Aly's Starmap Matrix Evolved

Excerpt…

This week’s episode is a long time coming for me. The idea began with the release of the Star Citizen ARK Starmap and evolved over time, as I delved into the data to understand how it could be used to inform my gameplay. I manually compiled a Starmap matrix and shared it with the community via a Google Sheet.  The purpose was to present the data in a manner that was easier to consume and scan, especially on mobile devices. It’s not as sophisticated as the Starmap itself but served its purpose.  I’ve now matured that idea in an auto-populated website.

Show Transcript

Welcome to another episode of Casual Citizen. An on-going series about the upcoming first person MMO, Star Citizen by Cloud Imperium Games.  I’m your host Alysianah from the Mystic Worlds Gaming Blog. This week’s episode is a long time coming for me. The idea began with the release of the Star Citizen ARK Starmap and evolved over time, as I delved into the data to understand how it could be used to inform my gameplay. I manually compiled a Starmap matrix and shared it with the community via a Google Sheet.  The purpose was to present the data in a manner that was easier to consume and scan, especially on mobile devices. It’s not as sophisticated as the Starmap itself but served its purpose.  I’ve now matured that idea in an auto-populated website.

Feel free to follow along on the live site which is http://contentcreatorsunlimited.com/. I’m reusing a domain I had available when I began this journey. A future release will change it over to the permanent domain I have in place.

Please sit back, relax and enjoy.

BEGIN TRANSMISSION

I started down this road after becoming intrigued by the information presented in the official ARK Starmap. It was entertaining to explore what will become our physical universe and read the bits of lore it contained. I enjoy the lore for its storytelling aspects. And I also endeavor to include lore and star system information in my content, to enhance the context of the topic being discussed. The star system information is also very relevant to player careers, a huge focus for me in MMOs.

This site reflects a desire to have the star system information more accessible and create opportunities to combine it with relevant lore from the Galactic Guides. The ARK Starmap itself is amazing. It’s useful for many tasks and not for others.

For example, a player is starting out in the mining career.

They might want to know things like:

  • What are the safest UEE star systems that contain asteroid belts?
  • What are the systems closest to where their ship is that contain asteroid belts?
  • What asteroid belts contain common minerals suited to beginning miners?

You’d be hard pressed to quickly or easily answer these questions using the ARK Starmap.

A group of friends wants to organize a refueling run using the Starfarer. They’re going to have escorts, some of whom want to engage in local combat while the Starfarer is sitting around sucking up vapors.

  • What are the star systems that contain gas giants?
  • Of those, which have a moderate amount of combat activity?

Again, it would be tricky and time consuming to use the ARK Starmap to answer these questions. They’re better suited to an environment where you can see information about multiple star systems at once, search for specific star system attributes, filter and sort the data returned. This is what I’ve tried to accomplish in a straightforward and simplistic manner. It ain’t fancy but it works.

BASIC FEATURES

  • Daily retrieval of data from the official ARK Starmap – frequency will be increased as necessary
  • Starmap Matrix page that shows all known star systems
    • Designed to support easy scanning of high level system data
    • Supports searching for a specific system
    • Clicking column headings will sort the matrix by that attribute
    • Clicking a star system name goes to its Detailed System Composition
  • Detailed Star System Composition
    • Shows all celestial objects within a single star system
  • Star System Dossiers
    • Combines matrix elements and detailed system composition view
    • Prefiltered to specific player careers
      • Refueling – star systems that have gas planets. Is relevant to refueling career/ships.
      • Mining  – star systems that have asteroid belts or fields. Is relevant to mining career.
      • Green Planets  – star systems that have green planets. Is relevant to careers that rely on populations of consumers – import, export, passenger transport, etc.
      • Fair Chance Act – star systems designated as protected for developing species. Is relevant to science and potentially contraband and black market activities.
      • Trade – coming in next release – relevant to cargo hauling opportunities, import, export and black market

CLOSER LOOK AT THE STARMAP MATRIX

  • Lists all known star systems.
  • Intended as a quick way of scanning basic star system information.
  • Assists in identifying systems that may warrant a more detailed review.
  • Designed to answer “which systems…” type questions
    • Contain two stars?
    • Belong to the UEE?
    • Have high or low populations, economies and/or danger?

