Soylent_keen

Essential Gameplay Mods

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Sorry for the double post as I added this to another thread already, but wanted to tease this content out into its own thread so it might get more attention.  Of course this is my own personal opinion.

I have been playing KSP since beta and touch back into the game at least once a year to run a new space program and over the years I have my list of (more or less) essential mods I use whenever I can when playing KSP.  A combination of several types of mods but collectively they greatly improve my overall experience with the game.  While yes, all these are mods, having to rely on mods for what I would consider base game play leads to an unreliable experience patch to patch.  Many of these mods listed below play into each other and really expand on the science elements (more variety has always been better for me), or more meaningfully expand on the kerbals themselves.  I find I care much more about the game when I have to consider the needs of the kerbals themselves, giving them a meaningful purpose to be included, and really ups the immersion and realism factor up for me.  Factoring in things like life support and basic needs seems pretty obvious to me.  They are their own life forms and needing basic necessities of life (whatever that means to them) seems pretty basic as leaving a kerbal in a can orbiting a planet for years seems improbable to me.  Besides the needs, actually giving them a purpose!  Attaching fuel lines, deploying science experiments, or doing science in labs (vs transmitting science back) are all really meaningful to me in KSP.   I think it should be optional to add this but for me I have far less investment in the game without having some collection of these mods below added to my program.

*SCANSat: Basically the first mod I ever load.  Greatly enhances the unmanned phase of my exploration.  Gives a meaningful purpose for sending out probes and playing with orbits so I can map out a planet and use that information for planning ahead to my landing phases (maned or unmanned).
KAS (Kerbal Attachment System): Basically an essential mod for me.  I love the aspect of having my kerbal's function in a reasonable way.  Gives them a more meaningful purpose to actually send manned mission beyond planting a flag.
KIS (Kerbal Inventory System): Basically an essential mod for me.  I love the aspect of having my kerbal's function in a reasonable way.  Gives them a more meaningful purpose to actually send manned mission beyond planting a flag.

USI Life Support: Kerbals gotta eat!  In my mind this is a necessary/essential element to my game play.  Needing to factor in the needs of my kerbals into my ship designs and overall space program adds a realistic and fun challenge.  Makes the Kerbals more meaningful from a sandbox perspective.  Base game makes them feel much more like cargo.

*MechJeb: Pretty much an essential mod.  Being able to autopilot operations means I can walk away at times (for life reasons), or have an autopilot handle some of the trickier maneuvers I am not good at.  Greatly improves my enjoyment of the game and I consider to be essential to my gameplay.
Kerbal Engineer Redux: should really be base functionality.
Chatterer: Just makes for a funner, and more immersive game play experience.
Easy Vessel Switch (EVS): should be base functionality.
Community Tech Tree: Quality of Life (QOL) 
TextureReplacer: Nice to be able to personalize my kerbals more.
USI Kolonization Systems (MKS/OKS): I only play with this lightly, mainly for the expanded parts so I have more base type elements to build.  I believe much of this is being addressed in KSP2 already.
Transfer Window Planner: Quality of Life (QOL) 
Maneuver Node Evolved: Just makes flying better.
[x] Science!: Basically anything that adds more "science" type things I will add to my game.  Exploration and science is the name of the game for me, and doing it in a way that I keep my kerbal's alive.
JSI Advanced Transparent Pods: Just a fun aspect to add, though mod support is spotty, so has limited effect.
Magic Smoke Industries Infernal Robotics: Having this type of functionality I really wish was base game.  The mod itself I have never had reliable results with and usually ditch it, but having robotic arms (etc), would be a fantastic addition to the game.
Science Alert: Quality of Life (QOL) 
Contracts Window +: Quality of Life (QOL) 
Field Training Lab (FTL): Expands on the focus I like to have with Kerbal's themselves.  The base game has a fantastic focus on the ship building/flying/etc, so having more attention on the kerbals themselves is fantastic to me.
KSP Craft Organizer: Quality of Life (QOL) 
WorldStabilizer: Hopefully won't be needed in KSP 2
DMagic Orbital Science Presents: Probe and Rover Science Pack: Again, more science!!

