Windows MRs Guide: Space Engineers

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by Huntn, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. Huntn, Aug 5, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016

    Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    MRs Guide: Space Engineers Part 1 of 2

    SE Exterior NSB2 Cut and Paste.jpg
    *click to enlarge images
    Generally Speaking This Guide May Include Outdated Info- Nov 2016

    *10Nov16- The Cargo Bay Door building Instructions in this guide may be out of date with changes in the game. Have not verified.
    *14 Oct- Added Settings List, Advanced Settings list, how to turn off Autosave, and how to invite a friend, under Getting Started. Added “Getting Guns to Fire Properly” under Hot Topics.
    *11Oct- Split Guide in two parts due to post size limits in forum.
    *11Oct- Updated section on installing Skyboxes and added a Hot Topic Section- something I want to mention, but needs more work to be included in this guide.
    *16Aug- Updated and clarified verbiage in the door building section.
    *13Aug- Images added to door building tutorial.
    *12AUG- Guide updated with door building instructions. More images will be added to this guide.
    *5Aug2014- Guide Created.

    This Guide is a work in progress for a PC Game available for purchase as pre-release (beta) on Steam currently at $20 (Aug 2014). Please report errors, broken links, or if you find this guide generally confusing. Reply to this post or send me, Huntn, a Private Message.

    What is Space Engineers?
    *Space Engineers is a sandbox style space building game (ships and stations) that allows you to choose both a survival mode and a creative mode. Some players have called it “Minecraft In Space.” As of Aug 2014, the game is still under development. It’s not yet finished, and works well for what is currently offered. There are no missions. There is physics. Ships can be crashed. If equipment is improperly designed, it can tear itself apart.

    *Space Engineers
    *Space Engineers Wiki
    *Components and Tools
    *Building Link
    *Building in Symmetry Mode- a huge time saver, although sucky video, because it was hard for me to figure out. ;)
    * Voxel Shape Generator for reference when building curves.
    *Space Engineers Sky Box Library

    Hot Topics
    *Gravity Drives- Will add more how-to info to this guide in the future. In the mean time check out these videos. As of Oct 2014 it appears to me that Grav Drives are a must for the top performance of any ship in this game. They put thrusters to shame. They seem especially important for large, really large ships (1000’ or longer). However, it’s another question if this game can adequately handle large ships as anything other than virtual static displays. A question to be answered later. I’m currently working on a ship approximately 4000’ long.

    In the mean time Check out these videos:
    * Space Engineers : Warp Drive/Mega Drive Concept Ship Part1
    *Space Engineers : Warp Drive/Mega Drive Concept Ship Part2
    * Space Engineers : Warp Drive/Mega Drive Concept Ship Part3.

    *Getting Guns to fire Properly- Working on this issue. Will post more once I’ve verified solution.

    Pluses and Minuses
    *Your own stand alone server, along with dedicated servers. I have not checked out online servers.
    *Coop with Steam Friends via an online connection. (Not sure if coop can be accomplished offline on a local network.)
    *Developer is Mod Friendly.
    *No Map- don’t get lost.

    Survival or Creative?
    If you want a challenge, such as always have to watch your O2 and energy levels, and spend time mining for everything you build choose Survival. Some players take great pride in surviving. As for myself, I enjoy creating and view the survival aspect of the game, (the same as with Minecraft) as being a huge time sink as it is. Why do I want to spend 10s or 100s of hours mining? Creation is what attracts me to both games. Unfortunately I have zero experience with this game in “Survival” mode so there has to be a lot I’m over looking.


    Keyboard Commands

    *Alt- Free View
    *F4- Screen Shot (located C Drive/User/AppData/Roaming/SpacEngineers/Screenshots)
    *Middle Mouse Button- Will apply the color of a block being held to a block being highlighted. If MMB is held down, large areas can be painted while moving the mouse.
    *P- Paint Interface.
    *Tab- Hud toggle.
    *V- 1st/3rd Person.
    *Zoom- Scroll view.
    *[/b][ ][/b]- Cycle through colors for a held block.

