Yesterday I spent most of my development hours building out the file format and interpreter for fixed star systems. Until now the universe was entirely randomly generated. The most obvious use of this is being able to build the Sol system, and having the player begin their game on Earth. Starting on Earth grants a number of advantages for both the player and the designer.
First off, our local backyard is fairly well-known — our solar system is something that I suspect everybody interested in this game will have a familiarity with. If the first goal of the game is “Put a Colony on Another Planet” I might expect a player know that Mars is a relatively close-by planet. While some players might find other initial steps more enticing for their game, there’s a cultural inertia I can trust to help guide players towards certain targets, and certainly “Mars” carries considerably more emotional weight than “HD 164058 c.”
By launch I’d like to have the default map be an approximately real-world map, with local stars in the correct positions and have the RNG make a best-guess at planetary systems around those stars. That content will have to wait, though, while more pressing gameplay concerns are addressed.
I’ve thought about setting up a few well-known fictional star systems: Kerbol from Kerbal Space Program, Beta Caeli from Alien Legacy, The Verse from Firefly, or the Cyrannus system from Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately, as published in apocrypha, STL can’t model the gravitation complexity of Cyrannus (I don’t have binary objects… yet), and I’m far from convinced that Firefly’s five-star hoedown is remotely gravitationally stable. Of course, all of these properties have intellectual properties rights associated with them, so including them as Easter Eggs would be problematic. That said, you might keep your eye out for references in the release version.