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BattleTechWiki, as a policy, does not use unofficial meta-sources as references for material incorporated into articles located on Sarna. However, as there are no longer canon coordinates for systems located in the BattleTech universe, and because the use of a coordinate system has been deemed important to the informational needs of system articles, the BTW team decided to make use of what has been determined to be a very reliable method of determining locations of those systems. This essay describes the issues with the previously published (and previously canon) coordinates, the now-official stance regarding those coordinates, and how coordinates based on the official maps have been extrapolated.
In 1987 and 1988, FASA published five titles often referred to as the Housebook series. In the back of each of these titles was a long fold-out list of worlds within that particular House (or located near its borders). Each world was provided with two-dimensional coordinates to indicate its location in relation to Terra, as well as a code that indicated the world's affiliation. The coordinates were given in light-years as a scale. In 1999, FASA published The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, which also provided two-dimensional coordinates for the (then) forty-one Clan worlds, this time in relation to Strana Mechty, making the two coordinate systems not easily compatible.
Though it was not obvious immediately, a notable number of these coordinates did not indicate the proper locations for their respective worlds when compared even to the then-current maps provided in various products. The FASA staff did not consider these coordinates to be reliable and instead used the printed maps as the official reference as to a world's location (though this view was not widely advertised). A number of fan-driven projects, however, utilized these coveted numbers to help them create their own maps and generate jumppaths for travel between the BattleTech systems. One of the most notable efforts was completed by the Inner Sphere Cartography Society, the IS Atlas, based upon their datafiles last compiled in March 2000.
It was upon these datafiles that BattleTechWiki founder Nic Jansma based the first planet articles, auto-generating 2,500+ pages and their respective 2-jump maps in 2006. Unfortunately, due to an error in a number of pages where the Y coordinates were copied from the X coordinates, combined with the human errors that existed in the original coordinates and in the ISCS' initial efforts, an increasing number of coordinates were incorrectly provided within the BTW planet articles.
In 2011, an effort was started to overhaul the manner in which the planetary articles were presented. As a part of this endeavor, a discussion was held as to how to provide the most reliable coordinates for the articles. First up was to get an official stance from Catalyst Game Labs on the previously-provided coordinates (from the Housebook series and The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky). In August of that year, CGL Cartographer, Øystein Tvedten, provided the answer: FASA, FanPro and now CGL did not consider the coordinates provided in those six titles to be canonical and that maps took precedence over coordinates. As it was felt publishing canon coordinates would be of little value and it only allowed for the possibility for additional error to creep in, no official coordinates were compiled, even in an unpublished form. [Note: the link to the official position was lost in one of the several website moves and crashes since 2011.]
The Extrapolation Method (by the Sarna Unified Cartography Society)
While it has not been officially stated, it is presumed that CGL maintains a 'master' electronic map file from which the published maps are generated, cropped and re-scaled to fit the subject of the section of the book in which presented. At least since CGL's assumption of the BattleTech license, analysis of their maps has shown a reliable consistency of world placement. From the CGL-generated maps, fan Bad_Syntax compiled a list of coordinates based upon Terra's location at 0:0 (maintaining light-years as the scale). As additional maps have been generated, more planets have been added to the overall canon; as the newer maps indicated both the position of the newer worlds and pre-existing ones, coordinates for these newer worlds could also be determined.
Bad_Syntax's method for determining these coordinates can be independently verified. Using Adobe Illustrator and designating Terra as 0:0, he re-scaled newer CGL maps over those of existing ones so that world locations matched. Based on canon distances provided between four set worlds (including Terra), he established a pixel count to equal one light-year (there-by matching the canon scale). By placing the cursor over the center of the world's circle location, the software provides a two-dimensional (i.e., X:Y) coordinate, which he recorded into his planet database. As additional worlds were represented on new maps, Bad_Syntax would establish four known worlds as a position of reference. With the release of the various Handbook series, as well as the release of Wars of Reaving and Field Report: Periphery, Bad_Syntax was able to establish consistent coordinates, accurate up to the third decimal, for all canon Inner Sphere, Periphery (including Deep Periphery) and Clan worlds. The project has since been revived by fan (and former Sarna editor) Volt Ampere (under the auspices of the Sarna Unified Cartography Society) and now includes all mapped worlds, through the most recent Second Succession War title and apocryphal worlds from Harebrained Schemes' BattleTech video game.
Following the official stance regarding the previously-canon coordinates published, the BTW team decided to incorporate extrapolated coordinates provided by Bad_Syntax & Volt Ampere, since they provided a system of locating worlds that matched those printed by CGL and in the scale established by the previous coordinates. As the overhaul of the system articles occur, the coordinates from the database will be added, replacing both the (now) non-canon and incorrect ones currently provided on the old-style articles.
BTW's stance is that--in the absence of canon coordinates--ones derived from the CGL-provided maps provide reliable and verifiable information as to the precise locations of systems and are suitable for plotting jump routes. Older maps and published coordinate data will be treated as secondary canon, overridden by newer CGL maps and coordinates extrapolated from those maps.
Status of Coordinates on System Articles
BTW is in the process of updating all system articles to reflect these CGL product-derived coordinates. However, with well over 3,600 systems represented in the canon, the process is time consuming and laborious, especially with the intent to ensure the depicted coordinates are correct. That process is being conducted by the Project: Planets team, which is charged with updating the style and consistent information of each system article, along with the updated coordinates.
As such, all system articles are 'tagged' with banners indicating which phase of the process it currently inhabits. All articles with banners indicating a Phase 2 or later status are displaying the correct coordinates based on the Extrapolated System Coordinates. Articles displaying banners within Phases 0 or 1 may not yet have the proper Extrapolated System Coordinates; in that case, refer to the most current Planet Location database (linked below in External References) for that correct location coordinate.
- Sarna Unified Cartography Kit:
- Feel free to download for your personal use