Monday, January 24, 2022

Review of 2021 & Plans for 2022

 SUMMARY:

  • Keen team - significant growth
  • Space Engineers - two major updates released
  • AI Game - looking promising
  • Memetic Badger

It is my tradition at the beginning of every year to publish a review of what we have achieved in the previous year, and what our plans are for the new one. 

Review from last year (2020/2021) is here.

This year's review starts here. Enjoy!

Keen Software House

2021 was a year of changes but especially a year of growth, not only the team size, but also of our skills and experience in various projects. 
  • In 2021, we proved that our studio is compatible with remote work and have continued to hire new team members from around the world.
  • A growing team demands changes in structure, and so many of the veteran team members were promoted to leadership positions.
  • Space Engineers: we released two major updates
    • Warfare 1: our New Warfare series launched with Warfare 1: Field Engineer and engineer combat saw massive changes and updates - read more

  • Cooperation with our community: Space Engineers has more than 440,000 items on Steam workshop. We started to support the UGC (User generated content) sharing in cooperation with the Tebex team. 
  • We added new official languages to Space Engineers: Italian, Brazilian - Portuguese, and Spanish. 
  • We launched regular promotional events on our www.SpaceEngineersGame.com website, which are always supported by regular live game streams run by Joel. 
  • Our programmers used Manual Badger architecture to evaluate parallelization techniques that would benefit the future development of Space Engineers. The ultimate aim of the investigation was to improve game performance to better leverage multi-core CPUs and GPUs. – article
  • We launched an updated affiliate program in cooperation with Xsolla. 
  • We are dedicated for the continued development of Space Engineers on PC and Xbox
  • We collaborated with Makeship and over 1100 community members got their hands on an exclusive Space Engineer plushie! https://www.makeship.com/products/space-engineers-plush

GoodAI

GoodAI Research

The research team continued to focus on our multi-agent Badger architecture. We developed several implementations focused on learning through backpropagation. We investigated properties of inner/outer-loop meta-learning and converted three results into several papers that are now being submitted to scientific conferences. 

The second half of the year was dedicated to memetic badger, a flavor of badger architecture inspired by cultural evolution theory and the ease with which science has progressed in the recent millenia (with no apparent change in the human genome). Memetic badger focuses on using and evolving memes (algorithms, data) for learning to solve problems. At present, the system is in active development and will remain the focus of research in 2022.

Papers and blog posts

  • Memetic Experiments for an Open-Ended Learning Paradigm - paper
  • Building a research culture where we share questions and difficulties, not just answers - article

GoodAI Grants & EU Projects

Our grants program began in October 2020 with the goal to support research that is relevant to the most pressing questions related to artificial intelligence on a whole and, more specifically, to GoodAI's Badger architecture.

Since the first award, we've had a great response from the research community around the world and granted nine more in 2021.

Over $777,000 has been awarded in total. Funding also supported the publication of papers on AI development:

We’re entering the second year of our work on EU grant projects:
  • The VeriDream project is an international consortium of six organizations across Europe implementing AI into robotics. Significant progress was made on our case study applying quality diversity algorithms to control robotic legs.  

  • We are also part of iv4XR, a Horizon 2020 project that aims to build a novel verification and validation technology for Extended Reality systems based on techniques from AI to provide learning and reasoning over a virtual world.

Workshops & other news:

We held a 5-day seminar, Beyond Life-long Learning via Modular Meta-Learning, bringing together the GoodAI research team, grants recipients, and other experts to share knowledge on the pathway to a life-long learning system (GoodAI Research Roadmap 2021/2022) - article

GoodAI’s Senior Research Scientist, ‪Jaroslav Vítků authored a handy tool for the management of experiments in AWS (Amazon Web Services).

We participated in and hosted a hybrid event for the ALIFE 2021 conference - article

GoodAI Scientist Nicholas Guttenberg won the Evocraft Minecraft Open-Endedness Challenge.
 
Our workshop, From Cells to Societies, was accepted to the 2022 ICLR Conference.

AI Ethics & Safety

We continued to work towards the development of a safe AI for individuals and society.
  • Inceptional UNESCO agreement on an ethical framework for AI development - article
  • European Commission Report on Humans and Society in the Age of AI – article
  • AI in the Czech Republic – Marek Rosa panel discussion with the Aspen Institute Central Europe.
  • Cyborg Soldiers and Bioethics – Marek Rosa interview with GLOBSEC
  • AI & Happiness Roundtable – Marek Havrda summarizes thoughts from the meeting – article 

AI Game

A new project aiming to find synergy between the AI and game development expertise present in GoodAI and Keen began.

