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What are the most important things you've learned about playing KSP to pass on?


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KSP is a great, fun game, but it has a difficulty curve like, well, a rocket. I figure there's some critical "lessons" to get yourself over to achieve competence. Here are the ones I've learned, so far.

1: MechJeb. I find KSP to be just about unplayable without it. I know that there are surely some purists who will disagree, but without an autopilot and MechJeb's VAB calculations, I'd likely still be considering myself lucky to so much as make Kerbin orbit, let alone be gearing up for my second shot at a Munar landing. I'd also likely have no idea of what to do without having seen MechJeb do things, but I've watched MechJeb in action enough to have an idea what on Kerbin it's doing and how to do it myself.

2: When in doubt, radialize! I've experienced nothing but bitter, hilarious disaster trying to build vertically, barely able to get ridiculous expanding stacks into Kerbin orbit. Instead, I figured out that I have to build outward; the same fuel tank+engine design, in a serial decoupler arrangement, is vastly less useful and powerful than two/three/four/six of the same fuel tank + engine design arranged radially around another of that same engine design.

3: SRBs, and how to use them. Specifically, SRBs are good for an initial bump to get your rocket engines up to speed and to let them carry some or all of the lowest-altitude work alone, with MechJeb on the limit to terminal velocity setting to save fuel, but it's not really worth it to use them for more than that. Radial liquid fuel engines are so much more useful, I'm pretty sure I could get a radial SSTO going.

4: The KW RockoMaverick engine, for when you don't yet have the Mainsail. This could work with the LV-T30 stock engine and I think it would still be superior, but KW Rocketry is what really sells it. Get a big old 2.5m Rockomax fuel tank stage going, however much is appropriate to the payload you intend to use, and stick one of those KW LFTA 2-1 conical 1.25-2.5 adapter-fuel tanks on the bottom, inverted. Stick on a tricoupler (or a quadcoupler, if you have it - those will definitely make it better,) and attach three KW Maverick D-1 engines. Gives you massively more thrust than the Rockomax Skipper (350*3 = 1050 thrust > 600 Thrust,) with better ISP at sea level and no worse ISP in vacuum and far more alternator output, not that that will matter on your ascent stage. It is heavier by 2 tons, true, but the far greater TWR means you'll ultimately save a lot in getting into orbit, and the RockoMaverick has been consistently lifting payloads into orbit for me that the Skipper can't. Not to mention it looks boss as heck, especially if you have six or twelve of them radially arranged around a central.. :cool:

5: Less is more when it comes to payload, more is more when it comes to engines. If engines are your payload, you're going to have some tricky balancing work to do, and your ascent stage will probably wind up being approximately the radius of the Death Star.

6: Navigation lights. I'm pretty sure they came from B9 Aerospace since they were manufactured by "Tetragon Projects." Use the red lights on the left side of the craft and the green on the right, and I like to put the white lights strictly down the "top" - that is, with the craft as a whole (that is, the first command part) not rotated, the white lights go straight down the middle when facing out of the VAB. This helps so much when you're in space and looking at your ship trying to work out which side is which. (Not to mention it makes your ship look boss as heck. :cool: )

7: Don't forget batteries and power generation! You don't want to SSTO a 45-ton payload and be about ready to embark on a Mun shot only to realize that your entire power supply is the tiny supply in the lander strapped to the top of your transfer stage!

That's what I've figured out, anyway. Some of it may be wrong, but it's what I've got and it's what's worked for me. If it's stupid, but it works consistantly, was it really stupid?

There is one thing I want to know, though...

Is there any practical point to installing fairings without FAR? I haven't got it installed and don't intend to. Fairings look boss as all heck and watching them pop in orbit is great, but without FAR, are they just adding mass and (paradoxically,) drag? Or do they actually shield the drag of their payload and replace it all with their own drag in stock, because that would probably justify the weight several times over on the ascent stage.

Edited by ShadowDragon8685
Lesson 7...
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I've learnt a lot of things from KSP, and i usually end up being called 'the smart guy' everytime in physics class.But anyways: here are a few of many things i learned:

- To calculate delta-v, multiply the ISP of your engine with the natural logorithm of the qoutient of the dry and wet mass of your craft. 

