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ShadowDragon8685

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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On 1/27/2014 at 8:30 AM, Raven. said:

1. Learn to dock without the aid of MechJeb.

2. Modularize everything. It cuts down on the design time behind building a station, base, or multipart ship.

3. Build the rocket/plane and hit the launch button. If it handles like the old farm truck, make some adjustments. A crashing rocket/plane is part of the game and enjoyment :).

4. Never send up a manned flight without a way of getting the poor Kerbal back down to Kerbin's ground, safely. Have rescue craft handy.

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

6. Smaller is always bigger. Avoid a large payload and avoid large stages unless you absolutely need them. With docking ports in the game, send your large contraptions up in pieces and assemble them in LKO.

1) I agree with learning everything without mechjeb. As others have mentioned, I am definitely one of those "purists" who have used mechjeb either very little or none at all. However, once you really begin to learn everything and you have to repeatedly do the same things you have already mastered, well, can you blame one for using mechjeb autopilot, then? After a while, I have caved in and installed mechjeb today. However, there are still plenty of moment that I'd rather do something myself without the help of mehjeb auto.

2)Yup, agreed agreed. Sometimes though, you can't help but to build big. But definitely worth the while building things modularly.

4) It's not surprising how many people don't care about their kerbals at all. I am one of the people who refuses to let their kerbals die. Generally speaking, if I know I can't do it without bringing them back, I don't do it. Well... says the person who accepted the contract to plant a flag on eve, lol. Oh boy, that's gonna be fun.

6) And why not smaller, anyway? I just love launching cute little satellites, lol. It's so fun to watch some of the smaller spacecraft just scoot along in space.

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1. Save subassemblies.

(I mean, you can save a satellite in a few simple steps, you can make base modules that are always the same height...)

 

2. Watch youtube.

(I watched a lot of Scott Manely's videos before playing, and I really learned quite a bit from them.)

 

3. Make a checklist!

(I hang a few different checklists by the side of my computer all the time, and I use them for everything, from construction, to flying, to landing. Very useful.)

 

And Jeb's advice? 

"Don't die." 

 

Edited by Lo Var Lachland

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Be very careful controlling your space station.  If you've docked anything, the engines on it will be available to use, even by accident.

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On 5/19/2016 at 5:33 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?

MechJeb gives you the delta-V of your rocket as you make it.  I think it predates Kerbal Engineer and a lot of people still use it just for that.  It also might give launch windows for other planets.  I'd recommend Kerbal Engineer as one of your first mods.  Kerbal Alarm Clock is basically needed the moment you want to perform more than one mission simultaneously (flying local missions during the slow voyage out to Duna and beyond).  Chatterer and Scatterer are great non-gameplay mods that improve audio and video respectively (no idea if they are ready for 1.1, K.E whines about my 1.1.2).

Some bits are too difficult or too tedious.  You can learn a bit about some procedures by watching MechJeb do it.  I know I was leaning on MechJeb for docking for some time (doing the career rescue missions on my own taught me enough to dock).  Watching MechJeb do a suicide burn teaches a few things about safe landing (and even more things *not* to do).

I've been on more than a few "recover as much a possible" kicks (and got tired of KSP for awhile because of it).  Using MechJeb to de-orbit and land my boosters would make a lot of sense (athough I expect MechJeb wants a bit more delta-v than they had).  WARNING: this is yet another case where MechJeb is overpowered.  If you tell MechJeb to land on the landing pad, you land on the landing pad and have 100% of your rocket returned.  If you consider this cheating consider giving a (flat) location far enough away for a reasonable return.

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On 11/19/2015 at 4:43 PM, WildBill said:

My recent discoveries (apologies if this is old news):
1. When setting up maneuver nodes, you can click on your target (say Jool), and select Focus View. Now you can zoom in and see the details of exactly how you're going to approach your target. And when you actually execute the maneuver, I do the same thing. Except this time you can make tiny little burns (with RCS) to fine-tune your approach way before you even get close. Saves lots of fuel!
.

...This is amazing...completely refined the way I do maneuver planning. Thanks!

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On ‎6‎/‎21‎/‎2016 at 11:01 AM, tjt said:

...This is amazing...completely refined the way I do maneuver planning. Thanks!

