Thursday, February 28, 2019

Space Engineers: Major Overhaul of Survival, Ladders, Leaving Early Access, What’s next?

SUMMARY:
  • Survival
  • Leaving Early Access
  • Ladders are back!
  • New price
  • Need to create
  • What’s next?
  • Xbox One
  • The Team


Hello, Engineers!

February 28, 2019 is the day for all Space Engineers. Today, we are moving Space Engineers out of Early Access. As I mentioned in my last blog post, getting Space Engineers out of Early Access has been planned for a long time. We have worked on it basically since 2016/2017, when the game entered beta. It was our goal to release the game in the state we consider to fulfill our original vision, including all planned features and core game components. Moreover, the game includes a lot of things that were not planned at the beginning of development (solar panels, planets, rotors, pistons, wheels, and many more features).

Space Engineers was one of the first Early Access games on Steam and one of the few titles to be successfully released after several years of passionate development. We keep our promises.



Survival


The Survival overhaul has been one of our top priorities, so it was specifically planned to be released after we had other key things finished. Over the last 6 years, we have carefully executed our original vision, which hasn’t changed since. Moving step-by-step towards our vision, the Survival overhaul is one of those steps. In addition to survival, many new features have been designed to help new players to be introduced to the game and are not specifically focused on existing players.


Survival overhaul is one of the biggest overhauls because until now our main priority was making sure the sandbox elements work properly. We needed to make sure that the physics are stable, multiplayer is reliable, the destruction is working, and so on. With this update, we are evolving from a sandbox experience, towards a game with many unique single and multiplayer features.

We have touched almost every survival element. There are new blocks such as the Hydrogen Engine, Wind Turbine, Survival Kit, and Small Battery being introduced into the game, ragdoll mechanics are coming back, loading times of even very large wolds are now extremely reduced, and a new Progression system has been integrated into Space Engineers

There are many other game elements that were changed in this overhaul, which have a significant impact on Space Engineers. You can read about all the changes here.


Out of Early Access


Space Engineers has been in Early Access for 5+ years, and during this period we developed the game from a proof-of-concept to a feature complete space engineering sandbox. We sold more than 3 million copies and we have more than 200,000 monthly active players.

We went through more than 200 updates, which include major game changes such as:

  • planets
  • new HUD and game UI
  • skins, parachutes, wheels
  • more than 200 blocks
  • reworked and updated the character animations several times
  • improved the multithreaded physics, but also physics itself
  • implemented super-large worlds
  • a lot of game optimizations during this entire period
  • went through the massive updates of the game’s visuals and audio
  • we spent a significant amount of time on improving the multiplayer, air tightness and oxygen
  • survival mode
  • programmable blocks, modding support, antennas, landing gears, solar panels, cargo ships, meteorites, encounters, asteroid clusters, visual scripting, realistic mode audio, in-game help, and more.

You can view all the updates in chronological order here. However, I’d like to highlight the most significant updates for us:
    • April 2013 - started full-time development on Space Engineers prototype
    • October 23, 2013 - Space Engineers was released to Early Access
    • November 2015 - we added planets
    • November 2017 - Physics Overhaul was released
    • July 2018 - Multiplayer Overhaul was released
    • February 2019 - we are releasing the Survival Overhaul and the game is going out of Early Access
Because Space Engineers development was open, you were able to see what’s happening under the hood. Contrary to other products, where you see the final product, but don’t see how the project has been developed and changed over time, and what challenges the development team had to overcome.

I’d like to share our key videos that were released during the Early Access. The first one is the first ever video where we showed and teased Space Engineers.


The second one is our Alpha


and one of our latest videos from the Major Overhaul of Visuals, Audio, and Wheels.


All who want to play the first release of Space Engineers, from 2013, can buy the Space Engineers Deluxe edition. It’s game archeology.

Our mottos:
“From creators to creators”
&
“Need to create”

We always listened to our community and used a lot of this feedback to improve the game where we could. It has been a rewarding and productive cooperation, which we really enjoyed! And something that we will continue to enjoy in the future. The Space Engineers community is strong, growing, and present.

During all these years, there were other things that Keen Software House has been working on. We increased the team from five to almost twenty five people, we established the team working on Medieval Engineers, we started GoodAI Research in order to build general AI, to help humanity and understand the universe, we started GoodAI Applied to better fund the research, stay closer to real-world application, and to prepare the infrastructure for general AI deployment once we have it. We accidentally started a new religion - Clang :)  and of course, we got many new colleagues who helped us to shape and fulfill my vision.

You can imagine that there were many funny moments along the road, here is just one example:


New Price


With this update, we are also setting a new price for Space Engineers == $19.99. According to our analysis and tests, this price better suits the majority of Space Engineers fans. This change also brings all regional prices on Steam to match countries specifications and regional differences.

This step will enable the Space Engineers community to grow even bigger, which is great news for everyone because Space Engineers always benefited from the huge pool of player creations, and this can only work if we have a large player-base.


