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Space Engineers

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Space Engineers
Developer(s)Keen Software House
Publisher(s)Keen Software House
Composer(s)Karel Antonín
EngineVRAGE 2.0
February 28, 2019
Xbox One
April 15, 2020[1]
PlayStation 4/5
May 11, 2023[2]
Genre(s)Sandbox, simulation
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Space Engineers is a voxel-based sandbox game, developed and published by Czech independent developer Keen Software House. In 2013, the initial developmental release of the game joined the Steam early access program. During the following years of active development, Space Engineers sold over one million units. In total as of 2019 the game has sold over 3.5 million copies[5][6] In May 2015, for approximately a year and a half, the game's source code was officially available and maintained by KSH to assist the modding community.[7][8] On December 15, 2016, the game entered Beta and was later officially released on February 28, 2019.


A 2014 screenshot showing assorted functional blocks attached to a painted light armour baseplate.Unlike functional blocks, armour visually blends together as long as each armour block has the same colour as the one adjacent to it; each stripe on the baseplate is actually three blocks wide.
A player mining an asteroid
First-person view from the cockpit of a small ship

Gameplay of Space Engineers begins with the player selecting or joining a world with specific settings, such as the number of asteroids (an "empty world" can also be picked) and the available starting equipment. When creating or editing a world, several advanced options are available to change how the player will interact with the world, and how the worlds will appear. This includes changing the speed with which several tools and machines will work, the size of the player's inventory, and whether procedural generation will be used (effectively making the world infinite). Upon confirming the world settings, a loading screen appears while the world is generated. This screen consists of a random in-game screenshot as a backdrop, the game's logo, an animated loading icon, and a randomly selected message at the center. The message may be either a helpful gameplay hint, or one of many quotations concerning space, science, and/or engineering. Many of these quotes are from notable scientists such as Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Albert Einstein, as well as authors such as Arthur C. Clarke.

Once in-game, the player is given control of a single astronaut (referred to as a "Space Engineer") and a set of tools comprising a drill, a welder, and a grinder (if spawn with tools is on). Construction begins by choosing any block from the Engineer's inventory, and placing it anywhere in open space to create a new voxel grid. Additional blocks can then be added to this grid to create a structure.

Each block takes up a different amount of space, and can serve a structural, functional, interactive, and/or aesthetic purpose. Armor blocks, the most basic and common of all blocks, can be realistically damaged and deformed through collisions or the use of weapons.[9][10] Some blocks have attached keypads, which can be used to view and manipulate the status of other specific blocks attached to the structure. To be functionally connected however, and to transport materials, blocks called "conveyors" must be used to connect the desired machines. "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, and produce large amounts of power while active, solar panels will continually produce a low output of power when there is line-of-sight to the sun. Once being produced, power is automatically distributed throughout the entire structure and can also be stored in batteries.

Three types of structures are available: small ships, large ships, and stations. The player can toggle between placing small and large block sizes; placing a small variant of a block will create a small ship, while placing a large variant will create a large ship. If a large block is placed in such a way that it intersects terrain voxels (such as an asteroid or planetary surface), a station is created instead. Stations use the same blocks as large ships, and can be converted into large ships by disconnecting them from the terrain (though a world setting can be changed to permit unanchored stations). "Small" and "large" structures can be connected together using connectors creating sub-grids.

The size, resource requirements, and availability of blocks depends on the type of structure they are attached to. Blocks such as assemblers or refineries do not have "small" variants, whereas large ships and stations cannot use gatling guns, instead using AI-controlled gatling or rocket turrets. Blocks attached to a small ship are considerably smaller, allowing a much greater level of detail, and require fewer resources than those attached to large ships or stations (for example, light armor requires 25 steel plates on a station, but only one on a small ship).