As part of this project, we’ve been developing a new game (working title ‘AI Game’) that allows players to explore a world inhabited by intelligent NPCs powered by state-of-the-art AI.



The goal is to push video game boundaries in terms of immersion, emotions, dialogues and flexibility.

Preliminary work on the AI Game actually started towards the end of 2019. Since then we have:
  • Iterated through numerous prototypes
  • Developed a custom AI Engine
  • Built a well-functioning team of professionals (10 and growing)
  • Gained a lot of know-how and experience.
  • The game is starting to be entertaining, but more iteration are needed

Oranžérie

Oranžérie is the head-quarter of Keen and GoodAI.

In the Spring, we will begin a complete remodeling of the garden, adding pavilions, chill-out areas, a proper pavement, and a gate.
  • Pavilion in progress




COVID

Even as we collectively enter into the third year of the pandemic, COVID has not been an obstacle to company growth. 

Our hiring reach expanded globally and our team is currently composed of 18 nationalities in Keen and 15 in GoodAI.

At present, 64% of our team is located in the Czech Republic and 36% is abroad.
For comparison, last year it was 75% in the Czech Republic and 25% abroad.

Number of newcomers in 2021: 
  • GoodAI: 15
  • Keen: 25

Personal

The main part of my time is dedicated to the production of Space Engineers - working on designs, technology, art, and overall direction of the game.

The second big part of my time is aimed at merging AI and game development, materialized in AI Game. I believe that AI is the future of game development - not just fancy NPCs, but also as a tool to use natural language to define an interactive universe that works.

The third part is about the development of Memetic Badger. I have observed that the interest in this subgenre of AI (AI system as a collective of cells and societies) has been growing in the last 2 years.

On a personal level, I work very hard on how to balance all these activities.


Plans for 2022

Keen Software House

  • Space Engineers - New update - Warfare 2: Broadside - will be released soon
  • Few more major updates to Space Engineers are planned for this year
  • We have many surprises, especially on the technology side of Space Engineers & VRAGE. We will be talking about them soon. 





GoodAI

  • ICLR workshop: From Cells to Societies
  • Memetic Badger - more work is needed, especially on integration between internal evolution inside the agent and the challenges of the external environment
  • AI Game - I am looking forward to some of the technology advancements we are planning in the next months. Also, we will be growing our ‘language model / transformers’ team.


Thank you for reading this blog!

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

 

For more news:
Space Engineers: www.SpaceEngineersGame.com
Keen Software House: www.keenswh.com
Medieval Engineers: www.MedievalEngineers.com
GoodAI: www.GoodAI.com
General AI Challenge: www.General-AI-Challenge.org

 

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 its best-seller Space Engineers (4 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 was founded in January 2014, with a $10 Million investment from Marek, it now has over 30 research scientists, engineers, and consultants working across its divisions.

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

39 comments:

  1. As an early supporter of Space Engineers, I appreciate that the game is still being worked on. I have browsed many games and really Space Engineers holds the most potential to be one of the absolute best. It is just missing some basic game mechanics found in other games like it. It does seem though that slowly but surely the development is making it more of a game rather than a tech demonstration which is, at least in my own opinion, very exciting.

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  2. Dear Marek,

    1. of all, thank you for space engineers, 2042,7 hours of gameplay and still counting.
    2. thank you for noting on stream with XOC that we wanted cannons and weapons and later added them.

    i feel like space engineers is 100% heading in the right direction and i hope you will continue to develop it further. Here are some suggestions that i think would make space engineers even better, note some of these suggestions may already exist as mods but it would be great if they were vanilla too.

    - alternative Solar System map, maybe ask Major Dom for his planets, couse; they are great.
    - more powerful atmospheric thrusters
    - slightly more powerful ion thrusters
    - more scenarios
    - vanilla WINGS and tank TRACKS [something like robocraft has]
    - if you are going to add wings and tank tracks then maybe we can add vanilla mech robots, with attach points where we can add armor or something else, idk (long stretch?)
    - return spawnable pirate bases on planets, that send attacks directly proportional to number of players in the game. (e.g.: if there is one player then the maximum of attackers can be one flying thing and 2 ai pirate engineers, if there is a faction playing with 4 people than the attacking party can be 3 flying things with 8 pirate engineers)
    - ability to control a turret that has a cannon and a remote control on it, from a seat that's on the same grid or from a subgrid (e.g.: there is a flight control seat on a large grid, on the large grid there's a turret on top of a rotor, turret has remote control gyro and cannon, i would like to use WSAD to control the large grid, but use my mouse to control the turret as vanilla).


    wish you all the best and thanks for everything.