It is quite an unusual move to decrease the price when the game leaves Early Access, but we believe it’s a good gift to the community and will better support the future of Space Engineers.


Ladders


Ladders are a special thing for all Space Engineers. We had them in the early builds of the game, but then removed them due to the complexity involved in having them work properly (omni-directional gravity, colliding ships, animations, you name it).


However, we always knew we wanted to bring them back and the best moment to do this would be today - when the game leaves Early Access.

The ladders are back, with new visuals, new animations, and new features - you can jump off the ladder, you can jump from ladder to ladder, ladders work in multiplayer, multiple players can climb on the same ladder, and much more.


What Others Say


Simon Sicko
CEO Pixel Federation
“Space Engineers is a unique game. The concept of the sandbox gameplay offers endless fun. It’s great that Keen developers see their game as a service for players and they have taken care of it  for more than 5 years.”

***

Pavel Barak
Chairman of the Czech Game Developers Association
“I remember the Space Engineers release back in 2013 when the game was released as a small project in Early Access. It was more of a prototype, which was very successful from the very beginning. It’s unbelievable how the game has evolved since then. In the name of Czech Game Developers Association, which maps the gaming business in Czech Republic, I can confirm that Space Engineers is one of the most successful games ever developed in the Czech Republic.”

***

Milos Endrle
CEO Geewa
“Space Engineers shows how the community, which love a particular game, can shape and move the game these days. It also shows what a developer can achieve even before the public release. I hope that Space Engineers will get millions more players on top the millions already playing it while in Early Access. Great job Keen! Congratulations!"

***

Jakub Dvorsky
Founder Amanita Design
“If I wouldn’t need to take care of the company and two kids, I would spend all nights welding the spaceships in Space Engineers.”

***

SE player
“This game is the largest sandbox ever made, with realistic physics and full modding support, and it’s still receiving consistent updates.”

***

Xero
Space Engineers CTG Moderator
"I first saw Space Engineers at e3 in 2015, and instantly just had to have this game, There are many other games out there to fly ships around space and fight with other players, but none of them can you build your own ship, design it the way you want it to look, and explore the world how you want to explore. After 4 years and almost 5000 hours of gameplay, I can honestly say i've enjoyed every minute of it. I want to say thank you to Keen Software House for this amazing game. I can't wait to see what the near future holds for Space Engineers. "

***
"Space Engineers has come a long way since I first installed the alpha back in 2013. Then it only featured single-player and creative mode. With each update adding more features and improving the game as a whole, I hope that Keen continues on this strong path with the future of the game."

***

"To say I'm excited about this update is an understatement, especially for the PVE content that seems to be coming."

***

”Space Engineers has had an amazing development journey since its launch; with each update I’ve been impressed at what the game and its playerbase can do. I hope the future still holds many exciting adventures ahead.”

***

Need to Create


Our team’s motto is “Need to create” and it perfectly describes the fire that is burning inside of us.

We believe that one of the strongest forces in the universe is the “need to create”. Every time we build something out of nothing, every time we give shape and organization to something that had no structure – we are creating a miracle.

We need to create. We are made to create. We can’t stop creating.

We derive purpose from being creative. Creating is our destiny, it is why we were put into this universe. There's nothing we can't create!

What is even better is that we share this need with our community of Space Engineers who managed to create thousands of creations in the last 5 years, and pushed the boundaries what even we thought is possible beyond, and then more.


What’s Next?


Space Engineers is not finished. We already have a lot of plans to expand the Space Engineers franchise with new features, blocks, and scenarios. We’re going to take Space Engineers to exciting places when it comes to gameplay, immersion, and challenges!

In the short term, these expansions will bring more decorative blocks, new in-game economy (trading, currency, but no MMO scale yet), new weapons, and we also plan to look at combat specific scenarios.


We will continue to monitor our support site for bug reports, questions, concerns and suggested features.

We are also working on an Xbox One port for Space Engineers.

We are moving into the new era of Space Engineers and I’m sure that we all have many reasons to look forward to it.

Thanks for reading this blog!


The Team


While Keen Software House developed Space Engineers, we also developed our team. I am grateful to everyone who has worked on the game throughout the years, and I’m also grateful for all of the hard work our current team has done on Space Engineers, as they were fully prepared to take Space Engineers to the next level!

This is something that is not as visible as shiny trailers and screenshots. The fact that we have solid, well-coordinated, intelligent and creative people at Keen Software House, helps our team to work like a well-oiled machine, and it enabled us to deliver Space Engineers. Having this team is invaluable.


Thank You


We couldn't have made it this far without the amazing support of our community! Special thanks to our dedicated CTG (Closed Testing Group), which provided us with fantastic feedback that helped us to shape the game the right way. Thank you all!

Best,
Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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
GoodAI Applied: https://www.goodai.com/goodai-applied

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 (3 million copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic.

Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. He 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 over 30 research scientists, engineers and consultants working across its Research and Applied teams.

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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Space Engineers: Release Date for the Major Overhaul of Survival & Going out of Early Access

Hello Engineers!

