Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Space Engineers: State of Development, Open Development in Early Access, Changes to Release System, Xbox One

SUMMARY:
  • Open development in early access is very challenging, both for players and developers
  • Each new feature, every fix and every optimization opens up new possibilities of what you can try in the game and where you can discover new errors, limits and problems
  • Announcing new development cycle with primary focus on major releases
  • The status of Space Engineers Xbox One version
  • Questions & Answers



Introduction

What led me to write this post?

While reading comments on our social media, I often see people commenting about the way we develop our games in both positive and negative ways. We are lucky to have a very passionate community but sometimes not everyone agrees with, or understands, our development process.

Our vision was always to be honest with you, our players.
Because you deserve to know.

Space Engineers: State of Development Q&A Stream

From the very beginning  we made it very clear, that Space Engineers is in development and everything is subject to change. In general we do not speak about our future plans however, there have been a few exceptions. When we discuss our plans it has been in general terms, such as now we are focusing on polishing, fixing, user interface, and not on adding new features.

Of course, the decision of being in open development / early access was made by us. Now we must continue to live with this development choice and the pros and cons that come with it.

Pros: We really appreciate the feedback we are getting from our community. Without it, we wouldn't discover a lot of things and be able to move forward so quickly. One example I’d like to mention is that players are playing and experiencing the game in ways that wouldn't occur to us, or we simply would not have the time to explore the game in such use cases.

Cons: On the other side, players are playing a game which we know is unfinished. Some features are not fully implemented, not everything is optimized, the game is not tested in all aspects, and so on. Players can blame us for everything, and we can’t always defend ourselves. This is because we know it takes years to finish a game and we will not be able to fulfill every requirement from our community. Also, even though we try our best to keep backwards compatibility for mods, worlds, and creations with every update, it is not always possible as we strive to improve the game and its engine. This is an unfortunate situation.

Doing an open development project is very difficult.
We are thankful for everyone who is, who was with, and who stayed with us
during the entire process.

Very experimental game

Looking at the Space Engineers today, we have three main challenges:
  • Space Engineers is an extremely ambitious and challenging project.
  • We are doing it in “open development” / early access so the game is always changing.
  • The environments are of huge scale, dynamic, destructible, and feature voxel realistic physics with hundreds of interconnected systems, and full modding support.
We started to work on Space Engineers five years ago. Back then, it was just an idea, there was no prototype and no rules existed for most things we do in Space Engineers (actually the only exception was StarMade which I still have a lot of respect for). We didn’t even know if it was possible or if it was a good idea to create a game with no limits to what players can build, destroy, change etc.

We’ve experimented a lot while developing Space Engineers and have had a lot of fun doing so. On top of this, players are continuing to test the boundaries and capabilities of the game. We understand that not having any limitations can put extremely high demands on computing power, especially if there are situations that go beyond what we originally designed the game to do. Then we often got a fire back about an unoptimized game. Some unintended consequences, e.g. one ship in a world is ok, but what if 30 players start crazily copy-pasting their ships in creative mode, the multi-player would start choking, CPU would choke under all the physics calculations and integration of all entities, memory would run out, etc. It is important for players to understand that optimization is not simply a miracle which can solve all performance issues, but that there are limitations to what can be done in the game. Sometimes too many physics calculations can lead to lower sim speed regardless of optimization.

It’s good that it’s hard because we can learn new things and
show others that they are possible.

At the beginning, it took us 7 months to deliver the first prototype. We decide to do “open development” in early access, which means players who purchased the game were to try the game while it’s being developed, and to get weekly updates.

The following 2 years were full of new features, improvements and additions. It was quite easy to add new stuff at this stage, because the game still wasn’t overly complex and we didn’t have to polish every feature to perfection. We were working with our community and we wanted to make our players happy. Even despite our original plan, we have added many new blocks, various systems and large features (e.g. planets, solar panels, magnetic boots, parachutes, etc).

We were able to have weekly updates where each update brought significant changes (new blocks, new functionality). But as the game grew and became more complex, it started to be more and more time consuming to add, polish, optimize and fix things. Since then, the rich weekly updates changed, mostly to fixes and optimizations. We focused on polishing what is already in the game. We are still in this stage and it will take some time until all is done.

During the last 2 years we focused on polishing and putting it all together. Many things were not visible to players, but there was a lot of work being done in the background.

Today, Space Engineers has 100x more features than we originally dreamed about, it’s much more complex, rich and polished, with more details of how things can interact. Many of the features we do are not just pure software development, but actually computer science R&D. There’s no manual for how to do it, no precedence. We must invent it. For example: large scale solar system, multiplayer with hundreds of dynamic and interacting entities where changes can occur instantly, all sorts of physics issues that can’t be pre-programmed, but the game must adapt and adjust to what players are doing, etc.

This is how we do it in Keen: we start an ambitious project and
then keep going on until it's finished

Our current goal is to perfect this first stage of Space Engineers saga, to build a solid open-world, open-ended, physical volumetric sandbox, where players can build complex machinery in believable worlds, working flawlessly in single-player and multiplayer, with rich modding support.

The last 10% takes 90% of the effort

We are very happy that Space Engineers ecosystem is a living world, with over 200,000 monthly players, a growing number of creations on Steam workshop (more than 310,000 player creations and mods) and a flourishing YouTube and streamer community.


Listening to our community is very important for us. We have our Keen feedback site open for anyone who’d like to share an idea or suggestion about the game.
  • There were more than 1200 ideas already submitted so it gives us a lot of things to looks at.
  • We have already addressed 94 ideas which we implemented into the game.
We are also active on Discord and our social medial, so we gather as much feedback as possible.

