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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 6/8/2018 at 6:27 AM, chef_alex21 said:

anyone have good tips for console players

As a console player for literally everything else, I feel dirty and wrong for saying this, but: Switch to PC. 

While the Blitworks port is good, without the work this community puts into the game, you're basically just playing half a game and even if you'd go unmodded, this really is a PC game. However, given that ignorance is indeed bliss, if you don't put it next to the PC version, you can have a lot of fun with Console KSP, but I never got far or good enough to say anything helpfull.

Edited by Bakkerbaard
Changed a word. Hope you enjoy that.

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I found out yesterday, quite by accident, that you can move maneuver nodes with the mouse scroll wheel.  Good for a bit more precision, or to not have to mass-drag your mouse around.

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Always pack a little more fuel than you need. It’ll give you a decent safety margin that you can tap into if needed. It’s no good if you can get into a Munar suborbital trajectory but run out of fuel before you can circularise.

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Something I don't think I've seen mentioned:

It's just a game!!!

:D

Seriously, I've seen people on here get so worked up when something goes ka-boom you'd think they were about to have a stroke...

KSP is mind-blowing fun, and arguably the best game ever created... but again, remember to have fun... because it's just a game!

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On 7/17/2018 at 8:27 PM, Just Jim said:

Something I don't think I've seen mentioned:

It's just a game!!!

:D

Seriously, I've seen people on here get so worked up when something goes ka-boom you'd think they were about to have a stroke...

KSP is mind-blowing fun, and arguably the best game ever created... but again, remember to have fun... because it's just a game!

That’s actually one of the best bits of advice on this thread. You don’t need to get worked up over a video game.

Edited by RealKerbal3x

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On 7/22/2018 at 8:25 AM, RealKerbal3x said:

That’s actually one of the best bits of advice on this thread. You don’t need to get worked up over a video game.

PMtXQSI.jpg

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1. Research MPL as soon as possible if you don't want your research process to become a huge PITA after you get close to more expensive technologies.
2. You can use physical time warp in space too.

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REMEMBER PARACHUTES!

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1 hour ago, Ratwerke_Actual said:

Tylo is a very big hammer to have in your Jool toolkit.

Once you are en route to Jool, a small mid course burn to encounter Tylo at the right point can reduce your Jool capture Δv requirements immensely.

A couple of times, when I wasn't paying attention to conic markers direction, I got retrograde Jool orbits with no capture burn at all.

 

True story. One time I even got a nice capture in Laythe orbit for free after braking at Tylo.

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On 1/27/2014 at 1:12 PM, capi3101 said:

When you can think of a better way, screw the rules.

 

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If you are on console Ps4. If u press and hold r1, you can press L2 and L3 to translate without needing to change to docking mode. If you also install side thrusters u can move upwarth /downwarth with out changing pitch. Makes docking easy. 

Also if on console and u really hardcore into math. U should check Mike Aben YouTube. He show how to do all calculation  by hand. Or you can hook me up and I have a spreadsheet that does it for u. 

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Planes

  • Making aeroplanes  that fly well and you can land with to make those “gather data” missions is hard.  Slapping a bunch of parachutes to make the plane vertical landing capable is easy.  Then just taxi around to collect the science. EVA to repack chutes if you need to repeat.
  • When you EVA off the plane, retract landing gear first. Makes it much easier to climb back. They are good gear, they re-extend and lift the whole plane easy.
  • Making planes that land well is actually not hard. Just make sure the mass, lift and  thrust are in line, mass slightly ahead of centre of lift.  And have airbrakes and better landing gear.

You can upgrade the space center buildings!

Noticed it about a month into the game. Made everything a whole lot easier. I assumed the improved capabilities are hidden somewhere in the vast and imposing tech tree.

Kerbals have Jetpacks!

  • You just need to R to use them. Noticed this many days after witnessing my first space EVA kerbal slowly drifting away from the rocket. Again, thought they’d come up in tech tree somewhere after ladders and tether coils.
  • Jetpacks have up/down thrust too!
  • Noticed this well after my first successful space rescue mission. That was a hard one to pull through and took many attempts, about 1km float without vertical control.


There are maneuver nodes.  

Having known that earlier would have made my first mun trip a lot easier.
 

Airstream Protective shells are awesome.

But the attached payload, is actually attached. Should remember to add separators in there.

