Universe Sandbox ² GIF Contest

Update December 8:

We’re extending the contest another week! Submit your GIFs now to be considered for the Grand Prize: a $50 Steam gift card! 

 

So it’s clear at this point that you all love blowing up planets. But now we want to see exactly how you blow up planets.

Which is why we’re having a Universe Sandbox ² GIF contest!

Submit your GIF before midnight PST, next Thursday, December 15, and you’ll be considered for the Grand Prize: a $50 Steam gift card and shoutouts on our social media. Please see below for full instructions on how to submit a GIF. 

Of course, you don’t have to show us exploding planets. We love to see how our fans explore and utilize all of the tools and features in Universe Sandbox ². Be creative. So how do you submit a GIF for the contest? Easy!

How to Submit a GIF via Facebook or Twitter

  1. Open Universe Sandbox ² and start colliding planets (or delicately balancing orbits)
  2. Record your GIF (press F9 to Start/Stop, or click Video > Start/Stop Video Capture)
  3. Click Share once the GIF is processed
  4. After it’s done uploading, select either Share on Facebook or Tweet (alternatively, select Copy URL to Clipboard and manually share on Facebook or Twitter)
  5. Your Tweet/Facebook post MUST be public and MUST include the #UniverseSandbox hashtag in order to be considered for the contest! (If you’re sharing on Facebook, you will have to add #UniverseSandbox yourself; it is automatically included in Tweets)

How to Submit a GIF via Steam

  1. Open Universe Sandbox ² and start colliding planets (or delicately balancing orbits)
  2. Record your GIF (press F9 to Start/Stop, or click Video > Start/Stop Video Capture)
  3. Click Video > Open Video Folder to show where the GIFs are stored on your computer
  4. Upload your GIF to the Universe Sandbox ² Artwork page, no Facebook or Twitter necessary
  5. Visibility MUST be set to Public and it MUST be uploaded to the Community Hub, not your profile

Happy GIFing!

Hiring a QA Lead

Giant Army is looking for a video game/simulation tester to join our team. You will work independently to create, maintain, and regularly execute the Universe Sandbox ² test plan on pre-release builds. It is essential that you are able to write up detailed bug reports and proactively work with the team to ensure they’ve been fixed.

The ideal candidate should have a scientific inquisitiveness when identifying potential bugs (“Should Jupiter be this hot?” “Wouldn’t that have destroyed the moon?”). We have an astrophysicist on the team; it’s okay to not know the answers, but you should be comfortable asking questions. Familiarity with Universe Sandbox ² is a bonus, but not required.

This is an hourly, contract position with flexible hours.

Join us… we’re making something incredible that’s never been done before.

QA Lead

Your Role

  • Create and maintain a comprehensive test plan for the entire game
  • Regularly review internal builds to make sure new features and fixes work as intended
  • Review forums, videos, and feedback to identify user-reported bugs
  • Log clear, concise descriptions and reproduction steps of all issue to our GitHub repository
  • Communicate with our developers on Slack to help squash bugs

Ideal Candidate

  • Has experience with game/software testing and methodology, ideally in a lead capacity
  • Has already spent many hours exploring Universe Sandbox ², loves it, and has spotted a bug or two
  • Maintains a flexible schedule which allows for varying hours (depending on where we are in development cycle)
  • Is comfortable testing with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and VR hardware

Mandatory Qualifications

  • Ability to write clear descriptions and reproduction steps for bugs in English
  • Detail-oriented and an eye for noticing when things aren’t quite right
  • Intuition about science and how our simulations should work
  • Comfortable working in a remote environment
  • Must own a Windows machine

Company Overview

Giant Army is the company behind Universe Sandbox ². Our headquarters are in Seattle, Washington, USA, with team members across the United States, Germany, and Denmark.

Team members enjoy a flexible, collaborative environment. We strive for work-life balance, and we pursue the features that get us excited about science. We do the work so that we can share that with others. We’re also committed to creating an accessible experience that can’t be found elsewhere.