- Don't use MechJeb too often.While the autopilot is really handy, it will take a toll on your piloting skills.You will eventually rely too much on the autopilot, and be dependent on it in a later stage.

- Learn to take advantage of the Oberth Effect.Whilst orbiting a moon that orbits really far away from it's parent planet, burn out of it's SOI, and set the initial periapsis around the parent planet the lowest you can get it without entering it's atmosphere, if it has an atmosphere.Once outside the SOI of the moon, warp to your periapsis and burn.By doing this, you consume the least amount of fuel when leaving it's gravitational influence.

- If you want to make your orbit's more perfect, set your thrust limiter on your engine really low, go to a point approximately inbetween the apoapsis and periapsis, then burn radially or anti-radially, depending on which side you are on.

- When building planes, put your wings a bit farther back to prevent constant stalling.Side fact: Don't overuse the Advanced Canards, as your plane will have to strong lift and will flip your plane upside down on takeoff.

- When departing for other planets, know your phase and ejection angles.This prevents you from wasting a crazy amount of delta-v on getting to a place that's basically right next door to Kerbin.

- ALWAYS REMEMBER TO ACTION GROUP YOUR SOLAR PANELS!

- DON'T FORGET THE SOLAR PANELS!

- Opt for a minimalistic design.Build rockets that have just enough fuel and safety countermeasures to get you somewhere and back safely.

- Always have an extra battery or two onboard.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I mostly learned these things during my rookie years, back in 0.19, all the way up to 0.24 (no kidding).Here's one thing i said when i first joined this forum around 2 years ago.Back at the time, i knew very little about how KSP works.I literally asked why my game wasn't budging, because i was on the dark side of the Mun with zero eletricity.YUP.THAT HAPPEND.Anyways this a really lenghty post, and i'm sorry for taking up precious thread space :blush:.Thanks for reading my learned lessons, and some mistakes and sins! :D

Edited by Candlelight
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I've learned a lot, and seeing how big this thread is, I'm sure nearly all topics have been covered..so I'll keep this short and sweet. My best advice is:

1) Have patience, and never give up when trying to learn something new (ie. docking). The payoff when you finally learn something new is so worth it.

2) Utilize the forums! There is so much valuable information and tutorials on these KSP forums; nearly any/every topic you can think of has probably been covered before, and if there isn't a related tutorial, there is probably at least a related post in the forums. If you don't find what you need, create a thread and ask; the people that frequent these forums are absolutely beyond amazing...they are quick to respond, friendly, and incredibly helpful and understanding.

 

That's my 2¢ :)

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On 3/10/2016 at 4:57 PM, KocLobster said:

I've learned a lot, and seeing how big this thread is, I'm sure nearly all topics have been covered..so I'll keep this short and sweet. My best advice is:

1) Have patience, and never give up when trying to learn something new (ie. docking). The payoff when you finally learn something new is so worth it.

2) Utilize the forums! There is so much valuable information and tutorials on these KSP forums; nearly any/every topic you can think of has probably been covered before, and if there isn't a related tutorial, there is probably at least a related post in the forums. If you don't find what you need, create a thread and ask; the people that frequent these forums are absolutely beyond amazing...they are quick to respond, friendly, and incredibly helpful and understanding.

 

That's my 2¢ :)

My first docking attempt took almost 3 hours, had to revert 3 times because I ran out of mono prop.  Almost more satisfying then my first Mun landing without SAS.  I can now dock 100t monsters with nothing more then reaction wheels and main engines

My most important advice is SAS is the "t" button.  took me 3 days to figure that out.

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I used to swear by MechJeb - But found that the new SAS options (Prograde, Retrograde etc) were the only ones I was using on MechJeb anyway, so quickly stopped.

The idea of "Less is More" is definitely the best thing I've discovered about rocket building, the majority of my failed ideas in KSP have been down to over-complication and excessively large first stages. Be happy with a effective, simple design.

