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Outerra, 3d planetary engine for seamless planet rendering from space to surface (outerra.com)
213 points by cedel2k1 on Feb 18, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 47 comments

See also Proland, which is open source:


It's a tech demo/research project, which means the code is basically continuously broken, but I did bodge it into workingness on Linux. It's impressive but doesn't quite live up to the videos --- I think they're using features that weren't working in my copy. But it is one that you can actually get your hands on and play with.

Proland is by the same person who did the wonderful Rama animation here, using some of the same procedural generation technology:


Although Rama wasn't rednered in realtime.

That Rama animation was better then the book.

Clarke's book is amazing, but the animation is certainly better than Gentry Lee's execrable (shudder) sequels.

The first book was great.

I concur...they went progressively downhill.

There's some folks called I-Novae trying to do a similar thing, but making a space-fight simulator game on top as well, called Infinity: https://www.inovaestudios.com/Technology. I'd be curious to hear a technical comparison. It looks like Outerra focuses more on the planet-side and I-Novae more on the space-side.

I came across them years ago and followed every once in a while. The original idea (if I remember correctly) was a MMORPG with a seamless-space-engine (like Outerra) and a huge universe (mostly procedurally built). That's their main project: Infinity the quest for Earth.

They've gone for an intermediate goal of making a space-fight simulator based on the engine. I played a prototype a few years back where two teams fight each other in a Solar System in a Counter Strike fashion, mine or destroy the enemy to get money and you get to upgrade your ship. It was pretty fun.

Looks like they've gone to crowdfunding to turn their prototype in a working game that they can use as a stepping stone to the MMORPG. It's called Infinity: Battlescape and it apparently got funded en of last year https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/infinity-battlescape

For a start DirectX, so it wont work on most devices.

Last time I talked with Brano it was actually OpenGL 3.3 but that was a couple years ago.

Such direction changes make me sad.

All while Vulcan is the way to go ;)

If you go deep into their blog to see screenshots from the first versions you'll see just how far this project has come. The amount of work that has gone into it is staggering.

There's also nibbles, of some pretty interesting math and programming problems in there...


It looks beautiful. The demo is only available on Windows tho it seems :/ Does the engine itself work on Linux/Mac/Android/whatever?

Sounds like a Linux port is on the drawing board:


It runs on OpenGL 3.3 so at least Linux and Mac should clearly be possible with some work.

Wouldn't be nice some kind of game like KSP with this engine in a MMPORG fashion? I know, keep dreaming :)

Arma 3 comes to mind. Or Euro/American Truck Simulator.

That would indeed be amazing. Kind of a silly question, but having the world as a sandbox at your disposal has to be a game developer's dream and while it's technically very ambitious I have to wonder why nobody seems to be making any use of the fact that Outerra is trying to provide exactly that.

Simulating the world doesn't necessarily make a good game. People usually want simple rules in a simple environment and the ability to explore and stretch those rule as much as possible.

A random gigantic game that simulates absolutely everything doesn't let you do that.

Take KSP as an example, sure it would be pretty to use that engine, but that's it, it would just be prettier. It would'nt bring anything new. The game is already fun, not because it's realistic, but because it has much simpler orbit mechanics than reality. A model a regular human being can actually wrap his head around.

The most boring and disappointing part of KSP are the contracts. Why? Because they are random. They have no direction and no sensible progression. They don't encourage you to push the limits. They are just an endless generated generic grind.

I totally agree with your opinion of the default contract system. With mods it becomes WAY better. Contract Configurator [1] makes it really easy for people to make new contract packs with a simple config file and there are some pretty great packs out there that give it a much better progression.

[1] http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/91625-1...

Star Citizen does something similar in CryEngine


Elite: Dangerous is would be close, although orbital mechanics are non-existent, the galaxy is modeled in the correct scale and now you can land on some planets.

The older Elite games (Frontier) actually had more correct orbital mechanics and space flight, and the creator didn't think it was very fun (dogfighting at km/s speeds etc.) so went back to a more arcade like model. I tend to agree, ED is pretty fun, although it has been described as "a mile wide and an inch deep".


Did you try Space Engineers? It has spaceship-building elements and also interactive planets (albeit tiny when compared to real planets, but still 120km diameter is enough to get a feeling you are on an actual planet). It also has multiplayer, although not in an MMO scale.

Not quite that, but there's a KSP mod that brings the Proland atmosphere and water shaders to KSP.

Anyone remember Delta Force: Land Warrior? I salivate the thought ... :)

Is this project even alive? The last forum posts seem to be about a year old and there doesn't seem to be any development on the OS X / Linux front despite them saying it was right around the corner in 2012.

The last release is from 16 Oct 2015: http://forum.outerra.com/index.php?topic=3151.0

Jaw-dropping! Now if only someone could pick this up to build a Win/OSX/Linux version of No Man's Sky!!! That would be the ultimate amazement to me...

There's spaceengine. I believe it does the entire observable universe. http://en.spaceengine.org/

Wow. That's an impressive demo.

My only comment would be that in the demos with trees give away the fact that it's computer rendered. not really sure what it is about them? (They don't sway? They're too similar? The algorithm is 'showning'?) Any one know what it is I'm noticing?

This is quite impressive! The vehicles and flight simulation suggests that this is being developed for some specific game, but I couldn't find any references on the page. Does anyone know if this is the case, or if the engine is just being developed for more general purpose use?

Based on http://www.outerra.com/jobs.html and http://titanim.net/www/:

"[Outerra is hiring] to work on several game and simulation projects for large defense contractors in partnership with TitanIM", with the latter being "A global sandbox [...] simulation software platform" and "[holding] the exclusive license to the [Outerra] world rendering engine for military applications."

I would love to see more flight sims produced. When I was a kid, some of the best games out there were flight sims.

But ever since graphics technology caught up enough to represent complex close-up 3D world, land-based games with avatars and close-up action-packed combat have taken over.

Flight sims tended to focus a whole lot more on planning -- you'd often have a mission planner, where you'd plot out your route (and sometimes the mission/route of other aircraft as well), then you get in the plane, taxi, fly for a while, watch out for SAMs, maybe get intercepted by enemy aircraft, find & attack your target(s), then fly home and land. I guess it sounds sort of boring, but part of me wonders what kids these days (OK, I'm old, I know) are missing out on.

I would recommend the Digital Combat Simulations Series, there are some different simulators available: Su-27, BlackShark, A-10C, F-15C, ...


Can recommend "Just Cause 2" for hours of fun flying around a reasonably large map looking at lovely scenery in a variety of planes / helicopters. Plenty of things to blow up from the skies too.

It's also worth mentioning the less known Tinman 3D Terrain: https://www.tinman3d.com/. Still in early stage, but really promising.

Those demo planets look they are only few hundred miles in diameter. Is this a hardware limitation or it is simply done here to shorten the demos?

No they actually have a full Earth scale (based on sat data) and I think a Mars one as well. It's able to be shown progressively to almost any altitude including orbital.

If you like things like this check out SoA: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo_x9FnnXTc

The devs are really smart and pulling together some amazing optimization stuff that you wouldn't really expect.

Do they have 24-hour analytical sun+sky model? I'm obsessed with something like that ever since I came across Hosek-Wilkie model (unfortunately it is dawk+day+dusk only, no night time).

I would highly recommend this for anyone who owns an Oculus Rift.

I agree, it's incredible. But be warned, this made me sicker than just about anything I've done with the Oculus Rift.

I wonder what kind of device specs are required to run this kind of simulation properly. Couldn't find any information about this on the site and on the blog.

Specs are listed here: http://www.outerra.com/demo.html

Minimum requirements:

* Windows Vista and higher, limited Windows XP support

* Nvidia 8xxx series or better, AMD/ATI 5xxx or better with recent AMD/ATI drivers (older ATI series are no longer supported by AMD and their legacy drivers do not work well with Outerra)

* Recent graphics drivers!

* 1GB graphics memory


* 500MB disk space for the initial install, up to 15GB for fully downloaded Earth dataset


* Nvidia 470GTX or better, ATI 6870 or better

* 2GB graphics memory

* a 2-core CPU

That's surprisingly reasonable.

I like this. I look at this project and see all kinds of potential.

A new wave of sandbox games à la Minecraft?

I'm thinking about world-scale adventure and combat games.

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