Why is open development in early access particularly challenging?

New features, or fixes of issues always open up doors to new ways of using the game, what to build and what to do in the open world. This allows players to push the limits.

For example, originally we didn't plan to have wheels in Space Engineers. We added them, because we saw that players want them for building their machines, and we were also curious what kind of things they would build with them. We didn't aim for car type wheels with suspension and other technical features. However, players started to use them in this way, especially after we introduced planets and there was gravity and a larger surface where they could drive. After we finalized the proper implementation of car/wheels physics in 2017, players started to use them more in multiplayer. These cars are more performance demanding than in other games, because Space Engineers do not distinguish if something is a car or a ship or any other machine. Space Engineers is a universal physics simulator and it has to simulate all components. And if a car is made from hundreds of blocks and a set of wheels, it all has to be simulated and propagated through multiplayer. And this takes its toll on simspeed (performance). Unless we also optimize this, it's going to run slowly.

We can’t hold back every major release until all possible issues are solved, until everything is working. If we do so, you would see only the final version of the game, not intermediate updates, and Space Engineers would not be in early access (open development).

If our development model wasn’t an open development (early access), there would be none of this. There wouldn’t be the game itself until it was 100% finished, QA certified and released.

Space Engineers has hundreds of blocks & hundreds of mechanisms and systems.

Many times our first implementation was just a quick prototype that worked in the most important cases, but didn’t cover them all. For example the antennas, rotors connected to merged grids, and many other.

As we have our internal roadmap, some players may see things being implemented in different order than they expect (e.g. “why instead of fixing multiplayer you worked on visual tweaks?”). But they don’t see the details and the reasons behind it. Back to the multiplayer example, we have actually been constantly improving multiplayer for the last 3 years, but everytime we improve it, people start pushing the game in that direction more and it seems as if nothing was actually improved. It will take some time to get the multiplayer perfect. So while working on this long term project, we want to finish shorter projects that help the community in other directions (e.g. better visual, audio, wheels, intuitive interface). The direction that will help new players, or that will help to grow the game ecosystem also for oldtimers.


Looking back at the last 5 years I can say that the game grew more than I expected. It may seem slow if you look at it on a monthly basis, but if you zoom out and observe how much experimental, complex and risky stuff have we made working... it's fascinating.

We have been on Steam Early Access for over 4 years, and are one of the oldest games there. This shows our commitment to such a challenging project and our community. This is what Early Access is all about.

Team

While building Space Engineers, we also built our team. There were 5 people at the beginning, now we have around 30, working on both Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers.

Everyone who ever built a company, or a team, knows that building the team should precede building the product. Now we feel very confident in the strong abilities of our team and I don’t think there are better programmers for making a SE-like game.

I’ve worked with many developers and I wouldn't trade my team for anything else.

I stayed as the CEO and creative director of both games - because I still love making games, especially with my colleagues, and I would miss it if I would go away from it. So I try to split my time between games and AI.

New way of doing releases

As Space Engineers is nearing its final release date our focus is on polishing, bug fixing and overall game quality rather than adding new game features. Therefore, we’ve decided to change our development cycle. This new development cycle is probably not the final one, but we think that it will work perfectly fine at this stage of development.

We have decided to eliminate the number of weekly updates and handle them on a case by case basis, in other words, when necessary.

Our main focus will be on major updates, which will bring more impactful changes to the game. This way we can focus our development and testing teams on major updates. This will give them time to do proper development and to test the entire game. The number of test cases we need to run prior to a major release is over 8000, and it requires 3 weeks of full time work of the entire QA team.

Once a major update is released, we will spend few days or weeks hotfixing the most important crashes and game breakers, but we really hope there will be a minimum of those game breakers after the release.


Comments from the Community


Xbox One version

Together with Microsoft we announced that there will be an Xbox One version of Space Engineers four years ago.

When players ask us these days about the progress of the Xbox version, we usually say “it is currently under development”.

What I can say is, that we have a dedicated team working on this project with very good progress. We do not want to comment on the target date at this moment, but we would like to assure you, that we are working on it.


Questions & Answers

Q: Does it mean that you have stopped developing the game?
A: No. Quite the contrary. We are just switching from weekly updates to more long-term focused major updates. We are focussing on quality rather than quantity. If we didn’t stop the development after 5 years, why would we stop it now?

Q: Why are there bugs in the game?
A: What you see is an experimental game, in open development, and it’s natural that there are unfinished parts that may appear as bugs. If we did closed development, you wouldn’t see this because you would only see the final product.

Q: Do you think you can improve performance of the game, better simspeed?
A: Yes. It is one of our current priorities.

Q: Are you still working on multiplayer?
A: Yes. It is also one of our current priorities.

Q: Why did it take 2 years to get rid of Clang, and is it still somewhere in the game?
A: It took a lot of time because inventing a robust solution to the physics we have in Space Engineers is a hard scientific problem, especially if you consider the sheer size of our game. Things get even more complicated when you add multi-player into the mix.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Q: Is it true that the game is slow because you are bad programmers?
A: No. Quite the contrary. The programmers at Keen Software House are some of the best in this universe. They know where to optimize and how to optimize. If something appears as not optimized, it’s only because their attention is focused on something else - more pressing issues, tasks more aligned with the development steps, etc.

Q: What are you going to do after Space Engineers is finished?
A: We do not usually talk about our planned features, products etc. Just in case they change. Everything is still subject to change.

