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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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Always use retractable solar panels in things you want to dock with. Also, add at least triple redundancy to everything. If you need two panels, have five.

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On ‎25‎/‎08‎/‎2016 at 2:53 PM, Omegagoldfish said:

Always use retractable solar panels in things you want to dock with. Also, add at least triple redundancy to everything. If you need two panels, have five.

When I was first doing stations and dockings I learnt the hard way that you really need that extra little bit of weight and opt for retractable panels. The single shot type, whilst cheaper and lighter, is a false economy when you shave them off accidentally after a bungled approach or undocking (it also teaches you to get good at docking fast before you strip off all the stations power generation facilities!).

I also now set  all my panels to toggle on action group 2 for everything I build. That way when I do my final docking run mental checklist I never forget to retract them.

On the docking side of life a tid-bit I have found useful is to have all the vessel's reaction wheels ready to shutdown when you dock with a station or larger vessel (basically keeping the large section/axis the only part with running torque control, keeping it close to the overall CoG) it helps keep the kraken at bay.

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Never leave an RCS segment off of a stage just because you figure (I'll be ditching that before I get to the important part, no need to balance it out as if that will be the inferior end of the craft . . .): currently wrestling with my (otherwise well RCS balanced) Mun orbital service module trying to get a good docking rendezvous with the Lander returned with 4 Kerbals and several hundred science. The lander is nice and manueverable, but the orbiter (with one pilot aboard) has the lionshare of the fuel . . .

Always overestimate how much RCS you "might" need.

If you use Kerbal Engineer, NEVER forget to leave the module off every command pod in a complex ship (also that clumsy orbiter above has no KER module in it!)

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I'm definitely a noob, but after thirty hours of play I have an opinion on this topic. 

- The forums rock. A welcoming atmosphere (pun intended) with helpful vets helping us witless noobs. 

- Start career mode. You begin with a few pieces and build on that over time. Best way to learn the game and initial concepts. Avoid mods until you understand the concepts and can do the tasks manually. 

- By the time I've built something, I want to tear it apart and redo it because I always figure out a way to do it better.

- KISS principle applies, always. 

- Free return trajectory will save Jeb's bacon when your design bureau under specs the fuel supply and you run out. 

- YouTube rocks for tutorials. 

- It may only be simplified Kerbal rocket science, but it's still challenging. 

On 8/11/2016 at 5:08 AM, Mycroft said:

Bigger is not always better.

But it does help at times. :D

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On Xbox I thought I'd be only mildly pleased with the game in comparison to my PC experience.  Like many I relied on Kerbal Engineer.  

Instead I find it easy enough to calculate my own delta v and even use my graphing calculator app to plot quick reference charts for remaining delta v in flight, burn time required, etc.. That, for me, is part of the fun of the game now.

Also, independent of mods I use alexmoon launch window planner for interplanetary travel.  

One thing I enjoy now that I am weaned off of Mechjeb is common sense.  Before I would fly missions almost to the very limit number of what was possible with the math that I ran.  Now I find that I build myself in about a fifteen percent fudge factor for orbital maneuvering/transfers.  I build in a large error margin for Gravity-turns during non atmospheric descents so I can correct to find terrain, etc..  These are all common sense things that I missed.  With MJ I would never interrupt warp mid flight to see if I need to make mid-course corrections.  Now I do.

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After playing KSP for almost 2 years (though with some large brakes), I think I should make a list myself:

(Mind you, this is just my opinion!)

1. Calm down and have fun! Its just rocket science :)

2. KER is love, KER is life. It is a lot easier knowing what your spacecraft is capable of, and what not with KER.

3. Always leave a margin for error. You will use more than 3500m/s of Dv for Kerbin ascent.

4. Always have an abort system on your manned rockets, even if it is just jettisoning the external tank.

5. Try challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Ask in the forums if you're stuck, we will be glad to help you!

6. If you're feeling burnt out, stop playing KSP and play something else. Come back to it once you have new ideas.

7. After a longer time not playing KSP, do a simple practice mission like an Apollo-style Mun landing to dust off some of your skills.

