All types of celestial objects are represented: galaxies, nebulae, stars and star clusters, planets and moons, comets and asteroids.
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.
The observer is free to move around the universe. Transition between any celestial body and any scale occurs seamlessly.
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.
Automatic binding of the observer to a moving object and automatic selection of optimum flight speed.
Search for celestial objects by name. Search for stars in a radius around you. Scalable map of the Universe and a planetary system browser. Saving locations and autopilot's journal.
Built-in wiki system with descriptions of many known objects and ability to extend by user. Possibility of renaming and describing of any object, including procedural ones.
The orbital motion of planets and stars is calculated in real time, with the ability to accelerate, decelerate, or reverse the flow of time.
Display of orbital paths of celestial objects, their rotation and motion vectors, labels and markers, celestial grid, current selection pointer and user velocity vector.
Volumetric 3D models of galaxies and nebulae with interstellar dust clouds.
3D landscapes of planets and stars: for many solar system bodies actual data from space probes is used; for uncharted and procedural planets the surface is generated procedurally on the GPU.
The exact model of the Earth's atmosphere (code by Eric Bruneton), adapted for the other planets.
Lighting effects: lens flares, solar eclipses, shadows of planetary rings. Celestial objects cast light and shadows onto each other.
Controllable space ships (alpha).
Original background music with context-dependent switching of tracks.
Localization to many languages, with the ability to add new ones.
Ability to import user addons: models, textures, catalogs.
A lot has happened since the last time anything was posted on this page. Version 0.9.7.3 - a patch for 0.9.7.2 - was released, which had the following major updates:
Fixed Windows XP compatibility issue
Oculus Rift DK2 support: positional tracking and Direct mode
Shadows on planetary rings from other planets and moons
Fixed texture tiling on planets
Updated the exoplanets catalog; unconfirmed Kepler candidates are included in a separate file (more than 5000 planets total)
Added many binary and multiple star systems, including all with discovered exoplanets
Implemented an interface skin system with controllable from the Player menu
0.9.7.3 can be downloaded here. Remember, this is a PATCH for 0.9.7.2, not a full standalone version, so you must have 0.9.7.2 installed before installing 0.9.7.3 on top of it.
After 0.9.7.3 was released, work started on version 0.9.7.4, which has been available during development as an open beta test. I'll summarize the work that's been done so far below, and you can read the full changelog and download the beta here.
Version 0.9.7.4 will be the next major version, and will add numerous new features and fix a wide array of bugs. I'll highlight some of these features and bugfixes in the list below. Remember, you can see the full list and get the beta version at the link in the previous paragraph.
Added aurora quality switch to the Graphics settings
Added faint (Jupiter-like) rings generation with probability parameters in universe.cfg
Smooth switching of many rendering options (labels, eclipse shadows, clouds etc)
Added loader time slider to the Graphics settings menu (configures how many milliseconds per frame are allowed for loading landscape textures)
Raytraced ship engine exhaust rendering
Smooth camera movement for ships
Space ships are now rendered in interstellar space
Space ships are now showed in the Wiki
Implemented a simple ship editor (mostly for editing and debugging models)
Updated default ships with new engine exhaust
Implemented Wiki database description editor, with support for standard shortcuts like Ctrl-Left, Ctrl-Shift-PgDn etc., text selection, and copy/paste
Optimized GUI rendering
Optimized labels and markers rendering
Newly built ships spawn with the same speed as the currently selected one
Ship autopilot "Sync velocity" button now works
Equirectangular spherical projection rendering (allows recording of 360° videos)
Alien vegetation on titans with terrestrial life
Random global reddish tints for planets (to produce worlds like Pluto and Sedna)
Polar caps on cold selenas and iceworlds (Ganymede-like and Pluto-like thin frost deposit)
Implemented animated dithering to fix banding artefacts
Improved quality of elliptical galaxies rendering
Improved ship manager
"Pack" and "Faction" filters for ships
All shaders are moved to OpenGL 3.3 core profile
Separate files for saving default and user locations
Restored possibility of selection of the reference body for ship
Sync velocity command works with target ships
Upgraded ship controls and HUD
After collision with a planet, ships become fixed on the surface (can now land ships)
Docking functionality for space ships