Our next update is almost here. I want to reflect back on the progress of it and to share some important news.

I’ll start with the reflection on the public tests that we ran recently. You can find the details about the Survival update and the public tests here and here. The posts mention most of the new features, game improvements, and changes. We received fantastic feedback after these blog posts were published. I have also shared my vision and reasons for future updates, so I’m sure you’re now expecting more breaking news.

We started the public tests on Thursday, January 17, 2019, and we decided to run several individual tests until we were happy with the results. The tests were scheduled every two weeks. The first test was only open for one day, but we extended the following tests to four days. The information and the feedback we received from you during those tests have been very important for the final update, as well as changes we implemented to the upcoming update. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to play the new version and who provided us with feedback.

Now to the exciting news!

The upcoming Major Overhaul of Survival is going live on Thursday, February 28, 2019. 

This is going to be a big day for Space Engineers because we are also going to move the game out of Early Access. Yes, you heard it!


Getting Space Engineers out of Early Access has been planned for a long time. We have worked on it basically since 2016/2017, when the game entered beta. It was our goal to release the game in the state we consider to fulfill our original vision, including all planned features and core game components. Moreover, it includes a lot of things that were not planned at the beginning of the game’s development (solar panels, planets, rotors, pistons, wheels, and many more features).

Space Engineers was one of the first Early Access games on Steam and one of the few titles  that will be successfully released after several years of passionate development. We keep our promises.

The reason Space Engineers is leaving Early Access is because we have a solid foundation, which will allow us to continue releasing new features and content for the game. The future looks bright!

History

Space Engineers has been in Early Access for 5+ years, and during this period we developed the game from a proof-of-concept to a feature complete space engineering sandbox.

We went through more than 200 updates, which include major game changes such as:

  • planets
  • new HUD and game UI
  • skins, parachutes, wheels
  • more than 200 blocks
  • reworked and updated the character animations several times
  • improved the multithreaded physics, but also physics itself
  • implemented super-large worlds
  • a lot of game optimizations during this entire period
  • went through the massive updates of the game’s visuals and audio
  • we spent a significant amount of time on improving the multiplayer, air tightness and oxygen
  • survival mode
  • programmable blocks, modding support, antennas, landing gears, solar panels, cargo ships, meteorites, encounters, asteroid clusters, visual scripting, realistic mode audio, in-game help, and more.

You can view all the updates in chronological order here.

Check our very first Space Engineers video, Alpha Footage 8/2013 and one of our latest videos from the Major Overhaul of Visuals, Audio and Wheels.

We sold more than 3 million copies and we have more than 200,000 monthly active players.

We listened to our community, and used a lot of this feedback to improve the game where we could. It has been a rewarding and productive cooperation, which we really enjoyed! And something that we will continue to enjoy in the future. The Space Engineers community is strong, growing, and present.

We expect that some people will have concerns regarding what leaving Early Access means for the future of Space Engineers - if we are now going to abandon the game. We won’t stop working on Space Engineers and we feel good about the foundation we have built. Therefore, I think the answer is clear: This is not the end. This is just the beginning!

FAQ

Q: Will you abandon the Space Engineers? 
A: We have no intention of abandoning a project that we as developers and our community are extremely passionate about.

Q: Will you fix bug X or Y? 
A: Most likely it is already fixed in the upcoming update (we fixed numerous bugs). We will continue to fix bugs even after the Major Survival Overhaul update. We will continue to monitor the support site for both bugs and feature suggestions

Q: What will come next? 
A: Expanding the Space Engineers franchise with new features, blocks, and scenarios. We’re going to take Space Engineers to exciting places when it comes to gameplay, immersion, and challenges!


Q: Are you working on a new game already? 
A: Nope, we are currently focused on continuing to develop Space Engineers.

Q: I am disappointed because you never implemented features I wanted for this game. It’s not the game I expected.
A: While we are in the process of  completing the foundation of Space Engineers, we will be adding new content to the game in the future. It’s still very likely that we will implement some of features that you’ve requested. We are looking to the future and continuing to build on our strong foundation.

Q: Are you working on an XBOX port?
A: Yes, this is one of the top priorities for our team.

What is the community saying?

"Space Engineers has come a long way since I first installed the alpha back in 2013. Then it only featured single-player and creative mode. With each update adding more features and improving the game as a whole, I hope that Keen continues on this strong path with the future of the game."

"To say I'm excited for this update is an understatement, especially for the PVE content that seems to be coming."

”Space Engineers has had an amazing development journey since its launch; with each update I’ve been impressed at what the game and its playerbase can do. I hope the future still holds many exciting adventures ahead.”


Conclusion

Mark your calendar for Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5PM UTC, because this day will bring many new things and surprises (not seen during the public tests). This will be a truly momentous day for the Space Engineers community.

We are planning many new things for Space Engineers and we will start revealing them soon :-)
Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading this!

Thank you

We couldn't have made it this far without the amazing support of our community! Thank you all!

Best,
Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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
GoodAI Applied: https://www.goodai.com/goodai-applied

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 (3 million copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic. 

Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. He 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 over 30 research scientists, engineers and consultants working across its Research and Applied teams. 

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.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Medieval Engineers: Update 0.7.1 - Major Overhaul of Audio, Visuals, & Blocks


Hello, Engineers!
We’re thrilled to announce that the 0.7 update has arrived and it’s filled to the brim with tons of exciting new features and enhancements! Whether you’re looking for updated block visuals, new blueprint building in survival, improvements to multiplayer or modding tools, there are plenty of fantastic new additions to experience in Medieval Engineers!

We are extremely proud of the work that has gone into the design of 0.7. The models -- and many aspects of building in the game -- have been redesigned from the ground up. Today we unveil this, and leave 0.6 behind. We recognize that with such a huge change, there will still be bugs, errors, imbalances. But given that Medieval Engineers is still in Early Access, we wanted you to jump in, see how it works, and help find the things that don't work right. If it ever becomes too much, you can switch back to the stable 0.6 branch as always!


WHAT HAVE WE UPDATED?

Block Visuals:
We have remodeled and retextured almost everything when it comes to blocks. You’ll notice that there are no longer any hard edges. We have introduced parallax shading to bring more depth to the blocks without increasing the triangle count, ensuring the performance does not degrade. Additionally, we re-added some old blocks that got lost (wall with double-window with a pillar, etc.).


Updated Trees:
The trees in Medieval Engineers also got a makeover. There are new pines, new spruces, and oak trees!
Tree cutting has also been tweaked, so go check out those new oaks and don’t forget to yell timber when you cut them down! ;)


Female Engineer:
The female engineer is looking better than ever, as we’ve incorporated some of the features from the Space Engineers female engineer. Likewise, her body proportions look much more realistic.



Grids:
The grids in Medieval Engineers have received a lot of updates, as we overhauled the entire grid codebase, removed multiblocks, optimized adding and removing blocks (grid splits and merges) on very large grids, simplified many systems, fixed small grids not sticking to large grids, improved block placement along with structural integrity and stabilized physical constraints (ropes, catch blocks, etc.).


MULTIPLAYER
We have upgraded the multiplayer behavior, especially with regards to the grids, to ensure they are sent over the network quicker, and fully connected, to prevent grid desynchronization, ropes getting cut, and other horrible scenarios that would cause clients to freak out. Serialization is now much faster in multiplayer. There is also better entity grouping to ensure grids load in together, which combined with lots of minor fixes, should significantly improve bandwidth.

WHAT’S NEW?

Blueprint Building to Survival:
With the simple click of a button and a few swings with your trusty mallet, players can now add large buildings, such as castles to a survival world, as well as small constructions, including catapults, which are ready for action! Plus ropes and connections are now saved in blueprints. Blueprints now automatically store, and display, which mods are required, so you can always see what you may be missing when you place a blueprint. It also checks for research, shows you the resources needed to build it, and provides an easy way to check your progress. You can now work together with your friends in building your town!


World Chunking
World chunking is a new system that unloads objects that are very far from players. By doing this, we managed to vastly accelerate world loads, particularly for really large worlds. Dedicated servers should also see a reduction in memory usage. On top of this, it removed the need for abandoned grid decay, abandoned grids are usually not loaded into the scene, and thus do not consume any performance anymore. You can go explore servers and discover all kinds of ruins and structures left behind by people!
This vastly accelerates world loads, saves and unloads entities that have no players nearby, thereby reducing memory usage and performance loading. It also removes the need for abandoned grid decay; abandoned grids no longer take up any performance.

WHAT HAVE WE OVERHAULED?

GUI:
Be sure to check out the new main menu, blueprints screen, crafting screen and medieval master screen. Every other aspect of GUI has been retouched to fit this new style for the game. It’s not only visual, every screen also had careful thought put into it about what we want to show, in order to improve the flow of user interaction.


Audio:
Medieval Engineers has never sounded so good! Lots of places that were missing sound now have sounds. We also improved the sound quality in many instances, and we added effects and filters, such as reverb and low-pass filters.

NEW ENGINE FEATURES:
Under “the hood” of Medieval Engineers, there are rendering Performance improvements and GPU particles. There are also better visuals for sunsets and sunrises, and improved logging behavior to help us catch more bugs.

FOR MODDERS
For our amazing community of modders, we have a nice list of new tools for you:
-Crafting system refactored to support world chunking and more, see this guide for more info:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SmAHtGy1YwGOt6XF9SOSooIimcZQnFt4aamiZA-RK5U/
-ModAPI dialogs
-Dynamic environment system access
-Added support for underground and inside checks to environment rules
-Programmable animation layers (thanks to Equinox)
-Navigation mesh session component (thanks to Equinox)
-Seedbags now support seeding on non-farming voxels and can plant non-farmable items.
While we are working out the kinks in 0.7, it may be worth creating 0.6-based copies of your mod so servers that want to remain on 0.6 for a while longer are able to continue playing without too much disruption.

