Hehe...cool stuff, and glad people are getting some enjoyment out of it :)
I was rather nervous that this thing wouldn't go over well, so it's very gratifying to see that others dig what I'm doing here.
With regards to overheat staging: there's really no need for it in the first couple of levels, and hopefully I'll be able to take care of that in the future through economy or what have you.
The first couple of tech levels are meant more as a tutorial as to what makes for an effective launch. How there's a balance to be struck between power, weight, and velocity. I think you guys might actually be surprised to see what happens if you drop a single thruster under a probe core and just go with that.
Here's the last rocket I used to get past tech 2:
Pretty straight forward, no need for explosive staging or other craziness, and it even somewhat resembles a real rocket. As you can see in the staging diagram, the side boosters fire in pairs initially, followed by the center column. No stages are separated at any point.
Really, I kind of mean the first couple of tech levels as somewhat of an intro to what makes rockets fly in KSP, as I see soooooo many rocket designs on the KSP forums that seem to indicate people are totally oblivious to what actually gets them in the air.
This is the part I was saying in the other thread about me thinking this mod might actually serve as a better intro for new players to KSP. You really don't have much to worry about at start here. You can't even control your rocket's orientation or throttle. All you have to do is focus on getting your rocket as high as possible by designing it in a somewhat reasonable manner and keeping it balanced so that it doesn't go into a death spiral. Once I proceed further with this, I may include some pop ups or something at the early tech levels to provide hints on what it is you're trying to achieve and a few hints on how to get there. Anyways, my hope is that by so severely restricting players at start they'll be encouraged to really learn the basics of KSP rocketry so that they'll carry that over into their future play instead of just always being stuck in the "more boosters" design paradigm.
Eventually what I'm thinking of doing, is that instead of providing stock parts at start and potentially going crazy modifying their parameters, I might either add in my own parts, or try to find a friendly part pack author that wouldn't mind me modifying the values on some of theirs to make them low tech versions of stock parts. I'd actually like there to be a bit more progression there where just hitting the upper atmosphere is an accomplishment in the first tech level, and I think I'd actually prefer the once you complete the tech tree, the stock parts have unmodified values from vanilla so that you're building the same kind of rockets in BTSM as everyone else is building in vanilla (or with whatever other mods are required at that point).
For now though, I'm just focused on the gameplay progression itself. That kind of polish can come later if I decide I want to keep expanding on this.
As for the biomes: they're actually really big and evident from orbit once you get a basic understanding of them, and I'm trying to balance the progression so that you really don't have to find them all in order to proceed. Not sure what I can really do beyond that as the nature of the science system kinda lends itself to the idea that you don't really know what's out there until you discover it yourself.
One thing I'll definitely be doing though is modifying the Gravioli detector's part description to give a better indication of how it is used in the mod. I only decided to get into modifying descriptions later in the tech tree and you'll notice that incrementally more parts in tech levels 3, 4, & 5 have custom descriptions as I became more habituated to doing that.
Anyways, all around happiness. Like I said above, very glad that others are getting some enjoyment out of this :)