The Extremes of Our Solar System | Update 21.3

Run Steam to download Update 21.3, or buy Universe Sandbox ² via our website or the Steam Store.

This is a small update that features a new Parker Solar Probe model and new simulations exploring extremes in our Solar System:

Skim past the Sun with the Parker Solar Probe. The probe was launched in August and now has 24 trips around the Sun planned for its 7-year mission. Each year its orbit will take it closer to the Sun as its instruments capture data that will help us better understand our resident star. Its closest approach will bring it within 8.86 solar radii, or 3.83 million miles, of the Sun’s surface, more than 7 times closer than any previous spacecraft.

Home > Open > The Parker Solar Probe
Home > Open > The Parker Solar Probe’s Closest Approach to the Sun
Add > Objects > Parker Solar Probe

And ride along with New Horizons as it continues through the far reaches of our Solar System past Ultima Thule. After the probe’s flyby of Pluto and its moons in 2015, NASA selected the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule as its next target. When New Horizons makes its closest approach on January 1, 2019, Ultima Thule will become the farthest object ever visited by a spacecraft.  

Home > Open > New Horizons Ultima Thule Encounter in 2019

 

Plus: what if our Sun was replaced with one of the largest known stars in the universe, the red supergiant Betelgeuse?

Home > Open > Solar System with Betelgeuse Instead of the Sun

This update also includes an improvement to the accuracy of positions for moons and other objects in the Solar System Now & Real Time simulation, plus a few other smaller improvements and bug fixes.

 

Check out a full list of What’s New in Update 21.3

Please report any issues on our forums (local forum | Steam forum) or in-game via Home > Send Feedback.


The Universe Sandbox Team Meetup


The Universe Sandbox team pointing at something that was most certainly very interesting. Left to right, back to front: Jonathan Hoy, Christian Herold, Dave Nelson, Alexander Grønneløv, Georg Steinröhder, Erika Nesvold, Mat Solomon, Dan Dixon, Jules Litman-Cleper, Jenn Seiler, Jared Meier, David Rappo. Not pictured: Jacob Williams, VR Developer (see Unity’s story on Jacob for a lovely picture of him), Ryan Macoubrie, Composer

We recently had the privilege and pleasure of uniting [nearly] the whole Universe Sandbox team in person under one roof on the southern coast of Spain for an entire week.

In the seven years since Dan hired two developers to begin work on the latest version of Universe Sandbox, our team has grown to 14 strong. In the past two years alone, we have added six members to our team. So for some of us, this meetup meant seeing familiar faces, but for many, this was the very first time meeting each other in person.

While there are countless benefits to having a remote team spread across the globe, there are drawbacks as well — not the least of which is the limited opportunity to experience each other not just as coworkers, but as fellow humans with families, wide-reaching interests and hobbies, and large catalogues of cheesy jokes. This was a chance for us to have conversations that weren’t at all related to code architecture, simulation performance, pesky bugs, or features on our roadmap. Though of course, we couldn’t help ourselves from having those conversations, too.

And importantly, we set aside time to take a step back from the details and appreciate this massively ambitious and unique project we are all a part of and discuss the future that it holds. Believe us when we say our wishlist for the future of Universe Sandbox is not brief.

We’ve now returned to our homes in Germany, Denmark, Australia, and across the United States in Seattle, Portland, St. Louis, Chicago, Birmingham, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, reinvigorated and excited to get back to making Universe Sandbox bigger and better.

We continue to be ever grateful for all of the support we receive from our loving community that makes all of this possible.

Scroll on for proof that we all get along and had a great time hiking, touring historical sites, and of course, eating:

 

Ending Support for DirectX 9 & 32-bit Operating Systems

 
Universe Sandbox will no longer support Windows users running DirectX 9 or 32-bit operating systems later this year. The exact date and release are not known at this time, but we want to give everyone a heads-up.
 

Why?

 
Short answer:
These are technologies that have been replaced in mainstream computing over a decade ago. There are very few users left on these systems, and it is getting harder to support them as time goes on. This will help us continue to make improvements to performance and stability into the future.