    Building Commands
    *Left Mouse Button- Add block.
    * Right Mouse Button- Remove block.
    * Control + LMB/or RMB- allows the addition or subtraction a row of blocks.
    * Control + Shift and LMB/or RMB- allows an entire plane of blocks to be added or subtracted.
    * Copy and Paste- Look at an object you have created and hit Control-C to copy it. Control-X to delete it, and Control-V to paste it. Available in Creative Mode.

    * Rotating Blocks Prior To Placement: Blocks can be rotated in the XYZ Axis. It can seem confusing at first. Please check out this images:


    For my description you are always facing the X Axis if you are placing a block on something in front of you.

    *Note: These can be mapped to other keys.
    *Page Down or Delete: Rotates horizontally around the Z Axis. The block will appear to rotate horizontally around the Z Axis.
    *End or Home: Rotates the block around the Y Axis. From your perspective, a block will appear to tumble end over end.
    *Page Up: Rotates the block around the X Axis. The front of the block will rotate in a circle.
    *Need Help with plotting curves? See the url=] Voxel Shape Generator[/url] for reference.

    *W/S- Forward Back
    *C- Down
    *F- Up
    *Q- Roll Left
    *E- Roll Right

    *K- When interacting with a Control Panel/Keypad accesses The Terminal (K), then select the Control Panel Tab to see a list of equipment you’ve installed on a ship/station, set parameters and control equipment like doors.

    *L- Headlights toggle
    *G- Toolbox Configure (Includes command to start building a new ship or station).
    *M- Set Symmetry Mode Axis (See Getting Started Section)
    *N- Toggle Symmetry Mode ON/Off.
    *P- Park- With Landing Gear Magnetically attaches ship to metal surface it is sitting on.
    *T- Interact/Open (used with door keypad)
    *X- Jet Pack toggle
    *Y- Activate Ship
    *Z- Inertial Dampers toggle (With Inertial Dampers, when movement is stopped, thrusters stop you. Without Inertial Dampers, you’ll keep going when thrust is stopped.)
    *Warning!- There is no Map Reference (as of Aug2014). You can get seriously lost!

    Getting Started

    *Turn off Autosave- Before loading world, select the world you want to play, click on Settings, uncheck Autosave. Autosave happens every 5 minutes or so. It can burn you, be wary.

    -Access settings before launching world.
    -Creative or Survival.
    -Guns Unlimited Ammo.
    -Online Mode- Offline, Private, Friends, Public.

    *Advanced Settings
    -Access settings before launching world.
    -Game Mode
    -Inventory Size
    -Assembler efficiency
    -Refinery speed
    -Welding speed
    -Grinding speed
    -Max Objects
    -World Size
    -Respawn Ship cooldown
    -Copy Paste
    -Weapons enable
    -Trash auto-remove- removes loose building parts floating around, I believe on quit.
    -Delete Respawn Ship ?
    -Show Player names
    -Thruster Damage- I believe removes damage from getting to close to thrusters.
    -Cargo Ship?
    -Enable Spectator
    -Reset Ownership
    -Permanent Death?

    *Invite a (Steam) Friend to your World
    • Create a Friend in Steam. Use the Steam Interface to ID and create a friend.
    • Launch The Game. Create a world.
    • Back out of the world, back to the Space Engineers start page.
    • Select the world, highlighting it.
    • Click on Settings for “Online Mode” select Private, Friends, or Public. Note: These settings may work before you create a new world and I’m only familiar with a “Friends Game”. Even with a Friends game, you have to issue an invite to the friend (I believe).
    • Go to the Steam Friends interface. While on the SE start page, hold Shift-Tab to return to the Steam interface, go to Friends List, right click on your friend and select “Invite to Game”. They should hear a tone and in the Steam interface, they should see a message, that they have been invited to your game. If they click on the message, your world should load for them.

