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Science gathering should be meaningful


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Science gathering in KSP1 has always felt a bit pointless to me: It was just about clicking your thermometer or whatever in the right place and left you with nothing but a funny text and some points. But you don't really get any new insights: You can see any planet/moon and its properties in the tracking station.

I think that just by hiding some information from the player one could make science a much more meaningful part of the game:
For example, the "physical characteristics" tab in the tracking station could be filled only after according measurements.
Also, what if celestial bodies were blurred out in map view and the tracking center, as if you would see them through a telescope on Kerbin? And only became detailed once you got a spaceship into their SOI?

Things like that would add a component of discovery that would make science/career mode so much more exciting!

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There's always a disconnect between 'science points' and 'actual science'.

Speaking for myself, science points were helpful, even after I unlocked everything, because they gave me something to aim for. If the new game has different 'unlockables', I can live with that. A certain experiment in a particular biome unlocks one mission, while not taking that instrument along means mission failure? I can see that. They've already got several easter eggs in the game.

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Originally, I believe, KSP1 was supposed to have a story. Unlocking science to find the monoliths or something. You were supposed to learn something at each monolith that would lead you to another, and so on. Eventually, you were supposed to discover... something. Aliens? Kerbal origins? Not sure. It was decided not to give the game a narrative because then it would have an "end". Plus, everyone played the game differently, and the concept was working without any kind of story.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was some implementation of that in the full release. Perhaps that's how you unlock interstellar travel and future tech? Would be kind of cool.

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the best analogy for real science gathering in KSP 1 are the science gathering contracts
to be asked to take specific measurements at specific locations sound like real science gathering to me. 

but i would love to have different type of science missions.
prototype missions to unlock parts by testing them in certain conditions.

constructing science bases that explore the surroundings  with rovers.

deploying telescopes to study planets (and find areas of interest for new science)

my main suggestion is to make science mostly a subsection of the contract system.

the contract system is neat since it gives you missions based upon what you have done in the game so far.
if you place a surveyor in Duna orbit you would be more likely to get a science contract to the surface.

if science is more focused on contracts we could have mission specific science parts. imagine being asked to build the James Kerman space telescope or the JKST for short, and to put it in a LaGrange point (yea i know N body physics is not in the game). 

different contract Corporations could be focuses on different things
for example the life on Duna society would like you to invest in Duna exploration missions and science.
if you do successful contracts for them they will give you bigger contracts in the future. 

but the science gains from contracts should be diminishing returns for the same type of study on the same body.
just studying the mun would be boring, and going to other planets would give much more valuable science.        
  

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On 3/27/2023 at 7:55 AM, Woodpecker8 said:

Also, what if celestial bodies were blurred out in map view and the tracking center, as if you would see them through a telescope on Kerbin?

iirc, that functionality (see: ResearchBodies mod) is supposed to be stock, or at least Nate Simpson clearly said he'd like it to be so.

Well, the other star systems aren't out yet so this feature might come with those.

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10 hours ago, JadeOfMaar said:
On 3/27/2023 at 1:55 PM, Woodpecker8 said:

Also, what if celestial bodies were blurred out in map view and the tracking center, as if you would see them through a telescope on Kerbin?

iirc, that functionality (see: ResearchBodies mod) is supposed to be stock, or at least Nate Simpson clearly said he'd like it to be so.

Awesome, I was not aware of that!

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  • 10 months later...
On 3/27/2023 at 2:55 PM, Woodpecker8 said:

Science gathering in KSP1 has always felt a bit pointless to me: It was just about clicking your thermometer or whatever in the right place and left you with nothing but a funny text and some points. But you don't really get any new insights: You can see any planet/moon and its properties in the tracking station.

I think that just by hiding some information from the player one could make science a much more meaningful part of the game:
For example, the "physical characteristics" tab in the tracking station could be filled only after according measurements.
Also, what if celestial bodies were blurred out in map view and the tracking center, as if you would see them through a telescope on Kerbin? And only became detailed once you got a spaceship into their SOI?

Things like that would add a component of discovery that would make science/career mode so much more exciting!

I completely agree! Adding a sense of discovery and exploration to science gathering in KSP would indeed enhance the gameplay experience. By hiding certain information and requiring players to actively collect data through experiments and observations, the game could better simulate the process of scientific exploration.

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The problem is that this would likely move players from finding the planets' information in game to looking it up on a wiki or asking on here/reddit/discord if they really wanted to know beforehand. And if you're a more experienced player going through the same routine of having to find that information again to use it in a given save would be annoying (if they need something specific since nobody remembers Pol's exact gravity). For things like biome and resource maps I can understand having some discoverability to them, but not necessarily the surface-level characteristics.

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I agree that science should be more immersive, but I also agree with @AlexCmers not to make it tedious. In my view there could be a couple of improvements to the current system. First, science experiments should provide actual information to the player:

  • Surface scanners (ground and orbital) should add maps with elevation, biomes, discoverables and resources. Useful for picking landing spots, science gathering and mining.
  • Atmospheric scanners should add graphs for pressure/temperature vs. elevation. Useful for planning aerobreaks, flight paths and determining engine performances.
  • Space scanners should add graphs for gravity/radiation vs. elevation. Not sure how useful, but maybe at least interesting.

Secondly, have the player unlock certain technology through relevant achievements, instead of just spending generic points. For example: in order to unlock the Rapier engine, it would make sense to have to gather atmospheric data first, as well as having reached a certain altitude and velocity with the Whiplash. Nothing too hard, but it would feel logical and earned that way. Actually researching the tech could then be done with the science points as a form of tech currency. These prerequisites could also be shaped in the form of secondary missions.

 

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