Ships can be deliberately moved and rotated by external forces and 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 effectively via inertia dampeners, thrusters must be placed on the structure facing up, down, forward, backward, left, and right. More gyroscopes on a ship will increase the ship's ability to rotate in space, but in order for the inertial dampeners to be more effective, more thrusters must be added in each direction in which dampening is required.

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 attempt to reduce speed to zero when force is not being applied, and the required thrusters are installed.

If the player disables their jetpack within a gravitational field (either on the surface of a planet or a structure/asteroid with a gravity generator), 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. Ships and structures are unaffected by gravity generators unless equipped with at least one Artificial Mass block. If the player falls off a structure while within a gravity field, they will fall into space until out of range of the gravity generator, at which point the player's jetpack will automatically enable itself. However, if the player touches their feet to an asteroid or structure with no gravity present, their "mag-boots" will enable them to walk across its surface and even around edges; though jumping will disconnect the player from the surface, and they cannot traverse the 90-degree angle between a floor and wall.

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 or missile turrets.

All place-able objects can be colored prior to placement using a slider-based GUI. The player can manipulate the hue, saturation, and value of the color to produce a very large spectrum of colors. There are 14 slots where new colors can be saved for later use within the same world. Colors can also be changed after blocks have been placed by clicking the middle mouse button while hovering over a block on the "Color Picker" GUI.

Asteroids and planets consist of terrain voxels, which substantially differ from blocks, and although possible to destroy by the player, cannot be created by them unless in creative mode. Celestial objects are currently fixed in space and cannot move, however, rocks/minerals that have been mined are subject to gravity and will react accordingly. Asteroids also do not currently have gravity associated with them, and can come in several basic forms including spherical, torus, and rod-shapes, as well other variations or combinations of these.

Creative mode[edit]

In creative mode, players are able to spawn unlimited resources, can instantly build tools and blocks, and are invincible.[11] Some building tools, such as symmetry mode and copying and pasting of ships, are only available in this mode. Players are also able to build and manipulate asteroids or planets using a space tool known as "Voxel Hands." Although resources are available for collection and refinement, they are not required to create new ships or stations. Creative mode was initially the only mode available in the game. This mode eliminates the survival aspect of the game, allowing players to implement ideas quicker and easier.

Survival mode[edit]

In survival mode, players need to mine, collect, and refine various chemical elements from asteroids and planets in order to craft tools, weapons, and blocks as well as produce electricity. Resources can be mined manually using a hand drill, or by using ships with the necessary equipment. 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, energy and oxygen 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. As the acceleration value of gravity generators stacks, damage from falling can be much more dangerous when multiple gravity generators are active. A player's health and energy can be restored using a Medical Room block, or a Survival Kit block. 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.[12]

Materials and items[edit]

In the survival mode of the game, all actions, including survival itself due to the power requirements of the space-suit's life-support system, depend on the gathering and refining of certain minerals. These minerals can be found on asteroids or planets, plundered from randomly spawned ships, or recovered from unknown signals. Raw materials are mined from deposits of ore on asteroids, and are then placed (or sent using a conveyor system) into a basic refinery or refinery in order to refine them to be used in assemblers. The refined materials are formed into various components in the assembler which can then be used in the construction of ships or stations.

Inventories and storage[edit]

Inventories in Space Engineers are very flexible and work in a whole-ship manner rather than in an individual one. All inventories connected to a ship can be viewed from any access panel on the same ship, however inventories must be connected via conveyors and conveyor tubes in order for items to be transferred among them. Inventories of refineries and assemblers will automatically request items to refine from connected inventories when they get low, and will send items into an available inventory when it fills up. The conveyor sorter allows inventories to be automatically removed and sorted from and into certain inventories. Instead of a common slot system, Space Engineers uses a volumetric system, measured in litres, with every item having a certain amount of volume and every inventory a certain capacity that it cannot exceed.


