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Thoughts and Ramblings on The Asteroid Sentinels (and future works?)


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Thoughts and Ramblings on the Asteroid Sentinels

Here’s a fun little thread for reflecting on The Asteroid Sentinels, and hopefully will act as a “behind the scenes” thread for future works.

Some Basic Things

I started the Asteroid Sentinels after seeing other comic threads and the release of the Asteroid Day mod. The original idea was just to launch the SENTINEL telescope, find an asteroid headed for Kerbin, intercept it (I would do this in many ways like with the ARM and ADM, or maybe the DART/AIDA concept), and maybe a few more details. I didn’t really care about storylines, so off I went.

The earliest of episodes were made in Sketchbook Express. I hoped that this would let me edit and draw on the panels, but it also was far harder to do the main comic part so to speak…

If you've got an idea for a bit I could write about, let me know!


Let's start with a couple of thoughts on some of the characters!


Wernher von Kerman

The first character seen in the series, he is the chief rocket scientist at the Kerbal Space Center. He was responsible for designing the Mun 3, flying to and back from the Mun, albeit with enormous delays (but it is often said to be the best performing flight).

The mustached character has a rather strong accent that slips through translation devices (they are not perfect at decoding Deutchekerb, and while the long words are said to be the issue, it frequently fails at simple words). Wernher generally opposes Mort’s measures, trying to take a more pragmatic and reasonable approach.

Wernher started the KSC Rocket Scientist program for young kerbals to help him. However, it must be said that he finds the youngest interns annoying, as he found with Linus, who once got a bit tired of waiting for the rocket launch, taking matters into his own hands...

I personally think of Wernher as the main voice of reason, especially in the meetings with the main executives of the KSC. He’ll even act directly against Mort’s wishes. He’s someone intended as a sort of “father figure” to Linus, helping him along and correcting him when he’s wrong.


Mortimer Kerman: Chief Financial Executive/Advisor (the writer failed to remember the proper title, and was promptly fired)

The financially stingy Mortimer Kerman can be seen as a rather controversial figure, having essentially ruled by decree multiple times as both Financial Advisor and Emergency Administrator, though he labels himself as a middleman in an unfortunate upset of events. That can’t really explain his decision to blow up parts of the Refinery/Hotel rocket, a decision made almost certainly in a fit of rage.

Mortimer usually advocates for the aggressive and even extreme measures to solve certain issues, with a rather cynical and disdainful view of adversaries, notably the RDF.

As a general rule I wrote Mort as someone who didn’t want his job, acts aggressive to cover his weak points, but still works at the KSC because of his dedication and good pay. He rarely strays from his plan even when things change and rarely expresses much emotion.

It’s quite accurate to describe his approach “getting the job done” and being quite a fan of “the ends justify the means”. Mortimer acts as a sort of villain, though he becomes the “enemy of my enemy” towards the end.


Jebediah Kerman: “Pilot Extraordinaire” “Best Pilot”

One of the first pilots of the KSC, he became a hero after the Mun 3 mission, with the role of landing safely.

    Especially when I first introduced him he was written as incredibly cocky and often did dangerous things purely for fun without considering the consequences. Jeb tended to overlook the big picture and instead focused only on what was happening now.

He also had this view of the “good ‘ol days” when could do “all sorts of crazy stuff”, though he maintains the whole “let’s go to cool new places” thought.

    He’s probably the most dynamic character, become far more careful about the consequences of his choice.


Bill Kerman: Chief Flight Engineer

    One of the best students at engineer school (though some teachers complained he wouldn’t shut up), he joined the KSC, and was unexpectedly thrust into a space station mission in the literal last hour. He did “pretty good” according to Wernher.

    Kind of snarky, especially in the early writing, and quite precise with numbers. He’s quite good with coming up with ideas and solutions, notably illustrated in the final approach against the Intimidator. In general he’s one to carry an argument for a fair while longer than it needed to be.


Valentina Kerman

    The commander of the first expedition to Minmus, Valentina managed to save the mission by aborting when a fuel leak was noticed on the orbiter. A more thoughtful leader, who tries to unite the crew of the Asteroid Destroyer. She’s quite convincing, notably when she used a variety of arguments to make a demoralized Jeb join the crew of the Asteroid Destroyer.

