February 23, 2014 in News
So today we spent our Sunday having a long (5 hours!) design discussion in which we are pencilling in the finer details of the games progression.
As we said before, the current progression is entirely temporary, existing to provide temporary gameplay whilst we work on the engine. Today I want to share more with you about the games new structure and the beginning of the game.
First of all we’re removing the different universe sectors. In the final game there will be only three sectors. The sector the majority of the game takes place in, a pvp sector and a creative sector without dangers.
Instead of progressing through the game sector by sector, you’ll advance by upgrading your tech to allow you to visit planets that were otherwise inaccessible due to hazards. An example being a planet with no breathable air. Progression will be less linear and more akin to the kind of progression you find in modern metroidvanias.
We’re building the game with 3 main paths of progression that branch off later on. Farming, adventuring and building. We want players to be able to advance through the game whilst doing whatever they enjoy most.
At the beginning of the game (what would be the alpha sector in the current progression) you start on a ship with a broken fuel module, giving you access to only one planet. Through a series of quests you’re taught how to farm, find trophies in dungeons and build the beginnings of a settlement. Completing these quests will give you the pixels you need to use your ships 3d printer to produce a new fuel module. Which in turn allows progression to the other planets in your current solar system.
At this stage were introducing a new planet type called an outpost. A small and safe planet populated by members of every race. A safe haven for trade and quest taking. You’ll learn how to generate pixels through selling crops, taking quests, selling trophies found in dungeons and renting out houses in your settlement.
From here each of these roles will expand outwards as you progress (for example animal farming becomes an optional part of the farming progression).
More on that later
February 20, 2014 in News
Such a busy day today. We’ve finally signed everything we have to sign for getting the keys to the office and arranging immigration for the various members of Chucklefish coming to the UK from abroad. It’s been a lengthy process but one that’s going to have wonderful results. Working in the same room is going to make us much more efficient and creative.
The next step is to get the office painted on Monday, get the furniture delivered and get desks set up.
We’ve decided to use these as dividing walls, as they’re cheap and attractive.
The programmers have been putting the finishing touches on the system we’re going to use to push updates more frequently. Essentially we’re separating content updates and engine updates. Content updates are going to be pushed to the server as and when content is finished being produced, we’re no longer going to wait on engine updates to push them out at the same time. This also means engine updates will get additional internal testing.
The artists have been working on a bunch of new content that’s pretty much ready to go as soon as this is done. We’ll also be adding the best/most fitting mods to the game with increased frequency.
The pace is really going to pick up.
These content only updates won’t increase the version number, so modders don’t need to worry about continuously updating their mods.
I’ll be posting here with details whenever we post small content updates. We’ve decided against full changelogs because we’d like players to discover what’s new themselves. I’ll also be updating you on goings on with the new offices and other things we’re taking part in.
This is an exciting time for both Starbound and Chucklefish!
It’s been a while since we posted an update as we’ve been feverishly working away on the game. But we’ve had an increasing number of requests to detail what the finished game will be like. So I wanted to go into detail on what we consider the finished Starbound experience to be (subject to change! as always). As well as where Chucklefish is going in the future.
The future of Starbound
The following is a collection of some of the broad changes coming to Starbound in terms of progression. Not included are smaller self contained features like ship upgrades, vehicles and so on.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The future of Chucklefish
So that’s Starbound, how about Chucklefish as a company?
We’ve actually just signed for a new office that we’ll be opening in London in the next 2 or 3 weeks. It’s a very exciting time for us, we’ll finally be working in the same room right in front of each other and our productivity is going to improve massively as a result. We also intend to provide some temporary office space for the games we publish and assist on. We’ll be blogging about opening the office soon, complete with photos and whatnot.
We’re going to continue helping out smaller indie companies publish their titles. Games on the horizon include Stardew Valley, Halfway, Treasure Adventure World, Wanderlust Adventures and more. We’d like to progress more in this space and assist indie developers make their games profitable without giving away huge percentages of their income away to predatory publishers.
A second game
We’re going to be producing a second game along side Starbound, with an entirely new development team. We’ll be looking into hiring UK developers for this project shortly (CVs to [email protected] if you’re interested!) This won’t slow down the production of Starbound at all, worry not, I will be assisting in the design but we’ll be working with entirely new developers. At the moment we’re still in the stage where we’re kicking around ideas, one that keeps popping up is a top down, open world, multiplayer pirate game.
So here is a non exhaustive list of additions coming to the game. We have a lot more than this in store (not yet discussed), but Xealaz over at reddit compiled such a nice list of the stuff we HAVE discussed that I wanted to share it with you. As always, things are not set in stone.
On with the list!
- 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.
December 8, 2013 in News
So the big balance update is coming really soon,
But we’ve managed to squeeze some other things in too.
The XP bug is hopefully fixed.
A new baby monster variant is added, we’ll be using this in the future to do some nifty growth/evolution things..
And a bunch of new weapons and items will be making it in too, maybe even a new boss.. we’ll see if we manage that one in time.
December 7, 2013 in News
Ok guys so we decided to make this update a lot bigger. It’s going to take a day or two to complete and I wanted to explain exactly what we’re doing with the balance of the game to open it up for discussion.
Currently the damage system in Starbound is built around an armor penetration system. This system was put in place to account for the 100 planet levels, 100 monster levels and so on. Whilst the system works it leads to a difficulty curve that can be confusing to navigate as well as stats that are a little more difficult to understand. (A weapon that does 40 damage, only does 40 damage to a monster of the same level as the weapon. Otherwise as the distance between armor penetration/armor level grows the damage increases/decreases.)
It’s hard to know exactly how much damage your weapon will do to any given monster and it’s difficult to know which of two weapons is the most effective.
