Hi Reddit, I'm Felipe Falanghe, aka HarvesteR, and I am the creator of Kerbal Space Program, a game in which you send eager little green aliens into space on questionably-engineered spacecraft.

KSP made its first public release back in 2011, and made it out of Early Access in 2015. In 2016 I left Squad to pursue new projects, and created Floating Origin Studios, my own dev shop.

I am now working on a new game, which is just about ready for its first release into Early Access. Like KSP, it is also based on a childhood hobby of mine, Model Aviation. It is called BALSA Model Flight Simulator.

(now that I think about it, my parents were pretty chill about entrusting me with power tools...)

I'm not here to plug though, I'm here to answer your questions about what was, what is and what will be, so ask away!


Proof: https://truepic.com/awkwoewl


It's been a lot of fun, but it's time to wrap up now! Thanks to everyone who posted and I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did! We'll definitely do this again sometime soon!


Comments: 265 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

oxens14328 karma

When you first started developing Kerbal Space Program, did you think it would become as popular as it is now and have so much ingenuity arise from it?

KSP_HarvesteR572 karma

I most certainly did not.

KSP actually started out very unambitiously, and the first versions were actually in 2D (well, 3D graphics but restricted to vertical and horizontal movement). I had initially pitched it as just a simple game where you could build rockets and launch to see how high you could get.

I guess you can say there was a lot of feature creep.


Cyprisen171 karma

Are you good at KSP?

KSP_HarvesteR317 karma

I don't really think I am very good at it. I'm definitely not at the level of the really top guys on the subreddit or the streamers.

I can get around though. I am able to put together a mission to redirect an asteroid for instance, and I can dock pretty much anything to anything else (within the bounds of sanity)


sennendog145 karma

Do you sometimes check what's going on in the ksp world (features of latest releases, community discussions, latest mods/add-ons), or is it "too much in the past" and you're fully focussed on the current ventures?

KSP_HarvesteR293 karma

I do check it out every now and then, but there definitely is a bit of that weird feeling too... KSP took up six years of my life, so it's not something you can just walk away from... I guess it's like having a child that's moved out... you still worry about it and want it to be doing well.


dnbattley143 karma

I am pretty far from the development crowd and even I heard rumours, suggestions, insinuations - call them what you will - about some challenging working conditions in Squad, which contrasted over time: without wishing to rake over old coals, what did that experience teach you, and how are you planning on building up Floating Origin and in particular balancing the age-old questions of creative control vs manpower/organisation/diversity of thought and opinion?

KSP_HarvesteR149 karma

Wow that is a good question.

Talking about your previous employment is never a very easy thing to do. It would be oversimplifying to say the rumours are all true or all false. There is always a lot of gray in these areas.

There are bad memories and there are good memories, I guess just like with any other job. I really did learn a lot from the whole thing though.

With Floating Origin, I am definitely decided on doing some things differently, mainly around how I want to handle team growth, and as much as possible, doing all I can to avoid setting ourselves up against immovable deadlines. It's not possible to avoid altogether, but I think you can save yourself from a lot of stress by trying to avoid the problem instead of trying to work yourself around the symptoms.

As for creative input vs creative control, that was something I learned to manage even during KSP, so this time, I really haven't had any problems in that area. Granted, I am one in a team of three, so we also haven't run into the communication problems that come up with a larger group.


Fabri91118 karma

Hi Felipe! First things first, thanks for having created KSP! :D

Now on to my question: is your studio's name a reference to the system adopted in KSP to deal with floating point inaccuracies?

KSP_HarvesteR121 karma

Yes. It certainly is.

It's also in reference to how I've moved countries a lot


kitmatthews69 karma

Did you ever consider adding n-body orbital mechanics to stock KSP?

How does the physics engine of Balsa differ from that of KSP, and what has the learning process for that looked like for you?

I don't know much about VR. Will Balsa be playable in a non-VR format?

KSP_HarvesteR96 karma

About N-body physics, I thought about it at first, but I decided early on that we were going to go down the patched-conic route. It just made a lot more sense for gameplay and the physics sim.

For Balsa, there are many differences. It was a chance to restart from scratch, so I've been trying to apply all those things that I only learned from hindsight in KSP. Mainly, instead of having each part in the vehicles be a rigidbody of its own, Balsa handles vehicles using as few rigidbodies as possible, and simulates damage and internal effects on top of that. That really simplifies things and makes it much more friendly to multiplayer and large numbers of parts.

