PAX Prime 2013: Squad Interview and ‘Kerbal Space Program’ Impressions


Chris Hayes, one of our IGM PAX Prime 2013 team members, shares his interview with developer Squad — providing his impressions of their hit Steam Early Access title Kerbal Space Program as well.

You would never know with a game like Kerbal Space Program that the idea came from lead developer Felipe Falanghe making spaceships out of fireworks as a child and having foil astronauts named Kerbals ride them into oblivion. But if you were to watch me learning to play this game, it makes perfect sense. Kerbal Space Program is a game where you build yourself a spaceship, try to launch it past orbit, and explore various planets to research what is out there and expand your technology.

Part of building the spaceship is determining the order that the rocket engages. Fail to do this or build your spaceship incorrectly and you will end up with doom on your hands. For example, my most successful mission had my four booster rockets run in phase 1 and the launch pads detach me in the second phase. Once the fuel burned out I detached the booster rockets in phase 3 and ignited my second booster rocket in phase 4. Once the booster rocket ran out, I detached that in phase 6 to free float in orbit for a while. However, as I never made it this far, I hadn’t planned on making it to orbit. Eventually gravity kicks in and I get drawn closer but phase 7 should save me when I let out my parachute, which doesn’t deploy correctly, and I end up crashing into earth in a fiery blaze of failure.

But even though it took me 24 spaceships, and 32 Kerbals to get this far, it was fun, and only the beginning. Former modder and now technical artist for the game, Chad Jenkins explained that space exploration is another key factor with Kerbal Space Exploration. Successfully returning from a mission with data will allow you to expand your research tree. In addition, how you provide that data matters as well. One example he offered is if we were to say make it up to Mars and get a sample of the planet, we could radio our results back to the planet with nominal scientific progress. However if we were to bring back a chuck of rock to our researchers on the planet, the data will reap bigger benefits. You then use this research to expand your tech tree and available spaceship parts as you see fit.

One of the most mind-blowing aspects of all this is our interview was that Felipe, Chad, and Bob Holtzman were at PAX to judge a tournament for their game not to show it off. The kicker is that Kerbal Space Program is currently available as Early Access and has not their official launch date yet. While there is plenty to do and play around with the game only Sandbox Mode can be played, with a career mode and other features to eventually be implemented.

Kerbal Space Program is available as a Steam Early Access title on Windows, Mac, and Linux — and it’s currently on sale for 40% off through the weekend.

  • dude91

    I love this game!