Death Engineering

The "Better Than Starting Manned" Career Challenge

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I'm working on Tier 5 and have reached the point where I'm starting to run concurrent flights.

And it finally sank in that, as with the stock game, electric power does not drain on unfocused vessels yet in BTSM (though FlowerChild intends to fix that at some point).

How have others working on this challenge been handling this issue? So far, I've just been preventing myself from consciously scrimping on batteries, trying to make sure I've got enough batteries packed for the entire anticipated duration of the mission. I've got a feeling this might get hard to estimate and keep track of soon though...

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I'm working on Tier 5 and have reached the point where I'm starting to run concurrent flights.

And it finally sank in that, as with the stock game, electric power does not drain on unfocused vessels yet in BTSM (though FlowerChild intends to fix that at some point).

How have others working on this challenge been handling this issue? So far, I've just been preventing myself from consciously scrimping on batteries, trying to make sure I've got enough batteries packed for the entire anticipated duration of the mission. I've got a feeling this might get hard to estimate and keep track of soon though...

For Kerbin system missions with batteries only, I just use the math to make sure I've got enough EC for the mission (+ wiggle room). For missions around Kerbin with solar panels, I make sure that there is a positive net EC change as the vessel enters the dark side of the body; same rule applies when orbiting any other planet/moon.

For interplanetary transfers, beyond Kerbin (basically to Duna as I don't think the risk to Dres is worth it), I will test the design in "simulation" (yeah, Hyperedit) at Duna's distance from Sol to make sure it will provide power with zero loss. Inner planets/moons, I trust the math from the part description and pack enough panels for the job.

Note that if you're going to transmit data, that needs to be accounted for also. To calculate those needs, I use the excellent charts from Estel.

Cheers! :cool:

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Hey guys,

My first post on this forum. I have been playing KSP since 0.23 and have had most fun with the BTSM. I Just found out this thread when I was searching for more information about how to make manned&landed Duna mission in BTSM.

I have finished twice the normal mode ie. unlocked all nodes in Tier 8 (second-to-last) and I'm again stuck at the Tier 8. The only science left is manned missions outside Kerbin SOI. I have done all the missions as a "single launch mission" which I mean; no duplicate launches, assisting launches or orbital bases.

So, do you guys know if it's possible to make manned&landed Duna mission in a single launch in Tier 8? I have been trying to succeed with this for too long.

If I will start BTSM third time then I will definitely try this challenge.

btw, do you happen to know any other great gameplay mods like BTSM?

Death Engineer, I have been enjoying your challenge diary. It looks like you rarely use boosters for staging. Is there a reason for it?

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My Emu program is now complete. 17 different craft were constructed; counting repeat contract grinding, there were 24 Emu flights in all.

My plan was to start with gathering more science near Kerbin. That meant opening Tier 5 with Aerodynamics and Space Exploration, so I could put Kerbals into orbit for Crew Report science. But in what order? I chose Aerodynamics first, thinking I would be able to earn enough science from goo retrievals in Kerbin space to unlock the next node.

Once again, I had made a technology mistake. Since my missions that had gone straight up to 70km and then straight back down hadn't needed heat shields at all, I thought perhaps the initial heat shield would be fine for going straight up to 250km and then straight back down. Testing quickly revealed that I should have taken the warnings in the heat shield's part description more seriously. It wasn't going to get the goo home from high space...at least not so long as I was having to reenter with a craft big enough to make a powered landing.

I went ahead and collected low-space goo...and found myself with 89 points, one short of what was required to unlock the next node. Well played, BTSM, well played. I was going to need to figure out how to get a craft into Munar space--and halfway back to Kerbin to transmit science--with existing parts and a 75-ton mass limit...or I would need to get lucky and turn up a contract to test radial chutes.

I got lucky. After successfully returning an appropriately small goo payload from high space, I was able to unlock my second Tier 5 node. I pondered going for Space Exploration as previously planned, but gosh that command pod looked awfully heavy, and I had lucrative Mun contracts and contracts that involved docking on my hands...and wouldn't it be nice to have reaction wheels and the inline stabilizer available before risking kerbals? There wasn't any reason I couldn't wait until the end of the tier to go for "This land is your land, this land is Badland", so long as there was plenty of science to gather around the Mun. So...Advanced Construction it was, to help me get there.

