Hello Reddit,

I am Marek Rosa, the founder and CEO of Keen Software House - the developer of the video game Space Engineers. We are here with a few members of our team and we will be answering your questions about our sandbox game, Space Engineers, starting at 15:30 EST (20:30 CET).

Answering your questions will be mostly me, Marek Rosa - https://twitter.com/marek_rosa/status/446270818171883520 - but fellow team members will be participating as well. We will be answering for approx. one hour since we start. We will do our best to reply to as many questions as possible, but please forgive us in case we miss some of them. This IamA is mostly about Space Engineers, so please try to stick your questions to this as much as possible.

Fire away!

Note: Space Engineers is a sandbox game about engineering, construction and maintenance of space works. Players build space ships and space stations of various sizes and utilization (civil and military), pilot ships and perform asteroid mining.

You can find more info about Space Engineers and myself in the below links:

http://www.spaceengineersgame.com/about1.html

http://blog.marekrosa.org/

EDIT: We are about to start answering your questions now. EDIT 2: Ondrej Petrzilka is part of our team, lead developer, he is answering your questions too EDIT 3: Thank you for your questions, IAmA is finished now. See you next time!

Comments: 468 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

arkandy735 karma

Hey KeenSWH! Thanks for doing this AMA. I have many questions, I'll try to narrow them down.

1) Are NPC's planned for any part of Space Engineers?

2) How do you select what community suggestions are to be added to the game?

3) What is the hardest obstacle the team has faced (or is facing) in development?

4) How will dedicated servers be structured?

5) Will there be a factions/guild system in place?

6) Is procedural world generation (asteroids, that is) going to be a part of the game?

Thanks again, Space Engineers has instantly become one of my favorite games.

KeenSWH23 karma

1) turrets are planned, although that's not a true NPC. Up until now we focused mostly on building and other core features, AI was a less priority thing. This may change but I don't want to promise it either. The thing is that we do things by priority - always focus on what's most important NOW.

KeenSWH13 karma

6) There's already some sort of procedural generation, mostly consisting of "prefab" asteroids merging to each other and spawn at semi-random positions. We may improve this later

KeenSWH10 karma

5) Yes factions - anyone could make a new faction, invite others, kick them off, etc.

arkandy74 karma

Just as a side question, will faction ownership restrict access? Say if someone from Faction A boarded Faction B's ship, they could not use the cockpit, etc. Will ship ownership exist?

thr3ddy6 karma

Wouldn't that restrict piracy?

arkandy74 karma

Not necessarily. You could still destroy blocks and components. Perhaps a system of hacking is required to gain access to another factions terminal?

KeenSWH17 karma

Yeah, hacking and ownership of things are two connected features

KeenSWH6 karma

2) Usually from comments - some ideas are just more visible than other and then we see that's really important for people so we do it. Of course we have our own plans with the game, plus we know the inner details so we can decide what easy to implement (low hanging fruits), what order should we use when deciding what to do next (e.g. first do multi-player than start dedicated servers, etc)

KeenSWH6 karma

3) Luckily everything was super easy until now :) That doesn't mean my colleagues didn't do great job but it's all very trouble free.

Wingman9419 karma

In which way are you planning to implement scripting or programming? As this is one of the mayor things an engineers has to deal with it just needs to be in this game.

KeenSWH38 karma

This is something I (Marek Rosa) personally want to have in Space Engineers a lot. My idea is to allow programmable blocks (or components) where players can write their simple programs that control all system in a ship or station, there can be events/callbacks, etc.

This will be great for people who create complex objects and want to synchronize the control under some layer of code.

Allied_Forces19 karma

How far will the span of explorable territory be? (Our solar system, or farther? ) How realistic can we expect our interactions with the environment be? What inspired this game, and what will set it apart?

KeenSWH33 karma

In Miner Wars 2081 we had the entire solar system - which is actually easier than it sounds. It's mostly empty space :)

We can do the same in Space Engineers, so when you reach a border of the sector (50x50x50 km) you will get to the next sector, etc. We may do it this way because it's really hard to store all those asteroids in memory.