OTHER NOTEWORTHY FEATURES
Last, but certainly not least, we have a voxel hand that obeys landscaping stakes. This was a highly requested feature from the community to fix trouble spots when landscaping.
We hope you enjoy all of these new additions to Medieval Engineers, as we know that we’ll enjoy seeing what you create with them. :)

Thanks for reading!

Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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
GoodAI Applied: https://www.goodai.com/goodai-applied

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 (3 million copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic. 

Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. He 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 over 30 research scientists, engineers and consultants working across its Research and Applied teams. 

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, January 30, 2019

Reflection on the First Public Test for the Major Overhaul of Survival

Hello Engineers!

As we started this year with the finalization of our next major release, the Survival overhaul, we kicked off the public tests with our community. You can see my blog post about it here: Public Tests for the Major Overhaul of Survival. The first public test ran on 17th of January, 2019 and today, I’d like to reflect back on this first test.

We have received over 1000 responses from you, our players during this first test. Taking into consideration that the test ran only for 24 hours, it’s great to see this high number. Our team has reviewed your feedback and made several important changes. Let me focus on the changes we introduced based upon the feedback we received during the first public test. These changes are already implemented in the new build, which is going to be available for tomorrow’s public test.

  • We have added shared progression in the faction so it’s more user friendly and easy to understand.
  • We have rebalanced the Hydrogen Engine and we have increased the internal hydrogen capacity.
  • The general Progression Tree has also been improved.
  • New Progression UI has been put into the game.
  • The spawn system toggle for new features has been added to the world settings.
  • We made some changes to the anti-griefing. This includes putting the rifle and 3 x magazines to all drop pods' cargos, updating the weapon shot distance (removing random distance and make better guns shoot on better range)
  • We reintroduced the ragdoll for astronaut
  • We reworked the Cargo / Encounter PCUs having its own pool and the setup in world settings
  • We worked on the overall Survival rebalance
  • We added new voxel trash removal tool for admins
  • We unified functional colors for all blocks (powered, not-powered etc.)

The second test is planned to start tomorrow, January 31st, 2019 at 10am (UTC). We are extending the testing window until Monday, February 4th, 10am (UTC), so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the new build and give us your feedback.


The main reason for running the public tests is the feedback we’d like to get. It’s crucial for us to know if the changes we made are good and if you see them as improvements. You can provide us with feedback through an in-game survey that will be available at the end of the tests. You can also provide us with any additional suggestions you may have here:
https://support.keenswh.com/spaceengineers/publictest

If you are interested in our review of 2018 and plans for 2019, you can read my recent blog post.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope you’ll enjoy new features!


Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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
GoodAI Applied: https://www.goodai.com/goodai-applied

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 (3 million copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic. 

Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. He 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 over 30 research scientists, engineers and consultants working across its Research and Applied teams. 

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, January 16, 2019

Space Engineers: Public tests for the Major Overhaul of Survival

Hello, Engineers!
Welcome to Space Engineers in 2019! A lot of new and exciting things will come to light this year.


We are starting the year with the Steam Awards 2018, where Space Engineers was nominated for the Most Fun with a Machine category. Our game was chosen out of 26,000 games on Steam (according to SteamSpy), so I’d like to say a big thank you to all of our fans, for showing your appreciation.

But more importantly, we are starting this year with the finalization of our next major release, the Survival overhaul. The Survival overhaul has been one of our top priorities, so it was specifically planned to be released after we had other key things finished. Over the last 6 years, we have carefully executed our original vision, which hasn’t changed. Moving step by step towards our vision, the survival overhaul is one of those steps. In addition to survival, many new features have been designed to help new players to be introduced to the game and are not specifically focused on existing players.

Survival overhaul is one of the biggest overhauls because until now our main priority was making sure the sandbox elements work properly. We needed to make sure that the physics are stable, multiplayer is reliable, the destruction is working, and so on. With this update, we are evolving from sandbox towards a game. This update is a real game-changer :-)

I’m happy to share that the Survival update is almost ready for release, but before it will go live, we’d like to run public tests with our community. The public tests are planned to start on the 17th of January, 2019 (which is coincidentally my 40th birthday ☺), and will continue until you, and we, are satisfied with the results. The final moment will be the official release of the Major Overhaul of Survival.

We plan to run three or more public tests and we ask you to give us candid feedback about the changes we have implemented in Space Engineers. Our team has been working on this release since July last year, so there are a number of new features, adjustments, and tweaks.

We have touched almost every survival element. There are new blocks such as the Hydrogen Engine, Wind Turbine, Survival Kit, and Small Battery being introduced into the game. I’m happy to say that they are ready for testing.


Apart from new blocks, there are other changes I’d like to highlight. We are renaming the Blast Furnace to Basic Refinery and we are adding a new spawning system, where we tried to eliminate the death traveling, which was very often misused in Space Engineers.

Spawn options will now appear for each planet in the world. New spawn ships have been made to add new challenges and players will now respawn at their last used or nearest medical room or survival kit. We will be adding a world option for those who prefer the old respawn system.

