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Kerbal Space Program Modding

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#1 TheWinslow


    Advanced Member

  • 73 posts

Posted 08 January 2015 - 02:28 AM

So, I picked KSP up during the Winter Sale and, after playing it unmodded on easy to get a sense for the mechanics, I have decided to start modding the game. It's certainly fun without mods, but with mods, it's a whole new experience. And there is a mod for pretty much anything you want to do. Lasers? Yup. More start systems? Got them. Multiplayer? Of course! And all the parts you could ever want!


Important Note About Installing Mods:

There are a few things you absolutely must keep in mind when modding:

  • First things first, where do you get mods? The two main places are Curse and the KSP forums.
  • Installing these mods can take a long time.Changing the mod list will require work on your part to get your custom setup working. CKAN will help quite a bit to make sure you don't have any conflicts, but not all mods are part of CKAN.
  • A lot of people have seen improvements in memory usage if they force OpenGL as the renderer. To do this, go into steam, right click on KSP, then Properties > Set Launch Options and type "-force-opengl" in the box. Keep in mind, if you do this you need to launch KSP through steam (you can launch it through a shortcut by putting "-force-opengl" after the quotation marks in the "Target" field, make sure you have a space in between).
  • For mods that are not on CKAN, you will need to drag the correct files into the GameData folder (where your KSP.exe is located). In every mod you download, there will be Install instructions included (mostly just copy the named folder into GameData
  • Don't use the x64 version of KSP. It is broken (on Windows). You will get more bugs and crashes if you choose to use it.


Useful Tools:

Tools that help install/organize your mods.

  • CKAN: The Comprehensive Kerbal Archive Network. A mod manager for KSP. It allows you to install mods and check for updates, and automatically detects conflicts between mods and missing dependencies for mods. Just download the .exe, open it, hit "refresh", tick any mods you want to install, and click "apply all changes". I highly recommend that if CKAN has a mod you want, that you install it using CKAN. Unfortunately, not all mods are on CKAN (e.g. Kethane is not, though Karbonite is a completely viable alternative to Kethane).


Gameplay Mods:

Mods that add new gameplay mechanics or overhaul current ones. Lets you do a lot of cool new things in the game.

  • Realism Overhaul: No list of gameplay mods would be complete without this mod. It's actually more of a collection of mods that you can choose to install with an installer. It tries to make the game much closer to what aircraft and rockets are like in real life (as well as making making it so the solar system is as large as real life). It will make your game more difficult.
  • Ferram Aerospace Research (FAR): The aerodynamics in KSP are pretty bad. You can pretty much strap a pair of thrusters on a flat metal plate and send it to space without any trouble if you want to. This mod changes it so that you actually need to worry about how your rocket looks. Nosecones are actually useful now as well (instead of adding mass without any benefit beyond aesthetics).
  • Neophyte's Elementary Aerodynamics Model (NEAR): A simpler aerodynamics upgrade. It adds the need to build aerodynamics with a much simpler model than FAR's. Simpler does equal a bit easier in this case as well.
  • Deadly Reentry: Entering the atmosphere is pretty easy in the base game. This makes it so you have to be more careful (don't enter too quickly, have a heatshield on your craft, and don't deploy chutes under 350m/s).
  • Karbonite: A resource mod that adds a mineable resource, Karbonite, to planets, some atmospheres, some oceans, and areas in space. Scan for Karbonite, then mine or collect it, and turn it into fuel with special fuel tanks and engines for the fuel type.
  • Kethane: Like Karbonite, a resource mod that adds Kethane as a mineable resource. There is a section in the Karbonite post that details the real differences between the two mods.
  • RemoteTech: No longer can you build an unmanned probe, launch it, and control it from any distance. In order to control an unmanned probe, it needs to be in contact with Kerbal Space Center in order for you to control it. Requires you to set up a satellite communication network to use unmanned probes.
  • SCANsat: Let's face it, satellites and science are pretty boring in KSP. You can take gravity readings and, if the satellite is low enough, temperature readings and that is it. This lets you map planetary bodies to give you altimetry and biome maps. It also has support for Kethane and the dev build (warning: can be buggier) has support for Karbonite so you can scan for those resources and overlay them over the planet map.
  • TAC Life Support: Gives you something more to worry about on those long voyages. How are you going to feed, water, and clean up after your Kerbals? Oh, and they kinda need to breathe oxygen to survive.
  • TAC Fuel Balancer: Instead of pulling fuel from all tanks at once, KSP tends to pull it from the furthest tank. This can cause some issues with balancing, particularly with mods like FAR. So, this just makes sure engines use fuel equally from all connected tanks.
  • USI Kolonization Systems: Want to add a colony to another planet? Or add an orbital colony? Fly these parts to another planet and assemble them to create a self-sustaining colony on another planet. Includes support for TAC life support.
  • KSP Interstellar: The original author is MIA, so a 0.90 version of the mod can be found here. Adds quite a few new parts and technologies for you to play with. This allows you to progress from past technology, to current technology, to near future tech, and finally to theoretical tech (e.g. antimatter drives). Later tech can be extremely powerful, but also very difficult to set up.
  • RealChute: Makes chutes a little more realistic and adds some more parachutes to choose from.


Graphics Mods:

Make the game look pretty.

