Starbucks: Kerbal Space Program Expanding Career Mode


What a scientific utopia Kerbin once was! Seemingly the entire world came together in the spirit of exploration and discover, endeavouring to reach the skies, then out into space, and to the Mun and beyond, simply because they could. Eventually. With a little trial and error. A space-plane could smear across the runway or a rocket tumble from orbit and the Kerbals would still happily start building on another. Discovery was its own reward.

Now the grim spectre of capitalism rises over Kerbin, as Kerbal Space Program developers Squad are preparing to roll out key parts of its career mode, adding funds, contracts, and reputation. Come have a look at a video with the first few contracts, amounting to taking off without exploding.

Update 0.24, ‘First Contract,’ will make career mode an actual business. Funds are required to buy parts and build spacecraft, which are earned from contract missions. Completing contracts also gets you reputation, opening up better-paying missions, though screwing up with lose you rep. When the patch arrives soon, career mode will demand actual budgeting, and trying to recover and salvage old parts. What a grim reality.

It’s not that serious, though. The first few missions are from the Kerbin World-Firsts Record-Keeping Society, a daft lot who seem to be throwing money at the space program because they like keeping records of world-firsts but have no idea what’ll happen next. Have a look:


  1. tikey says:

    I enjoyed the science recovery in the current career mode. I’m afraid that budgeting is going to make the game less experimental for me. I failed A LOT but that made it much more fun.
    I guess I’ll have to wait and see what the update actually offers.

    • Premium User Badge

      urbanautomaton says:

      Yeah, I’ve owned KSP for a while, and found the science-gathering/tech-tree interaction was pretty much perfect motivation to really play it properly. Not entirely sure I want to add budgeting to that, but OTOH I was wondering where the next impetus to blow up Kerbals was going to come from once I finished unlocking the tech tree. I suppose whether it penalises early-stage experimentation depends on how all this new stuff is balanced – hopefully there’s still room for some explosive trial and error. I guess parts recovery is another skill to learn, too.

      Either way, I’m glad I took Scott Manley’s advice and made a copy of the 0.23.5 version outside my Steam folder, so I can try out the new version and see which is most fun.

    • stoner says:

      Why is everybody so concerned about the financial side of KSP? If you don’t want to play a career, then don’t play Career mode. There is still sandbox mode, in which all parts are available immediately, You can experiment (and fail) to your heart’s content, because no money/budgeting/finance is involved.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Because the science part of Career mode is fun, but the financial side may be inseperable from that now?

        It’s not a hard concept.

      • Bull0 says:

        …Because earning Research points through scientific achievements and using those to unlock parts is really fun, and losing that so that you can play Space Tycoon seems a pity?

        • Cinek says:

          Ekhm… career was always suppose to be a space tycoon. That’s why it’s Kerbal Space Program, not a Kerbal Space Race.

          • Bull0 says:

            Except the distinction you’re making is totally arbitrary since progression already exists in the design, it’s already a career mode. I don’t think you really get it, to be honest.

          • All is Well says:

            I don’t understand your argument. How does “Space Program” imply budgets and reputation while “Space Race” does not? How can you derive details of the gameplay from the name? If anything, doesn’t “Space Race” imply competition of some sort, rather than gathering scientific data to unlock rocket parts?

        • Flatley says:

          Design without constraints rapidly gets boring, particularly given how easy it is to blast through the tech tree in a handful of well-planned missions. Anyway, it’s not like you won’t be able to easily mod out the financial aspects if you so please.

        • Rage42188 says:

          Does nobody on here do their research? There is going to be two types of career now, one with just science like usual, and one with the new contract systems. There now everyone can stop complaining. Next time jump on redditt or if you dont believe me, then the FAQ that was released yesterday for it explains it all in detail. Also, just my two cents, but why would you not want a game that challenges you? Seems mind boggling to me to just do it the easy way with only one objective…

    • Bull0 says:

      Agreed. I actually thought the whole research points system they have going at the moment was a keeper. Achieving the best you can with the technology currently available to you, then unlocking better tech from making the most of the old tech, rinse, repeat. That’s good game design, imo. Concerned about this development really.

