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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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USE MODS! they are awesome! also, MECHJEB IS A MUST HAVE if you want to do amazing things.

In addition to that,  don't do your "gravity turn" at a 90 degree angle once you are in orbit. this is what i did when i was a noob, around 2016-17. do one that is more of an "arc."

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Figure out how to return your kerbals home later

On 4/28/2021 at 6:15 PM, CollectingSP said:

In addition to that,  don't do your "gravity turn" at a 90 degree angle once you are in orbit. this is what i did when i was a noob, around 2016-17. do one that is more of an "arc."

I find gravity turns hard, so i wait until I'm at 100 km, then i do a turn and burn protograde. Probably a waste of fuel but i do it anyways

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On 4/28/2021 at 9:15 PM, CollectingSP said:

USE MODS! they are awesome! also, MECHJEB IS A MUST HAVE if you want to do amazing things.

In addition to that,  don't do your "gravity turn" at a 90 degree angle once you are in orbit. this is what i did when i was a noob, around 2016-17. do one that is more of an "arc."

I don't find all that amazing to have a mod doing the hardest piloting for me. All I have installed is Kerbal Alarm Clock, it gets seriously unwieldy to manage dozens of ships only with the tracking station

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On 5/10/2021 at 6:21 AM, Jack Mcslay said:

I don't find all that amazing to have a mod doing the hardest piloting for me. All I have installed is Kerbal Alarm Clock, it gets seriously unwieldy to manage dozens of ships only with the tracking station

I don’t use a joystick or anything, and I find it incredibly hard to have precise and neat launches without MJ. It’s not that I couldn’t do it manually, it’s just that I don’t prefer to.

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On 1/27/2014 at 4:52 PM, WhiteKnuckle said:

I think most people are going to disagree with you on this one. I certainly do. The feeling you get when you make a perfect touchdown on another planet or dock two giant ships in orbit is incredible. I'd recommend the Kerbal Engineer mod, gives you all the data that MJ does, but without the autopilot.

Anyway, things I've learned:

1. Learn to use the navball. Knowing what every indicator means, what it does, and why is so useful. I think 90% of people's issues with things like docking can be attributed to not fully understanding how to use the navball.

I gotta agree with @WhiteKnuckle here on this one.

MechJeb kinda takes away the whole effort factor (and as such the joy factor) in the game for me, as it just basically becomes a slightly more fun docking simulator. And KER is already really easy to use, probably much more so for newer players to the game as its technical terms are relatively fewer in number and easily understood by anyone who can use Google.

And the navball, I don't know how people manage to play without learning it. The symbols are easy enough but the prediction of finer movements is something accumulated through experience and knowledge. And of course, learning to accurately use RCS in conjuction with the Navball makes docking much less of a chore than usual (Except for me, my memory of keybinds is abysmal).

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52 minutes ago, HyperDraco said:

MechJeb kinda takes away the whole effort factor (and as such the joy factor) in the game for me, as it just basically becomes a slightly more fun docking simulator.

Fair deal, but it depends on whether you focus on flying or planning/designing/building.

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3 minutes ago, Curveball Anders said:

Fair deal, but it depends on whether you focus on flying or planning/designing/building.

True that is also one of the major things that makes KSP so enjoyed over many preferences

On 5/10/2021 at 3:22 PM, Curveball Anders said:

Everyone is different.

I prefer to do the special piloting once, after that it just becomes tedious work for me.

That too is a wise choice, I usually do it only when needed or for fun, but on missions with multiple gravity assists or tens of pointlessly mundane manouvers, I prefer to let MechJeb take over while I go and brew a cup of tea or coffee (varies on the day or mood) for myself

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

It's not just the game itself, but also the community surrounding it, the forums, the videos, the whole shebang, that's told me that:

Everybody's got their own reasons for liking this game.

  • I've heard people say they like the game because it allows them to design impressive spaceships.
  • I've heard people say it's all about flying the ships they build. They shun in-game computers, even though in the real world computers have been used to fly spaceships since before the Apollo missions.
  • Some people are in it for the recreations of historical spaceflights and ships.
  • Some people actually use the game to model and simulate missions - they use it as a tool. 

All of this attests to the versatility of this game.

For me it's about the program. You set your goals, and then you think about what infrastructure you need, what steps you must make to get to that point. If your mission is having a base on Eloo, you don't get there in one go: you must first develop technologies, make sure you have the spaceships and equipment to supply your base, the technologies to keep your Kerbals alive out there (assuming you use USI or some other life support mod). I'm treating KSP as a strategy game - and I like strategy games. But in the end it's not individual missions that give this game meaning, but what each mission means for your overall program. So what I would pass on is this:

  • The more mundane tasks, like flying the rockets you're building, are best left to the tools we built for that purpose.
  • Mechjeb and RMM are your friends. And of course kOS and kRPC. HAL9000 may be a bit of a dick, but he's a fine pilot.
  • The end goal of the game is to realize (and automate) that lower 99% of the technological pyramid that allows you to do the top 1% with ease and fun.

Another thing I would pass on - because I'm too lazy to figure it out myself:

  • See if you can work out how to use kRPC to manage a multi-vessel/base infrastructure by itself without human input. Wouldn't it be cool if you could set your python bot to do all the mining and ferrying around of resources and kerbals, switching active control between vessels and bases as needed, until you've got everything in place to start on your greatest project?

Once you've got this running, videotape it and gimme a ping.