Kerbal Planetary Base Systems: Just more parts and the aesthetics are really nice.  Plays well with USI Life support.
OPT Space Plane Parts: Just love this parts pack.  Makes for some fantastic large scale designs.
Tarsier Space Technology Continued: Again, more science
DeepFreeze Continued: Expands on the focus I like to have with Kerbal's themselves.  The base game has a fantastic focus on the ship building/flying/etc, so having more attention on the kerbals themselves is fantastic to me.
Surface Experiment Pack - Deployable science for KIS/KAS!: Frankly an essential mod for me.  Gives kerbals a reason to be on a surface.
Universal Storage II: Just really love and appreciate the molecularity of this mod pack.

 

Thanks for the read!

 

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Are you suggesting these to others? Lobbying for them to be made stock? 

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5 minutes ago, Vanamonde said:

Are you suggesting these to others? Lobbying for them to be made stock? 

Yeah, I don't know what conversation OP is trying to create with this post either.

Yes, these mods are fun... 

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Apologies, yes I guess I was posting as I would like to have them (or similar) considered to be included in ksp2, rather than relying on mods. 

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Many of these mods I do NOT find essential while others that I do were not included. Some I would really NOT like to be included in the game. Still others we can't even say would be a useful addition because we don't know how gameplay will work in KSP2. Will we even be right-clicking thermometers at random places to gather points? And will those points unlock parts? We don't know.

I won't go one-by-one because that will make this post super negative :)

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I would argue that no mods are ever 'essential' as the game has always been playable without them.  Especially so now Dv calculation is in stock.

Yes, some make gameplay easier or harder, more complex, or just 'prettier'.  We all use the ones that make it better and more enjoyable for us personally.

I would agree some of those in this 'list' i would like to see integrated, but if they are not then so be it, most of them I personally am not too bothered about.  I will do the same as I have with KSP1, just take it as it comes, see how it is and add the few mods I may want.

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Posted (edited)

One of the mod I consider the most usefull (even for otherwise stock game) is kerbal alarm clock. It is really hard to manage more than one mission at once without it. I hope something similar will be stock for KSP2.

I agree with the OP for some more mods that seem simple enough to be embedded into stock. Those mods do not add (much) complexity and can improve the experience for anyone :

  • Scansat is really usefull. It is also an excellent reason of launching into polar orbits. However, by showing the biomes it removes a bit of the exploration fun to turn it into a race, roaming all biomes to get MOAR science. But that's more due to stock science system than to scansat.
  • Kerbal Engineer : nice utility, but nothing a good interface cannot do. Stock tools are not perfect, but they have improved a lot.
  • Transfer Window Planner : is a good utility, but learning to estimate the transfer windows from the system map is also interesting for newcomers, it helps understanding things like "why the return trip from mars is longer than the way in ?". I do use it, but mainly because I'm running multiple missions at the same time and I "pin" all the next windows available to me to help on mission choice. Without kerbal alarm clock, I am not sure I would use this mod.

For other stuff (life support, automation with mechjeb or scripting, ui design), I consider it is a true game design choice : some player do want it, some are against. The choices are either to not include it, or to make it toggleable. I am not a big fan of toogleable stuff : I like when the base gameplay is the same for everyone, it makes learning and sharing easier. Developpers should never count on modders to end their work, but thay can see how active the community is, give the good tools to enable people to add more diverse gameplay mechanics and focus on making the gameplay fun, keep high modularity and high performance.

Of course that is also just a point of view, but I believe that KSP is meant to be relatively simple, to enable casual players to have fun while understanding a bit better space stuff :) That's why I would be surprised to see complex life support or principia like physics :sticktongue:

Edited by Altaille

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A few of those seem like good things to have as stock features- the transfer window planner and KAC for sure, otherwise doing interstellar missions would be vastly more difficult (judging transfers to other planets 'by eye' is hard enough, never mind other solar systems!) and KAC is one of the best QoL mods out there in my opinion as it makes it much harder to miss a critical maneuver node. I also use SCANsat as it's a way to get some science and some nice maps in a more realistic way than the default resource scanner and the rather cumbersome KerbNet system, plus the new parts in the most recent version look really nice.

I rarely plan my own maneuvers any more, letting MechJeb do the hard work for me including rendezvousing and docking, but it consistently tries to fly into the targeted planet/moon rather than just to it and the aircraft autopilot has a tendency to make sudden violent maneuvers resulting in the detachment of various wings and other lifting surfaces. Science Alert and x Science are helpful to a point but Science Alert doesn't seem to do alerts when you already have some of the science completed and sent back to Kerbin and x Science often gets confused about what experiments have or haven't been completed and where they can be performed (it repeatedly suggested that I could do an experiment on Kerbin's surface that only works in a solar orbit, and on many occasions seems to lose all the experiments I've already completed and thinks they're not done when they are).