Planets in Space Engineers were released on November 12, 2015, after being in development since February 2015. There are several types of planets, themed after Earth, the Moon, Mars, Titan, Europa, and an "alien" planet.[13] All of these feature multiple space stations that can be traded with for entire grids and materials or gases. The alien planets feature Sabiroids, hostile 6-legged, spider-like NPCs, and the Earth-like planet features wolves, hostile dog-like NPCs.

Planets are somewhat resource-rich, though extraction of useful products from the surface can be difficult. Resources are spread out, and due to planetary gravity and the inefficiency of ion engines within the atmosphere, the player must build ground-based alternatives.

Atmospheric flight is possible even on worlds with oxygen-deprived atmospheres. In order to leave a planet, the player will need to use hydrogen engines with sufficient fuel or build a hybrid spacecraft with atmospheric engines (for liftoff) and ion engines (upper atmosphere to space).

Hybrid surface-to-orbit craft are considerably heavier than their space-only counterparts, but can be built compact enough to fit inside a standard hangar.

Unknown signals[edit]

On August 17, 2017, "unknown signals" were added to survival mode. These signals spawn randomly within a certain range of the player, and indicate the position of a small probe via a GPS coordinate and a repeating tone. Each probe contains components and can be disassembled, preventing the player from encountering dead end situations in which they do not have the components needed to produce the basic machines which are essential for constructing components and other machines, effectively preventing a catch-22.

Each probe also possesses a button, which when pressed has a chance to reward the player with a collectible skin, similar to a loot box. The skin can be for the player character's helmet, suit, boots, or tools, and can be traded or sold on the Steam Market. Each skin can be obtained for free in-game, with the exception of three sets: the Veteran Set, which was awarded to players who had owned the game before and played between August and September 2017; the Medieval Set, which is awarded to players who also own Medieval Engineers; and the Golden Set, which is awarded to players who purchase the Space Engineers Deluxe Edition.


Demonstration of real-time collision between two spacecraft

Space Engineers was developed and published by the indie video game developer Keen Software House based in the Czech Republic. Implemented as a voxel-based sandbox game set in an asteroid field in space, built on their own game engine, VRAGE 2.[14] Its core feature is volumetricity of the environment. Volumetric objects are structures composed from block-like modules interlocked in a grid and match the scale of the player character. 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 repaired or destroyed.


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.[15] 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.[16] Content updates and bug fixes for the game are released weekly.[6] On October 20, 2014, Keen Software House announced that the game had sold over 1,000,000 copies.[17] On January 13, 2015, the studio announced their second engineering game, Medieval Engineers, a sandbox game about engineering, construction and the maintenance of architectural works and mechanical equipment using medieval technology.[18]

On May 14, 2015, the source code was made freely available on GitHub to the public[7][8][19] to allow easier modding.[20] In February 2016 more parts of the game's source code were released.[21] Updates to the public code repository were discontinued at the end of 2016.


Space Engineers officially released out of early access on February 28, 2019 alongside The Survival Overhaul Update.

Post-release updates and DLCs[edit]

Following the release, Keen has continued to release various updates to the game. In most, if not all cases, Keen has divided each update into a mechanical and an aesthetic component; the mechanical component being released for free while the aesthetic component (new block models, texture overlays, engineer suits, and emotes) have been released as a purchasable DLC. This may be a compromise between the need for a semi-predictable revenue stream for continued support of the game, and the need to avoid creating a "pay-to-win" situation.

