Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ravenspear

Didn't play EVE at all this past weekend. Just KSP all day long. ;-)

I did spend some time playing with the "SPH", the Spaceplane Hangar, for which right now I only have the tools to build basic supersonic jet aircraft. KSP's ideas of aerodynamics are... wonky, to say the least. For example, here's the first perfectly stable aircraft of my own design I got flying...


I thought, I must be doing something wrong. So I tried one of the stock aircraft, the Ravenspear. It looks very pretty on the ground, takes off well, then if you try to do anything more than the gentlest sort of bank or climb, it does this:


Maybe I put the kit together wrong or something. ;-) Anyway, aircraft are definitely not KSP's strong suit and it seems pretty clear the KSP player base takes SPH aircraft-building about as seriously as the developers do...

But I'm advancing quite well on the space end of things. I've run several successful Mun missions using a more or less Apollo-based model that I called the Athena:


Booster to get to Munar orbit, Command Module for my Kerbanats, and a nice broad flat lander with widely-paced engines and landing struts served me well mission after mission. Here most of it is put together after a successful Munar orbit rendezvous:


Once I had proven to myself the concept was workable, I slapped a Science Jr. module with all the trimmings on top of the lander. On top of the Science Jr., a second docking port. That way, I could uncouple the Science Jr and Lander together, drop them wherever I wanted on the surface, do all the Science, bring both back into orbit, transfer the crew over (more on that in a second), then decouple the docking port on the Lander side and bring the data home. Works like a charm:


All in all, I feel like I'm getting pretty damn good at this. I've more or less mastered orbits, transfer orbits, orbital rendezvous both in Kerbin and Munar orbit, landings, and I haven't touched any mods yet. Next thing is to start sending probes to Duma and Eve but I think my existing Athena booster is beefy enough to handle those two without any further modifications

Short version: having a blast! Pun intended. ;-)

One quirk I've noticed: trying to do Munar orbit rendezvous within 30-40km of the surface is realllly tough for some reason. Single axis burns on RCS thrusters always seem to turn into two-axis problems. I can be perfectly aligned on the up-down axis, burn left, and for some reason still get pulled up or down and have to correct. My first two rendezvous, I had to pretty much manually fly the whole RCS approach, tweaking constantly right up until the moment the docking collars touched. Related (I think): trying to do EVAs in these conditions is impossible. The EVA jet-packs burn fuel constantly and randomly as if they're trying to correct for something.

Anyway, get further away from the Mun and these problems go away. So I can't tell if it's working as intended or if it's a quirk with KSP's gravity model.

The other quirk: what is with requiring EVA to get Kerbals from one vehicle to another when they're docked? Whose great idea was that? And can I harm this person in some fashion?

These are fairly minor nits, though. When I first tried KSP briefly months ago, it impressed me with its learning curve, which is gradual but challenging. What impressed me even more then and what full-on amazes me now is the sense of accomplishment the game gives you when you meet objectives that you set for yourself. The first time I completed a successful orbital rendezvous and docking, I felt like a freakin' hero, and my first successful Mun landing with a proper lander caused me to throw both fists in the air. I immediately felt silly afterward... but only for a moment. ;-)

Gaming at its finest right here. On to the next adventure!

24 comments:

  1. EVA is easy once you get the hang of it. Also I would say that if you haven't tried to make a SSTO with the SPH then you should.

    I was heavy into KSP about 7 months ago when I was modding. I've not touched my mod since, treating it as the ominous tupperware container in the back of the fridge. Maybe if I ignore it long enough it will go away.

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  2. All very nice and I'm glad your having fun but any chance of some comment CCP's latest attempt to make small gang PvP extinct?

    I of course refer to the two new mobile structures just hitting SiSi.

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    1. Yup, in due course. Letting things play out in the background for now. But yes, you can safely assume that the MSI in particular does NOT make Jester happy.

      But again, I'm letting things play out on the forums and on the test server for now.

      Delete
  3. Did you know you can remove science experiments from the modules and store them in the capsule? Just right-click on the module while close to it on EVA and select "take data."

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  4. Never ever try stock craft, they are for the most part absolutely awful. And if you don't like the stock aerodynamics of KSP, install FAR, although your Athena booster might be useless after that.

    And while the learning curve of KSP is for the most part very nice, you will reach a plane at some point, which ends in the devilish learning cliff that is a manned Eve return mission.

    That being said, I haven't been on the Mun for quite some time, I should throw a little mission together.

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  5. If or when you get around to looking at mods for KSP, I would wholeheartedly recommend: Deadly Reentry, Remote Tech 2, TAC Life Support, and Ferram Aerospace Research (FAR).

    These mods add a lot of satisfying complexity and progress pacing to the game and are well complemented by the B9, KW Rocketry, and Infernal Robotics part packs.

    You will have to create aerodynamic rockets with enough resources to keep your kerbals alive, perform proper gravity turns, and establish communication networks in order to use probes and beam back science from your frontier missions.

    There are many other difficulty mods, but the mentioned are certainly the cream of the crop.

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  6. "The other quirk: what is with requiring EVA to get Kerbals from one vehicle to another when they're docked? Whose great idea was that? And can I harm this person in some fashion?"

