Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Graham Smith)

I spent half my evenings this week advancing through Advanced Warfare. Call of Duty games are uniformly about forward progression, but some of their most memorable moments comes from points of scripted failure: missing your chance to grab a gun as a Russian soldier in the first Call of Duty, or the nuclear blast in Modern Warfare 1. You learn something about the realities of those scenarios in both moments.

Advanced Warfare squanders its one point of necessary failure: the first mission’s unfortunate end incites action from both the player and from Kevin Spacey, but there’s little that’s real about it. You lose an arm, you gain a robot arm. As a player, you learn nothing. Failure in videogames can be so much more, both as a way of generating interesting play experiences and in making less abstract the knowledge we hold about the world around us.

Here are some games that I think do failure better, and what those failures taught me.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Kerbal Space Programupdate .25, which went live earlier this month, adds a lot of back-end structure, including new modes and detailed difficulty options. The design and flight of ships in KSP remains as challenging as ever, but granular controls now give you the option of enforcing harsh penalties on yourself like the masochist you are. Whether Kerbals respawn, how bad a mission failure is for your public image, and how much money you start with can all be toggled and adjusted for a game in career mode.

Science mode is new to update .25, but it s actually old—it s what career mode looked like months ago before funding, reputation, and contracts were added. In Science mode, your only objectives are making new discoveries and going to new places. Sandbox mode remains the same: it s just you against physics, and the solar system is your playground.

Much to my delight, KSP s new Hard mode is classic PC gaming all the way: minimal funding, brutal penalties for failure, and Ironman-mode restrictions on quicksaves or rewinding flights to launch. If your ship blows up on the launchpad, guess what, commander: you get to pay for a second one. As I get deeper into my Ironman career save, I may end up with a body count rivaling my misadventures in XCOM.

A new building has been added to the Space Center grounds: the administration building. Inside, members of the KSP administration involved in purchasing, public relations, research, and accounting argue at board meetings. The administration building allows players to fine-tune their agency s strategy based on current needs. If you ve had some lucrative contracts but a high-profile explosion has flushed your reputation out the space toilet, sacrificing cash for a reputation boost with a public appreciation campaign might be worthwhile. If you ve got a lot of science points sitting around and need some quick cash, a patent licensing program will help you get sorted out.

Because so much of update .25 is in the background, it may appear to be a stale, unsexy patch. That s where you d be wrong. Sexy update number one:

Space Center buildings are now destructible, so I spent some time crashing into them to test the mechanic. You know: for science. Each building crumbles and explodes in chunky gouts of flame, made even flashier by KSP s new explosion animations. When the ashes cool, destroyed buildings are useless until you pay to rebuild them. This can either be inconvenient or catastrophic, depending on the building; there s a very real possibility that crashing into the Vehicle Assembly Building on hard mode will mean the permanent end of that space agency.

Update .25 s other new hotness: space planes have undergone a full makeover. Partnering with community mod SpacePlanes+, KSP has overhauled fixed-wing designs and mechanics. Two new cargo bays (previously only supported through mods) have been added, along with new cockpits and structural options. Since a reliable space shuttle program is the cheapest way to bring supplies to low orbit, these new space planes will form the supply-line backbone for assembling deep-space missions at a space station.

Oh, and they look great, too.

Squad has already been on the horn about its plans for the next update, which will land the game in beta for the first time. Unless you ve been running self-imposed Iron Man rules on yourself or struggling with single-stage-to-orbit plane fleets, this update might not be the most groundbreaking. The supporting options are necessary groundwork for the fully fleshed-out release and, eventually, the addition of multiplayer game modes.

PC Gamer

Kerbal Space Program's next update will be an important milestone along its development path. Not because of what it contains (we don't really know yet), but because of what it represents. In a post on the game's forum, SQUAD's Felipe Falanghe explains that, after more than three years of alpha development, KSP is almost ready to be in 'beta'.

"The next update will mark a big milestone for us at Squad," Falanghe writes, "as it is the last update focused on Career Mode. After the next release, Kerbal Space Program will reach an internal milestone we call 'Scope Complete'.

"It means KSP now has all the features we considered vital to be in the game that we designed so many years ago. It doesn t mean the game has everything we want it to have, it means everything we considered necessary for it to be Kerbal Space Program exists, even if only in a minimal form."

After the update, which will be numbered 0.90.0 to mark the beta transition, the game's development will shift to improving and further implementing the game's existing features and systems. Two desired improvements have already been revealed: more realistic aerodynamics, and deep space refueling.

