Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thoughts and anticipation

Soo... another session in the Kerbal Space Program passed with me trying to figure out a vessel which can bring an actual, full "jumbo" fuel container into orbit. The general issue here is that you need fuel to bring mass out of the gravity well into orbit, and more fuel means more mass, which is a kind of self-amplifying problem. The more fuel you want to bring up, the more engines and fuel you need to use in order to do so, which in turn, also add to the total mass. So, if you need 2 tons fuel for 1 ton mass, the total mass for fuel required for 1 ton payload is not 2 tons fuel because the mass of the fuel has to factor into the calculation, too. You need to calculate the fuel requirement for the total mass of 3 tons. Mathematics mathematics, no idea, but guys like Mr. Moore or Mr. Tsiolkovsky had the idea, and in the end they came up with that famous deltaV formula (Mr. Moore already as early as in 1813, 15 years before Jules Verne was born!) which gives you an idea how much change of speed you can get out of a certain combination of fuel+payload+enginepower, and this is also why staging a rocket is so efficient, despite the waste.

Anyhow, one full session, three completely new and different spaceplane designs, and all failed to reach orbit efficiently via exploiting the highly efficient jet engines. One spaceplane design kept diving nose down once it reached 7km height, even though I experimented with a center of lift way in front of the center of mass; probably a bug. Another time, I put 8 inline airscoops per jet engine, throttled them down as much as possible from 25km+altitude and still they had their burnout at 34km maximum. Similarly, I couldn´t bring my rocket SSTO to higher altitudes than 25 km with jet engines, even though I saw some videos where people where able to do this. And, hell, even I managed to do this two or three times, but it seems really really like balancing on a hair.

Ah, well, it is probably unrealistic anyways to have jet engines which can propell you into orbit and "air hogging" (a very familiar term for long term Kerbal gamers) might be also unrealistic, thusly this kinds of spaceplanes could be considered more as cheating than "playing by the rules". After all, the Kerbal Space Programme is rather about having a almost realistic physics to wrestle with! I guess the mixed LF/jet engines at higher tech levels are really first intended for the spaceplane-design-approach. To get them, I still need to upgrade the science institute, which costs a whopping 6 million of cash...

In the meanwhile, some news on Elite: Dangerous. Frontier has finally unveiled the biggest feature of the coming update on Elite: Dangerous, "Powerplay". Factional warfare, in a much larger scale than this term is used in EVE Online. I can´t say I am surprised, since David Braben always has stressed his idea of a "living" universe where the players can influence power struggles.

I think this is a great idea which will for sure engage and be fun for many players! I am curious about it, too. However, I asked myself if this would make me come back into Elite with the full intensity of my last year´s conviction? No. Re-reading some of my blog entries, it is very clear to me that Elite is for me about being able to have your own goals and being able to interact with the galaxy as a virtual/physical world. Society, human factions and human politics is not something appealing for me out there. Quite the opposite. An immersive virtual world via the Occulus Rift, a realistic galaxy, spaceflight and a certain unexplored "wild west" feeling with the possibility to settle into some of its endlessness for yourself, is more to my liking.

So, by all means, guys, play your powerplays, but I want to goddamn land on a planet and found and build new stuff. I want to be a pioneer and not a pawn as a spy, merchant or soldier, and the pioneer is a little bit of all of those archetypes.

One of the other bigger changes is a revamped mining system. Finally! I wonder if that would serve to make expeditions into the unknown even more profitable than just by selling data?

Indeed it is difficult to explain. I love space games not as a tool for a story about continued human struggles against each other (we will never change, will we?), but as a story itself about the marvel and endless possibility of human existence. Of course there should be struggle, but the goal of the struggle needs to be more for me than just changing a coloured line on a map.

So, Frontier, bring out that "landing on planets" expansion, already! Let us discover things, build our own stuff, and make our own fortune!

As usual, my time is too little to play every game as much as I´d like to... but I am really curious about the final release of the Kerbal Space Programme on Monday and it will surely eat up all of my game time for some more time! What I especially like about the announced new features is that the science module will be now actually useful and give us a reason to have orbital stations (beyond being a meeting point for re-fuels). And of course, more and lots of different contracts: Tourism, science, part recovery, scanning and mining; the latter will also serve to provide for resources like fuel, so hopefully this will alleviate all those attempts to bring up the required significant amounts of fuel into space!

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