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The KSP Caveman Challenge 1.11.x


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1 hour ago, paul_c said:

You can still do contracts though?

Yes you can!  It's a grind, but I always checked contracts before every build.  Even the simple "test this part on the launchpad" was worth the extra 2 or so science points.

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Stated the Nano-Crystalline Challenge.  The settings are extremely limiting; none of the contracts I've seen give any Science awards.  These are the same contracts I relied upon in Normal.  Wow.  But, I've launched twice, and I'm earning some funds now.  And I've taken some EVA reports, and I've got a whopping 3.9 science.  This is going to be a grind, but I think it will be worth it.

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NCD in near-Kerbin space does eventually get to be a grind - which I'm going to narrowly define as repetitive tasks that bring no new rewards.  Up until the final tier, each new tech opens up a new technique, a new ship design, a new source of science so there is a fairly immediate payoff for all the hard work, and you only need to repeat (say a probe Mun landing, or crewed Minmus landing) 3-4 times before the next unlock.

The last 4-5 techs though, the pace slows down.  That can turn into a grind, or you can just go interplanetary and come home with a giant science dump to finish the challenge with the one mission.

Before getting to the frustration point with a NCD run, be sure to read the previous Caveman threads (herehere, here) for tips.  NCD is such a hard challenge mode that it's not really reasonable to think you'll get through it without some community ideas.

My biggest source of NCD frustration was the first hour of play.  Take the initial contracts in the wrong order, and you can get stuck in a hole you can't get out of.  Any death is a game-ender, as reputation essentially goes negative infinity.  So be extremely conservative to start, test your early reentry strategies uncrewed if you can, bring spare parachutes, and really think about what causes your ship to lawn-dart before hitting 'space'

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41 minutes ago, fourfa said:

My biggest source of NCD frustration was the first hour of play.  Take the initial contracts in the wrong order, and you can get stuck in a hole you can't get out of.  Any death is a game-ender, as reputation essentially goes negative infinity.  So be extremely conservative to start, test your early reentry strategies uncrewed if you can, bring spare parachutes, and really think about what causes your ship to lawn-dart before hitting 'space'

Yeah, the whole "Missing Crew Don't Respawn" and "No Flight Reverts" has made me slow way down before launch.  Gotta check the thrust limiters, and make sure I've got the stages correct and all.  It's a grind, and you are right that the first hour is a bit slow and boring.  Once I can unlock the first node I'll be able to start earning more and more science...even if that pace is a bit slow.

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On 1/17/2021 at 2:48 PM, FloppyRocket said:

TALC (Easy Career mode):

So, a progress report.  I got going, flew missions around Kerbin for a while, and unlocked the first three layers of the tech tree. Then I realized that without the ability to launch a scientist to do EVAs and reset the experiments in different Mun and Minmus biomes. it's going to be a real grind getting the fourth layer completed. I have only played in career mode once, and that was a very long time ago.

I have not read any of the previous posts from folks who have completed this challenge, mostly because I wanted to discover what the limitations are from playing in this caveman mode. I really don't want to just grind science on Kerbin or around KSP, but that's an option too.

Update: I've completed five of the 10 tech on level 4. Am currently figuring out if I can get Jeb enough XP to unlock SAS Target mode on the navball, so I can rendezvous in orbit. That would support my strategy of beating the launch pad limitations by assembling a craft with a lander in orbit, for Mun / Minmus landings..

Did not farm for science around KSP, because I find that really boring and slow.

I've flown sub-orbital around Kerbin to several easy biomes (both poles, the desert, and various flatlands). Those had a Science Jr below the command pod, because going sub-orbital the heating is low enough that it doesn't get damaged on re-entry.

Got a lot of science from fly-bys and orbital missions around the Mun. Did not take Science Jr on those missions, as I wasn't sure I could re-enter with it. Two goo, thermometer, and barometer are stuck to the sides of the command pod, since I have to bring the science home on the ship and can't EVA to retrieve it.

Am not playing with any contracts, as I don't really enjoy the parts contracts for trying to hit specific altitude and speed requirements.

After finishing the first three levels, I set up the "25% funds to science" admin strategy, but I don't know if it's doing anything useful.

So, I'm making progress and enjoying the challenge.

Edited by FloppyRocket
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2 hours ago, FloppyRocket said:

Update:

Good stuff, @FloppyRocket!

2 hours ago, FloppyRocket said:

That would support my strategy of beating the launch pad limitations by assembling a craft with a lander in orbit, for Mun / Minmus landings..

