Neocolonialism And Love: Starbound’s Latest Update

A huge Starbound [official site] update landed last night. It’s a stable version, as opposed to the experimental opt-in nightly updates, and adds a host of new features. The most important is a set of systems to allow for the establishment of colonies. Build a house and people will eventually move in – a more luxurious house will attract a better class of resident. Tied into that are improved behaviours for all NPCs, who will now interact with objects and each other. They might warm their hands by a fire or fall in love. Stuff like that. The changelog is here, and there’s also a summary in text and video form. The video is below.

There are a few known issues with the update but none of them are game-breaking and, importantly, updating will not wipe your characters or universe. One of the existing issues is delightful.

NPCs occasionally get stuck rotated after getting out of bed, which is hilarious but unintended

I have the Starbound sickness. Everytime I see a video of people playing together, or an update trailer like the one just above, I reinstall the game and expect to have a blast. And then I realise that whether my long-term goal is to build a village or to build the Best Gun In The Galaxy, I’m going to spend the next few hours punching trees. Or, since Starbound is a sci-fi game, laser-punching trees.

Perhaps if I get past that first couple of hours, I’ll be whirling around the galaxy, finding dungeons and temples and aliens. And then I’ll be able to laser-punch those aliens as well as the trees.

Anyhow. I’ve reinstalled and I’ll have you all know that my favourite part of the trailer was the sunrise at the end. I don’t care about punching trees and collecting loot – I just want a treehouse with a view.


  1. Challenger2uk says:

    Look players can sit on chairs….makes ya wonder why we opted for 2 Terraria servers lol.

  2. Fellhuhn says:

    Strange thing about the game is that I never really enjoyed it: First you gather one material, build equipment and continue on to the next plant and on and on and on. Never enjoy a planet because it is temporary. Hunt the next material, get to the next level. And once you reach the last level you are somehow bored because there isn’t really any progression in that direction anymore. All you are left with is a Terraria clone with less features. Meh.

    • slerbal says:

      Agreed. I wanted to like it and in fact got several hours of enjoyment from it when it first launched, but now when I reinstall it and boot it up after 5 minutes I utterly bored. Ah well.

    • Niko says:

      It’s a bit like Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island, but in space.

    • death_au says:

      I’m similar. I love Terraria, and basically all the things I love about it are in Starbound. But Starbound has more planets.
      …And that’s where it falls apart. Progression comes from moving on, so you don’t get the same urge to explore the world as you do in Terraria because in a few minutes you’re just going to leave it for the next world.
      I’ll give this update a go, because maybe establishing a colony on one planet might give me more motivation, but I’m not sure.

  3. Spacewalk says:

    I recently got back into it myself and had a much more enjoyable first hour than I had when I first played it. But after that hour I got sick of foraging and downloaded a trainer so I could have infinite resources because I definitely didn’t aspire to go into space to be a peon. You’d think by now someone would’ve figured out a way to automate all of that so you could be free to go off and do more interesting things.

  4. Harlander says:

    I always got the impression from the Starbound devs that they were not quite sure what they were doing. I mean, they’ve got some long-term plans but it’s hard to see how they’re moving in the direction of them.

    I do think some of that feeling comes from their overcompensating in the direction of showing how the sausage is made, to a certain extent.

    Oh well, I’m fine with keeping an eye on it to see if something cool comes out in the end.

    • Hart says:

      That’s been the problem from day one. Starbound is a good example of how not to make a game, and at this point the level of incompetently is basically criminal.

  5. lucasdias says:

    I’m gonna go the oposite direction of what most people are saying, while i find Minecraft and Terraria somewhat boring i really liked Starbound and i’m happy that they keep adding content. Looking foward to build my own colony =)

  6. AngoraFish says:

    This is exactly what I want in a builder – the ability to make things that NPCs move into, use and visibly appreciate. Heaven!

  7. Reapy says:

    I have the adam view of this too, I keep wanting to like it, I love all their videos and artwork and music. Then I start up a world, punch trees for 10 minutes and go MEhhhhh and quit until the next patch.

    I think for me the killer is the moment to moment action still feels weak. I don’t mind chopping trees but I guess managing all that crap falling into my inventory is a bit of a pain and the moment to moment combat is a bit dull as well.

    My issue might be I like the building part of builders, not the gathering and organizing part, well rather, I like hunting out and finding things to gather, I don’t like juggling an ever expanding inventory of blocks and such.

    Well whatever, just keep watching the patch notes for stuff I’ll never see in the game because I can’t get enough motivation to get to the mid game.

    Kinda still glad this game exists though.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      They did add an inventory auto-sorter in this one, for what that’s worth. I sympathize with the lack of motivation though. I installed again a while back to find they’d made great strides and had a more interesting game to play, but still got burned out grinding my way up the “progression” line.

      I did make it to rocket launchers, that was a bit of a treat.

  8. jonahcutter says:

    “a more luxurious house will attract a better class of resident”

    Ah yes, those wealthy and their “better” class.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Is it still possible that a future update will wipe characters or planets, or has the development of this game finally reached a state in which that doesn’t happen anymore?

    • Harlander says:

      My understanding is that it’s still possible that an update might necessitate a wipe, and wiping your universe is semi-encouraged, but they’ve generally moved away from doing them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Hm. Maybe I’ll wait a bit longer until I try this, then. Thanks for the information!

