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What are the most important things you've learned about playing KSP to pass on?


ShadowDragon8685
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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 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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1 hour ago, kithylin said:

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.

It takes a lot of smaller antennae to equal the next larger one though, and there's a penalty in part count, mass, and electrical requirements. I only do that if larger antenna is too big for the craft.

CommNet guide

Edited by sturmhauke
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2 hours ago, kithylin said:

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.

So I was doing it right in the beginning lol, although I put more antennas on for symmetrical purposes.

 

Man. Thanks for the info.

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A few things I learned the hard way (which seems to be the way to really learn in this game):

  1. Know the dV you'll need to get to and back from wherever you're going. Don't just slap on a ton of fuel and assume it will be enough—so that you don't accidentally strand Bob on the Mun (again). Not that I've done that! Just stating this... for a friend.
  2. Learn how experiments work and what conditions they require to be successful, before you irrevocably launch them toward their destination... And strand Bob on the Mun again with failed experiments on a 20% grade crater slope.
  3. Landers can skate down the steep slope of a crater by using Roll, if you're very careful and very lucky.
  4. Accidents happen, so save often. Accidents take a lot longer to recover from if you don't save before trying something inherently dangerous. You know, like putting Kerbals into a spaceship.
  5. And last, learn to detect when a contract is crazy, absolute garbage and will have you spending far more time, effort, and money to accomplish than they are worth. Just let them sit there in your Available list until they time out.

That said, does anyone know a way to easily transfer fuel to a Mun-stranded lander? It has 400-odd dV already, and a shielded docking port on top. :P

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1 hour ago, Sitting Duck said:

That said, does anyone know a way to easily transfer fuel to a Mun-stranded lander? It has 400-odd dV already, and a shielded docking port on top. :P

Just send a new one. (easy)

Or build a kind of skycrane with a claw to grab the stranded one. (average)

Or build a skycrane with a docking port instead of a claw (harder)

Or build a huge rover with a ISRU and a claw to connect sideways to refuel your lander and make the rover the first step on Mun colonization. (can't say if harder than docking precisely from above, it depends on the rover I guess)

Once upon a time I had a silly rover like that.

p47IPa1.png

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46 minutes ago, Signo said:

Just send a new one. (easy)

Or build a kind of skycrane with a claw to grab the stranded one. (average)

Or build a skycrane with a docking port instead of a claw (harder)

Or build a huge rover with a ISRU and a claw to connect sideways to refuel your lander and make the rover the first step on Mun colonization. (can't say if harder than docking precisely from above, it depends on the rover I guess)

Once upon a time I had a silly rover like that.

Well first, thank you! Second, I love your avatar. That's hilarious!

Also I'd thought of the "harder" option, but I fear the re-fueler exhaust would just knock over the stranded lander. Landers seem to be pretty responsive to up-righting with a strong enough reaction wheel, but there's the whole hovering thing to do again.

I'd also made a couple of refueling rovers and tested them out on Kerbin to see if I could dock them together, and of course they work well in a controlled environment. :P (love the rover, btw)

I may just go with the "Leave it there as a sharp reminder" option, and move onward. I already almost didn't rescue Bob and Mifurt from the stranded lander, which was a LOT of work. Clearly I need to work on my calculation and landing skills... And on somehow not over-engineering and simultaneously under-fueling.

The over-engineered rescue lander was very nearly empty, and a bit "weathered" by the experience. Docked for just enough fuel to get home, sans Science points.

GtrD5bi.jpg

 

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10 hours ago, Sitting Duck said:

That said, does anyone know a way to easily transfer fuel to a Mun-stranded lander? It has 400-odd dV already, and a shielded docking port on top. :P

Kerbals on EVA have about 600m/s dv of their own, so lift off that lander at about a 45 degrees angle and burn until the fuel runs out, then just EVA the kerbal, activate the jet pack and keep thrusting forwards.

Look at the map screen about every 30 seconds just to make sure you are not messing up. Now just rendezvous a a rescue ship in orbit. Remember to collect all the science from the instruments with the kerbal, before leaving the lander

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15 hours ago, Blaarkies said:

Kerbals on EVA have about 600m/s dv of their own, so lift off that lander at about a 45 degrees angle and burn until the fuel runs out, then just EVA the kerbal, activate the jet pack and keep thrusting forwards.

