THE MORE YOU KNOW… about the Unstable Update

December 19, 2014 in Dev Blog

Hey there!

We’re pushing the changes mentioned in our recent trailer to the unstable branch tonight– rejoice! Anyone who’s been playing the nightly builds won’t see a huge difference, but anyone who makes the switch from stable to unstable will see some pretty massive changes.

So here’s what you need to know about the unstable update, starting with…

How to Switch to the Unstable Branch

There’s a handy tutorial right here about how to switch to the unstable or nightly branch of the beta. Be sure to follow the instructions to switch to unstable. :)

World/Character File Compatibility

If you choose to switch to the unstable branch, please know that your characters and worlds will not yet be compatible with the latest version of the game.  Your old characters and worlds will still be there, but the unstable branch will use a different storage location than the stable branch for the time being, while we work out how to upgrade old characters.

We will try to maintain save file compatibility within unstable as much as possible, but it will depend on what sort of changes we have to make during unstable, so we cant make any promises.

If you are currently running nightly, then you probably already know how everything works already.  FYI The unstable branch will use a ‘storage_unstable’ directory while we work on compatibility with stable.

Known Issues:

  • Many progression quests aren’t final, some are placeholders for future missions
  • Combat balance is still WIP
  • Performance issues, particularly in dense areas like dungeons and the outpost
  • Background parallaxes have problematic transitions between world layers, e.g. oceans
  • Pixel costs and rewards not yet balanced
  • Interface windows (containers, AI, etc) can remain open after switching worlds or moving away from the triggering object
  • Cooking recipes for tier 5 and 6 crops need to be implemented
  • Crops sometimes get out of sync when grown on ship
  • Enemy hit/death sounds sometimes fail to play
  • Some errors in enemy movement and pathfinding
  • Rare crash when removing items from containers, appears as “(InventoryException) Not allowed to discard stack when locked.”
  • The launcher, on some people’s machines, will spew dll errors about missing ordinals.  This is not fatal however, and the launcher will still work after you close them.
  • And a whole lot more (probably)

We’ll keep everyone posted as we make more updates and plans evolve, but thank you all for being so patient!  Have fun!

16th of December: Alien Alpaca Blog

December 16, 2014 in Dev Blog

Alpaca in spaaaaace!

alpaca1Alien Alpaca packin’!

alpaca3Alien Alpaca jumping sweet jumps!

alpaca3Alien Alpaca playing video games and cooking!

alpaca4Alien Alpaca taking a breather!

Alpaca in spaaaaaace!

EDIT: You can comment on this at our forum in THIS THREAD. Our comment system is having difficulty.

Winter update trailer is here!

December 14, 2014 in News

Evening, everyone!

In my recent post, I mentioned that we’d soon be uploading a trailer highlighting some of the biggest changes we’ve made to Starbound since the last stable build. Without further rambling, here it is!

As Finn noted yesterday on Twitter, we’re trying to push these updates to the unstable branch next week and, depending on how that goes, pushing them to the stable branch in January.

Katzeus at Starbound has done an awesome job summarizing most of the changes here.

Thanks again for your continued support and patience. :) Enjoy the trailer!

EDIT: You can comment on the trailer in this thread– WordPress screwed up and didn’t automatically create the usual discussion thread. Sorry for the inconvenience!

December 12th – Balance in all things!

December 12, 2014 in Dev Blog

Evening folks!

When Starbound’s overall balance structure was first established, humanoid NPCs weren’t really a primary consideration at the time, nor was PVP, so the game was largely balanced based around the damage between players and the monsters. While this system was fine at first, it has been the root cause of much difficulty in balancing humanoid NPCs who were primarily balanced to fight against the player and got absolutely trashed by monsters, which was a problem, especially with our growing focus on missions. This necessitated a rethink of how everything was balanced.

To that end, Tiyuri and I, have gone over almost everything with a fine-tooth comb. Here’s a brief overview of the biggest changes.

– NPCs now use armor, so damage inflicted on them is reflective of their armor. Additionally their health now scales on a curve similar to the player’s.
– Damage values across the board have risen. Monsters now die more easily, but they can also kill the player faster too. Fight carefully!
– The energy scaling curve on guns has been completely reworked for a more gradual and consistent climb.
– Tiered armors have been completely rebalanced to suit the new armor and energy scaling levels.
– Players now start off with access to two weapons from the offset, with most races gaining a one-handed shortsword in addition to their broadsword. The novakids gain a two-handed rifle.
– Generated weapon values now typically sit somewhere between the tiered weapons. Rare weapons may still potentially be more damaging, but this should help to keep tiered weapons useful all throughout the game’s progression.

It might not seem like much but these changes have involved a frankly exhausting amount of configuration, but it has transformed the game feel quite significantly. A pleasant side effect of this humanoid-centric rebalancing is that the game is largely balanced for PVP too, provided all parties have suitably leveled equipment.

Guns are more dependable weapons overall, but melee inflicts monstrous damage for those willing to take the risk. In our testing, we found ourselves having heated 1-on-1 exchanges, rapidly alternating between ranged sniping and clashing swords when our energy reserves were locked away. It was both frantic and fun! I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys make of it.

December 9th – Jigsaw Falling Into Place

December 9, 2014 in Dev Blog

Evening! So in preparation for the next stable update, we’ve been arranging things so that quests and missions all work together as part of a functioning progression. For my part, I’ve been rebalancing the several missions in the game so that they are as challenging as they need to be for when you reach them.


 What is the context of this dismal cavern? You’ll have to find out for yourself!

It’s all coming together! If you haven’t already seen, we’re gathering lots of quickfire feedback for the current nightly build to see how people are finding it. Hit us up if you’d like to chip in!

