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Metallic hydrogen and the responsibilities of an educational game


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WARNING: This thread contains trace amounts of metallic hydrogen and other choking hazards.



Before going into the hearth of the debate I would make some useful premises to avoid wasting time repeating a discussion that’s already been done elsewhere:

  • Metallic hydrogen is useful as rocket fuel only if it is metastable at decent temperatures and pressures.
  • Recent experimental results seem to suggest that metallic hydrogen is not metastable or at least that the seventies models that predicted its metastability are woefully wrong.

If you don’t agree with said premises I invite you to at least read the year-long discussion that’s going on here.
I’m not saying that you’re not welcome discussing that here, only that probably what you’re about to say has already been said and argued over there.

An ulterior premise is that I’m not trying to take a neutral position, the following bits represents my personal opinion on the matter and they’re just a mean to start a place where we can have an healthy  debate about the addition of unrealistic technologies in KSP2, were to draw the line between a 100% realistic simulator versus starting the tech tree with a TARDIS and what are the responsibilities about teaching science of a game marketed as educational, that’s why this topic belongs here, in this forum section and why I’ve not made a simple poll with some basic questions like “do you really like the pink exhaust”.


The responsibilities of an educational game

I always made clear that I don’t think the developers have any responsibility about the science, the engineering and the technologies they put in KSP2, sometimes even disregarding the whole thing as “an argument over the flavor text of some engine” and here’s why: I think it’s not a simulator nor an educational software, it’s a game. 

The “educational” part comes from the fact that somehow it helps you visualize and understand orbital mechanics, space travel and orbital maneuvering like no other book, academic lesson or expert can do, not from the accuracy of the presented setting (little green people messing with rockets in a miniature solar system).

That’s what I expect from the game and the standard I expect KSP2 to live up to.

That’s the difference I see between the ⅓ scale and the lack of orbital mechanics of other games or between any FTL or teleporting technology and metallic hydrogen or an eventual Kerbstein Drive which I expect to behave like respectively OP variants of chemical propulsion and Daedalus drives.

On top of that KSP2 is set in some generic “near future” and as a result of that is going to dabble with some very speculative science and engineering, if anything I think the standards for realism and scientific accuracy are expected to be lower than KSP1.


Realism vs gameplay

Another side of the metallic hydrogen debate is the realism vs gameplay argument, I never made a mystery that I put gameplay over everything else, that’s because of the aforementioned position of considering KSP a game first and, as a game, it’s already difficult enough to balance things like difficulty, engagement, level of grind and balancing without having excessive realism as a constraint.

After all I think the game has to “feel believable” while maintaining an enjoyable level of challenge and not just add a ton of boring chores and endless grind for the sake of extreme realism.


As a conclusion and recap I don't have any problem with the metallic hydrogen technology even assuming it's a 100% made-up tech because I don't expect the game to be anywhere near scientifically accurate and I don't think the problem of people thinking "but it works in Kerbal!" reside in KSP itself. 

If you think I’ve written something wrong feel free to correct me, I hope I made clear enough that this is not some supposed “neutral position” but just my opinion.

What do you think?*

*yes, I know, I'm using the most chiché engagement tactic possible, kill me.

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Metallic Hydrogen doesn't work? I didn't know that.:/

As for the realism of engines, they seem to be trying to keep it realistic while balancing it for fun gameplay. I think you are right that gameplay is key, while sneaking in educational material. 

The game should focus on good gameplay, but that said, they should not put in warp drives, teleporters, and sci-fi ridiculousness. The game should be based in reality. So far everything we have seen points to that. 

4 minutes ago, Master39 said:

starting the tech tree with a TARDIS

I wish!:cool:

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I think metallic hydrogen was added as it was an very hot topic for an time who was also then they set down the meta for KSP 2. 

Some indications from the VAB menu screenshot who has an radiation icon together with the center of mass lift and trust, that nuclear engines who is all from LV-N up to orion and advanced fusion engines will have restrictions, you will need heavy shielding and/ or distance as in the hard scifi long ships to get the engine far away. 

You can not strap two LV-N on the side of an hitchhiker with an fuel tank on top for an nice lander to jump between Jool moons anymore, done that :) 
So metallic hydrogen has an niche in the game play as high performance non nuclear engines, granted its hard to produce. 

Also lots of the other engines are also speculations, orion pulse nuclear probably works but it was an paper project, we can however not make an fusion engine who don't need to be feed power to run. 
And no I don't like metallic hydrogen myself, but the engine on the big starship is also questionable. 


However its extremely epic. 

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