Kerbal Space Program - (Matt Cox)


During my brief love affair with DIY rocket sim Kerbal Space Program, I visited the London Science Museum and came out having learnt genuinely useful lessons about when to use my second stage rocket boosters. I could have looked that up online (and yeah, I did that too), but isn’t that fantastic? I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have wound up in the museum anyway, but Kerbal had to have been on my mind when I was deciding whether to visit. Nice one, video games.

I’d sort of forgotten Kerbal existed since then, but today’s launch of its first expansion has blasted it back onto my radar. Making History is free for anyone who bought the game before April 2013, and adds a new mission builder that lets you devise fiendish tasks for yourself and other players. That’s the Making part: the History part lets you reenact landmark moments “from spacewalking to crash landing on the Mun”.


Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program's freeform rocket-building sandbox has attracted modders since the beginning, and after seven years they've crafted hundreds of additions—everything from planetary bases to ion drives. In this environment, what can Making History, KSP's first official expansion, offer players that hasn't already been done? 

Not its collection of real-life spacecraft, which is a curious inclusion given that space history is one of the most popular subjects for mods. For example, the expansion offers a pretty good version of the famous Apollo 11 lunar lander module, but this mod has had a picture-perfect recreation available since 2014. The expansion adds the slender, tapering Soviet R7 rocket fuel tanks, but this mod made them available almost four years ago. All of these new additions retread ground covered by free mods for years and years.

No, in keeping with what already makes KSP great, Making History's best addition is not an object, but a tool—a new way to experiment and create. The Mission Builder, which players can use to script and plan missions and stories using simple drag-and-drop tools, makes the expansion worth the money.

History making

For most of its life, KSP was a sandbox game. The only missions were the ones I made for myself: Hey, I should go to the Mun. I should build a Munbase. Contracts that reward players with money, science, and prestige in career mode were a late addition, and I've always found them to be the weakest part of KSP. Instead of focusing on big-picture goals like taking my first steps on distant planets, contracts have me duct-taping and kit-bashing single-use spacecraft to take a new landing gear to a certain height and speed, checking off a box to get paid. 

Contracts provided some goals and direction in the open world Kerbal arena, but they were never about telling stories. The new Mission Builder and History Pack (a set of pre-built missions based on space race launches) change that. For the first time, I can fly and build missions that follow a script.

In one of the first included missions, my Soviet spacecraft is suffering from a cascading electrical fault, and my only hope is to rendezvous with a nearby satellite and use its diagnostic systems to reboot. As I carefully fly over to the satellite, random systems explode, and my time begins to run out. After I finally get the computers to reboot, mission control throws me a curveball: Is there any way I could deorbit that satellite so the R&D team can see how get a look at the computer logs? Suddenly, I'm on a white-knuckle solo flight home in a satellite that wasn't meant to fly.

Thanks to Making History, space can be an inherently dangerous place again.

For long-time KSP players, improvisation and surprises only happen as a result of our own incompetence. Thanks to Making History, space can be an inherently dangerous place again: random failures a la Apollo 13 might cut a mission short; a freak micro meteor shower might puncture all of my solar panels, leaving a deep-space mission stranded until help arrives.

All of these variables are available to use in the Mission Builder, which is an excellent tool for scripting your own stories, as if you're a sci-fi dungeon master running a deep-space tabletop RPG. 

Everything in the Mission Builder is drag-and-drop. To script a mission to the Mun, drop a Spacecraft Launched icon and a Spacecraft Landed icon and draw a line to connect them. Start at Kerbin, land at Mun. Drop a score bonus and a time limit, and draw new lines to wire them in to the script. Start at Kerbin, land at Mun in less than 3 days. Zoom in a bit and tweak a menu option to make the objective more specific. Add a scripted event. Give the player a choice between salvaging precious data and saving a stranded Kerbal. Start at Kerbin with a ship weighing less than 40 tons, land at Mun in less than 3 days and plant a flag in the East Crater and your thruster tanks exploded so you can only thrust to the left.

Making History is great for the making, not the history.

