110 m/s towards a planet!

This is a short story about a survival scenario I played in the game Space Engineers by Keen Software House. I got inspiration to play this through after someone said the “Space Suit” respawn option for survival shouldn’t be there since it’s only useful for creative mode. How wrong this opinion was!

I woke up. There was sound of wind rushing by. Opening my eyes and I realize a planet trying to hit me 110 m/s. There was some time to think, I think. I took a quick look into the status display of the space suit and realized I’m having full tanks of oxygen and hydrogen as well as a full battery charge. I turn off the inertia dampeners of my space suit to save hydrogen. There’s no fighting back when planet is trying to ram into you.

Because the roundness of this planet is still easily visible there was a small possibility to pick a place to land using the jetpack from my space suit. Somewhere low with hopefully air to breath and maybe a lake nearby. If this big rock is anything like earth.

After few directional jetpack thrusts towards what appeared to be a lake and free falling for a while, a well-timed jetpack landing with inertia dampeners took me down safely to what appeared to be an icy lake as I expected leaving me with 95% of suit energy and 80% hydrogen left. Nice! I checked my backpack. A welder, grinder, drill and rifle with ammo. The basic tools of Space Engineers. Double nice!

Remembering the good old advice of “Don’t Panic” from Space Engineer’s Guidebook H2G2 I sat down to think. Need to prioritize my doings to be efficient and not run out of life necessities.

Drafted a quick plan in my head which went as follows: 1) Suit energy, 2) manufacturing capability, and 3) refining ores to support the first two priorities.

Need to charge my space suit

While pondering my priorities and options the radio of my space suit picked up an Unknown Signal. Something is falling down from the sky? It appeared to drop about 4 klicks away. I decided to investigate.

A quick hike later what I found was a metal shell with some gadgets built into it. There appeared to be a nuclear reactor, a parachute hatch, a small cargo container containing some components and the outer shell had plenty of steel plates.

A contraption: Nuclear powered space suit recharger.

Night turned into a day while I was busy building a contraption. I disassembled what I could from the Yellow Box from Space. My contraption begun with building a landing gear to stick into the ground and combined it with a seat to maybe be able to charge my suit batteries. Really carefully I turned off the reactor, removed the uranium fueling it and transferred the reactor into my contraption. Add the fuel and test the connections. No blue smoke! And my suite charged while I enjoyed the sunshine.

First priority done. At least as long as I have fuel I could go on.

Need to build more

While enjoying my nice recharging seat, I picked up more Unknown Signals. Since the loot from them was so good, I made it first priority to go investigate any new one appearing. I kept disassembling them and collected component after component. It begun to feel like I could maybe build an assembler to be able to build and disassemble components.

How to get the required electricity for running the assembler? Since the Unknown Signals kept falling down from the sky I had enough parts to build a small reactor and fuel to run it. But it had to be a small and the assembler is quite large.

Advanced Space Engineering courses taught me something, but it has possibility to summon the Wraith of Clang. However, I didn’t have any other choice. I had to survive.

Finally I have an assembler!

I kept running around catching Unknown Signals, hauling components, building my assembler and its power source bit by bit. Nights turned into days, days into nights. And then, one morning it was done. Last bzzz of my welder. And done! Finally.

Hauling is tedious

Building the assembler was huge undertaking. And most of it came from the 400 liters of storage I could haul in my backpack. I had to change my priorities. Building some kind of powered and wheeled vehicle could have capacity to haul more. And the landscape around was flat so driving around shouldn’t be that demanding.

Now since I had the assembler, I could turn some components into raw materials to turn them again into different components. I also caught some Unknown Signals to get more parts. I had a small container on my “base” working as a central collection point for all the parts. And what a beauty it is!

My wheels!

I felt like I already won

I had an assembler, I had wheels. Life was good. There was plenty of fuel. But I was still stuck in this icy lake. I had to get my production up and running if I wanted to survive. Maybe even study this planet, or go investigate the space above. Refining ores was my next priority and last item on the list.

But not so fast

Things don’t always go so smoothly, and I had to fix my wheels. I was too excited (and worked in the darkness of night) and the attachment point of one of the wheels was built incorrectly. This made the car drive poorly. Had to fix that before I hit a tree.

Jack it up, remove the back left wheel and fix it up took better part of the morning. Clang probably smiled into me and this quick fix went smoothly.

Blast it!

I’m sure you all know by now how my days and nights went. I kept driving and tearing down Unknown Signals to get parts. I endured. I worked really hard.

I also, as an Space Engineer, made calculations beforehand. Measure once, cut twice. All that stuff. A real refinery was way too expensive. I could build an arc furnace first and use it to refine the materials for real refinery.

Beautiful night surrounded my meager base when I was done for the day. The furnace is done!

Going underground and heavy metal

From the beginning of this adventure I was hopeful this day would come. I had been catching all those Unknown Signals with my ore detector powered on and I had marked location of every finding into my GPS. Now that effort paid back!

I hopped on my wheels, checked the closest mineral deposit from my GPS. It was quick drive over the icy lake. I powered on my drill and started going down the layer of ice. And I found what I was looking. Iron ore. And plenty of it!

The small container on my car was quickly filled so I headed back into the base. Time to test the arc furnace! Put the ore in and turn on the power.

Nothing! It doesn’t work. Nope, nope, nope. What the …? I turn it off and on again. Still nothing. I needed to get my furnace running. Is the power cable connected? I started investigating this fault. I went to check my reactors and what a stupid mistake it was. I had run out of fuel. More uranium from the container and the furnace whirled into action starting to refine my iron ore.

Don’t panic, prioritize and do it

It took I think three trips back and forth mining and then refining to get enough material to build the real refinery. And what a majestic beauty it is!

After the refinery was completed, I think this story is ready. This is how I managed to turn the long training and years of working as a Space Engineer into a life-saving plan.

The Clang

If you endured reading this far, I’ll share the final wisdom of my survival effort. Thank you for reading.

Co-founder and R&D lead of @sensorfu. Interested about software and network security.