8. Tell your friends that you're playing KSP! Maybe you'll even get some girls interested :wink:

Edited by ZentroCatson

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I just started playing, sooo my ability to contribute will be minimal.  That said, here is what I have learned so far:

1. When docking, if you are close to your target (100m give or take) and with 0 relative velocity, just take it slow and easy from there.  If you have RCS thrusters (because, why wouldn't you?), it is better to creep up accurately on your target (0.5m/s, for example) and nail your approach the first time rather than yo-yo back and forth a dozen times.  Slow and steady, slow and steady...  This probably is considered "Well, duh!" level of knowledge for experienced KSP-ers, but it took me awhile to get the whole patient approach thing down.  I just 'felt' things should be moving more quickly.  That was not a helpful feeling.

2. Struts are your friends, especially when building larger vehicles that may want to wobble like a bowl of gelatin.

3. Learn the different key bindings and how they change from mode to mode.  Pressing the wrong key may or may not have lead to an explosive encounter between ships.  Maybe.  I admit nothing.  Anyway, even when things are moving slowly (relatively speaking), being able to press the correct keys with precision (versus guessing and hunting and pecking) helps.

4. Don't be afraid to try something - even if it seems weird, improbable, or difficult beyond reasonable safety parameters (let you Kerbals do the worrying).  I have 'failed' countless times, but each time I learned something new, adjusted for it, and got a bit better with each attempt.  Which reminds me...

5. When changing the build of a ship for better (or even just simply functional without unnecessary explosions) performance, changing one major structural component at a time between launches will help you understand how each thing affects your ship.  If you change a dozen things between launches, it can be hard to tell which one thing had which specific effect (good or bad).  The two biggest areas I have noticed this in are in figuring out fuel-thrust efficiency (it really, really sucks to be stuck in space with no fuel) and flight stability (I have had some wobbly ships like like to tumble through the sky like a fireworks wheel).

6. Finally, press ALL THE BUTTONS and use ALL THE PARTS!  There are so many features in KSP, it is fun to keep discovering new things!

OK, those are my noob suggestions.

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On 10/15/2016 at 8:37 PM, Wanderhoof said:

3. Learn the different key bindings and how they change from mode to mode.  Pressing the wrong key may or may not have lead to an explosive encounter between ships.  Maybe.  I admit nothing.  Anyway, even when things are moving slowly (relatively speaking), being able to press the correct keys with precision (versus guessing and hunting and pecking) helps.

I remapped controls to other parts of the keyboard. I now use the arrow keys and the neighboring Right Shift and Right Control for Translate controls. This allows me to give rotation (WASD) and Translation (Arrows) at the same time. It also assures that I don't accidentally translate when I meant to rotate because each key only serves one purpose and I don't have to track which mode I'm in.

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  • Include self-lighting on everything (B9's omni lights are the best for this imo), especially if you've got science experiments to click all over.
  • Don't rush or trivialise any part of vehicle design or mission planning/execution. Even with Better Burn Time I've zoned out and started the engines too late on a lot of landers.
  • At that, don't trivialise any part of the game. I've basically never done Apollo-style Mun landings, instead preferring to fantasize about nuclear powered multi-launch projects that always fell through, and have gone on to pay the price of being incredibly bad at return missions and having a limited experience base in simple and reliable spacecraft.
Edited by String Witch

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1 hour ago, String Witch said:
  • Include self-lighting on everything (B9's omni lights are the best for this imo), especially if you've got science experiments to click all over.

I've also learned to not go overboard on self-lighting. I had one of my well-lit motherships trying to dock at my well-lit Kerbin station and lights started winking out or blinking. :o

Turns out, there's a limit of (I think) 8 points of light in the scene. If it goes over that they start flickering. That number can be changed in the Settings menus, but probably impacts performance as you increase it.

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I had the game for few weeks only. The first thing I learned: do not buy early access games unless you buy them, um... early. There is vast amount of documentation and tutorials that are horribly outdated and make finding pertinent information very hard for newcomers. A lot of community members, who played the game for years and adjusted to the changes as they happened, take stuff for granted. 

MechJeb

I would not be able to play without MechJeb. I would have returned the game.  It should be built into the game as an option. I was able to go to orbit and, with significant difficulty, go back to the Mun, land in a totally random spot an return to Kerbin and, again, land in totally random spot, but that was it. I would have stopped playing KSP if I didn't find MJ. I find the lack of updated and detailed documentation infuriating. I just got the game and most stuff I find is from 2012-2014. In-game help is laughably basic. This game is fun but frustratingly difficult and the controls are awful too. I enjoy building craft and see them fly but I have no interest and no inclination to perform mundane, tedious, complex and repetitive maneuvers and calculations. I see how some people may enjoy this but autopilot should be a built-in option for those who have no interest or no skills to fly 100% manual. 

