In an effort to give you even more control over the spaceships you build in Kerbal Space Program (read our Kerbal Space Program review to find out what we thought), developer Squad are adding tweakables to each part of your ship. These options let you fold down your solar panels, retract the landing gear, and prepare your ship while it’s constructed in the hangar, not on the launch platform.
The way scientific data is collected and transmitted is changing, too. Your Kerbals will now have to do some of their experiments in the field, meaning you’ll have to launch a science lab into space. No mean feat considering its larger than most other modules in the game.
That’s not all by a long stretch.
“Update 0.23 should really refine the existing aspects of Career Mode and add another level of polish and stability to Kerbal Space Program,” lead developer Felipe Falanghe wrote in his press release. “This update offers new players a more refined Career Mode experience while delivering on a few requested features from our experienced players.”
Kerbal’s last update, 0.22, added science to the space simulation. An odd statement considering this a game that accurately models gravitational physics and rocket propulsion. The update added features that let your Kerbal astronauts collect data from their travels in space and transmit it back to their home planet of Kerbin. This procedure forms a key pillar in Kerbal’s newly introduced career mode; to receive funding and develop new technologies to travel deeper into space you need to first research the solar system... for science!
Squad have listened to feedback from the community and will be making experiments more involved than they are currently. For a start, “The Transmission logic is being redone, so no matter how many batteries you’ve got, you won’t be able to max out a subject by just using antennas” and they’re “also changing the way experiments allow being reset, so don’t get too attached to those endlessly-repeatable experiments.”
Squad are also fixing it so no subject can be fully analysed with antennae alone. Currently your Kerbals are able to fly their ship within sensor range of a subject - an asteroid, say - and transmit their results back to the boffins on Kerbin to be analysed in the lab. With the release of 0.23 you’ll only be able to fully analyse a subject by dragging a Lab Module out there and analysing it in the field. These are sizeable ship modules, one of the largest and heaviest in the game, getting one off the launchpad isn’t easy, particularly if you’ve built it into a ship that needs to travel a long way.
Data’s no longer only going to be moved about by transmitter, either. Squad plan to have Kerbals jump out the airlock to collect data from subjects, sensor modules, and other Kerbals. I suspect this little update will lead to the death of many a poor Kerbal lost in the dark cold of space.
Squad are also working on a scientific archive. “The Science Archives will be a new section on the R&D Facility, which lets you review all the data you’ve accumulated to date,” writes developer Felipe Falanghe. “This is your library to view all the knowledge you’ve gathered for Kerbalkind. Also, this overview should help plan future missions.
Separate to these tweakables and changes to science within the game, update 0.23 brings with it substantial optimisations to Kerbal Space Program. “We’re going through each line of game code and making sure things are getting done as efficiently as possible,” says Falanghe. “We’re also optimizing the asset loaders to reduce loading times, and upgrading to the latest version of Unity, to take advantage of all its new tweaks and fixes.”
On top of all that are plans for “overhauled UIs, 3D Mouse Support, Monopropellant-powered EVAs, Steerable landing gear, Secondary propellants for engines, more Biomes, and of course, hunting down some of the most critical long-standing bugs…” However, these changes may be dropped off the list as the team draw nearer to the updates release window
There’s yet to be word on when that release will be.