FAQs

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A list of Frequently Asked Questions that new players commonly have about the game.

User Interface

What am I looking at? Where do I find everything?

The User Interface (UI) of Space Engineers is one of its weaker areas, especially if a player is coming from a game with a different philosophy such as Minecraft. There are too many aspects of the game to answer simply in a single question, but here's the gist of it:

  • Press 'G' to open up the Toolbar Config. This will show you all the Blocks and Tools that can be accessed and placed on the Toolbar. Think of this not as an inventory, but as a blueprint library; every item in the game is represented on this screen and whether or not you can use items on your toolbar will be limited by what you are carrying on your person.
  • Press 'I' to open up the Inventory screen of the Terminal. This will show what is actually being carried by your Engineer or in cargo containers of the ship you are piloting. You cannot place items in your inventory on the Toolbar, as most of these are Components, Ores, or Raw Materials that themselves don't mean anything when placed.
  • Press 'K' to open up the Control Panel of the Terminal. The Control Panel (not to be confused with the block of the same name) is an interface whereby you can control the functionality of blocks. Here you can see all the connected, accessible blocks on the left-hand side with their associated functions on the right. Note that you can only access this screen while in the Cockpit or Flight Seat of a ship, or while looking at a connector panel/Control Panel of a block (the section will turn yellow to indicate you can attempt access).
  • Press 'F' to interact with blocks. This can mean pushing a button on a Button Panel or entering a Cockpit.

Tools and Equipment

How do I equip tools on my character?

Hit 'G' to pull up the Toolbar Config screen. From there go to the "Character Tools" section on the left-hand side, and then click-and-drag one of the four tools (Hand Drill, Grinder, Welder, or Rifle) to your toolbar.

See also Toolbar, Toolbar Config.

How do I equip weapons/tools on my ship?

Hit 'G' to pull up the Toolbar Config screen. There are three different ways to use weapons and tools on ships, depending on how much control you want over which modules are firing. See the table below for which configuration you'd like to use. Note that any or all of these can be mixed and matched as desired in your Toolbar.

Desired Configuration Tab to Use
All modules of a particular type (e.g. all Grinders or all Gatling Guns) Weapons and Tools
All modules of a particular Block Group Groups
A single particular block All Blocks

Once you've opened the section you want, just click-and-drag your desired block/group/type to the Toolbar at the bottom of the screen.

See also Toolbar, Toolbar Config, Block Group.

How do I use tools/blocks on my Toolbar?

Any item on the toolbar can be selected using the number key corresponding to the slot, e.g. hit '1' for the item in the first slot, '2' for the item in the second, etc. If you are selecting a block, use the left mouse button to place it (and the right mouse button to remove, if in Creative Mode). If you have selected a tool, hold the left mouse button to activate it (and use the right mouse button for alt fire, such as on the Drill).

See also Toolbar.

Survival

What do I need to, well, survive?

The "bare minimum" required to be sustainable in Space Engineers is a great deal more than one would need for a game such as Minecraft, but the basic ideas are the same: you need the ability to harvest raw materials, work the raw materials, construct new Components, and build up blocks. In order, this means you need one or more of:

Of these, every time you respawn you will have a Hand Drill, Hand Welder and Grinder in your inventory (as long as the world option "respawn with tools" is enabled), so those are taken care of. The tricky part is the Refinery/Assembler, which are both indispensable and yet a bit harder to carry in your back pocket. When respawning in a new world, it is best to select the Respawn Ship, or at the very least the Respawn Ship 3. Both of these have both a Refinery and Assembler, which will allow you to scrape by while building a new base.

Beyond this, it is also important to establish a Medical Room, which will allow you to respawn. In Space Engineers Ownership is an important concept, and if you respawn outside of a Medical Room (e.g. in one of the spawn ships) you will lose the ownership of all previously constructed projects, which may come back to bite you if you've set up automated weaponry. Even if not armed, you will have to hack your way into every module once returning to your base, which will be tedious. So in short, get a Medical Room as soon as possible. If you selected the Respawn Ship, one is already in place in the ship.

