Apologies if the music wasn't your taste! This last year I've been listening to a stupid amount of new retro wave stuff while off out exploring around - love FM84! - BUT if it's not your thing though, pls stuff fingers in ears! I was originally just going to post a clip of the route plots, but decided that was a bit dry, so I quickly smooshed some hastily recorded footage and some of the pics from the exploring together into this hamfisted vid. It's not the fancy shmancy vid I'd like to make, pretty much just a slideshow hurriedly slapped together, but rl decided to be a royal pain in the bum and ran out of time. Hopefully at least it shows what I was up to all along.
"Yep - but why?"
Sooo... while I was on my way back from my stupid fuel scoopless trip a few weeks ago, I was umming and ahhing about what to do next. While poking around Inara, I "happened" to notice that Artie's character was first created at the end of this month, back in 2014 (yeah, that doesn't sound stalkery at all! ). "Cool - birthday party!" - and the obvious choice was to draw a massive honking Inara logo across the galaxy, naturally! I then found out that actually the site officially went live for the first time on the 14th November.
I was never going to be able to do the logo in time for that! After a lot of headscratching, I decided I should just about have enough time to do the main logo with the head and wings bits, but would have to leave out the top stars. So I got my waypoints sorted and didn't bother working out the five stars above the wings...
Really really really stupid thing to do. Explained why in the "how I did it" bit at the bottom but suffice to say I was cursing and swearing at not taking the time to map them out, later on!
ANYWAY - Long story short, it turns out I did have time in the end to do everything, even had several days to spare which was fortunate as RL just went bananas! It's been a squeeze even finding time to post this and put that quick vid together! As a general frame of reference, the whole trip took just over 8 days and, including getting out there and back, was about 250k and the 'circumference' of any of the five little stars is about 11k, so it was a fair distance for just over a week considering it was actual proper exploring and not just 'jonking'? But in all honesty, it just flew by!
I'm sure these have been done numerous times before and long before the bonkers engineered ships came on the scene! They're just a bit of a giggle but I LOVE that because of crazy ships and engineering you can actually relax, explore around and still get stupid distances done with relatively casual play now! This really was a good bit of fun and I'd thoroughly recommend it to all the goofballs out there
ANYWAY! What I really wanted to say, what this WHOLE thing was about was...
A massive galaxy-sized "THANK YOU!" to Inara & Artie. All the content creators on here owe you BIG time, along with all the MASSES of people that use Inara for just about everything! You were the Codex long before Beyond, a one stop shop for all our engineering/news needs, and our space-substitute bar/coffee house/club/lounge/"other stuff" - pretty much everything!
I have absolutely not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't still be playing the game right now if it weren't for this site. Gratuitous cringey suckup but honestly mean every word of it! In my mind, you're one of the hoooge heroes of Elite that just quietly gets on with a ridiculous amount of work to support the community and deserve a massive birthday cake; but since space-baking is rumoured to be delayed till after Beyond, please make do with the big honking sign above.
Happy Birthday Inara & Artie and all who take part in making it so awesome!
Thank you SO much and here's to another year!
(Classy eh? I really didn't have a ton of time, sorry, will try and be a bit more prepared next year! )
I popped some blurb below about how I figured out the sky-writing stuff, but I don't want to detract from the birthday party, so if you're REALLY bored, it'll be in the spoiler bit below. Fair warning - it's pretty dry stuff!
Making the Inara Route, or How I Went Blind
This was a bit of a beast! Nothing about it was particularly hard/complicated, it was just a bit tedious in places - although that was largely self-inflicted due to bad planning on my part! The actual in-game part was BY FAR the easiest bit - the jumping around and exploring was a piece of cake and very relaxing! If you choose a relatively simple shape with uniform geometry, it's fairly straightforward, but the more detail you add, the more accurate you have to be with your waypoints and route density, or the lines go slightly wonky. ANYWAY:
Step 1: Scale
I wanted to make the sign nice and big, across a decent span of the galaxy; too small and it'd be a bit unexciting, too big and you have a couple of problems - star density for one, since low density = zigzaggy connections between the waypoints and even though they might appear very tiny, I wanted the logo to look as perfect as possible. Another issue would be parallax; because I was using the in-game galmap to "draw" the logo, the wider the span, the more wonky it'd look because of perspective? Anyway - long story short, I settled on a fairly solid width of about 40k, which covered most bases.
Step 2: Coordinates!
Now the first tricky bit; EDSM (god bless you guys!) have a galactic map where, by hovering the mouse over areas, it spits out xy coordinates. Awesome! So I scaled an image of the Inara logo up to my screen size, printed it off, some comedy scissors and glue action to stick it on some clear plastic, then taped it over the screen. NOW I could hover the mouse over the vertices of the logo template and read off the coords.
Here's where it went pear-shaped. I didn't think I'd have time for the five stars over the logo, so I skipped them.
If you're gonna do something like this yourself - make sure you get ALL the data up front! Anyway, more later.
Step 3: Coords -> Systems!
With the galactic coordinates for one half of the logo, I then popped open the galmap and poked around until I found stars on or as-near-as-dammit to the coords. I'd say for the most part, they were within a handful of light years - which sounds like a lot, but considering the scale of the logo, that's a fraction of a percent tolerance, so I was happy enough The other half of the logo was obviously just a case of flipping the X coordinate, since I had centred the logo on the Origin line (crafty eh! ) So - systems found, waypoints set, off we go!
