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Attention, uber-geeks! Space Engine IS the No Man’s Sky you’ve been looking for

No Man's Sky might have the hype and the marketing budget, but a Russian astronomer and programmer has been working on a realistic space spectacle that will blow your mind...

Isn’t space exploration great? Given all the hype surrounding a certain space-based adventure game, we thought we’d take a look at something different. Behold! Space Engine.

Space Engine is a 3D space simulation program that allows players to explore the universe as it is – from Earth itself, to the galaxies we are incapable of physically reaching. Every part of the known universe is represented by beautifully rendered models, complete with actual astronomical data.

And it’s fucking insane.

The brainchild of Vladmir Romanyuk, an astronomer from St. Petersburg who learned to code in his spare time, unbelievably, Space Engine is actually his first foray into games for the Windows operating system. He’s also the sole developer working on Space Engine.

Which isn't to say he doesn't have help. The models are provided by CGI whiz Eric Bruneton. Bruneton has spent a shitload of time creating magnificent, realistic, 3D recreations of every known planet, galaxy, star system, and countless other bits of celestial phenomena. Bruneton has now gone on to create hyper-realistic landscapes for Google Maps. It’s safe to say that his real-time rendering of natural landscapes, is probably the closest thing to computer-generated realism you’ll ever see.

Space Engine doesn’t just take you through charted territory, either. You’re free to explore wherever you want, and uncharted regions of space will present players with procedurally generated galaxies, star clusters, and miscellaneous nebulae. If you can’t be bothered to manually find a planet, Space Engine has a search function that will take you to the planet you’re looking for.

I spent a lot of time in this rainbow nebula, orbiting the Milky Way.

A LOT of time. (Help me.)

Although the program contains a ‘wiki’ styled database of information about known objects, you can add your own random discoveries to it. Planets, galaxies and systems are procedurally-generated, and you can document the location, size and temperament of any object you find. It’s highly unlikely that two players will find the same thing. A bit like No Man’s Sky.

My friend found this, which he aptly named ‘The fucking No Man’s Sky Planet':

The engine portrays the orbital motion of planets in real time. You can even speed up, slow down or reverse the flow of time, to observe objects as they orbit. Their rotation, day and night cycle, and seasonal patterns are documented too. Nothing says 'procrastination' like watching the entire Solar System orbit in front of you.

Space Engine is still very much in development, and real objects are still being added as they are discovered. For now, you’ll just have to enjoy a sprawling endless expanse of celestial creations, volumetric models of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds and stunning nebulae. I challenge you to not get hopelessly immersed in this absolutely incredible program.

But how can I explore space without a kickass soundtrack, you say? Space Engine has you covered. The program contains a huge collection of progressive, ethereal tracks that add a whole new level of depth to your interstellar adventure.

Space Engine, doesn’t pander to fictionality. You won’t find a six-headed alien, penis monster or a tree made of Zinc.

Although Space Engine is incredibly impressive from a geeky point of view, it may not be for everyone. No Man’s Sky has attracted a base of hype for all the wrong reasons, which is exactly why it appeals to players that may not have a strong interest in science. The core idea is great, but the execution is lousy. After a few hours in-game, you’ll find yourself repeating the same thing, discovering the same types of life, and generally not being arsed to explore, because the time consumption to discovery ratio is massively under-balanced.

Space Engine, doesn’t pander to fictionality. You won’t find a six-headed alien, penis monster or a tree made of Zinc. It’s completely devoid of life, and discernibly realistic. It hasn’t set out to challenge No Man’s Sky, but it’s certainly an incredible, completely free alternative to spending £40 on a game you might get bored of after a few hours.

Do you need to explore procedurally-generated, fictional planets, when the one we’ve already got is just as spectacular?

Space Engine is completely free, for PC only, and available to download here.

Just look at this shit.

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