Redditor Reveals How Starfield's Map and Tile Systems Work

Sam Coe and Map View of Maheo I Terrain
Credit: Credit: Custom image by Mark Andre Yapching; Sam Coe and Map View of Maheo I Terrain Source: Reddit/Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes


Sam Coe and Map View of Maheo I Terrain
Credit: Credit: Custom image by Mark Andre Yapching; Sam Coe and Map View of Maheo I Terrain Source: Reddit/Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

One of Starfield’s distinctive features is its immense galaxy, which boasts roughly 1,600 celestial bodies spread out across 120 star systems.

With such a big playing field, it’s only sensible - though a little controversial - that the development team would prefer using procedural generation to populate more than 90% of those planets and moons.

However, procedural generation is a dual-edged sword, and it only took a few weeks before the first wave of criticism describing the planets and moons in Starfield as boring surfaced on the Internet. Todd Howard responded that they’ve been intentionally made barren, apparently indicating that this has to do with the maps being randomly generated and working as intended.

While we can't expect Bethesda to explain how their procedural generation works fully, we’re getting at least the next best thing, courtesy of this particularly inquisitive Redditor named LeBourgeoisGent.

LeBourgeoisGent revealed in his thread on the NoSodiumStarfield subReddit that they accidentally discovered how Starfield lays out its map tiles while attempting to find out how Points of Interest (POI) are distributed. They have a few interesting findings, all of which you can read on their thread.

The System Shuffles Preset Tiles Around to Generate Terrain Features

Maheo I terrain map Starfield
expand image
Credit: Credit: Maheo I terrain map Source: Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

LeBourgeoisGent noted that Starfield uses a finite set of tiles to populate world maps every time the player chooses to land on a planet. Each tile is, by default, roughly 1 square kilometer in size, although some features have been observed to be 2 square kilometers.

Each tile encompasses a set of terrain features that the system can rotate when necessary to create variations. In the thread, the Redditor points out how he noticed that a particular tile he initially encountered on Maheo I had shown up in other locations, like the moon Indus IV-d.

Each Tile Can Be Used in Any Biome

Swamp biome in Starfield in Charybdis II
expand image
Credit: Credit: Swamp biome in Starfield in Charybdis II Source: Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

Looking closer, LeBourgeoisGent discovered that tiles can be implemented regardless of the biome set for its location. For instance, that one tile in Maheo I was sitting on a swamp biome, while the tile in Indus IV-d was placed on an icy landscape.

The takeaway here is that the basic features of the tile can be placed on a layer beneath the one that contains the biome-specific attributes. This is evidence that Bethesda used several layers of procedural generation to populate every planet’s surface behind the loading screens.

Some Tiles May Have Nodes That Trigger Encounters or POIs

Last, the Redditor noticed that one tile appeared in the exact location where POIs were generated on both Maheo I and Montara Luna. LeBourgeoisGent theorized that Bethesda may have attached code within certain tiles that create a POI when triggered by a specific event or set of events.

This could explain why some POIs appear on certain planets for some players while being missing for others. Some POIs are generated in one location in one playthrough while disappearing completely when the player enters Unity.

Conclusion

These insights couldn’t have come at a better time, as Starfield devs are getting ready to roll out its first land vehicle soon. We don’t know about you, but with the new maps and this recent discovery of how they potentially work, we’re genuinely excited to see what the future holds for Starfield.

Join our WhatsApp channel to stay up to date with all things Bethesda! Click here to join.

One of Starfield's distinctive features is its immense galaxy, which boasts roughly 1,600 celestial bodies spread out across 120 star systems.

With such a big playing field, it's only sensible - though a little controversial - that the development team would prefer using procedural generation to populate more than 90% of those planets and moons.

However, procedural generation is a dual-edged sword, and it only took a few weeks before the first wave of criticism describing the planets and moons in Starfield as boring surfaced on the Internet. Todd Howard responded that they've been intentionally made barren, apparently indicating that this has to do with the maps being randomly generated and working as intended.

While we can't expect Bethesda to explain how their procedural generation works fully, we're getting at least the next best thing, courtesy of this particularly inquisitive Redditor named LeBourgeoisGent.

LeBourgeoisGent revealed in his thread on the NoSodiumStarfield subReddit that they accidentally discovered how Starfield lays out its map tiles while attempting to find out how Points of Interest (POI) are distributed. They have a few interesting findings, all of which you can read on their thread.

The System Shuffles Preset Tiles Around to Generate Terrain Features

Maheo I terrain map Starfield
expand image
Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Maheo I terrain map Source: Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

LeBourgeoisGent noted that Starfield uses a finite set of tiles to populate world maps every time the player chooses to land on a planet. Each tile is, by default, roughly 1 square kilometer in size, although some features have been observed to be 2 square kilometers.

