Nov 16 2014

Nine Month Update

Day late, so no preamble, straight to the update. Busy busy busy…


So I said I was going to wait to update to 0.25 but quickly realized I wasn’t going to be back to playing seriously for a while so said eff it and took the plunge. I’ve been making sure to keep all my mods and stuff as up-to-date as possible, since I haven’t really been playing to discover any issues I’m just assuming it’ll all work together pretty well. Probably not 😛 I did have some troubles with my batch files since Squad changed some folder names and a few mods did so as well, so I had to browse through and check all my batch files to fix paths. Everything else I’ve encountered so far (like the rescaling fix causing some models to size weird) has been a common community-found occurrence I was able patch up. As far as I can tell without serious playtime, my save file from 0.23 still loads just fine after a few minor tweaks. Things have mostly settled down again awaiting the next update, which will probably be a challenge to maintain compatibility with since it’s the Beta release. But we’ll see.

The Flight Tracker!!!

K85yZz4m.pngSo my major time sink this past month has been the Flight Tracker concept. It started out as a static ASP page. Then I wanted to show different states in the craft’s mission so I created an ASP script to load a certain static ASP page depending on the UT elapsed since the start of the KSA. Finally I said screw it, threw myself all in and re-learned how to code in ASP/ADO with MS Access (stuff I did a lot back in like… 2001 :P) to create a single dynamic craft page that could load and display data from any craft via a database for that craft. That final task actually only took me 2 days earlier this month. All the time before that it was hand-coding (mostly copy/paste) a ton of ASP files for various craft states. The DB method will make things sooo much easier moving forward.

One of the main things that has made the process take mostly all last month getting the flight tracker operational was hunting down the data. Every craft that required data to display now was actually created 2-3 months ago when I was playing it in the game. Luckily, I had recently enough gotten into the habit of saving SFS files from key points in missions, but even still for some data I had to recover a ton of files off my CrashPlan backup to find the one save file that contained the orbital information or craft resources, etc, that I needed to fill in for a certain state. CrashPlan doesn’t just back up files, it backs up file revisions – which means every time I save a new game, that version is backed up. Well, almost. I had the backups set for 15-minute revision intervals and only recently shortened it down to 1 minute. So I do have gaps, but luckily managed to uncover practically every mission state going back as far as July.

If you have $5 a month to spare, CrashPlan is the best way to spend that money. Period.

Anywhoo, the Flight Tracker has, IMO, added a ton of depth to what I’m doing. You can actually see the state of the craft now, down to things like resource amounts, signal delay, orbital data, etc. It’s not and never will be a completely real-time thing, but I do plan to use the current architecture to allow something like 15s auto-refreshes during launch ascent so people can “watch” the rocket fly into space. I’m still looking into my options from both VOID CSV logging, KSPTOT real-time interface and straight up video recording info on the screen to getting the data I need for a semi-real-time ascent plot. Oh, did I also stumble across this? Yes I did. (rover path plotting, ascent over ground trajectory plotting… *drool*)

Blueprint Fail

qxP8Jtnm.jpgMan, reddit is a tough crowd sometimes. I don’t know if people glossed over it because it was a link to a tweet, and the tweet link itself was mistakenly linked to the imgur image stats display not the full-res image itself, but seriously – 10 votes no comments?!? Maybe the community just got tired of seeing the Kronal Vessel View tool being used. I dunno, but I was expecting a much bigger reaction. I mean, look at it. Look especially at the Mission Partners section, that’s my favorite bit. Ah well, that’s the danger of expectations for you.

