Real Atlas of Space

I've always liked this Atlas of the Universe site. It's fun to compare the Traveller Universe's take on the Orion Arm with something a little more realistic.

(Note that in the case of the Traveller map, coreward is up; in the other, coreward is down.) Ω


Mobile maps - not just a joke any more!

I added two features to the mobile map page.

The first is simple - it now remembers your map size preference using a cookie, so if you visit on a PDA you can select the size you want and it'll remember. (If you have cookies disabled it should just remember within the session, but I haven't actually tested it.)

The second is actually useful - search! This is handy when you have a PDA at your disposal but not a full desktop computer and want to check on something. For example, I'm reading Gateway to the Stars (a Traveller novel) right now and I wanted to see if places they referenced were on the map. (They aren't.)

The UX is a little clunky. Suggestions? Split it into two pages? Put search results at the top? Ω


Empty Quarter (literally)

Thanks to Jason "Flynn" Kemp I have much more reasonable data for the Empty Quarter sector - the old "Sunbane" data was based off of the Atlas but didn't have credits associated with it. Worst case with the new data: we know who to blame. Fortunately, it's excellent, so I don't think we have any worries. And thanks to his excellent fanzine Stellar Reaches, I also have xboat routes - at least, for three of the four quadrants so far. (Hence the title.)

I've also added subsector names for the Old Expanses sector from High Passage #3. Four different names were published in Challenge #39 along the edges of the Hinterworlds maps, but the Old Expanses data matches the 3 subsectors I have from High Passage #3 and #4, so I figured I might as well keep the same data source for the sector.

I can still glean some routes from those 3 subsectors, but otherwise - ulp! - I'm dry. I really need Travellers' Digest #11 (Massilia), #12 (rest of Old Expanses) and #15 (Daibei) to fill in the big missing chunks in the Grand Tour data. #8 and #9 would also be nice to round out Core.

Anyone want to help? Ω


Ealiyasiyw, Corridor, and more

Yay - Travellers' Digest #10 and #18 arrived, along with The Early Adventures, which has the important bits from issues #1-4.

Travellers' Digest #18 gives us Ealiyasiyw, which bridges the gap between Reaver's Deep and Riftspan Reaches. If you squint, you can almost see the fastest route to run away from the rats and (most importantly) the cats back to Mora.

Corridor is somewhat filled in by both #18 and #3. #18 gives the full sector, but its circa Year 1119, and the Vargr incursions have swept through most of the spinward parts of the sector. This cuts off the Domain of Deneb - by severing the xboat routes! Since my map is nominally CT (Year 1112) this sucks. However, #3 gives us a Year 1101 map of subsector E, which at least lets us fill in the edge against Deneb.

Issue #10 gives us the subsector names for Core as well as subsectors M (Cadion) and K (Chant), so those have routes now. Don't look too closely at the worlds, though. As Robert Eaglestone points out the data I have isn't great - it's the M0 data from T4 which doesn't match DGP's data - which only covered a few subsectors anyway. We're trying to reconcile the data.

Up next: The Empty Quarter, c/o Jason "Flynn" Kemp and Stellar Reaches. And possibly parts of The Old Expanses from High Passage. Ω


Hinterworlds and Next Steps

That's it - I'm dry. I added Hinterworlds routes from Challenge #39. Note that if you look at the maps in that resource, you'll find there are two distinct sets of routes - the large "trade runs" that span the sector shown on the full sector map, and smaller communication (?) routes in the subsector maps. I went with the communication ... but I'm still pondering the decision.

(As an aside: the sector map is really poorly put together, which is surprising given who worked on it and who published it. I'll write that off to a bad month.)

I (hopefully) have Travellers' Digest #10 and #18 inbound, which means bits of Core and all of Corridor and Ealiyasiyw's routes should be in soon - assuming my favorite source is correct.

So what's next?

I'm thinking I'll spin up a quick web service and have the page ping it when you scroll (after a short delay, of course). It'll pull the credits for whatever is centered - subsector names, world data, route data, dates, etc - and display it as an overlay in the corner of a map. Ω


Dangling Routes

BeRKA asked in a what I thought about the issue of dangling routes - routes depicted as leading from a sector to a neighboring sector, but with no appropriate target in the accepted data for the target sector. One option is to treat certain maps (e.g. Spinward Marches) as canonical down to the angle of the departing route and try and fix the data in the target sector. Another is to fix the angle of the departing route so that it lands on a documented world. BeRKA likes the second approach.

I agree with changing the angle, and preserving the route if possible. My philosophy is that you should respect the intent and knowledge of the creators of a map, and to assume that other cartographers had/have this philosophy as well, to within the limits of the resources and time available.

When the Spinward Marches map was created, nothing was documented about nearby sectors. Therefore, the intent was that there was an outgoing route, but the target was guesswork.

The next big data set was the Atlas of the Imperium, which is lacking routes altogether. From that, I assume that the level of detail wasn't considered. Possibly, the scope of matching the routes was outside the time available. Alternately, the data may have been generated in such a way (e.g. seeded random numbers) that tweaking the data was unpalatable. Finally, going back to the intent of the Spinward Marches map creator, the outgoing routes could be considered as "guesswork" only, and up to later revision.

