Jool Mission Planning – Engine Thermal Test

Blaugust 2015 Day 28
I played Kerbal Space Program last night and spent a couple of hours fine tuning and testing my lander and explorer ships designs as well as planning out the launch sequence and orbital construction process.

My current plan is to put the lander up one it’s own, followed by the crew and engine halves of the explorer ship. The engine module of the explorer will be empty of fuel, in fact I’ve already managed to launch a massive spherical tank of hydrogen fuel into orbit in preparation. I pretty much just threw this together and brute forced the launch, but I wanted to put something into space.

Hyodrogen Fuel Tank

Once all of the pieces are in orbit, then I’ll rendezvous the two halves of the explorer ship with the fuel tank and assemble the ship and transfer as much hydrogen as it will handle. Then, I’ll deorbit the left over launch vehicles and bring the lander craft in to rendezvous and dock nose to nose with the explorer. The last bit will be to send up a crew shuttle once the Jool transfer window gets close.

I have the lander contained in a fairing now with enough of a launcher to get into orbit. I’ll use the lander’s existing fuel and engines to dock it with the explorer ship, which will be carrying fuel to refill the lander anyway.

Jool 5 Lander Launcher


Before I package up the explorer craft, I wanted to make sure I had the fission reactor and VASIMR engine set up correctly. I’ve not used either on a mission before and I didn’t want to have problems with heat before I even left the Kerbin system. So I set up a test using a stripped down version of the engine module and let it run for fifteen minutes. I’m glad I did because my original thermal system had some issues and needed tweaking.

VASIMIR Thermal Test


Unfortunately it turned out to be 1 am before I noticed so I had to stop there. I’m getting close though. I need to get launchers set up for the two halves of the explorer ship and then it’ll be time to start putting stuff into orbit for assembly. It’s exciting but nerve wracking as well. I keep double checking things to make sure I haven’t made any mistakes or forgotten a part. I really don’t want to have my three Kerbals arrive at Jool after a two year trip and realize I forgot something stupid.


Meandering towards Isengard

Blaugust 2015 Day 27

I played LotRO last night, continuing my multitasking experiment. I nearly cut my play session short though as the next quest I picked up after completing some small errand quests involved a solo instance required me to help four NPCs defeat multiple waves of enemies for 8 minutes. By about 2 minute remaining mark, all of the NPCs were usually dead and my Hunter would be overwhelmed shortly after that. After three attempts I almost stopped for the night but I decided to give it one more shot and barely managed to finish the quest. It was so close that I actually thought I’d failed it again. I didn’t realize until I attempted to talk to the quest giver to reenter the solo instance and got the completion dialog instead.

The cool thing though was that quest was the last one for the current area. I had one last quest which involved riding to a different area and talking to an NPC and then riding back, I’d forgotten how much of that type of busy work was in LoTRO, and then it was off to the south into the Gap of Rohan. More specifically to the Heathfells which are beautiful. I’m pretty sure that’s Isengard in the distance, if so it’s my first sighting. The Gap of Rohan outlines three different regions, so I doubt I’ll get to Isengard quickly unless I decide to skip content. I have time though.

lotroclient 2015-08-27 00-01-40-44


Kobali Primed

Blaugust 2015 Day 26

Last night I got back on track with my multitasking experiment and logged into Star Trek Online. I loaded the game in the middle of a fire fight which made for an exciting start to things. I had forgotten I was in the middle of the Kobali ground combat zone when I was disconnected because of a Comcast outage. So once my away party had dealt with the immediate threats, I set about finishing the remaining missions.

I had four or five left but I did finish the Kobali ground missions finally. I’m a little late the the party on completing those as they finished with a teaser for the featured episode, Dust to Dust, that came out back in February. Still it was quite fun, although I don’t think my Captain, technically Admiral, and officers were well geared for Vaadwaur combat. They died quite a bit, which doesn’t normally happen.

Between finishing up some missions and the steady stream of XP coming in from duty officer assignments, Bryn is nearly level 59. I imagine he’ll be maxed out before hitting the end of the Delta Quadrant content. I hope to have everything finished before the next major release, Season 11, comes out. There’s been no official date announced yet, but I’m expecting sometime in October. I’m excited to see a more hopeful story line emerge.