Q: Do you even care about Space Engineers community?
A: Yes, very much! We love what you keep creating and building (and destroying). You are co-creating this amazing piece of work with us. We are in this together!

Conclusion

I am very satisfied with what we ALL have achieved in last 5 years. Some may feel that we could have done more, but if you look back and realize that 5 years ago there wasn’t Space Engineers, nor its ecosystem, there was no prototype, no design, no example to follow, I think we are doing well.

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

Thank you for reading and we look forward to hearing your feedback.

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


For more news:

Space Engineers: www.SpaceEngineersGame.com
Medieval Engineers: www.MedievalEngineers.com
General AI Challenge: www.General-AI-Challenge.org
AI Roadmap Institute: www.RoadmapInstitute.org
GoodAI: www.GoodAI.com
Keen Software House: www.keenswh.com


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 (2.5mil+ 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.

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

At this time, Marek is developing both Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers as well as daily research and development on recursive self-improvement based general AI architecture.

66 comments:

  1. Hi Marek! I like much how keen have been bringing the latests major updates since they changed the update system. I see more solid updates with minor bugs (none very serious) and most are fixed in the hotfixes. "Putting the T-shirt of the space engineers" I say "Marek, they're winning! Remember to do some major oriented dedicated servers!" Who win us? some other games are already becoming a serious competition. Remember that if you want to do an MMO as some time ago i heard you say, it is important that a dedicated server can have more than 15-20 players without everything falling down. Space engineers was a pioneer in this type of games and always lead, but others have already emerged, and yes, can have much more than 32 players with 32 ships moving at once, in fact as a empyrion galactic survival that allows 150- 200 players in a powerful server (like the one that i have exclusively with space engineers and all the cares in limitation of blocks, lot of my owm improvements and long etc, that only supports 20-21 players) And the promise of the dual universe, (game similar to space engineers in a massive online server), there are also others but i still do not see them as competition in the current state (skywanders that promises a lot, planet nomads, etc). I say all this from the great affection that i have to SE. I want to see that he enjoys good health in both singleplayer and multiplayer. Definitely keen must to make the multiplayer support 60 people or more, and you will see how that steam graph begins to have an increasing slope again ;)

    regards

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    1. I think this is probably a good opportunity for you to put to bed any sort of dream of this game being an MMO. The physics requirement alone is too much, and it was not designed from the ground up to support more than 10 or so players at a time. The game is a single player game, with a small MP addition. I think some of the most vocal players are ones who expected this game to magically support 60+ players and they really need to stop dreaming.

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  2. I gotta be honest, in 5 years, much was indeed achieved, and the state of the game shows how much Keen has been working on it, at least on the last year alone, i can testify how much the game developed and advanced.
    However, it's been 5 years, half a decade, and we're still not looking at a finished, polished to the edges (which are still a bit rough) game. My concerns are that we're looking at a team that is dedicating themselves to develop a game which is still in BETA stage after that much time, and we're talking about a console version being developed at the same time, that doesn't sit well with the Steam community in my opinion. I support the game since 2014 i have played quite a bit of it with a lot of friends, but it's getting to the point where the game is getting old fast, specially with the unfinished state of the game. I hope that it's just a matter of months now, to see the finished game. Thank you for your time.

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    1. I don't want SE to be finished for another 1-2 years. Having it "finished" is like "if you find any further bugs, deal with it yourself". I would say, they should add the final features to the game in 2018 (including optimizing MP to the level, where 16 players can play with absolutely 0 simspeed issues) then dedicate 2019 to bug fixes, so it would be a "finished game" by 2020.

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    2. Only 16 players is too little for a normal mp game in 2018. Almost 40-50 player will make the mp server game successfull

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    3. Absolutely 0 simspeed issues is impossible. You will absolutely ever have simspeed issues, if you build too much for the System where the Server is running on. A Computer don't have endless resources. And too many Players love it to build a bit too big and yes, me too. But I know that problem, so I build a bit smaller on a Server.

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    4. one of the major issues right now with mp is its only using 1 cpu core even on server blades so you can imagine the reason for all the sim drop you get when people are using intense scripts or big ships

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  3. What you can say about ingame objectives/campaigns? Some purpose to build something...

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    1. Our vision for the current stage of Space Engineers is mostly about leaving the objective to the player.

      Having it as some kind of open-ended objective-less sandbox universe. It's a game that we specifically designed to not put any limits, and why should we now limit it by having specific objectives?

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    2. I love this specific aspect of your vision for this game. I hate games that railroad me into doing things its way and stifling my creativity and freedom. I hate coming to an end in a good game. I also love designing and building my own creations. So many games rely on pre-fab modules for building/creating. It requires very little imagination.

      I have had so many what I will call golden-moments in SE that I have lost count.

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    3. I think Space Engineers are great open world game which gives you tons of possibilities to build whatever you want and spend a lot of time just playing the game. I see the point behind changing things while these guys are in early access, so I would say, let them do their work and see what they'll come up with.

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  4. Keen = Reliability and Perseverance

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  5. Idea for MP so you have the host of the server...but what if everyone was sorta the host of a server then you dont rely on the host but your own connection...idk how MP works but can you conside this :P plz

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    1. This is called Peer-to-Peer. This would only exacerbate issues and create problems everywhere. Instead of a server telling clients what to do, clients would have to agree on a physical location for everything. If one person had faulty calculations or a bad connection on a server, it could cause major issues throughout the entire system. A good idea broadly, but implemented it would be a disaster.

