Revert a KSP Save Game to Original Career Mode

On July 17, 2014 Squad released Kerbal Space Program: First Contract. This is the long anticipated career mode for KSP. This update added and entire new reality to KSP; one that is more unforgiving than the orbital mechanics the game replicates for us Earth-bound Kerbalnauts: money. Without money space exploration doesn’t happen. To learn all about this update to an already great game just follow the link I provided in the first sentence of this post. The update is awesomely stellar. HA! 😛

But the update also created a problem. You see, I’ve already put nearly 300 hours into KSP. I have done the missions and earned the science to unlock every technology in the game. I still have ongoing missions in fact. But when I checked in with the Kerbal Control Center, I discovered a horrible truth. I had no money (okay, 10,000 is some money but you can barely get Jebediah to orbit with that amount 😦 .) I could not launch anything because my save game was converted to a First Contract career mode game automatically. That doesn’t work at all. I’d either have to start all over, or cheat.

I don’t cheat. What’s the point of playing a game if you have to cheat? Okay, some consider MechJeb a cheat, but I don’t. It is a tool, nothing more. You still have to make all the decisions. Cheating is when you artificially give yourself trillions in funds so you can continue to launch rockets without having earned them. I earned the rockets. I just couldn’t convince myself I’d earned the money, because I hadn’t. I’d earned the science, but money didn’t exist in the utopia that was Kerbin society prior to First Contract. I wanted to just go back to those simpler days.

Fortunately there is a way!

KSP is extremely moddable. Is that even a word? WHO CARES! There are literally thousands of mods for the game. All these mods are possible because the game tracks data via simple text files. Text files with structure. Text files you can alter without destroying the game. That includes your save game file.

The save game files are located under \saves in the Kerbal Space Program directory of your computer. I got KSP through Steam, so the install folder is under my \steamapps\common folder. Yours may be different. Just look in the games shortcut properties to figure out where your install folder is located. Once you get into \saves, you will see a folder for each game you’ve started. Look in the appropriate folder for the save game you wish to revert. It will be named persistent.sfs. MAKE A COPY OF IT JUST TO BE SAFE. Seriously, don’t play with fire or you risk losing everything you’ve already accomplished. Once you have a good copy, open the original in a text editor (Notepad works great.)

The beginning of a modified pre First Contract save game will look like this:

GAME
{
          version = 0.23.5
          Title = Mabrick (CAREER)
          Description = No description available.
          linkURL =
          linkCaption =
          Mode = CAREER
          Status = 1
          scene = 5
          flag = Squad/Flags/kerbinmunflag

Mode may be equal to 1. It appears to mean the same thing as CAREER. The first thing you do to convert your save file back to a pre First Contact state is to change the two occurrences of CAREER (highlighted) to SCIENCE_SANDBOX. SCIENCE_SANDBOX is the mode that replicates KSP’s previous career mode. The other Mode option is SANDBOX. That gives you all technologies without making you earn them. Start a new game if you want to go that route. It’s less like cheating. 😉 Don’t worry about the version number as this will automatically update when you open the saved game in KSP.

But wait! You are not done. If you’ve done as much in KSP as I have, below this header section are pages and pages of other information. There are many different sections. There are sections titled PARAMETERS, SCENARIO, FLIGHTSTATE, ROSTER and MESSAGESYSTEM, and more sub-sections than I care to list. However, you will need to find several specific SCENARIO sub-sections so get your CTRL-F (or whatever shortcut to search you have) and get ready.

Search for the term “Funding” in your save file. You should locate a SCENARIO that looks like this:

	SCENARIO
	{
		name = Funding
		scene = 7, 8, 5, 6, 9
		funds = 10000
	}

Comment this entire section out by placing a comma in front of every line, including any leading spaces. Now do the same thing for the SCENARIO sub sections named “ContractSystem”, “VesselRecovery” and “Reputation”. The “ContractSystem” section my be quite large; mine was. Just stick with it and put a comma in front of every line. It’s a pain, but the commas are a safeguard to keep you from deleting anything you shouldn’t by accident. Once you are done with all the commas, save the file.

Now you can open the save game in KSP and it will be using the old career mode. You need to go into your tech tree at this point and make certain to repurchase any technology that is not active. Most of my RCS thrusters were unavailable because the items were changed in the update. This is the same as happens when you add any mod to the game that comes with new tech that is in a group you’ve already researched. You need to go back to that group and activate the new equipment. Once that is done, you should be able to launch any rocket you’ve saved without being told you have insufficient funds. Enjoy!

Oh, one more thing. If you go look at the save file after you close the game, you will see all the sections you commented out are now gone. The game evidently removes “junk” lines in the file. So deleting those sections would work too. Nevertheless, it is far safer to allow the game to do this than to do it yourself and risk corruption. Right? Well, I think so. YMMV.