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.

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