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Aetherion: an atlas pop alternative
Aetherion as of 17th August 2023:
[Image: 2023-08-17_13.26.04.png]
Original post continued below:

It was brought up recently (unprompted) that at below 20 pop there isn't really any good options other than atlas, and that atlas itself fills a very specific bracket all by itself. There is implied dev support for another map within this niche so I have started mapping a completely regular, space based, no gimmicks, lowpop station map with no fixed shape.
[Image: image.png?width=1268&height=356]
The current working title for it is Aetherion, after Aether, some greek god of something or another.

Here's progress on it so far [NOTE: VERY OUTDATED AT THIS POINT]. The most complete sections are sec and bridge at present. Future locations of unbuilt departments have been outlined in orange, purple and blue. And chapel is below medbay.
[Image: image.png]

Current focuses:
  • Making it dense, but not cramped (very hard)
  • Having it be comfortable to play on low pop without it feeling super empty. Includes picking the engine to be TEG instead of Nuke, and having lots of solars, it being dense, etc.
  • Having a lot of the high access sections like bar and stuff being relatively close, while science and engineering (and all the pod bays and stuff) being a bit further out.
  • Using lots of the lovely glass floors now that we have parallax.
  • Centralised Bridge.
  • Combining rooms in order to save space (classic example is the super common HoP courtroom combo, but I also plan for the medbay-morgue-crematorium-chapel to all be connected together in a sequence).
  • Enough maintainence access for crimers to actually have a good time (looking at you, atlas).
  • Fully functioning disposals and mail pipes despite it being small. Possibly even a belt hell system (external only though, as there is no crime hole).

Any thoughts?
If you have any good ideas on rooms that can be combined to save space now is the time to suggest them.

Note: this is very much WIP and a lot of it can still be changed in these early stages.
I can already say this... Atlas is way more condensed then this. Security alone is way too big.
And feels.... like one of the biggest security wings I seen.

Look at the Atlas one.. it's way too small yes.. but this is the opposite. WAY TOO BIG.
And this is for a low pop one? This feels medium population.

Atlas security should feel like 3-4 members max with 2 prisoners.. but room to cram in more. This feels more like a 8 member security team with room for even amounts of criminals.
Also is that a clown room in command??

The hallways around the ranch and botany feels way too lengthy. That feels more like something I'd see in donut. There is also this unnessarcy maintance shaft between ranch and botany. Remove that.. Botany and the ranch are always joined at the hip at every station cept oshan.. and even I find that annoying.

Anyhow.. I also notice there is no sec podbay.
Botany and the ranch feels about the right size.

What I think is command center is also WAY TOO BIG.

But let's review the needs of low pop and where you succeed and failed.

1: Fast access to other departments.
FAIL. You have the most complex way of ranch talking with botany then any station. Even high pop it's less steps.

2: Combining departments.
FAIL. Since you haven't done this yet.

3: Optimal amount of room for each department.
FAIL. Security is too big.

4: Enough maintance shafts.
FAIL. To be fair this one is hard to do in general. In my opinion Destiny has some of the best maintance shafts as they both serve as maintance and shortcuts.

5: Is it small?
FAIL. The 3 wide corridors aorund botany and ranch says enough.

6: Can you get everywhere without using a maintance shaft fast enough?
FAIL. Sorry bud but again... ranch to botany comparrison but also ranch to security.. where the short cut is "Go through the courtroom."
Never do this..

What I recommend:
Look at the defunct Manta, look at Destiny, Look at Atlas.
You intend to add more maintance shafts wich I approve since Atlas's maintance shaft's are so minimal some might not even exist (infact one basicly is 1 square wide and so short why do we need it?)

I recommend doing what Manta and Destiny do.. and go for a maximum shape 1st and try to fit most of it in it.
Also combine the detective's room with security. I already hate the det's office is in maintance in atlas.. but just combine em.
Have the det have a small storage room. (No sectech and such) and a desk next to sec's front desk.
Shorten the travel time between departments but allow maintance shafts to become shortcuts or outer rims.
Main hallways can be long, but don't make em loop around unnessarcily like you are doing now.

Also try to connect maintance shafts in a way that you can jump from shaft to shaft. A lot of the best stations have this where you can litterly loop around the stations using only shafts and spending less then seconds in hallways. Wich you did half succeed at.

