Today we have a very important announcement for our modders and our community. We decided to give you 100% complete access to Space Engineers’ source code. This comes as a continuation of our decision to give more freedom to modders and community.
Please do not confuse this with “open source” or “free software”: While we are opening the possibility to read and alter Space Engineers and VRAGE source code, we’re not making Space Engineers or VRAGE free.
Modders can now develop the same way Keen Software House developers do (this however does not mean we will stop working on the game).
During the last few months we have been removing parts of the obfuscation on the Space Engineers executable and libraries. After that we uploaded the source code of Space Engineers and VRAGE engine on GitHub as a private repository, let selected modders look at it and provide us with feedback, and today we’re making the repository public.
There are very few game studios that have ever done this, probably none during their early access period. It’s an experiment that someone has to try, and the chances that it will be beneficial for the future of Space Engineers is high and worth taking the risk.
Total conversions are now possible
More and better content created by modders
Allowing people to have more fun with our game by letting them modify it while we keep adding core features and updates just like we did for the last 2 years
Modders can make server-side mods easily
Modders can contribute to Space Engineer’s core development if they want
Modders can extend the official ModAPI interface and we will merge their changes with the core game
“Competitors” can steal our ideas and algorithms. Our answer: if it is so easy to clone our games and development methods, then we probably aren’t doing anything special. We believe that our competitive advantage is in being leaders, not followers.
Hackers will have an easier time cheating in multi-player. Our answer: this is true, but with new multiplayer, the server will have authority and will validate everything sent by clients. If our implementation has flaws, open access to our source code and the visibility of potential flaws will push us to fix these cases faster.
We can be accused of going open source and abandoning the development of Space Engineers. Our answer is definitely NO. As we stated above, this is mostly for giving complete freedom to our modders while we continue the game’s development without any changes (through weekly updates and keeping our development plan as described in our previous blog post). Space Engineers is still selling very well and only a crazy person would abandon the game! We just want to give people the chance to modify all aspects of our game and experiment with it while we keep doing what we are doing.
In the worst case scenario, we will revert back to obfuscating the source code and with our frequent update routine the non-obfuscated source code will soon become old and obsolete.
This new type of mods can’t be uploaded on Steam Workshop (unlike ModAPI mods) because of security risks. We are assuming that modders will find ways to share their mods with players. Server side mods will be installed on servers by server administrators, so it’s not necessary to distribute them to clients.
Modders will be able to contribute to ModAPI in vanilla game. It often happens that modders want to create a mod, but they are unable to do it because ModAPI has a limited interface. In this case, they will simply add support for it (usually it means creating a small public interface for an existing feature). We will review their changes and when it meets quality and security requirements, we’ll merge it with the core game.
Workshop mods: Nothing changes for workshop mods, except modders who wants to get involved in ModAPI improvement now have a chance.
Total conversion mods: These mods can ignore the limits of ModAPI and modify anything in the game. Because we’re unable to guarantee security, these mods can’t be uploaded to Steam Workshop and must be distributed in a different way. Games like Counter-Strike, DOTA and DayZ were created in similar fashion.
When an author of a total conversion mod wants to release his mod on Steam (as a standalone game or Space Engineers DLC/mod) we’d be happy to help him with that. Contact us: email@example.com
Standalone games: if you decide that modding is not for you and you want to build a brand new game based on Space Engineers’ and/or VRAGE source code and assets, don’t hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are modders saying?
Digi: “This will open the possibility for a lot of extra improvements to the game and its modding API, from the fans that want to get involved.”
Tyrsis: “I personally would love to modify some things, as I’m limited to responding to events / sending sync packets in order to make things happen on the client. Having more control at the source level would be interesting.”
To support our modding community even more, we reserved $100,000 of our own money as a fund for modders who want to build total conversion mods based on Space Engineers or VRAGE engine.
We’re considering several ways how this fund could work: grants with no strings attached (see how Epic does it with UDK – https://www.unrealengine.com/unrealdevgrants), zero interest loans and Kickstarter support. We can provide PR, marketing and promotion on our social media.
Why are we doing this? We believe that our VRAGE engine is unique in certain aspects and it would be great to see what other people can create with it. VRAGE supports fully dynamic and volumetric environments where players can build and destroy everything around; our game world is unlimited in size and can be procedurally generated.
Who are we looking for? Anyone who’s interested in our technology and wants to create game or total conversion using VRAGE engine or Space Engineers. We’re looking for people who are enthusiastic about the same things as we are; game development, sandbox games, destructible environments and unlimited gameplay experience.
If you don’t want to read the lawyer mumbo jumbo, please just keep in mind the following:
The source code and art assets must not to be mistaken for free software, an open source in a free-software activist understanding, copy-left or public domain software. All source code and art assets remain copyrighted and licensed by KEEN SWH LTD. and you are allowed to use them (modify, tweak, make a derivative work, distribute, etc.) only under following conditions.
The source code, modifications or derivative works can be distributed only if they are intended to be used as a mod for Space Engineers, and only if valid customers would be able to use them. You are not allowed to bypass this restriction and create a standalone application or use our code in your projects.
In other words, everyone who wants to develop and/or use mods based on our source code is required to own a valid Steam version of Space Engineers. You are not allowed to use our source code in an application other than Space Engineers. You are not allowed to remove the Steam integration from the code.
You are not allowed to distribute original art assets (textures, models, fonts, etc.) except if you won’t be able to make your modifications without our original files (e.g. painting a mustache on our astronaut texture and then distributing it as a mod to Space Engineers is allowed)
You are allowed to share the source files with other developers (crediting us when logical/reasonable), downloading and compiling the game locally, modifying and tweaking the game locally, and even publicly forking, modifying, and tweaking the game source on GitHub.
The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not claim that you wrote the original software.
Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be misrepresented as being the original software. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.
By making a pull request on our GitHub repository, you’re stating that you’re the author of these changes or have rights to the changes you’ve made and you’re giving us the right to use it in any way.
Commercial usage is allowed only after you obtain an agreement from us: email@example.com
We reserve the right to change this license at any time with or without notice, with immediate and/or retroactive effect. We believe that what we ask is reasonable, so please don’t try to bypass it. We’re trying to be open and honest, and we hope people treat us the same way back.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the source code. If you break something, you can always revert by downloading it again.
If there’s anything legal you’re wondering about that wasn’t answered: don’t do it or ask us about it. If there’s anything you don’t understand or you consider confusing, please email us your suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s it! No more rules. If the above wasn’t clear, here’s a summary: use this source code only for developing mods for Space Engineers.
I would like to end by saying again that there is no need to fear that we are abandoning Space Engineers’ development. We are very concentrated on the game’s development and on the players’ suggestions. We assure you that we will continue at the same pace as we have done for 2 years and deliver a game that all our players will love playing! If you see someone who doesn’t fully understand our arguments, please refer them to this blog post. Thank you!
SPECIAL NOTE: we noticed that many of you are eager to see planets, so this is a small preview from the development (seamless transition, 100km+ in size, procedurally generated, deformable/destructible, almost infinite amount, gravity and atmosphere… still waiting for trees, grass, etc.) 🙂