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My First Hard Mode Career Playthrough


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For some reason, I've almost never played KSP in sandbox mode. I started with science mode because I felt overwhelmed with having every part all at once not even knowing how to play yet. Then I moved on to career mode once that was introduced. I almost exclusively played on normal difficulty, shying away from the permadeath and nerfed science/money rewards offered by higher difficulties.

After getting back into this (without much struggle) after a 2-3 year hiatus, I feel like I'm "good enough" to at least give hard mode a shot and decided to chronicle my adventures. These are pretty heavily edited to eliminate the inherent downtime in this game. I try my best to explain some of the stuff I do, as somewhat of a tutorial...but I'm certainly no expert. Anyway, feel free to have a look and maybe even give some pointers. This is the only episode currently published, but I've already recorded enough that I'm starting to get some "Explore Eve" contracts. I've gotten much more used to the game, but I know I still play rather inefficiently due not truly understanding the finer points of space travel, haha. New episodes will publish on Sundays.

 

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Posted (edited)

Episode two of my hard mode playthrough is now live. To summarize: we send Valentina on a flyby of the moon, but run out of fuel and trap her in orbit around Kerbin...for the time being, anyway. I  decide to send Jeb after her, without any kind of flight planning available, but then get distracted and decide to send him over to the moon as well. His flyby of the moon ends up with a free return to Kerbin, adjusting the Pe a bit for more friendly aerobraking. Meanwhile, Valentina's craft gets recaptured into a collision course of the Mun. But with no fuel, how can I save her??

 

Edited by Gamera Obscura
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Thanks to her jetpack, Valentina is able to end up in an orbit around Mun. It's a crappy orbit, but at least she's alive. With Valentina's safety assured, it's up to Jeb to collect as much science and funding as he can for our fledgling space program...but he apparently can't help but break stuff just for fun. When he's done screwing around, we upgrade Mission Control and send him to the surface of Mun (still without flight planning) to fulfill several contracts at the same time. He lands safely, becoming the first kerbal to set foot on another celestial body...but it might just be the last body he touches for quite some time.

 

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I finally build up enough funds to upgrade things enough to get flight planning so I can complete some rescue missions. But with both pilots stranded in space, and not enough funding to hire another one, Bill takes some drastic measures to save the entire space program from going belly up. Fortunately for him, it works (even if just barely), because the penalties for stealing a rocket and flying without a license are pretty severe. The rescue missions are lucrative  enough as it is, but when you factor in the money saved by getting free astronauts, they're almost completely broken.  Jeb and Valentina are still stuck out there, but at least the prospects of bringing them home are a lot less grim.

 

Edited by Gamera Obscura
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With flight planning and an actual pilot, it's time to try bringing Jeb and Val back home. To recap, Val was stranded on EVA in a garbage orbit around the Mun while Jeb was actually still on the surface. The newly acquired and quite heroic pilot parked himself in orbit of the Mun while Jeb used up all the fuel left on his craft to get into orbit and make the rendezvous as fuel efficient as possible for the rescue craft. Even still, there was barely enough fuel to get back home safely.  Jeb, the hero that he is, immediately prepares for a return to space to rescue Valentina and...some other guy. 

 

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Using some new parts that became available after rescuing Jeb, it's time to start building some real rockets and go to Minmus (and beyond?). Oh, yeah...Val still needs to be rescued doesn't she? Turns out some other guy got stranded around the Mun as well (per a contract). Jeb is horrified to discover that Val and the other guy are traveling in opposite directions around the Mun. No matter: he quickly realized he could simply grab Val, fly out to Minmus, and then go back to the Mun. That way, he could approach the Mun the same direction as the stranded kerbals' respective orbits each time. His flight plan is very inefficient, but it works. What's the rush anyway? Space is beautiful. Or was it all a sneaky plan to spend some quality time with his best lady friend, before the 5th wheel climbs on board? Either way, it all goes off without a hitch and the three pilots make it home safe and sound. As an added bonus, the program has earned enough money to upgrade the woefully inadequate VAB.

