Video Game: Space Engineers

"A space engineer is a professional practitioner who uses scientific knowledge, mathematics, physics, astronomy, propulsion technology, materials science, structural analysis, manufacturing and ingenuity to solve practical problems in space."

Space Engineers is a survival-crafting sandbox IN SPACE! developed by KEEN Software House, which puts players in the role of one of the titular space engineers working in an asteroid field, building all manner of spacecraft and machinery as they mine the local resources. Unlike games such as Kerbal Space Program, you don't have to worry about entering and exiting planetary atmosphere, which gives players significantly more freedom to design ships and recreate their favorites from across fiction.

Currently in alpha stage, the game is available for Early Access on Steam, and an Xbox One port has been announced.

A spinoff - developed by a separate team - named Medieval Engineers has been announced. It's Space Engineers but set in the medieval period. Improvements made to the VRAGE Game Engine for Medieval will be applied to Space, such as compound blocks and voxel modification.


Space Engineers provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: The Rescue Ship that players can respawn with is heavily dented, not even fully built and slow as molasses. However, it does have a very space-efficient design and carries everything the player needs. Cars with wheels have a tendency to violently lose their wheels when doing sweet jumps or even just turning if the wheel arches are too small.
    • Same idea here. All those beautifully constructed titans in the workshop, as mentioned below, might not be the most functional. But the well designed ones tend not to look as pretty, and you'd prefer them to play with in survival. But in Creative, you can mess with all the really cool ones, and if they break horribly you can easily paste them back in for tweaking.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: Rockets and bullets will cut off after a certain distance.
  • Art Evolution: Thrusters were originally a solid, uniform color, but were later altered to be more detailed, primarily by having the thruster exhaust noncolorable.
    • With the implementation of DirectX 11 into the game, the developers have begun to redesign more blocks with a detailed, realistic look, marking a departure from the minimalistic and borderline Everything Is An Ipod In The Future appearance that previously defined Space Engineers's art style.
  • The Artifact: The Passage block; originally it was meant to be a ladder block for large ships, but when ladders were found to be buggy they were removed and replaced with an area that the players would need to use their jetpacks to ride up through. This is slightly less than useless considering that the block requires resources to make, whereas not putting any blocks into a column does not.
    • However, Passages can hold ships together, if only barely, whereas nothing can not.
  • Artificial Gravity: Provided by Gravity Generators on Large Ships and Stations. There are two types: the regular one that makes a cube/cuboid field and a spherical one that has itself as the centre of gravity.
  • Asteroid Miners: The players themselves, since the majority of resources are acquired by mining nearby asteroids and refining the raw materials.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Asteroids in standard maps are plentiful and not far apart, easily reachable with just the jetpack on the space suit. Subverted in the procedural-generated world - The asteroids there are several minutes apart, even when travelling at full speed.
  • Attack Drone: Drone ships can be created through the application of a Remote Control block and an Antenna, allowing you to command the ship via another friendly Antenna nearby. A Camera is also recommended, so you can fly the drone in first-person.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The largest and/or flashiest of spaceships tend to be this, even without atmosphere or other considerations getting in the way. Either the ship is too fragile, making it easily wrecked - too heavy and bulky, effectively turning it into a Mighty Glacier that requires massive engines to move properly - or simply so huge and complex that it creates a mountain of lag.
    • User-created weapons, such as large caliber gravity powered cannons or missiles, can also fall into this category, due to being overly complex to build and each projectile needing to be made separately, and the general complexity of the weapons being a pain in the ass if repairs need to be done. A good example is the Terminal Gravity Torpedo. Sure, it can punch through even the thickest of armor using only a couple gravity generators and a rock, but the torpedo itself is almost as big as a small ship, you have to craft each one individually, and to fire it, you have to accelerate your ship up to max speed, release, then slam on the brakes before you crash into the enemy ship along with your warhead, and then, if you pray hard enough, the enemy ship 'may just' let itself be hit by the incredibly slow torpedo. Even if it's far more effective against, say, fixed targets such as asteroid bases or stations (which can't dodge), it's still so slow that an enemy can relatively easily deflect the strike or shoot down the weapon.
