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I was wondering how people generated star maps/galactic maps for their world, I've been struggling to find any tools.

Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/23040/809 and worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/18718/809 $\endgroup$ – Mołot Apr 21 '17 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, star maps are a bad idea for a sci-fi setting. It is generally too hard both to represent a 3-d map on a 2-d page or screen. Its also hard for the readers to wrap their minds around it. Better to Just build a series of distances between planets, like a chart, and keep it proprietary to the author/worldbuilder. Use trigonometry every once in a while to ensure you don't make distances impossibly long or short. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 21 '17 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Apr 21 '17 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ A cool tool if you're just looking for ideas on planets or would like to explore a random chunk of space: spaceengine.org $\endgroup$ – padleyj Apr 21 '17 at 12:23
  • $\begingroup$ Used to make (very simple and schematic) sectors for the RPG Stars Without number : swn.emichron.com $\endgroup$ – EngelOfChipolata Apr 21 '17 at 13:05
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When I needed a map (for a game though) I wrote a little program that, based on a seed and some coordinates, generated me star systems on a grid. It would take in the seed as well as x,y,z coords and then generate a new system seed from that.

The grid size I choose was 1parsec³. Then some research on wikipedia on star density within our galaxy and based on that the chance for a star system with that cube.

Then I would also generate some planets orbiting the star(s). As for the star itself, I had a possibility for 1-4 stars in a system I think.

For each planet/star/astroid you can generate an id from 0 (star) to i (your last object) and generate new seeds.

This way you have a hand written seed from the beginning that generates more "random" numbers you can base further generation on. But since your seed + the coordinates form a grid cube seed and these create the next and so on you can with a single seed generate a universe that's always the same. It is also "endless" (until you get floating point or max int problems). You could also generate a very specifc zone of it on demand if you know the coords.

This way you can create an endless universe to use for whatever purpose. It's mostly data though and quite hard to make it into a human readable map. More of a "play area".

I for example like to use it as base for ideas. You could say "I live in cluster 000x000y000z and go 200 clusters on the x axis to 200x000y000z" and the program tells you:

You find a binary star system with 4 additional planets.

  • Planet 1: gas giant [additional generated stats]
  • Planet 2: rock planet (habitable zone) [additional generated stats]

Now you can base your story on that area. ;)

Should you want to use this as a basis for say a game or an interactive application it's nice to note, that you have to store the inital seed and nothing else, if you generate all information from it.

Textures as well as heightmaps can be generated from this too with fractal brownian motion or simplex noise/perlin noise. This might or might not be very useful depending on your case though.

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  • $\begingroup$ Seems the best way to generate one randomly, would not look at all realistic though I would think, but then the distances involved would make a realistic one 'unrealistic' to produce. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 21 '17 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ That's true, it's endless as in "not a galaxy shaped universe". Making it realistic would be hard as the density of stars towards the center is higher and spirals have more stars too etc. Depending on your in universe tech however it takes forever to travel around and if you only view a small chunk it would still be okay as a setting. For galaxies you could think about running a mask (maybe generated too (; ) over the whole grid that prevents solar system generation in vast spaces between galaxies. $\endgroup$ – Morfium Apr 21 '17 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ Have you made this available somewhere? OP is looking for tools they could actually use... $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Apr 21 '17 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ For galaxies I've in the past done similar, with the tweak that the likelihood of a star existing in a parsec is non-linearly proportional to how close it is to the center of the galaxy. There is, of course, a black hole at the center. $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Apr 21 '17 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Azuaron: It's not publicly available sorry. But I understood that the op was looking for "how others did it", so this was meant as an example how to build your own tool. As I said, my solution is basically only data, as I just needed an endless universe to travel in. I never made a gui to display it in a map-like fashion. The distance to the center is a neat idea for a bit more realism. :) $\endgroup$ – Morfium Apr 21 '17 at 14:06

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