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Twinkle, Twinkle: Starbound's Future Is Looking Bright

I'm so entranced by the vast beauty of space that I've nearly forgotten about my impending doom by explosive decompression.

Starbound is finally playable by the unwashed masses, and it’s already so magnificent that even the washed masses became unwashed masses after sitting transfixed by its exploratory glow for days. But this is just a beta test, and even then it’s only on phase one of three. There’s much more to come. Space combat! Planet-sized dungeons! A not-quite-so-mean difficulty curve! Why, someday I imagine we’ll even be able to build Starbound inside Starbound. Actually, who’s to say we haven’t done it already, that everything you see in front of you is nothing but a hyper-elaborate Starbound simulation? You’ll never escape from voxel games. You are a voxel game.

Developer Chucklefish has put out a full list of the features it hopes to eventually add to Starbound – some of them in the near future, others so far out that the sun will have burnt out by then, dooming the world to ceaseless night, except we’ll have developed the technology to replace it with a giant lightbulb.

Are you ready for a list? I mean, that too. This isn’t just some rickety word tower, ready to topple like a house of cards in an afternoon breeze. This is the sort of list that’d appear on the Greek Pantheon’s version of Buzzfeed. It is both Large and In-Charge.

  • NPC Spawners & Building Logic: NPCs will scan the structures you build around them and the contents of chests; they will have improved inventories/behaviors depending on how valuable their surroundings are.
  • Macro Terrain Changes: Affect an entire planet’s terrain and weather
  • More Planet Scanner Data: See details in the planet scanner like planet occupants/dungeons
  • Underground: More secrets will spawn below the surface
  • Space Combat: Way in the future, expect space combat and the ability to board other ships.
  • Spaceship Dungeons: Very large, size of a planet.
  • Biome Hazards: Sandstorms, icestorms, meteor showers, toxic planets, airless planets.
  • Ore & Difficulty: Higher difficulty planets will have improved ore distribution
  • Story Missions: Eventually each tier will end with a story mission that ends with the bosses you see now.
  • Ship Navigator Changes: Still not set in stone; but the new idea is to give a local map with fog of war. Instead of sector buttons you have to fly out of a sector and into the next one by uncovering more of the star map. The final sector would be infinite.
  • Smoother Difficulty Curve: Better indication of the difficulty of an area. Difficulty will change within tiers as well as between tiers. There will be fractional difficulty (for example, Difficulty 1.12 in tier 1 would be easier than Difficulty 1.52, while still in T1)
  • Monster Generation: Right now, monster parts just have stat boosts, but eventually rolled monster parts will affect their behavior and abilities. For example, monsters with spider legs can climb walls; fiery monsters inflict burning. You might get a burning spider dropping on you from the ceiling. Projectiles may be tied to specifically generated heads. Biome may influence monster part generation.
  • Mini-Map: Rotating circular map showing highlights only such as the location of friendly players, spawn points–but no major details. For the details you’d use a mapping item to create a map as you travel.
  • Teleporters: Stargates between planets and eventually between servers.
  • Dramatic Planet Modification: Not going to be implemented any time soon. Ability for players to modify huge chunks of planets through things like orbital bombardment; removing the entire first layer of a planet and leave behind a lifeless surface.
  • Tech Priority: Eventually all techs can be active at once, but a categorization system is in the works to assign priority to conflicting techs, preventing issues. A hotkey to switch the active tech will be added as a temporary workaround until the priority system is completed.
  • Server Commands: More server commands and control for chat and port listening.
  • Villager AI: Villagers will aggro when you steal from them and follow you more aggressively.
  • World Storage: Improve world storage and organize *.pak files to improve modding. Add launcher integration.
  • Spawn Points: Change spawn points on individual planets.
  • Controls: Reconfigure controls; keybinding.
  • Ship Size: Upgrade ship/increase size.
  • Racial Armor: Racial abilities will not be inherent but will be tied to racial armor. For example, Avian armor can glide downward.
  • Capture Pods & Mercenaries: May be able to capture NPCs with pods. Summon NPC Mercenaries by using the pod as a beacon.
  • Reduced Wipes: Working on a system to patch without requiring as many character wipes in the future. This will require one more wipe and that’s it.
  • Other Changes: Colorblind Mode & Engine Optimization. FTL animation being revamped to reduce memory strain.

Chucklefish actually describes this list as “non-exhaustive,” so expect even more down the line. How’s Starbound treating you right now, though? Are you still as enamored as you were on day one, or is the magic of demolishing techno-ape societies and ransacking their simian wares starting to wear off?

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Nathan Grayson

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