Kerbal Space Program. A game that’s not only provided thousands of hours of space exploration fun, but also educated gamers everywhere about astrophysics. Recently, I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Ted Everett, the technical producer of KSP. He answered some questions for us about the work himself and his team has achieved in the game. Have you played KSP? How many hours did you put into your own personal NASA? Kerbal Space Program or KSP, is a simulation game which entrusts the player to creating a successful Space Association. You design, create and pilot crafts with the useful help of Kerbals. Kerbals are little green humanoid men and women, some of Kerbins finest. However, even though these kerbals are fun to look at, they can’t make every craft fly. So it’s up to you as the player to create an epic ship!
Do you have the ability to push the throttle to the max and enter orbit around Kerbin? Will you get to the moon and back safely? Or will you only make it 5,000 feet up before panicking and causing your Kerbal to abandon ship?
Before you find out, listen to what we asked Ted Everett to answer!
What started the idea behind Kerbal Space Program?
It all started with Felipe (KSP’s Creator) playing with fireworks as a teenager – though that doesn’t mean we condone such things! While playing with the fireworks he gained a significant interest in rocket science and saving the little tin foil characters that he attached to his missiles. These characters were named Kerbo’s. While working at Squad, then still primarily a marketing agency, the owners of the company encouraged him to pitch the idea and pursue the development of it at the company, and so Kerbal Space Program was born.
Did you ever anticipate that your work on KSP would gain such a huge fan base?
Kerbal started out as a very simple 2.5D game: the main purpose was to see how high you could get your rocket. Over time the scope was widened to the game we know and love today. We didn’t foresee it gaining such a fantastic community, but we’ve embraced and supported them where possible. From the thriving modding scene to the incredibly inspiring fan art: the support and enthusiasm from KSP fans has been overwhelming to say the least.
What is it like knowing that you’re helping people learn more about space, even teaching physics within educational institutes?
It’s very surreal but we absolutely embrace it with everything we have. It’s fantastic to read stories of people pursuing a career in the aerospace industry because of Kerbal. Additionally, we see KSP used in education quite frequently.
What was it like when NASA invited you to learn more about space physics?
It was incredible, we had to pinch ourselves not just once but a few times! It was an amazing experience to work with them in such a capacity and we’re open for more cooperations like this in the future.
Any plans to add another star system?
We have no comments about what we will be adding or not be adding in the coming updates of KSP. We like to keep some surprise there for the fans!
From KSP back in its early days to how it looks currently, how would you describe the journey?
It’s been an absolutely amazing journey with fantastic fans that have been with us all the way. The game has done really well and we couldn’t be more proud of the team, the game and the community. It’s come so far from the initial inception of a 2.5D minigame that centred around rockets and little green characters.
What has been your favourite moment along the KSP timeline?
Witnessing such an enthusiastic community help us in any way possible has been really rewarding. Many developers were hired from the community and it’s been incredible to be able to help them shape the game in my role as technical producer.
Are there any secret, upcoming features which the community will enjoy?
Of course! Though we can’t comment on what will or won’t be in future versions.
There are plenty of YouTubers who enjoy KSP, one who seems to stand out is Scott Manley. Have you watched any of his videos, if so, what do you think of them?
We can be considered ‘bingewatchers’ when it comes to the videos people make with Kerbal Space Program. There’s such an amazing array of brilliant content made by the community, not just entertainment, but in educational. Scott is often at the forefront of that, pushing the envelope on what can be taught using KSP. Not only does he play a lot of Kerbal, he often teaches his audience about rocket science as well. His recent video about what KSP does in fact not teach you about rocket nozzles is very informative.
What are some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
Kerbal was one of the first titles to be released on Steam’s Early Access program. Even though we’d been developing with an early access model released through our own store front for almost two years, it still presented certain challenges. We mainly wanted to ensure we stayed to true to our original vision and that KSP didn’t become a different game due to the popularity it enjoyed on Steam.
Kerbal Space Program is a non-standard game in how it’s built, it’s almost a simulation in many ways, with game mechanics placed on top of that. Of course with any simulation there are challenges, both in technical and design contexts, and we’re constantly pushing the limits of Unity to achieve the vision we have for the game. The team’s absolute passion for the game in particular and aerospace simulation in general has persisted, and we’re continuing to accomplish a lot that Unity wasn’t exactly designed for!
What is the future of KSP?
We have more updates on the way, as well as the releases of the console versions of KSP. We’re also exploring KSP on other platforms and media!
So that was my interview with Ted Everret, Lead producer of Kerbal Space Program
Please feel free to follow Ted Everett on Twitter.
Recent patch released
“The 1.1.3 patch is now available! We’ve taken our time over the past couple of weeks to tackle as many issues as we could in this patch and the results speak for themselves: close to 100 fixes have been logged compared to the previous version of KSP, and we even found time to hide something small in the game that we’re sure a lot of long time fans will appreciate!”
I highly recommend experiencing the enjoyment Squad has brought us