Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

NASA Playing With Unreal Engine For Virtual World 116

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the practicing-martian-genocide dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Daniel Laughlin, Project Manager for NASA's Learning Technologies Office spoke at the International Space Flight Museum in SecondLife and said that they are using the Unreal 3 Engine to create a synthetic world for training. The mission? The moon by 2020, and Mars by 2035. He said, 'We are combining the efforts of a commercial game developer, two universities and two NASA mission directorates into the project. If we can't check off all three boxes at the end, then we'll have done a poor job.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Playing With Unreal Engine For Virtual World

Comments Filter:
  • Cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by _the_bascule (740525) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:34AM (#16950602)
    I always preferd the low-grav levels myself :)
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:34AM (#16950618)
    is to find a way to play video games at work. I'd be more inclined to believe it was work related if there really were gun toting zombies on the Moon.
  • Sweet.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by le0p (932717) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:35AM (#16950640)
    * Armstrong decapitates Martian with the Shock Rifle * Armstrong decapitates Martian with the Shock Rifle ** DOUBLE KILL **
  • Oblig. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Control Group (105494) * on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:39AM (#16950702) Homepage
    And a good thing, too, or they'd be completely unprepared for the Skaarj - and that's only if they make it out of the prison ship!
  • Why UT3? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Lissajous (989738)
    It's $350K for heavens sake! Why not http://www.ogre3d.org/ [ogre3d.org] coupled with http://www.ode.org/ [ode.org]? Surely combining those with 2 university departments where you'll no doubt find people already familiar with the source code would be a more sensible approach to developing serious games.
    Sheesh. Money to burn.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lissajous (989738)
      Oops - I take the $350K back (heh - I wish!)...no I didn't RTFA (c'mon...this *is* /. after all). They'll of course be using custom license http://www.unrealtechnology.com/html/licensing/ter ms.shtml [unrealtechnology.com]. But I still stand by the "why not FOSS?" question.
      This is precisely the kind of project that could both benefit and benefit from the FOSS paradigm, especially considering the duration of the projects. Who knows what's going to happen to Epic over the next 20-odd years?
      I know this is really just NASA wanting so
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by TodMinuit (1026042)
        Unreal is a very good engine. Ogre and all the other open source engines are not. They want something that will get out of their way, so they can spend their valuable time on creating an application, not bringing a 3D engine up to speed.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Lissajous (989738)

          Unreal is a very good engine. Ogre and all the other open source engines are not.

          That's a fairly sweeping statement. I guess ogre being not particularly good and needing bringing up to speed was why they were one of the Google Summer of Code participants?
          You might want to, oh I don't know, actually find out about the OSS tech you slate before hitting the submit button.
          I suggest http://www.ogre3d.org/index.php?option=com_content &task=view&id=394&Itemid=2 [ogre3d.org] would be a good place to start. Then if y

          • I guess ogre being not particularly good and needing bringing up to speed was why they were one of the Google Summer of Code participants?

            Yes, exactly. And its a far cry for UT, lacking physics and other features. And even in rendering other open source packages like OpenSceneGraph are a lot better. (And are used at NASA on other projects). Remember, NASA is looking for results, now, not for a long development cycle...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drinkypoo (153816)

            I guess ogre being not particularly good and needing bringing up to speed was why they were one of the Google Summer of Code participants?

            Uh, yeah. If it was good and up to speed, it wouldn't have needed to be a google summer of code participant. See, the summer of code was for writing code. Stop me if this isn't making sense, and I'll see if I can use smaller words.

            Oh, and whilst you're there, fix what you think is wrong with it, and submit it. See - that's how OSS works.

            I hate this fucking argum

            • by Lissajous (989738)

              Uh, yeah. If it was good and up to speed, it wouldn't have needed to be a google summer of code participant. See, the summer of code was for writing code. Stop me if this isn't making sense, and I'll see if I can use smaller words.

              Ohhhhhh I seeeeeeee. How wrong of me. I thought that the summer of code was for mentoring up-and-coming talented coders. But now I look at the participants I can see how they're all badly-engineered products that need improving....lets take a few at random, shall we?
              http://code.go [google.com]

        • by MORB (793798)
          Comparing Ogre and Unreal is comparing apples with oranges.

          Ogre is only a rendering engine. Unreal is not only that, it include the necessary high level framework, scripting integration, and editing tools to make a game.

