Space Oddities: The RPS StarMade Server

By Craig Pearson on August 9th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

Ship shape
If you log-in to the RPS StarMade server at a quiet hour, you’d think some terrible and mysterious incident had occurred. Ships are left floating alone and unloved, apparently abandoned and left to the ravages of space. It’s as if some vast, alien intellect had made itself known to the players and scared them off with threats of an intergalactic tickle fight. The truth is a lot more mundane. They probably left because it was dinner time, or bed-time, or maybe the server crashed? Whatever the reason, there is life at certain times on the server, and they have already made awesome things.

The abandoned ships are just a function of how StarMade works. I don’t know if it’ll change, but right now when you leave this Minecraft inspired space game your ship is (usually) left where it is for others to find. When you log-in, it might be gone. Or it might be floating in space. Because of this, the spawn sector can look like a ship graveyard: it’s currently surrounded by several ships in various states of being built, hooked onto the loops of material that surround the shop at sector 2, 2, 2. It’s one of the way players stake their claim: a hooked on ship is something someone is invested in. They’re definitely working on it. Elsewhere, a floating hull might be truly abandoned, or it might just be floating where another player has logged out for the night. If the player hasn’t added it to a faction, using a block that’ll lock the ship to a group of people they’ve designated, that then it could be yours for the taking. I’m not here to be a moral guide in that regard, because I don’t care. That’s how the game currently works and it makes it interesting in lieu of missions or decent opponents. All I care about is what impact the players have made.

There are two ways to get things in StarMade: build or buy. Bought ships are imported to the game via blueprints. They are kind of obvious.

Yes, that is a Star Destroyer just floating in the void. Something that big and expensive probably won’t have been built on the server; it’ll have been built elsewhere and imported, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Someone worked on it, and having it there on the server can serve as an example to others: this is what you can make if you have the skill, the resources and the patience. Construction is pretty easy in StarMade: it’s left-click, right-click Minecraft style build and destroy, with additional shapes and lighting systems. It’s more about the building than the flying, so there are some lumpy ships out there. See.

That small collection of boxes is as much of a ship as the more impressive, bigger builds. It doesn’t have cannons, or gravity, or docking stations, and no-one but me is going to stop and take a screenshot of it, but as a way of moving around the solar system, it’s a perfectly serviceable solution. It suited me as I zipped around snapping screenshots. It brought me to this.

This is more like it. The big, big thing in the distance is one of the game’s stations. Their main purpose is to be scavenged. You can see the pock-marked surface if you enlarge the screenshot. To build things in StarMade you can scavenge wrecks like this, and either use the blocks in your own build, or you can sell them to the shop to buy what you need. The players have already eaten into this huge structure. I love that you can see where people have taken meaty bites out of it. The holes were big enough to fit my clot of blocks inside.

To me, that destruction is as beautiful as ship that’s been built. Below the station is a Homeworld 2 Vagyr Battlecruiser that player Askar and friend Madraz built on another server and brought over to us. Here’s a better angle of it.

Marvelous, eh? But it was responsible for the server crashing. He was out in it and I teleported to his position without a ship. I was left drifting beneath one of the randomly generated planets the game creates. They’re discs floating in space, with gravity and a very thin bubble of atmosphere. I managed to make it to the surface of the planet by drilling up from below. If I were, inclined, I could have claimed the planet as my own by placing a faction block on it and tying it to my group, but I was too transfixed by the view of the ship hovering over the planet. Bigger ships can have docking points, so a smaller ship peeled off from the main bulk to collect me. As it arrived, landing with the style and grace of a dead fish, I only had one thought: could the bigger ship collect me instead?

It was a very stupid thought. Here is the ship slowly entering the atmosphere. I don’t have a screenshot of it hovering near the ground, because the interplay between the planet’s physics and all the blocks in the ship tore the universe a new space hole and crashed the server.

