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:


November 27 2014 – Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014 in Dev Blog, News

Hey guys, supernorn here!

Everyone on the team has been working super hard on various mechanics, including ocean biomes and reworking the tech system!

Today I’ve been working on a sub-biome for the snow planet, a bio-luminescence environment! These snow covered plants and trees will glow and generate light:


Everyone on the team is getting together for thanksgiving dinner, we hope all our american fans are having a good thanksgiving!


Until next time!



November 24th – A Lovely Surprise

November 24, 2014 in Dev Blog

The ever lovely and talented Malukah kindly made time in her busy schedule to provide me with some vocal samples, and now we finally have a singing voice for the ladies!

If you’re somehow not familiar with Malukah’s work, I highly recommend you check out her YouTube channel where she has done a multitude of covers and originals, all of which are very good.

Thanks Malukah!

November 21st – What’s in my Swimming Pool?

November 21, 2014 in Dev Blog

While Kyren has been laying some groundwork to allow proper terrain generation for Ocean planets, I spent the week implementing a new monster type to live in them: large, aggressive fish! I’ve spent a lot of time in the pool testing and even though they’re simple, they’re a lot of fun to fight and should make Ocean exploration satisfying and dangerous.