The Past, Present and Future of Kerbal Space Program – Part 2

This is part 2 of our “Past, Present, and Future of Kerbal Space Program” feature. Click here to view part 1 detailing the interesting origin of KSP.

When you boot up Kerbal Space Program today, you’ll notice not only a vehicle assembly building for you to build your rockets, but also a hangar for you to build space planes. This was not always the case, and is a prime example of how the community has helped shape KSP.

Chad Jenkins, also known as C7, had been a hardcore fan of KSP since its early days. So much so, in fact, that he decided to put in the effort to make a mod that would allow for the construction of planes in the game.

As time went on and the mod grew more and more popular, Jenkins turned on the game one day and suddenly found that a runway had been added to the game in its latest patch. A friend came to him and said he thought the runway was added because of the mod Jenkins made.

“It turned out that it is actually what happened,” Jenkins said. KSP Developer Felipe Felanghe happened to download the mod, made a plane, but then realized that he needed a place to land it. So he made a runway and added it into the next patch.

After that, Jenkins found himself being offered a job at developer Squad, and currently works as a technical artist on the game.

“On each update, we really take a lot of what’s going on in the community into consideration for how we plan the features going into each update,” Felanghe said. “We really try to support, as much as possible, all different playing styles.”

Another aspect of the community, in addition to the people who make the mods, is made up of the people who play the mods. Or more specifically, those who play the mods and then put videos of their doing so on YouTube.

KSP has exploded in popularity on the YouTube scene, with tutorials and videos of missions to the outer planets regularly reaching well beyond 100,000 views. Some of the more popular uploaders include HoCGaming, Scott Manley and kurtjmac, to name just a few.

“It’s amazing. We love it,” Felanghe said. “One of the cool things is that because KSP is such a non-competitive game, players tend to come together and unite to conquer their common challenge, which is just space travel. It’s real cool that we have that in our community.”

Just as he discovered the C7 flight mod that allowed for airplanes to be made in KSP, Felanghe and the rest of the team at Squad are well aware of all of the awesome things that are posted to YouTube. In fact, the developers make it a point to highlight their favorite YouTube videos on their devblog.

“We saw a guy build an internal combustion engine — a functional combustion engine, with pistons and camshafts and everything. Out of stock parts!” Felanghe said. “It’s especially amazing considering we don’t have bearings or anything that would allow a part to spin freely. Stuff like that happens on a daily basis.”

Just like its community, KSP is continuing to grow. In part 3 of our KSP feature, Felanghe discusses the future of the game in the upcoming update, which will introduce career mode as well as a Research and Development building that will help make the rocket-building process a little more beginner-friendly.


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