The only other piece of advice I think I could pass on, is sub-assemblies. I find I save myself a lot of time, effort and stress if I take a first stage that I have proven works, roughly guess the maximum payload weight it could carry into orbit/sub-orbit, and then re-apply it to any of my craft that need a first-stage and are within the approximate weight limit. Saves a hell of a lot of time.

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On 5/16/2016 at 5:44 PM, Aubri said:

*Big drills are mostly useless. Unless you're limited on your drilling time or need the extra reach, the small drill will do everything you need with less weight and less radiators.

*In the last moments of a powered landing, Surface mode Radial Out is your best friend. Doubly so when you realize you're coming down on a hillside.

Small drills are limited to greater-than 2% ore concentrations. This shouldn't be a problem as long as the difficulty is not set to hard. So they are awesome for asteroids(just don't use the small ISRU on asteroids), but using small drills for a binome hopper could be risky.

Don't you mean "Surface mode - Retrograde"? The radial out vector will always point perpendicular to you trajectory, away from gravity...this isn't necessarily upwards, it twitches around as you burn towards it(not affecting your velocity at all). But retro-grade will kill velocity until you get to 0m/s(then it switches to SAS-hold mode)
* To dodge a hillside like you mention, burning towards Pitch:90'(center of the blue hemisphere of navball) will give the best chance at avoiding a crash

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I learned that, when you fall on side on some low gravity place, you can get up by opening and closing service bay.

Useful when you screw landing on Mun or Minmus

Edited by Raptor42
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On 7/11/2017 at 10:16 AM, Boyster said:

Bigger doesn't always mean better.I spent many many hours trying to overpower with brute force the space enemies(gravity,aero drag etc)

and even more hours fighting my desire to sent huge spaceships to do things that half a size vessel could have easily done.

 

This...My bigger ships are built to be launched in parts with mostly dry fuel tanks to save weight. I assemble and fuel them in orbit. This allows me to build much larger ships without having monstrous booster stages. 

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When building in the VAB, and you have multiples of a part to attach to a staged part, use Alt-click.

Example:

If you are attaching multiple parachutes to say a booster stage, and are not using symmetry (you want them vertically aligned for instance), each time you attach a chute, it will add the part to the staging node usually at the bottom of the list.   Fix the staging for the first part you add, and then alt-Click that part to reproduce it.  Then place it where you want.  The staging will be placed where the first one is. 

Helps prevent staging errors. 

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When using the offset tool in the VAB, sometimes the arrows align at an awkward angle depending on what angle the part you wish to offset is sitting at.  Press the 'F' key on your keyboard and they will change to the correct angle to make it much easier to move the part properly.

Just found that one out after about a year and a half of playing KSP... :/

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TIL that I was not using aircraft  gear steering correctly. I always thought YAW/ROLL would change heading while dashing over the runway...

But due to having remapped the ROVER controls to the Numpad, I never came to idea of fiddling with these keys. :DOH:

So basically, you can taxi your aircraft, correct your path if you have the good ol' "I'M VEERING OFF THE RUNWAY!" moments by using the ROVER controls instead of YAW.

 

Been playing so long, but didn't know this worked over rover keys. 

Fair warning though, do not press and hold rover steering key, or else you will tokyo drift and you'll be doing a barrel roll. Do short taps.

Edited by Spraki
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Okay, so this won't make your game easier, necessarily, but it it will make it tenfold better: Make sure that at the moment you hit space to lift off, your playlist starts Europe's The Final Countdown.

This just happened to me and it was like riding a tiger made of fire and glory... I'm sure that's a good thing.

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Here's my personal advise to new players. It's personal, so others might advice you different things.

