Sunday, 5 April 2015

Before I get to KSP there has been some bullshit going on surrounding politics. Which sometimes I care about and sometimes I don't...

I think I need to stick to one topic and to post regularly. Maybe weekly, Like on Thursdays at 2am or something as arbitrary just so people know, Like at 11am on Friday rather than working they can be like "Hey I can read these observations about something a cripple wrote on the internets this morning because he posted them at 2am." Obviously I'll write the entries on the previous weekend. Oo new idea. So maybe I'll start to be less topical not that I am really but maybe more surreal. Does surreal comedy work on the internet?

Some say I tried that with Monkey News and the consensus of my coveted impressions graph was that it didn't work. However, to those sceptics I point to the following bullet points:

  • It wasn't an original idea (Though it was thought up in a head shaped like a fucking orange)
  • Monkey News isn't surreal it's just nonsense.
Alternatively I could write a (satirical) political blog from the perspective of someone who idolises Charlie Brooker, Jon Stewart, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and fictional characters like Eli from The Good Wife. (Played by Alan Cumming)

Or there are alway loads of things I could say about games. A lot of people write and read about computer games. They used to be a big part of my life. I started uni to start a career in the gaming industry. I don't play them much now. Infact I had to decide if I was going to write this or play a game I found the other week on my Saturday afternoon.

So this week I'm going to leave this blog like a confused teenage girls blog but instead of a random review of some beauty product I'm going to write my first thoughts about:

Kerbal Space Program

I saw this game on steam and my interest was piqued. A game where you get to manage a fictional peoples space program. Kerbals are cute and comical and they add elements of joy to a game. Something big blockbusters (GTA aside) don't really do. I can see why this fundamental design decision was made and it really works. It gives much more room for just silly details that make the game fun rather than confining the game to realism. It's a shame the gaming industry focussed on the realism of a machine gun ravaging a newly created corpse. Great work on the detailed physics of excess blood guys!

Oh a contradiction in my first paragraph. What a surprise. To be fair I did enjoy the story mode in the last COD Modern Warfare I played (even morally incomprehensible parts were justified within the story) but the senseless murderfest of multiplayer. What is that? It's like comparing a well made 18 film with hardcore pornography. The kids of today are destined to become violent sociopaths.

So I got KSP. Started it up and it began loading 'Discombobulating combobulator' was the text on the screen! Oh my, bullfrogesque humour!
Bullfrog made games in the late 80s and 90s like Themepark, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital, and more. They were often filled with dry sarcasm, wit and well British humour. 
So I noticed a 'Training' menu I thought it'll just be wasd (basic movement controls), camera controls and the usual and went straight to career mode. Immediately the depth of the game was obvious. I meandered through and actually managed to find the assembly building.
I thought it was a pretty obvious UI. I started putting bits together to build my first ship. It helped that I could only choose one type of capsule, one fuel tank, and two engines - one solid fuel and one liquid fuel(from tank). Importantly I noticed the parachute. The comical tooltips were one of the little details of joy. So I went to the launchpad (yes you get to fly your creations!) I activated what I thought was the first stage, it turns out the 0 stage is the last - not the first. So my stages were backward. The parachute was activated but didn't deploy because I wasn't moving so I didn't realise the perilous situation the courageous but slightly dim witted Bob Kerman was heading for. I tried pressing space again and smoke starts to come from the middle of my rocket. The UI shows I'm burning rocket fuel Bobs lucky the rocket didn't explode because I hadn't put the thrust up. I pressed space a few more times. Finally we had a very brief lift off! The parachute caused all sorts of chaos with the ascent. Mainly that if was to choose a firework to describe it I'd pick a Catherine Wheel that then explodes and leaves no survivors apologies to Bob Kerman's family his demise was entirely in vein the result of my own gross incompetence.

I quit back to the main menu and clicked training. Wow is it detailed it's like the equivalent to a gcse course. How the fuck can I remember what a periapsis and apoapsis is and when to burn prograde or retro and that's just the orbiting bit! So I did the first two training then played a bit to reinforce this new found entirely useless knowledge I had learned. Turns out there is science to be done in this game and there are commercial missions to help with acquisition of funds and science and reputation.

So the learning curve is massive, it's not super dumbed down though obviously simplified somewhat and I love it for that. They've got the balance right. It's not mindless but there are no maths equations. It's very much a long term game that I'll find as fun in 5 years as I do now playing a couple nights a week.

Note there are space planes, bases, asteroids, other planets etc. I've only just embarked on leading my Kerbals to infinity. What KSP lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for in depth.

There is science to be done.
In memory of:
Bob Kerman - We all learn from mistakes.
Neil Kerman - MIA presumed still in a capsule orbiting the sun.
Jebedia Kerman - Bravely opened the hatch of his capsule and ventured outside. Only to let go of the fucking ladder and is now stuck in orbit.
Bill Kerman - In a stable orbit of Kermin(home planet) while trying to reach the Mun because the fuel ran out.

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