Author Topic: Maps of SPACE!!!  (Read 4555 times)

Me2005

  • Founder
  • Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 2105
Maps of SPACE!!!
« on: April 02, 2014, 04:32:53 pm »
So, I was working on figuring out some new mapping ideas for the Galactic War! series, and in so doing I created some images showing the different ways you can illustrate positions of objects IN SPACE!!!. I find them interesting, and thought you might like to discuss them too:

Raw Image

This probably won't make immediate sense to anyone until I explain it. The spheres are objects in 3d space, with the '+''s at the centers marking their exact positions and the text their names. The blue circles are on an arbitrary 'plane' and give reference to how far from the arbitrary center point all the objects are. There are lines marking vertical above/below this plane and angle from the center for each object as well, and yellow lines connecting objects that are within 8-13 or so units of each other.

Parallax Objexts

This shows just the spheres, and is totally useless IMO. It gives you a bit more depth immediately than some of the other options, but without displaying any other data, you have no way of knowing where anything is. This is also how it looks "In 3D," everything just moves around and continues to look like this. It is very difficult to grasp what's going on even with the model to play with and 10,000+ hours of 3d modeling experience.

Reference Plane

This just shows the point and name for each object with the reference plane and indicators for each object. This would work ok for a limited number of objects (used as a map of nearby ships/objects in space surrounding your position), but as you can see here, 52 is probably too many.

Jump Routes

This shows just the closest-connections from that above 3d view. It doesn't make any sense at all from this angle (and for a large number of objects, there likely aren't any good viewing angles), which is why I prefer to make a ...

Jump Route Map

This shows the same information, but spread around so you can make sense of it. Basically, I've taken the relevant data for objects in 3d space (which are closest together) and displayed it on a 2d monitor. This works really well at displaying the system connections if your FTL is based on some kind of max-jump-distance (fold-drives, warp gates, possibly hyperspace, not so much warp drive). It doesn't work well for telling you which objects are close together, but not exactly as close as I've chosen to shown them linked. For example, "[" and "L" could be 20 units apart in 3d space, but they're 6 lines apart (at 8-13 units/line) and on opposite ends of the page. Use is usually "You can make a jump to any object connected by a line to you." Doesn't tell you anything useful navigationally if you can move at will in any direction (in fact, allowing such a thing would make this really confusing - you could be going toward both of the example objects at the same time from anywhere on the map, so your heading would appear to be in multiple, sometimes opposed, directions), though a limited number of 'closest-approach' lines could be useful as supplements, like in the original 3D image.

Chart:

Not actually an image, but this is the best way I found to view the raw information if you actually need it all (i.e.: You don't use jump routes as above/you can travel freely in any direction) and want to be able to understand it quickly. The cells are colored based on the distances; blue is farther and red is closer. Pick a object from the top and go down until you intersect your destination row (or vice-versa). In this instance, I've provided for every cell's value to be easily modified up/down with a single entry elsewhere on the spreadsheet; so if this were in lightyears and you knew how many lightyears/hour you can travel, I could tell you very quickly how far you  can get in two hours. These charts can also be modified so the above-null values (values going from an object to itself) show one thing (say, distance, as here), while the below-null values show another (say, travel time).
But you were dead a thousand times. Hopeless encounters successfully won. A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand. You follow the path, fitting into an infinite pattern. Yours to manipulate, to create and rebuild.

I know who you are.

You are destiny.

Aaron

  • BR Developer
  • Creative Director, ZanMgt
  • *****
  • Posts: 2024
  • Available on the IRC from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)
    • http://www.zanmgt.com
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2014, 05:54:25 pm »
Hm, very cool.  I'ma thinking for simplicity's sake we're going to want to go with a manual 2D top-down warp map ala EV:Nova (with pseudo 3D applied for effect!).

This could be interesting though if the jump routes could be tied to actual authentic 3D distances while still being displayed as a 2D image.
Stop by the IRC and say Hi! -- Online Dev Chat

Me2005

  • Founder
  • Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 2105
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2014, 06:30:36 pm »
Hm, very cool.  I'ma thinking for simplicity's sake we're going to want to go with a manual 2D top-down warp map ala EV:Nova (with pseudo 3D applied for effect!).

