as needed
     
Prohibited : You cannot add "Non-Science Parts" to your Pro-Stock craft
  You cannot remove ANY parts from your Pro-Stock craft
  Craft file editing of ANY type is strictly prohibited
     
Part Clipping : Use your own discretion, but try to be as reasonable as posible
  Avoid blatent stacking of engines, fuel tanks, passenger, crew cabins, machinery, storage space, etc…
  Do what you need to do to make wing designs work and look decent
  Sometimes you can't help it (fuel-filled wing clipping into a tank, etc)
     
Mod Rule 1 : If it makes the challenge harder, then fine…  Go ahead!
  Custom parts or mods that change default part settings are generally not allowed
  KAS/KIS parts are acceptable (part welding follows the same Pro-Stock rules though)
  Mods related to: User Interface, Graphics, Aerodynamics, Display Info, Realism, etc.  are all generally OK
  If in doubt, refer to Mod Rule 1
     
Progression : I do suspect that people will want to start playing before they have a fully vetted "Pro-Stock Hangar"
  Feel free to post pictures and links to your favorite "Pro-Stock" designs as you play it thru
  I put myself in this category
     
Completion : When you unlock the last Tech Tree node, post the following:
  Career Year-Month-Day of completion
  Number of Pro-Stock Craft in the SPH
  Number of Pro-Stock Craft in the VAB
  Number of Pro-Stock Craft in Subassemblies
  Credit Balance at Completion
     
Rewards : An optimized hangar of "Pro-Stock" craft and subassemblies is a pretty cool accomplishment in itself!
  Your name/scores posted to the Pro-Stock Leaderboard
  Bragging rights and a nifty Kerbal Pro-Stock Badge
     
Considerations : In theory, if you have completed the tech tree in a career game, you have already built the craft to complete the challenge at some point.  So why is it difficult?
  Could two Pro-Stock craft or subassemblies working together eliminate the need for a third design?
  I may need some carefully crafted subassemblies to successfully deploy different stations and relays
  Choose carefully when you accept and complete Part Test missions
  Accepting missions with no intention of completion could (at times) be a valid strategy!
  Should my Pro-Stock craft include equipment testing mounts?
  Should my Pro-Stock designs ever include Science parts?
  Time Acceleration Optimization - Can I plan and manage multiple missions within the same timeframe?
  How long before a given Pro-Stock Craft really becomes obsolete?
  Do I need to pay for access to every unlocked part?
  Can I find other ways to optimize recovery costs?
  Can I accelerate or multiply science research?
  Could different Active Strategies help?

 

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That's an interesting challenge idea. Yeah, it might not be the most popular thing due to the time commitment, but then again we have things like the Caveman and Kerpollo challenges.

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7 minutes ago, sturmhauke said:

That's an interesting challenge idea. Yeah, it might not be the most popular thing due to the time commitment, but then again we have things like the Caveman and Kerpollo challenges.

Well that's encouraging...  If at least one person finds it interesting, I'll finish up the achievement patch(es) and post the Pro-Stock Challenge this weekend.  I was thinking maybe a single patch, but I am curious to see if people have more pro-stock craft in the:  SPH/VAB/Subassemblies

...and then have like specializations for:  "Aerospace Engineer" / "Rocket Scientist" / "Modular Master"  depending on which Pro-Stock class you favor.

A standard award designation might be:  "Design Engineer"

I'm hesitant on limiting the number of "Pro-Stock" craft to just 25 though; I will probably remove that limitation and just see what people do in terms of the "minimize" goal.

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I tend to build a small number of crafts e.g. one satellite, one rover etc. and then upgrade the designs as I unlock the newer tech. I have one specific satellite that can easily have extra stuff bolted to it for those satellite missions, and a range of launch rockets for various sizes of payloads. They're not 'reusable' in the sense that they can be flown back and landed at KSC, but the Stage Recovery mod and some parachutes do the job well enough (you can get 90% or more of the parts cost back for each launch which makes a massive difference early in a career) so I've never really tried a launch and land type booster.

