Why another star mapping program?
There are three great 3d star mapping programs out there already.
- Astrosynthesis is the most widely known. It can not only map stars and stellar empires and such, it can generate fractal surfaces and map planets and nebulae. It’s very cool.
- Celestia is another excellent program with powerful graphics. It can not only zoom you through the stars like the Enterprise could, it can incorporate 3d models of space stations, craft, and other objects.
- Partiview is software developed and maintained at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. This is the same place that will receive and process the hundreds of gigabytes nightly from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope being built in Chile. They write serious software that is used by planetariums and by serious scientists.
All three suffer from two problems that TRView addresses.
- They are all hard to run. No one can walk up to the program and immediately move, center, zoom, edit or modify stars without paying the price of the learning curve for how to do things. The user interface is opaque.
- They all focus on visual realism. They want to show you how the stars REALLY look from a point in space.
- They all simulate movement with “Star Trek” style stars gliding by, zooming through space.
For a program to be accessible to most writers and most fans, it needs to be simple to run for most things without instruction and without resorting to a manual. The program needs to be “discoverable.”
Many writers SF universes have star drives that involve jumping from one place to another. In those universes, of which the Terran Republic is one, the network of possible jumps is critical to seeing the structure of an area. If your longest possible jumps are eight light years, you can’t get from Sirius to Epsilon Indi by crossing the intervening 30 light years. You have to make five jumps around the empty place. If you can only jump five light years, there are a lot of stars you simply can not get to, only look at longingly across the void.
In those sorts of universes, the links between the stars and the 3d mesh they form which at a distance begins to resemble the skeleton of a sponge, is every bit as important as the position of the stars themselves. TRView defaults to a link-based method of displaying stars.
It doesn’t do “Warp Six,” it doesn’t do Ludicrous Speed and it will never
go to plaid…