Barbarry Kerman

    The powerful “Great Leader” of the Real Deal Front. While rarely seen in public, he is arguably the mastermind of the RDF, a group that capitalized on the anger of many kerbals after the asteroid. Of course, this was part of a far bigger scheme to change the Kerbal Union. A kerbal crippled by the horror that was the downturn of Kerbal Dynamics, his focus became purely to get revenge.

    While he holds meetings at the RDF, it’s clear he’s the one who wants to be in charge.

Linus Kerman

    A bright, young kerbal, Wernher picked him to be his main assistant. While originally described as “too eager”, over the years Linus has become more careful, enough for Wernher to trust him to be in charge in case he couldn’t lead.

    While not as noticeable a changing character as Jeb, he’s certainly still changed, becoming a bit more like Wernher towards the end of the Series.

Gus Kerman

    Gus is perhaps a weak leader. His decisions are at certain times more emotionally based despite the need for careful thought. However he’s certainly far more liked than Mortimer, caring a lot more about the kerbals working there. He’ll do what he believes is right, even though this might go against what is agreed.


Edited by SaturnianBlue
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Routes Untaken: A list of ideas never done in the actual story

A scenario where a giant comet would be headed for kerbin followed the asteroid.

Why not: It’s extremely implausible to make something that big, so only the magic of the plot would determine this. Additionally the series was already long, and I was unwilling to take it even longer.

Do a mission much like the AIDA/DART concept mission

Why not: It's not implausible to think that I probably just forgot about this one, being preoccupied with the other missions. It also wouldn't have gone with the climate of the KSC after Interlude: Crisis.

Oil rig workers get trained as kerbonauts and—

Wait a second, I think somebody already did this.

Have the Asteroid Destroyer crew simulations, only to later find out that was the actual interception (the KSC heard their plot).                          

Why not: It was an interesting idea, but it is unlikely that the crew would be so badly fooled, and of course plenty of stories are based on this concept.

Walt Actually Gets Killed

Why not: It would probably be poor diplomacy and the RDF could use him as bait (though of course, they could simply claim he was alive…)

The guy that the Mission: Very Profitable crew found around Minmus was actually Bob

Why not: Not likely considering he was just at an observatory, and the only motive would likely be because he didn’t get to fly or whatever, which is pretty weak.

These are just a few of a great many ideas that I came up with but eventually changed. Sadly many were in my head or were scattered through many documents, and are thus lost.

Thoughts/Behind The Scenes

Series One

At the time I originally planned the comic to be ½ with the panels, ½ as normal prose on the site itself. Back then the process for comics was pretty simple, being 95% mission report, 5% story. I would first screenshot each of the scenes. I would simply put the image into sketchbook and insert a picture of one of the kerbals, draw a little box, and put in some text. It was truly a “making it up as I go along” process.

As a general rule the format is one main picture, and a few blurbs of text. The original game was intended to use only stock parts (sans the Asteroid Day mod), but of course this would not to be...


S1E1: The format isn’t anything fancy: there’s hardly much border and because the text and the actually color box was different, it certainly didn’t look great.

E2/3: Yes, the Mun happened to be there. The SENTINEL really did find those extreme orbit asteroid, which was a surprise.

E4/5: I must say that the large jumps in time are a little jarring to say the least… It must be admitted that the SENTINEL never managed to find a near-kerbin asteroid, so I just had to look for the asteroid with the tracking station.



“Allons-y!” (Doctor Who, anyone?)

Quotes: “Of course it’s the mun! I wish there was no Mun…”-Gene

“If this gravity assist fails, this mission fails”-Wernher

“It appears we are not mapping Kerbin’s orbit today”-Gene

Series 2

The goof is quite obvious with the rocket: the design does not realize the fact that the LV-N operates off of liquid fuel only. A goof is when i accidentally call the oxidizer “UDMH” and not “N204”. The little “FSSH!” effects were of course added with Sketchbook.


“Oh no, not again”

Also something about “Hydrazine”...

Series 3

E1: I finally managed to use Powerpoint, and almost instantly I used more text, as it was more convenient. Since I loaded up default settings with just white, it didn’t look very good with low resolution, but it was a good learning experience.

E2/3:I’m still getting used to the idea of text boxes, with little text color consistency.

E4: It’s the first musical bit of the Asteroid Sentinels, having seen how fun they were in Duna Ore Bust. I haven’t really gotten used to borders and sorts, there’s still a bunch of space to be filled in.