Things started to move along a bit better from there--though I spent a lot of time and effort raising money from contracts, while waiting for vessels to reach or return from the Mun. Maybe more time and effort than was necessary...but on the other hand, going to the Mun isn't cheap. (Especially when you carry along an absurd number of batteries.)

The Emu 11 report is the most involved, as it is the most ambitious and complicated mission I have flown yet in BTSM...and there was also a rather inconvenient mishap along the way. By contrast, Emu 13 and 13K were much simpler and less nerve-wracking. (Maybe I should have gone for "This land is your land, this land is Badland" a bit earlier in the tier after all.)

The slideshow turned out to be a big one; I'll probably divide future tiers' reports into parts.

Javascript is disabled. View full album

Tier 5 is now complete, on Day 2, 15h 17m. All modifier points were again claimed:

Tier 5 - "This land is your land, this land is Badland" (4)

- Survivor II (2)

- Goo hunter I (2)

265,028 funds and 428.6 science are in the bank.

Whew. Tier 5 may be a breeze to BTSM veterans, but it put up a good fight for me. It may be a little while before I can dive into Tier 6...but I'm looking forward to discovering what further challenges and dilemmas await.

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Isn't it? This is the T3 craft that achieved that goal.

http://i.imgur.com/DQxBjHml.png

I tried to do the Biome Hunter I (1) using v0.25 and BTSM 1.64999. The mass restriction was set to 25 tons. I don't know if it's possible to do it with 25 tons. I managed to get to 73 km altitude but there wasn't enough time to get science from 3 biomes.

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I tried to do the Biome Hunter I (1) using v0.25 and BTSM 1.64999. The mass restriction was set to 25 tons. I don't know if it's possible to do it with 25 tons. I managed to get to 73 km altitude but there wasn't enough time to get science from 3 biomes.

If you look at the slideshow attached to my Tiers 1-3 report, you can see Coelacanth 1, the craft I used to achieve Biome Hunter I. Mass was 22.485; highest altitude achieved was 123,117.

(I believe the version number was 1.649 at the time rather than 1.64999, but I don't think there's any significant change there.)

I may have got a little lucky with the trajectory--which needs to be westward from KSC for this suborbital flight--but I believe the results should be readily repeatable with similar craft.

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I'm partway through Tier 6, and the mission reports are piling up. I've come to a good spot to take a breather, so here's a report on the progress to date.

Tier planning notes:

On each of the last two tiers, I got into early difficulty due to sub-optimal technology choices. I've therefore decided to try something new and daring for Tier 6: having a plan.

The science needed to clear Tier 6 will be gathered from three types of missions: probes to the Mun, probes to Minmus, and kerballed missions to the Mun. I already have the technology to pull off the first type, including landing missions. I will have the technology to pull off the second type once I unlock either a more efficient probe core or better batteries. (I'll want the bigger heat shield as well if I intend to bring back goo.) The third can wait as long as a fair bit of science remains to be gathered from Mun probes.

Since time is a key element of this challenge, and Minmus takes much more time to get to, my initial science purchase will be directed towards getting a probe headed there straightaway. (Minmus also promises to turn a nice profit due to contracts, which won't hurt.) With enough science in the bank to unlock two nodes, I could pick up both the HECS core and the POT-360 batteries; but I think I can get by with just one of those, and will try to do so in order to get the bigger heat shield for goo return (with radial chutes helpfully in the bargain there too). Choosing the probe core would save me a bit more mass on the Minmus mission, but the batteries will be more helpful to other missions later on. So Advanced Electrics and Basic Flight it will be.

Once the Minmus probe is on its way, I will launch a probe to get more science out of the Mun. Between collecting more gravity scans, transmitting the rest of the seismic data, and returning goo from the surface, enough science can be collected to unlock the next node (maybe even the next two). With that purchase I'll unlock Advanced Exploration, letting me get a kerballed Munar flyby underway even before the hoped-for science bonanza from Minmus starts rolling in.