Yeah, the jump-map is easiest to use, and (as you can see) it's a 100% legit way of mapping 3d relationships.

Quote
This could be interesting though if the jump routes could be tied to actual authentic 3D distances while still being displayed as a 2D image.

That is very difficult to do readably. I've always had to manually edit the maps to get them looking good, even the above has routes that cross. I suppose if you only show valid jump options, and allow auto-plotting to certain destinations it might work out ok, but then that is more of a tool for travel and less of a reference tool (like a traditional map). It'd be easy to procedurally generate a 2d map with connections that looks like a real-deal map of 3d space though.
But you were dead a thousand times. Hopeless encounters successfully won. A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand. You follow the path, fitting into an infinite pattern. Yours to manipulate, to create and rebuild.

I know who you are.

You are destiny.

Czorio

  • Founder
  • Residential nutbag
  • *
  • Posts: 685
    • Youtube Channel
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014, 10:15:06 am »


This might be something to think about. Divide the entire map up in sectors to prevent an information overload.
"If you're in an equal fight, your tactics suck."

http://www.youtube.com/user/czorio4

Aaron

  • BR Developer
  • Creative Director, ZanMgt
  • *****
  • Posts: 2024
  • Available on the IRC from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)
    • http://www.zanmgt.com
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2014, 10:38:32 am »
That's not a bad idea Czorio... I'm wondering if you could have a very faint representation of the other locations around the sector, like low-opacity billboarded circles or something just to let you know there is more stuff out there.

I really like the idea of it being partitioned though, with each box (or w/e shape; might make them slightly Tetris-shaped) really helping the player to recall specific locations.  It'd require a little more overhead than a top-down map but would certainly be more unique.

Our thoughts are for a solar system map to be presented as mostly being flat, so it might also help to create a distinction between interstellar and stellar map navigation.
Stop by the IRC and say Hi! -- Online Dev Chat

Me2005

  • Founder
  • Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 2105
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2014, 11:49:17 am »
This might be something to think about. Divide the entire map up in sectors to prevent an information overload.

Not a bad idea, but it would still be more difficult to plot a long course (multiple sectors) on that than on the flattened map or the table. It also doesn't appear to account for a situation that happens pretty frequently - all the systems are equally distant, so they're all connected. Though we could cull that out and pretend it isn't a thing for readability for sure.

That's not a bad idea Czorio... I'm wondering if you could have a very faint representation of the other locations around the sector, like low-opacity billboarded circles or something just to let you know there is more stuff out there.

I really like the idea of it being partitioned though, with each box (or w/e shape; might make them slightly Tetris-shaped) really helping the player to recall specific locations.  It'd require a little more overhead than a top-down map but would certainly be more unique.

This sounds intriguing, though solving the "how do you plot a long-range course?" question is still an issue. Maybe that just isn't something you need to do? I'm thinking EV here, where long-range jump planning was an absolute necessity.

Our thoughts are for a solar system map to be presented as mostly being flat, so it might also help to create a distinction between interstellar and stellar map navigation.

Reasonable. Solar systems - realish scale (use some kind of FTL between planets, planets are huge backdrops compared to ships and battles always take place in orbit), plausible scale (Planets are large, but you can STL between them quickly - battles actually happen in the space between) or arcade scale (planets are smaller things close together way out of plane to dodge between during running firefights)? The sector view is almost what I'd envision arcade scale looking like from a pilot's perspective, with the planets a bit bigger.
But you were dead a thousand times. Hopeless encounters successfully won. A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand. You follow the path, fitting into an infinite pattern. Yours to manipulate, to create and rebuild.

I know who you are.

You are destiny.

Holy Thunder

  • Founder
  • *
  • Posts: 655
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2014, 12:21:56 pm »
Really good stuff, Me2005 and Czorio--I also like the partitioned areas.

The thing about a 3D map is that it needs to be able to pivot around your point of focus.  As the user interacts with it, our inner spatial genius makes instant sense of the relationship between points. But coverting it to 2D is problematic.