Interlude: Here’s where the fun ramps up; with the great Thread for Writers I finally started to think about a story. I still did the scenes first, but I also thought about the story. When I first wrote it I didn’t think about the Kerbal Union cutting funding because of the KSC owning nukes, but I still managed to pull off a fairly justifiable excuse that “the KSC was unreliable”. I now had a lot to write about...

Edited by SaturnianBlue
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Interlude 1 E2: I don’t exactly recall what I was going for here, but I definitely gave up on it. It probably had to do with some sort of warning for things to come… It does however seem awfully similar to where Jeb is teleported into the land of @Kuzzter ‘s Jool Odyssey…

It’s also where I took up doing some drawing in Sketchbook Express and drew up a pretty good Wernher and Linus.

Series 4: I try to up the stakes with the whole threat of job losses for the KSC (and of course the snacks!). In general this series tries to make use of kerbals better, as the probe only missions didn’t let me have much room for stories. It acts as a transition stage from the more mission report based comic to a somewhat more balanced one.

Series 5: Overall

I figured out a couple of very important things: I first standardized the speech bubble colors, making it a bit easier to find who was who. I also try to develop the kerbals into their own unique personalities. I still do write the stories mostly as i load the pictures into Powerpoint, so the mission still does direct the story a lot.  Rockomax isn’t exactly a rival of the KSC, but it’s quite interesting a nice bit in the series looking back. The bug in episode 7 is strange, and I don’t remember exactly what I was talking about when I hinted that this could be used in a sequel… It does nonetheless remind us that the kerbal universe is sometimes mysterious indeed…

Interlude 2: As an interlude probably should, it goes back and explains some of the strange things that happened. I try to develop the characters and give them more depth. Seeing as the transit between to the Mun is a relatively peaceful time, I decided that it was more or less a good time to do so, though it might have been a bit forced.

Series 6: The kerbals start to really work together and fix problems in order to successfully dock with the ARM. The formatting still can’t be said to be ideal, but the graphic novel is a fair bit easier to read. The Invisible Menace plot begins, initially as a subplot but eventually… I don’t exactly recall if the “Jeb” incident directly led to it, but the portal plot in the next series can certainly find its roots in episode 4… The fluctuating brightness of the object Bob found can be explained by a varying shade the asteroid had, but it certainly opened the door for even strange ideas.

Episode 7: The strange event in this episode will be looked at from another perspective next series… With the ADM docked in orbit around Kerbin, I manage to finish another plot as I move to the Invisible Menace…

Episode 8: Against my expectations, the asteroid refueling took far longer than I expected;it was likely over a month, and so I partly lampshaded it by not stating the actual time it took… The jamming up of the landing gear in this episode is fairly minor, but I planned to use it as proof that the RDF was sabotaging the KSP by time-travel multiple times, but I realized that such sabotage didn’t make much sense considering the general motive of trying to cover-up the asteroid’s danger.

Between E8 and 9 I release an imgur album with me testing nukes against the asteroid—it was reason for me to believe that nukes would work in game, but in practice the game would freeze up and the MIRVs wouldn’t go nuclear for whatever reason, despite my efforts. For story reasons I didn't have them all fail though; it would be very difficult to explain how that could happen unless something absurd happened.

Episode 9: The title of this episode is certainly ironic… This is probably the point where the killer asteroid plot takes the spotlight.

Episode 10: Here’s the first actual scripted graphic novel I can find, where I write down the script on a separate doc. Here’s where I begin the theme of kerbal panic and terror; I watched a couple of clips from Armageddon and Deep Impact and thought of a few things; the first was that the reaction would almost certainly be violent, and that someone would be willing to try to take advantage of the situation.

Episode 11: The kerbonauts have to decide how to return home...

Episode 12: This was a pretty fun one, because it helped to establish the different approaches that each of the ground crew have to fixing the issues they face.

As for the comic making process Series 6, I think my earlier self can explain :)

1. Have an outline for what I want to do and loosely think of a script in my head

2."Film" the scenes in-game.

3. Write the script on Word

4. Take the script and pictures into powerpoint and start making the comics, edit as needed. :)

5. Put on imgur and then on the KSP forums. Repeat. :P


It must be said that the Asteroid Sentinels is notorious for long hiatuses and delays: it proves to be quite a juggling act, balancing my large replica builds with this series, when both our extremely time consuming. For a large part of 2016 the large replica builds proved to consume what time I had.