Still, you live and learn. Or you crash the server and learn. I hope one day it’s possible. The server restarted and I teleported to the home area. The shop at spawn is busy with ships, as you’d expect. There are never fewer than five ships there, and they show a broad range of the building possibilities. I particularly like the purple squid ship that shows you can at least hint towards an organic styling. It stands out more because the ship beside it is basically a flying warehouse. I’m not mocking its boxy design: everything I build is made with the principle that a line of boxes with other boxes stuck to it is good enough. I aspire to making a flying warehouse.

Look at all those glorious, lumpy spacethings. You could have one parked with them. The game is free, and the server details and admin contact are as follows.

Server details.
IP: 85.236.101.238:4542
Admin contact: craig@rockpapershotgun.com, @bucksexington

What’s next? I might look to making the game a bit tougher and the top speed a bit higher. Right now it’s mostly running on the base game, and that’s a bit unbalanced. Loot is plentiful and pirates are easy. If it’s set-up as a pure building server, then that’s not much of a problem, but if people want to make something of it and to have to fight a little for their survival, then I’ll happily change settings. I’ll check comments here and on the forum post.

A challenge to the people on the server: take a planet, or a station, and build. Don’t destroy. Make something wonderful.

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38 Comments »

  1. DrScuttles says:

    My God, it’s full of Star Destroyers.

  2. Velko says:

    ANOTHER DAVID BOWIE JOKE

  3. Pengwertle says:

    My friend made the one in the second screenshot, while I was teaching him how to play. His got special mention and mine was only seen half-completed in the last screenshot :( I may cry

  4. GreatUncleBaal says:

    You had me at “lumpy spacethings” (which, yes, is quite near the bottom of the piece, but whatev, obv). Creating an account now for a looky.

  5. jarlrmai says:

    Its out of date, so new players might not be able to get it. A new version of the game was just released.

  6. JimBob says:

    My spaceship is in the last picture, was really proud of it until I saw some of the goliath’s other players had made. Must try harder.

  7. Don Reba says:

    Wow, I was just listening to Chris Hadfield’s Space Oddity when I opened RPS.

  8. cyrenic says:

    I’ve mulled over checking this out. This article has motivated me to get around and do so :)

  9. Amphouse says:

    Well, this convinced me to see if I can download this Starmade thing and check it out. I’ll see you guys on the server if nothing goes wrong.

  10. jarlrmai says:

    Don’t update the server, according to the support chat stuff got broke.

  11. nimzy says:

    So it turns out crashing a ship into a planet crashes the server… I guess I’ll put my planetcracker dreams on hold for now.

  12. Andy_Panthro says:

    Had a play around with single player, did the tutorial and set about making my first ship.

    Wasn’t quite Star Destroyer level, but it was okay. Placement of all the blocks (esp. corners and angled blocks) can be quite tricky, but satisfying when you create something slightly better than a flying brick and with at least two different colours.

    I decided to have a wander about the cosmos, and set sight upon a nearby planet. Turns out it wasn’t quite as near as I thought, but after a while flying towards it at a mighty 50km/h (surely some mistake?) I arrived and promptly fell to the surface and got stuck.

    I spent a little time clearing a launch window (I was down a ravine) and managed to get out! So I feel I’m fully prepared for the bewilderment of multiplayer now, once I get the same version as the server.

  13. Tei says:

    Ooops.. I was on the wrong server (port4242 instead of 4542 for some reason)

    time to start from scratch :D

  14. jarlrmai says:

    great whole game is fucjked now, just killed a pirate, game crashed when I got the loot

    now the launcher says Starmade is down and I can’t log in.

  15. vecordae says:

    The game’s website has crashed! Oh no! :(

  16. jarlrmai says:

    Did it get Reddited or DDOS’d or something?

    • vecordae says:

      Probably. I am to write a preview article on the game tonight and all the screen caps I intended to use are on the forums. This is only a 1.3 on the Bummer scale, but a Bummer all the same.