Orbital construction.. that's always "fun"..  Just be sure your design allows for the fact that you can't do fuel transfers. That's a mistake I once made with a rather ambitious Mun lander.. it was not a happy day.

On 1/19/2021 at 5:54 AM, paul_c said:

I've started on "hard" caveman challenge. Down to 1 astronaut within the hour....sorry Jeb.....

Welcome to the challenge, @paul_c!

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4 hours ago, JAFO said:

"..  Just be sure your design allows for the fact that you can't do fuel transfers.
 

Really? Oops. Time for a new strategy.

I guess I can still launch two pieces into orbit, if there is some value in that.

Edited by FloppyRocket
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50 minutes ago, FloppyRocket said:

Really? Oops. Time for a new strategy.

I am curious - which KSP feature enables allowing fuel transfer? I didn't find it mentioned in the KSP facility updates.

4 minutes ago, FloppyRocket said:

I am curious - which KSP feature enables allowing fuel transfer? I didn't find it mentioned in the KSP facility updates.

Found it, via the Wiki page on Resources: 

Note: When in career mode, resource transfer is not possible until the R&D facility is at level 2. 

It's also on the KSC page, if you remember that "Fuel transfer" is also referred to as "Resource transfer".

Edited by FloppyRocket
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6 hours ago, FloppyRocket said:

I guess I can still launch two pieces into orbit, if there is some value in that.

Yes, there is still plenty of value in that. The Community Caveman Jool-5 Mission depended heavily on it. The lack of resource transfer just makes Caveman life harder, is all.

Edited by JAFO
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8 hours ago, JAFO said:

Yes, there is still plenty of value in that. The Community Caveman Jool-5 Mission depended heavily on it. The lack of resource transfer just makes Caveman life harder, is all.

Some good news. With Jeb still at level 1, even though I don't have SAS target mode, I still get the Target markers on the nav ball. So it wasn't too difficult to manually dock a lander with a transfer stage that has plenty of fuel for the heavy lifting. I just had to play around with the Ap and Pe in low Kerbin orbit until I got close enough to move in for docking. It was slow work, but Jeb had plenty of snacks.

The unknown tech on this mission for me is that I haven't used the Soyuz style command pods before, and I don't know if they'll make it through re-entry with the goo containers attached after I get back from the Mun. I used the smaller round pod because it saved a bit of mass.

 

Edited by FloppyRocket
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@JAFO

So I decided to start over on the NCD challenge, primarily because I've run out of pilots.  I also noticed some things I wanted to do differently, and I figured it was early enough so it wouldn't matter.  So I created a new game, and I followed the screenshots...but this time I noticed that the starting funds in the screen shots provided are at 0.  I missed that the last time, so I set this and went about my business.

Except that with 0 funds, you can't do anything.  It takes at least 1500 to purchase a capsule and put it on the launch pad.  And with no negative funds, you can't even go into the black.  I took a look at the contracts I had access to, and the 2 with the highest advance don't even get me to 500.  That's a full 1000 less than I need to do anything.

Is this a mistake?  Should we have some form of starting funds for NCD?  Or are we stuck starting over again and again until we get a career with 2 contracts putting the advance at 1500+?

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While waiting for Jafo to respond, I decided to do a Hard career for this challenge.  So in the past 1 hour and 15 minutes (I was in a meeting for ~45 minutes and had to pay attention there instead of here), I went from starting the Hard challenge to unlocking Tiers 2 and 3, and then unlocking Aviation in Tier 4.  Aviation is a key component; with that I can start rolling around the KSC to gather science.  I also just accepted a contract to do a Mun fly-by, which I know I can already do with but another 2 FL-T200's on my current rocket.

I have to say that doing this on Normal first to get my feet wet was crucial.  Knowing here what I learned there is going to make this less daunting than if I'd just started here.

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Still playing on Hard, and I think I'm going to complete it on this difficulty before trying a harder one.  About 60 minutes in this morning, and I've unlocked Advanced Rocketry and Basic Science.  I have to drive around the KSC and finish off a few buildings, and then I get to do a Mun fly-by.  I should have Tier 4 done by this afternoon.

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So I got distracted and wasn't able to complete Tier 4 until yesterday.  Which is fine; sometimes life happens, yeah?  Anyhow, picked up a few "Gather Science From Around [insert location here]" contracts, and was able to pick up my first node in Tier 5:  Electrics.  This is important because I'm going to try doing something I didn't do on Normal, and that's land a probe on the Mun and transmit data back to Kerbin.  I can get into orbit of the Mun with a manned mission, but not enough dV to bring the capsule home.  If I send a probe, I don't have to worry about stranding one of my pilots on the Mun indefinitely.