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On 1/29/2014 at 6:07 PM, match said:

There are no straight lines in space.

Took me hundreds of hours playing Kerbal to realize this fact about straight lines in space. 

both in real life and in Kerbal...   gravity is the most dominant,  powerful force in the universe. Yet gravity is very subtle at the same time.

 

In career mode, for me there is only 1 mod that is an absolute requirement (for career mode): Kerbal Alarm Clock

Wish I would have installed Kerbal Alarm Clock from the start of playing. Tis a shame Kerbal Alarm Clock is not in stock.

Edited by fragtzack
Removed MechJeb comment after seeing other posts on topic.
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Big crane=Kraken (Not always, but more often than not)

Never timewarp with a big crane. It will probably make a loud sound, something like a BOOM!

Autostruts! Just be careful with robotic parts and autostruts.

Most importantly, just have fun.

 

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On 7/7/2021 at 9:37 PM, Admiral Fluffy said:

Also, come up with a good naming scheme.

This! 

M = Module

L = Lifter

PR = Probe, Recon

PC = Probe, Comm

KSS = Stations

X - Experimental

And my newest innovation ISD - InterStage Delivery

And I like to do Like LHx4 - SomeName (PC-01 Sattname )

Took a long time to figure this out!!

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The little widget in the bottom left of the screen has many functions- besides showing your pitch/yaw/roll inputs, click the pink-ish button (the bottom one of the four) beside it and you’ll get orbital information- apo/periapsis, plus inclination and more in the second tab with a level 2+ tracking station, as well as intercept distances and times in the third tab. You can also select maneuvers in map view by clicking the little arrow beside the word “orbit” and then use the precision tool to either click the buttons in fixed increments from mm/s to km/s and from ms to, er, kiloseconds(?) and shift the node forwards and back orbits with the +/- buttons, or manually type in the pro/retrograde, radial and anti/normal components if you got those from a tool like transfer window planner.

Make a list of all the critical components of a craft and then go through it with each new design to make sure you’ve included them all: parachutes (if it’s going to land in an atmosphere), antenna, power storage (batteries) and generation (solar panels, fuel cells or RTGs), orientation control (reaction wheels mostly) and translation control (RCS, usually for rendezvous/docking rather than rotating the craft which reaction wheels can do without using propellant), science experiments (if applicable) and a control part (probe core or crew pod)- make sure your crew is correct and they have the right inventory, you don’t really need parachutes on Minmus or jetpacks on Eve, for example.

When doing a career game I find the Stage Recovery mod to be incredibly useful- stick some parachutes on your stages and they’ll get recovered for a significant proportion of their total cost, saving a lot of money when it’s hardest to get hold of. If that seems too easy, just reduce the recovery values or make the conditions more stringent.

Under normal circumstances most science experiments are worth more if you return them to Kerbin than transmitting them, but transmitting them is often the only option. Don’t try to send everything at once unless your power production can keep up, by default an antenna will cancel the transmission and have to start again from scratch if you run out of power; you can change this so it sends data packets as soon as it has enough power, but this leads to reduced science transmission overall and you’ll probably have to repeat the experiment.

It’s always worth checking if your power storage and generation can handle the drain of transmitting the experiment that has the biggest data size- something like an atmosphere analysis has a huge amount of data to send and all antennae use power per unit of data they send so you can calculate the total power needed. Bringing batteries for the whole thing isn’t advisable as they’re rather heavy, instead you can try to ensure that you recharge the batteries enough during the transmission that they don’t run out- you can use the transmission speed of the antenna combined with its power consumption and the data size to work this out.

For example, an experiment that has 16 units (Mits?) of data, transmitted by an antenna at 2units/s and 5EC/unit will cost you 80EC to send and take 8 seconds to do so. If you have 50EC of batteries, you’ll need to charge up 30 units in 8 seconds, so 3.75/s to be able to transmit that data; in reality you’ll need a bit more as the probe core and other parts might be using some power too. If you have a much bigger experiment that’s, say, 256 units in size, and use an antenna that transmits at 10units/s and 10EC/unit, that’s 2560EC over 26 seconds and will drain 100EC/s, which will need a lot of batteries and as much power generation as you can get to try and keep up with.

One antenna can send one experiment at a time and each experiment can only be sent by one antenna; try to send the biggest data sets on the most energy-efficient antennae and don’t just transmit everything at once or you’ll end up using much more power per second and waste power by using a less efficient antenna if you brought a spare, low power antenna along (which you should in case your main antenna gets broken).

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When performing maneuvers such as orbit transfers and intercepts, if you're using a big engine such as a Mainsail, cut the thrust limiter value way down so that you have a longer burn. You'll have much more precise control of the thrust and can pretty much hit your predicted marks. 

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I will assume that a variation of everything I'm about to say has already been said.  But, you know, I'm gonna say it anyway.

  1. Scientists are the most important Kerbals in the game.  You can either bring multiple copies of science gadgets, or you can let Bob collect and store all the data.  You'll save weight on those unneeded copies, which will give you more dab in the long run.  This, however, means...
  2. ...Always bring a pilot on trips outside Kerbin's SOI unless you use MJ for maneuver planning.  Only pilots can create nodes without line of sight to the KSC.
  3. MechJeb is by far the greatest mod there is.  Yes, you can land manually.  But why?  Let the computer do the heavy lifting.
  4. The single-most important thing I learned:  there is no wrong way to play this game.  If you do something that gives you enjoyment, it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing.  You do you.
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