Look at the map screen about every 30 seconds just to make sure you are not messing up. Now just rendezvous a a rescue ship in orbit. Remember to collect all the science from the instruments with the kerbal, before leaving the lander

Wow, I did not know that! Now I'm going to have to try it. Thanks!

And yeah, I totally forgot to save my science from the stranded lander (I already sent the rescue lander), but honestly I'm already maxed-out on the tech tree, anyway.

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If I were to choose the single most important subject area to prioritise, it would be - learn the effect of burns in various directions on an orbit, together with the importance of timing

ie - Pro grade, Retrograde, Normal, Antinirmal, Radial out & Radial in.

I found understanding these the most important stepping stone towards effective astro navigation.

 

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On 1/27/2014 at 10:44 AM, ShadowDragon8685 said:

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.

Not only do they make your rocket look nicer, but since 1.0 the aerodynamics have made fairings necessary to take wider and drag-heavier payloadsto orbit without your rocket tumbling.

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On 1/28/2014 at 5:54 PM, Ravenchant said:

This, so much. Alternatively, have at least one battery "locked" to provide emergency power for extending the panels/reorienting the ship.

Lost a recent mission because I didn't do this. Although I didn't forget to extend the panels. "Eh, one gigantor should suffice, it only has one probe core"... then of course the ship is rotated so that its only panel is in shadow. Power runs out. Bugger.

I found KSP unplayable without mods. Basic features like power management and reserve power are missing in the vanilla game:

 

Edited by Kerbital
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As a beginner I've learned:

1. The hype is real!

2. Scott Manley and Tim Dodd sparked my interest in spaceflight (aaand KSP).

3. It IS rocket science! Learning by crashing a lot of stuff just like humanity in the last 60+ years.

4. Kerbals are cute! ^_^

5. It's Lego. Really! Just advanced Lego. Which can explode while hitting things it should not hit. :ph34r:

6. It sparks joy! The joy of successfully launching your built-from-scratch-stuff-that-would-never-work-in-real-life-contraption into space. &)

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If you are doing a career mode stuff and your stuck with kerbucks and upgrading your KSC (Kerbal Space Center), do as many Tourism contracts as you can. Do 2 or even 4 passengers at a time. They do not pay any science but the kerbucks adds up fast. Just do some science tasks along with it. 

I am at tier 4 and have no problems with rocket sizes, aircraft parts or making anything I want as I go. I have upgraded my entire KSC in less than a month. :funds:

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In some cases, I've found MechJeb to be a valuable tool especially when planning and executing a series of orbital maneuvers; however several other aspects of it are less than helpful- the aircraft autopilot will try to snap the wings off every plane I've built when I turn it on even when all I want it to do is hold the same altitude and heading that the plane is already on (those extra 3 metres of altitude MUST BE DESTROYED!) and the maneuver planner will often make a terrible mess of a relatively simple return from Minmus or plot out a perfect transfer straight to Duna- and then straight into Duna! I also tried the auto-land system but it failed dismally at bringing a rocket down at or even vaguely near the KSC pad and missed a landing site on Minmus by about 30km.

Use it as a learning tool to understand how to do things yourself, and for executing long-range maneuvers where even millimetres per second are the difference between a perfect transfer and missing the target completely, but don't rely on it- it's much more rewarding when you do it entirely by yourself.

Some things I've learnt while playing KSP for the last 6 months or so:

- Play the tutorials! Before starting on any save games, I played through the tutorial missions up to the Mun landing/return missions. I haven't yet completed the Mun landing one as it seems designed to make you crash at high speed into the rim of a crater, the orbital rendezvous was particularly tricky and in all cases the tutorials gave me most of the information I needed to then start a career game and do it myself. 

- You can have multiple KSP instances saved on your PC at once, even on different versions. Just copy the entire KSP directory somewhere else and you now have two independent copies of KSP that aren't affected by each other and which won't update each other's save games. You can run one with many mods and another with few/none, have different versions e.g. 1.7.3 and 1.8.1 (because some mods don't work in v1.8 and later), and if you're using CKAN it can manage these copies too, or if you install mods manually you can do it yourself although different versions can pose a problem due to the 1.8 ar-mod-geddon with the change in Unity version that came with it.

- Mods are great, but doing something using purely stock parts is more of a challenge as they're much more generic than the more specific and specialised parts in many mods. Make a copy of KSP and keep it with just the stock parts or with a very small number of mods, then come back to it for a bit of back to basics fun. Mods with lots of new parts will add to the load time when the game boots up; mods with lots of visual upgrades can affect the game's performance and I've had several cases where 1 second of game time took about 5 seconds of real time because it was going that slowly- poorly optimised mods maybe?

- Beware of going too far too fast with mods- once I discovered them I started throwing them into my KSP GameData folder until it took nearly 5 minutes to load all the mod parts into the game as it boots up and performance started to suffer. Pick a few utilities- I recommend docking port alignment indicator, commnet constellation if you're using the commnet, something like where can I go or transfer window planner to make flying to other planets easier- and some visual upgrades if your PC can handle it- most that I've seen use EVE and scatterer then build on top of that. Add parts mods after that, but only if you have a specific use for them, and don't be afraid to delete some parts out of the mod (being sure to keep a backup with the un-modded files, whether you're installing by hand or using CKAN) if you don't want them. Some mods provide a huge array of parts, but if you only use a small number of them don't be afraid to delete the parts you don't use to stop them cluttering the parts lists in build mode.

- If you're able, you can go into the part files in mods or even the stock game and tweak some aspects e.g. change the thrust or efficiency of an engine, give a probe core more battery storage or more powerful reaction wheels and so on. Be careful when changing the stats on the research lab though, you can very easily end up with a lab that produces 500 science per day which is far too much. Just know that if you update a mod you'll probably lose any changes you make, and if KSP itself updates you'll lose any modifications to stock parts.

- Failure isn't failure if you learn from it. If something doesn't work, figure out why and make changes for the next time you try it.

- Save regularly especially before attempting a landing or launch; you can always recover from that point if it all goes wrong, but losing 3 hours of work because you accidentally pranged your Mun lander is a real pain.

And finally:

Have fun!

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On 1/27/2014 at 12:12 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.

Smaller, less complicated rockets are generally better and more foolproof than big ones. A perfectly viable SSTO rocket orbiter can be built out of Tier 0 parts alone - a satellite can be launch itself to orbit if done correctly.

Docking is not as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Just be sure you use RCS and that the thrusters are evenly spaced. Four thruster blocks is okay, eight is good, twelve is best.

Reaction Wheels and Reaction Stabilizers are nice but not essential.

Don't forget electricity.

You will screw it up at least once. Probably badly. That's what F5 and F9 are for.

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

 

On 1/27/2014 at 12:12 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.

Smaller, less complicated rockets are generally better and more foolproof than big ones. A perfectly viable SSTO rocket orbiter can be built out of Tier 0 parts alone - a satellite can be launch itself to orbit if done correctly.

Docking is not as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Just be sure you use RCS and that the thrusters are evenly spaced. Four thruster blocks is okay, eight is good, twelve is best.

Reaction Wheels and Reaction Stabilizers are nice but not essential.

Don't forget electricity.

You will screw it up at least once. Probably badly. That's what F5 and F9 are for.

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

Personally, I think reaction wheels are pretty essential. Especially when docking.(except massive craft) and it really helps when landing. pointing the wrong direction with a big craft 10 meters off the ground flying at 200 m/s ain’t healthy.

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On 12/1/2019 at 3:02 PM, Astronaut James1 said:

Personally, I think reaction wheels are pretty essential. Especially when docking.(except massive craft) and it really helps when landing. pointing the wrong direction with a big craft 10 meters off the ground flying at 200 m/s ain’t healthy.

I'll agree with you for the nowadays - five years ago (you know, the time period from which you've quoted me), not so much. Game's evolved quite a bit since then.

