How reading “The Martian” will influence my time with Kerbal Space Program

I have never been very good at Kerbal Space Program. I got it quite early, blew up a bunch of rockets, crashed into the Mün on a few occasions, and eventually landed. When the first Beta update hit with 0.90, I started a proper career mode. Did pretty well, despite not being that good. The Mün has a base going on, Minmus as well. A craft is on it’s way further out in the solar system. I even started messing with a few mods, mostly to automate some things, and add some new parts to play with.

Now it’s not long until version 1.0 is out. And with it, I am going to do something more with my game. I want to add life support. And this is where reading “The Martian” comes in. The book is awesome, not yet done with it at the time of writing this. What makes it good is the engaging story, what makes it awesome is all the detail put into it. You’d think hearing about how many liters of water Watney has left, how many Sols it will last and how many Ninjapirates it takes to reclaim that water (read the book, it actually makes sense) would be boring, but it is cool as hell.

And because of that I want to expose my Kerbals to the chance of running out of air, water and food. This will change a lot of how I play the game. Let’s take a simple mission of reaching Kerbin orbit, perform some scientific research, then land. Before, I would slap together a rocket, normally a three stage one. I wouldn’t think about anything but cost, if I had the needed parts, and if it was aerodynamic. Then I would launch, get it into the needed orbit, do the research, then crash it into the ground slowly by parachute.

But with food, water and air, some of the weight I send up must be used for life support. I suddenly have to think about weight versus fuel a lot more. Cost will go up. Instead of just launching a rocket haphazardly, I have to actually plan ahead. How little food, water and air can I get away with? What is the bare minimum I can use to get the payload into orbit? In short, where can I save money while still ensuring my Kerbals survive?

And not only that, by reading “The Martian” I got familiar with how best to build a base on another planet. The few permanent bases or probes I have sent so far in my game has been a one-time deal. Everything I needed packed into one big fucking thing, sent to the planet with great cost. But the Ares missions in “The Martian” is so much better thought out, and I presume how they will do it in real life. Send several smaller supply probes. Pack one with food, water and ways to get air. One with mission critical equipment, filters and tools. One with rovers. One with the habitat kit. Then send the astronauts to assemble it all and use it.

I am really looking forward to Kerbal Space Program 1.0 now. Of course, I will have to wait for modders to update their mods in order for me to play with life support, but still, it’s going to be neat.
Also looking forward to seeing how “The Martian” ends. It is an awesome book, and you should read it.

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