Use the following features to answer those types of questions:

  • Each of the columns can be used to sort the data in the table by clicking the column heading such as “System Name” or “Type” or “Population”, etc.  The first click sorts A to Z. Clicking a second time sorts Z to A.
  • You can search for a specific system by typing the name in the search bar located directly above the table and pressing Enter.  Delete the value and press enter again, to see all systems.
  • Population, Economy and Danger use stoplight coloring metaphor. It’s a method for more quickly identifying good, poor and bad performance. This can be tricky when it comes to player professions since good and bad can be subjective. In this case I used it to denote volume – how much exists according to the starmap.
    • High economy or population will be green. Low will be red. Conversely, high danger will be red and low will be green.
  • To see more details about a single star system click it’s name.  This will take you to the next page we’re about to discuss, the Detailed Star System Composition page.

CLOSER LOOK AT THE DETAILED SYSTEM COMPOSITION DOSSIER

The intent of System Composition page is a deep dive into a single star system.

  • Displays all of a star system’s known celestial bodies and jump points.
  • Includes the descriptions and other useful information.
  • Celestial objects are grouped by Type – Stars, Planets, Jump Points, Man Made, Asteroid Belts and Satellites.
  • Next release will combine information gleaned from the Galactic Guides.
  • There’s more information available but I’m still sifting through it.  Remember, this is a work in progress.

MULTI-SYSTEM DOSSIER PAGES – PUTTING DATA IN TIGHTER CONTEXT

The more context you can incorporate into information, the more useful it becomes for answering specific questions. This idea manifests itself in what I’m calling Dossier pages. Dossiers combine Starmap matrix, System Composition and lore into predefined scenarios, where each scenario represents player career opportunities such as mining, fuel collection, cargo hauling, etc.

Dossier pages show multiple star systems so contain fewer data points than the System Composition page.  It’s just enough celestial data +  lore and user contributed data in the future, to assist in logistics planning.

I enjoy having data at my fingertips to help inform decisions. It’s a natural desire for me, given that I’m a data analyst turned product manager for analytic solutions. This natural mode of behavior supercharged by resolve to make the available data more consumable.

All of the dossier pages behave similarly :

  • Initially shows all star systems that meet the intent of that page
  • Support multi-system filtering
  • Supports multi government alignment filtering
  • Planet information within each star system section can be sorted by clicking column headings
  • Lists the jump points associated with all systems currently displayed to help identify common pathing for route planning
  • Jump Point table can be sorted by clicking column headings

RECAP

I consider the Matrix view and System Composition pages to be the fundamental locations for investigating what we know about the physical Star Citizen universe. The matrix is the designed to support quickly scanning through the known star systems.  The System Composition is the deep dive view where you confirm that a star system will meet your needs. If you’re doing logistical planning for a specific career, check to see if there’s a dossier page that might be helpful.  

While Google Chrome is the recommended browser for this site it should work with IE.  Some of the pages such as the Matrix work quite well with in iPad too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and will check out Alysianah Noire’s World of Star Citizen at http://contentcreatorsunlimited.com/.

There’s more to the site than the Starmap data, so take time to explore it.  Until next time be kind and fly safe!

END TRANSMISSION


Big Ole Update

TIME IS FLYING BY

The past few weeks have been quite busy. The week before last I was sick for 3 days. A short duration flu-like episode. I was sick enough that I had to take 2 days off from work. I usually end up losing my voice as a result because of sinus and allergies issues. Colds tend to hit me in the chest and throat the most. Luckily, that didn’t happen this time.

Halloween has come and gone, which to me, signals the end of the year. November and December always seem to rush by in a frantic blur of shopping, cooking, hosting, cleaning and overeating. It’s been a little more subdued the past two years because of my brother’s passing on Christmas morning, the day before his 42nd birthday. But we have to keep the show going for all the children, so we do the best we can. I’m grateful not to have little ones. After kids have opened their gifts I can disappear if I’m feeling overly sad, without having to worry about ruining someone else’s holiday.