I don't do much 'infrastructure' stuff like creating planetary fuel stations and such, the biggest base I ever built was a combined lab and mining setup on the Mun and the mining was partly for a contract and partly to make fuel for the lab's return. Of course I chose to try and assemble the thing vertically when it was already landed on the surface rather than in space before landing, so it wasn't entirely intact when completed...

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It depends on the career.

I set out a theme and some self-imposed constraints and then roll with that. The theme could be "everything possible reusable" or "only probes" or "no probes" or "orbital stations" or "surface stations" or whatever. Then I pick the contracts that fit that goal. For example if the theme requires a lot of kerbonauts, then I take a lot of rescue contracts especially early on.

For efficiency really the only trick that counts is to combine goals, especially early on. Do as many contracts and self-imposed goals in a single launch as possible. Line up a bunch of rescue contracts and do them in one go; same for satellites. Find science contracts that align with your own exploration goals -- for example, if you're planning on heading to Duna, rack up a bunch of science contracts in the neighbourhood. 

This only really matters for the early game anyway; pretty soon you'll have more funds than you can use just by doing the "Science data from <surface of/space around> <body>," which is basically a couple of clicks once you have the assets in place. 

 

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Currently I'm in the middle of a contracts free career game for a challenge, with the only income source being achieving milestones. That's resulted in me landing more reusable launchers in the past couple of weeks, than in the previous 5.5 years playing the game.

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50 minutes ago, purpleivan said:

Currently I'm in the middle of a contracts free career game for a challenge, with the only income source being achieving milestones. That's resulted in me landing more reusable launchers in the past couple of weeks, than in the previous 5.5 years playing the game.

Out of curiosity, are you allowed to apply the strategy in that challenge that converts science to income?  I've never actually used that strategy so curious if it's just a one-time use thing?  I may have to test that.  I'm thinkin spamming a dozen or so science outposts in orbit around kerbin could generate decent funds.

Edited by XLjedi
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Just now, XLjedi said:

Out of curiosity, are you allowed to apply the strategy in that challenge that converts science to income?  I've never actually used that strategy so curious if it's just a one-time use thing?  I may have to test that.  I'm thinkin spamming a dozen or so science outposts in orbit around kerbin could generate decent funds.

I think you're allow to, but I've been playing without the aid of the Administration building, so nothing like that for me.

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5 hours ago, peewee69 said:

I've been building lots of very specific function craft, which results in lots of rendezvous & docking manoeuvres. And lots of vehicles everywhere which is becoming a bit of a headache!

I can see that...   I've been playing my latest career the same way.  

I've become exceptionally good at intercepts though; to the point it's become rather mechanical.  I don't mind the intercepts and docking so much.  I do get annoyed at the 5 minute nuke-tug burn times just to get to Minmus.  It's starting to lean me toward creating a new class of wolfhound-powered light-carriers. 

 

 

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I usually build something to go say, to the Mun, then bring it back home.
If I want to go again, I launch the whole thing again.

I only use reusable engine modules once I reach the Nerva, but I design a new lander each time.  Nerva engine module is usually 12k dV without any cargo attached to it.  Very slow burns but I can get anywhere then.
I also focus heavily on minmus/mun for science until I know my designs will stabilize and I can then build a fully re-usable craft that wont need any changes.

 

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Early and Mid career are dominated by Expendable Launch Vehicles for me; with the reusable kit coming near the tail end of mid career. The issue is two-fold; tech unlocks are coming fast and furious making whatever you build out of date before you know it along with the unlocked tech not being sufficent to provide decent margins for reuse.

However i do attempt to "Standardize" my launch vehicles if possible; it's not hard to make a two-stage launcher that can lob 30T into LKO even very early on in career. From that point you can make a "Heavy" version once fuel ducts unlock, and then stretch or even move to an improved upper stage later on for more performance.

