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Spherical Pathfinding

Tile based pathfinding fun with spheres

This weird randomly generated sphere thing actually started out as a plan to make a pathfinding algorithm specific to spherical worlds. My aim was to unwrap the spheres in real time and map out their coordinates in 2d space before reapplying these coordinates to the sphere. Not long into the planning phase, I realized that it would be entirely possible to adapt several different existing pathfinding algorithms to suite this purpose and I ditched the unwrapping idea entirely.

The current iteration uses icosahedral “spheres” of different tessellation iterations to define nodes, and I’ve utilized Dijkstra's algorithm to path-find between these nodes. I’ve developed a system within Unity to pre-generate these nodes automatically in such a way that they can be altered at run time without much overhead.

From a design standpoint, this prototype has proven one thing to me: Spheres are kind of impractical for tile based games such as this. When I started on project, I expected I’d be able to overcome most of the drawbacks of spheres, but found some things that I didn’t expect. For example: Navigating a sphere is disorienting for the player. Moving the world causes the patterns that define an area to be obscured by odd rotations and the player will likely have issues remembering the map as a result. The only solution I managed to find for this was capping certain rotations, which just felt like a clunky inelegant solution.