Blaugust 2015 Day 24

Sunday night I returned to my multitasking experiment and started up Champions. I logged into the six heroes, I had already created just to refresh my memory on what combinations of powers I had already played with before heading into the character creator and seeing what I could come up with for a new super hero.

Creating a new hero in Champions, and before it in City of Heroes, has always been a unique experience for me. My favorite heroes, the Blue Ram and Silver Hunter, have always come about because a specific part in the character creator caught my imagination. I started out by picking up some wind based powers, initially thinking I’d create a wizard type character. When I got into the costume creator though as I browsed through different masks and other parts, I happened upon some swept back hair and got the idea for a speedster. A pair of aviator’s goggles and leather jacket started to give me more of an idea on the hero’s background.

In City of Heroes, the last thing you do is name your hero. It was always the hardest part because not only was it difficult to come up with a name that was cool and fit the character concept, but you also had to come up with something that someone else was already using. More than once, I can remember scrapping a whole hero design because I just couldn’t find a name that I wanted that wasn’t in use. I’m so glad that Cryptic removed that issue by only requiring names to be unique per account. It’s so nice to not have to look up esoteric synonyms.

Thus after maybe 30 or 45 minutes, I had created the Tempest. A WW2 fighter pilot who vanished in a storm over Europe before reappearing in Millenium City, not having aged a day and with no memory of the lost time.

GameClient 2015-08-24 00-39-33-83


I took Tempest through the tutorial and first few levels. I had the impression that the starting experience was more changed than it really was from the Ravenswood articles that I’d skimmed on the Arcgames site. The tutorial Qularr invasion is now framed as a simulation of an historic event rather than a live event, and some of the side quests have been streamlined out. It was fun, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. Completely a problem with my own expectations though and not the game.

GameClient 2015-08-23 23-30-59-26Past the tutorial, you’re dumped into the Powerhouse which avoids an old issue where you ended up in Millenium City first and needed to know where to go. Cryptic has also added some nice training videos, which are in-game cutscenes that explain some of Champions’ mechanics like charge-up powers and maintained powers, and tied the post-tutorial intro quest to watching them. That might sound onerous but they were all very short.

Once I got Tempest trained up and exited the Powerhouse, I was directed to Kodiak on the West Side of Millenium City, just like in the original game. I completed the first five or six missions that he gave me and not much seems to have changed there. It all felt very familiar and comfortable.

GameClient 2015-08-24 00-20-06-74


Jool Mission Planning – Lander Design

Blaugust 2015 Day 23

Last night should have been my return to my multitasking experiment, and playing anything other than KSP which is what I’d played on Wednesday. But I had just watched the latest trailer for The Martian again and was in a space mood that Star Trek Online doesn’t really fulfill as it is more science fantasy and hard science.

Instead I headed back into the Vehicle Assembly Building to work on the next stage of my Jool exploration mission. My previous design work had been all about building a craft which would take three Kerbals from Kerbin to Jool and allow for refueling at an automated refinery I’d already place at one of Jool’s moons. But I still needed to build a landing craft to take along. After all it would be a waste for three Kerbalnauts to spend years traveling out to Jool and not get a chance to plant flags on at least one of the moons.

I’m actually planning something more ambitious than that, which is called a Jool 5 expedition. Basically, landing on all five moons with a single mission. Something that was much more challenging before Squad added ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) equipment to the game, so now it’s possible to set up refueling locations.

Even knowing I can refuel though, I needed to design a lander that could handle landing and taking off from all five of Jool’s moons. Some like Bop and Pol are relatively easy. Both are small, low gravity satellites, and have no atmosphere. Vall is bigger but not too difficult. Laythe is more of a challenge. Its gravity is 0.8 that of Kerbin and has an atmosphere like Kerbin does which will help with landing since I can plan to use parachutes not burn a ton of fuel to land. The real challenge of the five will be Tylo. It also has a gravity 0.8 times Kerbin, but it has no atmosphere so the entire landing will require fuel, which means twice as much as will be needed for Laythe.

