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ShadowDragon8685

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

Question

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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This may be a known one, but I only found this out yesterday, and I haven't see it in the list: KSP adjusts maneuver nodes to compensate for V lost during aerobraking

When aerobraking for capture, while in your final approach to the body, make a maneuver node placed a little after periapsis. Place it as soon after peri as possible, just after emerging from atmosphere. Adjust so that you end up with your capture orbit.  

It does not matter if the total dV required for the burn exceeds your fuel capacity.KSP automagically adjusts the amount of retrograde burn to compensate for your velocity loss during aerobraking, so that you end up with the same final velocity.

As you lose speed, you will see the maneuver node adjust automatically.  

This makes it much easier to plan planetary insertions, because you know ahead of time whether you have lost enough V  or not.

A small thing, but I was really pleased to find it out!  

 

Edited by Clear Air Turbulence

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2 hours ago, Clear Air Turbulence said:

KSP adjusts maneuver nodes to compensate for V lost during aerobraking

It also adjusts it for diminishing Oberth effect. Try doing a long transfer burn with a low TWR, the farther past the perapsis you are, you may start to see your burn dV climb even if you're at full burn! XD

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I'm a newb in the forum and with KSP, but I've been flying it for a few weeks and am getting totally hooked so much so that I'm losing a lot sleep. I can't put it down. But I do put it down now for sometimes a few days.

Okay I learned a couple of things that I want to mention:

1) I upgraded from 1.0.4 to 1.0.5 and for a while I guess I couldn't use MechJeb and after installing RSS and RO, I wanted to do moon transfer orbits using the real moon. First issue was How on earth do I align planes with the real moon, now that my home planet and the lunar plane are mis-aligned by so much? (23 degrees or something like that?) And I'm now launching from Florida. I wanted to use an alignment burn. Uh uh. Too much delta-v needed. Then I tried and tried to figure out how to launch in the proper direction and how to know when I'm in alignment before I take off.

Answer:

I learned (on my own) that the Kerbal Engineer's rendezvous  GUI shows the "Relative Inclination" of the moon when it's the target. And the big learn was that the nav ball shows 90 degrees to launch into the pro-grade direction. So learned to watch the RI field go down close to zero by warping, then launching pure prograde during that time and it lines perfectly with the lunar plane. I watch some great YouTube tutorials (4 20-minute parts) to gain an understanding of how to use the nav ball. Still need to learn more on the nav ball from experience, though.

 

2) During a manual ascent, if the time to reach apoapsis (?)  is dropping and reaches 0 while I'm trying to reach orbital velocity, then the launch will fail and become sub-orbital unless I correct it asap and should be able to get the time value to start going up again, instead of going down.

(Jan 18/2016. added one more thing)

I've learned that my last comment is not correct. The time value falling negative only means that I passed the top of the arc but the orbit is not lost yet as long as I keep accelerating. But if I'm not high enough, it will be lost.

Cheers!

Edited by davee
amended last item.

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Here is mine, if you have problem trying to get a big rocket into orbit you can always send 2 rockets and merge the ship on orbit using docking ports, sometimes it is even cheaper to do it than trying to get a huge ship up there on a bigger rocket. 

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- Success is fun, but failure is fun too. The best is a mix of the two.

- There is no wrong way to play the game.

- Air intakes work underwater.

- The tier 0 airstrip is the bumpiest surface in the known universe.

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8 minutes ago, Evanitis said:

- Success is fun, but failure is fun too. The best is a mix of the two.

And what's even more fun is that one can learn new things from both success and failure.

 

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Never give up! One of my most memorable moments was when starting from mun surface I realized I didn't have enough fuel and than used the jetpack to at least get Jeb into a stable orbit. Have read some stories like that later on, but I was so proud and happy when I did it back than - like in some rogue like game with permadeath and so on.

 

Though I thought the title of the thread implied more of "what did you learn in KSP that you can pass along your grandkids later on"..

Well I guess the mun moonlandling was real after all, even with the potato-computers back than. Although now I think it's entirely possible without any computers at all :lol:.

 

Oh and I really sucked in math back in school, but since KSP I find it increasingly fun and for the first time usefull.

 

 

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On 1/29/2014 at 4:36 AM, ShadowDragon8685 said:

I'm really starting to get annoyed hearing people poo-poo MechJeb.

If I wanted to learn to fly a rocket for real, I'd be sending my CV to NASA. Or playing Orbiter.

Doing things the manual way sucks, especially given the time invested in a single mission and that it can all come to an explosive halt at the very end because I krakensed up a tricky maneuver with the keyboards. More importantly, there's a crap-top of complex maths behind the scenes that not only do I not know how to do myself (watching Scott Manley illustrate some basic orbital mechanics on paper made my head go aaaaagh!,) even if I did, KSP does not give me the tools I would need to make use of that math - things like a precise Hohmann transfer, for instance.

Without MechJeb, I'd be lucky to manage to make an orbit, let alone an orbit with an apoapsis and periapsis within 10K of each other, and I could definitely forget about an orbit at the actual inclination I want. Maneuver nodes are practically no help whatsoever, because they require fiddling with the bloody awful maneuver node interface rather than, say, letting me input a maneuver to circularize my orbit at apoapsis, let alone getting any kind of an inclination change done without it making my orbit go all wonky to hell.

So please, please please stop trying to give "don't use the one mod that you literally couldn't play Kerbal Space Program without" and "learn to do it without the numbers, you big baby," as advice, because they're not advice. They're as helpful as "Just cheer the hell up already!" is to someone struggling with grief and/or chronic depression, or "just find a job, you lazy bum!" to someone grappling with chronic unemployment.

So there, I'll make that some serious advice for newbies: Don't pass down judgmental "advice" based on telling them not to do things they find work for them.

Hear hear!

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MechJeb is invaluable many levels and I never travel without it - firstly, it gives you vital engineering information that isn't found elsewhere in the stock game - this is essential to success.

I also really appreciate it for the tweaks to the UI it adds that make it easier to fly rockets - e.g. Manueveur Node Editor - Trying to adjust a node while focused on a distant moon, id ridicioulously difficult, and the MNE is a great additional UI to assist in setting up manual maneouvers.

Thirdly, it's a great teaching aid -  Not sure what the sensible way to circularise an orbit is? Not too sure whether or not a Hohmann transfer is available in this orbit? Ask MJ to work it out and Watch and Learn. Fourthly, it allows me to set some sensible limits to how I manually fly the ship (preventing overheating, auto-throttle down to at Max-Q, etc) 

Fifthly, and this is right at the bottom of the list - it's a autopilot.  But with the exception of SmartSAS, this is very much a minor function. 

There isn't a wrong way to play KSP - but relying on MJ to do the flying for you is probably the least best way to play it :-) 

Wemb

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1. MechJeb. Its like playing FPS game with Aimbot. With it, KSP goes from "Challenging" into "Easymodo".
There is sandbox mode to experiment, Kerbal Engineer Redux and similar mods to deliver you more information and hints.

Mods should provide aids to ease the work, but not ease the work by replacing pilot/engineer. Real-life pilots do use more and more sophisticated autopilots, but merely because there is no "Load Button" in real life and manual "experimentation on living patient" is only encouraged when lacking any other options.

The only real argument for keeping MechJeb, is when pilot wants to be a strategist, and KSP should play as a round-based strategy as virtually all real-time challenges are lost.

2. I don't need orbiting for planets without atmosphere or with acceptable gravity - and can save tons of fuel.

3. SRB have no thrust vectoring, no ability to control - which is a BIG minus. Without KER or manual calculation of stage 1 T/W to be between 1.5 and 2, using SRB is asking for trouble. It may not explode, but it will burn through more fuel due to inefficient ascend.

4. Thrust-to-Weight is everything for Stage 1 (uplift) and Stage 2(orbiting) or combined Stage 1 for Single-Stage-To-Orbit designs.
If you have too much fuel, but too less thrust from engine - you will fall down, spin at higher atmosphere or waste fuel (Stage 1) or will not be able to circularize (Stage 2).

5. Less is more applies only to payload. For engines and fuel - Thrust-to-Weight ratio and Asparagus method - rule.

6. Playing more KSP allows to navigate using navball only, even in total darkness.

7. I like retractable Solar panels

---

8. Ion engine suck, if there is any gravity. Either splash or stranded alone.

9. KSP wings suck for bigger planes. Procedural wings mod - is a godsend

10. KER rules.

11. KIS, KAS, KAX, USI - the big expansion four.

Edit:

12. If you build a lander and want to land on the feet - its shape must look as a "bug", not as a "bottle". The very same hint is given by the game at start screen.

13. Invest in science! Create a biome x scientific experiment zone table! Hunt science! Create a rover on four wheels with a basic jet engine, and do a science tour around KSC for over 120 science.

Edited by Kerbal101

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On 12/15/2015 at 0:05 AM, davee said:

(snip)

1) I upgraded from 1.0.4 to 1.0.5 and for a while I guess I couldn't use MechJeb and after installing RSS and RO, I wanted to do moon transfer orbits using the real moon. First issue was How on earth do I align planes with the real moon, now that my home planet and the lunar plane are mis-aligned by so much? (23 degrees or something like that?) And I'm now launching from Florida. I wanted to use an alignment burn. Uh uh. Too much delta-v needed. Then I tried and tried to figure out how to launch in the proper direction and how to know when I'm in alignment before I take off.

