Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Stabilization period for Medieval Engineers and Space Engineers

Our Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers teams have been working hard to develop new features over the past few months, and recently it became clear that in order to keep the gameplay at a high level, we need to slow down the pace of adding new features and focus more on improvements.  To say it another way, we’ve been pushing towards new features in a highly motivated, almost crazy way and it’s time for a stabilization period :-) We added new features, and now we are working on improving these features and making them feel more complete by using opinions of the community. This is essential for titles that are available in Early Access – we enjoy getting feedback from the community that helps us in the process of optimizing the game.

This means that starting this week, we are moving into a temporary feature freeze period. We will be focusing exclusively on finishing existing features and on bug fixing. I want to assure you that weekly updates will continue, but they’ll be focused on stabilization rather than on new features.

The stabilization period will allow us to fix issues that appeared after recent features were implemented, and improve the overall gameplay.

It’s important to state that going into a stabilization period does not mean that we’ve reached Beta – in fact, we did something similar back in October 2014 (see http://blog.marekrosa.org/2014/10/level-design-stabilization-period_15.html). Taking time to finish existing features and fix bugs is a normal part of game development, and it has been received positively by the community in the past.

The stabilization period will not affect or slow down the development of upcoming major features, which we will continue to work on in parallel with bug fixes. This includes:
  • New multiplayer for Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers
  • Planets for Space Engineers (See our teaser video and screenshots below!)

Finally, I want to say that we are so thankful to our community of players and fans who are very helpful in finding bugs and reporting in-game issues – we couldn’t do it without you.

Thanks very much for reading! As always, feel free to leave comments and questions below. I am very interested in hearing your suggestions, especially about what should get finished and fixed first, what can wait for later, etc.


For further updates, keep reading my blog: http://blog.marekrosa.org/ or find me on Twitter: @marek_rosa

Or  follow Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers on Facebook and Twitter:
Medieval Engineers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MedievalEngineers
Medieval Engineers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MedievalEng
Space Engineers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpaceEngineers
Space Engineers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpaceEngineersG

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

GoodAI is heading to the AGI-15 conference in Berlin!

GoodAI is gearing up for our first whole-team conference about general artificial intelligence in Berlin, Germany from July 22-25. We’re sending a full bus of team members, about 25 people, to represent GoodAI.

GoodAI team on the roof of our offices!

AGI-15 is organized by the Artificial General Intelligence Society together with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). The conference is a yearly gathering of top researchers, academics, and business leaders dedicated to creating general AI.

When I say general artificial intelligence, I’m referring to a technology that’s very different from typical AI applications that most people have heard about – self-driving cars, chess-playing AI, or facial recognition software. These specific applications are commonly referred to as narrow AI, which means that they are built to solve very specific problems.

General AI developers such as GoodAI, however, aim for something more universal. General artificial intelligence of the future will be able not only to perform specific tasks very well, but to function with the skill and ability of a human being. Future general AI brains will perceive stimuli in the same way that a human does – by seeing, feeling, interacting, and learning – and use this data to generate behavior, perform tasks, and respond to motivations given by human mentors. General AI will be as flexible and able to learn as a human.

Conference attendees at AGI-15 will therefore all be dedicated to this major task – developing general artificial intelligence. To support efforts from others outside our company who are aligned with our vision, I decided to officially sponsor the AGI-15 conference with a $10,000 donation.

GoodAI will also deliver a tutorial presentation at AGI-15 about our first product: Brain Simulator, our visual editor for designing artificial brain architecture that is now available to the public under and open source, non-commercial license. The tutorial title is “GoodAI Brain Simulator: Prototyping AI Architectures,” and will offer an in-depth explanation of Brain Simulator and its uses.

Thanks for reading!

If you want to hear more about what GoodAI is doing at the conference or in general, be sure to follow us on social media or check out our website:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoodArtificialIntelligence
Twitter: @GoodAIdev

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Esprit de corps at GoodAI

Today I’ve prepared a special blog post to tell you a little more about how we do things here at GoodAI. Our way of working is all about esprit de corps, or what’s often just called “morale” in English – it’s about believing in a purpose and staying motivated to move forward towards a common goal. Esprit de corps means being a cohesive whole, refusing to surrender, having each other’s backs, and getting where we need to be.

I prefer to think of us as a group of people going after one common goal, not a corporation with a hierarchy of boss and employees. Our team works in a cooperative environment, and we are all focused on one mission: creating general artificial intelligence. I also want my colleagues to feel like co-owners of GoodAI, so I am planning to give them company shares in the near future. We operate on consensus and everything we do takes us closer to our goal.

That said, every member has a particular place in the team. We’re working towards multiple smaller milestones at any given time, which means that the group is often split into teams that tackle smaller goals. We’re also oriented towards incremental progress rather than making great leaps over longer periods of time. Instead of going after a single goal that takes us two years, we aim for 12 smaller milestones spaced two months apart. I know we achieve more this way, and hitting these incremental milestones allows us to be flexible in our approach and make real progress day by day. We are not afraid to fail, and we take a positive view of every setback we encounter on the way to reaching milestones. By failing fast, we can rethink and attack the challenge from a different angle. We want to find out what doesn’t work as quickly as possible in order to more efficiently find out what methods will succeed.

GoodAI team members are also given a lot of free time to try doing things their own way. We push hard towards a particular goal for two months, and then take one month where every team member explores their own individual ideas and interests related to general AI. We’ve found that this process allows us to keep hitting the milestones we need to hit, but also makes room for a lot of great ideas that emerge when researchers and programmers are given space to be creative.

My own role in the GoodAI team is to drive the direction of our research, push everyone to focus on the most important things and ignore what wastes our time and resources, and determine the best ways to achieve our goals. I would call myself a project architect. I keep the pressure on our teams to produce, but I’m careful to connect people and ideas and to let new approaches emerge.

My job is to understand what the teams can do and to know that they can always do better. It’s my responsibility and personal mission to teach the teams that they can do more than they ever imagined possible. My role is to tap their fullest potential.

If you’re curious about our “stay-the-course” approach, check out this article that perfectly describes the way I look at things I want to do in my life: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grit_(personality_trait)

Why general artificial intelligence?

For me, creating general AI is the greatest challenge I can imagine, and I know the risk of failure is high. But I also know that general AI will fix everything for humankind in the future – it will be a universal problem-solver. I also know myself. I’m the kind of person who needs to take on the hardest challenges that seem impossible to most people.

If something is too easy, I lose interest. If general AI was a simple challenge, I wouldn't bother. I’m all about keeping a “no limits” mentality, being open to others and their ideas, and remembering that my team is my greatest resource in getting where we need to be.

In case you’re interested in joining us :-), here’s what my team members are saying about working at GoodAI:

Honza: “I’m very curious what GoodAI will be doing in two months, or in half a year. I have a feeling that even my craziest dreams are nothing compared to what we will really do. So it will be a dream come true, literally.”

Jarda: “A big change can be made by someone new (like Marek) who wants to do things in a different way and at the right time. Also, I've always wanted to work on a team like this, and I just had to wait until the company and position was available in the Czech Republic :-) ”

Phil: “I want to be able to contribute to all of these great challenges we have. I love the cutting edge technology at GoodAI, and I love the team with lots of smart people. You can always throw an idea out there, you can always get lots of input.”

Jiri: “I’m doing what I always wanted to do – my work is my hobby.”

Thanks for reading!


Learn more about GoodAI on our website www.GoodAI.com, on Facebook, or by following us on Twitter.