Another reason for inconsistencies is that the earlier data simply wasn't available. While everyone must have had access to the Spinward Marches map, as you get farther away from GDW and DGP as sources you can't assume the resources were available to everyone. Time also takes its toll - tracking down DGP resources is very time consuming now. Ask MJD how he tackled the Gateway sector!

So anyway: when I run into a dangling route I try to match it up as best I can, preserving the source and the target angle if possible.

Also, regarding DGP data, the Travellers' Digest "Grand Tour" Adventure followed a definite path around Charted Space: Deneb, Corridor, Vland, Lishun, Core, Massilia, Old Expanses, Solomani Rim, Magyar, Daibei, Reaver's Deep, Dark Nebula, Ealiyasiyw, Riftspan Reaches, Trojan Reach, Spinward Marches. This gives you a precedence order and can explain some inconsistencies - for example Magyar was probably charted several months before Dark Nebula, so Magyar may be missing some routes implied by Dark Nebula. Ω


No Water Present

One of the nagging issues with my map was what color to use for the worlds.

The classic Spinward Marches map uses blue for "water present" and white for "no water present." At first I'd assumed that "no water present" simply meant Hydrographics=0. But comparing this output to maps of the Regina subsector didn't produce the right results - there were many more "no water present" worlds.

I asked on the TML and did some poking around, to no avail - the Atmosphere code had some effect, but it wasn't obvious or documented, so I added it to my "TODO" list. Looking at TD #6's map of the Shuna subsector of Lishun I was inspired to check the rules again - Book 3 and MegaTraveller Referee's Handbook. And there it was.

So, for reference, water is present if:
  • Hydrographics > 0 (duh)

  • Atmosphere > 1 (else, ice capped)

  • Atmosphere < A (else, exotic, so a fluid hydrosphere if Hydro > 0)

That seems to work.


Lishun and Magyar Routes

Thanks to The Travellers' Digest #6 and 14 we have XBoat routes for Lishun and Magyar sectors. As noted on the Traveller Sector Information page, the Magyar routes don't distinguish between Solomani and Imperial borders. In general, though, the DGP data is pretty good, so I assume there is some simple explanation.

Interviews with Joe Fugate (possibly in this thread, maybe in TD#21 or MTJ#4) indicate that when DGP was taking ownership of the Traveller Universe they put copies of the entire Atlas region up on the wall and started plotting all of the mains. The XBoat routes I've transcribed so far seem to confirm this attention to detail - the routes do not follow logical trade routes (as some have agonized over) but do connect mains. It is important to remember that the purpose of the XBoats network is to quickly spread information over long distances using fast (Jump-4) ships. It must be assumed that information will flow along the mains via J-1 and J-2 traders, a week or two behind the XBoats - meanwhile, the XBoats have spread the news 4-8 parsecs further. Ω

More Routes

Added routes for the Solomani Rim (GDW/Supplement 10), Dark Nebula and Reaver's Deep, Vland and the whole Domain of Deneb (DGP/The Travellers' Digest).

Colors aren't right yet - I'm still waffling on this since in the classic Spinward Marches poster they're green for everyone (Imperial, Darrian and Zhodani). Also, there are many "dangling routes" along the edges due to data inconsistencies. Ω



I've started adding routes (XBoat, Jump-5, and so on) to the maps. Thus far it's limited to Riftspan Reaches (c/o Travellers' Digest #19), the Spinward Marches, and the Gateway Domain - the latter two based on work done by J. Greely over at his Gateway to PDF resource page.

The Riftspan Reaches looks the coolest, if you haven't seen the route before. Zoom in a few steps, and trace the J-5 route of the furry land junkies as they seek to encroach on what is clearly Humaniti's rightful domain.

If anyone wants to help out transcribing routes, let me know. It's pretty easy to do a sector - just a little time consuming! It's all going into a nice XML dataset that's easily sharable, too.

Right now the routes slam right into the worlds - there's no attempt to make them end just shy of the world. But it ends up looking "pretty good" so I'll leave it like that for now. My goal of rendering the Deluxe Traveller Spinward Marches poster on the fly for arbitrary sectors is getting closer. Ω


Sector/Subsector Search

Searching now returns matching Sector and Subsector names, and will navigate at the appropriate scale. This required changes to the search engine and the web page, so you may need to Refresh your browser window.

And a few more tweaks while I was there:
  • The label option for Sectors - Selected now implies all sectors once you have zoomed in.
  • There is now a "Large" option on the mobile page which makes the tile size 192x192, which is better for QVGA screens like Pocket PC


Hexes, Small Worlds, Subsector Names

I made three quick additions to ring in the new year:
  • Non-empty hexes now include the hex number (e.g. Reference/Core has 0140); this does make the display a bit more cluttered but it's far more usable when trying to navigate
  • Small worlds - worlds with UWP size code "S", for example e.g. Gateway /Gateway 1220 - now render with the "Asteroid Belt" glyph. There doesn't appear to be a standard for these, but it was definitely wrong before.
  • Subsector names are now displayed when zoomed in. I'm not happy with the appearance, so suggestions are welcome. Also, only a few sectors have subsector names listed; I'm adding them to the data file a few at a time.

Let me know what you think!