Is it possible to usefuly map No Man's Sky? I've been noodling on this problem. #nomanssky #nomansky
The game universe is impossibly big--so big that travelling to any arbitrarily chosen spot is probably impossible. And without a coordinate system, we can't even place stars relative to one another. But mapping No Man's Sky isn't impossible.
Each star system has one well-defined coordinate: it's distance from the center. Knowing that places a planet on a sphere of a particular size with the center of the galaxy at the middle.
Also, from any given star, you can get a path of waypoints leading towards the center. That means you can also define any star's position using a list of stars whose path it is on and a list of start on its path.
Thirdly, any explored star is tagged with the username(s) of everyone who has visited it. Since a player can only travel so far, this essentially defines a region that the star sits in.
If we assume a large enough group of players who tag their stars and add this information to an online database, eventually enough of those regions will overlap that it becomes possible to answer a few basic questions, such as "can I conceivably reach this star from where I am?" and "what named stars can I reasonably reach from here?" And that constitutes a map.