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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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Well there have been a lot of thoughts over the years in this thread. Some ideas are controversial and the tips are contradicting - but this is because you can achieve results in different ways. 

Should you be a beginner and you come across to this post, this is my primary suggestion: 

  • Start an easy career game - do not play sandbox. The number of parts can be quiet overwhelming especially if you do not yet know a lot about rocket engineering, thrust, engine ISP and orbital mechanics
  • There are some great youtube channels - especially the one from Scott Manley - that can help you getting into the physics
  • Don't clutter your GameData directory with too many mods in the beginning - that would mean even more parts that you do not really understand.

You can of course play without it but I'd suggest to use Kerbal Engineer or MechJeb to get relevant data for construction and flight 

On the fiercly discussed topic of MechJeb. My take is: If you see yourself as 'Pilot' try to become a good pilot and stick to KER for information. If you are more a Mission Designer and Flight Director - use MechJeb - because you have pilots in your craft and they know how to fly. 

As I personally prefer to play as 'Flight Director' I personally use MechJeb - primarily for Orbital Maneuver Planning. I do know how the mechanics work and how the nodes are setup manually, but it is a lot easier to click "Hohmann Transfer to Target" and get the node, than moving the node around trying to find out if you have to advance it three or four orbits. 

But as said by the players who are against MechJeb. If you use it exclusively and extensively - you will not learn things you can learn. MechJeb is - at least that is my personal opinion - great to see how things should work (then you take over and do it yourself) - and later when you played hours and hours, you can use it to automate repetitive tasks.  

Edited by EricPoehlsen
typo

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if you try to play on a mac, when they say you need 4GB of ram, they mean you need 8GB of ram

if you try to play on a console... price up a PC to game on and wait until you can afford it, you'll still have problems, but there will be a leopard in hells chance of them eventually being fixed.

Plus it appears to be roughly the same price, and you can game while the domestic authorities are watching programmes that make you want to claw your eyes out.

 

In game:

1. learn to dock, its not actually that hard but its more of a knack than a skill, you practice a bit and it clicks.

2. don't overly worry about DV, until you're very good (I'm not) its easier to take more than you need and cope with the extra mass - you can refine later

3. career mode, on "hard" mode will teach you the game a lot faster than sandbox will

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A little trick I have is when I'm testing some rocket, wanting to take it well up into space and try a few things out, when I have rolled it out to the launchpad but before I launch, I hit ALT F5, saving it as a named quicksave.  This means I can then use regular F5 during the test flight, which would mean I would lose the Revert option if I then hit F9, as often as I like, knowing when I'm finished with the test flight, I can reload the named quicksave.  It saves cash which I would have to spend if I didn't do this. 

Edited by The Flying Kerbal

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The most important thing I think I learned playing KSP was that I wanted to be Wernher von Kerman, a passion I'm still pursuing through college.

That said, there's a list of gameplay related things I learned that are really important (to me)

1. Do it yourself. There's a lot of importance to that, the sense of accomplishment the first time you orbit, the first time you dock, the first time you land on the Mun, it's truly incredible.

2. That said, MechJeb is a beautiful thing. For planning interplanetary transfers or maximizing efficiency MechJeb is indispensable for me. Kerbal isn't about the dozen launches of the same booster with slightly different payloads to build an interplanetary vessel, it's about the vessel, and the wonderment when you take that monstrosity to Duna and beyond. That's where MechJeb comes in for me.

3. The community for KSP might be the best gaming community I've ever had the pleasure to immerse myself in. The range of tutorials, spacecraft, and stupid inventions never ceases to amaze me. The best part, though, is the modders. Kerbal wouldn't be the same without its mods. The base game is incredible (worth the 20 dollars I sunk into it a million times over) but the addition of everything from life support to future stuff to 7.5m parts to entirely new solar systems and realism overhauls make it something truly special.

4. The little things count:

a. Check your staging. You will blow yourself up on launch. (or worse, hours later)

b. Remember your Re-Entry kit (retro-boosters, heat shields, parachutes, etc.). Every. Time. I've killed Jebediah enough times to learn this lesson.

c. Electricity is always important even when you don't think it will be. You will not have enough, ever.

5. Have fun! KSP is only as hard as you make it, so blow some stuff up on the launchpad. 

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Buy  a  backup  keyboard, you  will  inevitably  want  to  smash  the  one  you  are  using

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(What a great topic!  I am going to comb through this...)