Once these three buildings (Refinery, Assembly, and Medical Room) as well as a Reactor to power them are set up, you have yourself a self-sustaining base. Whether that base is at a stationary Station or a more mobile Large Ship is up to you; but a word to the wise: they can't kill what they can't find.

Alright, I'm established. What now?

Your hand tools are awfully tiny and slow. A good next step is to create a small fleet of Small Ships, each dedicated to a different role: a miner utilizing Drills, a construction ship using ship-based Welders, and/or a defense ship utilizing Gatling Guns and Rocket Launchers. Setting up automated defenses with Gatling Turrets, Missile Turrets, and Interior Turrets is a solid choice, especially if Meteor Storms are enabled on your server. A station-based Grinder setup for all those Cargo Ships you're going to be hijacking is a must. Setting up Solar Panels for fuel-less emergency power is also possible, though of course very optional.

After that, the sky is literally not even a limit! Build a refuel-and-repair station, a damage-dunking cruiser, or a nomadic home-away-from-home. Look over the list of Blocks to get familiar with your tools available to you, and get inspiration from other people's builds posted on the official forums or Space Engineers subreddit or other forums. Happy Engineering!

What are Factions, and how can I get one?

Player-ran factions are the equivalent of guilds in MMO's. They are groups of players united under the same name and purpose, with the hopes that they will work together and help one another. Some factions have many chapters on different servers, but many stick to just one. In Space Engineers, blocks have settings that allow them to be shared with faction members, thus allowing easy sharing of resources, facilities, and ships with other players.

To join a Faction, pull up the terminal (default 'K'), click on your desired faction, and then hit the "Join" button in the lower-left (if leadership is more your thing, you can create your own Faction by clicking "Create" instead). Once a member of the faction leadership has approved your application, there's nothing left to be done! You are now a part of the Faction, and have access to everything within it.

Be warned, if you ever respawn in a respawn ship (but not in a Medical Room), you are technically doing so as a new player, and so will lose any faction associations upon respawn, necessitating your re-joining the group.

See Factions for more information.

Mining

Where are all the asteroids?

This is a tricky question that really depends on the map or server you are using. With many servers, there will be Sectors on your overview that point out where asteroids are, usually named Sector A or Sector 1 and so forth. These will be the places to look first for asteroids. If all else fails, ask in Chat!

If on your own single-player map, you will need to check to make sure that asteroids were generated when you created the map. After that, it's simply a matter of flying around until you find one. It may be advised to change your Skybox to something less confusing to aid in asteroid hunting, as the default skybox has hundreds of fake asteroids in the "distance".

Which of all these ores do I actually need?

Uranium is the lifeblood of any build, as nothing will work without power. Iron is a close second in importance (as just about anything requires it to fortify the structure), but you will need significantly more of it. The remaining materials all have their particular use:

Gravel is used for Reactor Components but is otherwise pointless, to the point that it's usually either disposed of or used as the weight for kinetic warheads. Certain concrete Mods fix this waste.

See Raw Materials for a complete table of the use of all materials.

Construction

How do I place blocks?

The answer to this is going to vary depending on whether you are in Creative Mode or Survival Mode.

In Creative, simply select the block you wish to build from your Toolbar and left-click to place it. Once placed, the block is fully built and ready to use. If you want to delete a block without grinding it down, right-click the block. Multiple blocks can be placed by shift-clicking to make a long row, or ctrl+shift clicking to place a plane of blocks.

In Survival, the process is more complicated. The TL;DR is:

See Building for more in-depth instructions.

What is the Gyroscope for?

The Gyroscope is a vital part of any ship build that does two things: first, in conjunction with Inertia Dampeners it holds idle ships in place (important so your ship is where you left it when you park), and second it allows for manual or automatic rotation of the ship while piloting.

Without the gyroscope, the only movements available would be manual firing of the thrusters, and thus up/down left/right forward/back movement relative to the ship, with no finely-tuned movements in-between. With a gyro, you can aim your ship by moving the mouse, as well as manual rotation along the axes with 'Q'/'E' and the four arrow keys.

What importance does the center of mass/center of gravity have on ship building?

The Center of Mass can be shown by opening up the Terminal (default 'K'), then going to the Info tab at the top and checking the "Show center of mass" option. This will place a crosshair on your HUD that marks the center of mass of every ship within about 30 meters.

