Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keen Software House is moving and expanding: new Prague and Brno offices

Today I’m happy to report that we’re taking the next step in our plans to expand the Keen Software House teams. We’re growing very rapidly and planning to grow even more – at the moment we have about 30 people working on the games team and roughly 20 on the AI team. We just signed the contracts to open a second office in Brno, and it has been up and running for about one week.

The Prague teams have moved to a new 500m2 office in the Danube House. This office is only temporary. Our old Dejvice offices were just too small, and since our new offices in the Nile House won't be ready for three months, we jumped at the chance to spend a few months in the Danube House.

Keen SWH’s new Prague home – the Danube House
Karolinská 650/1, Prague





Our permanent home will be a 1200m2 office in the Nile House in Prague, just next door to the Danube House. This office will be luxurious and spacey, and will be able to hold us even when our teams are 100+ people all together. It will have a large presentation room, relaxation spaces, a sound room, and more. It’s the most high tech office complex in Prague, and we’re very happy to call it home.

Future permanent home of KeenSWH in Prague – the Nile House
Karolinská 654, Prague

The new Brno office is for AI researchers, SW engineers and game programmers who can’t relocate to Prague. This is our first experiment in opening a remote office.

The location of our new Brno office: Veveří 2581/102, Brno
Once we get used to the challenge of having some people work outside of Prague, we will be able to open other remote offices in the near future. We expect that our next offices will be in Bratislava, Slovakia, and then in other parts of Europe or even around the world.

Positions which can be done from/in Brno (or other remote offices):
- AI Researchers
- SW engineers for AI project
- Game Programmers
 
We’re always hiring, so if you’re interested in joining our Prague or Brno teams (or even working from another location), check out our jobs page here: http://www.keenswh.com/jobs.html

This is all a part of our long term plan to reach talent that can’t move to Prague. We have the resources to expand and we believe this is the most effective way to find the best people to work on our AI project and games.

Thanks for reading!
Marek Rosa
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If you want to follow our AI project, please follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/#!/marek_rosa or keep checking my blog: http://blog.marekrosa.org

For the latest news on our games, follow us on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Guest post by Dusan Andras - Space Engineers: Planets!

Hello Engineers! I am Dusan Andras and for those who don’t know me I am the main programmer who is working on the development of the planets for Space Engineers.

So planets… This has been one of the most demanded features by the community since we released the game on Steam Early Access. Players have been asking for it constantly and we promised to deliver. My colleague Ondrej Petrzilka already shared the first batch of info in his previous blog-post and there have been lots of things implemented since then. Planets are getting even closer to release! At this moment, we are still not 100% sure when we will be able to release them, since it is one of the biggest features we have ever developed and we hope that you understand that this update needs proper testing before we add it in the game – even if they look complete and amazing in the screenshots. I would like to give you a sneak preview for each of the planet’s properties and also some nice screenshots that we took during development.

Planet size
This is always a question of FUN vs REALITY. I can imagine that many players would like to have real life-sized planets, but for the sake of gameplay, time, and engine possibilities we decided to use a 30-50 km diameter for planets and an 8-10 km diameter for moons. Yes, some generated planets could have 0-3 moons accompanying them.

This is a 50 km planet that is 50 km away from you.

This is an 8 km moon from the planet surface. You can see another planet on the horizon

More planets!


Gravity
Planets and moons will have “natural” gravity that will affect ships, players and floating objects near them. The gravity will be scaled to the planet’s size and will decrease the further away you are from them.

Atmosphere
There will be two types of atmosphere around the planet surfaces for now: one “hostile,” without any plants or life and one for “organic” planets with flora. Organic planets will have an atmosphere full of oxygen that you can breathe and supply your ships with and will have a blueish color like earth. Hostile planets will be without oxygen and with different colors of the atmosphere.

Vegetation (trees, bushes, grass)
We added new “organic” material types for planets. It’s only on planets with an oxygen atmosphere and existing flora. In the future you will be able to harvest this organic material – but probably not in the first planetary update. The flora (trees and bushes) has been borrowed from Medieval Engineers. The flora won't be visible from space, but will appear only when the player or ship gets closer to the planet and can be configured / disabled via the world settings.

Organic planet from space

Flora at sunset

Flora during the day


Sun
To simulate the day and night cycles we decided to rotate the sun around the planets/ world. The user will be able to configure the day duration from 1 minute to 24 hours or disable the rotation to keep the current static sun.

