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Nerfherde

A rant about KSP

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Well folks, im not as new here as it can seem. I have been playing KSP since 0.8.5. So its been a while.

I can remember the first time Squad introduced the infamous struts system, and i figured it made all the difference inte the World. Game World, that is hehe.

Im kind of frustrated. Why you might ask. I have managed to build small stations and can put them in any orbit, any height that i want. So that im happy with.

What im not happy about is that im not able to dock. No matter how many tutorials I Watch online, not even Scott Manley, and I do love his videos. I still cant learn how to dock. I cant even learn how to get to other planets. I can get to the mun just fine, by brute force. That is, wait until the mun and the space Craft is aligned, launch and see if you got it right. I guess, if I learn how to dock i could learn how to get to other planets. Once I made it to Duma, by mistake, but I dont remember how to do that again. And I was out of fuel, so I had a Lovely crash there. I use the new navsystem, but it doesnt work for me. Still cant dock. Still cant get to other planets. Annoyed. Dont get me wrong, I LOVE KSP.

I initally bought it when Squad first charged Money for it. When Steam was introduced, I transferred KSP to there because i was so sick of the servers going down every time a new release happened. So Steam has this thing that shows how many hours you played a game. It says 69h since download. That is FAR MORE than any other game I own. All the latest shooters (yes bought). They dont have the same "draw me in" feel like KSP. No other game I have ever played comes remotely Close. And I have been playing computer games since VIC-20 was introduced. So. I hope I one day can learn how to dock...

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If you're really having that much trouble, well, as much hate as I know I'm about to get for this, you can always install Mechjeb 2.0.7 ... It has all the Autopilot features to do the transfers, rendezvous and docking maneuvers that you're having trouble with. I would honestly recommend installing it, watch how it does things and then try to do them on your own after you get the feel for what exactly its doing.

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Seems to me like it might be an attitude issue. If you're constantly telling yourself you can't do it then it'll just be a self-fulfilling prophecy. And are you using the maneuver planner for your Mun transfers? Because if not then you should, it makes getting things right so much easier.

Edit: Mechjeb isn't a solution; it's a spoon of honey rather than some antibiotics: it'll make you feel good for ten seconds but won't actually solve anything.

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The docking part I can understand, I find it quite difficult myself. What I don't get is being unable to get to other planets. Maneuver nodes exist. At worst you place a random node on a random orbit and drag prograde until you hit the SOI of something else. Then just fine tune.

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I tried Mechjeb. Like Secondguessing said, its just like honey. Make you feel like WOW, i can do anything now. Well. Not me hehe.

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Edit: Mechjeb isn't a solution; it's a spoon of honey rather than some antibiotics: it'll make you feel good for ten seconds but won't actually solve anything.

Depends. It will certainly help you put together that station you wanted to build, and designed yourself.

But it may not be the best way if you want to dock by yourself. Or, it could show you how, and then you can copy what it did.

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The biggest thing about docking is patience. And then some more patience. This entire game is about patience, except for launch. While I'm still learning how to properly rendezvous with ships I want to dock with, the good old stand-by method of getting into a similar orbit, going slightly higher to let it catch up to you, or slightly lower to catch up to it, time warp until you're closer, then make your approach always works for me. As for the docking itself, first make sure that your target isn't rotating. If it is, this compounds the difficulty greatly. As long as it isn't rotating, select your target docking port, line up your attitude indicator with your target and your prograde vector. When all 3 indicators are lined up on your navball, approach the target at 1/10 the speed of your distance away from it. It takes time and I'm sure other people are much better and quicker than I, but it works every time for me.

Getting to other planets, well, I'm still refining that process too. I have MechJeb, but only the 1.9.8 or whatever. This does give me phase angle and ejection angle information. Combined with the interplanetary calculator on ksp.olex.biz (i think that's the link), I can calculate when to burn and how much to burn. After that initial burn, I use the maneuver nodes to fine tune my approach. It's not easy, but the more I try the better I get, even if it is very slowly.

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Nerfherde - you say "I can't dock" but not why. Which parts are you having problems with? matching orbits? closing distance? aligning the docking ports? all of the above?