Science is for everyone, and we welcome all qualified applicants.

Product Overview

Universe Sandbox ² is 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. It’s more than a game; it’s a way of experiencing and learning about reality in a way that’s never been done before. Early access now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

How to Apply

Email us: jobs at universesandbox.com

In the email please include:

  • Relevant email subject
  • Link to or copy of your resume or CV
  • Answer to this question:
    • What is the most appealing part of this opportunity?
  • Pick a game you’ve played or worked on recently and write a bug report (bonus points if you pick Universe Sandbox ²)
    • These don’t need to be long. Succinct and clear is best.
  • Where you originally heard about this job posting

Disintegration Update | Alpha 19 | Now Available

Universe Sandbox ² - Many Moons

Run Steam to update to Alpha 19, or buy Universe Sandbox ² via our website or the Steam Store.

Please note, this is an update for the desktop mode only. We will now be focusing on an Alpha 19 VR update. In the future, these two modes will be merged and won’t require separate updates.

In Alpha 19, simulations are more dynamic, realistic, and exciting. Why? 

 

1. Tidal Forces Now Tear Apart Planets

Alpha 19 Roche

When one body gets too close to another body of higher mass, tidal friction will begin to heat it up. And if it’s close enough, Roche limit fragmentation will tear it apart, leaving a trail of fragments. 

A major theory for the formation of Saturn’s rings is that the rings were once a moon orbiting Saturn, before its orbit took it within the Roche limit and it was torn apart.

Home → Open → Physics tab

Home → Tutorials → 11- Tidal Forces

 

2. Planets Are Now Vaporized by High Temperatures & Supernovae

Universe Sandbox ² - Supernova Mars

Whether by a supernova or extreme tidal heating, bodies now lose volatile material as their temperatures rise. The required temperature and type of volatile loss factors in the body’s material composition and mass. 

There are also new visuals for supernovae, and their appearance varies based on the type of the star.

 

3. Improved Performance, Appearance, & User Control for Particles & Fragments

Universe Sandbox ² - Alpha 19

A new performance budgeting system knows when to let particles and fragments stick around, and when to get rid of them to keep everything running smoothly and accurately. 

Particles and fragments are now much more varied in appearance, from hot to cold, rocky to gaseous. They can also now be individually- or group-selected, to easily watch, move, or delete them, or even convert them into bodies. 

 

4. Explosions Look More Epic & Cause “Shockwaves”

Universe Sandbox ² - Alpha 19 Explosion

Combined with the improvements made to the particle & fragment system, explosions look a whole lot better in Alpha 19.

Also, explosions now simulate an expanding bubble of exploded material, which can collide with other planets, heating and ripping them apart.

Home → Open → Explosions tab

 

5. You Can Record Animated GIFs

Easily & instantly create animated GIFs like the ones above of planetary movement & destruction.

Press F9 to Start/Stop Video Capture

Or click the Video button in the bottom right for Start/Stop Video Capture and Video Capture Settings. These settings can also be found through Home  Settings → Video.

 

6. “New” Labels, Stats, & Sorting Options for Sims

Universe Sandbox ² - New Sim Labels

All sims new to Alpha 19 have a “New” label which is replaced with a check mark once the sim has been opened.

You can hover over the sim tile to see sim stats, like when you last opened it, and you can now sort the sim list using the options next to the search bar.

 

7. New Object Models

Universe Sandbox ² - Alpha 19 New Models

We’ve improved the models for the Saturn V 3rd Stage rocket and New Horizons probe, and added The Great Pyramid of Giza and a new police box object.

Home → Open → Human Scale tab → Human Sized Objects

Add  → Objects tab

 

8. New Music

Two new, original tracks by our composer, Macoubre.

 

9. And Hundreds More Improvements & Bug Fixes

With nearly an 8-page list of new features, improvements, and fixes, this is our biggest update by far. We’re very excited with all of the changes and would love to hear what everyone thinks!

Check out the full list of new features, improvements, & bug fixes in What’s New.