If all three of these missions go to plan, and the crew reports from Munar space prove as lucrative as I hope they'll be, I'll be able to unlock the rest of Tier 6 (or nearly) after just three primary missions and in less than three days. A few more launches will be needed after that to earn Team Effort I and to complete Biome Hunter III...and then I can attempt "One small step..." and completion of the tier.

It's a beautiful-looking plan. We'll see how it survives encounter with Tier 6.

Mission report album:

Javascript is disabled. View full album

Whew. Time to take a breath, now that the board has been cleared of all missions except Fugu 1 (which is now simply drifting home with a dead probecore). I've got 1,130,707 funds and 582 science in the bank. The science will be enough to unlock three of the five remaining nodes in this tier. It is a half hour into Day 4. The rest of Tier 6 awaits.

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I'm partway through Tier 6, and the mission reports are piling up. I've come to a good spot to take a breather, so here's a report on the progress to date.

...

Whew. Time to take a breath, now that the board has been cleared of all missions except Fugu 1 (which is now simply drifting home with a dead probecore). I've got 1,130,707 funds and 582 science in the bank. The science will be enough to unlock three of the five remaining nodes in this tier. It is a half hour into Day 4. The rest of Tier 6 awaits.

Great progress report, KevinTMC! I've had some Kerbal survival issues when I used a high-altitude pass to slow down without landing. That sub-orbital flight before hitting the atmosphere again takes a long time and with the tight budgets on LS and EC, I'd rather throw the craft down a little lower and risk it. Glad your Munar flyby went well!

I like your application of the bi/tri/quad adapters to build cluster stacks. Looks like a reliable and cost effective lifter family you've developed. I see also you're getting good use out of KAC. :) Doing missions like this without it would be hard and decidedly not fun. Too bad about that tipped over surface return Mun lander. I've had some luck with those missions, but usually with a two-stage lander.

Looking forward to your first Kerballed Mun landing mission. :cool:

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Project Fugu is now complete. Here's the rest of the report. I've continued to exhaustively document my progress; I hope the end result is not unduly exhausting to the reader.

Tier planning notes, part two:

So, what are the priorities now? While I wait for the Minmus probe to return successfully, I can work on the "Team Effort I" and "Biome Hunter III" modifiers. Since the latter will take a whole lot more time--and since more Munar science will be needed if the Minmus probe burns up on reentry--I should get it underway first. The main question is which three node unlocks will be the most help in pursuing this objective.

Modular Design, with its increased launch capacity, is a no-brainer. (The Rockomax decoupler will also be a help.) Larger craft will require more thrust, and will be more difficult to control, so both Heavier Rocketry and Thrust Vectoring seem important...if I can do without the other two nodes for now. Advanced Landing can easily wait until the Apollo-style landing attempt; and while it would be convenient to have the bigger RCS tank from Precision Engineering, that node's main benefit is to probes, which I don't have a burning need to launch right now. That settles it then. Time to design the successor to the Fugu 6K.

Mission report album, part two:

Javascript is disabled. View full album

Tier planning notes, part three:

I had planned to unlock the last node in Tier 6 before organizing "One small step...", but that would require waiting for Fugu 13 to get all the way home again, and the clock is ticking. I'm going to put together the best prototype I can without Precision Engineering, and see how it goes.

Mission report album, part three:

Javascript is disabled. View full album

Tier 6 is now complete, at Day 6, 2 hours, 14 minutes. (That's 3 days, 10 hours, and 57 minutes since the completion of Tier 5.)

21 different Fugu craft were constructed (4 more than Emu); counting repeat contract grinding, there were 29 Fugu flights in all (5 more than Emu).

All modifier points were again claimed:

Tier 6 - "One small step.." (6)

- Team Effort I (2)

- Survivor III (3)

- Biome Hunter III (4)

833,608 funds are in the bank (an increase of 568,580 since the completion of Tier 5).

1422 science is available; that will equal 2.63 node purchases in Tier 7. (I began Tier 6 with 2.38 nodes' worth of science saved up.)

