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Starmap Revamp: Immersion And Mechanics On Which To Improve Further.


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     The starmap. This is where players usually spend the most time in the game, outside of missions. Yet it is nothing more than an abstract bunch of lines and nodes.

It has of course improved since its first incarnations, notably by showing clearly which planets are connected to which, but it is still too abstract.

 

     In this topic, I will present two main ideas to remove the abstraction, and make the starmap more immersive and believable, as well as more interesting visually. After that, I will develop on them and show how it could be build on and be a base for further improvement and awesomeness.

 

 

 

FIRST IDEA: Solar rail stations, a.k.a "mass relay tileset".

 

 

     We've been told that the starmap represent in fact the "solar rail network", a mean for all factions to travel throughout the solar system. Yet we never see it for real, or know anything about it at all, really. As of now it is just a Hand Wave.

 

     Therefore, I propose adding a few nodes, at the end of each planet, with a new tileset and a unique mission. You will have to go through it to access to the next planet. The portal located on the other planet would be automatically unlocked, so you don't have to do both. Also, you don't have to re-do the mission every time you backtrack, that would be silly. You just have to do it once to unlock the next planet. Incentives to go back to it would be the !!fun!! and rewards.

 

     The map would always be centered on a huge chamber with a portal on the end, big enough to let spaceship through. When you begin the mission, the portal is closed, and you have to open it. Creative puzzles and variations on hacking, datamass hauling, mobile defence, etc... There is some potential to make it different and fun. You're trying to open a giant warpgate without sufficient clearance after all...

 

     The tileset itself would be a mix of orokin, though less ornemental/grandiose than the Void, and more utilitarian (dojo-like with machinery showing), and Corpus, showing the signs of centuries of occupation and maintenance. We know for a fact that the Corpus are responsible of the solar rail network after all. Clever use of portals (like in corpus invasions) to make it looks bigger and enhance gameplay are encouraged.

 

     I have a bunch of ideas that uses these portals (or rather "solar rail stations"), but I will first present my next main idea, as the two interact around each other.

 

 

SECOND IDEA: Clearly segregating orbital and planetbound nodes, expanding planets.

 

 

     This idea is really the one that drives the whole thing: instead of having abstract nodes everywhere, on a 2D map, you make a 3D one. Take a simple 3D model of the planet (the existing ones will do), and put the planetbound nodes on it, while the spacebound nodes stay in orbit. Allow for simple rotation/zoom as well to ease navigation.

     Take the opportunity to clearly make regions where it is needed, and increase the size of planets to accomodate new tilesets. Example with Earth, now fully orbital, scheduled to host the jungle tileset, and maybe even the shipyards (early concept art was presented as "the acidic oceans of what Earth became"):

 

Warframe_starmap_revamp_earth.png

 

     Please excuse the crappy paint.net "art". Basics are here: You have the portals, an orbital line with current missions, and lines joining some orbital nodes to the planet. As you see, the jungle and the shipyard are clearly separated, grouping nodes into defined areas. You have the option to get to Hek through orbit and land near him, or land early and sneak through the jungle to get to him.

 

     Another example, Mars and Phobos:

 

Warframe_starmap_revamp_mars.png

 

     I've always been bothered with Phobos tileset. Real-life phobos is a 20km diameter asteroid, with a gravity less than 1% of Earth's. I'm not the only one who says that Phobos tileset is more fitting of Mars. This solves it pretty good I think: The missions are now located on mars, but needs to be accessed from the Phobos relay.

 

     Imagine all of that in glorious 3D. Wouldn't it be much more immersive? But those two things alone are only a beginning. From there we can do more stuff. Which are in the next part.

 

 

THIRD SECTION: Developing on the premises.

 

 

     -Eris could have an additional relay, infested, leading to the Derelict Sector. Opening it would require a massive derelict key, crafted with 150+ coordinate, but once you did that, the derelict sector is open to you. It will consist exclusively in orbital tilesets, all infested. Vault runs would still require normal derelict keys, but not normal infested missions or Lephantis runs.

 

     -The invasions, and notably the infestations, could originate from the solar rail relays/stations/portals. And instead of occupying the boss node, Phorid would occupy the portal node. When it happens, the portal is already open when you begin the mission, and you have to get through to the infested part and fight phorid. Very much like the Hunt for Alad V in fact, but with a different tileset and a boss at the end.

 

     -Portals could be the place for specific alerts, invasion-like mini-events where the local faction, tired of Tennos using their solar rail like they own it, decide to reinforce security. Failing the alert would mean that the portal is locked-down and everyone need to unlock it again (for example). Succeeding would give global benefits, like increased ressource drop rate, for maybe 2-3 days.

 

     -Missions could be unlocked with different requirements than simply beating the previous node: A planet-bound region of mercury could be mastery-locked, with different ennemies (corrupted?) and hardcore hazards (scorching sun). The tutorial mission could be placed on mercury proper, so new players can see the alternate path telling them to come back a little bit later (MR3 probably). That will give them a long-term goal: get MR3 and see what these are.

Another one: the Earth portal leading to mars would also lead to the Moon, where the Twin Queens are. But to access it, you'd need to fully scan all grineer bosses, unlocking a special key, allowing you to reach the Royal Palace and face the Queens.

 

     -Grineer and Corpus fleet (or even infested) could spawn from their respective shipyards/homeplanets, and roam the solar system. They can be attacked directly and weakened or rerouted when at a crossroad. They would trigger invasions on their way, or make missions where they stand somewhat harder. When two ennemy fleet encounter each other, expect massive battles (ship/ship invasion missions). Tennos could try to reroute the ships to lead them where they want, on the path of the ennemy fleet for example, or toward invasions to help their side.

