Well as you know I have mapped my Sci Fi setting before (here).
However, that map never quite satisfied me, mostly because it was so large-scale that it had to omit detail. I don't care that much about the third dimension, but it bothered me that I could never, ever, hope to map every star system there is. So I took a step back and began to map out near-Earth space.
The Jump connections have a max range of 7.7 light years, distances between stars greater than this is not shown. The 7.7 light-years limit was originally used in that great RPG, 2300AD, but as I mapped out these worlds I discovered that GDW had picked 7.7 light years for a reason: Less, and you can't go anywhere; more, and you don't get a very tree-like structure to your space travel. So I decided it'd be silly to pick some other value just to do things differently, at least once this map is done it could also serve as an updated 2300AD map.
And, yes. This is hand-created, and I should really automate the process. The entire star list I am working off of is very short - it contains only about 2600 stars.
I totally understand about the issues with detail. Will you be finishing your other map? I really hope so. It was your original map that sparked me to create my own. I do like this map as well. I've been looking for a way to create a map of our seller neighborhood. Are you going to develop this any more?
The "other map" is definitely on hold. I'm going to develop that universe from the ground up, or at least that is the current plan. Let me add the current wip of this map and you'll see what my current issue is.....
....it gets really messy really quickly.
It looks like a great start. By the way, I've been looking through your Enderra journal. I absolutely love it! It's a shame that you have to be far across the ocean and not closer by. I'd love to talk more! :)
Well I have email and instant messenger and I love to talk about world building so don't hesitate - send me a PM with what you prefer using. Also, if you are on enderra.com, I looove feedback, don't be afraid to leave comments. ;)
As for the map, well... you do not find it hard to follow those jumplanes?
I like this so far. I think you might want to fade the jumplanes a bit to match the distance text. That way they don't overpower the star icons or the star names. I think that would make it a lot less confusing to look at.
Originally Posted by bartmoss
Edit: Also, You could potentially zoom in a little more and thin the jumplanes a little but leave the text and star icons the same size, which would put some more white space between the stars. That might help, but it also might push the map to be too big dimensionally.
You could also consider creating a larger scale map that shows only major transit hubs separated into colored regions, then create more detailed zoomed in maps of those regions in this style. The zoomed in maps would show the major transit hubs with a different star icon which would make it easy to orientate yourself to the larger scale map. Some jumplanes would lead off map, and potentially some stars from adjacent regions would show up as well.
Just suggestions. I think what you have so far is pretty darn good as it is though.
I suggest to give up the absolute positioning. The interesting information is the relative distance of two arbitrary stars and since you lose the z-coordinate (or its graphic representation) anyways you could rearrange the stars to simplify the jump line patterns.
I'm working on a 1ly = 1cm scale. The resulting map will be ~70cm in diameter. I don't really want to zoom the scale in, as this will make it really hard to print the thing eventually. I could make the stars, labels etc smaller, but they are already tiny. Yes eventually I will want major / minor routes, that should help a little, but until I know what colonies are where, that's not possible either. Omitting star system is kind of moot since the point of this exercise is to include all stars; I had a large scale "galactic" map that had way less detail and in the end it did not satisfy me.
Thanks for the suggestions though.
I did experiment with creating basically a flowchart of stars; I actually prefer the absolute positioning since it DOES help me figure out what stars are close enough to each other to have jump routes. Yes I should really script that. Anyway, for actual practical use later on the absolute positioning is not really too useful. I'll attach a flowchart of these stars:
Since this was an experiment, I eventually stopped putting distances on the connections. Sol/Earth is a box shape, it is on the left end of the branch in the lower right corner. The stars in the upper right corner are not yet connected to the rest - there is actually another cluster of 20+ stars that is unconnected to the rest and which I didn't include yet.
First, the absolute positioning map:
then the "relative positioning" map:
As you can see I added a whole bunch of stars - there are 240 stars (counting multiple stars within systems for the sake of simplicity) out of my list of 2600 stars.
The abstract "relative" map should now include all stars that are connected to at least one other star.
That unconnected blob of stars in the upper right (of the "relative" map) bothers me, and with each star I add I hope to finally connect it. No luck, so far. If mankind is to ever explore that region, they will have to get there with a huge detour. (Of course I can always cheat and add undiscovered brown dwarfs or what have you).
Anyway, I think having this kind of structure to a region of space is much, much more interesting than the Trekqueque "push a button and go anywhere at the speed of plot".
Considering the expected distribution of stars by mass, it would be exceptionally unlikely that there aren't at least a hundred undiscovered brown dwarf stars on a map of this scale. We just can't detect them very far from Earth at the moment. (We discover them at the moment almost exclusively by the influence they have over the stars that we can see.)
I was writing some code to generate a starmap/jumpmap for a strategy game I was working on and I ran into a similar problem with the distances and linking groups of stars while keeping a relatively tree shaped distribution. I ended up making the maximum distance of a jump link a function of the masses of the stars to be linked.
So two high mass stars would have a maximum distance between them for a jump link much larger than a high mass star and a low mass star, and much much longer than two low mass stars.
I never settled on exactly what the distances would be, I generated hundreds of random maps testing out different parameters. The last time I was working on it, I was leaning towards a function/algorithm that made low mass stars have only 1 to 4 links of very short distance and high mass stars many many links with greater distances. Which gave natural choke points/trade routes between the high mass stars and either long and cumbersome routes to avoid those choke points using the low mass stars. I should check to see if I still have the code around here somewhere.
Edit: I can't seem to find the code for the most recent version of the stuff I was working on, but here are a few screen shots of an early version of the software.