  • Base on Wheels : A Large Ship on wheels can very easily be this.
  • BFG: Rocket Launchers can be mounted on Large Ships, and they're easily the biggest weapons in the game.
  • The Battlestar: Large Ships, particularly the bigger ones, are commonly fitted with hangar bays for carrying Small Ships.
  • Beautiful Void:
    • Quite literally. The effective game world encompasses a cluster of asteroids with absolutely nothing around them. There are no enemies, you can travel infinitely, and the only additions to the world are the ones you create yourself.
    • The 'Empty World' map even removes the asteroid cluster, leaving your engineer utterly alone in the vacuum.
    • It's gradually getting de-voidified with updates. Currently there's an option in Survival mode to add neutral, unmanned ships flying about for anyone brave enough to hijack them (especially the military ships).
    • The Devs redid the skybox so now instead of being in a vast asteroid cluster, you can see bits of the Milky Way's arms, with distant specks and balls of light. The new exploration mode also adds procedural generation so you can find different asteroids and player built content to find amongst your endless journey.
  • Big Bulky Bomb: Full-size Space Mines are the same scale as other Large Ship pieces. Naturally, they produce the biggest and most destructive explosion in the game.
  • Bigger Is Better: At least in regards to Large ships. As you build a ship larger and larger, you have more and more space to put in larger gravity drives, which can become so stupidly powerful that they can accelerate a ship to the engine speed limit almost instantaneously. A larger ship also gives you more room for turrets, armor, etc. Inverted with Small ships, which are best when their size is minimized as they cannot mount gravity drives, forcing them to rely on plain old thrusters.
  • Booby Trap: Several of the unmanned Cargo Ships are rigged with these, built from Space Mines and small engines hidden inside the ship's hull. If someone tries to hijack the ship and force it to stop, the reverse-thrusters will detonate the bombs simultaneously and destroy the cargo and vital systems - if not the entire ship.
    • These were removed in favor of having the ship be a separate faction from the player when the related updates came out, so now if you want to salvage them (and they come filled with goodies, and hey, free ship), their turrets will target you. The Space Engineers wiki lists several methods you can do to avoid getting shot.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • Ships designed for function over fashion tend to be very simple - in the most extreme cases, the hull can be little more than a skeletal frame holding the necessary pieces together.
    • The Rescue Ship. Players are given one when they start a game on the 'Asteroids' map-type, when they join a new multiplayer server, or if they die without having a Medical Room to respawn at. It's not much to look at, but it's decked out with everything a player needs - a Medical Room, Refinery and Assembler are all onboard and ready to use, and keeping it running is a simple matter of finding a uranium deposit somewhere, or a large enough quantity of silicon to build solars and two oxygen farms.
    • The Jet Pack on your spacesuit. The maximum speed of those little thrusters is higher than any ship's, with greater acceleration to boot.
    • On the subject of improvised weapons, the Kinetic Torpedo: essentially a rod of blocks mounted on a 3x3 or 5x5 cross as its own entity, to launch one simply accelerates their ship, slams the brakes and releases it as a quick, easy way to do some damage. Need more power? Mount a warhead on it for extra boom.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Weapons fire continuously, and when a given clip/ammunition container runs dry the weapon just switches to the next available one without needing a physical reload.
  • Building Is Welding: All construction is performed with welding torches. Even when computer chips and panes of glass are involved.
  • Camera Perspective Switch: You can switch between first- and third-person perspective at will. If you're in a cockpit during first-person, you'll be treated to a pilot's-eye view as you fly around. There is an option where this may be disabled, however, locking the player into first person perspective.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The resources that can be mined from asteroids are represented by colored patches on the surrounding rock.
    • Iron varies between pale red and bright orange.
    • Uranium is glossy black.