ALYSIANAH’S WORLD

I’m still very consumed with Alysianah’s World of Star Citizen. I’m working on the final set of profession related dossier pages and digging through the mountain of lore that’s been released so far. Plucking out and categorizing lore that’s relevant to the careers is a huge undertaking. And for now, I end up doing all the entries twice. First into a spreadsheet and then into the website database.  Doing the spreadsheet is a safety net until the site performance stabilizes.  We’re having erratic behavior with the WordPress mechanic we’re using to automate importing data from the RSI ARK Starmap, called WP Cron.

Unlike a Windows Cron job, the WP version is scheduled BUT depends on website traffic too. Trying to get very specific update time has been a test of patience. It will go from updating once a day to updating every hour which is completely debilitating to the site performance.  When that happens the backend databases become unresponsive, saves fail and pages crash, all of which may cause me to lose data that I was entering at the time. For now, the safest way to ensure I don’t lose information, is to collect it offline first versus entering it directly into the site as I find it.  That way I can do a comparison if the site starts acting the fool.

I expect to have two updates to Alysianah’s World in this last part of 2016. The one that’s underway now to add the final dossier pages for quite some time, which should hit in 2 to 3 weeks. In December, I want to work on incorporating jump point sizes on the back-end, in preparation for including jump point planning in 2017. On the front-end, I’ll at least display Jump Point size information on the existing dossier pages.

WHAT I’M PLAYING

I want to be careful about burning out on Star Citizen. I haven’t had much gaming time available but when I have, I turned to other games. I’m also taking a break from watching SC videos and Twitch Streams.

I’ve dabbled in World of Warcraft Legion, very casually leveling up my Paladin to 105, halfway to the new max level. The most enjoyable aspect of the journey is exploring the new zones. I’m so over the traditional questing system. It’s only barely entertaining to me now. This fact is one of the reasons planetside missions don’t excite me at all when it comes to Star Citizen. I really don’t think there’s much new that you can ask me to do on foot in any MMO. At this point, I’ve done millions of quests and am pretty much over it.

My level 105 Protection Paladin
My level 105 Protection Paladin

When I see zones like the one shown below, I can stay there for hours just roaming around. I get a kick out of watching the NPCs and what they’re doing in this little part of the world. I’m entertained watching other players go about doing quests. This kind of zone is quintessential in showing the romance, magic and ethereal nature of fantasy. And loving these types of zones as I do, I wonder will I really enjoy the darkness of deep space?  Will I love Star Citizen’s universe as much as I’ve loved fantasy??  The closest thing to it is EVE Online and I’ve never played that for years at a stretch. I’m hoping that exploration planetside might give me some of what I’ll miss from fantasy settings, while getting my outer space fix too.

Feels like an updated version of Darkshire.
Feels like an updated version of Darkshire.

Already on the verge of being ready to stop my WOW sub, a new Sims 4 expansion released this week that caught my attention. I watched a few live streams of people playing. City Living piqued my interest enough to buy it and re-install The Sims for the thousandth time.

I ALWAYS enjoy customizing a city and building houses for the Sims I want to be party of the community. I have fun playing a particular person or family unit for a time. And then it all feels so familiar.  We’re essentially re-buying the same features we had in the previous generation of the game but dressed up differently. I swear EA are diabolically genius to keep re-releasing the core game with new tech but lacking features present by the time the last generation of the game concluded and getting people to re-buy this shit all over again!!!!

They don’t get as much out of me anymore. Back in our The Sims hay day we had multiple copies of the base game and all expansion packs.  These days I’ll buy the base game and an expansion or two.  But I’ve yet to buy them all again after The Sims 2.  To me their business model is a bit exploitive but clearly it’s working. For Sims 3 I purchased two expansions, and they were new themes. One provided a community that was very Harry Potter esk. And another medieval.  Both content they’d not previously released.