Some of the others, though, are mods that I haven't used or tried but dropped- KAS was useful up to a point, KIS not so much, but since Breaking Ground added something broadly similar, I wouldn't be hugely surprised if some kind of Kerbal inventory was added to KSP2 with deployable science stuff or possibly related to colony building; I don't see a huge need for lots of science parts if the science system is the same as KSP ie complete the tech tree without even having to leave low Kerbin orbit, but if there are different types of science that different experiments can gather than I'd expect an expansion of the stock science parts; life support I'm not bothered by at all as I don't use it, the only one I've tried before is Snacks! which is as basic as it gets; base building isn't a priority to me given the emphasis on colony building in KSP2 which would almost certainly include base building parts in it too as a precursor to a full-on colony.

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For me it's kerbalism, I will not play KSP without it, the added complexity makes the game just that much more enjoyable and difficult! 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/21/2020 at 1:22 PM, SoRobby said:

For me it's kerbalism, I will not play KSP without it, the added complexity makes the game just that much more enjoyable and difficult! 

I love kerbalism too but the complexity of it seems a bit much for base game. REALLY hoping they adopt its method of data collection though (kerbalism-science config). Makes the experiments more interactive in a way, needing to hold a condition is way better than just getting to it for a moment.

Edited by mcwaffles2003

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On 5/20/2020 at 11:18 PM, jimmymcgoochie said:

(judging transfers to other planets 'by eye' is hard enough, never mind other solar systems!)

Actually, to other solar systems you just point at them and burn. Stars will likely be static, and in reality, while they do orbit, their relative movement is insignificant on a human (or Kerbal) time scale. Interstellar exploration is generally talked about in terms of constant thrust trajectories, due to this. They're so far away that using orbital mechanics around galaxy's core is completely unfeasible.

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On 5/19/2020 at 12:16 PM, Soylent_keen said:

While yes, all these are mods, having to rely on mods for what I would consider base game play leads to an unreliable experience patch to patch.

I urge you to change your perspective. KSP (and KSP2) are made to be modded. That's why stock is so lackluster. You have full ability to customize the game to fit your play style. Baking in lots of mods into toggle-able options in stock only makes for a huge bloat for the players who don't want them. And if you can play in a particular single version of KSP for years, then copy it out of Steam so that it can't auto-update and break the mods.

Some strong points for why mods exist and will never become stock:

  • You like USI LS. But I like WBI Snacks. And all of those guys over there like TAC. The non-USI players are gonna hate it when USI is baked in.
  • MechJeb is a very complicated mod that many players might never use, as these players don't even leave Kerbin's atmosphere. Moreover, KSP still tries to be easy for Joe Average to get into. A HUD mod like this will turn people off quickly with information overload-- optional information that Joe Average likely won't understand and won't care to try to understand.
  • USI MKS.... Hell no. That's one of those mods that's just too big and changes KSP into an entirely different experience. By far most of us just want to "Build. Launch. Fly." ;) Related, this is why there's still no stock LS, and won't be in KSP2.
  • Robotics: Note the obvious reason that Squad released this as a DLC. The base game is one small purchase and free updates for life, and is moddable. That's not very "profitable" when you're on the side of the creator of a product or service vs the side of the end user trying to pick a game to blow their salary on. Robotics (if you forget that Infernal Robotics exists) is a great opportunity to deliver something that mods haven't done or mods can't do, in order to be able to gain a little $$.
  • OPT Spaceplane Parts: As its maintainer I don't need to (but I choose to) tell you I love this mod suite very, very much...But I wouldn't want it in stock. Having it stock will put a large dent in how creative and forward a spaceplane parts mod can get vs stock sci-fi plane parts. And as an owner of a potato PC, it hurts when I restart KSP frequently in order to troubleshoot stuff that have nothing to do with OPT, and I'm full aware that the weight of its textures is slowing KSP's startup. (Well. OPT and OPT Legacy. I bet you don't use Legacy so you're better off)
    • Rather, if X-33 or its big brother, the Venture Star was stock, that would be great and would be incredibly appropriate for the time frame in KSP. It was actually 90% completed when it was cancelled so it's not sci-fi but it's an amazing technological achievement and something that spaceplane junkies and historical rocket nerds could rally around together......meanwhile, there's the barely there Skylon and ye olde Mk3 Shuttle.
  • KSP 1.10's Ariane series parts: I'm not a historical rockets nerd so I'm personally highly averse to a new suite of rocket parts coming to stock. (The modding community provides several great options already: Near Future Launch Vehicles, SpaceY, KW Rocketry... and in particular, the French mod maker @Well has done his share to represent the ESA.) The stock game is so inefficient with its many redundant tanks, or huge gaps in tank options, and no built-in fuel switching, and overall very poorly optimized textures making KSP waste video memory. Now there's going to be more of that with stock ESA parts. And we don't know yet how many parts there are, therefore their impact on performance.

