The career mode, available since version 0.22 is the next mode after the sandbox mode in the start game menu and is still in development. Currently it makes heavy use of the new Research and Development (R&D) center which features the technology tree.
To play career mode the player first builds a rocket in the VAB or the SPH with just a few available parts. Then optionally save the vehicle and launch it. While it is airborne, meaning a player's first rocket may not achieve space, do an item of research or just collect the crew report. Transmit the data back to the space center or save it until the vehicle is recovered after the flight. Repeating this process will gain the player points in science. Once the player has enough points for a specific area of research they can go to the R&D center to conduct the research. Completion of a branch of research on the technology tree unlocks several parts related to that branch and the process starts again, with bigger and hopefully better rockets. Each step on a branch is referred to as a node and takes significantly more science points than the node before it. It is not necessary to research in a specific order, but several nodes require other nodes from one or more branches. See the Tech tree for the full list.
The first mission with only the Start node researched can be a ground-based mission by creating a rocket that consists of only a capsule and no engine. This is similar to the early Apollo missions, which one of them was the infamous Apollo 1 fire. From the launch pad the following reports can be created to gather research:
- A crew report
- EVA Report
- Surface Sample from the Launch Pad
- Successful vessel recovery
This first mission will grant enough research points to acquire the separation stage needed to create rockets that can enter space, and return a capsule safely to the ground. Kerbin offers a lot research opportunities to help gather knowledge to stretch further out into the Kerbol System. Although, the further away from home craft travel, the more beneficial the research they obtain will be.
Possible future features
Money and Stock
- The Career mode will add limited money, with parts costing the amount shown.
- There will be a limited amount of parts in stock. It has been said that if the parts land safely, they can be reused.
- It is planned that if a part of KSC is damaged, repairing it will cost money.
During a development chat, one of the devs said that things have to be "discovered" with a telescope or probe to find out information about it. For example, if a craft were going to Jool, and looked in Map View, it would look like a giant green sphere unless a probe had already been send there with cameras and scientific instruments. Cameras will be added to the game in a further update.