          There is no open source equivalent of this stuff that I know of at the time. And all that high level and toolset stuff is hard to get right, even for most video game companies who often develop awful solutions for this stuff.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)
            There is no open source equivalent of this stuff that I know of at the time.

            Sauerbraten [sauerbraten.org]

            • by MORB (793798)
              Yes, I've seen this. Cube was already nifty and Sauerbraten is indeed very cool.

              However, as far as I could tell, while editing the scenery is easy and flexible, adding new kind of entities can't be just done with some scripting and editing some properties.

              But this is very cool indeed. With some development, that thing could have the potential to put second life to shame.
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                However, as far as I could tell, while editing the scenery is easy and flexible, adding new kind of entities can't be just done with some scripting and editing some properties.

                Given that it can be done in-game, my guess is that a talented programmer could add this functionality pretty quickly.

                But this is very cool indeed. With some development, that thing could have the potential to put second life to shame.

                Absolutely. All Sauerbraten needs is server access level control (so you can limit who can

      • I love Ogre3D, I use it myself for small game projects, but I don't think you could compare it to the Unreal 3 Engine. NASA would have to spend over $350k just to bring the Ogre3D engine upto spec with the Unreal engine, so why not just buy the Unreal engine and save a lot of time and money by not reinventing the wheel.

        Ogre3D is mainly a graphics engine (Ogre stands for Object-Oriented Graphics Rendering Engine), where as the Unreal Engine is a complete game engine with graphics, AI, networking code, physic
        • by hughk (248126)
          Ah but the cute thing is that any 'improvements' made by NASA would go back into the open code base. Note the suggestion earlier was to use the ODE for physics. Yes, it would be 'bitty' with serveral FOSS products to replace one commercial engine, but look at what it would give back to the community.
          • I am well aware of using ODE with Ogre3D, it's still pretty buggy at this point (I use them both). Why would NASA want to enter the software developement business? They want a tool so they can get a job done, they don't want/need the additional task of building the tool aswell. Do you really think they want to spend several months or years bug testing and adding features to Ogre + ODE when they can just purchase an already feature-complete engine? They have better things to do with their time than work on a
            • by hughk (248126)
              NASA have been in the software development business since whenever. It all gets contracted out and a lot of it ends up being released at some point. Sure they can use a 'feature-complete' commercial engine, but it will probably implement a bunch of things they don't need and it will be expensive anyway.
    • by Speare (84249)

      This is ancient news, really.

      I was developing another product back in 2001, and we evaluated the Unreal kit back then. As a part of our evaluation, we were shown an ISS model which had been developed with NASA cooperation for some projects they were pursuing back then. Since that time, geeks like Shuttleworth and Ansari have been to the real ISS, and soon Simonyi too. The world of software has changed in radical ways in a very few years.

    • Re:Why UT3? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:42PM (#16951928)
      While Ogre3D looks fairly good it's very possible it doesn't have the power and flexibility of the Unreal Engine. And more importantly, the licensing of that engine is certainly going to include extensive support. Imagine some NASA developer being forced to browse Ogre3D forums and being called a noob for asking questions.

      NASA wants the engine to enabler, not to become an obstacle they themselves have to fix every time they encounter a shortcoming. This is not to put down engines like Ogre3D at all. But if they have the money to spend, why not spend it on a system that is robust and is well-supported.
    • My guess would be that they've got experience using the Unreal Engine. I don't have a link, but it seems like I've read that NASA's been using this engine for several years already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:43AM (#16950770)
    This is a project that should be open sourced. I bet there are alot of folks that would love to work on something like this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kilgortrout (674919)
      Especially since our tax dollars are paying for all this.
    • This is a project that should be open sourced. I bet there are alot of folks that would love to work on something like this.

      Sure - they'd love to work on it. The question is, can they actually bring anything useful to the table? Designing a simulator/trainer with reasonable fidelity is a very different thing from designing a game.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by megavlad (864517)
      Damn, I missed this oportunity. NASA could have really helped me out. I've been working on a Open Sourced game platform for a few years now, and I was schedule to release a 0.1.0-alpha by the beginning of next month (december). But I have had so manny setbacks (do to the everyday life) that it'll probably be at mid-January.