    *Blast Door Blocks, What Makes Them Different? In the good ole alpha testing days before pistons were created, moving doors were made with regular blocks using rotors and arms, kind of a Rube Goldberg setup. Rotors are designed so that a door built upon them with regular armor blocks are raised a hair so normal blocks could slide by each other without rubbing excessively. Watch Piston Tutorial Part 1 for a primer on rotors and arms.

    Then came Pistons and Blast Doors. Pistons are far superior to rotors and arms, but don’t have the separation that rotors give a door when using regular sized blocks. So for Pistons, a narrower width block was required. The Blast Door Block was created so that a piston built door could slide adjacent to regular blocks and not scrape.
    *What’s That Bangy-Clangy Noise? When something is broken, like a door, you’ll hear a banging as it operates and sometimes when it’s not, like when a large door becomes unhooked and is leaning against the side of the ship.
    *Copy and Paste- In Creative Mode copies of your ship can be copy and pasted. From the outside look at it and select Control-C to copy, then Control-V to Paste, move the new ship to a location and click your Left Mouse Button to Place it. This is a way to save your ship in multiple stages of completion. Ships can also be deleted with Control-X.
    *Auto Saving- Space Engineers employs auto saves every 5 min or so. What this means is that if you alter a ship, the original version will soon be saved over. If experimenting with a new design and in Creative Mode, consider Copy and Paste.
    *Save Strategy- Multiple copies of a World can be saved by using the “Save As” feature on the World Load Page. However after spending hundreds of hours building a space ship, the Save File should be backed up. Find it at C Drive>User>AppData>Roaming>Space Engineers> Saves.
    *Survival Mode, offers a starting Inventory.
    *When attaching a new block to an existing block, a red highlight will indicate which block is being attached to.

    *Need Help with curves? See the Voxel Shape Generator for reference.

    The Terminal (K)
    *Can be accessed from any machine such as a Reactor or assembler via it’s control panel(K). When approached, the control panel will illuminate. Then hit “K”.
    * Multiple items can be grouped and controlled at the same time. For example a door that uses several pistons.

    *When building, if a middle block is deleted, if other blocks are not connected to the structure in any manner, they will start to float away. They can’t be reconnected to the structure. They must be deleted and new blocks created.
    *Do not place banks of missiles immediately side by side, leave a space or two between them. If side by side, they have a tendency to collide with one another and blow up in close proximity to your ship.

    *Doors and Pistons- As of 8Aug2014 Pistons have been introduced to be used in conjunction with Blast Door blocks. However there are issues when utilizing more than one piston per door and the connection of blocks, how blocks connect to one another. This may not be easy to understand but blocks connect to one another based on ownership. So a ship essentially owns all the blocks that it is composed of. However, if a section of blocks is disconnected from the ship, they can’t (currently) be reconnected. They must be deleted and reconstructed, because the ship no longer owns them.

    Something similar happens when using pistons. Although a piston is physically connected to the ship, the head of the piston is separate from the ship. Blocks can be attached to the piston, but they don’t belong to the ship, but to the piston. A problem arises when multiple pistons are used on a single door. Blocks connected to piston are owned by that piston so when there are multiple pistons there are door integrity issues. Doors can be constructed, but with multiple pistons, there will be visible cracks, based on which piston a block is connected to.

    The workaround solution is to utilize a Merge Block. A Merge Block can be used to manually connect blocks shared by several pistons. The end result is that with multiple pistons, door blocks will connect to one another properly. In essence the pistons now share the blocks that the door is composed of. For reference, watch this Pistons and Doors Steam Guide

    A Finished 6 Piston Door Stacked 2 Deep​

    Building Doors With Multiple Pistons
    * Note: Effective Aug 2014, subject to change. Pistons came out recently. Rotors and arms are no longer cool.
    *Build a Test Door (Optional)- A door test platform can easily be built starting a new ship (G) and then select build a “large” ship. (Big doors are usually on big ships.) Build a platform, power it (reactor), stabilize it (gyro) and then build a test door.

