Mar 25 2014

One Month Update

I’m happy to report the project is off to a good start. I’ve managed to accrue over 100 followers already, largely thanks to the support of the official KSP twitter – they obliged me with a retweet request and that brought in like 80 followers. A few more joined on their own and then I got to meet Scott Manley at the community meetup during GDC and he retweeted one of my tweets to him to help push me over 100. But the followers of @KSA_MissionCtrl have also been busy promoting the account with retweets and favorites – in fact there is one guy who favorites practically every single tweet I make. I don’t know why really but I’ll just assume he’s a die-hard fan!

Then of course there is the interaction with other twitter accounts. Here are a few of my favorites:

It’s great to see other fictive accounts playing along, as well as real people trying to get into or break the fiction.

If you’d like to get a general recap on the missions the KSA has been performing so far, check out the Mission Report Dispatches. While good reading in relation to individual missions, they fail to fully convey the entire story that is happening day to day within the KSA universe. Bill, Jeb and Bob will all quickly evolve into their own characters over the next month (new non-astronaut characters will be introduced as well), the KSA as an agency will grow to handle larger missions, and things will be happening on Kerbin, like a new 10m ground-based telescope that will provide for some entertaining filler tweets and research for future missions.

As explained in my original post, missions are carried out over twitter in real time, with suitable delays between missions for various things like building new rockets, studying new data, dealing with the good/bad/tragic consequences of a previous mission, etc. This means that currently the story of the KSA already extends into the beginning of May – and I plan to put in a few months more of lead time before backing off my playing time so I can return attention to other things in my life while the story rambles on. I was at GDC this past week while the KSA launched two orbital missions. It was very cool to be off doing other things and “watching” things unfold on their own.

I’d like to quickly explain how the story is being written. First off, and most importantly, there is no preordained plot. I don’t say to myself – “this probe will develop a computer virus that sends it off course and threatens the lives of kerbals with an unplanned re-entry over populated areas”. What I do is design a mission, execute the mission, and then create a story around the events that ended up transpiring in that mission. A quick example would be the last mission the KSA flew (dispatch not yet available, but you can read it in the tweet stream), which was their third attempt to get an orbital science craft back to the ground in one piece. I had installed VOID and enabled the data-logging feature. To make the use of data-logging seem realistic, I also enabled the option that VOID consumes electrical power. However I forgot to really check how that would affect the amount of battery capacity I had on the rocket. Turns out – not enough. My mission was to launch, orbit, perform experiments and return. What happened was I launched, orbited, and the spacecraft ran out of power. If you read the tweet stream, you can see how I turned that into a story. I didn’t outright say power was drained, but mission control instead seemed puzzled, had to ensure the craft was dead, and then take time to look into the problem to find the solution. In a future mission Bill will assume manual control of an unkerbed craft and send it way off course – that’s me using the poor guy to cover for my own mistakes, but it makes for a good read.

So, this has been very enjoyable so far and I plan to continue as long as it remains so. Please follow along if you’re on twitter and help spread the word to any friends that like space stories. I’d also love to hear some feedback from anyone who has any.

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