Different day cycles from the same planet:







Station voxel support
Because of the planetary gravity, we added a new option for station grids: the Station voxel support. By enabling this option, a station will be static only when touching the voxel (one block build “inside it”). So when you cut some part of the station away it will become a dynamic object and fall.

Note: Please keep in mind that everything that has been written and presented in this blog post can be changed until this feature is released.

Thank you for reading this and we hope that you liked what you’ve seen. We can’t wait to give you planets and start playing with them!

Dusan Andras

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

USA Road Trip: DARPA Robotics Challenge, the Future of Life Institute, MIRI and the Exponential Finance Conference

Those of you following me on Twitter probably noticed that I’ve spent the past 3+ weeks in and around NYC, Boston, and now the big cities of California.  Several people suggested that I note down some of my experiences in a travel blog, so here is the first installment. This blog will cover

- the DARPA Robotics Challenge
- my meeting with the Future of Life Institute (FLI)
- my meeting with the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI)
- the Exponential Finance Conference (don’t worry – I’m not transitioning into finance)
- my visit to Tony Soprano’s house, plus other American adventures

DARPA is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Defense which invests in robotics research and development, and which holds a robotics competition every few years. The robots have to complete a variety of tasks in the shortest amount of time in order to win. The DoD aims to send robots to disaster zones which are too dangerous for humans – they will basically act as first responders and save lives where human capabilities are limited.

For the 2015 challenge, the robots faced 8 difficult tasks. After being placed in a car by their human team, the robots had to drive a car through a course. They were then required to exit the car, open and pass through a door, open a valve by rotating its circular handle 360°, use a drill to cut a large hole in drywall, cross over a great deal of rubble (this is where many bipedal robots crashed), and finally walk up a set of stairs. During this time, the robots had to carry their own source of energy with them. Human teams could only communicate wirelessly with the robots, but were allowed to help the robots get back on their feet after a fall - at the cost of having a penalty minute added to their final times.


Here’s a great clip of the winning robot’s moment of victory:


The DARPA Robotics Challenge was 10x better than I had imagined, and I was really positively surprised by the results. While many of the robots moved by rolling on wheels of some sort, most of this year’s contenders could walk on two “feet.” Even though these walking robots had some problems completing tasks, I was so impressed with the progress companies have made in the past couple of years. I also really enjoyed the expo section that was full of robots and other inventions – and I even got a few close-ups.





I have to say that it’s great that DARPA puts together this competition and supports robotics. I can’t wait for a future challenge where I would like to send an AI brain developed by our team, implemented in a third-party robot. I’d like to see our AI brain in a robot that isn’t just preprogrammed for specific tasks and the body it uses – I want to compete with an AI brain that can be put into any robot body, learn how to control it, and do any task we put in front of it.

A second highlight of my trip (so far) was meeting with people from the Future of Life Institute. FLI recognizes that technology might present risks to humanity in the future, and is committed to protecting human life and being optimistic about what’s to come. I think that FLI representatives were glad to learn that our AI company is serious about pursuing general AI technology safely. I’m happy to say that we share the same values, and I’m looking forward to future cooperation with this organization. 

I was also able to connect with the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and make a small donation to the organization while in the Bay Area. Their team is incredibly smart, and it’s obvious that they’ve thought for a long time about creating a positive future for humanity alongside AI. I like that their thinking is so carefully reasoned and highly structured, and I’m happy to say that we’re planning to cooperate with them in the future. MIRI believes, like me, that cooperation will always win out over competition when it comes to humans and artificial intelligence. 

If you’re interested in AI safety, keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post on the topic!

The Exponential Finance Conference in NYC, a fourth exciting moment on this trip, was all about how technology is impacting businesses today. It was amazing to see the way that the speakers look into the future and try to discover trends and patterns. I’d like to see more business leaders thinking this way in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Peter Diamandis, founder of Singularity University, on stage at Exponential Finance
And here’s a glimpse into some of the fun I’ve been having between conferences, meetings, and interviews:

My view of the Statue of Liberty from a helicopter
A quick stop at the Museum of Natural History in NYC
Tony Soprano’s house!


Marek

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If you’d like to see future updates on the progress of my U.S. road trip, you can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/marek_rosa or keep checking my blog: http://blog.marekrosa.org