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 (75) - 89% of the 75 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (5,895) - 93% of the 5,895 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.

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
  • Support for custom models & textures
  • More dynamic terraforming & improved climate simulation
  • Missions & objectives
  • Steam Workshop support Sharing sims on Workshop now included
  • Achievements
  • Language localization Support for 20+ languages now included
  • Improved human-scale mode
  • More intuitive VR experience with features equal to desktop version

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“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 increase as major features are added 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 addition of custom-colored planets, and an index for the likelihood of life on planets.

We recently added support for sharing simulations on Steam Workshop. In the future, we hope to also support custom models and textures to open up even more doors to the community's creativity.”
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Recent updates View all (71)

August 9

Surface Grids & Lasers | DevLog #8


GIF: Filling in the Moon’s craters with ice. 

Here’s our round eight DevLog on the development status of Surface Grids and Lasers. Thanks for everyone’s patience with this blog post. We took a little break from Surface Grids to talk about our work on Magic Leap in our last post -- check it out to see planets bouncing off of walls and our new, floating user interface. And if you haven’t seen them yet, check out the previous Surface Grids DevLogs #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, and #7.

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. Read: Surface Grids & Lasers are not yet available in Universe Sandbox! To make this more clear, we’re now calling these posts DevLogs instead of Dev Updates.

 
Random Improvements

Everyone likes Earth and the rest of the cool, popular planets that make up our Solar System, but sometimes you want something a little different. That’s why we have the randomly generated planets. And with Surface Grids, the randomly generated planets are getting a little makeover.

We now have new textures and new elevation maps (which you can now see in the data map) that spruce these up and make them more unique. And we have further plans to improve how these are generated to widen the range of possibilities and customization.

 
Water Your Planet


It’s been possible for a while now to add water to planets in Universe Sandbox. But it’s never looked so good as it does with Surface Grids.

The key components to this improvement are great examples of what make Surface Grids an awesome and powerful new feature. It’s all about the localized data: First, you can see that the water spreads locally. Before Surface Grids, water would just fill in across the whole surface, regardless of where it hit. Second, you can see the direct correlation between elevation and water level. This was sort of possible pre-Surface Grids, but now there’s a data map for both of these that makes it even easier to see this in action (see screenshot below). And third, you can see the water freeze and the ice melt locally as well. That’s the nice localized temperature part of it.



 
Watch Your Step
Detouring from how awesome Surface Grids is, let’s look at one of its fundamental challenges. As with most simulation features in Universe Sandbox, Surface Grids has to battle against the simulation time step (the rate at which the simulation runs, for example 10 days per real-time second). We know that it would be awesome if you could just set the time step to whatever rate you wanted and it would just work, but that’s unfortunately not possible, at least not without sacrificing accuracy.

This fact is most obvious with gravity simulation in Universe Sandbox. The simulation automatically sets a limit to how fast the time step can go while still maintaining relatively accurate orbits. And if you try to set it faster than this limit, you’ll see a message that it’s not safe to do so. For Surface Grids, we’ll need to add a similar warning system, as it too has a limit for accurate results.

A good example of time step limits for Surface Grids is in the simulation of water flow. This is simulated by moving X volume of water from one cell to its neighboring cell each step. The maximum volume of water that can be moved in each step is the maximum volume contained in that cell -- it can’t transfer water that it doesn’t have. So if you’re running at a time step that is already moving the maximum amount of water and you try to increase the time step further, the data starts to get a little weird.

We have some ideas for improving this, but ultimately there’s no way around time step limits. Our hope is that we can make a smooth experience by communicating where these limits are while allowing you to exceed them at the risk of accuracy loss.

 
What’s Next
We’re feeling really good about our progress on the Surface Grids feature. Now that we have the visuals and systems working for random planets, it’s time to turn to planetoids and gas giants. We also want to work on visualization for vapor, but that’s one of the few remaining items that still need a connection between data and graphics.

There are some more apparent issues to work through yet, too, like getting water levels to initialize properly on Earth. Then there are the new elements of the user interface (UI) that we’ve designed but have yet to add, and some questions about UI interaction that come up as we continue to play around with Surface Grids. And of course there are the inevitable giant bugs running around that have to be squashed.

All of this will definitely keep us busy, but the pile of tasks gets smaller every day as we get closer to releasing an experimental build and getting out the official update. We still can’t say when either of these will come yet -- we thank you for your patience.

We’re also still working on a smaller update that will introduce some improvements and bug fixes for the new galaxies added in Update 23, plus a new introductory experience. Hopefully we’ll have this ready soon!
25 comments Read more

July 11

Surface Grids & Lasers | Dev Update #7


GIF: Lasering away the ice on Earth.

