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Las Kerbas No Contract Career


Scarecrow71
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I'm taking a short break from the Kerpollo Challenge as I'm a bit stuck on the Jool-5 run portion of that.  I'm also dealing with an issue with my Eve lander flipping over in the atmosphere, even with MechJeb's Retrograde Hold turned on (it has to be a CoM issue).  So I'm attempting to work on another challenge that I'm not even sure @Superfluous J is running anymore:  No Contract Career.  The object is to get all of the buildings to level 3 without taking on any contracts in Mission Control.  You can still get credit for World's Firsts for things that might appear in a Contract, such as your first flight or first Mun fly-by, but you cannot accept any Contracts.  So this challenge boils down to how many funds can you possibly generate without cheating your way through it.  The link to the original challenge thread, which hasn't been posted in for more than a year now:

The best place to start here is at the beginning, right?  This is a normal, stock (MH/BG DLC included), MODDED entry.  A shot of my settings and the KSC at the start:

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I thought about turning the buy-in back on, but the first time I do this challenge I want to leave the settings as-is.  I want to see how difficult this challenge is under the normal settings before I start tweaking them to push myself.  I mean, I know I can accomplish a lot in this game; the Kerpollo challenge taught me that.  But I don't want to push myself when I don't know what the baseline is, you know?  So I may come back to this challenge and do it a second time after this one with different settings once I know what I'm in for.

First Upgrade

Well, the first thing anyone does in this game in a new career is to farm the KSC for science.  This generally involves setting a pod with the thermometer on the launchpad and the runway and then just collecting some science points.  You don't get any funds for this, but it sure helps to unlock the first couple nodes in the tech tree.  And after that is done, I go through my first launch, which is a basic rocket designed to fly straight up and collect more science.  So after my first real flight, I was able to generate enough funds to upgrade the Launchpad to level 2.  I know it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to upgrade the Launchpad first when I'm still limited to 30 parts, but I like not having to worry about the 18 ton limit; I usually hit that before I hit part count.

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Second Upgrade

The next series of upgrades is going to be around the Tracking Station.  To do this, I need to generate funds.  To do that, I need to fly somewhere and get some World's First milestones.  So I went to orbit.  That's right - orbit on my second flight in this career...which is actually slower than the fastest I've ever done it (again, Kerpollo Challenge).  I flew the following craft into orbit, collected all the science I could, and then landed in the desert.  I was able to collect enough science to finish off Tier III and start on Tier IV, as well as enough funds to upgrade the Tracking Station to Level 2.

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Third Upgrade

With the Science Junior unlocked, I did a little bit of farming at the KSC.  Basically, I put the Science Junior on the launchpad and runway and collected science there.  As John Madden always said "Some yards is better than none yards".  Not sure if yards applies here, but it is what it is.

Anyhow, with that done, I took the following rocket and aimed for a fly-by of the Mun.  Getting a fly-by of the Mun isn't all that difficult, even without being able to create maneuver nodes.  Once you have an orbit around Kerbin, go into Map view and look straight down at Kerbin (so you can see the entire orbit of your craft).  Warp ahead until your craft is at ~6 and the Mun is at ~2.  Fire prograde until you have an Ap of ~10.8Mm (the Mun has an orbit at ~11.4Mm).  You should get a decent-enough encounter and have enough fuel to do a correction burn once the fly-by is complete so you don't crash into Kerbin at 3km/s (which I've done plenty of times).

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This run netted me enough science to unlock a few more nodes on Tier IV, as well as enough funds to upgrade Mission Control.

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So I have 3 buildings at Level 2 now, and I get to start working on the next set of missions and upgrades.  I want to aim for a fly-by of Minmus next; I need to get enough funds to upgrade the VAB...and that's expensive.  That 30 part limit is going to hurt for a while.  I don't have to worry about tonnage, so I can use bigger parts.  But the part count?  Uck.  I'm not using any strategies in Administration right now, and I don't want to.  I'm sure I can get enough funds to upgrade the VAB soon enough.  Again, a simple fly-by of Minmus will help.  And I'm sure I can get into orbit of the Mun, which will also help.

 

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Old challenges never die. People just stop submitting to them.

You submitted to the No Contract Career challenge so it has not died!

I'll dust off the leaderboard once I read your first entry. And welcome to the challenge! I enjoyed it, it's far more straightforward than the rest of my challenges, though it's one you can actually lose without knowing it due to running out of money with no way to get more. Good luck!

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Looking good so far! One question, at the beginning you stated it was a "normal, stock (MH/BG DLC included), MODDED entry"

First, stock and modded are two categories, can't be both :)

Second, which is it? I don't see any mods in your toolbar so I'm thinking stock? Do you have any mods or are you thinking of adding them later?

