Space Engine

#1 Edited by Sanj (2759 posts) -

You guys like space? If you do, you’re going to love this. Space Engine is a friggin’ UNIVERSE SIMULATOR. In the simulator, you can literally visit any star you see, and those stars may or may not have planets orbiting around them. You can then close in on those planets or any orbiting moons. The software includes our solar system of course and any uncharted planets, star systems, and galaxies are procedurally generated. The simulator also has every type of celestial object known to modern astronomy. It’s super impressive.

For example, in this image from the simulator, you can visit any one of those little white dots. And by visit, I mean use your WASD keys and mouse to move to them, like a FPS. Of course, you can adjust your speed to get there however fast you want.
Get closer and you'll see something like this.
Impressive, no?
  • All types of celestial objects are represented: planets, moons, asteroids, stars, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.
  • The observer is free to move around the universe. Transition between any celestial body and any scale occurs continuously.
  • The observer can move around in space using the WASD keys, like in First Person Shooters. Movement with inertia is made possible in Spacecraft mode or Aircraft mode.
  • "Select and fly" autopilot: just click on any object with the mouse and hit the 'G' key to automatically go directly to the object.
  • Search for celestial objects by name. Scalable map of the Universe and the planetary system map. Saving locations and an autopilot's journal.
  • The orbital motion of planets and stars is calculated in real time, with the ability to accelerate, decelerate, or reverse the flow of time.
  • The orbital paths of celestial objects can be shown, along with their labels and grids.
  • Automatic binding of the observer to the moving object and automatic selection of optimum flight speed.
  • Known celestial objects are represented using data from the catalogs: galaxies (NGC/IC), stars (HIPPARCOS), star clusters, nebulae, planets (our Solar system data and known extrasolar planets).
  • Uncharted regions of space feature procedurally generated objects: galaxies, stars, star clusters, nebulae and planetary systems.
  • 3D landscapes of planets and stars: for many solar system bodies actual data from space probes is used. For uncharted exo-planets the surface is generated procedurally.
  • Volumetric 3D sprite models of galaxies and nebulae including light-absorbing dust clouds,

It's a free software, and can be downloaded here As of writing this, the latest version is 0.9.6. There's also a patch. As this is in beta, you may find that it'll crash, and it's usually due to memory issues. I'd also recommend you have your graphics card driver up-to-date. If you go to the download page, you can also find add-ons like high-res textures, bump maps for planets etc.

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#2 Posted by pweidman (2452 posts) -

Freaking bad ass! The procedurally generated planet surfaces are amazing. Even saw a black hole in action on one of the vids on the site's front page. I didn't DL the software yet, but can you enable any sort of captions for location and names?

And sorry, but I can't help but suggest this should be the exploration mode for the next ME triliogy. :)

#3 Edited by onarum (2556 posts) -

yeah space engine is awesome you can zoom all the way out of milkyway, then there's another billions of dots, each one is another galaxy, and each with another billions of starts, it's crazy.

#4 Posted by BaneFireLord (3105 posts) -

Downloading. This looks fucking awesome.

#5 Posted by EVO (4029 posts) -

Dude, fuck yeah.

#6 Posted by Schmollian (322 posts) -

Yeah, I have known about this thing for a while. It is buggy as hell but i'd be damned if it wasn't one of the most impressive things I have ever seen! This is what I want to see in future space sims, the ability to literally go ANYWHERE.

Cmon game devs! Bring back the genre to the forefront! You can do so MUCH MORE with today's technology!

#7 Posted by Loafsmooch (472 posts) -

That looks epic. Downloading!

#8 Posted by Nev (600 posts) -

Wow, this looks great. Downloading!

#9 Posted by Jimbo (10280 posts) -

Where my Cobra at?

#10 Posted by Sanj (2759 posts) -

Oh man, could you imagine if they were able to procedurally generate a playable level (for a shooter, platformer, whatever) on every planet? What if it was an MMO? People could literally get lost and never find each other, even if there were a billion people on the server.

#11 Posted by Sjupp (1946 posts) -

@Sanj: I was thinking about something similar. This looks fucking amazing

#12 Posted by Sanj (2759 posts) -

@Sjupp: Indeed!

#13 Edited by Schmollian (322 posts) -

Was messing with this and decided to post some screenshots I took.

I increased the magnitude of the stars for an added backdrop in this shot.
Found a really cool view of this red desert moon that is orbiting an ice giant in this binary star system. The dimmer star is actually about twice as large as the brighter one. Just very far away.
A different view of the same group of planets. This image is now my wallpaper.
Same place again, but now on the surface of that red desert moon

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