We do plan on supporting non-VR for Balsa, but for this first release, we are targeting a narrower scope, and the plan is to expand platform support as we go.


nilslorand54 karma

Thanks for doing this AmA.

My Question: How do you feel about the success Kerbal Space Program had and continues to have?

KSP_HarvesteR75 karma

That is a very complicated question to answer. It still feels a bit surreal to see the impact KSP made, to read the reviews and all that. I still don't know if I've really got my head around the whole thing.


0something052 karma

I don't mean to guilt you but looking back, how do you feel about the Take Two acquisition of KSP and the events thst followed, and more specifically, the controversy surrounding the EULA changes?

KSP_HarvesteR85 karma

The Take-Two thing happened several months after I left, and back then, I really didn't imagine KSP would be sold at all. As far as I knew, nobody was thinking about selling at any point, so it really was a surprise to me when I heard about it.

The whole thing with the EULA changes happened way after my time, but honestly, I don't think people needed to get upset about anything. AFAIK, it's a standard T2 thing to use their legal wording in all their titles, and I don't think people should read much more into it than just that.

I really didn't participate in that whole episode though, so I don't even know what the grievances were about, so I really can't say much more.


sennendog36 karma

Ever thought about teaming up with Paolo Encarnacion (bahamotuD, creator of bdarmory and related ksp mods)?

After he left his bd-mods (now maintained by the community) he also started to make a VR flightsim for oculus (vtol vr) as his own venture.

You two seem to share a similar passion, maybe there is some room for cooperation in the future?

KSP_HarvesteR51 karma

Hah, I never knew VTOL VR was made by him! I actually got that game a few days ago, and was looking to get into it.

We definitely seem to share a similar passion.


ProposterousLobster34 karma

What ideas did you have when making Kerbal Space Program that you scrapped and didn't add?

KSP_HarvesteR99 karma

Those are way too numerous to list. We had ideas for every area of the game all the time.

In fact, wherever we started planning a new update, we'd pick out the ones from the list we thought were most needed and could actually be done. So really, KSP is more a collection of the features that didn't get scrapped.

This is what I really like about supporting mods though. If we couldn't spare the manpower to add it, there was a good chance someone in the modder community was already working on it. I often thought of us in the dev team as developers supporting a mod platform, more than making a game itself.


Willbl3pic30 karma

Hi Felipe. Huge fan of KSP (been playing it since v0.8.1!), looking forward to BALSA. I have a few questions for you :).

What do you think caused KSP's huge rise in popularity?

What was your favourite feature to add to KSP?

What's the most fun part of BALSA?

KSP_HarvesteR66 karma

Ok, let's go one at a time on this one.

I'm still not sure what it was that made KSP succeed the way it did.. if it was one factor in particular or maybe a combination of many things (probably the latter). I think that as long as a game is different from most of what's out there, it stands a chance at success. Even if it's really different and weird, I think a really unique game always has the potential to find its own space.

As for my favorite feature, hmm, good question. I think I have favorites in different categories. Coding-wise, it was the solution I came up with for asteroid colliders when we upgraded to unity 5 (and it didn't support non-convex colliders anymore). I had just come out of a grueling QA testing period (IIRC, it was just after we released 0.99 or 1.0), so I was really 'in the zone' for solving coding problems. It's the piece of code I'm most proud of.

In terms of features you can actually see, I think coding the character controllers was probably the most fun. Everything related to the Kerbals themselves was a lot of fun to develop, but the character controller was one time that I remember I really enjoyed, especially testing the ragdoll system :D

In Balsa, there are quite a few things I think are a lot of fun. Just flying a model around you in VR is actually really fun, and I often catch myself playing when I should have been just testing something. Flying in MP is a blast. I'm really looking forward to joining a session with a bunch of other players.


NovaSilisko35 karma

I often catch myself playing when I should have been just testing something.

Don't catch yourself too much - keep enjoying it, keep having fun with it. Gotta make sure it doesn't turn into a chore.

KSP_HarvesteR35 karma

That's good advice. I really felt that I didn't get to play KSP nearly enough when I was making it, and it definitely is possible to not really play the game you are making.

grizzlybear204827 karma

What was the most troubling part of making a rocket simulator in Unity?

