Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NEW Spacescape gets HDR, OSX and more

Version 0.5 of Spacescape has been released -  Download it!

If you were waiting for Spacescape to run on OSX, your wait is over! Not only is it over, Spacescape got some requested features that are really cool.


  • Support for OSX
  • HDR mode for working in high dynamic range and exporting 32bit per channel .exr or .dds skybox images.  Also allows for using HDR billboards (.exr)
  • Import billboard data file to manually specify billboard positions, brightness, distance and  colour
  • More export options! Export now adds support for UNREAL (3d cube map with correct rotations and .dds output), UNITY (correct naming), SOURCE (correct naming and .tga output)
  • Debug box option for those trying to determine the orientation of the exported skybox faces for importing into a different engine
  • Converted billboard file field to support a browse button so you can choose any file on your computer instead of having to put them in the media/materials/textures folder

About this HDR thing..

You can thank the good folks at NVidia Demos for financing the addition for a recent demo they released!  You can see part of the Spacescape generated HDR starfield with actual star values, positions, brightness values, colours and some generated nebulas around 6:54.

It's really cool, but for most games you'll probably stick with non-HDR because you just don't need the extra data.  HDR skyboxes are cool when you want to accurately adjust the exposure in your game for, say, a daytime scene when the stars are not visible because the atmosphere is so bright, and then as night comes and the atmosphere is no longer bright the stars become visible.  Keep in mind a few things:
  1. Use HDR billboards in .exr format or the outlines of your billboard stars will get too blown out as you adjust the exposure.  Some sample .exr billboards are included in the app or you can make your own in Gimp or Photoshop.
  2. Use the new HDR Power field to push most of your stars into the background if you are using randomly generated star positions, otherwise use a data file.
  3. If you use a data file to specify star data, the input is a csv file that requires an X, Y, Z, ABSMAG, and DISTANCE.  All these values are based on actual star data and there is a sample data.csv file with a few constellations in it in the Files section of project.  You can also find a massive star database at http://www.astronexus.com/hyg
  4. Use HDR Multiplier to make background stars and nebulas really faint and near stars bright
  5. A good range for HDR brightness values is between 0 and 10, even though the colour values for stars is from 0 to 255, when in HDR mode those numbers are actually converted to the 0 to 1 range then the HDR power function is applied and the result is multiplied by the HDR multiplier.

There's lots left to do

And that's an understatement.   Spacescape is nothing like the final tool I want it to be. I want to implement a simple mode for non-wizards, and a skybox library - a way to share skyboxes from within the app amongst many other things.  I'd also like improve the way layer masks work and possibly add terrain and planets!


To add all the features I want would take a lot of time.  I was only able to add in these recent features because Nvidia was able to help pay for those hours.  So I'm considering putting up a kickstarter or indiegogo project to get the other features funded.  Maybe nobody will notice? On the other hand, Spacescape has been downloaded 41,000 times since I posted it in 2010.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope this isn't abandoned--because it's @#$%ing awesome!