Map usage in virtual environments
Falby, John S.
Darken, Rudolph P.
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It is neither practical nor efficient to represent virtual maps as we do for paper maps in the real world due to major differences in hardware and software capabilities and requirements. Instead, we can determine the parameters that affect virtual map representation and that help to construct a mental map, and then manipulate these parameters in order to increase the effectiveness of map representation as an aid in performing navigation tasks. The approach taken was first to determine and then investigate the parameters that affect virtual map representation through an experiment designed specifically for this thesis. The experiment examined users of an urban and open ocean virtual environment executing a set of navigation tasks with a virtual map with different orientation schemas. The results of this study showed that, a forward up map orientation is preferable to a north up map orientation for egocentric tasks and a north up map orientation is preferable to a forward up map orientation for geocentric tasks. Under almost every possible condition, individuals with high spatial abilities will be able to use either a north up map or a forward up map better than individuals with low spatial abilities. Furthermore, it was found that these principles apply across types of environment with vastly different spatial characteristics, but sparse environments seem to exhibit less of a performance difference than dense environments
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