Creating Local Space (1)

While I am working on the framework to generate the low-level detail, I can’t help myself but to work on the larger picture – and some actual setting data. Keep in mind that I already created one sector last year; I consider it my “draft”, and it will certainly inform many of the decisions I will be making.

For the first sector, I simply created a small grid of 3×3 sectors with a rough drawing of what I thought local space should look like. (In reality, these should be rectangular.)

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I’ve refined this method somewhat. I created the following in The GIMP:

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Black are “sparse” or “rift” regions, white are regions of greater star density,

The process to create such an image is fairly simple:

  1. Create a new image. I used landscape, A4 size. But this doesn’t matter.
  2. Filters -> Render -> Clouds -> Plasma.  I used the maximum Turbulence.
  3. Colors -> Desaturate
  4. Colors -> Threshold. Play with the sliders until it looks nice
  5. Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur. I used Blur method “ILR” and radius 30×30, though you may have to change this depending on your image. You want to significantly soften the edges, while keeping the general shapes recognizable.
  6. Create a second layer.
  7. On the second layer: Filter -> Render -> Clouds -> Solid Noise. I used detail 15, x and y size of 16, and both Turbulent and Tilable disabled.
  8. Move this new layer underneath the original layer.
  9. Set the original layer’s mode to “multiply”.
  10. Merge the layer down.
  11. User Colors-> Threshold, play with the sliders again until you get nice distribution.
  12. If you dislike the results, try inverting colors or different random seeds for your plasma clouds.
  13. Don’t be afraid to manually edit the image after step 11 – I did!

Placing our Sector

Note that the image doesn’t have any sort of scale, which gives us some flexibility. I used Inkscape to place the same 3×3 sector grid, and I resized it a few times until I had the “right” fit. I decided on this location:

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As is the tradition, X marks the spot – the sector of my setting. I picked this location because there is a lot of “interesting geography” adjacent to it.

Here’s the zoomed section, with subsectors stenciled in as well:

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Looking at the map, I think that these are good probabilities:

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I estimate a total of 236 systems for this, or just over half the number of systems in my draft sector. If this ends up feeling too sparse, I can obviously shift the probabilities up a bit.

We’ll do that next time.

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