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The explosive origin story of Kerbal Space Program revealed

Kerbal original drawings

All great things start with humble, small beginnings. Unless you’re Kerbal Space Program, in which case you start with a bunch of guys playing around with fireworks. 

Yes, the beloved space simulator – which we really do love in our Kerbal Space Program review – started out as a real game played with physical props in a back yard. A bit like how Baldur’s Gate started as pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons, except with more chance for horrific, explosive-related injuries.

Discussing Kerbal on a Reddit Ask Me Anything, the team’s PR guy Miguel Piña (AKA Maxmaps) told the tale of Kerbal’s early days: “It all started when HarvesteR was a young guy in Brazil playing with fireworks and turning them into rockets by taking out the explosive payload and placing little tinfoil figures inside which he called Kerbals.”

“Ironically, the current game involves more explosive payloads than those fireworks ever did,” he added.

This thread eventually led back to a Kerbal forum post from last year, where one of Kerbal’s development team had posted the original drawings of the very first Kerbal spaceships (back then known as Kerbo), as drawn by HarvesteR himself, back then known as ‘The Shadow’.

The AMA also revealed the origins of Kerbal names Bill, Bob and Jeb, revealing them as names from the original fireworks display. HarvesteR explained “The names for Bill, Bob and Jeb were the ones I could remember from the ‘early days’ of playing Kerbal Space Program with actual fireworks (please don’t try that at home, I’m thankful to this day no one lost any limbs). When they were first added, they weren’t meant to be any more special than other Kerbals, but because we didn’t have a crew generator implemented, we hard-coded those three in as placeholders.”

As incredible as many games’ origin stories are, we doubt any of them are as explosive as this one.