You are very welcome. Always happy to help...

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MechJeb:  I find it useful to resolve the drudgery of docking and rendezvous.  I played KSP for a year before I installed MJ, and I got pretty good at all the above, and I would DEFINITELY recommend that any newcomer do the same.   The feeling of accomplishment from pulling off a rendezvous and dock manually is well worth it.  Once you get 5 under your belt, feel free to subordinate that headache to MJ so you can enjoy using docking for what it's for.

I don't use it for anything else other than dV calculations when building ships.  I might use the Descent if I need to land near another base or craft already on the ground, just so I don't have to drive/walk for an hour.

 

Other advice:  once your boost stages get big enough, quit using SRBs, liquid boost stages are much better.

Edited by sdrevik

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On 5/27/2016 at 8:29 PM, kBob said:

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).

Remember, any kerbalnaut (not tourists, but pilots and engineers as well as scientists) can EVA and "take data" from the science jr. (typically you want a scientist so you can run the experiment in the upper atmosphere, take the data, reset the experiment, run it, take the data again).  After this you can let the science jr. burn up.  Of course, if you have a scientist on board and you reset the experiment, you can run it again in the lower atmosphere for all the science (and reset it and run it again if you haven't recorded the landing biome).

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25 minutes ago, wumpus said:

Remember, any kerbalnaut (not tourists, but pilots and engineers as well as scientists) can EVA and "take data" from the science jr. snip

I don't like leaving trash behind :wink: .  Not that I don't sometimes, I have one way probes going to Duna and Eloo maybe when I get warp drive I'll go visit them and establish them has historical landmarks.

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Kerbal Space Program is a really fun game! It is incredibly challenging but highly rewarding when you complete missions. Some of the main things to do to make KSP even more fun are:

1; Start with sandbox... Sandbox practically teaches you KSP! You have to mess around and kind of learn the lingo before you do anything else. Fly the stock ships to get used to it and make mini checkpoints like getting off the ground or getting on the Mun. And when you are ready, start to design your own ships! 

2; Don't start with Mods... Once you feel like you are getting left out on something after a long time of trial and error, get a mod to help. MechJeb is nice when somedays you get board of manually rendezvousing. Or get part mods to increase your experience. This whole game is about Trial and Error so don't be getting mods to make it easy to start, challenge yourself!

3; Have fun... If your not having fun, your not doing the game right!  Enjoy the small stuff, laugh at your mistakes, and be happy when you do something cool!

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1. To accept help from others in engineering technology even waigh balance piloting and then to pass it on.

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On 1/29/2014 at 8:07 PM, match said:

There are no straight lines in space.

Except the one that leads to fiery destruction.

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Nowhere in the Mun is ever flat, and don't bother trying to land on the non flat parts of Minmus.

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Don't ever give up or think it is impossable. Unless trying to land on the sun or Jool. This game does require a lot of trial and error. And many design reiterations of crafts.

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On 16.05.2016 at 5:44 PM, 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.

Instead of blocking a battery, my construction checklist includes "One Emergency Unshielded Solar."

That's not always one. Sometimes two, rarely three. The lowest-level, small, simple solar panels. Even one will suffice but in rare cases you'll need to wait half a year before it helps, so two is always better. Regardless of all the rest, it will always provide enough power to extend the *actual* solar panels.

 

On 16.05.2016 at 5:44 PM, Aubri said:

 

*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.

Unless you have a moon along the way. Always use a moon for inclination changes.

That is, if you're not launching new. If you're just launching, launch into the correct inclination, or something close to it.

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1. I learned to always wait for the transfer window

2. I learned basic orbital mechanics

3. I learned that if you clip a part, it wont explode instantly (yay?)

4. I learned that after 1.0 you could not make a rocket with an instant slap-on car on it.

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You do not have to be insane to play KSP, but it really helps..

If you want to find a flat spot on the Mun to build a base, then build a cheap one way rocket but use I-frames to spread the legs wide apart, so if you land on a crater wall, chances are you will not tip over... once you find a flat spot... build a normal lander with all the bells and whistles... my way might be harder, but it reflects the true nature of space exploration.