 

For the latest Universe Sandbox ² news, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Help Us Test the New Alpha 19 Preview

Universe Sandbox ² - Explosions

Thank you for your patience while we get Alpha 19 in top shape. We’ve hit a few snags in development, but it’s now looking better than ever, and we’re very excited to let everyone try it out.

We’d appreciate it if you could test the new preview version of Alpha 19 and let us know what you think.

Once you’ve opted in, please follow the start-up instructions and run the performance test.

Thanks for testing and for your patience!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Universe Sandbox ² news.

 

How to Opt In to the latest Alpha 19 preview

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 ‘alpha19preview’
5. Close the Properties window
6. Steam will now update Universe Sandbox ² to the preview version
7. Once updated, launch Universe Sandbox ²

What’s New & Improved in Alpha 19 x5

• Improved tidal heating & Roche fragmentation
• Improved explosion effects
• New fragment system for cold/hot, rocky/gaseous fragments
• Improved volatiles
• Many, many bug fixes

Check out the new tidal forces and explosions effects:
• Home > Open > Physics tab
• Home > Open > Explosions tab

Hiring a 3D Artist

This position has been filled. If this sounds like the perfect job for you, though, please reach out. We are always looking for more help from the right candidates. 

Giant Army is looking for a 3D artist to create realistic spacecraft models for Universe Sandbox ², a space and gravity simulator with a 94% positive rating on Steam.

You will research accurate materials, measurements, etc. and work with the project director’s feedback toward a high level of realism and detail. You will also work with the lead graphics programmer to ensure the models and textures can integrate well with the game engine. You must love creating realistic models and you must be a collaborative worker.

This is a full-time, contract position.

We hope you join us in making something incredible that’s never been done before.

Universe Sandbox ² - Models

Your Role

  • Create realistic models and textures for spacecraft and spacecraft parts
  • Create models for other in-game objects on an as-needed basis
    • e.g. human-sized objects, collision fragments, VR interface items
  • Work with and implement the project director’s feedback toward a high level of realism and detail
  • Work with the lead graphics programmer to create efficient models which integrate well with the Universe Sandbox ² engine
  • Help change the way the world perceives our universe and fragile planet

Ideal Candidate

  • Self-driven and talented 3D modeler and texture artist
  • Strong attention and dedication to detail
  • Familiar with technical limitations and how models function within a game engine
  • Excited about helping develop a tool that allows users to experiment with simulations, pushing the boundaries of what has been done in real-time for public consumption

Mandatory Qualifications

  • Appreciation for realism and detail
  • Strong knowledge of modeling and texturing
  • Proficient in 3D modeling software
  • Excited about science and astronomy
  • Familiar with version control and some kind of task-management system
  • Works collaboratively

Company Overview

Giant Army is the company behind Universe Sandbox, a space simulator that’s sold hundreds of thousands of copies on Steam. Our headquarters are in Seattle, Washington, USA, with team members in Washington DC, Missouri, California, Germany, and Denmark.

Team members enjoy a flexible, collaborative environment. We pursue the features that get us excited about science. We do the work so that we can share that with others. We’re also committed to creating an accessible experience that can’t be found elsewhere.

Science is for everyone, and we welcome all qualified applicants.

Product Overview

Universe Sandbox ² is our core product that lets the user explore and learn about our amazing universe and fragile planet while creating and destroying on a scale they’ve never before imagined. It’s more than a game; it’s a way of experiencing and learning about reality in a way that’s never been done before. Early alpha access now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

How to Apply

This position has been filled. If this sounds like the perfect job for you, though, please reach out. We are always looking for more help from the right candidates. 

Email us: jobs at universesandbox.com

In the email please include:

  • Relevant email subject
  • Link to or copy of your resume or CV
  • Link to portfolio/samples
  • Answer to these 2 questions:
    • What is the most appealing part of this opportunity?
    • Why are you a good fit for this position?
  • Where you originally heard about this job posting

Updated 2016 Roadmap

We’re now halfway through 2016, and that means it’s time for an update on the 2016 roadmap we shared at the beginning of the year.

