You’re probably going to want to pour some Five-Hour Energy in your eyes before you read any further. We’re going to get into some seriously mind-bending stuff here, and I just want to make sure you’re prepared, because I sure wasn’t when I started, and now my brain hurts something awful.
Perhaps that was too melodramatic an intro, but this stuff is still pretty insane. The project is called Here and There, and what it does is construct maps that attempt to combine a first-person perspective with a more traditional satelite-type map view. So when you look at the map, you see what you might expect to see if you were standing at that particular spot in the real world. But instead of just seeing flat terrain stretching out in front of you (think Google Street View), the Here and There maps bend the horizon upwards, gradually revealing a more bird’s eye view of the area ahead of you (Now do you understand my earlier warnings?).
It’s much easier to understand and a hell of a lot cooler when you’re looking at the actual map, so I recommend checking them out over at the project's site. The chief example of this wacky idea in action is a horizonless projection of Manhattan, one of which has the viewer looking uptown from 3rd and 7th. It's pretty spectacular, and definitely deserves close inspection.
The site also a whole mess of map theory and perspective analysis if you’re into that sort of thing. Towards the end, there's a brief discussion about map perspectives in videogames, and how they could incorporate this first-person/ satellite view idea. Given the maps these guys have already come up with, I would definitely love to see it in videogame form, if only in some kind of tech demo, because it would probably be one of the trippiest thing you could observe without the help of serious narcotics.
Now that I think about, I have seen this idea in videogame form before: the "Milkman Conspiracy" level from Psychonauts!
Damn you Tim Schafer and you're never-ceasing awesomeness!! To be fair though, the Here and There horizonless maps don't wrap over your head like in Psychonauts, but still, it's a pretty good representation of what they might play like if put inside a game.
Anyone else's brain need a breather?