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Minkata Navigation & D’ni Distances

Authored by Robert on May 27, 2007

Compiled by Robert F. Caine

Background Information

As a bit of an introduction to the logic used to derive this data: I was in my misspent youth a Boy Scout and one of the things that the Boy Scouts trained people in at summer camp in the days before consumer available GPS and inertial guidance systems was the art of orienteering (or finding your way around with a compass and/or a variety of other things like constellations, maps a pedometer etc…) Having learned from this experience that walking x number of paces in direction y, turning to heading z, walking Q paces, turn etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, only gets you lost if the length of your stride is not exactly the same as the one of the person who laid out the course. So much to the disgust of my scout master I got into the habit of summing all the vectors and getting a single straight line course that I could follow to the objective. Applying this logic led me to the same solution that the Noble Robot posted on the game forums, and I will not bother to repeat the solution here (He has a nicer graphic of the whole thing than I made anyway.) I did however in the process discover a few other interesting things about the game and the coordinate system used by the D’ni.

Measure of Length and Distance

  • There are 3 flags with numbers printed on them: one the D’ni number 125 another 625, and the third is 3125; all of of these are powers of 5 the D’ni’s favorite number and the root for their base 25 numbering system.
  • Checking the number of walking paces from the center of the compass rose to each of these, we find that the number on the flag divided by 5 approximates the number of paces to reach to the flag.
  • According to “the Book of Ti’ana,” a span (the D’ni unit of length used in the KI coordinate system) is “slightly less than 40 inches”
  • Knowing from my time in the Boy Scouts that the average person’s walking stride is about 18 to 20 inches per step, and checking the strides of an avatar against its height, I found that an avatar’s steps are to a realistic scale.
  • Therefore every 2 steps an avatar takes covers a distance of approximately one span.
  • Therefore the flag with the number 125 on it is 12.5 spans from the center of the compass rose, the flag with the number 625 on it is 62.5 spans from the center and the flag with 3125 is 312.5 spans from the center.
  • However, assuming that the KI displays Spans as its distance measure, the Minkata units are in fact 1/25th of a span, putting the 125 flag at 5 spans, the 625 flag at 25 spans, and the 3125 flag at 125 spans. This would make the Book of Ti’ana definition of a Span inaccurate, which is most likely, given Cyan’s past interpretation of their previous works.


  1. […] Check it out here. […]

    Pingback by URU Exploration » New Information on Minkata Navigation — May 28, 2007 @ 10:46 pm Cavern Time

  2. Based on some recent data collecting with the help of the KI coordinate system, we have determined that a “Minkata unit” is exactly 1/25th of a Span, which fits much better with the D’ni history and tops off Minkata as a very historically accurate age. (with both a representation of Torans and Spans visible)

    Also, Isyldar, you asked how my “widget” was coming along, and it’s actually working pretty well now. I used it in finding the distances between the markers we placed in Minkata, and also when we were working on locating the pub in relation to the alley. You can find my current development version posted here. It still has a few bugs, doesn’t work properly in IE, and I’m working on photoshopping some images to use in the stylesheet to give it a “KI” or “Minkata” theme.

    (note: the version up there now has a few more features than it did when we did the Minkata research. It is now a snap to find distances between markers.)

    Comment by Nadnerb — July 8, 2007 @ 2:03 am Cavern Time

  3. […] The second discovery, which Robert and I made, was made possible by a slight bug in the KI. If you create a marker mission in an area that does not display GZ coordinates, and try to edit the mission in an area that does display them, you will see coordinates for all of the markers, including the ones placed in areas outside the cavern. We simply put markers at each of the marked distance flags, (125, 625, 3125) as well as the center of the age on the compass rose. By finding the distance between the center marker and the flags, we determined that a “Minkata Unit” is exactly 1/25th of a Span, as displayed by the KI. This fits very well with the rest of the game and it’s D’ni history and measuring systems, but directly contradicts the measurement given for a Span in the book of Ti’ana. Now all we need is an official text regarding D’ni length measurements, as we’ve got one for their time units, and their angular measure, Torans, is pretty self explanatory. The “Minkata Navigation notes” page has been updated accordingly. […]

    Pingback by URU Exploration » An Obsession with Precision — July 9, 2007 @ 11:38 am Cavern Time

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Minkata Navigation & D’ni Distances (p2)

Authored by Robert on July 15, 2007

Measure of Angle and the Compass Rose

  • The D’ni divided a circle into 62500 angular units called torans. (about 174 torans per degree)
  • 625 x 100 = 62500
  • 625 is a power of 5, 100 is not.
  • 625 can be written as 01-00-00 in base 25 notation; this is rather elegant.
  • 100 can be written as 04-00 in base 25 notation; this is much less elegant.
  • 62500 can be written as 04-00-00-00 in base 25 notation with about the same level of elegance as 100.
  • But, 25 can be written as 01-00 in base 25 notation and 25 times 4 is 100.
  • ¼ circle is 15625 torans and can be written as 01-00-00-00 in base 25 notation; this shows a return to the simple elegance of the number 625.
  • Are the D’ni basing their unit of angle on a quarter circle instead of a full circle?
  • The compass rose in Minkata and the compass roses in the book of clues have 20 divisions around the perimeter.
  • 20 / 4 = 5
  • There are 5 divisions to each ¼ circle.
  • The 625 x 25 torans (01-00-00-00) in each quarter circle can be broken down into 625 x 5 torans (05-00-00) for each compass point.
  • 5 is the fundamental number in the D’ni base 25 number system.
  • The ¼ circle is a 90 degree angle; it is also a 100 grad angle (the grad being a unit based an the ¼ circle and being a precedent for the D’ni use of such a system.)
  • If a ¼ circle is used as the base of all angular measure, then the D’ni units that make it up (in all known subdivisions) are all factors of 5.
  • D’ni buildings commonly used vertical walls if they did not utilize existing rock formations (or other material such as giant mushrooms) in their construction, so the D’ni had to understand the concept of a right angle and hence the ¼ circle.

All of the above leads me to believe that the toran system is based on units of a ¼ circle rather than a full circle


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