We have also added a progression tree to help new players get familiar with the game. The progression tree enables blocks in G-Screen depending on which blocks are already built. This feature is designed to prevent new players from being overwhelmed by options. The essential blocks are enabled from the start, the inaccessible blocks are greyed out. The groups of blocks can be unlocked when any of the required blocks are built by a player. The progression tree is enabled only for Survival mode, the Creative mode or space master disables progression tree.

We have also updated the planetary and asteroid voxel textures to look more realistic (ore veins and blending with surrounding material), together with trees and vegetation, rebalanced locations and quantity of resources (ore) and updated in-game help.


One specific area I’m really happy with is the introduction of new scenarios, which will give you new goals and objectives, as well as help new players learn more about the game. There are two polished scenarios, Learning to Survive and Never Surrender, which will give you some challenging tasks and I hope you’ll enjoy playing them.

Besides new scenarios, we made updates to Cargo Ships and Encounters. We are also adjusting the game advanced settings, we are improving the localization system and Steam workshop integration. Additionally, there are small updates to PCU changes, game chat, building changes, and a new voxel generation system which helps to display voxels properly and make the LOD transitions smoother.

With the new scenarios being introduced to Space engineers, the game now has new goals and challenges for players to explore. These scenarios are designed to help players progress through their Space Engineers career and challenge themselves once they feel confident enough to do so. They can be used to start new games and played repeatedly to test different strategies. These scenarios are nonlinear and how you approach them is up to you or your friends!

We have also improved the Visual Script tool, which has fresh new icons and many features have been made much more user-friendly. With the Visual Script tool, players can create their own scenarios, their own appealing goals, and share them on the Steam Workshop. All of our scenarios are created in the Visual script tool, so they can serve as great resources to learn from.

For all of the things I’ve just mentioned, you can see, that there was really a huge amount of work done by the team. The main reason for running the public tests is the feedback we’d like to get. It’s crucial for us to know if the changes we made are good and if you see them as improvements. You can provide us with feedback through an in-game survey that will be available at the end of the tests. You can also provide us with any additional suggestions you may have here:
https://support.keenswh.com/spaceengineers/general

The Survival release is going to be another huge step for Space Engineers.

If you are interested in our review of 2018 and plans for 2019, you can read my recent blog post.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope you’ll enjoy new features!

Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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
GoodAI Applied: https://www.goodai.com/goodai-applied 

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 (3 million copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic. 

Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. He 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 over 30 research scientists, engineers and consultants working across its Research and Applied teams. 

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, January 2, 2019

Year 2018 in review, plans for 2019

SUMMARY:
  • People are interested in knowing what our progress was in 2018 and what our plans are for 2019 so below you can learn about:
  • 2018 for Space Engineers
  • 2018 for Medieval Engineers
  • 2018 for GoodAI Applied
  • 2018 for GoodAI Research
  • Plans for 2019


2018 has been a very busy year for both Keen Software House and GoodAI. I have summarized some of the key achievements and developments in both companies.

Space Engineers

There were several significant updates for Space Engineers during the year. Our main focus was to bring new things to the game and to make the major features even better than they were before. The biggest change in Space Engineers was the successful Major Overhaul of Multiplayer which adds a whole new level to the game.

However, at the beginning of the year, we started with the different approach to how we are releasing updates. We moved from weekly updates to bigger ones, which can bring more impactful changes. I wrote about it in one of my blog posts here. Then we released the Major Overhaul of Visuals, Audio and Wheels in February and this release brought standardized visual style, updated sounds, and very needed game performance optimizations. Besides that, we also addressed a number of requests from our community.

After that, we took another big bite. We decided to work on the Space Engineers multiplayer to make sure it meets your expectations. This turned out to be a very challenging task. We had to tackle various issues, but our team did a tremendous job making it happen. We ran multiple public tests for the first time in company history. Public tests helped us to discover unknown areas, limits, and problems we had to take a close look at. It also showed us what our community wants. We tried to address it and show our appreciation to them. I do not want to go into the details about this, as you can read my blog post here. Also, please check out the trailer below which was made using footage captured in-game and features 16 players in a multiplayer session. The trailer shows just what can be achieved now!


Our most recent update has been a Major Overhaul of Airtightness and In-game Help. Airtightness was the top voted feature on our Space Engineers support site, so I am very happy we have made it an official feature, and the new in-game help has made it easier for new players to learn how to play our game. The Major Overhaul of Airtightness and In-game Help was the last major release we have in our plans for this year.

Now I'd like to reflect back on our community and your feedback. We saw a lot of comments that we are abandoning the game and the Space Engineers project at the beginning of the year. This was caused by the fact, that we moved from short regular releases to bigger ones. And the overall impression was, that we are not working on Space Engineers. The fact is, we worked on it even more. We wanted to bring a new and multifaceted game experience to players, and I hope we did.