Each tile encompasses a set of terrain features that the system can rotate when necessary to create variations. In the thread, the Redditor points out how he noticed that a particular tile he initially encountered on Maheo I had shown up in other locations, like the moon Indus IV-d.

Each Tile Can Be Used in Any Biome

Swamp biome in Starfield in Charybdis II
expand image
Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Swamp biome in Starfield in Charybdis II Source: Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

Looking closer, LeBourgeoisGent discovered that tiles can be implemented regardless of the biome set for its location. For instance, that one tile in Maheo I was sitting on a swamp biome, while the tile in Indus IV-d was placed on an icy landscape.

The takeaway here is that the basic features of the tile can be placed on a layer beneath the one that contains the biome-specific attributes. This is evidence that Bethesda used several layers of procedural generation to populate every planet’s surface behind the loading screens.

Some Tiles May Have Nodes That Trigger Encounters or POIs

Last, the Redditor noticed that one tile appeared in the exact location where POIs were generated on both Maheo I and Montara Luna. LeBourgeoisGent theorized that Bethesda may have attached code within certain tiles that create a POI when triggered by a specific event or set of events.

This could explain why some POIs appear on certain planets for some players while being missing for others. Some POIs are generated in one location in one playthrough while disappearing completely when the player enters Unity.

Conclusion

These insights couldn’t have come at a better time, as Starfield devs are getting ready to roll out its first land vehicle soon. We don’t know about you, but with the new maps and this recent discovery of how they potentially work, we’re genuinely excited to see what the future holds for Starfield.

READ MORE - Will Bethesda Reveal Shattered Space Release Date in June?

Join our WhatsApp channel to stay up to date with all things Bethesda! Click here to join.

One of Starfield's distinctive features is its immense galaxy, which boasts roughly 1,600 celestial bodies spread out across 120 star systems.

With such a big playing field, it's only sensible - though a little controversial - that the development team would prefer using procedural generation to populate more than 90% of those planets and moons.

However, procedural generation is a dual-edged sword, and it only took a few weeks before the first wave of criticism describing the planets and moons in Starfield as boring surfaced on the Internet. Todd Howard responded that they've been intentionally made barren, apparently indicating that this has to do with the maps being randomly generated and working as intended.

While we can't expect Bethesda to explain how their procedural generation works fully, we're getting at least the next best thing, courtesy of this particularly inquisitive Redditor named LeBourgeoisGent.

LeBourgeoisGent revealed in his thread on the NoSodiumStarfield subReddit that they accidentally discovered how Starfield lays out its map tiles while attempting to find out how Points of Interest (POI) are distributed. They have a few interesting findings, all of which you can read on their thread.

Maheo I terrain map Starfield
expand image
Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Maheo I terrain map Source: Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

LeBourgeoisGent noted that Starfield uses a finite set of tiles to populate world maps every time the player chooses to land on a planet. Each tile is, by default, roughly 1 square kilometer in size, although some features have been observed to be 2 square kilometers.

Each tile encompasses a set of terrain features that the system can rotate when necessary to create variations. In the thread, the Redditor points out how he noticed that a particular tile he initially encountered on Maheo I had shown up in other locations, like the moon Indus IV-d.

Swamp biome in Starfield in Charybdis II
expand image
Credit: Bethesda
Credit: Swamp biome in Starfield in Charybdis II Source: Bethesda License: fair use for promotional, commentary and news purposes

Looking closer, LeBourgeoisGent discovered that tiles can be implemented regardless of the biome set for its location. For instance, that one tile in Maheo I was sitting on a swamp biome, while the tile in Indus IV-d was placed on an icy landscape.

The takeaway here is that the basic features of the tile can be placed on a layer beneath the one that contains the biome-specific attributes. This is evidence that Bethesda used several layers of procedural generation to populate every planet’s surface behind the loading screens.

Last, the Redditor noticed that one tile appeared in the exact location where POIs were generated on both Maheo I and Montara Luna. LeBourgeoisGent theorized that Bethesda may have attached code within certain tiles that create a POI when triggered by a specific event or set of events.

This could explain why some POIs appear on certain planets for some players while being missing for others. Some POIs are generated in one location in one playthrough while disappearing completely when the player enters Unity.

These insights couldn’t have come at a better time, as Starfield devs are getting ready to roll out its first land vehicle soon. We don’t know about you, but with the new maps and this recent discovery of how they potentially work, we’re genuinely excited to see what the future holds for Starfield.

READ MORE - Will Bethesda Reveal Shattered Space Release Date in June?

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