Less is more indeed

Less is more but not for pure rocketry reasons. The game just can't handle larger ships and it's awfully buggy. It runs poorly even on high end hardware and bugs are really showstopping at times.

Action groups

Make flying and controlling easier if you have multiple components that needs to be toggled, deployed, etc.

Subassemblies

For rockets mainly so you can launch/test quicker. They save a lot of time!

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I would generally recommend testing with hyper edit.

Especially landers and ground vechiles.

For example before launching a drilling rig to Ike, test it on the surface.

Test the landing systems.

And check the transfer system works in orbit.

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On 27/01/2014 at 5:16 PM, Kasuha said:

1. You have most fun if you play the game at your own pace.

2. You save yourself a lot of trouble if you learn to play without mods.

3. spending more time on doing things for the better results ( building, flyiing, manoeuvering, dockin, landing rdv )

4. never learnd how to use mechjeb ... sry, tried gravity turn to simply my life, finaly delate it after 3 days, but i definively adopted kerbal enginer the deltaV and orbital stats are realy usefull

5. Where there's a will, there's a way : MOAR POWER !

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After returning to the game from a 3 year hiatus I have a few words of advice to other returning and new players:

1.       Start slow, Start in Career or Science mode and learn about each item as you unlock them

2.       Re-watch all the Scott Manley videos on the game, go back to the basics, relearn orbital manoeuvres, learn docking, landing etc

3.       Watch the new videos (much shorter) about the new stuff since you last played

4.       Do not go nuts with mods, start small, basics like KER, Docking Indicator, Alarm Clock and any GFX mods you might like, some really basic additions like KIS and KAS will also be ok

Edited by Lojik

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learn how science is obtained and the biome system.  

before any mission, plan exactly where your gonna be going during it, and map out all the potential biomes that you will pass through.  go thru your science archives and mark off all the ones you already have from those biomes.  all the ones missing you should  plan to grab.  write them out in order and make a check list.

if you plan methodically, you can significantly reduce the amount of launches to move up the techtree, as every mission will bring back enough to unlock a bunch of new nodes

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I gave up my mechjeb addiction when 1.2 came out and i was waiting for the update, still not re-installed mechjeb and I'm having a helluva lot more fun as a result, now I know that I'm using on average 80% of the delta v that mechjeb used to do manoeuvres I'm most definitely never going back, the satisfaction from getting sometimes bizarre intercepts and rendezvous is immense. 

Non the less a massive thank you to the maker of mechjeb, it was good while it lasted :wink:

Edited by Palaceviking

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Well, most of you will say i am crazy but i like even the math of it.

It took me quite a while, but eventually i learned all about it, I even read some physics out of it, after all, the equations are NOT that hard. i mean its true the acceleration is not constant, but, how much your mass decreases is, so, the function is NOT that hard and once you know it its easy.

specially if you can use excell to help you as i did. now I can make a node transfer to the second with 2 stages in the middle if needed.

and all that, without using any mod, except the conics one (and truly i only use it because sometimes its impossible to place nodes if not).

even so must say that being able to easily change the position placing numbers instead of using the mouse sometimes its important, specially to change the navball that sometimes go crazy when you try to move it with the mouse.

that and the fact you actually place the nodes on PE, AP, DN and AN is the best. but besides that capability, y truly enjoy setting the nodes myself and doing all the math when needed.

I try to get all the missions that, i am capable at the moment and I also do all in paralell, so trying to know when a mission needs to arrive and all that , i truly use an excell to keep track and know which goes next.

in fact i made missions myself to "clean up" my space, i have several debrits with fuel around moon (because i go to rescue and with the heavy tail i was unable to grab them) so, i created a catcher (just a big rocket with 6 mini rockets with 2 hooks 1 in each point and very little fuel (after all they get back to the big ship all the time) so they just reach get the debris, use the engine on them to move the debris to the main, they are detached of their fuel then discarded.

in fact by rotating it as really hi speed (being at low orbit about 10k), at minmus i managed to crash the debris and gain some velocity out of it.

basically i rotated my ship (the long way that has more momentum), when it was really fast and timing the point that the hook was moving "backwards" relative to orbit, just freed the hook, that caused the debris (now empty) to go at about 50 m/s relative to my ship. and a few minutes later crash (getting rid of it).

in fact if anyone wants the excell sheet, i can pass it so you can use it yourself. or check how its done.

