Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Level design & Stabilization period

A few months back we realized that Space Engineers had already almost all of the core features we originally planned to implement and that now would be a good time to start adding game scenarios -- something that will give players goals to achieve; something that will make Space Engineers more of a game and not just a creative sandbox.

We think that the best way to accomplish this is to create a set of interactive scenarios (levels, missions, etc.). We knew we couldn't do this alongside our other priorities, so we decided to start looking for people whose only job would be designing, prototyping and testing these scenarios.
We decided to hire level designers.

For these reasons, we launched a creation contest (where you can win NVIDIA graphic cards) and a job ad for level designers. Anyone can apply but relocation to Prague is required. I hope we will find some great new colleagues who will help us add new scenarios to Space Engineers.

The creation contest has another benefit for Space Engineers as well - if enough people apply, we will get a lot of material and ideas to choose from when implementing official scenarios in Space Engineers.

The second thing I wanted to talk about is that we started to reduce the amount of new features and now we are more focused on bug fixing and stabilization of things that are already in the game.

This doesn't mean we have reached BETA or anything like that. It only means that there's  plenty of development time in front of us and it’s better for the community that the game be in a more stable state while we keep developing it.

The first stage of this stabilization period starts now and it means that we will split our focus 50/50 between new features and bug fixing. After a few weeks, once all work-in-progress features are implemented, we will focus 100% on bug fixing. This will be a feature freeze phase when we won’t add any new feature. This will allow us to focus only on bug fixing, testing and scooping forums for bug reports. We don’t plan to include any special performance optimizations in this stage (because that could lead to new bugs), except performance issues that happen due to bugs.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Programming is coming to Space Engineers

Programming is making its way into Space Engineers. The first version will come this Thursday (September 18th, 2014).

You will have four different ways to "program in Space Engineers":
  • Modding API – This will be the first one. It’s not for everyone, because it will require modding the game. Some programming experience will be required. It will allow you to alter the game by writing C# scripts that have access to in-game objects (at first, only some type of objects will be accessible, but we will keep opening up the interface). These scripts will be shared through Steam Workshop and the game will insure they will run in a safe sandboxed environment (scripts won’t be able to access your local files, send packets over your network, launch applications, etc.). Example scenarios:
    • Dedicated server log: player will know what happened on his dedicated server while he was offline (ships destroyed, players logged in/out, ore harvested, etc.)
    • Robots! (with AI, sensors, logic, behavior)
    • Mission script, large ship fights, search and rescue, etc.
    • New custom weapons
    • Scripted ship spawning
    • Modifying existing blocks (e.g. refinery priority)
    • And more
  • Programmable blocks and HUD – I wrote about this in my previous blog post. It will come in a few weeks after the modding API. The main difference between programmable blocks/HUD and the modding API is that the former happens inside the game world. You will have access only to functions that would be available to an astronaut in-game. We will try to make it user-friendly and easy to use. You will be able to program robots and machinery, but you won’t be able to use this to script a mission or alter the game.
  • Modding API (total access) – this will be an extension of the modding API and all safety restrictions will be lifted (no sandboxed environment). You will be able to write DLL files that can access in-game objects and essentially do whatever you want. These scripts/DLLs won’t be shared on Steam Workshop (it would be too risky).
  • Interactive blocks – this idea came to us after we’ve noticed how you are using sensors and pistons. Some of you were able to create drones that track objects, logic gates, timed lights and other interactive works. The best part is that there was no text-based programming involved. We want to widen your options and we plan to add some new interactive blocks (“timer” block was the first one).

I believe that adding programming to Space Engineers will trigger a flood of creations, the possibilities are infinite. I am already looking forward to see what you will create (I already have an addiction to watching your Youtube videos, Steam Workshop worlds and mods, Reddit…).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Space Engineers for Xbox One

First of all, let me assure you that the development of Space Engineers for Xbox One won't affect the PC version.

In the past months, our team has silently grown. We have people who are dedicated to weekly updates, people who work on long-term features, people who work on our super-secret AI project and people who will work on Xbox One port.

On the other side, I must admit that I personally can’t be 100% focused on Space Engineers as I was when we started it. Now, my attention spans over many more areas.  But I believe we have the right people in the team for things to work. If nothing else; the last 6 months are proof that this already works.

We are not abandoning Steam or PC – this is where we started and we will continue here. The PC ecosystem has many advantages, from its openness, community of workshop creators (almost 40,000 creations!), to a starting modding community. Who would want to abandon this?

Porting to Xbox One was a logical choice, especially when you consider how close is the technology to the actual PC/Windows version.

12 months exclusivity relates to consoles only. PC version and possible other ports (eg. Mac, Linux, mobile, tablets) are unaffected by this.

Will the PC version get more console friendly? No. However at this moment it’s hard to predict what UI changes will be required when porting from PC to Xbox, but I doubt we will need to change the PC version because of console version. Why not customize only what’s needed by a target platform? If we won't find a way how to do modding on Xbox One, why would we remove this feature from the PC version? And the same applies to programmable modules and tons of other things.

If you have additional questions on how the Xbox One port will differ from PC version, what will be added, what will be missing, please wait until we get much closer to the release. At this moment, it’s too early to say anything.

Trust me, everything will be good.