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28 minutes ago, Superfluous J said:

Looking good so far! One question, at the beginning you stated it was a "normal, stock (MH/BG DLC included), MODDED entry"

First, stock and modded are two categories, can't be both :)

Second, which is it? I don't see any mods in your toolbar so I'm thinking stock? Do you have any mods or are you thinking of adding them later?

Ah, I always think stock when it comes to parts; I don't use any mods that include new parts.

I do have the uasual assortment of mods installed:  MechJeb, Kerbal Alarm Clock, and Transfer Window Planner.  But nothing that alters science or funds.  And I have no administration strategies turned on at this time.

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Fourth Upgrade

From this point on, it's going to get harder and harder to earn funds to upgrade buildings.  I know this because I will only be earning funds for World's Firsts, and until I can leave Kerbin's direct SOI, there won't be a lot of firsts I can accomplish.  I've got a few left, but I'm going to be running out of them soon enough.  Anyhow, let's get moving here with a fly-by of Minmus.

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I am still ~75000 funds short of upgrading the VAB after that flight.  Gotta get up to 225000 funds so I can upgrade the VAB, which then puts landing on the Mun and Minmus in play.  On the bright side, I was able to get the rest of Tier IV unlocked.  I don’t necessarily have to unlock one tier in order to start unlocking the next one, but I like having to do that; it keeps the game…I don’t know how to put it.  But, let’s see if we can get a Mun orbit now.

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Orbit achieved…and still not enough funds.  I’m at 185181 at the moment, which means I only gained ~35000 funds with orbiting the Mun.  I’ll probably get that amount if I orbit Minmus, which will still leave me a bit short.  Hmmm.

On the bright side, I’ve got 197 science points to spend.  Which means I can get bigger fuel tanks (Fuel Systems) and engines (Heavy Rocketry).  This will help to cut down on number of parts I’m putting on a vehicle.  As an example, the last rocket I used had a central column of 7 FL-T400 tanks; I can instead use 3 FL-T800 tanks and 1 FL-T400, cutting out 3 parts in the central column.  Same weight, same fuel, lower part count.  I had a couple of FL-T400s and a Reliant engine in duplicate symmetry on the side; I can take out 2 total parts by replacing the FL-T400s with a single FL-T800.  This is going to help me in the long run get enough fuel to get a lander on one of these bodies before I upgrade the VAB.  For posterity so everyone can see what I mean, here are shots of the before and after just simply changing out the tanks like I said above:

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Dropped 5 total parts, which now gives me room to add 7.  I can add a couple of tanks and 4 legs, and I should be able to drop this puppy on the Mun.  Or, rather, the upper stage, anyhow.  And get home.  Remember how I said I needed to upgrade the launchpad first because of weight restrictions?  Easier to deal with part count than it is to deal with weight.  At least, that’s my opinion.

But that is just an example of what I could do.  The ship I actually used for this mission:

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I always somehow manage to get decent shots of the Mun.  I also have some odd propensity to land in the water on Kerbin.  Anyhow, I have enough funds now to upgrade the VAB.  And Valentina even levelled up to level 2.  Awesome.

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And I spent some science to pick up Advanced Flight Control.  I still can’t go EVA off Kerbin, but that’s the next upgrade.  But now that I’ve got the VAB and Launchpad upgraded, I can start building bigger and better ships to get to other bodies.  My next launch is probably gonna be a Minmus  orbit and landing to see if I can earn enough to upgrade the Astronaut Complex.  And once that’s done, then I can start work on a space station and doing some rendezvous/docking maneuvers.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Until next time, true believers!

Edited by Scarecrow71
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7 hours ago, Scarecrow71 said:

I don’t necessarily have to unlock one tier in order to start unlocking the next one, but I like having to do that; it keeps the game…I don’t know how to put it

Kerpollo-y? :D

7 hours ago, Scarecrow71 said:

I can instead use 3 FL-T800 tanks and 1 FL-T400, cutting out 3 parts in the central column.  Same weight, same fuel, lower part count.

Also less bendy in flight!

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Fifth Upgrade

My next target here is to get the Astronaut Complex to level 2.  Doing this will allow me to go EVA off-world, which opens up a bunch of World's Firsts.  So, it's time now for a Minmus landing.

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You will notice a couple of things about this craft.

