Thursday, July 19, 2018

Space Engineers: Major Overhaul of Multiplayer

  • Massive overhaul of multiplayer in Space Engineers
  • What were we aiming for?
  • Public testing
  • Female engineer!
  • New features (e.g. safe zones) and performance optimizations
  • Dedicated servers
  • New support site for the community 
  • Q&A

After six months, we are releasing the next major update, which is focusing on the complete overhaul of multiplayer in Space Engineers, and a number of new features and optimizations.

The following multiplayer trailer was captured in-game and resembles real gameplay featuring 16 players in multiplayer session, where each of them was building and destroying in real-time, with a constant sim-speed of 1.0. This, and much more is now possible in Space Engineers.

Some of you may recognize the trailer scenes from our recent KCN stream: 1st part and 2nd part.

Update Stream

Note: Due to the nationwide internet outages that prevented us from streaming today, here is a brief video going over the update and our thoughts behind it. We hope you are having fun with the new multiplayer!


Main objective: to solve multiplayer, once and for all.

This was a massive overhaul and that’s why it wasn’t possible to make this update in weekly increments.

We had to redo major parts of the engine and there was a lot of experimentation - for example changing the prediction protocol on client-server and observing if it’s better for user experience or worse, and many more. Space Engineers has many systems and special care had to be taken for each of them: player character, jetpack, ship, wheeled vehicles, voxels and planets, fast moving objects, deformable entities, antenas, player standing on a moving grid, colliding grids, rotors, pistons, and many many more.

We started by defining a clear measurable goal (KPI):
  • to guarantee a 1.0 sim-speed (seamless performance) 
  • in multiplayer scenarios with 16 players
  • 100,000 PCUs per world (explained later)
With this, we wanted to bring a new level of experience where you can trust our settings and recommended configuration; one which will guarantee no lag and good game performance, so you don’t need to tweak it. However, we still allow you to choose your own game settings, but we cannot guarantee the game performance to be smooth - however most of the time it is good and above our expectations.

For example: our target was 16 players, but during the public tests we discovered that even 32 player servers with heavy activity ran constantly on at 1.0 sim-speed. Some people even successfully tried a 64 player FPS combat server (more fighting, less engineering).
Below are some stream highlights of multiplayer testing ran by Xocliw during his recent streams.
As one of the Keen Software House mottos says: ”Reality is the best game designer”, we decided to run several multiplayer public tests and we involved the Space Engineers Multiplayer Community during the development. The feedback we received was very valuable and helped us discover many areas for improvements. I’d like to thank everyone who participated and who provided feedback to us.


Space Engineers is a very complex game with volumetric and destructible physics. There are infinite ways how to play it, how to build things, what blocks to use, how to integrate them, where to travel, what to do, what to destroy, and how large and complicated players can decide to make their ships.

The first version of the multiplayer (January 2014) was a barebone implementation, just to make the multiplayer somehow playable. It was far from finished and we knew it. We were still adding and changing features at that time, so we were not focusing solely on the multiplayer.

With today’s release however, we came back to multiplayer and we spent a significant amount of time doing it the right way. We hope that you will see the results.

Looking back, I can say that multiplayer was the biggest and most challenging feature in Space Engineers. Planets, physics overhaul, visual tweaks, or any one of the hundreds of previously implemented features, don’t come even close to the scope of multiplayer.

It took more than four years, constant setbacks, experimenting with different alternatives, and then just a lot of hard work deciding how to connect all the systems together, so they work in an unreliable multiplayer environment. If this doesn't prove that our team is dedicated to its goals, resilient, and never giving up, then I don't know what will :)

What was the most challenging?
  1. Multiplayer netcode
  2. Game performance
To have a smooth multiplayer experience, we first needed to invent a multiplayer architecture that can handle heavy physical and dynamical simulations, which players in Space Engineers tend to create. At the same time, the game engine needs to stay open for further enhancements and different directions where we can push it (e.g. MMO).