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Thoughts of the first half of Series 7:

Ep 1: The disagreement between Gus and Mort is quite pronounced in this episode. I originally planned to show Gus getting abducted, but I decided against it. The space station bug was quite real—and it repeatedly did so, with many bits flying all over the place. Interestingly enough, the kerbal depicted just outside the station in-game was actually Bob.

Ep 3: The title refers either to Jeb describing Kerbin as a magnet, or the magnate as in Munry Kerman, leader of Kerbodyne. Even Wernher, trying to buy a Kerbin-Saving rocket, is by no means immune to bureacracy.

Ep 4: The last episode before a long break, Jeb confidently goes on the portal mission despite some pretty big concerns. I knew the portal subplot wasn’t really needed to the core plot, but I decided that it would be a good storytelling opportunity, one that would make Jeb realize how careless he is at times…

I figured that besides the asteroid, I would need a kerbal antagonist, one that was actually quite threatening, leading to the perhaps ironically named Real Deal Front.

Ep 5: This episode somewhat tried to show the other side of Jeb, the one that shows when he’s alone. The fact that the asteroid is farther than thought is a tiny detail, but it becomes a big clue in hindsight. A lot of the kerbal shots were done with a giant green cube that acted as a greenscreen.

Munry’s Corporation Snack Aid: A staple among office workers, these bars are notoriously filling. Invented by the Kerbodyne CEO, it was interestingly marketed to other companies and not Kerbodyne itself, probably because the claim of a 100% increase in productivity is not true, as a back label notes that the “1” doesn’t count. This obviously lead to a conspiracy theory about how this was made to subvert other companies, but Kerbodyne denies this.

Ep 6: It’s a bit obvious how contrasting Bonnie and Sherfen are—one is independent, the other strictly follows orders. The portal bit is inspired by the old Doctor Who time vortex. I try to make the Real Deal Front a group with motivations in this one. The expansive amount of money and weapons seen in the background are intended to intimidate anyone who sees them. I planned to create a poster by Gus every episode, but in the end I chose not to.

Nurture-Snack: As we all know, serial bars with exotic fruit are instantly better…

Ep 7: The crew at Pioneer Station have to answer a very important question; how do we explain the change of the asteroid’s path? Conveniently they don’t have to answer that, but Jeb must bear the weight of what happened.


Even Larger Extremely Large Telescope: A play-on of the proposed Extremely Large Telescope.

Ep 8/9: Valentina’s approach to getting Jeb to fly isn’t exactly the friendliest, considering she basically blackmails him and uses something she doesn’t know much about (the monolith) to try to get her point across. It does work though… One thing I was careful about the scene was making sure that it was just the right length that that it wouldn’t drag out, but that it wouldn’t seem cheesy.

Ep 10: This was a fun one. I present Coyote Blitz and the Kerbal News Network as (at first, anyway) the reliable source for information. Then I show that it’s not just the RDF against the launch—on the other side are those scared of nukes. I looked to see if nukes could easily explode, and the fact is that a lot of conditions have to be right for it to do so. The best part of writing this episode is hands down the Jackal News bit—writing the absurd theory and Saw Kannik’s complete ignorance of the enormous logical errors is hilarious.

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Onwards to the second half!

Ep 11: While it is covered up by Coyote Blitz’s face, I designed an aircraft to act as a “news plane”. With a few changes, the plane became the Swiftbird biz jet. One of the things I had to think about in this episode was how to go about underscoring the importance of the launch without making it drag for too long. I create the absurd Real Deal to show some the craziest side of the front. I sort of did this by making the launch important enough for Gene to give a pep talk to the whole mission control.

Ep 12: When I originally made the KNN, I didn’t think I would ever change the bit that said “BREAKING NEWS”, but this is a rare exception. While the launch was still important, I still skipped over much of it. One thing I tried to consider with the kerbonauts and Gene scene was how to out a bit of character into it all. In my opinion it was something that I just didn’t know how to do, so I went with the page scene in the comic.

Ep 13: Again, I didn’t get to do as much as I wanted to do for the characters. On the other hand, I managed to explain the reasoning for the explosion on Minmus.

Extra: I come up with a more relevant explanation for the budget cuts.

I created a “Star Wars-style” title crawl for those who wished to skip through the first few series of the comics, as they have fairly little to do with the current series. It explains everything up to Series 5.

Ep 14: If you’re wondering how I managed to put Gene and all these kerbals into this scene, I basically took an image, used the “Remove Background” tool on powerpoint, and put them into the screenshot. The whole thing about Wernher getting beat up? The sort of point about it was to illustrate that the RDF can strike quite close to home. It also shows how it doesn’t even have to be an organized attack.

