Create & destroy on an unimaginable scale... with a space simulator that merges real-time gravity, climate, collision, and material interactions to reveal the beauty of our universe and the fragility of our planet. Includes VR support for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift+Touch, and Windows Mixed Reality.
Recent Reviews:
Very Positive (60) - 95% of the 60 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (5,465) - 93% of the 5,465 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Aug 24, 2015
Developer:
Publisher:

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Universe Sandbox ² is in active development, but it's already a fully-featured, stable, and smooth-running space simulator. And it now officially supports VR with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift+Touch.

We're proud of what we have to show, and we know many fans are eager to explore and experiment with the universe.

We're constantly working on features, improvements, and bug fixes, and we release frequent updates.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“It's hard to give an accurate estimate. Building a universe simulator is a job that's never complete.

We have a long list of features and improvements that we're very excited about implementing, and which will keep us busy for a long time to come.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“Some of the features and improvements we'd like to add:
  • Space megastructures
  • Basic life simulation
  • More dynamic terraforming & improved climate simulation
  • Better collisions on a wider range of scales
  • Missions and objectives
  • Steam Workshop support
  • Achievements
  • Language localization
  • Improved human scale mode
  • More intuitive VR experience with features equal to desktop version

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“Universe Sandbox ² has been in development for almost five years, and for the past two years, we've had users pouring hours into testing, exploring, and enjoying the sandbox. It is already a fully-featured, stable, and smooth-running simulator.

We've fixed most of the serious issues and have made a lot of progress on optimizations for a range of hardware. Because it is a large-scale sandbox, though, it does have its share of bugs and could use polish in some areas.

The VR version of Universe Sandbox ² is a more recent update, and we are working on adding more features and functionality to match the amount of control and fine-tuning that is possible in the desktop version.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The price will probably increase in the future.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We actively seek community feedback from the in-game feedback as well as from our forums and social media.

Community feedback helps us prioritize our long list of planned features and focus on fixing the worst bugs and issues. We make an effort to address every issue that comes our way.

We also add simulations and features based on community requests, like the recent addition of custom-colored planets, and an index for the likelihood of life on planets. We also recently added a tool for easily recording and sharing GIFs on social media.

We are actively working on Steam Workshop support, which will open up doors to community-created simulations. Further down the line, we plan to also support sharing of custom models and textures.”
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Buy Universe Sandbox ²

 

Recent updates View all (63)

May 24

Surface Grids & Lasers | Dev Update #4


Image: Interface prototype for Surface Grids data map.

Time for our round four update on the development status of Surface Grids and Lasers. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Dev Update #1, Dev Update #2, and Dev Update #3.

A primer on Surface Grids for anyone not familiar:
It’s a feature we’re developing for Universe Sandbox (meaning it’s not yet available) that makes it possible to simulate values locally across the surface of an object. In effect, it allows for more detailed and accurate surface simulation and more dynamic and interactive surface visuals. It also makes it possible to add tools like the laser, which is essentially just a fun way of heating up localized areas of a surface.

Keep in mind this is a development log for a work-in-progress feature. Anything discussed or shown may not be representative of the final release state of Surface Grids.


Interfacing
In this update, we’ll take a close look at a part of the new user interface (UI) for the Surface Grids feature, specifically the data map. While the UI doesn’t affect the Grids simulation itself, it determines how easy and seamless it is to view and interact with the Grids feature. And as with other features and the experience as a whole, it is the UI and its accompanying user experience (UX) that ultimately determine how accessible and enjoyable Grids will be.

In previous posts about Surface Grids, we’ve shared screenshots that show a floating panel with a Grids data map, like this:



We had been using this panel for debugging, but it was never a representation of our end-goal for its design. We strongly believe that floating panels (the kind that can be dragged around the screen and can overlap) in applications and games can be very cumbersome; while they offer a lot of flexibility, managing them can become a task in itself. So instead of actually playing the game, you spend most of your time resizing them and moving them around to make sure they’re not in the way of the gameplay or other parts of the interface.

So instead, we try to create an interface where you don’t have to think about panels at all -- where they’re intelligently docked, organized, and out of the way.