Changes were needed on both the server and client side, a lot of code was rewritten and many experiments were made with you, our players. Because Space Engineers is the only game of its kind (having specific scope and properties), there are no available resources and experiences (R&D papers from academia, other game studios etc.), we had to discover all solutions by ourselves. With this update we can confidently say that all major issues are solved and multiplayer is finally a fun and pleasing experience.

Together with netcode design changes, there was also a big part dedicated to performance optimizations. We carefully profiled every game play session, hunted performance peaks, memory leaks and then optimized the most annoying issues and bugs. Some of them were tricky, as they only appeared in multiplayer games with a specific amount of players doing specific activities (and often in a specific order). We are proud that we solved most of them..

For example, check how we tracked statisting of one EU server. You can compare the number of players playing in the game together with CPU performance and memory consumption. Note that CPU is mainly under 100% (which means simspeed = 1.0)  and memory has very low increasing tendency. The first part of memory statistics is an example of leak, which we were supposed to track and fix.

On top of the development work, we paid a lot of attention to testing. When we perform any kind of test internally, we are biased to do it in a certain way. But when we opened it up to you, our players, you gave us fantastic feedback that helped to make this release great. On top of this, we cooperated with an external company which tested the game for three weeks as well.

Female Engineer

With this major release we are also introducing the highly requested female engineer! Please welcome her on board and give her special attention while enjoying the game.

We are adding the female engineer as a result of our cooperation and feedback from our community, as it was one of the top voted ideas at our feedback portal. You are helping us to make the game better, and this is our way of thanking you for your fantastic suggestions.

Our female engineer was created from scratch, with brand new animations and movements. You can customize her with all of the skins that are currently available for the male engineer.

To people who are curious about the technical aspect of adding the female engineer to the game, we needed to:
  • Make a 3D model of her face and body (male and female anatomy are different)
  • New set of animations, just for her. Not only because males and females move differently, but mostly because her proportions are slightly different from the male engineer’s
  • Record new sounds - when she collides with an obstacle, when she doesn’t have enough air
  • Implement switching of the characters
  • Quality assurance - test it all! Very important!

New Features

This multiplayer overhaul brought many new features. There are many I can mention, but I’d like to highlight the safe-zones, reworked warnings and its UI, new player respawn system, new experimental mode, updated animations, performance optimizations for all blocks to reduce their system usage, updated server lists and dedicated server management and many more.

We would like to thank all of our modders who gave us great ideas about some nice features we are introducing to the game; we really appreciate their passion and dedication to Space Engineers. My special thanks goes to rexxar, Jimmacle, and Equinox for their great ideas about the server admin tool features. You can read the technical description at our Keen website:

Besides new features, we worked on many optimizations that can be grouped into the following categories:
  • updates of the layers frequency displaying
  • data sending for inactive entities
  • priority checking
  • dynamically changing frequency depending on load
  • buffer fixes
  • fixes of several inefficiencies in the multiplayer
  • block consumptions and its optimization

Safe Zones

The newly introduced Safe Zone is a spatial area where specific actions can be limited. A Safe Zone is displayed as a colored transparent area and can only be defined by a server administrator, who can limit actions like shooting, welding, damage (per safe zone or globally). Entering the Safe Zone can be limited per player, character or faction. A Safe Zone behaves like an inverse gravity field (box or spherical), so everything that has access denied is being pushed away. To avoid breaking gameplay consistency, we decided that Safe Zones can only be static for now. Safe Zones were part of our game design since the beginning.

PCU Limits

PCU (Performance Cost Unit) Limits are the next iteration of block limits. Its purpose is to keep server performance in a more effective way than just limiting block types. Every block has its own defined PCU value, which says how much performance impact a block has under full load (when all its systems are activated). More PCU, more performance heavy the block is. PCU can be defined per world, as a pool, which can be used for building. This pool is then split per player, per faction, or global. Limits per faction are also a new feature introduced in this build. Please note, that you can change the default PCU limits in the Experimental mode.