It's very early so don't be discouraged. Command can be easily shrunk down and remember, you don't need to put the heads rooms in command, they can also be attached to their departments. Infact the best idea is to have Command be central and each head room in each corner that indicates their sector as they naturally will flow into engineering, security, science, medbay. With HoP and Captain being part of command.

If you build a station around command being central and each corner of command leading into those, sectors... you will have a perfect low pop station.
Fairly scathing message but you got the point across: there's a lot of work to do.

Salient points: Shrink Sec (by a lot), move ranch (I'm thinking below hydroponics, so that they're separated by a corridor instead), shrink main corridors, more maints, move det's office somewhere else (probably no need for it to be public honestly).

As for basing the station on a shape? I specifically don't want to do that, since Atlas does so already. It's meant to be a regular ish map, a station rather than a ship.

The 'clown room' in the bridge is actually the captain's office hehe.

Personally I am fond of the courtroom doubling as a corridor since it isn't really used that much in my experience. If there's a lot of public outrage I'll change it but for now I'm keeping it.

Fairly happy with command's current shape, but there have been some big reshuffles, and more to come. Stay tuned.

Side note: pod bays and solar arrays and stuff will go in last, since they're mandatorily on the outside. I didn't bother to do sec podbay yet since sec was still subject to change. I'll definitely take what you said in mind though. Thank you for the very in depth review.

I've started working on the changes you suggested, here's a newer pic. Not fully done yet ofc, but ranch has been move below, and i'm trying to shrink sec.
[Image: image.png]
This looks better already
Also courtroom as a corridor is a maybe....
There is a reason why most HoP front desks are also next to the courtroom or attached to it.
I still see possiblities to change security abit but the shrinking down feels better.

ESPECIALLY the ranch facing hydronics now.
The maintenance area behind the bar is a bit too wide. I like the idea of a lounge, but I think ranch should have an entrance that doesn't require them to go through the lounge.
I also do not think the bartender can see the full table itself in the bar. I think the far left bottom corner is outside of their vision, perhaps even more.
You could also shrink security even more by moving the two single-cells north, and like Kotlol said you could even slim that down even more. A single cell with the multi-pop cell could certainly be enough, and even allows cellmates to plan together. Lastly with security you could shrink the interrogation room (look at cogmap 1).

I do like the changes you've made, already the bridge looks so much better.
Security has had a bit of a rearrangement, it's a lot more compact now. Still a bit big but i'm not sure who else to save space.
[Image: image.png]
I also actually filled in the kitchen a bit, and moved the pool, along with the ranch.
[Image: image.png]
Finally, I started work on the morgue and genetics and cloning area.
[Image: image.png]
I can see many ways on how I can shrink some of the areas. Especially security.

Dets office seems to be perfect... I hate maintance access but atleast it's stuck to security so it feels part of it.

As for shrinking security. I am looking what I call "DEAD AIR" and your security has a lot of it.
The lounge for example has a lot of unnesasrcy dead air.
And to the south of it.. a huge hallway that serves no use.
I'd also remove the "rack chargers" they need to be updated or have only and put the equipment lockers next to the cells/det door since you have that extra area.
Add more wall chargers and put the
You can easily move the HoS's room closer and the side door into the interrogation be from the lounge side, cutting off a part.
I would say:
  1. Print out that big boy PNG from strongdmm so people can see the whole station.
  2. I hope you have planned out the areas first, because if you move an area filled with objects later it is an absolute pain to reshuffle those objects. I would also suggest not to bother with wires and pipes until later because they will drive you mad rearranging them.
  3. This is aimed at the 0-29 player bracket? I really do think cog1 should have a higher player minimum. If it did, perhaps your map could fill the space created.
  4. If you want to shrink security, cut the unnecessary brig bathroom, the vendors in the breakroom can be moved into the main sec hallway, remove gap between HoS and interro, having two front doors ("foyer") is optional. Detective's office can be anywhere, see: cog2, Oshan.
  5. Have you tested it locally? That is always a big help in making sure the map feels right. Plus you could post some neato screenshots.
  6. Where will arrivals and escape be? They are important in determining the flow of a station.
  7. In terms of making things dense, take a look at how Clarion arranges its departments. The departmental rectangles/squares have all the necessary rooms, with hallways and maints around the departments.
  8. There are some "big" areas such as the cafe - bigger than Donut2's cafe. And the big glass rectangle with the bar stools on. Consider shrinking. 

