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Starfield modders are trying to join up maps into complete planets, cue memories of Minecraft's Far Lands

But how far can they go?

A screenshot of a Starfield mod that lowers the invisible walls between planetary maps, showing the city of New Atlantis in the distance.
Image credit: Draspian/Bethesda

Are Starfield's planets continuous spaces? Are they just collections of sealed-off maps that fake the presence of landmarks such as named cities beyond their invisible boundaries? I just don't even know any more, but Starfield mod creators are looking into it. One intrepid soul, Draspian, has tinkered with the code to disable said invisible boundaries, and in the process, revealed that planetary maps do, in fact, join together, though as you might be expecting, Starfield doesn't take kindly to being treated this way.

The mod in question is over here (thanks to PCGamer's Morgan Park for spotting). Draspian has posted screens and videos of an expedition from an outlying map tile to the city of New Atlantis on Jemison, showing that the game does try to render the city itself, when you bypass the invisible wall, but undergoes bizarre terrain glitches and ultimately, crashes to desktop. Draspian's efforts also demonstrate that while Starfield employs procedural generation for much of its more barren geography, some of those outlying map tiles appear the same to all players.

"This should be conclusive and undeniable proof that all tiles on a planet are connected," Draspian wrote on Nexus Mods. "And the millimetrical scale it takes to visit a directly adjacent tile (requiring the removal of map markers through console commands) shows how massive the planets actually are."

Here's how Draspian did it in detail, from a post on Reddit:

1) "I kept the boundaries on for the experiment to prove that I didn't just run far enough away to fake the distance, and I bring up the map (the controller controls partially froze so that part is a bit confusing) but you can clearly see the Activities quest markers going far below the available land, towards New Atlantis."

Watch on YouTube

2) "It gets better. This time I disabled the border again and tried to get as close to New Atlantis as possible before the game crashed. It looks like the reason for the crash might be the game trying to load the entire next tile, because if you notice the compass, as I approach the city the Map Markers belonging to the Districts of the City appear, and the city itself seems to transition from less detailed to more detailed in the seconds before the game freezes."

Watch on YouTube

3) "To complete the series of experiments, here's the journey the other way around. The beginning is a bit slow because I needed to show the shape of the lake that can be seen in the distance from the New Atlantis' tile."

Watch on YouTube

There's an interesting discussion in the Nexus Mod thread below Draspian's post. In particular, my eye was caught by this post from JaRGNaR87:

"Glad to see someone exploring how to solve this. When I heard about it it made me wonder if this design choice was related to floating point error. The greater the distance things become away from the world origin the more chaotic so it was probably the only way to keep the physics of all the clutter under control."

To which siebenacht replies:

"ring ding ding we have a winner. yes, this is almost certainly the limiting factor behind bethesda's development process of the game. in essence, they would have needed to modify the engine to feature something like Floating Origin (all world objects get offsetted such that the player is in the center). there's likely other creation engine complications that would need to be solved too, but floating point imprecision is most likely the source of the issues."

My technical expertise is, well, not very expert - to phrase things in Starfield terminology, I put all my skill points on the Idle Frippery and Simpsons References skill trees as a kid, rather than Tech - but this triggers memories of the legendary Far Lands bug in older versions of Minecraft, which saw the game's geography becoming ever more unstable and bizarre due to accumulating floating point errors, the further you travelled from spawn. (Of course, you'll need to walk for a while, or employ other means of travel - there are streamers who've been journeying to the Far Lands for over a decade.)

You can read more about that in Jim Rossignol's (RPS in peace) post on the joy of falling through the floor. I would dearly love Starfield to have something like this. In other news, here's our Starfield review, in which Alice Bee notes that the game's sheer size "makes Starfield feel unfortunately small and empty." Oh, and it might also interest you to know that you can manually fly to planets in Starfield, just not in the way you're hoping for.

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