Chucklefish has big plans for Starbound and the company in 2014

5 Feb 2014  by   Paul Younger
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Starbound is proving very popular so developer Chucklefish thought it was about to time to share more information on where the game is heading as they continue to push toward a finished product.

The development team are taking their responsibilities seriously and Chucklefish will be opening an office in London so the whole team can work face to face for the first time. It’s a pretty big step, but if anything it should help speed up the game’s development and allow them to expand the company further.

Chucklefish also intend on helping other indies through their publishing arm and games they’ll be working with include Stardew Valley, Halfway, Treasure Adventure World, and Wanderlust Adventures initially.

That’s not all, Chucklefish are going to start work on a second game that will be developed alongside Starbound and they’ll be hiring more development talent in the near future. I also sounds like they have an idea for a new game which could turn out to be a top down, open world, multiplayer pirate game. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Now on to the future of Starbound itself and there’s a lot to take in as creator Finn “Tiy” Brice explains:

Progression

As it stands, almost the entirety of the progression in Starbound is temporary. Built quickly to enable some basic gameplay during beta.

The final game will be structured differently.

The current 10 tiers of gameplay will all play out on the same Starmap, with each tier introducing hazards that can only be overcome by progressing through the previous tier and completing a mission at the end of each tier.

To access a mission at the end of each tier you need to obtain a certain number of pixels.

An example of this progression would be:

Play through tier 1 and gain enough pixels too.. > access the tier 1 mission > fight tier 1 boss > gain oxygen tank tech > now able to access tier 2 planets with non breathable atmosphere

Obtaining Pixels

Obtaining pixels will be key to progressing through Starbound. To access the mission in each tier you must first gather a certain number of pixels.

Currently obtaining pixels in Starbound feels like a bit of a grind. Particularly given the pixel death penalty and the high cost of various pixel sinks. In large part however this is down to unimplemented features being missing.

In the finished game you’ll be able to earn pixels in a multitude of different ways, essentially allowing you to play through the game the way you want to play. If you’d like to become an intergalactic farmer, growing and selling crops, keeping livestock and so on. The farming feature will be fleshed out enough for that to be your means of pixel gathering. On the other hand, if you prefer to be an adventurer, taking quests and gaining pixels as rewards. That route is just as good. Perhaps you prefer to be a builder, charging npcs rent based on the quality of the homes they inhabit. A pirate, robbing towns and ransacking villages. A tomb raider, gathering rare artifacts.

There will be many different routes through the game, each just as deep and profitable as the last. Each will branch out and become more complex as the player advances through tiers, unlocks new technology and becomes more proficient in their chosen skills. Essentially we’re describing the gameplay equivalent of a tech/skill tree.

End game

So eventually you’re going to get through all of the missions, you’ll have the best gear and you’ll be looking for a new challenge. This is where sector X comes in. Sector X is a collection of planets in which PVP is enabled by default and players battle over controlling various planets. To take part in the battle you first have to form an organisation (in game), which gives you access to a space station shared by other members of your organisation. The space station doubles as a ship that any captain in the organisation can control and is constructed from blocks and objects for full customization.

The PVP in this sector is entirely optional, players choose whether or not to attack each other or work together. Monsters, quests and events will be strong enough to be challenging even with the best tools in the game. And in game events, invasions and so on will keep the experience fresh.

Director Mode

On top of sector X, one major part of the replayable content will be director mode. Director mode exists within a separate Starbound client that allows admins to connect to their servers with a range of new tools built to control the action for their players. Admins in director mode (there can be multiple), will be able to spawn blocks, items, monsters, npcs at will. Take direct control over them, have them speak and interact with players. Essentially director mode allows admins to take on a similar role to that of a dungeon master in D&D, creating scenarios and stories on the fly to ensure players never have the same experience twice.

User made mission sharing

Using in game wiring tools players will be able to create their own mission maps and challenges that can be shared with other players. Custom missions installed on a server will be available to all players at any point and will function as instances. Parties will be able to enter these instances together as many times as they like.

Mod support

We’ve taken steps towards better mod support recently with the implementation of a .pak file system. Essentially condensing an entire mod into a single file. We’re not far away from also implementing a system for servers to share these pak files with clients on connect. This will allow mod authors and server admins to entirely overhaul the vanilla starbound experience for the players on their server.

Server security

We’re implementing a range of security checks to minimize cheating on a broad scale. But for admins that desire absolute security we will also eventually be implementing server side characters, including server side accounts and the option to require a new character the first time a new player connects. We want to empower server admins to create a unique experience on their server.

Update Schedule

Currently our update schedule relies entirely on waiting for engine updates to be finished before we are able to push any content updates to steam. After the next update we’re actually changing the way we work and separating content updates and engine updates. What this means for the end user is that content updates will hit several times a week instead of once every week/two weeks. The game will constantly evolve and you may find new things every time you log in.

It sounds like Chucklefish have their hands pretty full at the moment but it’s great to see development pushing ahead.

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