Starbound To Revamp Progression, Add Farming (!)

By Nathan Grayson on February 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

this is how farming works, right

There are already lots of things in Starbound. Even in beta, the game is a vast sandbox of possibility and weird cave-dwelling gum creatures that shriek and bounce at you like a pogo stick possessed by the soul of a deathrow inmate. It’s a big place, but this is only just the beginning. Previously, developer Chucklefish wriggly giggled out word of directors, mods, and a PVP endgame, but those lofty goals are in the far flung future. On the horizon, meanwhile, is a complete overhaul of the infinite voxel universe’s progression system, which is currently just a series of intergalactic gates. The plan, however, is to make it more like a Metroidvania that will ultimately split off into three main paths: adventuring, building, and farming. I can’t wait to have my own corral of horrifying night terror space sheep.

Chucklefish outlined its next steps in a blog post:

“First of all we’re removing the different universe sectors. In the final game there will be only three sectors. The sector the majority of the game takes place in, a pvp sector and a creative sector without dangers. Instead of progressing through the game sector by sector, you’ll advance by upgrading your tech to allow you to visit planets that were otherwise inaccessible due to hazards. An example being a planet with no breathable air. Progression will be less linear and more akin to the kind of progression you find in modern metroidvanias.”

“We’re building the game with 3 main paths of progression that branch off later on. Farming, adventuring and building. We want players to be able to advance through the game whilst doing whatever they enjoy most.”

Admirable! The current system won’t disappear entirely without a trace, though. You’ll still start out (star)bound to a single planet, which you’ll have to make your way off by completing quests that more or less teach you individual elements of each progression path. Sounds like a solid idea, though it remains to be seen how well it works in practice.

Each path will then expand outward, with farming eventually adding animals as an option, for instance. New locations called Outposts will serve as hubs for all this hubbub, offering safe havens for trading and quest-taking.

And so, an infinite game’s expansion continues infinitely, as is nature’s way. And also, my space sheep farm will totally be able to beat up your space sheep farm.

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32 Comments »

  1. Loque says:

    I really really hope they start delivering faster updates. They stated they will be soon able to add new stuff on a daily basis and… I really hope they will deliver the promise. The game has a lot of potential but right now is just a huge toolbox/sandbox where you essentially dig for hour and/or build (useless) structures. By “useless” I mean you build them just fer the pleasure of doing that, as they have zero utility (yet).

    They had to release a beta before 2014, I understand that. But the risk of burning out and move on with another game is too high, at this point. It has a great potential but at the same time it lacks a LOT of things.

    • BTAxis says:

      While I share most of your point of view I’m reasonably confident the game will mature into something nice. I have no reason to believe Chucklefish are going to drop the ball, and though I’ve shelved the game due to lack of fun I don’t regret my pre-order. Unlike that for certain Cube Worlds I could mention.

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        Skeletor68 says:

        @BTaxis I completely agree.

        My only other issues is massive framerate drops. My machine is pretty overqualified for the job so I’ll have to go take a dip in the forums to see if I can figure it out.

        • ceriphim says:

          I’ve been having the same issues with performance, it seems to only have gotten worse since the EK update. Really hoping they figure it out, as my machine is also vastly overpowered for this game.

        • anto_qc says:

          Check on the proprety option on the steam icon. my girlfriend had the problem and it was solved once she removed the vista compatibility mode(wondering why it was installed with a vista compatibility mode on in first place??? but its like that…)

    • misterT0AST says:

      Starbound’s genre (of building/digging+exploration of a procedurally generated environment) has always had this kind of problem, with many people complaining that games like Minecraft, Terraria (or even Rust) feel meaningless and empty, but with “a lot of potential”.

      As far as I can remember, I’ve never heard of any of these building/exploration games where people after some point in development were satisfied, and stopped feeling this way about them. But maybe it’s because since everything turned out ok nobody has anything to say and the silent majority is satisfied.

      I have two questions:

      1) does anyone have an example of a game like these (with building and exploring a randomly generated world) that at some point ACHIEVED (in your opinion, or in someone else’s opinion) a sense of completeness, that stopped feeling “pointless” at some point?

      2) Does anyone have any idea of what exactly these games are “missing” to feel complete and satisfactory? A plot in their randomly generated environment? (In my opinion these never turned out nice, with the fiasco that is the Ender Dragon and the main quest of 3079). Or perhaps something else?

      I’m not trying to provoke , I think this is a genuinely good point to start a constructive discussion.

      • MaXimillion says:

        I’d say Terraria became quite complete already with the update that added hardmode, and it’s been updated quite a lot since then.

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          Skeletor68 says:

          I’d agree on Terraria. There were lots of biomes and bosses to progress through. I never beat hardmode but got fairly far along in it

        • Abaleth says:

          Always felt a bit sorry for Terraria. I think Starbound gained a lot of success of its back, and I think Terraria is still the tighter, better game, despite never gaining the hype that Starbound got.

