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?


  1. PostieDoc says:

    I like this game.

  2. Lanfranc says:

    “burning spider dropping on you from the ceiling”

    I don’t think I want to play this game anymore. :(

  3. Skeletor68 says:

    I’ve really enjoyed my time with this so far. Multiplayer with my gf on her mac has been great. I’m still getting significant lag and framerate drops though, not sure why. My gf’s mac is much older and looks much better…

    • Snidesworth says:

      I’ve heard rumblings that the OpenGL version can ran smoother than the standard one, though people report mixed results on Windows. Hopefully optimisation will be a thing as they go ahead.

      I’ve been playing with a few friends and it’s been an absolute blast. I think we’re reaching a point where we’ve exhausted most of the features but we’re still discovering plenty of cool stuff.

      • marrakoosh says:

        Wait, so the OpenGL one isn’t the better version?

        I instinctively choose OpenGL everytime – is this purely legacy from CS 1.5/1.6? Where you could do OGL or other?

        Shit. What have I been missing?

        • Kitsunin says:

          I seem to recall a dev saying something along the lines of “Only use openGL if the regular launch performs poorly for you already.”

  4. LionsPhil says:

    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.

    Poor Sunspiker. Going to lose the electric guitar…

    Missing from that list seems to be something I really want: ability to do something to set the beam-down location to “where I am now”. Not just for building a fort at a non-spawn location, but so that save-and-quit doesn’t warp you out of the depths you were exploring when you resume. Never mind, I skimmed right over it.

    • moufazin says:

      We could be a perfect band.. i had a microphone… :c

      • RaenBoow says:

        I have a harmonica, a bas, a violin and a saxophone. If we can gather 3 more people then we can rock the stars out before the impending wipe!

  5. amadeus9 says:

    A voxel is a 3d pixe. It’s not a voxel game.

    • pilouuuu says:

      The game is not made of voxels. Our universe is.

      • Monkeh says:

        Makes it even weirder to mention voxel games twice, just to make some dry joke.

  6. dE says:

    I like this a lot. I’ve seen where it is at and where it can go from there. I already feel like I got my moneys worth from the title. That said, I’ll probably come back at a later stage of development. It’s still pretty much in an early state (as expected) and the things to critique are pretty general so far. I’ll wait with the detailled feedback once things have settled a bit more.

  7. Wodge says:

    I’d be all over this if I didn’t suffer from the Access Violation/Stack Trace bug that a lot of people seem to have.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I have only played it for a couple of hours, and then decided to wait a bit before I continue, for two reasons. One reason was that I didn’t want to repeatedly play the initial part of the game, due to character wipes. The other reason was that I really wanted to play more Crusader Kings 2.

  9. Highstorm says:

    “Controls: Reconfigure controls; keybinding.”

    Is it sad that this is what I’m most looking forward to?

  10. Kuipo says:

    You’ll never escape from voxel games. You are a voxel game.

    Your FACE is a voxel game.

    (I know it’s childish, but whenever me or my friends say something about “You’re a ___” we always reply with “Your FACE is a ___” so I just had to do it.)

  11. Retrofrank says:

    Nice, to have a beta version of a game, that is already this playable and enjoyable.
    There have been too many rather rough experiences on Steam lately.
    Saw someone at another forum complaining, that in former times, the developers payed people for beta-testing and now it´s the other way round.
    Not totally untrue.

  12. Reapy says:

    I’m along the lines of others, I enjoyed some time with it, but am in no rush to really make or progress too far early on, I want to wait until more systems are in place and there is more content and systems whipping me into having to make builds or other such things. This beta has given me nothing but positivity about where the game is headed though, which is great.

  13. coppernaut says:

    I like this game, but I can’t get into it right now when there’s more possible impending character wipes.

  14. Notebooked says:

    I started playing it, then stopped. It’s looking absolutely lovely but I couldn’t get into it right at this moment. It was the same with Terraria. Picked it up, dropped it, picked it up again, bingeplayed for months building my lair and delving into the secrets, then gave it a rest, entirely happy. I expect roughly the same for Starbound. I’d also like to get a hang of a Starbound that’s closer to the finished product, so I don’t get used to something that gets patched away.

    Also, Nathan, there seems to be a misplaced comma in the third paragraph. Should it read “I mean that, too” or is the original correct and I’ve missed something vital?

  15. Wret says:

    “You are a voxel game.”

    Well, yes basically.

  16. Gothnak says:

    This is the first voyeuristic game i have played… I play the game and my girlfriend tell me what to do, she calls herself my Science Officer. I’ve offered to buy her a copy and set her up a Steam Account, but doesn’t want to play it, just wants to watch. We play loads of co-op games together, but this is the first game she is happy to watch and not play…

    • Stardreamer says:

      I’ve opted to wait until a more stable, more optimised version appears. But I’m still really looking forwards to that day because I will likely end my real life there and live out the remainder of my days within Starbound. New Feature lists looks amazing. This is also one of the first times I’ve ever been keen to bring my girlfriend into the game with me; I sense Fun.

  17. Spoon Of Doom says:

    This game is tearing me apart. On the one hand, I want to play it so bad, but on the other hand I’d really like my first playthrough to be a somewhat complete version of the game. I fear that if I buy and play now, I’ll play the crap out of it and then get tired of it before the good stuff is even in the game.

    Also, can we please combine this game with FTL for travelling between planets?

  18. GoateeGamer says:

    Yeah, the actual game looks pretty promising.

    Fair warning though, careful on the forums, the moderators are notoriously bigoted and petty.

    • Dominic White says:

      By ‘notoriously bigoted’, you mean ‘have banned bigots’. It’s pretty funny to see MRAs starting thread after thread asking why they’re being oppressed by the matriarchy, only for them to be deleted again and again.

  19. ogre_bathyscaph says:

    i hope they will do something with monsters animation and behaviour, they are ugly and dumb at the moment

  20. Halk says:

    Just one question; will the graphics change? I find that some of the current sprites are quite low in quality, mainly the monsters and environments. Characters are ok, placables are ok. But the environment and monsters in starbound as compared to terraria is quite obviously IMO in terrarias favor. It’s so noticeable that I feel out of place whenever I try to play it. I’ve managed 5 hours, and the feeling does not go away.

    I suppose that some of the “out of place” stuff also comes from the fact that you start in a spaceship capable of traversing galaxies; yet the main concerns include building fire places and hunting for meat with a bow. Mostly it’s the graphics though; I can live with the silliness of the concept.

  21. pihpeh says:

    Great game but please add a pause button!

  22. BeigeDave says:

    Please add left handed control changes