NOTE: The majority of these tips are not my ideas. I've learned them from various people over time.
Steps to Building
These are some steps to follow when building things in Space Engineers:
- First, plan the thing. What does it do, what does it look like? This step can be hard.
- Build internal systems and such. Then do the exterior, and lastly the interior. Make sure to group ship systems and rename things as you go. At this point, you might find that something just doesn't work. You may have to deviate from your plan. This is okay. Also, remember to name the ship once you finish. Nobody likes to use Large Grid 4147.
- Once you build it, test it. Use it in situations. Get a friend to try and blow it up. NOTE: Make sure to take a blueprint using ctrl-b before you do this. Find any serious flaws and fix them. If you have to rebuild your entire ship, don't despair. This happens. Be glad that, unlike me, you found the issue before you uploaded the ship to the workshop (like this).
Construction Tips and Tricks
These are some tips that will usually make whatever you build better. I recommend you keep them in mind while building. These are in no particular order, as I wrote them down as I thought of them:
- Ground down blocks look cool.
- No large flat areas with nothing going on. Break up the design. Also, don't build death cubes. You are not a Borg.
- Don't ever use white lights. Use some kind of off-white. It looks better.
- (Large ships) Your ship should be airtight and have air vents. However, it should also work without airtightness enabled.
- If it can fly in an atmosphere, put an air vent on the outside set to depressurize. This helps to refill your ship's air, and also comes in handy to tell your airlock script that there's air outside.
- Scripts come in very handy. Use them, but NOT for anything essential. Your ship should be able to function without scripts.
- Avoid modded blocks. Plenty of players either can't or don't want to download whatever mod you're using, so don't use mods if you're planning to publish your build. Additionally, modded builds cannot be used on console.
- On that note, with all the newfangled decorative packs: you can use them, sure. Plenty of folks do, and they can be great. But please note that not everybody has the DLCs, and unlike mods, the DLCs cost money. So whatever you use the DLC for, try to make it nonessential, so that the build is still useable without.
- Use rotors and pistons sparingly. They can explode. Also, please, don't use small blocks to make an info panel in the bridge. That's dangerous.
- (Large ships only) LCD panels are good for labeling rooms and helping people navigate your ship. Use them.
- (Large ships only) Your ship should be able to dock with other ships. A pretty standard docking arrangement is as follows: A door (non-sliding) with merge blocks above, below, and to the sides. Beneath the bottom merge block, a connector. Any armor around the merge blocks should be sloped so as to not merge with anything you dock to. (For small ships, simply a connector is fine. Or even a rotor if you're feeling brave).
- Block groups, and good organization in general, can be very useful. Group all your lights of one color. Group your engines. Group your solars, your batteries, your reactors. Group pretty much everything and your life will be better.
- The best ships are actually practical (and preferably buildable) in survival. To expand on that, less is more. A compact ship is a good ship and a performance-friendly one. The majority of players can't run giant capital ships in singleplayer, let alone against other capital ships.
The following tips were helpfully provided by u/KakssPL over on Reddit:
- When you start, build a few overlapping basic shapes for your ship. (could be like three different rectangles) This makes overall shape interesting and helps to keep all parts looking cool. (but feel free to edit them later obviously)
- Your ship doesn't have to be perfectly symmetric. Unless you go for a very clean and neat design, your ship can get a lot better when little details look different on each side.
Scripts I Use (PC Only)
You don't have to use these scripts, and there are usually alternatives, but these are some of my favorite scripts that I use in my various creations and may come in handy for you. Please note, none of these are made by me:
- Auto LCDs 2, by MMaster is my go-to script for information panels.
- Floor Plan Script Mk1 by Alysius is good for knowing whether or not there's a gaping hole in your ship. It also looks cool.
- Blarg's Aggressive Airlocks by Blargmode is my preferred airlock script. There are lots of others out there, however.
- Isy's Solar Alignment Script by Isy is useful for getting the most power possible out of your solar panels on a station or even mobile base.
- Whip's Artificial Horizon Redux by Whiplash141 is a newer but very useful script. It provides a better version of the artificial horizon script you see in cockpits these days.
A Note From the Author
Hey! Thanks for reading to the end of this guide. I hope this comes in handy. If there's anything you think I should add, or if you find any spelling errors, please leave a comment. Thank you, Klang be with you.