Or perhaps we will find a better way how to stream all this data.

But bigger worlds isn't the top priority at this moment.

ShadowLinkPD18 karma

Do you guys plan on adding land vehicles, which would encourage players to male large space stations ?

KeenSWH27 karma

We would like to add a new block: wheel. It will be very similar to "rotor" but it will work like wheel. It will also work like a thruster because it will receive commands from cockpit and so you will be able to use it to drive around. It will steer, etc.

iKojan14 karma

Hey there, Do u guys every think you will add liquids to the game? like a piping system to keep the reactor cool or maybe as an alterate to uranium for power. a way to get it would be adding a machine that turns the ores into liquid that gets transported by pipes to other machines for example.

Linard5 karma

I would love to see that. Also how would a liquid would be implemented? Can it spill? Because to simulate wobbel waterdrops in space sounds complicated. Would PhysX (with FleX) help here? Does VRAGE support PhysX?

KeenSWH18 karma

Our team already discussed volumetric water, especially if we have some planet size objects. That would make sense. But the problem is that it's very hard to come up with an idea of real-time volumetric water.

I am talking about things like river, ocean, etc - not pipes.

Epicthunder2514 karma

Hi, I have the game, and it is great so far, and there are improvements each week which is also good. Do you plan on creating servers for the game, alike to how Rust did theirs, or will you stick with the player-hosted servers?

KeenSWH24 karma

We are working on dedicated servers right now, they will be hosted by players.

D0ng0nzales14 karma

So what do you think of AI and drone ships that you can either remotely control or program to do different tasks (such as constructing or mining ) ? And also will there be batteries in the nearish future? And what about fast travel to different sectors with different asteroids in it and maybe even dead ships and other stations to deconstruct or reconstruct?

OndrejPetrzilka13 karma

Once there's programming, players will be able to make simple drones for mining. For construction we're considering constructor...similar to 3D printers, you'll build cage and head and it will take materials and build ships or station. Batteries make much more sense now with solar panels, but I cannot confirm it now.

In next update, there will be some ships to loot and deconstruct. Travelling is ok for single player, but problematic for multiplayer, because every sector would need a new host/dedicated server instance, we can't promise it now.

bedved3 karma

Will you make somekind of tutorials for programming these? I know only a little of programming, and what language shall it be?

KeenSWH7 karma

Yes we try to do video tutorials for everything. Best way how to quickly show new stuff and how to use it.

Krolitian14 karma

/u/TonyHawksProgeria asks: (he couldn't make it)

  • How do you decide on community input and how does it change your initial ideas?
  • Further on that point, do you think your goal for Space Engineers is to make it your own creation, or make it based on what the community thinks is best?
  • Do you guys enjoy your jobs? Do you enjoy going to work every day knowing your game is loved by thousands, and that they want to help make it popular?
  • How did you start your career in game development (art, programming, design, PA)
  • What influenced you guys to make Space Engineers? Did you have favourite shows, sci-fi novels, or other games (Minecraft springs to mind)? How do you think your game stands out among other space/building games?
  • Lastly, what's one thing you would like more from the community to make the game/your jobs easier/more engaging?

KeenSWH19 karma

to make the game/your jobs easier/more engaging

I think the community is doing a great job - we especially appreciate all those creations on Workshop and Youtube videos demonstrating what have you created in Space Engineers.

In fact, this is one of the things that influenced the development of Space Engineers mostly. After we seen that you create these gadgets using blocks (tanks, robots, drill machines, ...) - we realized:

  • we need to add more interactive blocks (wheels, rails, ...)
  • Space Engineers doesn't have to be only about ships
  • we should focus on a new direction where you will be able to create sub-block things, e.g. instead of us providing you with "hangar block", we can give you tools that make creating a hangar door out of existing blocks easier. This way you have total control over what do you want. We will benefit too because your creations are super surprises to us.

KeenSWH11 karma

Space Engineers was mostly influenced by LEGO Technic. Also by NASA technology and how their stuff looks.

KeenSWH8 karma

I (Marek Rosa) started as a programmer... then I founded this company so I had to do everything, art, design, business...

