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Kerbal Space Program (KSP)

I am not sure why it took me so long to write a review about this game, that said I haven't written a review for Maniaplanet either. But that's another story. KSP is one of these games I never intended to actually play, I hadn't ever heard of it, and even if I had would see no reason to do play it 

But one evening one of the twitch streames(braincage) I tend to watch started playing the game, at first I didn't think much of the game, braincage was discovering the game at it was hard to see any purpose to the game. 

Not sure how, I ended up in AkinesisGaming's channel. At that time Aki was streaming a voyage throught the Kerbal Solar system in his huge vessel carrying I don't know how many kerbals. It was amazing. That stream was fantastic. Sadly since then Aki has not been streaming as he used to. But it didn't change the fact that at this point I had been convinced that KSP was a gret game. 

At this point thanks to Aki I also had discovered the ReadPanda's stream, the streamer created incredible nearly self sufficient bases on Minmus in order to kolonyze these planets. All this put ideas into my head and well I started playing KSP. 

What is it all about ?

It's about space exploration. You build your own vessles send them into orbit, then to other planets.

It sounds simple? Well depends. Very quickly you are going to realize the vanilla game is not just hard, but unpredictable. 

There are basically 2 points that needs to be understood before you can see that it's not hard it's just mathematics. 

  • DeltaV
  • Thrust to Weight ration (TWR)

Not sure how I ended up here explaining technical stuff. But I will try. 

DeltaV

For simplification sake imagine that the sun is a fix point in the universe which only rotates. 

All the planets that turns around the sun has a certain energy that allows them to stay in orbit. This energy is not lost because there is no friction in space. So the planets will turn eternally around the sun(well not really over simplification). 

The same way as the planets turns around te sun you vessel turns around Earth. Your vessel has a certain amount of energy allowing it to rotate. So your vessel is at a certain state, which is describled by it's orbital information. At some point you wish to change the state of your vessel, you wish to have it orbit the Moon and not Earth. You therefore need to change it's state, todo that you need energy, that energy is corolated to deltaV. 

The energy an object has when it is in orbit is speed. It moves at a certain speed around a bigger mass. Therefore changing the state of the object requires change of speed. And there you are Delta, meaning change, and V for speed; DeltaV

We are nearly there with DeltaV. The amount of energy you need to change the speed of an object depends on the mass of the object and on the amount of change you need to apply. So in space instead of using the term energy we use the term deltaV. 

It's the same with your car, you got 50L of fuel but if you car is loaded you can do 500Km but if it's empty you can do 800KM. 50L of fuel is the amount of energy you have, 800KM is the amount of change you can apply using that energy. So with a car the distance it can travel represents the amount of change it can have; with an object in space the equivalent is DeltaV. Again I am making simplifications.

Working with DeltaV allows you to know the range you are left instead of knowing the number of liters left in the tank. It's a much more reliable figure because whatever the vehicle you know with that information where you can go, and where you can't. You can fund deltaV maps online tellling you the amount of deltaV you vessel needs to go from one planet to the other.

Thrust to Weight Ratio

So the more fuel you have the more DeltaV you have, so basically the lighter the engine the more fuel efficient we are? This is were to know your TWR becomes important. 

Like a car you can't just put a car engine in a bus, it won't move it. Same is true in space, if you put to small engines your vessel won't move(well very slowly). And same as a car if you put a to big engine you waste energy. This is more important in space then on land as there is no filling station. 

So it's important not to make an overpowered rocket. Thrust to Weight ration allows you to know the ration of power and weight. So if you have a ration superior to 1 you rocket will fly, if not it won't move. 

Now, before talking about Thrust in space let's not forget that gravity is not the same on each planet, and therefore the weight of a vessel changes depending of the planet it's on. So if you inted to land you vessel on the Moon, even if it has a TWR of 0.25 on Earth it's going to have a TWR of 1.75 on the Moon and therefore will be able to land and get back to orbit without  an issue. 

TWR when in orbit is not that important. But if a vessel has very little thrust then manoeuvres will be very long; the longer the manoeuvre, the less precision they will have. So having very little thrust will not be practical. 

Wrapping it back to KSP

Why did I expain you all this? 

As I said if you play Vanilla KSP you are going to find it very diffucult to build a balanced vessel, because you do not know it's DeltaV or it's TWR. IF you like maths you got the necessery information to work out these values yourself, but there is an easier way. 

The KSP mods

KSP by it's own is a very good game, but some mods are essentials to make it nearly perfect. One of these mods are Kerbal Engineer Redux. This mods gives you deltaV and TWR for each of your stages during build, with options to see those values for different planets. 

No Earth, no moon

In KSP the developpers have decided that Earh was to big, and that the solar system was to big. If they had kept original sizes it would required players to spend to much time to go from one body to the other. The game has a warping function to accelerate time but even with that it would be complicated. 

They therefore created their own system, a near copy of the true solar system, where earh is Kerbin, and where the sun is Kerbol, where the Moon is the Mun, and where Mars is Dune....

In this system everything is smaller(approximately 7times), and all bodies are round, so earth is not an ellips. This simplifies the orbits mechanics which are affected by the shape of the body. 

So the game is not 100% sientifictly accurate, it's not a true simulator; but remains close to true physics.  

Space and Beyond

So KSP will allow you to : 

  • Build a multi stage vessel
    • Get into space
    • cisit other planets or moons
    • land on different planets or moons
  • Build rovers
    • Put them on a rocket and send them into space
  • Explore different planets
  • Build bases
    • in orbit
    • or landed
  • Build planes & space planes.
    • Planes that can fly on Kerbin, and planes that can fly on these palents where the atmoshere is denser. 
  • * ...

And if the amount of things to do isn't sufficient, you can go further. Install sruvival mods that requires you to have food and water on board. Install mods that allows you to really colonize planets. The possibilities are endless vezry much endless.

Just visit spacedock to find a mot that suits you needs. 

Conlussion

KSP doesen't have the nicest graphics (therefore the graphical mods). KSP isn't the most user friendly game. But KPS has a fantastic community, fantastic modders and fantastic mods. 

The game is incredibly fun to play and addictive. Spending hours building a basic plane searching that balance so that the plane flies perfectly with it's fuel tanks full or empty (yes center of weight changes and that changes the handling)

Even harder getting a space plane working, finding the perfect ascent profile for the plane you build, once in space landing it back with nooo fuel but just gliding. Crashing at landing again because of balance issues. 

Putting into orbit that over sized station by building an oversized rocket that no sane mane would ever built. Because you don't want to dock in orbit.

Hating the Kraken(Squad being the logo and name of the developpers) after you vessel explodes with no reason.

But also the satisfaction 

Of making orbit for the first time, with that awsome music change. 

Docking 2 vessels in space, 

Landing 2 vessels next to each other

Crash landing with 0 fuel remaining but surviving (just happened yesterday)

Getting the reentry of you space pane just right so that you can land it on the tarmac and not in the middle of no where. 

Going to distant planets after waiting years for the proper transfer window (relative position of planets changes the amount of deltaV needed at a given time). 

And so much more. 

 

I have been playing KSP on and off for 3 years now, and I have never been to Moho. I have never been to the moons of Eve. This game offers hundred's of hours of game play, since I bought it we had 2 major updates from Squad that made the game even better(64 bit version for more mods, better physics for bigger vessels without lag)

This is really a game that is alot of fun, and allows you to learn a lot about what it takes to go to space. 

Finally I can't end this post having talked about ReadPanda's adn Aki's streams but not mention DasValdes, the KSP master. The guy that docked a vessel to a landed vessel without using RCS but just engines.