I’ve basically done the same with Sims 4. City Living is a new kind of world / map where the dwellings are all apartments. From 2-story brownstones, typical of something like the lower east side in NYC to opulent skyscrapers with penthouses. And I have Back to Business, which lets you go to work with your Sim.  The rest? Nope, not re-buying old stuff – again.

I’ve spent sometime during the last two evenings redesigning the two work locations my Sims are employed at, making the layouts more convenient and visually attractive. This is game play I always find very relaxing. When it comes to playing through it, we shall see. It would be nice to play a family until generation one at least hits “old age”. I haven’t been that invested since The Sims 2.

At work in the science career where I've completely redesigned the lot.
At work in the science career where I’ve completely redesigned the lot.

VOICE OVER AND NARRATION

I’ve written the next episode of Casual Citizen which will be about flight ready cargo ships. This is in preparation for Alpha 3.0 which will introduce the cargo hauling mechanic. I HOPE I can find a stretch of time when the house is quiet enough to record this weekend.  If not, I’ll have to do it during one of my lunch breaks in the coming week, as that’s when no one else would be around.

Ugh – I’m so ready to have my house back to myself again and arrange things so that I have a dedicated space to record audio. In the past two months I’ve turned down 3 audiobook contracts!! And one would have been my first attempt at fiction. It was for a romance novel.  However, taking on contracts of that size that require very high quality is simply too stressful under the current circumstances.  I’m hopeful that since I’m getting work requests unsolicited, I’ll be able to easily find work when I’m ready to actively pursue it and do auditions. Until then, I continue to practice and try to teach myself new techniques while recording and editing Casual Citizen.  It’s a win-win of learning SC game mechanics, lore and continued experience doing voice over.

Who would have ever thought that doing a podcast for Star Citizen would lead to opportunities in voice over?? It’s not anything I’d even remotely considered before. However, since Casual Citizen, I have done paid work for radio spots, corporate training materials, internet marketing campaigns, business phone systems and two audiobooks. It’s insane how this all came about.  I’ve enjoyed it very much and am interested in doing it as a secondary career, as soon as I can work out the logistics of a real home studio.

Screenshots of my recent adventures. Click images for larger view.


Aly's World Release 3.0 - New Dossier Pages

The focus of this release is to deploy additional player career oriented dossier pages and continue to refine visuals and formatting of the lore information tables.

Tweaks

  • Minor tweaks planned for the formatting of the lore information tables across all dossier pages
  • Replacing [appearance] data with more granular data available in the [SubType Name] field
  • Additional back-end enhancements of lore tables and data entry interface

New Dossier Pages

  • Blue Planets (Water/Ice Planets) – list all known ice/water planets. Implications for player careers unknown
  • Transportation & Tourism – list all locations with lore information indicating that opportunities may exist for large scale passenger transport and/or where known tourist destinations exist.
  • Science – list all known locations where the lore indicates opportunities may exist for science and/or research.
  • Missions – begin the frame work for building a missions database that includes intel on named NPC missions-givers.

Officially Released: November 13, 2016

Leave feedback in the comments section.

Estimated Release Date: Late November

KNOWN ISSUES

  1. None at this time.

Please leave feedback and issues found in the comments thread below. Thanks! Comments locked until released.


Aly's World Release 2.0

Planned Enhancements

  1. Lore data back-end database integration
  2. Secured lore data entry interface
  3. First wave of lore data integrated into the existing Dossier pages
  4. Addition of Trade Dossier page
  5. Fix any critical defects

Official Release Date October 26, 2016

Comments are now locked.  Please leave feedback in most recent release.

KNOWN ISSUES

  1. NEW: Using Government pick-list on Trade & Cargo page clears the Lore Table info
  2. Sorting of celestial bodies on the Detail Composition page is inconsistent. Will fix in next release.

Please leave feedback and issues found in the comments thread below. Thanks!


About Alysianah Noire

Welcome to Alysianah’s World of Star Citizen, a portal to my Star Citizen related content. During the three years I’ve been following the game, the content I’ve created has been spread across locations  – my blog, SoundCloud, iTunes and other websites. The long term plan is to create and/or link it all within this website.    

