Universe Sandbox allows you to explore the effects of gravity on various celestial bodies. It includes many premade simulations such as the solar system, Saturn and its rings and moons, and the Milky Way galaxy. Universe Sandbox allows you to also change the force of gravity, and manipulate the density and mass of any object. In addition it is complete with in depth editing tools that allow you to create your own simulations. The game supports anaglyphic 3D glasses and 3D DLP televisions to give you a completely immersive 3D experience.
Live Mode: Runs the simulation at the speed you set it to run.
Edit Mode: Stops the simulation to allow you to easily insert and manipulate planets, moons, asteroids, galaxies, etc.
Chart Mode: Arranges all planetary bodies in the simulation based on various sorting methods.
There are four tools that allow you to create and modify the universe. These tools can be used at any time in any mode. They are:
Normal Tool:The normal tool allows you to select different objects. This is the default tool and looks like a standard mouse pointer.
Box Tool: The box tool is a rectangular selection tool. It allows you to select multiple objects. When multiple objects are selected a different dialogue box appears that allows you to manipulate objects in various ways.
Hand Tool: The hand tool allows you to change the direction and velocity of an object. It also allows you to manipulate the rotation of the object along its center.
Add Tool: The add tool is what adds additional objects to the universe. Any object can be inserted by placing it stationary in space, in orbit around other body, or launched from the point of view from the camera. There are many preset bodies to add to your simulation. Here are the categories and the presets included within the simulation:
- Galaxies - Milky Way, Andromeda, Triangulum, Large Magellanic Cloud, Small Magellanic Cloud, NGC300, NGC55, M110, M32, and IC 1101.
- Stars – Sun, Rigel, Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, Wolf 359, Sirius, Polaris, Alderamin, Vy Canis Majoris, Pollux, Arcturus, Mu Cephei, Betelgeuse, Antares, Aldebaran, Deneb, VV Cephei, Barnard’s Star, and Eta Carinae.
- Planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Eris, Pluto, Ceres, Haumea, and Makemake.
- Moons – Moon, Titan, Europa, Ganymede, Dione, Mimas, Io, Callisto, Triton, Iapetus, Miranda, Mimas, and Pandora.
- Asteroids – Ceres, Pallas, Vesta, Ixion, Orcus, Sedna, and Apophis.
- Objects – pool ball, football, baseball, bowling ball, teapot, dice, and halo.
- Rings (which can be applied to any of the above objects) – Geo sync, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
When live mode is enabled the simulation begins to calculate the movement of the celestial objects in the current simulation. The speed of the simulation is set by entering how much time is set between each “time step” (0.0023sec). The speed can vary greatly by how much time you set for each time step. There is no restrictions on the time set for each time step, any where from a millionth of a fraction of a second, to trillions upon trillions of years.
When edit mode is enabled the simulation pauses itself allowing you to create new celestial bodies without any time passing. The benefit of using edit mode is that it puts in a grid that shows you distances from the selected center allowing for more mathematical placement of objects. All the elements parameters can be changed simply while in edit mode. Even slightly changing the attributes of an object can greatly affect the surrounding environment. For example, adding mass to one of Saturn’s closely orbiting moons can tear the rings off of the iconic planet. Other attributes are purely aesthetic, such as changing the color of a planet or the texture used. Some parameters that can be modified are:
In chart mode the simulation again pauses and allows you to view all the celestial bodies in the simulation with various sorting methods. Listed are the various options you can sort by:
- Temperature vs. Luminosity
- Mass vs. Diameter
- Radius vs. Density
When in chart mode the option to “Make Live” allows you to make the sorting selection function in the simulation within live mode.
The game has many other features. These include the ability to see the predicted path of moving objects, the ability to change whether objects bounce off each other or get absorbed into each other, and the tint of the objects and the trails they leave behind. You can also make objects explode with varying velocity.
- OS: Windows 7 / Vista / XP Service Pack 3.
- Processor: 1.5 GHz Processor.
- Memory: 1 GB RAM.
- Hard Disk Space: 250 MB.
- Video Card: DirectX 9 level graphics card.
- Sound: DirectX 9 compatible sound card.
Developer's Comments on the Quick Look Video
Feb 2012 Update: Instead of updating the current version (like adding sound), months ago we began a full rewrite of Universe Sandbox in a new engine to deliver better graphics, performance, stability, an improved UI, a more accurate simulation, improved collisions and explosions, sound, and a Mac version. Look for this free update later in 2012.
- A free sound add-on is coming later this year.
- The options panel (where you can set the accuracy of the simulation) opens when you click on the gear icon on the far left (you hovered right over it).
- I guess I haven't tested explosion of galaxies in a while. That was interesting.
- Select both objects (the Earth & Moon with the box select tool) and use the "Balance System" button to balance the 'curly cue' motion that happens after you give the Moon the mass of the Earth.
- To 'correctly' explode Uranus you need to crank up the velocity of the explosion.
- The soccer ball, bowling ball simulation is all to scale. Explode the bowling ball at a slower velocity.
- Looks like I need to spend some time making explosions better and the options more clear. :)
- Gravity does travel at the speed of light, but in Universe Sandbox, gravity travels instantaneously.
- In the "Powers of 10" simulation... keep zooming out to see where our solar system is in the Milky Way galaxy. Keep zooming... then zoom out some more.
- The Saturn's rings simulation you opened with only one moon is model of recent discovery of a very faint ring in the orbit of Phoebe. There's another included simulation that shows this better.
- That is very fair criticism of the achievements. They are not as interesting as they could be. That said, the experience of manipulating reality is the reward of the game, not the achievements. :) Either way... I'll be adding more achievements in a future update.
- To make a black hole, lock the mass (not the density), then click the "Black hole" option in the Diameter text box. I'll be making this more obvious in an update coming soon.
- VY Canis Majoris, one of the biggest know stars, is a star you can add to any simulation from the Add tool. Be sure to check out the add tool... All kinds of fun options there.
- It may not look that different than a year ago, check out the "What's New" link on the main menu for a detailed list. Also check out "Credits", this was only possible by standing on the shoulders of giants.
- The exposure on Steam is going to help improve the product at a more rapid rate than ever before. I'm so excited to continue development of a fun and easy to use way for anyone to discover how awesome our universe really is.
That was super fun to watch and a great overview. In noting the points where you didn't understand what to do or what was going on gave me many ideas for changes to make in future updates to help make these issues more clear. Thanks again for creating the video. That was awesome. :) -- Dan Dixon