Feb 19 2014

Introducing the Kerbal Space Agency

I’ve had a lot of fun using twitter as a fictive writing platform for my Sims gaming experience and wanted to do it for my career bid in KSP as well. I can read my Sim’s story almost like a book from when he first moved into town to learning new skills to buying his new house to chasing after females to settling down in a relationship to travels abroad… I can pick up playing right where I left off after months of spending time with other games because I can easily get back into the head of my character – what he was doing and working for when I last left off. I wanted to be able to do the same for my time spent with (and away from) KSP and look back at some of my more memorable launches and missions and have them play out on a timeline. Plus, it’s a lot easier for other people to follow along when the story is delivered to them bite-sized via a twitter feed rather than having to read a whole blog entry.

If I were to tweet while I played, however, not only would it get in the way of me playing but also spam follower’s feeds over the course of a play session and have a very sporadic continuity. To get around this I use tweet schedulers – Hootsuite lets me schedule an unlimited amount of tweets but only at 5-minute intervals. Gremln lets me schedule tweets for any minute of the day but only 5 per hour (for the free account). Still, these two services combined allow me to build a realistic tweet timeline so even though I might execute a mission time-warped so that it lasts 30 minutes instead of 4 hours, I can schedule the mission tweets to actually span 4 hours when posted to twitter (or days, weeks ahead for longer missions). Although I may build and launch two missions in a day’s worth of playing, I can schedule those missions to occur over the period of a week on twitter (launch day, a few days for recovery and analysis, second launch day). Building up a large lead time allows me to keep up a continuous stream of events without having to play every day. Which is good cause… you know… life.

Furthermore, this isn’t just some basic log of what I’m doing. As I said, this is fictive writing so the KSA account will be tweeting as if the KSA were an actual agency. There will be updates on astronaut candidate programs, educational outreach, notes on astronomical events happening in the Kerbol system, some background operations of mission control – generally 2-5 tweets per day that are “filler” between the launching of missions but all of which are aimed to further build the fictive universe in which the KSA resides. For example, the agency is located on the shores of the Kerblantic Ocean at Cape Kernaveral and the world is unified under The Presider who lives in Kerbalopolis and is newly elected every 6 years. Since the game runs in 24 hour day cycles but a Kerbin rotation is 6 hours, there will be references to things like “second sunrise” (9am) or “fourth sunset” (12am). Kerbin is occupied by kerbals – kerbs (men) kerbettes (women) and kerblings (children). And so on.

The @KSA_MissionCtrl account is already in full-swing. Inaugural launch has been a success to test the rocket engine design expertise of the KSA engineering team, some astronaut antics have been reported, engine issues have compounded the second launch attempt and we are about to try again to launch late this morning and test our recovery system ahead of the first kerbed mission. Why not get caught up and follow along? Launch is at 10:30 EST!

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