The tension leading up to the Munar landing, and the sense of accomplishment when it succeeded, was quite extraordinary...it reminded me of my very first landing on the Mun, back in version 0.15. What a great mod, and what an intense challenge.

I must say I'm a little torn on what to do next. On the one hand, I'd like to finish out a "Normal Mode" entry in this challenge (even though I wonder where I will find the time, if Tiers 7 and 8 are significantly more intense than Tiers 5 and 6 were...which I suspect they are). On the other hand, I haven't played around with KSP 0.90 at all yet, much less one of the newer revisions of BTSM...and there's a lot of shiny goodness calling to me. I suppose what it boils down to is that I should really have found this mod and this challenge a few months earlier!

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Those are some awesome looking rockets KevinTMC. Hope to see more soon.

- - - Updated - - -

Death Engineering, are we going all the way to tier 10?

I ask because the achievements end at tier 9, and there are no actually parts in tier 10... just a 50k science sink. Currently I have one more T9 to get, but if I need another 50k I think I'm going to have to start doing the long term habitation studies. 5 year wait... yuck!

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Those are some awesome looking rockets KevinTMC. Hope to see more soon.

- - - Updated - - -

Death Engineering, are we going all the way to tier 10?

I ask because the achievements end at tier 9, and there are no actually parts in tier 10... just a 50k science sink. Currently I have one more T9 to get, but if I need another 50k I think I'm going to have to start doing the long term habitation studies. 5 year wait... yuck!

Well, I was not even aware of Tier 10. In fact, the concept makes the small wires in my brain melt. Making it to the last node in tier 9 with BTSM in .235 was my last push into the deep end and I've just "officially" abandoned it. I'm playing with a .90 BTSM now and so far the challenge to Tier 4 is still doable. I'm planning on playing until a Duna crewed return which should prove all tiers of the challenge doable.. I'll post my progess. :)

tier 10? why why why

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I decided to go full steam ahead into Tier 7--and now that the big centerpiece mission for this tier is winding down, it's time for a status report.

Tier planning notes, part one:

All the science I will need to complete Tier 7 can be obtained from Kerbin and its moons. If it weren't for this challenge, then, I wouldn't even be starting to think about interplanetary missions yet.

But as the scoring is overwhelmingly weighted toward time elapsed, I have to keep an eye on getting those looooong interplanetary probe missions underway as soon as possible. In particular, I'll be wanting to get a head start on the big Tier 8 modifier, "Map Master", since the halfway-decent transfer window to Eve that the game starts with is already closing, and a good opportunity to head to Moho is also coming up very soon. I don't yet know which node purchases (if any) I'll be able to do without when sending my first batch of interplanetary probes, but my hunch is that possibilities might start to open up once I get to seven or eight nodes unlocked.

There is enough non-Minmus science available to get eight out of ten nodes unlocked, and the only new technology absolutely required to collect it would be the nodes with the new science instruments. I could just skip Minmus for the moment, then, since it takes so much longer to get to.

But I'm not positive that eight nodes will be enough to send useful interplanetary probes...and if it's not, that path could wind up costing me a lot of time. Besides, how quickly could I realistically expect to collect 14 different Munar surface samples? Could I afford to do so? And wouldn't I be volunteering for quite a bit of tedium even if it did work out?

I think the smart play here is to go ahead and unlock Field Science and one other node, and get a kerballed Minmus mission going straightaway. It will certainly be easier (and, I think, considerably cheaper) to bring home a complete collection of surface samples from Minmus than from the Mun. And there won't be anything stopping me from running Mun missions concurrently, so long as I can keep scraping together the funds.

I'll almost certainly have to wait for the Minmus mission's return before I can start sending interplanetary probes; but transmitting a lot of high-value science from Minmus might still prove helpful. To help that happen, I could send a refueling station ahead of the main craft, with supplies of liquid fuel, monopropellant, and life support to go along with tons of batteries.

I would probably want solar panels on the refueling station (and on all future Minmus-bound craft, really). That means I'd be opening this tier with Field Science and Large Electrics...leaving me without the surface scanner at the start. Would it be better to instead open with Large Electrics and Electronics, spend around 7 hours getting surface scans of Kerbin and the Mun to earn a third node, then unlock Field Science and get the Minmus mission underway? Or should I just plan on picking up the Minmus surface scan at a later date, when I'm sending some cargo that direction anyway?