 

What’s Completed?

 

1. Virtual Reality

This was a big one for us. Our recent blog post gathered some of the really amazing feedback we’ve been receiving about Universe Sandbox ² in VR.

We’re very proud of the results, and look forward to continually improving the VR experience. Check out the trailer below.

 

2. Tidal Forces

The new tidal heating and Roche limit effects add another element of realism to Universe Sandbox ², and they also look really cool. In Alpha 19, bodies now heat up and can be torn apart by tidal forces if they approach other bodies closely enough.

Universe Sandbox ² - Roche Limit Moon

 

3. New Object Models

You’ve probably heard of the Great Pyramid of Giza, but have you ever seen it floating through space? Below is a preview of some of the pyramid blocks which will be available, but of course we’re also adding in the whole pyramid.

Universe Sandbox ² - Pyramid Blocks

We’ve also added improved models for the New Horizons probe and the third stage of the Saturn V rocket, as well as a new, shiny police box. See more.

 

4. Bug Fixes

Our new Quality Assurance team member, Steven, has been busy testing, tracking down bugs, and assuring that when those bugs are squashed, we’re not inadvertently breaking anything else.

With Steven’s help, and the help of our new developer, Jonathan, we’ve been able to fix a big list of long-standing issues. For a complete list of what’s been fixed, see our release notes.

 

 

What’s Next for 2016 and Beyond?

 

1. Alpha 19

We’re rounding the corner on Alpha 19, which should include the tidal forces, new models, and bug fixes mentioned above, as well as some beautiful new supernova visuals.

Universe Sandbox ² - New Supernova

 

2. VR Update

Right now the VR version is separate from the desktop version, so Alpha 19 will only be a desktop update. But we’ve been looking at feedback on the VR version, and we plan to address some of these issues with a small VR update after we release Alpha 19.

This VR update should include:

  • A new tutorial to better explain controls & mechanics
  • Save and Load
  • A bunch of bug fixes

 

3. Alpha 20

Alpha 20 is looking like it’ll be a very big and exciting update.

Here’s what we hope to include in Alpha 20:

  • Automata (more planetary details)
    • Increased spatial resolution for a planet’s data means that it’s possible to affect values locally
    • For example, this should help with local temperatures, like impact and laser heating; terrain deformation; and, further down the line, life simulation
  • Total body fragmentation
    • Combined with the new tidal forces and explosion effects in Alpha 19, total body fragmentation should be a very impressive effect
  • Merged VR and desktop versions
    • After merging we’ll be able to release updates for VR and desktop simultaneously, and more easily integrate features for both versions
    • Complete feature parity for the VR interface will take longer, but this is an important step in that direction
  • Rewritten user interface
    • Allows for scaling the interface for higher resolutions and…
    • Language localization (coming later)

 

4. Alpha 21 & Beyond

After Alpha 20, we’ll be setting our sights on some even bigger projects:

  • Stellar evolution
    • The new model supports 16 star types, versus the previous 5
    • The result should be more dynamic and accurate properties for stars, as well as smoother transitions between types
    • If we’re lucky, we’ll have this ready for Alpha 20, but a safer bet is Alpha 21
  • Life simulation
    • There’s a lot of planning to do on this, but the Automata tech coming in Alpha 20 should help pave the way for the beginnings of life simulation
  • Space megastructures
    • These accidentally made it into an experimental build of Alpha 19, and if you had a chance to see them, you know that they’re very cool, but they still need a lot of work before they are more interactive and less CPU-hungry
  • Mobile
    • We just hired a dedicated mobile developer, Dave Nelson, who will be working full-steam on a mobile version of Universe Sandbox ²
    • This is still in preliminary phases and we don’t have a timeline for release yet
  • Steam Workshop support
    • Being able to share saved simulations and objects will open up the creative potential even more
  • Language localization

 

We’re very happy with the progress we’ve made so far in 2016. And we’re very excited for what’s in store for the rest of 2016. We hope you share our enthusiasm for exploring this crazy and ambitious project.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.

