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Space Engine

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Space Engine

Postby Boikat » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:02 am

I stumbled across this a few days ago. It's a "space simulation", similar to Celestria, where you can pop around the local part of the Universe, visit various stars, planets, and other astronomical objects. The main difference is that Space Engine is "Celestria" on steroids. Also, like Celestria, there are spacecraft, some native to Space Engine, some second party add on, and they look pretty good for the most part.

Graphic rendering is outstanding. The views of the Milky Way galaxy are comparable to something you see in photos. Stock planets range from "meh" to "OMG" as far as surface detail. Nebulas look fairly good and are three dimensional, as opposed to two dimensional "bill boards" or textured "flattened ovoid objects" used by Celestria.

Getting around the galaxy is easy once you get the hang of the mouse/key commands, and sort out the different modes of shifting your view point. What's nice about SE, as opposed to Celestria is that when you go from point "A" to "B" is you get that satisfying "driving through a snowstorm" effect.

Even though SE comes with spacecraft that you can supposedly "fly" around with, there is no actual "flying" involved (To me, that's a drawback, but what the heck.....). The stock spacecraft are "Industrial" (the designers term) except for a few shuttles, composed of struts, frameworks, cylinders, and other basic shapes. A "build your own spacecraft" application is available which uses the same basic components as the stock ships. All you have to do is assemble, scale, tweak and customize.

Second party ships include imported models from various well known SciFi sources. Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, to name a few. The only add on "ship" that has issues is the Death Star II. Seems to have a texture issue.

Here's some screen shots:

This is one of the "stock" starships.

Going from point A to B.

Narcassis from "Alien"

Another stock star ship.

An early "Enterprise" concept ship, presumable using the Alcubierre warp drive concept.

Warp speed. Too bad the ships do not stay "in frame" when going from point "A" to "B". The ships "teleport" to the destination after the camera arrives.

NX-01 Enterprise.

Sunrise on a distant piece of rock.

Second Party add on, Serenity.

Bad news first: No centralized "download" page that I have found yet. You have to browse through the Space Engine forums to find topics that would have links (But then again, I haven't done a Google Search for one yet). While cruising the Galaxy, there's a lot of "info graphics" that get in the way (but they can be made to "go away" and are not present on screenshots when using "f11" as your screenshot key) You do not actually "fly" the space ships, they just sort of "tag along".

The good news: Outstanding graphics, mind boggling number of space places to visit and explore, and most importantly, its free. Yes. Free. All of it. Even the add on ships. Those points are enough to outweigh any of the "bad news" bits.

Interested parties need only Google (or Bing, or whatever) "Space Engine Home".

"Space is big. I mean, really, really BIG..." -Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy-
"I reject your reality, and substitute my own!" Adam Savage, Mythbusters
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Re: Space Engine

Postby Bmat » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:53 am

Thank you for the review and pictures. Free!! Games have come a long way from when I played them. :)
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