 1.  Depending a bit on what you want to do within the Kerbal universe, BE PATIENT!! If you only like to see explosions, then start a new game, choose sandbox, get into the Vehicle Assembly Building or Space Plane Hangar, slap something (anything with a capsule, fuel and an engine) together, hit the launch button and randomly start pressing keys...voila, theres your explosion and you can stop reading here ;) But if you want to get to places...orbit, the moons of Kerbin or beyond. If you want a well functioning rocket, spaceship, airplane, spaceplane etc then you're in for a ride! Don't expect to have succes in your first try. And don't expect to have succes on your second (third, fourth...etc) try as well. And don't panic, you will see explosions anyhow. Maybe a helmet comes in handy for the times you want to bang your head against the wall. KSP is in that sense a real trail and error (lots of error) game.
 I'm playing ksp quite a lot for a couple of years now and still manage to fail/crash/explode on a regular basis. "I was going to make it, but then that planet was in the way..." The biggest reward to me is when a mission goes according to plan without failure. And believe me, after failing manymany times a succes is a great reward and gives a real sense of achievement. 

 2. Be curious! This isn't a game for the light hearted in that sense. Prepare to do a bit of study, even when not playing KSP. A basic understanding of orbital mechanics and aerodynamics is crucial for succesfull missions. Understanding things like "Speed and position are allways relative to something else" or "When I accelerate prograde at periapsis, my apoapsis will rise" will help you understand what you actually see in KSP. Try to understand the terminology. If you like you can take this to university levels of knowledge, including formulae for calculating phase angles and the sorts. These real life formulae actually work in KSP as well. But understanding the basics is enough to have fun and understanding in the Kerbal universe. You'll actually learn a lot by just playing KSP! But if you are willing to expand your knowledge about flight and spaceflight it will help you a great deal in reaching those far away places.

 3. The Navball is your biggest friend. Try to understand and memorise what the symbols on the navball mean. Pointing your rocket to a visible moon or planet and burn for it just isn't going to work.

 4. Look away from the navball!! More than once I landed with Formula 1 speeds (=explosion) because I was intensly looking at my heading/the navball, ignoring my speed, altitude and....everything else basically. By the way, even to modern standards I think KSP has some very beautiful visuals here and there. Just look away from the navball once in a while.

 5. Use the forum. Don't hesitate to ask questions. There are no stupid questions. A lot of us have launched a rocket straight up, then wondered why it didn't go into orbit and why it fell back (explosion!)

 4. Experiment! See what works for you. If it fails, revert to the VAB/SPH (vehicle assembly building/spaceplane hangar), adjust your design, and try again...and again...and again untill it works.

 5. Start playing the vanilla game. Get the hang of how things work before downloading mods (if at all). But...

 6. Using the mod Kerbal Engineering Redux has helped me more than I would bargain for. It shows readouts on a phletora of stats the base game doesn't show. I wouldn't even call it a mod (apart from that it is one). It has helped me getting to become a much better Kerbal pilot. Understanding the terminology helps in this as well

 7. Have fun! Banging your head against a wall hurts. Just stop playing for a while when you feel that urge.

Now go and explode something!

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  • Shift-clicking any part of the ship will select the entire ship. No more hunting for the root part!

  • Alt-clicking copies that particular part and everything attached to it

  • In the VAB, holding Shift while scrolling the mouse wheel zooms your view in and out, rather than moving up and down. Holding middle mouse also does this.

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Tylo is a very big hammer to have in your Jool toolkit.

Once you are en route to Jool, a small mid course burn to encounter Tylo at the right point can reduce your Jool capture Δv requirements immensely.

A couple of times, when I wasn't paying attention to conic markers direction, I got retrograde Jool orbits with no capture burn at all.

 

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1 hour ago, Jexpler said:

Practice is really important. The first time you orbit Kerbin it's gonna be really inefficient. But after doing it enough, you'll eventually know when to do your orbital turns, etc.

THIS. &)

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Whenever you get the chance, do a "Full Save".  Go to the Space Center, press F5 to save.  After the save completes, re-load the saved file.

When you do a full save, you're saving the game state with the vessels not active.  So KSP is just saving the last location and state of each vessel.  Re-loading the save effectively resets the game.  For me, this minimized Krakens, letting me enjoy the game longer without restarting.  I have about 100+ mods installed.  So restarts are a big deal for me.