I think the latter. 180 science is nothing to sneeze at, but there's 1477 extra science available from Kerbin and its moons over and above what I will need to complete this tier; it won't necessarily delay things to leave that scan (and the one remaining gravity scan, over the Poles) for later. My big kerballed mission will be designed to pick up everything else: all eleven crew reports, the EVA report, and all nine surface samples. If I can pull that off, the mission will yield 2190 science (and achieve "Minmus Master" and "Biome Hunter IV").

The science that can be transmitted back from Minmus should be more than enough to unlock the new instruments. While the Minmus mission makes its way home with the non-transmittable surface samples, I could then get 360 science from surface scans of Kerbin and the Mun, and 600 from a complete set of Kerbin atmospheric scans (accomplishing "Take a Breather" along the way). Add two Munar surface samples--also quite feasible in this time frame I think--and I'd reach nine nodes unlocked once the Minmus samples were delivered. Another four samples from the Mun would unlock the tenth and final node.

I'm hoping there won't be a big gap between the return of the Minmus mission and getting my "Duna Dominance I - Prime" craft out of Kerbin SOI, but I won't be surprised if that one isn't ready to launch until the tier is complete. I think I've got a better chance of getting an early start on the "Map Master" probes (one headed to Eve/Gilly, one to Duna/Ike, probably an extra to Moho, and maybe even one to Jool and its moons).

Okay, enough strategizing and gabbing. It's time once again to see how my plans survive contact with reality.

Mission report album, part one:

Javascript is disabled. View full album

The Guanaco 1 mission was massive. It involved four launches totaling 2321.688 tons of launch weight, at a total cost of 707,490 funds. (I expect it to turn a profit of around 5,000 funds following successful return of the crew.) Six distinct craft were put into Minmus orbit: command module/transfer vehicle, crewed lander, refueling station, tug/resupply ship, commercial payload, and jet engine test lander.

It is now 13 hours and 13 minutes into Day 7. I have 487,183 funds in the bank, and enough science on hand to unlock two more nodes. To complete Tier 7, I will need to bring the Minmus surface samples home to Kerbin, and earn another 1788 science.

Edited by KevinTMC

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It is now 13 hours and 13 minutes into Day 7. I have 487,183 funds in the bank, and enough science on hand to unlock two more nodes. To complete Tier 7, I will need to bring the Minmus surface samples home to Kerbin, and earn another 1788 science.

Really enjoy your mission reports, KevinTMC. It was very busy at work today so it took most of the day to catch up on your space program, so really savoured the storytelling. :D Your progress in just over a week is awesome (of course much longer 'real time').

Definitely some creative solutions and looking forward to your next report. :cool:

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It's taken rather a while (real life is such a bother sometimes), but Project Guanaco is now complete. I may or may not be able to continue the challenge on to Tier 8 (I'm still playing on 0.25 here, and KSP 1.0 is being released in one week!), and I may or may not be eligible for a score in the end anyway (I broke down and used some quicksaves during Theoby's first and third trips down to the Munar surface)...but more about that later. Here's the program report.

Tier planning notes, part two:

Guanaco 1K is on its way home, and should arrive back on Kerbin in no more than 27 hours. I'd like to get interplanetary probes underway the instant those soil samples are delivered to R&D--so the key question is, how much science will I be able to gather in that time?

There's still a bit more Minmus science that can be collected at this tech level: a surface scan and one last gravity scan (Poles), for a total of 205 points. Per my usual plan lately, I will send a craft in that direction first; with an aggressive transfer trajectory, it should able to transmit its science before Alddorf and Guslie return.

Electronics will thus be one of the two node purchases I'm making right now (thanks to transmitted science from Guanaco 1). I had my eye on Refined Rocketry for the other one, since I've got a couple of crazy contracts that want me to fire off big boosters on escape trajectories out of Minmus and the Mun...but it looks like the tweakable fuel ability only applies to liquid fuel tanks. Rats. In that case, I think I'll unlock High Altitude Flight instead, and work on atmospheric science around Kerbin whenever I've got some free time.