Update title Update Description DLC Title Date DLC Description
Decorative Pack #1 2019 April New small and large cockpit blocks designed for better downward visibility than existing models. Additionally, the pack contained various interior furnishings for large ships, crawlers, and fixed installations.
Style Pack 2019 June Additional engineer suit models and emotes, as well as new block texture overlays.
Economy Added NPC trading stations, NPC factions, a faction reputation system and faction icons. Economy Deluxe 2019 August 22 Adds vending machine and ATM blocks, as well as additional suits, block texture overlays, Safe zone textures, and additional faction icons.
Decorative Pack #2 2019 October Adds Dispenser and jukebox blocks, a transparent LCD panel (useful for creating custom HUDs), various interior furnishings and window blocks, new catwalk blocks, railings, stairs and half stairs, a rotating warning light fixture, and a small collection of decorative metal crates.
Frostbite Pack Added a new planet (Triton), and the Frostbite scenario. Frostbite 2020 March 19 Adds the Frostbite Scenario, the Antenna Dish, decorative engineer cadavers (skeletons in suits, for atmosphere), a 7.5m wide by 5m tall airtight door block, an offset door, a blizzard-themed block texture overlay, a pair of "I’m Cold" and "Checking suit vitals display" emotes, and some LCD posters.
Sparks of the Future Added Global Automatic Weather to planets. Sparks of the Future Pack 2020 June 24 Includes a set of decorative neon tubes, sci-fi versions of various blocks such as the "Ion" and "Atmospheric" thrusters, LCD panels, Interior walls, button panels, sliding doors, and various button panels. Also includes a Sci-fi block texture overlay, two "Neon" block texture overlays, 8 new emotes, and a bar counter.
Wasteland Added a new planet (Pertam), and the Scrap Race scenario Wasteland Pack 2020 November 25 Adds a set of wheels with airless tyres, an exhaust pipe block, a buggy-style cockpit, two automotive-style lighting blocks, an assortment of "barred" window blocks, two view port blocks, three flavours of Storage Shelves (with crafting recipes that correspond to the items shown on the shelves), three block texture overlays ("Concrete", "Dust", "Rust 2", and "Retro future"), a "Scavenger" engineer suit model, and two new character emotes.
Warfare I Added 3 pistols, 2 handheld rocket launchers, and the Uranium Heist scenario. Field Engineer 2021 April 22 Adds the "Fire Cover" and "Half window" blocks, a weapon rack block, five new "passageway" blocks, an embrasure block, two new emotes, and the "Assault" suit.
Heavy Industry Added magnetic plates and plate armor blocks. Heavy Industry Pack 2021 July 28 Adds a Large (7.5m by 7.5m) Magnetic plate, a set of truss beam blocks and Industrial conveyor pipes, a decorative cylindrical column block, a vertical button panel, remodeled versions of the Large Hydrogen Tank; Large Cargo Container; Refinery; Assembler; and Hydrogen Thrusters. And a hazard pattern block texture overlay.
Warfare II Added various turrets and block weapons, and a fire control computer for providing elevation and azimuth data to player-made turrets. Broadside Pack 2022 February 4 A model and texture overhaul of the nuclear reactors; battery blocks; airtight hangar doors; rocket pod and gatling gun; and couch block. It also contains a "searchlight" block (a spotlight-camera-turret combo), a heat vent block, a set of bridge

windows, a light panel, a "helm" station, a new helmet, a reinforced sliding door, and two new emotes.

Most Wanted Free update that added New Armor shapes, conveyors, round windows and tons of other blocks requested by community 2022 April 28 -
Automatons Added grid AI blocks and event controller that made automation of your ships and drones possible. Also Willis Ducts, 2x2 wheels, full block air vent, small connector and combat improvements. Automatons Pack 2023 April 13 Emotion Controller, Saddle Cockpit, Compact Saddle Cockpit, Robot Helmet Skin, Plastic Armor Skin, Warning Signs, Top Mounted Camera, Angled Interior Walls, Inset Light Block, Pipework Blocks, Access Panels, Air Vent Fan, Automaton Programmable

Block, Automaton Timer Block, Automaton Sensor.