Get instant access to Universe Sandbox ² on Steam Early Access.

 

Help Us Test the New Alpha 19 Preview

Universe Sandbox ² - Roche Limit Glow

We’re getting very close to officially releasing Alpha 19.

But before we can do that, we need help testing the latest preview version, Alpha 19 x3.

If you’ve already opted in to the preview version, Steam will automatically download this update.

Opt in to the Alpha 19 preview:

  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 ‘alpha19preview’
  5. Close the Properties window
  6. Steam will now update Universe Sandbox ² to the preview version
  7. Once updated, launch Universe Sandbox ²

Since the last preview version, Alpha 19 x2, we’ve improved the tidal heating and Roche limit effects, made further improvements to explosions, added new Physics sims and a tidal forces tutorial, added a new Milky Way background, and fixed a ton of bugs.

For a full list of what’s new, improved, and fixed since Alpha 18, see our release notes: What’s New.

When testing, please pay the most attention to the new tidal forces and explosion effects. You can share issues with us in-game via Home > Send Feedback, or on our forums: Official Forum | Steam Forum

The team is in Amsterdam this week for the Unite Europe 2016 conference. Once we’re all back we’ll work on fixing any remaining issues and polish up Alpha 19 for release.

Thanks for testing and for your patience!

More Love for Universe Sandbox ² VR

Universe Sandbox ² - Earth Explosion VR

When we began work on the VR mode for Universe Sandbox ² at the end of last year, we weren’t really sure how it would turn out, or what people would think of it.

Now, a few months after our VR launch, the picture is a bit more clear: Universe Sandbox ² in VR is awesome, and people love it.

That may sound like it needs a dose of modesty, but take a look at what people are saying below. Space is a great setting for experiencing the sense of scale that VR allows, and a number of users have talked about the wonder (and sometimes dread) that comes with floating next to a true-to-scale Sun. Quite a few users have even said that Universe Sandbox ² has been their best VR experience. But again, no need to take our word for it.

The first Tweet here is from Dean Hall, the creator of DayZ.


 

Ctrl V is a VR arcade opening up in Canada very soon, for those who’d like to try out VR before purchasing their own headsets. Universe Sandbox ² will be one of the titles available in their libraries. The team at Ctrl V recently tried out Universe Sandbox ² for the first time and sent us this wonderful email:

We here at Ctrl V, are speechless… This game is phenomenal on so many levels. The level of detail and customization available exceeded all of our expectations.

Everyone on our team has both tested, loved, and gotten completely lost in the beauty of this game.

We had never anticipated that a non-shooting VR game would steal the spotlight, but your wizardry has managed to do just that.

— Ryan from Ctrl V

 

Steam Reviews

This is just a selection of Steam reviews which have praised the VR mode in Universe Sandbox ². It’s impossible to capture them all, because they keep rolling in every day.

 

…this is the most unbelievable experience you will ever have, VR or otherwise. […] You will not come back from this experience the same. You’ve been warned.

— Brutalface, Steam review

This is perfect for VR. […] If you have VR, you know that some things just make you smile and laugh a little because something cool just happened. This happened almost constantly with this game.

Of all the VR games/Experiences I have (which is pretty much all of them) this is at the top of my list. Get it!!!

— JeffyThanatos, Steam review

Universe Sandbox ² - Uranus VR

I’m a grown man and I literally shed tears when I stood next to Earth spinning peacefully in the vastness of space and looked back at our life-giving Sun so far away and yet so close.

A breathtaking experience for anyone even slightly interested in space exploration.

VR is a must. Completely changes the experience.

— Milo.[HUN], Steam review

My mind was sufficiently blown the first time I entered Universe Sandbox ² in VR. It remains so every time I reboot.

— Shark, Steam review

This on the HTC Vive is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. The absolute scale of the universe and the accurate depiction of our solar system is totally awe-inspiring. Words, videos or pictures don’t do it justice. It has to be experienced to fully understand how awesome this is.