Mods break depending on how deeply they reach into the game's core code, and it's not the mods' fault when they break. It's that too much is kept private inside the game and it's illegal to go in really deep. A lot of people who see mods as a plague and a curse will never get to know this, and that's a very sad situation. But Squad has put in great effort to ensure that mods are less likely to break when updates happen. The only reasons they break now are the huge Unity engine update under KSP 1.8, and the terrain shader matters that have stalled Kopernicus.

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Posted (edited)

That's just my argument for why mods (as a whole) won't be made stock. When they do become stock, that's Squad going along with one or two very attracting points and the most basic features of those mods. That's completely fine...like a better stock inventory system (the DLC thing is kinda lame. It only supports its own parts. But... the premise of extracting planetary level science over time is epic). There has been talk of rather than having a whole LS system, have just the underlying hooks and features that LS mods could plug into and become even better and more immersive and stable. And I can't say no to some of those (other) QoL mods like Easy Vessel Switch. Why is THAT not stock yet? Literally everyone will agree on that mod when they have more than 3 separate things in physics range at once.

Edited by JadeOfMaar

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4 hours ago, Dragon01 said:

Actually, to other solar systems you just point at them and burn. Stars will likely be static, and in reality, while they do orbit, their relative movement is insignificant on a human (or Kerbal) time scale. Interstellar exploration is generally talked about in terms of constant thrust trajectories, due to this. They're so far away that using orbital mechanics around galaxy's core is completely unfeasible.

It would be useful to have something that tells you when to flip and start your retroburn. You know, so you don't overshoot the planet/star you're going to.

Interplanetary transfers you can eyeball it if you must. Interstellar transfers, the scales required for the zoom could lead to large errors and you could miss your target.

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We'll have planning for constant thrust trajectories, they've been specifically said to be a thing in KSP2. 

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12 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

We'll have planning for constant thrust trajectories, they've been specifically said to be a thing in KSP2. 

Yes they did. You will have to start to slow down well before you reach your target or you will overshoot it. 

You can try this in KSP if you want. From Kerbin's orbit, do a direct thrust to the mun. If you don't turn and slow down well before it, you will either overshoot it or crash on it. If you don't want to try it yourself, I know that Scott Manley has a video of him doing the to the mun and back challenge which demonstrates what in talking about.

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2 hours ago, JadeOfMaar said:

I urge you to change your perspective. KSP (and KSP2) are made to be modded. That's why stock is so lackluster.

And did anyone working on KSP 1 or 2 ever say this? 

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32 minutes ago, Bej Kerman said:

And did anyone working on KSP 1 or 2 ever say this? 

One of the original devs (HarvesteR? or Felipe? I can never remember) for KSP1. And Nate Simpson of Star Theory for KSP2 both said it.

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On 5/23/2020 at 12:43 AM, mcwaffles2003 said:

I love kerbalism too but the complexity of it seems a bit much for base game. REALLY hoping they adopt its method of data collection though (kerbalism-science config). Makes the experiments more interactive in a way, needing to hold a condition is way better than just getting to it for a moment.

Defiantly agree,  it is very complex in certain areas and can easily see where players will dislike Kerbalism (radiation damage to kerbals, stress?). I really hope KSP2 adds better science transfer and takes a bit more time to transmit data. I'd love if they added all these features but put it in settings to either add into the game if wanted - but the majority of players will likely not use it.