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  3. As a player who plays offline 100% of the time i'm really looking forward to this update, if I could make a small request and just ask for you guys to increase the number of types of pirate ships and encounters, More Pirate Bases that are Bases and not just hunks of metal and the size of those bases. It would be really fun to raid a huge compound full of turrents and drones!

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    Replies
    1. There's a mod-pack called Agaris at War you might be interested in if you want to play a single-player game with more pirates. You are free to do what you want on the planet, but depending on where you are and how you have disturbed the many enemy outposts and bases, you can get hunted down.

      Delete
  4. Keep up the great work, I'm excited to see what you guys improve on the Vrage side of things!

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  5. Hi Marek,

    Thank you for the summary and the update on the 2022 plans.

    Could you please clarify how the Manual Badger architecture is supposed to improve the CPU parallelism of the game's simulation code?

    Are there plans to support multi-grid projections and welding in the vanilla game in 2022? There seems to be a clear need for this.

    Do you plan to have usability (QoL) improvements for the Terminal UI (Control Panel, Inventory, GPS)?

    Do you plan to patch some missing functionality, for example allowing to attach/detach piston heads and the addition (whitelisting) of some missed API calls to the mod/PB API?

    Do you plan to save the list of required mods with blueprints, so players can add the missing mods to their worlds easily? (List only mods defining blocks the BP is using.)

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      Manual Badger itself was just a test-bed for trying different approaches to data parallelism. The lessons learned are now being implemented into our VRAGE engine.

      Multigrid support, QOL changes to the terminal menu, absent or missing functionality, and your mod blueprint concept all seem like great additions to our feedback page. We would love for you to contribute your ideas and share your thoughts on how we can improve. What features you would like to see next in Space Engineers? You can find our support portal here: https://support.keenswh.com. Please take a look around, you will no doubt find topics that already cover some of the items you have brought up here. Please don't forget to vote and add your feedback to the comments section of existing topics.

      Best,
      Marek

      Delete
  6. So when are you going to release actual content?
    With the team size you now posses, you can easily and quickly release big updates like in the past.(Planets/Graphics Overhaul etc.)
    2021 was a let down in terms of content quantity and quality.

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  7. At this point, I'm unclear on what is the ultimate vision for Space Engineers. Like many others, I feel the potential for Space Engineers but at this point, it feels as if there's a huge part of the "game" missing. There are bits of survival elements within the game but no real structure around the gameplay and progression. Everybody can get in and make ships and structures but to what end? There are no threats, no real AI within the game, and hence, no real compelling reason to make anything. Is there a vision to round out that part of the game?

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    Replies
    1. While I agree the AI is severely lacking for those playing offline, the main strength of the game resides in multiplayer. There's endless fun to be had on surviving with others in various environments, building sick ships together (or alone) and facing other factions, even player-created ones.

      Something that would complement this extremely well would be a vanilla public server with extended solar systems, where everyone fights for resources and dear life.

      Delete
    2. Multiplayer could benefit a great deal from AI as well for PVE style play for those of us who want the survival, building "sick ships together" parts while facing other factions but not PVP.

      Delete
  8. I am looking forward to more complex faction system, npc (behaviour, like dialogue/communication via comms), reputation system, missions (building, delivery, combat...)
    This game has so much potential!

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  9. I have to agree that 2021 was a let down. There are still many defficiencies and / or long standing bugs in the game that have never been fixed. Focus on those vs money making DLC might have been a better course.

    That said, I do look forward to seeing proper multi core and thread properly implemented into the game as it should have been long ago.

    Regards

    Skallabjorn

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  10. Interesting, I hope they really integrate real NPC's that would be a great step
    and more reasons to explore the planets, some wildlife woould also be appreciated, its a difficult task but it would be really nice.

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  11. I have a dissonance from your statements. You have done so much in the direction of the AI and still get your wolves stuck on corners (SE). This is the case when actions speak louder than words.
    I can't imagine a business case where a company has serious AI developments but doesn't integrate them into the game to increase sales revenue. Therefore, in the game we see the result of AI achievements.

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  12. Im confused... You have a cutting edge AI company but a game with basic(and thats being kind) AI that often has no idea what its doing?

