For people who want to create their own Traveller universes, this would be wonderful. If someone (Mongoose or other) were to publish an alternate "official" universe, this would also be wonderful.Epicenter wrote:* I'd like to see the old and broken hex map replaced by 3D star map, perhaps based on a 3D subsector size so it's relatively manageable. I don't think this is beyond modern tablets or even smartphones. Just like a series of dots that spin around a single point to simulate being 3D with links showing the jump number to get to the nearest systems. The 2D paper hex map was the best solution they could come up with in 1976 because of technology limits. It's 2013 now. We're not Vilani. People may not like this, but really they probably wouldn't buy the app anyway.
However, we have a very detailed Traveller universe that was built around the 2D map -- and putting that into a 3D map isn't practical. If we could send a 3D mapping application that could run on every kind of computer available in the late 1970s back in time to GDW, we might have a 3D Traveller universe. Unfortunately, we do not, so we're stuck with a choice between 3D maps and a huge volume of reference materials.
If it were possible, it would be nice to thicken the published universe into a 3D space of some sort. However, the Milky Way is some 300 parsecs thick, with a stellar density of about 0.14 stars per cubic parsec in the vicinity of the Sun. At that stellar density, the 11k worlds of the Third Imperium would fit into a cube 43 parsecs on a side, which doesn't allow for nearly the communications lag we find in the published universe (which measures about 220×200 parsecs).
Retaining the published universe history while expanding into a third dimension would vastly increase the number of worlds found in a region that's a year across by Jump-4 xboat. A 200×200×200 parsec space with 0.14 stars per cubic parsec would be 1.12 million stars (though fewer systems, because many stars are part of binary or multiple systems). That's not practical, even with software.
Sure, software could manage a million systems, but just naming all of them would be a huge creative undertaking for players or game designers. Developing planetary profiles for all those systems' main words would be an even larger job, because even if the planetary statistics were filled in by an automatic world generator they'd just be a million statistical descriptions of worlds.
Additionally, maintaining some of the notable aspects of the published universe -- the existence of some important Jump-1 "mains", the gap that formed the natural boundary between the Vilani Imperium and Earth during the Interstellar Wars, etc. -- would take a lot of manual tinkering.
If I were to invent a new universe that was meant to be 3D, the way I'd do it would be to take the Hipparcos, Tycho, or Tycho 2 catalog as the list of stars, and auto-generate worlds for each of the catalog's stars, with a generator that leaves most systems empty of worlds that are worth visiting, and possibly adjust jump rules to put just a few interesting worlds into range of Jump-1, somewhat more in range of Jump-2, etc. It wouldn't have the same feel as 2D Traveller, because the number of systems a ship can reach is proportional to the square of its jump range in 2D, but proportional to the cube of its jump range in 3D.
What about galactic directions? In 2D Traveller, we have a coreward-and-rimward axis and a spinward-and-trailing axis. What would we call the third axis in 3D Traveller? One idea I had was "left" and "right", defined from the point of view of a person facing spinward, with feet pointing coreward. Another possibility would be to use standard galactic north (toward Coma Bernices) and south (toward Sculptor), combined with the coreward-rimward and spinward-trailing system. Yet another would to use a standard galactic coordinate system.