Tuesday, May 24, 2016

KeenSWH Team Structure + New Medieval Engineers Leadership

Today I’m writing with news about our Keen Software House structure and especially the Medieval Engineers team. We’ve made a few changes that are aimed at helping us reach our short-term and long-term goals, so we can deliver the amazing games our community deserves as efficiently as possible.

Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post explaining that in the last 1-2 years we have transitioned from an indie studio of 5 people to one of 50+. We’re growing fast and the growth continues. We’ve experienced some growing pains (like any expanding business does). We’re solving this by constantly improving our organizational and management processes, and by finding strong leaders for each project. We were working to find the right person to lead Medieval Engineers and help us scale up so we can continue to bring you quality, awesome, fun, polished games with big features.

Today I’m happy to say that we’ve found that person – Tim Toxopeus. I’ll tell you a little more about him later on in this post.

Team Structure

We’re definitely no longer a small indie studio of 5 guys. These days, we have over 50 people split into various teams (a few people are on more than one team). We’re publishing this organizational info because we never actually explained what our team looks like to our community - now everyone can have a clear picture of how development looks at KeenSWH:

  • Space Engineers – 14 people (led by Petr Minarik, who’s been with KeenSWH since the beginning)
  • Medieval Engineers – 10 people (programmers, artists, testers) - led by Tim Toxopeus
  • Music – 1 composer (Karel Antonin)
  • Sound – 2 sound designers (one of them - Lukas Tvrdon - has been with us since the beginning and worked on Miner Wars, Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers)
  • VRAGE engine – 4 programmers - led by Jan Nekvapil, a young and very talented programmer
  • VRAGE-RENDER engine – 3 programmers (led by Jan Hlousek, a newer member of the team with years of experience in game development and render techniques)
  • Backend – 2 people
  • Space Engineers Xbox – 1 programmer + one external development company with significant experience porting PC games to consoles
  • Testers – 5 people
  • Game Design – 2 game designers (led by Tomas Rampas, one of the original Space Engineers designers)
  • HR – 1 person
  • Finance – 2 people
  • PR – 3 people
  • Business development – 1 person
  • Office Management – 1 person
  • Other projects 10 people

This list doesn’t include 30 researchers working at GoodAI - a general artificial intelligence R&D company I started two years ago.

How is this different than before? We’ve always had dedicated teams of people working on SE + ME. The biggest difference now is that while I’m still the head of Keen Software House, it will be up to Petr and Tim to drive Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers forward. Improving our management structure means that we can scale up in a serious way - the studio can now be run by the game teams rather than by me directly. I can now focus more on the general vision of our games and projects (the big picture), like what can we do better, where we want be in 1 to 5 years, etc., while each game team and its leader devotes 100% of their attention to a single game. 

New Medieval Engineers Leadership

You’ll hear a lot more from the Medieval Engineers team lead and producer, Tim Toxopeus, in the coming weeks. Known as Deepflame on our forums and Discord server, Tim is an experienced programmer and an avid player of both SE and ME. He had a cumulative playtime of 1000+ hours before he even applied to join Keen Software House. Bringing him to the Medieval Engineers team as lead producer is the next step in optimizing things in the game and at Keen Software House.

All hail King Tim, 3rd from the right

One of Tim’s first actions as team leader is to release a new stable (and default) branch on Steam with today’s Medieval Engineers update. In addition to returning area building to the game, we’ve made some fixes and quality of play improvements that will make gameplay generally more accessible and pleasant. 

With the release of this stable branch, we have decided to temporarily pause weekly updates (though video updates will continue as usual). I want to stress that this period will be different from the feature freezes and bug fixing periods we did in the past. We want to do much, much more than just stabilize the game – we want to bring it back to life.

Without the pressure to release something new for players every week, we can direct all of our energy towards getting Medieval Engineers in a more intuitive state and fulfilling our original vision for the game. You can read more about my original vision for the game in my previous blog post, but essentially, we want to refocus on engineering and building in the game. We want to implement a more intuitive interface that teaches new players what they can do. Survival, multiplayer, and single player will become a priority once again.  You can think of the current version of Medieval Engineers as a demo – just a taste of what’s to come.