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  6. 2 words , Optimize Multiplayer.

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    1. well, I think Marek said they're working on it, looking forward to see the outcome

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  7. 2 words, Optimize Multiplayer.

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    1. Roadmap 2016: 1. Multiplayer - polishing, checking design, lag, compensation<.

      How much time has passed? This is the most important thing today. Without this, your game is interesting only in the beginning. The physics of the server is terrible. Performance ... the same. Every patience has its own border. Yes...

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  8. As easy as it is to say (and it is a very appealing dream) that SE should run for 16 person multiplayer with no sim speed issues, it’s a huge difference between players having 1-2 grids of 1000 blocks each in a 50km world, and players each having 5-8 grids of 10,000 blocks or more in an unlimited world. While SE as a whole shows strength in its relatively free form play, the reality of multiplayer is that there eventually has to be some form of limit beyond which it is accepted that performance will drop. The trick will be finding a good balance, communicating these limits to the community, and providing the tools for volunteer server admins to effectively manage within them. All three represent development time to establish, and can’t be finalized until the core game is.

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    1. This. For example, I don't understand why players wanted infinite worlds with procedural generation for asteroids. I don't know how much of an impact it has had on MP stability, but it has made the game less interesting. There's less player interaction because you just pick a direction and go, always guaranteed to find all ores at some point.

      Keen has worked hard and I've gotten my money's worth, but I would like to see the game regain a semblance of stability that it had in the past. If that means imposing limits on our worlds, then that's how it has to be. Granted, people running servers can already limit their own worlds, most of them just choose not to.

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    2. hey Hayden, I fully agree that there has to be some sort of limit beyond MP which it is accepted that performance will drop. This is definitely not an easy task to do.

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  9. Do you see your GoodAI development helping with SpaceEngineers development? I understand they are entirely different projects, but the first true AGI developed will probably make all software development moot at that point.

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    1. I think GoodAI development is not specifically helping Space Engineers development, at this moment.

      But it may change in the future - I can imagine AI agents from GoodAI being used in SE-like game, being trained by players.

      I can also see GoodAI agents optimizing Space Engineers code, doing testing, designing scenarios, etc. But this is really some futuristic stuff, because once we get there, there's no much work for human developers anyway :)

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    2. I think AI in Game Development is a Gamechanger. You can create Games that was not possible before because of the big amount of human work you needed and so too much costs. With an AI you can create much bigger/more complex/better (realtime) balanced Games. So much potential in it.

      And sure, it could also help SE in many ways. I can fully understand why so much people working on AIs.

      But after all, I also on the side of Elon Musk, AIs could some days also be more dangerous as a nuclear weapon...

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  10. Marek, did I misunderstand the goal of GoodAI was to develop independent intelligent agents and then once stable integrate the technology into the game as player configurable NPCs in both SE and ME. I got this impression from a previous one of your blog posts here. Is this still on the table?

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    1. Yes. But it's a very long term plan, not really related to current SE/ME.

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  11. >> "Listening to our community is very important for us. We have our Keen feedback site open for anyone who’d like to share an idea or suggestion about the game."

    The feedback site is probably one of the worst implemented feedback systems I have seen. The fact that the most suggested topics have not even been considered is a testament to this. Suggestions that have no basis in feasibility sit with hundreds of votes; if a suggestion is unfeasible, mark it as such.

    You MUST interact with that site more: feedback is a two-way street.

    Otherwise this feedback site will remain a stagnant environment where people go to dump their ideas only for them to never be heard from again.

    Another issue I have is the way in which the feedback is considered. I've looked at every suggestion that has supposedly been accepted and it occurs to me that the vast majority of them have fewer than 20 votes. I've also noticed that many of these accepted suggestions are not even implemented in the game currently. This makes it seem like suggestions are being picked based on what Keen is already doing and not based on what the community is asking for.

    **If you are going to have a system where people can vote to show interest, KEEN must make an effort to at least acknowledge that interest.**

    If something has a large portion of the community interested, should you not consider even replying to it? Otherwise, why even have the voting feature?

    >> "better visual"

    Space Engineers has never looked worse in my opinion. My issue is that a large portion of the community has expressed that they would like options to customize this, but to no avail. This adds to my concerns that feedback is not being listened to. I can't bring myself to play the game without mods to tone down all of the graphical features that we cannot modify without digging through game files.

    I should not need to use mods to supplement a lack of proper options. An On/Off checkbox is not sufficient, especially for a game that prides itself on customization/creativity.

    >> "Why did it take 2 years to get rid of Clang, and is it still somewhere in the game?"

    "Clang" is nowhere near gone and overall physics bugginess is incredibly easy to come across. The reason that "Clang" isn't as noticeable is because sub-grid damage is DISABLED. That isn't getting rid of "Clang", that is hiding him from sight.

    Don't get me wrong. I've dedicated massive amounts of my free time to this game, and I am incredibly invested in its success. However, with over 5000 hours spent making content for this game, I am very aware of the issues that this game has, and I am disappointed that real concerns and feedback are not being addressed or heard.

    Sincerely,
    Whiplash141

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    1. 1) If you know about cases where the physics is buggy, me and the entire community would really appreciate if you send me the world files so we can test it: marek.rosa@keenswh.com

      2) Feedback - I feel your pain, I am sorry we can't satisfy you better.

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    2. 1) I make frequent bug reports, but if you would like me to forward each one to your email, I can oblige.

      2) If you feel my pain, will anything change about the way feedback and the feedback site in particular is being handled?