Lastly.... for all the most dangerous missions.... send Jeb... if he dies, no big loss and everyone else (especially Val) can rest easier..

have a nice day!

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Have a checklist. It takes only 15 seconds before you launch.

Mine simply checks:

  1. Got control? (RSC/reaction wheels)
  2. Got power (battery / solar panels)
  3. EVA access: got ladders, hatches not blocked?
  4. Landing gear: legs/wheels/parachutes
  5. Staging sequence ok?
  6. Got the right crew?

GO!

(Which boxes need to be checked depends on the mission, but I prefer to quickly run past this list, as it contains everything that has gone horribly wrong in the past).

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Have some guts! Go out and don't be afraid to make mistakes xD That's what makes the game interesting.

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The higher up your rocket you get, the more important it is to not add weight you don't need.

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15 hours ago, eddiew said:

The higher up your rocket you get, the more important it is to not add weight you don't need.

Unless it is an extra fuel tank, and you just think you don't need it. :):)

My missions, contrary to those of the professionals, hardly ever go according to plan, so a little extra fuel on the final stage(s) to get my guys home saves me a lot of rescue missions.

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For me, it all boils down to: Small Steps.

That's really it. I've glanced through this thread, but some of it is things I don't care for, ways I don't want to play. And the rest, well, it's small steps. That is how I found happiness in KSP.
And I test a lot. One of the things I decided even before I started to play this game was to do my damnest to keep my astronauts alive. So I try to make sure the rocket is immaculate before sending off a mission. There's almost always some small glitch somewhere anyway, but that just reinforces the importance of testing and checklists. That's one reason I've put off playing 'career-mode'. I wouldn't have budget enough for the testing (actually, I suppose one could do 'revert' and so on, but my immersion in my playing style could wander off).

...And moar boosters. Or bigger engines in the first stage. It's important for the fuel budget to get going early.

Edited by Vermil

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The 10 biggest things I've learned are;

1. Have fun.  If you want a mod to take care of some aspects of the game use it, if not, don't. There's no "right" way to play the game, other than enjoying what you achieve.

2. Early in the game try heading for Minmus instead of the Mun.  It's so much more forgiving when learning the skills needed for a powered decent.

3. Have some spare power (locked off) just in case you run out.

4. Practice docking until becomes routine as it opens up so many possibilities.

5. A pen and paper is always handy. Especially, I find, when testing out a new design. That way you can note all the issues you want to address and fix them all at once. Write down your action group commands - you don't want to cut away a parachute when you meant to jettison a heat shield.

6. If you start to make changes to a working design, give it a new name when you save it.  That way you can always go back to something that worked if your "improvements" have unforseen side effects.

7. Learn to use the NAV ball as it gives you a lot of useful information.

8. Arrange your RCS thrusters an equal distance either side of your crafts centre of mass.  I use an extended ladder as a "ruler" to balance them fore and aft. Docking is so much easier that way.

9. Consult the forums. The wisdom of others has helped me out an awful lot, especially when trying something new.

10. If you use quicksaves, make sure you have one that you know you can return to safely. It's so annoying when your only save puts you right back into an impossible situation. Eg when landing, I use "safe" whilst still in orbit, "decent" high up when there's still plenty of options and "final" closer to the ground (especially when carrying out a"suicide burn" or landing on difficult terrain)

But, the most important point is 1. Have Fun!

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Oberth Effect is not just for orbital flybys.

It works when you burn in LKO, where it can almost halve transfer cost to other planets.

It works when you're braking something not meant for airbraking - when you burn at the low periapsis, you'll spend much less than if you brake at the edge of SOI.

And it matters from moment one, seconds after leaving the launchpad: If your launch vehicle has poor TWR, something below 1.4 - you'll spend tons upon tons of fuel to reach the orbit. Add a lot of cheap SRBs, even plain old Hammers. Give your rocket a good initial kick - get it above 400m/s during the first 30 seconds of flight - and the same launcher that would be unable to reach orbit, will reach it with 2500m/s left in the tanks - all thanks to a cluster of SRBs that provided maybe 300m/s early on. If you get moving fast early, You can afford lousy TWR later in the ascent, but the initial 400m/s or so gained ASAP make a world of difference.

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