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On 5/23/2020 at 10:57 PM, JadeOfMaar said:

Mods break depending on how deeply they reach into the game's core code, and it's not the mods' fault when they break. It's that too much is kept private inside the game and it's illegal to go in really deep. A lot of people who see mods as a plague and a curse will never get to know this, and that's a very sad situation. But Squad has put in great effort to ensure that mods are less likely to break when updates happen. The only reasons they break now are the huge Unity engine update under KSP 1.8, and the terrain shader matters that have stalled Kopernicus

Isn't this why a game "build for modding" has a few of the base systems being discussed in place?

The more you leave things to modders the deeper in to the core game code they need to reach the more breaks with each decent sized release. I mean a game build for modding should have well documented hook to hang the obvious mods on and to rely on so they don't break each time. If not then well in wasn't built for modding it just wasn't build to stop modding (KSP1 is definitely in the later group).

I'd be hopeful KSP2 is actually "built for modding" dev diaries sure lead me to think it is, better hooks, better interface with the game state,,.... lots and lots of documentation.

So for example - I'd also hope some more basic systems were built in as simple extensible cycles that even the core engine builds on.  Ie. Engines (Propellant + Accelerant -> Thrust -> Smoke), Life support (Supplies -> Work + Waste), Kerbals (Skill + Work -> Action),  Mining ( Situation + Power -> Mass), Resources (Mass + Power -> Stuff for other cycles), and so on....

Then mods can extend those point without needing to supplant the core mechnic. Also mods can target any point and just deal in that item without risk of tripping over another mod unless it too targets that point at the same time.

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don't care for mechjeb, 

having something like kOS (maybe with a "Scratch" or "Greenfoot" like interface) would be good though.

shouldn't just be able to autopilot your way stock.

 

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4 hours ago, betaking said:

don't care for mechjeb, 

having something like kOS (maybe with a "Scratch" or "Greenfoot" like interface) would be good though.

shouldn't just be able to autopilot your way stock.

 

But all space flights are controlled by computers. Now, a person has to take control only when the mission falls out of the set parameters or if there is a computer failure. 

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13 hours ago, shdwlrd said:

But all space flights are controlled by computers. Now, a person has to take control only when the mission falls out of the set parameters or if there is a computer failure. 

yeah exactly hence why I think having a drag-and-drop-block-style programming language (once again like scratch) would work quite well, it would be computer controlled but up the user to program said computer rather than just maneuver to XYZ orbit for me, and lead to a lot more care/thought being put into a rocket design in order to make it easier for the program to work with.

 

Having Used KOS there's a deep satisfaction from programming a successful launch;

(in my case getting a kerbalized Delta-IV-Heavy to automatically fly a stack of 3 communications relays into a keostationary-transfer-orbit. (a challenge made more difficult by unexplained bugs and FAR, granted)). 

I recognize that there's some shortcomings to KOS as a system that would probably be resolved via having a visual language that could find errors etc. pre-launch.

in short, yes computers do launch rockets, but something like mechjeb makes launching rockets far too easy.

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4 hours ago, betaking said:

yeah exactly hence why I think having a drag-and-drop-block-style programming language (once again like scratch) would work quite well, it would be computer controlled but up the user to program said computer rather than just maneuver to XYZ orbit for me, and lead to a lot more care/thought being put into a rocket design in order to make it easier for the program to work with.

You also have to account for the players who don't want to, or can't program. You also have to understand that there are players that are lazy. They don't want to spend time before they do a mission to code all the maneuvers they will need to complete their mission. They will either do the whole mission by hand, or will find something the does all the maneuvering for them.

Yes, there is a good learning potential with something like KOS. But a good portion of the players can't/won't use something like that. 

Can there be something in between KOS and MechJeb that can be done, well yes. But when you have programmed all the modules you would need to execute your mission, you've basically recreated MechJeb by hand, without the GUI.

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30 minutes ago, shdwlrd said:

You also have to account for the players who don't want to, or can't program. You also have to understand that there are players that are lazy. They don't want to spend time before they do a mission to code all the maneuvers they will need to complete their mission. They will either do the whole mission by hand, or will find something the does all the maneuvering for them.

Yes, there is a good learning potential with something like KOS. But a good portion of the players can't/won't use something like that. 

Can there be something in between KOS and MechJeb that can be done, well yes. But when you have programmed all the modules you would need to execute your mission, you've basically recreated MechJeb by hand, without the GUI.

I'm against a full-on mechjeb implementation as a stock feature.

Again I'm not saying implement a stock KOS where you have to type programs by hand but a visual programming language like "Scratch", where you can drag and drop blocks 

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