The future of Chucklefish and Starbound

February 4, 2014 in Dev Blog, Featured, News

Hi guys,

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.

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.

 

The future of Chucklefish

So that’s Starbound, how about Chucklefish as a company?

 

Opening offices

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.

 

Publishing

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.

 

 

 

Info about the upcoming patch!

January 14, 2014 in Featured, News

Revolvers

A sneak peak at revolvers!

Heya! Long time no front page post.

After taking it easy over the holidays, we jumped straight into preparing the next patch. The reason it’s taking awhile? Bug fixes. Bug fixes everywhere. They can be a little slow-going and unpredictable, but I think you guys will find the improvements worth the wait!

We’re still working on a few things, so you can expect the patch in about a week’s time. Not all patches are going to take this long, of course. :)

 

Fixes:

  • .ds_store issue affecting OSX 9.1 users (A bug where Finder created an invisible file called .ds_store in the player folder which caused the game to crash).
  • A number of character creation/selection screen crashes related to loading corrupted save files
  • An issue that could prevent the launcher from starting (MSVCRT.dll)
  • DirectX crash bug (303 bug)
  • Several memory leaks, including the slow-but-significant server memory leak a lot of people were experiencing and GUI memory leak
  • Fixed a crash bug related to GUI controls
  • Reduced memory load of FTL animation
  • .abc files with comments no longer crash the game, plus various .abc fixes as far as key signatures/timing
  • A number of issues with players spawning underground
  • A bug where players spawned outside the ship if they’d previously saved the game while in the Captain’s Chair
  • Right shift key was not working as a shift key, now it is
  • An issue tech slots were unusable under certain conditions
  • Wiring system fixes– wires are rendered below UI elements, wires no longer break when crossed into an unloaded sector
  • Added image metadata caching, improved assets caching
  • Added a jeep mech that was supposed to have been in the last patch, but had mysteriously gone missing!
  • Object flipping issues
  • Sped up the crafting window
  • Fixed a sound issue that occurred after many concurrent weapon hits
  • Characters no longer blink while sleeping in beds
  • Assorted minor performance improvements

 

Additions:

  • New game modes! Permadeath and drop-everything-on-death modes.
  • Revolvers, pulse rifles, hand grenades, shivs, Floran needlers, Floran thorn hammer
  • Human guards now wear soldier uniforms
  • More decorative hats! Yay, hats!
  • More random encounters
  • Possibly more content, if it’s finished on time!

 

Of course, there’s also the highly anticipated/possibly feared final character wipe– this patch contains a fix for save files so after this, you won’t need to worry about our patches destroying your characters or ships. This patch will wipe everything– characters, ships and worlds. It will definitely be the last time we’ll need to wipe characters or ships, and will hopefully be the last time we’ll need to wipe worlds. This explanation from Kyren should help clarify things a little:

“The problem is that the organization of planets may change so if they go muck with a planet, how do we put it in the celestial map? Or if they build on a biome we remove, or something. So no promises, but we’ll try. But promises on the player / ship.”

I hope that clears up a lot of your questions and concerns about the upcoming patch and wipe– I’m just as excited as you guys are. :)

The future of Starbound

December 16, 2013 in Dev Blog, Featured, News

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.

Other bits and pieces coming with the balance update

December 8, 2013 in Dev Blog, 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.

Coming in a few days (sorry for the delay!)

December 7, 2013 in Dev Blog, 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

Coming in tonights update

December 5, 2013 in Dev Blog, News

- Massively reducing the pixel cost (sometimes eliminating it entirely) on early weapons/armor. You can build a refinery in later tiers to turn ores of all kinds into pixels.   (done)
- Monsters now have a small chance to drop meat when killed with normal weapons. (done)
- You can no longer teleport to another players ship from underground (done)
- Bandages are now craftable with 4 plant fibres, no longer require fabric (done)
- Fix human starter chest showing apex starter items (done)
- Monsters now have a 70% chance to drop meat when killed with a hunting weapon, up from 50% (done)
- Make guards you’ve summoned refer to you as their boss (done)
- Make the refinery appear earlier in the game  (done)
- Reduced fuel costs a bit to go to other planets (done)
- Tweaked wording of starter quests to encourage exploring of more planets.  (done)
- Added hunting knife weapon that also makes monsters drop meat (done)
- Added new legendary weapon (done)
- Pixel loss on death reduced to 20% for testing, might change further  (done)
- [16:27] <Mortvert> Tiy_, Also, could you make silver more visible, please?   (Done)
- Added new armor that provides a good amount of warmth early on in the game at the sacrifice of armor levels. (done)
- Tweaked the UFO boss to make him smash blocks. (done)
- Also make him a little bit easier by changing him to level 9 from level 10 (done)
- Revamping the warmth bar to make it more obvious (suggestion by thedbp on reddit)
- Increase mining speed a little (done)
-Add numbers above the hotbar slots http://i.imgur.com/qTJiFrS.png (done)
- Craftable climbing ropes! (done)