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Never, ever, set set an action group to jettison the heat shield (one day you will hit the wrong key and blow àn otherwise promising mission)! :D

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1) Smaller craft are better, until they're not, and then you have to go BIG.

2) Learn the NavBall, what it means and how to think in 3 dimensions.

3) Think about center of mass, center of thrust and how to place engines and RCS thrusters for the best effect.

4) Kerbal Engineer is invaluable in calculating dV and presents all the necessary information.

5) At least once, Land on the Mun using only your engine and the NavBall, no Mechjeb, KER or other mods, just you, the craft and the Mun.  You'll thank yourself afterwards.

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1) Kerbal Engineer Redux and the Enhanced Navball. So useful! KER gives you all the figures you could ever want and Enhanced Navball does what it says on the tin.

2) Learn orbital mechanics. Seems dull, but it makes life SO easy. Yes you have to resort to the dreaded maths but it is a good thing to know. And also a good thing to say "Oh yeah I know how to calculate orbital mechanics".

3) Never assume you are correct. If you assume, it will go wrong. Trust me.

4) Never let a friend touch your universe unless they too are experienced with KSP. Otherwise say bye bye to your bases, ships and kerbals.

5) Increase the Conic setting thing in the settings menu. It allows you to predict so far ahead!

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On 18/11/2016 at 2:31 PM, ZachIsCheese said:

3) Never assume you are correct. If you assume, it will go wrong. Trust me.

Very true!  Especially if you are repeating similar contracts.  Passengers don't like passing out on a high G flight, when they only wanted an orbital sight seeing tour :wink:

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On 21/11/2016 at 8:41 AM, Clipperride said:

Very true!  Especially if you are repeating similar contracts.  Passengers don't like passing out on a high G flight, when they only wanted an orbital sight seeing tour :wink:

Aww come on! That is the best bit!

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1.  Build as light as I can.  Refuel in orbit.  I don't use Nuke engines anymore, I use big fuel engines.  Just use them to get to orbit and refuel them in orbit.  Plenty of thrust, and they have gimble.

2.  Asparagus

3.  2 - PB-NUK Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator / 4 Fixed solar panels / 2 circular batteries on every ship.  Then add Gigantor panels.

4. Never waste a opportunity for a docking port.

5. Rovers are cool, but are hard to control and flip to much.  Not worth my time.
         ---  Unless im making a model town, and it is just for show.

Edited by Sublight

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On 12/11/2016 at 7:02 PM, Sublight said:

1.  Build as light as I can.  Refuel in orbit.  I don't use Nuke engines anymore, I use big fuel engines.  Just use them to get to orbit and refuel them in orbit.  Plenty of thrust, and they have gimble.

2.  Asparagus

3.  2 - PB-NUK Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator / 4 Fixed solar panels / 2 circular batteries on every ship.  Then add Gigantor panels.

4. Never waste a opportunity for a docking port.

5. Rovers are cool, but are hard to control and flip to much.  Not worth my time.
         ---  Unless im making a model town, and it is just for show.

Nukes have more than double the efficiency of any LFO engine out there. Just create space tugs with them(like the tug boat that pull ships into harbors), leave the nukes in space then only send half as much fuel to orbit each time. No need to worry about attaching engines to your ship for the interplanetary journey, the nuke tugs are already in orbit.

Due to new aerodynamics, Asparagus isn't half as good as it used to be. A large sized stack rocket with payload sections is much less hassle and almost as efficient.

Add a single RTG to your ship, but then just add more batteries. Better on money an weight.

Very true, especially randomly place Junior Docking ports(you never know when you need to upgrade the comm dish of a space station, or forgot a contract-critical part for a departing ship). The Claw is all purpose docking, it works everywhere on everything and is lighter than docking port(IIRC)...but it does feel cheaty.

bon-voyage-0111-make-your-wheels-rolling, mod that make rovers do the roving themselves(while you do other launches and stuff). Don't bother with rovers if the drive is more than 50km, the gains are not worth the amount of time it take holding down the forward key(unless using this mod)

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