Step 4: Night. Mare.
It was an easy run around the waypoints. Finished up with time to spare - ok, cool, let's do the stars! Only thing was - I'd originally spent ages lining up the paper template on the EDSM galmap, zooming in and out to get it just right. And the pedant in me thought "crap, if I try and realign the template, it wont be anywhere near as accurate when I get the five stars coords, they might be fractionally wonky...". So after a bit of headscratching, I had a new plan:
a) Take vector graphic of original Inara logo, and measure in pixels the distance from a known, existing waypoint to the center of the top, middle star.
b) Measure the pixel distance between two already completed waypoints, calculate the vector distance of the same stretch in terms of galactic coordinates, and create a "pixel-to-galcoord" scale.
c) Using XY pixel movements (aka, "-120 pixels across, 53 pixels up" etc) - calculate the relative center of the left two stars from the reference point in step a).
d) Now calculate the XY pixel vector from a star's centre to each of the points on one half of the star. The other side obviously will just be the same vector with the X coord reversed.
e) NOW translate both the stars' centre's and eventually the points into galcoords.
f) Duplicate the left two stars to the right two stars, by flipping the X coord to a positive integer.
g) Open galmap, map coords to systems.
Which sounds complicated initially, but when you actually think about it, is really simple stuff - just takes AGES! So for example, to calculate the galactic coordinates for the left-most star alone required all this mess:
FOCUS = GALACTIC COORDINATE REFERENCE = 0 / 25492
VECTOR GRAPHIC RECONCILIATION TO ABOVE:
124 pixels = 2772 units
1 pixel = 22.355
STARS RELATIVE POSITION TO ONE ANOTHER FROM CENTER
mid to inner = 176 pixels across, 18 down = 3934 / 402
inner to outer = 176 pixels across, 52 down = 3934 / 1162
SINGLE STAR POINTS:
star center to long = 68pixels
star center to short = 37 pixels
star mid = 0 (4046 up from focus)
star nearleft = -3934, -402
star farleft = - 7868, -1564
starmidright = 3934, -402
starfarright = 7868, -1564
LEFT HALF OF STAR FROM CENTER
top point = 0/1520.1
point one = 21 across, 29 up = -469.5 / 648.3
point two = 65 across, 21 up = -1453.1 / 469.5
point three = 35 across, 13 down = -782.4 / -290.6
point four = 40 across, 57 down = -894.2 / -1274.2
bottom point = 0/-827.1
1 2 3 4 5 AS PER DIAGRAM
1 center = 3 + (-7868, -1564_ = -7868/27974
2 center = 3 + (-3934, -402) = -3934/29136
3 center = focus + 0 / 4046 = 0/29538
4 center = 2 center flipped x = 3934/29136
5 center = 1 center flipped x = 7868/27974
To be honest, I could have just tried to realign the template; but I get a bit OCD about stuff like this, and any slightly misaligned points would kinda ruin the whole thing for me! So the above was the only solution, but after hours of that, I was in full-blown "kill me now" - was stupid late and my brain was already jelly from a pretty grim day at work! So yeah, that was fun. Hence if you do wanna do something like this - it's SO much easier if you do it all from a template.
The NICE thing about it all though is this; the plots etc in the vid, on the pictures - I'm sure some ppl might be thinking "hmm, I bet they're not really that perfectly lined up". In actual fact, because the Inara logo is symmetrical and since I'm using XY coords, I can 100% guarantee the route I took is absolutely symmetrical. Any slightly googly images in the vid above are because I didn't have the galmap perfectly lined up when I took the pic for the video, and the waypoints render kinda weird as they get further from the focal centre of the screen - but the coords can't lie Same with the stars - by using the centre as reference points and just flipping/mirroring half the star/s , I don't exacerbate any errors/variance that almost certainly would have happened by measuring each of the 60 points in XY pixel coords from the original reference point.
Long tedious story short - if anything, the actual route is more "accurate" than the one I pictured above, although at this level of detail in the pics and vid, it'd be indistinguishable - again, fractions of a percent.
I'm about 100% certain I've lost anyone who isn't a power nerd at this point
ANYWAY - done and done. It was fun and has given me a whole load of silly ideas for the future! But for anyone looking to give it a go, I'd definitely say take your time with the planning. You can get programs to overlay a png graphic which would make life a LOT easier to correct mistakes, but the idea of scissors, paper and glue really tickled me, so both work! If anyone wants to do the "Inara Loop", I'll post the systems below. You'll see I had to do some backtracking as I adjusted the plan on the fly at one point, so i actually think it should really come out at a nice even 100 waypoints!
Thanks again so much for taking the time to read this nonsense!
And I REALLY don't think anyone's going to be mean enough to claim I just mapped it and didn't run it, but fair's fair, so here's all 102 waypoints on galmap with "0.00ly" markers as per BRC regs AND a HUUUUUGE thanks to poor old Sidewinder Sam, who kindly agreed to act as independent adjudicator, so he's got 102 screenies posted to him at the time of each arrival at each waypoint in discord - thanks again Sam!
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