What was your favorite part of the game to work on?

Do you have a favorite planet/moon in the Kerbol system?

What was your reaction to https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2rgsan/i_am_elon_musk_ceocto_of_a_rocket_company_ama/cnfri17 ?

KSP_HarvesteR71 karma

I don't think there's anything about making a rocket sim in Unity that is more troubling than it would be in other engines... No game engine that I know of supports 64-bit spacial resolution out of the box, so the problems we had to solve really weren't unique to Unity.

I think the most troubling times were during Unity updates. The game itself already had bugs of its own that needed fixing, and updating Unity usually tended to add new and a lot less fixable problems.

My favorite part of the game was probably making the Kerbal character controllers, although I really enjoyed making the re-entry fx and the orbit maths too.

As for a favorite place in the Kerbol system, hmm, I think Kerbin is always going to be my first choice, but I have a thing for Minmus too.

About that quote, it still boggles my mind. Everything about SpaceX and KSP boggles my mind actually. They actually had me over there last year to give a talk about KSP. I got a tour of the Hawthorne facility, and was lucky enough that they had a launch that day, which I got to watch with the crowd behind mission control. Surreal isn't an apt description for that. I don't think anything is.


DennisNedrey26 karma

Do you have a background in aeronautics or did you just have the idea for the game and research aeronautics to make it work?

KSP_HarvesteR52 karma

I don't actually. I studied Game Design, which is like a more specialized version of multimedia design.

I've always been a huge geek of flight simulators and aviation and aerospace in general, so I had always wanted to make simulation games.

For KSP, I did a lot of research and had to learn a lot of maths to get the space physics to work. I think it was probably a good thing that I enjoy reading Wikipedia.


OreoTheLamp25 karma

My question: How did you come up with the concept of Kerbals? Ive always wandered this as they seem like such a random concept to have. Tiny green guys with absolutely gigantic cylindrical heads. And why connect them to a rocket or plane "simulator" game of all things?

KSP_HarvesteR55 karma

It didnt' really happen in that order. The rockets (and rocket-building) concept came up first. It was a thing I used to do with my friends and brother, when we were teenagers. We'd make 'spacecraft' out of firework rockets and random garbage we'd strap to it. And after some time we started making little 'crew' out of tin foil and tape them to their little paper cockpits. Very few of those brave tin men survived, but they were very eager to hop aboard (none tried to escape). We eventually gave them names, and as a species, we called them Kerbals.

That grew over time into a concept for a game, and in fact, the earliest versions of KSP didn't actually have characters in, because their design was the last thing I came up with.

The gigantic heads were almost by accident. I had modelled their body shapes, and was going to leave the heads for the next day, but just for fun, I made a quick capsule-shaped head with bulging eyes to see what it could look like. I then kept tweaking that until the Kerbal's faces became what they are now (afterwards, Dan, our animator, did a lot of improvements to them, so they became a lot more expressive and fun)


Fortheindustry17 karma

Hey Felipe! Thanks for making KSP, I just wanted to let you know that your game was a huge influence and is possibly to blame for me choosing to get a degree in Aerospace Engineering, which I completed just last year! So huge thanks for working so hard to make such a life changing game!

I guess my only question would be: are you hiring? :)

KSP_HarvesteR12 karma

Congrats on your degree! It always makes me really happy to hear that KSP had such an influence on people.

We aren't hiring right now, though :)


KerbalEssences15 karma

Hey Felipe, I'm glad you're back with a new game! What a coincidence because I just recently found the YT channel FliteTest, did the required german (free) model pilot license and am right now looking for a nice DIY kit. I haven't thought about a flight sim yet but this is a no brainer for me! I have a couple questions so feel free to answer as many or little as you like! Just btw. KSP inspired my own YouTube channel (knews.space) and while I'm not the biggest creator out there I will happily give you a big shoutout! Anyways..

While I love the idea of a flight sim where you can build your own planes in KSP style, there is one major downside for me and that is VR. I don't own a VR headset so my first question is are you planing to bring this to non-VR users as well?

Second, incredibly popular among DIY model plane builders are simple materials like foam and cardboard. Do you think it would be somehow possible to implement this into your game? Like let people cut out stuff from cardboard, glue it together, strap an engine on, maybe hook up some electronics and go! If it flies they could maybe print out some templates and so on.

