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nolgroth
10-10-2009, 09:04 PM
Greetings all. I think I may have a go at this month's challenge. This is a preliminary workup of the, as yet unnamed, solar sector that I am going to be working on. I'll probably post frequent updates.

Ascension
10-10-2009, 09:15 PM
I like this so far. I know, not much of a comment but I don't have any crits :)

nolgroth
10-10-2009, 09:18 PM
Thanks. I just noticed how few entries (two at this posting) there were and I figured they were lonely. :)

I appreciate any feedback so thank you.

Gidde
10-10-2009, 11:04 PM
I love the planets, they're all very cool. I do have one tiny suggestion though -- the orbit lines are popping out to me as much as the planets are, which seems off. You might think about decreasing the opacity on the orbit rings so that the planets catch your eye before the rings do.

nolgroth
10-10-2009, 11:17 PM
I love the planets, they're all very cool. I do have one tiny suggestion though -- the orbit lines are popping out to me as much as the planets are, which seems off. You might think about decreasing the opacity on the orbit rings so that the planets catch your eye before the rings do.I was debating that myself. Thanks.

nolgroth
10-10-2009, 11:43 PM
Update:
- Added labels for several of the inner worlds.
- Muted the orbital rings.

languard
10-11-2009, 12:27 AM
As far as visual goes, it looks good. However, I don't think I could ever bring myself to use it in a game. Even with Sci-Fi level technology, colonizing a planet that close to the sun is not going to be feasible, at least not to my mind. Radiation levels would be insane, and the extreme hot/cold cycle wouldn't help much either.

nolgroth
10-11-2009, 12:35 AM
The setting is pure Space Opera so the radiation deal is pretty much solved with rubber science force fields. For that matter, the temperature could also be handled by the same explanation.

I am toying with this idea of somehow demonstrating space stations and such. That would help indicate that the "colony" close to the sun is a mobile research station that keeps itself parked on the dark side of the planet. Working with straight visuals and no accompanying text can be a challenge in and of itself.

Edit: And this map is still in very early stages. It is built upon many, many layers that allow me to manipulate where exactly a planet and it's label goes.

Thanks for the feedback.

Jeff_Wilson63
10-11-2009, 03:25 AM
I have no idea if it suits your concept, but if you're going to add space stations, you might want to consider adding clusters in the trojan positions of your gas giant. Jupiter's trojans have about the same amount of matter as the asteroid belt, and packed in to a smaller area. Being just outside the stellar snow line they also tend to be good places to get oxygen/water and nitrogen/ammonia.

nolgroth
10-11-2009, 05:20 AM
I have no idea if it suits your concept, but if you're going to add space stations, you might want to consider adding clusters in the trojan positions of your gas giant. Jupiter's trojans have about the same amount of matter as the asteroid belt, and packed in to a smaller area. Being just outside the stellar snow line they also tend to be good places to get oxygen/water and nitrogen/ammonia.Probably a good idea. First time I've done a sector map like this so I am experimenting with everything. For the moment I have solidified a couple of things.

UPDATE:
- Tightened up the label boxes and changed the border colors to correspond to the solar "zone" that the planet dwells in. Purple represents the Black zone.
- Added in, then subsequently removed some actual trade route designators. They resembled the borders of the Green and Blue zone planets' labels.


NEXT STEPS:
- Legend
- Revised Trade Lanes
- Rename to indicate this map shows only the inner planets.
- Possible additional remote stations that are not orbiting a planet(oid).
- Possible additional reference for planets beyond the inner systems.

Gandwarf
10-11-2009, 06:27 AM
Looks nice, thanks for joining the challenge. We don't get many space entries in challenges anyway, so this is great.

Gidde
10-11-2009, 11:56 AM
I'm not sure, but I think the latest WIP tags need to be taken off of everything but the last one.

This is looking great! The orbital rings are much better.

On the Mercury-ish planet: Blue Mars had a Mercury outpost on a track keeping station at the terminus between light and dark ... you may want to think about something like that rather than on the dark side proper, since then you can harness some of that solar energy :)

ravells
10-11-2009, 05:10 PM
Looking really good Nolgroth! Glad you decided to jump into this month's competition!

Juggernaut1981
10-11-2009, 06:19 PM
What I love most about this is the fact that it's a Modern Map. I was hoping that this would spark ideas for all kinds of maps.

nolgroth
10-11-2009, 07:22 PM
Looking really good Nolgroth! Glad you decided to jump into this month's competition!Thank you. I try to enter more often, but the last year has been its own challenge. And really, I play far too many video games. :)

nolgroth
10-12-2009, 07:17 PM
Update:
- Fixed Planetary Zones.
- Added outer planets.
- Added AU distances for the planets.
- Changed title a bit.

Not sure where to go from here. Trade routes in such a changing environment are equally as volatile so I decided not to place specific trade routes from planet to planet.

A legend would be nice, but there is little information that is not explained directly on the map.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Jeff_Wilson63
10-12-2009, 08:11 PM
A couple of ideas occurred to me, but the only one that seems tenable is the placement of a few "trade ship orbits." If your design has relatively slow orbital travel (or fast travel is expensive), setting up a moderately-large asteroid to cut across the various planetary orbits and carry trade goods can work. If you decide to use this idea, you might want to shrink the sun.

nolgroth
10-12-2009, 08:55 PM
Well I appreciate the feedback, but I think that I have the map finished now. There are probably a few things I might have done differently, but I had fun building this map. If I ever get lots of time to play with the concept, I might try building another sector map in Flash. One that actually has the planets orbiting at their proper speeds around the sun and that sort of thing.

