Roberts Space Industries

Spectrum Dispatch







October 10th 2015

The ARK: Starmap
Welcome to the Universe



At the dawn of the 29th century, a new center of knowledge and understanding was constructed: the ARK. Not bound to any one place, species or government, the Ark was established under a simple principle: to provide a neutral repository for all galactic knowledge.

A pet project of Imperator Marshall Leon, the desire was to usher in a new era of cooperation between species after hundreds of years of hostilities. Imperator Leon believed that the simplest path to peace was empathy and sought to unite the greatest minds of not only Humanity, but also of the Xi’An, Banu, Tevarian and even Vanduul* to endeavor towards this noble goal.

There were many hurdles along the way. The Senate refused funding when they learned the project was going to be run privately. Some vocal opponents were worried that the data shared would be used against Humanity. The invitation to the Vanduul incited calls for Imperator Leon’s removal from office. Yet despite all that, the Ark was completed, and as we approach the institution’s sesquicentennial anniversary, it is hard to deny the positive impact this incredible resource has had on civilization. To this day it continues to strive to present a holistic viewpoint of history; collecting as much knowledge as they can, from as many sources as they can.

Currently residing in the Tayac System, the Ark and its team of dedicated archivists and researchers curate this information for the Galactapedia and the Starmap. Invaluable tools that allow all beings to better understand the universe and find their way through it.

*The Vanduul, to date, have not participated in the Ark program.


The Starmap is a public resource that aims to provide a complete user-friendly overview of the galaxy, showing that we are all just a small part of something much larger and at the same time, that even a distant world can be only a few jumps away. And, as the universe is not a static place, neither is the Starmap. As our knowledge continues to grow, the Starmap grows with it. Compiled by the Ark with the latest data from the Imperial Cartography Center, private infobanks, individual surveyors and university astronomical studies, the Starmap attempts to provide an unbiased look at the galaxy. Though some information has come from the Ark’s other member species, it has been limited in scope due to Xi’An diplomatic complications and difficulties inherent with Banu recordkeeping.

Data Sources

In addition to tracking celestial objects and jump point routing information, the Starmap incorporates demographic information from several trusted sources:

POPULATIONNID 2944 Population Assessment Report

Generated by the UEE Naval Intelligence Division every year, this report is intended to serve as a reference for Naval High Command, policymakers, senators, and planetary leaders. Point-In-Time population estimates are derived utilizing data from UEE Census Bureau, UEE Department of Development, detailed orbital scans, and Naval on-site teams.


The Jappa & Penner Economic Health Score has been an Empire standard for close to three centuries in evaluating the financial status of regions. Named for the firm who derived the ranking system, J&P Scores take into account a myriad of factors such as trade, growth, debt, capital, etc. to assign letter grades ranging from F for an area with little potential, to AAA to designate a hub of extraordinary economic value.


The Advocacy compiles crime statistics and casualty reports to create Travel Safety Advisory System (TSAS) to inform the public how dangerous they expect travel in certain sectors can be with Threat Levels ranking from ‘minimal danger’ to ‘extreme danger.’


As excited as you probably are to get your hands on the Starmap, we are probably more excited to be able to share it with you. The culmination of months of debate, research and brainstorming between Design, Lore, and the Web Dev teams, it has been nothing short of epic to build a universe. With dozens of pages of lore written, countless spreadsheets shared, an exorbitant amount of wikipedia articles pour overed, hours of patient astrophysicist explanations, endless web code tested and re-tested, jump points nudged, stars tweaked and belts tightened, our heads, like the planets on the map, are spinning.

And we’re not even done yet…

Even as of this morning we were making adjustments trying to get things just so. And we don’t expect the updates to the Starmap to stop anytime soon. Consider this to be your Starmap Alpha.

For this initial pass, our focus was on the feel of the Star Citizen ’verse. We wanted to make sure that the systems you can visit (or sneak your way into) are not only interesting, but encourage you to want to go there and explore. But this is still a project very much in development. Those of you who have been following the game closely might notice some differences between what is presented in the map and what we had described earlier in places like the Galactic Guide. The Starmap represents the most up to date and correct information we have. If something disagrees, trust in the Starmap.