  1. Shift-translate-gizmo to attach things and drag them further away has changed my life [SPH].
  2. Octagonal struts to make connection points!
  3. Shift-left-click to clone a part appears to neutralize the symmetry on the clone[*]

* just discovered.  If this is true, it's revolutionary.  You can put things on a part in 6-way symmetry [ABBBBBB], clone-replace it and then take some of the attached parts off [ABB-BB-].  Or you can add heterogeneous parts  to e.g. 6-way connection points one at a time!

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PS4 Enhanced Edition.

1. Do the tutorial

2. Fly a few Stock builds

3. Include parachutes

4. When you get to Orbit for the first few times, keep some fuel handy... so you can get home.

5. Check Yo Staging.

6. Docking is really, really hard to do, until you get good at it.

7. Have a look at some other Kerbals designs, try to make them, or make them better.

8. You will lose many Kerbals, it's OK.

9. Fly Casual, and have fun making explosions.

10. Take a screen shot of your first Build that makes it to space.

11. If you can't drive a stick shift, drive an automatic.

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Try to think simple.
You don't need to add 200 boosters to your rocket to get into interplanetary space.

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Most useful tip I've encountered so far is this...

Don't get into a flame war on the forums.

If you ask a question and don't like the answers you get, it might be helpful to the people trying to help you if you rephrase your question.

There are many MODs, PC and consoles have some different issues.

Sometimes the problem is simple misunderstanding.

Go fly.

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Here's a little technique which I haven't seen before and I started using a couple of months ago.  It'll get me applauded by some, slated by others, and now it's a little dated with the newly redesigned stack decouplers and separators in KSP 1.4.  However as some people are still playing earlier versions, someone might like it and find it useful.

Let's face it, before 1.4, our stack decouplers and separators weren't exactly built for looks, so I came up with a way which - to me - makes the rocket much cleaner and elegant.

EothZyN.pngThis is typical of a 1.25 decoupler attached to a Terrier engine.

vwQgdqs.pngHowever, if you disable the shroud in the right click menu of the engine, and then downsize to the next smallest decoupler...

fRoEOTh.png...by then using the offset tool you can slide the first tank of the next stage up to close the gap...

VRf6mps.png...like this! :cool:

8rQa5c9.pngThis is the little rocket I cobbled together for this post.  You can see I used the same technique to attach the command pod.  Before launch the fins were removed, but that isn't important.

entm28B.pngThe empty second stage being jettisoned.  In this launch the engine staging was set to ignite the Terrier after separation.

PLRCyBR.pngA second launch was carried out with the staging set to light the Terrier at the same time as the spent stage is dropped, showing it works both ways.

As I said it's something I started using a couple of months ago, it is a little dated now with 1.4, but hopefully it will be of some use to someone.

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A well designed rocket flies itself into space, there is little point trying to 'pilot' it. Reasons:

1) A good gravity turn is when one flies prograde all the time.

2) The drag of cylindrical parts like fuel tanks increases drastically when the rocket is not flying prograde, like doubling when it is 0.5 degrees off.

3) Movable fins are expensive, and draggy.

So just lift off, do a small turn, then turn off SAS (or use SAS prograde) and let aerodynamics steer for you!

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Rovers, especially when used on low gravity planets, can flip easily. To prevent this from destroying you rover, build a roll cage out of landing gear. This can be stowed away when not airborne and will save your rover.

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On 2018/4/11 at 9:17 AM, kittenshark134 said:

Rovers, especially when used on low gravity planets, can flip easily. To prevent this from destroying you rover, build a roll cage out of landing gear. This can be stowed away when not airborne and will save your rover.

Or use a reaction wheel.

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I've only been playing for a few months but learned you can't just go taller forever. Also going bigger and bigger and bigger is very quickly diminishing gains.

I know many veterans hate career mode but for a new person I think it's a good idea to play it. Also turn off extra ground stations. It forces you to learn the game and parts instead of trying to go directly to the endgame and missing stuff. Then when you play sandbox you really understand and appreciate what you need to do to accomplish tasks better.

Edited by CrashyMcCrashFace
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On ‎3‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 8:27 PM, The Flying Kerbal said:

Here's a little technique which I haven't seen before and I started using a couple of months ago.  It'll get me applauded by some, slated by others, and now it's a little dated with the newly redesigned stack decouplers and separators in KSP 1.4.  However as some people are still playing earlier versions, someone might like it and find it useful.

Let's face it, before 1.4, our stack decouplers and separators weren't exactly built for looks, so I came up with a way which - to me - makes the rocket much cleaner and elegant.

EothZyN.pngThis is typical of a 1.25 decoupler attached to a Terrier engine.

vwQgdqs.pngHowever, if you disable the shroud in the right click menu of the engine, and then downsize to the next smallest decoupler...

fRoEOTh.png...by then using the offset tool you can slide the first tank of the next stage up to close the gap...

VRf6mps.png...like this! :cool:

8rQa5c9.pngThis is the little rocket I cobbled together for this post.  You can see I used the same technique to attach the command pod.  Before launch the fins were removed, but that isn't important.

entm28B.pngThe empty second stage being jettisoned.  In this launch the engine staging was set to ignite the Terrier after separation.

PLRCyBR.pngA second launch was carried out with the staging set to light the Terrier at the same time as the spent stage is dropped, showing it works both ways.

As I said it's something I started using a couple of months ago, it is a little dated now with 1.4, but hopefully it will be of some use to someone.

Maybe a little nit-picky here because as you mentioned,  this only applies to pre-1.4, but I'm pretty sure you're going to get some ungodly drag due to the 1.25 - 2.5 discontinuity.  Even though you clipped the lower stage up to the higher stage, I'm pretty sure the physics engine sees a flat 2.5m surface below the terrier when it calculates drag.

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I would add that calculating your delta-v is very important - dV = g0*Isp*ln(full mass/dry mass) = simple calculation you can run on each stage, and can save you enormous amounts of funds and/or time.

Also, Oberth effect is your friend burn at the opposite apsis to the one you want to change

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On 2/1/2014 at 7:30 AM, Red Iron Crown said:

6. Have fun and don't worry about other people. Use mods and cheats if they are fun for you. Whatever goals you set for your space program only have to satisfy you.

Thank you very much! As a new person to K.S.P. That is sure a game changer. Especially when you talk about MechJeb, you feel a sorta guilt. Thanks so much my dude.

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1. Docking is easy. Did my first one in a few minutes. (That might be attributed to practicing with advanced grabbing units on asteroids first.)

2. When in doubt, tutorial. You get all you would ever need to know in one-stop shop.

3. Learn the Navball. Use SAS if in doubt.

4. When roving, rove slow. 3x timewarp never hurts. 10m/s is pretty stable. Even the worst stock rovers won't flip.

5. Mechjeb isn't cheating at times. I mean, trying to fly a plane to the opposite side of Kerbin is tedious. Set SmartASS to Pitch = 10 Yaw = 90 Roll = 0 and you can do something productive while you wait.

6. Know your orbital mechanics. It's not "aim for the Mun and fire 'till you get there". No, it doesn't work like that. Remember at all times that orbital mechanics is counterintuitive. It's not your average ballpark.

7. Sometimes, you need to mod-f5 instead of f5. I've had my landers get destroyed, with no turning back, because I started my braking burn too late and I could only "revert to last quicksave".

8. Have fun.

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Even though I posted here once, It won't stop me! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA- *coughs* Gee, this cold is killing me. Anyway...

Virdin the Burden's List of Things You Should Probably Do In KSP Till the End of Time:

1. Learn the importance of the F5 and F9 keys.

I've seen time and time again that casual players, veterans, youtubers, anyone really, forgets the F5 and F9 key. They are there to assist you on your journey. It would be a shame to not use them. For those who've lived under a rock since 2012, the F5 key saves the exact moment in the game when you press it as a 'quicksave.' The F9 key then allows you to load that specific moment in game time if you, lets say, staged something wrong. You can go back in time, tweak the staging, and be on your merry way. So, REMEMBER IT Kiddos. It's like the Time Stone. Once you see it, you never forget it. (or Thanos goes back in time and prevents you from seeing it)

2. Don't be afraid to use physics warp.

Some of you might say "Oh, that's dumb Virdin. We should NEVER use the Physics Warp! It breaks my mothership in half!" Firstly, have a brand new mothership Jimmy. Secondly, I'm taking the mothership back because of your comment, Jimmy. Physics Warp (Phys Warp) is an amazing tool when you get to know it. When piloting massive crafts, it's a big no-no, but when driving a rover, or a spacecraft that just deployed its parachutes, Physics Warp can save lots of time. I mean, who wants to wait 153.84 seconds waiting for your ship to land when going at 6.5m/s a thousand feet in the air? Nobody except a masochist that is. So, use Physics Warp. Simple as that. (You can activate phys warp by holding Alt and pushing keys 1-4)

3. When you feel bored, leave the game for an hour or so.

Unless you're pulling a marathon of 8 hours of pure explosions and crash landings in the ocean, take breaks. I often leave the game for 30 minutes to an hour. It's simply good for your brain. Focusing on a single subject wears you out, it makes you lose interest until you feel it again at some point. So, why fight it? Take a load off, grab a beer (or water, don't drink beer kiddos) and listen to Eurythmics's "Sweet Dreams Are Made of These" while on your balcony. 100% Virdin Enjoyment Guarantee.

4. But what if I hate Eurythmics?

You're a monster.

5. Challenge yourself.

I had a friend once, and to this day he can't do it, but he never learned how to correctly pull a Hohmann transfer. This drained him severely, to the point where he wouldn't play KSP. While you could mope about because your 15th rocket snapped in half before it reached the upper atmosphere doesn't mean you should. Just keep trying. Heck, when I first bought the game, I didn't even know what a Hohmann transfer window is, and only played scenarios because I wasn't going to even TRY building a rocket. But I did, and I got better and better and better, until I could reliably traverse the Kerbol System. Don't stop there though. Spice everything up with mods, or try career mode. Better yet, just try ridiculous challenges like getting to Eeloo in a 2.3 ton craft. (Yes, someone legitimately put a car-sized and weighted object on Eeloo) In the end, you'll feel glad that you did.

6. Always seek help.

While the 8th grade bully would say otherwise, asking for help IS a good thing. If you can't figure it out, and the chance that you will is near impossible, ask someone (or lots of people) if they DO know. If they don't keep trying by yourself until you don't roll snake eyes, or keep asking. You'll eventually get there. (The latter is more time-efficient) Even if that doesn't work, the 1.0 Update brought something AMAZING. Better tutorials. Go to those, and you'll probably find what you want.

7. Have fun.

While this may sound cliché, having fun is the only thing you can really do at the end of the day. If a game can make me play it for 750 hours and counting, it's done a good job of entertaining me. So, be blessed young ones. Fly free.

 

This has been "Virdin the Burden's List of Things You Should Probably Do In KSP Till the End of Time" by Virdin. Have a wonderful day.

Sponsored by Vault Tec: Your new home, underground!

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You don't need to go past the Kerbin system to have fun

I have played since May of 2013, and I have never landed a kerbal on Duna, and brought them back alive. I've landed kerbals on Duna before, and I know for sure that I could create a sandbox save and do it in an hour, but I don't. I just play my career saves & mess around in sandbox mode. It's all fun :)

 

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20 hours ago, Steeeeve said:

You don't need to go past the Kerbin system to have fun

I have played since May of 2013, and I have never landed a kerbal on Duna, and brought them back alive. I've landed kerbals on Duna before, and I know for sure that I could create a sandbox save and do it in an hour, but I don't. I just play my career saves & mess around in sandbox mode. It's all fun :)

 

Very true!  With the exception of two tiny probes on Duna and one on Eve, I too have never strayed far from Kerbin and have enjoyed whizzing around it and its moons no end!

This is changing however, a few days ago (Kerbin time), President John F. Kerman made a speech at Tea University declaring that "We choose to go to Duna...".

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3 minutes ago, The Flying Kerbal said:

Very true!  With the exception of two tiny probes on Duna and one on Eve, I too have never strayed far from Kerbin and have enjoyed whizzing around it and its moons no end!

This is changing however, a few days ago (Kerbin time), President John F. Kerman made a speech at Tea University declaring that "We choose to go to Duna...".

I mean, I have sent probes and I have sent Kerbals to the surface of other worlds. Most notable being a manned landing on Gratian in my GPP save like a year ago. I didn't have the fuel requirements to make it back, so I snapped and decided to use infinite fuel for the final stage back home. Other than that though, no landings of kerbals in the stock game. Only probes. 

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