 

 

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Having done some rescue missions to build up some funds, it's time to go to Minmus for real. I suppose we can rescue some more astronauts though, because the contracts were very lucrative. After a scare at launch -- the rocket almost tipped over before launch -- everything came together quite nicely. Even though I encountered Minmus going the wrong way relative to the stranded astronauts, I was able to set up a maneuver with one of them while setting up my first correction burn. With that done, rescuing the 2nd one was just trivial. And, as if I weren't lucky enough, one of them was a scientist, meaning I could reset my science apparatus for even more gains.

After all that, it was time to land on Minmus. Learning my lesson, we used the "grabby towers" to ensure stability at launch. As you know, landing on Minmus is a lot easier than landing on the Mun, so there's nothing special to report. Jeb did have a lot of fun doing a little bit of biome hopping to grab more science, though. Unfortunately, the craft ran out of electric charge (who knew the Terrier didn't have an alternator??) so Jeb parked himself in orbit and awaits rescue...once again.

 

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It's time for Valentina to rescue Jeb from orbit over Minmus. Everything was going well until she got distracted with non-essential communications in the cockpit and missed the end of her burn. She recovered nicely and Jeb was able to board the lander can, remembering to take all of his sweet, sweet science with him.  The return to Kerbin was almost ruined by flying around the Mun the wrong way, but Valentina noticed this error in time and everyone returned home safely despite a design flaw in the rocket that briefly had her questioning whether the parachutes could slow down the craft enough.

Valentina immediately returned to space -- again without batteries on her craft(!!) -- simply to plant another flag on the Mun. Val, the adrenaline junkie that she is, showed very little emotion with her accomplishments as the mission went off without a hitch. However, upon returning home, she was thrilled with the fact that the space program had ONE MILLION DOLLARS in the bank!! 

With all of the new research Jeb's and Val's expeditions brought the program, it was finally time to send some probes to the Mun for docking. With both probes about 20-30km apart, I realized I no longer had full probe control and could not get the RCS thrusters to fire. It mattered not, as with both probes set to target each other, I was able to just watch them automatically drift towards each other as they went about their orbits until they finally docked! 

 

Edited by Gamera Obscura
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Let's fulfill a bunch of contracts at the same time! First, we need to put a satellite into a polar orbit of Kerbin. I explain how I like to fulfill these kinds of contracts, while doing it in a painfully inefficient way (just to make it easier for me to explain what I'm doing). Seriously, if you're an actual pro at this game, you may weep at how much fuel I waste. In a super dick move, as soon as that contract is fulfilled, we immediately fly it to Minmus in order to dock it with something to fulfill another contract we had accepted at the same time. On the way, Jeb does a flyby of the Mun to perform a long overdue test of an engine, and somehow actually gets a plan for a Minmus encounter all in one go. The only hiccup is that pretty much every rendezvous they ever try to do happens in the dark.

After landing on Minmus, Jeb radios home that they need to upgrade the R&D department so he can bring some pieces home. After flying around on EVA collecting bits of the tiny moon, he decides he wants to see what a polar day/night looks like -- this is legitimately something I want to do before I die -- so he take a breather on the north pole before visiting one more biome. As always, Jeb ruins the landing so he can roll down a hill like a child. It's nice to see him have fun, but sometimes I really wish he would grow up.

But it's tough to be angry when his mission resulted in massive science upgrades that will make traveling to places like Eve and Duna possible. Stay tuned.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ack...time got away from me and I guess I missed a few weeks of updating this. To get back to speed: we did some more missions near Minmus and then I sent a probe out to Duna.

In this latest episode, Jeb rescues several stranded kerbals in a single launch while Val and her gal pals head out to repair some space junk. Someone forgot to bring the repair kits, but that didn't keep the girls from having a good time. Trying to repair the broken rover went a little better...until it started flirting with the Kraken. Can they fix it again and fulfill the contract?

 

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