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Versioning, iterative design and integration (for crafts and missions)


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Hello! This subject has been a lot on my mind since I started playing KSP because I've always found myself wasting a lot of time designing unique upper and booster stages for my payloads instead of just slapping on a previously used assembly. I feel like there should be some better assembly building gameplay mechanics and incentives to guide the designing, building and integration steps towards an easy to use iterative process. Allow me to explain:

What we have in KSP1

VAB / SPH have gameplay features that allow us to save our designs:

  1. Saving craft files in folders
    • Saving with distinct folder roots for VAB and SPH
      • this is a problem when you have a structure like the one below
      • it also messes with the orientation
    • Craft files can be manually overwritten
      • although the path to the file is not loaded automatically and if I want to overwrite I save I have to point to the appropriate folder every time I load the craft, otherwise it saves in the root folder - I feel like this is a bug;
    • We can of course create folders that are the basis for our organizational choices - I like to separate them initially into:
      • Craft designs:
        • Prototypes
        • Structural assemblies
        • Planes
          • Fighter
          • Space
          • Cargo
          • Other
        • Rockets
          • Boosters (by weight to LKO and diameter)
          • Upper stages (by weight to solar orbit and diameter)
          • Mothership propulsion elements
        • Space Stations
        • Rovers and vehicles (by size, number of passengers, purpose - science, fun or utility)
        • Manned exploration
          • Landers
          • Return capsules
        • Unmanned exploration
          • Deep space / fly-by probes
          • Orbiters
          • Landers
          • Return missions
        • Satellites
          • Science / mapping
          • Communication relays
        • Fuel
          • Tanker stages
          • Refineries
          • Wheeled transports
        • Pods
          • Living pods
          • Tourist pods,
          • Science pods / labs
          • Escape / transport pods
          • Other
      • Missions (the rockets / space planes I actually launched): with a folder for every celestial body, in orbit or landed + asteroids / comets
    • As you can see things get very complicated and there is potential for overlapping functions, sizing problems and other issues
    • All of this does not even touch on the problem of design versioning and evolution - this adds another whole new level of complexity to the issue
    • Of course a very big problem is that if I save the craft as a mission and I change or improve something after mission failure or after returning from the launchpad.. then I have to go back and change that exact same thing in the original assembly design file.
  2. Saving subassemblies
    • This theoretically should be straightforward but there are some issues:
      • The root part mechanic makes it complicated
      • All subassemblies are in the same "folder"
      • When overwriting its difficult to change the description if the design changes, sometimes its better to write everything anew
      • I have to search through and update the subassemplies every time I change something in the mission / craft design files
      • I have to go to the subassemblies tab, its extra effort

What we need in KSP2

  • We desperately need a better way of creating iterative designs, group them by families and separate them by version
  • Craft versioning system (like GIT, to track evolution of specific craft models according to part and science progression)
  • Missions and designs should be separate abstractions, missions should contain design versions
  • Changes to designs should cascade into missions that use that design version
  • We need some kind of default structure for the craft designs.. like the one I described above, otherwise players will take ages to become efficient in organizing all their stuff

What has been confirmed for KSP2

  • Saving a workspace containing multiple craft assemblies

Can you please help with other ideas? I think its a very important topic.

Edited by Vl3d
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One could have a basic sorting system for assemblies, like the "Prototypes, structures, planes" thing you proposed, with players free to create their own subcategories.

5 hours ago, Vl3d said:

Changes to designs should cascade into missions that use that design version

I'm not sure this is a good idea, because changing a design without seeing what the change did could cause issues.  Like, if you give a booster taller side stages, they might end up inside a wider upper stage.  This would also be nearly impossible without a root part mechanic

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