I had a basic stage for the Tylo descent, but was trying to put together an ascent module that would also work for Laythe and the other moons. This is my first design. To take off from Tylo I need better than 1.0 TWR (thrust to weight ratio) and at least 3070 delta-V. The only problem is I don’t like the look of the big tank sticking out.

KSP 2015-08-23 21-01-05-75


I started over and played around with some other ideas. The problem was that using more smaller tanks meant more weight for basically the same amount of fuel, which meant a bigger engine or more engines. Which is not horrible, but anything that could take off from Tylo would be way over engineered for the other moons. And I’m expecting to reuse the craft for Bop quite often after completing the exploration mission. I finally settled on the following design. Not only do I like the look of this craft better, it actually has better TWR and a 1 more meters per second in delta-V.

KSP 2015-08-23 21-01-45-48


So now that I have my landing craft, I need to revisit my exploration ship. The current ship uses nuclear engines which run on liquid fuel only, whereas the motor on my landing craft requires LFO (liquid fuel and oxidier). So I’ll need to add a tank to the ship to allow refueling of the lander after it leaves a moon an docks. That will of course mean I need to adjust the fuel and motors on the exploration ship as well. It’s a lot of planning but that’s part of the fun of the game for me.

Here’s the completed lander with the Tylo descent module.

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D&D Night

Blaugust 2015 Day 21

No gaming last night or tonight, the multitasking experiment will resume tomorrow. Instead last night was my regular D&D (5th edition) night with Scopique DMing and four others from Twitter in the party, he’s posted the recap for last night’s session if you’re curious about our latest shenanigans.

Virtual D&D is nearly as much fun as the regular kind. We use Google Hangouts for group video and voice along with Fantasy Grounds as our virtual tabletop. Honestly the only thing I really miss about physically getting together is getting to roll actual dice. Not that real dice treat me any better that virtual ones do.

My character for our current campaign is a Gnome Monk name Elrryn Leafwind. I generally don’t play melee characters in RPGs, but I decided I wanted to mix things up. Which is funny since after the first few sessions I realized that I had picked the melee version of a Wizard. The first two levels were not super fun, Elrryn wasn’t all that useful in a fight except as auxiliary damage. By level three Monk’s get Ki points and some of its first signature abilities. As an example, in one of the first sessions after making level three deflect missiles let Elrryn catch a crossbow bolt shot at him by a Kobold and then throw it back killing his attacker. One of the most bad-ass moments I’ve ever had for a character in an RPG.

Tonight’s plan is for some Lord of the Rings: The Card Game with Wininoid over OCTGN, which is an online card game client.

Jool Mission Planning

Jool Explorer 1Blaugust 2015 Day 20

Rather than suffer the vagaries of a d4, I loaded up Kerbal Space Program last night. It’s kind of cheating on my multitasking experiment as KSP has basically been my primary game since October. Regardless, I spent the evening in the Vehicle Assembly Building working on my first Kerballed mission to Jool, which is the second most remote planet in the Kerbol system and the only gas giant. This isn’t my first trip to Jool, I’ve sent dozens of satellites and probes to survey Jool’s five moons, but it will be the first time I send Kerbals.

In my current career game I have a life support mod installed, so unlike in the stock game, I actually have to make sure I send enough supplies along to keep my Kerbals fed for the duration of the trip, which will take about 2 years travel out, 3 or 4 more waiting on a return windows, and another 2 back. Which is why there are four supply canisters and two greenhouses for recycling.

The current weight of the ship is nearly 100 tons, so I’ll have to send it into orbit in at least two pieces, which I don’t mind doing as I’ve practiced rendezvous and docking quite a bit. I think I’ve managed to build everything into the ship I wanted for the primary craft. The next step is to figure out a small lander so I can actually put a Kerbal on one or more of Jool’s moons.

The trick with all of this is to try and keep the part count as low as possible. Large part counts of 150 or more cause the game to lag down massively on my machine. The game is still playable, but it’s not much fun. This is my only complaint with Kerbal Space Program. I would love to be able to build and assemble large space stations and interplanetary ships, but part count lag takes a lot of the fun out of the process.