KeenSWH7 karma

Yes we enjoy our work very much :) We are also very happy that you like our updates, Thrusday is our favorite day too :)

KeenSWH5 karma

Community input serves mostly as a compass for us. I believe that we keep the original direction of Space Engineers. Sometimes we use community feedback to change the priority of features and do some thing sooner than we planned for (e.g. we planned to do symmetry/mirroring at the end of the development, but it appeared as a very important feature for people so we made it in the first updates)

reseph13 karma

Are there any plans to improve the space backdrop? Right now it seems like a static 2D image and feels jarring, makes it hard to tell the difference between a real object in the distance and the backdrop.

Also, I assume the collision sounds are WIP? There seems to be no collision sounds, wasn't sure if that was intentional.

KeenSWH15 karma

Yeah, collision sounds are not there at all. Implementing them is a bit tricky so we decided to do it as the last thing in the sound job.

Background - we will probably change it. This first version was just the minimum viable version, some placeholder that works fine for some time and allows us focus on other "more important" features.

Phoxec13 karma

When the game is not in ''early eaccess'' anymore. (not alpha/beta) Will the development stop?`And you (the devs) move to another game. Or will you keep adding features like minecraft is still doing. 3+ years after release. :)

D0ng0nzales11 karma

i really hope they wont stop developing

KeenSWH29 karma

I don't want to stop development of SE ever. It's too much fun to end it.

But it all depends on the interest of community. I mean if this current level of interest holds for years than there's no reason to "finish" the game. It can be early access forever (of course: very finished state)

I don't believe we can exhaust all our (or community's) ideas. That's just not possible

Phoxec12 karma

Will Space Engineers mostly focus on Building, ships and mining?. And not so much on the survival? like hunger, sleep, oxygen and growing food? :) Will you (the devs) take survival so far in the furure?

OndrejPetrzilka7 karma

We're planning to make this game more about building and engineering than bodily functions. Sleep, oxygen and growing food is not planned now, we will reconsider in the future (in several months).

Linard9 karma

Beside body functions. Do you play to intigrate some kind of pressurized rooms anyway? Including hull breaches and get sucked out into the vast space ?

KeenSWH21 karma

We are thinking about atmosphere and oxygen, but right now we have other priorities. Interesting thing is that people ask a lot this question.

Ash19810 karma

Will we get the ability to place rock blocks, using the abundance of stone and gravel we have, given that it currently has limited use?

KeenSWH17 karma

We have considered concrete blocks... so maybe we will do that

Scyntrus969 karma

Will we be able to have separate cockpits control different things? For example, one controlling the Hanger Door, one for Piloting, one for weapons, etc?

KeenSWH18 karma

Probably not - because the way it works is that you are connected to the grid (ship or station) and you can communicate with any system in it. Once we add wireless, you would be able to do this on distance.

Scyntrus967 karma

Alright, thanks for the reply, any idea when wireless might be implemented? (A couple weeks? Months?)

KeenSWH15 karma

Weeks are very unlikely... even few months. There are really other things we need to do first.

907mattb8 karma

Can you expand on how you will use conveyors in the game and if that will help with inventory management?

KeenSWH16 karma

Conveyors can connect to each other and then route items. You would be able to place them in any configuration and then use Inventory screen to send items from one place to another.

We added conveyors (even as placeholders) to the game in its early stage because we realized people will need them especially for transporting ammo to weapons and turrets.

There was actually a funny idea that you could put yourself into a conveyor and send yourself to some other place.

There are some challenges too - conveyors will have to handle "traffic jams", "dead ends" etc

Swi7chB4cK7 karma

How much time did it take to develop that amazing physics engine? did some real 'physics experts' helped you?

KeenSWH13 karma

We use HAVOK on the lowest level of physics engine. We build our own destruction and deformations mechanics on top of it. It took Ondrej about 1 month to do this. Of course we are still improving it, e.g. we still need to add proper collision meshes on deformed non-armor blocks.

arkandy75 karma

Will deformed components (Thrusters specifically) alter their behavior when damaged? For example your thruster pointing in another direction after a collision.

