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It’s been a long time. How have you been? Do you remember that time when we jumped from Unity, to Panda3d, to Unity again?



The Plan

Science of the Spheres is now on Unreal Engine 4, and has been for a while now. I won’t go into too many specifics as to the why, but the gist of it is that we’ve concluded it to be a better choice than Unity for many of the things we wish to do, and as well can achieve a much higher level of fidelity in the game than we could otherwise. In addition, UE4 provides access to the engine source, which is a godsend given a few of the things we wish to make in the future can be implemented more or less directly into the engine rather than clumsily affixed onto it. As one example, this will greatly aid the creation of the voxel terrain system in the future. At the present time though, that goal is at an indeterminate point in the future. The current direction of development is to produce a playable demo/prototype on the new engine, containing a small selection of the main features for the final game, to serve as an effective example of what the future will hold. This includes the following:

  • Headquarters scene and surroundings
  • Construction and operation of spacecraft
  • Basic scientific observations
  • Single pre-made “showcase” solar system


In more descriptive terms, this means that for the demo, the player will be able to wander around the headquarters at their leisure and interact with things, build spacecraft (with unlimited funds and supplies), deploy them, and fly them around a specially made solar system, designed to show off what the future procedural generation will be able to produce. This demo will be released for free, and followed shortly after by the opening of the Kickstarter campaign which I have just announced in this sentence. That will be used to get a bit of seed funding (I do mean only “a bit” – a pittance compared to what many campaigns ask for) to give a boost to development until the game is ready to begin the alpha period after the remaining major features have been implemented.

Now, the alpha period for SotS will be private, carried out by a group of testers selected for the task (please don’t request a position, that will be handled much later). During this time, the game’s features and content will be developed and implemented as the testers dissect it, until all main features have been implemented and the biggest game-breaking bugs have been destroyed. After that, beta begins, and with it Early Access on Steam. This will effectively just be a public beta test available to those who have pre-ordered the game, focused on killing bugs and polishing that what remains, with no major feature additions beyond that point.

After that, after a very long, joyous, terrible, bug-filled road, Science of the Spheres will be released. And then? I have no idea.



The Rest of the Plan

Now, beyond the demo features listed above, things are a little bit more nebulous. But, by now the concept for the game has matured enough that I feel confident of making a Big Damn Features List to articulate what currently is planned for the game. Eventually I will be making a big periodically-updated list with little blurbs about what each feature means, but for now, of the top of my head:


  • Management of finances
  • Part and item inventory
  • Over-the-phone part and item purchase
  • In-house part manufacturing
  • Staff management
  • Construction, deployment, and operation of spacecraft
  • Unprecedented vinyl record simulation
  • Time-based mechanics
  • Random events (goon avoidance, toaster bounty, etc)
  • Records and results of scientific observations
  • Facility equipment upgrades


  • Propulsion and attitude control systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Communication systems
  • Scientific observation
  • Resource detection, extraction and return
  • Sample collection and return
  • Moving parts such as wheels and general-purpose servos
  • Human-carrying vehicles


  • Procedurally generated infinite* universe
  • Destructible voxel-based terrain system
  • Interstellar travel
  • Special objects
  • Special locations
  • Life forms of various dispositions

(* – Not really, but close enough: each galaxy is based on a 64-bit seed, which would allow every single person in the world to spend the rest of their lives seeing different galaxies)

Things in this list will most certainly change in some way or another. I’ve also likely forgotten a number of things, but the eventual Big Damn Features List will be updated semi-frequently whenever it does show up.



The Right Now

At the present time, the main focus has been setting up the two game scenes, and getting a few base systems programmed. Specifically, implementing the Bullet physics engine, and re-jiggering a few things in the engine code to allow two scenes to co-exist at the same time. There has also been a considerable amount of theory-crafting, as well as some simulation/prototyping of how planet formation can work with the new physics provided. Here are a few more random pictures:






And lastly, here is a video version of the first picture in this post, with sound effects added to enhance the mood:


    • turkwinif
    • Posted March 29, 2015 at 6:28 pm
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    Ha ha, this is looking great, I’ll definitely support the Kickstarter once it’s up and running. I have good faith in you, Nova!

    • Matt W
    • Posted April 7, 2015 at 8:57 pm
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    Wow! I’ve just been doing very sporadic update checks. What you’ve got so far looks really incredible. I may not check in every week, but I’m keeping my eyes glued to the blog. I would also easily support a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign. Thanks for the lengthy update Nova!

    • krysopath
    • Posted April 25, 2015 at 12:50 am
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    Very interesting. If there is crowdfunding, I’ll join the crowd for sure! Given the amount of good work on various KSP mods and the Linux binary working like a charm, I have come to “expect” something great from you in a not so specified amount of time.

    • A mango
    • Posted April 26, 2015 at 11:52 pm
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    I wonder what stars will be in the actual game? Right now I theorize that they are SGCs that are covered in high density materials, and friction from denser items sinking deeper into the surface of the “star” causes heat? Anyway, nice job on the game, and I hope that you will be able to make this into a very great game!

    • TJ
    • Posted May 11, 2015 at 8:28 am
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    Man, can’t wait!!! Amazing job nova. And if you do take requests, I would love to see an alternis kerbol system!

    • M
    • Posted April 6, 2017 at 12:23 am
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    Is this totally dead? I was looking forward to what would come of all of this. Been watching for over two years but its been silent.

    • NovaSilisko
    • Posted April 7, 2017 at 1:03 am
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    Hi! No, it’s not dead. Just in a suspended animation/torpor state… It’s just been slow going with a lot of long pauses and stuff being rearranged. This blog will get rebooted at some point in the hopefully-near-future. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years…

    • lynxian
    • Posted June 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm
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    Hey Nova, I only recently learned about you. Glad to see you still work on games. I’m looking forward to SotS, I have a few questions though,

    1. Why’d you leave Squad?
    2. May I get a summary of the whole SSTV pyramid, magic boulder storyline? Or was that whole thing a project you abandoned and never decided to use the concept of in future things?
    3. Have any advice for a fellow developer? Maybe give me a few ideas that you didn’t bother to complete and I can see if I can work with it.

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