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    3. >> "better visual"

      I think this is subjective aspect ... what one person likes doesn't necessary mean the other one like as well... I personally like new SE visual, I think they did really good job there

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    4. Whiplash, thank you for your words. I am fairly new to Space Engineers with only a couple hundred hours but EVERYONE in Space Engineers knows your name. You are helping Keen immensely and I hope you get some real recognition someday.

      Marek, I know I am just some online pleb like everyone else in this grand scheme, but I sincerely ask you pay attention to what this guy says. You have many developers that I'm sure are incredibly skilled at what they do, but you have quite a few people like Whiplash that those developers could learn from. In only a couple hundred hours of play I can confirm that Whiplash has brought up a few soft spots for me as a consumer. Thank you for your time and your continued development of an incredible journey.

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    5. @Whiplash141 In my opinion, the game looks and runs much better than before. Also, disabling the sub-grid damage by default is a good decision that enabled me to finaly construct properly working mechs even in damage-enabled worlds and have fun with them. I agree that we should have more options for the "AAA shit" especialy sliders, but the game looks much better now, especially destruction.

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  12. I'm always glad that you guys at Keen are still working on SE and not abandoning it like so many other early access developers do. Though I was a little let down to see a blog post with Xbox One in the title only to read all the way down and find a short paragraph about it with no new information. Oh well. Take as long as you like to make SE the very best game possible. I can wait for a game like Space Engineers.

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  13. So, after reading some of your comments Marek, one of them stood out to me a great deal.

    "Our vision for the current stage of Space Engineers is mostly about leaving the objective to the player. Having it as some kind of open-ended objective-less sandbox universe."

    Now this is a large issue to me for several reasons. First is for this to work, you would need a large group of people (larger than any group that SE can currently handle) to be possible. This is because people pretty much run out of steam for ideas on their own pretty quickly, so having a large group of people is pretty much essential

    This goes into my second point. This comment, and general player mentality makes single player survival redundant. The great thing with games like Minecraft was yes, it was mainly for the player to decide the story, but there was still enough foundation for players to have goals in single player. This is something SE sorely lacks.

    Now finishing with that comment, I have some opinions on the post itself. First, I am happy with this new release cycle. In my opinion the weekly updates were one thing that crippled the game as everything had to be rushed out half-baked so to say, in order to fill a deadline.

    Now for the negative critiques. First is multiplayer and performance was increasing, up until the point of the graphics update. This update then threw multiplayer performance especially through the floor. Where in January we were able to get 15 players onto a world, and still be able to run it with a small amount of stuff on it. However, in February, even 7 players were stretching the performance thin. Yes, a team could've still worked on this whilst u was focusing on multiplayer performance, however, after this that feature should have been put to the side until it was a) completely performance tested in both single player and multiplayer, and b) could be added in at a later date where performance would not be hindered as much by it. At the end of the day, all is secondary to performance. If you make a visual update, put it on the backburner until it is ready whilst taking little performance from the actual game.

    It is also believed that many members of the community do not agree with your views on how the game should look. You have mentioned many times that the game. This is extensively seen by the JJ Abrams look of the game, as well as the needless addition of dirt to everything. You have tried to put dirt in updates before, the community say they hate it, so you take it out. Then you put dirt in a future update, but even more extreme. It is even more natural that the community are going to get frustrated at this. Please NO MORE dirt.

    Final point I want to bring up is issues with the approach to fixing the game. For several months now, control across sub grid using remote controls has been broken. I, along with several other users reported this issue to the forums. 2 weeks later one of the change logs would mention that the issue has been fixed. Happy that the forums have done their work we would go onto the game, to find the same issue. Instead the only change is the error message that is given. Now as a content creator for the game, that personally feels like a slap in the face. It is almost as if the devs fixing that issue said “This is a feature now, suck it up”. This is not a good way to treat those who put thousands of hours into the game. Instead of avoiding problems with changes of messages or duct tape fixes, I suggest you actually fix the issue at hand. This would result in far less issues down the line and a happier fan base.

    I apologise if I sound like I have ranted for quite a bit, but I really do love this game. There is nothing like it on the market. So I just want it to do really well and when there are issues with it (in terms of direction, or ways it is handled) it really hurts as this game could be revolutionary. If you want to discuss anything further with myself, about any issues I have here, please contact me.

    Yours Sincerely,
    TEGC Quantum (Head of SE Tank Battles Group)

    ReplyDelete
  14. So, after reading some of your comments Marek, one of them stood out to me a great deal.

    "Our vision for the current stage of Space Engineers is mostly about leaving the objective to the player. Having it as some kind of open-ended objective-less sandbox universe."

    Now this is a large issue to me for several reasons. First is for this to work, you would need a large group of people (larger than any group that SE can currently handle) to be possible. This is because people pretty much run out of steam for ideas on their own pretty quickly, so having a large group of people is pretty much essential

    This goes into my second point. This comment, and general player mentality makes single player survival redundant. The great thing with games like Minecraft was yes, it was mainly for the player to decide the story, but there was still enough foundation for players to have goals in single player. This is something SE sorely lacks.

    Now finishing with that comment, I have some opinions on the post itself. First, I am happy with this new release cycle. In my opinion the weekly updates were one thing that crippled the game as everything had to be rushed out half-baked so to say, in order to fill a deadline.