– Make sure hunger bar is always shown when eating food (done)

 

– Make hunger bar display when the alt key is held down (done)

- Added a dumb, quick way to advance through some of the tier 4-10 content (armors, weapons), just for fun. Complete tiers of content are coming really soon. I’d like to get 1/2 tiers of content done per week. (done)
- Fixed a bug where minibosses over level 11 were not dropping the rare items they were supposed to be dropping. They now drop guns. (Thank you to <ippia> for finding this) (done)
- Ufos should hopefully not fly off anymore, they were actually flying off to attack birds! (done)
- Tons of bug fixes
- Bartwe is working on the windows XP issues, not sure yet if it’ll be done by tonight but fingers crossed. Might be tomorrow.
This is just what I’ve done so far this morning, I’ll add to this list as more is added for tonights update.

Starbound Preview Round-up!

December 3, 2013 in Dev Blog, Featured, News

So everyone of you who has pre-ordered is going to be playing Starbound in like…a DAY. Insanity. We’re absurdly anxious and excited to get the game out to everyone!

For now though, if you’re looking to torture yourself by watching other people play, I’ve got a round-up of Starbound Twitch streams and Youtube videos from tonight! Click through to see the list.

P.S- Sorry for the delay in this month’s newsletter! Waiting on something cool to show off. :)

Read the rest of this entry →

December 4th

November 30, 2013 in Dev Blog, News

promo2

 

(Click through for some beta FAQs)

23rd July Progress

July 24, 2013 in News

Evening, guys!

We got a bunch of stuff done today! Monster health bars are in. They’re not totally finished, and right now every single monster in the game is called Waffles because we haven’t implemented the monster namegen. But…they’re in!

Screenshot_30

Omni’s gonna finish those up soon and then move onto the party window GUI, which should actually be the last major piece of GUI-work. So, yay. :)

We implemented some more minibiomes- for snowy worlds in particular- and some biome structures, which are mostly just interesting bits of terrain that have a chance of generating. They help to add some more variety to the landscape. A lot of the time they’re just little caves, or rock formations, but here’s an igloo!

igloos

Kyren is finishing off ore distribution, which should add a whole lot of balance to the game in its current state. Bartwe is still plugging away at the quests system, which we’re all really excited for.

And then Tiy, Rho and I played instruments in-game and pretended we were in a hipster rock group/Bon Jovi cover band. That’s all folks! Goodnight. :)

21st July Progress

July 22, 2013 in News

Good evening! Or morning. Some time of day.

Despite it being a Sunday, today was a pretty busy day for bug-fixing. Not much to talk about there, although Bartwe apparently fixed the “oldest bug in the game” because he’s a mad scientist. Many fixes were made to rendering bugs, cameras were tweaked. Not bad for a weekend!

DOTHmZb

GeorgeV made this animation for when players are falling really really fast– like when they’re falling through space. Like this (though…the animation isn’t actually implemented in this screenshot, I just thought it was pretty)!

Screenshot_27More work was done on the food system! So far, each race will start with 16 recipes that reflect their culture/biology. There will be a bunch more recipes to discover in your travels- the more difficult they are to make, the better their buffs! We’re still working on balancing the effects of all the food items and their ingredients. Those recipes haven’t actually been implemented yet, though. Soon!

We also had another play-testing session tonight and talked a lot about player progression. I built a farm with a working kitchen and took a couple of screenshots:

Screenshot_28

Screenshot_29That’s all for tonight. Goodnight, guys. :)