[MUSIC] The pressure of the first big game you’re working on all of the sudden it’s a thing that’s like you really can’t talk about it to anyone. I was coming to work with butterflies each day. [Exhales]
This has been by far the biggest thing I’ve worked on. I try not to let it go to my head and try not to get too in the clouds about it. My parents have wondered what I have been working on for the longest time. It’s always like two questions that come out. One, are you still employed? And two, can you tell me what you’re working on? My brother’s a big fan, so this is a big secret I had to keep from him.
[Laughs] I don’t even know what to say, hey look, I’m working on KSP 2. You don’t, in general, get an opportunity to work on something that has been at the center of your consciousness or something you feel genuine desire to work on. And from that perspective, this opportunity is very hard for me to process even now. For me, I’ve always had a space fascination, so the idea of working on this game really really speaks to me because I can go there and do these things that I couldn’t before. I’m an explorer at heart. This is a game that merely gives you toys to play with and an infinite playground in which to play with them. And the things you create, the problems that you solve, they can be as challenging as you want them to be. I haven’t yet found the upper limit of what you can do even in the original game. And we’re expanding it times a thousand. KSP has always been a fascinating game to me. There are very few games that have been able to take science and turn it into something that’s truly fun. There is nothing like Kerbal Space Program. That first moon landing I got, when I actually achieved it and designed a rocket that could do it under my own power, there was a sense of achievement and satisfaction that I had never gotten anywhere else. My experience with the game was after playing it for a little while, I accidentally learned a lot about physics and about orbital mechanics and the history of rocketry, and about the way rockets work. And I learned it all by accident. We’re building a platform. We want to make sure that really everything that we do, the community’s able to do. I’ve always been a fan of developers that share their process and interact with the community have forums, have Reddit posts and Kerbal Space Program has consistently, over the last eight years, been responsive to community feedback, and gone back and forth with them on designing things. That’s the reason why I’m in this industry. I wouldn’t have become a game developer if it wasn’t for developers inspiring me and sharing their experiences and their work. In the beginning, there were two guys. It was sort of an experiment. Back then, we worked on every new release thinking it may be the last. We had no idea it would explode the way it did. When someone in the community said this was the best game ever made, that means a lot for us. We’re just trying to keep going and trying to make it even better. The community’s very strong. They know everything about the game. Every part of the game is done thanks to the community. They always surprise us with the things they come up with – what we give to them and what they give back to us. Its so big and so important. I mean the community lives it, and feels it, and loves it. Half of the fun about Kerbal is failing. When you start playing KSP, you will most likely crash the first time. You will learn through failing, but each time you will get a bit further and further away. And there’s always this great reward that is you being able to do something by yourself without anyone teaching you. Kerbal Space Program is one of the most scientifically motivated games in history. It’s a game that attempts to simulate essentially, NASA. So Nate’s asking me questions like we were at a conference together, so you know I go to conferences to learn about the details of the formation and the evolution of planetary systems, and what are the limits of the future space telescopes of the things we’re going to build. And he’s asking me, “Oh, how come these types of planets form this far out and those don’t?” and “How close can planets actually orbit together? How is their composition affected by title distortion?” These are questions you need to run large scale simulations to figure out the answers to and we still don’t know astrophysically we’re trying to observe these things. So, he’s exactly the right person to lead an effort to take something realistic to something fun. We’ve had quite some arguments over email about how close can these planets be together, is that crater really physical, can a methane lake really exist at that distance from a star all those kinds of stuff. And I kind of want to know why he’s asking these questions. Can a gas giant theoretically be stripped down to its core by a stellar event of any kind? Do they even have a core? So there is a story that we can tell around high speed oblique collision recent, so there hasn’t been an opportunity for this lava to cool. Normal stars in the main sequence, have a specific temperature and brightness, and we believe from observations, essentially those two are locked together – they’re co-dependent. I mean that was a light bulb moment right? There’s something I’ve never seen in popular media. Have you? A big ring system? Well no, the notion that a young star system might be full of ringed planets. I’ve never heard that in my entire life. People barely talk about young star systems at all. The importance of Kerbal Space Program is that it’s more than just a game. It is the ability to learn and to really grow as a person that allows you to appreciate this universe that we’re in and the world around us. When I was thinking back to my first experience with Kerbal Space Program, the thing that I think of appealed to me most about the experience, and I didn’t realize it at the time, was that it’s inherently optimistic that you’re creating something from nothing. You’re creating a space program. You’re essentially, in our game, creating a civilization that spans multiple solar systems. And I can’t think of anything else that’s that optimistic right now in popular culture. KSP 1 is the exploration of our nascent space program up to modern day. And KSP 2 explores the near-ish future of what this could be. Doctor Robert Zubrin talks about how we view the year 1492. Theres a bunch of stuff that happened that year, but we only remember one thing that happened that year because it had immense material impact on our current lives. And I think that’s probably more true of the people who are advancing space exploration right now. We’re going to be naming landmarks after the people who are currently advancing that quest. We’re in a golden age of astrophysics and space astrophysics in particular. As flagship missions get bigger and bigger and more and more ambitious, are we going to be able to do the next generation of them? It’ll be even bigger and more ambitious. Where is the limit? [MUSIC]