Another problem with this system is items that do a static amount of damage. For example in the current alpha sector it’s possible to find throwing daggers with 5 armor penetration. These daggers are extremely powerful in the lower half of the tier but near useless in the upper half.
When working with 100 levels, without the armor penetration system you end up with absurd damage/health values that are far too big to be manageable and that’s the reason this system was originally in place.
So over this weekend we’re going to work on the solution to this problem. We’re going to reduce the number of planet levels from 100, to 10. *This is not a decrease in the amount of content, it’s simply a change to how leveling functions*. The smaller number of levels means that we can remove armor penetration entirely and simplify weapon damage. You’ll be able to directly compare weapon DPS which will now appear on the weapons tooltip. Armor will become easier to understand and will gain additional buffs, such as increasing player max health. We’re also now able to remove armor from monsters and simply give more powerful monsters more health, this way you always know how much damage your weapon will do.
Monsters will no longer have a level, instead monsters will be given an easy/medium/hard marker, that shows you how difficult a monster is in the context of the sector it’s in. For example, a hard monster in sector 1 will be roughly the same strength as an easy monster in sector 2. The difficulty of monsters will increase the lower you dig, but so will the rewards.
Items with a static amount of damage will be manually balanced and useful for the entire sector you find them on. Given that the range of health difference will be lower now, we can ensure that items such as throwing daggers will be useful for the entire sector. We’re also able to make sure that when you craft the best armor in a sector, you’ll be in good shape for the next sector. By ensuring that the hardest monsters in sector 1 match the easiest monsters in sector 2, you’ll be able to progress without having to face instakills on either side.
I suspect this game will drastically improve the balance of the game and make the extra wait worth it.
Coming along with this update will be a bunch of bug fixes and some new content.
Shortly after this update we’ll be adding a complete sector 4, delta sector.
This update will probably require a character reset (I’m sorry! Beta :( )
Give us your thoughts guys
December 5, 2013 in News
- Make sure hunger bar is always shown when eating food (done)
- Make hunger bar display when the alt key is held down (done)
October 22, 2013 in News
The very first thing I want to say, to avoid any confusion, is that we’re still estimating the beta this year. This news post isn’t written as a precursor to an upcoming delay. It’s just a topic that has been discussed at length and one I felt like trying to address.
So, video game delays..
Let’s start with an overused but wonderful quote from nintendos Shigeru Miyamoto.
“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”
This is right on the money. We’ve all seen the monstrosities churned out by development teams pressed by money hungry publishers. Those are teams that failed to meet their development deadlines but were forced to put out their game anyway and we’ve seen it time and time again.
In contrast to that we’ve seen teams like Valve delay their games over and over again only to release something magnificent. They had the time to create THEIR games, the games they envisioned, scrapping and reworking anything they weren’t completely happy with. The result was a collection of some of the best games ever made (and Ricochet).
The debate on whether or not games are art rages on and I won’t summon it’s ardent squabblers by telling you you can’t rush art. But the fact that games now set out to provoke emotion is undeniable and when that’s your goal your chances of meeting a theoretical deadline based on list of features is near impossible. Producing a game is like molding clay; it evolves. By the time you’re done your original design document and the game you produce are sometimes night and day.
Indeed, even among triple A developers the list of delayed games is staggering..
On top of that, we’re at a time in the games industry now where gamers are demanding innovation. Often those demands fall on deaf ears where AAA studios are concerned and there’s a good reason for that. Producing something new requires overcoming uncertain challenges. When you’re producing a game that does something different, particularly when it’s something complex, judging how long each technical challenge will take you to overcome is a complete nightmare. Uncertain challenges and untested genres don’t mesh well with the AAA world of budgets, publishers, deadlines and goals.
So gamers look to indie studios for innovation, studios willing to take the risk, willing to put their livelihood on the line, willing to deal with ‘as long as it takes to make this happen’ development. This is what we do here at Chucklefish and that’s something I’m very proud of.
Realistically there are only three types of games..
Games that are released before they’re done. The buggy and often rushed to the finish mess you regret purchasing in that steam sale binge.
Games that do nothing new. Basically a rehash of a game you played last year, Fifa 2040, Call of Duty – we added giraffes edition.
Games that are delayed. Games that aren’t remembered for their development period or the number of times they were delayed, but the care and attention lavished upon them in that time. (let’s not talk about Duke Nukem Forever).
And we’d much rather be in the final category.
All this said, whilst I won’t apologise for delaying the game a couple of times, we have made mistakes along the way. The most obvious of which was to give out estimated release dates on a project that’s aiming so high and I think it’s unlikely we’ll ever do that again. We also underestimated the time spent on communication overheads when working with a remote team in several different timezones. (Honestly I think if we’d all been in the same office we may have met our release date goals).
But the finished game WILL be worth the wait, we’re all happy with how its shaping up and super excited to get it to the point where we’re happy with it. You’ll have the chance to help us do that this year with the beta and we’re looking forwards to that too.
Thanks for reading guys
October 9, 2013 in News
Today a whole bunch of underground mini-biomes were added. Many of which are very unique.
We’ve also populated the Avian airships with unique NPCs. Building pirates that react in various amusing ways.
Village guards got another behaviour upgrade, they get upset if you wield weapons whilst in town.
Ignoring multiple requests to put the weapons away could result in trouble.
NPCs and hostile monsters now battle eachother and village guards will keep the towns free of rogue monsters.
We also added this nifty little item, it can appear on any planet (and there are various similar items). It works a little bit like a fountain or shrine in a roguelike.
Activating it will result in a surprise.
the gif doesn’t loop very well, sorry!
We’ve also started adding a few changes that will make the above ground terrain more interesting.