    *Plan your door
    A 10 block wide door should probably have 3 pistons. Maybe 2 will work, experimentation may be required. During planning allow for the space that the door will occupy when retracted. I know from experience that 6 pistons (stacked 2 deep) can handle a 10 wide by 8 high door. For the door illustrated above, because of piston throw (4 blocks) to get the necessary movement of a 8 block high door, two pistons had to be stacked. The door can be planned with a one block deep space in the floor so it can descend into the floor. It it’s a single door, during construction, you can leave this space (under the door) open, so if your measurements are off it won’t crunch against the floor. It can also be planned with landing pads on it’s sides and at the bottom to support the door. For a large ship, landing pads are 2 blocks deep.

    *Piston Size-
    When fully retracted, pistons are two blocks tall in their respective grids. Therefore small pistons are 1m tall and large pistons are 5m tall. Fully extended, the piston is just at 6 blocks (3m/15m) tall, so they extend 4 blocks. Take this in consideration when planning a door. Experimentation may be needed. Pistons can be stacked on top of each other for taller doors.

    SE Building Doors1Labeled Pistons.jpg
    Placed Pistons​

    *Place pistons
    Place onto adjacent blocks. It is recommended that pistons are only created and placed for one door at a time so you can more easily manage those pistons in the Terminal’s (K), Control Panel list. For large doors, more than 4 or 5 blocks high, double pistons will be required. They can be stacked. Is there a limit for stacking? I don’t know.

    Terminal Pistons.jpg

    *Label The Pistons
    Find a Control Panel/KeyPad
    , the little numbered keypad on all equipment and including doors. Move close so it lights up, then pull up the Terminal (K) and select Control Panel Tab. A list of all equipment currently installed on the active ship or station will appear.

    It may not be apparent which piston is which in the list. These pistons can be tested by selecting one, change the velocity (+ extends, - retracts), then escape to get out of the Terminal and observe which pistons moves. With this info, an appropriate name can be applied to the piston in the Control Panel list. You’ll find equipment with different colors. Some of the pistons IDs will be labeled white or have another color. I currently see no rhyme or reason for the coloring.

    *Read the previous Doors and Pistons section above-
    Because of the issue with and for lack of a better name “block ownership”, when multiple pistons are used, blocks connected to each piston are owned by that piston. From a building standpoint, this is not sound because all of the blocks that make up the door will not be connected to each other properly and the integrity of the door will be an issue.

    So the work around is to use Merge Blocks so that all of the door blocks will be connected to each piston and all be connected to one another.
    *Recap to this point- So, up to this point, the pistons have been placed and labeled. Now we will start to construct the door blocks attached to the pistons and use Merge Blocks to connect all of the blocks together. If you don’t want to read a lot of verbage, watch this
    Pistons and Doors Steam Guide.


    Attached Files:

  2. Huntn, Aug 13, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014

    Huntn thread starter macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    MRs Guide: Space Engineers Part 2

    *Group the Pistons
    I like grouping the Pistons at this point so that they can be tested as a group before a door is hanging on them. However if you are uncomfortable with the idea of grouped pistons be operated individually, you can wait until after the door is constructed to assign the group. The danger is that after construction, if you leave out a piston or two from the group or accidentally add another piston to a different door to the wrong group, something is going to break. So I group pistons first and then make sure I keep track of them.

    Warning! Grouped pistons can still be operated individually in the piston list, and it is necessary to do so, to manually connect the blocks during construction of the door. But once the door is constructed, and the pistons have been assigned to a group , don’t ever operate a single piston in the group unless the intent is to break the door. If a piston is broken, it is impossible to add a new piston without some reconstruction of the door and going through a creative merge process or just by starting over.

    To add pistons to a group, access the Terminal (K) and selected “Control Panel Tab”. This is accomplished via a keypad, a door controller or any of the control equipment installed on the ship. If one is not close by, add a Keypad next to the door. Move close enough to its keypad to make it light up, then press K and selected “Control Panel Tab”.