      • Rage42188 says:

        They still have that career mode. Their simply giving two options now. One is the usual way with just science points, the other is with that and the new contracts sytem. Check the FAQ it explains it all.

    • Cinek says:

      As someone said on one other forum – even if you’d change the resolution of galaxy in a background to the higher one – there would be people complaining.

      Improvements must be there and game development must progress. If you want an old version – feel free to make yourself a copy. Otherwise – don’t whine.

      • Bull0 says:

        Yeah, anyone who disagrees with you is whining/moaning/etc. Tip: if you’re dismissive of other people, they’ll be dismissive of you.

      • solidsquid says:

        I don’t know if I’d agree in this case. Firstly a large proportion of the fan base will be running this through Steam, so updates will be required to play it, meaning you can’ just keep the version you like. Secondly people have already paid for the game and they’re changing a fundamental part of the game play. This isn’t “improving”, that would be bug fixing and streamlining the engine, this is *changing* the game.

        The best option would be for them to add a checkbox to the options page that let you disable the finance aspect of the game if you want to just do science. That way people who bought the game so they could do that will be able to continue to do so.

    • Flammablezeus says:

      If something goes wrong during a flight, you can always revert to a previous part (like the launchpad or the last save.) Plus, it’s always easy enough to test a craft in sandbox if you’re worried that it might blow up on the launchpad or not have enough fuel to get home from a long journey or something.

  2. rexx.sabotage says:

    People want to throw their money at potato salad and Shaq Fu remakes.

    Exploration and discovery are so blasé.

  3. therighttoarmbears says:

    Question: does it hold my hand a bit more than originally? Bought it a while ago, played around for an hour, then sort of bounced off. I see the wondrous appeal of the concept, I just needed some help to get out of the gravity well of my own ignorance. I need a little help with determining what pieces to bolt where, and what all the different options are about, and how to fly a rocket and stuff. And I realize that all of that would be exactly the point of experimentation, but I just needed more help, as I felt rather overwhelmed with options initially. I sort of chalked it up to being very Early Access, and vowed to return when things have more finished structure. Also, sorry if my concerns are addressed in the video, am at work and do not wish to load videos.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      Did you play the training missions?

      I completed those and in one sitting had myself a motley little Mun landing.

    • jonahcutter says:

      The aforementioned Scott Manley has a good series of videos for beginners (along with a heap of other fascinating ones). I played along with a couple of those and Kerbal in windowed mode, and it helped in my start.

      It was still kind of tough until I had an ah ha! moment while trying to rendezvous two craft and realized space travel is not about simply flying to destinations, it’s about aligning velocities and vectors.

      Anyway, try out Scott Manley’s vids. They’re great.

      • Premium User Badge

        urbanautomaton says:

        Yep, I would’ve totally given up without Scott Manley’s tutorials, and by happy coincidence he recently updated his beginners’ one for the more recent versions of the game, which takes you up to learning how to rendezvous with other planets, then sets you free like an overexcited Kerbal on EVA.

        link to

        There aren’t many games I would say reward watching tutorial videos just to learn how to play, but I think this is one.

    • JeCa says:

      There were four tutorial missions in 0.23 which helped a lot, but were quite old and so didn’t explain things like maneuver nodes and how to plan interplanetary trips from launch. However, they promised a few months back that 0.24 would include more exhaustive and up-to-date tutorial missions, so I would recommend checking those out before anything if you’re unsure.

      EDIT: Or you can watch Scott Manley’s beginner’s guide, of course, whichever you prefer^^

    • Cinek says:

      Ever since they added maneuver nodes – this game became much more user-friendly. I had the same you did – bounced off from the horrible UI and game design made around “don’t explain anything, don’t show any data or numbers” but now with the prograde/retrograde indicators in navball and maneuver nodes it’s by far better game.

      I haven’t seen any tutoral videos online, nor completed in-game tutorials and like last time I barely made it to the orbit – this time I got a fancy space station around Kerbal and did a trips to both: Duna and Eve aside from exploring Kerbin moons.