And because KSP is my favorite game of all time I would also like to know if you are still in contact with Squad or if you are completely out of the loop when it comes to its development? As a follow up: If you are in contact do they still take advice from you and if yes what were your most recent experiences?

I would also like to address a maybe more controverisal topic: There was a lot of drama on the KSP subreddit in the past regarding devs leaving and so on. Much of it was as I think just baseless hate from people who just like to cause harm for unknown reason, but can you maybe share your story about that from your point of view? Is there anything you always wanted to tell about that?

That's it thanks for you time Felipe, I hope your new game will be a success and if I were you I'd really try to hook up with FliteTest! (If you haven't already)

KSP_HarvesteR23 karma

Wow, this is the kind of thing I really missed all these months not having a community.

I just subbed to FliteTest a few days ago myself, and have been binging ever since. Those guys are awesome. (I was actually looking at their videos when I was planning the shots for the Balsa trailer.)

We do plan to support non-VR, and that as soon as possible. I wanted to make it a VR game first, because model aviation in VR is actually a really complete experience (unless you really care about the smell of nitrous or oily hands), and with Early Access, it's also a good idea to target a platform where the threshold for expectations of an initial release are forgiving enough, and the VR scene is right about there right now.

Also, it's much easier to adapt a VR game for 2D than the other way around. VR really makes you rethink how you approach things like UI and interactions.

About building with cardboard/foam cutouts, it's like you were extracting thoughts out of my head. I haven't even set it down to a design note yet, but I have been thinking about procedural parts generated by extruding a profile, which would result in the same thing you get with a foam cutout. As for electronics and servos, there are plans already for what I'm calling 'internal parts', in the near future. The idea is that we'll have parts like receivers, batteries, servos, FPV cameras and whatnot, that can be placed in the interior space of other parts. Not sure about printing out templates, but we can definitely look into exporting files for 3D printing and such.

About the KSP team, unfortunately, I've not really been in touch with them after we left. I had a couple of chats with Kasper still in 2016, but I didn't really hear much from them afterwards. Last I heard some of them were now working at Valve, but your guess as good as mine at this point.

About the controversy and drama, I'm not sure I caught most of that, so I can't really comment on what is and isn't true. What I know is that there were people thinking about leaving during that last year, but everyone wanted to make sure the updates they were working on were complete before anything else. That's how committed to KSP everyone was, and I don't think that part of it ever got told.

I can't speak for the others, but my motivation for leaving really wasn't about money or the schedule. I decided to leave because I felt there wasn't a lot of motivation for starting new projects anymore, and I still had a lot of ideas.


KerbalEssences4 karma

Thanks a lot! Just another idea: My first rc plane is going to be a glider so it would be cool to have some kind of upwind currents and maybe have birds flying around using them as indicators. Thinking about that gives me some Pilotwings vibes! Also if you're at model planes why not add model rockets lol.. full circle! xD Now that I think about it there is a also a boomerang community that would surely enjoy a VR boomerang simulator but accurate spinny lifting body physics could be a nightmare. I'm not sure.

Okay enough of that. I'm looking forward to hear and see more of Balsa!

PS. The Occulus link on your homepage is broken!

KSP_HarvesteR10 karma

Gliders are definitely coming up, along with updrafts and all that.

And I love that it made you think of Pilotwings. That was one of my favorite games growing up, and I really wanted to try to have that vibe here too.

The Oculus link isn't really broken, the Oculus store isn't showing the game yet because it's still unreleased.


GabrielGABFonseca13 karma

Hy Felipe! It's good to see you're still around.

Seeing that you are (if I remember correctly) a fellow Brazilian, can you tell us a bit about how you became a programmer/game development here in Hueland, renowned for not being a very fertile ground for those professions?

KSP_HarvesteR34 karma


I am from Brazil too (Hueland XD), and yes, I totally get what you mean by not very fertile.

I don't live in Brazil though, I moved to Mexico in 2010, and KSP happened here. However, Mexico really isn't very different from Brazil in terms of how the general outlook for game devs is. If anything, I think Brazil has the stronger game industry, out of the two.

I got into game design back in Sao Paulo, at UAM's Game Design course. From there I did what most graduates do I think (except in another country), and looked for jobs that were at least somewhat related to game dev.