The building blocks are simple, but there's no limit to how deep you can stack all the Mission Builder's scripted emergencies and radio messages. I've been astounded by KSP modders' technical skill and devotion to historical engineering minutiae, and I'm sure that will all be applied here—perhaps with minute-to-minute recreations of Apollo 11 driven by actual radio transcripts. These tools are powerful enough to do that.

There's also a lot of comedy baked into KSP. When you're telling a story about the Kerbals—slapstick doofuses that they are—the explosive incompetence of amateur rocket designs makes it hard for KSP not to be funny. Mission write-ups are common on the subreddit, and these chronicles, especially those that revel in constant missteps, are often charming and sweet. Given tools to catalog, share, and have other players replay their epic missions (or painful failures), this same community could become expert story scripters as quickly as they've become expert rocket scientists.

Despite the huge number of free mods, KSP's developers found a way to make their expansion valuable: They built a new set of tools that the community hasn't provided for itself. The KSP community is fantastic, and more ways to create and share space adventures is exactly what it needed. For the price, it's nice to also get the big dump of new, historical parts, but Making History is great for the making, not the history. 

Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio

Kerbal Space Program makes history today with the launch of its first expansion! Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion adds a wealth of new and exciting content to the game, including a robust Mission Builder that lets players create and share their own scenarios, and a History Pack containing missions inspired by historical moments in space exploration.

The Mission Builder is a new feature that puts the process of creating and editing missions in your hands with endless possibilities. You’ll be able to customize your own missions to include launches, landings, rescues, malfunctions, explosions, repairs, and much more. You can set unique victory conditions, add exciting challenges, and place unexpected obstacles to keep other players on their toes as they play through these complex missions. Challenge others to complete your missions by sharing them with the Kerbal Space Program community!

The History Pack includes a variety of pre-made missions inspired by humankind’s own space exploration. Now you can spacewalk, pull off a crash landing, and attempt to recreate some of the most memorable moments inspired by historic events. All with our unique Kerbal twist, of course.

The expansion also includes a more than 70 new parts and astronaut suits inspired by the Space Race that you can use throughout Kerbal Space Program!

Additionally, we’ve kept our promise that all players who purchased the game through April 2013 will receive the expansion for free. To redeem the game[img and follow the instructions.

Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion is now available on Steam!

Happy launchings!
Kerbal Space Program - Valve
Save 50% on Kerbal Space Program during this week's Midweek Madness*!

Also, be sure to check out the newly released Making History Expansion!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time

Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio

Continuing the endeavor of bringing KSP to as many people as possible, we are proud and excited to announce the release of Kerbal Space Program 1.4: Away with Words MK-2!

The game has been fully localized in 4 additional languages: French, German, Italian and Portuguese-Brazilian. Texts, keyboard layouts, UI and textures were carefully localized to keep the essence of KSP in every language, so that even more players are able to enjoy the Kerbal experience in their native tongue.

But that is not all! Kerbal Space Program 1.4: Away with Words MK-2 includes a broad range of improvements and new content for everyone to enjoy! We have upgraded the game engine to Unity 2017.1.3p1 and with that comes various performance enhancements, and an upgrade to the Engine Particle System. Improvements to the UI and quality of life upgrades have also been packed into this update.

Here are some additional highlights:

Kerbal Personal Parachutes

Kerbals with level 3 and above experience now have fully steerable personal parachutes! A cool feature that will help to get your Kerbals out of tight situations or perform aerial acrobatics, it’s all up to you!

Variant Switcher

A number of parts have model and texture variations that you can switch during vessel construction.

These variants can also be grouped in themes to apply across a whole vessel at once!

Prioritized Vessel Naming

With this new naming method, you can now attach naming information to command modules and vessel names will be updated based on the parts in each vessel. Now you can prename your CSM or burnback booster!

VAB - SPH editor switching

Switch between the VAB and SPH at will with this new feature!

New Parts!

3 brand new parts and replacements for a dozen existing parts, including the Mk 1-3 Pod!

You can find the complete changelog here.

We are excited for the 1.4 release and look forward to the launch of the Making History Expansion next week. For our mod creators, please note an additional update 1.4.1 will come alongside that release and will need to be integrated as well. The modding community is very important to the Kerbal Space Program team, and we continue to encourage and enable mods for KSP moving forward.