  1. The overall design is markedly different than what I used to land on Mun.  The Mun lander design is nice and short and all, but it doesn't have the punch needed to transfer from LKO to Minmus.  And I was running really low on funds, so I had to come up with a design that was cost-effective and had enough oomph to do what I needed.  That design is in one of the really old rocket design tutorials here on the forums; it's a favorite design of mine, and I know I can use variations of this to get to a lot of other planets in the Kerbol system.
  2. The legs on the left side of the lander there aren't even touching the ground...and the game thinks this is a stable landing.  I'm on a slope, and 3 of the 6 legs are touching the ground.  But half of them aren't, and the game is like "Ok, you are landed, and everything is awesome".  Don't know why, but I won't complain.

Anyhow, it's time to get this thing home.

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I landed somewhere other than the ocean.  Amazing.  Thankfully, the forests on Kerbin aren't as dense as they are on Earth.  Otherwise, I would be using the shattered tree branches as splints for Jeb's broken bones.  Anyhow, that Minmus landing and return generated enough money for me to upgrade the Astronaut Complex.  This means I can do spacewalks and EVAs on celestial bodies.  I can’t do any surface sample gathering because I have to upgrade R&D, and that’s next.  But I’ve got a few World’s Firsts to accomplish (spacewalk in LKO, spacewalk near the Mun, spacewalk near Minmus, spacewalk on Mun, spacewalk on Minmus), all of which should generate revenue.  Not sure if it will be enough to upgrade R&D, but it will get me in the right direction.

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I spent a bunch of science here as well, filling out a decent portion of Tier V.  Need those ladders so I can get to the surface on EVA and plant a flag, and I need those docking ports so I can do more World’s Firsts (rendezvous and docking, specifically).  Again, more revenue that will be sorely needed.

Until next time, true believers!

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4 hours ago, Scarecrow71 said:

But half of them aren't, and the game is like "Ok, you are landed, and everything is awesome".  Don't know why, but I won't complain.

SAS is on :)

Though to be fair, turn it off and you might settle into a stable all-feet configuration that feels better to the eye.

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With the Astronaut Complex upgraded, I can now do EVA off Kerbin.  This opens up a lot of science that I didn’t get to this point, as well as a few World’s Firsts that should generate some funds.  So I’m taking a trip to do all of the following:

  • Near Kerbin EVA
  • High Kerbin EVA
  • High Kerbin Science
  • High Minmus EVA
  • Near Minmus EVA
  • Near Minmus Science
  • Minmus Surface EVA
  • Minmus Surface Science
  • Minmus Surface Plant Flag

That’s a lot of science to garner from that trip.  I think the only World’s Firsts here will be EVA near Kerbin, EVA on Minmus, and plant a flag on Minmus, so we’ll have to see what funds I have after this trip.  I could use the same ship (essentially) that I used to originally land on Minmus, but I want to make a couple of changes to it.  So I used this:

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I have a tendency to over-engineer rockets, which is going to come back and bite me in the behind in this challenge.  However, in this case, I am glad I did.  After I got off the surface of Minmus and back into orbit, the lander and the mothership were headed in opposite directions.  So I had to execute a maneuver to turn the mothership around and get it going the same way the lander was (Bob is in the lander, and he can’t create nodes without line of sight to the mothership).  Didn’t take too much dV, but I’m glad I had it!

So, the real bummer part here is that I gained literally nothing in the way of funds.  I started with 84111…and ended this mission with 87540.  I gained a grand total of 3000 and change.  That is not good.  I am going to have to consider using an admin strategy here.  I know I can get some cash from going to Duna and/or Ike, but is the gain going to be worth what I spend to get there?  Hmmm.

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On 12/5/2021 at 11:16 AM, Scarecrow71 said:

I know I can get some cash from going to Duna and/or Ike, but is the gain going to be worth what I spend to get there?

you get a good amount of cash for doing basically what you did in kerpollo, but for cash here. Note by landing and returning from a body, you get flyby, orbit, atmo (for Duna), land, and return cash. It's also trivial to get spacewalk, flag, etc. Send up a tiny probe with a docking port (on a different launch!) and you can also get rendezvous and docking cash. Fill that probe up with fuel and then you can send it to Eve or Jool or whatnot to rendezvous and dock later with another mission.

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31 minutes ago, Superfluous J said:

you get a good amount of cash for doing basically what you did in kerpollo, but for cash here. Note by landing and returning from a body, you get flyby, orbit, atmo (for Duna), land, and return cash. It's also trivial to get spacewalk, flag, etc. Send up a tiny probe with a docking port (on a different launch!) and you can also get rendezvous and docking cash. Fill that probe up with fuel and then you can send it to Eve or Jool or whatnot to rendezvous and dock later with another mission.

My problem right now is that I've got 85000ish funds, and I have to spend them wisely.  I am going to try for Duna tomorrow and see if I can get something.  If I don't, well, I'll have to start over and try some other strategy!

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