          This is not to say I don’t like Starbound’s ambition, and I am looking forward to see what they do with it.

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            Harlander says:

            Terraria also has the advantage of currently being finished

          • goodgimp says:

            Why would you feel bad for Terraria? It’s made millions of dollars for it’s two creators. Terraria is still getting updated and I still see it shoot up the Steam charts whenever a new update rolls out and/or it goes on sale. Terraria seems to be doing very, very well and I’m sure it’s success will provide an awesome platform for Terraria 2, just like it did for Starbound.

      • Jockie says:

        I feel like Terraria is in a pretty good place in terms of feeling ‘complete’. Of course eventually you will get bored or run out of things to do, but it’s a long road of incremental improvement and there is plenty there for builders or completists (who need to have a full set of every armour etc).

        I’ve only personally put 80 hours into it, but considering I bought it for about £4 I consider that a pretty spectacular return, I don’t need to tie a pretty bow on it and say I finished the game, its more of a personal thing of saying – I got everything out of this game that I’m going to, it was pretty great while it lasted, now it’s time to move onto something new.

      • horsemedic says:

        Minecraft felt damned near perfect in early beta. Before beds,spelunking had a built-in tension between delving deeper for a higher chance of diamonds and risking losing your entire inventory a mile under the surface, or getting lost in a skeleton-filled maze.

        You always spawned in the same spot, so if you wanted to move camp to a more resource rich-area there was trade off in the time and danger taken to get there at each re-spawn. And since your inventory remained on the ground for a limited time after your death, this trip time had real consequences.

        There wasn’t any fixed point in early beta Minecraft, nor should there have been. The dynamics of the game encouraged all kinds of self-created goals: build a canal from your spawn to your camp for security, or convert a dangerous cave system into a productive mine. It was open-ended and joyous. And millions seem to have agreed.

        But, of course, some of those millions wanted a different type of game—one with a “point.” And sadly, the developers tried to appease them. The beds update was the death knell for me. Even if you didn’t use them, beds signaled that the developers didn’t understand or didn’t care about the fun in the risk/reward system of mining far from your spawn. Then came a leveling system and the atrocious end game.

        I don’t think there was any satisfying way to give Minecraft a point. Merely attempting it betrayed the qualities that made the crude, early game so magical.

        Terraria was a different animal. It was designed from the ground up with progression in mind: goal after goal after goal. I enjoyed it immensely until I ran out of goals, at which point it became instantly boring. The developers understood this, thus the endless content updates. I’m not sure I’ve heard many people complain that it’s pointless. It has millions of points.

        Starbound, based on the first few weeks of beta I played, is just a badly designed game. The combat is awful. The procedural generation is wasted because every fight feels exactly the same. Instead of leveraging an infinite universe into infinitely varied gameplay arenas, they shoehorned every planet to have approximately the same difficulty relative to your level. I think Starbound shares Minecraft’s confusion, in that the developers aren’t clear on what’s good about it, what’s bad about it, or what it wants to be.

        • Yglorba says:

          I think you misunderstand the point of beds.

          Most people, in playing Minecraft, want a cross between creativity and challenge — that is, they want to face the world on their own terms, carving out their own little home in it. Beds are absolutely vital to this because otherwise, no matter how far you move and no matter how far you explore, you’re always tethered to one randomly-selected point in the world — beds allow you to discard that and claim whatever point you want as “yours”, making it your home.

          Additionally, they’re vital on large multiplayer servers if you want people to be able to strike out into the wild and set up a base there without frequently getting thrown back into an overcrowded hub every time they die.

      • Consumatopia says:

        The thing about Minecraft that stops it from being as “complete” as Terraria is that so little of the near infinite variety of stuff you can build fundamentally changes the process of exploring. So there’s that addictive early game of trying to get diamonds, but Notch/Mojang never succeeded in extending that game play in any compelling way. You can make your own goals of stuff to build, but I can make my own goals for stuff to build in Blender just as easily.

        This is worth being clear about, because lessons can be learned here in making future worlds. It’s certainly possible to make game worlds that leave room for creativity while supporting scalable game play. Compare the trinity of Minecraft (easy to play, creative fun, “incomplete”), Terraria (easy to play, “complete”, perhaps not as creative (I just can’t get excited about showing off anything I made out of 2D sprite tiles)) and Dwarf Fortress (“complete”, creative, very difficult to play). There is no reason that we couldn’t have a game that has all three strengths, an easy-to-play game that leaves room for creativity while still feeling like a “game”.

      • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

        Your arguments don’t lend themselves well to the genre. My oppinion is that procedurally generated sandbox games are, by definition, never complete. As soon as you add an end to it, it’s not a sandbox. In a sandbox you create your own fun. Here’s the sand, here’s your shovel and there’s your bucket. Start building and playing. If you grow tired of the sandbox, just hop onto the swing or the merry-go-round for a while and come back to the sandbox when you get bored.

        Also, playing in a sandbox is usually more fun when there are other people to play with. I’m afraid that a procedurally generated sandbox that feels complete is impossible until the day we have real AIs.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        I mostly agree. What makes complaints worse is the “potential” you speak of. Since the game is so open-ended everyone projects their unrealistic dreams of their dream game onto it, and inevitably become dissatisfied. The only people that are happy are those that take the game as it is and set their own objectives such as building stuff with their friends.

    • Naed says:

      re:Burning out: Well, the “detail” that quite a few people are missing here (and the pitfall of “open beta/early-access”) is that it IS a beta, its not “done”, far, very far from it.

      Mind you, its not directed at you specifically :)

    • ceriphim says:

      DItto on the updates. Somehow I’ve broken 200 hours played so far (a good share is probably from farming, though).

      I’ve been hunting for the new Heck biome since they release it last week and I’ve still yet to find it. But building my home base on a magma planet and farming are still fun enough to absorb hours and hours of my free time.

  2. Kestrel says:

    I think the game would be infinitely more enjoyable if the combat wasn’t so linear and dull. They should consult with Vlambeer or Devolver to fix this.

    • KirbyEvan says:

      This, I was expecting a voxel space cowboy borderlands in space and I got a poor Terraria knockoff in space :(

    • DodgyG33za says:

      I second this. Ground combat is solely about timing your hits to coincide with the ludicrous jumps the mobs make, or exploiting the fact that they get stuck on the terrain underground. Despite (or maybe because of) being procedurally generated, there isn’t the variety compared with Terraria.

      Another big omission so far is buffs on gear. That was a big driver for getting new gear in Terraria. In the current iteration of Starbound you grind for gear to make you stronger so you can go to higher level planets to grind for gear against mobs that have also become stronger.

      The definition of a beta is feature complete. This is so far from feature complete it barely crosses the line for an alpha.

      Having said all of the above, it is showing promise and Chucklefish are certainly getting content and major changes turned around pretty fast.

    • ceriphim says:

      They recently tweaked the gravity settings, and I know they plan on addressing the way weapons function down the road a bit (melee weapons with directional attacks, for example). Hopefully they start showing more progress in this direction, but honestly I’d just like more content dumps coming more quickly. Daddy needs something else to do besides farming the same stuff over and over.

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    Smashbox says:

    Not to nitpick, but the word voxel was invented precisely based on a need to differentiate from and reference the metaphor of pixels. This is a pixel universe or a tile universe.

  4. FredZepplin says:

    I share most of the criticisms voiced here already. Things like this mod give me a bit of hope. But then again, I feel like Starbound will be like Minecraft in the sense that I know there are a lot of cool mods out there, but damned if I have the energy to seek out and install them….

    http://community.playstarbound.com/index.php?resources/your-starbound-crew.948/

  5. P-Dazzle says:

    Every time I think Starbound is ready to play a new update comes out.
    Still not installing it until it sounds done (ish).

  6. amadeus9 says:

    Not sure what you’re so excited about – Starbound already HAS farming. Only crop-growing, no livestock, but they didn’t say anywhere in there that livestock was planned in any way.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      From the blog post:
      “From here each of these roles will expand outwards as you progress (for example animal farming becomes an optional part of the farming progression).”

  7. geldonyetich says:

    Sounds to me like they’re doing a good job of getting closer to closer to the kind of game Starbound needs to be. Ditching the linear mostly-combat progression in favor of farming, combat, or building adds some nice replay value as well as gives players more choices about how to play. As for the multiple sector parring down into different play categories, again, more choices about how to play, and frankly, we haven’t really needed multiple sectors per play mode ever since they cut back the level scale dramatically.

  8. bunnywraper says:

    If there’s one thing Chucklefish is good at, it’s keeping hype up for a year while delivering little to nothing after millions of dollars being thrown at them.

    The supposed Starbound Early access “beta” felt like a rushed early-alpha build pushed out sooner for quick money grab. False representation much!

  9. BillyCurve says:

    I like the way the devs are thinking, adding only 3 tiers and such, but I’m not a fan of the pvp. I really like the singleplayer without it. I hope that’s only put into multiplayer, with computer played people instead in singleplayer.

  10. RichardGamingo says:

    Looking forward to farming LOL I am going to make tons of videos farming in Starbound, it will be unbelievable. Hey I already have a bunch of funny videos of Starbound on my channel, maybe you’d like to check it out. This Starbound session is short and sweet, its my favorite right now http://youtu.be/mxicpksQnHA