During past 2 month I continue work on preparing for release on Steam. I passed one iteration with Steam, and now, after fixing all issues, is ready to send them the new update. After they accept it as “ready for release”, I will be ready to announce the release date.

These month was full of testing, bug fixes and a lot of iteration on the new galaxy and nebula models. Galaxies are made by Kexitt, I decided to integrate ALL his beautiful models made as a mod for SE 0.980, and even more. HarbingerDawn and DoctorOfSpace helped with some models, especially with the Milky Way. Guys were able to achieve a distribution of procedurally generated sprites which resembles the real shape of the dust band as visible from Earth:

Link to 4k image

Link to 4k image

Magellanic clouds are much better now:

Andromeda galaxy (Messier 31).

Whirlpool galaxy (Messier 51). Notice how sprites perfectly matches the dust texture when camera approaches the galaxy:

I increased number of galaxy and nebula sprite textures and improved their resolution. This improved fine details on the dust band while looking from inside the galaxy. Galaxies and nebulae are also have a separated brightness/contrast/saturation/gamma controls (via config file or script commands), so you can adjust how bright or saturated they will look. I attempted to achieve a more bright and contrast view of distant galaxies in the “HDR” photo mode, and simultaneously do not over-bright the Milky Way as looking from inside. Compare the Milky Way view with gamma 1 (like in SE 0.980, but with increased brightness) and with gamma 0.7:

Original Image Original
Modified Image Modified

I know what the most interesting for everyone is progress on nebulae. I spent a lot of time by iterating new raymarched nebula models and old sprite models with Phunnie, BambusDude, JackDole and HarbingerDawn. I also finished integration of raymarched nebulae to engine, and implemented generation of star clusters inside diffuse nebulae. and stellar remnant systems (white dwarf, neutron star or black hole) inside planetary and supernova remnant nebulae.

Real nebulae are still use old technology (sprites). Orion nebula complex:

Carina nebula:

Cat’s Eye nebula:

Raymarching cannot be used to recreate real nebulae for now, but it is used for procedural ones:

I decided to make a paid “SpaceEngine PRO” DLC which will have a different license, allowing commercial usage of SE and content generated by it (screenshots, video, and exported textures). So some special abilities (old and newly implemented ones) now belongs to that DLC, and excluded from a regular SE:

  • Export planet textures
  • Export skyboxes (including native support of dds cubemap format)
  • Record and replay camera spline path (not decided yet if it worth to move this to the DLC)
  • Save screenshots and video frames with transparency
  • Unlimited rendering resolution in the fish eye, cylindrical and cubemap projection (in a regular SE it is limited to 2k)
  • License allowing commercial usage
  • This will simplify selling the commercial licenses in the future. All customers who have already purchase the commercial license will be upgraded to the Steam PRO version.

    Other changes:

  • Ship’s “Hold altitude” function in atmospheric mode uses aerodynamic surfaces (ailerons and elevator) to keep flight direction horizontal
  • Ability to switch nebula model in the editor
  • More aggressive LOD switching for galaxy and nebula sprite models to save performance in clusters
  • Magnitude/Camera toolbar have buttons to change FOV and editable values (click and type value using keyboard)
  • All sliders on the Settings dialog have editable values (click and type value using keyboard)
  • Smooth zooming of the Map by clicking the Zoom slider
  • Added gamma control to the visual settings tab
  • Elliptical galaxy haze is not rendered in the Map mode on a scale smaller than the galaxy’s radius
  • Added Parallax parameter to the stars catalogs
  • New parameter GenerateStars true were added to the nebula catalog to generate procedural open cluster it center of a catalog nebula
  • If Solar system browser is opened while planetary/SNR nebula is selected, selection switches to the nebula’s core star and SSB opens for it
  • Localizations: ability to use custom word order in a planet classification string and make it comma-separated
  • Added ‘Take screenshot’ button to the Camera toolbar
  • New parameter Brightness and Transparency were added to the galaxy and nebula sprite model script
  • Debugged on Intel HD 4000
  • Fixed wrong final orientation of camera when switching between ship’s behind cameras when ship is rotating
  • Fixed accretion disk temperature in catalog binary systems
  • Fixed incorrect reading of some stellar classes from catalog
  • Fixed setting FOV to 90° when leaving the Fish eye mode
  • Fixed crash on exporting 8k screenshots/video frames
  • Fixed graphical artifacts in giant elliptical galaxies
  • Fixed disappearing of near galaxies (like Magellanic clouds) when they are out of the field of view for a few seconds
  • Fixed some bugs in generation of a massive binary stars
  • Discuss this post on the forum.