Here’s our round seven update on the development status of Surface Grids and Lasers. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Dev Updates #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6.

We hope you’ve been enjoying the new galaxies we added in Update 23. We still have another round of improvements and bug fixes planned for galaxies, but we’re proud of what we released and we’re shifting our excitement back to Surface Grids & Lasers.

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. Read: Surface Grids & Lasers are not yet available in Universe Sandbox! There is no release date yet, but we hope to have them available by the end of the summer (by October).
 
Gotta See It to Believe It
In the past few weeks, our graphics developer, Georg, has been taking the visual foundation that was built into the last version of Grids and plugging it into the new model.

This includes 1) getting the basics down for the shaders handling different materials and phases, from water to snow to molten silicate 2) getting all of Earth’s vegetation in the right spots 3) adding lighting, including effects for diffusion and specular and rim lighting for solar and atmospheric effects 4) and adding normal mapping.

The normal mapping creates the effect of bumps and ridges, or in other words elevation changes for things like mountains and crater rims. For a lot of visual effects, we often start with more exaggerated settings then dial it back and tweak it until we reach a more realistic appearance. In the screenshots below, the bumps are very pronounced and make for surface features that wouldn’t be discernible when viewing from space. While it’s not realistic and we plan to tone it down for the default setting, we are considering exposing this value and letting anyone set it to however they prefer.



 
Please note that you can safely ignore the incorrect water levels right now. We’re well aware that Europe is completely flooded and we’re working on a fix (even if it may be an accurate representation of what human-caused climate change will do to Earth...).

This visual foundation now works for planets with known heightmaps, but it will eventually be applied to all procedurally generated objects. So whether you’re lasering Earth or a randomly generated rocky planet, you’ll see the nice lighting and normal mapping.

Graphics for Surface Grids are definitely still incomplete, but everything is coming together nicely. The screenshot below shows a tidally-locked, near-Sun Earth that is frozen on the far side and molten on the near side (note: the edges look especially “clean” now because it doesn’t yet include additional visual noise from blurring, blending, and randomness).
 


Lasers!
We haven’t shared much about lasers yet, so let’s fix that. Before, lasers were hooked up to the data side of things, so you could see its effects in the data map, but that was about it. Now that we have the visual foundation described above and can see the effects of temperature on the planet itself, playing around with lasers just got more interesting.

We recently added a radius setting that multiplies the area of effect (the laser visual itself is not yet affected by this). So whether you want to melt the whole ice cap or you want to carve your name, you can do it.

In the case of the GIF shared at the top of the post (and maybe I’m just hungry right now), this reminds me most of decorating a cake. Especially the part at the end where I do away with careful decoration and just throw a bunch of icing (er, lasering?) on the top.

We often see debates in the Universe Sandbox community about these lasers -- some say they’re unrealistic and not a good use of development time, and others will stop at nothing to get their hands on them.

To the first, naysaying side we say this: Yeah, lasers like this don’t exist (at least, not yet). But… what if they did? Universe Sandbox has always been about realistic simulation of fantastical scenarios, and we think this fits very nicely into that. As for development time, lasers are a tiny fraction of the larger work on Surface Grids. They’re essentially a nice side-effect of having a system like Grids that can simulate localized surface properties, much in the same way Grids will allow us to add basic life simulation in the future as well.

And to the laser fanatics we say this: Yeah, they’re fun. Thanks for your patience!

What’s Next
There are a few higher-level things we want to get working, like being able to locally deposit water and having vapor flow connected to axial tilt. And then there are some must-fix issues like proper water level on Earth and proper phase-handling for Venus (it shouldn’t look like it’s covered in liquid water, right?). There’s also more visual work to do with blending materials and phases and handling procedurally generated objects.

So we’re a long way from the starting gate, but we’re not quite in the final stretch yet. It may be fair to say we’re at the point that was described all the way back in the second dev update: “... often times the longest and most challenging part of development comes later, when we’re tweaking, polishing, finding and fixing bugs, and making sure all the complexities of the fully fleshed out model play nicely with each other and the rest of the simulation.”

We’re definitely interested in making experimental builds available to the community in the future, before we’re ready for a full release. We’re not ready to say when these will come yet, but we hope they’re not far away.

As always, thanks for your patience and support while we work on this next big, complex feature for Universe Sandbox!
 
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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 planets, stars, & galaxies
  • Pulsars
  • Light-warping black holes
  • Original soundtrack by Macoubre
  • Support for 20+ languages
  • Share & explore simulations on Steam Workshop

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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