Below is a prototype that shows the Surface Grids data map first located within the Properties panel, then popped out to a larger view, then docked to the left. The panel is then duplicated and switched to a graph.

Disclaimer as always: Anything discussed or shown may not be representative of the final release state. It’s also likely this end-goal design (which is subject to change) will be reached over multiple releases.



Iteration Behind the Scenes
Dan is the creator and director of Universe Sandbox and he also leads the way in designing its UI and UX. Recently, Dan started using Adobe XD, a tool for designing, prototyping, and collaborating on UI/UX for applications. It has already proven a valuable tool in UI iteration for Surface Grids.

Designing for UI/UX can be challenging in its early stages because it’s often hard to get a sense of how it feels to actually use it until you can literally use it. Some things might seem great in design, but once you program it in, you realize that it lacks a certain flow, or feels awkward next to other interactions, and then it’s back to the drawing board. XD’s ability to create an interactive prototype can cut out this need to implement the UI for testing, which means it’s also easy to give others on the team a sense of what the designer is imagining. All of this can make the iterative process of design and feedback a lot faster and more efficient. (And no, this is not sponsored by Adobe! But we do enjoy their tools.)

Check out the interactive version of the prototype shared above: Interactive Surface Grids UI Prototype

This is very simplified and intended to only show new parts of the interface. You can click anywhere on the screen to highlight in blue the areas that can be clicked.

And here’s a behind the scenes look at Dan’s Adobe XD workspace for the above interactive prototype (large row on the right) and some other prototypes. Each rectangle is a different view of the UI, essentially creating interaction through branching paths triggered by click-areas.



What’s Next for Grids
We can appreciate that showing the UI may not be as flashy as a GIF of a molten Earth, but we’d like to show how much work and iteration, from all different sides, goes into a single feature.

Chris is continuing to work on the technical implementation, Jenn is working through the science, and Georg is gussying it all up -- we’ll back in two weeks to take another look at our progress.


Bonus Galaxy Preview!
We’re really looking forward to Surface Grids, but let’s not forget the new galaxies that are coming. Here’s a preview showing some recent visual upgrades and the ability to see orbital paths for the individual galaxy particles.



Join the brand new, official Universe Sandbox Discord
12 comments Read more

May 10

Surface Grids & Lasers | Dev Update #3


Image: Early work on visualizing Grids data on a partially molten Earth, pre-beautification.

Here’s our round three update on the development status of Surface Grids and Lasers. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Dev Update #1 and Dev Update #2.

A primer on Surface Grids for anyone not familiar:
It’s a feature we’re developing for Universe Sandbox that makes it possible to simulate values locally across the surface of an object. In effect, it allows for more detailed and accurate surface simulation and more dynamic and interactive surface visuals. It also makes it possible to add tools like the laser, which is essentially just a fun way of heating up localized areas of a surface.

Keep in mind this is a development log for a work-in-progress feature. Anything discussed or shown may not be representative of the final release state of Surface Grids.

Visualize It
In our last update, we talked about getting the new technical framework set up and working on the scientific-data side of Grids. In this update, we’ll focus on the third primary component of this feature: the visuals.

We can divide this visual component again into two separate challenges: 1) rendering the data accurately and 2) making it look good with visual magic.

Right now, our graphics developer, Georg, is working on the first part, rendering the data accurately. We talked before about the importance of getting the data right, but that’s really just the first step toward Grids as an accurate and interactive feature. The 2D data map that simply color-codes the data looks neat, but the first thing you see, and the thing most people want to look at, is the planet itself. So accurate data becomes much less useful if it’s not accurately represented in the planet visuals.

Visually representing this data is another tricky process. At its most basic, we need to nicely blend each possible material (silicate and water) with each of their possible phases (solid, liquid, and gas), as determined by elevation and temperature data. But it gets even more complicated: we need to account for elevation slope, the fact that phases aren’t just on or off but can exist somewhere in between (like partially-molten silicate), and the very likely possibility that seemingly opposite materials and phases can exist right next to each other (think of a high-powered laser melting ice).

From Coast to Coast

 
Another big challenge is working with the difference in resolutions. The Grids data is a low resolution compared to the visual resolution we expect for planets, especially ones that we are very familiar with, like Earth or Mars.

