Maps in Games

Finding our way in the diaspora of game worlds

Enemy Presence Causing Wormhole Collapse!

Following the first successful test of a faster-than-light engine, the Aegis and its crew are ambushed and stranded in a galaxy far from Earth. The player must help its crew survive an onslaught of Archnid attackers, and – now that humanity is known to the aliens – prevent a deadly incursion into our Solar system.

Starscape is a combination of RPG-style ship management and space-based, shoot-‘em-up action. The Aegis must navigate its way through a variety of galaxies, facing ever-tougher challengers; the player does this by means of an on-board holomap. Said holomap is overseen here by the ship’s captain, Rin Fubuki.

The map’s interactive functions are manyfold, displaying the following:

  • Two zoom levels which display galaxies individually, and as part of the wider ‘Hyper Grid’ (see below). The Hyper Grid is linked by wormholes, which are shown in green; at these points the player can leave that galaxy and hop to any other wormhole node.
  • Icons representing mineral yield (green vertical bar) and the presence of enemy fleets (red dots of various size) allow players to plan their journey, based on resources to hand. These icons also show whether or not a given fleet surrounds a mini-boss.
  • Viable transit paths, limited to those which the player can travel during the current ‘turn’. The player therefore cannot pre-plan a complex journey or pre-empt many enemy movements, as it is impossible to see node connections further down the line.

[As of 2011] few games blend the UI into the environment in this way, with the map as a functional part of the ship’s navigation deck. The player cannot actually move around the mothership, and so areas like this could be described as functioning like a menu.

Taken while playing the game through for the second time, out on a mineral drive so I could build up my forces for a final assault on the boss. Zone 1 had been cleared some time ago, hence the lack of an enemy presence.

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