I’ve never been a big fan of simulation games, so there was a little bit of reservation when I was suggested Kerbal Space Program. KSP takes sim games to a whole new level, offering you the ability to take on every aspect of the Kerbal space station. Despite my reservations, I was over the moon when I dove into this game. Currently there are three modes of gameplay: the sandbox mode, science mode and career mode – with more features to come in the patch 1.0 update, announced in the beginning of 2015.
Among all of the changes are a few that stand above the rest. The ability to perform deep space and planetary refueling by letting you process mater from asteroids to create resources for fuel will surely come in handy for deep space missions. There will be a new crafting addition with the engineer’s report that will actually help warn you of blatant design flaws in your craft. Soon there will also be a new addition to your crew with the introduction of female Kerbals eager see the stars. All of the changes to come are supplemental in design and aimed at helping round out and add more depth to the game play.
Speaking of gameplay, in KSP career mode, you take on the task of managing and operating your own space program from the ground up. You are given a budget to use on research and development of new technologies, building spacecrafts and taking on and completing missions. Missions range from putting a satellite in orbit, mun (moon) landings, or to reaching out to other planets acrossed the system. The end goal sounds simple on paper, see just how far you can go on the budget given. Be careful though, if you are too reckless with your budget you will be fired or more commonly known as game over.
In the science mode it’s all about the experiments. The station you are given is completely built but lacking in technology. It only has the bare bones parts to build a basic craft that you will use to try and break the atmosphere and send data readings back home in order to unlock new tech in the current seven tier tree. If you are like me, however, you will find yourself in the sandbox, coming up with crazy ideas and making them fly.
Anything is possible: from absurdly large rockets, ingenious jet engine planes, to land rovers. However, the more over the top you are with your designs the harder it is to make it work. Physics play a large part in KSP. When designing your ships, take a look at the supplemental information. You want to be aware of your center mass and center thrust, and you need to make sure that your ship is structurally sound because falling apart in mid flight while funny to watch means back to the drawing board. Also remain aware of managing your fuel and power properly and making sure that you are precise with your course plotting so you don’t burn excess resources. Once you do make it into space and complete your first mission, whether it is a mission from career mode or a personal mission in sandbox mode, the feeling of accomplishment is hard to beat.
There is a fairly high level of difficulty to the game and the more you play the more you can continue to challenge your innovation by creating something bigger or better than your last creation. In the end, every little detail in KSP comes together to help create a deeper immersion and level of challenge. Even though the official date for patch 1.0 is still unclear the the game is currently available in the early access on Steam, and until then, happy flying.