Mercury Particle Sandbox - Create Particle Effects, Animations, Banners, Prototypes and more!


Welcome to your sandbox!

I’ve come along way from moving Vectors with XNA back in 2010 to finally show you my first MonoGame application on the Steam platform in 2020. And here it is:

Mercury Particle Sandbox

As many of you know I created the successful MonoGame.Forms library to make it possible to develop editors and editor environments with the MonoGame.Framework under the hood.

The Mercury Particle Sandbox uses this exact same library to create Particle Effects using the Mercury Particle Engine and a powerful Node-Editor system.

But this is just a rough description; the Mercury Particle Sandbox is more of a complex sandbox toolset which allows to render compositted Image Sequences like the header logo at the top of this post and export the results to formats like GIFs, APNGs or even Sprite Sheets!

An additional toolset makes it possible to import your own image sequences, gifs, apngs and sprite sheets to split them to its single parts and re-use them to re-create and mix-and-match them with your own creations.

For example:

  • Import a Sprite Sheet of a RPG-Charakter
  • Add Special Effects on top of the frames
  • Stich it together again using various Post-FX effects
  • Export your creation

You can do alot more with this integrated toolset like perfect looped particle effects / image sequences or create interesting physical structures like this mechanical spider:

The Mercury Particle Sandbox is YOUR playground to archieve what you want to archieve or just to hang out in the sandbox and have a good time in the sand :wink:

By the way: I invite you to shape this sandbox together with me. Visit the official Steam Discussion Board, the MonoGame community or Twitter to tell me what you are thinking or make suggestions / share your ideas.

I already planned a Steam-Workshop integration which will act as a database for particle effects and other creations created by the community. Everything for free!

Everything? Well, yes! … even the Mercury Particle Sandbox itself will be free on release. However i’m planning to offer some paid DLCs to support the development and further ideas around the sandbox.

Are you in?

Then please wishlist and follow to help me gather visibility and get notified about the release and the further development progress at the same time!

Visit the Steam store site to get a more complete description of the sandbox and see more banners created with this application.

Take care and thanks for reading this!

:: Sandbox Blizz :sparkling_heart:

Huge THANKS to the following MonoGame community members:

@Tom @KonajuGames @nkast @Jjagg @throbax @GeonBit @harry-cpp @kosmonautgames @craftworkgames @DexterZ SimonDarksideJ, willmotil, MrValentine, Discosultan and more (can only tag 10 people)

Either because I use their libraries, talked with them or for the general help they are offering to the whole MonoGame community!

Thank you :ok_hand:

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Info: if you are not seeing images on the steam store site, then please try to visit it later. Seems to be a bug when recently making a steam store site public.

That’s really cool! Been looking for something like this for a while.

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Glad to hear that you like the idea :+1:

Yeah, same for me. One of the reasons I started the development on this 2 years ago.

I always wanted to have not just a particle effect editor, but also a sandbox / prototyping / post processing environment at the same time, where it’s possible to download and upload your creations by using a well structured database (workshop).

Thanks for your support!

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Another great tools! the particle effects designer is very interesting ^_^y

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Thank you very much @DexterZ :smiley:

Yes, the particle effect designer is a Node Editor with support of binary serialization and deserialization. Even very complex scenes will load in just 1 - 3 seconds. A simple scene loads immediately.

I plan to update this thread with further information around the development of the Mercury Particle Sandbox and how things work as often as I can.

Stay tuned :wink:

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Looks amazing, I put it on my wishlist . Looking forward to fiddling with it. What are the export possibilities? Will it export shaders that can then be used in MonoGame?

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It will be possible to export your creations in the following formats:

  • GIF
  • APNG (animated PNG)
  • Image Sequence
  • Sprite Sheet

I’m thinking about to make it also possible to export a particle effect as a XNB or JSON file, so that it can be used more directly with the Mercury Particle Engine. However you would then need to use the particle effect library which ships with my application, because I made some changes to the original particle engine (like support for sprite sheets / animated particles). But in the moment, this is not implemented.

No, you can’t export shaders, but I plan to make it possible to use shaders inside the sandbox. At least you will have some possibilities to apply realtime color grading effects.