    SOON (tm) - Squad promised kerbal transfer when docked. Hovewer think about it for a second. Not all docking ports connect parts that have any hollow space that can be used to transfer kerbals. Think about structural beams often used as docking connectors. Still this feature is coming to a space center near you soon.

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  7. Might I suggest that your inclinations weren't matched up?

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  8. I loved KSP and obsessed with it myself for about a month. That was 4 months ago. When the "burned out" switch was hit my loss of interest was immediate.

    Once you get to the top of the learning curve there's no 'there' there. KSP offers no gameplay value after you've mastered the mechanics.

    Multiplayer mode might offer some cool options, but speeding up the clock to make things happen faster is generally not a good thing in multiplayer games. Sitting around for 8 hours while your Laser Bombardment Cannon swoops in from its highly eccentric orbit to blast the evil Jebediah twin.... it's going to be more than boring. It seems like they are literally trying to bolt on multiplayer gameplay after-the-fact. I wish them luck.

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  9. Don't forget Minimus (Kerbins second moon). Inclined orbit makes it a little more interesting then the Mun, significantly reduced gravity makes touch downs a piece of cake, and I think it got science biomes in the last update.

    Also, if you haven't, look on Youtube for "Scott Manley". He's a KSP god (with a real life background in rocket science), but seems like a really level guy, and does great tutorials and thematic missions.

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    1. Minmus is easy, IMO. The Mun is much more challenging. That said, I put my first rover on Minmus to test it out.

      And yeah, been watching Scott Manley's vids when I have time; really great stuff!

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  10. Fist pump? Yeah, it does that. *grin* My biggest issue with the space plane is having it fall apart on the runway. I've read the issue may there be because of a mod I've loaded. I've got MechJeb loaded so that could be the case. Have you run into the space plane falling apart issues?

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  11. Did you pay for the game or are you using a free version? I think I'll give it a try.

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    1. Paid for it. Steam sale around July 4th-ish? Didn't have time to do much more than nudge it between then and now. Then updated it over the holidays.

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  12. Check out KSP Crew Manifest. Allows you to transfer Kerbals between modules without going EVA.

    As for the RCS stuff, try using the v key to switch to chase cam. Might help. Or try to re-position your RCS ports to make sure they're balanced. Though you do normally have to keep tweaking your approach, it's almost impossible to get your velocities perfectly zeroed out, especially since you're always in a different orbit than your target.

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  13. Jester, if you think KSP has a steep learning curve, you should try Orbiter:

    http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk

    Absolutely accurate (the orbital model of KSP is simplified) and realistic... and with a huge community which has built a ton of mods and spaceships, historic (you can fly the Apollo missions and even interface a virtual AGC to your ship) and fictional... including some EvE ships:

    http://www.orbithangar.com/search_quick.php?text=rifter&submit.x=-966&submit.y=-144

    (yup, you can fly around the solar system in a rifter :)).


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  14. You should try Minimus! It's a fantastically silly little moon, you can place your craft in an orbit around 8km~ and EVA to the surface and back. The ridiculously low gravity also makes it less dV costly to land on and return from!

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  15. Fantastic game isnt it.
    I have added the aerospace pack and the better aerodynamic pack.

    Trying to make a spaceplane at the mo. Find I get to 30km or so and it all goes wrong. Think I need to master the directional thrusters as I suspect the air is too thin to be controlled by wing surfaces at that altitude

    Hours just evaporate though, sometimes for zero achievement you lose several hours. :-)

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  16. Silly rabbit, don't you listen to all those Eve forum commenters that say real spaceflight physics is boring?

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  17. Glad to see more of the EVE Community picking up on this hilariously executed space 'sim' :D. You'll notice more and more 'quirks' the longer you play... for instance... in my latest mission to Minmus I was out on EVA on the surface taking samples... jetpacked up to the crew hatch (terrible lander design with no ladder) and I missed the hatch and apparently bumped the pod a bit too hard and it separated from its rocket... So there was Jeb... all alone on Minmus with no way home. Several days later and a slightly better lander design with a stayputnik on top brought Jeb a nice ride home :D.

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  18. Scott Manley (http://www.youtube.com/user/szyzyg) on youtube does a great series of videos on building a space station and working through docking issues. One issue that repeatedly pops up is an issue where if the SAS is turned on for both of the vehicles then strange alignment issues start to develop. Apparently leaving an SAS on for a vehicle you don't control makes it want to "adjust" constantly.

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    1. Oh! Interesting! I'll try that, thanks.

      I HAVE noticed that once I get a connection, that connection dances the rumba until I turn SAS off.

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  19. With aircraft, you really have to make sure that the center of lift is behind the center of mass to make it really stable. The Ravenspear starts out skirting the edge of stability, but as it burns fuel the center of mass shifts backwards and causes the plane to tumble wildly out of control at the slightest touch.

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  20. I just made my first successful landing on Minimus last night. It made me feel great! When my wife got home I started telling her all about it. She just stared at me. I'm running a few mods. I really recommend the Chatter mod and Steam Gauges for more atmosphere and the gauges are actually pretty useful.

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