Tag Archives: ksp

All the things from September until January

After coming home from Italy, the PlayStation 4 took over the spot of my old and beloved PlayStation 3 in the living room (but we sold it for good money, so now someone else is still happy with it), and I enjoyed quite a few evenings playing with FIFA 15. (I also got Destiny for free, but I lost interest in that extremely quickly…) Since then, I won everything with Liverpool, playing maybe even better than they actually did last spring. And although I am a Liverpool supporter since something like 1998 (back then I really liked Owen on the World Cup, and as I figured he played for Liverpool, I chose them), this past season made me even pay for an official membership :) Then Suarez bit out a piece of our heart and left, but luckily the team is back in winning form after a miserable autumn by now, so all is good. I especially like Coutinho these days, but the team is filled with young talents, so the future seems bright. Anyway, probably none of you is interested in this, so…

In October I went to La Palma to be the support astronomer of our Master students at the Mercator Telescope. It’s not only a teaching duty for me, but something I really like to do. I have now 89 nights behind my back at this telescope, so I am sure I can say I am a Mercator-expert! Being at the telescope also meant playing a lot of Kerbal Space Program (if I had more time I would totally write another review of this game), and watching the LEGO movie again. (Everything is awesome!!!)

In the beginning of November we spent a long weekend in Spa, but not in the spa. We went hiking (Day 1 and Day 2) during the day through the beautiful forest and the swampy grasslands of the Fens, and then went for nice dinners (sushi, burgers, and local specialities) in the city on the evenings. It was a great weekend. And even though I accidentally booked the tickets to Interstellar also for the very same weekend, we got to see it at another time. And another one. What a great movie! Not much later we had a delicious brunch in Leuven at Zoff (which was still a present for my PhD). Then already almost in the middle of November we went to Villers-la-Ville to visit the ruin abbey, and since it was something like 20°C, we had a nice time walking around and taking pictures.

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In December – as usual – we went to Budapest. We finally managed to check out the restored Várkert Bazár, we had a very nice thunderstorm-lit dinner in Zona (and lots of kürtőskalács), and also spent some lazy days (filled with presents and eating) at my parents’.

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Then from the moment we arrived back to Belgium till the very end of January (except for New Year’s Eve, which we spent watching movies, and eating great Asian food and equally good unhealthy snacks), most of our evenings and weekends were devoted to Dragon Age: Inquisition. It was the PS4 game I bought especially because I thought Clio would maybe like watching it, while I was not even sure I would like it, but then, from the first moments until the end credits 95 hours later, we could barely stop playing with it (even Clio started her own story, but then she said watching it was better). It was the game of the year for me (and for other people too), no doubt. I even have a few videos on YouTube about killing the dragons! It was so good, that I almost forgot that we had also completed 50% of Far Cry 4 before that. But the other half is still waiting for me to finish…

In the meantime I also kept going to my Dutch classes, since even though I don’t really like spending my evenings there, it is very useful. On Level 3 I got 84%, and I can talk with Clio quite well in Dutch. (Her Hungarian is also getting better and better, especially given how much more difficult that is. She is surprisingly good!)

The post will be updated with pictures in 48 hours.

Fly me to the Mün (a Kerbal Space Program “review”)

I believe that grown ups can be gamers. I do not remember if I have ever written about this topic on this blog, but you might know anyway, that I spend quite some time in front of the PlayStation playing the actual FIFA series in my free time. In this post however, I will talk about something else. I stumbled upon Kerbal Space Program roughly two months ago, and I fell in love with it almost immediately. The game is still in development phase (version 0.21), with updates coming out roughly every two months. Since at this point it lacks carrier mode or missions, you need to figure out yourself what to do, but the main goal is running the space program of the Kerbals, who live on planet Kerbin in the Kerbol System. There are many stock parts available (and an overwhelming amount of community maintained add-ons) to build rockets, landers, rovers, probes, etc. But be careful with your design, because you really need to get your rocket science done correctly (definitely have the cheat sheet nearby, but I think without reading through and following a few tutorials, you will end up crashing your keyboard in madness), since the game is build on a quite realistic physics engine (although aerodynamic drag is not modelled too well so far). You will learn many things about orbital mechanics and actual rocket science while playing (thrust-to-weight ratios, rocket equations, deltaV values, using the navball, orbital manoeuvres, rendezvous and docking, interplanetary travel, aerobraking, and so on). And you are always in control, there is no autopilot. You control the thrusters, the staging, different parts, everything! But instead of going into any further details (which you can anyway look up on-line), let me walk you through my most advanced mission so far. It took at least 3 hours to design, build (using 167 parts), and test, and another 3 hours to fly the mission… (Yeah, long, lonely observing nights… I warn you, do not start playing this if you have only one hour to spare…) I present you Orion-2, a slightly altered Apollo-style mission to the Mün with three Kerbals on board. (Orion-1 was a similar mission, but without a buggy.)

Orion-2 sits on the launch pad, and for clarity I have labelled the different parts. The weather is optimal, there is some wind from the west, but the sky is clear, and lift-off is in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four… [The game is available for PC, Mac, and Linux, and although the graphics are on purpose a bit cartoony, the following screenshots were taken at display settings which are far from maximal, so on a better computer, things look even much nicer - terrain quality is higher, textures are more detailed, shadows and lighting are better, etc.]

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