Space Engineers is a sandbox game developed by Keen Software House with a focus on construction and maintenance of space stations and ships. The game is currently in Early Access on Steam, and very playable for a cool $15. We were able to borrow Keen SWH CEO Marek Rosa for a brief Q&A about the current state of the game and where they would like to see it progress.
CultureMass: Where and how did the idea for Space Engineers originate?
Marek Rosa: The idea comes from the popular construction toys of LEGO and LEGO TECHNIC.
CM: Were there early designs of the game that were completely realistic and didn’t implement the “magic” sci-fi technologies such as the gravity generator? Or was it always planned to err on the side of fun rather than being totally true to science?
Marek: We had always planned to add these features that may not seem so realistic at this time but might be feasible in the next decades. And of course we had to make some sacrifices to realism so the game will be playable and enjoyable by the players.
CM: Was the realistic looking art style always the goal, or was there a time when the game looked different visually?
Marek: We aimed for this art style from the beginning, but there might be minor changes as the development progresses.
CM: What was the decision process and reasoning behind releasing under Steam Early Access?
Marek: We wanted to see how players play the game as soon as possible. We wanted a real-time feedback from our community, so we can tailor the game more specifically. This is why Early Access is so great.
CM: Similarly, what made you decide to add Steam Workshop functionality both in general and during the Early Access stages?
Marek: Steam Workshop is a great tool that Steam provides to the developers. We wanted to add it as soon as possible so it will be the mean where players can upload and share their creations with the other members. We were very satisfied that this happened during the first week after the release and we are also very happy to see all these amazing creations that all players are uploading there.
CM: Has the community feedback during Early Access unfolded as expected? Are you getting both good idea suggestions and usable bug reports?
Marek: The community’s feedback has been much more useful as we were expecting. They really help us a lot not only by reporting bugs that are in the game but also suggesting very useful features and ideas that can be added. One example is the Symmetry/Mirroring mode, which was not on our initial plans but was added after the suggestions made by the community. Our moderators are doing an excellent job to filter all these suggestions and save us from the time required to do this by ourselves.
CM: Is the current release plan such that once you have purchased Space Engineers you will be receiving all future updates? Or are there larger expansion packs planned for the future such as missions or solar systems?
Marek: Every player who purchases Space Engineers now will receive all future updates for free. At the moment, we are focusing only on Space Engineers and the features that will be added. We don’t have any specific plans for expansions or DLC packs or whether they will be free or paid.
CM: Are there any plans for a single player/cooperative quests or missions either with rigid storyline or randomly generated in the game world beyond “resource collection survival” mode?
Marek: We have already in our plans the multiplayer and a survival/manual mode. We don’t want to reveal any more details at the moment, we would prefer to announce everything when we will be 100% sure of what will be included in each mode.
CM: Do many of the development team play Space Engineers outside of work?
Marek: Yes, our team plays Space Engineers, so we can see what works and what to make better. We are looking forward for the multi-player, so we can all play together!
CM: What is the most surprising thing to come out of the Space Engineers community thus far?
Marek: There are really thousands of creations made by the community. Everyone can take a look on Steam Workshop to find out. I can’t choose some specifically. We have seen huge spaceships, robots, football fields, a house with a car. Our community is very creative and we consider them as a part of the dev team (they provide feedback, inspiration, suggestions and we get a lot of joy from seeing their creations!)
CM: Do you have any other comments you would like to share with the community?
Marek: We would like to thank them for all this support and the feedback that they provide us. They really mean a lot to us and we do our best to make them as satisfied as possible.