2014 has brought us a tiny surplus of indie, turn-based strategy games. And happily, they’ve all been thematically and mechanically different: The Banner Saga (an elegant Viking epic), Xenonauts (a spiritual sequel to old X-COM), Dead State (a Fallout-like zombie sandbox in Early Access). Halfway is less complex and sprawling than these games, which ends up as both a shortcoming and an asset.
Chucklefish have been busy. Over the last couple of months, Starbound’s developers have announced sweeping changes to the game that made their name, and begun the process of relocating the majority of their international team to a new headquarters in London. The phrase ‘bedroom coder’ doesn’t quite apply to developers who have already scaled the heights of the Steam charts, but the change the team is undergoing is similar to the process that took place in the UK in the 1980s, as larger studios formed around games that started life as passion projects.
Starbound’s early access success has given Chucklefish the opportunity to become a small publisher in their own right. They’ve been working with select indies to help bring their games to an audience, and they’re currently hiring a second development team to work on a new game – a topdown pirate RPG influenced by The Legend of Zelda.
For a game still fresh into a beta launch, Starbound already rivals AAA releases with all the stuff you can do in it. It has aliens you can befriend or blow up. It has a grappling hook. It sold over a million copies in just a month. Developer Chucklefish is keeping its starry success going with frequent updates and content additions, but in a post today on the official website, creator Finn "Tiy" Brice outlines Chucklefish's broader plans to transition Starbound into a full release with more diverse progression pathways and an endgame focused on PVP and group activities.