September 9

Today we announced our new sandbox game “Space Engineers”.
More info at

I am going to describe the decisions that led to this project and some details from its development.

Space Engineers is in alpha stage of development – the core gameplay is almost finished (constructing modular grid-like objects in manual and creative mode, volumetric physics, piloting ships, character animations, deformable and destructible objects, electricity, reactors, thrusters, artificial gravity, etc.), some art assets are still placeholders and there are no sound effects. It’s still a “work in progress”, far from “feature complete”.
I could say that the idea of Space Engineers emerged as a logical extension to what we started in Miner Wars – but it’s actually much older. Ten years ago, I wanted to make a game that would be like a computer version of “LEGO TECHNIC” (volumetric objects made of modules interconnected in a grid, with real physical properties and interactions).
Miner Wars 2081 was our first shot and it only touched this idea. Space Engineers is our second attempt and I believe we are going in the right direction.
After finishing Miner Wars 2081, we could have proceeded with a sequel or an MMO, but we felt that first we need to focus on construction and sandbox mechanics, integrate them into our VRAGE engine, build a game that represents them in a best possible way – “Space Engineers” and then reuse them in our future games: a sequel to Miner Wars 2081, an MMO or something else.
In Space Engineers, every object is made of block-modules interconnected in a grid. Every module is a real entity with volume. Depending on the purpose of a module, it can have storage capacity, electricity consumption or production, etc. If you want your lights to operate, better connect them to a grid so they can receive power from a nuclear reactor, which needs uranium to keep running. If you interrupt the grid, the power is lost. If you overload the grid, some consumers get shut down.
Space Engineers is inspired by reality and is played in an environment that can be completely altered by the player. No fake buildings with empty interiors. No fake doors leading to nowhere. No lights, computers or thrusters receiving power from some abstract source. No inventory located “somewhere” in the ship. Everything in the game has some use. There are no “decorative” assets.
Design and development of Space Engineers is guided by our pursuit for realism. Every design decision is shaped by questions such as “how would this thing work in real life?”, “is this technology feasible in the 21st century by extrapolating our current knowledge?”, “what would NASA do?” etc. Not making design-shortcuts proved to be useful and I can say that “the reality is the best designer”.
The foundation of this new technology is a modular grid with real-time deformation and destruction physics. The development of breaking physics took us about a month of work, but it was worth it. It would feel weird if you could build a mother ship, crash it into an asteroid and have it just bounce away. Now it will deform blocks in collision and if damage reaches a certain point, destroy them completely. The video above shows how this works.
On a side note, the modular system is an interesting idea for real space stations and space ships and perhaps if future space engineers have enough resources and 3D printers, they will use it 🙂
Another significant difference to Miner Wars and our original plans is that we added character animations. The player is no longer “a ship”. This change adds new gameplay possibilities.

The art style of Space Engineers isn’t finished yet (many models are still just placeholders), but I am already satisfied with the way it’s going – simple colors, low frequency textures with little noise and clutter, current-era look and no flashy, “too sci-fi” surfaces. The “stripe pattern” design that we use when constructing ships was an idea that emerged from the block-nature of how ship construction works and also by the “tourist signs” we have in forests here, in Czech Republic. I am not yet satisfied with how boxy the small ships appear; we may redesign that in a future iteration.
We started working on Space Engineers in April 2013, right after we finished with our post-release works on Miner Wars 2081. I am writing these lines in August 2013 – so that’s 5 months of development. Not including me and a few other people, the major portion of Space Engineers alpha was carried out by 3 programmers and 1 artist. No overtimes and no crunch periods. I am amazed by what my colleagues achieved and I’m very proud of them.
If you want to see some actual game-play, watch these three unofficial teasers that we released in August): 

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Warning: Space Engineers is still in development. Everything in the game is subject to change.

  1. This is looking real good, Questions:

    Are the ships limited to any shape or size? i.e. can I shove a thruster on a city and pilot it through space?

    Any plans for weaponry? I'm seeing some a good opportunity for weapon combat where the design of your ship is critical (system redundancy ect)

  2. I loved Miner Wars 2081 and I'm definitely waiting eagerly for both a sequel and the MMO.

    Space Engineer sounds like a perfect game to add to my Keen Software House game collection.

  3. Looks like Minecraft in space … just joking 🙂

    I appreciate your design philosophy. I hate exaggerated unrealistic 3D models (which do not make sense even in the scifi setting) where I cannot tell which part serves what purpose. For example, absurd scifi weapons which if brought to reality would be impossible even to hold in hand not to mention aim and shoot. I totally agree with you, that "reality is the best designer".

    Now if I may offer a suggestion, as Star Trek fan, I would love to see some "aztec plating" on those ships 🙂 –

    Great job, keep it up!

  4. This looks great, definately going to get some traction from /r/games. Really interested in getting my hands on an alpha. Keep up the good work!

  5. Hi Marek, are early supporters (purchasers) of Miner Wars 2081 and Miner Wars MMO (you know, the one that will not get done) be able to get this one with a discount of some sort?

    Speaking as someone who was hopping for the MMO version of Miner Wars (and supported you guys through development) i found it a bit disappointing that you ended up only filling up half your promises 🙁


  6. very nice! I see two different sizes of blocks in the video, one small set for the "space fighter" that crashes at the beginning of the alpha video, and a larger size for the big ships.

    Can you mix and match different block sizes? or is block size determined ship by ship?

  7. Hey I have a few questions, will we have pressurized spaces? What about life support systems (o2 generators, CO converters, food, farms, water, etc)? And also what about weapons like rail guns (therefore ammo)? I'm really curious about how will it all work because I'm studying Mechanical Engineering and that's also the reason I'm so attracted to this game. It really plays with my imagination. And I can't wait for it on Steam.

    Last question, can we speed down that block creation/welding process? Yeah we just want to make it a bit more hardcore.


  8. hi I love the look of the game but will we be able to construct an asteroid mining rig and have a tug vessel tow it to different asteroids and maybe have a rotating turret mount for point defence

  9. This looks really, really awesome and I cannot wait to give it a try!! I'm an aerospace engineer and I love games like this. 🙂

    Just out of curiosity – what operating systems will this game run on? I'd love to see it on Linux.

  10. This game is what i have been waiting for. You and your team have the farthest extent of my respect.

  11. WOW nice game, can´t wait to play it!

    I hope there will be an option (in future) to build a stargate and visit other systems 🙂

  12. The games looking really good and I'll be buying it as soon as possible.
    Quick question my friends (who are also buying the game) keep going on about how aliens will be added can you say that aliens will probably not be added because its not something NASA will be looking for in the next 60 years.

  13. Hi Marek i cant seem to find that info, will SE be available for purchase outside of steam ?

    1. Thanks for the purchase. Space Engineers currently requires Steam to play and we have no immediate plans to change this (we are using Steam infrastructure and it's great) – we are going to add Steam Workshop, then multi-player later, etc.

  14. I must say, every article is prepared of block-modules consistent in a lattice. Every unit is a bona fide thing by means of dimensions. Depending on the purpose of a module, it can have storage capacity, electricity expenditure or production, and so on. What’s more! The modular organism is an attention-grabbing idea for genuine space stations and space ships and perhaps if upcoming space engineers have enough resources and 3D printers.

  15. Marek Rosa Nejlepší Hra Zlatý český ručičky ! 🙂
    Marek Rosa Moc díky 🙂
    Respect From Prague.