Kerbal Space Program 2's creative director discusses carrying on KSP's legacy

For the tenth anniversary of Kerbal Space Program and for the Summer of Doing Our Jobs, Shacknews catches up with KSP 2 Creative Director Nate Simpson and talks about continuing the legacy of the series.


Today is a day of celebration among the various teams that have worked on the Kerbal Space Program franchise. The series is celebrating its tenth anniversary. While Squad has done a bulk of the work over the past decade and is continuing on the series just a little bit longer, the time is quickly approaching where the team will pass the torch to a new crew of eager developers. Intercept Games is taking this responsibility of continuing Squad's mission very seriously and to learn more about it, we had a chance to talk to Creative Director Nate Simpson, as part of Shacknews' Summer of Doing Our Jobs.

It's no secret that KSP 2 has had some bumps in the road over the course of its development. Original developer Star Theory ultimately didn't pan out and just as Intercept Games grabbed the baton, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and set development back significantly. We asked Simpson about the pandemic setbacks, the features that are being implemented in KSP 2, and what it means to carry on the educational legacy left by Squad. Specifically, Simpson addressed the new game's mission of exploring beyond the known cosmos and how the team is reconciling that with KSP's tradition of staying within the bounds of real world space exploration.

"A big part of it is working closely with subject matter experts and it does get challenging when you're moving into technologies or concepts that are... not speculative, but certainly aspirational," Simpson told Shacknews. "We actually had to lay out a set of ground rules when we started working on the game, as far as what technologies were and were not in bounds for the product. You know, warp drives were out of bounds. There's nothing that resembles magic technology. Whatever we bring into the game has to be rooted in real science. There needs to be at least the possibility of us achieving this in the relatively near future and it needs to be something we could tell a story about that's informative."

On top of that, there's one other major component of the KSP experience: failure. KSP players fail a lot, whether it's incompatible parts not coming together or a space launch ending in total disaster. Simpson discussed the importance of failure to the KSP series.

"One of the key lessons of Kerbal Space Program always has been and continues to be, 'You must fail to succeed,'" Simpson said. "That adage, 'Failure is not an option,' [is] totally the opposite of the reality of space exploration. Failure is absolutely mandatory in order to ever achieve anything in space exploration. So we want to celebrate failure and part of the way that we do that is [to] make sure that the player has access to the information that they need, that they can get something out of every failure, as opposed to just feeling stuck and like there's just some inexplicable random thing that's going wrong."

Kerbal Space Program 2 will still need some more time in the oven, but Simpson, Intercept, and publisher Private Division are optimistic that the game will release in 2022. If you want to check out more interviews like this one, subscribe to Shacknews and GamerHubTV on YouTube. Follow Shacknews in the months ahead, as we continue bringing you more of the Summer of Doing Our Jobs.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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