THat's how I got into Squad in the first place. Squad wasn't a game studio when I joined, they did interactive marketing installations and such, which were developed in Flash and Unity and had 3D content, so there was some overlap in their choice of tools.

I pitched KSP to them because we were all tired of marketing (I was actually ready to quit and look for something more game-related), so when I suggested we do a game, they supported me.

That's how it started.


CadillacCactus10 karma

Am I too late?

I'll ask anyway

Do you have plans for Vive support or is it Oculus only?

KSP_HarvesteR6 karma

There are indeed plans to support the Vive. The plan is to support as many different platforms and control setups as possible, but we had to start with a narrow scope to get to a first release.


TheWrongSolution8 karma

With so many flight sims already on the market, how will you distinguish Balsa from all the others? More importantly, how will you distinguish it from KSP minus the rockets?

KSP_HarvesteR13 karma

That's a good question. There certainly are many flight sims out there already. However, there aren't all that many model aviation sims, and those are meant more as training tools than a game-like experience, and there definitely aren't any where you get to make your own aircraft.

As to how it is different from KSP, I think it already is very different in many ways, even conceptually. Actually, the part-based construction approach is probably one of the few things it has in common.


JimPalamo7 karma

As a longtime gamer, and someone involved (albeit at a very amateur level) in the gaming profession, I'm curious, what do you think are the most exciting recent technical and/or technological developments in the gaming medium going forward?

KSP_HarvesteR17 karma

Personally, I'm really excited about the possibilies of VR, but not in that general buzz-y VR-investment-pitch type of way. I'm really excited about what it can do for the flight simulation genre.

I've been a flight simmer all my life, and with flight sims, the goal is to get as much immersion as you possibly can, and VR is unparalleled at that. Now, instead of having to build yourself a homebuilt fully enclosed cockpit with a huge projection screen, you can just put on a headset and be fully immersed. It brings the dream of the home cockpit down to a level most sim players can reach (and doesn't bother other inhabitants of the house nearly as much).

I'm also really intrigued by the new hardware raytracing thing in the latest GeForce GPUs. That should bring about some really interesting things for visual effects.


Gregrox7 karma

Are there any features you wish you had been able to implement into KSP, or ones that you'd have done differently?

Are there any features, design choices, etc, that you really don't like that were made since your departure? What did you think of Making History as the game's first expansion pack?

Why wasn't planet modding a thing much earlier? We had parts modding support but it took until the Kopernicus plugin for planet modding to really take off.

Do you prefer Kerbal-related questions or would you rather have people ask about your new project?

Will BALSA be available for non-VR PCs, or VR systems other than Oculus?

And since it is "Ask Me Anything" I might as well go ahead and give the big question a go, with the understanding that it may not be answered: Just why did you leave Squad, and what did you think about working for them?

Do you need a Hype Train Driver?

KSP_HarvesteR8 karma

The features that were added after I left are pretty much all features we were already talking about even back then (as far as I know at least), so I kind of knew they would be coming at some point or another.

I have to admit I haven't tried the expansion, but I think it's a really cool addition that really rounds off the career missions system. It follows on the general principle of the game, of giving players the power to make their own content.

About planet modding, I don't think we particularly avoided making it moddable, it just never got much attention from us, and with planets and our terrain system, you really needed to have dedicated tools to create more of them.

I did feel that in a game where everything else is player-made though, that it was important for players to have a playing space that was at least somewhat static, so you have a reference point to compare you experience with others'.

About the other questions, I've gone over those a few times already in other comments, so I hope it's ok if I skip them.


sennendog7 karma

Is there anything you regret most having done/not done with KSP?

KSP_HarvesteR21 karma

Huh, interesting question, I guess I never thought about it like that.

Coding wise, regretting the things you do is pretty much the profession in a nutshell. We do things the wrong way, then we refactor and fix it again and again until it works.

In terms of design decisions, I'm actually pretty happy with how KSP turned out. It really is the game I wanted to make from the start, so I don't think I would have done it differently. In a different order, most certainly, but not a different game.


TheGreekZeus17 karma

Do you think that your new game will be just as successful or even more successful as Kerbal Space Program?

KSP_HarvesteR18 karma

I really don't know. One can dream, but honestly, I'll be happy if it does well enough that I can use the income to keep developing it and future projects.

