So, a week or so ago I got an early birthday present: Kerbal Space Program. I had encountered it a few months back on various blogs, a month or so ago I had downloaded to demo on Steam had played around a bit, worked out that I would be this a lot of fun, and now I am having a lot of fun.
The setting of the game is simple enough – the inhabitants of the planet Kerbin, called Kerbals, are going into space, and your role is going to lead them. Currently the game only works in Sandbox mode, which more or less means you make it up as you go along. You set your own goals. Some concentrate in the vicinity of Kerbin itself, building space stations and so on. Others like to range further afield in the solar system.
In terms of technology it ranges from Sputnik to more modern times. The various starting equipment the game has allows you to mimic many of the famous historical space flights of our own history, from Sputnik to Apollo. Of course, it also allows you to construct weird and wonderful machines … some of which are rather more successful than others. In addition there is a healthy modding community that further expands what the default game offers in terms of parts and the like.
One thing to stress though is that this is a game still in alpha development. This means bugs will be encountered, and there are signs of things being incomplete. One example of this is during re-entry one can get a really rather pretty re-entry fireball like effect on your spacecraft – but currently there is no heat damage to the craft itself. Due to be added later. The atmospheric drag model is also incomplete, meaning for rockets one can partially ignore aerodynamics. As of right now Career mode is inactive – in the next update (0.21) apparently they are going to start adding in some of the foundations for that game mode. Some of the limitations caused as a result of this can be eased by some of the mods, though I have yet to actually play with any.
How one feels about paying for a game still in this early state of development is somewhat down to personal preference. Myself I feel that KSP offers enough variety that I am happy to have had it bought for me. Earlier in its life I would probably have though differently.
Overall I can certainly give this a hearty thumbs-up, and I will continue to write about as I explore the world they are creating.