Outage Hiccup

Blaugust 2015 Day 19

The second evening of my multitasking experiment started well enough, I launched Star Trek Online and hopped into the game. After handling my usual duty officer scheduling, I headed to the Delta Quadrant to finish a long pending mission to help out the Kobali. I think the Kobali ground zones have gotten tougher as I died several times trying to get to my goal. I ended up succeeding by making a run across the map so that I respawned on the other side after dying, it’s kind of cheap but I was feeling more goal oriented than exploratory. In the end it didn’t matter because shortly after that my game disconnected, which happens when your cable modem has an outage.

So that was the end of my gaming for the night. It was near midnight anyway, so I headed to bed early (for me). I briefly considered KSP or Champions but I wasn’t in a good jumping in point in either one. In KSP I’m at the point where I need to start planning a new mission, and that will take a while to do, and in Champions I want to roll a new hero to relearn the game. I could and have spent multiple hours in the costume creator trying to put together a name, costume, powers combination.

That puts me in an odd spot for tonight’s gaming. Do I pick STO back up since my time was cut short? Or roll on to one of the other games in the experiment. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, maybe I’ll roll a 1d4 to decide.

Back to Middle-Earth

Blaugust 2015 Day 18

I started my multitasking experiment last night by logging into LotRO. I had actually been in just the week before to make sure that all of my characters had recent activity so I wouldn’t lose names when the server merged closed, so I didn’t have to wait long on the patched. The game still takes a while to actually connect in, which is annoying and familiar, but pretty soon I was back at a camp in eastern Dunland.

Brynulf is a Hunter. At some point previously I had cleaned up his inventory and quest log, so all I really had to do to get him playable was re-select his specializations and reassign points to legacies on his Legendary Items. About fifteen minutes and I was set to resume some long forgotten quests. Even though there were some new abilities and the specialization tree had changed dramatically from what I remember, actually playing my Hunter was not too different. The biggest change was that focus points used to go away the moment your character moved, and they don’t now. Or at least not as quickly. I’m honestly not quite clear on that yet, I was more interested in playing than spending time studying. The same skill combos worked well, and I fell into my old combat patterns pretty quickly: generate focus, big double attack, focus attack, DoT, quick shot, melee to regenerate some focus, focus attack again, finish with melee if needed.

I completed a half dozen quests and moved down to what I think is the last quest hub in Dunland before moving into the region around Isengard. I’m excited to see it, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow given the rules on my experiment. I’m not sure if I’ll do Star Trek, Champions, or Kerbal tonight. Probable STO or KSP, with Champions I want to start a new hero so my first play session will mostly just be in the character creator and I’m not quite in the right creative frame of mind for that.


Blaugust 2015 Day 17

I’ve been thinking more since my post on reconnecting about trying to get back to juggling multiple MMOs. I definitely don’t want to drop Star Trek Online, but my nostalgia for both LotR and Champions has stayed with me the last couple of days. That surprises me as I usually have an urge to catch up on a game and often don’t get more than five minutes into the game after updating the patcher. My problem though is how to actually switch between games. I’ve found two ways that work for me when I want to get something done. Either I have to do it everyday, like with Blaugust, or I have to focus on one thing until it’s done, which is how I completed all three Mass Effect games.

Since MMOs never finish so unless I want to pick concrete goals out that won’t work.  I also can’t try to rotate through all three MMOs on a daily basis, that seems like a good way to get nothing done in any of them. I could make a schedule and rotate through games, but that is probably will do a better job of sucking the fun out of playing than anything else. Instead I’ll leave myself open to playing whatever sounds good on a given night but limit myself to picking from the games that I haven’t play in the last 24 hours, until I’ve spent long enough in one game to finish a quest or level. So that way as I progress through Champions or LotRO, I can still pick up dailies in STO if I want to, but only if I’m actually playing other games.

And since there’s no time like the present, I’m going to pay a visit to Brynulf on Landroval and get my hunter ready to go adventuring.