KeenSWH10 karma

This is a good idea... at this point we planned only the visual appearance and collision mesh. BTW, when blocks are damaged and get under certain threshold they stop operating - but you probably know this :)

Elunah7 karma

When you envision this game 1-5 years down the road, what kind of scale of gameplay do you imagine? Do you still see it as a small-group sandbox like it currently is? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, do you see it moving towards a massively multiplayer world with a huge scale of player-player interaction?

ManOfArt5 karma

dont forgot if there would be such a massive spectrum of players that build, at once or destroy, its too much streaming even for ur internet

KeenSWH15 karma

This is hard to say... depends on how long the development of Space Engineers continue. We have other priorities at this moment so we haven't spend much time designing MMO scenarios, although this may change later as more and more planned features are finished.

alienworld17 karma

hello, Marek. when you plan to expand capabilities for modding?

KeenSWH11 karma

This will take probably many months. We plan to add some options of uploading your mods to Workshop (which will make it easier to players to use your mods) - but it will be based on the same modding capabilities that are currently in the game.

Goddamuglybob5 karma

How cool would it be to control some systems remotely by my own physical android tablet?

Would it be hard to write support for a tablet app where I can see power, production, radar and damage control?

Damn that would be futuristic sweet.

KeenSWH6 karma

One player had an idea of having API access to Space Engineers, so you can alter some variables and stuff from outside of it. If we do this, then anyone could write his own app (android, iOS, Windows, anything)

liam97pritch5 karma

Will there be a blueprint function for ships so can take a ship you have made in creative and and paste a skeleton of that ship into survival mode so the ship does not have to be redesigned?

KeenSWH7 karma

Yes this will be possible once we add 3d printer functionality

SirLanceOlong5 karma

First of I'd like to thank you for an awesome game! It's absolutely amazing and I can't wait to see what the game looks like when it's "done".

I have two questions!

  • Do you plan to release it to Mac and Linux? If so, would it be possible for you to estimate when?

  • I read that you wouldn't implement any NPC's in the game, which was a huge letdown for me(and many others, I'm sure). My question is why?

KeenSWH4 karma

Any estimations on Mac/Linux will be too loose at this moment. We haven't started work on porting to other platforms yet.

BTW, if we start on non-Windows ports, we will probably try to do it for all platforms (of course not released at the same time)

NPC - I can't rule out NPCs at this moment, but I also can't promise it. The way I see it is that we have other things to do at this moment, so our heads are full of that... and once we finish it than we may focus more or NPC or other things. This all depends on what the community wants and what's most reasonable to do at that moment (effective use of our time)

NickDols4 karma

Will ladders be returning to Space Engineers? Or maybe some other form of vertical transportation (like elevators)? Using your jetpack inside a ship or station just feels odd to me and building staircases using the current stairs just takes up a lot of space! Love the pasage you introduced in stead of the ladder, but it doesn't replace the function of the ladder... Love your game, I believe it is my seccond most played game on Steam right now (in total hours), right after Skyrim!

KeenSWH7 karma

Maybe yes... I mean we removed it because there was a lot of problems with ladders (going up when gravity is down or perpendicular, ladders on moving and rotating objects etc). This all depends on priorities - if we do one thing that we are not doing the other thing. We need to be very careful about what we do (and pick things we don't do)

TomDMTom4 karma

What update are you planning to do tomorrow?

Is it a cargo ships ? Cargo suits ?

KeenSWH10 karma

Cargo Ships :)

LemonTeeth4 karma

How realistic are we talking? Are we talking a simulator? Or an arcade style game?

KeenSWH13 karma

Something in between - we want to have Space Engineers as real as possible, on the other side we don't want to sacrifice the fun. We don't want to make this game too hard and boring.

faceit774 karma

Will there be a possibility to create more teamwork for on a ship ? for instance now you can control this huge vessel all on your own. Will there be things that makes your teammate important as well besides running around repairing or eating out of his nose ? same for small ships. Will there be small ships that can be manned by 2 or more people ?