Kerbal Space Program 1.4: Away with words MK-II is now available on Steam and will soon be available on GOG and other third party resellers.

Happy Launchings!

Kerbal Space Program

Nikolas Gamarra's custom-built controller.

Gaming history is flush with oddball controllers. Mech diehards were enamored with Steel Battalion and its custom controller, an imposing collection of sticks, thrusters, buttons, and LED lights across a multi-sectioned, two foot frame. What do you do when your favorite game doesn't offer such lavish, customized options, though? You build your own.

Enter Kerbal Space Program, a game perfectly crafted to spark a custom cockpit-building obsession. The deep, complex simulation, in short, finds players building an alien space program, learning rudimentary astrophysics, and eventually launching their ships toward the stars.

A Reddit community with more than 1,000 members has formed around custom Kerbal controllers.

For the dedicated, playing Kerbal means recreating reality. Forget Steel Battalion and buying an elaborate control plank—Kerbal die-hards concoct their custom electronics for the sake of total authenticity. Some base their designs on actual NASA hardware. Others reach for cardboard frames to get started, looking for anything to improve their Kerbal sessions. Finding a better way to play, in this case, means whatever it takes.

What's remarkable is the technical diversity of the creators. They don't have much in common, outside a shared interest in space from a young age (and Kerbal, of course). Some come from engineering backgrounds. Others happened upon a build tutorial and gave it a go without any prior electronic experience. It's a hobby for any and all skill levels. All for what's now a seven-year-old sim.

Gamarra's controller, all lit up.

As a freshman in college at the time, Nikolas Gamarra began his build quest after a few years of Kerbal play. A frequent builder of DIY projects, Gamarra found the retro look pleasing. “I am a huge fan of the Apollo program and of 1970s Lego space sets. A lot of the aesthetic choices were drawn from those things. ... I extensively researched past KSP controllers, actual spaceship panels, and switches I wanted to use because I wanted mine to really have that wow factor.”

Gamarra put together a lengthy album of his build progress, which you can see here.

Josh Brown, a licensed plumber, found his inspiration from the 218,000 strong Reddit Kerbal community. “Didn't think anything like this was possible until I saw one posted. Then I looked up KSP serial io and that got me rolling.”

IT architect Hugo Peeters also found a hook in the community, but wanted something more his own style. “Many folks try to replicate Apollo controls, but I didn’t. I tried to make it useful to my style of playing. It’s very functional. And I just had to include some of those sexy safety switches. Those make every launch so much more fun.”

Looking over the plethora of designs, building one of these controllers seems costly. A bevy of LED lights, an Arduino open source board, switches, and on and on. Many of these pieces look impressive by themselves. Gamarra's beautiful edges and clean faceplate work looks professional. Peeters' fetching design evokes practicality and looks with laser cut lettering as the topper.

Those who responded stated costs ranging from $150-$300 US dollars, some of that spent on soldering irons and such for the new DIYers. If you're adventurous, it's possible to cut down on that total.

“The case is a recycled educational computer from the 70s,” says Gamarra. “Things like that are one of a kind and sell for a lot online but if you are a hoarder and know the right people you can get them free.” Take a peek at thrifts stores, any second hand shops, or anywhere aging electronics reside. It's worth a shot for any hobbyist. Parts exist everywhere if online prices are a shock to the wallet. 

The actual time involved in building a custom Kerbal controller varies wildly. Joyce Mayorga built her current cardboard prototype in her spare time off from her Netflix-based day job. “I took about 2-3 weeks to order all the parts and put what I have together. I wasn’t working on it constantly, just every now and then. Right now, I just have a cardboard prototype with only a few controls hooked up. I probably have a week or so of work until the whole thing is done, barring issues with it.”

Mayorga's controller doesn't have a fancy box, but it does have a fully functioning joystick and a big red launch button (with a safety toggle).

Peeters, who stated he never tried anything of this nature before, spread his project out long term. “I got a prototype (built in a shoe box) working in September 2017, working on it several nights a week. Then came a 2-month period of designing the final layout and enclosure, learning how to create a design for laser cutting by watching tutorial videos and ordering parts. In December and halfway into January I built the final controller, again working on it several nights a week and thinking through the remaining steps every waking moment.”

