Last year I received an email from one of the developers of TruckersMP ( truckersmp.com ) a multiplayer-modification for Euro Truck Simulator 2 asking if we wanted to use some of their location data to create a visualisation of where players are travelling in-game. Obviously, I jumped at the chance to flex some creative muscle with what is a pretty unique dataset.
This post explores some of the visualisation styles I created for the data both static and in motion.
Let’s start with the above animation, pretty noisy, but is useful to see the sheer volume of players and their movements through Europe in just 30 minutes. I liked the idea of utilising the z-axis with this movement data. A lot of my visualisations tend to traverse the 3d realm and so to make 3d relevant the data also needs to have some aspect of 3d. I decided to visualise the speed profile of the trucks. The higher the floating cube the faster the vehicle is moving. Colour is also unique to the individual user here. To decipher what is actually happening a little clearer let’s take a closer look…
Here I have coloured the cubes in accordance with their speed; red – slower, blue – faster. You can see the vehicles tend to slow down as they reach the multiplayer hubs. The TruckerMP crowd are quite vigilant with following actual routes as well, not too many trucks going off-piste!
The above image shows a more conceptual view of each recoded position for 30 mins. There are some interesting speed profile patterns, especially around the hubs and the drop in vehicle speed.
The Polar Express:
The whole dataset was actually pulled from a wider community event happening on the 17th December called ‘The Polar Express.’ Players could participate in 5 routes which would take roughly 2 hours each to complete ( https://truckersmp.com/blog/63 ). I wanted to see if I could extract this convoy from the data and visualise how the players moved around Europe.
55 million vehicle locations with 85k unique trips (users) were recorded on the 17th December! The long lines are where vehicles are fast travelling to different hubs I believe.
We have some great design tools at Ito World (www.itoworld.com) that let us ingest this kind of data and animate it. It was tricky to isolate the players driving the Polar Express route as there were no unique identifiers. Instead, I had an idea to put a virtual gate at the starting point to Route 1. Here I could split journeys by those driving through the gate at a specific time (on the express route) and dampen the intensity of the remaining. This would mean we have a clear(ish) indication of who is driving the routes and what it looks like.
Admittedly it’s not the clearest visualisation but if you squint you can make out the Polar Express journey moving its way through the 5 routes.
The Power of Octane!
I really liked the static visualisation of speed profile and wanted to see if I could port it through Cinema4d’s Octane renderer for some more impressive stills. The results are kind of cool!