      A few years ago I was talking to an awesome developer that I knew. We were talking about Linux. He made a statement that really stuck to me. He said "I love Linux. It's such a great p
    • yes, because we all know nobody would then use that to have a free (beer) unreal engine...
  • 9.8 m/s/s (Score:3, Funny)

    by gadzook33 (740455) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:44AM (#16950782)
    Too bad the gravity gun will suck.
  • low grav w/ insta kills was fun! The engine is so fast and dead-on accurate compared to many others..
    I am not sure on UT3.. but with the second engine in a mod like Red Orchestra you could see the limitations of it.
    For instance... snipping across the map w/ full res up. The trees disappear on the horizon allowing you to shoot people through them. The dead guy thinks he was concealed behind some branches. /shrug
    I assume the UT3 engine will take care of this ;)
    In time, a virtual earth to run/
    • by CXI (46706)
      For instance... snipping across the map w/ full res up. The trees disappear on the horizon allowing you to shoot people through them. The dead guy thinks he was concealed behind some branches. /shrug
      I assume the UT3 engine will take care of this ;)


      Yes, on the moon and mars you will be unable to snipe through the trees. :P
      • by deviceb (958415)
        and thats all that matters! If i can see your pixel move from the moon.. i gotcha!
  • So what are our options for trickjumping, wallhacking, ... on the moon and mars?
  • Duke Nukem (Score:4, Funny)

    by Virtual Karma (862416) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:55AM (#16950974) Homepage
    The mission? The moon by 2020, and Mars by 2035.

    By then they can start using Duke Nukem Forever.

    • by Crilen007 (922989)
      You have too much faith.
    • by yosofun (933530)
      You seem to have missed the point of the "Forever" suffix in DNF. In the ideal world DNF would take forever to develop. So, if everything goes according to plan, DNF would come out the instant time ends, and...
  • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuit.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:55AM (#16950978)
    For the Mars mission, I think the Doom 3 engine would have been better. Anyone else agree?
  • wouldn't effort be better spent on getting the nitty gritty very detailed physics down first and dedicating the majority of processing power to that? for professional applications like what I can forsee nasa needing a nice overly pretty 3d engine would be the least of their concerns. if accuracy is really needed for rendering I just wouldn't trust most 3d hardware either.

    if the simulator gets to the point it simulates the stress and forces on all hardware involved to some insanely small degree, thats awesom
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:01PM (#16951084) Homepage
    Memorandum

    To: Sim training participants
    From: SIMCOM

    A number of items have come to our attention regarding the simulation procedures for the upcoming moon landing, and clarification is required on a number of points:

    1. Rocket jumping or use of stun grenades for propulsion will not be feasible, please stop requesting these items from the mission planners.
    2. As you will be physically on the moon, there will be no "l4gging".
    3. Please do not accuse fellow trainees of "hax". It has become a growing morale issue.
    4. "Pwnage" is not an approved item in the radio communication guide for NASA missions. Please stick with standardized phrasing for clarity.
    5. When on the moon, the action of "strafing" sideways will not be practical in the EVAsuits, so please take this into consideration. Also, there have been a number of collisions and falls in the hallways from sim trainees attempting to employ this walking method. The base physician has speculated that the unnatural gait is causing people to literally "trip over themselves", so please stop.
    6. Two of the inflatable habitats have lost pressurization during tests because of inadvertent puncturing. Subsequent interviews have revealed that trainees were looking for "wall hacks" and accidentally damaging the structure. This could cause a significant safety problem during the mission, so please use care.

    Finally, the practice of attaching large "sig" images to all internal e-mails has become disruptive. The use of animated gifs with flashing text and, in some unfortunate cases, nudity, has become both a workplace harassment hazard as well as a visual distraction. Please use the standard signature generator to create a plain text sig with your contact information.

    Regards,

    SIMCOM
    Office of simulation
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:02PM (#16951088) Journal
    I'm not sure I understand this correctly; from the quote (in the article which I DID read) it seems like the metric of success is who they are including. Shouldn't the metric of success for a simulator be how well they are training the astronauts or, for an educational learning tool, how well they are introducing concepts to their students?

    Please don't tell me that this project is mainly driven by the desire to include as many different organizations together. This sounds like trying to have the space shuttle being built in as many congressional districts as possible to spread the pork around.
    • I'm not sure I understand this correctly; from the quote (in the article which I DID read) it seems like the metric of success is who they are including.

