Part 2: Kerbin SOI
Part 3: Eve-Bound


When I first bought KSP back in alpha, I thought it was a cool concept, but way too fiddly for me to get into. I struggled to launch anything but the simplest of rockets. I came back to it many months later, stuck with it, read some game guides and a few wiki pages (my dynamics and kinematics lectures actually came in useful), and did it – I landed on the Mun.

I’m sure it’s a story familiar to many KSP players. And it’s often the moment players become hooked. Once you’re on the Mun, the whole of the solar system is yours for the taking. So it seems, at least.

The Load-Out

These days, I play a heavily-modded version of KSP. I crave complexity and realism – to an extent – with mods in KSP. In fact, complexity is something that drives me to try mods for all sorts of games. I’m currently playing KSP 1.2.1 with the load-out below. The ones in bold I would now consider part of my core KSP experience. They don’t significantly alter the base gameplay experience or are just audio/visual enhancements.

  • Chatterer
  • CollisionFX
  • Community Category Kit
  • Community Resource Pack
  • Community Tech Tree
  • Contract Configurator + Contract Packs
  • CTTP (for OPM)
  • Custom Barn Kit
  • Distant Object
  • DMagic Orbital Science + DMagic Utilities
  • Easy Vessel Switch
  • Engine Light
  • EVE
  • Experiment Tracker
  • Firespitter
  • Hide Empty Tech Tree Nodes
  • Interstellar Extended
  • KAS, KAX + KIS
  • Kerbal Engineer
  • Kopernicus
  • KSP Add-On Version Checker (AVC)
  • MechJeb 2
  • Modular Flight Integrator
  • Final Frontier
  • Outer Planets Mod (OPM)
  • Persistent Rotation
  • Planet Shine
  • RCS Build Aid
  • RCS Sounds
  • Realistic Atmospheres
  • Re-entry Particle Effect
  • SCANSat
  • Scatterer
  • Sigma-Binary
  • Spacetux – Unmanned Contracts
  • SVE + SVE Kopernicus
  • Texture Replacer
  • Tweak Scale
  • USI Kolonization Systems (MKS/OKS), Life Support, Konstruction, Karbonite, Karbonite Plus
  • Warp Plugin
  • Water Sounds
  • Waypoint Manager

That’s what I can see in my GameData folder, anyway. I don’t remember what some of these do, what’s needed for what, and which ones are merely “supporting” mods for some of the others. The ones I do remember, organised roughly into categories of what they do, are:

  • Visual enhancements
    • CollisionFX
    • CTTP (for OPM)
    • Distant Object
    • EVE
    • Planet Shine
    • Re-entry Particle Effect
    • Scatterer
    • SVE + SVE Kopernicus
  • Moar planets
    • Kopernicus
    • Outer Planets Mod (OPM)
    • Sigma-Binary
  • Cool tech
    • Interstellar Extended
    • USI
  • Extra science stuff
    • Community Tech Tree
    • DMagic Orbital Science + DMagic Utilities
    • Experiment Tracker
    • SCANSat
  • Complexity/realism/quality of life
    • KAS, KAX + KIS
    • Kerbal Engineer
    • MechJeb 2
    • Realistic Atmospheres
    • Tweak Scale
    • Waypoint Manager

Compatibility

It actually took me a while to get all of this working together. I’ve found that CKAN is not as reliable as it used to be for acquiring up-to-date versions of mods so, for those who want to play with the latest KSP release, it’s not really the way to go. Unfortunately, this means sourcing a lot of mods from lots of different places. It can be difficult to track.

On top of this, there were some manual tweaks required occasionally. I’ve found that reading the first few posts on a mod’s forum thread, and perhaps the last couple of pages, is sufficient to anticipate any compatibility or loading problems one might have with these mods. I’ve also found that these tweaks aren’t generally required if one has patience and waits for mods to catch up with new releases!

I wish I could remember exactly what I had to do to get all this working to help whatever reader might consider loading the above, but do know that while it did require some time investment, I didn’t have to do anything particularly innovative; all of the solutions are already out there and well-documented on various mods’ threads.

The real key to getting a load-out like the above is to advance cautiously. Load a new mod and whatever supporting mods it requires, then launch the game, head to the Command Centre, enter the VAB, and launch a basic rocket. Load times can be long with this many mods, but it’s nothing compared to the time you might spend unpicking incompatibilities after dumping a few dozen mods into the GameData folder. As you get more familiar with the game files that the mods are actually changing, you can be more selective with when you load up the game and exactly what tests you run in-game to check for instability and performance issues.

I’ve found that KSP requires a lot more attention when it comes to loading mods, but I feel like that’s reflective of the complexity of the core experience and the quality of the mods themselves (hefty mods are easily broken by updates, unfortunately).

My Goal

While I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing KSP, I’ve not ventured particularly far about the solar system. I’d explored Kerbin’s SOI quite thoroughly, with various missions (and many, many rescue missions) to the Mun and Minmus. I also managed Duna and Ike. And that’s it. There’s so much more to explored, especially with the Outer Planets Mod!

So this time I want to visit at least every planet’s SOI. This is a normal difficulty career mode – normal including the added difficulty of some of the mods – so I’ll be juggling finances and science in the usual manner.

Wish me luck.


Part 2: Kerbin SOI

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