We want players to keep in touch with what’s going on week-to-week in Medieval Engineers development, so weekly video updates will continue. They’ll be a little different than before, since we won’t be announcing new features every week. Instead, you’ll hear a lot more from Tim, programmers, artists, and testers about what’s going on in the game behind the scenes. So keep an eye out for upcoming Tuesday interviews, dev diaries, modding guides, and more!

Finally, we also want to implement a small reward in the game for those players who stuck with us through the early stages and this rocky period of development. If you have ideas about what that reward could look like (perhaps a custom model or hat in the game that would mark you as one of our earliest community members), let us know in the comments!


Thanks for reading!

Marek Rosa
CEO and Founder, Keen Software House
CEO, CTO and Founder, GoodAI

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


  1. Maybe a custom model! :) Nice news, also it's amazing to see you are spreading so much.

  2. What can I get for 4600 cumulative hours? Access to the VR build? My Vive ships in June :P

  3. Give us.... our soul.... nah... an awesome sword or maybe hat/shirt custom player model of, maybe a king....

    1. This king? http://media2.popsugar-assets.com/files/2011/08/33/5/192/1922195/65520495668cbc95_t/i/Burger-King-Ditches-King-Mascot.jpg

    2. I think for Space Engineers, maybe chevrons or a medal/badge on their flight suit. For Medieval Engineers, a plumed hat could be cool. Or a big mustache.

    3. sturdy retractable landing gear with a solid structure animation ( no rotor or piston physics needed )

      or a ball cap.

    4. I second a retractable landing gear.

      And maybe retractable hardpoints that look like armor blocks when retracted.

  4. A new character for the reward > Armor.

  5. I dunno...any reward ingame would almost immediately become available as a mod, wouldn't it? I'm not complaining about that, just saying it wouldn't stay unique long. What about something that couldn't be modded....a floating crown above our heads, a neat font for our names...dunno. A working rotor in Space Engineers? Ya, know, something REALLY unique. :)

  6. Thanks for keeping us all on the loop as always. Though special rewards for people is a bit odd - I think we all just want to the game to be perfect~

  7. Maybe some exclusive weapons, tools for us (double wielding of swords, battle axe, or a shield with an emblem and a matching armor, if you are planning to add that to the game as well)? Custom models will be available as soon as modders start to make mods. I don't know if it's possible yet, but I'm sure it will be.
    I would really like to play this game like Skyrim on a public roleplay server :3 That would be sooo amazing.

  8. Thank you for the honesty and transparency. That is much appreciated!
    I think there is no need for extra rewards. Why not give it to everybody to enjoy? Shared happiness is double happiness…

  9. A model with a long, gray beard would convey the veterancy pretty well, I'd say. Though, as previously mentioned, models can be modded into the game pretty easily, so... A small crown icon next to the name or something? That'd be neat.

  10. Great moves and happy news and yes, thank you for your transparency :) It's been a while i was thinking that ME updates should go monthly to take away some pressure out of the team shoulders. Welcome to your new M8 and long life to ME! :)

  11. Actually I think this came about due to a discussion on the Discord chat server. I made the comment that we shouldn't assume the programmers working on rendering are in the same office. It was then someone noticed we have no idea how the KSH office is arranged.

    Good to see Tomas is still around, I liked the ships, stations and other things he created for the game. Perhaps more of what he created could be put into the game proper, rather than just workshop items.

  12. Greetings,

    A New Leadership for ME is a very good decision !

    But, please don't Streamline this game to much. Area Inventory is a good example for a very good, uniqe and not streamlined Feature. So you can add Volume/Mass back to player inventory without that building is to annoying, difficult.

