Mapping Second Life is not an easy task. For one, even Linden Research Inc. can’t tell us how many sims they actually have, and you have to pry this information out of their systems with a crowbar. For another, the process of finding grid coordinates of every sim is a dark magic, and I must thank SignpostMarv Martin for pointing me at the process described here and other useful tips, or this project would not be feasible. I must also thank Peter Stindberg and Hyang Zhao for helping me find the furthest sims you can actually reach by teleporting — though if you find that a sim isn’t shown here but reachable by an average traveler, don’t hesitate to tell me.
I collected this data for a pathfinding system for Hands of Omega TARDISes, which is a story best left for another day, but once I plotted it in 1 pixel per sim scale, I noticed how much the map looks like a starry sky.
Some people would be content with pasting it on a texture as is, but I thought it doesn’t look pretty enough. So I went on to write pages upon pages of code to split it into clusters based on rules — singleton sims in one layer, small clusters in another layer, and all the way to mainland continents, for a grand total of five layers.
Each layer then suffers a different image manipulation approach to make it look more star-like. The end result, with a grid overlayed over the whole thing and some locations marked, looks like this:
I’m planning to build a planetarium with weekly automatic updates – the whole point of writing all this messy rendering code was to fully automate the process so that it could go completely unattended. It might also show up for sale — I will need to offset the texture upload costs. 🙂