Dec 9 – Nightly launcher is broken

December 9, 2014 in Dev Blog

Recently, we made a change to how the nightly manages its current working directory (to make managing servers more sane, to make launching the command line utilities less mysterious, and generally have less spooky action at a distance, and to potentially support multiple profiles in the future), but unfortunately, that change broke the launcher. I’ve worked for a few hours and found that there seems to be no good answer to our problems without reverting the changes we made, and we can’t really justify reverting those changes.

As mentioned, the root issue is now that we’ve made changes the launcher has the wrong working directory. In order to fix that, I had to move the launcher to the proper location (or do a change to the working directory for the starbound executable, which is what the change was originally intended to prevent.)

Eventually, we decided to move the launcher to the same directory as the executable, but now it’s screwing up because Steam wants it to be in the same location as the current stable.

We can’t change launch paths by branch, it’s set per depot, not per build. We’re sending in a support request to Valve on the matter. It might be as simple as “just add another launch option that’s valid on the other builds, but invalid on the stable, and it will try them all.” And I’m hoping it’s that simple. But it’s not something that I want to test out right now without knowing for certain.

So what does this mean to you?

The nightly on Windows and OSX (OSX was broken as well by the same change, even though it doesn’t use the launcher), you will need to launch the executable directly, rather than through Steam, until further notice.

Executable launching instruction can be found using this elegant and finely crafted link.

December 5th – You must find balance!

December 6, 2014 in Dev Blog

What a week it’s been. I found myself tasked with examining and improving overall game balance. For a game packed with randomized elements that has undergone some pretty significant changes in the combat system, this proved a bit of a long-winded process that involved a lot of convoluted spreadsheets. These changes involved addressing the way damage from weapons and monsters scales up across the tiers, along with health scaling on enemies. It seems to be shaping up pretty nicely so far.

One of the biggest changes to hit has been the implementation of a new energy system. The team has been aware for a good while that the guns were in need of attention. The biggest problem was that players didn’t really have a lot of options beyond burning through all their energy while shooting, and then would be left waiting an obnoxiously long time before their bar refilled enough to be of any use. With balance being a key focus at this time, it seemed a good opportunity to address it.

The biggest change is how your bar regenerates energy. Rather than a slow and constant regeneration like the one you’ve likely experienced in our stable build, the regeneration will now only kick in if you haven’t used your energy for a few seconds. To compensate, the regeneration is much faster than it was before, restoring your full energy in just a few seconds. No matter how big your energy pool gets, it will take precisely the same length of time to refill, effectively giving you both more shots and even more energy per second.

This new system doesn’t come without risks however. If you use your energy without allowing it to time to refill, completely emptying it, your bar will lock during its regeneration cycle, restricting you from using energy in any way shape or form until it has completely refilled. This means you will not be able to fire your guns, nor use energy-based techs.

The general consensus among the team so far is that new system feels much better than the old one. It opens up opportunities for strategic play and encourages players to be mindful of their reserves. In the wake of this change, my next task is to rebalance energy levels across armors. That’ll be fun!

In any case, that’s it from me. Have a nice weekend folks!

One year later…

December 4, 2014 in Dev Blog

starbound 2014-12-04 16-53-35-96

Happy Anniversary!

A year ago today, we launched Starbound on Steam Early Access to more love and support than we could ever have anticipated.

Starbound’s development has had its ups and downs (as all game development cycles do!), but we’ve been able to work far more efficiently together since settling into our little office space. We’ve been super hard at work on a very large update that changes and expands upon the progression system and it’s nearly ready for unstable.

If you’ve been keeping track of our updates and the nightly build, you’ll have seen just how much has changed since the last stable update. If not, never fear! In lieu of 10+ pages of text outlining all the changes, we’ll be posting a trailer next week highlighting all the biggest features we’ve added to the game. In the meantime, Katzeus at Starbounder has neatly summarized most of the changes here.

We really can’t thank you enough for your continued patience, feedback, supportive messages and contributions to the community. :) I know a lot of you have been waiting aaaages for a stable update before diving back into the game, but I think you’ll find the wait worth it. :D

starbound 2014-12-04 17-00-45-55


December 2nd – Here and there and everywhere!

December 2, 2014 in Dev Blog

Despite repeatedly getting sidetracked to tackle other tasks, we now have over 120 functional food items and recipes that the player can discover in their travels, and that’s just in tiers 1-4! You will typically receive one or two basic recipes upon collecting a new ingredient, and then you can earn more by spending some time preparing these items. Even the most unassuming recipe may eventually lead you to something particularly potent, so if you want the best food buffs you’re going to want to spend some time with your cooking table.

One of the more unusual concoctions I’ve particularly enjoyed playing with is a drink that imbues the player with great bounciness. When under the effects of this buff, you are completely immune to falling damage, your jump power increases by 25% and you bounce when you impact any surface. It can be a bit hard to control if you’re in a particularly rough patch of terrain, but if you can time a jump the moment you hit the ground, you can bounce higher and higher. This is especially fun when combined with the double jump tech!

Combat practical? Perhaps not. But it sure is fun!

December 1st – Bioluminescence

December 1, 2014 in Dev Blog

Hey there! Things have been relatively quiet on the blog recently, but very busy in the office. Lately I’ve spent most of my time helping kyren improve the way we configure biomes and planetary layers. This is necessary for ocean planets, but will also facilitate a lot of other cool stuff in the future. I’ll be able to talk more about that when it’s closer to finished. This evening I took a little break to put Supernorn’s bioluminescent plants in the game. They’ll be getting their own biome soon, but I thought they looked nice enough to warrant a screenshot of the progress: