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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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On 18/03/2016 at 5:49 AM, Kaiser82 said:

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

Unlock the claw's pivot and adjust it's angle so your engine fires coaxially with the asteroid's COM.  Oh, and don't put in a widdershins orbit like i did the first time I did an asteroid capture mission...

Wemb

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On 3/19/2016 at 7:49 AM, Kaiser82 said:

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.

Rescuing Fredgun will give you the ability to rescue all the future countless many lost-in-space kerbals...They will certainly be more kerbals than you have in the astronaut complex :P (just kidding, but seriously learning and pulling that off will make Fredgun[cool name btw] to be a more well known hero than Jeb)

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I just learned that 3 RCS thrusters is not a good idea even if RCS aids says they are balanced.

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You will probably disagree with me:

Use Hyperedit for testing.

(testing and immediately reverting to launch)

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1.  Pulling a long rocket is much more stable than pushing a rocket.  Don't forget that engines can overheat and burn off parts behind them so watch where they thrust.  

2.  Testing is under rated.  Try and test your crafts to see if they would work in similar conditions.  Don't be afraid of using cheats in order to test the crafts easier(IE: infinite fuel plus hack gravity to see how transfer craft will operate, using hyperedit to test)

3.  Testing is over rated.  Sometimes the best way to learn is by your failures.  You learn what works and what doesn't work by trying different things in different conditions. 

4.  Bigger is not always better.  If you can build something that's smaller and has the same functionality and dv, then you can build a smaller rocket to get it to orbit, which is usually easier to get into orbit and can have fewer parts.  

5. Try something new. Install a new mod to change how you plan, build, and fly your crafts.  Mods like remote tech, TAC LS, FAR and RSS will make you think differently and broaden your view on how the game is played, plus you may like the particular mods and insist on playing with them.  

6.  If you mod, try going stock and if you play stock, trying modding.  You never know if playing a different way will be more fun or make you appreciate KSP more.  

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Gravity turn!

Many fake ghosts of Jeb and Valentia(sp) are telling me to say this.

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llanthas

And why should you? It's KSP and not reality. Now say that 10 times in a row (Rhymes). SAS and tapping and watching certain gauges is the only way it works. I was just pointing out that newbies might want to figure this stuff out sooner than later.

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On 26.1.2014 at 8:12 PM, capi3101 said:

Learn the Rocket Equation - how to use it to determine how much delta-V your rocket has, and how to use it to determine the amount of fuel you need in order to have a target amount of delta-V. That, combined with an understanding of the importance of thrust-to-weight ratios, will tell you if your rocket is capable of doing the job you want it to and the bare amount of fuel you need to do it.

...

 

Also always be aware of the fact that, simplified, engines in KSP can be broken down into 2 major groups:

Engines that work well in an atmosphere and engines that work well in a vacuum

 

It usually doesn´t make sense to use an engine in the first stages, that only works well in a vacuum ... it also doesn´t make sense to use an engine for interplanetary tranbsfer, that is horrible in vacuum and only good in an atmosphere. (unless you have no alternatives or very good reasons to deviate from this rule, of course ... there may also be special cases that give you reasons to deviate from certain rules)

 

Also be aware that usually in eingines there is a tradeoff between efficiency and thrust ... the most efficient engines usually produce the least thrust ... ask yourself how mucvh thrust you really need (especially in space (if it is not about landing or starting from a planet) you usually don´t need high TWR values and can play more with efficient low thrust engines)

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One cool thing I found is that if you learn the ASCII code KSP is written in, you can modify the actual parts to be more efficient/powerful, or (more challenging and therefore fun :D) less efficient/powerful. I don’t know if this has been discussed at all, but I think it’s an interesting idea. Just make sure not to lose the original part tho. :wink:

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10 hours ago, Mycroft said:

One cool thing I found is that if you learn the ASCII code KSP is written in, you can modify the actual parts to be more efficient/powerful, or (more challenging and therefore fun :D) less efficient/powerful. I don’t know if this has been discussed at all, but I think it’s an interesting idea. Just make sure not to lose the original part tho. :wink:

Or just learn to use ModuleManager to make the alterations for you so you don't have to change the original cfg files and your changes won't conflict with changes that other mods may make to the same parts...

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Today I learned that with RemoteTech installed, a Solar eclipse just before you start re-entry is a very scary thing indeed.

Wemb

Edited by Wemb

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The knowledge/information I learned about KSP are not about KSP itself, rather they are about my real life...

Long introduction hidden, expand to know the back story for the talk below...

Spoiler

 

Because I grew up and I am living in a Middle-eastern country... During my school time, maths, physics and chemistry classes were the MOST hated classes for everyone... I never wondered why we hated them or why we would ever love them... However for me it was different, I felt some love to those lessons despite I was not perfect in them, but I just loved crunching the numbers, and doing the equations and differentiations... My friends saw me a bit weird though.

When I see videos of the geniuses out there, and even the passed away scientists, such as Newton, Einstein, Halley, Farady and many many others, I wonder why they became what the were and I am not... compared to their time, I am living a VERY luxurious life to them, with the full internet and all the knowledge in my mobile phone or laptop, but still I cannot solve an equation easily like they did. When I look for today's schools that are outside the ME, or even the whole MENA region, I know the reason that we don't have those minds like EU, Americas, and AUS have. It is because MENA region (I am sadly saying this) does not value the future, and considers maths as a teacher's future only, we learn maths, physics, chemistry just to be teachers in schools. No more. We take the maths class and we forget it completely after the final exams, while in fact our whole life is involved in maths and physics, but we are perfectly blind from this fact, ignoring it because we don't like numbers.

 

KSP taught me that science is around us everywhere, it taught me to look at everything in a different way, before I play KSP, I used to hate every second I spent on an aircraft during travel, I hated every single second of my time driving a car, and more I hated to walk for a single second under the sun... But now, I await every potential chance and appointment to ride an air plane, just to feel how the air flows around that piece of metal, and I sit next to the wings just to watch the flaps, ailerons, and the "A.I.R.B.R.A.K.E.S" work, and I enjoy the sound of the engines after it was torturing my brain with its non stopping roaring. The landing time is my favourite time of the whole trip, I love it and I can feel the air outside hitting and lifting the body of the plane as I never imagined it before...

I can now really see where our Earth is in space, how other planets move around our sun, and most of all, I realized that our horizon is actually vertical not horizontal as we see it from earth, I could never imagine myself sitting on the screen watching an eclipse and imagining it happening from a point of view not inside earth, but from outside it. Before I played KSP, I never felt the laws of physics so real like I do now...

I am now badly looking and hoping to get a telescope (although it is not that easy here) to see more and more of the stuff I missed because of how we used to look/consider maths and physics here...

I will make sure that I pass this knowledge to my children and help them not to waste their early creative years like I did.

Edited by SalehRam
Typos

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*Always shut off the battery in your first pod. I've never been disappointed that I didn't have 5 more EC to spend, but I've often wished I had enough to deploy a solar panel or get just a bit of rotation started. Also, as long as there's EC somewhere on the ship, you can still tweak tweakables.

*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.

*Learn how to use bi-elliptical transfers to make large inclination changes. It's counterintuitive until you turn your head and squint, but if you're going more than 45 degrees, you'll be glad you did. (P.S. From 45 to 60 degrees, your target is to double your current semi-major axis. Otherwise, go to the edge of the SoI.)

*Speaking of which, learn the difference between altitude and semi-major axis.

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13 minutes ago, Aubri said:

*Always shut off the battery in your first pod. I've never been disappointed that I didn't have 5 more EC to spend, but I've often wished I had enough to deploy a solar panel or get just a bit of rotation started. Also, as long as there's EC somewhere on the ship, you can still tweak tweakables.

This one doesn't work anymore, once the probe core goes dead you can't turn on a reserve battery.

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12 hours ago, Red Iron Crown said:

This one doesn't work anymore, once the probe core goes dead you can't turn on a reserve battery.

So it does. I just learned this to my chagrin this evening.

Hey guys, I found a bug fix...

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Learn to love the manuever editor, it's a mighty fine tool.

also if you have a while between you and your next manuever, play around with it, you might find a better burn to get you where you are going, and save precious Delta V!

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22 minutes ago, NINTHTJ said:

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.

The new "Merge" tool does a similar thing. I have saved my booster as a separate craft, and then add the payload later.

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On 1/26/2014 at 4:44 AM, ShadowDragon8685 said:

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.

I just recently started playing KSP & actually havent tried any mods yet.

I really dont see the point of MechJeb though? Isnt the whole point of the game to figure things out for yourself & fly your planes & rockets? Why would I want a mod to do all the planning for me & fly it?

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38 minutes ago, RX2000 said:

 Why would I want a mod to do all the planning for me & fly it?

People use it for testing their build's launch profile under repeat conditions. They use it SCIENTIFICALLY.

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On 5/19/2016 at 4:33 PM, RX2000 said:

I just recently started playing KSP & actually havent tried any mods yet.

I really dont see the point of MechJeb though? Isnt the whole point of the game to figure things out for yourself & fly your planes & rockets? Why would I want a mod to do all the planning for me & fly it?

Well, for my money, once I've launched 50 or 60 rockets from the smallest flea to the biggest heavy lifter, under all kinds of conditions and approximating a gravity turn, I'm happy to let MechJeb handle the ascent guidance. I also like using the maneuver planner's porkchop plot rather than scrolling a maneuver node around, trying to find a decent departure window. It's also handy to execute maneuver nodes when you have a long burn time, like NERV-powered heavy vessels or anything with an ion drive. And I use the dV meter all the time, though I know that's also available in other mods.

There are a few handy tools, like the RCS balancer and the CoM visualizer, but those are just conveniences.

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11 hours ago, Aubri said:

Well, for my money, once I've launched 50 or 60 rockets from the smallest flea to the biggest heavy lifter, under all kinds of conditions and approximating a gravity turn, I'm happy to let MechJeb handle the ascent guidance. I also like using the maneuver planner's porkchop plot rather than scrolling a maneuver node around, trying to find a decent departure window. It's also handy to execute maneuver nodes when you have a long burn time, like NERV-powered heavy vessels or anything with an ion drive. And I use the dV meter all the time, though I know that's also available in other mods.

Hmm ok. Yea I guess after you've launched a billion rockets it gets kind of old just guiding them up to space. Maybe I'll look into MechJeb when I get bored with it. :wink:

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Don't forget all of the science that you can get just by EVA's and performing experiments around the different buildings of the KSP complex.  Create a simple ground vehicle to drive to each area of KSP and within 30 minutes you will get approx. 200 exp, boosting your development significantly early on.

 

The Game Colonel

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Wow I learned that getting what you wish for can be challenging. 

Two years ago when I last played, reentry heat was just a desired idea that wasn't being greated very well by the makers.  Now I just finally managed a sub-orbital polar landing with my science jr. without buringing up, but I had to resort to adding a small fuel tank and engine to slow my decent, great fun and a little frustrating at first.  So getting that decent slowed down is lot more imporatant that it used to be (I'd be embarrassed to say how many Kerbals fried before I got it right).

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1: Start simple.

I had a lot of trouble with this one, and my first fifty or so launches ended in explosions. Then I made something small, and it worked.

 

2: Payload size.

Keep your payloads small, and dock for bigger things. This way, your launchers don't need to be massive.

 

3: Rage management.

Always learn to channel your inevitable fury into something productive, otherwise you'll get nothing done.

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