I’m really happy to see a positive trend of complimentary reviews on our Steam store page. The recent positive reviews moved to 83% before the Steam Awards (started November 20, 2018) and then during the Steam awards it even jumped up to 94%. This fantastic feedback helped Space Engineers to be one of The Steam Awards 2018 Nominees in the Most Fun with a Machine category. Our game got this nomination out of 26,000 games on Steam (according to SteamSpy), so I’d like to say big thanks to all of you, our fans for showing your appreciation.

I’m also very happy that we launched a new support site for all Keen games. This is the place where you can submit all your comments, issues and suggestions. You can also vote for other ideas or reported bugs to make it more visible, so our team can see it and work on it with preference. At the time of writing this blog post, our team was able to address all reported bugs on the page. I’m really proud of their work and the way how they are addressing the issues you’re experiencing.

We have also hired a dedicated community manager, Jesse, who is doing great job reading, analyzing and answering all your comments, suggestions and feedback on all our social media sites. Jesse and other team members are also providing dedicated customer support.

I’m especially happy to see that there were more than 45.000 fantastic creations submitted at our Steam workshop this year. We tried to promote many of them on our social media, but there are still many creations which we did not promote and they are just fantastic pieces of work.


Space Engineers recorded 23,000 daily active users in average during the year. We were really impressed by the massive response during our public tests, but also by some fantastic events our community organized. With over 3 million copies sold since we launched in Early Access and more than 200 releases in total, I’m sure I can say that we have been through a lot together. I’m looking forward to the future of Space Engineers.


Medieval Engineers

2018 was also a very productive year for Medieval Engineers. Just as with Space Engineers, Medieval Engineers also switched to the major update approach. We started the year with the introduction of the log walls, and performance improvements through better handling of parallel logic. We also introduced a pretty major feature for the modding community: the ability to make mods have a list of dependencies! This has made the modding community more tight-knit as they started to work together on higher quality mods.

Our next big release for Medieval Engineers was also a major game changer for the players. We introduced a new way of handling the character's stats, connecting the farming features to the gameplay more closely, and rather than punishing players who don't pay attention to stuff that is not related to engineering, we reward players who take the time to play as efficiently as possible.

But most importantly, this created the framework we needed for the next major feature for the game…


Our last major release for Medieval Engineers in 2018 brought a completely overhauled Combat System into the game! The combat overhaul introduced a combat system focused on player skill, which was then used to organize a very exciting Grand Melee combat tournament. On top of that, we improved the player experience by reducing the grind in the game. We vastly reduced the amount of stone mining you guys have to do to build a castle. Our metric here was that we wanted a new player to be able to build a small wooden house in their first play session, and after careful focus testing, we managed to pull this off! You can read my thoughts on the combat overhaul on my previous blog post.


During 2018, and without a doubt thanks to the great work the team has been doing with the modding interfaces, we have seen the release of a couple of very popular mods. Most notably, the releases of the Water mod (by Peaceman) and the Rails mod (by Equinox), which really showcased the mod-ability of the Medieval Engineers game engine. I was very impressed to see the quality of these mods, and I’m sure all of you have seen this too! A large number of dedicated servers have been playing with different selections of mods, which means that you can always find a server with the gameplay set up how you like it. On top of that, you guys have created 12.000 blueprints on the workshop, and over one thousand collections, during this year. This is a major increase in activity over the last year, and I’m happy to see this growth.

The team has been working very hard on making 0.7 a reality. Where the 0.6 updates focused on the player character, 0.7 will be focusing on the structures and machines you guys are building. As was teased in the Grand Melee combat tournament, lots of work is being done on improving the building system, and also the visual style of the blocks. We’re also going to polish the audio while we’re at it because good audio makes the game come alive and vastly improves the feeling of the game. There are also some other cool things coming, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises just yet. :-)

With up to a thousand daily active players, and 400k copies sold, Medieval Engineers is clearly showing its potential. The Medieval Engineers player community is a fantastic and welcoming place for old and new players alike. We are committed to improving the player experience and we’re excited to see what the future holds for Medieval Engineers!


GoodAI Applied

2018 was the most successful year yet for GoodAI Applied with a significant increase in revenue and a double-digit profit margin. The team has been steadily growing and has secured 10 clients and delivered over 30 projects. At first, companies were not sure if AI could bring them benefits and that the costs of AI projects would be returned in new revenue and savings. But after initial PoCs and the successful delivery of many projects, companies are becoming more confident in using AI and want to explore new opportunities for AI in their businesses.

We are making proprietary state-of-the-art technologies fully developed in-house. Our four main projects are:
  • Good.bot chatbot
  • GoodAI Sound — sound analysis solutions
  • GoodAI Visual — image and video analysis solutions
  • Data science
Good.bot
The Applied team has successfully delivered our new chatbot Good.bot to banks and telecommunications companies allowing them to streamline their processes saving money and time. We have also provided multiple “proof of concepts” for other large-scale companies and it is being utilised by Space Engineers to provide in-game help to players.


GoodAI Sound
The GoodAI Sound algorithm classifies sounds in pre-trained classes with >95% accuracy. We have already designed and implemented a cutting-edge sound analysis solution for ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab. The project has led to further collaboration between GoodAI and ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab and we were proud to have them as one of the main sponsors of the Human-Level AI Conference.