Long answer:
The game engine we use, Unity3D, stopped supporting the DirectX 9 API last year. Unity states that “due to diminishing hardware numbers and the loss of platform support from Microsoft … continued support of the DirectX 9 API is no longer feasible and is working against the development of new features in Unity.” This move mirrors the direction taken by many other companies for their software and video games, including Blizzard’s popular Heroes of the Storm.

The same is true for discontinuing support of 32-bit OSes, as hardware manufacturers like Nvidia are no longer updating 32-bit drivers with new features, Apple is gearing up to drop all support for 32-bit applications, and World of Warcraft is now going to be 64-bit only.

The vast majority of Universe Sandbox users are already running 64-bit, and our ability to focus on and develop only this version will help us continue to make improvements to Universe Sandbox’s stability and performance into the future.

 

Who Will Be Affected?

 
This will not affect macOS or Linux users, and if you are on Windows, chances are good that you are already running modern hardware with support for later versions of DirectX and a 64-bit OS that will not be affected by this.

But in case you aren’t, here’s what you need to know:

 

What Should I Do If I’m Affected?

 
Upgrade to a newer version of DirectX:
We recommend upgrading to at least DirectX 11. Follow these instructions to find out which version you’re running and view information about upgrading, if needed.

Some older GPUs do not support DirectX 11. You will need to find information about your GPU or contact the manufacturer to see what versions of DirectX it supports.

 

Upgrade to a 64-bit OS:
If you’re running Windows 7 through 10, you’re able to upgrade to 64-bit for free. Here is one guide for upgrading Windows 10.

You will need to upgrade to a newer version of Windows if you are running a version older than Windows 7.

 

If you can’t upgrade:
We will offer a DirectX 9, 32-bit compatible version of Universe Sandbox via Steam. This version will not continue to be updated or supported; it will be the last update before we move onto DirectX 11, 64-bit versions only.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Windows Mixed Reality Support | Update 21.2

August 13: Update 21.2.1 is a small update that includes a few minor improvements, bug fixes, and updated translations.

Update 21.2 introduces official VR support for Windows Mixed Reality devices. If you own WMR, just launch Universe Sandbox from Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR and start throwing planets.

There are also a handful of small bug fixes and improvements to the core Universe Sandbox experience. Check out the full list of What’s New in Update 21.2

Issues? Feedback? Let us know on our forums (local forum | Steam forum) or in-game via Home > Send Feedback.

 


20 Earth Languages & 12 Jovian Moons | Update 21


July 27: Update 21.1 includes a new History of Jupiter’s Moons tutorial (Home > Tutorials > Science), updated translations from the community, the addition of Indonesian, and a few other small improvements and bug fixes.

20 Earth Languages

Universe Sandbox now supports 20+ languages, with support for adding even more in the future (see below for a current list of supported languages and let us know if there’s a language you’d like to see). We are proud to make Universe Sandbox more accessible to people from all over the world.

Change language:
Home > Settings > General > Selected Language

While most of the text has been translated via Google Translate, we’ve had significant contributions from our amazing community over the past month that have made improvements to many of the languages. We hope our community continues to help translate as Universe Sandbox grows and evolves.

Translate:
Home > Help Translate (learn more)

Currently supported languages (as of 21.1):

  • Chinese, Simplified
  • Chinese, Traditional
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Turkish

Is there a language you want to see? Do you have feedback on the translation process? Let us know through our forums (local | Steam) or in-game via Home > Send Feedback.

12 Jovian Moons

This update also includes the 12 recently discovered moons of Jupiter. Initially discovered in March 2017, they have now all been observed several times and their orbits are confirmed. Jupiter now has a total of 79 known moons.

See Jupiter’s new moons:
Home > Open > Core > Jupiter’s New Moons

They are all very small, around 1 to 2 miles wide. One of the moons is unique, as it orbits in the opposite direction of all of the other moons it is near. “It’s basically driving down the highway in the wrong direction,” said Scott Sheppard, one of the astronomers who made the discovery.

