independent

January 3, 2014

Reports from the Frontier – A Starbound Journal

starbound logo

Greetings, Universal Travelers.

I have journeyed long and hard in order to bring you this information. After many arduous hours of mining, murdering, and mayhem, I am finally ready to tell you all about Starbound, and just how awesome it is.

The player starts as someone lost and abandoned by the culture from which they come. In a derelict ship, with no fuel, they beam down onto an unfamiliar planet. Anything can be waiting for them at the end of your quantum journey. It could be a village of friendly robot merchants, or the tomb of an ancient bird-man warlord. It could even be nothing, a planet with only resources and wildlife.

The first good point here: The player wants to wander and get lost. After the initial introductory quests that show how to construct a crafting table, an anvil, and initial armor and weapons, the game lets the player loose. It helps that the quest one gets after building an anvil is to construct a resource heavy marker that summons a boss which will almost assuredly destroy you.

Once that happened to me, I realized that I needed to leave my starting planet to find more resources. That is when the scope of the game hit me.

star map

Each of those star blips are individual systems with 2-5 planets within them. The only thing that limits where one can travel is the fuel reserve (fun point, the interstellar spaceship that the player uses is fueled by wood and coal) and the progression made (achieved by killing that boss I mentioned earlier).

In terms of how the game actually plays, those players with experience with Terraria will feel right at home save for a few mechanics associated with specific weapons (the Starbound spear is worthless, while the Terraria spear is surprisingly useful). You run around, gather resources to craft things, explore to gather more resources, and then build.

One thing that sets Starbound apart from other exploration games is the sheer amount of things that you can find to decorate your buildings and ship. The art associated with all these things is great too, as long as you can appreciate pixel art. For a game in early beta, it sure is nice on the eyes.

starbound house

Chucklefish also does a good job of paying attention to the community, and what players are doing. The beta was released with modding tools and people have taken advantage of that, as have the developers. There are currently 765 mods in the official mod forum, and that number rises every day. They have already integrated a few different mods into the main game, with the permission of the creators of course. These include automatic turrets, a skyrail system a la Bioshock Infinite, among other balancing mods. They way that Chucklefish is working with the community is commendable, and how I think all early access games should do things in the future.

All that said, the game is still in early beta. Crashes happen semi-frequently, the launcher is finnicky and likes to lock up on some computers, and the multiplayer takes some thinking to figure out. Also, there have been two universe wipes since release with one more looming on the future. One thing that concerns me is the lack of incentive to stay on one planet. Once I got my more advanced gear, I started to wander the universe, stripping resources out of planets and killing everything to get gear, then moving on to the next planet and doing it all again.

I am very excited about the future of this game, and cannot wait to see what Chucklefish is planning for the future. They have announced ship progression and customizable ships as possibilities for the future, as well as the implementation of the questing system. That said, there will not be a shortage of things to do in the game for the foreseeable future.

Anticipate more updates from me on the progress of the game, and even more to say once the actual release date is announced.

November 14, 2013

The Humble Store Opens!

humble

If you are anything like me, you have fallen in love with the indie gaming movement over the past few years. For me, it started with Minecraft. Before then I paid little to no attention to independent studios and their releases save for the occasional Behemoth project (Alien Hominid being a favorite of mine). But once Minecraft came out, I started paying attention. Now I can’t get enough. I buy up five dollar games like I want to be broke (contrary to popular belief, I don’t). Enter the Humble Indie Bundles.

A couple years back Humble Bundle started offering cheap deals for quality games while offering the option to send a percentage of the purchase price to a given charity.

“Lo!” I said, “I can pay a small amount of money for a bunch of games AND practice my armchair activism? What’s not to like?” *

And now, Humble Bundle has a new place to buy independent games. They have opened their own site to sell those games, and are offering awesome deals there (which are separate from steam).Check it out here and see what deals you can find.

Just on the first day alpha access for Prison Architect was only eight dollars, and Don’t Starve was ten. At this very moment one of my favorite games, Psychonauts, is on sale for just two bucks This website is going to be dangerous.

*I’m just kidding about the armchair activism, Humble Charity Bundle has done great things. Don’t be mad.

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