Elite: Dangerous Blog

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Vehicle Codex Re-imagined

When I started my vehicle codex, the idea was to have a complete set of all in-game vehicles with all the viewpoints and data statistics viewable, so that players could reference their ships to compare and contrast. I could then include a downloadable datasheet (a new version of the blueprint).

What happened was the blog engine didn’t really give enough flexibility to present the information and hand typing all those stats was a nightmare to create and worse to maintain. Over time the data became obsolete and maintaining the datasheets (alongside the blueprints) was a lot of effort. Especially with constraints on my time.

Then Frontier changed all the ship data for Beyond by removing the basic discovery scanner (which was installed by default), so I was basically at a “start again from scratch” position at the end of last year and looked at how I could “fix” it.

I created a spreadsheet of all my data and then painstakingly checked and corrected everything and added in all the new vehicles. Somewhere along the line I also updated and expanded all the language translations as well with a tremendous amount of help from the ED community. Using a (sort of) mail-merge, I created a new template for the vehicle blueprints and merged the data from my spreadsheet into this, then imported the ship schematic drawings on top. The process took around five hours, including three hours to export the bitmaps of each blueprint. But the results were a consistent set of blueprints with the most up to date information.

Having finished that task, I revisited the vehicle codex. As I said, the process of making individual pages with tons of stats was inefficient and error-prone. To combat this and give a better user experience I decided to make new website that would be a data-driven user interface. First step, I took my updated spreadsheet and converted that into a JSON file and restructured the data. That took a while..

Once I had the data ready, I chose a couple of vehicles with different types of data (big ship, small ship, fighter and NPC) and exported all the bitmaps needed to design the interface. Over the weekend I have continued to refine the interface and as I do, add in more of the vehicles, as and when I finish exporting all the bitmaps required.

Here is the result (so far): http://codex.elite-dangerous-blog.co.uk

I hope you like what I’ve done and find it useful. I will be adding in the language translated texts once the whole thing is complete. An advantage of being data-driven is I can swap languages on the underlying database.

Comments (1) -

  • Michael

    2/13/2019 2:55:08 AM | Reply

    Let's just say, your work on the codex is AWESOME! I am mightily impressed.

    I feel that FDev could benefit from emulating your UI, also; it presents MEANINGFUL data, not vague hints of what a ship may be capable of. Early in the game (such as, in the early beta) such vagaries may have given the game a certain atmosphere that somebody--Braben?--may have liked, but in 3305, I expect people to behave as if they have intelligence and are capable of learning. YOU show that; FDev should, as well.

    Keep up the good work!