This is largely for curiosity's sake at this point, but in the future something may come of it. Currently thrusters use linear acceleration while firing, so they are completely unaffected by the center of mass. There is information floating about that claims that it affects the effectiveness of Gyroscopes, but there is no evidence to support this. For now you can safely ignore the center of mass.

Help! The ship I've been building is floating away!

First, don't panic. A bad situation like this can only be made worse by bumping into your floating ship even harder, pushing it further and further away. If you are building a small ship, try bumping it at speed with your jetpack in the opposite direction. A lot of rotational speed can be countered this way, giving you time for a more permanent solution. If you don't feel skilled enough to hit it just right, then move on to the advice below.

To stabilize a ship in space, you need three things:

The gyro and the power source should be placed first, as the gyro will help stabilize a little bit just by itself. Make sure the open "face" of the reactor is visible so you can access it. Don't forget to put fuel in the reactor, or the gyro won't do anything! You may find it easier to construct on a spinning/moving ship if you turn your Inertia Dampeners off.

Once the gryo has been placed and powered, start putting on thrusters (a series of Small Thruster will do, regardless of size of the ship). You will need one pointing in each direction, for a total of six: one up, one down, one left, one right, one forward, one back. You will want to place thrusters in the opposite direction of the spin/travel first; if your ship is flying away from your station, place the forward-facing thruster first to slow it down in that direction.

Once all six thrusters with a powered gyro are in place, the ship will not move of its own accord any longer. With this in mind, these components should be among the first that you place on your ship, even if you will be moving their position later. As an alternative preventative measure, make sure your ship is anchored to a Station via the mandatory Landing Gear to ensure it does not move at all during construction.

Conveyors

Why won't my items move automatically between inventories?

For blocks to automatically transfer items between themselves, they need three things:

  • A conveyor network (usually composed of Conveyor Tubes) connecting all the blocks in question
  • A Conveyor Block somewhere in the network
  • Power

If you have all these things, blocks will automatically communicate with one another, requesting input and transferring output. Note that blocks right next to each other are only connected if their yellow conveyor doors line up perfectly. This can be problematic, especially with the Refinery being so hard to place if it's not the first part of your build.

See Conveyor Network for more information.

Why do only some items transfer through Small Conveyors?

Small Conveyors, like the name implies, are used for small ships only, and their reduced size only permits small items--that is, items which have all dimensions smaller than 25 cm (0.25 m). Any dimension larger than this will result in the item not being able to pass through a small conveyor block or tube, and will require a large conveyor tube to fit.

Thus, only the following items will fit through the small conveyor network:

Note that this makes small conveyors only useful for mining ships and ships utilizing the conveyors for Gatling Gun ammo dispensing. All other uses of conveyors (including arming Reloadable Rocket Launcher) will require a large conveyor tube.

See Conveyor Network for more information.

Servers

What information can I get on the server I'm connecting to?

When connecting to a server using the in-game "Join World" option, the columns along the top label each piece of information. From left to right, you have the name of the map, the game mode, the name of the server, the number of players, ping, and number of mods. If you hover your mouse over a server, it will show the IP address as well.

There is currently no way to get information on which mods are installed on a server.

How can I see who is connected to a server?

Once you have connected to a server, press 'F3' to pull up a list of all currently connected users. Users that have admin privileges are marked in the relevant tab. There is no way to see who is in a server that you are not connected to.

How do I save servers in my favorites?

There is no way within the game to save servers. However, since Space Engineers uses Steam's connection network, Steam itself can be used to save servers and connection history.

To open the servers window, right-click on the Steam icon on your taskbar and select "Servers". Alternatively, open the Steam window and go to View->Servers. The main "Internet" tab shows all servers that can be connected to (and is much faster to populate than the in-game browser). To add any server to your favourites list, right-click it and select "Add server to favourites". Servers you have previously connected to are under the "History" tab, and the "Favourites" tab keeps all the servers you've saved for easy access.

If you have a massive list of servers from all sorts of games, then you need to filter the results to only show Space Engineers. To do this, click "Change Filters" on the bottom side of the window, and select "Space Engineers" under the "Game" drop-down.