 

     -If we go down the route of roaming spaceships, Tenno clans could be able to build their own. They would give passive benefits on the planet they stand on (safer ressource drones, automatic harvest for a limited time, ressource gathering into clan vault, possibility to drop oxygen tanks in survival once or twice per mission... Something minor, on the scale of clan weapons.). Moving them from planet to planet would require the clan to attack the portal: a clan-wide alert. I see from here large clans building several ships for bragging rights, and naming admirals and whatnots.

 

     -Roaming space fleets? Someone said Space Pirates faction?

 

 

     TL;DR: Make the solar rail network an actual place with functionality. Change the starmap into a 3D one, and regroup the nodes of each planet into "regions" that makes sense (orbit / jungle / shipyard...). Bunch of ideas using this system: roaming fleets, harder-to-reach regions (need a lot of coordinates / scan all grineer bosses / MR3...), derelict "planet" with infested ships of all factions (orokin, grineer, corpus).

 

Thank you for reading this heavy wall of text, and please leave comments and feedback! Don't be afraid to ask questions as well, it will help me clarifying my ideas and improve it.

 

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I really like this idea of the 3D star map. I would think you have the regular solar system over view but when you zoom in it is a 3D map projection.

 

I mock this up in about 5  min but something like this could be cool:

 

2hgee4i.jpg

Edited by HandsOfnArtist
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I always imagined it would be easier if each planet followed a theme. AKA Earth > Jungle Tileset. Sedna > Junkpile tile set. If each planet had all the options together, it would get boring fast. 

Of course "all the options on each planet" may get boring. I merely suggest a segregation of orbital/land tilesets on each planets in a way that makes sense. Furthermore, I'd rather see planets expanded rather than a bunch of new celestial bodies being added more or less at random, with tilesets that makes little sense. See my Mars example.

I am not suggesting "add all tilesets on each planets". The Earth example is an exception: DE themselves stated in a livestream that the Grineer Shipyards are, or were, intended for Earth at some point.

Edited by Kaian-a-coel
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Don't think 3d star maps are that necessary, but I'd love to see planets have missions located in orbit and on the surface of the planet.
And more importantly a dynamic invasion system thingy. So it's not just a faction switch in the mission but large ships flying around and doing attacks and so on...

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I really like this idea of the 3D star map. I would think you have the regular solar system over view but when you zoom in it is a 3D map projection.

 

I mock this up in about 5  min but something like this could be cool:

 

2hgee4i.jpg

That's exactly what I imagined :D

It's very well done ^^

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Small bump with some additional ideas I got from musing about roaming fleets:

 

Each fleet could have its own commander/admiral. They don't need to be bosses, just a name, a sprite, and some characterization. A personality.

These fleets would also have their own preferential units. The 1st Grineer Fleet could favour napalms and scorchs for example, while the 2nd prefer eviscerators and powerfists/flameblades. A third could have a female admiral and have above average scorpion/balista/heavy gunner spawn. Same on corpus side.

When a fleet is destroyed, it is rebuild after a while, so it's always the same fleets respawning, and player might get familiar with them.

 

Now with all these new characters introduced, what do we do? We make stories. Grineer shenanigans competing for royal attention, corpus sneaky deals to beat concurrents... Admirals could grow a personnality, which may depend on player actions. If a fleet, due to some minor balance issue or just luck, ends up being beat up significatively more often than the others, it may end up being seen as inferior by the other fleets, and resent them for that... Cue revenge, necessary shady as to not anger higher ups. Who said "pay tennos to bring those arrogants from the 2nd fleet down a peg"? :P

 

Involving tennos further in corpus corporate backstabbing / grineer feuds is a great way to

1) LOOOOOOOOORE

2) Involve players (duh)

3) justify truckloads of events and mechanics

4) create lasting memories of player-made lore ("you remember that time when the 3rd grineer fleet and the 2nd corpus had that rivalry and near-always ended up battling each other near mars?" "Yeah, and then their superiors paid us to stop it by rerouting their ships anytime they tried to meet each other.". That sort of thing.)

 

So yeah, just some tidbits I had floating around in my brain. I hope it made you think!

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Something like this honestly seems great. Before the rework of earth i was always a bit curious why the nodes there were named after various ocean trenches and mountains yet all of the missions took place on ships. Admittedly i was hoping to be climbing mount Everest to fight Hek but oh well~

 

In thought various moons could easily provide some variety between tilesets, as well as expanding the nodes in each planet to encompass them, much like phobus and mars.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bump because Livestream 22 and the future planetary lobbies, fitting very well with my ideas.

 

Notably that one:

 

    -Portals could be the place for specific alerts, invasion-like mini-events where the local faction, tired of Tennos using their solar rail like they own it, decide to reinforce security. Failing the alert would mean that the portal is locked-down and everyone need to unlock it again (for example). Succeeding would give global benefits, like increased ressource drop rate, for maybe 2-3 days.

With lobbies, each player is located within the system. They are "on mars", "on pluto" or "on eris", not "in the lobby". So portals being closed will impact the players accordingly, depending on their location.

 

DE talked about "the death of the starmap", or something like that, so maybe we'll see something like what's in this thread, with missions being actual places on the planet and not abstract nodes. We don't have any details yet but I'm really excited.

 

The Badlands blend in this revamp quite well too, although I havent really thought about it yet, maybe when DE will give more details.

Edited by Kaian-a-coel
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  • 5 months later...

I really like this idea of the 3D star map. I would think you have the regular solar system over view but when you zoom in it is a 3D map projection.

 

I mock this up in about 5  min but something like this could be cool:

 

2hgee4i.jpg

Wow guys! I was thinking the same thing. I was going to make my plans and post them. But Hey, you guys should really post this in UI feedback. You guys posted this in the wrong area!

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