For those who haven't played it well its a game where you control a space program on the behalf of a race of little green goofy guys called Kerbals, The game starts at the Kerbal Space Centre, on their home world of Kerbin. The gameplay consists of constructing various rockets and other types of space craft from the bits and pieces you are given.Once a spacecraft is built, it is placed on the launchpad and is ready for launch. You have to control the ships thrust turn on the stabilisers and disengage used engines. Everything you do has an effect and it actually feels like you are learning more every time you play.
I originally played this game at a Video Game convention and it was a very early build in which things were not very clear, but even at that point I could see the potential. In fact I wrote a large blog post on my last blog talking about the game and how I couldn't wait to play it in greater depth. I got home and brought it but my laptop although it could run it seemed to splutter a little bit more than I would like. Still I spent a fair degree of time trying to achieve my goals. At first I was just simply trying to make a rocket that wouldn't explode at launch or turn over mid flight and crash in to a lake. Soon I progressed on to actually managing to get the rocket in to space and then in to orbit, and then I was attempting to break orbit and head towards there closest moon.
Sure there have been games like this with building vehicles etcetera and using them before but none of them have had the physics this has or the need for intelligence. If you just throw a bunch of pieces together then your spacecraft may very well spin out of control and crash into the ground or even worse over heat and explode on the launch pad. This game even in its early stages was like all of my childhood dreams of going to space condensed in to a single video game which feels both fun but also hard and real enough to make your every success feel like an achievement. Actually managing to get a rocket in to orbit and then getting my Kerbal back safely on the ground not only made me hugely satisfied it also made me feel like I had actually achieved something and if this can make an adult feel clever imagine how great this would make a young child feel even if they do it with a little help.
Back when I was playing the game it was very impressive but was also kind of aimless yet now it has missions with set parameters to meet starting with ones such as achieving orbit, and progressing to landing on the various moons and planets.
I have already spent a lot of time playing this game with my daughter but I am actually looking forward to the prospect of playing it on a console where I am sure it will be a lot more stable than it is on my laptop but even more than this I am looking forward to seeing how well the game plays now it has more of a mission structure to it as opposed to being more of a adults physics toybox.
Hopefully its release on to console will see this game reach a much larger audience, it is also nice to have one more game which I can raise in argument when people start to mention how games are nothing more than murder simulators which do nothing but let children practice shooting people in the head.
The game has been noted by several scientific institutions with scientists and members of the space industry displaying an interest in the game including NASA. This kind of publicity makes a nice change from the usual press video games seem to get in the newspapers trying to link them to crime and issues with children's mental health. I have also heard of schools using it as part of various science lessons its a big step up from the BBC micro games we got to play once in a blue moon that's for sure, if something as cool as this had been pulled out in one of my science classes I think I would have absolutely lost my mind with joy.
I am excitedly looking forward to this games release and if you haven't already then I strongly recommend you look in to it either if you have children or if you just want to try something a little bit more thoughtful and intelligent than your average video game.
Now who wants a race to the moon called Mun?