Final Update:
- Added a "stat block" for the system.
- Moved some elements around to balance the map out as best as I could.

Gidde
10-12-2009, 09:52 PM
This looks fantastic.

Not really a crit on the map, since I think it looks just fine as-is, but aren't the "rays" on stars a product of seeing them through atmosphere? Again, I'm not suggesting you take them off, I think they add something artistically that would be lost without them. Just musing.

Coyotemax
10-13-2009, 02:55 AM
You also get rays and glow from the lenses you use to look at them, or as it refracts through the viewport :)

nolgroth
10-13-2009, 05:39 AM
This looks fantastic.Thanks!


Not really a crit on the map, since I think it looks just fine as-is, but aren't the "rays" on stars a product of seeing them through atmosphere? Again, I'm not suggesting you take them off, I think they add something artistically that would be lost without them. Just musing.Are you talking about the ring around the star or the general illumination? I made that by using the Supernova filter in Gimp and then set the Layer Mode to Grain Merge. I thought it sort of washed out the colors a little, but without it the map would be very dark. I turned down the Opacity on that layer a little to diminish the wash out, but it still tends to show the rays. And as a neat little side effect, that ring around the star pretty well marks where it would be a less than stellar* idea to travel. I was thinking about trying a Foreground to Transparent Gradient with a near white color to see if that has a less "ray-like" effect.

And I thought of something that needs adding so I am not truly done yet. Since I built this map specifically for an actual space opera campaign I've been running, the legend should have some indication of the Jump Point distance. For a Sol type star, that distance is 1 ly. This star is a bit brighter so the distance is a tad farther along.

So I suppose I am not completely finished yet. Can't do any updates here at work, but I should be able to post a completed version no later than Thursday and probably much sooner than that.


*Pun intended.

nolgroth
10-13-2009, 05:47 AM
You also get rays and glow from the lenses you use to look at them, or as it refracts through the viewport :)Uh yeah! That's what it is. Yeah. That's the ticket. :D

Gidde
10-13-2009, 10:08 AM
Great explanation CM, I hadn't thought about lenses and windows/viewports. :)

Looking forward to seeing the final, Nolgroth!

nolgroth
10-14-2009, 07:39 AM
Really, Truly, Honestly Final Update

Changed the legend to add Jump Point Distance, Insterstellar Imports and Insterstellar Exports.
Attempted to try a white to transparent gradient with truly awful results. Stuck with lighting the way it has been since the get go.


I realized after I looked again that I had merged the entire legend together for easy movement. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So I had to rebuild from scratch. The first time I literally made each item its own text layer and manually pieced them together to form the legend. I took a shortcut this time and split the legend into a sort of table, with the categories in two text boxes (GIMP doesn't handle different sized text in the same box) and the data in another text box. Worked out pretty well though there is an ever so slight offset to a couple of the lines. It is subtle though and I don't think it detracts from the map.

I drew the information for the planetary zones for the star type from the Star HERO book. I based Jump Point distance off of the stellar mass of the star. I figure that will be standard on any future planetary system maps I make.

Planetary Distance was measured by using the Measure Tool to figure out the distance from one object to the next and dividing the number of pixels by 100. Those results were then added together. While not exactly following Bode's Law, I think the planetary spacing is approximate enough for anything but the hardest of hardcore Hard Science games.

The map is more "busy" than I thought it would be. I was considering writing some sort of extract or summary into another text box, but I think that would lead to an outright cluttered appearance. As is, I think the map is complete. I am happy how it turned out at any rate and will probably use the same basic technique to build more of the type in the future.

Build Time: Roughly 15 hours of combined work spread over three days. Future builds will be less time consuming now that I have the techniques down.

Tools Used: Gimp 2.6.6 with a Science Fiction Script-Function to build the planets and star.

Copyright: Copyright 2009, James Cook. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/us/).

EDIT: Fixed shadow on Peresei.

### Latest WIP ###

ravells
10-14-2009, 12:16 PM
There is so much I love about this map. The semi-transparent info boxes (should the lettering be semi-transparent too?), and particularly the font you've used. The planets are rendered beautifully (although I think Peresei might be missing a shadow on the night side). I just can't help thinking that it needs just one more thing to make it a 'killer' map. I've been racking my brain as to what it might be and the best I can come up with (which is vague at best) is some sort of interaction to show how the trades work - something dynamic - or put another way, something which brings all the facts and figures to life. --- but I don't know what that 'something' is!

It's a fantastic map as it stands though!

All the best

Ravs

nolgroth
10-14-2009, 03:45 PM
I have thought long and hard on how to demonstrate actual trade routes. With a map like this, you essentially draw/capture a snapshot of one moment in a very dynamic environment. I imagine that, unlike a static continent arrangement, the trade routes adjust to the position of the planets. I honestly don't know how I would roll one out.

Now you have me thinking again and quite probably going to make me a liar again as I fiddle some more. Not to mention I want to adjust the Opacity on the text layers too. Just to see. :)

nolgroth
10-14-2009, 04:33 PM
RE: Text transparency; just doesn't work for me. It doesn't truly make the text transparent until the Opacity is so low that it is barely visible. All it does is make it a dull gray color.

RE: Trade routes; still haven't come up with a solution as yet. I have a few days left in the competition to mull it over. If I come up with something particularly clever or innovative, I will update. If not, then at least I have this as a finished project.

Thanks for the kind words and suggestions.

Roger
10-15-2009, 12:05 AM
Very nice. I'm not sure I love the texture of the star, but I can definitely live with it.


Cheers,
Roger

Sapiento
10-19-2009, 02:03 AM
Looks amazing!

nolgroth
10-19-2009, 11:33 AM
Looks amazing!Thank you.