Alright boys and girl, this will be the first of several necros, since I haven’t really been active in a few months, but am having a spurt of motivation and creativity.
The only thing that matters in regards to “The Edge” is the same single thing that matters to everything else: Maintaining the suspension of disbelief for the player without breaking the computational bank. We actually have a real world example to draw from in what sort of things should and should not be simulated at various distances, the ancient Silk Road; All roads lead to Rome, so that will be my reference.
I think we all agree that edge systems should be generated in loosely defined concentric circles radiating out from the player and a lesser degree from systems the player has visited in ever decreasing detail. Edge systems therefore exist to prime the more detailed simulations, but are also generated by the more detailed systems which already exist. For explanation purposes, the circles of detail are A)B)C)D)E)F)G) with A being the systems adjacent to the one the player is currently in or has been in at one time, while beyond G nothing exists at the given moment.
Note: These numbers are just examples.
Circle G, 30-35 Jumps from Player: These systems “exist” in zones/clusters structured like the outermost lane-slices of Warp Lanes. They don’t have discrete systems, but they do have basic, static PCG traits like # of stars, Zone makeup (avg number of planets, avg size of stars, avg material per system, etc) & Gross Resource Value of the whole zone. The game knows these zones exist, but the player doesn’t. They will have NO effect on the player at this stage. They are to A what the Americas were to Rome. If the player never approaches, they are completely dropped from memory to be regenerated as needed.
Circle F, 25-30: G zones stay as they are until the player is 25 jumps from them, at which point they convert to Circle F all at once. These use the details from G to create the systems, split the Gross Zone Resource Value into Gross System Resource Values, convert zone makeup to system makeup, and link the stars to each other and the E circle. They are still static zones and have negligible to no impact on the player, no matter how powerful (s)he is. They do however have an impact on E, as System Gross Resource Value has a static Net Transfer between E and F. They are to A what Japan was to Rome. If the player moves 5 jumps further away again, their information is packed back up into a G zone.
Circle E, 20-25: Like F from G, E circle zones become more detailed as a group when the player is 20 systems out, and go back to F when they are again 25 out. Circle E is where LT gains its Broad Strokes Cultural Diversity, Historical generation, and stops being static. Here, the Zone as a whole gets a Population Density, Culture Vector, Hegemony Value (Is it a huge empire, small-medium kingdoms, many isolated islands), Military Value, Tech Value, and Production Value (How much stuff is made here). These values have minor-medium changes, calculated once every 5 minutes, but can represent 50 years of Zone History. The Systems do not interact with each other, but as a Zone, their occasional changes affect D, trading “stuff”. They are to A what China (Cathay) was to Rome (Daqin); the player may or may not ever hear of its existence. Should the Player move back to 25 jumps out, an E zone goes static, but the information is not erased until/unless the player moves to 30 jumps out.
Circle D, 10-20: D zones take the Information from E, and split it into a number of polities based on the Population Density and Hegemony Value, each polity getting a variation from the mean of the Zone’s other values and a name. History generation calculations happen more frequently but represent less time (1 minute = 6 months). Systems do not interact with each other, but polities do. Their economies become more dynamic, having Net Trade of “Stuff from [Polity]” with each other as well as a whole adjacent E zone and C circle polities. They have a Simple war and conquest mechanic (Stronger military – Weaker military / Systems in stronger polity – Systems in weaker polity * Luck [>0 goes to Stronger, <0 goes to weaker] = how many systems Stronger took from weaker) war of course causes destruction on both sides. 1 system in each polity is randomly designated the Capital, getting a name and accounting for 10-50% polity value; for simplicity sake, if the capital is taken the whole polity is taken. NPC’s can spawn in the Capital system, but always come closer to A. These zones are to A what India was to Rome; Trade roots are established as goods from D become more specific as they pass into C. Like Circles E & F, they transfer into and out of Circle C as a whole zone, Unlike Circle E, Polity information is stored until the player has moved far away AND hasn’t come close in a long time, dropping straight from D to F.
Circle C, 5-10: Like D,E,&F, Zones enter and fade from C circle as a whole group of systems. History generation still happens infrequently but representation shifts to near-real time (1 minute = 12 hours)
. Every system gets a name, % of polity value, discrete resources, number of planets, warp lanes, Discrete military presence, and General economic simulation (Industrial production, Mining output, Economic Stability, Tech advances, etc), all highly influenced by culture and broader values. NPC’s can spawn in any system, but they are simple and uncommon until/unless they get closer. Polities, now become Factions, and are fully fledged factions, and simpler sub-factions appear; These will not always be very important to you, but major developments here can cause major changes for the player and you will want to pay at least some attention to them, these are your big-kahuna neighbors. They are to A was Persia was to Rome. Since there is a fairly decent chance the player will have at least some direct contact with at least a few of these areas, they can be converted into B circle levels of detail on a case by case basis. These are never erased from memory, but can be put in storage and larger time simulations if they are no longer relevant.
Circle B, 2-5: Stars enter B one by one, the closer you get, once in B, they stay in B forever. However you have B type 1 and B type 2, Type 2 being something that was once close, but you haven’t been nearby in a while. B type 1 exist in real time; they have fully functional economies; NPCs are fully capable of high level decisions, but the mechanics of how are placeholder. These are basically fully functional systems, just rather simplified. B type 2 slowly kills off NPCs you haven’t interacted with, and increases the representation of time simulation as you get further away, until ultimately putting it in storage.
Circle A, adjacent or visited: You’ve been here, or could be here at a moment’s notice. Almost everything here is identical to the system the player is in, except there is no graphics simulation, complicated physics, collision detection, or minute details of mechanics such as transfer beam logic. They stay type A until you are far away AND do not have assets in the system, at which point they become B type 2.
Ok, I know that’s a lot of reading, and perhaps rambling, but there you go.