I used the ColorGradingFilter from @kosmonautgames with success in the past. So this would be my choice for the Mercury Particle Sandbox.

I am currently on the road to the early access release and I will report soon what I am working on in the moment to make the release possible.

Thanks for your message @Sultaneous and for wishlisting!

PS: Click on my name or user avatar here in MonoGame to see an effect I created with the Mercury Particle Sandbox. A colorful, blooming / blurish background. It’s kinda a shader if you want to call it like that :stuck_out_tongue: Something like this is definitley possible, but it will be not possible to export actual shader source code.

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Awesome work! When the game is live then maybe you could blog about the process + how you got published on Steam. Hopefully this would inspire other MonoGame Indie devs and help them get published on Steam also :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your comment @SteveProXNA

To get published on the Steam platform, I went for “Steam-Direct” - a steamworks partnerprogram.

More information here:
https://partner.steamgames.com/steamdirect

After beeing accepted, you need to process a checklist to be able to make your store site public. In the end pretty trivial work to do.

But when you see the steamworks backend the first time, it’s pretty much overhelming. Alot of stuff to learn. This is indeed worth to be blog about or create tutorials to make it easier for newcomers. However it’s not allowed to show the backend sites to non-partners which makes it rather difficult to talk about that.

Fortunately the steamworks documentation is publicity available, which should make things easier, as it also contains help videos made by valve here and there.

Of course i’m always there to help as best as I can if someone has questions I can help with. Not only with the backend, but also with SteamAPI integrations like Facepunch.Steamworks or Steamworks.Net I created repos for.

I find it pretty pleasant and effective to work with repos / wikis / docs and communites instead of creating a blog and would prefere this way of helping furthermore :hammer_and_wrench:

Thanks again for your words and have a nice day! :slight_smile:

That is awesome! Thanks for the information and thanks a lot for sharing all these links :slight_smile:

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This looks awesome, great work!! Something I couldn’t gather from the post and page was whether this was free software (as in free speech) or just free as in price. Can you clarify?

Also, is there the possiblity of a non-Steam version?

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Thanks @Kimimaru! :slight_smile:

It’s planned as free as in price, so in the moment there will be no source code publicity available and such things.

This is currently not fully decided, but with cross platform services like mod.io there is definitely a chance, because it would be possible for me to offer the same functionallity / experience for all users on all platforms, which is very important for me.

However, my plan is to do a clean steam release first and then build on top of this.

After beeing on steam in early access I will discuss with you and others in the community about the direction of the sandbox including features and general topics like the cross platform mod service mentioned above.

There is still alot of work to be done. Espacially when it comes to platform specific features and how to combine all of this to the general satisfaction of all users.

Thanks again and have a nice day!

Hey Sandboxers! :wink:

So far I only showed you rendered images and animations as well as some screenshots of the Mercury Particle Sandbox.

Today I have a little video for you which shows you some in-app-action!

Despite YouTube encoding beeing crazy with particle effects, here it is:

I recommend watching a high quality version of this video by downloading it here:
https://drive.google.com/uc?id=1jE1n8UIvq5LaJc-j9D-49EaiTcd_DP3z&export=download

Enjoy! :star2:


Sandboxing with particles and physics is a great way to test particle effects under certain conditions. It’s also great to simulate real forces on Projectiles :comet: Fireballs :fire: or Water Splashes :ocean: for example.

In future versions of the sandbox it will be possible to let particles flow on splines and trigger various special effects and events on their way.

It will be like a script-system but without the need of actual coding / programming. Everything will work easily and directly within the sandbox environment.


What I’m currently working on?

Currently i’m working on modernizing some parts of the GUI so that I can show the application to the public. This means exchanging old prototype form controls with new ImGui widgets. Yes, I’m using the .Net version of it :slight_smile:

Here is a comparison of the Sprite Sheet Editor:

Stay tuned for the next update!

The APNG and GIF editor will be next…

Have a sparkling day!

:: Sandbox Blizz :sparkling_heart:

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We are on ModDB and IndieDB!

Read the first news article here:

Normally these sites are rather for games and mods but it was possible to add the application to a hidden “Software” section. Despite that, the news will also appear on their front-site as you can currently see. I talked with the admin Scott Reismanis to get that information.