  10. internisus says:

    My big apprehension with Starbound is that it looks like every item can be acquired with that universal generic matter currency, and this to me is much less interesting than having things be made out of specific other things, which requires getting those specific things rather than just having money.

    If this was Terraria, to make that space shuttle bed you’d need like space metal from killing Martians and to make a gothic couch you’d need—I dunno—spider hide or some such, but here they’re both just a question of matter-bucks. That makes them interchangeable. That makes both the things you can make and the resources you can find and collect on the worlds (and, hence, the act of exploring those worlds) much less interesting.

    I would love to be wrong about this, to be missing something or misunderstanding what I see when I watch these trailers. Can anyone tell me that’s the case? Is the universal matter currency not as widely applicable as I think it is or something?

    • IJC says:

      I think you are talking about “Pixels”, as seen at around the minute mark in the video. If that’s the case:
      You can not farm pixels like other resources, but kill monsters, destroy harvested materials etc. to gather them.
      As for your question: partly right. You can use a “3D Printer” to print certain objects you previously collected and scanned in the printer. These objects are furniture and decorative objects spawning in pre-created houses. They are just cosmetic. You also craft lights and “wires”, in short the redstone equivalent from pixels. Most of these items can also be created from specific materials for a much cheaper price after you find a blueprint.
      All “relevant” items, with functionalities (like all workbenches, tools, armors and materials) can not be crafted solely with pixels (but may require some besides the worldly materials).
      So I’d say exploring is still interesting (but a bit less) as you can only craft things you have discovered previously and blueprints for these things are found while exploring. Also you are better off just collecting the things you want from the world and use the pixels for trading and crafting useful things.
      This is based on the version prior to the patch, so all this may have changed. I’m sorry if it did.

  11. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I literally can’t get past the first boss since they overhauled progression. And since every time you lose, you have to repeat the whole level, I’ve kind of given up on Starbound.

    • ender1200 says:

      When did you try it last time? They changed the missions last time so they don’t reset the stage immidiatly after you die. If you re-enter the mission immidiatly after dying the monsters you killed stay dead.

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      Yeah…that first boss fight is NOT easy. But then, none of them are, really. The movement of your character is too slow to properly support the twitch-fast reactions needed to avoid dying. The margin for error is too small. After days of trying I eventually used /admin to god-mode my way past it. Reading around on-line I found that the best way to defeat it – apart from having incredible timing and good fortune – is to use a sword to deflect the beams as they reach you. Nothing in game prepares you for that skill prior to that moment or even subsequent to it. It’s just left to trial and error, which gets expensive and frustratingly repetitive.

      What makes it worse is the way the game punishes you for failing/dying as well. Having to run through the entire Quest Mission level again is bloody perverse, And the loss of 30% of your hard-earned currency is just a pure dick move, unsupportable by the in-game logic other than the meta desire to make a death “feel” like something of consequence. If anything, it encouraged me to find a way around the system because to my mind it’s the game’s biggest flaw.

  12. geldonyetich says:

    This might actually be a pretty important update for me.

    When I’ve been playing Minecraft for far too long, I eventually reach a point where I throw my hands up and shout, “What’s the point in all this?! I could build the most noteworthy cobblestone phallus ever, but it’s not like anyone is going to care! If only these stuffy squidward villagers weren’t such death-prone, characterless lumps. then I could at least create fantastic towns for them and feel like it’s worth the effort!” Then I go install the Millenaire, Minecolony, or Minecraft Comes Alive mods, and they’re a step in the right direction, but they’re all flawed and none of them really get around the fact that Minecraft NPCs are unconvincing dunces.

    So, you say this Starbound update is all about allowing you to build whole colonies for NPCs, who now have a host of “improved behaviors” that foist a semblance of a procedural-generated personalities? If I didn’t already spend $50 on Starbound as a backer, I’d be sold again! I’ll definitely be giving this a spin some time soon.

  13. racccoon says:

    Clever use of endings :)

  14. Jakkar says:

    It was the art and the combat for me. Being hunted by poorly animated pokemon, and swinging my giant Final Fantasy sword with the anime-swooshes and the 2003 Newgrounds Flash Platformer art quality.

    When I swing a weapon in Terraria there’s that click, a sound of pain, and something is knocked jarringly away. Often me, because I missed, but if I missed it’s because no pixel intersected the target.

    In Starbound everything seems to float through everything else due to poor hit/bounding definitions, even in singleplayer where lag plays no role. I felt no sense of satisfaction, tension or skill in combat.

    Compare to, say, the precise and impactful combat of the Arkham/Shadow of Mordor/Mad Max school, against the swooshy imprecise showiness and mismatched animation/connections of the old Devil May Cry school of melee combat.

    • Niko says:

      Makes sense. I’ve not played Starbound much, but something seemed off compared to Terraria (which, despite being very flamboyant at times, seems to have a clearer art direction).

  15. Hart says:

    Starbound has shown me the failure of game journalism in our day. People want to say that games are art, but art requires critics, and we really don’t have enough criticism from journalists. A quick google search told me enough about Chucklefish to never support them again, and it really feels like a let down that journalists still cozy up to these guys.

    • Niko says:

      ‘Somebody didn’t do the thing they would if they could read my mind! The end is nigh!’