I do not know whether it's possible or not to add a new milestone (and if not a milestone, at least a prestige-worthy thing), but I wonder if adding an Orbit Rendevous to RIS wouldn't be interesting. With Rendevous I mean getting two manned spacecraft close to each other WITHOUT an actual docking attempt. I think the Soviets did it with Vostok and the US with Gemeni 6/7 (please correct me, if I'm wrong, as that's from the top of my head!). For both, getting two spacecraft close to each other seemed an important step towards docking.
If it's not a milestone per se, it could either be a useful boost of prestige or maybe add 10% to the docking-%. Of course, we'd have to be careful that you cannot get docking safety to the 93% max by just doing rendevous. I see two possibilities: either allowing only for one successful attempt to have a docking-safety bonus, so every attempt after the first one is basically senseless (similar to what they must have thought in the 60s). Or it could be that the rendevous-bonus only can get docking safety to a max of 55% or 60%. 55% would be interesting, because one attempt gets you 10% - which is great, but the next one doesn't seem really worth it, because you risk two crews for the same 5% that you can get with less risk.
If anything, this would add some sense to the joint manned missions! I've never flown a lot of JT missions, but this would be a way to make this more important in the game. And I think it would add a lot of strategic depth to the game:
Do you try it with Mercury/Vostok? Seems risky, but could be cool if the other got EVA or Duration B with his 1-man capsule and you really need to show off something to get your budget up again. Risking two crews in a JT mission is risking a lot, given the safety of 1-man capsules, but it actually might be worth a try, if the other one got ahead and you are either desperate or just like to risk it anyway.
And you might use it in an early two-man capsule project.
My personal preference would be that a docking attempt without a prior successful manned rendevous would get a penalty, but I'd like to hear your opinion on this. If others don't like it, maybe it would be possible to switch it on and off in the config file?
I just want to add: adding a rendevous milestone would also encourage flying more missions with the 1-man capsule progams. I think most of us tend to fly one (manned orbital) or two (duration B + EVA) 1-capsule missions, while historically both sides flew a lot more. Unlike in RIS, the US were somehow restrained to do two sub-orbitals because they lacked a better booster early on, but even the Soviets, having skipped sub-orbitals, flew a lot more Vostok missions - something that every BARIS/RIS veteran would surely not recommend!
Putting another milestone into the early game stage might encourage players to fly two more 1-man-capsule missions, just to be sure to have these things done early in the game. Furthermore, it adds a little variety to the early game stage, which I right now is pretty static, because there is more or less one way to do it right (depending on what strategy you choose to go to the moon, I think most of us fly two Mercury/Vostok missions).
Ah, and I looked it up: the Soviets did it both with the Vostok 3 and 4, as well as during the 5 and 6 missions.
I isn't easy to add missions or new prestige.
The think that could be done is modifying Orbiting Lab mission so that it doesn't have duration and docking (it would just be launch, launch, orbital activities, re-entry, re-entry basically) and make it possible to be flown with mercury/vostok and make that the prestige first gives you 10% for the docking module and the prestige second 5%
Of course, the name would have to be changed, at it would remove the orbiting lab mission from the game (but who has ever flown one). I think it could be possible to make it an advanced option, but i don't know how would savegames would be affected if you are constantly turn it in on and off.
What do you think?
The missions were created with the idea we'd someday have a mission builder. If you can decipher the letter codes, failure offset jumps it wouldn't be too difficult to add missions, new steps and videos. I think new spline paths would need to be figured out for the future missions display bubbles as well. We added and removed several during the original development.
Okay, I will try to take a look at the code and see what's going on. If I can figure it out I'll play around with the Orbital Lab mission and see what comes from it.
Ok, I watched through the code on RIS.org, but I still have difficulties to find the right place to try and look whether the MOL mission can be converted into a rendezvous mission. Does anybody have a hint?
I hate to see the MOL done away with, even if no one uses it. I do like the idea of an Earth Orbital Rendezvous mission like you describe-it's in my semiofficial Enhancement Requests list. So is another idea to give more purpose to the 1-person capsule (esp. if we remove its EVA capability): a "Science Orbital" or "Medical Orbital" mission that would stand in for the Mercury and Vostok flights that followed the first orbitals. The idea is that this one would have a focus on gathering data on humans surviving in space. It could be worth, say, 3 points (maybe 2 for a prestige 2nd), and-more important-it could be made a milestone for EVA: so EVA missions would face a milestone penalty if this mission hadn't been flown.
Ah sorry, I hadn't checked if it was on your (quite extensive!) list!
As far as the Medical Orbital mission is concerned: I always thought that's what duration missions essentially are. Or what would be the difference?
No, I think that probably is what they are. I was just fishing for ideas for something else we can do with the Mercury/Vostok besides Orbital and Duration B, and a medical/science mission would make a handy milestone step before EVA can be attempted. That was my thinking-programming such a thing wouldn't be so easy as thinking it up, of course.