Progress looking good so far!

"I'd also move the"
The what?!?
Security has now been shrunk even further following the advice provided. I'm fairly happy with it's size now, could probably be smaller though.
Cafe bar area has been shrunk too. Kitchen and bar and stuff been reshuffled a bit.
All wires and pipes have been removed because, well, yeah.
Arrivals and Escape have been plotted out. Arrivals is at the south, and escape is at the north, facing east. Same shuttle that Kondaru uses as it happens. The orientation and size is available to change, as is the actual structure, since i still have to install stuff around the north corridor (like cargo and such).
Medbay and chapel has been furbished. Feedback would be appreciated, but I did try to keep it small.
The book nook, toilets, and det's office have been temporarily shunted out to the side, since they can be placed pretty much last.
The location of the AI core is probably temporary, but I really don't know what to put in the spots next to the ranch and above hydroponics. Do let me know any ideas.
And finally, planning on doing a joint chemistry department, doubling as a pharmacy. There will probably need to be role locked lockers and stuff, but I think it could work nicely.
[Image: 2023.05.14-18.55.52.png]
P.S. this is a high def image which can be zoomed in on a large amount.

ignore the coffins in the funeral parlor that was an oversight
So, few things that caught my eye:
For sec, I think you can move the lounge down one more space, and maybe move Beepsky closer to a maintenance exit? Right now it'd take him a little to get out in the world. It's not the most pressing thing, but at least an idea.
For the courtroom, those sitting in the far left, and especially in the far back left, likely will be unable to see the entire proceedings. I also just noticed the glass wall that makes the turning corner there basically a single space wide. Maybe pull the left side of the courtroom in a space, same with the right side chairs?
I like the bar changes, much easier for the bartender to see everyone.
A general point would be to make sure that there's some windows to see into the different departments from maintenance. Doesn't have to be many, but a window here and there helps people see what's going on, get people's attention, and makes maintenance less dark and drab.
Speaking of windows, I do think Medbay needs to be rearranged. Cloning is huge and empty and entirely encased in windows. I honestly think the cryotube area and the cloning room can be open to the rest of Medbay, without needing a door to get in once you're inside. Cloning should be more the size of the Cryotube area. There's also way too many sleeper pods. This map is supposed to be for a smaller population but there's 8 sleeper pods in Medbay. I believe Cogmap 1 has only 2. Robotics could use an extra column of space, but I feel like the chapel, genetics, the surgery room, and MD rooms are all good. You're definitely getting better.
Messages have been taken into account once again. Thanks to everyone for the advice.
Engineering has now been mapped too. All that's left now is stuff like crew quarters, slotting the AI core in somewhere, and dotting all the small rooms around. Then we get to do detail work like wires and stuff. Will be fun.

Here's the latest version:
[Image: 2023.05.15-15.13.11.png]

gonna change TEG room a bit to allow external access plus shrinking it a little.
More progress. I'm putting off crew quarters arrangement because I don't feel like it at the moment, but rest assured it'll be done at some point.
[Image: 2023.05.15-21.27.10.png]
Question.. are you adding things as you go or do you use a map of some sort you designed in advance?
I had a general layout of where the main departments were going to go in mind (bridge, sec, medbay, chapel, sci, engineering, civvie department) as well as escape and arrivals.
And have sorta winged it from there.
There's no fixed outer shape. I'm trying to accommodate what everyone would like in a lowpop map.
Here, have an update.
Things that i'd like suggestions on:
  • What to put in the spot of the pool room near the centre (tool storage possibly? I don't really know what to do with that space.
  • Whether the blatant expenditure of NT on the civilian sector and crew quarters is a bit much (the idea being that the station is built purposefully with the intent of future expansion that they never got around to, but the public facing part i.e. the civilian sector got overdecorated in order to make it look nice for investors)
  • How to decorate or redecorate the southwest
  • Any other ideas on general layout or lore of why the station was built or where it should go (i'm partial to it hanging around magus, near nadir, as a sort of checkpoint or refuelling stop, but I'm not entirely sold on that)
[Image: 2023.05.20-14.16.38.png]

stuff left to do:
Finalising the layout so that everyone is happy ish with it (probably impossible, we have to compromise somewhere, but oh well)
solar panels
apcs, lights, disposal pipes
all detail work in every room :skull:

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