I never really expected KSP would do as well as it did, so I'm trying to maintain that same attitude here again. I think aiming for commercial success is the surest way to make sure you'll miss it.

Like with KSP, I'm making Balsa because it's a game I want to play, and I hope others will too.


linecraftman6 karma

What was the most challenging feature to add in KSP?

KSP_HarvesteR25 karma

There were several, but I think by far the most challenging has to be the patched conics navigation system.

That was challenging not just because it was a lot of maths, it also had to be somehow displayed without overwhelming players in numbers, it had to allow you to plan any type of orbital maneuver with minimal tools, but still to be powerful enough to let you plot complex flight plans to other planets and such, and it also had to be accurate enough that we could pause the physics and keep the simulation going by the numbers alone, then return to physics seamlessly.

The fact that you don't get teleported off to some random place in space whenever you go above 5x warp is still a minor miracle to me.


newmanoz6 karma

What will be programming language for the new game?

KSP_HarvesteR12 karma

I'm building Balsa in Unity, just as KSP was, so it's built 100% in awesome C#.

And actually, Balsa runs on .NET 4x (as opposed to 3.5 in KSP), so we get to use the newer C# language features, like null?.coalescing expressions and such.


sennendog6 karma

What have u been up to since leaving ksp? Straight into the new game&venture, or rather professional training, personal development, world travel, ...?

KSP_HarvesteR19 karma

The last couple of years have been really hectic for me actually. I started Floating Origin soon after I left Squad, but I didn't start on this project until early this year. During that gap, I was designing other project ideas, but I was relying too much on support from other people, and things weren't going anywhere.

It was only when I decided to just go and make a game by myself again, like it was when we started KSP, that things started to feel like they were moving in the right direction, and working started to feel good again.


talldata5 karma

What has been the most amusing part of creating KSP?

KSP_HarvesteR14 karma

Hmm, that is between coding the Kerbals' facial expression AI and their ragdoll system.

There's something about mistreating Kerbals that is deeply satisfying


BermudaRhombus15 karma

First of all, thank you for making such a great game. KSP is one of my favorite games ever, and I doubt that that will ever change.

Now for the question, what are some of your favorite games? I'm curious if they are simulators like KSP or other things.

KSP_HarvesteR11 karma

I'm a simulator geek, definitely. I've currently been playing WT a lot (in simulator battles).

Sims of choice for me are ArmA, WT, Farming Sim 2017, IL-2 BoS, DCS.

I don't go through a lot of games though, I tend to pick up a few that I play for a very long time. For AAA games, I got into Skyrim and Fallout, then JC2 for some time. Indies I really got into Subnautica, Rimworld, and even Space Engineers for some time.

I have also tried more than once to get into Elite Dangerous, but something there doesn't sit right with me, even in VR with a full HOTAS setup. Same goes for EVE actually.

And lastly, I'm weirdly into Rocket League, even though it's nothing like anything I normally go for.


ZigTag5 karma

How much will the game cost?

KSP_HarvesteR11 karma

We are still deciding that, but it's likely it will be in the 15-20 USD range right now. Deciding on a price point is actually really difficult. Too low and you undersell your game. Too high and you don't sell the game.

Mind though that just as we did with KSP, the plan is to go on adjusting the price in increments as it becomes more developed.


FraggingMachine5 karma

What do you think about spacex?

KSP_HarvesteR18 karma

SpaceX is awesome!

Temeriki4 karma

If you could go back and do it all again is there anything you would of changed about early ksp, how it was devved and released and whatnot?
Actually I have two. What do you think of mods and ksp, did they tarnish your "vision" or does it make you happy to see so many people who have invested their time and energy to support your baby?

Also thank you so much for Ksp, its always been my gotoo game since like FOREVER. Theres been so many nights ive played util the sun came up, caught 2 hours of sleep, went to work, and came home to fire it right back up. When I finally bough an ssd it was to be able to play ksp faster.

KSP_HarvesteR14 karma

Yeah, I'd probably do a lot differently now, but that would be relying on knowledge I have now that I didn't back then. I don't think there are any decisions from back then that I think should have been made differently though.