Warfare Evolution Added new PvP scenario Space Standoff, performance and AI improvements, Round Armor Panels, Short Wheel Suspensions, Flat Atmospheric Thrusters, Control Pedestals and AI Warning Signs. Decorative Pack #3 2023 August 29 Warworn Armor Skin, Cab Cockpit, Twin-blade Wind Turbine, Colorable Solar Panels, Holo LCD, Inset LCD panel, Sloped LCD panel, Curved LCD panel, Round Beacon, Inset Couch, Inset Bed, Inset Button Panel, Entertainment Corner, Inset Bookshelf, Inset Aquarium, Inset Kitchen, Inset Cryo Room, Corner Medical Room, Half Bed, Half Bed Open, Scaffold Set, Crates & Barrels and Explosive Barrel.
Signal Added Broadcast Controller, Action Relay, Additional Round Armor Panels, Compact Antenna, Scenario selection menu overhaul, New Red Ship Starting Scenario, Claiming NPC Grids, QoL improvements + PvE preparation Signal Pack 2024 May 13 Truss Set, Corridor Blocks, Narrow Corridor & Stowage, Narrow Door, Inset Walls Set, Decorative Console Blocks, Bay Windows Set, Extra Live Orchestra Jukebox Tracks.


Space Engineers won the "4th best Indie Game of 2013" award from IndieDB,[5] an honorable mention in the "Indie of the Year 2014"[23] and first place in "Indie of the Year 2015".[24]


  1. ^ Wales, Matt (February 20, 2020). "Space Engineers' long-awaited Xbox One edition finally arrives in April". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "Space Engineers PS4 & PS5".
  3. ^ Marek Rosa. "Marek Rosa - dev blog". marekrosa.org.
  4. ^ a b "Space Engineers released on PlayStation!". July 20, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Indie of The Year 2013 feature". Indie DB. December 27, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "News". Space Engineers.
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, Alice (May 15, 2015). "Space Engineers Shares Source Code". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  8. ^ a b Rosa, Marek (May 14, 2015). "Space Engineers – full source code access, total modifications and 100,000 USD fund". marekrosa.org. Retrieved June 16, 2015. Today we have a very important announcement for our modders and our community. We decided to give you 100% complete access to Space Engineers' source code. This comes as a continuation of our decision to give more freedom to modders and community.
  9. ^ "Space Engineers is a physics sandbox about creation and destruction". PC Gamer. September 9, 2013.
  10. ^ "Hands On With Space Engineers - Rock, Paper, Shotgun". Rock Paper Shotgun. rockpapershotgun.com. October 25, 2013.
  11. ^ "Features". Space Engineers.
  12. ^ Marek Rosa. "Marek Rosa - dev blog". marekrosa.org.
  13. ^ "Space Engineers". Keen Software House.
  14. ^ About Archived March 15, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, spaceengineersgame.com
  15. ^ "Space Engineers Has Sold Over 250K Copies, Version 01.019.010 Now Available". dsogaming.com. February 25, 2014.
  16. ^ "Space Engineers – Survival Mode and Multiplayer Milestones Reached" (Press release). Gamasutra.
  17. ^ "Space Engineers Reaches One Million Copies Sold" (Press release). Gamasutra.
  18. ^ "Keen Software House announces Medieval Engineers, the studio's second engineering title!" (Press release). Gamasutra.
  19. ^ SpaceEngineers on github.com
  20. ^ "EULA.txt". GitHub. 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2021. The source code and art assets must not to be mistaken for free software, an open source in a free-software activist understanding, copy-left or public domain software. All source code and art assets remain copyrighted and licensed by KEEN SWH LTD. and you are allowed to use them (modify, tweak, make a derivative work, distribute, etc.) only under following conditions. [...]use this source code only for developing mods for Space Engineers.
  21. ^ Space Engineers News: Full Source Code Access with Planets + DX9 Changes on marekrosa.org (February 2016)
  22. ^ "Space Engineers for Xbox One Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  23. ^ "Indie of the Year 2014 - Players Choice feature". Indie DB. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  24. ^ "Players Choice - Indie of the Year 2015 feature". Indie DB. Retrieved December 24, 2016.

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