Kerbal Space Program has been in development for three years, but at Kerbal Kon last week a vision for what the final game will look like finally began to emerge. Developing the game's confirmed multiplayer modes will start next year after the single-player game has reached what Squad is calling “scope-complete”: not finished, but with no more major features left to add.
PC Gamer attended Kerbal Kon in Mexico City and got a chance to sit in on “Squad Con,” the team's in-house planning session the day before the global livestream event. The big news is that the game is very close to having all its moving parts installed.
“The two most critical things for career mode are contracts and budgets,” lead developer Felipe Falange said. “We're going to see how much we can squeeze into the first one, then if it doesn't fit, it will go to the next one. It's the very near future, because it's something that needs to happen for scope completion.”
Though each part in KSP's craft-building modes theoretically has a cost, that cost has never been a hindrance in the current build of the game. Eventually, though, players will have to keep their rockets within budget in order to move over to the launchpad. If players find themselves short on money, they'll be able to take on contracts.
“The thing with contracts is that they're not missions, per se,” Falanghe said. “They're more like objectives that you subscribe to—you can take as many as you want. You take on a risk when you accept a contract because that contract may reward you when you complete them, but failing will harm your reputation” Reputation will also serve as a currency, and keeping your promises and bringing Kerbals safely home will open doors for new contracts.
The game's three currencies—reputation, cash, and science—will each be exchangeable for the others. If you're short on cash, you can sell some science in the form of patents. If an unplanned, spontaneous disassembly has tarnished your reputation, some money in the right hands will help ease your woes. If your agency is well-regarded but cash poor, your reputation can bring in some emergency funding for that one big mission.
Once these remaining systems are in place, Kerbal Space Program will finally be scope-complete, but the developers still have a laundry list of things they hope to add to the game, like air-friction for ships entering the atmosphere, new spaceplane parts and revamped visual effects. After three years of work and an influx of global attention, it seems that the end is finally on the horizon, if not actually coming up soon.