— stareye2004, Steam review

Played in VR on the HTC Vive and the sense of scale was incredible. I played around with a couple of stars the size of my fist, trying to get them into a binary orbit, but I accidentally collided them and then *boom* my entire room filled with a massive explosion that I was just a speck inside. Just incredible.

— shazow, Steam review

Universe Sandbox ² - Planets VR

Sooooo great with HTC VIVE… One of the best experiences in virtual reality. I usually play it lying on the floor… Love the Big supernovas once you make two stars explode.

— navalguijo, Steam review

Wow… Incredible with HTC VIVE… A complete fantastic submersion in space dynamics. One of the best experiences in virtual reality!

— bilbo.deforce, Steam review

After more intense and exhausting room-scale sessions wear me down this is what I’ve came back to for end of the night relaxation. I’ll sit in the middle of my VR space and mellow out to the beautiful soundtrack and play with the fabric of creation. Pretty damn cool.

— dixon.jonathan, Steam review

One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed in VR.

— d e s u, Steam review

Incredible in VR, must buy if you have a Vive. Great soundtrack. Developers continue to push out amazing updates for virtual reality.

— iaqo_dan, Steam review

 
If you don’t have VR, don’t worry, we’re still developing the desktop version of Universe Sandbox ² and expect to release Alpha 19 soon, which will feature some really awesome new Roche limit and tidal heating effects. If you’re itching to try this out, you can opt into a preview version of Alpha 19. Learn more here: Alpha 19 Preview.

New Spacecraft Models Coming in Alpha 19

Universe Sandbox ² - 3 New

New models in Alpha 19. Left to right: New Horizons, Saturn V 3rd Stage, Police Box

Alpha 19 is not yet officially available. You can try an opt-in preview version of Alpha 19 via Steam:

  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 ‘alpha19preview‘
  5. Close the Properties window
  6. Steam will now update Universe Sandbox ² to the preview version
  7. Once updated, launch Universe Sandbox ²

 

In Alpha 19 we’ve added in new models for 3 different kinds of spacecraft: the New Horizons Probe, the Third Stage of the Saturn V rocket, and a police box.

These models were made by Toby Halter for Universe Sandbox ².  Older alpha versions of Universe Sandbox ² had models for both the New Horizons Probe and the Saturn V 3rd Stage, but Toby completely remade these, adding a lot more detail and texture to make them much truer to the real spacecraft. And thanks to Georg, our shader wizard, for working his magic on these models and implementing them in Universe Sandbox ².

 

1. Third Stage of the Saturn V Rocket

Universe Sandbox ² - Saturn V Third Stage Close-Up

This model is based on the third stage of the Saturn V rocket which was used in the 1969 Apollo 12 mission, the second to land astronauts on the moon.

The simulation in Universe Sandbox ² refers to the discovery of what was suspected to be an asteroid orbiting Earth in 2002. After more observation, however, astronomers concluded the most likely explanation was that this object was not an asteroid, but rather the third stage of the Saturn V rocket used in Apollo 12. It was likely flung out of Earth’s orbit in 2003, but there’s a good chance it’ll show up again in a few decades.

Check it out in the included sim: Home > Open > Third Stage of the Apollo 12 in Orbit of Earth in 2003.

Or you place it in any simulation: Add > Objects tab > Third Stage of the Apollo 12.

 

2. New Horizons Probe

Universe Sandbox ² - New Horizon Probe

The New Horizons probe is most famous for giving us our first close look at Pluto, which it approached in July, 2015. Now that it’s sent us detailed pictures of Pluto and its moons, it continues on its way toward the very distant Kuiper Belt.

The most notable change between this model and the old one is the shiny, gold foil wrapped around it, which serves as a insulating blanket for the grand piano-sized probe.

Check it out in the included sim: Home > Open > New Horizons Pluto Encounter in 2015.

Or you place it in any simulation: Add > Objects tab > New Horizons.

 

3. Police Box

Universe Sandbox ² - Police Box

As everyone knows, there’s nothing like a police box for traveling through space… or time.