  13. From the whole post all you guys got from it was the part of the reward?! Wauw!
    reading between the lines it shows me that it perhaps wasn't the best idea to build up two engineering games simultaneously and as SE is far more popular it got more time and resources to proceed. Now most wishes have been granted on that part (e.g. planets, progress on net code etc) the focus can be diverted back to ME.
    Most difficult still is to manage both games while juggling with internal available knowledge and resources.
    To my opinion ME could be better but it lags miles behind on the far more further developed sandbox competitors.
    Don't get me wrong but both SE and ME have one serious issue: they lack purpose.
    Be it an economy model or achievement reward system or any other incentive based control. It comes down to "why would I play?" To be honest; with SE I made so much hours mainly because everything just kept blowing up. By the time I figured out that after my daytime job I was actually doing another job of providing upkeep and maintanace. And with ME; building a castle and wander around alone by myself, I eventually just let it go. (Idea for a frozen themed environment? :-P)

    Rounding it up; by structuring the organization I really hope it pays off and besides working on technical parts of the games it might be time to look at the interaction parts as well this time.
    For ME look at the history of actual mid evil times. Why does one build a keep? And why on which location? What about war with neighboring keeps? Build guilds and/or armies. How about trade markets? Be political and work with allies to expand territory and get backstabbed in the long run by your best buddy... (Multiplayer scenario)

    You've inspired our creativity, now challenge us!!

    Bottom line; only building on the "engineering" aspect of the game isn't going to survive over the upcoming years Marek (as you mentioned your focus will move to long term vision).

    1. I agree with you completely. I love the engineering aspect of the game, but for me, the engineering needs to have purpose or there is no point to it. I do not want to solve imaginary problems. I want to solve real, in-game problems which do NOT feel contrived (like space dogs), and I want my solutions to feel rewarding. That means I can't just be fighting off death or never ending waves of mindless, bald zombies or dogs. So, economy, exploration, PVP... one, some, or all need to be a serious focus, or the engineering aspect becomes moot.

      One final thing. I'm not suggesting it be removed, and I know it is a much beloved feature... but let me just say that I totally hate workshop blueprints. I spend hours attempting to design the perfect this or that, only to have some idiot jump in and fab up something someone else spent 10x longer working on. Said idiot is not an engineer, did not put in the time, yet is running around with Grade A merchandise I would have to dedicate 300 more hours to match. And by that time, he'll have printed up 40 more ships designed by 40 other people who each put in 300 hours. Frustrating that the game encourages and so greatly rewards copying over actual ingenuity! In Space Engineers, the dedicated engineers have it worse than anyone.

  14. hmm... a reward eh? Maybe make it so modding works? IE Dont have me do 3d modeling and battle with clang for 12 hours a day to add a name badge, delete a beard, and a little flag onto a suit!

  15. Would love to see the fog lifted from this game world, literally. I'm certain and by design, that the developers have intentionally left a thin layer of fog every where in the game, as if its at a high elevation or something. Lets clear the air and let those game colors shine through!!

    Also hope someone is working on fixing the day night cycle and getting barbarians and wildlife functioning again.

    Thanks for the update!

  16. Just following up on my last post, made a new game and........we have day night cycle again, and I saw a deer immediately, so I imagine Barbarians are working again as well!!!

    Thank you!!

  17. For me, the perfect small reward would just be, keep it going, and keep up more communication, that'd be reward enough for me

  18. The reward should be something that can't be modded like a player model or item. Maybe some kind of icon next to the players name?

  19. a silver or golden crown *-* in character model or next to player name like said before

  20. A reward? Female character model. Swipe the face for Treebeard and you make early adopters of SE happy in one strike.

    Commander Rotal

  21. I would like a small crown next to my chat name and in-game player name (above my head) in Medieval Engineers and star in Space Engineers. Cool in-game models would be good because most servers wouldn't enable mod that would allow you to mod the model without being vet.

  22. Marek Rosa, You forgot about that ME playing in different countries and not all understand English speech. Therefore, the value of the video, with those employees in the frame a little informative. I'm talking about Medieval Engineers: Developer Diaries - Episode 1

  23. Does this by any chance mean Space Engineers will get new netcode?