If I could change one thing, I would probably have made a bigger effort in making sure the entire scope of the game was more apparent in the earlier versions. I think it could have been smoother going if the game had somehow made itself clearer about the direction we wanted to take it. (that is a really big somehow though)

About mods, I don't think they tarnish the vision at all really, because they are inherently an optional thing, so a mod can only change the game for players that have it installed, and those would, by necessity, have seen the game without the mod first.

I think a game can never have too many mods (well, you can have too many mods installed, but that's another problem), so I'm just happy to see the wealth of mods available for KSP.


diegzumillo4 karma

This is the first time I ever find a super interesting AMA while it's still only 76 comments long. But it seems like your link answers all my possible questions. Anyway, this project looks more like a sim than a game. KSP blended elements though, is this going to have any gamey elements to it? Any kind of progression, for example?

KSP_HarvesteR7 karma

I do plan on adding gameplay elements to Balsa, definitely, but very much like KSP, Balsa is being developed as a sandbox first, and the plan is to add gameplay-enabling elements to it over time.

The idea is to not get limited by any specific gameplay idea here though. What I want to do is add features and elements to the game that will allow players (modders, server hosts and so on) to set up their own game 'constructs', so to speak, on top of the existing simulation.


deckard584 karma

Hi Harv, early KSP donor here. Great to hear from you again.

What sort of design tools will we have to optimize the aircraft in Balsa? Will there be something similar to the FAR design tools (graphs of major aerodynamic quantites), or just basic stuff like the CoM/CoL indicators?

What will be the performance envelope? "Just" the model airplane regime, or will the engine eventually span from tiny models to microlights to fast jets?

KSP_HarvesteR5 karma

Currently we are very early in development, so design tools will be implemented incrementally as we go, and most likely will be designed based on feedback from players, so we'll prioritize what is most necessary always.

I do want to add more helper tools than just CoM/CoL markers though. I have a few ideas for a couple of tools already I really want to do actually.

What I would like to avoid is having walls of 'data' thrown at the player though. I think there's always a way to design something to show information visually, instead of just having a ton of numbers displayed.

As for the performance envelope, my goal is to make the simulation as broad and flexible as possible, so it can support anything you can imagine, be it fixed wing, rotorcraft, lighter-than-air, forcefully thrown rocks, what have you.


LupiDragon3 karma

What do you think of how Kerbal has changed since you departed?
Would you have ever dreamed of your passion project getting so big that a major publisher purchased the rights to it? That it would merit not only 3 years of post-launch updates, but console editions and an expansion pack?

KSP_HarvesteR7 karma

I never dreamed of anything remotely near those things as we were getting started, but during the development years, we did think a lot about possible expansion packs and supporting more platforms.

About being purchased by a major publisher, that I definitely didn't expect. When I was at Squad the general attitude was that we'd never sell it, so it was definitely a surprise when I heard about the Take-Two thing.


MaxMouseOCX3 karma

All I can think about when I read your name is that friends episode where they think the plane is missing a part: https://youtu.be/DrwVB4vMx-Q

How exactly do you pronounce your surname?

KSP_HarvesteR3 karma

Hah, yeah that isn't too far off. It's pronounced fah-lung-ghee, or, like Phoebe says it, but with a hard g


Noname117Spore3 karma

What are your thoughts on the current KSP solar system? Is it good just going out to Jool (alright, Eeloo), or should it have gone out further?

And what would your vision for a stock outer solar system have been, if it was ever implemented? Or did you have one?

EDIT: Also, what were some of the most surprising things you saw people build in stock from any point during KSP’s development?

KSP_HarvesteR7 karma

I did have ideas for additional planets. I wanted to have a Saturn analogue with rings and a bunch more moons at some point, but that was the extent of my ideas for the Kerbol system. Anything beyond that would be so far away, we'd start defeating the purpose of the scaled down solar system.

I also had once thought about the notion of expanding the scaled-subscene concept (where the map view was a miniature version of the real world), adding another layer for interstellar space. That would have required something like a warp drive to be accessible though, and I didn't want to add anything too far away from existing space tech to the game.


5antiago3 karma

Hi, do you know any books or other materials helpful when porting orbital mechanics over to code?

KSP_HarvesteR7 karma

Hmm good question. Most of the materials I used were just off of Wikipedia, physicsforums.com, the Orbiter community, and generally just Googling around actually.


Drorta3 karma

First of all, thank you for a great game.

