It’s the middle of April, and my game of the month is Space Engineers. You can find this game on Steam, naturally, or on the official website. If you enjoy Minecraft, or just plain old building random things, you might just enjoy this game. It is basically a futuristic Minecraft, in which you can load up a world, or scenario, and survive your way through the world. OK, it sounds exactly like Minecraft… However, there’s a certain freedom to it, whereas with Minecraft you’re stuck with gravity and all the issues that brings. With Space Engineers, you have a jetpack (which can be disabled for more difficult surviving) to fly around your spawn location. Sound easy yet? Well, it isn’t.
I’ll be honest: I haven’t played Minecraft since before it became a part of Microsoft. Good or bad, the last major update that I can recall added things like chickens to the game. However, I downloaded it to my Xbox One recently to let my kids play it. Holy shit, has it changed. Which brings me to Space Engineers. I’ve watched videos on it. People building their own rovers, ships, drilling ships and the like. They make it look simple, even without Creative mode turned on. After playing it for about 20 hours, I just now figured out how to find and mine ice. You’ll need ice, naturally, because your jetpack runs on hydrogen, which can only be harvested by finding ice. I played 16 in-game days looking for ice. I could have just YouTubed it, but I like to do things the hard way.
In those hours playing, I built one hell of a drilling rig though. I only have the first “test” rig I built, which I’m still using, as I’ve had entirely too much fun with just putting a gigantic hole in the near vicinity of my base. I don’t recommend this, because I’ve forgotten about it in the dark and fallen to my characters death. Unfortunate, but I still laughed. I’ve actually spent so much time building this rig, and looking for ice, that I haven’t even built a vehicle yet. I start on the project, get sidetracked, and eventually bury the virtual project until I think about needing a vehicle again. In other words, I enjoy using my custom drilling rig, featuring no less than 15 drill bits and around 15 pistons, to put a hole into the ground that would make President Trump proud. I’ve only drilled to a depth of 120 meters or so, and being that I’m a dirty Freedom-unit user, I have to pull out a calculator to tell you that it’s actually almost at a depth of 400 feet. Here’s the original contraption, and it’s not the prettiest or most efficient.
I’m currently converting, finalizing, and uploading the actual beast. It’s not actually much more than the above video, but it’s slightly bigger. And puts out some major ore. Best thing about a stable, non-vehicle based drill is you don’t have to worry about the weight preventing transportation. Plus, you can directly feed it into a refinery/assembler combo, reducing the need for you actually transport it in the first place.
This game has actually made me laugh like a teenage girl, cackling and giggling at things that just shouldn’t be possible. The sheer weight of my rig should render the damn thing inoperable, let alone efficient. However, above all things, it’s a game. It does have realistic settings that you can use, but I’m not sure that applies to things like object mass. Some things seem to make sense, like inertial mass and whatnot, but I’m not a scientist. I pretend to be, because every session of Space Engineers ends up with either an explosion, or a majestic discovery of just what else could be possible in this game.
Settings-wise, like I said before, you can use a variety of settings in the game. Instead of creepers, skeletons, and Endermen, you can enable wolves and spiders. I haven’t enabled that yet, but starting the game without them doesn’t lock that save from the content. You can start a game on survival, save it, exit to the main menu, load the game in creative, and continue on in the same spot. It helps if you get stuck building something, or run out of jetpack fuel, oxygen, or just daylight. You can disable enemies to begin with and leave them off, or enable them later. And vice versa. Hell, you can start a new game with no tools of any kind. I’m not sure how that one works, but the option is there.
There are various realistic settings, mostly for inventory and container storage sizes. You can set the length of the day to be 1 minute (which gives you 1 minutes night) or even a full 24 hours. You can enable and disable mods as you please, most of which are just blueprints for you to build, but you can pick and choose, at whatever point in the playthrough, to add or remove a feature or mod. Additionally, you can adjust the number of backup saves the game makes. It autosaves every 5 minutes, which will be your backups. I’ve already had an issue with Shadowplay causing the game to freak out and lock me in place. I went looking for backups in the game, and found the one remaining backup that hadn’t been overwritten by the bug. The default for this settings is 5, but you can set it to as many as you’d like. This game also comes with a handy little Copy/Paste feature. Accidentally flipped that vehicle 10 kms from your base? No problem, a quick use of this mechanic and you’ll be rolling across the terrain again. I haven’t used it yet, but I can see the usefulness when everything goes wrong on you.
I’ve had some vertigo from this game, which I’ve never had before. The controls are somewhat odd, and yet, realistic. Leaving orbit takes a little while, because apparently you don’t need much momentum to actually leave the atmosphere. Your vehicle of design will need atmospheric thrusters, plus ion thrusters. And just when you think you got maneuvering around with a jetpack down, you’ll be building your vehicle and realize you need design how to control your vehicle. That’s right, you build it from the ground up. You decide what buttons control what and how. You can have up to 8 buttons just the freakin’ landing gears. And that’s if you group them all into one button. Otherwise, that’s 8 options per landing gear! Not to mention tires, thrusters, weapons, lights, drills, and a myriad of other possibilities.
If you think spending 2 hours designing this majestic, square, box of a vehicle took forever, then wait until you start setting up the basic controls. Oh, and if you use any sort of programming blocks… I just hope you know some C#. Oh, by the way, you can actually run C# scripts in the game. This comes with exemptions, naturally, but, if you’re interested, you can take a look here. To be able to use these scripts, you’ll have to enable the game’s experimental mode, but I haven’t run in to any problems with it enabled. These scripts can control everything from sensors for opening doors, to entire remote-controlled drones you built to mine ice or ore from the environment around you. You can remote control anything with a remote control module and an antenna installed. I’ve actually installed two on my drill rig, one for the bit and one for the ground-level. The way it’s set up, I have a connector installed to enable me to easily add additional pistons to continue drilling deeper with minimal destruction to my other installed pistons. I’ll make a video and upload that later, as it was one of the moments where I realized just what exactly was possible in this game. Hint: I was laughing like a
teenage middle school girl.
So far, I’ve been entirely too engrossed with just figuring out mechanics. How the conveyors work, how drilling works, how refining works, how the progression system works. It’s simple once you’ve figured it out, but the game’s tutorial scenarios don’t do the actual mechanics any justice. In fact, were it not for the helpful videos of Splitsie on YouTube, I’d have never figured out how the game’s connector modules worked. I think that is episode 5 of his Space Engineers series.
As far as objectives and missions in this game, unless you load up the stock scenarios or Workshop scenarios, you’re free to make whatever objectives you’d like. You don’t have to just land on a planet. You can be adrift in space, marooned on a ship that crashed into an asteroid, the sole survivor on a space station, and more. Each option has it’s own difficulty, as well as initial starting resources. If you don’t like the start location, just respawn. It’ll choose a random, different location until you like the one you’ve been given. There is no point to the game other than to do random shit. Wanna make this insanely huge ship that you can use to fly around the solar system? Do it! Just know that you’ll need an absolute shit-ton of ore and materials just to build the thing, let alone stock it with oxygen, hydrogen, fuel, and whatever else you want to bring with you.
Oh, and if you have friends, you can let them play in your world, too. At any point, you can decide the base and operation you’ve got going can be shared with your buddies. They can jump in and not miss a beat. I haven’t experimented with this at all, I’m the only one that owns the game in my group. Blame society for making them think Triple-A titles are the only games that exist.