I'm currently developing a game, and one of the features involves breeding the creatures you collect.

Since it's a game, a large amount of promiscuity is to be expected, and individuals could potentially have hundreds of siblings.

How exactly can I go about presenting this information?

My current setup is along these lines:

|Grandparent 1|Grandparent 2|Grandparent 3|Grandparent 4|
|         Parent 1          |         Parent 2          |
|Individual | Siblings (if any) in list form            |
|Partner 1  | Children of Individual and Partner 1      |
|Partner 2  | Children of Individual and Parther 2      |

It works, and by clicking on a relative you can make them the focus of the tree. But it just seems clunky and I don't think it's particularly user-friendly.

Can anyone suggest a suitable way to go about presenting this information?

  • What platform is this game being developed for? – SSumner Apr 1 '13 at 17:37
  • 3
    What will the family tree be used for? Is it simply a visualization? Or do you need to drive the breeding process by interacting with family trees? – CJF Apr 2 '13 at 9:06

Look into the sunburst visualization. The video is about navigating through a hierarchy of files and folders and can be translated to a lineage hierarchy easily.

Something like the following image. Imagine it colored to represented different hierarchies and parents, etc.

  • Children are extension of the combined area of the parents' area
  • If you want a generic hierarchy across all creatures (implying they all originated from a single parent) then you can have alternate children and parent layers.

The main thing to keep in mind is, this type of visualization is best when it is interactive, the user clicks on any particular node to expand its and so on so forth. Aim is not to represent entire information at a single moment, but, rather have the user explore his way through. The more you go deeper(outwards) the inner circles start contracting. If you have too many child nodes, you can sort of zoom out that particular slice or something.

enter image description here

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How about having the tree being focused on the specified creature, but where there are many siblings, spouses (I assume this allows for multiple spouses as well), and children, have a box that scrolls vertically (this is based off the assumption that this is a mobile game, as finger scrolling provides a good experience. If this is not, it may not be as good) like this. If you shift the focus by selecting another creature, everything will change to that creature's tree.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Any ancestors for a particular character are easy to show, as they seem to all have 2 parents. To travel down to * descendants* would be more difficult if there are dozens of children, so I think the best way would just be to select the appropriate child from the scroll wheel.

If you show 5 or 6 children and siblings in their scroll wheels, I think you could find this not too difficult to scroll through a hundred or so. Depending on screen size, you could perhaps increase this. Depending on the "typical" number of spouses, you could select from a view of 2 at a time, or up to 3 or 4.

Maybe you would also want direct links to a few creatures, call 'favorites'. This could be done by adding in a side menu that provides direct links to these selected creatures.

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  • I recommend against using bidirectional arrows. – Brian Apr 9 '13 at 21:16
  • I couldn't figure out how to do just a line in the diagram. they are supposed to just be diagrams. – SSumner Apr 9 '13 at 21:50
  • No, I was thinking uni-directional arrows would be best. – Brian Apr 10 '13 at 4:45
  • Might be. But I couldn't figure out how to do those either. – SSumner Apr 10 '13 at 13:05

Just going to list some ideas from http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/06/50-great-examples-of-data-visualization/ to get your juices flowing. Not sure it's what you're looking for or will be able to pull of, but just to break you out of the age old genealogy tree style. If it's a game, playing with this visualization should be fun!

LivePlasma (age old favorite): http://www.liveplasma.com/#/artist/Birdy/0da252d6-e962-4893-b9dd-7824496a1bb7/US

Schemaball: http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/schemaball/?home

Tuneglue, this one is awesome in how it allows you to focus on one item's relationship (where LivePlasma just gives you everything): http://audiomap.tuneglue.net/

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