Video tutorials may be great for some people, but not for you. We can try to tutor you somewhat, or spot any misunderstandings that are happening.

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Yes, instead of ranting against KSP, try sitting back and figuring out what you are doing wrong. What part of the docking process are you failing to do? What part of the tutorials don't you understand?

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Squad should consider implementing some kind of docking aid in the game, since right now Docking seems to the hardest thing in the game to master right now. I personally have had no trouble with it, but I see why it would be difficult.

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For what it's worth, I learned to do most things by using mechjeb and seeing what it did, then flying the same mission manually. I now fly with a mixture of both.

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1) Orbit.

2) Select destination with the set-as-target thing.

3) Mess with a maneuver node until you get an intersect.

4) Find the burn time, begin a full-throttle burn half that time before you reach the node.

5) Profit.

The key thing is, again, maneuver nodes. As an oldie I remember all the old guess-and-burn methods for getting to the mun and minmus, and these simply don't work when your target is a five-meter tin can, or floating millions of kilometers away.

And don't worry about docking. Actually, build a one-way probe to another planet first; this is suprisingly easier than docking, since you already have about 90% of the skills involved if you can get to the Mun. Strange as it may seem, practicing flying to other planets is good training for docking, rather than the other way around.

Fun fact, the first space probe to make it to another planet (Mariner 2) happened three years before the first space rendezvous.

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My biggest issue is trying to line up planetary intercepts, seems impossible without at least protractor or MJ. The orbital planning helps in a 'grind it till you find it' kind of way.

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Okay, let's do docking:

Step 1: Put yourself in an elliptical orbit with your apoapsis touching your target's orbit.

Step 2: At ascending/descending node, correct your inclination to your target.

Step 3: Wait (and time accelerate) until you and your target pass close by at that intercept. You actually want your target to be just behind you in your orbit.

Step 4: Burn at your apoapsis until you and your target have a very close intercept, 1km or less is good but you can work with more.

Step 5: Wait until you get within a few km of your target, at this point you will be moving toward your target so you want to rotate your ship to find the yellow retrograde marker and the purple away from target marker and you want to burn just behind the yellow marker relative to the purple marker as if you're pushing it toward the purple one. You want these two to overlap perfectly.

Step 6: Keep an eye on relative target speed and activate RCS. Keep slowing down and using the i,j,k,l keys with RCS to keep the two markers in line until you get really close to your target moving at 1m/s or less.

Step 7: Turn your ship around so you're facing toward your target.

Step 8: Use the "]" key to switch over to your target and rotate it until the docking port faces the ship you're trying to dock it with.

Step 9: Switch back to the docking ship and select the docking port you're going to as the target by right clicking on it and "control from here" by right-clicking on the port you want to dock with that target.

Step 10: Use RCS and the i,j,k,l keys combined with h and n to move yourself slowly forward toward your target. Keep the purple target marker inside the yellow prograde marker.

Step 11: Dock!

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I find that splitting the docking process up into individual tasks can be a massive help.

I do the following:

  • Establish a similar orbit to my target craft.
  • Get within <5km using manoeuvre nodes and setting the other craft as a target.
  • Make sure the orbits are as similar as they can be.
  • Zero out any relative velocity between you and your target craft. (Optional)
  • Do small burns/nudges toward your target craft and wait. Don't burn too much as you will have to cancel out this velocity.
  • Cancel out the velocity when you arrive near your craft.
  • Now just nudge yourself slowly toward the port and you're there!

The list is pretty oversimplified, but as long as you're cool-headed throughout; it should be too difficult. The worst thing to do when docking is to get annoyed.

Edit: It seems Fractal has provided a much better set of instructions than me, make sure to give them a read!

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If you're really having that much trouble, well, as much hate as I know I'm about to get for this, you can always install Mechjeb 2.0.7 ...

Mechjeb's really not all that good at docking. It works okay if you're just docking a command pod by itself, but for anything more complex than that it tends to waste RCS fuel, constantly overcorrect itself (especially if your RCS isn't perfectly balanced and translation causes some rotation), occasionally try to shift axes way too fast and smash into things, creep toward the port way too slow, drift off the axis then panic and unnecessarily kill and restart forward inertia, etc etc.

