One of the little features in Retribution 1.1 is the “Show route path in space” feature, and it’s pretty much the most awesome yet completely pointless feature Eve has seen in a while.
That’s a good thing, in case it wasn’t clear. If you think otherwise, you’re even more of a bittervet than I am, and believe me – that takes some doing. Awesome yet pointless features like this are actually far from pointless – they add depth and immersion to the game.
One thing I’ve seen from a lot of players (appreciative or otherwise) is the sentiment that it’s probably just random. I don’t think so, though. The data files for Eve contain, among a great many other things, the location of every system in the game stored in them. I’m pretty sure you can even see them for yourself in the static data export if you look in the right place. These are simply XYZ coordinates, and if you have the coordinates of two points in space, it’s mathematically trivial to compute a) where one coordinate would appear in space if viewed from another and b) given the type of star at that coordinate – something also in the data files – how large and bright it should appear to be. And, of course, you can draw a line between the two.
So it could be generated on the fly rather than just a random projection, but did CCP actually do it that way? I already said I think so, but I’ll illustrate. Here’s my current route (click for large):
And here’s that same route, one jump along (click for large):
It’s distorted, as I’ve moved in the universe, but it looks about the same to me, or close enough. Just about the one thing missing is a line from my out-gate, but even that’s not necessary. Look closely in-game, and you’ll see that the color distortions in the line move, indicating your direction of travel.
Pointless yet completely awesome indeed.
I posted the thoughts on random/not random on the Eve forums earlier today. Here’s hoping it baits them into a response.
2/21 edit: I noticed today flying around on my market alt that the path is actually colored based on the security status (high/low/null) of the system the line leads to. Nice touch.