In addition to this, I decided to put one of the Strategies into action.  On Normal, I noticed that I was picking up funds left and right, but I wasn't really putting them to use.  Knowing now what I didn't then, I know that the funds are easily obtainable from just picking up contracts and flying tourists into sub-orbital flight.  So I picked up an R&D Strategy to give up 5% of the funds I earn in exchange for Science.  I have earned about 1 science point through that (it's like :funds:12k per Science point), so it's not like this is going to speed things up a whole lot.  But I figured I'll give it a shot and see what happens; I may incorporate that into other career games I'm working on.

With that said, still looking for an answer on funds for NCD from @JAFO.

Edited by Popestar
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On 1/21/2021 at 7:23 AM, Popestar said:

@JAFO

So I decided to start over on the NCD challenge, primarily because I've run out of pilots.  I also noticed some things I wanted to do differently, and I figured it was early enough so it wouldn't matter.  So I created a new game, and I followed the screenshots...but this time I noticed that the starting funds in the screen shots provided are at 0.  I missed that the last time, so I set this and went about my business.

Except that with 0 funds, you can't do anything.  It takes at least 1500 to purchase a capsule and put it on the launch pad.  And with no negative funds, you can't even go into the black.  I took a look at the contracts I had access to, and the 2 with the highest advance don't even get me to 500.  That's a full 1000 less than I need to do anything.

Is this a mistake?  Should we have some form of starting funds for NCD?  Or are we stuck starting over again and again until we get a career with 2 contracts putting the advance at 1500+?

No.. that's not a mistake.

There's a reason why, in over 4 years the NCD challenge has existed, only 3 people have completed it. It's tough. Brutal, even.

Possibly, you will have to roll the re-start dice a few times, to get a reasonable contract or two to begin with. Also, since your reputation starts out already in the toilet, and is never going to measurably improve, my understanding is that you have nothing to lose by rejecting any contracts you don't like, until you get some you can work with. That might work out better than a re-start.

Also, I REALLY DO hope you've taken the advice offered earlier, and read through the accounts of the three cavemen who've successfully completed NCD. Particularly that of the first to do so, @IncongruousGoat, who made his account quite detailed, in the hope it might be of help to others.

Here are more direct links to where their accounts begin:

IncongruousGoat: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/172293-a-harder-edge-nanocrystalline-diamond-caveman-challenge-attempt-chapter-9-the-home-stretch-done/
dvader: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/175894-caveman-the-making-of-another-nanocrystalline-diamond/
zanie420: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/167195-the-ksp-caveman-challenge-13x-110x-re-booted/&do=findComment&comment=3527713

 

Best of luck!

Oh.. and @Popestar, my apologies for the long delay responding.. I've been ill the past few days, and hadn't gotten online.

Edited by JAFO
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Yeah, I will have to read through @IncongruousGoat's posting to get a better idea.  I was primarily making sure the funds were right.  I'm just not sure how to even launch a single vessel without any funds; I may have to reject contracts until I can get at least some advanced funding.

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Diamond and NCD are brutal.

With regard to funds, the money maker is mun temperature/crew survey missions, re-usability* and exploration missions, and never, ever let a science instrument burn :)

*It is possible to recover reliant/swivel based rockets in diamond/ncd from LK orbit.  Mun returns are trickier but doable. Recovering terrier based upper stages is also possible from Mun, but it's really tricky and getting to 0EC is death.

Edited by Muetdhiver
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So I'm reading through IG's NCD run, and I'm confused.  How is he getting multiple EVA, Crew, and Goo reports in a single launch?  Is this a function of a release prior to or after 1.8?  Or is the Science gain from transmission the same as just returning, so he's transmitting everything back?  Or am I missing something in his documentation?

Edited by Popestar
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3 minutes ago, Popestar said:

So I'm reading through IG's NCD run, and I'm confused.  How is he getting multiple EVA, Crew, and Goo reports in a single launch?  Is this a function of a release prior to or after 1.8?  Or is the Science gain from transmission the same as just returning, so he's transmitting everything back?  Or am I missing something in his documentation?

