Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fictional Worlds in Street View

I hope I'm not shocking anyone, but Liberty City isn't a real place. The central location in the video game Grand Theft Auto is a fictional self-contained world, a sandbox in gaming terms where there are missions but you essentially have free reign of the city, not confined to a narrow path like in some other kinds of RPG video games.

So why am I talking about video games, aside from the fact that video games are AWESOME?

Recently, I discovered a map on a fan site for Grand Theft Auto IV. It's actually not the first one, the first one I've seen was on IGN. Both these sites use Custom Projections and map tiles to define a map that shows only Liberty City with no reference to Google Map tiles.

 The new site though has a significant new feature, it uses Custom Street View Panoramas to display the Street View of Liberty City. Go ahead, try it, drop pegman onto the city and check out the panoramas. I'll wait.

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Pretty awesome, huh? There's an interesting hack going on too. When you add a custom panorama it doesn't become part of the blue overlay that happens when you grab pegman but before you drop it. Since the designer had access to all the road data, since they designed the map, they were able to create a custom pegman that created their own custom blue overlay that allows you to see where Street View is.

I'm hoping we'll see more of these kind of fictional places in Street View Maps API implementations. The code for it is reasonably simple, creating the actual panoramas is more difficult. I hope this sort of thing inspires people to use the Maps API to show planning projects too, showing interiors of buildings yet to be built, etc.

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