Real space is black, of course. The first version of Transcendence used a solid, nearly black background partly as a nod to realism, but also because early 21st century computers couldn't handle much more than that.

Things have changed. Computers have gotten faster and I've gotten used to seeing space depicted as a luminous environment filled with gossamer nebulae. This week I worked on getting these kind of beautiful environments into Transcendence and I hope you'll agree the results are wonderful.

There are several things going on in the image above:

  • Each system type now defines a background image to use for space. We paint it with a parallax effect so it appears to be a distant, but still moves behind the ship.
  • Just as in previous versions, starshine brightens up the space background. But this time we're doing that on top of the background image instead of a solid black color. As you get closer to a star you'll see the background fade in the glare. Out towards the edge you'll see the background shine through brightly.
  • Worlds and asteroids cast volumetric shadows. I think this is a particularly beautiful effect in asteroid fields.
  • Under the covers I upgraded the graphics engine to use 24 bits of color (instead of 16 bits). This change was necessary to get the subtle shades in the space backgrounds to come through.

My plan is to release version 1.6 in late March or early April with all these changes.