    Now for the negative critiques. First is multiplayer and performance was increasing, up until the point of the graphics update. This update then threw multiplayer performance especially through the floor. Where in January we were able to get 15 players onto a world, and still be able to run it with a small amount of stuff on it. However, in February, even 7 players were stretching the performance thin. Yes, a team could've still worked on this whilst u was focusing on multiplayer performance, however, after this that feature should have been put to the side until it was a) completely performance tested in both single player and multiplayer, and b) could be added in at a later date where performance would not be hindered as much by it. At the end of the day, all is secondary to performance. If you make a visual update, put it on the backburner until it is ready whilst taking little performance from the actual game.

    It is also believed that many members of the community do not agree with your views on how the game should look. You have mentioned many times that the game. This is extensively seen by the JJ Abrams look of the game, as well as the needless addition of dirt to everything. You have tried to put dirt in updates before, the community say they hate it, so you take it out. Then you put dirt in a future update, but even more extreme. It is even more natural that the community are going to get frustrated at this. Please NO MORE dirt.

    Final point I want to bring up is issues with the approach to fixing the game. For several months now, control across sub grid using remote controls has been broken. I, along with several other users reported this issue to the forums. 2 weeks later one of the change logs would mention that the issue has been fixed. Happy that the forums have done their work we would go onto the game, to find the same issue. Instead the only change is the error message that is given. Now as a content creator for the game, that personally feels like a slap in the face. It is almost as if the devs fixing that issue said “This is a feature now, suck it up”. This is not a good way to treat those who put thousands of hours into the game. Instead of avoiding problems with changes of messages or duct tape fixes, I suggest you actually fix the issue at hand. This would result in far less issues down the line and a happier fan base.

    I apologise if I sound like I have ranted for quite a bit, but I really do love this game. There is nothing like it on the market. So I just want it to do really well and when there are issues with it (in terms of direction, or ways it is handled) it really hurts as this game could be revolutionary. If you want to discuss anything further with myself, about any issues I have here, please contact me.

    Yours Sincerely,
    TEGC Quantum (Head of SE Tank Battles Group)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I don't know if you're still answering questions, or can answer this question, but I have been wondering something.

    A while ago, you guys introduced a new distant texture system, that scaled down the resolution of distant textures instead of upping the size, resulting in textures looking the same regardless of your distance to them.
    At some point, that was removed (I'm guessing accidentally like a lot of other regressions, but you guys fix at least most of them), and there's been talk recently about implementing a better distant texture system, while that one seems to have been completely forgotten about.
    It's been bugging me for ages, and I've just got to know if the removal was intentional or if no one noticed.

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    Replies
    1. If you have on mind the voxel textures (used for terrain, asteroids, rocks, mountains, etc) - then it's still there. I don't remember it ever not being in the game.

      It's very useful visual "trick" - helping us to achieve non-repeating and rich pattern on large distance surfaces.

      And in Medieval Engineers is looks really great, because the texture adds cracks, mini canyons, etc even if they truly are not there. The only thing is that we need to make sure it doesn't add too much visual elements that are not really there when player gets closer.

      Delete
    2. The thing is, you guys seemed to find a solution to that a while ago.
      I know about having different scales of texture at different distances, and you're right that it does introduce detail, but it's weird when that detail just vanishes, especially when the edges of transition are so clear.

      There was at least one update where that system was replaced with one that instead lowered texture resolution, while keeping it the same size, meaning poorer-quality textures at a great distance, but as you approached the general structure of the surface stayed the same and the distance hid the lower quality.
      A few updates after that, the old system was back and the new one was never spoken of again.

      I'm sorry if I wasn't very clear, but I'm not sure how to say this better. You currently have several stages for texture size based on distance, but that was temporarily replaced with lower resolution stages at the same size, so they looked the same at any distance, and that new system was removed and I've never heard it discussed again.

      I'm sorry to keep harping on this, I'm sure you're a busy guy, but I really do thank you for taking time out of your day to answer a question that's been nagging at me since that update.

      Delete
  16. In the name of "Our vision was always to be honest with you, our players.
    Because you deserve to know."

    Could you explain what if any changes or developments you have planned for Survival gameplay?

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  17. Please, do consider a different approach to update. Keep old versions available at launch time. Just like minecraft does. Most of problems comes with the "forced" update system that steam uses. Mods breaks, things working stops to work over an update, it's a chaos sometimes. Let players decide with version they want to use. This will give a little more stability for dedicated users, and at same time reduce pressure to solve bug from the last update urgently.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, we consider this one as well, and actually a couple of years we were doing it with the DEVEL build. But it wasn't perfect as well :)

      It led to splitting the community and servers. And it also needed us to do the testing, because we just can't release a stuff that hasn't been tested at all. And sometimes even a minor code change can break core things and therefore the whole game.

      We have this saying: Until something is not tested, we must assume it's totally broken.

      Marek

      Delete
  18. I’ll admit, while I am one of the frustrated players that’s kicked and screamed a few times about the devs not focusing on performance over aesthetics/features, I firmly believe Keen and his team have an interest in getting the game to be where all are satisfied and it’s playable on a larger scale.

    I do software development myself and fully understand the lack of knowledge users have about what goes on behind the scenes. A customer just wants a pop up box with a few text boxes and an email alert. They don’t see the workflows and custom code requirements to make that happen and are frustrated that it’s not finished in a day... all while throwing new requirements at you.

    After reading this, as a ‘from day one’ player, I have solidified my faith that Keen and his devs will get this where we want (you can’t please everyone all the time however). I’m glad to see simulation speed on the top of the list and I look forward to watching what his team does to improve it. It’s my ONLY frustration right now and causes me to quit for weeks at a time. My system plays the game at a constant 121+FPS and it’s a beautiful game. The day performance improves on MP will be a huge win for me (as with many others ��). I’ll pariently wait after reading this.. I mean it’s already been half a decade... we can wait a tad longer!

