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)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Mün Patrol

Another short holiday has passed, another yearly faery market, but the magic for my little daughter has already waned. Where last year, I could still see the sense of wonder in her eyes, taking in everything unfiltered, uncomprehending, but taking in, her eyes now are focused on more immediate matters of interest, and interest is built upon and limited by past experiences of those three already long years of living an earthly life. Here the sweets, here the carussell, carry me please, I want a cola. Sigh. Human is taking over, I guess, as it must be.

And as often after holiday, matters of real life are prominent, had their wait, want to be ackknowledged and clarified and acted upon. There is no peace to indulge in virtual worlds but during some splinters of pause, and while "in", I just barely have time follow the matters at hand.

Re-reading my last blog entries, I am a bit uncontent about their quality. Instead of just "vomiting out" every instance of my game session, relying on advanced insider game vocabulary, I should better wait and extract the essence of my exploits and summarize it in normal, understandable vocabulary. For example, there is no need to philosophize about reasons which game mechanics cause my plane to veer off; this is no tutorial or guide, after all. This blog should rather convey the sense of wonder of exploring new (virtual) worlds. So, here is a try to do better.

My exploration of Minmus is finished. Instead of just sending the Tripol into orbit and awaiting the Scientia 2 for taking over all that scientific data, I prioritise a fast transport of the data back to Kerbin. Since all my Mobile Labs on all my various spacecrafts are still tanked up with data, I can dock and upload the Tripol´s redundant datasets from the other two pods ("Triple Pod Lander") at a later point.

- bye, Minmus, it was a pleasure to measure you!

Launching the Tripol one last time from Minmus, there is enough time until the suborbital apoapsis, in order to plot a direct transfer into Kerbin´s sphere of influence (SOI). It is interesting to see how I could use a brief pass through Mün´s SOI to efficiently lower the periapsis to Kerbin and thus get close to it with less fuel use. But the Tripol still has plenty of fuel to burn, and time is an issue, so I go for a more direct and faster path.

- lots of busy conics

And now it´s time to do ...

                       .. the MOON PATROL! 

Because this is how a big chunk of my last few game sessions felt like (minus the shooting).


 - hop!

In my last entry, I described and complained about my rover experience, being entirely uncontent with the Yawl´s design. But, as usual, it takes some time to get the hang of it. And I did spend indeed some time driving around!

After a while, a strong déjà vu emerged, to the time when I had played Mass Effect, having to learn how to properly drive the Mako and explore every planet there. I always regretted that Bioware had dropped this element in the sequels. Thankfully, announcements are that the upcoming Mass Effect 4 is going to sport rover explorations, again.

 - familiar unfamiliar

All the while, the distance covered by the Yawl was only a small fraction of Mün. But since I chose my landing spot well, I nevertheless was able to log data from five biomes; Midlands, Midland Crater, Canyon, Farside Crater. The Northwest Crater came in unexpected, at the crossing from Midland to Canyon; I suspect it is a bug, but it thankfully saves me a lot of time driving or hopping to its real location.

So, in the end, it turned out that the Yawl was not so bad designed at all. Some valuable experiences from my expedition are:

- Slopes upwards can become too steep for the rover wheels´ power. In most cases, it helped to criss-cross upwards instead of a direct approach. But in general, I avoided to cross any crater due to this issue considerably delaying travel time.

- Using landing gear in alteration with rover wheels was a dead right decision. Slopes downwards can accelerate the Yawl to up to 45m/s, causing the occasional bumps and high jumps (which reminded me of that good old Moon Patrol arcade game). I am sure my rover wheels would have blown up multiple times. Also, the landing gears have a much better, and sometimes dearly needed, brake power. Besides, they include free light sources, to boot!

- I had about three or four crashes, which cost me some game time to redo the track, but halting the Yawl about every 15 minutes or so in order to do a quicksave makes the time punishment a tolerable one.

- I have to rearrange the science experiments so that I can better reach the Lab JR without having to demount the vehicle.

- quite some "booms" during moments of inattention

- Concerning those crashes, the Yawl´s two reaction wheels are both bane and blessing. On slopes upwards, they would cause the rover to veer off track. But when I would deactivate them, I would also incur some crashes, in particular during those bumps on the uneven terrain. On slopes dowwards, at high speeds, the reaction wheels are absolutely needed to keep the rover from toppling over. So I did switch them on and off, according to need. In the meanwhile, I learned from the game forum that you can remap the rover steering controls, so that "forward" does not at the same time signal "downwards" to the reaction wheels, thus causing an instability from the reaction wheel´s impulse to topple the vessel over.

Having reached the Farside Crater, the Kerbal Alarm Clock urges me to attend to my other expeditions, so the Yawl gets parked. On the far distance, I can see a nav marker of the spot where the Omniscient landed some time ago.

- touchdown was somewhere at the upper right, then going south until the canyon (blue flag marker), then west until the Yawl reached the huge Farside Crater

I think I will pay it a drive-by, on my way to the last close biomes, Highland and Highland Crater. From then on, I think it will be consuming too much game time to reach other biomes on wheels. I therefore would launch the Yawl again into orbit, an aequatorial one this time, because there it can reach a Kerbonaut from one of my open rescue mission contracts. The other biomes can be done with a bit more hopping, and thus with the more fuel efficient Crab Lander, which is still docked with the Scientia and waiting for its turn to test drive.

- serene landscapes; this is from within a midland crater

Tired, but very content to have followed through some entire non-flying game sessions in the Kerbal Space Programme, I log out.

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