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One of the most surprising independent games on Steam at the moment is Keen Software House's Space Engineers. This game completely blew me away when I saw a minute long trailer featuring custom-built spaceships being propelled by dynamic laws of gravity. That wasn't all, though, the game's real highlight was in the physics-based, procedural destruction.
The game allows players to craft their own space-craft, mine giant asteroids for material and develop a steer fleet (if they want), build a space station (if they want) or speed through the universe in a fast and light star shuttle.
The possibilities for the game are expansive and limitless, and we had an opportunity to pick the brain of Keen Software House's CEO, Marek Rosa, about where the game is headed and what sort of features we can look forward to.
One of the big questions from readers was buying options. Despite my own professed love for all things Steam, not everyone is keen on Valve's digital distribution portal. And some of our readers wanted to know if it were possible to purchase Space Engineers from other sources that didn't include utilizing Steam. Rosa [pictured to the right] told us that “Space Engineers is available for purchase on our website and on other digital stores such as Desura, GreenManGaming, GamersGate, G2A.com.” He went on to say that “However, the players will require Steam in order to activate their key, install and play the game. We prefer this distribution method, because Steam simplifies the process of updating the game, multi-player, workshop, community, etc. and so we can focus on the actual game development.”
Unfortunately, this means that even if you buy from the safe haven of Desura or the long-running GamersGate, you'll still be relegated to using Steam for actually playing the game.
However, you won't need Steam if Space Engineers happens to be made available on home consoles. As we previously reported, Keen Software House is eying a potential console port of Space Engineers, but it won't be happening anytime soon. “We are considering a possibility to port Space Engineers to other platforms, but we can’t comment it further at this moment.” Marek said. “Furthermore, right now we are really focused just on the PC/Windows version. A few months ago we asked our community what platform they would like to see Space Engineers on.” You can view the poll results of that community experiment over on the Space Engineers forum.
But getting back to the core of the game; some of our readers were curious about what sort of customization tiles or blocks might be coming for the game, particularly furniture blocks. How nice would it be making a decked out dining room overlooking the deep expanses of space or a lounge situated just off the cockpit, with a surrounding glass view the galaxy around you? Well, Marek explained what the situation is with the furniture and where it stands on the game's priority list, saying “We don’t have any immediate plans for furniture blocks. We develop the game by looking on priorities and finishing one priority after another. Things that get on top of this list will get finished soon. It’s hard to say what will happen to the things that are at the bottom of the list.”
One thing that's at the top of the list, however, is optimization. Marek Rosa makes it known that they're still aiming to optimize the game for a wide-range of systems. The team is working hard on those optimizations because right now there are no limits to what players can create, and such creations can really tax a computer's performance. But what about limiting those creations? What about putting a stamp on what players can do to increase performance? Rosa had an answer for that, saying “The possibilities of what players can create should stay limitless.” He goes on to say “We plan to do further optimizations (currently a lot of 3D models is in a concept stage and thus very polygon-inefficient). Since there won’t be any limits, players are able to create ships that can hamper the performance. For these reasons we created a “performance advices” guide”
You can check out the performance guide right here, giving you some hints and tips on how to best make use of playing Space Engineers.
Another thing that had some readers and gamers alike curious about Space Engineers was end-game goals. Personally, not every game needs to have an end-game goal – sometimes, simply doing what the game allows you to do is enough to sustain replayability. But people wanted to know, so I asked, and Rosa simply stated that “Space Engineers is primarily a sandbox open-ended game. If there are going to be any specific goals, they will be part of “scenarios”.”
Such “scenarios” can sometimes be found on Steam's Workshop, where players have created their own little sandbox stories. I have no qualms about that. But if you're looking for something with a bit more of a “set direction”, you may have to look elsewhere.
As for the future of Space Engineers, the Keen Software House CEO was asked what the team has in store for the game, and what sort of updates fans of the game can look forward to. “Recently released “survival mode” update is the biggest update since we launched the game on Early Access.” Rosa said. “Now we will focus on polishing and balancing it. Then we will add few important features such as factions system, large weapons, dedicated server support, environment hostility settings and more.”
Sounds exciting. I'm already in love with the game and it doesn't have those features. If, however, you would like to learn more about Space Engineers, feel free to pay a kind visit to the game's official website. Our thanks to Keen Software House CEO Marek Rosa taking time out of his busy schedule to answer the questions.