Check out a full list of What’s New in Update 21

Also: We’re still testing sharing simulations on Steam Workshop. Learn how you can try it out and help us test
 
 

Help Us Test Steam Workshop

July 19: Support for other languages has been officially released in Update 21! Thanks for everyone’s help with testing this feature and contributing to translations. Learn more about 20 Earth Languages & 12 Jovian Moons | Update 21

We are still testing our next big feature:

  • Steam Workshop (Sharing Simulations)

Please help us test! Jump into the Community Test build and start sharing and exploring Workshop simulations.

Steam Workshop

Viewing a simulation from Steam Workshop with a custom description.
Viewing a simulation from Steam Workshop with a custom description. No explanation can be provided for the surplus of pumpkin-related content.

Share simulations to Steam Workshop:
Home > Save > Share to Steam Workshop

Browse & open Steam Workshop simulations:
Home > Workshop

Sharing simulations now will help us test this feature and also help us build up a big catalog of sims on Steam Workshop, so we can show off the creativity of the Universe Sandbox community from day one of the official Workshop release.

As part of our redesigned save dialog and support for Steam Workshop, simulations now support custom descriptions that appear when the simulation loads. And even cooler? These descriptions support the same BBCode formatting that Steam does. Two differences: It also supports images with [img]url[/img], and even animated GIFs! But it does not support [noparse].

Opt Into the Community Test Build

  1.  Right-click on the game title in your Steam Library
  2.  Click on ‘Properties’
  3.  Select the ‘Betas’ tab
  4.  Set the dropdown menu to ‘community-test’
  5.  Close the Properties window
  6.  Steam will now update Universe Sandbox ² to the Community Test build
  7.  Once updated, launch Universe Sandbox ²

Please note: We’ve done extensive testing on this feature, but this is a Community Test build for a reason. There are still changes we have planned, and you may encounter bugs. If you do, please let us know through our forums (local | Steam) or in-game via Home > Send Feedback.

Thanks for testing and for your patience!

An overview of changes in the current Community Test build is available here: What’s New | Community Tests


Help Translate Universe Sandbox

Universe Sandbox set to Spanish. Interface enlarged to show text.
Universe Sandbox set to Spanish. Interface enlarged to show text.

Support for 20+ languages in Universe Sandbox is now officially available! Learn more about Update 21

Now we’d love your help translating Universe Sandbox into any languages you know!

While this feature was being tested, we added a number of languages and had significant contributions from our amazing community that improved translations across the included languages. Many of the translations, however, are still placeholders from Google Translate, which sometimes produces strange results. While we think this is an improvement over having no translations at all, we’d like to do better.

Which is why we need your help in providing the most accurate translations possible! Universe Sandbox continues to grow and evolve, and we hope we can continue to receive translation contributions from our community.
 

Translating Via Universe Sandbox

To submit translations via Universe Sandbox:

  1. Click Home > Help Translate
  2. Click Translate (or press F2) in the bottom-right corner
  3. Click on any green text to open our translation site (Crowdin) in your browser
    • Some text, such as randomly generated names, cannot be translated 
  4. Login or create a Crowdin account then suggest a new/improved translation*
  5. To exit Translate Mode in Universe Sandbox, click Translate (or press F2) again
    • You can remove the Translate button entirely by turning off Help Translate in Home > Settings

*By default, you will submit a translation for whichever language is selected in Universe Sandbox. To change languages in Universe Sandbox, click Home > Settings > General > Selected Language. You can also change which language you’re suggesting a translation for in Crowdin by clicking the “Other Languages” tab below the translation input box.

 

Translating On Our Translation Site (Crowdin)

Crowdin is a system that helps manage translation projects by making it easy for anyone to submit new translations and vote on the best ones.

Even if you aren’t running Universe Sandbox, you can still head to our project on Crowdin and help with translating:
Universe Sandbox Translation Project on Crowdin

While there may be text that only makes sense when viewed in its context in Universe Sandbox, there will also be moments when you want to suggest a bunch of translations and don’t need to go back into Universe Sandbox. Feel free to continue through the list of text in Crowdin and translate as much as you want!

