Compound Blocks

Auhrii shared this feedback 2 years ago
Submitted

Yeah, yeah, I know, here we go again. I would put this in an existing suggestion, but they've all either been deleted, their scopes are too narrow, or search is having trouble finding them.

Look, compound blocks would improve the game immensely:

  • More compact builds would be possible, which may actually reduce block counts for ships (compact interiors means less armour to cover them = less mass = less thrusters and thus power infrastructure, etc).
  • We could ditch a lot of blocks in the build menu (ditch the dozens of DLC catwalk variants in favour of catwalk plates and railings, for example, which we already have).
  • We would no longer have to choose between lighting our ships or giving them some interior decoration.
  • We could make use of half armour sections to better effect by utilising the empty space! Our options would be limited here due to the placement/orientation of a lot of decorative blocks, but still.
  • This could pave the way for interesting new blocks, such as framework blocks you can mount conveyor tubes inside (no longer would we have to use conveyor junctions just to have mounting points!)
  • More comprehensive armour coverage - no more sides of large thrusters leaving gaping holes that expose your ship's internals. Just slap some thin armour pieces or catwalks in there.
  • Allowing us to place blocks immediately around the bases of turrets, perhaps? I just want some catwalks there.
  • No more huge gaps of wasted space next to windows.

I could go on and on.

One very specific use case I have is for airlocks: I have two doors separated by a space, in which I have the button panel. The floor block below that is taken up by a grated catwalk, with an air vent below that. That air vent now also requires blocks around it to form a seal. This airlock does not support a light unless I carve out another block, which inflates an already bloated design immensely and looks weird. Compound blocks would allow the floor grating and air vent to occupy the opposing sides of the same block, already cutting out an entire vertical layer, and allow me to add a light, keeping the size down.

We already know the engine can support compound blocks, but as I understand it, the Space Engineers code base has also diverged significantly from that of Medieval Engineers. I would not expect this to be an easy undertaking, but if it were announced, I would gladly buy a particularly large DLC to support it.

Replies (5)

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One thing I'm worried about is that the engine might not support this idea without additional complication. The Medical Room is 2x2x1 despite only three of those blocks being used, suggesting that they can't create blocks that aren't in the shape of a rectangular prism. If that's a limitation, what else could be?

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The saving grace is that the game's engine is in-house, so major code refactors aren't totally out of the question - Space Engineers has already come a very long way from an offshoot of Miner Wars.

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I searched this and I cannot get over the thought of "what could it be that prevents them from adding compound building mode to this game too? I mean they have the engine at hand and Medieval Engineers has the tech! Just... Just do it!". I can't explain how much disappointment I feel when I can't put half blocks inside each other. It is actually frustrating.

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As a consumer of the software (game) you shouldn't worry about engine complications - that's Keen's job (and don't provide them with excuses not to do something - they need to justify why the won't consider doing something). If a feature is desired, just say so - and this one has cropped up several times for good reason.

Even if implemented in a limited fashion, it would really help certain aspects of building and interior design. For example:

1. Placing certain blocks on catwalks, and/or occupying the same cube as a catwalk: lights, buttons, some of the thin decoration blocks (kitchen, locker, couch etc), sensor, camera eg. blocks you would expect to be able to fit and for a person to be able to walk past.

2. Cameras in side connectors

3. Sensors, cameras, buttons and lights within the same cube space (1 per valid face)

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While it is Keen's job to make it work, especially if it's an in-house engine, these kinds of factors are worth considering when thinking about the practicality of implementing something like this. Keen might pass this up for something that they don't have to rework the engine for in the next update, but they might also take this into account when working on a potential sequel to Space Engineers. In fact, I think that's exactly why we won't see this implemented; if they decide to do this and rework the engine, they're probably going to look at other limitations such as stationary voxels or performance issues, and eventually end up just rebuilding the whole thing from the ground up.

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Since multiple block already can occupy the same area as long as they do not belong to the same grid one way would be to fake it using subgrids.


So when you try to add for example decorative blocks or lights or other blocks that are not structural they are placed on a subgrid that is then linked to the main one.

I know, historically subgrids have had a lot of problems and some may still exists, but it might be possible to treat these subgrids differently so they do not interact of affect the parent.

Structural blocks could not be placed like this of cause since they need the attachment points but many blocks cannot be used for that anyway.

That would solve the problem with lights in corridors.

Catwalks and railings could be a problem since they are structural blocks, but maybe you could use a build mode "sub grid" to disconnect them and treat them as decorations.

Players would still interact with them as we do with any other subgrid but they would not add to the structural integrity, but I would be able to live with that if it means better placement and usage of space :)

It would make for a lot more interesting internal spaces :)

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The inability to have multiple objects in a block is simply the biggest frustration in this otherwise great game

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Compound blocks, how unrealistic! Why wouldn't a picture frame on the wall occupy the entire room!

/s


Voted!

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I solved this in my game by making the block that is already in that position of the grid the parent block. All added blocks become child blocks and are then part of the same block. Which means they behave like one physical object with collision and all the other stuff.


There are more rules in place though. For example the child block can only be 1x1x1 in size. Otherwise it would be possible to place the medical bay in the same position of 4 armor panels or overlapping with other larger blocks etc. which could create conflicts with the all mighty Clang. You could search the grid for these panels and make them the child blocks to the medical bay and have the bay occupy the slots formerly occupied by the panels. But what happens when you remove the block? You would have to place the child blocks back into the grid or the world, but in what order? And how do you manage building or grinding such a compound block? You would need to grind the thing as a whole which means the component list would be a list of all blocks involved in its composition.


You also need to check what blocks are in place. Some blocks are just too voluminous to make them part of the compound system. Refineries or Cargo Containers are the best example for this. Also you shouldn't be able to place multiple blocks of the same or similar type in the same orientation. Essentially you are making each block that can be a compound block a seperate mini-grid. The solution to that would be to allow only blocks with the same orientation once in the list of child blocks. Managing all the different combination that could be possible however is a pain. You then have to accept that players build something that could be totally insane like placeing couches in all different orientations. So you might want to limit the number of blocks that can be added somehow.


What the consumer most likely doesn't know is that with a compound system the code running the engine inflates like a balloon. This in return creates many points where errors can be introduced. Troubleshooting would become a nightmare.


I've had a few attempts in figuring out the best solution to this problem, but this is by no means a solution that would work with Space Engineers. Especially since I have no insight into the engine itself.


So if Keen is somehow keen with this idea they could start implementing it for one special block that allows 1 additional block to be placed in their spot. Like a couch, a kitchen, railing... You name it. Then see how that plays out and may expand or scrap the idea. It would be most certainly a big, itterative process spanning over multiple years of careful development since the original game wasn't designed with this feature in mind. I would love to see this though.

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Maybe instead of compound blocks, they could add a custom block maker ingame. to make like a sort of loft.

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