  4. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Down with this sort of thing. Exploding Kerbals by accident is cause for merriment. If you have to pay to rebuild exploded spacecraft it will swiftly become annoying. I bristle my beard at it.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Exploding Kerbals is your bag, huh? Then I heartily recommend the Deadly Reentry mod. It adds realistic heat and physics to atmospheric flight along with all the assorted spectacular (and potentially lethal) consequences. G-forces are even modeled, so if you come in a bit too fast your craft may still survive, but the squishier bits (the Kerbals themselves) may not.

    • ghor says:

      Pretty sure sandbox mode isn’t going anywhere.

      Me personally, I like this because I’m dumb and like a little bit of direction instead of “HERE IS ALL OF SPACE DO WHAT YOU WANT”.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        The glorious pursuit of unalloyed Science is the direction you crave. Exploding Kerbals is but a facet of the joy. Kerbals gladly lay down their lives for the sweet, sweet Science they just know the Universe is full of. There’s Science in them thar planets!

        Science is waiting, my Kerblings. Reach higher! Further! Better! Faster! Slightly less lethally!

        • Cinek says:

          You can use scientific equipment in sandbox mode just fine. Only at the end of a mission you won’t see points and whole research tree will be uncovered right off. Sounds like a perfect mode to you – explosions in a pursuit of science.

          • Bull0 says:

            Yeah, more proof that you don’t get it – he’s talking about science-based progression, you’re talking about experimenting in sandbox mode. They’re different! Seek first to understand and all that.

  5. TheVGamer says:

    I feel sad that I fatigued out of this game way back in 2012. It seems like a wonderful game these days but I just can’t muster the strength to get back to it. Those are the dangers of playing games before they’re done, I suppose.

    • RaveTurned says:

      Given that the game’s only just reaching version 0.24, I suspect you’ll be able to muster for a few years more before it reaches v1.0. No rush. :)

    • LionsPhil says:

      I dunno, KSP felt done to me the moment Science! hit. Obviously there’s still more being added and that’s great, but I don’t feel I need to blanket it with the wet excuses of “but it’s alpha, it has potential”. They could never release an update again and I would be content with my purchase.

  6. Ranger33 says:

    This is what I’ve been waiting for before I got back into KSP. The sandbox was a bit overwhelming for me, there were so many options that I didn’t really know what was what. Cutting things down to the basics initially and better tutorials as mentioned above will make it easier to get started I think.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    They’ve done another of their little animated shorts as well. I feel proud that I tested what it depicted before they got around to it. :D

    Also the comments from Danny and Scott are basically perfect.

  8. drinniol says:

    I wish they didn’t nerf the probes to hell and back :( I liked sending probes! And I suck at retreiving Kerbals!

  9. WiggumEsquilax says:

    So the purpose of the KSP is to make money?

    I thought that it was to grind up Kerbals like green grapes. Until a fine vintage called science flowed forth, in rivers.

    Can get pretty buzzed off it, too.

    • Cinek says:

      Sandbox mode is for that.

    • Harlander says:

      There’s not been much discussion about the reputation mechanic, where your space program loses cachet by, say, slamming poor Ebel Kerman into a hill half a mile from the space centre on live TV.

      I wonder if, as your reputation falls, you’ll be given.. less ethical missions. “Just nudge our competitor’s TV satellite out of orbit.” “Deploy the killsat over the hippie commune.” “Give these convicts a one-way trip to space..”

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        Ooh, I like that.

        High rep KSP makes money.
        Low rep KSP makes “problems” disappear. For “science”.

      • hotmaildidntwork says:

        This is the best idea that anyone has ever had.

  10. Kaamio says:

    Honestly, KSP being a highly moddable and where parts are concerned, clear text files… if the money in career mode is an issue, someone *will* go mod those part files to cost 1 dollar or so, if nobody does, you can. Just open those part.cfg files in any text editor and change the cost. Tedious but doable. Share to the community and gain internet points!

    The best part of KSP? Mods that make it even better.