There's a couple of semi-sneaky things I did to get as much science as possible out of science rollers. Here's the full procedure I used:

1. Very carefully roll the science roller over to the target biome
2. Collect 1 crew report and 1 Mystery Goo
3. Have Bob go on EVA & collect EVA science
4. Have Bob retrieve the science from every container and store it into one of the capsules
5. Collect the other Goo
6. Have Bob take the science from that Goo experiment and store it in the other capsule
7. Use Bob's scientist powers to restore both Goo experiments
8. Get Bob back in his capsule
9. Go to step 1

One additional thing to note is that, if you get rolling fast enough while traveling between biomes, you can sometimes get "flying over <insert space center biome here>" science, which is worth more than ground science.

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16 minutes ago, IncongruousGoat said:

There's a couple of semi-sneaky things I did to get as much science as possible out of science rollers. Here's the full procedure I used:

1. Very carefully roll the science roller over to the target biome
2. Collect 1 crew report and 1 Mystery Goo
3. Have Bob go on EVA & collect EVA science
4. Have Bob retrieve the science from every container and store it into one of the capsules
5. Collect the other Goo
6. Have Bob take the science from that Goo experiment and store it in the other capsule
7. Use Bob's scientist powers to restore both Goo experiments
8. Get Bob back in his capsule
9. Go to step 1

One additional thing to note is that, if you get rolling fast enough while traveling between biomes, you can sometimes get "flying over <insert space center biome here>" science, which is worth more than ground science.

I never thought to use Bob when not launching unto the sky.  I always use a pilot because of SAS, but thats not needed if you don't leave the ground.

Thanks!

Edited by Popestar
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4 hours ago, Popestar said:

So I'm reading through IG's NCD run, and I'm confused.  How is he getting multiple EVA, Crew, and Goo reports in a single launch?  Is this a function of a release prior to or after 1.8?  Or is the Science gain from transmission the same as just returning, so he's transmitting everything back?  Or am I missing something in his documentation?

Another fun trick - if you get a Kerbal to jump, then run the EVA report while they're in the air, then you'll get the Flying low EVA report (which is per biome).

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On 1/20/2021 at 10:45 AM, FloppyRocket said:

Some good news. With Jeb still at level 1, even though I don't have SAS target mode, I still get the Target markers on the nav ball. So it wasn't too difficult to manually dock a lander with a transfer stage that has plenty of fuel for the heavy lifting. I just had to play around with the Ap and Pe in low Kerbin orbit until I got close enough to move in for docking. It was slow work, but Jeb had plenty of snacks.

The unknown tech on this mission for me is that I haven't used the Soyuz style command pods before, and I don't know if they'll make it through re-entry with the goo containers attached after I get back from the Mun. I used the smaller round pod because it saved a bit of mass.

 

Update: I completed all four tech tree layers, almost without realizing it. I got focused on trying to tweak the margins for doing a rendezvous-a-lander-in-LKO with a transfer stage (to get a boost for a Mun landing), that I didn't notice I already had enough science to buy all four layers minus about 1 unit, so I farmed some science from the Crawlerway and completed it.

But I don't feel like I did a very good job documenting things, so I might start over and do a clean run, now that I know the pitfalls.

One other interesting thing I observed along the way (but ultimately didn't use) - although fuel transfer isn't allowed, crossfeed still works. I found this out by accident when I had the lander and transfer stage docked, with one engine disabled, but the other was drawing fuel from both sets of tanks.

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7 hours ago, Popestar said:

I never thought to use Bob when not launching unto the sky.  I always use a pilot because of SAS, but thats not needed if you don't leave the ground.

Thanks!

If you look closely at @IncongruousGoat's screenshots using the Science Roller, you'll see that both Jeb and Bob are aboard. Even on the ground, SAS can come in handy at times. Some designs of roller can be quite twitchy without it.

 

50 minutes ago, FloppyRocket said:

Update: I completed all four tech tree layers, almost without realizing it. I got focused on trying to tweak the margins for doing a rendezvous-a-lander-in-LKO with a transfer stage (to get a boost for a Mun landing), that I didn't notice I already had enough science to buy all four layers minus about 1 unit, so I farmed some science from the Crawlerway and completed it.

But I don't feel like I did a very good job documenting things, so I might start over and do a clean run, now that I know the pitfalls.

Congratulations on getting it done! As for a do-over, that's your call. But feel free to submit what documentation you have from the first attempt, if you like. We'll let you know if it was sufficient.

Also, how did the Soyuz style re-entry capsules work out for you? I'm in the middle of a Hard run myself right now, and while I did glance at them, I opted to use the good ol' Mk1 Command Pod instead.

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