GoodAI Visual
GoodAI Visual analyses images to extract valuable insights form videos and pictures. We have delivered a solution for a major online diamond retailer which can classify "eye-clean" diamonds with 99% accuracy. Other implementations include:
  • Detecting people, cars or other objects from camera recordings for smart cities
  • Detecting people in a building for behavior analysis, safety or security vigilance
  • Quality assurance for a production line in a production facility


Data Science
As well as the three main products GoodAI Applied have been providing bespoke data analysis services for many companies. These have included:
  • Modeling the life cycle of consumer loans for Equa Bank
  • A natural language processing (NLP) solution for a leading provider of risk management and compliance services
  • Preventive maintenance in asset management for a gas utility company

Overall, I am extremely proud of the Applied team and the hard work they have been putting in, to scale up to the next level and am excited to see what new projects 2019 has to offer!


GoodAI Research

Human-Level AI Conference
One of the main highlights of the year for GoodAI was organizing the Human-Level AI Conference (HLAI) here in Prague. We had a fantastic selection of over 40 speakers from across the world and it attracted more than 500 attendees. The conference combined three conferences (AGI, BICA, and NeSy) and we also organized an extra Future of AI Track aimed at a wider audience.


I was pleased to see such a range of people from different backgrounds at the conference. We had leading researchers and scientists, as well as investors, and policymakers who are starting to take interest in the idea of AGI. Throughout the 4 days, I managed to speak to some amazing people and was constantly learning, my only regret is I didn’t manage to speak to even more people!

You can watch my keynote from HLAI “How far are we from general AI?” as well as nearly 50 other presentations from the conference. You can also find out more about the conference in my reflections on HLAI blog post.


Solving the AI Race
From January to May 2018 we ran the Solving the AI Race round of the General AI Challenge where we asked participants to come up with solutions to the problems associated with the 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
We had a great response to the round with 194 registrations from 41 different countries and a total of 59 submissions. I was pleased to split the prize money of $15,000 between the top 6 entries and invite the finalists to Prague for the Human-Level AI Conference. It was great to meet them and hear what they had to say during the AI Race and Societal Impacts panel. You can read more about the round and also read the finalists submissions on the General AI Challenge website. Although we did not come up with a complete solution for the AI race, the round has prompted some interesting discussions, and inspired the next round of the General AI Challenge, which will launch at the end of this month, watch this space :)

AI safety, ethics, and societal impacts
Our team has also been involved in the issues of safety, ethics, and societal impacts of artificial intelligence. We are collaborating on the IEEE Ethically Aligned Design initiative which will be released early this year, as well as the Foresight Institute’s Artificial General Intelligence: Coordination & Great Powers report. Both projects have been a great chance to work with stakeholders all over the world. We are now active members of the AI4EU project which aims to mobilize the whole European AI ecosystem.

We have also held some very interesting workshops. We held a workshop in Berlin, in collaboration with the Aspen Institute and the Estonian Embassy, called the Future with AI (report here) and we hosted Virginia and Frank Dignum in our offices in Prague for a workshop on the Governance of AI in the years to come, you can read a blog about that workshop here. We also hosted Irakli Beridze, Head of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the United Nations with whom we had some very insightful discussions.

We have also continued our work on roadmapping, as well as started to explore the impacts of automation you can read two blogs on those subjects here:
Restructuring research teams
This year we have also made an important change to the structure of our research teams. Our whole team is now working on one architecture which showed the most promise of gradual learning from our experimental research so far. We have aligned our goals and come up with a new set of evaluation criteria for our general AI agents, and set ourselves new milestones. We expect that our new structure will bring us closer to AGI.


Conclusion

In general, the best thing was the growth I noticed in many people in our teams. People who were “almost leaders” become “leaders”. I also noticed increased aspiration for quality in our results and effectiveness of how we achieve it.


Plans for 2019

Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers will enter a new era. The first phase was about building a strong basis for sandbox: large-scale modifiable environment with many physical and mechanical entities. This phase is done. The upcoming phase will be about steering the games into particular directions. They will become less sandbox, more games. There are multiple directions we want to take both games: economy, warfare, stories … I can go on, so let’s keep some surprises :-)

GoodAI Applied should grow its revenue, profitability, products portfolio, client portfolio, and the team. We should be entering into different kinds of AI oriented projects and gaining experience in new domains. We are making it top priority to grow at a safe rate.

GoodAI Research will continue in its current roadmap, working on new milestones. If we achieve the goals we set up for ourselves, we will publish interesting results. If not, we will continue until we achieve them.

Thanks for reading,

Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at 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
GoodAI Applied: www.goodai.com/goodai-applied
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 (3mil+ copies sold). Both companies are based in Prague, Czech Republic.

Marek has been interested in artificial intelligence since childhood. He 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 over 30 research scientists, engineers and consultants working across its Research and Applied teams.

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.