New kerballed missions to the Mun are also a priority of course. I'm hoping I can run at least two missions there and back by the time Guanaco IK returns. I'm not going to delay these missions any further with lander tests--I'll just slap a second Probodobodyne X100-??? on the lander instead of fooling around with smaller tanks, and call it good. Who knows...with a somewhat excessive amount of fuel on board the lander, and a refueling station already in position, it might just be possible to collect all the Munar surface samples needed to clear the tier on a single mission.

So, the lineup for the second part of Tier 7 is set:

1) Surface scan/gravity scan probe to Minmus

2) Crewed mission to Mun

3) Surface scan probe to Kerbin orbit, then on to Mun

4) Atmospheric science missions while other craft transit to/from Kerbin

And of course I'll be raising funds along the way too.

Onward!

Mission report album, part two:

Javascript is disabled. View full album

Tier 7 is now complete, at Day 8, 12 hours, 3 minutes. (That's 2 days, 9 hours, and 49 minutes since the completion of Tier 6...over 25 hours shorter than the time it took to complete the previous tier.)

14 different Guanaco craft were constructed (7 fewer than Fugu); with repeat flights, there were 16 Guanaco launches in all (13 fewer than Fugu).

819,237 funds are in the bank (a decrease of 14,371 since the completion of Tier 6). 727 science is available; that will only be worth 0.323 nodes in Tier 8. (I began Tier 7 with 2.63 nodes' worth of science saved up.)

The following modifier points were definitely claimed:

Tier 7 - "Minmus master" (6)

- Biome Hunter IV (4)

- Take a Breather I (2)

Other modifiers -

- Take a Breather II (4)

The following modifier points are up in the air:

Duna Dominance I - Prime is still possible, but it will have to be launched at the start of the next project--Guanaco is closed.

Survivor IV was achieved, after a fashion...but it did involve loading from quicksaves. I started using quicksaves just to deal with problems I believed were caused by glitches in the game...but then, when preparing for Theoby's first Mun landing, without hardly thinking about what I was doing, I performed a couple of test landings and then loaded from a quicksave to do it again "for real". Later, rusty from not having played for some weeks, I wound up using quicksaves in much the same fashion during Theoby's third sortie to the Munar surface. (It's a bit ironic, I suppose, that Theoby's second run--the most exciting, risky, touch-and-go one of the bunch--was the one I performed all in one go, without a safety net.) I'm a little disappointed in myself; but on the other hand, this challenge is a long slog, and I'm a little surprised that I, an incurable perfectionist accustomed to free use of quicksaves, made it as far as I did without cracking.

If Guanaco 5K had turned out to be a complete failure--which was certainly possible, though not inevitable, without quicksaves--I would at the very least have lost the Survivor IV bonus (as well as the later Survivor V bonus). My completion of Tier 7 would also likely have been delayed a bit...perhaps by half a day or so. So, a penalty of a day or more, and the surrender of the Survivor IV and V bonuses, would certainly be fair if I were still allowed to submit a score for this challenge; but if I'm deemed to have just plain disqualified myself, I certainly understand.

Whether I post a final score or not is really incidental at this point anyhow. The real point of the exercise--and the real joy of it--has been tackling the challenge that is BTSM, and reporting back on my experiences. I'm glad that others have enjoyed reading my accounts.

Also, the question of a final score will of course be moot if I do not go on to complete at least one more tier in this challenge. I like finishing what I start (even when it's a bit mad really...or maybe even especially then), and I've been looking forward to experiencing BTSM at the next, interplanetary level; but then KSP 1.0 is now upon us, which will put me two rather significant updates behind. (Since it came out, I've spent an hour or two seeing what 0.90 has to offer, but no more.)

In the event that I don't get around to playing Tier 8 under this challenge: many thanks to Death Engineering for sponsoring the challenge and thereby getting me to try the BTSM mod (and with the important added wrinkle of trying to minimize in-game time), and many many thanks to FlowerChild for such a well-designed, challenging, intriguing career experience.

Edited by KevinTMC

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