Thursday, September 14, 2017

My vision for the visual style of Space Engineers

  • Primary Colors
  • Skybox Background
  • Exterior Art Style for Ships and Constructions
  • Lights
  • Color Scheme

Today’s blog post is based on an internal document which we are using to maintain the signature visual style of Space Engineers from October 2013. Currently, we are working towards making the game’s visuals and marketing closer to that of the original release. This post outlines the key elements of my vision for the visual style of Space Engineers, some of which are already present but there’s others that we still need to focus on.
You can use this information to help you create screenshots for our latest competition which should follow this signature styling. For more details on the competition, click here. This document could also prove useful when designing campaigns, scenarios and mods or even making videos.

Primary Colors

One of the main factors making Space Engineers universe unique, is its color palette. And while in-game world can consist of wide variety of all possible colors, major elements (be it ships/ buildings/structures etc) must stay true to this original color scheme. For original Space Engineers, these are the Primary colors:


Skybox Background

There are also some general rules to maintain the unique look and feel of Space Engineers universe in outer space environment.


In terms of color, we want to have the surrounding skybox to be mostly of monochrome colors. Almost grayscale with a little bit of color tint.


We are trying to avoid super black areas. Even the darkest skybox parts must have some bright values. This is done to make all foreground elements really stand out and be prominent.
Note: this doesn’t mean there won’t be total dark when you enter an enclosed interior area.

Texture pattern:

Since Space Engineers is all about mining and engineering, surrounding texture pattern must be a kind of mixture of massive dust clusters and a bit of nebulas scattered all around. Also, all elements in the skybox texture must be shaded in rather diffuse, ambient manner without any hint of direct light source like sun or any other. This is done to avoid visual lighting/shadowing conflicts between moving in-game sun and static Skybox elements.
Check the image below:
One of the rules for visuals of Space Engineers is to avoid placing elements like asteroids or any other objects in skybox texture which would require natural reaction to lighting from in-game sun.


Exterior Art Style of Ships and Constructions
To maintain consistency and keep general art style of all main ships and structures, all of these elements must contain combination of one or two primary color stripes (doesn’t need to be white only) as shown in the images below.


There are some exceptional ships that don’t require the white-stripe pattern.

       Reference Videos
You can see some videos as a reference for the original visuals:

Space Engineers - "Survival Mode" Tutorial

The lights are also very important for our in-game experience. We’re trying to use only white colored light, but if there is some color needed, we try to do it very subtly.
We don’t want to have too many colors in Space Engineers footage - see the pics above, they usually have 3-5 colors maximum.

Color Scheme
We try to stick to only one color scheme per setting/environment mostly. It means no multiple, chaotic color combinations in one setting/environment/room. As a general rule of thumb: Use 80/20% or even 90/10% combination when creating lighting scenarios for settings. For example, when lighting a big interior - 80/90% of lights should be of the same color, while you can have some variations/combinations with other colors to portray needed visual in-game guides.

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

Thank you for reading!

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

For more news:
Space Engineers:
Medieval Engineers:
General AI Challenge:
AI Roadmap Institute:
Keen Software House:

Personal bio:

Marek Rosa is the CEO and CTO of GoodAI, a general artificial intelligence R&D company, and the CEO and founder of Keen Software House, an independent game development studio best known for their best-seller Space Engineers (2mil+ copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic. 
Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. Marek started his career as a programmer but later transitioned to a leadership role. After the success of the Keen Software House titles, Marek was able to personally fund GoodAI, his new general AI research company building human-level artificial intelligence, with $10mil. 

GoodAI started in January 2014 and has grown to an international team of 20 researchers.


  1. I still use the old skybox with the asteroids. Love the way the game looks with it. Maybe just nostalgia from earlier in the games development. But still love the direction space engineers is headed.

  2. Looking at the screenshots comparing the new with the old. I think the colors in the skybox mess with the feel of space. The grays look much better as a background.

  3. i love the color scheme and the art of this game

  4. Replies
    1. All instructions for the screenshot competition can be found here:

  5. While I understand why you want to competiting screenshots to share the "default" style of space engineers, I kinda feel like these rule bound the creators hand stirctly. I for one have my color palette of very dark gray,light gray, rust brown with a bit of 'safety warning' yellow, as well as modular, almost space station-esque junker ships, which looks nothing like the standard space engineers look, and I honestly feel that they wouldn't be welcomed in the competition where you wish us to reacreate the original screenshots...

    1. Yes I agree, these rules will bound some creators.

      But my reason here is that I really want to keep that original style, because that's one of the things which makes Space Engineers stand out. Be unique.

      One more thing: explaining this style is very hard because the main part of it is only in my head. Transferring it to a blog post and minds of other people will always result in some lose.

      Saying this, it's possible that your understanding of my style vision is not absolutely equal to what is really in my vision (I am not saying you did anything wrong; these are just facts).

      Also, only one category is constrained to recreate the original screenshots. Then there are other categories where people can make any screenshot they wish (while trying to follow the art style).

      Give it a try :-)

  6. Would it hurt too employ some scale model painters in the future too work with the artist ' not trying too be mean but the etching and weathering looks rushed poor and out of place the edge of an armor block should not look like the top of a worn railing from an urban environment

  7. the one advantage of having said scale model artist ' is they can imagine the circumstance behind such weathering effects or otherwise

  8. I have 1589 hours in SE and this would be a treat too see in the future

  9. Other then that thanks for an awesome 1500 hours minus clang XD