For example: The world has 100,000 PCU pool, there are only two factions, red and blue, there cannot be more factions. So each faction has 50,000 dedicated PCUs. A player which does not belong to any faction cannot build anything. Removed or destroyed blocks PCU are returned back to the faction PCU pool. A player who wants to change the faction, needs to check that all his/her blocks PCU are within the faction limit he/she wants to join.

Some examples of PCU of well known ships:
Red ship: 14,714
Fighter: 3,000
Pilgrims Curiosity: 14,000
ESS Platform: 6,500
Amanda Tapping: 530,000 :)

Experimental mode

Many experimental, unofficial and not fully developed features are hidden under the Experimental Mode checkbox in the Game Options menu. These were the features that we added to the game throughout its early-access development, but are now not considered to be officially part of the game. However, we don’t want to remove them from the game because many players are used to them. Everything will stay the same as before in the experimental mode.

New players are in safe mode with only selected features and limits. All existing players have experimental mode enabled by default. If you want to join an experimental server, or a custom game, you have to have experimental mode enabled in your game options.

It’s still possible that in the future some features could move out of experimental mode if we discover a way to make them viable and performance-friendly.

The experimental mode was introduced because we want to guarantee flawless gameplay, but we can only do this if we can control the boundaries. Mods, unsafe settings, or unofficial features are out of range what we can guarantee.

One of the features moved to experimental mode is locally hosted multiplayer. We introduced the new netcode to it, but so far invested the majority of our resources into dedicated server multiplayer as we believe that this is the best way for playing Space Engineers with others.

Some game scenarios have been temporarily affected by this change, but we will be revisiting them during the upcoming development anyway. In non-experimental mode you will not be able to see some scenarios and they won't be customizable.

We are planning to improve the game and dedicated server user interface in the future to clearly mark what is and isn’t experimental mode. The current experimental mode features are
  • Advanced options (programmable blocks, airtightness, etc.)
  • Local multiplayer
  • Unsafe grid values for piston, rotors
  • Mods


We reintroduced the old quickstart where you started on Easy Start Space platform, in creative mode. This is just a temporary introduction to the game, before we redo the whole "get to know Space Engineers" part, before we create a proper tutorial.

System requirements

We have updated the minimum and recommended requirements to better match reality and players’ expectations. The actual requirements of Space Engineers haven’t changed in the past years - in fact, as we have been optimizing the game in past 3 years, now you can run more complex scenes on less powerful computers. However we are updating the system requirements so that new players have a better idea of performance requirements.

In the past, minimum requirements were bare minimum and would not guarantee a good experience in more complex conditions and scenes. So we wanted to communicate this more clearly and give all players the correct expectations. You can still run Space Engineers on hardware bellow minimum requirements, but we cannot guarantee good performance in all cases.

Dedicated servers

To make sure that we will bring the best multiplayer experience, we have decided to provide official Keen dedicated servers. With servers located around the world, we are bringing you fantastic gaming experiences. We plan to increase the number of dedicated servers which will also give us valuable data for further game improvements and changes. Official Keen dedicated servers are highlighted with a star. Later, we will consider awarding reliable community servers with this star highlight.

These dedicated servers will be free of charge during the first month. Then we need to think about how we are going to fund their maintenance. This is still an open question, because the Space Engineers’ revenue model with a fixed price doesn’t support long-term recurring servers costs.

Technical specification (might vary slightly in different regions):
       Intel  i7-6700K
       4 core / 8 thread - 4GHz /4.2GHz
       32GB DDR4 2133 MHz
       SoftRaid 2x480GB SSD
       250 Mbps bandwidth

One physical server runs a bunch of dedicated Space Engineers servers, each one consuming approximately 3 CPU cores / 6 GB RAM.

More GHz is better (during spikes when there are heavy physical calculations that can’t be easily parallelized), so we are considering even 5GHz machines.

