Space Engine is a Wide-Open Sandbox Universe simulator being developed by Vladimir Romanyuk, where you can explore thousands upon billions of stars, planets, moons, galaxies, and other celestial objects. The simulation offers a wide variety of both real life catalogued objects, and procedural-generated objects to explore to your liking, and other features that are currently available include being able to command and pilot spaceships for realistic space flight.
The game is available in Early Access on Steam, though older legacy versions are available for free on the main website. The game is, at the moment, only available on PC, though it does support Virtual Reality play in addition to traditional mouse and keyboard.
Space Engine's website can be viewed here.
Not to be confused with Space Engineers.
Tropes in Extragalatic Space
- Absent Aliens: Subverted. There are planets with life, but you can't actually see the life except for some green surface textures that imply the presence of plants. It also isn't specified in the planet data if intelligent species are present, and procedural drawing of artificial night lights is not implemented yet.
- All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted; there are about as many deserts, oceanias, selenas, ice worlds, and titans, as there are terras.
- Always Night: Planets that are orbiting black holes and planemos (rogue planets without a star to orbit around) are permanently enshrouded in darkness. This even extends to tidally-locked planets where one side is always facing away from the star and never sees sunrise. However, it is still possible to explore the pitch-black landscapes by rising the "ambient lighting" parameter in the settings.
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- The simulation has a travel log that lists all of the locations you've visited beforehand, so if you want to go back to a particular planet you've found earlier, you can select it from the log to save you a lot of trouble of having to search for it again, given the absurd scale of the universe you're exploring. Alternatively, you can also save the planet on your locations list.
- There's also a filter in the search system, which allows you to single out certain planets and systems within a given light-year radius. Very useful for finding habitable planets, black holes, brown dwarfs, and planemos (rogue planets).
- Applied Phlebotinum: Averted, the simulation uses actual known science. Even Faster-Than-Light spaceships are based on the theorically possible Alcubierre Drive.
- Artistic License Biology:
- Averted for the most part, as the simulation provides very realistic examples of life arising on other planets, including subglacial life on "Europa"-like worlds. However, this is played straight with aerial life on gas giants; a hypothetical idea which got a lot of scrutiny from the scientific community for the fact that gas giants themselves are deemed too inhospitable for life, and thus the least likely places to find life other than their moons. This is likely an artistic decision, though, just to include variety in places to find life in.
- Alongside Organic Life, there are also planets with Exotic Life, which are lifeforms that have developed through entirely different means than our own. They're mostly found on Titans where there's an abundance of liquid hydrocarbon lakes and oceans.
- Artistic License Space: Averted. Space Engine uses actual known space phenomena based on real life astronomy.
- Asteroid Thicket: Averted; while there are many asteroid belts, the asteroids are spread pretty far apart.
- Baby Planet: Averted, every single object is realistically sized.
- Binary Suns: Binary, triple, and multiple star systems are plentiful in Space Engine, so you'll very likely find planets orbiting those stars and experience multi-sunrises and sunsets, not unlike the famous scene in A New Hope.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The sole alien spaceship (as of 0.9.8.0) named the "Fire Dragonfly" is very obviously the Lexx with a few lawyer-friendly alterations.
- The Mothership: Intended to be implemented as the only ships capable of interstellar travel somewhere down the line.
- No Plot? No Problem! Just fly around and take in the view.
- Single-Biome Planet: Subverted. Terrestrial planets are divided into six categories; Terras, Oceanias, Selenas, Deserts, Ice Worlds, and Titans. However, their climates vary depending on other factors like distance from the star, atmospheric composition, mass, and tidal heating (for example, you can have a cold desert or a hot oceania), and many of their landscapes will commonly feature mountains, plains, canyons, and craters to keep them varied.
- Space Is Noisy: Also averted almost entirely; the only sounds in the software are the background music, and active ship engines (but only when the player is personally piloting said ship).
- Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Artificial spacecraft are currently divided into 6 classes: "Astronaut", "Probe", "Shuttle", "Planetship", "Starship", and "Station". It has currently no actual effect on gameplay other than sorting them in the build menu, as each parameter of the craft can be specified freely.
- Unrealistic Black Hole: Averted. Black holes in the simulation are portrayed very realistically based on our current understanding of them, and they only get more realistic with each update. They distort their surroundings with gravitational lensing, including their accretion discs, and as you approach the event horizon, everything around you will begin to blue shift.