    • Silver and Platinum are Shaped Like Themselves, and can sometimes be confused with each-other.
    • Magnesium is grey with blue patches.
    • Silicon is a shiny off-white color.
    • Gold is fairly self-evident.
    • Ice is a shiny teal/sky blue.
  • Combining Spaceship: The Merge Blocks can be used to connect two or more ships; the ships can form a larger "super ship" or make a booster for one of the ships. Be careful on the arrangement of components or the ships and/or stations become semi-permanently merged when they and you are forced to deconstruct or destroy components to detach them from each other.
  • Construction Is Awesome / Design It Yourself Equipment: The prime selling point of Space Engineers is the ability to design your own spaceships and space stations from scratch. And then destroy them with detailed damage physics. In Survival mode, blocks aren't instantly placed: You spawn a simple skeleton-frame, and then use a welding tool to add on its component parts and gradually piece it together. Even the simplest ship designs take some time to build.
  • Continuous Decompression: Averted. Atmosphere will drain out of your ship from an open hole with an impressive spray of particles, but it stops quickly (albeit too quickly) within seconds.
  • Cool Car: Through the application of wheels and Artificial Mass blocks, ships of any size can be built into ground-based vehicles that can drive around while within a gravity field.
    • Creative use of sensors detecting asteroids and triggered thrusters can make hovercars that skim just over an asteroid's surface.
  • Cool Starship: There's no real limit to how large or complex your ships can be, which allows for some pretty fantastic designs. Except of course, how much RAM you have and how much your computer can handle. Larger ships (300+ meter range) can start causing framerate drops. Some mega ships in the Steam Community Workshop such as a full scale Titanic replica may cause a straight crash to desktop.
  • Crosshair Aware: Turrets show a square reticule over whatever they're firing at.
  • Death from Above: Meteor showers have been introduced as the game's first environmental hazard, with individual meteors capable of dealing significant damage to structures. The frequency and danger of showers changes based on the world's Environment settings:
    • Safe = No meteor showers.
    • Normal = Intermittent showers.
    • Cataclysmic = Meteor showers are a constant danger.
    • Apocalyptic = Showers happen within mere minutes of each-other... and the meteors are on fire.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: Aside from the totally-static asteroids and stations, anything that lacks sufficient engines and gyroscopes (or the power to keep them working) can be sent into an aimless drift with enough force. The aftermath of a spaceship's destruction tends to leave plenty of ruined hull fragments quietly spinning away into the void.
  • Enormous Engine: The Titan Engine mod. Standing at twenty blocks long and five blocks wide and tall, it easily dwarfs players and most structures, and the exhaust flame is substantial enough to obliterate Small Ships almost instantly.
  • Everything Breaks: From the asteroids to the structures and ships you build.
  • Everything Fades: If there are too many loose objects, the game starts deleting them in a first-in-first-out method. How many is "too many" can be adjusted during worldgen. This limit doesn't apply to stations or ships, though.
    • Corpses will disappear when the player in question respawns, although they were updated to stick around for a bit so you can grab all that loot you invariably lost prior to the update. Doesn't work with crashes though. Keep hitting that save button!
  • Everything Is An Ipod In The Future: Ship systems predominantly feature soft edges, minimalistic details and occasionally brightly-colored lights; aided by the fact that the default color for everything is a very light grey with darker grey highlights.
    • This is looking to be Subverted, however, in light of the new redesigns several blocks have received with the implementation of Directx 11: The emerging aesthetic is noticeably more gritty and realistic than before, with greater emphasis on detail, though it largely retains the smooth, flat colors of its predecessor.
  • Explosions in Space: Subverted. We've got missiles and mines, all of which go off with a satisfying bang, but the fireworks rarely last more than a second, and structures (beyond the aforementioned mines) generally only shatter into debris.
  • The Faceless: The player-character engineers have tinted black visors that completely hide their faces. Justified because Real-Life astronauts use black tinted visors to not burn at the hands of a star.