If you're talking about a large volume of data, you're just not going to find a balance that is both efficient/accurate and also user-friendly. Hence the partitions, to break that data in to more digestible portions.

The user (or casual viewer) doesn't need much more than immediately actionable information--here's where you are and what your neighborhood looks like, and here's a scrolling list showing you places of interest and their respective distances.  Meanwhile, you have the monster file of "legit," actual concrete data working in the background.
--Trespassers will be promptly riddled with bullets and other unpleasant projectiles.

--Survivors will treated with apologies, steak dinner, and a VIP tour of our facilities.

Czorio

  • Founder
  • Residential nutbag
  • *
  • Posts: 685
    • Youtube Channel
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2014, 01:02:05 pm »
Considering you are on a computer or something similar when you are viewing the gal-map ingame, you could assume that the computer knows every single route and pathway. Might be someway to tag certain systems as high-value or locations of importance, so that you can have that computer quickly create the shortest route for you. Of course, you'd first have to have visited the system before tagging it.

That would partially solve your long-range pathfinding issue.
"If you're in an equal fight, your tactics suck."

http://www.youtube.com/user/czorio4

Me2005

  • Founder
  • Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 2105
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2014, 01:52:36 pm »
The thing about a 3D map is that it needs to be able to pivot around your point of focus.  As the user interacts with it, our inner spatial genius makes instant sense of the relationship between points. But coverting it to 2D is problematic.

My experience is that this is not the case. I'll attach my map file for you to look at. The 2d map is way easier to use, to the point that it doesn't make sense to generate the data in 3d and thus skipping over needing to figure out how to do the most useful conversion (which I do by hand, but generating a 2d version out the gate would be a snap). A physical model, rather than a 2d representation of a 3d model on a screen, might be better; but we're not talking augmented reality and holograms here. Modifying Depth of Focus might have a useful effect, I can try that.

If you're talking about a large volume of data, you're just not going to find a balance that is both efficient/accurate and also user-friendly. Hence the partitions, to break that data in to more digestible portions.

The user (or casual viewer) doesn't need much more than immediately actionable information--here's where you are and what your neighborhood looks like, and here's a scrolling list showing you places of interest and their respective distances.  Meanwhile, you have the monster file of "legit," actual concrete data working in the background.

From my extensive Escape Velocity/Overide/Nova playing, having the whole (2d) map is the most useful way to view the information. You can plot a route quickly to the places you want to go (which often have arrows pointing to them in that game), you can account for any hypergates that may be en-route by reading the system information, you can immediately tell whether a system is hostile to you or not and quickly tell whether it provides useful services, and you can act on that information by plotting the best route for you.

... you could assume that the computer knows every single route and pathway. Might be someway to tag certain systems as high-value or locations of importance, so that you can have that computer quickly create the shortest route for you. Of course, you'd first have to have visited the system before tagging it.

...The trouble is that the shortest route isn't always the best, as outlined above. How can the computer know that you want to avoid systems that are hostile to you? How can the computer know that you want to trade food high since you can pick some up low at your mission start? It might be able to, but at some point it becomes more fiddly to negotiate with the computer's controls than to pick the route yourself off of a complete 2d map.

Now, if jumping point-to-point isn't as important as it was in EV, navigation speed may not be that important. EV Nova introduced a useful mini-map that pops up when you push a jump key and cycles between immediately available routes, and displays a few routes out from your position. That was mostly good for when you knew where you wanted to go and you didn't want to take your hands off the keyboard to open the map, since the game paused when you opened it normally but not with the mini.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 01:54:58 pm by Me2005 »
But you were dead a thousand times. Hopeless encounters successfully won. A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand. You follow the path, fitting into an infinite pattern. Yours to manipulate, to create and rebuild.

I know who you are.

You are destiny.

Czorio

  • Founder
  • Residential nutbag
  • *
  • Posts: 685
    • Youtube Channel
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2014, 02:27:50 pm »
Not really, current GPS systems can already take a lot of things into account, traffic jams, police scanners, etc. You are also forgetting the most important element in route planning, the human element.