      Sadly, the quote lacks context - it was a reply to a question, and we don't know what the question was.
    • by extrapol (1035558)
      Hey Wisebabo, apologies for the OT comment, but I couldn't get in touch with you. I'm moving to HCMC in February '07 and looking to get development jobs from there. can you email me at p a w l d r @ g m a i l . c o m, I had a few questions about life there. thx-Paul
  • Simulation? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hodr (219920)
    No I didn't read the article, but judging from the blurb I can assume they plan to be able to fake another moon landing using the Unreal Engine by 2020, and a further Mars landing by 2035? Amazing.
  • Wouldn't the Doom 3 engine be more fitting or are they saving that for the Mars mission training scenarios?
  • ... of an astronaut after his two fellows died in the exploding return-vehicle: "Double Kill!" After another look on his oxygen indicator: "Multi Kill!"
  • SL is a virtual world, but it's a pretty crappy example of the tech.

    This is getting as annoying as my mom constantly referring to herself as 'surfing the blogs' and for pretty much the same reasons.

    Note to article writers: referring to Second Life as some sort of euphemism for Virtual World does a huge disservice to the many, many shared-world 3d engines that are out there, as well simply convincing everyone that you don't know anything about it.

    Second Life is an absolutely horrific application of virtual w
    • by yosofun (933530)
      I agree that SL's software is buggy as ___ and that its graphics keep the more aesthetically-elite away -- however, it is (correct me if i'm wrong) the only MMOG out there that provides the user with something closest to a blank slate to start out with.

      In SL, you're not given a mission, per se, to have to solve. There are no enemies, other than those you make yourself. Enemies can't kill you in SL unless you're in a zone with HP enabled. You're also not limited with world gravity (not worrying about the l

  • Moon by 2020, Mars by 2035? Right. And in 1970 they were saying we'd be on mars now. NASA just wants to keep the money coming; if they do manage to even get back to the moon by 2020, they'll be staying at a Chinese or Brazilian base there. Maybe the Chinese will let us visit the Glorious People's Space Colony of Mars. If NASA wants to stay ahead, they've got to start running faster.
  • It would be great (read *great*) if they would integrate this new virtual world work with their existing NASA World Wind [nasa.gov].
  • SL is still stuck with havok1. How is this cutting edge? There is havok3 already. When SL was nearing 1.9.9 everybody though - oh right, it's almost 2.0 with havok2. But now we have 1.13.0.
  • I wonder if NASA also has plans to make particle weapons to exterminate all of the gun wielding aliens on Mars.
  • All the better for preparing for the inevitable scrootch-gun battles with Gidney and Cloyd and their army of Monstrous Mechanical Metal-Munching Moon Mice.
  • by Grizpin (899482)
    I would think the Havok Engine (as used in HL2) would be a better choice. Unreal is more of a arcade engine. Maybe they added more physics in the new Unreal Engine?
    • by Zorque (894011)
      Actually, the name of the HL2 engine is Source. Havok is a separate engine that can be applied over various graphics engines, and was itself included in the Unreal Tournament series.
  • It's the year 2040, and there are 2 billion college goons majoring in "Massively Multiuser Interactive Gameplaying (MMIG)." Ever since 2020, NASA has been actively recruiting the top pro-gamers as astronauts -- a new generation of space heroes. MMIG is a hot major, and the industry is totally in need of MMIG players...

    In other news, since 2035, the Olympics have become purely virtual. No longer do athletes train their physical bodies, as we've all learned in 2025 that it's definitely mind over body. This

  • ... are very interesting. A part of it [highearthorbit.com] [highearthorbit.com]: "The details are fairly light, but it seems as though NASA is building a VR game on space exploration (remember Microsoft's Space Simulator [planetmic.com] [planetmic.com], or the free and open-source Orbiter [ucl.ac.uk] [ucl.ac.uk]?). I wonder why NASA is rebuilding their own engine rather then picking up and using existing simulators (like Open-SESSAME [sf.net] [sf.net]) on top of the Unreal graphics/physics engine."
  • That's a great idea. Using a 3D engine to generate fake pictures of Man landing on the moon should be much easier than the last time [demon.co.uk] when they actually filmed the whole thing on earth. Plus, when the uncooperative truth tellers stick evidence of the fake in the video, they can just regenerate it!

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

Working...