Space Engineers

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Space Engineers
Space Engineers 1.jpg
Developer(s) Keen Software House
Engine VRAGE 2.0
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) October 23, 2013 (alpha, Windows)
Genre(s) Sandbox, Simulation
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Distribution Digital download

Space Engineers is a voxel-based sandbox game set in an asteroid field in space. It is currently available as an early access game, and is being developed and published by the indie video game developer Keen Software House based out of the Czech Republic. The game features an open-world environment in which players can build various functional structures. The pre-release alpha build was released on October 23, 2013 on Steam, featuring a single-player "creative" mode. On February 24, 2014, the company announced that Space Engineers had sold over 250,000 copies in four months.[1] Space Engineers was voted the 4th best Indie Game of 2013 in the "IndieDB Game of The Year" Awards.[2] On March 24, 2014, Keen Software House announced that two key milestones in the development of Space Engineers have been achieved: survival mode and multiplayer.[3] Content updates and bug fixes for the game are released weekly.[4] On October 20, 2014, Keen Software House announced that the game has sold over 1,000,000 copies.[5]

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot of the game demonstrating the addition of new components to an existing structure.
An astronaut mining an asteroid for resources using a hand drill
First-person view from the cockpit of a small ship.

Gameplay begins with the player selecting or joining a world with specific settings, such as the number of asteroids and the available starting equipment. Once in-game, the player is given control of a single astronaut, which is referred to as a Space Engineer. The player can then build a station, large ship, or small ship. Construction begins by choosing one of the three options and placing a block, which is used as the starting point for the rest of the structure. Blocks may be structural, functional, interactive, or aesthetic, and may fall into more than one category. Blocks also take up varying amounts of space. In addition to placing blocks, the player can also use tools and weapons. Most blocks can be damaged and deformed through collisions or by weapon impacts.[6][7] Some blocks have attached keypads, which can be used to view and manipulate the status of other specific blocks attached to the structure. Functional blocks require power, which can be provided by solar panels or nuclear reactors attached to the same structure. While reactors must be supplied with uranium in order to output power, solar panels have low output. Once being produced, power is automatically distributed throughout the entire structure.

Three types of structures are available: small ships, large ships, and stations. The size, resource requirements, and availability of blocks depends on the type of structure they are attached to. Small ships do not allow assemblers or refineries, whereas large ships cannot use gatling guns, instead using the AI-controlled gatling or missile turret variations. Blocks attached to a small ship are considerably smaller and require fewer resources than those attached to large ships or stations. Stations use the same blocks as large ships and can be converted into large ships using a control terminal; however, they are immobile and can instead be physically anchored to an asteroid.

Ships can be deliberately moved and rotated by a player as long as they are powered and have at least one gyroscope, thruster, and cockpit. To be able to move in any direction and then be able to stop via inertia dampeners, thrusters must be placed on the structure facing up, down, forward, backward, left, and right.

Astronauts floating in space are able to move forward, backward, upwards, downwards, left, or right without restriction by using a jetpack. They are also able to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. Astronauts and structures can also enable or disable inertial dampeners, which automatically reduce speed to zero when force is not being applied.

While on a structure or asteroid within range of a gravity generator, if the player's jetpack is disabled, movement is restricted to a plane perpendicular to the direction of the net gravity field(s). Vertical viewing angle is also restricted between -90 and 90 degrees, as in most first person shooters. If the player falls off a structure while within a gravity field, the player will fall into space until out of range of the gravity generator, at which point the player's jetpack will automatically enable itself. However, ships and structures are unaffected by gravity generators unless equipped with the Artificial Mass block.

Several types of cargo ships can spawn randomly and fly through the world, which can be hijacked by the player or harvested for components. Some of these cargo ships are booby trapped to explode when the player attempts to commandeer them, and are sometimes armed with hostile gatling turrets. To prevent booby-trap explosion, players must either avoid thrusting backwards, or find and disable any forward-facing thrusters in the ship aimed directly at warheads. Some cargo ships can also be defended by gatling or missile turrets, which can either be directly destroyed or disabled by slowly approaching the ship from a distance to avoid detection and disabling the turrets through a control panel.

Creative Mode[edit]

In creative mode, players are able to spawn unlimited resources, can instantly build tools and blocks, and are invincible.[8] Some building tools, such as symmetry mode and duplication of ships, are only available in this mode. Creative mode was initially the only mode available in the game.

Survival Mode[edit]

In survival mode, players need to mine, collect, and refine various chemical elements from asteroids in order to craft tools, weapons, and blocks and produce electricity. Resources can be mined manually using a hand drill, or by using specialized ships. Components are produced by assembling them from raw materials; however, they can also be harvested by salvaging cargo ships. To avoid death, players must monitor their health and energy levels. Damage can be inflicted on the player by collisions, weapons, contact with thrusters, meteor showers, or by running out of space suit energy. Collisions at higher speeds result in more damage. A player's health and energy can be restored using a Medical Room block, and energy can also be replenished by sitting in the cockpit of any powered structure.

The development of survival mode began at the end of summer of 2013.[9]

Development[edit]

Set of screenshots from the game demonstrating the effects of a collision between two ships.

Space Engineers is the first game to fully utilize the VRAGE 2 engine.[10]

VRAGE 2.0 is still under development. Its core feature is volumetricity of the environment. Volumetric objects are structures composed from block-like modules interlocked in a grid. Volumetric objects behave like real physical objects with mass, inertia and velocity. Individual modules have real volume and storage capacity and can be assembled, disassembled, deformed, and destroyed.

Reception[edit]

Space Engineers won the "4th best Indie Game of 2013" award from IndieDB.[2]

According to a recent community survey, Space Engineers has developed a following greatly based upon its community. Users can upload their creations and share ideas with others. Space Engineers is currently one of the best selling games on Steam, even in early access format; this allows users to give feedback and suggest ideas which help the developers make Space Engineers better with their weekly software updates.

References[edit]

External links[edit]