Did you manage to monetize the KSP success in such a way that you would consider yourself set for life? What advice do you have for starting developers on monetization for their projects?

KSP_HarvesteR9 karma

I definitely can't say I'm set for life... However, KSP did give me the opportunity to start other projects by myself which is way more than I could have hoped.

As for advice, I think it's really important, especially if you're developing your game while employed somewhere, to be very clear on what you can expect to get in return from your efforts. Technically, if you make something while working for a company, the company owns your work, so unless you have an agreement in place, they don't need to give you anything more.


GISP3 karma

What a fantastic idea to make em model planes, so the game world/plane scale can fit in a smaller space, and range can be limited to the power of the radios. I can see 100s of problems "fixed" and justifications to do or dont do things with making it model planes.
Will you be porting over all the physics from KSP?(That no doubt got improved upon many times over the years).
Can you build model rockets?
Can you fly as a kerbal?

KSP_HarvesteR2 karma

Thanks, yeah, I wanted to have a game concept that could be done by as small a team as possible, and model aviation 'solves' a lot of problems just by its very nature.

As for your questions, I'm not porting anything from KSP, even if I could, there's to many fundamental differences between the two to make anything be reusable. I'm developing this one from scratch.

Playing with model rockets is definitely something I would like to add at some point. That, and as many other types of model vehicles as I can actually.

There aren't any kerbals in Balsa, but you actually can place action figures into your model cockpits, and doing that lets you enter FPV perspective.


MaxiTB3 karma

How do you feel about modding in general and should every game try to be open to be improved / expanded by the community ?

KSP_HarvesteR10 karma

I started with game development making addons for MS Flight Sim and skins for the first The Sims. Modding to me is an absolute must-have in any game of mine.

Now, that isn't to say every imaginable game should be moddable... there are genres that don't really work with modding much, like Adventure games or anything that is too heavily story driven.

I'd probably say then that I think every game that could be modded, should support it.


AndrewIsANerd3 karma

Thank you so much for creating Ksp, it has inspired me to look into an areospace career and honesty has changed my life. But do you agree with the direction the game has been heading lately? With paid dlc over needed updates and all of the changes that have been made.

KSP_HarvesteR8 karma

I think paid DLC is an unavoidable thing for any game that wants to keep growing post-release. You have to keep the lights on somehow.

As for needed updates and changes, I'm afraid I haven't been following development that closely anymore, so I can't really comment much there.


Krux1722 karma

What are your expectations for the success of this game, being in such a niche market (VR)?

KSP_HarvesteR7 karma

That is the question I think all VR devs are asking of their own games, and to be honest, I'm not sure what to expect.

Obviously, I hope it will do well, but I'm already planning to expand support to non-VR in any case.


random11112 karma

Hi Felipe,

The website shows the new game available soon on Oculus. Is there going to be a non-VR version?

Also- thanks for making KSP. I was really into aeronautics and space as a kid so the game was a great way to be a kid again. Please keep doing what you're doing. KSP and the overall design and feel reminds me of early Sid Meiers type games, something that usually gets lost in the mix from big AAA publishers these days.

KSP_HarvesteR3 karma

There is going to be a non-VR version. The game is actually designed to support many different control methods (in and out of VR), but to get to the first release we wanted to keep the scope narrow.

And thanks! That's quite a compliment. :)


Poddster1 karma

The editor looks very similar to the KSP one. Was it quicker to make this one Vs the KSP one, as you already had direct experience in it?

intact the same could be asked of the entire game. Was it a faster development process than KSP?

KSP_HarvesteR2 karma

It definitely was quicker to put together, now that I know the solutions to the problems that will come up... Although that's not to say I didn't find an entirely new set of problems.

The editor workflow is similar, but under the hood, the implementation is completely new. Also, in VR, there were other challenges that needed to be solved, like for instance, how you can't just move the camera around, because it's attached to the player's head, and moving the viewpoint in VR like that can cause a lot of motion sickness.

In the video you can see that instead of having a camera that orbits your vehicle, the vehicle sits in a movable build area, which you can manipulate using your VR hands. That was the solution I came up with to let you build without having to move the viewpoint around and cause players to vomit.

As for the rest of the game, I'd say that yes, it was definitely faster to get to this point than it was with KSP. I started working on Balsa in January this year, so we're nine months into development now. KSP at month nine was, well, have a look