The team working on Outerra, an indie project, seem to have created a game engine capable of generating entire planets and orbital systems, a long-time goal of video game developers.
The goal stated by the team behind Outerra is to build a "3D planetary engine for seamless planet rendering from space down to the surface". In other words, players can be set in orbit and eventually make their way to the planet's surface. Oh, and without any development trickery like artificial walls or even loading times.
Don't mistake this for a game in itself. It's simply a means for a game to run on, so if Outerra is to build upon this technology we could see some very impressive end results. To add perspective, the Outerra site boasts of capabilities like "unlimited visibility" and "arbitrary resolution of elevation data, refining it to centimetre resolution using fractal algorithms." This means it can convert information from real-life locales into a virtual representation.
With the continually growing scale of open-world games this generation, it wouldn't be surprising to see the engine utilized in next-gen open-world endeavors. Mass Effect MMO, anyone?
Source: PC Gamer