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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 9/13/2020 at 5:45 AM, Reinhart Mk.1 said:

DO NOT under any circumstances visit Eve or Dres (especially out of boredom)

When visiting Dres have a rescue mission ready to launch.

When visiting Eve plan to stay.

Rovers are too much of a PITA to be worth building.

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There is no "can't" in Kerbal Space Program.  Just because the solution isn't right in your face means it can't be done.  The Caveman challenge taught me that.

1 hour ago, jwenting said:

Rovers are too much of a PITA to be worth building.

I wholeheartedly disagree.  I may have had problems building my first one, but it was so worth it.  Even I never use it beyond the Mun, the lessons learned in the actual building of it and how to get payload off Kerbin is priceless.

Edited by Popestar
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12 hours ago, Popestar said:

There is no "can't" in Kerbal Space Program.  Just because the solution isn't right in your face means it can't be done.  The Caveman challenge taught me that.

I wholeheartedly disagree.  I may have had problems building my first one, but it was so worth it.  Even I never use it beyond the Mun, the lessons learned in the actual building of it and how to get payload off Kerbin is priceless.

So you never use them, proving my point. 

 

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5 hours ago, jwenting said:

So you never use them, proving my point. 

You didn't read what I wrote.  I said:

5 hours ago, jwenting said:

Even I never use it beyond the Mun,

Which means I am using them on the Mun.  If you are going to quote me, at least get the quote right.

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15 hours ago, Dr. Kerbal said:

You can’t (shouldn’t) use Solid Fuel Boosters to orbit.

 

38 minutes ago, Spricigo said:

Should may be open to debate but one surely can do it.  Just take a look at the Ōsumi challenge

You can use SRB's all the way to orbit.
The main problem is that they aren't throttleable so it's hard to handle Max Q losses.

 

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I learned today that you can upgrade buildings while you are in flight and get the benefits of them.  I started a new career on Moderate, and I forgot to upgrade the Astronaut complex before getting into orbit the first time.  So while I was in orbit, I thought "Let's see what happens", and upgraded the AC.  And got the benefit of being able to EVA even though Val was nowhere near Kerbin's surface when I upgraded.

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An easy way to get to the mun before you have access to maneuver nodes is to wait until the mun appears on the horizon (when you are in orbit) and then raise your Ap to its orbital height. 

Note: every time I have used this method I have ended up on an impact trajectory, so save some fuel (~80 m/s) for a radial burn to avoid hitting the mun. 

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Today, in my Moderate career, I learned that setting a Pe of 1000m above the surface of the Mun can and will mean that you are going to crash into the side of a crater.  Apparently, this is not high enough.  Poor Jeb; we knew ye well.

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  • Always pack at least 2 parachutes... Even on sats. Especially those orbiting places like Laythe, Kerbin, or Duna. If I put a sat in orbit around places like Dres, Mun, Minmus, I will forget the chutes and pack at least 200m/s extra fuel if I eventually want to deorbit the sats to replace them with new ones. I will also use that fuel to reposition them as well. 
  • Always pack more fuel than you need, as unforseen problems will always present themselves, whether it's the Mun interferring with your Duna transfer, causing you to have to adjust for a few hundred m/s, or a part giving trouble because of your ascent profile.
  • Always bring your engineer along, as well as a scientist.  Unless I am using a 3-4+ person capsule, then I will use just those two specialties.
  • Always over engineer crafts, not too much, but enough to help success
  • Make a way to get home fast, if it's an emergency, then I say screw fuel/craft costs, lets get 'em home as fast as possible
  • Change crews often in stations
  • Add areas to stations before you need too, do it before you need to. Add fuel before you use the station for a fuel depot. 
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  • Test your designs if you are going interplanetary
  • However, don't  be afraid to fail. Failing really is the best way to learn
  • Watch Youtube. Watch Matt Lowne, Stratzenblitz75, Scott Manley
  • For probes, go smaller
  • While using maneuver nodes, activate "Extended burn indicator" in settings. Tells you when to start a burn

Really, just don't get intimidated. If something isn't working, take a step back and re-evaluate. Ask questions.

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Somehow, this post came to my timeline, so I thought to myself it would be a good idea to add my bits on it!

On 3/1/2021 at 7:45 PM, bcqJC said:

Keep your part counts low.  This makes for smoother gameplay.  Less parts for your PC to keep track of in flight.  So any mod that allows me to minimize part count, is a plus.  TweakScale lets me size up parts - why use 3 engines when you can size 1 up to give you 3x the thrust? 

Scaling engines on Career can potentially spoil your game. Make things too easy - in real life, economics and limitations on material engineering prevents us to resize engines at our will, so if you want to follow a "plausible path" on your game, avoid scaling engines.

Wheels, tanks, wings, control surfaces, fuselages (a pity we can't scale crewed parts correctly, but this is hardlocked on KSP's guts, nothing I can do), lights, even parachutes, that are the things I scale up and down without a second thought.

On the other hand, on my SandBox games, dude... :sticktongue:

(I'm TweakScale maintainer, by the way :) )

Edited by Lisias
Anotehr tyop!
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I suppose I can also pass on some important info too

1. No matter any of the cheats you enable, your craft still gets demolished at -250m on the Sun, but in the flight log, it says “crashed on the surface of the sun”

2. When using a maneuver node, instead of burning exactly right when you hit the maneuver node, you have to burn half the time it costs to get there(or maybe it’s the other way, like how long it takes to burn and half it), and right next to your nav ball it shows when you should start burning, instead of having to split a number in half, the game already does that for you

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Cutting costs and cutting back on excessive craft is key.
Its much cheaper to send many small craft of a standardised design then one extremely large one.
(eg: packing all the scientific instruments on your first probe to a planet)
That and also the oberth effect... (something that MJ doesn't understand...)

Edited by Rambow_Ninja94
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Always turn on rigid attachment (Or whatever it is called, I don't have KSP open right this second). This is especially important if you have the Breaking Ground DLC, since on many parts turning on autostrut will make it not work right.

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You guys didn't mention the Engineering report, that's the most important part for me. And it has stopped so many reverts and quicksaves when I realize I forgot the solar panels, parachutes, batteries, engines... I'm good at flying them, but building skills are shaky. I'll focus on one thing and completely leave out another. So it's good to have it to help remind me of things that I need.

Edited by GuessingEveryDay
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2 hours ago, Max von Kerman said:

For me, the most important things are:

REMEMBER TO QUICKSAVE

KSP is a very glitchy game so remembering to save is very important.

I would add: and backup your saves.

My startup script creates a snapshot of my current saves every time I start the game.

So whatever happens I'll never loose more than the last session.

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On 1/18/2021 at 6:35 PM, jwenting said:

Rovers are too much of a PITA to be worth building.

hey, I run well over 5000 km on rovers! exploring surfaces can be a lot of fun, and rovers are great if they are properly built. By "properly built" I generally mean "capable of surviving and overturning themselves if they tumble".

I can point to my dancing porcupine rover; cruises at 30 m/s, is virtually indestructible at that speed, and it has rockets and isru. it can explore the whole system on its own except laythe, eve, kerbin (atmosphere gets in the way), tylo, moho (too much deltaV to get there from anywhere). and it has a nice cupola as a pilot post, so you can drive in first person.

 

which makes me think of what i could contribute to the thread: a space vehicle must not just perform its function, but also be fun to drive, or you'll get bored.

 

Edited by king of nowhere
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