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Lets Play / Scott Manley

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Scott Manley (born 31 December 1972) is a Scottish-American engineer (described on his YouTube channel as "Astronomer! Scotsman! Hacker! Gamer! DJ!") who creates Let's Play videos and others, mainly for EVE Online and Kerbal Space Program. The first was his breakthrough; having seen that there was no "Absolute beginners guide to EVE Online", he created one. But it was the second that made his name, becoming the Fandom VIP for Kerbal Space Program. His interest in space games comes out of a wider interest in space and spaceflight, being educated in physics, astronomy and computational physics, which is apparent in his commentary. After a few years of space games and Kerbal fun, his channel mostly pivoted to astronomy and spaceflight news, history and other matters, sometimes still streaming games. Notably, being a video creator is not his living so he can release videos as he pleases. (The day job is software engineering; through the acquisition of his previous employer, he works for Apple.)


Thanks to the reputation built by his channel, Anne McCaffrey consulted with Manley on the effects of asteroid impacts while writing The Skies of Pern, determining the orbit of a fictional rogue comet and providing advice on how the event should be portrayed, and he is credited as a consultant on the Netflix movie Stowaway. Director Joe Penna said Manley would go beyond the immediate needs of the script and 'did the math so it would be ready'.


Tropes found in Scott Manley's videos:

  • Action Girl: Not Scott himself, but during his Xenonauts play through he wound up with a solid core of high ranking, skilled female characters. Not quite to Amazon Brigade level, but close on a couple of missions.
  • Base on Wheels: The roving laboratory in his "Eve or Bust" series.
  • Big "NO!": Let's out a couple of these at various points when losing characters in his Xenonauts play through.
  • Black Comedy: Some of his offhand remarks have a rather grim tone to them, such as his declaration in episode 23 of Interstellar Quest that he will not pollute space by leaving a remote drone in orbit, instead choosing to pollute Kerbin with the monopropellant and various metals that "will rain to earth and...probably land in some children's playground somewhere"
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Hullo, Scott Manley here!"
    • Advertisement:
    • "Long, slow, tedious process . . ." for his "Interstellar Quest" series. Due to the addition of many high-efficiency but low-thrust options added in the Interstellar Mod, many of his spacecraft would have to be left with the throttle on for several hours, often with constant supervision by Scott. Also appeared in his "Eve or Bust" series (notably when having to circumnavigate Eve with a slow airship, or travelling dozens of kilometres with a rover whose wheels kept breaking) but was not as prevalent as his later series.
  • Challenge Gamer: Even discounting his "Reddit / Forum Challenge" videos, many of his videos focus on either completing some of the game's more challenging milestones, setting and meeting Self Imposed Challenges, or exploiting glitches in the game engine in creative and amusing ways.
  • Child Prodigy: His daughter Skye, who made several EVE Online videos including a PVP video where she ambushes another player and kills them. Eve Online has a famously steep learning curve that causes many adults to give up.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Scott's earlier videos are done in a much more subdued tone as compared to his current style.
    • Extra Bonus EIW also for the Kerbal Space Program fandom as a whole, as this video is from before Kerbin had its current official name and was thus called "Kearth" commonly.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A number of unexpected interactions caused by broken mods make episode 20 of his Reusable Space Program an extremely frustrating experience for him.
  • Good Bad Bugs: invoked He often exploits these when he finds them, though more for the humor value of the resulting videos than any other reason. One of his more famous / infamous designs is the "Fastest Probe in the Galaxy," which exploits a bug in an older version of KSP that made RCS thrusters insanely powerful when placed right on a vehicle's center of mass.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight / Harsher in Hindsight: During episode 11 of Galileo conquest while reentering the atmosphere in an experimental plane, he comments jokingly that Jebediah (the pilot) should enter the unused crew cabin of the plane when the cockpit started heating up beyond control. The cockpit exploded killing Jeb. To Scott's surprise the rest of the plane survives reentry heating and slams into the ocean. The only part to survive this impact is the crew cabin, meaning Jeb would have lived if Scott had listened to his own sarcastic advice.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Scott frequently puts together compilations of crash footage that otherwise didn't make it into an episode.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Starts making these based on the names of squad members while playing Xenonauts. Very often those characters are killed before the mission is over.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: "Tony Probe," whose name was born from a typo during one of Scott's first videos in KSP 0.18.
  • Lemony Narrator: Often found singing during his narrations. His Papers, Please series has him throw on a faux eastern European accent as he plays through the game like he is the character. His series of Let's Plays on Spacebase DF-9 has him provide voice acting for 'the chicken people' as an example. His earlier videos, however, are far more toned down compared to his modern work.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Double subverted in episode 3 of "Eve or Bust." Scott attempts to provide guardrails on his mobile Eve laboratory to keep his pilots from falling off the observation deck... and then one clips straight through them. "Not OSHA-certified" indeed.
  • Oh, Crap!: Multiple iterations in rapid succession in Episode 20 of his Reusable Space Program.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: His Scottish accent is somewhat exaggerated, and diminishes quite a bit when something important unexpectedly explodes.
  • Orphaned Series: The Reusable Space Program series appears to be this as of episode 32, due to technical problems.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: He enjoys taking these on. One of his most ambitious thus far is his Reusable Kerbal Space Program, where he attempts to set up an interplanetary travel network using nothing but 100% reusable launch vehicles.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • When talking about space ice cream with his kids: "But you know what, there are a lot of things that taste like ice cream on Earth. Especially ice cream."
    • "This thing continues to descend through the atmosphere like a thing falling very, very quickly."
  • Shown Their Work: He has an in-depth knowledge of physics, astronomy, and the history of human spaceflight, which he both discusses in his videos and often applies with impressive results.
    • And Space Poop.
  • Shout-Out: A recursive example in his quest for the Most Kerbal Spacecraft Ever. The videos feature a flying submarine, based off an idea proposed by What If? (Jupiter Descending) which itself linked to one of Scott's videos.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "I'm Scott Manley — Fly safe!"
  • Spiritual Successor: The "Interstellar Quest" series is intended to be this to his Reusable Space Program series according to Scott himself.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A spectacular example in episode 20 of his Reusable Space Program, appropriately subtitled "Random Disassembly."
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Kind of. Scott has once or twice confused pronouns when dubbing over footage shot previously, with "past me" becoming "he" until he catches himself.
  • Translation Train Wreck: Youtube's auto caption system does a particularly bad job on Scott's accent and frequent use of technical terms. He mocked this in a video where he redubbed the video according to youtube's captions.
  • Warts and All: He's not shy to admit that he's not a perfect player, and he'll sometimes leave his more entertaining mistakes in for the audience's amusement.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 20 of his Reusable Space Program, where things go hilariously off-script.
    • The finale of Interstellar Quest ends with the warp drive spaceship flying by the Earth, complete with a description of the Earth from the Kerbals' point of view.

"Until then, I'm Scott Manley - fly safe!"