You can add the police box to any simulation: Add > Objects tab > Police Box.

 

4. What’s Coming

Universe Sandbox ² - Pyramid Blocks Early Model

Toby is going to continue making models for Universe Sandbox ², but we’ve decided to take a break from spacecraft for our next model. Wouldn’t it be pretty cool to have a gigantic pyramid floating through space? The image above is a selection of work-in-progress bricks which will lay the groundwork for an Egyptian-style pyramid.

And while you may not have the urge to pilot a pyramid, you’re probably wondering if you’ll ever be able to control the other nice looking spacecraft in Universe Sandbox ². Well… we’re talking about it.

 

 

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest Universe Sandbox ² news.

You can buy Universe Sandbox ² on our website or on the Steam Store.

Universe Sandbox ² Alpha 19 Preview

Universe Sandbox ² - Third Stage Saturn V

The new model for the third stage of the Saturn V rocket.

We’re still working hard to get Alpha 19 polished and ready to go. We hope to have it ready in the next few weeks.

Until then, you can read about what’s coming in Alpha 19 below and try out a preview version by manually opting in via Steam:

  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 ‘alpha19preview
  5. Close the Properties window
  6. Steam will now update Universe Sandbox ² to the preview version
  7. Once updated, launch Universe Sandbox ²

 

1. Roche Limit & Tidal Heating

In this simulation, the Moon is orbiting Earth within the Roche limit and is being torn apart by tidal forces.

In this simulation, the Moon is orbiting Earth within the Roche limit and is being torn apart by tidal forces.

When a small celestial body approaches a larger body at a distance inside its Roche limit, it begins to stretch and disintegrate due to tidal forces. Essentially, the gravitational force acting on the closer side of the smaller body is stronger than the force acting on the far side. Outside of the Roche limit, these tidal forces are still present and can heat bodies in close orbits.

In Universe Sandbox ² Alpha 19, you can see these effects when a satellite tightly orbits its primary body, or when a star gets too close to a massive black hole, or even if two identically-sized bodies are in a close binary orbit. First, the secondary body will heat up, then if it’s close enough, it will begin to disintegrate and lose mass by producing a stream of particles. Often times these particles will begin orbiting and form a nice glowing ring around the primary body.

 

2. Models for Saturn V 3rd Stage, New Horizons probe, & Police Box

Universe Sandbox ² - Updated New Horizons Model

We’ve put in improved models for the third stage of the Saturn V rocket, which was used in multiple lunar missions, and the New Horizons probe, which has famously given us a closer look at Pluto. We’ve also added in another very important spacecraft, the police box.  These new and improved models were made for Universe Sandbox ² by Toby Halter, who is continuing to make models for us. It’s not possible to pilot or control these spacecraft… but we’re talking about it.

To check these out, you can load up the following sims:
– Third Stage of the Apollo 12 in Orbit of Earth in 2003
– New Horizons Pluto Encounter in 2015

Or you can place them in any simulation: Add > Objects tab.

 

3. Improved Explosion Power

Universe Sandbox ² - Earth Moons Explode

We’ve improved both the visuals and the simulated effects for the explosion power.

As you can see in the screenshot above, using Explode on a body will send out a “shock wave” which will affect surrounding bodies as well, causing a chain of destruction. Realistic destruction, of course.

 

4. Simulation Quality Setting

You can now adjust a Simulation Quality setting in Home>Settings>General tab. This will adjust the maximum number of attracting and non-attracting bodies, which in turn will affect the number of particles/fragments produced and how long they last. Set it to “Auto” to determine the best settings for your hardware.

In the future we hope to have this setting adjust dynamically with what is happening in the simulation, in order to constantly find the best balance between performance and simulation experience.

 

 

We still have some bugs to sort through and some polish to add, so hold tight. We’ll let everyone know once Alpha 19 is available.

The laser, which is already part of the VR mode, is still being integrated with the additional surface detail feature. We expect these features to be ready for Alpha 20.

You can buy Universe Sandbox ² on our website or on the Steam Store.

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