I'd love to use it for resupplying my station, as repeatedly docking at 3 frames per second gets very tedious, but I end up having to babysit it the whole time and often do the final approach myself.

Honestly, the docking camera mod makes docking much easier than MJ does.

Edited by Blackstar

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What im not happy about is that im not able to dock. No matter how many tutorials I Watch online, not even Scott Manley, and I do love his videos. I still cant learn how to

I felt the exact same way for a long time! Somthing else you could try is reading written tutorials instead of watching videos.

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Honestly, MechJeb sucks at docking. When I first tried using it I had so many issues with it not working properly, I would just get mad and do it myself XD. Believe it or not, that is how I learned how to dock o.o, so I learned how to dock like right from the start.

I do have to say though, patience is honestly key here. The more you slowly ease toward your target, the more accurate and easier it is to control. Going to fast can mean disaster. I personally don't go over 0.2m/s while docking most of the time unless I am trying to close a gap between me and my target.

Edited by Brabbit1987

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I felt the exact same way for a long time! Somthing else you could try is reading written tutorials instead of watching videos.

If you do watch a video again pay close attention to the navball. You can learn most of docking from staring at that little ball. The navball indicators will tell you 95% of what you need to know to dock. Seeing how translation affects the lineup of your prograde and target indicators was huge to finally being able to dock.

I do think that the docking cam mod would be a neat addition to the stock game, they gave us the tools to get the job done conceptually on the navball.

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If you're really having that much trouble, well, as much hate as I know I'm about to get for this, you can always install Mechjeb 2.0.7 ... It has all the Autopilot features to do the transfers, rendezvous and docking maneuvers that you're having trouble with. I would honestly recommend installing it, watch how it does things and then try to do them on your own after you get the feel for what exactly its doing.

+ 1000 hates for this!

.... but I also agree. I have yet to do any docking. All I've done so far is land on minmus and mun which are pretty noob achievements. I will probably struggle with docking too and might use mechjeb to learn

Edited by Stealth2668

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[*] Make sure the orbits are as similar as they can be.

[*] Zero out any relative velocity between you and your target craft. (Optional)

If you're close to your target, these are the same thing.

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I don't have that much trouble with docking, you just gotta be smart with your velocity in relation to your target.

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As someone who can dock and who can get within meters of a planets surface from across the solar system I still feel that kerbal needs-

1. A better flight planning interface. The tools are nice and intuitive, but there's some MAJOR issues that make things harder. It's very difficult to line things up so you can see what the hell you are doing(or see what you want to see), and one mistake can mean a good 15+ seconds of tedious work. It doesn't help that certain things aren't calculated accurately(aerobraking isn't accounted for at all, and when you switch into a different gravity well it often has to redo calculations and thus requires adjustments), but from what i've seen from mechjeb, the game CAN calculate these things. I'm personally hoping that later we get different levels of computers that combined with actual instrument data(thus giving probes a point) will give us more accurate calculations.

2. Tutorials for these things. In game and already set up to go. I managed to get to other planets decently quickly(its like the moon, but much much farther) but i had to watch a tutorial to figure out how to equalize my speed with an in orbit object without missing it.

3. Let me choose how many stupid conics i want to see in game please.

So that said, my advice if you don't want to mechjeb everything-

1. Practice using the moon. Get something in orbit and then learn to use the flight planning controls to get caught by it's gravity. Once you figure out what each marker does(and understand that you can move the entire point) it becomes much easier to plan things.

2. Then shoot for minmus. Again just practice getting the hang of manipulating the stupid thing. It's especially obnoxious trying to manipulate zooming in an out to see where your predicted path is in relation to the moon/planet.

3. Then go for duna. I suggest duna becuase it's basically the easiest by far. Jool isn't actually that bad either, and helps you learn aerobraking.

4. Optionally, QUICKSAVE. Personally i didn't even find out about such a feature until long after i'd gotten everything down(and now just don't use it out of habit) but when you're trying to learn i see no reason not to abuse the hell out of this. Relaunching rockets is just dead time between practice sessions, so set up a rocket in orbit with plenty of fuel, quick save it, and start practicing.

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