On that note, please bear with us as the map will change. The designers are still creating new gameplay, and we’re going to gain useful information on how to make systems the most fun they can be. We are continuing to work with astrophysicists and astronomers to take all our crazy sci-fi ideas and refine them to make them more scientifically accurate and as immersive as possible. To top it all off, we are continuing to plan for the Galactapedia release which will tie directly into the Starmap and provide you with even more information.

Of course, there is one huge major thing missing from the Starmap: all of your feedback!


You can access the web starmap NOW via the RSI menu or clicking the ARK logo below:


by Benoit Beauséjour, Turbulent

Community vote

What a ride. Several months ago the community voted for our next project to take on. The starmap won ; by a long shot. Wide spread panic, tears and terror spread through the Turbulent office. It was the largest and most ambitious project on the table, required major coordination with CIG and was deeply rooted with the game. We were afraid not because we were worried of our abilities but because this is a such an important project inside the Star Citizen universe. We wanted to wow you guys and build the best damn web star map we could to really showcase the depth of the work the amazing CIG Writers team is doing. We wanted to make a map that would feel like it’s in the game….but in your browser.

Taking it on

Our first order of business was to get involved in the universe design process with Tony’s team @ CIG and start prototyping the User Experience. One of our core design goals was to build something on the web that could be ported and used inside the game space. This influenced the design of the different UI controls that power your experience in order to account for potential use with game controllers and the like.

We knew we needed to prototype and we knew we needed help to get there. We enlisted our next door neighbour, Gamerizon (Hi Martin, Robert and Louis!) to help us get off the ground and build our first round of the map prototype in Unity.

Our first prototype of the map, was demoed at the 2014 Christmas livestream. This prototype allowed us to test many interactions and design our base UI that would become what you will see online today.

Technology choices

We had made this choice beforehand but we confirmed it in our next step. WebGL was the way to go in order to bring a fast and efficient rendering pipeline in the browser. This standard browser API exposes the graphics card layers to the Javascript runtime of your application. This way, using a talented shader artist like Martin at Gamerizon, we were able to build nice holographic representation of stars, black hole and other phenomenons.

We needed an engine and we opted for Three.JS. It’s lightweight and fairly well supported and we used it before with the Holo Viewer. The map also uses several bleeding edge technology on the front-end side, the UI makes use of SVG animations, is built using a combination of languages and tools including Typescript, ES6, webpack, gulp, nodejs and more!

Moving from a stack like Unity to web-based GL API is a big step ; but one that proved worth it in it’s simplicity and performance.

Modelling an API

We knew from day one that we needed to be able to manage this universe. We set out to build a data model to represent the universe ; its stars and systems, planets and wormholes. Complete with an management interface and importers from CryEngine, this backend empowers designers to create planets, move stars and systems, collapse jump points and tunnels.

On top of this management interface and data model we constructed a solid REST-style API to allow the map client in your browser to load data sequentially, based on zoom and position, about the systems you visit. This API also has support for the search, persistent bookmarks and route searching algorithms.


If we wanted to reach our goal of building the ultimate browser map ; we need a soundscape and sound FX. There was no way we were going to try to do this ourselves and so we got major support from F42 audio. Matteo Cerquone built an amazing sound effect setup for the Starmap. Lee Banyard and Matthew Webster coordinated to get us a track from Pedro Camacho which once again blew us away.

The talent with the audio group never ceases to amaze me and I thank them for their support in the ARK Starmap!

The future

Major expansions plans for the map are in the works! Addition of real-time data coming from the game simulator, more models to represent other elements and phenomenons in space as well as possibly support for orbital mechanics. With the advent of other 3D browser standards like WebVR, maybe integration with virtual reality devices ?

The final list is still in the works ; but you can be sure we plan on expanding it and using this map to allow you to interact with the game universe even when you are not connected with the game client.

The result

We hope the result pleases the community. This project was very special to us because it is so close to the heart of Star Citizen.

Today is a proud day for us, enjoy Starmap V1!

See you guys, in the verse!

-b (Benoit aka Bault)

End Transmission



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