  • Active Texture Management: First things first, this mod will compress textures so that you don't end up with outrageously high texture memory. It will cause the first load of your game to be extremely slow (I mean REALLY slow. You and your OS may even think the game is not responding, it is, you can always force quite and pick up where it left off though), but subsequent loads will be much faster. If you are having RAM issues, use it. There is a normal and aggressive version depending on the amount you need.
  • Kerbal Space Program Renaissance Compilation: This mouthful makes the game look really pretty. Wes uses this visual mod. Install this first as it can overwrite files from other mods.
  • Astronomer's Visual Pack: Another visual mod. Make things pretty. There are slight differences of course (this focuses a lot on ambiance, adding better clouds, thick atmosphere on some planets so you can't see very far, auroras, etc). KSPRC works in conjunction with other mods to get the same look (e.g. Environmental Visual Enhancements).
  • Hot Rockets: Make rockets look better!
  • Distant Object Enhancement: Hooray for seeing planets from a distance! Also not seeing background stars when staring directly at the sun.
  • Environmental Visual Enhancements: Adds clouds and city lights to planets (well, city lights on Kerbin).
  • PlanetShine: Adds a bit of shine on your spaceship from planets/moons (e.g. your ship will look a bit red when orbiting Duna). Small change, but it certainly looks nice.
  • RasterPropMonitor: Press buttons in the cockpit and have them actually do things!
  • Texture Replacer: Mod that allows you to replace a lot of textures. There are a few mods out there that require Texture Replacer to work.


Part Mods:

Having more parts to build with is always a good thing. Of course, more parts means longer loading times.

  • KW Rocketry: Adds tons of new parts, definitely a good one to pick up.
  • B9 Aerospace: Many parts, focused on better space shuttles.
  • Kerbal Attachment System: Adds parts that help you move things around (winches, magnets, pipes, containers, etc).
  • Infernal Robotics: More parts to make things move! Make yourself a robot!
  • Surface Lights: More lights to light up the darkness!
  • DMagic Orbital Science: More science parts for satellites and Rovers! Actually do something more than take the temperature of other planets!
  • Station Science: More science for space stations! The ISS isn't up there just as a place for astronauts to hang out after all!


Mission Mods:

Add some more things to do!

  • Contract Configurator: A new mod that should help modders out a lot. It allows them to create custom mission packs for their mods. At the bottom of the page is a link to the SCANsat Mission Pack which will add scanning missions with SCANsat parts (currently the only mission pack).
  • Misson Controller 2: Adds more missions to the game (repair, science, satellite, and civilian contracs) and killing Kerbals costs you insurance money. Definitely makes the game more interesting (those historical missions you saw in Wes' stream come from this mod).


Support Mods:

Make your life a bit easier while playing. Takes some of the guess work out of the game.

  • Kerbal Alarm Clock: Set an alarm for when you need to reenter the atmosphere/start a burn/etc. Not too important early on but when you have multiple missions going at once, you need it.
  • Kerbal Engineer Redux: Shows a lot of nice information while building your ship. Takes some of the guesswork out of building rockets.
  • Kerbal Joint Reinforcement: Rockets fall apart so easily in KSP. This stops that from happening at the drop of a hat.
  • TweakScale: Allows you to scale parts up or down (and they will snap automatically to the correct size). This also changes the mass/capacity of the part (so fuel tanks can carry more, thrusters will be more powerful but use more fuel, etc). If you abuse it it is definitely cheaty.
  • MechJeb: Autopilot! And some more information for your craft. This mod is really there for people who enjoy the building aspect more than the piloting.
  • Navball Docking Alignment Indicator: Docking is one of the most difficult things to do in KSP. This just adds a little helper to the navball so you can line up docking ports more easily (so you don't have to eyeball it).


Miscellaneous Mods:

These don't really belong in any other category. They add minor things to the game that don't really affect gameplay, but I would miss having them.

  • Chatterer: More radio noise! Adds radio chatter periodically.
  • Crowd Sourced Science: Adds more flavor text to your scientific observations (instead of seeing the same message every time).
  • Final Frontier: Kerbals get ribbons that act as a history of their achievements! No benefit to them, but helps you remember who did what and you can even give your own ribbons (posthumously in some cases).
  • Stage Recovery: Ever find it annoying that you can't attach parachutes to your jettisoned parts and recover them later? Some part descriptions for boosters even say they are designed to be reused. This gives you some money for jettisoned parts that are attached to parachutes!
  • DarkMultiPlayer: Multiplayer KSP. Need I say more?


Current Testing Mod List:

These are the mods I have installed/in the process of testing. Some of these are dependencies (e.g. B9 Aerospace has Virgin Kalactic Node Toggle as a dependency). Bold = new mods since last stable list. Forcing OpenGL has made this a lot more stable. 0 crashes and nice and smooth (usually).

  1. Active Texture Management
  2. B9 Aerospace
  3. Chatterer
  4. Community Resource Pack
  5. Contract Configurator
  6. Crossfeed Enabler
  7. Crowd Sourced Science
  8. Deadly Reentry
  9. Distant Object Enhancement
  10. Ferram Aerospace Research
  11. Final Frontier
  12. Firespitter Core
  13. Hot Rocket
  14. Karbonite
  15. Kerbal Alarm Clock
  16. Kerbal Attachment System
  17. Kerbal Engineer Redux
  18. Kerbal Joint Reinforcement
  19. Kerbal Space Program Renaissance Compilation
  20. KineTech Animation Library
  21. Klockheed Martian - Gimbal Module
  22. KW Rocketry
  23. Infernal Robotics
  24. Mission Controller 2
  25. Module Manager
  26. PlanetShine
  27. RasterProp Monitor
  28. Real Chute
  29. Regolith
  30. Remote Tech
  31. Resource Generation Module
  32. SCANsat
  33. SCANsat Mission Pack
  34. Surface Lights
  35. TAC Fuel Balancer
  36. TAC Life Support
  37. Toolbar
  38. Tweak Scale
  39. Umbra Kolonization Systems
  40. Virgin Kalactic Node Toggle

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