So, from now on there will be also news around the development of the Mercury Particle Sandbox on these platforms.

Cheers!

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:palm_tree: I’m back from holiday!

Sorry for the late sign of life, but I needed to do important things… on the beach :sweat_smile:

I tried to catch the sun like Māui and then I modulated many balls out of it - here is the result:

:fire: :fire: Fireballs! :fire: :fire:

I already started working on the sandbox again. Stay tuned for more stuff!

Have a sunny day! :sunny:

-Marcel

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Hey Sandboxers! :dark_sunglasses:

The first week after holiday was kinda adventurous but also productive. I’m still in the process of modernizing parts of the user interface and I think I can show you something next week.

This week I fixed some bugs and made the last missing piece of data serialization / deserialization fully modular and dynamic.

Here is an image of a small MetaData.json file:

Entites connected to a content file are now fully linked per GUIDs instead of pathes. Having a predefined folder structure, linked dependencies and content types makes it possible to re-assign all content and data on loading the sandbox or a project file.

Additionally the filename of an entity data file is a GUID as well as the name of a scene folder. So the causal chain is complete.

Sharing a project of the Mercury Particle Sandbox is now as easy as copy-pasting it to a different project folder of a different user. This is important for the later workshop integration where users can share their creations with just one click!

By the way: the entity data files itself are serialized into a binary format instead of JSON, so the deserializing process is very fast and projects are getting loaded in just a couple of seconds. Later this makes it possible to browse user generated content and fastly download and initialize the project inside the sandbox application.
This in turn realizes to spontaneously open the application and directly have alot of fun browsing online and offline content and try many different projects in a short amount of time! yaay :sunglasses:


I also have something visual for you, because I don’t want to leave you with nothing than a wall of text: :page_with_curl:

:comet::comet: Casting a Magicka Spray Spell :comet::comet:


Thanks for reading and watching this and have a sparkling & sunny weekend! :sun_with_face:

:: Marcel :sparkling_heart:

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Particles, Physics, Creativity - the ingredients of life!?

Our first DEVLOG is up on steam:

News Hub:

Do you want to get this news directly in your steam client in the future?

Then wishlist & follow the app on steam:

I will try to write the devlog news on steam as interesting as possible and not just in a technical way. Soon I will expand the news hub with more categories like “Update” too, so that it’s possible to apply filters on your needs.

Here is what i’m currently thinking regarding delivering news and updates on the different platforms I am active on:

MonoGame-Community: Technical (maybe in-deep) News Reports including visual content
IndieDB: Technical News Report including alot of visual content
Reddit (yeah, we have a reddit now): Visual database of Particle Effects & Particle Scenes including videos and maybe short news. Everything filtered by “Flairs”. Later including WORKSHOP and GUID links / urls
Steam: Interestingly written Dev-News in a Semi-Technical way including visual content and also adding new categories over time like “Update”, “Workshop” etc.
Twitter: Non-Technical Short-News including visual content

Thank you very much for reading and have a sparkling day!

:: Marcel :sparkling_heart:

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Layer System & Factory Smoke :factory:

Hey Sandboxers!

The last weeks were pretty busy for me (mainly in real-life), but I managed to get the layer-system done it that time and a bit more.

By using the node editor system it’s possible to define the layer depth for each drawable entity. In the following video you will see a single particle effect with 2 smoke emitters - one in the background and one in the foreground. The factory image is exactly between the two smoke layers.

Watch the latest video:

I also added the new “view” menu, as you saw in the video, which makes it possible to show or hide specific world elements or entites from the rendering. This helps keeping the overview and makes cherry-picking of elements for the final render output alot easier.

The terrain component is now able to take an alpha image as input, so that you can generate mesh data by using the colors pure white (mesh generation off) and pure black (mesh generation on).

Later it will be possible to inverse the alpha data even without repainting the alpha image in applications like photoshop.

Read the full story on ModDB / IndieDB:

As always thanks for reading and watching this and have a sparkling & sunny weekend! :sun_with_face:

:: Marcel :sparkling_heart:

PS: Yes, i’m still working on parts of the old GUI :stuck_out_tongue: