To Mun and back: Kerbal Space Program

First off, I am in NO WAY affiliated with Squad, or Kerbal Space Program, beyond being a customer like the rest of you fellow peons. I have to clarify this, purely for my unusually-less-than-grumpy stance. So to start, and keep my unnecessary swear quotient up: Fuck, I love it.

Few games these days hold a lasting appeal to my whisky poisoned mind, but anything space related tends to have a more permanent grasp upon my dark, hunched form. It started in “Ye Olde Dark Ages” of gaming with anything that held a black background and a wire frame representation of a vessel for travelling through yonder stars. If you don’t get the reference: GET OUT! (No, but seriously. GET OUT!)

And now we have Kerbal Space Program. A bastard hard (Unless you’re a real life astrophysicist or rocket scientist.) game that tasks you with starting a space program for your gullible little green wimps. I say “tasks”, but really there is nothing beyond the tutorials to drive you forward except your own imagination and desires, a consequence of this still being an Alpha game at this point of time. And by Jeb, what an Alpha. (I’m currently writing this as a preview, playing 0.20, although I have played since 0.13). Using, I hesitate to say it, a “Spore-like” snap interface to build your rockets, including solid state boosters, liquid fuel engines, fuel tanks and even the payloads, such as landers and satellites. Everything is based on “Real Science (TM)”, and so you must carefully weigh mass versus thrust (Or whatever the “Real Science (TM)” terms are, I forget and just have fun with it while I somehow learn beyond my grumpy capacity) in order to get into orbit. Yet this is just your first step. Orbit around the planet Kerbin (The in-game representation of Earth, complete with ugly little aliens like you lot.) is actually a relatively simple thing once you nail the basics, and next comes landing on the Mun. This, again is relatively simple, but can you land and return to Kerbin? Sure there is no penalty for wasting the lemming-like Kerbidiots, but still. Their adorable faces as they smile blankly whilst floating in the void inspires you to return them safely.

But what then? How about exploring a whole solar system? Or maybe building a space station? (My crappy efforts can be viewed here) Want to build an un-manned Rover to this games version of Mars (Duna)? Then do some sweet jumps off of its cliffs (Bitching guitar solo optional)? Sure, if you can figure out how! Yeah, the price tag may SEEM a bit steep at first glance, but try out the free demo, learn how to land with the basic parts they give you, get intrigued and buy the damn thing. As I said before, I’ve sunk hours into this game purely because of the wonder and majesty of space exploration that is present here, combined with semi-realistic representations (it IS an alpha still) of space travel.

Starting out can be both daunting and terrifying, both in the full game and the demo, but fret not, as the community has your back in several forms, including their extensive Wiki which features extensive Math things that make no sense to my feeble drunken mind. Alternatively, you can turn to the den of scum and villainy that is Youtube for their various Let’s Play and tutorial videos from the community (I highly recommend Scott Manleys videos for being helpful, funny, informative and not making me want to tear my ears off). Anyway, every screaming-Jeb-filled explosion is just another step toward progress I say.

You can get Kerbal Space Program from their site, or it is also available on Steam early access. The Demo is available on both.

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