A new challenge for us is that our team and a group of selected community members will do 24x7 oversight on these servers - technical and gameplay. We will be monitoring the world nonstop and if we spot a problem, we will be ready to step in and fix it.

During the public testing, we monitored how a server ran after being live for 7 days and the results were very positive. Now that the update is live, we will be looking at how servers run after being live for multiple weeks, even months!
Players who want to run their own dedicated servers (as before) can still do it, and may benefit from a new server admin tool - read the technical description.

New Support for Community

We welcome all feedback from our community, therefore we have decided to launch a new support portal, where you can find all information and support for all our games in one place. The portal should be a one stop place for all your queries, comments, tickets and questions. You can find it at:

As I’ve already mentioned, we ran Space Engineers multiplayer public tests for several weeks. During this time we wanted to discover and fix as many problems as possible. I’d like to share some of your feedback we received during testing:

Nova Dragon
Smooth! Most other games have already introduced a battle royal mode, or are improving their system to tap into the reward center of the brain. But you guys... you guys are fixing stuff, and doing a dam good job!

Keep up the good work no matter what people say!

YES YES YES. I never thought I'd see the day where SE had actual playable multiplayer...but my experience in the test servers has renewed my faith.  AMAZING JOB KSH!

Words cannot express how excited I am for this update. OMG. Also, as much as this is showcasing the new stability (which is looking good), I love seeing the amazing creations of the community yet again. :)

The Gamer Dad
This game is getting more and more epic with each update. Only a few hundred hours in the game here, but I don't think I've ever loved a sandbox game more than SE.

Tom Spiers
wait what is this?! space engineers running smoothly on MP? wow... All jokes aside great work keen! it looks like you've done a brilliant job with the MP code!

Prior of the Ori
Absolutely fantastic! What exactly are you doing to improve it? Improvements to the engine or something else? I am too excited! Which means something because I have had a serious love/hate relationship with this game for a looong time.

Public test stream with Q&A with Marek

Over the last couple of months I have been visiting the various official servers and playing with our community, even though some people didn’t believe it was me :-)

Xocliw and I played the Space Engineers Public Multiplayer Test alongside some Keen developers and YouTubers on the Keen Community Network & Space Engineers YouTube channel on Friday, July 13th. We addressed a lot of questions and comments from the community. You can watch the entire stream here: 1st part and the 2nd part

Questions and Answers

Q: Why did it take four years to come up with solid and working multiplayer?
A: Since we first released multiplayer in Space Engineers, we’ve considered it as a working prototype and we knew it’ll take more time to get it finalized and properly finished. With our early access game, the priorities are changing quite often. We were focusing more on new features, new blocks and gameplay and therefore the multiplayer was still in the same state. However we were listening to our community and at a certain point where features were finalized we knew it's time to focus on the multiplayer. With that, we decided to work on optimizations and many other things closely related to multiplayer.

Q: You were apparently inspired by community creations and MODers’ work. Why did you take this from them?
A: We are grateful that modders have implemented some popular requested multiplayer features that were missing in the core game over the years. But we always planned to implement these features ourselves, because they are part of the core and should be in the vanila game. We are very thankful to our modders for all the great discussions we’ve had over the years and we hope to keep this cooperation alive in the future. Special thanks to rexxar, Jimmacle, Equinox, and others!

Q: Why can't Space Engineers support more than 16 players as other multiplayer games? For example Medieval Engineers, Fortnite, etc.
16 players is just our recommended setting for default multiplayer scenarios. During the public tests, many servers ran at constant sim-speed 1.0 even with 32 players doing heavy activities. Some people even successfully tried 64 player servers and were very happy.
There are specific technical requirements for Space Engineers. There are usually many moving interacting objects with real-time physics in the Space Engineers. Everything has to be taken care of, detected for collisions, physical reactions integrated and synchronized over network. To be more specific: imagine a Space Engineers scene with 16 players, each one in his 6-wheeled car, driving, crashing - this equals to approximately 300 interconnected physically simulated grids synchronized from server to clients. Whereas in other multiplayer games, where the only dynamic entity are characters - and maybe bullets and explosions and stuff - this
number would be 16.
Summary: comparing system requirements of Space Engineers with other games is not possible, there are no other games having such complex networked volumetric physics.