    Scroll down to the piston list. “Shift/click” them if they are together in the list or if they are scattered about, use the keyboard “Control” key to select multiple pistons individually. When finished, all of the selected pistons should be highlighted (a dark band over them). Once selected, in the Block Group window, type a name like “Hanger Door 1R” and save. Grouped items will appear at the top of the Equipment list, and as a group, they can all be set to extend and to retract to the same distance, at the same speed, simultaneously.

    Verify The Group
    To verify which pistons are assigned to the Group, select the Group and then scrolling down to the individual piston list and verify that that right pistons are highlighted (have a dark band over them).

    Test The Group
    Make sure all of the pistons work the way they should using the Group Commands. Note: For velocity ”+” means “piston open” (door close), ”-” means “piston close” (door open). If the velocity is set at +.2m/sec and the door is in the closed position (pistons extended at the max distance) it won’t move, but if you slide the the velocity to -.2m/sec, the door will start to open (pistons retract to the minimum set distance).

    Usually I use the “Reverse” command for the group. If the door is closed, at it’s maximum distance with a velocity of +.2m/sec, when “Reverse” is selected, the door will reverse at -.2m/sec.

    Single vs Group- One significant difference between operating a single piston and a group of pistons, is when you change the velocity from positive to negative (or vice a versa) for an individual piston you’ll see a read out of the changing position of the piston. When operating a group of pistons, you will not see this indication in the Group Panel, so you have to visually check the door.

    View attachment 485307
    Setting Up Merge Blocks

    View attachment 485420
    Two Merge Blocks Required between each Piston

    Merge Blocks Detect Each Other​

    *Build The Door Using Merge Blocks
    Although hanger doors can be constructed with regular blocks when using rotors and arms, for pistons, Blast Door blocks which are slightly narrower than regular blocks in one dimension (width), are required. This allows for more clearance between a blast door sliding down next to a regular exterior armor block wall. Make sure the individual Blast Door block is oriented in the right direction by rotating it (see Keyboard commands), with the skinny side in-line with the plane of the door. For my example I will make a door 10 blocks wide by 8 blocks tall, using 6 pistons, labeled A, B, and C. (These pistons are stacked so there are a total of 6 pistons which is required due to the height of the door.
    • Place the Pistons.
    • Place a Blast Door Block on each piston.
    • From each piston build out with Blast Door Blocks leaving 2 spaces between the next piston and it’s blocks. This allows for 2 merge blocks, 1 to be attached to each group of blocks. In my example, with a single block attached to each piston, there are only 2 spaces between each block. Note that merge blocks are are the standard size 1x1x1 block so they are slightly wider than Blast Door Blocks. This should not be a construction issue, but of note.
    • Merge Blocks can’t be placed side by side to connect. They must be placed and then slid side by side. So to facilitate the connection between Piston A and Piston B. I’ll extend Piston B before adding a block to it. Then add a Merge Block to A and B as per the illustration.
    • When placing the Merge Block, orient it so that the connection side is facing towards the other Merge Block.
    • Back at the Control Panel, select the Piston that was extended and reverse it by sliding the Velocity to -.1m/s. It will now close slowly. As the Merge Blocks align, the stripe on the side of each block will turn yellow, then green once they are merged. Note, these blocks may bounce a little and sparks may fly, as they connect, and you’ll notice some lateral stress on the pistons as they connect, and sometimes a piston will break. If it does, you’ll have to use some creative merging or start over with the door, probably from scratch.
    • Perform the same connection feat between Piston B and C, by first extending Piston C. Warning! Do not extend Piston B because it is connected to Piston A.
    • When all Pistons are connected with Merge Blocks it will look like this:
      (image to be added)

    Merge Blocks Link With Each Other

    Building the Door

    CONSTRUCTION NOTE: If you look at these images, note that in addition to using Blast Door Block in the door itself, I elected to place Blast Door Blocks on the exterior wall of the ship in the vicinity of the door. The reason is that when Merge Block is introduced and there are regular blocks it will rub on those exterior blocks during the merge. Ways to approach this are to 1) use Blast Door Blocks on the external wall in the vicinity of the door; 2) do not build the external wall above the door until after the door has been built and is functional, or 3) put up with the rubbing. I’ve not verified if the rubbing hurts anything or not.

