In case anyone is worried about the system name being no longer readable: We should perhaps introduce some kind of drop shadow like this:
That's an improvement in general, not just in this empire border case.
Yes, a drop-shadow (or black outline around the letters) behind the star names, would be a definite improvement.
An example would be to show the empire borders. This could be done like this:
I'm not sure how hard it is to code this. What I've done is looking at my colonized systems and drawing a line surrounding them by using half the distance to a neighboring star(even taking some in account, that don't have a starlane connected).
Here is how it might look, if there is a shared star system and therefor overlapping borders:
I fear it won't be easy to code, but it looks good. Remember, however that we may have numerous empires with colonies in the same system, so i think we'll need a more robust way to show multiple ownership. Simply layering those borders over each other would quickly become a muddled mess.
I think eleazar has done some nice preliminary work regarding colored starlanes. Whatever they are going to be used for, those borders should work independently from them.
Not necessarily. The rules for supply i've suggested and the display of the star-lanes go hand-in hand. In part it is an attempt to show the empire "shape" without the need for probably misleading hard-edged borders.
It's really premature to try to decide how to display the galaxy without considering what the game rules are about "borders". There is an "envelope" around your colonized planets where your ships can be resupplied. This is possibly more important than a border surrounding your planets, though IMHO both should be displayable at the same time. I realize this isn't a thorough explanation, but i'm just trying to say we need to look at the how we are doing "borders" in the game first, and then try to express that graphically.
Another thing, that might be useful is switching the system labels, so that unexplored systems are labeled and known systems are not.
I think this allows to easily spot unknown systems(especially inside of the explored regions), which might be overseen otherwise.
The real difficulty is finding useful planets, not un-colonized stars. These planets may be located in systems that you have already partially colonized.
For this sort of thing and other alternate views of the galaxy i think we need a way to show the degree that stars contain a particular thing, i.e. the player will want to know stuff like which planets are well protected, or which produce lots of research or which have high populations. (like some of the things robbie is suggesting)
Here's a crude, quick example:
Intensity.jpg [ 43.09 KiB | Viewed 3239 times ]
Whatever quality the player wants to view can be shown by something like the above. If the player set it to show "RP creation" systems which generate lots of research would be indicated by bigger, brighter icons, and the systems which generate little or no RPs would have small, dim icons. What exactly the icons should look like is to be determined. This sort of display would be very useful for showing easily and at a glance whatever quantities we consider important for the player, one at a time.
The underlying question behind all this is if you really always know the type of star (not its planets) before exploring its planetary system (I know, it's simple telescope and the light of stars travels the old-fashioned way towards Earth or any other planet and stars live long enough to be seen from that planet), but to get real deep here: Are "empty" star systems not left out of the game thus wouldn't they constitute a large portion of the stars around there, meaning most stars don't have planets?
So when you declare a system=star unexplored, you should declare hundreds of other empty stars that way too. But how do we magically know (like we do now apparently) which star is not empty hence we shouldn't know it's color and type in advance?
What I'm getting at is that you probably know a lot of stars by telescoping, more than the galaxy map is showing but you have to sort out afterwards those with planets and those without, so in order to close the circle here: What you should not show is the type of star (red, yellow, purple..) but instead one single icon (preferably featuring a question mark somehow in it and a grey fading star icon).
With that agreement, the graphical problem with the question marks is solved elegantly plus we have another feature in-game: unknown star type of unexplored planetary systems. Exploring a star system via a star lane is then more like scanning and flying over to a dozen or more relatively closely near-by star systems and finding the one with planets. Could be two but for the sake of gameplay, we just add them all up into one system display-wise.
I know it's a bit deep into the whole thing but I think it's quite "realistic" considering the vast distances that those star lanes and star systems must represent and the knowledge we currently have about where our next star system (Vega) lies and how far away that is...
What you are saying is mostly logical, but makes the false assumption that we are trying to be "realistic". We aren't. Gameplay comes first.
Thus we very unrealistically, but very necessarily limit the size of the galaxy to ~500 stars. Technobabble may be devised that explains only these stars are connectable by starlanes, but that's secondary. The main point is that thousands or billions of stars are too much for a player to reasonably deal with, so we simply don't have that many. Neither has any other successful 4X space game.
Considering each displayed star as a group of stars is really an unnecessary complication. For it to be really realistic each displayed star would have to represent an absurdly large number of stars anyway.
The reason the player "knows" what color a star is has nothing to do with an analysis of the theoretical power of telescopes, but simply because we want to give the player a hint about which systems may have the kind of planets he wants, and because its much easier to find your place in a galaxy where stars look different from each other.
P.S. pd, do you realize that you have all the old-style stars still in your recent screenshot.