Implemented reversed floating point z-buffer: - Rendering orbital paths with proper order with planets and ships - Fixed z-fighting issues on water and clouds - Allows camera placement up to a few centimeters from a planet's surface or space ship
Improved stability at extreme screen resolutions
New physically accurate rendering of black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs with accretion disks
Added Y-class brown dwarfs
Implemented correct orientation of extrasolar systems (RefPlane "Extrasolar" for inclination and ascending node)
Improved rendering of late M-dwarfs
Added new atmosphere model "Pluto"
Atmosphere models are included in the memory manager
Added exoplanet names approved by IAU
Integrated some community shader mods
New object selection method in Oculus Rift
Fixed planetary rings brightness in the "real planet brightness" mode
Fixed holes in planetary surface where lava flows should be
Fixed wrong terrain LOD calculation on small screens
Fixed Pluto system orientation
Fixed some bugs in planet script exporting
Fixed black stain artifact on a planet surface
Reduced cyclone cutting probability
Fixed lags when changing FOV
Fixed clouds lighting in thin atmospheres
Fixed change of the display mode and refresh rate at SE startup
Fixed climate smoothing on a planets with a thick atmosphere
Fixed a lot of stars with wrong/error stellar class in the catalog
Fixed camera velocity indicator
Fixed star motion blur when changing distance with left + right mouse drag
Fixed star motion blur for ships in hyperspace
Fixed some bugs with automatic ships hyperjump
Wiki descriptions display tabulations
Fixed specular spot on ships
Fixed atmosphere height on tidally heated worlds
Fixed sudden stopping of ship rotation when changing orbital orientation mode
Fixed visual artifacts with atmosphere and water on oceanias
Fixed blinking LOD of a planet when Wiki for it is opened
Fixed Overbright slider initialization in the Magnitude/brightness settings menu
Fixed blurring of slider handles
Fixed bug with invisible velocity pointer text
Fixed too small height of atmospheres of gas giants
Fixed crash on opening Chart mode for the not currently visible system
Fixed wrong animation of the currently followed planet in the Chart mode
Fixed continuous execution of ship's autopilot command "Retrograde"
Hyperbolic orbits of ships are now displayed
Fixed render of orbits in the Map mode
Fixed bug with infinite radius of black holes, neutron stars and white dwarves
Fixed wrong camera positioning at program startup
Fixed artifacts with black hole and ship warp effect in stereo modes
Fixed wrong calculation of orbital period of catalog binary stars
Fixed interstellar ships magnitude calculation
Fixed crash on building a ship in interstellar space
Fixed sprites rendering order in nebulae
Fixed pushing camera up while loading location on a planet by disabling collision detection for some amount of time
Fixed crash on rebuilding the pak files data cache
Fixed ship hyperjump to galaxy, star cluster or nebula
Fixed extreme apparent magnitude of a comet nucleus if camera or ship is close to it
Fixed joystick throttle and correction engines control
Fixed switching ship's behind camera when planet is selected
Fixed smooth fade in of the selection pointer
Fixed orientation of the ship's orbit relative to moons
Fixed ship's orbital position calculation
Fixed selected object's info table in Oculus Rift
Fixed ship's "Horizon" orientation command
Fixed bug with phase calculation for planets and ships
Fixed inability to change ship's hyperfactor if engines are off
Fixed autopilot warp to stars
Fixed "rotate to ship" command
Fixed ship's gravity acceleration display
Fixed procedural stars generation in dwarf galaxies
Fixed rings blending with clouds and atmosphere
Fixed seam artifact in rings
Fixed star sprite in barycenters
Fixed star density in Milky Way
Fixed inability to select a deepspace object as a refbody/target for a ship using GUI buttons
Fixed bug with star particle visible through black hole
Fixed various rendering bugs in the Map Mode
Fixed planet particles rendering in front of water/clouds
Fixed foreground labels rendering in front of planets
Fixed instability in hyperbolic orbits solver
Fixed bug with sun shining through ocean
Fixed camera pushing when landing on planet with Left+Right mouse drag
Fixed too many cloud layers on planets with thin atmosphere
Fixed localization change in the Chart Mode
Fixed offsetting of a landed ship when time flow is accelerated
Fixed bug with camera velocity display
Fixed bug with sudden camera rotation when collide with terrain
Fixed specular spot on Oceanias
Whew! That was a mouthful! Development of this version is still ongoing, and there will be more features added as it gets closer to release. After that, the next big event is the Steam release (finally)! Version 0.9.7.4 will be the first version of SpaceEngine to release on Steam.
Look for more updates in the coming weeks and months. Until then, happy exploring!
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