    • The merged Merge Blocks in the top row connect all of the blocks of the door.
    • Build a second row of Blast Door Blocks, and then the Merge Blocks can be carefully removed and replaced with regular Blast Door blocks.
    • Test the Door a Second Time (optional)- At this point, before any more effort is put into adding to the door, it can be tested a second time using the Group control for the door. But before you do this, after selecting the group, scroll back down to the individual pistons and make sure each piston has the same settings for Max, Min Distance, and velocity.

      My understanding is that the Group settings should override the individual piston settings, but my experience with a broken door seems to indicate otherwise. Also to be prudent, you can set the door to close (Max Distance) to something less than the actual space for the initial operation and testing of the finished door.
    • Return to the Group Setting in the Control Panel Tab, (should be found at top of list) and test the door by closing it, moving the velocity setting to +.1meters/sec and cross your fingers.
    • After the door is tested, the remainder of it can be built. Test it again by making it extend to a point, less than the total space for the door.
    • Optional, but a good idea, I chose to support the door with landing pads on the side and at the bottom. They are 2 blocks deep and space will have to be allowed for them.
    • The Big Gotcha- Once the door is merged, never run it with an individual piston control or a broken door will result.

    Sky Boxes- Why choose to have a butt-ugly default background? A fairly simple process. These items are subject to update. (Aug2014)
    *Space Engineers Sky Box Library
    *Youtube Video for Manual Install (2013).
    *To install a Skybox as a “mod” , watch this Space Engineers - Modding Academy: Skybox video Youtube Video for Installing Skybox as a mod (2014).

    *Note: The Skybox Tool that was described here is no longer supported and link was removed. Manual installs are easy so no big deal.
    *Note2: I don’t know if there is a significantly different impact of installing a Skybox using the Manual steps below, which are simpler than installing it as a mod in the link above. So far, several updates have been applied to the game and having used the Manual Steps below, my Skybox is still there! (Oct 2014)

    Manual Steps for Skybox Installation:
    • Establish An account at Space Engineers SkyBox Library.
    • Download a Skybox package and unzip it. In this package will be a “” file. This is the new skybox.
    • Navigate to Steam Folder> Steam Apps Folder> Space Engineers Folder>Content>Textures>Background Cube> Final. Inside this folder will be the original default skybox. Either move it to another location or rename it, add a “1” to the name.
    • Copy the new Skybox .dds file into this folder.
    • Launch the game to revel in your new skybox! :)
  3. Huntn thread starter macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    *16Aug- Updated, clarified verbiage in the door building section.
  4. Huntn thread starter macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    *11Oct- Updated section on installing Skyboxes and added a Hot Topic Section- something I want to mention, but needs more work to be included in this guide.
  5. Huntn thread starter macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    *14 Oct- Added Settings List, Advanced Settings list, how to turn off Autosave, and how to invite a friend, under Getting Started. Added “Getting Guns to Fire Properly” under Hot Topics.
  6. Huntn, Nov 10, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016

    Huntn thread starter macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    I broke out the game to work on this about a month ago. It's about 2km long and I'm more or less resigned that it's a static display. Ran into the Can't Place Block. Ship not to regulation message and had to remove the block limit in settings. Now I'm pondering if I should continue building.

    Anyone know how to read how many blocks are in a ship, if there is a way to do that? If I can power it up and put some working cargo bay doors in it, I might just continue. :):)

    If I was to critique the game, it's a great idea, but what it really needs is better tools to sculpt curved surfaces, not leggo style voxel blocks.


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