Answer:

I learned (on my own) that the Kerbal Engineer's rendezvous  GUI shows the "Relative Inclination" of the moon when it's the target. And the big learn was that the nav ball shows 90 degrees to launch into the pro-grade direction. So learned to watch the RI field go down close to zero by warping, then launching pure prograde during that time and it lines perfectly with the lunar plane. I watch some great YouTube tutorials (4 20-minute parts) to gain an understanding of how to use the nav ball. Still need to learn more on the nav ball from experience, though.

(snip)

This sums up the controversy around MechJeb pretty much.
It helps by removing big part of gameplay - big area to experience, learn, big part of challenge.
The question is - do you want this challenge? Game should be enjoying experience, in the end. The answer defines the need for MechJeb. If you don't want to learn from failures or if you are simply bored by sheer amount of real (micro-)action, then MechJeb is a positive feature.

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What I have found is that if I start in sandbox mode it is easier to master basic skills due to the fact that you have more part available. Also learn the basics of flight before getting a mod like Mechjeb.

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Something I never noticed until recently. Kerbals on EVA can interact with parts, such as extending a solar panel or lowering landing legs. Saves an awful lot of hopping between vessels.

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I'm no expert, but I have played KSP for quite a while, and here's what I have to say:

1. Trial and error. The learning curve of KSP is quite steep, so failing is the best way to learn not only what doesn't work, but why it doesn't work. If you can't go fast enough to get a good speed to work with to get to orbit, get a more powerful engine. If you overheat, slow down or slap on some heat resistant panels.

2. Simple. Don't complicate if you don't need too. You can skip orbit to get to the mun. You don't have to worry about moving for orbital momentum until you're in space. Always look for ways to do things with less steps.

3. Screw around. I can't tell you the laughs I've gotten from doing stupid things in KSP.

 

 

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I also agree MechJeb is extremely helpful and without I probably couldn't have ever made it to Eve. Once you use it there is no going back. (BTW it is also EXTREMELY useful for docking.)

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1) If you feel bored, then do any (or all) of the following:

Uninstall mechjeb

Play some career

Watch some Danny

Use RSS and RO

Mod until your computer tries to kill itself from the agony of loading KSP.

 

2) Don't rely on the f9 key. You will get bored.

3) Every accident can be awesome! say your lander impactor leaves two kerbals stuck on minmus... don't leave them there! rescue them! make a convoluted plot and turn it into a cinematic!

4)Learn how to do a gravity turn. quickly. you will be so much happier.

Edited by Andem

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On 11/23/2015 at 5:54 PM, sdrevik said:

I played LOTS of games before figuring this out:

I actually landed on a couple of the Joolian moons before I figured out there was a save feature. :)

You want to talk about nerve-wracking...

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Two things I've learnt (I've only played a few hours so far):

- When you are just starting, learn the controls and basics using the pre-built Rockets & spaceplanes.

- Don't use good astronauts like Jebediah Kerman unless you know you won't crash him. Just send some random dude.

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On 07/01/2016 at 11:29 PM, Evanitis said:

- Success is fun, but failure is fun too. The best is a mix of the two.

- There is no wrong way to play the game.

- Air intakes work underwater.

- The tier 0 airstrip is the bumpiest surface in the known universe.

Yeah with the runway i always take off from the ground next to it till i can level it up

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I've learned that a combination of patience and strategically placed struts is the key to success, also thrust, you can never have too much thrust. Well, actually you can, I had a rocket blow up once because the insane amount of thrust quite literally crushed the upper part of the rocket, that was fun.^_^ Maneuver nodes can also be very useful when used right.

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Align the driver to the driven. If you rotate a command module so the ladder aligns with the lower sections you will hate yourself when you try to use the directional controls. It also makes space hangar part alignment impossible.

Do not save the last bit of staging to detach in final re-entry in an attempt to limit space debris. It works fine *most* of the time but can also come back and hit you, or even worse, clip into the heat shield and make the craft uncontrollable. :(

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Spending an hour trying to strut down a fairings content isn't worth it. Re design the payload, re align your thrustsers, come up with a new way of launching the payload or use procedural fairings. They have auto strutting so in the case of unbalanced loads very useful 

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don't EVA after a crash if the door is facing the surface

gimballed rockets will murder your ship if attached radially without some space between

the spock rule: the wellbeing of the many outweigh the wellbeing of the one. sorry Fredgun.

if anyone has some rules of thumb for wrestling an asteroid back to Kerbin I'd love to hear it.

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1. Quicksave at every opportunity.

2. Don't be afraid of failure, embrace it. (as long as it doesn't kill jeb:))

3. Planes are hard.

4. CHECK YOUR STAGING!! I've lost far too missions and kerbals to putting a decoupler on the wrong stage.

5. Triple check you have batteries, parachutes etc.

6. Kerbal engineer redux is one of the most useful mods ever made.

7. The kraken is always watching.

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