Welcome to this months Player Spotlight! This is a monthly feature of Q&A interviews which highlight interesting Kerbal Space Program players. We will be featuring people with many different skills and life experiences such as modders, artists, streamers, teachers, engineers, and more. We started this project as an appreciation to our players and to highlight the diverse and inspirational crowd that has gathered around Kerbal Space Program.
This month we are featuring Timmon26, an artist from the forum! They recently participated in our community collaboration for the Kerbal Space Program's 11th anniversary.
Now in their own words:
Tell us a bit about yourself?
- My name's Matt and I'm a graphic designer and illustrator, working in the field of accessibility. When I'm not addicted to refreshing my browser for SpaceX Starship and KSP2 updates, I like to draw things, sometimes kerbals, sometimes other funny aliens for my Life on Lapat project.
When and how did you first get into KSP and what was it about the game that appealed to you?
- I discovered KSP all the way back in 2011, I think when the very first version was made available for download, on a spaceflight video game forum. Even though there were maybe only five parts back then, I became totally obsessed with the game and, being in art school at the time, started drawing fan art for the game and posting it to the forums. What made the game appealing to me was just how intuitive and educational it was about teaching orbital mechanics and spaceflight principles. I'd read most of Atomic Rockets before discovering KSP, but never really grokked any of it until I could experiment in real time with different ship designs and flight paths.
What is your most memorable accomplishment/in-game moment?
- My proudest KSP moment was rescuing Bob and Frodo (who was naturally the bravestest of my kerbals) from the Mun. I burned too much fuel landing their reusable rover and couldn't make it back to orbit. My other kerbals were on missions and couldn't help them, so they were on their own.
This was just after "Some Reassembly Required" had been released, so I had the bright idea of having Frodo strip the lander of excess weight, Mark Watney style, but it still wasn't enough. Finally I sent the boys a probe with fuel tanks that Frodo bolted onto the stranded rover, giving it the dV to return to orbit.
Felt like some kinda genius, but really it's a testament to KSP's incredible gameplay emergence that creative problem solving like that is even possible.
What inspired you to start creating KSP art?
- I was inspired to create KSP art by my love of space and spaceflight, but especially by the kerbals themselves. They have so much potential for humor, both lighthearted and incredibly dark, and somehow marry that with a sense of wonder and curiosity about their world that's just infectious. They're at some magic triple-point between Minions, Irkens, and Thermians, truly Baby-Yoda-level genius creations, that do so much to humanize what would otherwise be a very sterile game. All of the player's efforts in KSP, all of the design work, the testing, the contracts and part research, the unintentional learning about advanced spaceflight concepts, ultimately is all in the service of helping your little green buddies go to space today, and that emotionally grounds every action you take in the game, no matter how mundane or mechanical. KSP owes so much of its success as a game and as a community to the kerbals. I think it's incredible that such a simple character design can bring so many people together around such an important topic. How can you not love these little guys? How could I not draw pictures of them?
What is the most valuable thing KSP has taught you?
- The most valuable thing KSP has taught me is that there is no subject that can't be taught. Rocket science is idiomatically "hard to understand", but anyone can begin picking up basic and even complex physics concepts if they are given the tools to manipulate them in a state of play. Dropped into a virtual world where delta-V, TwR, and Isp matter, and given a reason to explore it, anyone will begin to intuit these concepts the same way they can intuit where to place their hand to catch a ball. Questions like, "Why do rockets fall apart as they go up?" or "Why can't we just throw our garbage into the Sun?" or "Why did we go back to capsules after the Shuttle?" go from confusing to obvious after a few hours tinkering in KSP. I'll bet there are many other "hard to understand" subjects that can be taught using games in a similar way.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
- The best advice I can give to aspiring artists, advice I consistently fail to follow myself, is don't ever start thinking you're not good enough. You will always be your own worst critic. If you listen too hard to that worst critic, they can be enough to discourage you from making art entirely. It might be a cliche at this point, but the "Two Cakes" meme really does have the right of it...
I repeat that meme to myself occasionally, like a mantra.
If you have an interesting KSP experience or want to share your work on KSP, please reach out to us!
-The KSP Team