Kerbal Space Program 2 aims to expand upon the try-and-fail-and-try-again cycle of the original in a number of very big ways, one of them being the addition of colonies. Colonies are established via portable modules delivered to and deployed on distant worlds. As they grow, they'll build new modules enabling them to expand and eventually shed their reliance on the Kerbal home planet of Kerbin.
Star Theory creative director Nate Simpson said when KSP2 was announced that the colony builder will work in a fashion similar to the vehicle editor, and he went deeper into that new element of the game during an interview at Gamescom. The colony editor—called Building Assembly Editor, or "bae"—will be "very similar" to the Vehicle Assembly Building, with its own parts palette that will be populated with different modules as you progress.
"Whatever modules you have brought with you appear in the park palette, so you have those to build with. But when a base achieves a certain maturity, which is really based on its population—as its population grows—it unlocks new kinds of things that you can do with a base. And at a certain point, you'll be able to use imported resources to fabricate modules on site," Simpson explained.
"One of the kinds of of modules you can build is the Vehicle Assembly Building, and once you have a colonial Vehicle Assembly Building, the weights are off your shoulders, right? You're no longer having to drag stuff up out of Kerbin's gravity well. Now the interstellar progression is unlocked, because you can build in either very shallow, or non-existent gravity wells in the case of building in orbit."
Colony growth is obviously a central part of that system, and Star Theory is taking an interesting approach to handling it. Simpson said the developers didn't want to tie population growth directly to the passage of time or related systems, "because when you have time zoom in a game like this, you can game that system." So instead, it's coupled colony growth to achieving milestones in the game, which will trigger a sort of Kerbal baby boom.
"When you do something of note in the game, people celebrate by multiplying," he said. "And I think this is actually the secret sauce for making sure that the progression feels interesting and organic for the duration. You can't game that by time zooming, you gotta do some interesting stuff. And as you do interesting stuff, by some process that we will never reveal, Kerbals make new Kerbals."
Kerbal Space Program 2 is expected to be out sometime in early 2020, on Steam and "other digital storefronts."