If you want to trade food for a profit, you, as a thinking thing, must take this into account yourself. Your Nav-computer will not bother with those details, instead it will just do what you tell it to, get you the best route to that system that needs the food so badly from your current location, with, or without waypoints you set.
"If you're in an equal fight, your tactics suck."

http://www.youtube.com/user/czorio4

Aaron

  • BR Developer
  • Creative Director, ZanMgt
  • *****
  • Posts: 2024
  • Available on the IRC from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)
    • http://www.zanmgt.com
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2014, 02:36:01 pm »
It comes down to: Does the map *need* to be 3D?  Were Blockade Runner to be intended to be a little more arcade I might definitely opt for Czorio's 3D partition suggestion, but thinking about it further and I do think the EV:Nova jump map accomplishes the functionality best for getting where you need to get to.  It can be spiced up a bit of course, but gets the gist.

Still, I like the alternative thoughts. ^^

Edit:

Quote from: Czorio
Now, if jumping point-to-point isn't as important as it was in EV, navigation speed may not be that important.

We'll need to evolve it out a bit since we're talking a very different play-style, but EV (/Pirates) style trading is a goal.  We're likely going to want to have the jumping for trading purposes even faster than EVE:Online considering the game will not be an MMO.

« Last Edit: April 03, 2014, 02:39:44 pm by Aaron »
Stop by the IRC and say Hi! -- Online Dev Chat

Me2005

  • Founder
  • Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 2105
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2014, 02:56:56 pm »
Not really, current GPS systems can already take a lot of things into account, traffic jams, police scanners, etc. You are also forgetting the most important element in route planning, the human element.

If you want to trade food for a profit, you, as a thinking thing, must take this into account yourself. Your Nav-computer will not bother with those details, instead it will just do what you tell it to, get you the best route to that system that needs the food so badly from your current location, with, or without waypoints you set.

Yes, but I'm not sure it's faster to do it from a 3d view with autopilot vs. a 2d view without. EV's view (linked by aaron above) is super easy to navigate and autopilot isn't really necessary (except a simple "find/highlight" command), even for the hundreds to thousands of systems in-game.

The thought of this becoming, essentially, EV:3D:Multiplayer:FPS:Voxels/build your own ship fufills many, many childhood dreams (and hundreds of threads on the Ambrosia boards).
But you were dead a thousand times. Hopeless encounters successfully won. A man long dead, grafted to machines your builders did not understand. You follow the path, fitting into an infinite pattern. Yours to manipulate, to create and rebuild.

I know who you are.

You are destiny.

Aaron

  • BR Developer
  • Creative Director, ZanMgt
  • *****
  • Posts: 2024
  • Available on the IRC from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)
    • http://www.zanmgt.com
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2014, 03:25:04 pm »
A hybrid between a pseudo 3D/2D EV map and Czorio's partitioning concept I think could be a great combination.  The partitioning helps to encourage the player to explore, and some form of shape system would help you remember key locations better.

As this loverly MSPaint example presents:




For reference, EVE: Online's Galaxy Map, which although cool is I think a tad too intense for what we're after with BR.




Quote
The thought of this becoming, essentially, EV:3D:Multiplayer:FPS:Voxels/build your own ship fufills many, many childhood dreams (and hundreds of threads on the Ambrosia boards)
^^
Stop by the IRC and say Hi! -- Online Dev Chat

Cy83r

  • Founder
  • *
  • Posts: 1254
  • It's Shooowtime!
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2014, 11:40:15 pm »
Eve Online, the prettiest space themed economics spreadsheet portfolio and pyramid scheme there ever was.
Jibreel: Yeah but [Hufer] that's like [Axis] complaining that his Toyota Camry is stuck in the mud and you responding "Well my M1 Abrams doesn't seem to be having much trouble."

Aaron

  • BR Developer
  • Creative Director, ZanMgt
  • *****
  • Posts: 2024
  • Available on the IRC from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)
    • http://www.zanmgt.com
Re: Maps of SPACE!!!
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2014, 12:59:45 am »
Eve Online, the prettiest space themed economics spreadsheet portfolio and pyramid scheme there ever was.

I like mining rocks and pew-pewing NPC's... >.> <.< >.>
Stop by the IRC and say Hi! -- Online Dev Chat