Space Engineers Shares Source Code

145,000 lines of code got the Apollo Mission to the Moon, or so The Internet tells me. It takes a fair few more than that to crash a spaceshark into Space Station Homer’s crotch. Don’t believe me? Fine, go count the lines yourself.

Space Engineers [official site] developers Keen Software House are giving people access to their sandbox space sim’s source code, letting folks tinker with the game way more than its mod tools allow. Keen also announced they plan to put up $100,000 (£63k) to support folks making total conversions. Crumbs!

Source access will let folks make grander, more elaborate mods, all the way up to total conversions (brand new games on its engine). Keen say changes folks make to the ModAPI may be pushed into the main game, and folks can can contribute to the core game’s development if they want too. You too could work at someone’s job for funsies!

If you fancy counting those lines of code, or maybe coding away yourself, it’s up on GitHub. This doesn’t mean the game’s free, mind, or that you can go selling your own version willy-nilly. It’ll still need to rely on Steam, and on people owning the game. Check the license for more on that.

Pre-empting accusations that this is a step towards Keen abandoning the game and leaving it to players to finish, Keen founder Marek Rosa said:

“Our answer is definitely NO … this is mostly for giving complete freedom to our modders while we continue the game’s development without any changes (through weekly updates and keeping our development plan as described in our previous blog post). Space Engineers is still selling very well and only a crazy person would abandon the game! We just want to give people the chance to modify all aspects of our game and experiment with it while we keep doing what we are doing.”

As for that $100k for total conversions, they’re not yet sure how they’ll handle that. It might come as grants, zero-interest loans, Kickstarter support, or something else. They’re hoping it’ll kick-start folks making games on their VRAGE engine.

Keen also took to Reddit last night to answer questions. A quick roundup: the updated DirectX 11 renderer is due in a few weeks, and may improve performance by 10-20%; the new multiplayer code is due in “a couple of months” away; planets will arrive in a few weeks to a few months, and will have life such as deer. Look, a planet:

Look, a man on a planet:

16 Comments

  1. cpy says:

    One of the best games i ever bought. Gotta love dem space sandboxes! Ha to Elite who claims to be sandbox game!

  2. kalzekdor says:

    Huh. Just spent 30 mins browsing the source. I didn’t know they also made Miner Wars. Interesting stuff. Though, I wouldn’t mind some apidocs, or maybe a dependency diagram. Maybe I’ll throw this into Enterprise Architect when I get the chance.

    • Artist says:

      They not only made MinerWars but also ripped off their customers with Minerwars and the unrefunded presales for the MinerWars MMO. That was probably the foundation they build Space Engineers upon.
      They changed from being fraudsters to the ones who made a shitton of cash by doing Early Acess the right way and feeding the monkeys tasty, weekly morsels.
      Things that shouldnt be forgotten…

      • Vayra says:

        Well, maybe they learned something. It is for the better, it still beats the arrogance of the EA / Ubisoft maffia.

        I’ve sunk over 400 hrs in Space Engineers and still pick it up from time to time. With the planets FINALLY incoming, it seems like this game is getting the much needed ‘body’ so many players are asking for. There is only so much you can do in space with a couple of asteroids.

      • frightlever says:

        I begrudgingly buried the hatchet with them when they let me turn my MMO key (which I got free because I was a Miner Wars alpha buyer) into a Space Engineers key. Nonetheless Miner Wars was a poor game, and was never finished the way it was supposed to be.

        Mind you, I just don’t see the attraction of Space Engineers. Not for me.

        • Max Planck says:

          I paid them 20$ for the MMO preorder, only to be good and thoroughly shat on. When I had been almost a year after the supposed release, I dared to ask [i]twice[/i] on their forums about the whereabouts of the game. I got banned from the from and my posts where replaced by the word ‘spam’. Funnily, there was actual goldseller spam in the topic that was allowed to remain for some reason.
          After a great while and a lot of pressure, Keen decided to ‘offer’ a key to Space Engineers instead. Why would I want that? They failed to deliver what they had sold, they should return the money instead of offering whatever they could scrape out of their ashtray.

          ATT: Marek Rosa. You always come here and post when rps is doing advertisement for you, so you are probably reading this. Marek, you are a dirty [i]liar[/i], you are a rotten [i]thief[/i], and Marek, you owe me 20 bucks.

          • Max Planck says:

            It seems I can’t figure out how to do italics, nor can I edit.
            RPS, I miss the edit button. When you are doing advertisement for this worthless group of conmen, could you bring the edit button back?

        • Guy Montag says:

          This is my comment, except for the opposite resolution on my MMO key, and my subsequent purchase of another 20 hatchets. I got burned so hard by everything Keen Software-related, and make an active effort to steer my friends away from their bad practices.

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    Harlander says:

    I’ve got a real respect for the people who’ve got the patience to make big constructions like that in games like this.

  4. Wang Tang says:

    The shark is nice, but… link to youtube.com

  5. Pantalaimon says:

    This is hugely impressive, really. How many other developers have given out the source to their games during the time their games were actually an ongoing project? Can’t be that many.

    I hope this will open the doors for mods that make keeping the doors closed a little more important – namely those that simulate atmospherics, which is currently the only lasting criticism I have of the main game.

    • Sam says:

      Minecraft’s source code was accidentally available throughout its life, and its availability was vital to the huge modding scene that started up around it.
      As far as I know they still haven’t released a proper modding API, and they kept trying to obfuscate the source code so that modding was made needlessly more difficult. But despite their efforts modding was probably the cause of much of the game’s continued success.

  6. Jinarra says:

    Love the heck out of this game; But lately I can’t run my own server due to some kind of glitch with the ‘add new instance’ button on the dedicated server GUI. And yes, I’m running it as admin – It just pops up a blank window.

    Other than that, loving it. Don’t play as often as I’d like, but really enjoy it when I do.

  7. Inph says:

    It’s definitely a good thing, but it’s definitely not ‘Open Source’… As you can see from their license agreement:

    “The source code and art assets must not to be mistaken for free software, an open source in a free-software activist understanding, copy-left or public domain software.”

    I think you have mistaken this for open source :)

    • LionsPhil says:

      To Alice’s credit, she seems to have avoided doing exactly that.

      In fact, “shares source” is a pretty good summary since it’s reminsiscent of Microsoft’s attempts at “shared source”, some of which were likewise look-but-don’t-redistribute license-enumbered.

  8. MellowKrogoth says:

    Smart move, if you judge by the amazing stuff (tornadoes anyone?) people still make for Minecraft because its java source code is so easy to decompile.