The builders I talked to consistently referenced community resources. Peeters posted his process to Instructables, and so did Gamarra. “I made my design freely available on so others can re-build it. It seemed only fair since I could never have built this without others sharing their work before me. … I shared my parts list, design files for laser cutting, and code to make it easier for others to attempt. It’s still going to require some problem solving of your own, but that’s half the fun,” says Gamarra.

In addition to the standard Kerbal subreddit, an entire Reddit community formed around the controllers themselves, with more than 1,000 members. There, users can ask questions, browse the processes, or even gain the courage to hoist up their soldering iron.

Is it worth it for the longtime Kerbal player? It was for Josh Brown. “It makes the game that much more enjoyable, it not only makes the game easier, but way more immersive and as a result way more fun," he said. And if you're interested in making your own controller, Kerbal community members are there to help, dedicated not only to enhancing their own journeys to the Mun, but also the journeys of others. "It was not that difficult and the community is very helpful in troubleshooting problems," said Brown.

Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio
Please note that the EULA for Kerbal Space Program will be changed on March 6, 2018. Please read this agreement in its entirety. You must agree with the terms of the EULA including the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to play Kerbal Space Program.
Kerbal Space Program - daniele.peloggio

With over a year in the making, we are getting closer to bringing Kerbal Space Program towards its next leap forward. Today, we are proud and super excited to announce that Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion will be available for PC on March 13th, 2018.

Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion brings a lot of new and exciting content to KSP, including the powerful and intuitive Mission Builder, where you will have the tools to create and share your own scenarios with other players. We are also including the History Pack, a set of missions ready to be played immediately, inspired by historical moments in space exploration, and more.

The new Mission Builder puts the process of creating and editing missions in your hands with endless possibilities. You’ll be able to customize your own missions to include launches, landings, rescues, malfunctions, explosions, repairs, and much more. You can set unique victory conditions, add exciting challenges, and place unexpected obstacles to keep other players on their toes as they play through these complex missions. Challenge others to complete your missions by sharing them with the Kerbal Space Program community!

The History Pack includes a variety of pre-made missions inspired by humankind’s own space exploration. Now you can spacewalk, pull off a crash landing, and attempt to recreate some of the most memorable moments inspired by historic events. But with our unique Kerbal twist, of course.

The expansion also includes a bunch of new parts and astronaut suits inspired by the Space Race that you can use throughout Kerbal Space Program!

Stay tuned for more news and exciting updates about Kerbal Space Program: Making History Expansion.

Happy launchings!
Kerbal Space Program

Making History, the first expansion for stellar space sim Kerbal Space Program, is due out March 13, 2018. 

Originally announced in March 2017, Making History makes two big additions to the base game. The first, and arguably most exciting, is a mission builder enabling players to create, edit and share custom scenarios. "Players can customize their own missions to include launches, landings, rescues, malfunctions, explosions, repairs and much more," the studio says. Right, that's the making sorted, and we're guessing it won't be long before someone creates a mission to launch an electric car into orbit.

The expansion's other major feature is where the history comes in: a 'history pack' containing pre-made missions based on mankind's actual extraterrestrial excursions. The history pack also comes with new parts and astronaut suits inspired by the Space Race—that time the United States and the Soviet Union competed to see who could shoot a rocket the farthest. 

The Making History expansion will go for £10/€13/$15. In a Tumblr post, the devs confirmed that "all players who purchased the game in or before April 2013 will receive the expansion for free."  

Kerbal Space Program - (Alice O'Connor)

Space catastrophe simulator Kerbal Space Program will launch its first expansion on March 13th, the developers announced today. ‘Making History’ is a clever little name combining the expansion’s two big features: a Mission Builder to make your own missions; and a load of spaceship pieces and missions inspired by real-world historical space exploration. I can’t imagine what those might be, given that Kerbal’s sandbox already leads to replicating most of the human history of space travel and the little it doesn’t mostly involves dead animals, but sometimes it is nice to have someone lay out a goal for you. As promised, the expansion will be given free to players who bought Kerbal early enough. (more…)


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