People who followed my live coding streams or rambling on IRC already got a small glimpse of two new features in MekHQ's interstellar map, but I think it's a good idea to introduce them and explain what they will be doing to the wider audience here - in particular because you
can help filling them with content.
The first is a visual clue: You'll note a small circle in the upper right corner of a planet's detail view. This will be a placeholder graphic for almost all of them but Terra in this release.What is it for?
It's a visual aid to identifying a planet. For now, the plans are to give each planet a random image fitting its type, climate and so on. As you can see with Terra, the planets can also have their own, custom image. In the near future, when planets will belong to systems, those icons will also help identifying them in the system overview screen.How can it be customised?
You can put the pictures anywhere in the "data" folder. The default size of the icon is 64x64 pixels, and usually a multitude of them are packed together into one bigger picture. The ideal format is PNG, due to the ability to add "soft" transparency around the planet's border. There is one such image already provided in this release, in data/images/universe/planets.png
The second part is to tell MekHQ which icon names belong to which image. For this, open the file data/images/universe/planet_icons.txt with any text editor and look at the contents. For now, they will consist of just those two lines:
The first, "default" line is mandatory. All the others are for your custom planetary icons. The format consist of a unique icon name followed by an equality sign (without
any space around it!), followed by the file name relative to the "data" directory, optionally followed by parentheses containing the position and size of the part of the image which this icon represents (upper left corner of the image is at position 0,0).
The third part consists of telling MekHQ to use the specific icon for a specific planet. This is done by adding an "icon" data element to the planet data. For an example, see the file data/universe/planets/0001_terra.xml, where near the end there is one line like this:
Similar can be done for any other planet. For example, if you created an image for New Avalon and defined the icon name "new_avalon" for it, you could create a new XML file which would assign that icon to this specific planet:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?>
Save it as an XML file in the "data/universe/planets/" folder and you're done.
The second feature is a new map overlay, "HPG Network". You can access it via the light blue "hamburger icon" in the lower right corner of the interstellar map.What is it for?
It shows all the links between A-class HPGs as thick, light blue lines and all the links from B-class HPGs to A-class HPGs as faint turquoise lines.
This is very much a work-in-progress feature. Right now, the only areas with a "proper" coverage are the clan homeworlds and some space around Terra, and even so our current data set includes an A-class HPG on New Dallas even though the planet was abandoned near the end of the 2nd Succession War.
For this reason, the HPG network doesn't
have any in-game functionality yet. The plan for the future is for it to determine when you get to hear news, if you are capable of placing orders and how long it'll take for someone to fulfil them and similar communications-related game features. But we need a few passes through the data to ensure it can be actually used for that purpose. For now, using just
the official data, no major worlds can communicate with each other via the HPG network.How can it be customised?
For one thing, you can turn on GM Mode, mark a planet and right click to edit its historical events. There, you can put, change or remove an HPG at any date. This change will be saved with your campaign, but not propagated to other campaign files.
You can also create custom XML files in the "data/universe/planets" folder, as shown above, and either add a line like ...
... to the planets you want to, or if you want to be more precise, lines like the following to add or change the HPG class of a planet at any given date.
I realise the features are a little bare-bones right now. How you can help, if you care to, is with suggestions about how to deal with the outstanding issues: The planetary classification and images, and the HPG network connectivity. You can also provide us with nice images for the planet's icons if you wish, but please keep the copyright law in mind.
Also, feel free to visit me on my coding streams and influence the direction MekHQ is taking life and in person.