As a gamer, I’m an avid MMO player who enjoys blogging about my adventures, sharing information and creating guides and tutorials. I came into MMOs through a dark tunnel. I’d been diagnosed with cancer and was often required to spend time away from home receiving treatment. I began blogging as a way of whispering my fear of dying into the void and to deal with the idea that I might potentially be leaving my family behind.  I turned to online gaming as a diversion and a way of spending time with my children while I was away.  Together we entered our first MMO and my gaming persona Saylah was born.  More than a decade later, I’ve remained in remission and have raised children who are all hardcore gamers.  We’ve infected nieces, nephews and cousins along the way, and have had amazing experiences together, regardless of who lives where. 

When I started covering Star Citizen in earnest, I moved beyond blogging. I created a narrated version of the Star Citizen Writer’s Guide to help other writers. I ended up embracing YouTube when I needed somewhere to host videos I recorded to accompany blog posts. Eventually, I combined narration and video to produce my Casual Citizen vidcast.  

A recent focus has been exploring how information from the ARK Starmap, can be combined with the Galactic Guides, to inform player professions. This journey started as a manually generated gnarly Google Sheet that I shared with the community.  Today, it becomes an automated website. I’m elated to have this first iteration completed and hope you find the information valuable, informative and entertaining.

With the exception of continuing to publish Casual Citizen on YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes, all of my content will now originate from this website.  My Mystic Worlds blog, will remain as a journal of my personal adventures, has it has been for all the other MMOs I’ve played throughout the years.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan of Star Citizen and Cloud Imperium Games. I think that on the whole, we have a diverse and supportive community that I’m proud to be a member of. See you in the ‘verse!


Aly's World Release 1.0

Welcome to the first release of Alysianah Noire’s World of Star Citizen, a portal of my Star Citizen related content. This is the first iteration, reflecting the bare minimum of what’s planned.  I’m excited to share this information with the community and hope you find it useful. More features will be added as time allows. Please keep in mind that this is a labor of love and not a full time occupation. I will address issues as I’m able.  Keep your feedback constructive and polite.

I started down this road after becoming intrigued by the information presented in the official ARK Starmap. It was entertaining to explore what will become our physical universe and read the bits of lore it contained. I enjoy the lore for its storytelling aspects. I also endeavor to include lore and star system information in my content to enhance the context of the topic being discussed. The star system information is also very relevant to player careers, a huge focus for me in MMOs.

This site reflects a desire to have the star system information more accessible and open up opportunities to more easily add relevant lore from the Galactic Guides. I also tend to do research for articles on a mobile device and the ARK Starmap isn’t mobile device friendly.

WEBSITE CONTENT

  • Starmap Matrix – list of all known star systems according to the ARK Starmap
  • Star System Dossiers – star system information focused around specific player professions
  • Universe Timeline – slideshow of Star Citizen universe historical timeline
  • Ship Reviews – collection of ships I’ve reviewed
  • Player Professions – collection of player professions I’ve reviewed
  • Guides & Tutorials – discussions about game mechanics
  • Articles – various articles I’ve written
  • Casual Citizen – Casual Citizen YouTube series
  • Site Updates – Information on updates to this website

STARMAP RELATED PAGES

  • Daily retrieval of data from the official ARK Starmap – frequency will be increased as necessary
  • Starmap Matrix page that shows all known star systems
    • Designed to support easy scanning of high level system data
    • Supports searching for a specific system
    • Clicking column headings will sort the matrix by that attribute
    • Clicking a star system name opens up the System Configuration Dossier for additional information
  • Star System Dossier Pages
    • Detailed System Configuration – detailed info on a single star system
    • Gas Giants – star systems that have gas planets. Relevant to refueling career/ships.
    • Asteroid Belts – star systems that have asteroid belts. Relevant to mining career.
    • Green / Habitable – star systems that have green planets. Relevant to careers such as trade, import, export, etc. that rely on consumers.
    • Fair Chance Act – star systems designated as protected for developing species. Relevant to science and potentially contraband/black market activities.

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