Late-game is when reusable launchers come in, and generally is also when the real exploration begins :D

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I guess I'm like many in the mixed approach camp.

My early career is generally single-mission kerballed vehicles and multi-use probes. My Mun/Minmus landings use the landers as return vehicles, I launch tourists in single-use ships I let splash down east of KSC so I don't have to bother with precise landings. I strap a thermometer onto my first Mun/Minmus/Duna relays, so I can take "transmit science data" contracts multiple times if they come up. And my first mission to Duna or Eve tends to be an unkerballed bundle of probes, so I can leave the main NERV-powered one as the main relay for that SOI and use the Spark-powered small probes I've brought on radial decouplers for other missions, e.g. leave one around Eve as a second relay, leave one around Gilly, land one on Gilly, and land the last one on Eve.

But as my tech level goes up, more and more of my tech becomes partially reusable. I launch tankers that mine Minmus for fuel. My transfer stages for missions like Eve, Duna, Dress or Eeloo are basically NERV-driven LF tanks with five docking ports, a probe core, antenae, the whole works, capable of flying the mission and parking back around Kerbin. My obsession about having enough fuel, though, means I always add two expendable drop tanks to a mission load that I let crash into a handy target, like the Mun or Duna, once they're empty.

But I'm not good enough - and too lazy - to build a fully reusable fleet. I'm not *that* cash-strapped. If I have to launch a heavy and costly payload, I'll build an almost-SSTO booster capable of landing back on Kerbin and then I'll strap SRBs onto it that make it capable of flying the mission. I'll launch, let the SRBs do their job, drop them, make it into orbit, release the payload and land the main booster sans those SRBs. To be honest, my playthroughs should rename a part of the sea East of KSC the SRB-bottomed Bay :)

Edited by noname_hero
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My first few launches are with disposable rockets., then I gradually shift to reusable/persistent ones.

The first reusable vehicles are science rovers and survey planes, using the early plane parts.

After unlocking the fairing I start to build reusable rocket lifters.

I mostly stick to space planes when I get to the top of the tech tree.

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21 minutes ago, TheFlyingKerman said:

My first few launches are with disposable rockets., then I gradually shift to reusable/persistent ones.

The first reusable vehicles are science rovers and survey planes, using the early plane parts.

After unlocking the fairing I start to build reusable rocket lifters.

I mostly stick to space planes when I get to the top of the tech tree.

Very much my play style...  I think I only have 2 or 3 rockets that I ever use, and one of them is like the "Alpha-1 Nub Nub" which is basically just the little SRB you are forced to start with at tech node 1.  So really, just 2 disposable stage rockets are all I touch in a career.

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I particularly enjoy designing new launch vehicles and payloads so I tend to build Expendable LV's all the time and rarely use the same design twice.   Space infrastructure is driven by whatever end goal I set myself.  Previous career it was to do a full suite of ScanSat scans and land a probe on every body in the system, so that didn't require much in the way of space stations and fuelling outposts.  One before that was to colonise a distant planet with at least 30 kerbals, so that took a bit more infrastructure.

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On 2/19/2020 at 10:13 AM, Cavscout74 said:

I'm kinda mixed in career.  I've played with reusable craft but after a while they just become a hassle to me - I end up spending as much time landing boosters at KSC as I do anything else.  And even with funds rewards set as low as 30 or even 20%, once your building upgrades are done, the funds savings don't really matter.   Later on in career, I use spaceplanes for crew transfers around Kerbin and around Laythe.   I also have some reusable landers for vacuum worlds/moons and a variant design for Duna.  Oddly, I rarely put reusable landers on Mun or Minmus.   I tend to put relatively large bases on Minmus, Duna, Laythe and sometimes Val.  Moho & Dres will sometimes get a small "emergency" ISRU base. 

Then another update hits, and I end up starting a new career.

Nice

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