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On 12/1/2019 at 5:04 PM, jimmymcgoochie said:

 

- Beware of going too far too fast with mods- once I discovered them I started throwing them into my KSP GameData folder until it took nearly 5 minutes to load all the mod parts into the game as it boots up and performance started to suffer. Pick a few utilities- I recommend docking port alignment indicator, commnet constellation if you're using the commnet, something like where can I go or transfer window planner to make flying to other planets easier- and some visual upgrades if your PC can handle it- most that I've seen use EVE and scatterer then build on top of that. Add parts mods after that, but only if you have a specific use for them, and don't be afraid to delete some parts out of the mod (being sure to keep a backup with the un-modded files, whether you're installing by hand or using CKAN) if you don't want them. Some mods provide a huge array of parts, but if you only use a small number of them don't be afraid to delete the parts you don't use to stop them cluttering the parts lists in build mode.

 

I actually enjoyed having many part mods when I started. I especially like building planes and it is much easier using a mod wing than having to build one out of 5 flat pieces. OPT was one of the first mods I gravitated to back in 1.0.5 when I started playing. 

 

I'm afraid the condition has worsened. I now need 20 minutes to start ksp and have many, many part mods. And lots of quality-of-life mods. And 5 different planet packs (over 60 land-able celestial bodies).

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I’ve been playing for a few months only. haven’t got past minmus yet. but i have learnt a few things, (an understatement). one, you don’t just point your rocket straight up and go. two, rockets don’t go that fast at launch. and a lot more

1. an orbit is just like thowing a ball fast enough that it falls along the earths curve.

2. you always affect the other side of your orbit. when you burn.

3. rendezvousing is not easy, i still cant get it, i used to think it was just a easy little thing.

4. the VAB does not like it when you crash your saturn v into it.

5. there is no point in the inflatable airlock except for recreating voskhod 2. 

6. just how bored the astronauts must get sometimes.

and also that rcs thrusters  exist.

 

 

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On 12/5/2019 at 9:25 AM, Sandstorm said:

I actually enjoyed having many part mods when I started. I especially like building planes and it is much easier using a mod wing than having to build one out of 5 flat pieces. OPT was one of the first mods I gravitated to back in 1.0.5 when I started playing. 

 

I'm afraid the condition has worsened. I now need 20 minutes to start ksp and have many, many part mods. And lots of quality-of-life mods. And 5 different planet packs (over 60 land-able celestial bodies).

After getting GPP I had this weird thing where it would take 5 minutes to load the map view when I pressed M. That ever happen to you?

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53 minutes ago, Astronaut James1 said:

After getting GPP I had this weird thing where it would take 5 minutes to load the map view when I pressed M. That ever happen to you?

Yes it did. i found a fix in the kopernicus thread Someone posted a cfg that disables kopernicus on-demand biomes. I'll post a link once I figure how (I'm a noob at forum stuff)

 

 @Astronaut James1 , this is the config that helped me.

Spoiler

@Kopernicus:FINAL
{
    %useOnDemandBiomes = false
}

Link to issue on kopernicus github

https://github.com/Kopernicus/Kopernicus/issues/382

Link to thread

 

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On 12/16/2019 at 3:32 AM, Kerbal4 said:

5. there is no point in the inflatable airlock except for recreating voskhod 2. 

Haha, this made me literally LOL because I always want to use this part... but it never makes sense given the wide variety of mod-based docking ports and other cool bits.

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This is a great point for Career games: 

On 11/21/2019 at 2:40 PM, Saturn5tony said:

do as many Tourism contracts as you can.

To add to this thought: Streamline your launch system (rocket) and crew / re-entry vehicle as much as possible so you can take 3-4 tourists at a time (maybe with a pilot as well). The lowest weight construct with a minimum of dV plus a heat shield is all you need. Then re-use the system over and over again, don't re-invent the rocket system every time!

By getting your rocket stages to an absolute minimum, you're not wasting rocket parts (and precious funds) by blowing off extra solid rocket boosters and asparagus-staged mega-rockets. Think like the Russians here: the Soyuz system is the (relatively-speaking) lowest cost way to get people to space for a reason, it's simplified to minimum necessary systems and doesn't cost a ton of rubles per launch. :)

Also a supremely useful mod to land separate stages (and not waste the funds) is FMRS: Flight Manager for Reusable Stages. It uses the save game system to allow you "to go back in time" and land/recover multiple stages, then jump to the ship you got into orbit.

 

 

 

Edited by scottadges
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