One good example is coastlines. In the GIFs above, take a look at the shimmering squares in the oceans. Each square is a point of Grids data. Compare that to the coastlines. If their outlines followed the same resolution, the continents would look more like a LEGO creation than the masses of land with all their nooks and crannies we’re so familiar with. We use a high-resolution heightmap for Earth, which works pretty well for accurate coastlines and large lakes. But the tricky part is getting this to play nicely with our lower resolution Grids data, so that only part of the Grids cell shows water and the other part shows land, i.e. accurate coastline.

All this talk of complex challenges makes it sound like this is difficult work. It sure is. But since this is a rewrite of Grids, we’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting already. Not to say it’ll be a walk in the park, but we at least have a good sense of what we’re up against.

Keep in mind these GIFs and screenshots represent works-in-progress and are tuned more to our current needs for development and debugging than they are for your viewing pleasure. All of this can and will change!

What’s Next for Grids
This has been another good couple of weeks for Grids development. There’s still plenty to do with getting the visuals right, plus eventually we have to turn our attention away from our favorite planet, Earth, to take a look at Mars and other randomized, generic planets and bodies.

Then once we start seeing all the data reflected accurately in the visuals, Georg will begin beautifying it with lighting, normal mapping (for bumps and dents), glows, etc, all the while multitasking with his work on the new galaxy visuals (https://steamcommunity.com/games/230290/announcements/detail/1815420905455058828).

Here’s a glimpse of some preliminary graphics magic that demos improved lighting and emphasized normal maps (look at those ridges!), plus a bonus peek at part of our Unity development environment.
 


Thanks for reading! We'll be back in two weeks with another update on Grids development.

Until then… did you know we started an official Discord for Universe Sandbox? Join us on Discord

All this graphics talk making you think it'd be a lot of fun to work on problems like these? Good news, we're hiring a graphics developer! Learn more & apply
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About This Game

Universe Sandbox ² is a physics-based space simulator that allows you to create, destroy, and interact on an unimaginable scale.

It merges real-time gravity, climate, collision, and material interactions to reveal the beauty of our universe and the fragility of our planet.

Universe Sandbox ² includes the desktop version and a VR mode with support for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift+Touch, and Windows Mixed Reality.

Simulate Gravity

N-body simulation at almost any speed using Newtonian mechanics. Real science, real physics, no supercomputer required.

Collide Planets & Stars

Epic, mind blowing collisions of massive planetary bodies that leave behind molten craters.

Create Your Own Systems

Start with a star, then add a planet. Spruce it up with moons, rings, comets, or even a black hole.

Model Earth's Climate

Watch sea ice grow and recede with the seasons because of the tilt of the Earth: change the tilt and change the seasons. Or move the Earth farther from the Sun and freeze the entire planet.
Learn more...

Supernova a Star

Make a star evolve by cranking up its age or mass, then watch a supernova unfold.

Explore Historical Events

Ride along with the Juno and New Horizons spacecraft, or view a total solar eclipse.

Throw Planets in VR

Just grab and fling.

And more...

  • Material System - build planets out of Hydrogen, Iron, Rock, & Water
  • Stellar flares & volatile trails
  • Procedurally generated stars & planets
  • Pulsars
  • Light-warping black holes
  • Dark matter

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7 SP1+ (64-bit*)
    • Processor: 1.6GHz dual-core
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB Video Memory, Shader Model 4.0
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: * A 64-bit version of Windows is required for Universe Sandbox updates after November 2018. Users on 32-bit systems can still run previous versions. Learn more
    Recommended:
    • Processor: 2.6GHz quad-core
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1 GB Video Memory
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Additional Notes: For VR, see recommendations from your headset manufacturer
    Minimum:
    • OS: macOS 10.11+
    • Processor: 1.6GHz dual core
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL, 512 MB Video Memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 12.04+, SteamOS+
    • Processor: 1.6GHz dual core
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL, 512 MB Video Memory
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Officially supports the same Linux distributions supported by Unity (currently Ubuntu 12.04+). Other distributions can and will work, but they may require a bit of configuration and tinkering.

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