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.



25 comments:

  1. Thank you for a good 2018 Marek/KSH, and best of luck with 2019.
    Very exited for what the year will bring, especially to Space Engineers. It is slowly becoming the game of at last my Sci-Fi dreams. :D

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  2. It was a great year for both games and I am most hyped for 0.7. Although I am sad that you didn't confirm anything for SE. I hope ME will take a look at barbarians as well, and I also hope that 0.7 won't break our worlds in any way. We have been addicted to ME in the past 2 weeks with a friend, putting in 40 hours in about 6 sessions ����

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  3. 2018 was just the kickstart for everyone!! Wish you the best for this year,keep the great work.

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  4. Thanks for the info. I love what your doing with good AI keep it up!

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  5. 2018 was a fantastic year :D I really cant wait for 2019 for ME and SE !!! Happy new years to everyone and the ish team :D

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  6. Thanks for the Info. I'm just a bit puzzled in regards to your "Open and Resolved topics" Graph. Am I misreading something there or did you just move all "submitted" topics to "open" in order to be able say, that all submitted topics were addressed?
    On top of that, the y-axis does not correspond to the values shown above your data points... It looks to me, as though you wanted to display the whole thing in percent and then didn't. Was that deliberately done in order to make the Graphic look good, or just a mistake?

    Anyway thanks for your Post and I'm looking forward to all the new content for Space Engineers and Medieval Engineers as well.

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  7. Hello Marek,
    Thanks for your feedback
    Cheers,

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  8. Its nice that you are all working on SE multi player and everything. But can we have some more single player content?

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    1. In the last couple paragraphs, they said that they feel like they've finished developing the core game, and now they want to start focusing on making it less of a sandbox, and more like a game. I think good things are coming ^^

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  9. I hope You guys dont forget about transferring ships between saves, it was really fun idea a long time ago - i am still hoping :D
    Have a great year KSH!

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    Replies
    1. ...save it as a blueprint with Ctrl+B and spawn it in a different save with F10?

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  10. If only there were updates on the Xbox version since most people looking forward to it have given up on waiting.

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    1. Yeah i can see them dropping news or more this year since they are "new era" which could mean console ports and such

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    2. I can see them dropping news if not more this year with the whole "new era" thing, which could mean console ports

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    3. I typed that twice what

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  11. I'm very excited to see what happens with space engineers this year, with 2018 delivering some amazing improvements. I'm almost salivating at the thought of what game elements 2019 can bring to the table.

    Happy New Year to everyone who's working on my favourite game :)

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  12. I hope 2019 finally brings water, ladders and aerodynamics.
    I think I speak for the whole SE community when I say that

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    1. Absolutely agree, also more environmental hazards like toxic atmosphere, high gravity, pirate territories (with lots of pirate bases and minefields), alien spiders that can board your ships crawl and stay inside blocks, and once your in space they come out to attack you (and wont destroy any blocks, just kill you and maybe only go after the medbay)....

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  13. Marek you are an inspiration for my career.
    Thank you for giving us all the projects you are leading.

    I hope one day we I can meet your team.

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  14. goodai adviced me to hack the indestructible spawn base in one server this advice stay during all the game not remind anyother was gifted

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  15. Could currency work in Space Engineers?
    Would you take stuff to some "neutral traders station," 'sell' something and then 'buy' something else? Would there even be a point to doing that when you can just mine and craft everything on your own?

    I have seen some modders create a "story mode" where the player has to accomplish certain tasks, reach certain checkpoints, defeat certain enemies, etc., all-the-while coming across messages. Each message added a bit to the 'story.'
    I could see a "story mode" working for Space Engineers. It would be interesting if it was of greater size / more epic than what modders can come up with on their own. If it was too small of scope, it would just be disappointing. "Go big or bust?"

    With regards to warfare, it might be nice to see multiple types of Space Suits for Space Engineers.
    Imagine if there was a "construction focused suit" (like at present) and then a "military suit" (Sacrificing cargo capacity in favor of increased armor and threat scanners, etc.) and then maybe an "exploration suit" (which sacrifices armor and cargo capacity in favor of increased size of O2 and H2 tanks along with a lighter space suit so as to get the job done with less H2.)

    It might also be nice to have additional infantry weapons. Imagine rocket launchers (perhaps even guided missiles), swords, spears, (other melee weapons), settable traps (trip wires, claymore mines, bear traps, pit traps, etc), shot guns, crossbows, grenades and then perhaps add in additional types of ammunition for each gun:
    piercing (depleted uranium?) penetrates light armor to damage hiding targets,
    heavy-hitting (gold?) does extra damage to non-armored players,
    exploding (magnesium?) possibly with fragments.

    I am kind of sad to read that they consider the "sandbox mode" complete. I very much wanted them to add additional elements:
    Carbon - from trees and coal, allows wooden buildings and combustion powered steam engines. (wooden buildings could burn too).
    Aluminum - to allow players to construct lighter structures of the same strength as the steel equivalents. (Aluminum blocks would be less durable vs collisions and weapons).
    Gallium - obtained while refining aluminum (and maybe with rare planetary deposits. Gallium would evaporate from any asteroid and thus should never spawn on an asteroid). Gallium would be used for high-end (and optional) semiconductors, solar cells, and as a corrosive agent for the purpose of rapidly sabotaging enemy structures.
    Indium - goes hand in hand with gallium. It would be for high-end (and optional) solar cells, and is added to gallium to make gallium liquid at room temperature (thereby allowing gallium to rapidly corrode enemy structures.)
    Titanium - as a component of military grade armored space suits, as a component of high-end jet and rocket engines, and as a reinforcement for steel heavy armor blocks (making them even more durable without adding much weight). Titanium might also be used for high-end tools, such as drills and grinders.
    Copper and Lead could be used for cheap ammunition.
    Bismuth could be used for high-end magnetic bearings (gyroscopes, rotors, pistons, etc.)

    I also wanted to see farming, ranching (and an optional hunger meter, just in case I'm not as ready for it as I think.)

    It was my opinion that the Space Engineers "sandbox mode" was far from "complete."

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, good ideas, and in line with much of our current thinking.

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  16. "large-scale modifiable environment with many physical and mechanical entities."
    Do you use the continuous single-shard technology from dual universe from this or something else?
    https://www.dualthegame.com/en/
    https://board.dualthegame.com/index.php?/topic/19-devblog-a-single-shard-continuous-universe-one-world-no-boundaries/
    "Dual Universe is what we call a single-shard continuous universe. What does it mean? Basically, it means that there is only one world, one reality, shared between every player, and where people are free to move and gather as they see fit."

    Does Space Engineers allow for rotating gravity?
    Basically does it allow O'Neill (and bigger) Cylinder rotating habitats where players stick to the inner surface?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Neill_cylinder

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  17. Please keep the sandbox mode around as a game mode.

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  18. When the windmill will be added? The teaser was made a long time ago. I can't wait no longer! Please, don't tell you abandoned the idea.

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