Keep your part counts low.  This makes for smoother gameplay.  Less parts for your PC to keep track of in flight.  So any mod that allows me to minimize part count, is a plus.  TweakScale lets me size up parts - why use 3 engines when you can size 1 up to give you 3x the thrust?  Hangar let me carry vessels in a packed state.  When you carry a docked vessel, each and every part of that docked vessel is simulated even though it's not in use.  Configurable Containers lets me partition 1 tank to carry multiple types of resources vs 1 tank for each resource.

Related to keeping part counts low...  Avoid docking ships if you can.  When you dock, 2 ships become 1.  Ergo, more parts.  Also, I read somewhere that KSP uses 1 thread/vessel.  So by keeping vessels separate most of the time, you're using the multi-threading capabilities of your machine.

Autostruts.  Almost always, Autostrut to Grandparent (I use FullAutoStrut to enforce this).  This gives a part 2 or more "attachment" strut points - the point of attachment, and its grandparent - making it less likely to detach when stressed.  The "or more" occurs when the grand parent is symmetrical.  When the grandparent is a symmetrical part, each occurence of the symmetrical part IS a strut point.  You can see this by displaying autostruts - from Cheat menu/Physics, select visualize autostruts.  Experiment using Radial Symmetry and using at least a 3 part symmetry - the lines overlap when you use a 2 part symmetry so you don't see the extra strut lines.  By doing this, you are adding additional struts that act as a scaffolding around your ship WITHOUT increasing part count.

Edited by bcqJC
added some bits.
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I think most people are going to disagree with you on this one. I certainly do. The feeling you get when you make a perfect touchdown on another planet or dock two giant ships in orbit is incredible. I'd recommend the Kerbal Engineer mod, gives you all the data that MJ does, but without the autopilot.

Mechjeb can't land at all in the latest versions and its docking is far from effective. I use it mostly for planning my interplanetary burns and it really saves me a lot of time and dv.

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1. You do not have to follow the perfect ascent: turn at 10km and keep turning until at 70 km. Turning to 45 degrees at 10km and staying there until you're apoapsis is at 75km+ is fine.

2. Start burning 1:30s to 0:30s before apoapsis: you can get up to speed sooner and have more of a margin for error.

3. When designing a plane: as long as the lift marker (blue sphere) is in the center of the Com marker (yellow sphere), there is a 90% guarantee that the plane will fly stable.

4. When it comes to rovers: wide, low, and heavy is the way to go. At least make sure to follow the first two for places like Laythe, Tylo, Eve, etc. You only need to worry about the third thing for low gravity worlds.

5. Use the Maneuver nodes! They're there for a reason.

6. Despite what everyone says, you can learn form mechjeb ( how do you think I learned how do stuff in ksp?). Once you learn the stuff you need to know, replace mechjeb with Kerbal Engineer Redux. This will allow you to keep your skills fresh without sacrificing the building and info tools of mechjeb.

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5. Perfect the Hofman Transfer orbit. Get to know this concept very intimately.

I agree mostly, but for the advance players, you don't always have to do a direct Hohmann transfers especially for planets without atmospheres. Some launch windows are better than others and don't always accept what a calculator says as the best time to maneuver. Play around with the maneuver nodes alot and you can save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dV.

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- Always put at least a few fixed solar panels on any non-tiny ship. You WILL forget to extend the bigger ones, and this is a life-saver.

- Even if you hate autopilots, get MechJeb or Kerbal Engineer and use them when building. Knowing how much Delta-V a certain stage is capable of saves LOTS of tedious trial-and-error.

- Decide on a standard docking port size for your fleet, and then stick one of them on EVERYTHING. You never know when you'll want to transfer fuel between ships in low Jool orbit or something.

- You need a lot smaller rockets than you think. Less weight is always better than more fuel and more engines to lift said fuel.

- Don't ever, ever put SRBs on any stage above the first one.

And a more specific one: To do a near perfect suicide burn, place a maneuver node as close to the surface as you dare, and pull the retrograde marker until you cancel out all your velocity. Then burn when the "time to node" equals the calculated burn time (don't split it, as you'd normally do, or you'll have a nasty surprise after half your burn :)).

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