Part game part distributed science research.
People playing the free to play MMO space conquest game will be helping scientists create more accurate models of distant solar systems.
Long time lurker first time poster. I just wanted to thank you guys for the excellent community and engine you provide. Even though I’ve been working with Panda for about two years now on a side project your forums and documentation are so complete I never needed to post anything.
I figured it was time to introduce myself and my project in case anyone might be interested.
My name is Collin Schroeder, I’m a Seinor in the CS program at UAA (Anchorage). I’ll be starting a MS soon. I work full time for a government contractor building web applications.
I teamed up with a physics student (Ryan Haynes) to try and speed up a monti carlo solar system generator he had been trying to build. Initially he and I were unable to create planets and stars that would produce any orbits whatsoever.
I used a GA approach in an attempt to speed things up. Through countless hours of parameter meddling the Genetic Algorithm eventually led us to a more general solution which we could rapidly produce orbits and star systems without the need for the GA.
In its current form I have both a client and a server. a client may choose to download previously generated systems from the server or choose to generate a new one and upload it afterwards.
I had been fairly busy last semester and unable to commit much time to the project. however now that I hear Nvidia has released a PhysX port for 64bit Linux, and the recent tentative support for PhysX in Panda3d, I’m going to undertake a refactoring project to port most of our raw physics code to use the Panda3d API and to clean up the design in general. Weve been toying with Cuda and have been able to run rock solid sims with more than 10,000 particles supporting collision detection and nbody gravitation. We hope that moving some of raw python physics code we hacked together over to PhysX will yield similar performance results.
The long term goal of the project is to create a Space Conquest MMO with as much procedurally generated content as possible. (hopefully on the same scale as dwarf fortress). I’m currently looking at using my central server to keep track of users items and solar system warehousing with player interaction done with a p2p based method.
We’d like to get observational exoplanet data from the National Virtual Observatory linked into the solar system generation algorithm. The idea being that we could base solar systems on the observed star/planet pairs and pitch in millions of other planets trying to find toroidal zones around the star where more planets may exist. If we’re really luck it may help Astronomers reduce their search space and speed up the search for exoplanets.
Thats the plan anyhow. Even if we never finish the big goals (you can’t reach them unless you aim for them) I’m having a blast coding with Panda3D. Once again thanks for creating and maintaining such a first class 3d engine and community. I had tried many other engines (even tried writing my own) and Panda3d is the absolute best intuitive cross platform python scripted 3d engine I have ever seen.
If PhysX turns out not being a good match for our project we’re also considering writing our own OpenCL based BSD licensed physics engine. If we end up taking that route is it something that could be considered a valuable contribution to Panda3d?
Or I’ve noticed a lot of other space games out there. if anyone is interested in joining forces let me know.