KeenSWH7 karma

I believe that if you put two or more cockpits on a small ship that other friends can hop in and fly with you.

Linard3 karma

Will be see mousewheel support anytime soon to switch our selected block/tool?

KeenSWH3 karma

Mouse wheel is currently attached to zoom in/out in third-person mode so perhaps this would mix up

shredthesky3 karma

Is "Space Engineers" somehow connected with any other activity of Keen Software? I'm asking because your website lists jobs not connected with the game development. It would be interesting to know what else do you develop and how it's connected with the game.

KeenSWH9 karma

We are working on a super-secret "general artificial intelligence" project :)

It's a R&D project, not connected to games. We believe this is the future of everything :)

At this moment we are not ready to reveal any further info, but this may change. It could be fun to let the community step in.

Chologism3 karma

Are you currently working on 'keycodes' to unlock doors/cargo storages? Or is this something you've decided not to implement?

KeenSWH3 karma

The access will work on faction/owner principle.

Krolitian3 karma

What kind of amazing stuff have you built with the Lego Mindstorm?

KeenSWH10 karma

Nothing yet :) But it's our inspiration for programming aspects in Space Engineers.

GrayManTheory3 karma

I saw a post a developer made (Marek I believe) about possible changes to gravity.

It was something along the lines of space suits simulating gravity with thrusters instead of artificial gravity generators. I guess then that the gravity generators would just be directional anchors that the suits sync up with to determine direction of simulated gravity.

Is this something you are planning?

KeenSWH5 karma

We are planning to enable gravity for ships too - we will have to experiment with this a lot.

Linard3 karma

A big request is ofc the logic system to get things done automatically or with the press of the Button T. Any plans if and how this will be implemented. I would like to see some sort of own simple programming language like it was planned for 0x10c

KeenSWH6 karma

Yes we would like to add programmable blocks/components.

Dobbledab3 karma

For how long can we expect updates with new content and mechanics?

KeenSWH16 karma

Hopefully as long as possible. These regular Thrusday updates are a lot of fun to us and actually few days after we feel like we didn't have an update for a couple of days... update are good.

GrayManTheory3 karma

Will blocks eventually have their mass determined by degree of construction? Currently, other than fewer construction material requirements, there is no benefit to using unfinished light armor blocks to connect things rather than finished blocks.

If mass won't change, can we eventually get gird/framework blocks that are unarmored and lighter?

Also, why are interior wall blocks so heavy?

KeenSWH8 karma

"mass determined by degree of construction" - it looks like we completely forgot about :) Consider it a bug, we need to fix it. Mass should be determined by how much is the block finished - how many components are in it.

screamsandkicks3 karma

how much has the team changed and learned since its development and release of miner wars 2081. and is space engineers still planing to be developed in the universe as miner wars or is the idea being scrapped to open up space engineers from the limitations that the universe may provide.

KeenSWH12 karma

Space Engineers should be a "generic game". No back story or anything. It should focus only on what's in the game and not other things.

I am not ruling out the option of "story based" sequel or DLC or perhaps mods in the future. The foundation of the game should be universal.

Sverdifjell3 karma

Thanks for doing this AmA! You have an amazing team and a fantastic game (which I endorse to all of my friends).

Will there be an option, in the future, to import and export ship designs from world-to-world; for when folks would like to pit different large and small ships that they've made in creative-mode against one-another?

KeenSWH2 karma

You should be able to copy-paste ships between worlds even now: Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V

Only in creative mode and I think there's a checkbox in World Settings where you have to enable this

Raelsmar2 karma

First, I love Space Engineers. Thank you all for your work!

Large ship weapons are something I've been excited about since picking up the game last October. Recently it was stated that Factions would need implementation before large weapons are activated for targeting purposes. How complicated are those processes and have there been any plans as to their rate of fire and damage relative to small ship weapons? Are these a high or low development priority? Thanks again!