I got a bit stuck at this point for writing, perhaps burning myself out a bit. This is where I came up with the subplot where Gus negotiates for Walt, and Bill’s dubious plan. The story was at a point where I felt there would be something missing if I skipped several weeks of in-story time, but where I didn’t have much to write.

Ep 15: Sure, some RDF members just beat up Wernher, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have a proper reason for their actions. If they are to be believed, the KNN isn’t as objective, and the previous episode can slightly show that… Linus’s report on the probe is a bit of a filler, but I think it’s still good to have nonetheless..

Ep 16: We see Gus’s flaw, his tendency to fall for traps and be occasionally gullible, with Barbarry taking advantage. The last two pages try to show that the crew of the Asteroid Destroyer can have some rather dubious thoughts.

Ep 17: I figure out some flaws with the plan, so I get Val to give Bill some ideas for how to improve the idea. As for Gus, he probably had it coming. However, I felt that having another hostage seemed… Not right for some reason.

EP 18: I put in a bit more RDF rhetoric for more of a look on the other side of the story. It was originally going to be a file in a folder labeled “The Plan for the Liberation of Kerbals From the Kerbal Union”, but I figured that it would seem out of place in the graphic novel format. Finding the Kerbal hacks mod, I figured it was perfect, since the series is set a bit in the future.

Ep 19: The conversation with Mort and Linus was partly a way to show that Mort is definitely in control. I make another Real Deal page, and humorously put in a line about how the Kerbal Union is “oppressing” the rich kerbals running the RDF, and that even those not rich can help. The wording of course, makes it sound like a good thing. I end with an overall look on things with Mort and Linus discussing the big issues.

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Interlude: With not too much in the story to do, I skip over a few weeks, covering what happened in that time. Once again, I get Mort to take control.

Series 8 Ep 1: I sort of write this episode to show how Mortimer has got a tight grip on all sorts of operations as administrator.

Ep 2: Despite all the problems happening in the world, the Asteroid Destroyer program is going good, so I decide to put a halt to that… I also get to use this opportunity to show just how incredibly different the viewpoints the KNN and the Real Deal try to push forth, and how both don’t exactly match the truth.

Ep 3: The big purpose of this episode was to show that with such different views presented, kerbals cannot even agree on basic facts. It shows that each of the news channels have manipulated both of their perspectives.

Ep 4: I use this episode to show Mort’s especially dubious rhetoric. I was originally going to have the KNN cover protesters from the RDF, but I didn’t go forth with that.

Ep 5: The lead-up to the intercept, I really did find the ship badly off course, so I had to very quickly compensate for this.I also show the meetings of the RDF—earlier there would have been quite a contrast between the two meetings, but with Mort’s tightening grip it’s not as different.

Ep 6: I try to show how desperate the RDF is for attention, going as far enough to plant a bomb near the tracking station… Both advertisements are shockingly similar, despite being pretty different sides.

Ep 7: The checklist for the Asteroid Destroyer crew was partly based off the bomb run seen in Dr. Strangelove, though Jeb didn’t ride a nuke.

While nuke detonations destroyed the asteroid in earlier versions (in KSP 1.0.5), I just couldn’t get the bombs to explode, and I only did it a few times (due to the time it took to load the asteroid, each run took ~45 mins to do). Thus storytelling was the deciding factor for if nukes exploded.

Ep 8: The second chance fails, since I figured that with only one probe success would be unlikely. I have Val act as a sort of leader, with another motivational speech.

Ep 9: I try to show that the stakes are high, with KNN presenting the fact that much of Kerbin was watching. Looking back, I think it would have helped if the KNN talked about the effects of the asteroid impacting. That said, I think the asteroid approach was done fairly well, all things considered. The KSC gets to celebrate, all of Kerbin celebrates, and the Asteroid Destroyer crew is heading home! Of course, the RDF is on the loose…

Ep 10: I try to balance tying up loose ends with an optimistic ending. You might wonder why Barbarry, who was adamantly opposed to the Kerbal Union would make a deal with them, but with the RDF in decline, I say that he figured the RDF was a lost cause, so he might as well get something out of it. Not everything’s perfectly happy though, since those who destroyed the tracking station get away without any consequence. Mort getting demoted, and kerbals finally heading to Duna more than makes up for it.

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