  17. beetlebear says:

    Hey RPS fans, Beetlebear from StarMade here. Just wanted to say thanks for the great articles and 2 because of this, our site is having some bandwidth issues. Thanks for all the interest, we’re currently looking at fixing the issues with the website :D – Love from the starmade team

  18. Commissar Choy says:

    I like building small fighters for pirat-I MEAN TOTALLY LEGITIMATE SCAVENGING USE.

  19. jarlrmai says:

    So the game site is back but now the RPS server is fucked, kept crashing my client now the server is not responding, not the best night,

  20. Tei says:

    I have a idea to build a slave system.

    Pick players from spawn, move then to a ice planet. Make them use a bindstone there (you can promise something to them, scam them in some way). Then ask them to mine the planet. If they die, will spawn on the ice planet again and again.

    You can maybe move them from place to place, to serve as a slave force.

    • gi_ty says:

      I shall build a gold and white horse-shaped ship and rescue them from your evil plot!

    • Leb says:

      I love when a game gives you the tools to be this sinister

      I remember playing San-Andreas Multiplayer back in its prime and waiting in the new player spawn in a taxi cab. Picking up new players and using /kidnap to lock them in helpless and /rape repeatedly until they died.

      Yeah I’m a sicko

  21. MrSean490 says:

    Okay, despite the fact that I’m still not totally keen on the lack of spherical worlds (yeah engine limitations etc) I guess I’ll give this a whirl.

    • hjd_uk says:

      [ Disclaimer : Not arguing with you / not a rant - just discussing the planets ]

      It’s not so much engine-limitations as to how do you define ‘Up’ :
      You could have a sphere of blocks but then trying to create a tree or something in a few blocks would look very odd at 45degree angles and running over jagged corners at arbitrary angles would be awful ( juddering camera).

      Alternatively you could have a huge cube-world where gravity on each side is straight down onto the surface, but then how do you transition the player across the edges of the cube where gravity does a 90 degree switch, and how would that work transitioning to-from space ?

      So really the little planet-disks are kind of the best way to deal with the various problems of trying to create a round shape in a square universe. They do look a little naff when you first encounter them but I think its probably the best solution.

      If there was resources enough (CPU/Mem) you could have a geodesic distribution of individual disks covering the surface of a (much larger) planet : something like this: >Linked Image< Might look odd though.

      Perhaps the simplest way to get rid of the slightly silly ability to fly ‘under’ a planet and mine the core from underneath would be to just have a ‘coin’ type world where there are 2 opposing faced surfaces with the core in the middle.

  22. LionsPhil says:

    Downside: you will need to have Java installed.

  23. hjd_uk says:

    My ship is the proto-squid! I wanted longer tentacles but I ran out of purple.

    [my name on the server is Hephaestus]

    Ive only been playing since seeing the article on RPS so i’m not an Epic-Builder… but

    Tips for beginners:

    1) First thing: buy a scavenger-computer and a bunch of scavenger-gun modules.
    2) Build a small (therefore fast) ship that’s not much more than a scavenger-gun and engines.
    3) Fly off into the distance and find a mostly untouched Station ( avoid any with pirate NPCs – as you have no guns or shields )
    4) Scav the hell out of the station’s Hull and valuable blocks ( PlexGlass, ‘Reactors’ and PlexLights ).
    5) You now have a bunch of stuff to build a ship with and stuff to sell.
    6) Save up for a Faction-Module first ( they’re expensive ), you can then protect your ship from hijacking ( but not damage etc without shields and the rest ).

  24. ekuurh says:

    Woohoo! The 7th picture is me and my tiny space junk :) (the thing on the right is mine. the thing on the top is askar’s)

  25. MasterExplody says:

    Heh, that hunk of junk he stole was mine. I was a complete, total noob when I built it.

  26. Welshman says:

    Ah, yes, I also found a Star Destroyer on my first run, it was beside a station, but It may also be another one to the one shown.. It crashed the server as it loaded. I did get to see it -briefly- in all it’s glory before the hamster got too tired and the server crashed.

    It was a thing of beauty. But I have one rule for ships in starmade;
    If any part of your ship is outside your render distance; it’s too damn big!!

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