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:

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:
Medieval Engineers:
General AI Challenge:
AI Roadmap Institute:
Keen Software House:
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

  • 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:
  • chatbot
  • GoodAI Sound — sound analysis solutions
  • GoodAI Visual — image and video analysis solutions
  • Data science
The Applied team has successfully delivered our new chatbot 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.


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:
Medieval Engineers:
General AI Challenge:
AI Roadmap Institute:
GoodAI Applied:
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 (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.