Q: Why did this release take six months to go live?
A: This overhaul was not an easy task. We went from a deep dive of technical root cause analyses to optimizations and then to thorough testing. Only for better understanding, one test cycle took three weeks and it included a couple thousands test cases. I’d like to highlight the fantastic job that both our development and testing teams did in this release. All the credit goes to them for their outstanding work.

Q: Are you abandoning the game?

A: Definitely no. We are just getting warmed up :-) We love Space Engineers, we love what we do, and we love what you keep creating. There is the same team working on the game as last year and the years before. We have hundreds of ideas what to add, and the grand-vision for the gaming universe we are creating is still unfulfilled. Miner Wars was the first step, Space Engineers is the second step. The future is long and beautiful!

Q: Why can't we use mods in the default multiplayer (why we need to switch to experimental mode)?
A: There is no way we can guarantee that the MOD will not degrade or halt the game. The mod responsibility is completely on the author of the MOD, and that’s why it requires more experienced players.

Q: Has your game engine VRAGE reached its limits and it’s no longer possible to optimize or extend Space Engineers?
A: No. Our game engine is an open system, we are constantly upgrading it, optimizing, changing the architecture, doing principal changes, changing the core inner workings. It’s not a static unmodifiable system. It’s a living organism. We have plans for even more fundamental changes for future installations of our games.
One spoiler: events and calculations should be asynchronous by default, allowing a physical reality where one slowly calculating event doesn’t halt the rest. This idea is basically about granularity of entities and calculations and is similar to actor-model paradigm. We already have parallelization and event-driven parts around the place, but there’s always room for improvement.

What’s next?

Even though we usually do not disclose our future plans, we are going to make an exception this time.

Our next major update will focus on:
  • balancing and consolidating various game systems (how you respawn, resources, etc)
  • making the game more accessible for new and existing players (user intuitiveness)
  • re-do and polish default scenarios (Easy Start Space, Empty World, etc.)
Space Engineers has been in early access for almost five years, we know it’s time to get the game out. We are working to get there. We do not have the date yet, but we want to make sure that the game will be fantastic when it goes out of early access.

As Space Engineers nears the completion of its first installment, we are focusing on polishing, optimizing and fixing existing features.

This first installment of Space Engineers was always about bringing up the building blocks, to lay down the structure for physical volumetric engineering. We are almost finished. The next steps that will come in future installments, will focus on other aspects of gameplay as well as pushing the technology further.

In the long-term, we plan to extend the game and the whole engineering genre into new pioneering directions - just like we did in October 2013 and since then. However, this is still far off, too soon to talk about it now.


Feedback and bug reports

If you have any questions or requests, please do not hesitate to contact us, we will do our best to solve your problems. Our community manager, Jesse Baule will address all your questions and comments as quickly as possible. Feel free to use our newly launched support portal:

If you are aware of any situation during which the sim speed drops below the 1.0 level while using the recommended settings, please let us know via our new support site.


The same as with our previous major releases, I am super happy with the work our team has done and super excited to share it with you all!

Space Engineers multiplayer now behaves the way we have always envisioned: fast, robust and solid.

As Space Engineers is still under development, there may be bugs (our testers spent hundreds of hours testing, but this is nothing compared to tens of thousands of hours played by our community immediately after every update). Nevertheless, we will do everything we can to fix any issue as fast as possible.

By the way, most likely we will do a few hotfix updates in the days after this multiplayer update.

I truly enjoyed working on this update, it took a lot of hard work and determination, the whole process consisted of over 800 tickets (work tasks) for my team and myself. It has been my main priority over the last 6 months and the whole process has been a pleasure.

