For a game still fresh into a beta launch , Starbound already rivals AAA releases thanks to the abundance of stuff you can do in it. It has aliens you can befriend or blow up. It has a grappling hook (opens in new tab) . It sold over a million copies (opens in new tab) in just a month. Developer Chucklefish is keeping its starry success going with frequent updates (opens in new tab) and content additions, but in a post today on the official website (opens in new tab) , 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.
"As it stands, almost the entirety of the progression in Starbound is temporary, built quickly to enable some basic gameplay during beta," Tiy writes. "The final game will be structured differently." All 10 tiers of ores, monsters, and structures will be housed in the same Starmap. Moving on will take the completion of a transitionary mission, the defeat of a final boss, and the collection of Pixels, Starbound's primary currency.
Pixels, Tiy explains, are crucial in forming a stronger progression structure for Starbound. "Currently, obtaining pixels in Starbound feels like a bit of a grind," he writes. "Particularly so given the Pixel death penalty and the high cost of various Pixel sinks. In large part, however, this is due to unimplemented features being missing."
Chucklefish's solution will be the addition of multiple methods and vocations for amassing Pixels, expanding the game's already impressive freedom into a truly customizable experience. Farmers can grow and sell crops and livestock without ever touching a raygun. Builders will be able to charge NPCs crafting fees and rent for shacking up in their constructions. Explorers will unearth and sell rare artifacts. Pirates will, er, pirate.
"There will be many different routes throughout the game, each just as deep and profitable as the last," Tiy says. "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."
The key to Starbound's endgame will be the mysterious Sector X, home to the toughest of tiers and one of those names automatically pronounced with a sinister voice. Within that inky void, geared players will team up to build and maintain group space stations and vie for control of planets where PVP is enabled by default. The space stations can be piloted by guild leaders as a mobile launching point for planetary resource gathering. If you're more inclined to a peaceful coexistence, Tiy says that's entirely possible as well.
"The PVP in this sector is entirely optional," he writes. "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."
Player-to-player interactions seem to form the primary focus for Starbound's future, as Tiy also revealed an upcoming director mode feature for server admins. Using a separate client, server owners will be able to plug into Starbound and wield a high degree of control over monsters, item spawns, and even chat with players using NPCs. "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," Tiy summarizes.
I'm pretty enthusiastic about Chucklefish's plans here. Sandbox games take on an entirely different nature when played with friends, and the social aspect of a game where nearly anything is possible is compounded by how many activities I'm able to share with my buddies. It'll be interesting to see the various shapes and sizes of a collaborative space station or witness the resource wars of Sector X. Well, witness them from afar, I mean—I'll be pretty content as a space seaweed farmer on Weedius Prime XV.
Check out the rest of Tiy's post on Starbound's future (opens in new tab) , and if you have any thoughts or plans on what you'll do in Starbound's expanded horizons, stick 'em in the comments.