For more, head to Falanghe's forum post, where he includes an FAQ on the beta transition.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)


You might think yourself a real Top Gun, the next Dan Dare, or a veritable Buck Rogers. Kerbal Space Program has been out long enough for you, oh mighty pilot, to master space flight and possibly get a bit cocky. Don’t worry, the latest update has added new things to cock up. Your space centre is destructible now, for starters. It also bulks out the Career Mode a little with new strategies that might help you but can backfire, like unpaid interns. KSP’s on sale for a few days to celebrate.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

The latest Kerbal Space Program update is a little less space, a little more program. Called Economic Boom, update 0.25 further expands on the career mode with a new Administrative building. Because, as we all know, the most exciting part of life at NASA is the paperwork.

The admin facility lets players select Strategies. "The Strategy system is a new gameplay mechanic," explains SQUAD's patch post, "where each strategy, once accepted, applies effects over several game aspects, specifically Kerbal Space Program s three in-game currencies." Examples include "Aggressive Negotiations," which can give players a discount on parts at a cost to reputation.

As well as a new building, all facilities are now destructible. "Buildings can be decimated by poorly-steered rocketships and in the game s Career Mode, require costly repairs for players trying to manage their space agency."

Spaceplanes have also received some love, thanks to the integration of the SpacePlane+ mod.

Head over to the official FAQ for more details of the patch, which is now live in-game.

Product Release - Valve
Save 40% on Kerbal Space Program during this week's Midweek Madness*!

Kerbal Space Program, the award-winning, indie space agency sim game from Squad, released its latest update, Economic Boom, and it is available to play today.Updates are free to existing players. KSP: Economic Boom offer new players the most fully-realized version of the game, which is still in active development for PC, Mac and Linux as an Early Access title on Steam.

Players will experience a new challenge as the Kerbal Space Center, where players build and launch their rocketships, is now fully destructible. Buildings can be decimated by poorly-steered rocketships and in the game’s Career Mode, require costly repairs for players trying to manage their space agency.

*Offer ends Friday at 4PM Pacific Time

Community Announcements - HarvesteR

Kerbal Space Program, the award-winning, indie space agency sim game from Squad, released its latest update, Economic Boom, and it is available to play today.Updates are free to existing players. KSP: Economic Boom offer new players the most fully-realized version of the game, which is still in active development for PC, Mac and Linux as an Early Access title on Steam and via the game’s website.

Players will experience a new challenge as the Kerbal Space Center, where players build and launch their rocketships, is now fully destructible. Buildings can be decimated by poorly-steered rocketships and in the game’s Career Mode, require costly repairs for players trying to manage their space agency.

Among these buildings is the new Administration Facility, in which players can select and activate Strategies. The Strategy system is a new gameplay mechanic, where each strategy, once accepted, applies effects over several game aspects, specifically Kerbal Space Program’s three in-game currencies, Funds, Reputation and Science. Some examples include:

  • Aggressive Negotiations: Enables players to get a discount on the cost of parts but at a cost to Reputation on each ‘discount’
  • Open-Sourced Technologies: Divert Science earnings to make them public domain, increasing Reputation.
  • Unpaid Intership Program: Boost your Science earnings without spending any Funds by hiring unpaid interns to do the data crunching. Working for the Space Program surely is its own reward, isn’t it? Well, as long as an agency’s Reputation lasts that is.

Career Mode is getting a significant addition with the Administration Building and all that comes with it,” Felipe Falanghe, Kerbal Space Program creator and lead developer said. “The Strategy system gives players great freedom to change the rules around, and ultimately it allows them to tune the game to fit their own ways of playing. Also, as it’s fully moddable and new strategies can easily be added, this new feature has a lot of potential for expansion.

The team also worked with modder, Christopher “PorkJet” Thuersam, to incorporate his popular SpacePlane+ parts pack mod to the game. This was more than a simple addition however: Each part was updated for even better looks, and to offer players parts that are there not just specifically for spaceplanes, but that can be used in as many combinations as possible.

The game is now available for 40% off on STEAM and the KSP STORE.
PC Gamer

Miguel Pi a, producer of Kerbal Space Program, took to Reddit yesterday to field questions about the cute yet massive space adventure, and while Redditors didn't manage to tease too much info about future updates or what their eventual next game might be, we did learn a few interesting titbits, including...the dark origin of the Kerbals. Well, OK, it's not that dark, but it does involve tinfoil and fireworks, two things that generally cause chaos when used together.

As Miguel explains when asked where the idea of Kerbals came from: "Our Lead Developer and overall Creator of the game, HarvesteR, used to make little tinfoil men and strap them to modified fireworks. He called them Kerbals". We also learn that female Kerbals are on their way to the game, eventually.

"We are actively working on Girlbals (studio petname, not actual name). They will take some time, it's a decent bit of work and we have to get them right. We may be just a small indie studio but we feel that gaming in general should no longer treat women as an afterthought. Even if it's extra work.
Edit: Must clarify. That is just the petname for the project. Female Kerbals are just called Kerbals."