I would like to thank everyone who stood with us patiently for all these years, who kept supporting Space Engineers, who helped with multiplayer tests, modders, YouTubers, people running their dedicated servers, people creating new content, people who helped other players to get into Space Engineers and people who believed in our team.

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 on this update. For full list of new features and improvements continue to

We would be also very happy if you can submit your feedback at our Space Engineers Steam store page and encourage us to do better. We welcome both positive and negative comments, as it helps us to create a better game for you!

Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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 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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Solving the AI Race finalists - $15,000 of prizes

  • I have awarded $15,000 of prizes for the second round of GoodAI’s General AI Challenge, Solving the AI Race.
  • The six top solutions out of 59 were awarded prize money. 
  • This was just the first stage where the goal was to get as diverse pool of ideas as possible. 
  • Prize winners have been invited to the Human-Level AI Conference in Prague this August to discuss their submissions.
  • We intend to continue working on solutions to the AI Race. In the future we will focus on concrete KPI’s and testing for robustness of solutions.

I am very excited to announce the prize winners of the second round of the General AI Challenge, Solving the AI Race. The round was the first qualitative round of the Challenge and followed on from the Gradual Learning round last year. In January we challenged the public to come up with solutions to the pitfalls of an AI Race, where:
  • Key stakeholders, including the developers, may ignore or underestimate safety procedures, or agreements, in favor of faster utilization
  • The fruits of the technology won’t be shared by the majority of people to benefit humanity, but only by a selected few

I was amazed with the response, in three months 194 people registered (from 41 different countries) and we had 59 submissions. The team at GoodAI read all of the submissions and created an anonymized shortlist for the judging panel, which I was part of. On the panel I was joined by: 

It was not an easy task to decide how the prize money of $15,000 would be split. We judged the solutions on five criteria: 
  • Impact: the potential the solution shows to maximize the chances of a positive future for humanity
  • Feasibility: how practical it will be to implement / apply
  • Acceptance: how likely it is that actors involved will accept the idea. E.g. in case of an actionable strategy, what is the chance actors would publicly pledge to it? In case of a framework, how easily could it be adopted?
  • Integrity: how ethical the solution is (ideally solutions should not disadvantage any actors and take into account diversity of values)
  • Novelty of ideas: has it been suggested before?
All of the judges then responded independently (as to not influence each others judgement) and we then came together to count our scores and determine the prize winners. We split the prizes between the three “top scoring solutions” and three “runners-up”, you can see the winners and read their solutions below:

Top scoring solutions ($3,000 each)
Runners-up ($2,000 each) 

Next steps 

This was just the first stage where the goal was to get as diverse pool of ideas as possible and we intend to continue working on solutions to the AI Race. We are glad we got such a diverse range of ideas and opened up many points of discussion. The judges concluded that none of the submissions provided a complete robust solution to all of the possible pitfalls of a race to AI. Therefore, the next round of the Challenge is likely to focus more on concrete KPI’s and test for robustness of solutions.

The prize winners have been invited to the Human-Level AI Conference in Prague this August, which is being co-organized by GoodAI, where they will be able to discuss their ideas further in an AI Race and Societal Impacts panel discussion on Friday 24 August. Everyone interested in the General AI Challenge can also benefit from a 10% discount to the Human-Level AI Conference using the discount code: Challenge-HLAI18.

As the submissions really got the judges thinking, they have also been invited, by jury member Roman V. Yampolskiy, to submit their papers to a Special Issue of peer reviewed journal Big Data and Cognitive Computing journal - "Artificial Superintelligence: Coordination & Strategy"

A big thank you to everyone who took part in the Challenge and to all of the judges, it has given us some serious food-for-thought. We will continue to work on creating a robust solution and urge the community to take part as well! If you would like to collaborate in any way please get in contact with us. 

Thanks for reading!

Marek Rosa
CEO, CTO, Founder at GoodAI
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House

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 (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.