My Mun I blueprint drops later this week though, so we’ll see how that does when I post it as a direct link to the image file and then include a comment pointing towards the twitter account instead. I’ll also re-post the Duna I blueprint at the end of the month to hype up the launch.

reddit’s loved my twitter interactions lately though…

That Comet Landing Thing…

I’m not much of a marketing person, so it didn’t really occur to me to prepare anything special for the landing of ESA’s Philae probe on the comet. I mean, I should have known that – either way – it would be a big deal. Still, I managed to be at my computer for the event itself on the fateful day and got some good interactions in. Nothing as epic as what XKCD did of course, or the several Philae missions re created in KSP. But thinking back I’m not really sure what else I could have done anyways. But then again, I haven’t spent much thought on it. Will have to try to see about New Horizons next year. Hrm, maybe that’s a foreshadowing…

Tweeters Be Tweeting

Good to see some continuous activity on several tweet accounts, like the three I mentioned last month (@KerbCosmos_Mc, @KasaSpaceOps and @KerbalSC). There was even a recent revival of @IAI_Space as well. Then there’s been some new accounts too: @ElonKerman and @KSP_CCCP. Both of these are interesting in their own way. The first is a take on Elon Musk and SpaceX, although they say the goal is to stay away from recreated SpaceX mods and go with their own builds, which I think is a worthy objective. Then there’s this second one that came out of the blue one day sort of declaring a campaign against my agency for (I assume) eventual space domination. In fact, things kinda worked out pretty well right from the get-go:

06NTP8Gb.pngAgain, all my stuff is pre-scheduled and there was no prior communication so when the account wished for my launch to fail, and of course I knew it was going to fail, I was like “oh, this is going to be interesting”. Although I’ve spoken to the account owner since, I’m still not sure where the person is going with all this and to be honest I don’t want to. I liked the initial interaction the two accounts had and for now am interested in just following what he’s doing and reacting where/when possible. There’s actually some future events already written for completely different reasons that could tie in to all this. I want my story to remain largely dynamic as it has from the beginning.

Oh, and there’s also this. If you want in, contact @KasaSpaceOps

Pushing Out the Launch Schedule

So with the Flight Tracker project, while awesome, I’ve gone and fully eaten into 1 of my 3 months lead time. As of this Tuesday I’ll be down to a 2-month lead. Not too big of a deal but with all this extra work to be done between missions (flight tracker, mission reports, plot summaries, orbital plotting, mission planning, etc, etc). I’ll be making sure to place more time between launches so I don’t get overwhelmed. The in-story explanation for this was actually quite simple to write thanks to the events that will unfold over the next two months. Towards the end of January you’ll see Simon talking about why building rockets will be taking longer. It also fits well with a maturing space agency, I think.

Returning to Active Playing

So yea, while I’ve run KSP off and on a lot over the past month for data/models needed for the Flight Tracker and to test some 0.25 integration here and there, I actually haven’t sat down and spent even a single in-game day to advance any of the story. It’s still stuck at 1/17/15 like last month. That’ll change this week as I finally wrap up the current iteration of the Flight Tracker project. However, this year was pretty lucky too in that I didn’t have many gaming distractions other than Last of Us multiplayer. This Tues, when my lead time cuts down to 2 months, Dragon Age 3 drops (already have it preloaded). Then around Xmas comes Homeworld Remastered, and 2015 will see Just Cause 3. Two of these are massive open-world time sinks. Hopefully I can at least maintain a 1-2 months lead time while spending some quality time with these games as well. And still Last of Us multiplayer. Because that’s just so good (even though I’ve raged and broken at least 3 PS3 controllers while playing online matches where I get killed more than 3-4 times).

Last Bits

Wrapping up, let’s all have a look at another grammatical error that managed to slip past me in multiple readthroughs of my tweet script. Third one that managed to sneak through so far. Out of 3k+ tweets that’s not too bad though, if I do say so myself.

Also, minor addition to the main forum thread you may not have noticed is my entire twitter archive (under the Chronicles section). I hate it, however. For some stupid reason there are no time stamps on any of the tweets. Arrghh! Why twitter?? WHY? I searched for like half an hour to see if someone made a script or plugin that added them back. Nope. Tried looking at the JS code to see if I could add them back. What an over-engineered mess. Unless anyone out there has a solution, I’m eventually going to just take the CSV that includes the timestamps, import into an MDB and just write my own damn ASP script to display the tweets. Not as pretty as the default archive probably but more conducive to reading them like a story.

Alright enough rambling. I have just two more vessels to complete for the Flight Tracker and then I can finally start advancing the story again…

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