There's a ton of interesting answers, but it's a hell of a long page, so I'll copy and paste the best ones here.

On maintaining a good relationship with the community, and handling backlash:

"Here's a suggestion for devs out there: Get out of your comfort zone. Being somewhere where you have zero power will not only teach you humility, but you can find gems of wisdom even in a barrage of insults. Just keep your cool and make sure your skin is so thick it'd make an armored rhino blush. That also applies to handling backlash. You have to sift through it, figure out the valid points and in the end have the users trust you. If your players can't trust you, you've already lost."

On their vision for Kerbal 1.0:

"Our vision for 1.0 is actually starting to become visible as career mode gets bigger and better with each update, we want you to feel like you're running (and piloting) a space agency with the same levity of games like the old tycoon series. The resources thing was an unfortunate realization that the game was not only not particularly fun to play through, but also was pulling the game horribly out of scope. Kerbal Space Program has to hit 1.0 at some point, y'know.

"No additional star systems within scope right now, the other thing we'll have to wait and see. Multiplayer -has- to have a deep and flexible framework for it to work like we want it to. And yes, the game is not polished in some areas yet, so work will go into several community faves after .25."

And finally Miguel's thoughts on Early Access:

"Early Access feels like a party that got out of control. We got in where it was only a couple people eating pizza and playing Mario Kart. Then suddenly it's Jesse's party from Breaking Bad. It's refreshing and reassuring that whenever an article, Youtube video or blog comes out bashing Early Access as a whole, someone always seems to pop up in the comments and talks about how we're doing it right."

You'll find the whole thing here. Kerbal Space Program's First Contract update launched the other day, a long-awaited addition that revamps career mode with missions and adds 64-bit support. Ian's thoughts on it are here.
Community Announcements - HarvesteR
Hi again,

I'm sure most of you have noticed a mildly infuriating bug related to right-clicking parts after yesterday's patch... So did we. It was fortunately a simple fix, and we've got a hotfix patch available now.

Here's the changelog:

============================ First Contract (v0.24.2)


* Fixed a critical issue which prevented opening the right-click menus for several parts.

As always, the latest version is available on the download page at the KSPStore, or an automatic update will be headed your way if you're on Steam.

Happy Launchings,

Community Announcements - HarvesteR

We've just released a small revision patch for KSP, version 0.24.1.

This patch contains several small and some not-so-small fixes, tweaks and minor improvements, as well as a few things that were requested by mod-makers.

Here's the complete changelog:

===================== First Contract (v0.24.1)

Bug Fixes and Tweaks:

* Fixed a relatively serious issue with module loading which could result in missing modules if loading old craft.
* O-10 Maneuvering engine scaling was off. Engine rescaled to proper size (smaller).
* Fixed an issue with propellant-defined resource flow modes which prevented some configurations of Vernier engines from working correctly.
* Fixed an issue with some decoupler modules failing to apply ejection forces when activated.
* Fixed missing FX components on root parts after resuming a saved game or reverting.
* Fixed a potential issue with the internal maths in ModuleRCS, which could result in odd RCS response from center-aligned or stack-mounted RCS modules.

* Fixed an issue with the App Toolbar where mod apps wouldn't display/hide properly at the VAB.
* Fixed an issue with custom staging icons and switching vessels.
* Fixed an issue where the Messages Dialog in the VAB would drift out of place when discarding many messages.

* Fixed a bug in Rescue Kerbal contracts, where rescue by means of external seats or claws wouldn't complete the contract.

* Fixed a save-related bug which made the Orbiting 101 tutorial impossible to complete.

* Fixed vessels not leaving 'pre-launch' condition during take-off roll.
* Fixed a very annoying and potentially destructive bug where approaching another vessel could mess up your control state.

Game Balance:
* Tweaked costs for several spaceplane and aerodynamic parts:
- Advanced Canard: 900 -> 800
- Standard Canard: 1500 -> 720
- Delta Wing: 500 -> 680
- Swept Wing: 500 -> 620
- Wing Connector: 500 -> 560
- R8 Winglet: 500 -> 640
- Structural Wing: 500 -> 540
- Aerodynamic Nose Cone: 680 -> 240
- C7 NCS Nose Cone: 680 -> 320
- Rocket Nose Cone (large): 1000 -> 450
- Standard NC (small): 680 -> 180

* Added IPartCostModifier interface, to allow part modules to tweak a part's cost.

As always, you'll find the new patch over at the KSP Store in zip or installer formats, or if you're on Steam, you should be auto-updated shortly (assuming you haven't turned off automatic updates, in which case you probably know what you're doing).

Happy Launchings!


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