KeenSWH3 karma

Large weapons should be added quite soon

vantyto2 karma

did you think about game windows changes? for example, in ship system menu player can't se anything in backgroud :/, so if u think for example something like PC desktop wndows

KeenSWH5 karma

Perhaps if we add "HUD programming" it will help. The idea is to control ship/station systems from within your HUD. It should be highly customizable and programmable.

wiiboy9992 karma

Will there be an 'ultimate goal' added to survival or any future game modes?

KeenSWH2 karma

Probably not just one goal. It should be scenario specific - e.g. capture the flag (the simplest), or hold as long as possible, take over a base/ship...

le_theudas2 karma

Hey Marek,

First: working with rotors is quiet an agony so far: the distance between the block of the base and the rotating part makes a lot of useful contraptions hard to make, also the collision is a little sensitive. Even if it looks like it should work it is destroying half of my ship ;) Are there Changes planned to the physics engine concerning these "problems"?

Second Question: Did you think about giving us the opportunity of a second screen, I am thinking of my second Monitor, my tablet, anything for (later) controlling certain aspects of my ships or stations while i am still normally flying on my primary monitor?

KeenSWH5 karma

Second screen: we haven't considered this yet, there are no actual plans for it

Rotors: I hear this for the first time... we will look on it. Thanks

Mathog2 karma

Are you planning to add player-controlled Large Ship cannons, or at least give more support to Small Ship cannons plugged into a large ship?

KeenSWH6 karma

Yes we want to move some small ship blocks to large ships and vice versa. It's funny that we didn't do this at the first place... in fact I don't even remember why.

Tequilaqc2 karma

1) what is a typic working day at KSH? 2) as an indie dev CEO, could you tell us what it take to lead a team, are they productive ?, Are you anxious about money?

Side note: I want to tell you that Space Engineers is really a game i was waiting for! It remember me titles like Star Wars Tie Fighter, Wing Commander, egosoft X series, Lego.... I wish that your game will be popular and that your little studios will become what you expect. Thanks !

KeenSWH7 karma

1) we have pretty relaxed atmosphere here, thanks to everyone being aligned to the common goal

2) yes our team is very productive. It's actually quite anomaly :)

3) Space Engineers sells very well so there's no anxiety about money. Our first priority is to make the community happy. Money will come.

Bobsmit2 karma

You guys are awesome. Keep releasing frequent updates and making this game the game we've all been hoping for since we were kids!

KeenSWH2 karma

Thanks :)

-Chazz-2 karma

Hi, What influenced you to create this game? Also would you like to see your game on console?

KeenSWH8 karma

Space Engineers is influenced by our previous game Miner Wars 2081 (actually SE was supposed to be a sequel to it). But then we dig into the building and physics aspects and realized that this is a very strong basis. More important than a sequel.

arkandy72 karma

How about the console possibilities? Do you plan at all to add controller support for the game, or have it available on console libraries?

KeenSWH3 karma

Once we finish what we have in progress right now (or when we hire some new programmers) we want to look on the possibility of porting the game to other platforms or consoles.

It should be doable, but it will take some time.

Shisoo1 karma

Me and my friend would like you to optimize the performances and add more things to explore (Bigger universe, planets, ...). that's all we want! Please do that, it'll be awesome. <3

KeenSWH5 karma

The game has still plenty of room to optimize but I consider it already optimized very well.

I mean, if it wasn't optimized at all the game would lag in every collision, block added and removed (need to recalculate electricity grid, mass, collision shapes, etc)

But we will keep optimizing it.

BTW people don't know this but we increased average FPS since January by 20% or something like that

Invisibile271 karma

In your opinion how accurate is the game compared to the proportions of real life? I've barely played the game because I can't really grasp the concept of building and whatnot, but from what I have seen it is comparable to an accurate simulation. Also, where did the idea for this type of game come from? Was it completely random or an idea from something else

KeenSWH3 karma

We try to make a game that could happen in real life.

But there are some sacrifices to this, e.g.: gravity generators, powerful thrusters, etc.

Linard1 karma

Did you ever encountered people who said something like: "Duh, it's simply Minecraft in space. What a rip-off"?

KeenSWH4 karma

No :)

But we got some people who ask if we got asked if we consider SE to be Minecraft in space. We reply that yes we got asked this. Occasionally.