    Seems sus....

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    Replies
    1. It's simple. The first implementation of AI is way older than the new accomplishments of GoodAi. If I were CEO of KeenSWH, I would test all the new stuff partwise (as prototype) on SE. Keep in mind SE is from 2013!!!! The codebase might be historically grown. So I would not spend expensive resources to solve the issues from the past 9 years.
      I would take the SE (Prototype) learn from its fails and success and create SE2.
      Now we can create depth AI, a better Faction / Trading / Weather system. This could be cheaper since the new code base is easier to handle since it's new. Okay with the grown VRage :D

      But if you bring all the nice Stuff in SE, how do you want to generate money with a space engineers 2? Since the new features will not be that different. I think a SE 2 would be a total banger.

      In the end, these great Devs have currently quite more impactful tasks, than a better doggo running on an earth-like planet :D

      Delete
    2. I disagree with you @derHodrig.
      I paid for the game expecting it to be updated with an end goal by improving and giving uf QoL content. I can't say for others, but i'd be very mad if the company left the game in the limbo half way done to try out on a sequel "because the current product fails" (but made them alot of money).

      What if they release SE2 with improved features, but half-way done like SE1 was 9 years ago and keep doing what they did for more 9 years ahead? It's one scenario to account for.

      Anyway, hope they come with a major update that make an huge change to the game. If they refactory the game entirely this entire time to bring a fresh new experience in SE i'll be happy and even support the company. but SE2 I for sure download the game cracked or i crack it myself (sorry - not in the mood for the long wait we had to just release a new game)

      Delete
  13. It's good to hear that there is good progress in AI. Maybe some of it will come to Space Engineers. I have played since 2014, thank you for developing the game, it has kept getting better and better. Personally, I have been working on a very interesting project and can't wait for the servers to reopen to start its construction. Here's to another good year!

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  14. Pane Rosa,
    popřemýšlejte o tom, jestli nemáte příliš velké ambice s tak malým týmem ohledně vývoje umělé inteligence. Ju? Děkuji.

    Finance suňte do vývojářského týmu! Oranžérii neschvaluji, snad jasné proč.

    Soustřeďte se na tahouna Vašeho celkového úspěchu - Space Engineers. Ještě dlouho to bude jediný takový titul na trhu. Podobných je minimum.

    Množství odvedené práce za tu dobu mezi updaty není zrovna ohromující.
    Řešení znáte Vy sám nejlépe.

    VRage engine už pokulhává stářím a jde to znát na prázdnotě a jednoduchosti světa ve hře. Začněte makat na 2. dílu, pokud jste tak ještě neučinil.

    Více naslouchejte komunitě na Vašich stránkách, přece jenom jsou to mluvící peníze.

    Onen úspěch máte především díky šikovným dobrovolníkům na Workshopu. Soustřeďte na odstranění toho, co těmto lidem stěžuje tvořit nový obsah: hard-cody, limitující engine, váznoucí komunikace s komunitou

    Tak ať se daří

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  15. “We have many surprises, especially on the technology side of Space Engineers & VRAGE. We will be talking about them soon.”

    I really can’t wait to hear what sort of under the hood work has been done or is being slated. Honestly, can you please comment on this a bit more now?

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  16. More scenarios please! Those (few) are great, I'd love to see more. Sadly the community scenarios are mostly not working...

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  17. Thanks Marek. I stop play game with first paid update..:( In updates doesn't have that much conten how is in World Of Warcraft every datadisk for Example... Base game content is unplayable becose have huge missing some parts what have other games in base content, not in updates,datadisks.SK

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  18. Hello, it might be high time to seriously think about creating Laser Drills, fixed version and turret version and of several sizes depending on the size of the ship, I don't understand why you never thought of it, especially for a ship game, the current drill in game is outdated, much too retro, room for innovation!?

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  19. I think it really need to rebalance the weapon's damage in the game now. there's an example that in my group we have several guys working on building missiles days and nights that really powerful(some with multiple warheads and won't be able to intercepted by 10 turrets on different grids when firing one missile), and a single warhead can detonate with a huge amount of damage (my "small-grid-one-block-covered-warhead" missile can destroy 3*3*2 large heavy blocks if it's detonated 6m before hitting the surface), even those small AI spaceship could be completely destroyed or lose its control with 2 missiles but those guys often building ships that can fire 10 missiles at a time lol.

    But anyways, we are really looking forward to see the coming warfare 2 DLC and your efforts working on the AI in the game!

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  20. Hello Marek! I am following the development of GoodAI and Keen Software House with vivid interest. I am wondering if, since the official languages to Space Engineers have become Italian, Brazilian - Portuguese, and Spanish, there will be open positions for Localization and QA in these same languages.

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  21. I just hope that Keen stops releasing DLCs slowly to the game. In my opinion they don't offer as much as an update it once did, but merely cosmetic and less useful stuff. All that hard work could be spent improving the game in ways that are much more needed (goals, QoL, Performance inprovements [already talked about here, thanks] and others). Although I feel this posts already features some really nice things, there are a ton more of things that are left aside... once more.

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  22. i hope soon we see new reactor type le hydrogen fusion reactor like 400-500Megawatenergy output and use hydrogen as fuel(until not find uranium for nuclear reactor or cant find uranium)

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  23. Can we get an actual Space Engineers update?
    You know... Space and eginering related. Not modern warfare.

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  24. "The main part of my time is dedicated to the production of Space Engineers - working on designs, technology, art, and overall direction of the game."

    There shure isnt much to show for, are you certain you wrote that correctly. Overall the game looks like it has 1-2 people working on it, certanly no more than that.

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  25. Jsem překvapený, že vývoj Space Engineers stále pokračuje a to docela zásadními updaty. Jsem součástí SE od 2013 a dodnes si pamatuju teaser na planety (byl jsem jeden z těch, co si stáli za tím, že Keen planety nezvládne). Těším se až skončí pandemie a doufám, že uspořádáte další Keen Open Office, tentokrát v Oranžérii. Stropní malba vypadá epicky. Přeju Keenu úspěšný 2022!

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  26. Okay I just gotta ask
    Dont get me wrong I love this game (nearly 8k hours in) and Keen has done phenomenal work.

    But instead of making a new game about experience AI worlds or whatever cant you just put BASIC AI into space engineers??? Seriously the game is lacking when it comes to small groups of players and no AI. Having the ability to have ships fly in formation with you would be a HUGE addition. If you really want to be ambitious look at Starmade and all the crazy stuff you can do with that games AI.

    I know your team could put basic AI into space engineers and it would be amazing, this NEEDS to be a 2022 goal, after combat its the ONLY thing missing.

    Also before someone comes at me with "but script blocks"........ if I wanted to learn programming to develope the game myself I would just make my own game period. Not everyone has that skillset or is willing to learn it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Victor, I agree. Stay tuned because we will be talking about AI in Space Engineers very soon.

      Also, I am going to check out how they do it in Starmade.

      Delete
  27. Hi Marek,

    Can you comment on the future of Space Engineers for Linux users and server operators? Since a lot of setups are running on UNIX-like environments, it would be extremely helpful if we had native Linux binaries without the need of intermediate layers in between (e.g Wine) that cause unnecessary overhead.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Replies
    1. We are always evaluating other platforms and that includes Linux, Proton, and the Steam Deck. While Space Engineers does in fact run on Steam Deck, and some specific Linux systems, we cannot provide any additional support for these platforms at this time. We hope to provide additional information as we continue our evaluation of Linux, Proton, and the Steam Deck. We do not have a timeline for this.

      Delete
  28. Hi Marek,

    I don't know if this is applicable to GoodAI, but SE seems like a good platform for the AI to learn from interacting (more often than not via weaponry, I'd imagine) with human players. Crowd sourced machine learning FTW!

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  29. Hi Marek & other Devs!

    Super awesome how Space Engineers is developing, the options to deal with tight spaces gets better after every update. :)

    I hope Space Engineers will add more UI for ships/base or specific blocks on a ship/base, so that large scale monitoring becomes easier, maybe additional UI to indicate the lift-ability and agility of ships could help engineers in better designing massive ships with orbital landing properties. Sometimes I also struggle with repetitive block naming so more hotkeys and UI buttons/options could make large builds more efficient. Also super heavy trusters should compliment the massive magnetic landing gear and could help to make motherships of ultra colossal size capable to land on planet would make my day. <3

    Thanks for doing what you do Marek! Have a wonderful 2022!

    -Aqua

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  30. First of all. This is the best game I've ever played and I'm nearly 40. I just could play it every day and my wife has got the bug too.
    I was just wondering will there ever be like an alien invasion Scenario? Could you imagine being out in space and your home world gets taken and you have to build your attack vessels and base defences to wipe out the alien hoard while evading death from the search and destroy enemies. Thanks for everything. Big fan G R

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