    • The Oxygen update finally subverts this, allowing players to remove their helmets in pressurized environments. Without his helmet, the player-character engineer strongly resembles the one from Medieval Engineers.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: As of update 1.090, FTL of the "jump" variety is made possible by the aptly named Jump Drive block. It requires ten seconds to spin up before any jump, several minutes to recharge, has a minimum safe distance of five kilometers and draws a large amount of power, this in exchange for a maximum jump range (not accounting for additional transit mass) of two thousand kilometers per drive.
    It should also be noted that the drive's precision is anything but pin-point, and misjumps in excess of one kilometer off target are common.
  • Game Mod: The game allows players to easily install mods via the Steam Workshop; alternate skyboxes, spacesuit skins, animation sets, building block sets (both cosmetic and functional), and scenarios with objectives.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Gravity Generators stand out as being very out-of-place in the otherwise Mundane Dogmatic game. They are present primarily for ease-of-navigation in ships without having the clumsiness of magnetic boots or flying in tight spaces.
    • The Sound Block. Nothing says 'realistic' like rigging up an exterior speaker system to blast the Halo theme as you fly through the vacuum of space.
  • Gatling Good: The Gatling Gun on Small Ships, and the Gatling Turret on everything else. Their high rate of fire and fast projectiles make them perfect for fending off meteorites and shooting down Small Ships, but low damage makes them largely ineffective against structures and heavy armor.
  • Gravity Screw:
    • The orientation of any gravity field is determined by the orientation of the Gravity Generator itself - Whatever surface you build it on becomes the 'floor', so it's possible to build a generator upside down and walk across the roof of your ship.
    • When two differently-orientated gravity fields overlap. At best, you can expect to have to walk at a weird, slanted angle. At worst, items and players will be suspended in a mid-air 'freefall'.
  • Hyperspeed Ambush: Possible, if you have the co-ordinates of your intended target and get lucky enough to jump in from behind or at a similarly opportune angle. Since neither is a given by any means, this is Cool, but Inefficient.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Provided you can survive for ten seconds while everyone nearby can hear your jump drive spooling up. Be sure to disable antenna broadcasting and beacon transmitters (or jump out of broadcasting range.)
  • Improvised Weapon: Gravity cannons. Essentially a coilgun using gravity generators as the magnet stages. Since gravity fields can be shaped, you can build this into anything without screwing up the other gravity fields. The only problem is the game's maximum speed on anything is 111.5 m/s or 145.5 m/s for gravity acceleration (Subject to change). But even a small projectile using artificial mass can do some serious damage. The thing is, prior to the activation of the official in game weapons, such as the Gatling Gun and Rocket Launcher or the turrets, these were the first sort of damaging weapons, short of ramming, that players devised, firing rocks with devastating effect. They still can tear through over 20 layers of heavy armor or can be used to launch torpedoes.
    • To get a sense of how much energy is in a single, small artificial mass being launched at maximum speed: it's 15,200 times more energetic than a .50 BMG round, which is considered to be one of the most powerful man-fired rounds. It can also easily over-penetrate a layer of heavy armor (which is about 2.5 meters thick), although the projectiles tend to be destroyed on impact.
  • Inertial Dampening: Present as a game mechanic, though it has little to do with G-forces; Ships of all kinds require engines on every facing (forward, back, top, bottom and sides) alongside gyroscopes in order to turn, slow down and keep the ship from drifting uncontrollably from the slightest tap on the hull. The dampeners will fire thrusters to keep the ship's movement vector aligned with the user's directional controls. Inertial dampening can be toggled, allowing a sort of 'autopilot' function by letting you cruise along at current speed while saving on power. This is especially important on Survival mode, where fuel is naturally limited. You can still turn and use the engines while inertia dampening is off, which - among other things - allows Small Ships to perform the Viper Flip. note 
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Strongly averted. The visor is completely opaque.
  • Jet Pack: The engineers have tiny thrusters built into their suits, allowing for flight.
  • Laser Sight: Present on spaceship weapons to help you aim, because - depending on where you install your weapons - the projectiles don't always line up with your crosshair. Turrets have a much more pronounced laser sight with a visible length that turns from green to red whenever the turret locks on to something.
  • The Little Detecto: The Ore Detector does Exactly What It Says on the Tin - It detects nearby valuable ores in an asteroid. It'll also helpfully label what kind of ore it is.
  • Mega-Maw Maneuver: It's entirely possible with a big enough ship, though you'll likely just damage yourself in the process if you aren't careful.
  • Mobile Factory: Any Large Ship equipped with Refineries and Assemblers.
  • Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness: Word of God states that the developers want the game to be as realistic as possible, so 'soft' technology like Deflector Shields and Frickin' Laser Beams are unlikely to make an appearance. We still get Artificial Gravity, though.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Small Ships generally fight like this, since their weapons don't track targets and they can move pretty fast.
  • One-Way Visor: Much like with Real Life space suits, the visor doesn't show the face of the wearer, but presumably allows the space engineer to see out of it.
  • Ramming Always Works: Until the weapons were implemented, the only real way to damage other spaceships was to ram into them at top speed. Of course, this generally left both ships equally mangled unless some serious hull-reinforcement was installed.
  • Reactionless Drive: Despite producing a damaging plume, thrusters are effectively reactionless. They require no fuel source and can produce an infinite source of thrust so long as they are hooked up to a power plant, be it a battery or nuclear reactor.
  • Reality Ensues: Plenty of it (see Ramming Always Works above) but the first example many first-time Survival players find is that mining an asteroid is a very fiddly job when you have to chase those resource nuggets through the inertia-less void on a regular basis. A gravity generator makes things a lot easier.
  • Recoil Boost: Small Ship Gatling guns and the handheld assault rifle will the send the user flying backwards with sustained fire. For some reason, though, Rocket Launchers don't do the same.
  • Salvage Pirates:
    • Scuttling abandoned or derelict structures is a good way to get ready-made crafting materials; though some players, armed with weapons, are perfectly happy to gun down fellow engineers before proceeding to loot their ships.
    • Invoked with the Cargo Ships — Unmanned ships of varying sizes spawned randomly that are laden with components and materials, which currently only exist for players to hijack and loot; provided they can circumvent the Booby Trap and armaments most of them have.
  • Selective Gravity: While players and pickups are affected by gravity, actual blocks are not, even when the block in question has no logical means of keeping itself aloft. The only blocks affected by gravity fields are the Artificial Mass block.
  • Sentry Gun: Available in three flavors: Gatling and Missile turrets to protect the exterior hull, and a much smaller Interior turret to fend off players. They can be individually programmed by their owner to fire upon meteors, missiles, derelict junk and other players.
    • Point Defenseless: Soundly averted. While they are easily distracted by Decoy Blocks, turrets are aggressive and very accurate.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: Destroying the cockpit is the easiest way to disable fighter craft, though it's more difficult on large ships due to them often being buried deep in armor.
  • Solar Sail: The Solar Panel is commonly used to invoke this, though on their own they provide no thrust. Since it generates a decent level of energy (while facing the sun, obviously), it's somewhat common to find Small Ships and some lightweight Large Ships using masses of solar panels to power their engines while conserving valuable uranium.
  • Space Fighter: The Small Ship class, which is largely considered the workhorse of Space Engineers.
  • Space Is Noisy: Quite a few things are fully audible in the void, especially explosions and weapons fire.
    • The Sound Block allows you to broadcast effects like sirens or music in the vacuum of space.
      • To be fair, the Devs added oxygen (so now there's atmosphere) and eventually planets. They may add a sound pack so the only sound is what vibrates in your suit.
  • Space Marine: An assault rifle is among the hand-tools available to players, so man-to-man firefights are possible.
  • Space Mines: Of the explode-by-hard-contact variant, available in small and large sizes.
  • Space Station: Either in open space or attached to an asteroid. Unlike ships, Station blocks are rigged to a universal grid system, making them totally static and immovable unless you decide to convert one into a Large Ship.
  • Splash Damage Abuse: Explosives used to bypass armor entirely, leading to situations where fighters would have their reactors and gyros gutted by damage while their hull looked almost undamaged. Explosions were later made volumetric, preventing them from bypassing objects.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: All armor blocks are made up of riveted steel plates fitted together, which are by default colored gunmetal gray. The standard ships largely avert part of this though, as they are often painted in bright colors.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Missile launchers are the most predominant, available in two sizes and types. Small Ships gets regular one-missile-at-a-time launchers that you need to manually load and re-loadable rocket launchers that uses the conveyor system; Large Ships get a hefty missile pod capable of firing full-auto. Also, Space Mines.
  • Tank Goodness: Tanks are a popular creation subject on the Workshop; either on wheels, improvised treads, or - for the adventurous - thruster/gravity propulsion systems.
  • Telescoping Robot: Concealing weapons underneath ship armor is very popular. On the other hand, the ship actually needs the internal space to fit the weapons and the mechanism to deploy them. It's also liable to end in disaster if the pistons or rotors jam, which can cause rockets to misfire straight into the delicate internals of the ships. The trailer for the Xbox One port has a space station with turrets that rise out from hidden ports.
  • This Is a Drill: Available as a hand-tool for players and as a system for Small and Large Ships. Though the hand-drill, despite being referred to as such, is clearly a jackhammer.
  • Too Fast to Stop: Inertia dampeners require propulsion on every side of your ship in order to brake properly. If you're going at full-speed, you'd better hope your opposing thrusters are strong and/or numerous enough to slow you down before you hit something. Or turn your ship around and use your main thrusters to slow down.
    • If you had something anchored down and the anchor no longer works, you can expect that something to fling off the ship if you change the vector. And you can also say goodbye to it if the ship was going at maximum speed.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Very possible, given the players involved, and some of the ships available on the Steam Workshop are replicas of famous sci-fi ships, including the Normandy SR-2, Mother of Invention, Serenity and Voyager
  • Unobtainium: Uranium, which is used as the primary fuel source in the game, has some shades of this. While it's fairly easy to find, it's the only non-recyclable resource in the entire game - Once the last uranium ore deposit on the map is used up, it's gone forever. The Solar Panels were specifically introduced to give players an alternative power source for this eventuality. Luckily, NPC ships will always carry at least one unit in their reactor that can be stolen, often have more than one reactor, and sometimes even carry significant amounts of refined uranium ingots in their cargo bays.
  • Used Future: "Shadowflux's Used Equipment Sales and Service" redesigns several existing devices and blocks in this style. It's proven popular enough to warrant two expansion packs, as well as a version that cleans up the grime.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Engines of all sizes and types cause damage to anything in the path of their thrust, literally burning holes through the obstructing materials.
    • This feature is exploited in the Cargo Ships update. The ships in question are rigged with high-yield explosives that are detonated by hidden thrusters if the ship is ever forced to slow down, making hijacking attempts rather tricky. An option to turn Exhaust Damage off on a world-by-world basis was soon added, which makes internal engines on ships safe again, and disarms the booby traps in most of the cargo vessels.
    • The Steam-Workshop-modded Titan Engine block is perhaps the most triumphant example. Its exhaust path at full power is over forty block-lengths long, and strong enough to obliterate most Small Ships instantly.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: Mods that raise the game's speed limit can inadvertently cause this. Physics are calculated every tick, but if a ship is moving fast enough it can phase through another ship before the game realizes it and subsequently vaporizes a significant portion of both ships. Sadly, the jump drive won't fire if its target destination has any objects within a certain radius, preventing players from teleporting bombs into enemy ships.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Rescue Ship starts in inexplicably poor condition - the exterior hull is always heavily dented, and several blocks are incomplete. However, as listed above in Boring but Practical, the Rescue Ship is a surprisingly useful vessel.