    My only suggestion at this time for Keen and his team (thank you to each one if you btw), is perhaps if it does not already exists, make a sticky/post/article/etc that has current simulation speed/performance known issues. Have a list of the top blocks and mods that are known to hog sims and build out a ‘suggested settings’ list for server admins to go by.

    Block limits, no rotors, wheels, whatever it is that adds up to a poorly performing MP server experience.

    There’s a lot of random suggestions from players in session as to what the issues are, but if admins aren’t actively adjusting settings (and disabling features temporarily) that hinder performance then it won’t help the issues players are having.

    Keep up the great work and I look forward to playing for years to come!

    ~enthusiast from across the seas ��������

    ReplyDelete
  19. Marek, based on some of your responses here and your OP, is Keen moving away from SE 1.x and beginning work on SE 2.x? I've seen many development projects hit a wall because of the large volume of Band-Aids (sticky-patches) placed in code that the code becomes extremely difficult to make forward progress.

    While this could be a welcome future, seeing the core development staff move away from SE 1.x now, at such a critical time when the game is needing so much more than just polishing in terms of features to get feature complete (e.g. player configurable NPCs, many other block types to broaden the engineering choices (pulleys, steel cables, fluids, pumps, etc)).

    The continued strength of the entire team would be very encouraging to the community than to see you guys walk away leaving behind a can of polish and a rag.

    ReplyDelete
  20. To me this update says little, but I've also somewhat lost interest in SE, not because I don't like the game, but because I lack purpose there.
    I always wanted some kind of semi-competitive, multiplayer experience that wasn't just tacked on by someone.

    That being said, I'll always love SE, and ME, for the simple fact that as a company, you single-handedly proved that C# can make the most complex of games, and for that I am endlessly thankful.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I liked the game even though there was nearly no content in it besides the creative aspect, but since the physics update and now the graphics update the game has become nigh unplayable for me. The physics update either corrupted my world or doesn't work with the mods I had installed and it is constantly freezing up for 20 seconds at a time near my moon base due to too many objects colliding with one another...
    (I cleaned my world as much as I could, I only have a total of 20 objects in my entire world... and all my ships are locked down and docked) so I have no idea what to do besides disable my mods and try again...

    And the graphics update is so over-exaggerated to the point it becomes hard to play with HDR, bloom and blurry chromatic effects that are all obstructing my view or just make the game ugly to look at. I had to find a mod to tune it down to make it even acceptable to look at. But that does nothing to fix the HDR lighting making my cockpit LCD's black and impossible to read, or my cargo holds single points of light blindingly bright.

    Why couldn't they have added a set of sliders for us to tweak each post processing effect independently... instead of a single on off toggle.

    If the game has been lacking anything for me from the start its content, stuff to do.
    Having a sandbox is fun but without the addition of actual content its just bland.
    Some of the exploration mods add such content, but even then there is no real goal here.
    I can't play the game without the shield generator mod for example as meteors will kill everything I own without it over time.

    There is no reason to visit other planets besides the achievement of doing it once.
    Things that would make the game more interesting from a gameplay point of view aren't there,
    No procedural combat missions, AI factions with actual dynamics or even some form of trading or fetch quests to send you through random pirate territory.
    And no real AI to fight either, just drones. At some point they teased AI characters to man enemy ships, that never arrived.

    The game gives you a lot of tools but no goal...
    The mission creator and the mission update were promising, but no content has been released in relation to it since.
    And recent updates, while fixing some long outstanding problems only added more for me. At least I could play this game in single-player while building my moon-base, now I can't even play that.


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  22. These guys tried so many things already that I'm not surprised they are trying to adjust their development process and tell us what they are / aren't going to do now. They always seems to be willing to try new things and to do things that others don't dare to. And stepping into the wasp nest isn't always easy, especially if your players have different opinion about many things. Anyway, go ahead Keen! You have my support :)

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  23. Hi Marek Rosa!!! How are you?
    Will you guys do a vanilla boost of weapons on the game? The modded one are actually very good... but the game needs a boost in vanilla! =D

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  24. Thousands of hours, plan on thousands more. The Development team is building a game I have always dreamed of playing. Where it was to its current state is amazing and I say thank you! Thank you for giving me a game I can get lost into and play with my close friends. Great job, great game, and you will always get my vote. Thanks

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  25. Im in SE since 2014 and the game has gone long way, however, you should start wrapping things up. If it was up to me, I'd just update respawn ships and dedicated 100% of the effort into multiplayer until release.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Keen guys!!! I am so grateful for the hundreds of hours in this amazing game. I love it because it IS a sandbox with limitless possibilities for expressing myself. I totally get it why you guys are now focusing on improving the core idea of the sandbox. Sure there will be some nice survival gameplay with scenarios and objectives sometime in the future versions or new games or whatever, but that's not the most important thing in Space Engineers. So stay focused and keep up the great work:-p

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  27. To Marek Rosa,

    I completely understand you having your reasons for keeping information on the aspects of development to yourself.
    If I understand correctly from the information that I have read and heard, updates will be on a monthly basis.

    My question is this.
    Does this change of update schedule mean that the game will be "locked" into its current state for possibly months?

    Which brings up another question.
    Even though it was stated that there would no longer be minor updates, except on a possible case by case basis, I was wondering about something.