 

Setting Universe Sandbox to Other Languages

Change languages in Universe Sandbox:
Home > Settings > General > Selected Language

Please note that you will not see your suggestions in Universe Sandbox immediately. Over time we will update existing languages with improved translations from the community. These will be included in our typical updates.

If you’d like to see a language included in Universe Sandbox that is not there already, please let us know! If approved, we will add requested languages to our Crowdin project (with Google Translations as the base) and then start accepting improved translations on Crowdin. Then in a future update, we will add the language to Universe Sandbox to allow in-game translation.

Thanks for everyone’s help in making Universe Sandbox more accessible!
 

This Hyperbolic Update Will Change Your Life | Update 20.7

May 31: Update 20.7.2 is a small update with a few bug fixes, including fixes for issues with tutorials and the TRAPPIST-1 simulations.

Run Steam to download Update 20.7, or buy Universe Sandbox ² via our website or the Steam Store.

This update features improvements to orbits & motion:

  • Improved Support for Hyperbolic Trajectories
  • More Precise Control of Orbital Elements
  • Reorganized Motion Tab in Properties Panel

A hyperbolic trajectory is the path of an object that is affected by the gravity of a parent object, but not enough to be pulled into an orbit. Instead, it escapes the gravitational influence and continues toward infinity.  
Learn more about hyperbolic trajectories:

  • Home > Open > An Interstellar Object with a Hyperbolic Trajectory

There is also a new sim of Jupiter’s co-orbital retrograde asteroid 2015 BZ509:

  • Home > Open > Historical > Retrograde Asteroid 2015 BZ509

Update 20.7 also has many smaller improvements, including autosaves and a revamped What’s New panel, along with a bunch of bug fixes.

Note: the name of this update may be hyperbolic.  

 

Support for Multiple Languages Is Coming Soon

A few weeks ago we talked about our upcoming support for Steam Workshop, a feature we’ve been working on in parallel to our work on Update 21’s big features, Planet Grids & Lasers.

Now we’re excited to announce another upcoming feature for Universe Sandbox ²: support for multiple languages. As with Steam Workshop, we still have work to do on this, but we’ve made great progress. Just check out the video above for proof. You may spot some words that haven’t been translated yet, and some things may look a bit off, but all the big pieces are in place and everything is working smoothly.

If you’re familiar with any of the languages used in the video, you may also note that some translations are a bit strange. Currently, everything has been translated with Google Translate, which has been a very useful tool, but it does not always produce the most accurate results. In the future, we’ll have professional translations for the most widely used languages.

Help Translate

Universe Sandbox ² is constantly growing and evolving; it’s important that we have help from others to build and maintain translations into any number of languages. This is where you, the community, come in.

Along with the ability to switch languages at any time, you will also be able to help translate Universe Sandbox ² with a very easy-to-use integration with Crowdin. Crowdin is a system that helps manage localization projects by making it easy for anyone to submit new translations and vote on the best ones.

Once we have everything ready, we’ll be sure to make an announcement and include full instructions for anyone who wants to help.

Please note: Localization is not yet available in Universe Sandbox ². It is still a work-in-progress feature and will look different in the future.

Big thanks to our developer, Dave, for all of his work on supporting other languages. We’re excited to make Universe Sandbox ² more accessible to people all over the world.

 


Steam Workshop Is Coming Soon

We’re still hard at work on Update 21 and its two big planned features, Lasers & Planet Grids. But as promised, we’ve also been working on some other things at the same time.

For one, we are making great progress on support for Steam Workshop. It’s not quite ready, but we’re excited to share our progress with you, and even more excited about the possibilities this opens up once it’s released.

When we launch Steam Workshop, you’ll be able to easily share your simulations with the community and explore simulations created by others. Further down the line, we plan to add support for custom models and textures, too. Support for mods on Steam Workshop may eventually come, but not anytime soon.

Please note: Steam Workshop is not yet available in Universe Sandbox ². It is still a work-in-progress feature and will look different in the future.

Thanks to our developer, Jonathan, for all of his work on Steam Workshop!