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Don't try to use parachutes on the mun.

But on a serious note. Don't compare your own achievements to those who have played this game for a long time (scott manley bradley whistance etc)

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Docking tips

 

If you have a three star pilot, docking is much easier. You can turn on SAS, and tell the pilot to point at the target, turn on the RCS, and use the capslock key to enter fine control mode. Normally this would be disastrous, because your RCS thrusters are usually not perfectly aligned with your center of mass, and when you use RCS it tends to add rotation which the RCS system detects and corrects with large burns that wreck your approach.

But if you are in fine control mode, these troubles can all be avoided by using short taps on the controls. You still get rotations, but they are so small that the reaction wheels correct them before the RCS system triggers. That makes it really easy to line up all three markers on the navball. When that happens, you know you are on target approaching in a straight line. The only other requirement is that you start from roughly the correct position so that as you travel in the ports will meet more or less squarely. which is a pretty loose requirement.

If you blow a docking attempt, go to 5x warp and back to normal speed. This will kill rotation on both you and your target. It only takes a moment, and avoids that awful scenario where you are trying to dock and the target is rotating slowly enough that you can't see it.

Some odd things can happen while docking. Check to be sure you and your target have the same size of docking port. You might even want to check the both you and your target do have docking ports installed!  Retract solar panels and radiators and antennas before docking, because they can easily get sheared off if the approach goes wrong. Lastly, beware parts that are installed close to either docking port. They can prevent the ports from meeting at all.

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Even if your pilot isn't very experienced you can make your life easier by designing the docking vehicle carefully. if RCS boosters are placed in equal distance from COM, it should keep the direction when using i,j,k,l. But fuel COM should also be on dry mass COM for this to work (which is a must on spaceplanes and shuttles anyway)

Most important thing i learned plaing KSP was "never underestimate those small engines". During my first walkthrough i focused only on big engines and NERV, and unlocked precision propulsion as the last node in my tech tree :D After learning how useful ants, spiders and sparks are, I started whole new career and begun to send bazyllion 6k$ probes everywhere. Also solid boosters are extremaly viable for light payload. Just sent 2 tourists to Minmus surface and back using those 3 biggest solid boosters in my ascent stage and then stage with one rellant to catch orbit. Rest was done with terrier

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Practice is really important. The first time you orbit Kerbin it's gonna be really inefficient. But after doing it enough, you'll eventually know when to do your orbital turns, etc.

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The biggest lesson KSP has taught me is that I need to rethink everything I do. My vision isnt always the best way. Adapt and improve. Keep trying and eventually Ill succeed.

 

I started my second playthrough a few weeks ago and remembering the intens struggle I had half a year ago I now coast through the first part of the game quite nicely. This means I actually learned stuff. Thank you KSP.

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I just recently a few days ago (Even after about 900 hours playing the game) suddenly learned from a friend that "Combinable" on antennas means you can combine multiple antennas on the same craft/ship and it will improve your reception and range when flying and also works for deploying relays. I thought all this time that "Combinable" just meant you can "chain together" multiple different relays/ships. 

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Learn how to use RCS.  It is very useful when navigating past LKO.  I did land on the Mun with 3 kerbals back when I didn't even know what it was, but it used too much fuel and R.I.P. kerbals on re-entry.  It saves fuel, makes navigating easier, and makes maneuver nodes a whole lot more accurate.  Also, it saves time making really slow turns with throttle at almost 0.

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With SSTO's it's much better to fly flat and let your speed build to let the drag naturally push you upwards and then about halfway just keep it locked on prograde. This really might just be advice for craft that have a low thrust to weight ration but I thought I'd add this because it seems counterintuitive but it actually makes sense when you go this route

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On 7/28/2019 at 10:45 PM, kithylin said:

I just recently a few days ago (Even after about 900 hours playing the game) suddenly learned from a friend that "Combinable" on antennas means you can combine multiple antennas on the same craft/ship and it will improve your reception and range when flying and also works for deploying relays. I thought all this time that "Combinable" just meant you can "chain together" multiple different relays/ships. 

wait, what?

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5 hours ago, Vakarian said:

wait, what?

Exactly what I said. The more antennas you put on a ship the better your reception range, and the range of the antennas. You can combine lots of small antennas and get better range than a single large one for example.

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