    If bug reports of certain problems become consistent enough and prevalent, then would a minor update would be put out for it?
    Would this be one of the case by case basis that is referred to?

    You have created a sand box game virtually without limits because the core element of the game is driven by the imagination of the player and whatever crazy ideas they can come up with.
    Something that's very hard to anticipate when building a game engine such as yours.

    It doesn't take having knowledge in programming to know that by the players constantly pushing the game engine limits, many strange things can happen.
    To which this has been given the name of Clang.

    In spite of this, your team has reduced "Clang" interference by a significant amount. Now he seems, at least to me, to be nothing more than a nuisance.

    Looking forward to the next update and what it may bring.

    Also, Don't let the "naysayers" get you down. There will always be those kind of people, that you wonder if there's anything that would make them happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dan,

      Q: updates will be on a monthly basis
      A: probably not on a monthly basis, the intervals can be longer

      Q: game "locked" into its current state for possibly months
      A: yes, but we will aim for not too many months, e.g. 2-3 is ok for me

      Q: If bug reports of certain problems become consistent enough
      A: Yes in this case we will issue a hotfix, which will contain only the most neceserary changes.
      But this should not happen weeks after the major update, because at that time, all hotfixes
      should have already fixed most important issues

      Thanks!

      Best,
      Marek

      Delete
    2. To Marek Rosa,

      Thank you for your quick reply to my questions.

      On a related subject, I watched the interview that you had with Captain Jack and it was very informative.
      It answered a lot of the questions that I had.

      Though one thing, after reading your blog and watching the video it did pique my interest about your future projects.

      It's not about what type or what content it may possibly hold but of its possible development.

      If I understand it right, that it may not be done in early access but be developed fully in house and then released.
      Of course it's your prerogative to do so.

      It's just that it's been fun for me going along for the ride in the development of Space Engineers.

      Delete
  28. in the future do you guys plan on implementing true multi-core support both in cpu's and gpu's?

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    Replies
    1. IT already use multiple CPU cores. It have no problem to choke on 100% my FX 8320 with 8 cores. I seen SE in 1080p giving a little sweat to 12 thread Ryzens and literally killing i7's below 7th gen, so game support a lot.

      Also, GPU is multithreading architectures, SIMD, so SE use it for advantage. I can get GCN 3.0 and GCN 4.0, or even Maxwell loaded in 90%. for SLI tho, i dont see reasons. Most of games cant use SLI anyways.

      Delete
    2. just saying this now no se is not fully utilizing cpu's i have a threadriper pared with a gtx 1080 ti and the game still struggles with ships larger then 14k blocks since the one update they did

      Delete
  29. So reading between lines in here and other earlier posts. They are going to keep working on game after release and story will be added then. It feels like story will be added as dlc, since they need something to keep cash flowing in.

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  30. Hi, just wanted to say thanks for the hundreds of hours I have spent playing this game, started when the landing gears appeared in the game and I have seen all the good you guys have done, well done! Thanks! <3

    ReplyDelete
  31. Not a single update from like a one and a half month? Thats not typical to KSW I must say. Do you work on something bigger now? A silence before the storm? Game runs quite stable, except funny glitch with staged moving shadows, like overlapping and general unability of my old FX to give me more than 0.7 simspeed in my 80k block flagship pimped beyond recognition :D But thats to be solved with new Ryzen coming to me, Im surprised SE didnt murdered and melted my FX yet, game seems love floating points :D

    So, what in plan now? Coop mode improvements? Pistons for connected client freak out. Also clang sometimes comes back. I think MP is only thing on which you could work now before going into release candidate and getting more blocks and features as next stage... if Engine can bare :)

    Great work anyways, more than 700h and most fav game for now. Lego...in space! :D

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  32. Hi Marek. I love the game and play it as it is and work with what is there. I am a developer and a programm is never finished since new tech comes out every day and things evolve. I would how ever like to see the standard blocks to be a complete set to allow more varied builds. This is content, not development. The 2x1 sets are missing some vital corners, Windows are also missing several block. Just complete the sets you have now so that we can build without getting stuck with a missing block. I ignore the 2x1 because of this but would love to use them. Than you.

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  33. Hey I am a really big fan of your works and I was just wondering if Space Engineers is coming out for PS4. The reason I ask is because well, laptops aren't really the best way to play really big awesome games without lag, and gaming computers can be a bit pricey if you know what I mean, so uh yeah!

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  34. I have been followibg the game developement some time and when i saw the Xbox trailer, i was wondering if the game also gets released for Playstation.
    If it gets released for any gaming console, i would recommend also adding a Splitscreen mode, because, if its released for PS4 i would like together with my brother, not just with other online players i don't know.


    A throwaway idea
    And for all platforms, i would also recommend being able to save ships in creativ mode and place them in survival block for block.
    A little example: all "frames" (all blocks what havent been welded) are being placed at once and you only have to weld one block what slowly starts requiring all resources you would need to build.
    I am bad at explaining so an example: You built something with a total cost of 1800 steel plates, 120 motors, 20 displays and 200 small steel pipes. You are placing all block frames at once and you need all resources to build the saved object. But you can hold your welder on one block and start buidling up the whole object. It should show every resource needed.

    Hopefully the Splitscreen mode will be added

    Thanks for reading this (mostly) useless post

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  35. I was curious as to whether Space Engineers for XB1 was still a WIP and I am happy to see that it still is. I would love to play this game on console and I am very impressed with the looks of the multiplayer overhaul released in recent months. Thanks for working on an awesome game.

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